When our oldest reached kindergarten age, we were living in PA. There were so many guidelines that we needed to maintain. I was nervous at first, wanting to make sure I didn't miss anything important. I spent months researching curriculum and options for our family. Finally we settled on a Virtual Charter called Connections Academy. The experience was very good for the one we used. Although there were others out there that I know where not as good and were giving Virtual Charters a bad name.
We did this for K-1st grade. When we moved, Perry was getting ready to go into 2nd grade and Buzz was just starting Kindergarten. The state we moved to gave much more leeway to homeschooling parents and so for the first time I felt comfortable going out on my own. I spent the summer piecing together curriculum that I thought would work well for us. For some subjects, I just wrote my own because I couldn't find anything that I really liked. I was happy with the way that year went, but still ended up switching about 80% of our curriculum to things that I liked better. I am always looking for better curriculum, and better options for my kids. I love homeschooling them, but if something better is out there, I want to know about it.
While with Connections Academy there was a community feel, much like a co-op offers. The kids of the same grade level have a teacher that calls once a week to check in on them. They interact on field trips and via email, and sometimes online via a Morning Meeting which is a video chat set up by the teacher. It was a nice experience for Perry. When we moved, I wanted to try to get used to homeschooling "the real way"; on my own without the input of others. I loved having the freedom to make all the education decisions for my children and the ability to change it if something just wasn't working. For that reason I decided not to join a Co-op. Each year I have reconsidered this, but always come back to us sticking to a single family homeschool.
This year Perry is in 5th grade. He does well in most of his subjects, and really loves science. He needs to be pushed a bit more in writing (as I imagine most boys his age do) and he really struggles in math. I have tried several different programs, flash cards, timed tests, and even a paid online program to improve fluency of math facts. While he has improved, he still is behind. I knew he needed something that would push him a bit more than I do. While I work with him constantly, I have found that for some things my son just responds better to someone different pushing him. We saw the same thing with swimming. He would not let me teach him to swim. I signed him up for lessons and with in a few months he was a wonderful swimmer. Sometimes it just takes some outside help.
Because of this, and the fact that he will be entering 6th grade next year, I want for him to start to get a feel for a traditional classroom, but without the full time commitment of it. Co-ops are a great way to get this. I have been looking at several in our area, but to my dismay, none of them work on math! :( So what is a mother to do? Should I higher a tutor? Should I just push him harder over the summer? These questions kept rolling around in my head as I tried to decided what would be best for each of my children for next year.
A dear friend suggested I look into some of the umbrella type schools in the area. These are one day schools designed for the homeschooling family. The student attends classes of his/her choice one day a week. The rest of the week is spent at home working on other subjects or reviewing the work done in these classes. I was intrigued by this idea. It is much like a co-op runs, only on a more formal scale (plus they offer math). So right now that is the way I am leaning.
We are going to be going to look at some shortly. I still have to decide what to do with my other two boys for next year whom will be in 1st and 4th grades. Do I want to sign just them up for the Co-op? They don't need the socialization. They have enough outside activities that provide that. Maybe I should I sign them up for just some art and music classes somewhere? What do you think? Is it better to go it alone or to be in a community? What has your homeschooling experience been like?
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