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.
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!
Cost – 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.
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!
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!
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!