I didn't have very good experiences with the learning environment of a traditional school. There were times when I got all my work done in 5 minutes, then sat and stared at the wall while my fellow students struggled. Of course that wasn't for all the subjects, but eventually in the subjects I caught on well with, I ended up average by 8th grade. I also know kids who struggled but were pushed ahead anyway.
I know schooling at home doesn't meet all the needs of a child. A child needs to grow socially as well as academically. But I also know that the traditional methods are severely lacking in academics. I don't think the social environment there is ideal, either. Perhaps it is better than being at home around the same people all day. I'm still trying to work through that. I'm trying to take many opportunities to get my children out and about during the day to partially make up for that lack.
Tiffany is seven. She attended traditional school for kindergarten and part of first grade. She was reading before entering kindergarten, and I had her doing basic addition as well. Needless to say, she was way beyond the academic offerings of the school for her grade level.
I took Tiffany out of school during first grade, and taught her at home the rest of the school year. I had heard about IDVA, but by that time, enrollment had closed. I picked up some textbooks from local thrift stores. She had formal lessons in spelling and math, learning basic multiplication and division. I took her to the library often, and she read whatever she could get her hands on. Our local school district has a basic list of what children should be learning at school. I used that list to keep her up on health and other lessons. I kept her partially enrolled at the school for PE and music classes.
This year is Tiffany's first year enrolled in IDVA. Even though she is in second grade, she is taking third grade courses in language arts and math. I love that she can always be challenged. If she knows a concept, she can test out of the lessons or units. If she's struggling with something, we can spend more time on it. The hardest part is actually putting in more than five hours a day. Overall it is a very positive experience.
We don't plan on doing this through high school. Corwin and I both feel that the social hierarchy of school can teach a lot about the social aspects of adult life. Also, there are many more opportunities that our kids can gain in high school that we cannot provide at home. The teachers are specialized in their fields and the children can be in classes that they can really learn and grow in that are much more tailored to the child than in grade school. I realize that this is where many parents fear the social aspect of school, but I believe if a child has a good foundation, we won't need to fear so much for her.