Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.
I did some online research and found (per consensus) that, in the United States, approximately 3% of students (Kindergarten through 12th grade) are homeschooled. That is certainly a less-traveled road.
But it’s also certainly one that, as Robert Frost’s immortal poem deems, has made “all the difference.” I ran into a friend today while walking to the library with Nigel, and she asked how the homeschooling’s been going. I told her that it’s the best decision I ever made.
I often get asked what type of program I’m doing, so I thought I’d describe that a bit. When I was initially researching homeschooling techniques, I discovered that there are as many different ways to homeschool as there are families who do it. The programs vary from highly structured to something called unschooling and everything in between. I decided on a structured schedule with a flexible curriculum. On any given day, Nigel and I work with the following sources: his public school-assigned math book, workbooks from Clas E. Professor, articles on Wikipedia, Kids Discover Magazine, National Geographic books and magazines, CD-Rom programs, educational videos and books checked out from our local library as well as the middle school library, and books from our own collection. We have more than enough material to work with, and aside from what I’ve spent on the books and CD-Roms we already had that we’ve accumulated over the years, this year I spent $20 on a Kids Discover subscription and $40 on workbooks. That’s it! That’s our homeschool budget! Of course there’s the reduced income to consider when figuring the real cost of homeschooling, but it’s worth it. Definitely.
The other thing I did in preparing to homeschool was to go to our state’s department of education website and inform myself about our state’s requirements for homeschooling. I also thoroughly read and noted their detailed list of grade level standards, i.e. what each student is expected to know by the end of benchmark years (3rd, 5th, and 8th grades). My goal is to follow the list of grade level standards because Nigel has expressed a desire to transition back to public school in 9th or 10th grade so that he can attend our local high school. I would certainly love for him to be able to do that, so in designing his curriculum I try to keep up with whatever the state says his peers are supposed to be doing academically. That resource was extremely helpful in figuring out what to teach him. (For anyone interested, here is the webpage with Oregon’s grade level standards for every academic subject.)
It was a bit of work designing my own homeschool program, and some financial sacrifice, but every day I see the benefits. Every day I’m glad I took this road.