21 July 2014

2014-2015 2nd Grade Homeschool Daily Schedule

Below is what I came up with as a beginning schedule. This is just a starting point, and I'm sure we will end up moving some things around as we get going and see what really works best for us.

I don't know yet whether Dino will respond better to a strict schedule or a flexible one. Since everything is broken up into 30-minute blocks, I may print them out and let Dino rearrange them from week to week, if sticking to my schedule is difficult for him. Giving him some control over the schedule may make him more eager to follow it.

8:00 - Breakfast
8:30 - Morning Chores
9:00 - Worksheets
9:30 - Bible
10:00 - Handwriting
10:30 - Snack; Mom Read Aloud
11:00 - Dino Read Aloud (M-Th) or Cooking (F)
11:30 - Computer (M/W) or Music (Tu/Th) or Cooking (F)
12:00 - Lunch Prep
12:30 - Lunch
1:00 - Gym Day (M) or Reading Alone (Tu-F)
1:30 - Gym Day (M) or Math and Spelling (Tu-F)
2:00 - Gym Day (M) or Science/Geography (Tu/Th) or Art (W) or PE (F)

Morning chores will consist of making the beds, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc. I won't make him get dressed if he does ok in his PJs, as long as he gets dressed by lunch time. I've heard some kids do fine in their jammies, but some people really need to get dressed in order to feel like their day has really started and to get focused.

I tried to separate hand-intensive subjects from each other (worksheets, handwriting, computer/music) so he doesn't get physically fatigued. I also separated reading aloud from reading alone to give him a mental break.

I put reading alone right after lunch so that I can use that time to clean up from lunch.

Science, PE, and Art are at the end of the day so that we can take longer with them if we want to, like if we go somewhere for a hike together for PE. Monday's PE will be in a church gym with other local homeschoolers. He already plays with our neighbor kids almost every day after school, so he has several hours of recess time, and I'll make sure he gets up and moving during the day whenever he is restless!

He can help me make lunch (he's really been into that lately), and I want to do some baking with him on Fridays. We'll make cookies, bake bread, or cook something for lunch. This will teach him life skills as well as science and math.
 
We will make time for other life skills around the house also, like laundry and cleaning. He is quite old enough to do a fair amount of chores now, which will help teach him how to take care of his own house when he is grown. I cannot tell you how many young men graduate from high school and have no clue how to make themselves a meal or do laundry, because their mom or sisters always did it for them! Boys need to know how to run a house, just like girls need to know how to change a tire. Wait, didn't I already rant about this once before on the blog? Hang on......

Yep! Here you go: Geek Girls

Back to the topic at hand.

There is a lot that I have crammed into this year's goals. We may or may not accomplish everything, and that is ok. All we really want is for Dino to learn and grow, and I have no doubt that will happen. He is a great kid who is self-motivated, driven to investigate, and loves to learn!
 
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14 July 2014

2014-2015 2nd Grade Homeschool Weekly Plan

The long-awaited plan! This is what we have come up with so far. I purchased 2nd and 3rd grade "Complete Curriculum" workbooks at Sam's Club. They have worksheets for spelling, reading, reading comprehension, and math skills. We will use these as a jumping-off point. Dino can breeze through the easy ones, and we can focus more on the skills he isn't as familiar with. These should give him some "easy" work to start each day with.

I have also purchase the Life of Fred elementary curriculum. It is primarily a math curriculum, but it includes reading comprehension, history, and life skills as part of each lesson.

For science and geography, we will do a lot of hands-on activities: go on nature hunts, study anatomy diagrams online, and flip through a good ol' paper atlas for geography.

I have writing tablets, notebooks, and lap-sized chalkboards and whiteboards to use for handwriting.

All of this is extremely flexible, and will likely change and evolve as we go through the year, so that we can focus on his education gaps and on things that he expresses more interest in.


Five Days a Week:

o Bible - Scripture memorization, Memorize the books of the New Testament, Daily Bible story to read and discuss
o Reading - Alone (silently by himself)
o Breakfast & Lunch - Obviously
o Chores - Make beds, Get dressed, Brush teeth, Do laundry, Clean house, etc

Four Days a Week:
o Math, Spelling, Reading Comprehension - worksheets; math focus: multiplication, fractions, and telling time; Life of Fred
o Reading - Aloud (Dino to Mom, Mom to Dino)
o Handwriting - Cursive writing tablet, Journal

Twice a Week:
o Science - Anatomy (Human, Bugs, Animals), Biology (Plants)
§ Alternate in a unit of Geography
o Computer - PBS Kids website and other educational web games, Typing practice
o PE - Exercise videos (aerobics, yoga, etc), Walk, Hike, Bike ride, Gym Day on Mondays
o Music - Piano and/or recorder (his choice)

Once a Week:
o Arts and Crafts - Color wheel, Shading, Shapes, Make gifts (Christmas, etc)
o Cooking - Bake bread and treats on Fridays to learn measuring, fractions, and chemical reactions!
o Cub Scouts - Monday evenings

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07 July 2014

Homeschooling FAQs, Part 5 of 4

What follows is the fifth weekly post with questions that we frequently hear when we say we are going to homeschool. You gave me your questions and comments, so now there is fifth post!

You asked me:

Do you have to take training, or get any kind of certification?

No. My state does not require any particular training or certification for parents to teach their own children.

Do they provide all the materials?

No. Who is "they"? No, we must select all of our own teaching materials. We have selected our books and supplies to teach from. My state does not mandate the use of any particular books, and does not have any approval authority over our chosen curriculum. My state legislature concluded that that would go against the very intent behind homeschooling.

Will you be in a Homeschool Co-op?

No. We will participate in a weekly gym time with other homeschoolers, and may join in field trips, but all of our educational time will be at home. I would consider a co-op if our child was older and in classes harder than what I am comfortable teaching, or if Dino needed to be in a group setting to learn best.

Will Dino have to take tests to make sure he is being taught the right stuff?

No. There are standardized tests with various companies that we can choose to order, and some schools offer to include homeschoolers when they test their students at the end of the school year, but there are no requirements by my state to do so.

Next week, I will be discussing our chosen curriculum and daily schedule.

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30 June 2014

Homeschooling FAQs, Part 4 of 4

What follows is the fourth weekly post with questions that we frequently hear when we say we are going to homeschool. Please leave your questions in the comments section, and there may even be a fifth post!

What curriculum are you going to use?

We are going to use a variety of resources instead of just one curriculum.

I grew up on the A Beka Book curriculum, which is great in English Language Arts. The Spelling, vocabulary, Reading, Poetry, and Grammar are all related - for example, one week's spelling and vocabulary words are reinforced in that week's reading selection. But A Beka is weak in the areas of Math and Science. Because of that, many private schools are switching to the Bob Jones curriculum, which is much stronger in those areas.

We are going to encourage Dino's math and reading, which he is already advanced in, but put an emphasis on areas that we feel have been lacking, like science and handwriting and geography. He is very interested in human and animal anatomy, so we will start with that in science. He very much wants to learn how to write in cursive, so we will teach him that. And he is totally confused by geographical concepts (how can two cities have one state?), so we will do some map studies.

Dino has graduated from picture books to chapter books, so we are working on building up our own bookshelves, and we will be spending a lot of time at the local public library for a variety of resources.

What will your day-to-day schedule look like?

Flexible.

I have written up a proposed schedule that we will start from, but I am sure we will deviate from that strict schedule quite often. Right now, I have everything divided into 30-minute blocks, with breaks for morning snack/reading and lunch. I plan to start around 9:00 am and be finished by 2:00 pm. The core classes will be Monday through Thursday, with more fun stuff on Friday. We will follow the same schedule of days as the local public school, so that he will be out of school on the same days as his friends. It would be terrible for him to be cooped up doing school while his friends are outside playing!

I may even give Dino the option to create his own schedule at some point. He can spread out subjects through the week, as I have it now. Or he may choose to do all of the week's reading on one day of the week, all of the math on another, etc.

What about socialization?

I read something a while ago that really spoke to me: "Forced association is not socialization." When you send a child to a school, he is forced to associate with the children in his assigned classroom. Dino was not socializing with any of his school classmates outside of school. We did not know any of those families! We are active in our church, Dino is in Cub Scouts, and our neighborhood has lots of great families with kids (he is playing outside or at their houses at every opportunity)! Dino has *plenty* of opportunities to socialize with other children and families that we are close to as a family.

It is important to me that Dino is growing as a person and learning how to grow up to be a good adult. This is one of the things that is attractive to me about Tim - he teaches Dino how to be a good man.

"It's not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings." -Ann Landers

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23 June 2014

Homeschooling FAQs, Part 3 of 4

What follows is the third weekly post with questions that we frequently hear when we say we are going to homeschool. Please leave your questions in the comments section, and there may even be a fifth post! 

What does Dino think about it?

He is really excited! Dino is looking forward to Mom's new job as his own personal school teacher. He seems to think he won't get in trouble for talking any more.... He won't get in trouble for talking to other students, but he still might get scolded for just talking too much in general! :-p

We haven't talked with him yet about the specific details of the daily schedule, but we have told him that he won't have to get up so early, and a homeschool day is shorter than a regular school day. There are no transitions (stand up, push in your chair, line up, walk to another room, find a chair, sit down, everyone get settled...), and it's all about one student all day instead of trying to fit in time for everyone in the classroom.

Is it legal?

Yes. Kentucky is very homeschool-friendly. In our state, it is the parents' responsibility to educate their children, and it is completely the parents' decision how to best accomplish that - whether public school, private school, homeschool, or some combination (like part-time cottage school). Kentucky requires that we notify the local board of education of our intent to homeschool during the first two weeks of school. The legislature does not require approval of the textual materials chosen by the private or home school, nor does it have any certification requirements of those teachers.
http://education.ky.gov/federal/fed/pages/home-school.aspx
http://www.hslda.org/laws/analysis/kentucky.pdf

Are you qualified?

Kentucky does not require a teaching certificate or college degree in order to teach (that is a requirement put in place by individual local school boards). But if you are reading this post, you want to know... I have a Bachelor's Degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Speed Scientific School of the University of Louisville. I have seven years of experience working as an Electronics Engineer and three years of experience working as an Information Technology Specialist. This is not a teaching degree or experience, and certainly would not qualify me for elementary education in a school. But I am qualified to teach my own child simply because he is my child. My husband and I know how he thinks and learns. We know that he will thrive homeschooling this year, and perhaps longer.

Are you going to homeschool every year?

We plan to homeschool this year. We will pray about it and see what we think is best for our family each year.

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16 June 2014

Homeschooling FAQs, Part 2 of 4

What follows is the second weekly post with questions that we frequently hear when we say we are going to homeschool. Please leave your questions in the comments section, and there may even be a fifth post! 

What made you choose homeschooling over private school?

We think homeschooling will be best for Dino this year for a number of reasons. The primary reason is so that we can do both second and third grade materials this school year. His birthday is only 4 days after the kindergarten cutoff, so he has been the oldest in his grade. He is advanced above his grade - testing at the end of first grade showed him at the end of third grade level in reading and math. So we think it will be best for him to fill in a few second and third grade skills that he needs, and move him on up to where he is academically, rather than keeping him in a specific grade schedule decided by his birthday.

We did consider the local private Christian school, but they would not be able to tailor his education like we are planning to this year. Also, I am planning to resign from my job at the end of summer anyway to be a stay-at-home mom/wife, so we would not be able to afford private education without my additional income.

Why are you quitting your job?

For several reasons. Once we got married, I moved in with my husband. His house is over an hour away from my workplace, putting me on the road for 2.5 hours each day. That is 2.5 hours, plus work time, that I don't get to spend with my family. I am exhausted and frustrated. I only get to see Dino for about 2 hours each day, which is taken up with dinner and getting him ready for bed. We don't get any fun time to enjoy together.

My husband wants to be the breadwinner for our family. I want to contribute in some way to the household income, but not be the primary earner.

In my current job, I am away from home for 11 hours a day (1 hour 15 minutes driving there, 8 hours work with 30 minute lunch break, 1 hour 15 minutes driving back). There is no time or energy left at the end of the day for me to take care of household chores, to make our house a home, to take care of our child's needs, and also to spend time with my husband.

We did not decide for me to resign from my job for the purpose of homeschooling; the opportunity to homeschool is just a bonus to my choosing to be at home.

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09 June 2014

Homeschooling FAQs, Part 1 of 4

Dino is finished with First Grade! Yay! 
We have decided to educate him at home next school year. 

What follows is the first weekly post with questions that we frequently hear when we say we are going to homeschool. Please leave your questions in the comments section, and there may even be a fifth post!

Why?

Because Dino is not thriving in school. He is bored. He has hardly learned anything in his first grade classroom that he did not already learn in kindergarten. Because he is way ahead of the class in reading and math. Because he is OCD wants to do things correctly, but his first grade teacher refused to correct his handwriting/grammar/spelling/punctuation, because she was so focused on getting their thoughts on paper, even when he would ask her. He would come to us with his writing after school and ask us to correct it so he could do it better the next time.

What made you decide to pull him out of the school he's in?

His school puts such an emphasis on reading and math that they are neglecting other areas of study. He had spelling words each week, but the teacher would not spellcheck his writing assignments even when he asked her. He was put in a "special" math group, but it was only once a week, all they did was play games to reinforce what the first grade class was doing (so... wouldn't that have helped everyone? he wasn't learning anything additional...), and it was during the class's science time so he had to miss science to go. Later in the school year, their schedule was reworked so that there was no science for the class at all, to make more time for more reading and math. There was no history, social studies, or current events. His handwriting declined instead of improved, because the teacher was not doing any correction or instruction in that area.

Let me clarify that his teacher is very sweet. She cared very much about the children in her classroom. But this was her very first year of teaching (fresh out of college!), and she was teaching the minimum requirements of the county. She did everything "by the book." And while she recognized that Dino was ahead of the rest of the class (she even kept a portfolio of his work), she just didn't know what opportunities were available for an advanced child.

Had we known before first grade that he would be so far ahead, we would have pushed for him to skip to a second grade classroom. At this point, we feel that he has missed a year of learning opportunity, and keeping him in that school will just continue to hold him back.

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