Author Topic: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice  (Read 2821 times)

Captain Cactus

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Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« on: January 18, 2023, 10:15:08 AM »
Hi all,
I originally started a threat in "off topic" but someone recommended I post here as well.  My wife and I are considering homeschool for my kids (age 11...soon to be 12, and age 9).  We are planning to start with my oldest this summer after he finishes 6th grade in the public school, and possibly keep my youngest in the public school initially. 

Would love to learn more about your experiences if you personally educate your kids at home and welcome your advice and stories. 

For some backstory, we started to explore homeschool as an option for my oldest because he hates school because the classes are so slow, there are bullies all over the place, and he hates school.  And to be honest, he's had a hard time making friends (real friends, friends that you can invite over to play or that invite you over to play), which I don't really get because he's a great kid, not "weird or awkward" in the way you would think of with kids who don't have friends.  But then again, maybe things are different these days? 

Anyway, would love your experiences and advice for newbies! 

PS, please keep the negative stories/prejudices to yourself. 

RWD

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2023, 10:47:55 AM »
PS, please keep the negative stories/prejudices to yourself.
You don't want to learn from other people's mistakes?


I was homeschooled from 4th through 8th grade. That was two and a half decades ago now, so I doubt my specifics are still relevant today. But I can say it is absolutely crucial that the homeschooled kids still have regularly scheduled social interactions. If they're having trouble making friends now imagine after years of being out of practice talking with other kids their age.

For me my parents set up a deal with the local elementary school so I could still participate in gym class. Later I also took supplemental classes for math. I joined our church's youth group outings. Etc.. Despite those I still don't think I ever fully developed my social skills. I am very grateful I wasn't homeschooled for high school, at least.

Captain Cactus

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2023, 11:53:29 AM »
PS, please keep the negative stories/prejudices to yourself.
You don't want to learn from other people's mistakes?


I was homeschooled from 4th through 8th grade. That was two and a half decades ago now, so I doubt my specifics are still relevant today. But I can say it is absolutely crucial that the homeschooled kids still have regularly scheduled social interactions. If they're having trouble making friends now imagine after years of being out of practice talking with other kids their age.

For me my parents set up a deal with the local elementary school so I could still participate in gym class. Later I also took supplemental classes for math. I joined our church's youth group outings. Etc.. Despite those I still don't think I ever fully developed my social skills. I am very grateful I wasn't homeschooled for high school, at least.

Sorry, should have clarified.  I meant I wasn't interested in people making uninformed statements akin to "homeschooling is stupid".  I'm all about hearing real life experiences, good and bad.

Captain Cactus

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2023, 11:59:11 AM »
PS, please keep the negative stories/prejudices to yourself.
You don't want to learn from other people's mistakes?


I was homeschooled from 4th through 8th grade. That was two and a half decades ago now, so I doubt my specifics are still relevant today. But I can say it is absolutely crucial that the homeschooled kids still have regularly scheduled social interactions. If they're having trouble making friends now imagine after years of being out of practice talking with other kids their age.

For me my parents set up a deal with the local elementary school so I could still participate in gym class. Later I also took supplemental classes for math. I joined our church's youth group outings. Etc.. Despite those I still don't think I ever fully developed my social skills. I am very grateful I wasn't homeschooled for high school, at least.

Would you be open to sharing what you mean by this?  In what ways did you not develop?  What would having fully-developed social skills look like compared to how you perceive yourself now?

treefly

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2023, 12:16:08 PM »
Just posting to follow, I have young kids(2yrs, 6mo), and we are considering homeschooling, Co-Ops, small private schools, etc. Our community is very homeschool positive, but it would be good to hear some varied opinions.

Captain Cactus

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2023, 12:37:48 PM »
Just posting to follow, I have young kids(2yrs, 6mo), and we are considering homeschooling, Co-Ops, small private schools, etc. Our community is very homeschool positive, but it would be good to hear some varied opinions.

Awesome!  Welcome to the conversation.  We're in Connecticut, which is generally homeschool friendly (in the sense that the town doesn't require anything really from the homeschool family or student... as it should be!).

RWD

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2023, 12:52:01 PM »
PS, please keep the negative stories/prejudices to yourself.
You don't want to learn from other people's mistakes?


I was homeschooled from 4th through 8th grade. That was two and a half decades ago now, so I doubt my specifics are still relevant today. But I can say it is absolutely crucial that the homeschooled kids still have regularly scheduled social interactions. If they're having trouble making friends now imagine after years of being out of practice talking with other kids their age.

For me my parents set up a deal with the local elementary school so I could still participate in gym class. Later I also took supplemental classes for math. I joined our church's youth group outings. Etc.. Despite those I still don't think I ever fully developed my social skills. I am very grateful I wasn't homeschooled for high school, at least.

Would you be open to sharing what you mean by this?  In what ways did you not develop?  What would having fully-developed social skills look like compared to how you perceive yourself now?

Might be difficult to articulate, but I'll give it a shot. I feel I was always almost normal. When I was a kid I didn't do excessively awkward things. I knew other kids growing up who were extremely shy or would talk to themselves or otherwise had a hard time even engaging in normal interactions, but that wasn't me. Around other kids I knew at school (K to 3rd grade) I was generally able to develop friendships and talk/play normally. I played team sports (soccer). I got excellent grades. However, I was diagnosed with ADHD which I think I can attribute to some occasional erratic behaviors. I bit my best friend in class once as a joke. I hid under a table in the cafeteria the first time I had to get lunch by myself. As I got older I managed to get impulses like those under control.

What I feel didn't really develop was a confidence in handling new and unfamiliar situations. I have a good deal of anxiety around whether I am following the correct protocol. The more ambiguity in the scenario's expected behavior the harder it is for me to feel comfortable. Imagine going to say a movie theater and you don't know how to buy tickets. For most people this would just be an easy ask someone nearby or an employee or just bumble your way through it no problem. For me that would give me a lot of anxiety. I would rather spend an hour Googling it ahead of time than have to spend 10 seconds talking to a stranger unprompted. I don't want to talk to the butcher at the grocery store to order meat because what if they ask me a question I don't know the answer to? When I do talk to them it's to order some exact thing I've ordered before so I know there will be no complications. Also, I absolutely dread making phone calls.

I have a hard time staying focused during a conversation. Someone can introduce themselves, give their name, I hear their name, and then immediately forget it because it's taking too much effort just to do normal boilerplate chit chat. I think this is more ADHD than a failure to develop. What is a failure to develop is my ability to end a conversation naturally. I mostly just hope the other person initiates a "well it was nice talking to you" or whatever so it doesn't fall on me. I've been known to sometimes just walk away from a conversation during a lull without saying a single word.

I should be clear here. I don't dislike interacting with others. I like talking with other people, especially when the conversation is something I feel I can contribute to. I just have a hard time starting said interactions and navigating them as effortlessly as I might be able to if I had more exposure to that growing up. And I do better when the interactions have a clear goal/activity. "Hey, let's go bowling!" Awesome, easy to handle and have a good time. "Hey, let's go to a party!" What does that mean? Do I need to bring something? How will I dress? Is there going to be loud music? What if everyone else is getting drunk and I'm left out? Much harder for me.

Anyway, hopefully that's helpful. Every person is going to be different so what might have been a suboptimal environment for me could be excellent for development of someone else. And I don't want to blame it on the homeschooling either. I think it was probably the lesser of evils given my personality and the school system at the time. It also allowed for some amazing family vacations that would have otherwise been impossible if I was tied to the public school schedule.

Smokystache

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2023, 03:54:19 PM »
OP - I know you saw and reacted to my post in the original thread, but thought I'd share it here in case it is helpful for anyone else:

Quote
We home-school our older 2 children (13 & 11) and send out 6 year old to local kindergarten. There are a variety of reasons for this. We started during the pandemic. One child has significant ADHD, one child has some auditory processing problems. My spouse received her degree in language education and was going to be a middle school language arts teacher, but decided not to (but has that training/background). She does 90-95% of the work. I help with math because it is easy for me.

You'll find a huge range of homeschooling philosophies - from set up desks in a room and re-create a classroom and worksheets to "Unschooling" - I'll let you google it.  We're somewhere in the middle. We use a curriculum from https://www.oakmeadow.com/, but we pick and choose what we want from it. I think many homeschooling parents will say that it is one of the most challenging and rewarding things they have ever done.  We don't attend or partner with other families or a homeschool community. The huge advantage is not having to worry much about living based on the quality or perceived quality of the school district. Our local district is considered to be top 5% in our state - but that also means a lot of pressure on AP classes and testing and the class size is enormous. We also love being able to travel when we want. Took my kids to ride rollercoasters on a Wednesday in early November and we felt like we had the place to ourselves.

As for social interactions in traditional education/schools, I believe it is vastly oversold. It's true that homeschoolers need to get out into the world and have interactions. But I think those interactions with other children and a variety of adults is much healthier than the average interaction in school. For example, the idea that my 6th grader exposure to "interaction" is with 200 other 6th graders is frightening. Some of those 6th graders are well-adjusted, creative, and fun kids. Some of those 6th graders are coming from very difficult circumstances and have been conditioned in environments with lots of abuse and trauma. Even "good" kids can do stupid or hurtful stuff when peer pressure kicks in. And I say this as someone who really liked my traditional school-based education.

Another example, my spouse took my two home-schooled children to volunteer at a therapeutic riding center this morning (something they do weekly). They gain experience helping individuals with mental and physical challenges, get to interact with the parents/caretakers and adult volunteers/staff, and get to groom and ride the horses. I'll take that once/week compared to 5 days of the average lunch room shenanigans any day. Just my $.02.

scantee

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2023, 04:42:19 PM »
Posting to follow along and commiserate.

My younger son is in seventh grade and really dislikes the social dynamics of middle school. He’s a smart kid and more mature than boys his age. He’s not rowdy, never has been, and I think he finds that kind of interaction tiresome. All of his good friends are older than him. This time of life kind of sucks for him and I feel bad that he has to spend so much of it in an environment that is mostly not enjoyable. So yeah, your son is not alone in feeling the way he does.

I don’t have any specific intention of homeschooling him, but I absolutely would if it ever got to the point where he was very unhappy. I’ve also been snooping a couple private schools, which I would also only consider if things got very bad. It’s good know what the options are if it comes to that. 

On a better note, my older son is a freshman in high school and kids in his grade seem to have matured quite a bit. There’s much less dickishness and people are more happy to mind their own business and just have their group of friends. He also didn’t love middle school, however distance learning due to Covid spared him much of it. High school he so far genuinely enjoys.

Whatever decision you make isn’t forever. It may be that homeschooling in middle school and then going to high school makes sense. Or not, and you homeschool through high school. Trying it for a year and then assessing seems like a reasonable plan.

sailinlight

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2023, 05:50:49 PM »
We "homeschooled" our two currently 13 and 12 year olds during the pandemic while touring the country in our RV. Formally, it consisted of occasionally teaching some math concepts related to algebra and geometry and making them read books. After settling, this school year they really wanted to get back into public school and we were afraid they'd be behind. They really weren't, entering 7th and 8th grade. They got A's and B's with on C the first quarter, and all A's the second. And they made good friends the first week. Unfortunately, academically, I think the whole cohort is behind a year, at least compared to where I was at that age. Which is unfortunate for the country, but  we wouldn't have had the opportunity to spend the last two years touring the country, which I think might be worth it. The USSR spent almost their entire national budget on education and look where that got them. I think fostering a sense of curiosity and ingenuity is worth something, and has what made America exceptional.

Captain Cactus

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2023, 06:04:00 AM »
PS, please keep the negative stories/prejudices to yourself.
You don't want to learn from other people's mistakes?


I was homeschooled from 4th through 8th grade. That was two and a half decades ago now, so I doubt my specifics are still relevant today. But I can say it is absolutely crucial that the homeschooled kids still have regularly scheduled social interactions. If they're having trouble making friends now imagine after years of being out of practice talking with other kids their age.

For me my parents set up a deal with the local elementary school so I could still participate in gym class. Later I also took supplemental classes for math. I joined our church's youth group outings. Etc.. Despite those I still don't think I ever fully developed my social skills. I am very grateful I wasn't homeschooled for high school, at least.

Would you be open to sharing what you mean by this?  In what ways did you not develop?  What would having fully-developed social skills look like compared to how you perceive yourself now?

Might be difficult to articulate, but I'll give it a shot. I feel I was always almost normal. When I was a kid I didn't do excessively awkward things. I knew other kids growing up who were extremely shy or would talk to themselves or otherwise had a hard time even engaging in normal interactions, but that wasn't me. Around other kids I knew at school (K to 3rd grade) I was generally able to develop friendships and talk/play normally. I played team sports (soccer). I got excellent grades. However, I was diagnosed with ADHD which I think I can attribute to some occasional erratic behaviors. I bit my best friend in class once as a joke. I hid under a table in the cafeteria the first time I had to get lunch by myself. As I got older I managed to get impulses like those under control.

What I feel didn't really develop was a confidence in handling new and unfamiliar situations. I have a good deal of anxiety around whether I am following the correct protocol. The more ambiguity in the scenario's expected behavior the harder it is for me to feel comfortable. Imagine going to say a movie theater and you don't know how to buy tickets. For most people this would just be an easy ask someone nearby or an employee or just bumble your way through it no problem. For me that would give me a lot of anxiety. I would rather spend an hour Googling it ahead of time than have to spend 10 seconds talking to a stranger unprompted. I don't want to talk to the butcher at the grocery store to order meat because what if they ask me a question I don't know the answer to? When I do talk to them it's to order some exact thing I've ordered before so I know there will be no complications. Also, I absolutely dread making phone calls.

I have a hard time staying focused during a conversation. Someone can introduce themselves, give their name, I hear their name, and then immediately forget it because it's taking too much effort just to do normal boilerplate chit chat. I think this is more ADHD than a failure to develop. What is a failure to develop is my ability to end a conversation naturally. I mostly just hope the other person initiates a "well it was nice talking to you" or whatever so it doesn't fall on me. I've been known to sometimes just walk away from a conversation during a lull without saying a single word.

I should be clear here. I don't dislike interacting with others. I like talking with other people, especially when the conversation is something I feel I can contribute to. I just have a hard time starting said interactions and navigating them as effortlessly as I might be able to if I had more exposure to that growing up. And I do better when the interactions have a clear goal/activity. "Hey, let's go bowling!" Awesome, easy to handle and have a good time. "Hey, let's go to a party!" What does that mean? Do I need to bring something? How will I dress? Is there going to be loud music? What if everyone else is getting drunk and I'm left out? Much harder for me.

Anyway, hopefully that's helpful. Every person is going to be different so what might have been a suboptimal environment for me could be excellent for development of someone else. And I don't want to blame it on the homeschooling either. I think it was probably the lesser of evils given my personality and the school system at the time. It also allowed for some amazing family vacations that would have otherwise been impossible if I was tied to the public school schedule.

RDW:

Thank you for that honest and vulnerable reply, I certainly appreciate that you were willing to share.  It's really amazing the sheer breadth of human experience.
I can relate on some level to your experience, in the sense that being social has never really been natural (seen myself as an introvert, but my experience may be a combination of introversion and being a highly sensitive person), but growing up I learned a lot to compensate for this and generally appear "normal", ie I had to speak on the phone because there was no other option, but also put myself out there to do theater, etc... trained me how to "act" in certain situations, even though I've never felt natural at it. 

You mentioned that you feel like your missing public school years put you at a disadvantage but, and especially since you went to high school between homeschool and now, it sounds like the behaviors you describe are more of your natural makeup as a person (which is great and I honor that) vs missing the hell of junior high.  Would more exposure to young teenagers made things better today?

Chris Pascale

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2023, 06:50:39 AM »
We briefly considered an alternative program for our 3rd daughter where she's completing all assignments from home. This would have been to eliminate some red tape involved in her skipping a grade. However, after a review of her schedule, she'll basically enter high school as an 8th grader next year, and the only thing we'll need to do in "11th grade" will be for her to have an extra gym class.

RWD

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2023, 08:36:59 AM »
Thank you for that honest and vulnerable reply, I certainly appreciate that you were willing to share.  It's really amazing the sheer breadth of human experience.
I can relate on some level to your experience, in the sense that being social has never really been natural (seen myself as an introvert, but my experience may be a combination of introversion and being a highly sensitive person), but growing up I learned a lot to compensate for this and generally appear "normal", ie I had to speak on the phone because there was no other option, but also put myself out there to do theater, etc... trained me how to "act" in certain situations, even though I've never felt natural at it.

Yes, that's how I feel as well. I am quite good at appearing/acting normal.


You mentioned that you feel like your missing public school years put you at a disadvantage but, and especially since you went to high school between homeschool and now, it sounds like the behaviors you describe are more of your natural makeup as a person (which is great and I honor that) vs missing the hell of junior high.  Would more exposure to young teenagers made things better today?

It's really hard to say how it would have affected my development. I did get to shadow my friends for one day of middle school so I got a glimpse of what the environment was like. At the time it was shocking to me the amount of autonomy given to the students. You have to know where your next class is and get there yourself on time?! And of course all my friends had perfectly adapted and seemed super comfortable in that environment. In hindsight it looked basically like high school but with slightly less mature peers. No, I doubt three more years of that would have made the difference for me personally.

Probably what I needed was to be put in situations where I had to decide what I wanted to happen and be responsible for making it happen more often. While my parents did an excellent job of keeping me from being socially isolated those activities were very rarely from my own initiative. For example, soccer: my parents just signed me up and I had to show up to practice/games when scheduled. A lot of my play time with other kids was arranged by my parents instead of by me. I don't particularly blame them as left to my own devices I probably would have chosen to do nothing most the time. And then there was the one time I called a friend and mistook his mom who answered for the friend (probably what started my phone phobia)... And in high school there were two female friends who invited me over (not for a party, just them) and I declined because I didn't think I would get parental approval. I probably should have just done it or at least asked...

It's hard to imagine what my parents could/should have done differently to push me out of my comfort zone more often. One positive example I can think of was my dad had me go to the post office occasionally to mail stuff for him. I am now very confident at the post office, haha. Maybe a variety of more stuff like that could have helped. Or maybe they could have insisted that I initiate something with friends on my own on a regular basis? Not sure.

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2023, 10:30:25 AM »
We have been homeschooling our boys (10 and 7 1/2) since before the pandemic. We never planned to homeschool when we started out parenting, as my wife and I grew up going to public school. We sent our oldest son to preschool and it became fairly obvious early on that he was going to struggle in a traditional school setting, primarily due to his high energy. He was later tested and diagnosed with high-functioning autism and ADHD. He has always had in interest in mature topics, which would be frowned upon in public schools for his age. My younger son would probably do well socially in public school, but would probably struggle academically, as we think he also has ADHD.

Homeschooling is not easy. My wife, who is the primary teacher, puts together individualized curriculums based upon each boys needs and interest. She spends 2-3 hours each week developing/organizing a lesson plan for the upcoming school week. Most of the time isn't just looking at what is next in their math, language, or history lesson plans, but she usually does a special lesson which requires her to plan what she needs. We've found having consistency has been good for our boys so "school" is Monday to Friday from 8-10, and 3-5, although the afternoon session is much less vigorous academically. On weekends we require (encourage?) them to do some sort of brain activity from 8-10. Usually this is an activity book, mind game, or further exploring an academic interest. The cool thing is that you can take a kid's interest(s) and teach almost anything through that interest.   

For socialization, my wife created a homeschool coop that meets once a week at local parks in the area. They explore a topic for about 30 minutes and then the kids are left to play. Parents all agree to teach twice a semester. We've found that the coop provides consistency for the kids, so they have a de facto "school" and a group of "friends". The kids all know the parents and the parents know the kids. The parents know each other so when there is an issue, if the kids can't work it out on their own, the parents come together and help the children work through the issues. I think this helps to have more effective socialization. She also organizes bi-monthly fieldtrips, which has overlap between coop families and other families that homeschool whose schedules may conflict with the coop. Again, there is a lot of planning to bring this all together.

For the parent, homeschooling can be emotionally challenging since you are both a parent and a teacher. Kids aren't always going to want to do a lesson no matter how fun you might think it will be or how much effort you put into planning it. You can adapt homeschool to be more interesting and meet the child's needs, but it may be that your child doesn't like or isn't enthusiastic about school. You as a parent will constantly be learning and adjusting.   


     


Captain Cactus

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2023, 02:23:12 PM »
Posting to follow along and commiserate.

My younger son is in seventh grade and really dislikes the social dynamics of middle school. He’s a smart kid and more mature than boys his age. He’s not rowdy, never has been, and I think he finds that kind of interaction tiresome. All of his good friends are older than him. This time of life kind of sucks for him and I feel bad that he has to spend so much of it in an environment that is mostly not enjoyable. So yeah, your son is not alone in feeling the way he does.

I don’t have any specific intention of homeschooling him, but I absolutely would if it ever got to the point where he was very unhappy. I’ve also been snooping a couple private schools, which I would also only consider if things got very bad. It’s good know what the options are if it comes to that. 

On a better note, my older son is a freshman in high school and kids in his grade seem to have matured quite a bit. There’s much less dickishness and people are more happy to mind their own business and just have their group of friends. He also didn’t love middle school, however distance learning due to Covid spared him much of it. High school he so far genuinely enjoys.

Whatever decision you make isn’t forever. It may be that homeschooling in middle school and then going to high school makes sense. Or not, and you homeschool through high school. Trying it for a year and then assessing seems like a reasonable plan.

@scantee Thank you for the reply, greatly appreciated.  I think what you describe about middle school is what my son is experiencing too.  Rowdy boys jockeying for dominance.  My son has always just been a nice, sweet kid who likes to play.  So he doesn't do well in that environment for sure.  Thank you for following and commiserating! 

shelivesthedream

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2023, 02:37:13 PM »
We have started homeschooling our 5yo son. My heart would love to keep homeschooling him all the way through, but my head knows he'll need to have more input into school vs homeschool as he grows older and I don't know what he'll choose. We also have a 3yo and a 1yo.

Thus far, I have only positive things to say about it. We get to spend a lot of time as a family. We get to teach him what we think is important and what he is interested in learning more about, not whatever the whole class has to learn. He was reading Level 5 phonics words by 4.5yo and now agitates to read to his little sisters, but isn't that interested in numbers. So we do a lot of reading and just a little bot of maths and that seems fine for us.

We get to go on trips to cool places and read cool books together. We get to go on holiday IN TERM TIME! We get to be friends with who we want to be friends with. One of my son's friends is 82. He gets to love his sisters and not be picked on for it. We get to learn a lot about trains. Like, really, A LOT.

Right now we don't do any homeschool groups or any classes. We anticipate making a significant house move in six months or so, so we haven't wanted to get particularly deep into the homeschool community here. It will be more of a priority when we've settled wherever we go next.

One of my friends has a son the same age as mine who started school last September. Six weeks in, he was moved into the remedial reading class and given "extra tuition" and cried because he had to skip P.E. with his friends. This child is not even five and already feels he's being singled out for being stupid. It breaks my heart. His mother also already feels like she's failed him. I know this child. He has so many beautiful gifts and the school system cannot appreciate them. It's not the fault of individual teachers. It's the reality of mass education with a particular goal in mind.

Although we haven't been homeschooling for long, we've started thinking about it before he was born and I have a few bits of advice.

- Read about philosophies and then pick and choose whichever you like. I recommend reading about unschooling, Charlotte Mason and classical education. Summaries are widely available on blogs. For instance, we have chosen the "hey, if you're interested in something then let's learn more about it!" vibe of unschooling, the emphasis on reading lots of real books from Charlotte Mason (I'm a sucker for a chapter book readaloud) and the emphasis on formal instruction in the 3 Rs for primary school from classical education.
- It's a lifestyle decision more than an education decision. And that's what I love most about it. I love the lifestyle of all being together all the time. I love the lifestyle of diving deep into interests. I love the lifestyle of being a family.
- Don't demonise school. You might send your children again one day.
- I think people make a mountain out of the socialisation molehill. Most people I speak to can't really articulate what they mean by it. You mean... he should have friends? Yep, we can do that. That I shouldn't be standing over him all the time monitoring everything they say and do? Yep, we can do that too. That his life shouldn't be micromanaged? Yep, no problem. That he should have to experience bullying first hand in order to be "socialised"? Er... what? No way.
- Think about what YOU love, and how you can share it with your children. For example, my husband is really interested in architecture. So over the years, they're going to learn loads about architecture. I am really interested in the history of everyday life and super excited to take my children to the exhibit of wacky early toasters in the Science Museum.
- You probably won't cover everything they would have learned in school PLUS all your interests PLUS all their interests. Something has to give. We are lucky in the UK to have the National Curriculum (what all children have to learn in school) easily accessible to everyone online. I read it, made some notes, then set it aside.
- Come up with your own high-level goals for your children and look at what you do in the context of those goals. For example, it is a priority to me that my children should be sufficiently scientifically literate to read the Daily Mail (a notorious tabloid newspaper that misreports every scientific study under the Sun). I don't need them to be doing A Level science and advanced calculus if they don't want to. It is a priority to me that they should get five A-C grades at GCSE (an important box to tick on employment forms over here). I'm open-minded about what subjects they take, when they take them, whether they take any others (8-10 is the usual number in schools). I want my children to be fit for employment but I'm open-minded about what that will be. I won't make them go to university if they don't want to. Maybe my eldest son really will be a bus driver when he grows up, or maybe my daughter will be a tour guide in the jungles of Brazil, or maybe my youngest will be a motivational speaker.
- People have a LOT of personal feelings about homeschooling. People have already said some quite shitty things to me that are based entirely in their own subjective experiences of their own schooling and bear no relation to my actual children. Be prepared for pushback from some surprising places. Try to find some fellow homeschooling parents who are on your side about homeschooling being in general a good thing to do. I listen to a few podcasts, joined a few Facebook groups, have a few friends.

ETA: My husband and I were both very high achievers academically in school, and found the social side very difficult. If you can allow the proposition that some people are not well-socialised at school, it's not hard to see how "just send them to school!" is not actually a panacea for social difficulties.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2023, 02:39:44 PM by shelivesthedream »

la Condessa

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2023, 06:56:01 PM »
I’m an experienced homeschool mom.  I’ve been teaching my kids at home since my fourteen-year-old was preschool age.  I made the decision in part because I knew I could offer them more in academics than our local schools could, and in part because of my own experiences being severely bullied in school and struggling to overcome my resulting social anxiety. 

I also homeschooled our foster kids during the pandemic, so my experience has run the gamut through giftedness, learning disabilities, and remediating kids who were extremely behind.  We have really loved homeschooling and our kids have excelled.  The real benefits of homeschooling are individualization and time.  Teaching one-on-one is so much more time efficient than teaching twenty or thirty kids at once that it is totally possible for a kid to cover significantly more ground in less time.  This allows a child with dyslexia to dedicate an hour every day to overcoming their learning disability and still be able to delve into special interests like art and music in addition to the standard school subjects, and yet be done with school by lunchtime every day.  Or it allows the fifth grader who can barely read a picture book to spend more time on reading and catch up four grade levels in six months, and still have afternoons free to be a kid.  Or it allows the go-getter who loves ancient history and languages to take both Greek and Latin in addition to a normal elementary education, and still have more free time than kids in a standard classroom.  It has also allowed my son with cancer to stay at or above grade level despite long hospitalizations and many interruptions to his schooling for medical appointments and days when he was not well enough to manage much schoolwork.

A general rule of thumb is that it takes about 30-45 minutes a day to teach kindergarten academics, about one hour per grade level up through fourth grade, then increasing to five hours around seventh or eight grade and to six around ninth or tenth.  Roughly following these guidelines, my kids have all progressed more than a year’s worth of schooling each year in a fraction of the time other kids spend.

It is important to make sure your kids have social experiences outside the home (especially if you are only homeschooling one).  This isn’t hard.  If they go to church, play a sport and/or instrument or dance or theater, go to youth groups, take an online or co-op class, do 4H, go to the library Lego club or book group, go grocery shopping with you, babysit or play with the kids down the street in the afternoon, etc., they will have opportunities to learn from a variety of social situations.  We let our kids each pick up to one sport and one art/music lesson each.  Those plus church, playing with neighbor kids, and youth group starting at age 11 mean they’re interacting with lots of other kids and adults.  They also do foreign language tutoring online and our middle schoolers take one or more classes through Clrc online for practice with different teaching styles, learning expectations, following deadlines etc.  My kids are all more socially competent than I was at their ages (an admittedly low bar).

With the difficulty of teaching four different grade levels while managing my 8-year-old’s medical needs, we decided to send our oldest to school for eighth grade this year.  She has done great there academically and socially, though the academics are very easy for her and she spends a lot of her class time tutoring other kids.  We are going to send our second next year for seventh grade, as she has decided she wants to try it out.  My 8-year-old will almost certainly be homeschooled all the way through, and maybe the 10-year-old, too.

barrelomonkeys

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2023, 08:31:13 AM »
I have homeschooled my first two kids on and off for several years (oldest is 12).  They just simply learn much more and don't have the negative peer influences of school.  The negatives are that when I homeschool, it is literally all that I do.  It is all-consuming.  The other big negative is how hard it is to schedule other social interactions; I scheduled a play date for my first grader every single day, and it was HARD.  Overall, though, I have much more high-quality family time, my kids learn exponentially more, and they are honestly more.... maybe polite is the word?  I could see the shift once I sent my 7th grader back; he has become more jaded/cynical and a bit rude, perhaps. 

But I love that the pandemic gave me the courage to try this (again--I had dipped my toes in once before).  My overall mantra for homeschooling came from an interview I heard with Salman Khan, where his advice was to just do a few things, really well.  I totally agree.

Homeschooling is completely overwhelming at first since there are just SO MANY resources and viewpoints, but this book is a great starting point. They call it the "Homeschooling Bible" for good reason: https://www.amazon.com/Well-Trained-Mind-Classical-Education-Fourth/dp/0393253627/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1670002616&refinements=p_27%3AJessie+Wise&s=books&sr=1-1

Older editions might work, but I remember hearing that they updated it with more resources for kids with disabilities, so I should probably grab a newer one sometime and take a look.

The overall picture they give (along with their favorite resources) is to train children to articulate what they have read (essentially, be able to summarize), and then progressively move onto teaching them to argue/reason. When I homeschooled my oldest for 1st grade, I felt like he didn't really understand how to summarize, but he certainly did when I homeschooled him again for 5th. So, with my second child (for end of 1st/2nd), I had him initially summarize his life with journal entries, but he had a hard time coming up with material, so I eventually just printed out pictures and had him write a few sentences about each one.

I certainly didn't do all of this all at the same time, but these have been the best resources/tools for us:

-Strava—I had them run a mile every morning with this app on my phone.  They had to run it under a certain time each day.  I think it helped immensely when I did it right before math, especially with their ADHD.

-Math Flashcards—An app on my phone that I use.  I sometimes put on a timer, but I find that stresses one of my kids out quite a bit

-Khan Academy—I owe this guy so much.  I have them do the related videos and then a quiz/test a day.  I think Khan is right that mastery is the way to go, so they need to get 100% on a quiz or a test before they move on.

-Homespellingwords.com—I switched off between spelling and writing every other day.  I used lists from homespellingwords.com and essentially did a spelling test every other day.  I kept track on an excel spreadsheet how many times they missed a certain word so that I could re-test it later to make sure it stuck.  I used lined paper from Amazon, folding into thirds:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003U6N1P2/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
I phased Andrew out of spelling and into vocab this last semester.

-Story of the World—so fun to read with the kids.  There are four books that roughly correspond to 1st-4th grade (you can also buy the activity book if you want).  I learned a lot along with them, but I think summarizing was pretty tough for a 1st grader (which is what Jessie & Susan suggest doing.  I think summarizing from their personal life in journal format just comes much more naturally at that age).  The coloring pages in the Activity book were fun (and some people have their kids color while they read it to them), but I just didn’t have the prep time to do the activities, and for me it wasn’t a huge bang for my buck endeavor.  My oldest just ended up reading the rest of the books in the series without assignments since they are very engaging.
https://www.amazon.com/Story-World-History-Classical-Earliest/dp/1933339004

-Typing Club—I like this one the best for learning typing.  Such an important skill, but like cursive, they only do it for a few weeks before I switch it out for another unit
https://www.typingclub.com/

-Vocabulary Workshop—My oldest did one unit a week from this in 6th, and it took him about a semester to finish.
https://www.amazon.com/Vocabulary-Workshop-Level-Grade-Paperback/dp/082158006X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=vocabulary+workshop&qid=1650919192&sprefix=vocabulary%2Caps%2C10
8&sr=8-1

-Vocabulary Tests--The tests I used correspond to the book, and are free at:
https://www.vocabtest.com/

-Vox Borders—I’ve started to show my kids a couple of videos from this series. He’s a bit eccentric, but my kids love him.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NDa_SpvbeCQ&t=0s

-Art for Kids Hub—I found that the art teacher at school uses these as well.  They are great, but I usually just stick to animals.  Just plug and play:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLWNOafqfh0

-The Art Sherpa—I love this lady.  She does such a great job.  She has some really fun acrylic stuff. I have had to definitely step in and help a bit since this is higher level than Art for Kids Hub.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMjztpF5Rxc

-Marco Polo—I have them send their grandparents a Polo for each piano piece they do,  and then my parents send one back telling them what they liked about the piece.  Highly motivating.

Overall, my kids are huge readers, and the thing they get out of homeschooling almost more than anything is just time to read whatever they want because school and homework don’t take their entire day.  I limit the fiction somewhat (I can’t keep Harry Potter in the house—that series is crack cocaine), but I just think people like Steve Sheinkin, the Usborne people, Eyewitness and others do such a great job that nonfiction is amazing these days (also biographies about people like Louis Zamperini, Jimmy Doolittle, etc).  I feel like much of what they know is self-taught from just being able to have the time to read, which they don’t really do when they’re in school.

Captain Cactus

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2023, 01:27:30 PM »
@barrelomonkeys
Thank you so much for taking the time to write out your thoughts and links to resources below.  I shared with my wife this AM.  I actually purchased a copy of The Well Trained Mind off ebay for $5.50 (free shipping!) eagerly look forward to reading through that when it arrives. 

Everyone else, thank you as well, I truly appreciate your replies and your shared experiences.  Keep it coming... I'm in the knowledge accumulation phase ;) at this point and will check out everything you send over. 

meandmyfamily

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2023, 03:42:06 PM »
We are finishing our 12th year homeschooling.  My kids are currently 19, 17, 12 and 11.  We started saying we would take it a year at a time.  We now have graduated one, who is at her first year of college 4 hours away, and our second born graduates this May.  They both took many community college classes in high school and never had any desire to go to a local high school.  We asked them what they wanted to do.  One of my kids did golf for the local high school.
 We do belong to a large homeschooling group (180 families this year) and we have many too many social events with that group and the extracurricular activities my kids do.  We often joke that we do too many social things and need to do more school.  We love homeschooling and the freedom we have.

I was homeschooled from 5th-7th grade.  I also loved it and always wanted to homeschool my kids.  My oldest went to Kinder and 1st grade, my second oldest went to Kinder and my two younger kids have never been too school.  I highly recommend it. 

If you have a homeschooling convention this spring/summer, I highly recommend you go.  I read The Well Trained Mind in the beginning.  I also liked The Core.  Other good curriculum sites are https://www.bookshark.com/, https://iew.com/ and https://timberdoodle.com/

Michael in ABQ

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2023, 04:23:01 PM »
I don't have a whole lot more to add since my wife handled 95% of the home schooling. Once #6 came along it was just too much to take care of a baby, a very active toddler, and try to teach 4 elementary age kids. Our oldest was in 5th grade when we stopped. We ended up enrolling them in a classical Catholic school and they've all done very well in the few years since. It's a small school that was started by some homeschooling families and it still retains that culture.

Story of the World is good, we used that. I'm sure my wife read The Well Trained Mind.

My wife was homeschooled from 6th grade on with a Catholic curriculum that was pretty rigorous (Seton). We tried it but found it just took too much time with multiple kids at different grade levels. Eventually we settled on a classical/Charlotte Mason approach. All our kids are voracious readers and my oldest boys definitely picked up my love of history and maps. It's typical for them to draw a map of how Europe looked prior to WW1 or just a made-up world. In their current school they get art and music and Latin which were subjects my wife and I just weren't equipped to teach. We could handle reading, writing, and 'rithmetic fine at the Elementary age - same with science and history. But we weren't sure what it would be like for high school.


If our kids were a bit further apart in age maybe we could have made it work, but homeschooling that many young kids at once (K, 2nd, 4th, 5th and caring for younger children) is hard. Especially since I was working full-time and then some to be able to support our family on a single income. I would still highly recommend it for all the reasons others have stated.

mindysimmons

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2023, 08:05:21 AM »
We have been homeschooling since the pandemic (we're in the UK, so there was no option of online school in Sept 2020 (which we would have preferred)).

It seems to have worked out well so far and my kids (10 & 14) seem to be learning well. We use a combination of books and websites, which are probably too geared to the UK curriculum to suggest here.

My husband is also now working remotely, so we've been able to travel this year and plan to continue until the end of the academic year (month away/month at home).

Not sure what to do in September. We love the freedom the homeschooling gives us, but my eldest will be starting her GCSE courses next year, and it would be my youngest's final year in primary school. Therefore, I feel like they either return to normal school in September or not at all (a now or never situation).   

StNick

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2023, 03:01:46 PM »
The social aspect always seems to be a huge thing for people but I find it to be a bit of a silly critique.

I went to public school, and there were a lot of weird kids in public school. Seems like the kids are getting even weirder than before but that could be because I'm just getting older and more cynical, or it could be covid. (On the covid front, homeschoolers didn't even see an interruption)

I have also known a lot of weird homeschoolers, but also a lot of normal homeschoolers. I'm sure the normal homeschoolers got tired of hearing "Wow you're so normal for someone who was homeschooled".

I don't think there's a correlation between the two, and shouldn't be considered.

We love homeschooling, our kids get to go outside, take naps, play with friends, all while finishing school in about an hour. (We have young kids).

Captain Cactus

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2023, 04:29:47 AM »
Thank you for sharing your experience StNick!

We are about 95% of the way there in making a decision to do home education for my son.  Next step is we want to find other people doing the same thing in our vicinity so he will see that he could still have friends.

tweezers

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2023, 09:45:02 AM »
Our kids are now 14 and 12, and we homeschooled until they were halfway through 5th and 3rd grade (right before the pandemic, and then we were back homeschooling again for a year). 

There's a lot of great advice and resources listed already, and our experience was overwhelmingly positive.  We didn't intend on homeschooling but I traveled a lot for work when the kids were young, and they and my husband (the at-home parent) would travel with me, and we just kind of fell into not attending school.  We went to a lot of places in the US that aren't really destinations but interesting nonetheless (e.g., Greenville SC, Brewton AL, etc), and many that are (e.g., Orlando FL, Portland Maine, Portland Oregon, and more).  We were much looser with schooling while they were young and never followed a curriculum, but we read a lot and did a lot of activities (library, parks and beaches, nature centers, children's museums).  As they got older we enrolled in a parent-teacher partnership, which was basically "public school lite"...they attended a half day of classes a couple days a week, and had assignments and projects they did at home the rest of the week.     

We elected to start public school because they didn't have a lot of friends, and the kids they knew from activities weren't sufficient (we couldn't seem to overcome the familiarity of everyday contact with classmates).  There's a very active homeschooling community in our small town, but they are a very religion-based group and we are not, and it was difficult to connect.  I agree with others that the whole "socialization" aspect of homeschooled kids is overblown and is ridiculous if you actually do things with your kids, and the social structure and interactions at middle and high school are not always positive anyway and shouldn't be the gold standard for "socialization". 

For us, going into public school was a good decision because they have some really great (and close) friends and the shared experience of school has been really bonding, but they still struggle at times with the BS that comes with school (poor behavior of other students, busy work, class-wide punishments for the poor behavior of a few kids).  They're both in the gifted program, but both get frustrated by not being able to move at their own pace (this particularly bothersome to our oldest, and we've been able to address this by taking classes at a higher grade level than she's currently in). 

Ultimately, if you can do it and you want to try, there's no reason not to.  It doesn't have to be forever, and you can return to public school (or do a hybrid approach) if that ends up being a better fit down the road.  Good luck!         

AMandM

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #25 on: April 20, 2023, 07:15:28 PM »
I'm sure the normal homeschoolers got tired of hearing "Wow you're so normal for someone who was homeschooled".

In college, my oldest daughter was told by a fellow student that she wasn't a real homeschooler because she was normal.
IMO, what passes for socialization in schools is highly artificial, and homeschooling provides far more opportunities for kids to interact with people the way adults do in the adult world, which is on the basis of a joint activity or job or interest, with people from a wide range of ages and experience.

OP, we homeschooled our 7 kids all the way through, except for brief periods when we lived abroad and they attended local schools to become fluent in the language. The pros and cons for us, in a nutshell:

Pros
Efficiency/effectiveness: Kids don't have to wait while something they understand gets repeated for others who don't understand it, nor do they have to move on before grasping a topic and thus jeopardize their understanding of the next one.

Flexibility: You can adapt your schedule, group topics or lessons as works best for your family on a yearly or seasonal or weekly basis, choose subjects most appropriate for your family, customize curriculum to the needs/capacities/interests/learning style of each kid.

Concreteness: Because there is more time for hands-on activities and field trips, homeschoolers have much more scope to experience the world directly.

Practical skills: Most homeschooled kids learn skills like housework, cooking, laundry, home maintenance, etc. because they are integrated into daily life. Also frugality (see Money under Cons below).

Family bonding: Your kids will spend far more time with their siblings and at least one parent than schooled children do, and hence will have a large store of shared experiences, in-jokes, memories, songs, etc. It can make for a very strong family culture and enduringly close sibling relationships.

Cons
Attention/energy/time: It can be a lot of work to do homeschooling well. It takes large- and small-scale planning and record-keeping. The teaching parent(s) has to keep tabs on who's doing what, how, how well, etc.

Money: Having one parent forgo paid work isn't an absolute requirement, but it is way harder to homeschool if both parents have full-time jobs.

Self-knowledge: You have to recognize your own limitations and compensate for them. You may need to exercise humility to use tutors or prepackaged curriculum, or you may need to exercise courage to deviate from a prescribed plan. You may have to resist the temptation to do all the projects, go on all the excursions, follow all the rabbit trails, or you may need to goad yourself into doing a few excursions or signing up for a few classes.

College applications: For college-bound kids, once they reach high school, you have to think ahead about things colleges look for that don't happen as automatically in families as in schools: relationships with people outside the family who can serve as academic (not just personal) references, recognizable "extra-curricular" activities, standardized tests (if applicable), perhaps some kind of external validation of parent-generated grades. Totally doable, but a PITA.

Good luck! Happy to chat about specific curricular choices via PM.

Poundwise

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #26 on: May 26, 2023, 10:24:36 AM »
I homeschooled one child (2nd grade) for half a year in NY but found that it wasn't for us.  I'm just not organized enough, and I'm too busy with other things (working from home, volunteering) to give it the focus it needs. On the other hand, I have a friend who homeschooled her two kids from K-12 and it seems like she did a wonderful job. Her kids are power achievers.  However, she runs a tight ship, has a beautifully decorated home, etc. (I do not). Look at the way you run your life: the way you homeschool will likely be more of the same.

P.S. The most lasting effect of our homeschool experiment is that our daughter's best school friend found another best friend, which meant an adjustment period when she returned, though all is well now...
« Last Edit: May 26, 2023, 10:26:23 AM by Poundwise »

lutorm

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Re: Anyone homeschooling? Would love your stories & advice
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2023, 05:24:44 PM »
Homeschool isn't legal in Sweden, so it won't be an option. Now that we have kids I can say that neither of the parents would be able to handle it either... ;-)  I could see maybe doing a parent cooperative kind of thing.