Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Ole Switchero : Dude Transitioning To Domestic Duties and Daddy Afterschool School

Following our plan, 24 months before we were to begin homeschooling my wife returned to full time work.  This meant that we were both earning an income, but adjusted to live off what she earned.  At 18 months out, I left the working world behind and assumed the domestic duties life full time.  My wife was earning more than enough for us to maintain the quality of life we wanted.

It was very strange at first, being home all day in this new world of no meetings, phone calls, client ass kissing, no co-workers, and such.  I'd wake up with no pressure.  I'd go to bed at night with no pressure.  There were no deadlines to drive me any more.  After more than two decades of marching to the corporate world beat, I felt like I was in outer space, free floating.

With the kids still in their public charter school, I had plenty of time during the day to reflect, settle into my new role, think things through, and get ready for the homeschool phase.  There was a lot to learn, such as the regulations governing homeschooling in my area, what support groups were available, what program options I have, and what kind of learners are my girls.  

Every week, in addition to the laundry, dishes, clean up, etc., I'd accomplish one exterior house thing, like pressure washing, or mowing the yard, or trimming the hedges, etc.  I've also been able to indulge in various interests of mine, ones that I never seemed to have time to do before such as concrete sculpting.  My love of Martial Arts has also seen a major boost as I can commit more regular hours to it.  I also get to read more, as well as listen to more podcasts of interest (space science, eastern philosophy, and so on).  The cherry on the cake is hitting places off peak hours, like the gun range.  LOVE IT!

The transition has been phenomenally smooth.  One area that I've still not internally found settled involves asking for money.  Now that I'm not the money maker, I personally find it tough asking for anything.  It is an internal hang up for sure, but one that I do face.  We have an auto deposit into a private account for me, from the wifie's paycheck, that we call the "Mad Money."  That is an amount of money that I can go crazy with and spend on anything I want, no questions asked.  It is my pocket money as it were.  It is more than enough to sustain my hobbies and interests.  However, there are times when I want to do more than my Mad Money will cover, and I have to ask, and I don't like to.

In preparation for the Full Monty homeschooling, one of the things I have practiced is to ensure that when the girls come home from school that they have an hour of academic work from me.  This is in addition to whatever they have from their public charter school.  Of course, what I'm giving them fits well with what they will be doing at their regular day school, mostly covering materials that I suspect they will need later in the school year.  This has paid huge dividends for all of us.  I've continued to learn how they each individually learn, how I can best serve as their learning guide, and they've gained mastery on subjects ahead of their classmates.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Middle School Way

Happy New Year!

Val and I always knew we would probably home school our kids.  The question always was, when.  When and what grade would we start.  For us, that really depended upon what we were seeing in their school environments.  That is, we would have them in public schools for as long as we thought it was to their benefit and that no major damage to them was being done.

With very cautious eyes, we enrolled our eldest into school; we found that were very happy with what was going on.  The teacher was a delight, and kindergarten for KJ was great.  Then we moved to Florida and put the kids in a new school.  It wasn't just any school, but one of the "best schools in the state" and "number one in the county" according to the standardized testing.  Wham! Not so good, at least in our opinion.

This particular schools great testing achievements were at a huge cost: our girls were not only being homogenized but their zest for learning was fading fast.  The cruel, slow pace Baton Death March of intellectual development carrying every child forward together was grinding out their natural joy of learning.  Our youngest, in particular, was having a very hard time going so slow.  We met with their teachers, and we were told point blank that this was the pace and that the class would be going together.  Yep, sure, eventually everyone will make it together, but at what cost .... and where, ultimately, were they going?

Within 2 months, we pulled our youngest out and put her into a very small public charter school where they adjusted to the child's level.  As soon as the school year ended, our oldest was also pulled from the "great" A rated school and joined her sister in the small charter school.  We've been there ever sense (finishing 4th year there now).

With the move, we began discussing the right transition time into homeschool. We were in a much better place in the small charter school, but it was clear that short of a middle school charter of the same type, our girls would be screwed.  The Education System is engineered for the masses.  Period. So, it was decided that we would begin homeschooling in 6th grade, the start of middle school, for each of our daughters.  Sooner, of course, should the environment at the small charter school change in a bad way.

Our working modeling for the past 4 years has been that once a daughter hit 6th grade, she would be in Daddy School.  Amazingly enough, that starts in 6 months! Time sure does fly.

With all the discussion of homeschooling at our dinner table, the youngest has made it clear she wants to homeschool too.  She really wants to explore things at a much faster pace, and in areas of deep interest to her.  So, we've decided that both our girls will begin homeschooling at the same time.   This is an adjustment to the plan, but plans change so we will simply flow with it!

They have made friends, enemies, did school talent shows, faced bullies, worked with home room moms, participated in fund raisers, experienced incorrect gradings, enjoyed group work, did big group field trips, and more.  Lots of wonderful, good experiential things.  Now it is time to switch gears, and allow each of our daughters to unfold at their pace, in their way, and in their own direction.