For those of you that don't know we chose to homeschool Alexis long before she was even born. I had the idea brewing in my head before Jamison and I even met and luckily he agreed with my assessment. There are many reasons, but the main reason was the deteriorating state of our school system's actual educating processes and the increased amount of violence. I simply wanted to make sure that Alexis got a well rounded education in all subjects, most importantly science and math, which have been watered down to practically nothing in some cases, and was able to do so in a relatively stress and violence free environment on a consistent basis.
When you tell people that you homeschool there are two reactions that you normally elicit, most people think it's really cool and ask a lot of positive questions or the other reaction you get is where people give you a terse "Oh!" and look at you as if to say "You're one of THOSE people! Bet you have your kid locked up in the basement unsocialized!" The first group are fun to talk to, the other group I've found it best to ignore them and move on. Some people just will not be pleased no matter what you do.
There is a misconception for some that all homeschooled children are kept sheltered, have no friends, don't participate in any activities outside of the home, etc. This isn't true in most cases. For instance Alexis is in a local Girl Scout Brownie troop, does various programs with other kids her age in arts, science, physical activities, etc. She attended several day camps during the summer along these lines and she is also very involved with our church's youth program.
We go out and do activities often. We're out and about all the time and Alexis is a very social child. She's never met a stranger and will talk to most anyone, unless they are mean toward her. Around our community people know Alexis and call her by name. She has that type of personality that makes it easy for her to like and be liked by anyone, and she has several very close friends she spends time with, along with acquaintances as well. Last Saturday she did an art class at the local library. This Saturday she will be working on her Science badge with some of her fellow Brownies. She's quite the little social butterfly!
There are also a lot of collaborative homeschool groups out there if you're interested. We don't utilize these groups, because it isn't our thing, but it is a good resource for those who might not feel comfortable with one subject, and excel at another. While someone in the group is helping the children with math, you might teach another group story writing. Most of these groups are called "Co-ops" and you can usually find one in your community or one nearby. These groups can meet once a week, once a month, etc. It depends on the group itself. Some are religious based, some are not. You can usually find one that fits your needs if you are interested in such things.
A lot of people assume that religion factors into the decision to homeschool and for us that is not the case. I let Alexis get her religious education at church on Sunday and we leave it at that. She knows the basic principles that are important in life and that's all that matters to me. She knows to treat others as she wants to be treated, she knows to help those who might need help, she knows that she is a very lucky girl and not all children are. She also knows not to make fun of people and not to be mean. She is one of the most empathetic people I have ever met, if you're sad she's sad with you, if you're happy, she'll be happy as well, if you're in pain it upsets her and she wants to help you alleviate that pain. She worries about people. She has a huge heart. I have friends that do fit religious education into their homeschool classes and that works for them and that is how it should be...Your program should fit your needs. For us though religion in class isn't a factor.
This year we're going further in depth in many branches of science, including chemistry, biology, physics, astronomy, botany, marine biology and geology. We are continuing our study of French and Spanish which is a lot of fun. We also are reading kid's versions of literary classics, along with some of these stories just straight up. We're doing more indepth story writing, art and music, history, geography, money, time, nutrition, anatomy, critical thinking, note taking skills, etc. Alexis is also learning to type. To round out each day Alexis writes a daily journal entry that tells about her day, something she'd like to do, something she just did, etc.
I also am a firm believer in hands on, on site, learning. If you're studying sharks, why not go to the aquarium and take a look at an actual shark? Studying George Washington? We're lucky enough to live near a lot of history surrounding Washington DC, Baltimore and New York isn't really that far away either. So for Mr. Washington we went to Mount Vernon. What better place to learn about one our founding fathers than his own home? Scientific experiments are easily done at home, or out in nature, or whenever you can observe or touch what you're studying. Reading about something is great, and it's part of the overall whole, but seeing it in action is in my opinion an imperative tool as well.
But homeschooling is expensive some argue. I disagree with you there. I will admit I buy a lot of books each year, because we are very much book people, but I find a lot of material for free online too. You would be amazed what is out there. Of course you have to look at these sources with a critical eye to ensure the information they are presenting is indeed true or factual, but it isn't too hard to distinguish the ones that are what they should be, and those that are not.
This year, though I hated to see it close, Borders going out of business was a rare opportunity for me to afford some of the books I had always wanted to use in our schooling. I also like to give Alexis computer and Wii games that are fun, yet educational. Kids can learn a lot while having fun without even realizing that they are learning, which in some cases is a good thing.
Is homeschooling for everyone? No, it isn't. In order to homeschool you have to have a lot of patience, a lot of preparation and will power to go the distance. Are there bad days homeschooling? You betcha! But most days are good, or at least that is how it is for us. Alexis is comfortable enough with me, as I am her Mom, to test her boundaries some days, so it's important to ensure you stick to what needs to be done. Homeschooling also gives you the flexibility to move on when your child is ready to go to the next step and to take a little extra time on certain things that your child might have a bit harder time understanding. Homeschooling is a perfect way for you to allow your child to learn at their own pace.
In short? Homeschooling works for us. Will it work for you? That is up to you to decide.