It has been a very long process deciding on an educational path for our children. It began when I was not thrilled with the schools we are zoned for. There aren't really many charter school options in Texas and the ones that are available are for at risk kids. We have some really great private Christian schools (like the preschool Logan and Aila are going to) but the cost of tuition greatly increases as soon as your child enters kindergarten. And so began our research on homeschooling...
First we had to address our concerns:
1. Would I be an acceptable teacher?
This one wasn't too hard for me since I went to school to be a teacher and taught in the public schools for a few years. I felt confident in my teaching abilities and my ability to understand the concepts and convey them to the kids.
2. How would my children compare academically to their peers?
The research here surprised me some. Homeschooled children actually perform better academically on standardized tests and college entrance exams. The part that surprised me was that this statistic was not influenced by their income level, how much they spent on curricula and programs, or the level of education of the parents. Homeschooled students were also more likely to be self motivated, independent learners.
3. Would my children be socially awkward?
Yes, there are some homeschooled children who are socially awkward, but I was surprised to learn that more are actually outgoing and confident. Homeschooled students have the opportunity to socialize with people outside of their peer group, giving them the chance to have more varied interactions. Plus, there are some great homeschool coop groups where homeschooled students can go on field trips together or learn a subject like P.E. or music together.
Next, Doug and I had to evaluate why we wanted to homeschool:
1. The ability to teach our children biblical principles.
2. Not having to be concerned about what the government is teaching our children as being morally acceptable (i.e. gay marriage, abortion, etc.)
3. Being able to provide individualized education to each of our children. (As a former public school teacher, I know that it is nearly impossible to truly individualize education for 30+ students. You aim for the majority in a group that size and hope the rest take to it.) With homeschooling I can make every subject something that interests my kids. After all, I know my kids better than any teacher will.
4. Being able to move at our own pace. Logan is zooming through his phonics lessons! When we start kinder this upcoming year I will actually be using first grade curriculum for him. In math he is moving at a regular pace so we will be using kinder curriculum. This is something he would never be able to do in a regular school.
After all of our research, conversations with homeschooling, public schooling, and private schooling families, discussions with our own kids, lots of prayer, and a trial run this year, we came to the conclusion that homeschooling is the best option for our family. And the SHOCKER....We want to homeschool even if we are zoned for the best of the best school or can afford private school! And the best part is, the kids can't wait! They actually like homeschool better than going to their preschool!
So all that was left was to study the Texas laws (which basically say all I need to homeschool is have a copy of my curricula and which subjects I need to teach) and find my curricula. I have been able to find all of my curricula for free! Here is what we will be using:
For math we are doing MEP - http://www.cimt.plymouth.ac.uk/projects/mep/default.htm
For reading we are doing Progressive Phonics- http://www.progressivephonics.com/, for grammar we are doing KISS Grammar: http://home.pct.edu/~evavra/kiss/wb/LPlans/Status_Table.html
For writing we are doing Scott Foresman Writing- http://www.sfreading.com/resources/ghbgrd1.html
For spelling we are doing Spell By Color- http://jettedgames.com/spelling.htm
For good citizenship we will study the Bible and some social studies. For Bible we will be listening to- http://dailyaudiobiblekids.ning.com/
and Doug and I will have our own lessons. We also think we are going to have the kids do mission projects at Doug's properties.
For science we will be doing unit studies based on whatever the kids are interested in.
Next year is sure to be an adventure!