First - THANK YOU to all who responded. Between here, Facebook & e-mail, I got over 20 responses. Great questions, valuable insight - thanks for taking the time to respond. It's apparent many of you are passionate about the education of your children.
I wanted to do a follow-up post because I wanted to answer some questions that were posed & also maybe dispel some myths:
1. Yes, if you are having a wonderful experience in a public school and feel like your child is getting individualized attention in a wholesome environment, this probably wouldn't be for you.
2. I believe it's absolutely true that the more parent involvement in your child's education, the better your experience will be. However, there is a limit to a parent's power in public school. For instance, my niece was in a class with a difficult teacher. She is bright - and was not challenged in her classroom. My sister was very active in her education & volunteered frequently, but was seeing her daughter have a negative experience at school. She tried talking to the teacher and the principal, but the issue was not solved. Then she tried every avenue to get her transferred to a different teacher in that school, but was told there was nothing she could do. She ended up homeschooling her daughter for the rest of that year. This same niece has had a teacher quit or retire every year from kindergarten to third grade in the same school. Right now my sister is struggling with trying to get the new teacher, who yells a lot, to challenge her daughter even though the teacher is specialized in gifted and talented children and should already know how to do this. So - while being involved is important, it doesn't always solve issues that may arise.
3. A few of you brought up the social aspect. First of all, there would be plenty of socialization in a classroom with 10-13 students. Secondly, it's generally a myth that homeschooled children are lacking in social skills. Here is a study disproving the myth of lack of socialization. Most homeschooled children are not stuck in an isolated vacuum. Their parents make sure they have plenty of opportunities to socialize and problem-solve. From soccer to church, and from homeschool co-ops to playgroups, there are plenty of opportunities available and conscientious homeschoolers take full advantage of these opportunities.(See Becka's comment in my original post)
4. As far as the academic question goes, homeschooled children consistently outperform publicly schooled students. From one study: "homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects."
5. People varied in their opinions about whether a teacher with a degree was important, but the majority said if they were going to pay someone, they would want them to have a teaching degree. If we did this, we would find teachers that had degrees AND were absolutely passionate about teaching and have the children's best interests at heart.
6. Some people mentioned that maybe something like this would be more important in the Jr. High/High School years & not so crucial at the elementary age. I disagree. I don't believe a child all the sudden falls behind when they are older. It's a gradual downward spiral & if they are "left behind" (and I mean that in all aspects) early on, it's only going to get worse later on. I believe in starting a solid foundation from the beginning. I actually think it's actually more important early on to make sure that their education is positive & then when they are older (probably HS), they have that foundation and are able to make better choices.
7. Charter schools are GREAT. They are a true blessing. There are just not enough of them. And, for me, I would be willing to pay a little bit more to have my child's education be gospel-based. To be able to have my child talk about God, to learn through Gospel principles, and PRAY in school would be an amazing thing.
8. Different ages of the children. Yes, it would be difficult, but homeschooling teachers are able to navigate a lesson with varied ages. They can give the basic topic, and then give different assignments related to that topic specific to the differing age groups. This is called differentiated instruction. For example, a teacher might teach a lesson about dinosaurs. The younger students would focus on the letter "D", the middle aged students would write sentences about dinosaurs, and the older students would complete a report. Of course, this is a very simplified example, but it contains the basic principal. Also, when you think about it, a normal Kindergarten classroom has such a varied skill level that they are dealing with the same issues. There are kids who can't even say their ABCs and kids who are reading at 1st grade levels. Teachers have to find a way to reach each student at their level and that's what a homeschool teacher would do.
So - there you go. I love that there is a discussion going on - whether you like the idea or not - and feel free to comment either way. The reason I am glad that I waited to respond to this is because of my current situation. My 5-year-old daughter reads at a 1st grade level, but she just misses the deadline for Kindergarten. She is getting "left behind" in a different way. The public schools won't even look at her until next year. This would be a PERFECT solution for her needs.
Right now, our choices are:
1. Send her to preschool again this year (Tried it. Not working, she is not learning ANYTHING new!)
2. Send her to a private school (we are currently looking into American Heritage - comment if you know anyone that goes to the South Jordan American Heritage)
3. Homeschool. Which at this point is looking more & more do-able if we're not going to be able to afford private school.
4. Try to create this homeschool school led by a teacher who would conduct it in his/her own home.
Some of you expressed that $350 was too much. Would you do it for $250? (with discounts for additional children) Just wondering...