Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Another Long Homeschooling Post

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions after my homeschooling vent last night. Beware, this is probably going to be another long one. =-) I want to respond to some comments/questions and also clarify a few things and give you the update from today!

"Its all really new, and the structure of the curric. you've chosen is going to make you feel stressed because it is school at home and not home school, where the idea is to custom design your program to your children's needs."

This is true to some extent. This program is going to make me feel more stressed than one where I have no accountability to anybody but myself. The kids have a "teacher" assigned by the school system that will "meet" with them online or by phone. She will also review some of the kids' work, and will help me come up with an over all educational plan for the kids. However, I don't think I made it clear before that this program is somewhat customizable to each child. If Taevy wants to work ahead and finish 3rd grade in 6 months, she can do that. If Samren only gets through 1/2 of 2nd grade this year because of his deficits, that's okay too. I'm not sure yet exactly how all of that works (as far as the consequences to being "behind" or "ahead") but they've made it clear that the kids can "work at their own pace."

"Maybe some orientation time at Gillispie School is in order too. Time to explain that this IS for real school, it counts, and the obey rules hold whether mom is teacher or mom.Talk about the Rules of the School as you expect them to be followed."

I love this idea and think this is very needed.

"6.5 hours a day of home school for lower grade level children is just plain too much time IMHO! Part of that length of a public school day is frankly there for crowd control, and for making sure that as many of the X# of students "get" what the days' lessons are, going student to student, explaining multiple times , etc. With two students even if they are not doing any overlapping curric, should still not take 6.5 hours."

I don't think I was clear on this part of it. We are supposed to "log in" 6.5 hours of "school" each day. Yes, this is because our kids are technically attending public school and that's about how long public school kids go to school. What I didn't explain clearly before is that an hour of that 6.5 hours is P.E.. Another hour is lunch/recess. While 4 to 4.5 hours is still a lot of time compared to what most homeschooling families do, I'm okay with it. This program is not like other homeschooling programs I've seen (K12). My kids are probably actually doing desk work (reading and writing) 1.5 to 2 hours a day. The rest of their time is spent with me teaching, us discussing, doing hands on activities, etc.

"Do you have a lot of papers and things that yo uas teacher have to send in to this curric company/manager to"prove" you are schooling and is a moment by moment schedule required, and if so, how closely must you REALLY follow it? The point of home schooling is for learning to take place, not placating a bureaucracy."

No, we don't have a lot of papers to turn in. The "teacher" that is assigned to the kids through the public school system will review their work periodically so that we can work as a team to make sure the kids' educational needs are being met. We log our "attendance" each day. I suppose this would be on the honor system because there would really be no way to tell whether we are lying. No, there is no moment by moment schedule. There is a suggested lesson list for the day, but if (for instance) we want to do a month's work of Science in one week and work on nothing else, that would be allowed. We can do block scheduling if that works better, or we can do each subject each day.

I don't feel that I am placating a bureaucracy. *I* made the decision to keep my kids in public school, and going to public school comes with strings attached. My kids must be accounted for by the state because the state is the one that is still legally responsible for their education. The state has provided all materials needed for their education, as well as all support staff (including I.E.P/special needs support if that is needed). Our reason for taking our kids out of brick and mortar school was because I wanted to be more knowing about WHAT they are learning and HOW they learn. I wanted to be involved in setting their goals for the day. This program allows me all of that. I still work a full time (and then some) job in addition to teaching the kids. I'm not sure that creating/assembling a custom curriculum would have been the best choice for our family--at least not this year. With this program 85% of the planning is done for me. As a former teacher I know how many hours are spent planning! The planning time for this program is MUCH reduced. If I didn't have reduced planning I don't know if I could school the kids at home no matter how much I wanted to. There simply wouldn't be enough time in the day when adding in driving for the entire family and working a full time job. In the future, that may be different.

"I am not familiar with the K12 stuff. I will say though, that it sounds like a lot of work for you. Are you required to do it the whole year? Do you have a completion deadline?"

YES! I think this program requires more of the parent-teacher than most other homeschool programs. I know it requires a lot more of me (teaching-wise) than when I homeschooled the kids in Kindergarten. It is more comparable to the type of teaching I would do in the classroom. We can stop doing this program at any time, just like I could withdraw the kids from any public school and begin to homeschool. If we couldn't drop out I would have never taken the leap with this program! I know at any time I can go to traditional homeschool. =-) The program is very sophisticated online. I can look at any subject and see a projected end date for the school year. If Taevy loves doing spelling and works ahead of the "goal" schedule, the projected end date for that subject will automatically adjust. However, the school does "close" sometime in June. After that time we won't be able to log in attendance.

"There will be great days, so so days and not so great days. Take a deep breath and try to enjoy all the stages of learning. Hopefully the material is interesting for you too. If it is not, they probably won't find it interesting either.

Actually, I am finding the curriculum interesting! It's amazing how much stuff you forget from 2nd and 3rd grade (or never learned to begin with)! When the kids talk to their dad at the end of the day they are full of excitement to tell them what they have learned.

"Something we are trying this year is "minutes" the kids have to earn their computer time?"

Working on this now! Thanks! The kids definitely earn "screen time" with good behavior and lose privileges with poor behavior, but I haven't formalized it. I think we do need some sort of motivational program.

"If Taevy were a newly adopted child, I'd say give it some time and go easy on her. But she isn't. Even though she may have some attachment issues, she also knows how to work mom. She and Sophia just sound so much alike on this issue."

H, I appreciate you saying this because I think our girls definitely ARE very much alike!

So...the update! Today we did about 4 hours of actual school time. The kids still didn't get anywhere near the number of lessons in that K12 had on their daily lesson list, but oh well. The program automatically resets so what we didn't do today becomes tomorrow's lesson plan (I like that). Samren did Language Arts (reading, spelling, and skills), Math, and Art, and P.E. today. Taevy got the rest of her science lesson done from yesterday (the project/experiment part), math, P.E., and Art. And we did that WITH Baby Ryder here (our first day to do school with the baby). Samren is really easy to work with, even though it's slow going. He wants to learn and has such a joy when he accomplishes something. Taevy's attitude was MUCH improved today, proving to me that she CAN control things better if she WANTS to. However, I also added in exercise breaks when she started to lose focus. A 5 minute jog or 10 minute bike ride did wonders for her.

Oh! What did they do as soon as we were done schooling for the day? Went upstairs and played school! LOL!

If you're still reading this...you must really like me! LOL!


Awo 7:54 AM  

I really like you! I work full time outside of the home, so homeschooling is not an option for us at this point. But I am interested in learning more about it. I have a bias towards structure in lessons and wouldn't trust myself to do the lesson planning so I'm really interested in hearing how this program works for you.

whenpigsfly 10:52 AM  

I think that your curric has more liberty for you than I understood it to. I really like that it "re-stes" for unfinished work...I do that too, but its "manual" LOL!
I didn't mean to imply that you personally were "placating a beauracracy" but was asking if that curric was set up to seem that way. Some "un-schoolers" might think so. You've helped me understand your curric much more clearly. You do have a lot more freedom than I imagined. I do think that some families need way more accountability from the outside than they seek, I am painfully aware of many of them personally. We ALL need to be accountable on some groudned levels and its good to find where we are comfortable placing our accountability.
I think you are in for a great school year!!!
We are doing several co-op classes this year, new to us as a family , but with everyone reading, we have more to contribute to and glean from a History class or even a Language arts class. It should be fun!!

Amy 12:21 PM  

Anita, thanks for being so open about your daily struggles and triumphs. Even though we're getting ready to start our 8th year of homeschooling, I, too, went with a preplanned curriculum (not K12, though) for the first time. Planning for 7 kids was just going to be too much for me without some help this year! It sure does look like a lot of work out of the box, but I'm hoping that, just like every other year, once the kids get into their groove, it won't be so bad. And I'm hoping I can help our new boys find their grooves quickly :) Blessings on your efforts!

Cora 12:54 PM  

I really like your home school posts. I don't know if it will ever be an option for us but I love learning about how others are doing things, just in case :0)

I truly wish you luck and hope for great success for the kids!

mary grace 1:33 PM  

Anita, I just wanted to say that I disagree with the notion that there is ONE right way to homeschool. God made every family--and their circumstances--very unique. In looking for the right fit for your family, you're not placating the government or copping out. You are simply seeking to follow God's will. He's right there with you ... and anyone who criticizes you (for homeschooling in general, for not doing it there way, etc.) is NOT! The King of Kings has your back, dear. Listen to His voice and keep on keepin' on.

Brown Eyed Blessings 6:40 PM  

I'm definitely enjoying your homeschool posts. Please do keep it up! I agree with the other posters that different programs work for different families and that there is not one "right way" to homeschool.

I was interested in the K12 program (in our state it isn't even available until 3rd grade) so it is helpful to have your review. After hearing it I think it would be too much for me! I thought it was much more independent work than you're describing.

We're new homeschoolers this year too (though I was homeschooled so I have a bit of an idea of how I want to do things) so it is great to read other people's writing on the subject - especially someone who is still figuring it out like I am!

A. Gillispie 9:00 PM  

BrownEyedBlessings, I think there might be a BIG difference doing K12 as an indpendant homeschooler as opposed to doing it with a "virtual Academy." Lots of people do k12 just on their onw. The virtual academy is the one who puts a lot of the parameters around the program. If you were planning to do it on your own I bet you wouldn't find it as work-intensive. ???