I have been thinking a lot about homeschooling lately. Not that I'm necessarily thinking of jumping on the bandwagon yet, so all my homeschool friends out there--don't get overly excited by this! But I am starting to consider that maybe this is possibly an option that might bear looking into. (How's that for commitment?!)
I have a lot of friends who homeschool their kids. I admire the flexibility it affords them. I love the idea of being able to follow a line of interest until the child knows all there is to know, or is ready to move on to something else. I greatly appreciate the ability to focus on the child's strengths and address their weaknesses in a personalized way. Before I ever had children, I had a friend who homeschooled her two kids. I spent several weeks with her one summer and got to see first-hand what this looked like. It was my first introduction to homeschooling, and I was impressed. At the time, I was taking all kinds of child development courses in college, and some of the philosophies behind what she was doing made total sense to me based on what I was learning about brain development. I remember coming home and telling my hubby (who was only my fiance at the time) that I thought I wanted to homeschool our kids when we had them.
By the time we actually had our kids, and Kindergarten rolled around for Squirrel, our financial situation depended totally on two incomes. The option of homeschooling was not even on the table anymore, and that was alright with me. I wasn't sure I really wanted to do it anyway! I greatly doubted my abilities in that arena. So we looked at our public schools and were not at all happy with what we found. That is how she ended up attending the private school affiliated with our church.
It's been a good fit for her. She has an incredibly high IQ, and the curriculum there challenges her and allows her to explore the material further when it interests her. She benefits from small class sizes and she's been with the same group of children for four years now. She loves it, they love her, and I am really happy with the school.
We intended for Munchkin to go there too, but, of course, the autism curveball kind of changed that plan. So he's in the public schools here. And I actually love his school too. The special education team is amazing. I've had a few interactions with board members, and they have been very accomodating and helpful. The curriculum was a little too easy for him, but now they do allow him to work at a higher level in reading and math, as he's ready. The only thing I hate is the neighborhood. His school is located in one of the higher-crime areas of our town. There are incidents involving the police from time to time. It's not uncommon to get a note sent home that the school was on lock-down for one reason or another. The teachers and staff do a wonderful job of protecting the children, but still...one worries a little. And, it goes without saying, that many of the children attending the school are not who I would choose for my child to hang out with. In Kindergarten this is not such a big deal. But in 3 years he'll go to a 3-5 grade school, and it will be a big deal then. Our hope is that Munchkin will improve so much that he will no longer need all the support services he's recieving now. With enough success, we'd love to see him at Squirrel's school by third grade!
But therein lies a greater issue...how in the world will we afford two kids in private school? For the amount of money I spend to send one child there, I could feed a small village for a year. And when I look at my income (minus work-related expenses: clothes, supplies I buy myself, gas for commuting, etc.) compared to tuition for two kids--well, it doesn't even equal out. I'd have to work another job just to pay for school for them! So I'm beginning to consider what else is out there. It seems my choices may be to move somewhere else with better schools, or to keep the kids home and teach them myself. Isn't it funny how things come full circle like this sometimes? Good thing I have a few more years to decide!