I never thought I would consider homeschooling.
I liked schools.
When we found out we were moving to Italy, however, and that the English-based school was over an hour away by bus, I knew that we were going to have to explore our options. I cannot stick my 5-year-old on a bus for an hour and a half every day. And that would be 6 hours driving every day for me if I took him back and forth. Not happening. So, we'll be homeschooling. At first, I actually groaned at the idea, but the more time that has gone on, the more I've come to love the idea.
The more time Seamus spend in school, the more I hate it. In all honestly, I love Seamus' preschool teacher. I want to roll her up and put her in my pocket. She has worked with me to find many happy mediums when I had concerns about things that I didn't like- like the unit they did on personal safety (which had light undertones of sex education). Seamus is four! I wrote Seamus' teacher and she and I came up with a solution I was very happy with. However, there won't be a Miss Summers at every base we live at between here and retirement. After going to Seamus' classroom to help on a fairly regular basis, I've also come to realize that only about half the time at school is spent learning and the other half is spent correcting one or two out of control kids. And after having to deal with my neighbor's kids, I've realized that there are parents who just don't care- school is a way to get their kids out of their hair for 4-8 hours per day. And, admittedly, I used to be grateful for school for my "break" every day, now I just want it to end, so I can be done with all these negative influences in Seamus' life.
Once upon a time, when Western settlers roamed the North American part of Earth, formal schools didn't really exist. Until the 1840's, schools were mostly unorganized. The first census that included information on education (also in 1840), showed only about 55% of children attended school regularly. Most children were educated by their parents.
It wasn't until 1900 that the majority of the states even had laws on school attendance. In 1918, all starts required elementary school attendance. When it became law, most people sent their children to school. One-room schoolhouses evolved into multi-grade schools. Mostly out of convenience- take a group of kids at the same level and let them learn together. It's a fine idea on paper, but when you get down to it, you've got kids in the second grade who read at a Kindergarten level and ones that can read on a fifth grade level.
In the 1960's a movement began to start homeschooling children again and it has grown ever since. In the 1980's conservative Christians petitioned (and won) legalized homeschooling in every state. I could go on about this for days, but instead I'll just give you some links to some more information on the history of homeschooling:
They're pretty good reads.
Before I even begin the second half of this post, let me preface this by saying that we're not very religious- we don't go to church, but we're not opposed to church. We just choose not to attend. Unfortunately, most of the free world believes religion and homeschooling coexist exclusively. If you homeschool, you must be crazy-religious.
And, as much as you don't want this to be true, most people are going to see this when you say "homeschool" (and, because, Mean Girls has a quote for every moment in life):
Anyway, because of this, the vast majority of the homeschooling curriculum on the market are religion-based. And, well, that's all fine and good for the people who want that, but that's not what we want for Seamus.
If you Google "secular homeschooling", a lot of results come up, but they all mostly recommend an online-based curriculum called Time4Learning. Time4Learning goes from Preschool through Middle School and is completely done online. As in: you can set your kids down in front of it and leave them there while they do their work (although, I sincerely hope you don't do that). It's also pretty pricey- $19.99/month (~$240/year). I could see using this as a supplement or maybe if your family were going through a busy time, but a sole curriculum? I don't think so. Also, I cannot imagine having such uninvolved curriculum for such small kids.
I've had a lot of trouble finding a curriculum I approve of that is traditional (not solely online) and affordable. Curriculum can be expensive! The Calvert School offers a highly recommended program, but the cost is $1,110. WHAT?! Who can afford that!? Sonlight (also hghly recommended), is a little cheaper at $867.99 ($300 for the "core" version- which doesn't include everything you need), but still far from affordable. A Beka is about $400, if you don't opt for the Bible curriculum. And lastly, there is Alpha Omega, which doesn't sell packages for it's Horizons curriculum, but, by my math, it would be a little more than $500. Plus, all these highly recommended curriculum are religion-based. Bah.
This is all so much to consider. I have found the Spectrum homeschooling curriculum, which is really affordable and non-religion based, but I don't know much about it. I ordered one of the Kindergarten reading books (because that's what we're going to be focusing on first) used from Amazon, but it's not here yet.
Now I just need to tell the school of my plans. That should be easy, right?