In a previous post I mentioned a hybrid-education model as a potential viable and practical alternative to the failing public school system. My purpose is to find a practical and productive passage through the minefield of public education for my grandchildren.
The obvious options available are as follows:
Private School Although private schools arguably offer the best education alternative money can buy, money is the key word. Neither the parents nor I can afford this option for my grandchildren much less the time and expense of the transportation involved. Private K through 12 schools are expensive with tuition and fees reaching $ 30,000 plus per year for day school. Boarding schools are even much higher.
Parochial or Religion Based School The quality of education are generally excellent but there are exceptions. These schools are less expensive, generally in the range of 25% to 50% of private schools, but education quality, while superior to the majority of public schools, needs to be checked closely. Cost and transportation will also be an eliminating factor for many. Also, many of these schools have competitive entrance testing and thus eliminate the less fortunate even if their parents could afford the tuition and transportation factors.
Move to A Town With Top Public Schools There are areas that have high quality public schools and people living in these areas are indeed fortunate. A family could solve their quality education problem by moving to one of these towns. These towns are inevitably affluent, high-income areas and the cost of housing or rents reflect this. Aside from the many issues associated with packing up and moving, the increase in the cost of like housing and real estate taxes are daunting to most.
Home Schooling This is an excellent choice for many. In fact more than 3% of school aged children in the United States are home schooled. http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=91 This is a large, and growing number for many reasons and my suggested hybrid-education option does not address them all. 1) 36% wish to include religious or moral training. 2) 21% have parents with overriding school environmental concerns, e. g., safety, drugs, bullying, negative peer pressure. 3) 17% are dissatisfied with the quality of academic instruction. [Note: my own belief, given that 74% of public schools are failing, is that this reason alone should become the most significant driving factor for seeking alternatives.] 4) 14% name Other, e. g., family time, family travel, distance from schools. 5) 7% desire a non-traditional approach to education. 6) 6% have child health or special needs as a reason. The obvious question with home schooling is the need for someone with the competence and time to administer and teach the children. In most cases this will require one parent to be available to perform the necessary tasks.
Charter School This can be an attractive option for those living near a charter school. The drawbacks are they are relatively few in number (less than 3.7% of public school students go to charter schools) and as a result charter schools resort to a competitive or a lottery system for admittance. Given the limited number of charter schools it is not a practical option for most students.
Hybrid-Education (Public School with a limited home school but independent, self-directed, component) This alternative maintains attendance in the local public or charter school and introduces relatively low-cost supplements for the critical subjects of math, reading and writing. This post will address the critical subject math. Reading and writing will follow in subsequent posts.
Finding The Right Curriculum
Choosing the right curriculum is fundamental to my needs. The offered curricula are numerous (68 for K-8, approximately 12 for advanced math (preliminary algebra, algebra 1, algebra 2, trigonometry, and calculus), and 6 for geometry. http://www.homeschoolreviews.com/ Many are similar, particularly in K-8, but there are differences. It seems that the home school market can support the many different curricula because of the varied learning styles and preferences of children and their parents. It amazes me how many accounts there are of parents switching programs even during the school year due to a mismatch between student learning style and their chosen curriculum. The fact that these math curricula are relatively low cost makes it affordable for many if not most parents to switch if they are not getting expected results from their chosen math program.
My need is for a curriculum that is mainly student directed. One in which a student needs only parent oversight and not a teacher. The teaching is handled by a text book and a CD or computer online video. I was looking for a comprehensive course that meets this need. I will attempt to put this search for the “right” curriculum in perspective with a summary of the search. I used a number of resources in my work and I wish to single out two main ones. First is from a home school curriculum forum from a great blog titled Confessions of a Homeschooler by Erica. A really wonderful blog worthwhile to visit. http://www.confessionsofahomeschooler.com/blog/2013/04/homeschool-math-curriculum-forum.html
The second source is from http://www.homeschoolreviews.com/ which provides meaningful comments and insights on numerous math curricula.
Top 10 Math Courses
|K-8 (2)||Ad. Math (2)||Geometry (2)|
|Rank||Math Curricula||Forum Users (1)||# pgs comments||
|# pgs. Comments|
|1||Math U See||46||10||3||na|
|2||Horizons & alpha omega||26||10||1||4|
|5||Singapore Math||13||10||na (3)||na|
|7||Life of Fred||9||4||na||na|
|10||Rod and Staff||3||10||na||na|
|Note (1)||From confessionsofahomeschooler blog|
|Note (2)||From homeschoolreviews.com|
|Note (3)||na = not observed|
Why Teaching Textbooks (TT)
The curriculum meeting my criteria is Teaching Textbooks. http://www.teachingtextbooks.com/
The most significant factor for me is the course does not require a parent teacher or tutor. The textbook and CD cover the material in depth and the student can progress at their own comfortable pace with a parent’s role limited to one of oversight. This is huge plus for me. Teaching Textbooks receives great reviews from from the confessionsofahomeschooler.com forum and from homeschoolreviews.com. The Teaching Textbook website provides a demonstration of their teaching methodology and clips of their differences between them and traditional methods. The one potential negative mentioned by one commenter is TT was not challenging enough for their gifted daughter although it met the needs of a second daughter. For those with gifted math students they may find the need to switch to another curriculum or to find supplemental work. I note that one student commented that he used TT throughout high school years and got perfect scores on his math SAT and ACT. At any rate, the multiple market products and customer comments indicates that not any one product will be the right one for everyone.
Costs for TT are higher than others in the Top 10. However,costs are far from prohibitive. Where other curricula can range from approximately $75 to $125, TT may be approximately 50% higher.
This is a relatively small cost increase for the advantage gained of time saved from limited parent input.