NatureAmy

caring for creation while caring for family

Category: Homeschool

Choosing the best homeschooling option for our family

So, Part 2 of my homeschool series is how we chose the method of homeschooling that we currently use.  (If you missed part 1, on why we chose to homeschool our kids, you can read it here.) This is a personal option for any homeschool family, and like the choice to homeschool your kids, or not, it can change depending on the current needs of your family.  The options that I mention are not available in every state, so you will have to research your homeschool options based upon your state’s, or country’s, laws.

How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.com

Micah traces numbers and places the right number of teddy bears on each one at age 4.5.

California Homeschool Options

The homeschool options in California, where we live, are very good.  Not only is private homeschooling an option (if you register your ” private school” with the state, a process that I am told is relatively simple), but there are numerous public charter homeschool options and online options, as well.  There are also some private schools that have homeschool programs attached to them – an option that my parents used when I was a kid. Homeschool groups, coops, and programs also give parents many options within these broad categories. We looked into each of these options and the many different charter schools available in our area – we talked to people who had used all of these things, assessing the pros and cons of each option.

The best option for us

In the end, we decided on what we believed to be the best option for our family, a charter homeschool with a local campus.  The campus gave us the option to enroll our students in on-site classes once or twice a week for 60-90 minutes of learning in a classroom setting. (Jr High and High school students have more on-site classes). It allows them to get used to other teaching styles, classroom expectations, and interact with their peers while still spending the majority of their school day at home.  My boys, who are slow to read just like I was, are able to participate in programs to help them with reading, all free of charge because it is a public school – which is such a blessing!

How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.comCost – Another reason that we chose the public charter school route was that it was much less expensive than private homeschooling.  When we started homeschooling, we were trying to raise our family on two part-time adjunct professor salaries – which is not much money!  So we had to find an inexpensive option.  Because it is a public school, the curriculum is provided for us.

Curriculum – However, we don’t just have one curriculum option, we have many many great options to choose from.  When my oldest was in kindergarten, the basic handwriting curriculum we were given just wasn’t working, so I asked about another curriculum and was able to check it out of the school’s curriculum library that day! (Find out what it was in my favorite curriculum post coming next in the series!)

The only drawback to getting free curriculum through a charter school is that Christian (or any religious) curriculum is not an option.  We are okay with this.  We supplement our own Bible curriculum and we know that our kids are getting a solid Biblical foundation even without books that specifically address it.  More on that in my curriculum post.

How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.com

Addamay always wants to do what her brothers are doing.

Personalized Learning Teachers – Another great thing about going through a charter school (although this is a drawback for some) is that we have a credentialed teacher overseeing our children’s education.  She helps us create an individualized learning plan for each of the kids and is incredibly encouraging!  We check in with her frequently; she ensures that we are staying on track and is always so encouraging. We love our PLT (Personalized Learning Teacher).  However, if we didn’t like our teacher, we have the option to switch teachers, even in the middle of the year.  Every parent and teacher has a different approach to learning/teaching, so sometimes it can be a process to find the teacher that works best for your family. We did our research before applying to the school and made our teacher request based on our research – thankfully she had openings that year!

Classes – The optional  onsite classes have been wonderful for our boys and have allowed them to have an in-class experience each week.  These are taught by the credentialed teachers and there are always several options for the kids to choose from.  This year my boys are doing a reading program twice a week to help them with their reading and they each have one fun class.  My 3rd grader LOVES his science class where he gets to do experiments with his peers each week – he wants to be a scientist of some kind, but thinks it’s too much pressure to choose what kind of science just now – smart kid!  My 1st grader started in a fun math class, but found it too easy (which is boring for a 6 year old), so he switched to a reading class that has different stories and crafts each week – he loves crafts!

How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.com

On a field trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium

Student Resources – Finally, our public charter school allots resources for additional or extra curricular educational classes or tutoring from approved vendors throughout the year.  The funding is limited per month, of course, but it allows our children to participate in some great educational classes that we otherwise would not be able to afford!  The boys are currently taking semi-private swimming lessons twice a week because of this!  Other kids choose tutoring in every subject, music lessons, karate, ballet, etc.  There are so many options!


How we chose the best homeschool option for our family in our current stage of life - NatureAmy.com

Our school room at home (I’ll write a post on that soon, too) and my lesson planner.

 

After researching all the options – we settled on the public charter school option as the best one for our family currently.  It is certainly possible that the best option for our children may change at some point in the future.  If we move, we may decide that private homeschool is the best option, or we may decide on a charter school without a campus.  I don’t think we will ever choose an online school for our children, because my husband and I are opposed to that idea for children’s education. Of course, never say never – right?

So, do you homeschool?  And if so, what is the option that you have chosen for your family? I’d love to hear about it!

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Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts from a Homeschooled Homeschooling Mom

I sat down to write one post on homeschooling, but soon realized I have a mini-series in the making.  So… this is the first of many posts to come on how we do homeschooling at our house.

There are so many different options for school and no one-sized fits all approach!  Public schools, charter schools, private schools, and homeschools are the most common options for us to choose between in the United States.  The best fit for our family in this season is homeschool.  But like parenting, and so many other things in life, we homeschoolers all have to find the groove that fits our family.  I feel like that is a moving target, especially as my kids grow older and we add more babies to the mix, but that’s part of the fun of life.

I was actually a homeschooled kid for most of my school years.  This was a weird thing in the ’80s and ’90s. When I started public school in high school, no one knew what I meant by “homeschool”.  My peers thought it was  some type of remedial or correctional program – I am serious, they actually thought that!  I think they learned otherwise as I soon rose to the top of the class and graduated salutatorian.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Some hands-on learning at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

I  love how homeschool helped mold me into the person  that I am today.  Homeschooling allowed me to learn at my own speed (which was actually very slow at first – I didn’t read until I was eight!) and pursue things that interested me – which was pretty much everything.

Homeschool instilled in me a universal love of learning that I still have today.  I learned to love every subject, mostly due to my parents’ love of learning and reading.  My mom and dad read out loud to us for years – years longer than was necessary.  I cherish these memories of family reading time, huddled together on the old family room couch, on a family road trip, or around a crackling campfire.  These books opened up so many opportunities for us.  I only hope that our own homeschool can do the same for our family.

When my husband and I had kids, he knew right away that we were going to homeschool them.  In fact, he told everyone that.  (He was never homeschooled himself, but he saw the benefit of it.) I wasn’t so sure, only because I knew how challenging it is to be a homeschool parent and that the majority of their education would fall on me.  However, as our oldest grew older, I started to look into our options.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

A field trip to the local zoo – the kids love any chance to see animals up close!

Our local schools are good schools and the teachers and administration are very good people, so I was not concerned there.  However, as I saw my young and very impressionable son interacting with other kids at the park, I noticed some things I did not like.  He learned to copy other children’s behavior, especially bigger “cool” kids, just from an hour or two at the park.  And that behavior was more “Lord of the Flies” than it was good Sunday School kid.  I didn’t like it.

My husband and I knew that we wanted to be the biggest influences of our children, not some cool kid on the playground.  We wanted to know what was going on with them everyday and to be able to pour life and love and grace into them throughout the school day.

I knew from my oldest’s personality and learning style that going to public school would be tough on him and we decided when he was only three and a half that homeschool would be the best thing for him.  We have not regretted it at all.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Making a recycling truck out of recycled boxes during a unit on recycling.

Homeschooling gives us the ability to allow our kids time to be kids.  At most schools today, kids are not allowed the time to just play that they need for their cognitive development.  Many, if not most, schools have all-day kindergarten.  Homeschooling has let my kids be kids.  Kindergarten work takes 1-2 hours of our day and the rest of the day can be spent exploring nature, running around, building with Legos, and just letting their imaginations go!

I love that my little boys are not made to feel bad or be punished for being wiggly kids.  My kids don’t come home from school with a “frowny face” for not being able to sit still or wrestling with another kid.  I can give them the time they need to wiggle and move and wrestle.  For most little boys, and many little girls, this is normal and not something to be punished or medicated.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Our first day of homeschool EVER! The boys had some fun with math and trains practicing numbers, addition, and subtraction.

Now that I have a third grader, we spend more than 2 hours a day doing school, but it is still much shorter than the time his peers spend in public school.  He is starting to be able to work independently, for a short time, and I love to see how his brain is developing.  His attention to detail with science and history just astound me.  I am so honored to be able to spend this time with him and see him grow into the man he will become.

Another reason homeschooling fits our family is because it allows my kids to have a very special and tight bond.  Although my kids all have friends their ages, they are also very best friends with each other.  And although they do fight on occasion, as all kids do, for the most part, they get along very well.

It was the same for me and my siblings growing up.  If we weren’t friends with each other, who were we going to play with during the day?  Sure, we had other friends, but not “at school” with us.  I think the sibling bond is one that should be cherished and nurtured.  Siblings just tolerating each other, fighting constantly, and making each other miserable is just not acceptable.  We work hard to maintain that bond between them.  It is worth preserving.

Why Choose Homeschool? Thoughts on homeschooling from a homeschooled homeschooling mom. Why its the best choice for our family - NatureAmy.com

Becoming Jr Rangers at Lassen Volcanic National Park

The final reason we have chosen to homeschool is because we can integrate our faith into our daily studies.  We open each day with a prayer, allow the kids to take turns praying, and practice Bible verses.  And although we don’t use Christian curriculum (more on that in my curriculum post coming soon), I make sure to integrate our faith whenever I can – which is often!  The opportunities abound to share the importance of God with our kids and I try to be intentional to take these opportunities when they come up.

So, were you homeschooled or is it something that you have chosen for your children?

I’d love to hear about what works best for your family.

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