[Asked if we have a program picked out for when our children are school aged....]
Actually, what we are planning on doing was the main topic of discussion Mike and I had last night during date night. (we did talk about other stuff too of course...)
We haven't really got that figured out yet - but we have a year or two to get it straightened out.... we want to be pretty sure by the time Delta is 6 - although you don't have to send your kids to school here legally until they are 7. I am planning on registering him as homeschooling Kindergarten, as we get discounts at some stores for schooling type stuff if we are registered.
The curriculum our province has that you can buy and use, from my understanding from a few sources is expensive, and in a word - sucks. I'd consider using Alberta's correspondance school - but it is expensive, and even more-so as we are out-of-that-province.... And really, we aren't that convinced we want to use a "school-at-home" type of system where we have no control again.
Mike and I seem to have similar thoughts. Although he is all for homeschooling - he is worried about "experimental" approaches. His brother (and me, as it happens) both experienced the "open school" experiment of the 70's - with schools that had no walls between the rooms. Although I had thought about "unschooling" - we both agree that it doesn't sound like us - it is too unfocused.
So - Mike and I agree on stuff like....
a) - we want our children to be able to think for themselves.... Mike has lots of examples where he has come up with a simple improvement, and co-workers have a problem because "that isn't how you do it"..... even if they agree it is better.
b) - we want our children to be able to work at their own pace - we don't want them bored because they got the concept 10 minutes ago - but have to do an hour's more work on it.
c) - although repetition can be helpful for some specific types of things to learn - that it isn't a good method for a lot of stuff. For example - why do 100 problems of the same type in math? If you can't figure out how to do the first 1 or 2, doing 98 more incorrectly isn't going to help. If you CAN figure it out - why should you do more 98 more? 4 or 5 should be plenty.
d) - a part of c above - understanding how something works, or why it is the way it is is far more important than just memorizing the fact. Not to say there isn't stuff that shouldn't be memorized - but the understanding is necessary for it to be useful
e) - we need a plan - not just be all over the place
f) - there is a lot of learning that can take place in life. (ie, baking a cake.... lots of math stuff, and lots of science. what if you put just flour in the oven? what if you put in just flour and water? What if you put all the ingredients in seperate containers in the oven? why does mixing the ingredients work to make a cake?)
g) - we want our kids to be able to persue post-secondary education if they choose - or a trade, or whatever they decide....
What we haven't figured out for sure - is how to determine exactly what to teach, and exactly how to go about it. I've been researching common methods, and right now, I'm leaning towards the "Charlotte Mason" method. It encourages learning through "living books" (books that grab the attention of the child, and has good stuff in it), nature study, narration and copy-work, music and art appreciation, meaningful crafts (not throw-away stuff), and time to follow good hobbies and interests. Oh, and scripture study (it is a christian based idea).
The problem, is it is pretty much impossible to find un-biased info!