I am not a supermom! I just did what we felt we had to do to keep Vincent sane and interested, rather than shut down.
Home schooling is not for everyone and there are some people who should not attempt it. A child who does not listen to you as a parent won't listen to you as a teacher. Single parents, unless independently wealthy, would not be able to give the time needed for education. Parents with little or no schooling themselves probably wouldn't be able to teach their children well.
Many of the Sumtown home schooling families had more than one child. I really respect the moms who could keep up with many age levels. The older kids did help and, it seems to me, the younger ones benefited greatly listening in on lessons for the others.
The first year was the hardest for me. Uncertain about what books to buy, I bought too many. I did talk to other moms and got lots of ideas but eventually wound up getting what I thought fit our needs the best. I will recommend Saxon for math, I have a bit of a problem with that subject... Saxon not only has the text books, they also have quizzes, tests, answer keys and a solutions manual. I would sit down with all of them the night before a lesson and figure out what I needed to know to be able to teach it. (I learned way more on my own than I ever did in high school algebra.)
The internet is a great resource. We checked the local weather on NOAA and the newspaper daily and would compare it to what was happening in the real world. Vincent made a weekly graph that we sent to his grandpa who lived in southern CA where the weather doesn't seem to change.
Questions we couldn't find answers for in our books could often be answered via the internet. (We knew, of course, that some of what you read on the internet isn't true.) We did not have high speed internet so we had to be careful not to waste too much time while looking for information.
Some computer software is a great help for teachers. Vincent types much better than I do, which I attribute that to a typing program we used. I don't know if the Jump Start programs are still available. We used them for play and education even when Vinnie was in public school.
One mother (for whom I shall always be grateful) published a monthly newsletter. It listed classes and field trips that I otherwise might not have heard about. She also threw in jokes, and rarely, advice. Thanks to her, I also kept up on the legal aspects of home schooling in Montana. (There were several attempts by legislators to make home schools illegal. I went to the capitol a couple of times to protest them. We won!)
A woman who owned a ceramics studio offered classes in painting and finishing greenware. The kids got to pick any item from her stock and what colors to use and she helped with the rest. Vinnie's dragon sits behind my computer even now. We met new people and had a great time.
A dad managed a local bowling alley and he set up a field trip for us. Pretty cool, seeing what happens behind the scenes! We also got one free lesson and were able to sign up for more for a very nominal fee – more new people and good times.
My favorite event that first year was skiing. All public school kids were offered lessons and rentals for $12 a day (twice a month for 2 months). After the lesson the kids had full access to the slopes. The home school kids were offered the same deal and I was able to sign up as a chaperone for the same price. I hadn't skied in years but remembered how. (What I hadn't remembered was how much teenage kids swear! I heard more cussing in one day than I had in a month!) Vincent soon surpassed me in ability – kids don't know how easy it is to kill themselves!
There were many after school programs as well. A variety of sport programs were offered and home school and Christian teams from around the state competed. Vincent didn't particularly care for team sports but had karate lessons. We joined (and quit, it was poorly run here) 4-H. We had been in Cub Scouts but chose not to continue after we moved although several friends were Scouts.
Home schooling is an adventure! Take advantage of the flexibility but make sure to follow any rules your state may have. Looking over the calendars I kept for legal purposes, I am surprised at how much we did on a daily basis. On average, we covered 6 subjects plus reading for pleasure every night.
In the comments box after these articles, please ask questions. I shall try to answer them in future columns.
Happy New Year to all!