I could just as easily have named this post “what about socialization?” as these are the two biggest questions I have been asked over the past 13 years of homeschooling my two sons. I don’t think every child should be homeschooled – I absolutely believe that public school serves a purpose. But I also believe that every child deserves an individualized education and it is up to us as parents to decide what that means for our children.
Our oldest child, Boo started kindergarten at the public school down the street from our house. I had already started thinking about homeschooling, but my husband, Art, was not convinced, so we agreed to see how Boo did in his first year of school. The biggest problem was that Boo was more advanced intellectually than the average kindergartner. She had already memorized most of the flags of world countries and had begun memorizing the periodic table of elements (for fun??) There was just no way that a teacher dealing with 20 other kids could keep up with her. I also wanted her to be able to stay a child as long as possible. That year, on the playground, Boo had been teased by other kids in her class for wearing a Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt. There had also been an incident where a 1st grader found a gun in the field during recess (thankfully she brought it to a teacher – it was not loaded – and no one was hurt).
My cousin was homeschooling her children through a program which is now called Pathways Charter School. In this program, the parent and child meet with an IST (independent study teacher) once a month to set up learning goals, review progress, and do some standardized testing. We decided to meet with the IST for our area to discuss our expectations and see if the program would meet Boo’s needs. The IST, Glenda, was very personable and got along well with Boo. She explained that the school allocated a certain amount of money for each student and the parents could choose the curriculum which was best suited to their child (within the state’s standards and from the school’s approved list of vendors). Boo’s first grade year would be our trial year. In fact every year we homeschooled we said it was “just for this year” and we would re-evaluate at the end of the year to decide if we wanted to continue.
That first year was definitely our most awkward as we figured out what Boo’s strengths and weaknesses were and developed our schedule. Pathways is a state charter school, so nothing religious could be included in the graded curriculum, but we had devotions every morning and read a chapter from The Children’s Book of Virtues or others. The kids took taekwondo and participated in AWANA (a children’s Bible club) every Wednesday night. Boo had an evaluation by a specialist and was able to get an IEP (individualized education program) for speech therapy. We took field trips on our own and with other kids from the school. We were learning and growing and it was fun!!
Boo continued to homeschool through the 6th grade. At that time she chose to transfer into public school for middle and high school. She competed in the state geography bee in the 8th grade, sang in the elite choir in high school, and graduated with a 3.5 GPA and 3 advanced placement classes under her belt. I guess you could say our homeschool experiment was a success!!
Check out the next blog post to find out why we homeschooled Bud and how his journey has progressed thus far.