DEAR TEACHER: My son is not doing very well in fourth grade even though he is quite bright. In fact, he has come to hate school. All the homework robs him of the opportunity to participate in sports or take music lessons after school - activities that he really loves.
We both want to try homeschooling, as it would give him an opportunity to do more of the things that he loves. How can I find out if there are any cooperative homeschooling groups where we live so both of us could have some support? - Future Homeschooler
Answer: One significant advantage to homeschooling for your son is that children do not need to spend as much time on schoolwork in this environment. This is largely because they are working one-on-one with a parent instead of sharing a teacher's time with 20 or even more than 30 other students. Being homeschooled would definitely give your son more time to pursue his current interests and even to acquire and pursue new interests.
Another big advantage of homeschooling is that each lesson can be tailored exactly to the child's needs and interests. In regular classrooms, the teacher is trying to help children with a wide range of abilities, which often means that many lessons will not be appropriate for your child. In the homeschooling atmosphere, children can learn rapidly. Most will outscore their classroom peers on standardized tests.
Homeschool cooperatives are very diverse. No two are exactly alike, as the participating families determine what each cooperative will be like. Some are limited to field trips, study of a specific subject or musical, art or sports groups. Others offer a great variety of options. Most meet once a week. A few offer a complete program of classes taught by parents and others, especially retired teachers. You can easily find where cooperatives as well as other homeschooling families in your area are by going online and searching for "homeschool" and the name of your area. After talking to homeschoolers, you will be able to determine if homeschooling is a good option for your family.
Editor's note: Ohio Valley Christian Home Educators is a locally run cooperative. For more information, call Judi Meyer, 304-242-5807.
DEAR TEACHER: My daughter is 6 and in the second grade. She cries because she can't keep up with her classmates. Is this a reason to hold her back next year? - Uncertain
Answer: We rarely favor retention, as it does not help most students. Instead, we like to see interventions done as early as possible to bring a child up to grade level. Meet with your child's teacher immediately to get the teacher's perspective on your child's ability to handle the work. Find out what the school can do to get your child on track. Find out if a tutor would be a good idea. Find out what good opportunities there are in your area for more help this summer: summer school, college remedial programs, learning centers. Also, find out what you can do to improve your child's skills.
Send questions to Dear Teacher, in care of Ohio Valley Parent, Box 395, Carmel, IN 46082-0395; or e-mail: