I am new here. I have 4 children ages 12, 10, 7, and 3. We have been in public school all along and I am really nervous and excited about making the change (at this point, my 12 year old will still attend public school). I am thinking that I would like to use a curriculum the first year while I get my confidence up. Has anyone here used Calvert and would you recommend it? Also, do any of you have children that are similar in age? Thanks and I will look forward to meeting you this year! Sharon
Sharon, hi there! I have a 6 and almost 3 year old. What area of town do you live in? I don't have much advice about curriculum, we use Singapore math and enjoy it. My impression is that a full year boxed curriculum is pretty expensive, although I can see how you'd want something to lean on that first year. Have you considered buying just some math and language arts workbooks and taking it from there? I don't know about Calvert, but many people on this board have used and like Sonlight. Good luck!
Alright this may be a bit tacky, but I am going to copy my response to a different post here. So, if you already read that response, just ignore this. Just my two cents on the first year and curriculum, but we are still new to everything too, so it is probably only worth two cents anyway.
We tried a boxed curriculum starting last year with my daughter, (4th grade then). We got frustrated with it and decided to Family School last year, which I wish we hadn't. Anyway, we are doing it on our own this year no matter what.
When I went to the Homeschool Convention, the thing I kept hearing was to decompress the kids the first part of the school year after pulling them out of public school. Spend lots of time reading and doing books on tape and take the time to get to know what they are interested in and throw some "lessons" in your days based on their interest. They kept saying to take some time to get a feel for what kind of learner you child is and figure out what will work best for you.
Looking back, I think had we done this, things would have all fallen into place. My daughter was so stressed by the "school" enviroment that by moving it to the home, did not help. We made the mistake of trying to bring school home, instead of truly homeschool. Even though we are not officially homeschooling right now, we have started to homeschool. We "school" everywhere. Homeschooling is not bringing the school home, it is making learning a daily experience, no matter what you are doing.
Since I relaxed, my daughter has found a new love for reading and looks forward to homeschooling. She has started to truly enjoy learning and I know this year will go much better. We are not using a curriculum, (actually a mix & match eclectic curriculum). The difference between this year and last is that I have taken some time to find what will work best with my kids and we have taken some time off from "school". I may not have it perfect... I probably never will, but atleast I am not so concerned with "school" anymore. We are living, learning and having a blast.
Congrats for making this decision! I wish you the best for your first year and the many to follow. There is so much to choose from out there, that it can be difficult to decide what will work best for you and your children. But, you will find it. Only you know what will best work for your children. Just relax and enjoy this wonderful adventure.
I don't think that is tacky at all. Thank you so much for the advice. I think I am going to try to relax just a little and enjoy the time more. Thank you for everything you said. It really helps me to hear that. I think I would have done exactly what you said when you said you brought school home the first year. I hope to meet you in person one of these days. Sharon
I am interested in your experience with Family School. Is it the APS Family School? I've heard mix reviews from some reliable & some unreliable sources. I've been worried that my husband & I will be able to invest the time it will take to home school (lately we've had NO time) & wanted to check into family school.
We lack structure in our house & feel we need a bit of it to actually "school" our kids. Our 5 y.o. is ahead: he reads, writes, does lots of math, very inquizitive. But we have not found the time to devote to our 3 y.o. We feel she gets left behind learning-wize. (She's probably average for her age)
I would be interested in any info from any families NOT using curriculums. Does anyone do any amount of "unschooling?"
Jennifer, I like and fully support the idea of unschooling, but am definitely not a "pure" unschooler.
Eric (6) thrives on routine, so we do set aside a brief time in both morning and afternoon for schoolwork. Eric is VERY interested in math, and we do follow curriculum for that (Singapore Math), but I don't have a specific goal of how much he should get through. We just work at it for a while every day. For afternoon, we regularly do computer stuff for a while during Ruby's nap time, alternating between "I Love Science" software, which he loves, and Rosetta Stone Spanish (free from the library), which he likes but does mostly because I think it's important. Also we try to take about 15 minutes for typing practice. He enjoys that immensely, especially the statistics about his progress; we just started last week, and he's now working proundly on his 5th and 6th letters. After that, he has some time for free computer play, we've found some links to various things he likes to visit, and he generally needs to be pried away from the computer with a bribe of a snack!
Aside from this, he's free to do what he wants, and that varies depending on what he's interested in at the moment. During the time he's reading library books, making his own drawings, playing with toys, or whatever, I generally hawe plenty of time to do stuff with Ruby, which occasionally includes counting, alphabet, puzzles, shapes, colors, and other educational stuff that an almost 3 year old might like!
There are a number of co-op members who've tried Family School only to leave again and become homeschoolers.
Sharon, Thank you. I look forward to meeting you as well.
Jennifer, Yes, We were in APS Family School. If your reason to Family School is time, I would avoid it. Personally I found that it took up more time than doing it on our own, because there was no way to work around your schedule. I understand that Family School works for many families, but even among those, I have heard some of the same complaints.
My personal opinion is that it is public school with a lot of homework. When you go in for the information meeting and orientation they say that you can do whatever you want for your homeschool hours and everything seems so flexible. But, we found that there was so many projects to be done and work sent home that we hardly had time for the things we wanted to incoorperate. There were many weeks that we completed our homeschool hours before completing the things sent home by the teacher. Then, you have the parent meetings every other week and one evening a month. The time involved can be very overwhelming, especially if you have more than one child. With one child in Family School and three at home, I was going crazy. For the most part, all we could do was keep our head above water. Atleast doing it on your own, you set the schedule and you set the deadlines. If you know things are going to be hectic, you can take things a little slower and when time allows, you can do more. With Family School, they set everything and you always seem to be staring another deadline in the face.
Plus, I feel they overstress academic acheivement to the point that it can be unrealistic for some children. I know for a fact that my daughter went it at or above grade level for all subjects. But, her teacher insisted that she was behind in most areas. This was very upsetting to my daughter. She had many issues with the teacher and felt she did not add up. Even had she truly been behind in an area, I feel the teacher should have worked with her where she was at and stressed the areas where she excelled. Jordan was reading at a 9th grade reading level when exiting 3rd grade. However, entering 4th grade, the teacher at family school stressed Jordan's "shortcomings" in Math, (even though she was easliy mastering 4th grade concepts) and refused to test Jordan for reading above the 7th grade level. Jordan hated family school and has openly vocalized this to myself and others. One of the biggest things I want to instill in my children is the love of learning and Family School, while stressing "true education" and instilling a love of learning in kids, only killed those desires in my daughter even more than her years in regular public school.
I understand that every family has to find what works best for them, so I have no issues with families that choose Family School or other options for schooling. But, I know that homeschooling on our own is best for our family. I hope that you find my veiwpoint to be helpful. It is just an opinion and I know there are many out there.