A member of one of the lists I frequent is trying to do a survey on homeschooling families so I thought I would participate by answering her questions...
Why do you homeschool? I homeschool for a variety of reasons now. Initially, I began homeschooling for lack of a better option for my bright, then 4yo. He was too young to go into public school K but was already reading novels intended for much older children. The preschool he had attended (which went to 8th grade) offered to take him early to K but the cost was exorbitant and they hadn't done anything to allow him to work to his potential in preschool so I couldn't see spending a ton of money, giving them his best learning times (mornings), and still have to afterschool him for any new learning to occur. Now, I homeschool because it works for my kids, it fits our lifestyle, and I love doing it. I want them to be excited and love learning rather than being forced to fit their learning into someone else's ideas of what they should know and when.
What technique or curriculum do you use? I loosely follow the Well Trained Mind as far as history and science rotations and including the same subjects. My boys are older and are classically educated more than my youngest who I do with a more child-led approach. We use Saxon for math, Rosetta Stone for Spanish, Lightning Literature (oldest), World History:The Human Odyssey plus History Portfolio, and frequently use Teaching Company DVDs. I use a variety of other resources but I'm not going to list them all (may have listed them here and there in my blog).
Do your kids work above or below grade level (or both!)? All 3 kids work above grade level anywhere from 2-5 years accelerated depending on subject.
What is your educational level? I have a master's degree in physical therapy
Do you feel this has an effect on your teaching (both limits and abilities)? I think my job (working with under 3yo children) affects my teaching in that I am good at being flexible, making changes, teaching each child where they are without having preconceived notions of what they should learn and how quickly. Someone once told me that you get the kids you were supposed to have...which gives us the intelligence to research, read about, and understand issues we aren't familiar with. Do I think that someone with less intelligence or less education can do a good job homeschooling their own children? The answer is yes.
What does your daily schedule look like? We don't have a daily schedule, per se because every day is different. The boys generally finish all schoolwork by noon-1pm with afternoons left for music practice or lessons, reading, and free time. My dd does schoolwork for an hour or two in the mornings. Mondays are her music days with fiddle then violin lessons so she does school in the car. Everyone does school 4 days a week from Sept-June and 3 days a week June-August with a decreased workload. Fridays are cleaning, catch up on unfinished schoolwork, or follow your own interests day.
Are your kids always polite and ready to learn? (*snicker*) My kids are polite in public but not always in the safety of their own home. LOL Are they always ready to learn? No.
Do the kids (or you!) get frustrated? Yes, there are those days when things don't go as planned for whatever reason. There are days when I can't be everywhere at once and everyone needs help making them frustrated with me and me with them. Luckily there are less of these days than the good days.
How has this affected your parenting? Homeschooling has made me a very involved parent. I know my kids. I know what they know. I know what they have difficulty with. I know their friends. I also know them well enough to know when I don't have to be involved in their lives... when they are able to handle a certain experience on their own (when I can be more hands-off). We are a close family. I love spending time with my kids.
How much free time do they have? They have most afternoons free and generally weekends with practices intermingled and during wrestling season less free weekend time because of the tournament schedule.
What do they do during their free time? They play outside: ride bikes, play on the swingset, fish or canoe on the pond. Pursue their hobbies (next question). Play video games or go on computer.
What hobbies do they have? Oldest: wrestling, fishing, drums, tying flies, judo Middle: judo, guitar, tying flies, woodworking Youngest: violin, fiddle, soccer
What difficulties and challenges do you have with homeschooling? Funds often limit the resources I am able to obtain. There are so many great things out there I would like...lab equipment, DVD lectures, etc... Finding them friends to play with is sometimes a problem...we haven't really found a homeschooling group that we fit in with in our area.
What makes homeschooling enjoyable? Spending time with my kids and seeing them learn and grow knowing that I played a large part in it. Also, knowing that I am doing everything I can do to help them grow into happy, mature adults.
How do you get involved in the community? We do a neighborhood clean-up on our pond (just our family but benefits the community). They play together (their own Celtic band) at a couple small locations. Dd plays violin monthly for residents at a retirement home.
When do you have opportunities to interact with public or privately schooled children? The kids interact with other kids at sports practices and games, in the neighborhood while playing with friends, and at Sunday school. My dd played a private concert at a small public school for K through 6th graders and answered questions from them about her playing and music. She also has a Suzuki group every week and plays with a Celtic group monthly.
Would you like more of these opportunties? I would like more opportunities maybe them being allowed to take a class or two in the public school as they get older or be involved in school based extra curricular activities.
How can they be created? I know some school districts allow homeschoolers to participate in school activities...mine does not though I have asked. Maybe state-wide laws could make it an available option since we pay school taxes like everyone else even though we chose to not avail ourselves of the service.
What is your least favorite homeschool stereotype? :-) I dislike most stereotypes. The differences in homeschooling families and homeschoolers are as numerous as the number of families doing it. I guess my least favorite is that homeschoolers are unsocialized (lacking in social skills). My own kids are proof that this is false. They are all outgoing and can hold up their end of a conversation with anyone no matter what age. They tend to take leadership roles in play and sports. My brother and his wife are considering homeschooling their future children (first one due in November) as a result of spending time with mine and seeing how well it is working for us.