Once we decided to give homeschooling a try, I soaked up as much information as I could and joined the local support group.
Luckily, I had a very experienced homeschooling friend in my life who encouraged me to, "CHILL OUT, " that first year. She reminded me not to get too stressed about kindergarten, and that The Hunter was only five years old and kindergarten is supposed to be fun.
Looking back, I now know her goal was to keep me from burning out before I even really got started.
It worked. We had fun the first year. I didn't push too much of the obvious academics for my active little boy. We read a lot of books, played games and did a few school-like activities.
Then we added a little more the second year. I tried an "all in one" faith-based curriculum and found it didn't work for my boy was at - for a number of reasons, so I started choosing teaching materials "al-a carte."
Last year, when The Hunter was starting second grade and Sauce was starting Kindergarten our state started its first virtual charter school. The school was using the same curriculum that I wanted to buy for that year and frankly, saving $1,000+ on curriculum costs was motivation enough for me.
There was quite a bit of interest in this new school in our state. There was only funding for 500 spots, and over 1200 families had applied to join. The school decided to hold a random lottery for the open spots.
Our number was picked and we started our journey with virtual schooling.
And now we are starting our second year.
It is considered a public school so we have a teacher that we touch base with monthly on the phone and via email. We send monthly work samples to her as well. Taxpayer dollars pay for our curriculum that is all sent to us, and our lesson plans are all online.
I have the flexibility to do as I please at home, but I have the help of the teacher when I need it (i.e., what SHOULD I expect from a 2nd grade boy's handwriting?). They also keep all the school records - grades and attendance, and my kids participate in the state testing, etc.
Some home schoolers don't like the idea of state testing, but frankly, I like knowing where my kids stand among their peers.
This is all helpful if we ever choose to put our children in a brick and mortar school, not to mention college applications if we choose to stick with virtual schooling.
I have appreciated academic freedom - the ability to work at each child's own pace and really learn - not just coast through stuff.
The Hunter tested above grade level for language arts because of his above average reading, but is on grade level for math, etc.
Our curriculum works on unit mastery, so if they don't master the assessments, they don't move on. Also, if I see a unit/lesson that they already know or grasp quickly, I don't have to waste their time with busy work. They take the assessment and move on.
I don't hold much stock in the "socialization" arguments. The definition for the word "socialized" is, "make fit for life in companionship with others."
Right now the best way to make our children fit is with training from home.
My children are not living in a bubble. They are busy with many sports and activities and have lots of friends.
My short term goals right now are to give my boys the best learning experience I can, while steering them toward independence and a strong work ethic. I want them to have the time and ability explore their individual areas of interest, both in academics and recreation.
At the same time, I want them to learn about the God of the universe who loves them and wants to know them personally.
I want them to see the value of serving others and avoid the materialism and attitude of entitlement that has become so prevalent in today's day and age.
Homeschooling is the best choice for our family for right now. People ask me all the time how long I will continue to homeschool, but we have made one decision for sure.
We will take one year at a time and one child at a time.