Monday, October 31, 2011

Schooling at Home is Not the Same as Homeschooling

So here we are, happily moved into the Boston area. We absolutely love it here, mashaAllah! There are so many things to do that any given weekend you have your pick from tons of family-friendly events for any budget including free. I was very on the fence about homeschooling right before we moved. We were going up here pretty much broke and starting over. I was still testing for the new job that I now have (and love!) and had no idea what my income or schedule would be like. I felt too disorganized to attempt to do what I really wanted: piece something together on my own with wiggle room for creativity. Joining the state-sponsored K12 MAVA (Massachusetts Virtual Academy) here sounded like a warming up lukewarm idea. DH was all for it, but I was hesitant because of our experience using K12 for 2nd grade. It was too intense and too structured, but the lure of free materials, teacher support, laid out lessons for a whole year and not having to navigate to horrid maze that is the Boston public school system reeled me in.

I am starting to really regret this choice. Everything in Massachusetts is geared towards prepping the children for the end of the year standardized testing, the MCAS. Every week my 3rd grade son has a virtual homeroom where they continue to prep him for this test. He has weekly scantron and Study Island tests, a website set up to prep kids for standardized testing. I am starting to feel that MCAS stands for Making Children All the Same. I also find the "Master and Move On" mantra of K12 a bit irritating. Are we all in such a rush that we can't Absorb and Enjoy instead? It's a little creepy.

We must follow the requirements for public school hours and subjects. I have 3 children, 8 and under, and I can't meet the requirements for each day, even with the difference in the time given for a lesson and the time it actually takes us. I am starting to feel burnt out, seeing as I am taking the role of several public school teachers, yet only one person. Oh wait that's right, I'm a learning coach, as they call us, not a teacher.

This isn't what I wanted: recreating public school in my home. My son loves robotics, electronics, science and technology, while my 5 year old son loves art and natural science. I don't want to squash this. I envisioned getting some basics done and having more time tailored to each's special interests. But we're too busy prepping for a test half a year away.

The other side of the coin is: I'm afraid to lose that structure and afraid our days will not be productive. I have a fear I won't even know what my kids are supposed to be learning, so how could I keep up? I find myself saying I don't think we're doing K12 next year, and even more recently I find myself saying I think want to stop now. I also feel conflicted about testing, is it a necessary evil?  I'm not sure where to go from here and I'm not sure how to get there.


  1. As salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullaah, may Allaah grant you ease! Ameen. I am homeschooling (without a virtual charter school) because the state I live in doesn't offer an option for virtual charter home school. They have some silly little clause that prevents virtual schools because it states that children must "be present, on campus" or something similar. Alas, we are left to our own resources to homeschool.

    Alhamdulillaah, I have the recent benefit of being able to stay at home and be the sole "provider" for my children's education however I do miss the freedoms and structure that Virtual Charter school offered us. When I lived in PA, we also participated with k12 and had a pretty stable foundation of teachers and other parents who assisted with our children. Now that I have to provide books, materials, computer, software, lessons, tests, etc. on my own... I would definitely trade it in any day for the 'free' items that k12 provided. But like you said... the freedom of homeschooling rather than just having a school at home would be extremely stressful. Especially with two working parents! I don't know how you're succeeding. By Allaah's will and grace! maa shaa Allaah.

    I know you just moved to Boston, but have you looked into any other muslim parents or just k12-ers that are nearby? Maybe you could find out from your school or do a quick search for Massachusetts homeschoolers and see if there are any families that could co-op lessons with you, so you'll be a little less stressed about making the "time" allotments. As far as those went for us... and this is a few years back, we let our tutor/contact teacher know that we would be deficient in our times and she told us to fill in the approximates and not to worry about being rigid on the times. As long as the children were getting the concepts.

    Hope any of what I said was helpful! Or at least easing. Ma'asalaama

  2. Wa laykum salaam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu, sorry for the delay in replying. Thanks so much for your advice. Well, I think it is too bad your state doesn't allow the virtual academies, because I do think as many options as possible is best for children in the long run. I'm just not certain the virtual academy is for me. May Allah give you success in your way of doing things. I would love to co-op lessons but of the other K12 kids are in my sons grade. I just wish I didn't feel like I was trying to get this done ALL day long, I want time for other things like Arabic, Islamic Studies, outdoor time. I am just feeling very pressured to keep moving. InshaAllah it will work out. I decided to give it the full semester and then make a decision inshaAllah. If I had the money I'd probably give Islamic school another go if I was comfortable with the manhaj

  3. We used an e-school for a couple of years. It was the free that lured me in. They did not require us to use the texts and lessons provided, but did want us to follow what was expected to be taught for each grade.
    Then, my middle daughter hit middle school and it was more tense, and we were expected to follow their lesson plans.
    I've worked most of my homeschooling time, it's just been in the last 2 years (now that I only have one child at home) that I quit my job.

  4. Hi Marsha!
    You know i think maybe the cyber schools might end up just being a necessity for parents who also work. I think I am starting to relax about it some and come to terms with not being the perfect homeschooler. It's great to hear from someone who has managed to juggle both working and HSing