This year has been a bit frustrating with regard to Princess Trouble's experiences in public school. Her teacher is good - albeit strict - and I'm pleased with the school overall...
We are seeing weaknesses in the curriculum. There are concerns over the behavior of other children in the class. Princess Trouble's boundless enthusiasm for school and learning isn't so boundless anymore. And I do not feel that, if left in the hands of the public school system, she will live up to her full potential. Little Man is another concern. If he takes after his father (which is almost a sure thing, given the fact that he is a clone of my husband), I suspect he will do much better in a one-on-one, tailored setting rather than a classroom with 20+ other kids and an inflexible curriculum.
The irony is that I am a public school teacher. I am certified K-12 in Health and PE with endorsements in math and science. I've taught, full time, in public schools (CO, CA, and AK) for 5+ years. And now I sub in the public schools here. I've seen what works and what doesn't work and the sad thing is that, overwhelmingly, there is more of the "doesn't work" out there. I don't want my kids to fall into that category. And these days, when we're pumping more money into the public school system yet seeing a negative return on our investment, it is obvious (to me) that the public school system is about as broken as the health care system.
So, here we are. More to the point, here *I* am. I have known for several years, that homeschooling is in our future. Logistically, it's going to be necessary. Once we leave this island we will be in a state of limbo for many months - MacGyver has a school he will need to complete en route to our next duty station. And, while we *could* go on ahead of him to our next duty station and wait for him to join us, that is not something that we are willing to do. Military life separates our family often enough so, when things like this come up, we will work to find a way to stay together.
Rather than have my children attend 3 different schools in one school year, we will homeschool during this upcoming adventure. If we find that homeschooling works for us, then we will stick with it. I suspect it will. We already do some informal homeschooling as it is - during school breaks/vacations, weekends, etc. Often, Princess Trouble's classwork/homework isn't enough to truly cement a concept in her brain so we will do extra practice at home. My kids love learning at home - they are homebodies just like their parents.
Kim du Toit has an incredible article - her magnum opus - "Educating Your Children" series and it has been wonderful in terms of helping me to identify our goals and objectives for our children. I am in the process of soliciting information on curriculum from several homeschooling families we know and admire. Our broad subject areas are (and you'll notice that these pretty much reflect Mrs. du Toit's categories):
Arts: art/crafts, dance, music
Letters: English, literature, grammar, foreign languages, history, social studies, civics/government
Science: including health, gardening
Life Skills: including household skills, religion
Extracurricular: clubs, volunteering, hobbies
I've already heard from several friends as to the curriculum(s) they use for these subjects. And WHY they use them. That's key. My kids are alike in many ways but different in how they learn.
Princess Trouble is like me: loves to read, good with memorization, easily frustrated, good with detail, creative (not like me on this one). She'll be in 3rd grade next year.
Little Man is the epitome of his father: prefers to work with his hands and learn things by DOING as opposed to reading about it. Likes to read but only books he has an interest in (PT will read the cereal box if there's nothing left to read, even if it's not interesting). He's much more persistent than she is and his tolerance for frustration is higher.
I would love to find curriculum for each subject that is multi-level but I'm not adverse to using 2 completely different approaches if necessary. I am also not adverse to essentially creating my own courses from a variety of sources/curriculum. That is pretty much how I ran my classroom when I was teaching - the text/curriculum left so MUCH to be desired so we used it as the framework of the class (per state guidelines) but I created my own lesson plans for each topic rather than strictly adhering to the text. In some instances, I had classes with distinct "personalities" and would create individual lesson plans for each class based on what worked for THEM. So I have no qualms doing the same for my children.
I suppose the point of this long, rambling post is to ask my readers that homeschool what curriculum(s) you use and WHY. What works for you? What did you try that DIDN'T work for you? What advice would you give with regard to structure, record-keeping, etc. I'm looking forward to hearing it all! Thanks!