We’re three weeks into the school year so far. Not really long enough to know the routine instinctively yet, but long enough to have tested the routine. So far things are going great. The biggest change to our homeschool is that we’ve joined a local public charter school called Vista Oaks, which provides us with curriculum reimbursement for materials which reach the State benchmarks for Common Core and are non-religious. They also provide free and optional on-site Enrichment Days once a week in 4 subjects: Physical Ed., Science, Language Arts, and Art. I signed the girls up for these classes because I could really use the few hours off each week. Another bonus is that they can remember what it’s like to have a teacher, to listen in class, and have classroom friends. At the end of the year everyone over 2nd grade will have to take a standardized test for Common Core. That’s one of our charter school requirements since technically we’re in a public school. I was afraid that this would be a big stumbling block for the girls, but they’ve jumped into the Enrichment classes so smoothly that I’m not as nervous to bring them to the testing. I’m honestly not very concerned about their score as much as I am about protecting their confidence in their ability to learn.
Since joining the charter, I must admit we’ve sorta abandoned traditional homeschooling and begun a more “alternative school” approach. I am still responsible for math, science, reading, writing and history which is done “at home,” but a lot of this is outsourced to others and reimbursed by the charter. I do spend a lot of time in the car getting here and there. But so far the trade-off is all for the positive. My kids love their classes I’ve found in the community. They’re taking academic co-op classes, engineering classes through Playwell Tek, guitar lessons with a private teacher, gymnastics and swimming. We bring our curriculum along with us and work on the road on our busy days. We see our friends in class and fit afternoons at the park and hikes in between classes.
This balance is kinda the best of both worlds. I feel very in control of the education our girls are receiving. We can give more focus to the subjects which they are drawn to and still have time to get the rest done. The girls are developing very strong friendships with a core group of kids, but still have the opportunity to meet new people in their classes and at neighborhood events. But the pressure to be social is not overlapping with the pressure to learn. We can focus on academics in the comfort of our own home or on the road, in our own time, when we are most likely to be successful. But once a week, they are expected to accommodate the social requirements of being in a classroom. They need to wake up and get dressed. They need to prepare in advance, and fit into a larger community. They need to show respect to their teachers and the other students in their classes. And they are very happy in both settings.