Mark is twelve. He is in the 6th grade at a parent-coop school (3 days on campus; 2 days homeschooled). We started school a year late with Mark because he is very small framed and because he was having trouble with peers. Mark is now very outgoing, well-liked, an above average athlete, and an “A” student. I have been studying classical education for some time now. Along with my interest in that model is my concern that I, as the father and head of the house, become more directly involved in our children’s education. Our co-op school is run entirely by moms when the kids meet on campus and mothers generally do all the home education as well. That is great and fine as far as it goes but is wanting as far as the need to offer our boys male leadership. In the coming year I would like to take Mark out of the co-op school and home school him by the classical model. In addition, I would like to do two years (7th and 8th) so as to move him up a grade so that in the fall he will be entering the 9th grade. However, those three issues (1) change from co-op school to home school; (2) change from traditional curriculum to classical curriculum; and (3) doing two years in one–are ominous challenges. Dave
My personal opinion is that kids are better off in homeschool than in a private school. That is not to say that parents must do all the teaching of every single subject. They might need, at times, to seek some help in specialized areas — e.g. a musical instrument. But, on the whole, homeschooling is for parents!
The Scriptures do not say “parents” or “mothers” but — emphatically in the Greek — “O ye Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but nurture them in the discipline and counsel of the Lord.” That’s not academics per se, but all academics must be guided by the overiding purpose and goal of nurturing in the discipline and counsel of the Lord under the direction of the father. Mothers and others may work under the father, but none can be allowed to work beside, apart, or against the father. This is a fundamental principle of the biblical patriarchal family, and it has been lost in our culture. Everyone benefits from this order of operation — the children, the mother, and the father. Diminished returns come when one attempts — ignorantly or deliberately — to thwart this order and work against the natural and spiritual grain of God’s created order. It would not necessarily be ideal if fathers could do all of the teaching. Mothers need to learn to work under their husbands — not independently of their husbands. And homeschooling is for mothers also. But fathers must be involved in direct instruction of the mother and of the children in biblical studies and family worship, and fathers must be chief consultant in all academics — if not teaching some of the academics.
Independent studies — student self-teaching — must also be under the father’s direction. If your son is fairly self-motivated academically then I doubt you will have much difficulty changing from the co-op to full time homeschooling. If he has bonded with his peers you might have some problems with attitude and motivation. As far as changing from a traditional curriculum to a classical curriculum, you will probably find it easier than you think. It depends some on which classical curriculum you choose.
I have no answer for how to do 2 years worth of curriculum in one year. We never paid attention to grade levels except for math. What is “seventh grade?” What is “eighth grade?” They are arbitrary divisions imposed on us by the educational establishment for purposes of herd management. Who determines what must be learned and by what time and by whom? If a family is interested in reading Les Miserables and studying the French Revolution (which would be considered high school level) when their oldest is a mere ten years old, then I say do it. You might find it difficult to complete two years of math in one year. Perhaps your son can just skip 7th grade math and go right into Saxon Algebra One Half, or a similar 8th grade math book. I would suggest having him take the Saxon placement tests.