A.T. asks from Plano, TX on February 10, 2010
Homeschooling - Richardson,TX
My daughter is 3, about to turn 4 in March. I taught in a public school for 6 years and, after seeing what public schools are like, do not really want my daughter going to one- especially since we've moved to the Dallas Metroplex area. Right now, it does not look like we will be able to afford a private school. We are seriously looking into homeschooling. My question is more for people who were homeschooled, but anyone can answer. Do you regret not going to a public school? Is there anything you feel "cheated' out of because you weren't in school with others your age? (like prom, graduation, etc.) Did you find getting into college was a bigger challenge because of homeschooling?
For those of you who do or have homeschooled your children, why did you decide to homeschool? Do you regret your decision? Do you feel your children got a good education? Did you go through an accredited homeschool program or make your own? DId you find it harder to have your own life because of homeschooling? (ie. I feel called to work with the deaf, but I am not sure I would have time to do that and homeschool.)
Any input is greatly appreciated. We are Christians and are looking into the Christian curriculums like Abeka. Any other suggestions or comments you think would help me make a good decision would be greatly appreciated.
1 mom found this helpful
R.J. answers from San Diego on February 11, 2010
*** Warning. Long. *** I'm going to try and answer your questions, basically in order, as briefly as I can. But I tend to talk a lot. So forewarned:
We started HS'ing almost 3 years ago, and it's been amazing. (Hard? Yes. Sometimes "I think I might go permanently cross-eyed" hard. But utterly amazing).
We started HS'ing for academic reasons, and have stuck because of all of the other benefits that go along with it. And man oh man is that list of benefits too long to even attempt to list. 3 "showy" benefits:
1) Kiddo can sleep himself out (okay, that's only "showy" to we parents who have dealt with over tired and chronically tired kids... but that means that he gets up anywhere from 7am-10am, no dragging him out of bed, and no morning madness, and no coming home from school exhausted... that's showy bigtime to ME at least).
2) Travel: We're about to go spend a month in Argentina, next year we're headed back east for another month to study US history, the year after that we're spending spring quarter in Italy (all of these trips are off season, all cost less than 2k, some waaaaay less than 2k, because we're staying with friends)... and that's not even counting the family roadtrips, the archeological digs, and the much shorter extended week long "field trips"... NONE of this stuff would be possible if kiddo was in a traditional school. I know many parents (professors mostly) who've tried to travel with their kids, and while at least the local schools will usually permit a week or two here and there... being gone for 1-3 months is out of the question. ((One of the reasons we decided against private school, was that we realized with could take 25% of what we would pay for private school and travel instead. By traveling off season, and/or staying with friends, our average yearly "big trip" costs 10% of what a year of private school would... but since we budgeted for 25%, we get to take a bunch of smaller trips as well... and rather opposite of other addictive things, with airline miles... you pay for the first one, and then your miles pay for nearly every other trip)) This last year we didn't "go" anywhere, because like many people, we were a wee bit too busy trying to figure out how to buy groceries. So we "traveled" via pages and movies and virtual tours of museums. Which is another nice freedom, suddenly not being able to pay for "x" just alters kiddo's education, instead of derailing it.
3) Family Time & Freedom. 2 years in, I can't even IMAGINE how constrained our lives would be in traditional school. Kiddo gone for 8-10 hours a day??? (right now the average time he's in outside classes or sports is 1-3 hours a day). Our lives directed by school bells and breaks and teacher work days? 12 years of someone else dictating our family's lives and agendas? Not being able to take the seminar at the local observatory because kiddo would have to be up at some ungodly hour before sunrise? Not being able to let him be sick, when he's sick, but have to send him to school still contagious & or needing sleep/recovery time because of an "absence policy"? Having to fight for gifted programs or IEP's? Ditto art & science & music? Having to leave kiddo at home when DH gets sent on a weeklong business trip, or when I have a chance to spend a quarter abroad? Having no control over curriculum standards? Having to pay through the nose for afterschool activities (where we live at least, the are soooooo many HS discounted daytime programs). <laughing> Let me make it plain, these are MY feelings for our family... there's only about 1001 "correct" ways to raise a family and the only one that's "best" is the one that your own family is using, and it doesn't translate to other families. But, GOD, hs'ing has translated into so much sheer & unadulterated freedom for us, I can't even imagine it any other way.
I in no way whatsoever regret my decision. (Gee... now that's hard to tell, isn't it?) It's definitely presented some challenges (most parents for example try to find time to spend with their kids, we try to find ways for him to have time away from us). Although I am *constantly* evaluating, reevaluating, and occasionally 2nd guessing myself. Finding "best" is rarely an easy thing to do. Other challenges include things like working from home... finding that "shift" time, so that you're not ALWAYS at work, etc.
I think kiddo is getting a fairly decent education. Surrounded by books, music, art, science, sports, & people who love him. Traveling to close and distant places. Learning to ask questions & seek out answers, and spell them tolerably well ;). I very much love the quote "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." There are DEFINITELY some areas in which I am "filling the pail", but que sera. (Hence the constant reevaluations... okay how can we be doing THIS better?) From a standards basis, he's 5 years ahead in math, a year behind in reading, and about a year ahead of his chronological grade in everything else.
We don't go through an accredited program... although we use many bits and pieces of many programs. Noeo & Discovery & CyberEd & National Geographic for science, Hands on Equations for Algebra, Singapore & Montessori for general math, Charlotte Mason & Montessori for many many things. Minimus for Latin. Unit Studies for History. (Ahem. In trade-speak we're known as eclectic).
Harder to have my own life? Yes & no. Any time you take away 40 hours a week of free childcare, you're looking at a paradigm switch. I'm lucky in that my life & work are fairly flexible. I only have to be in class on campus (I'm in school), 2 days a week if I'm not TA'ing. Easily enough accomplished by scheduling kiddo's outside classes during those periods, or by arranging an afternoon playdate with Nana for the quarter, or DH can come home early one day a week. Much of my other work & play I do when he's asleep, and I trade days with his dad/my husband during times when my DH isn't working so I can have time away. Until the kids are old enough to a) work independently... so you can be doing other things while they work, and b) old enough to be home alone... so you don't have to arrange things like outside classes/childcare ... it definitely means that quite a bit of thought has to be put into their care and well being in order to be gone, but I'd say parents of traditionally schooled kids have to do so equally, just during different times of the day. Why I would say it's not harder in some cases is that whole "freedom" thing I mentioned above. Since I set kiddo's schedule, instead of a school district, I have a great deal more control over my OWN schedule.
I'm also not worried about any of the "classic" worries (sports, prom, college, socialization -aka the "s"-word), for the following SHORT list of reasons:
- Sports in our city 90% of them are offered outside of the schools in any event. My kiddo (adhd) does gymnastics twice a week, swimming once a week, soccer, snowboarding, baseball, & swimming/sailing seasonally. One of the HS dads is the U's rugby coach, and will be offering HS rugby in 3 years. We'd like to do martial arts, but just plain don't have the time right now.
- Prom... <laughing> Well, not only in our case is that 10 years off -and only one night, and not only didn't I even go to mine, BUT there are many HS proms available AND most of the HS'ers I know who go, actually end up going to SEVERAL. Usually through being asked by boys/girls who are in traditonal school. But I should caveat here: Most of the 17yo HS'ers I know are already at least a couple years into their college degrees. Very few of the ones I know in college are interested in going to Highschool Proms.
College: 2 points:
1) The vast majority of State and Ivy League Schools not only accept Hs'ers, but many actually PREFER HS'ers. There's tons of info out and about on this, but I'm a "do your own research" kind of chick. I checked out the websites and looked at the enrollment stats (or phoned up) of every school I was "interested" in, which was about 20.
2) MOST HS'd kids I know start taking CC classes around the age of 14-15. Not usually full time, although some do. These kids tend to split into 2 different camps: the ones who use the college credits as highschool credit who are seeking to enter into the Ivy Leagues, and the ones who are "dual enrollment" and are seeking to have their AA, or AAS by 17 or 18. In many states, dual enrolled kids only have to pay for books as long as they are under 18 and in a CC, the classes are free. There is of course the third camp of gifted hs'ers who are done with their bachelors and moving on to their masters by the age of 18, but it's not the general rule.
Socialization: Yikes. (and for a laugh be sure to check out "The Bitter Homschooler's Wishlist" at http://www.secular-homeschooling.com/001/bitter_homeschoo... ) Between all of our socializng (sports, outside classes, park days, camps) there are only one or two days a week where kiddo isn't surrounded by people in his "peer" group of 3 years in either direction, and not a day goes by that he's not interacting with neighbors, teachers, grandparents, store clerks, coaches... his life is absolutely rich with people spanning the age spectrum. That's not even counting playdates and time with family.
I can't highly recommend enough the following sites:
http://groups.yahoo.com/ Tens of thousands of people are involved in the various homeschooling groups. These range from secular, religious, regional, philosophical, curricula (using or review of) age, development, LD, 2e, Gifted... you name it. I'm currently in 10 or 11 of the different message boards... 3 local (one a field trip group that does things ranging from "heads up" on local stuff, to group discount student matinees at the theatre/ballet/opera, to setting up a quarter long class offered by the Science Foundation for 7-10 year olds "Kids in Medicine" program), another has weekly park days, science fairs, classes, and the 3rd is a statewide one)... several specific to the philosophies we practice, etc. I only "discovered" these message boards about 6 months ago, and they have been a PHENOMENAL thing in our lives.
http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/ for general information
http://www.homeschooldiner.com/ ditto, and for a great list of philosophies
http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/ for massive discounts on many curriculums
http://www.homeedmag.com HS'ing magazine with lots'o'stuff
http://www.ted.com/ lectures, lectures, & more lectures.
www.netflix.com I use their documentaries almost on a daily basis. Stunning.
M.H. answers from Atlanta on February 10, 2010
I have used my own, a combination of several and the only "pure" curriculum I have used is Switched on Schoolhouse (Baptist based organization). All have worked well but the SOS was the easiest on me. My youngest loved it and it bored my oldest...My youngest would almost finish her work before I turned around and my oldest didn't like to think of the computer as work.
We decided to homeschool before we got married and had kids. My husband grew up in the NE and the school systems were awful where he lived. I had a good public school experience but the school system where we were living at the time was having drive- by shootings before they were on national news, so I was easy to persuade. I also felt that I wanted to give a more accurate view of history as I feel we as a country have rewritten a lot of it.
It has been a blessing to the whole family from start to finish. My girls are 14 and 17 and they still love it. They don't regret it at all. I don't regret it. They have PLENTY of friends and feel comfortable in every setting. They love to babysit and they spend time at the nursing homes because they love the wisdom of their elders. My elderly parents moved in with us when they were little and we were able to spend so much quality time with them.
My oldest is a senior in high school this year and already has her advisor for her doctorate program at a chiropractic university. As far as working with the deaf, you can teach them what you do. What a wonderful gift to give to your children, especially learning another language. Who says it has to be Spanish, lol!
Go to http://www.home4schoolgear.com/famoushomeschooler.html and see who has been homeschooled and see their accomplishments. Kids are going to learn as long as somebody teaches them. Public, private or home, they just need to be taught.
M.M. answers from Jacksonville on February 10, 2010
It is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.
I homeschool both my younger ones. This is my 2nd year with my daughter and my first with my son.
I use a hodgepodge of curriculums. Some work well with some families and some dont'. I know my sister used ABEKA and hated it but my good friend here loves it.
I do recommend Susan Wise Bauer's The Well Trained MInd. It gives a good synopsis of Classical Education, and what needs to be covered, and how long in each subject etc.
Also my husband's cousiin's wife is a homeschool graduate and is in college now. She will homeschool her own kids and at times helps her mom with her brothers that are still at home.
S.S. answers from Dallas on February 10, 2010
I homeschooled my children through high school. We chose to homeschool for two main reasons 1. my son was bored in school 2. my husband was recovering from severe military injuries and needed someone home to help him (I had to work - it took 2 1/2 years for military disability pay to start). When my daughter found out her brother was going to homeschool she wanted to as well, this surprised me since she was cheering and involved in other activities. Once things settled here financially my children were asked before the start of every school year if they wanted to go back to public school, they chose not to. Now that they are in college, we look back and our only regret is not starting homeschooling earlier. My children attended the homeschool prom and enjoyed themselves thoroughly, without the pressure of alcohol or other temptations. They attended a couple of classes at a co-op so they had a graduation ceremony too. I chose curriculum from a variety of places, including ABEKA. My children did excellent on the SAT which enabled them to enter the college of their choice. Homeschooling is a time commitment from the parents, but to us it was worth it.
D.B. answers from Charlotte on February 10, 2010
I know other ladies can answer your question, but I just want to say that it is lovely that you are a teacher yourself - that will really make a big difference in the academic work you'll do with your child. Those of us who went to school ourselves know what it's like to have effective and good teachers, ones who know their subjects and understand how to teach, and you have a huge advantage understanding how to bring your profession into your home.
C.F. answers from Detroit on February 10, 2010
I use the Abeka program. This is my first year homeschooling. We are Apostolic Pentecostal and we chose to home school because we didn't like all of the bad influences my son encountered everyday at school.
My son is in first grade and It only takes me about 2 hours a day to complete the work. We LOVE it. I have so much freedom. some days we have no school and some days we do 2 days worth. It is so great. I dont feel my kids are missing out on anything because there are so many groups that you can join for support, co-ops where your kids can go classes, field trips with other home schoolers, and play dates. The best teacher your kid can have is you.
I would suggest that you google home school groups in your area. I joined 2 yahoo groups of home schoolers and we have playdates, parties, and field trips its it really awesome.
I hope this helps you. God Bless and Good Luck.