By Denny Mather
First off, I'd like to make it really clear that I have total respect for most teachers. They have a hard job, raising your kids! It takes a lot of dedication, preparation and education. The No Child Left Behind fiasco made it even harder for teachers to do what they are supposed to: TEACH!! The system works for most people and I applaud the effort.
The public school system did not work for us. Vincent was lucky that we were able to afford living on one salary. Our family likes pinto beans, rice and venison! None of us need name brand clothes... We don't have cable TV and just recently got high speed internet. (Now that Vincent is in college it has become almost a necessity.) Books are expensive and it took me a while to find a curriculum that we liked. (Plan on spending quite a bit. Montana does not help with books or supplies. Check your state.)
The internet is a wonderful resource. Type in “home school” and tons of sites pop up. I am not going to recommend any site in particular but definitely check out more than one.
There is a small college in our town that has a yearly book sale, as does the public library. I bought tons of books at each. Vincent wound up studying from college level books in biology and zoology from eighth grade on.
Every state has different requirements for people who home school. Before you start, make sure you know what they are. Most states also have a legal association that you can join that will help with the times when the “system" decides to harass you. The public schools lose money for every child not sitting in a traditional class room and they don't like it!
I really was scared when I started home schooling Vinnie. My husband, Dale, worked through the college and most of the people we knew so far in our town were affiliated with the school as professors. Only one couple encouraged me, the rest asked me how I could possibly give Vinnie the kind of education that "real" teachers could. Some of them even told me horror stories of kids in their classes that had been home schooled and were just awful! (They did not bother to tell me that kids with regular diplomas were just as bad, if not worse.) I found out much later that at least two families who home schooled their children had one parent as a professor.
People on both sides of our family weren't totally thrilled with the idea either. No one came right out and said we were crazy but most of them had the same idea about home school that I had before we decided to do it. We all had the misconception that only religious fanatics kept their kids at home. However, they did offer help. One of my sisters, a high school English teacher, graded essays that we sent her via e-mail. Others in the family recommended books, both fiction and nonfiction. We had a lot of love and encouragement, and a few mutterings, from all of them.