Thank you so much for stopping by to check out my homeschooling pages. If you are new to homeschooling, thinking about homeschooling or are an old hand at homeschooling, hopefully you will find something on these pages to help you. I spent many hours doing research on the pros and cons of homeschooling myself. It took me three years to finally get up the nerve to do it but as they say, "It's better late than never". I began homeschooling in September of 2000 so you can figure out for yourself how many years we've been doing it. Even though there are still times when I ask myself why am I doing this, all I have to do is look at my son and realize that HE is the reason why I am homeschooling.
I began homeschooling my kids when my daughter was going into the 11th grade and my son was going into 4th. Both of my kids started out in public school. I became very discouraged with the way they were being taught and what the schools were teaching them, especially in Texas (Plano to be more specific). Not only did I have to worry about the subject matter being taught but, I also had to worry about the violence, drugs, gangs and general lack of morals being taught. While volunteering at both the high school and elementary levels, I heard children as young as 1st grade use curse words, and saw many fights.
At the beginning of my daughters 10th grade, another student brought a gun into the school, went into the boys bathroom, and shot himself. The parents were not notified of this horrible event until the kids got home from school. I was lucky because I just happened to be on the PTO and found out fairly soon after it happened. I was very upset that the parents weren't notified and given the option of taking their kids out of school that day. The principal didn't want to cause a panic by notifying the parents. What if this boy had used this gun on the other students instead of himself? No security measures were in place to prevent this from happening, and nothing really changed afterwards either.
I was also very unhappy with a couple of my daughters teachers. She had one teacher that was constantly putting her down and even went so far as to throw an eraser at my daughter and ruin her leather coat. We did not know of this event until the next semester otherwise we would have insisted that my daughter be transferred to another class and the teacher be disciplined for this incident. It wasn't until another incident happened that I contacted the school and complained about this teacher. After writing out everything that this teacher had done and said to my daughter, she was finally moved to another classroom. I do not know if any disciplinary action was taken against this teacher or not. I do know that she was still at this school by the end of 10th grade. My daughter also had another teacher in 8th grade who called her stupid in front of another student. This was after my daughter had asked this teacher to sign a form giving my daughter permission to take Algebra I in 9th grade. Maybe my daughter did not have the skills she needed to take Algebra I but, this teacher had no right to say what she did to my daughter especially in front of another student. There were other problems with the administration and teachers at my daughters school and that was basically the reason for homeschooling her.
Now before you pooh-pooh this as being the feelings of an overly neurotic mother, my daughter was in mostly honors classes in Austin before transferring to Plano. She was a very good student who brought home mostly A's and some B's. While going to school in Colorado Springs, she was a recipient of the Presidents Academic Achievement Award when she was in 5th grade. She went from a child who loved school, loved learning and strived to get good grades, to one who hated most of her teachers, hated school and started bringing home mostly C's and F's. She never had any problems with any of her teachers previous to moving to Plano, in fact all we ever heard from her teachers were words of praise for our daughter. They just loved her.
My son had two teachers throughout each of his 3 years in public school - one for math and one for the other subjects. My sons 1st grade teacher had to be one of the worst teachers I have ever had to deal with. It seems that nothing my son did was right. She picked on him constantly. I had other parents who had spent time in the classroom tell me that they saw nothing that my son did that warranted the discipline that this teacher doled out on my son. In fact I was told that he was one of the better behaved kids in the classroom. Now my son is no angel but, he is a very sweet and helpful child. Because of problems in 1st grade, my son was not given a clean slate when he went into 2nd grade. That teacher was a little bit better but judged my son on what his 1st grade teachers had written about him. His 3rd grade teacher was so much better. She never read any of the past teachers comments and formed her own opinions of the kids after she had been with them a while. She was very good and my son really liked her. I was almost persuaded to keep him in public school but, I had this feeling that he would get a 4th grade teacher who would be terrible. He'd made so much progress in 3rd grade with his reading and was actually enjoying school, that I did not want to have him revert to how he felt about school in the 1st and 2nd grade.
Another thing that my sons school did was to suggest that we get him tested for ADD/ADHD. We knew that he wasn't either of those things. We had researched the symptoms of ADD/ADHD and also had friends whose child was diagnosed with it. Our son exhibited none of these symptoms. The school was only concerned with getting those "low performers" classified as handicapped or special ed kids so that those kids would be exempt from taking the TAAS test (see below). Plano especially my sons school was determined to have the best test scores no matter what they had to do to get them.
My son excelled at Math and Science but, had a problem with his reading. He became bored with school and didn't want to go anymore and he was only in FIRST GRADE! When I told his first grade math teacher (who was also his "homeroom teacher") that my son said he was bored, she pretty much told me that my son didn't know what he was talking about because he didn't know what that meant! Give me a break. He knew exactly what that word meant and that's what he was - BORED! Since he was having a problem with his reading, they put him in a program called "Reading Recovery". It was suppose to help those kids with reading problems. Yeah, right. What helped our son was mom and dad. We purchased books that taught him phonics and his reading improved but of course the school thought they had done it. He was not a "whole language learner" which is what the school taught. When we voiced our concern to the principal, do you think she had any suggestions on how to resolve the situation? No! She only took the teachers side and brushed us off. According to the law, parents have the right to receive a copy of their child's records. We took that to mean anything and everything that the school had on our child, including teachers comments. Were we in for a big surprise when we requested a copy. There was NOTHING in that file except his grades, shot records and personal information (address, phone numbers, etc.). He continued with Reading Recovery into the 2nd and 3rd grade but another teacher had taken over by then. He was improving some so when the school decided that he didn't need it anymore, I went to the Reading Recovery teacher and asked her to continue working with him. My son liked her (he couldn't stand the first one he had who just happened to be the first grade team leader) and was actually learning.
Another thing that turned me off of public school, was the TAAS test. The teachers are not teaching the kids what they need to know, they are teaching to the TAAS test. Even the principal at my sons school told one of the teachers that she didn't care what they taught as long as those kids tested really high on the TAAS tests. Texas "revamped" the TAAS test, and changed it to the TAKS test. Same thing though. The teachers are teaching to the test and the schools are still being assessed on how well the students do on this test. If the school does well, they are rewarded for their high scores...more money. Seems to me though that if the school does not score well, then they should be getting more money to help them attain those high scores.
After discussing all the pros and cons of homeschooling and the enormous responsibility we as parents were going to be undertaking, we decided at the end of the school year that we would pull our kids out of public school and teach them at home. We had decided on School of Tomorrow (Living Heritage Academy) and requested that our kids records be sent to them. We never had any problem from the public school system. Of course I didn't tell them that we were homeschooling either. My son must have told his third grade teacher that we were going to homeschool him because she asked me about it. I was so afraid that I would catch some flack from that but she surprised me. She said that when her child got older (she was pregnant at the time), she had thought about homeschooling. Her only concern was socialization. I didn't have the nerve to tell her that her child would get more socialization from homeschooling than from public school. What was funny was all the next year we kept getting calls and notes from the local high school concerning our daughter. They ranged from ordering her high school ring to her annual to "A child in your household has not been to school" but no threatening letters or phone calls and no one showed up at my door.
So there we were homeschooling our kids, something I never thought I would have done in a million years. It took some getting use to, having the kidís home all day long. The first year my daughter was missing the social life she'd had at public school. The next year however, she became more involved in activities that before she never had time for. Both kids were involved in 4H and soccer. Their school day usually began about 9 a.m. and they were usually done with their studies by at least 2 p.m. Some days they got started later and some days they finish earlier. Then there were days when they learned things that didn't involve books. The schedule could change from day to day depending on what was going on around our house. We went on field trips with our local homeschool associations and took family vacations that we normally wouldn't have been able to. The rewards of homeschooling far outweighed the disadvantages. The only disadvantages that I could see from homeschooling were the cost of supplies to homeschool (I like to buy the "extra" things) and my lack of patience (which is something I work on daily). Homeschooling meant that I was responsible for what my child learns and how they learned it. They are able to take their time with a subject they do not understand and can finish a subject ahead of schedule. Homeschooling also means that more quality time is spent with my children.
The first year we homeschooled I used the School of Tomorrow (Living Heritage Academy) curriculum for both kids. My son had to take an assessment test to see what level he was at. Then if there were any gaps in learning, he did those books before starting with the actual grade level work. All of my daughter's credits from public school were transferred over and they told me what subjects she needed to take in order to graduate from their school. It was more of a correspondence course than a homeschool. She continued with that curriculum the next year too.
We decided to go with a few other types of curriculum for my son the next year. He used Alpha Omega for Math, Science and History/Geography. He used Learning Language Arts Through Literature (LLATL) and Wordsmith Apprentice for Language Arts. I think the Alpha Omega is a little more advanced than the S.O.T. curriculum was, as he seemed to be struggling a little with it. Unlike the first year when he was able to do the work on his own, the second year I had to help him a lot more. He had a hard time with his reading (something I blame on his public school experience) so we had to work more on that. We worked more with a phonics workbook to help him with his reading. He did really well in Math and Science and liked to do a lot of hands on activities.
My daughter graduated in May 2002. She had a graduation ceremony through one of the homeschool associations we belonged to. We invited all of our family and friends to it, and weren't limited to the number of people we could invite (unlike the public schools). The seniors picked out their colors, Bible Verse, theme and all the other stuff that is usually already decided for them at a public school. She got to keep her cap and gown along with her tassel. The seniors each decorated a table with memories of their school years, kind of a biography table. The seniors (and parents) picked out and ordered graduation announcements and they had their senior class pictures taken. She was really excited about her senior year and didn't miss the "action" that went on at the public school. The graduation ceremony was just wonderful. The parents gave a "90 second" speech about their graduate then presented them with their diploma. We had a great MC and guest speaker. A video presentation was given during the ceremony with pictures of all the graduates including family photos of them growing up. There were also videos of the senior activities that they participated in. After experiencing that kind of graduation ceremony and remembering how impersonal mine was, I much prefer the homeschool graduation.
I see the progress my son makes every day and am amazed at how much he is learning even when he doesn't do book work. He enjoys watching some of the educational shows on TV, and is quite computer literate (he's even making his own web page!). Of course he would rather be playing video games or watching his favorite shows on TV but he is very responsible and is always willing to help out (despite what the public school teachers say, I think that is a very good quality!). He really likes the informality of homeschooling, which allows him to take the time to really understand a subject, but he does like his work to be structured. He likes having a schedule of what he is to do for that day and when it is due. If I didn't do that, nothing would get done, but we are flexible so the due date can be adjusted. He has stated that he never wants to go back to public school and I'm very happy. If he ever decides that he wants to go back, then I will explain to him the pros and cons and as a family we will make the decision that is best for him. But I fully expect to homeschool him all the way through graduation.
Well enough of that. Now you know more than you probably wanted to know about how I got started with homeschooling my kids. I have tried to categorize these links according to what area they relate to. Some of these links fit into more than one category so I only put it into the one I felt it was best suited for. I have tried to give a description of the site as best as I could. Of course as I come across other sites in my search, I will put them here. Please let me know if there is a broken link or if you come across a site that you think I might want to put here by going to my guestbook on my main page and posting it there. There are so many sites out there and they change every day.