I went to the ECHO homeschool meeting tonight.
There were about 40 people there. 20 of them were new. When asked how they heard about the group they responded in unison: "THE INTERNET" kind of made me feel that what had been promised about the internet was coming true. Brought a tear to my eye.
Karl Bunday was there and invited everyone to his excellent website.
We discussed screening, the test every child has to take before kindergarten. The advice of the group was to either ignore this or let the district know you would be homeschooling when they call you looking for your kid. One mom said the screening experience convinced her to homeschool because her child tested well in the screening and she realized her child would be completely bored in kindergarten. Knowing how destructive he got when he was bored, she decided to make it easier on everyone and keep him home.
Financial Issues: Besides the usual point that its tough to make up the cost of childcare when both parents work full time, they didn't say much about how to know if you can afford to homeschool. One mom there did say she had a full time job with flexible hours. Most of the talk focused on paying for the stuff you couldn't provide yourself. For example, distance learning is getting huge. Even though the distance learning offerings are expensive, the good ones have financial aid packages that make them very affordable.
The state of Minnesota allows a family to get a tax credit or deduction of up to $1500.00 for purchases they make for extra-curricular education. This is available to homeschoolers. In addition, there is a $63.00 per year reimbursement available in Minnesota for education materials. The materials become the property of the school district, but according to the group, the school district never comes looking for their stuff.
Can you compensate for what they might be missing at school?
Someone said, "Sure, just hire someone to beat them up and take their lunch money" A response that I liked was that there will be times that you get worried because your child doesn't learn things the same year that every other 10-year-old learns them, but don't worry, that stuff all gets filled in.
In regards to socialization, the group was of the opinion that no one can homeschool alone. It is important to form a group and make sure that the adults have solid relationships before going forward.
Do you like teaching enough to homeschool?
One of the women leading the meeting said she was glad she never asked herself this before deciding to homeschool, because the idea of droning on all day at her kids but that looking back, it is a different concept of teaching. You are working one on one with children at the same time you are parenting. The advice of the group was "Don't worry if your answer to this question isn't an automatic yes"
One thing I noticed about the group was that there was an in-group of homeschoolers that had ownership of this group. They often broke off into stories about their experiences together and it was clear that there would be no busing program that would allow my child to be a part of their groovy little homeschool co-op.