Monthly archives: September 2003

How I Started [Homeschooling]

I don’t know how I got started homeschooling. I just remember researching it on the Internet in early 1999. Shanon was just a year old. I had never even considered homeschooling. Honestly, I hadn’t even heard of it. Perhaps I came across a lonely link on a web page and followed it. Whatever the case, I remember getting more excited as I read up on it. I talked to Ray about it, telling him all the pros and cons.

My stepdaughter, Qua was in kindergarten (we had her full time because her mother was in the circus). She was having some listening and behavioral problems. Nothing major, but enough that she was getting notes home a couple times in a month. Somehow, some way it was brought up that I could homeschool her. I believe I may have introduced the idea, but can’t really remember. It was decided. In June, 1999, we decided to start homeschooling. I honestly didn’t think I’d be homeschooling then. I thought I wouldn’t start until this year with Shanon. But I was honored that my husband trusted me enough to allow me to homeschool his first born daughter.

Now, I was new at the whole thing, and I know we needed a bit of structure. I am not an organized person by any means, and I knew I would need some help. I became interested in A Beka. They offered all the materials needed for the grade level and also kept track of the work and grades. I would teach, grade and mail in the work every 6 weeks. The teacher’s manual came with a breakdown of all the lessons, and even told me what to say. I told Ray about the program. He seemed interested. The program was $700 for 1st grade. I thought this was a bit much, but Ray agreed to pay for it. We ordered it and received all the materials by the end of July.

I decided not to wait until September and to give it a test run. I had Qua reading in 2 weeks. She went from knowing only some basic sounds to reading in 2 weeks. By the end of that year, she was reading on a fourth grade level. I taught her to read with emphasis. This wasn’t taught in the curriculum, but I thought it was a good habit to have. If it was a question, she made it sound like one. If there was excitement, you heard it in her voice. If there was anger, you’d know. I loved to listen to her read. I was amazed at her progress. I have to say that she was a very easy student. Of course, sometimes she lollygagged, or didn’t want to do the work, whining and stalling. But she was smart as a whip!

We had a bit of a rough time because I got pregnant in September of that same year. I had horrible morning sickness for the first 2 months, and terrible laziness for the rest of the months. We made it through though. When she attended school for the 2nd grade, she was well ahead of the rest of the class. The teacher had her read at story times. I was rather proud.

The next time I homeschooled was when Qua was in the 4th grade. In the years that she was in school, she learned very little new stuff. Not because she was not learning, but because they weren’t teaching much. I did more research on homeschooling and came across something called a virtual school. I had no idea what it was, but the more I researched it, the more I liked it. Now, militant homeschoolers will frown at you for this method, but I believe that a family should have the right to choose the type of education their child is given. Some people feel comfortable with making their own materials, some people need help. I finally came across K12 and OHVA (take a look at their sample lessons). K12 is actually the curriculum behind OHVA. K12 has virtual charter schools in numerous states and I believe they are planning more. This program is absolutely free because the school is public. Although you teach your child at home, you do not have to notify the school district, as you do with homeschooling. They send you all materials. I remember opening the boxes and being amazed. For science we had sand, magnets, goggles, rock, shells, all sorts of things for the lessons. Heck, they even sent crayons. They also sent us a brand spanking new computer. Of course, some of the books have to go back and the computer goes back after your child is no longer enrolled. We had a teacher, or consultant, that calls us every 2 weeks for conferences, sets up field trips once a month for families in our area, sends out newsletters and helps us get through any rough spots. The downside to this was right after we enrolled I had to get a job. It was hard, but we managed. We homeschooled from about 5pm-9pm.

This year, Qua is living with her mother (part time) for the first time since she was 4. Ray had troubles getting her back into school because even though she has been with him forever, he never had full custody. The school district that she would be entering, required this. When she entered 2nd grade, we had no problems. Heck, neither of her parents were there. I enrolled her. But this was a different district. Since he couldn’t get her into school, he did the most dreaded and sent her with her mother. We are planning to purchase a home soon and by that time, Ray should have full custody and she’ll be back (if she’d like)!

Now, I am homeschooling my first born daughter, Shanon. She is flying through her kindergarten lessons. Even though this is the first official year of homeschooling, I’d always taught her things. She began reading before we started this program. I taught her how to add and subtract with counters or on her fingers. The things she is learning now, are things that we went over when she was 3. I don’t want her to get bored, so we are hoping to get through this and perhaps start the 1st grade a bit early. No pressure though.

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