Q: Why do you homeschool? Is it for religious reasons? Do you have a problem with public schools?
A: We do not homeschool for religious reasons, and we don't have problems with the public schools, other than I think they're too crowded. When I pulled Ian out of elementary school in the middle of 2nd grade, there were 26 students in his class. I read an article in the News & Observer the other day that quoted Ian's friend's (and former classmate's) mother saying that there were now 33 students in each class in the 4th grade (Ian's current grade.) I have nothing but respect and awe for teachers, and do not feel that my kids were failed or let down. However, Ian needed particular attention in math and was getting behind, despite hours of homework and tutoring in the evening. He was too advanced in reading and writing, though, and was getting bored with his assignments there. Allie was behind in spelling, but was too far ahead in math. Finally, I feel that by homeschooling, I can offer a broader education, teaching my kids Greek and Latin, mythology, exploration, astronomy, etc., and can cater to their interests and strengths. Finally, we just have a lot of fun. That's the why.
Q: How do you do it? Do you have a schedule?
A: Yes, I do have a schedule. I spend a few hours every Sunday evening preparing lessons, printing worksheets, planning art projects, scheduling field trips, and deciding the subject rotation. Not all homeschoolers do this, but I do because it helps keep me focused and on track. However, I'm not super-strict: if it's a pretty day, we'll spend some time outside reading or exploring. If there's a class or activity organized by our homeschool group, we'll make time for that. If I want to go to the zoo, then darn it, we're going to the zoo. It's not all Spongebob and pajamas, though.
Q: What curriculum do you use?
A: I make my own. I like to be a little flexible in what we do & when we want to do it. If we want to study polar explorers for three months, then we will. (And we did.) Using that same example: I do try to tie in all subjects...For history, we studied the heroic age of polar exploration. For geography, we studied the poles. For science, we studied the climate and life at the poles. For spelling and grammar, we learned words relating to exploration, and I made grammar & punctuation worksheets featuring explorers, stories, Robert Scott's journals (minus the commas and capitalization so the kids could correct it), etc. And so on. We're fortunate that we have a decent library of books to choose from, thanks to great local used/new/independent/homeschool bookstores, a large homeschool population in the area that put their books and supplies on Craigslist regularly and have good yard sales, and of course, Amazon.com.
Another reason we don't use prepackaged curricula is because, as I mentioned before, my kids aren't just on a 4th (or 2nd, or K) grade level in all subjects. Ian tests at an 8th grade level in reading, grammar, and writing, but struggles (and never gives up!) in math. I can give Ian big honkin' books to read and expect more from him in writing, but take our time in math and make sure he understands the concepts before we move on. Allie's the exact opposite: I can't go fast enough in math, but I'll just say that her spelling is adorable and creative and her grammar is free-form, and we have to review constantly to make sure she gets it.
Q: Do you think the kids are getting the socialization skills they need?
A: Yes, or we wouldn't homeschool at all. Strangely, I have the most outgoing, friendly, social, LOUDEST, happiest kids EVER. (Strange because my husband & I both are fairly introverted. The kids always amaze us.) They have lots of friends in the neighborhood and in our huge, busy homeschool group (more on them later.) They go to game days and park days. They have friends over often. Ian has guitar & karate lessons, and Allie will probably start something soon, once she can decide what she wants to do. (Drum lessons? More swim lessons? Back to Girl Scouts? Start karate? I guess we'll see.) So, nope, I'm not at all worried about my well-adjusted, extroverted, mile-a-minute kids.
So. There some very basic answers. I'll expand on each a little throughout the week. (You're welcome!) Right now it's time to crack open a Coke Zero, put in a movie, and start getting ready for the week ahead. I love doing this. I really do.