Monday, April 25, 2011

Good to know I'm not alone

Sometimes I think I'm the only one so unsure about what we're doing on this homeschooling journey.  I look 4 years into the future and I tremble.  I look at what my goals are for my sons, and I feel almost sick.  I wonder if we did the right thing, if we'll be ready for missions and college at the right time.  Somehow four years seems like forever when children are 6, but they disappear in a flash at 14.

Yesterday, though, had a lengthy conversation with my sister over the phone.  She is a veteran homeschooler, meaning that her oldest three sons survived and are in college.  Two of them finished high school at the local public school though and her third hasn't started yet.  He is serving a full-time mission for our church for the next two years.  He was her first to be solely homeschooled.  Her younger children are all enrolled in K-12 in Utah which has some gorgeous opportunities.  Even so, she is equally nervous.  I took comfort in knowing I wasn't alone.

Previously I have also had similar conversations with other homeschooling moms in my co-op and realized they are as jittery as I am too.  High school options are out there, but there are fewer options than in the elementary grades.  Many of the students I know are taking at least some of their classes at the local college here.  It caters to high school and college students although the homeschoolers roll their eyes at how the class physically divides according to which high school the students originate from.

Some of the questions I have been concerned about include: Am I doing enough?  Will they understand the concepts?  What about BIOLOGY and CHEMISTRY?  I personally suffered through Biology with good grades and scraped by Chemistry well enough to hang onto my GPA.  NOT good enough to transfer a love of science.  Oh, and I never took Physics.  Or calculus.  Or even trigonometry. Calculus will wait for college, I think.  We lack time to even try to attempt it now.  Lab classes are challenging to take online so I'm seriously investigating the possibility of part-time high school.  Am I infatuated with that option?  No, but it beats me doing it.

Then there's always the self-doubt:  Did I really mess up by allowing the boys to take things at their own readiness level.  Now that we're so close to the clock running out and I look at the college-entrance required subjects, I panic.  Especially in the maths and sciences.  We still have time, but nothing extra.

Even the other subjects (except history) are daunting to me now.  Even a year ago the boys were more willing to take instruction from me, but now I'm searching every which way but loose to find other ways.  They chose to forego co-op next year (curses!) so I'm searching for online courses and their dad.  Jim has never been as involved in their schooling as he is now.  Sometimes they prefer to have him review their work, and I'm more than happy to hand it over.

On the other hand, there are some programs that I've picked up that I AM uniquely qualified to teach.  Some of those might eventually work their way into public school curriculum (hopefully by the time dd reaches 7th grade), but they aren't there yet.  Given that some of the best ideas from homeschooling methods are being used, or attempted, in schools now, I'm hopeful.  But that's too late for my sons.  The one I'm particularly talking about are the Excellence in Writing courses.

I was able to pick up a used Economics course at a used books sale at our co-op last week.  That made me very happy because that's another course I've been sweating over choosing.  It's a Junior Achievement High School-level course.  I'll probably use the book Whatever Happened to Penny Candy with it, but I have learned from several online lists that it doesn't make a good, complete, high school course by itself.

Math is one I'm still investigating.  I'm looking into Math-u-see (still teacher-mom dependent), VideoText, and Aleks.  Algebra is expensive from both TT and VideoText so I'd like to be sure it would be likely to succeed before investing in it.  VideoText teaches both Algebra I and II, then follows Algebra II with Geometry.  I know probably very few are reading this blog since it has been offline for so long, but if anyone has used it with their sons, I'd love your feedback.  So far most of my feedback for VideoText has been from girls.  Girls and boys present different challenges.  For the last very-intensive year, we have used Math-u-see, but I'm concerned about staying mom-dependent.  It has been the most-successful program we have used so far though.

If anyone has any experience with the K-12 program in Missouri, I'd love to get some feedback about that too.  From what I have been able to learn, we have to pay for it ourselves (and it is VERY expensive.)  I've considered Williamsburg Academy as well but have wondered how self-directed the student has to be.  I have one that would probably do well, but I'm not so sure about the other one.  So far, both detested Switched on Schoolhouse and one liked Teaching Textbooks.  Both require a level of self-motivation.

So there are some of my concerns.  Does anyone else share those or have some solutions or insights you have found?  Please comment if you do!

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