I pulled my 8th grader from public school and am so lost as to what to do. I am not a teacher and am horrible at organizing this stuff. I know there are 1 million different options but I do not do good with options. We have limited internet and I don't want to spend a ton on the online programs. Is joining the Texas homeschool coalition worth it? We did a few assessment tests and I'm struggling to understand the data. Any information is helpful, thank you.
I'm a homeschool mom, so here is my "been there done that" advice to new homeschoolers.
1. Comply with Texas state homeschooling laws: https://hslda.org/legal/texas Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a wealth of information. If you can afford to join, I personally believe it's worth the membership. But Texas is a VERY easy state to homeschool in.
2. Take a deep breath. You don't have to be a teacher (certified) to teach your kids. You have been teaching them from the moment they've been born! Mama, you taught them to walk, feed themselves, tie their shoes, zip their coats, make their beds, say "please and thank you", the list goes on. You can do this, because you've always been doing it!! (You got this!)
3. Take a "deschooling" break if you think your child needs it. I don't know the details of what made you decide to withdraw from public school, and it's frankly no one's business. But if you're leaving because of a bad experience, give yourself grace to just decompress and let it go for a week, month, whatever. (Just stay compliant with Texas homeschool attendance laws, if there are any.)
4. Pick a curriculum, but give yourself grace to dump any that you or your child aren't jiving with. I like https://cathyduffyreviews.com/# for a very comprehensive list of curricula options. You can read the reviews according to many criteria, ie: how much teacher involvement is needed, what kind of student's learning style would be a good fit, the cost, etc. The first time you visit the site, you might be overwhelmed. Just take one subject at a time required by Texas law: Math, Reading, Spelling and grammar, and A course in good citizenship. If you like the curricula, keep at it. If not, dump it. Life's too short to stick out a bad curriculum your kid doesn't like. Just know that no curriculum is perfect.
5. I often find good deals on used curricula from Ebay.
6. Give yourself 3 years of homeschooling before you feel like you're really "getting it." It's a huge learning curve, so elicit help with local homeschooling groups.
7.Assessment tests administered by other people are not always good indicators of what your son *really* knows. So take the results as a starting point. Adapt as necessary. Remember tests only evaluate what your kid knew that day. They can never measure creativity, willingness to learn, hands-on aptitude, social grace, etc. So much of "education" is not quanitifiable.
I don't know if you're seeking out a religious or secular learning atmosphere, so I'll just say a LOT of homeschooling curricula are religious.
I don't want this post to be any longer than necessary, so let me give you my own leads on what Texas requires you to teach:
A. Math. This is tricky. So many math curricula used different "scopes and sequences" so switching up can be quite the headache. However, my own experience with Math-U-See https://mathusee.com/ has made it my favorite. There are videos for each lesson taught by the instructor, with lots of textbook helps and practice pages. However, it follows a different scope and sequence that many people find difficult to swtich over to if they're new. I've also heard good things about Singapore math. They only go up through 8th grade though. https://www.singaporemath.com/
B. Reading. If your kid is a reluctant reader, just pick books they like. Fiction? How-to books? History? Whatever. Formulate assignments for them according to how you feel appropriate. (ie: write a paragraph summarizing the chapter you just read. What do you think would have happened with the character made a different decision? whatever. Just keep their work so you have a paper trail on what they've done.) Texas doesn't require a Science course, but if your kid is curious about the world, this might be a way to teach both Reading and Science as one. Just a thought.
C. Spelling and Grammar. I like BJU Press Spelling, but it only goes up through 6th grade. BJU Press also has a super-solid Grammar curriculum through 12 grade, but it can be pricey new. I buy mine used from Ebay. If you need to just make up spelling lists, they're found easily for free online. Or just formulate spelling lists based on your son's writing mistakes so he can self-correct.
D. A course in good citizenship. That seems vague to me. If you were to teach History from the perspective of admirable characters who positively changed society, I'd think that would suffice. Just pick good biographies from the library and have your kid write something about them? Seems easy enough?
You don't have to be an expert to get started. Just start, and you'll figure it out as you go along. Yes, it's overwhelming. It's okay. If you felt it was important enough to pull your kid from public school, you obviously care enough to do right by him educationally. He'll appreciate it. You'll grow closer to each other. It's gonna be a great experience!!
Welcome to the adventure Jenny!
Stacie has made some good comments. There is much I could say based on Homeschooling my two boys from Gr 5 to integration of one into an Alternative School followed by Regular High School and the other into a mix of Gr.10 Regular Highschool and our School Board's Distance Education Program.
What is key is that you have the opportunity to look at your child's strengths, weaknesses and interests and see where that leads.
My #1 Son is brilliant - too smart for the current public school and no discipline to do the "boring stuff" that life requires. Too much damage before I pulled him, but having his high-energy + refusal to "just do it" butt around full time with no break was no fun (which is why I resisted for so long). I consider it amazing that he got into University where he was finally among people he could either ignore or work with and is now a lawyer, but is multiple provinces away and has no contact with us. To this day I don't think he has any concept of how difficult a child he was to raise. (For example, he was reading Hardy Boys books at the beginning of Grade 1 - he could de-code anything in writing and read and understand a Gr.10 Science textbook by Gr. 3. )
My #2 Son had a learning disability. Yes, it *is* possible to be both bright and have a learning disability! When we finally paid the big bucks at his Elementary School's request to have a full psych ed test done, he had areas in the 5th percentile and the 85th percentile. I had already decided that it was if his "timing belt" was off. We did a bunch of special programs that were like mental gymnastics with body involvement such as Interactive Metronome, INPP, PACE etc. that made a huge difference. He did a mixture of programs we purchased like Saxon Math (not a program I would use for every kid, but the best thing we ever did for this one. Gr 5 when I pulled him he was failing math. By Gr 12 math he'd started taking some courses at the local high school and scored 92%.) He took some courses through the School Board's Distance Ed program. Before I pulled him from school, we'd already been trying things to help, but it took the professional support (the school denied there was a problem multiple times) to make the difference.
So yes, I'd suggest you have a really good look at what lead to this decision. If you don't want to state it in a public thread, you're welcome to PM me, as I may have some suggestions based on that. (the little PM button to the right of my name if you've not done so before) Good luck with whatever path you choose.
Jenny, I'm a former homeschooler, so I know what you're feeling! You've come to a good place for support and have already received a lot of truly excellent advice. I just want to congratulate you on taking that first step. Honestly? No one knows your child better than you, and no one has your child's best interests at heart better than you.
Is there a local/community homeschool group you can join? People often join for the sake of their children, but parents need support too.