Every few months, I receive a text, facebook message, phone-call or email with questions very similar to these. If you are thinking about the home-school route, read through these questions and see if they may help you along in your process.
1. Why did you choose homeschooling? If you are able to elaborate please include if your spouse also felt this was a great idea, etc.
Literally God called us into it as I was terrified and really didn’t want to. It was a big trust thing for me. Once we both were honest with the fact that God was calling us to this way for our family, both Mike and I were on the same page and jumped in together. I do all the school stuff and he does the “talking the mama off the ledge” big picture stuff including reminding me why and where we are going with all of this every quarter or so;-)
2. How many children and at what ages/levels did you start/finish? Was that difficult? How did you do more than one child at once, etc.
I started with one kinder and a 2 and 4-year-old at home with no preschool help at all. I did a ton at nap time. I realized at that age you get through with school pretty quickly in a given day. Lots of couch time with everyone listening to mama read aloud. Over the years I have transitioned into schooling them all full-time now at 2nd 4th and 6th grades. I use a weekly coop to sub out the stuff I want them exposed to that I can’t do well at home and it keeps me on track and accountable to my other core work.
3. What program/company/materials did you choose to use and why? Are you your child’s sole teacher or do you use tutors, co-op situations, etc.?
I use Ambleside Online a free curriculum that is classical in nature but gentle with a living books, Charlotte Mason approach. I have used Saints in the past (a weekly pe program) and GraceHomeschool Connection for some core work I don’t want to do at home. Most honest answer;-)
4. What is the cost of homeschooling in general?
Well if you count what I spend at coop and on books and field trips for all three of them I would say about $2500 a year but you could do it for much less. When we first started, I did it for practically free. I didn’t join a coop our first year and I used the library mainly. The only thing I purchased was our math Curriculum.
5. What is your daily/weekly schedule like? How do you organize your space, your time, how many subjects a day, etc.?
I do mostly all of my subjects every day. History, Literature, Spelling, Writing, Science, Math, Piano and we are throwing in typing and multiplication drills day too. We work steadily from 9 – 1:30 everyday except Thursdays. That is their coop day and my day for photography.
6. How do you test achievement/advancement and how does the state recognize this?
At the end of the year I have them either evaluated by a state certified evaluator or a standardized test like Stanford or Terra Nova. At the start of each year, they get to create their own portfolio and are responsible for filing all of their work from week to week. It keeps us all organized and life easy when testing/evaluation time comes around.
7. How much preparation and planning is required on your part? When you were getting started?
Planning? You are supposed to plan this stuff out…dang it that would have helped a bit. Ok just kidding..yes I plan things out but I am not a nut about it. I give just enough structure to support freedom of learning. It was minimal starting out….now I pretty much have the hang of it and take one full week every year before the year begins in August to plan, pray and put their portfolios together, order books, etc….
8. What would you consider to be the greatest benefits of your decision? What are your main concerns or regrets if any?
No regrets….benefits are all the relational fruit we see. Time to discuss big concepts, time to travel with them and show them what God is doing in the world, time for them to be a part of our life as our traditional down time hours that most families enjoy we don’t as we are busy with ministry so they are not being thrown under the bus so to say.
9. Does your child do any enrichment activities or sports/instruments etc? Do they enjoy being home schooled?
Yes the all do Piano, Jax golfs and does Jujitsu as well as boyscouts, Chloe dives and does Gardenia Girls, and Hudson swims and does cub scouts.
10. Do you plan to integrate them into mainstream schooling at any particular point?
At this point we will re-evaluate after middle school for each child but probably not.
11. I currently have 3 children who, by their own inclinations, are academic high achievers. They are in grades 4th, 1st, and pre-k 4 and I am due to deliver our fourth child in about 4 weeks. Knowing this, would you recommend homeschool for us? why/why not.
YES…they could be a big part of the babies first year…they would have time to pursue interests they didn’t have time to before, they would learn to achieve highly in life and not in a controlled environment. I would make sure you keep them active in sports and other activites and have a clear educational plan to have them pursue. With the 4th grader, they will be mostly self-directed next year, the second and pre-k could do lots of stuff together just at their own level, and you can do tons of read alouds on the couch with all of them covering the span.
My only other thoughts would be….your first year…don’t compare yourself to anyone…just do what God has called you to do for your family. Pray about what he wants you to pour into your crew in this season and read the book For the Children’s Sake one night when you are nursing;-)
Mike and I took a weekend away and wrote our out educational philosophy because of this book. It helped us determine curriculum and our daily rhythm. We know what we want and were we are headed educationally. Yearly we just chip away at that goal. Hope this helped a bit.