Friday, August 22, 2008

Advice?

I know there are a lot of homeschoolers out there in the Great Blogosphere, so I'm hoping to get plenty of answers. I'm actually begging for your answers. Because the middle school years? They are quickly approaching around here. Having been through them twice already, I am well aware that those years can either be happiness or hell. If you blend in with the crowd, you may do alright. If you are the tiniest bit different...or even perceived to be the tiniest bit different...hold on tight because it's going to be a bumpy ride. Add to that the fact that the environment and the attitude of the children and teachers at our local public middle school has changed significantly since The Oldest began the sixth grade 6 or 7 years ago (Oh my, has it really been that long??) and my twins who could be called quirky, a little immature, and definitely different, and well...I'm not at all sure I want to send them to middle school. So please tell me:

1. What's your favorite curriculum, books, publishers, etc.
2. Where do you buy your materials? Online? Used book sales? Homeschool forums?
3. Do you use online programs? Or only books?
4. Have you managed to stay on or above grade level? Because I know a few local families who have fallen way below state standards, and I don't know how they can keep doing what they're doing.
5. How long is it going to take me to set this up? I have about a year.
6. Can you work on different levels in different subjects?
7. Did your husband protest? If so, how did you convince him?
8. If you have older kids, did they have any trouble getting into colleges? Were they competitive enough in their applications?
9. Would you do it again if you could go back to the beginning, or was it a mistake?

That's it. If you'd care to answer any of these it would be a huge help! I'm trying to gather all my info and put my thoughts together and determine what is the best route to take with these two boys next year. One of them desperately wants to be homeschooled. The other is indifferent.

2 comments:

Marcie said...

Hey Source,
I'm a homeschooling mom of 4. My oldest child is almost 10, and my youngest is a wee babe of 7 months. In answer to your questions-
1. Yikes, this is a hugely broad question. Usually the first year or two out of public school people are very successful with the "curriculum in a box" method like Calvert or Abeka. I've used Rod and Staff in the past and found it an incredibly solid program as well as economical. You can visit www.homeschoolreviews.com to get more information about curricula that others have used, what worked for their families and why.
We started with Teaching Textbooks for math this year and have LOVED it-although it's expensive. We have also been using Growing with Grammar and Writing Strands, which I definitely think we'll stick with as well.
2. I buy at www.rainbowresource.com You can order a free catalog from their website, but it's so enormous that it's a little overwhelming and can easily tempt one into buying lots of unnecessary items. Also check out e-bay or your local homeschooling group.
3. We don't use online programs. We use some textbooks, some workbooks, and lots of library books. I think children will retain science or history information better if it's from a small library book than a textbook.
4. We really focus lots on reading, math and grammar (we are planning to spend lots more time focusing on writing this year though). We tend to fill in the other areas painlessly through cds (Story of the World, Classical Kids, Jonathon Park), computer games (Mavis Beacon Typing, Quarter Mile Math), and library books. We administered the Brigance Test in the Spring to identify any weaknesses and spent the summer working on those areas.
5. The research could take a week or a year, depending on how long you take to delve into everything that's out there. Most curricula will work just fine for your child, some will not fit well at all, and then you may find a few gems that are a superb match. You often don't know until you try, but I think it's a much better situation than public school, with the "one size fits all" approach.
6. I have a 3rd grader and a 5th grader. They do their own math and grammar, but almost every other subject we do together: 4th grade geography, 3rd grade science, etc...
7. My husband protested. It seems like most of them do, can anyone explain why? He asked me how kindergarten registration went, and I simply said "Oh, we didn't go. We're going to homeschool." If I had it to do over again, I would have handled it differently-with much prayer and conversation, and maybe offering him a trial period to prove we could handle it.
8. Colleges are actively recruiting homeschoolers now, so that's really not the issue it was 10 years ago.
9. I have no regrets! I'm thrilled that I get to spend every day with my favorite people in the world!

Hope this helps!

Carol said...

1. We've tried just about everything, I think. I think Sonlight was our favorite though.
2. Online
3. Only books never used an online curriculum
4. Both. Mostly at or above. Oldest has dyslexia and I know he was below in a few subjects.
5. I was/am Queen of throwing stuff together at the very last minute but I'm probably not the best example to use! :)
6. Absolutely.
7. DH is an ex-high school math teacher. I am more of a free-spirited unschooler. We learned to compromise. ALOT.
8. They had absolutely NO problems getting into college. We're starting out at our local community college for the first year or so and then they can/will transfer to a 4 year school.
9. Oh boy. That is a good question. One I've been thinking about ALOT these days. I don't have a good answer. I will admit to having alot of regrets about the way we did things. On the other hand, our boys turned out amazingly well and wouldn't have done it any other way. Had I had it to do all over again though, I'm not totally sure I'd homeschool all the way through.