I have 3 boys, 7, 5 and 3. This fall will be the first year we will be hs'ing. I'd love feedback on concerns I have if anyone is gracious enough to read through my post and respond!
We've previously been in public school (for the oldest, a preschool pgm for the 5 yr old) up to now. My eldest did really well there, the majority of the time loved it. He's outgoing, flexible, and enjoys being part of a "community" in the sense of enjoys seeing the same people every day, enjoys routine, likes having lots of friends. He's *not* the reason we started down the hs'ing road; my second child is, who got in trouble almost every single day in preschool, he hated school, he's' very bright but is so opposite from my oldest that we've pretty summarized that if something is a good fit for the oldest, its a terrible fit for the middle. Since the middle was slated to start K this fall, we opened up the notion of hs'ing. We didn't feel it was fair to only give our middle the option (who jumped at the chance and LOVES it, tells everyone he can that he is hs'ed!, since we started over the summer to get our feet wet and really test it out). Initially when offered the chance, the oldest didn't even want to at first. Now I suspect he's a little conflicted, and what 7 yr old wouldn't be!, but he's made it clear he wants to hs also. I do think he may want to go back at some point though, so I wonder if any of you had this dilemma (different children with vastly different personalities), and how did the transition from school to hs go, and if you ended up sending them back to school, were they behind?, ahead?, did they feel left out when they returned?, etc. I worry that I am actually making my older son's life harder by giving him this option when school was actually working out for him. Its quite a mature thought process deciding to school or hs, even I have qualms about both choices as an adult!
Another reason for our decision to hs comes from the notion that we shouldn't standardize children. We are born with individual talents, weaknesses, desires, etc, why is it that we approach learning in packaged way? DH (who is a high school AP teacher by the way!) and I don't see how it benefits anyone--either the child, the family, or society--to assume that all children who are 5 should learn x,y,z in 10 months, and only by working next to other 5 yr olds. We want our children to be able to discover and develop their own talents and passions, and actually have a clue what they may want to spend their career doing since they've been allowed to pursue it their entire lives (and not be stifled by a set curriculum with no opportunity for individuality). We also want them to have freedom to play and be outside in nature as much as possible, not be kept inside a building for the majority of the day, only to spend another hour at home inside doing homework after that.
NOW THAT said...I have found myself buying and using a pre-packaged curriculum for the children for the fall--the WTM approach for reading, writing, grammar, spelling, and history; I *am* actually going to work on my own pre-history curriculum (which I'm putting in the science category since we are learning about how the universe formed, the earth, life before humans, etc). Math will probably be singapore or something else pre-packaged according to their grade level. The boys don't want to do any music at all, however even our eclectic umbrella group which has many unschoolers etc enrolled, says that while you don't have to do all 8 subject areas every year, you will have to cover them within 2 years time. Then, I spent some time reading through "real life" accounts of what other families hs days are like (not unschoolers, which I don't plan on being; but families working with some kind of curriculum in one form or another). And I was struck at how they are literally doing school from 8 or 9 am until 2 or 3 pm, of course with an hour for lunch, and time for snack (just like regular school). And the balance of juggling different children of different ages was quite a challenge, in that of course in regular school you have many more chances of interruptions among 25 students vying for 1 teachers attention; however, even if you only have 3 children, at any given time one is young and spends time interrupting or needs attention, and if they're not, is it a good idea that while we are spending (lets say) 3 hrs per day with the two older ones doing school, the 3 yr old is basically spending those 3 hrs by themselves, being asked to stop interrupting the older two?
So great--kids, I pulled you out of school!!!, you don't have to work on what you don't want to!!, you can play more, etc!! Then wham--we are hs'ing, and I am still using a pre-packaged curricula designed for their exact age; they do actually have to sit still and do "work" for a number of hours per day; and like it or not, they will have to do something with all 8 required subjects at some point and time. Plus, all this work of school/home/life/social coordination/etc is all on my shoulders. Intimidating and draining to think about for an entire school year, to say the least.
For the record: I totally realize nothing is perfect. And no matter my rant above, we are still hs'ing for this coming year. But in order for me to have sound motivation to do this as best I can the following year, I really have to see how I am creating something better for them by homeschooling, NOT recreating a wheel that is already in existence. Can anyone help me see the light???!!!
Thank you so much if you gotten through this long thread :)