(9.7.11) This week we began homeschooling our kids; mostly my daughter who is in Kindergarten, but seeing as we’re at home my son is along for the ride. A year ago I would not have believed I would be homeschooling. A year ago, my hearts desire would have been to send them to our local Montessori School. Research and a hard look at our family’s finances can change things. I’m beginning to believe that your decision on how to educate your children is just as personal as your choice of religion or political affiliation.
My husband and I had certain ideas about education when we got married and had kids. One, both of us had full time working parents and, although necesary for the situation, we wanted a life less chaotic than what we had growing up. In addition, we have taken on the joy/burden of caring for grandparents and parents. Anyone who is involved in elder care can tell you that is a job in itself. So with these facts we decided that I would be a stay-at-home mom 90% of the time ( I continue to teach at a local community college). Then came the time to decide where to educate our kids.
We live in Troy, Ohio-a lovely town, a safe town, surrounded by farms and rural Ohio. The schools are fine, more than fine, they are continually rated “Excellent” by the Department of Education. However, both of us had the experience of going to great universities and I continue to do alumni interviewing for one of them. I have seen what it takes to get into a great college. My husband works in Economic Development and regularly witnesses what today’s corporations want from a workforce. And using those two perspectives we determined that the public system with its emphasis on testing, testing, testing and yet missing the key foundations of reading comprehension, good writing, and intelligent discourse as well as strong mathematics and science wasn’t going to cut it for us. So, we turned to our private schools in our area-the Montessori one and the local Christian school. Both were very nice and we loved the Montessori method and emphasis on independent and interdependent work. However, we realized that if we wanted to continue to be a one-income family (see previous paragraph) we would not be able to afford either of these schools and still have time for family fun (vacations), travel, or our precious date nights. And so we turned to homeschooling.
We have a number of friends and acquaintances who homeschool and began to interview them and I began to research different methods, curriculum, and sources the way Hermione would attack a clue in the Harry Potter novels. We came to realize that homeschooling would afford us the opportunity to give our kids a high quality education peppered with lots of experiences and still be within our budget. The wonderful thing about starting in kindergarten is that there aren’t that many requirements for a kindergartener so I have this entire year to continue to explore homeschooling. I’ve been attracted to the Classical method, based upon the Roman Trivium, because of its strong emphasis on foundations in history, literature, science, and mathematics. Will I teach my kids Latin so as to better diagram sentences? Who knows.
I never thought I would homeschool and had many misconceptions before I began to look into it. One book that was invaluable to me was “Homeschooling: A Family’s Journey” by Gregory and Martine Millman. It laid out for me, in a very conversational style, how homeschooling can be a family bonding experience and provide a quality education. If you’re curious about homeschooling it’s a great book.
- The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer & Jessie Wise. This book was very helpful in laying out the classical method from first-grade through senior year. It has resources glore and I enjoyed the style of writing. Wise & Bauer lay out their method without being preachy (as so many homeschooling resources do about why THEIR method is the best). I also like Susan Wise Bauer’s personal blog. The History of the (Whole) World, which details more of her home life and profession as a history/english professor at The College of William and Mary.