Tag Archive: home school


Ah yes, I did so well the first two months of school. Then I got sick, had laryngitis for 5 days, felt exhausted the rest of November. I don’t know about you, but when I’m exhausted, I don’t think straight, so it wasn’t the best frame of mind to teach in. I so totally slacked it’s not funny.

What I have learned so far?
1. Homeschooling parents should get a tax break. Does the government have any idea how many hours go into researching, teaching, grading, experiment creating? At least teacher-teachers have the curriculum laid out for them, for the most part. Me? I chose to do my own thing, using the government guidelines as just that–guidelines. This is because if my child decides to go back to public school (which he does) I need to be certain he’s covering the basics (and then some).
2. My child is very hard to teach. He is a super smart kid, but he’s a visual learner who gets bored easily–as in within 5 mins, I have lost his attention. He’s fidgety, he likes to take bathroom breaks, he likes to take snack breaks. He hates when his littlest brothers interrupt his school time in the afternoon. He has zero motivation to do homework (unless you call “If you don’t do it, you get zero ipad time” motivation). He is like his dad–very disorganized, unless you call tossing papers randomly in his binder hopefully in the right place “organized”. He doesnt’ test well. He claims to study, but his grades don’t reflect this. I actually let him do an oral exam for photography (arts class) to see how he would do. The kid took zero notes, yet was able to ace that quiz–a week after we finished that portion of photography. This is something that I find interesting.
3. It is definitely an art teaching English Lit. This was one of my best school subjects growing up (which also seems to be my 2nd child’s strength), yet to actually TEACH it? That is completely different. I admit, I totally suck at teaching it. However, I am determined to trek along and figure a way around it.
4. You progress through topics so much more quickly than public school because you have just one (in my case) child to school, not 30 kids of varying degrees of maturity/intelligence. I have gone through half a year’s worth of math concepts in 2 months time.–which means he will get to do some additional stuff, like negative exponents, (including how to reciprocate a neg exponent outside the brackets), and he will learn a bit more on the algebra side, as well. Measurement conversions are the next unit, which is a break before we get into geometry–finding angles, naming circles, rays, lines, etc etc etc. … All this while taking in world geography (which isn’t on the govt list), world history (not on govt list), and economics (which he excels in as well).
5. Search out art classes. We have a Color Me Mine studio where we can do an afternoon of ceramic painting (tax deductible art), but they also provide art classes (also tax deductible) for $25 + tax. This is very reasonable, as it includes all materials. So this month, he will paint a dolphin, next month he wants to try his luck at painting Van Gogh (I don’t remember the title of that piece, but his cousin painted it years ago as well.)

I have also found some other really cool sites: BrainPOP is a great science site. Subscription is free, and you get access to science lessons/videos/lesson plans, etc. I heart this site. It is helping me put together my next Health unit — the brain, and how foods/chemicals in them affect the brain. (We have already covered the digestive system and the immune system, and how foods affect each.) Another great site is homeschoolmath.net which I stumbled upon while searching out exponent worksheet downloads.

Anyhow, so homeschooling thus far has been quite rewarding. I am understanding why he has had a hard time with public school, as well as why tests frustrate him so much. I never tested well either, so I can relate to the study for hours and get jack in return feeling. (College flashbacks are horrid some days! LOL) Armed with my new knowledge of how to keep him busy, I can now be more boisterous when I go to the public school principal and exactly dictate how he needs to be taught. I can’t say that all teachers will be successful, but if they want to help him succeed, as public schools claim they do, then they had better listen, and listen closely. I also am armed with knowledge that our school district shoots itself in the foot quite regularly by pushing teachers to be frugal, but not telling parents that by doing so, any unused funding gets lost…. as in you NEVER get it added to the following year’s budget. I also am well aware that our school is over 800K in the black, so getting my son in for the psych-ed test should be a drop in the bucket for them to foot the bill for. If they truly are interested in helping him succeed, they will get him in for testing and get him in for testing ASAP.

Week 3 …

My first two weeks, well the better part, were utterly disasterous, from my standpoint.  My son decided he HAD to start on the same day as his brother… which means I was so ill-prepared it was more like “Did you cover this last year?”. .. .. Now, I had absolutely no idea where to go about the whole — where do I start — thing. …  I think if I were a teacher, I’d have been better off, but alas, I am not.   So it took me a good week-and-a-half to actually figure out my plan. …  For me, it starts with World History.  How can you learn about the world around you if you don’t first know the history of the world around you?  So, that was my personal starting point for most of my curriculum. 

The second part was where in the world would I find free resources?  The internet is a wonderful tool, let me tell ya.  I have found so many wonderful sites.  One I love is Kids Geo.  They have a great way to present the rock cycle, the type of rock that are found within the earth’s crust…  and it’s not so much that you have to sift through for five hours, but not so little that you need to supplement with other stuff….  it’s the perfect amount of details for my middle-school child.  It also gives the perfect order to teach about the earth’s crust.  We have a microscope, but I think we’ll have to take a chip off the piece of lava rock we have in order to see the compacted crystals inside it….  

I am also teaching him, along with world history and civilizations, the basics of economics.  The hard part, since that was my minor, was to pare it down and make it basic enough for a grade 6 student.  I have all these ideas about what direction I would like to go, but then it starts to get too complicated. …  The local sales paper is a great way to explain the basics of the supply and demand curve, and how price affects both supply and demand of a product in a mixed market economy.  A trip to the local farmer’s market is also a great way to get your child to think about the purchase being made, the farmer, what happens to that farmer’s crops when there’s extreme weather (affects supply, demand, and price).  So he understands quite well the basics of the S/D curve. … and how different things affect price. ..   in fact, I am surprised how quickly he picked that part up. ..  …  for Socials, he needs to expand upon his Parliamentary knowledge.  This is new for me.  I came from a (false) democratic government system, so teaching him means I need to understand it, too..  which is actually easier because if I can’t find a way to understand it, how will he be able to? …   French is the tough one. …  I did find a super good site, though, that gives audio, from a true Frenchman–the French Experiment. Having zero French, and equally as hideous pronunciation, this site is a Godsend!  You can find some fabulous worksheet sites.  My favorite math one is Super Teacher Worksheets. You can get some for free, and for $20 you can get a whole lot more. …  Actually, one that’s even MORE cool that that, for math anyways, is Math Aids. .. You can actually create your own set of worksheets… for free.  That one makes me giddy.  Math nerd, I know, but that one is actually fun.  

Other things I’ve learned over the past few weeks… teaching English is really hard to do.  I excelled at English in school, but to actually teach it??  That’s a whole other can of worms. … I definitely have work to do on this portion of the school day. … BUT, with research and help from the cache school (the principal is awesome, I will admit) I will figure it out in no time. …  

Create a weekly plan.  I can not emphasize this enough. … Who cares if you don’t have the year planned out yet… start with your weekly plan. …  This has been my sanity-check document for a week, now….  It makes advancing your course direction a whole heck of a lot easier. … It has given me some tiny bit of free time in the evenings… tiny is a good start when you have 4 boys, an international student, 3 dogs (2 of which are wild puppies), hockey, hockey exec, a part-time writing job (thank goodness that one is telecommute and extremely flexible), and a part-time volunteer job as part of my exec committee duty. …  needless to say, it’s extremely chaotic, but it’s all good. … 

Lastly, what I’ve learned over the first three weeks of school — you will be up until 11pm most nights, if not later, researching and note-taking to prep for your child’s class the next day. … This is the life of a teacher… and I now understand why my teacher neighbor spends her summer lettin’ go and lettin’ loose.  

 

I have spent the better part of the week doing prep-work for my grade 6 home school curriculum. .. CHER has so many great books to make my wish list from, and Donna Young has an amazing set of printable info that is especially handy in keeping myself organized, and my thoughts organized. …. So as I am working on the finer details of my lists of lists (for which I am infamous for), I read an article on Dredge today about a German family who is being prosecuted because they home school.

Now, in Germany, it is illegal to home school your child.  You must attend public school, and adhere to their curriculum.  In Sweden, I do not know the semantics, but apparently there is a similar case in the courts.  In Canada, we are very fortunate to have a government that understands that education diversity is going to create a better country for future generations.  Well, that’s how I like to see it, anyhow. In British Columbia, we enjoy the most relaxed home school regulations in the country.  With that in mind, I have still been doing my due diligence and making sure that the government PLOs are my guidelines, in case my son decides to go back to school public style next fall.  But I must admit, I was surprised at the lack of variety in the PLO requirements. .. The children learn French in elementary, but it is not required after grade 5?  How can you have a bilingual country without the 2nd language being taught? That seems rather backwards to me.  The only science I saw in the PLOs had to do with earth/space.  Is there nothing else to study in general science?  I have added to my list of books physics, chemistry, engineering, nature/environmental science to give him a variety of topics to cover.  He is a science-minded kid, so he needs the science variety to keep him interested.   Math.  Now this is a very very extensive subject under the PLO–which isn’t a bad thing.  He will learn the basics of algebra, geometry, multiplying fractions and go into greater decimal depth, and more in-depth of units (million, billion, trillion).  I can remember being in advanced math, starting in middle school, so this is all pretty much what we did in advanced math.  English is also well-covered with literature, study of plays, creative writing, critical thinking… all things we learned in middle school back home. …  What I have also added to my curriculum for the year, just working out the details on working it into the plan,  is World History, World Geography, and Music Theory. …  All of these are very important, and World History/Geography go hand-in-hand.  Every child ought to know where Kenya is, where Ethiopia is, where Iran is, where Thailand and Madagascar are.   They may not remember the capitals as they are older, but when you hear current events on the news, you should at least be familiar with the region.

So, this, I find, is what I call a well-rounded education.  Yes, they do cover current events (and likely geographic location) in public school, they do cover cultural diversity in public school, etc, but so many of these topics go hand-in-hand, and should be taught as such.  Example: When learning about the history of civilizations, you are learning the culture, where they are geographically located, why people were drawn to that area (economics), the environmental hazards of such large civilizations, how it impacts agriculture, etc.  You have most of the subjects in just one history lesson. … You can also study the arts, their hieroglyphs, how they understood the stars/astronomy, as well.   It is an all-encompassing, invigorating way to study all of the subjects together, yet pick apart each subject and how it relates to this civilization, and how it has affected the world today.  The pyramids of Egypt–covers building materials and basic architecture of the time … it’s just a very different way to learn, but a more hands-on and real-life approach.

So, back to what I was mentioning earlier before I got side-tracked… In the Dredge article, you will see that the Obama administration as essentially ruled AGAINST educational freedom.  This is a detail that my American friends, family, and followers ought to take note on.  This is why I found the article so interesting–because governments are increasingly afraid of students who are NOT adhering to the garbage taught in public schools.  By garbage, I mean false history….and by garbage I mean that the children who are taught the US Constitution (Ron Paul has a great link on this), are being singled out as coming from families with domestic terrorists. …  This is not to go unnoticed.  Educational freedom is what will save the world.  Children who are educated on true history, the good and bad, who are educated at home are, in essence, better citizens.  They are more appreciative, in general, of the world around them and are more ecologically wise.  They are the protesters against environmentally damaging laws.  They are the students zipping through college courses at seemingly warp speed because they are not taught to recite, but to comprehend.  They are the creme de la creme, actively sought out by Ivy League schools.  They are social, and can hold thought-provoking conversations on world events.  They are very intelligent individuals, not the Neanderthals that the government wants everyone to think they are.  They are not cults, as the governments will like to accuse them of.  The families that home school are educational purists.  So what if religion is brought into the curriculum.  Is this not what a church does?  Educates  your child on religion? ( Except, in my case, I haven’t found a church in this area that teaches the Bible… which is a whole other blog issue LOL.)

So, until I am invaded by snipers, by DEA, by Interpol… for the sole reason of educating my child… I will continue on my merry little way teaching him in the best way that I can. … while my 2nd elder son enjoys his public school education–which for him has worked well so far. ….

Homeschool Horror Show

OK, so it’s not really a horror show.  When I first contemplated homeschooling my eldest (gr 6 now) I was lost in all the information out there, and actually, I think it was a little stressful thinking about how in the world was I going to teach gr 6 “curriculum”?  So today I asked HIM what HE thought.  He was actually pretty excited to try homeschooling for a year to see if he likes it.  I even explained to him that it will not be half a day of Minecraft, and half a day of TV shows, it will be actual schoolwork that he would do at school, just he’ll be doing it at home. To my surprise, I am actually pretty excited to teach him my way, and teach him things that will interest him. I’ve even learned that you can check out home school books from the local library, and buy things through local consignment shops. There are numerous support groups for families to interact and discuss the ups and downs of teaching at home, as well as a chance for kids to interact with each other.  Some groups go on field trips and get the group rate at, say, Science World for example.  

So, here I am sifting through a plethora of information on home schooling and resources for parents… and then my mind started to shift towards the topics that he would normally cover in school.  Science, for example, is his favorite subject.  Now I’ve got a list of five different things science-related from biology basics, to ecology, to environmental science, to the science of baking, and alternative energy… and I’m sure I’ll add another few as I continue on this blog.  He is a very creative child–he can draw scenes with amazing detail of characters he just makes up on a whim. I’m thinking he can maybe paint me some of these characters, or even something he’s built in Minecraft, on canvas, with my good paints, and we can continue adding to the children’s art gallery walls in the house. There’s also a pottery shop that is close and can teach him the basics of pottery–which can double as a science project.  I can teach him photography, and he can experiment around the yard with macros, and then use those photos for science projects.  There is just so much to do.  Music? Not a problem.  We can practice guitar for an hour a day, or every couple of days. Gym class?? No problemo.  We can go for a jog, or nature hike, or he can do Kinect Fit on the rainy days, and even yoga.  I can take him to local tennis courts for free lessons from me (I learned in college), on free court time. … I can even sneak in a bit of religion.  I don’t know who’s more invigorated, him or me. 

Now, many will say “but homeschooling, there is no social life, the kids produce poorly on exams, and perform poorly in college”.  Ah, but they don’t!  Home school kids are actually better test performers on ACT and SAT exams, in fact, in the 82-92 percentile (depending upon which report you read), where the average student is in the 50th percentile range.  Ivy League schools are actively seeking home schooled children because they perform better in school, and are able to complete a 4-yr degree in a shorter amount of time.  Socially, the home-schooled child has less behavioural problems vs publicly educated students, according to a 1992 study by Larry Shyers of the University of Florida.  This study involved observing 8-10 year olds in play time to see how they interacted with other children.  

What some may not realize is that the home schooling concept started in the US with a retired US Department of Education minister, as well as his teacher-wife.  The other person who also is credited with the home school movement was a teacher, himself (Holt).  All of these educators had issues with how the schools were teaching children — to recite, not to actually learn, and did not promote thinking individually.  Meaning, kids were taught to do what they were told, all day, five days a week, and not question their teachers.  Now, this was way back in the I believe 1970s (but don’t quote me on it).  

Now, as for reasoning behind home schooling — it’s different for everyone.  For me, my son hates school… and he’s only 11.  School is supposed to be fun, still, at age 11.  Now, he is a highly competitive perfectionist, so life is hard for him and he is his own arch enemy.  This has created years of emotional outbursts, over-loaded teachers who do what they can, and a school district who is only worried about protecting their own not helping my child.  This was discovered first-hand, and is a whole other story.  Schools are supposed to do all they can to NOT let kids slip through the cracks.  I even had the school counselor tell me that hed’ be better in trades school…because she doesn’t think he can amount to anything (if you read between the lines).  I know for a fact that this is BS on a grandiose scale.  If he likes to build things, maybe he will be in the trades, but he will not be pigeon-holed into something he doesn’t like to do because someone else thinks that is all he can do.  Another big FAIL for the district. 

Now, he has had some amazing teachers who have been very creative in trying to get him to react less, think more, but they also have had anywhere between five and ten students in their class with varying degrees of social issues. That isn’t fair for any teacher, I don’t care how good they are.  To me, this is the district failing the student, not the teacher failing the student, for if you do not push the district, they will not help your child (even after requests from the school counselor). 

So, alas, a new journey will begin in the fall. I don’t know what it will entail just yet, but I’m actually pretty excited. … and surprised at how excited I am about this.   I believe that will start a new category of blogging for me… the home school journey.  I like how that sounds.Image

 

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