Why did you start homeschooling in the first place?
Good question. While I had toyed with the idea of homeschooling before I even had children (I didn't have a fabulous school experience myself, so I didn't expect my children to, either) I put that notion on a shelf when I married a man who is the product of a long line of classroom teachers. We didn't revisit that idea until Jo was in preschool. We dutifully signed her up at age 3--just like all of our friends and neighbors. However, when she came home with construction paper covered with N-N-Noodles, I couldn't help but wonder if we were wasting our hard-earned cash.
Jo was pulled from preschool mid-way through her 4-K year. The intention was still to pursue a kindergarten program. I began researching options in our area and was not impressed. When my husband and I realized that our only options were public school (not a good choice in our area) or homeschooling, dh reluctantly agreed that I would most likely not be able to "ruin" Jo in her first year of "school."
Within a year, he was a convert. Now, it's dh that is far more likely to look at people cross-eyed when they say they don't support homeschooling.
Do you do phonics?
Yes and no. Each of my children has had a blend of different approaches--customized on an as-needed basis-- for reading instruction. That's the beauty of homeschooling. If you need to build up one area, you work on it. If you need less in another, you fly past it.
My favorite reading instruction resources are Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (great for those who only have a few minutes a day as well as those who have children who are anxious to get going on "real" stories) and Headsprout. Headsprout is on the pricey side, but is interactive and is great for reviewing what you've already taught.
How do you choose extracurriculars?
Our children lead the way when it comes to outside activities. So far, we've followed an interest-led approach that has meandered from gymnastics to 4-H rabbits to foreign languages to politics. I am very reluctant to offer my kids activity options. I'd rather it be their idea.