Updated: 01/16/23: Thanks to the idea of a faithful friend, I decided to take a break from My Story (updated version coming soon) and share some insights gained from our schooling experiences. Aspects of this topic can be controversial without even trying to be. Despite that, I would not discourage anyone from sharing their views. I believe every child is different. Consequently, each child may need a different approach to schooling.
Each year when we were married, the children’s father would pray, discuss and decide how to school each child – home school, private, fundamental, magnet, traditional public, and last is the virtual, public school. My intent is to explain in greater detail what I liked and disliked about each approach including what I learned about the curriculum in said context. I do not claim to be an expert in anyway. I also hope others will share their experiences. This post is an overview of each experience, further explanation will come in separate posts.
To add to my experience; I wrote my thesis on parental involvement in a child’s education in comparison to home schooling. I will share parts of that research throughout as well.
My first experience was with my eldest son in 4th grade. I had just removed him from public school after it was recommended that he be tested for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). That was in the early part of this decade when medicine was becoming a quick solution to “problems” in the classroom. My interpretation of his “problems” was more related to what I saw as the whole child and how he learned. Xaviar was and still is gregarious, charismatic, outgoing, articulate, curious, and just a little strong-willed…So we started with the “Unschooling” method, where I let him learn from his surroundings. For Math and Phonics, I used Saxon along with a few others.
The second experience included our eldest son dual enrolled – homeschooled and at his zoned public, middle school. For our 5-year-old, we hit the “lottery” and were offered a seat in a public fundamental school. While the two youngest children remained home with me. During her first school experience, we saw the beginning signs of struggles with the comprehension that would eventually be uncovered as the years went on. Overall the experience was acceptable and yet somehow I knew, like with my eldest, the way they would handle her “behavior” would present challenges and conflict.
Our third experience was with Classical Conversations for our eldest daughter who we removed from the fundamental school. Her birthday is in August and as a result started kindergarten very early. It was recommended that we have her do another year of “kindergarten” to which we agreed knowing that we were home schooling her. Meanwhile, our youngest was a toddler at home and our son was in Pre-K part-time at a private school. Classical Conversations approach to education is classical. They use memorization of Math and Science concepts, Grammar, Latin, Geography and History through song.
Then, we had the opportunity to put all the children in school. By this time, Xaviar was in 10th grade at a Christian, private school. The youngest was in Kindergarten and ready and willing to go to school. Our son was in 1st grade and our eldest daughter was in 2nd grade. Our evenings doing homework were busy and exciting, to say the least.
For our eldest, spent his last two years of high school as a dual-enrolled student – homeschooled and at the local community college taking courses that satisfy both high school and college credit. For the three stooges, our most recent experience was in the public, virtual school. My husband and I shared the load – he taught Math and Science while I handled Language Arts and Social Studies. The remaining subjects included in the curriculum were Art, Physical Education, and Florida History for higher elementary grades. The curriculum was advanced and well-designed. However, they require attendance and the same standardized testing the public schools require.
In effort to adjust to recent changes in our home life we made the decision to remove them from the virtual setting. We felt there was too much time taken from family, most of which is what is known as “busy work.” We took a more traditional approach with the basics with a twist of Un-schooling as I enjoy seeing the children learn through their environment.