Thursday, October 18, 2012

Homeschooling 101

Boy do I feel like I am in the midst of a college level class and I am struggling to figure out what the professor is really trying to say.  I sit in class, I listen, I take notes, I read the textbook, but they say one thing, I read about something completely different and then when I go to take the test none of the questions are anything about what the professor said or what I read and studied.  Sheesh!

Homeschooling 101: 

Here are things I have read.  Everyone does it differently.  All families are different. Teach what the kids are interested in. Most families teach skills to mastery.  

Here are things I have heard from others.  Everyone does it differently.  All families are different. Teach in units. Explore your world.

Here are things I learned from the homeschooling convention last June.  You need to pick a curriculum.  Get stuff for all subjects and don't forget handwriting, grammar, Bible, and all the extras. Everyone does it differently.  All curriculums are expensive.

Here is what I have learned from being a teacher in public and private schools for the past 19 years.  Curriculum must be well rounded.  Cover as much as you can in a year.  Electives are important.  Social Studies and Science are VERY important subjects to learn.

Here is what I learned from the homeschool laws of Virginia (where we live).  You must turn in a list of subjects you plan to cover over the course of the year.  At the end of the year you must turn in standardized test scores for reading and math for each child. Period!

So in my effort to be prepared I have scoured the internet looking for homeschooling families and reading their daily schedules, lists of subjects they are learning, and the curriculum they use.  I went to the Homeschool convention here in town (our state convention) and I listened to the speakers, I talked to the people in the vendor's hall and listened and looked at all the curriculum out there.  I thought about where my kids were in school (public school) and figured their grade levels were correct since they were all making decent grades in school.  I brought home all the catalogs and literature that they gave us.  I read homeschooling magazines,  and I talked to any other homeschooling moms I could.

I read more.  I surfed the internet more.

I emailed other homeschooling moms.

I chose a curriculum.  I paid a TON of money for it.  I opened the boxes when they arrived and was excited to see the wonderful books I paid a TON of money for.  I was happy.  I took the instructors guide to bed with me that night.  I pulled the books we would begin with. We started the next day.  I read to not let the curriculum guide you but for you to guide the curriculum.  I WANTED to check off the boxes when we finished with each thing.  I WANTED the curriculum to guide us.

In regular school (public or private) the teacher stands in the front of the classroom and the kids sit in the desks, eyes open and pencils sharpened and ready to learn.  The teacher teaches.  The students learn.  This is what my kids did on the first day with our new things.  They sat around the kitchen table and looked at me.  I started to "teach".  But it didn't go well.  We didn't know where we were going.  We didn't understand how this curriculum was set up.  There were no textbooks so we didn't know the sequence of things.  We didn't understand what we were to get from this reading.  I went back to the instructors guide for guidance.  It didn't answer my questions.  We continued hoping we would figure it out.  We kept going for two weeks.  I became frustrated because we weren't getting anywhere.  There was too much to do, not enough writing for the kids, not enough time in our day to get all the stuff done they wanted us to do.  We never even got to science!  NEVER!

This week I have had a panic attack about this.  My husband asked me if this was all going to work.  He questioned if we should send the kids back to school (public school).  I immediately said NO!  I just needed a plan, a sequence of things, a scope.  I needed to revamp.

Part 2 of this post is here.

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