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Working at Home and Homeschooling
Our Homeschooling Story

I always tell people that homeschooling was the best thing that I ever did. Just prior to entering Kindergarten, my daughter, Tara, knew her ABCs, her numbers, and she was beginning to read rhyming words such as sit, bit, lit, etc.  She could spell words using a magnetic letter board, and she could easily read rebus books.  All that changed when Tara entered Kindergarten.  Our public school had the budget for full day Kindergarten; however, they did not have the space.  54 children were placed in one large room with 2 teachers and 2 aides.  When I visited on observation day, the noise and chaos in the Kindergarten room were overwhelming.  No more than 20 minutes was spent on any one activity.  Three notes played on a xylophone signaled the end of each activity.  My lively and active daughter became quiet and withdrawn in that atmosphere.  Tara developed a school persona to shield her from the chaos and disorder of that room.  On visitors' day, one of the teachers was reading a simple story from an oversized book.  My daughter did not respond to any ot the questions asked of her.  What was happening here?  We had read and discussed much more difficult books.  The Kindergarten teachers wanted her to repeat Kindergarten.  This made absolutely no sense to me.  My daughter was beginning to read and was more than ready for first grade.

Our Homeschooling Story Continued

Tara learned to read well in first grade only because I received the word list each week and would work with her.  For math they used the so-called "new new" math.  No homework came home for math and as a result Tara fell badly behind in mathematics.  Having to "fight" with the public school teacher all the time was taking an emotional toll on me, and my daughter was not learning.  We tried private school from 2nd through 6th grade.  The teachers treated us much nicer since we were paying the bill, and my daughter actually made some friends particularly in the second private school that we tried.  Unfortunately the only real learning that took place was when I worked with my daughter every evening keeping both of us up late.  I decided that since I was doing so much of the teaching, I might as well do it all and we began our homeschooling venture.

We Begin Homeschooling

We began our homeschooling venture with 7th grade.  Tara and I followed a structured format which was enriched by computer software and hands on activities.  Tara had fallen behind several grade levels with traditional schooling.  Within our first year of homeschooling, Tara quickly caught up and began performing at grade level.  We were able to spend the extra time on math that she needed.  We used the McGraw Hill Mathematics: Applications and Connections.  I bought the interactive text that came with the textbook.  We had a lot of fun with this program.  Tara enjoyed doing the spelling and grammar workbooks, so we started each day with this.  We both read, discussed, and enjoyed some of the Newberry Award children's literature books. We began studying Spanish which was a new language for both of us.  Since I had never studied Spanish before, I invested in the McGraw Hill Bienvenidos Interactive Text.  We were able to hear the native speaker pronounce the words and we had fun with the program.  I placed a special emphasis on science and social studies.  I wanted to get my daughter excited about learning.  I was also determined that Tara should have as good a science lab experience as she would get in a good private school.  We began our social studies with geography.  I was able to supplement this study with videotapes of the countries studied, the National Geographic Student Atlas, and a geography coloring book.

Homeschooling High School

We continued our homeschooling venture through 12th grade.  Because my daughter enjoyed it, we began every day with English grammar or vocabulary.  We then moved on to Spanish, history, literature, science and math.  I learned as much as my daughter.  We added some of the CPB/Annenberg PBS broadcasts such as Earth Revealed, The Western Tradition, and the Destinos Spanish language program.  These broadcasts were as educational for me as for my daughter.  The professor who did The Western Tradition tapes really brought history to life.   I appreciated Western civilization much more this time then when I had to sit through a lecture with 1000 other students in the college playhouse at 8:00 a.m.  We also viewed an interesting public television course when we studied 20th century American history.  I bought a good quality microscope, professional slides plus many other lab materials.  Tara and I studied Earth Science and genetics. 

When Tara was 16, she decided to try a few college courses.  She had to first pass the college placement tests.  I was a bit worried when she went to take them.  After all she had only just completed 10th grade.  Tara not only passed the math placement test (her formerly weakest subject), but she scored very high on the reading and English placement tests.  This was a real testimonial to our homeschooling efforts. 

Tara is now a community college honor student.  Sometimes we do miss our days of homeschooling when we could sleep late if we wanted, study in our pajamas, learn at our own pace, put down a book that we didn't enjoy, and not have to follow someone else's learning agenda. 

Now, I wrote this article some time ago, and I am happy to report that my daughter, Tara, just received her A.A.S. diploma and is gainfully employed.  Way to go!         

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