My family is currently travelling to St. Thomas. My husband and I have a daughter who is 15. Normally she would start her Sophomore year of high school today, as a matter of fact. We did home school her this last semester. We were very unhappy with the program we selected. For those of you who have experienced homeschooling in the VI, we would greatly appreciate recommendations and comments regarding the program that you have used. Thanks. Looking forward to meeting new friends in the VI.
Since public schools here are so poor and private schools so expensive, home schooling is often mentioned as a viable alternative. As a parent who taught a child at home, I have a few thoughts on the matter.
Our son started college last month. He had never been to school before but is an easy going individual and seems to be comfortable with the structure he is now experiencing in formal schooling. We never used a homeschool program and only used traditional textbooks for mathematics. We studied whatever he wanted to learn to the degree he was interested. Nothing was required and nothing was off limits. Exposing our son to the same material as his peers was never a priority for us. We were fine with him choosing to study all of Shakespeare's plays and forgo memorizing the kings and queens of Europe. We also never concerned ourselves with the issue of "socialization" because we think that happens naturally, and our son reports that he enjoys the company of his peers as well as his professors.
Some question whether non-traditional schooling works. Our son attends a public college and their admissions requirements tend to be more standardized and less flexible than private colleges. Our son aced the ACT test last October and his application consisted of those scores, along with a list of books he'd studied and a couple of papers he'd written. We did not provide any recommendations because he did not engage anyone outside our family in any of his academic or extracurricular pursuits. He applied in November and was surprised by a quick acceptance letter. More surprising still was a letter he received a week later offering him a full tuition scholarship for four years.
I think homeschooling works best when it is part of a family's larger lifestyle choice and implemented before a child attends traditional school. For example, our family doesn't generally watch television, and consequently we aren't exposed to the advertising or cultural trends that promote consumerism. This helps facilitate our contentment with what we have, and we've found we don't want for anything. It is perhaps asking too much of a child to be surrounded by peers reared in traditional American society, and expect the child to eschew what his or her peers seem to venerate. If everyone else has a wish list of toys or designer clothes or whatever, it seems inconsistent to expect the child to share the peers' perspective when with the peers, and the parents' perspective when with the parents. Because homeschooling involves a family lifestyle choice, homeschooling isn't interchangeable with traditional schooling, which presumes common social and academic experiences among students. Thus, even when parents and older students want to homeschool, it frequently doesn't work well as everyone would like.