One of the real advantages to homeschooling is that you needn't listen to the pablum dished out about a student's capabilities. Samuel is NOT extraordinary in his academics. I want to emphasize that. He is a perfectly ordinary little boy more interested in lunch and recess than he is in what part of speech "therefore" is. However, perfectly ordinary little boys accomplish astounding things when it is simply expected of them. Last night as we said our prayers before bedtime, Samuel piped up (after the Our Father) with his Latin lesson:
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dóminus Deus Sábaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra glória tua.
Hosánna in excélsis.
Benedíctus qui venit in nómine Domini.
Hosánna in excélsis.
That nomine Domini proved to be quite a tongue twister/challenger (for both of us, as it turns out.) Linda, who has never taken Latin is teaching him Latin with a series called Prima Latina. I, who have taken Latin, hardly understand the pronunciation, so different is it from classical Latin, but I can hear that he is learning it. In fact, it is the lesson he looks forward to. After the Egyptian mummies (and yes, he knows the difference between Upper and Lower Egypt, the red crown and the white and the double, and can tell you more than you ever wished to know about the process of mummification [as I said, he's a perfectly normal little boy--these things are of intense interest]) they do Latin. And if the day has run long and Linda is thinking about cutting it off, the one thing he doesn't want cut out is Latin.
Now we have to find a tutor for him as he wants to learn Spanish, Italian, and French. The last I can teach, though it would be well to have some recordings of a native speaker as my pronunciation is, at best, rusty. But sound and language is his melieu--and as homeschoolers we can recognize that and encourage it. Yes, we have to balance it out with the stuff he doesn't particularly like (aspects of math). But homeschooling has proven successful thus far and I think will continue to be long into the future. Samuel loves it, and we have some considerable input into what he learns and the pace at which it goes. Individualized instruction is the way to go. For anyone who can do so, this is both challenging and rewarding. You can chicken out like we did and let your children get the basics of reading in a private (or public school) and then before their too sucked into education for the test, you can start to teach them at home. It also teaches you a certain amount of respect for what teachers must do every day. When you consider that they must man classrooms of 20, 30, or even 40 children, not all of whom are well-behaved away from their parents, not all of whom may speak English, not all of whom have any support from the family at all, AND they must teach to standards written by people who have never once seen a child in their lifetimes and who have no knowledge whatsoever of what a child is capable of--you begin to get a sense of what courage and loyalty it takes to run a classroom day to day.