Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Homeschooling: Deciding What to Outsource

This week I am making a decision about homeschooling my older son (rising sophomore), specifically teaching/learning writing composition.

Fact: We have not done as much as I had hoped.

Fact: He produces more with deadlines imposed by outside classes and teachers who are not me.

Fact: He is having typical teenage "trying to be independent" and "need more space away from Mom" feelings.

Fact: If I am to teach this I will have to exert more time into intense teaching than I think I want or have available given other life circumstances (i.e. moving next month - again).

Fact: I am not as trained on teaching writing composition, I just do it for fun in my adult life and I was a decent writing student while in public school and college. I do not know the tips and tricks that teachers know. I do not know what is normal for ages and stages of students and what is typical for writing expectations.

Fact: My son is running out of runway, as they say, and it is coming time for him to be able to produce well-written essays for the SAT and for the community college entrance exam for dual credit enrollment. He needs to be able to write academic papers for his high school coursework and for college. We can't keep putting this off forever.

I could do this. I could slog through it. I could force myself to read the materials I already own and to refresh my memory or learn what the latest grading rubrics are and apply them (versus what my memory tells me about how I was taught to write). That effort would require using nights and weekends to do teacher prep work. I don't know that I have that time to give after doing normal wife and mothering stuff and adding in a little me time such as intentional exercise for health reasons. After doing all that, I am not sure that after all my effort that it would be worth it or that the level of learning would be equal to what my son may experience if I outsource the teaching.

Let's also not forget that I have a younger son to homeschool also.

I wondered what may be accomplished in community college but suspect that it would not be as intense or personal. I am fairly certain that I found a good fit for an online class, although the cost is higher.

I have not found a homeschool co-op that could handle this (with open slots for enrollment).

I'm thinking the online class is the way to go, even though it's more money than my husband and I wanted to spend. However, a writing class is more intensive teaching than some other types of classes so we can still balance out the budget with other subjects being taught at home or by reading books or textbooks on one's own, by DVD or online recorded video. I could pay for other courses to be outsourced but since our funds have limits (and we choose to not go into debt to finance our homeschooling) I think what's best is to carefully pick which courses would provide the greatest return on investment.

Sometimes a family has limits and we have to "make do" and to compromise. We can't always provide the ultimate experience in every single area of the child's life. It's a good experience for kids to have since in their adult life they will never have ultimate peak experiences in every single aspect of their lives either. My husband and I discuss these decisions with our kids so they can see we put careful thinking into things and weigh the pros and cons and then look at the financing aspect before arriving at a decision. That is a great thing to learn about how to live one's life that may be even more important than how well a person can produce a persuasive essay or an academic paper.


Angela said...

This is something I do much more readily once they hit high school, for many of the same reasons. I also found that there is a positive peer pressure element for students who want to do well for others, instead of just "get 'er done" for mom. Even as an English teacher, the group environment works best for us. And often, it is very gratifying for both of us to see what they can produce without so much help.

Anne said...

Thanks for all you've written! Your thought are so like mine but you have taken steps I need to make. I was praying for help this morning and stumbled on your blog. I have a 9th grade boy, 6th grade boy and 2nd grade boy this year. If you have time to reply, where are you doing the online classes via Skype? I'll look through your blog some more today to see if you've mentioned it and I missed it.