Our decision to start homeschooling became the best and only option but we didn't start there. The more we learned, through experience, about the educational options the more I wanted and felt I needed to be involved in my children's education. It also fit perfectly into my other plans for the family.
We own a sticks and bricks house in Chicago. We live there about three months of the year. Living in Chicago there are three options to classically educate children. First option is the local Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Second, a test exists and if your child does well enough and fits other qualifications then you can be accepted into the Gifted and Selective Enrollment Program. Lastly, education can be paid for at a private school.
Our youngest tested for the Selected Program at the age of 5 yrs. old. She tested in the 99% and was wait listed at every gifted and selective enrollment school to which we applied. Exhausting that option, we chose to pay a private school to educate our child instead of putting them into CPS. It was $6000+ a year plus other donations and a mandatory 40 hours of service time. When the time came to enter our second kid into the school the price tag was going to be close to $10,000 a year. K - 8, 9 years of elementary school @ $10,000 per year is $90,000. I felt at $90,000 we should have a lot of options to educate our children.
Just Fed Up
Money was not the only nor most important deciding factor when choosing to homeschool our children. We were already doing a lot of work at home and having fun doing it. We read a lot, played with numbers, and constantly challenged our children to solve life's problems. The two biggest deciding factors that pushed us over the edge and take control of our children's education were as follows.
One, my oldest at the age of 7 would take two full days of tests mandated by the state. The school would warn us that the testing was going to happen and sent home a letter which stated, "Have the child prepared to take the tests." Then we would get the results, a number, that was it. Good or bad we received no feedback and didn't really know what questions or concepts she missed or didn’t understand. I asked her teacher and received the answer, "Don't worry about it. She is fine." That was not acceptable to me. As a parent I felt excluded from my child’s education.
Second, we took our daughter out of school during her Kindergarten year to go to California. It was the week before the week off for Thanksgiving. She was well ahead of her class and we could work with her to complete any work she was going to miss. And it was kindergarten, KINDERGARTEN! When we got back, we were clearly told, “Do not to do that again. Your child is to be in class.”, the end. So that is how it ended. We will take care of our children's education.
Most importantly, I had other plans. My wife and I both work remote and we love to travel. I had seen that there were families that were living a nomadic life traveling all over the world. I saw our family traveling and using our travels to help educate our children.
It took a lot of work convincing my wife of the idea, but I was successful. Homeschool tied right into a nomadic life. We homeschooled our kids two years before we hit the road. This gave me plenty of time to work out the kinks and get into a rhythm of dad being their teacher before we were constantly on the move.
Top questions we receive about homeschooling.
What about socialization?
If you have met my kids the answer would be self-evident. Since everyone cannot, I will present this idea as an answer. My kids interact with people of many ages, both sexes every day. If they were conventionally educated my kids would only spend time with peers their own age. This is an unrealistic representation of life.
What curriculum do we use?
You can find it at The Curious Mind Curriculum. I recommend reading our philosophy first, it will help understand the goal of educating our children.
Do we have to give anything to the state?
Homeschool laws are governed by each individual state. We live in Illinois and they have two rules, 1. We teach state required subjects. 2. Taught in English.
How do your kids get a degree?
To get into high school or college a homeschool application will need to be filled out. The same tests ACT, SAT, etc. are available to anyone.
I could never do it (homeschool my kids).
This is less of a question and more of a statement by others when they hear what I am doing. I agree, if someone believes they cannot do something then they shouldn't. This is something I enjoy. If I didn’t enjoy it or look forward to doing it every day, I could put them back into a classic school. The decision is not permanent.
Are we part of any co-ops or homeschool groups?
No. We go our own way. I enjoy discussing education, so if you wish to talk please contact me.