Please let me begin by saying that these are our experiences and our feelings about the education for our children. We do not believe that home school is the perfect choice for all families at all times; it is what we have chosen for the children in our family at this time.
Why home school?
There are so very many reasons why we have chosen to home school. Let me begin by saying that I was a public school teacher for 8 years, even after my first 2 children were born. I loved teaching (still do) and our plan was for our kids to attend the local public school. In fact, Papi and I were actually against the idea of homeschooling, and made it quite clear to those we knew who did home school. (Sorry, V.!)
Then, we both had a change of heart, at about the same time. For me, I was seeing numerous changes at the school and district level that I disagreed with. For Papi, he was seeing how much time the children spent with other people, and how little time they were with us.
Since the initial decision to home school, we have discovered many additional aspects of homeschooling that we absolutely love for our family. We love the flexibility in our schedule, the way we can take breaks when we need to, and continue on with school when we don't. When Papi worked a nontraditional work week, we adjusted our school schedule around his work schedule. When the kids are sick they don't miss a day of school, we continue on if they're able, and if not, we pick things up again the next day. Our kids get along better than we remember getting along with our siblings because they are each others' primary playmates and classmates.
How do I know they are learning what they need to?
Having been a teacher helps me considerably in having an idea of what the children should be learning at each age. It is not however, essential. We have a curriculum that guides me in what to teach. Also, I often talk with other parents to see what their children are learning at their various schools. (We have friends whose children are homeschooled, in public school, and private schools.)
As a teacher, tests and quizzes were a necessity of having so many students. The best way to know if a child truly understood the material was for them to share about it, there just wasn't time to do that for 25 children every day. As a home school mom, I have the joy of having that time available. The kids love to talk about what they are learning, teaching each other about what they have read, and sharing with Papi during dinner.
What about socialization?
Honestly, it depends on your definition of socialization. We consider socialization to be "the ability to interact with different people, of different ages, in a variety of situations." Our children are learning the various expectations for different situations and groups. They have numerous opportunities on a regular basis to interact, not only with children their own age, but with children of other ages, as well as adults.
Some of the opportunities they have to interact with others include, soccer (JT), Sunday School, children's choir, home school group, field trips, monthly potluck with the seniors from church, play dates, knit night (JA), etc. This is not an exhaustive list, but just an example.
Won't they struggle with others who are different from them?
As much as any other child, I expect. Within our family, we have 6 distinct personalities, so the kids get plenty of experience dealing with others on a regular basis. In addition, some of our best friends are quite different in regards to personality, interests, etc. When it comes to the larger group settings, the opportunities for differences are even greater. Even within our closest circle of friends, there are very different parenting styles, expectations, acceptable play & noise levels, etc.
How will they adjust to a large group setting?
Each child handles the large group differently, and that also changes as they grow. JA did not like noise or large groups at all when 2-5 years old, but now she does just fine, even at the home school group, which can have up to 60 families at once. JT takes a moment to adjust to any new situation, and then he's right in there, checking in with me every so often. JMC goes wherever his siblings go, without any concern for how many other people may be around.
How will they respond to other adults?
Like many children, our kids tend to behave better for other adults than for us. They do just fine at home school group, Sunday School, and children's choir, all of which are activities in which there are other adults in charge. While Papi and I are usually nearby, we are not in the same classroom, and the kids do fine.