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

Check out all of my homeschooling posts!

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.

Check out all of my homeschooling posts!

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.

Check out all of my homeschooling posts!

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.

Check out all of my homeschooling posts!

05 June 2014

Medical Records

Several of my friends have posted this article on Facebook this week:
I. Am. The. Mom.

Have you read it yet? Go ahead. I'll be here when you get back.

Did you read it? Ok, let's proceed.

Most of my friends skim over the article and nod along with this mom, fighting for her rights as a parent, accusing the doctor's office of talking to her child about all sorts of horrible things like government propaganda, feminism, and reproductive health (a.k.a. sex). Ohmygosh, not sex! Anything but sex! Wait, she's a mom. There is a good chance she knows what sex is. And her 17-year-old daughter probably knows about it too. And there is also a good chance that her daughter has heard about it and discussed it with people other than her parents. And if she's going to discuss it with someone other than her parents, wouldn't a medical professional whom she trusts be a good person?

Please read the author's two follow-up articles:
Who's in charge?
and
That escalated quickly

First of all, as the author points out, the state law does not actually mandate a private conversation. What it mandates is the teenage patient's access to his own medical records and the right to internet privacy of those records. That state also gives doctors the right to provide reproductive care to a minor without parental consent, but that has been the case for years.

Second of all, so what if the doctor or nurse wants to speak with your teen about, well, *any* medical topic? So what if your teen wants to talk to a medical professional about his own medical health without you there? I saw it well-phrased in someone else's comment (I don't recall whom): What is that nurse going to say to your child in 5 minutes that would undo a lifetime of being brought up under your guidance?

I remember going to the doctor when I was a teenager myself, and my parents gave me a right to privacy. I always wanted them to go back with me when I first went into the room (so I wouldn't be alone and bored, and they would remember the conversation with my doctor better...), but if there had to be an exam or a gown change, they would wait in the waiting room if I asked. I was, and am, a private and modest person. My parents respected that, which made me respect them more.

It is absurd to deny a 17-year-old basically-an-adult the right to a private conversation with her doctor. Your child is her own person. She is going to grow up and have some beliefs that are the same as yours, and some beliefs that are different. That is ok! Love her. Respect her. Teach her how to grow up, how to be responsible and independent. Don't spend your last days with her as a minor trying to push her back down into the little girl that she used to be, totally dependent on you for everything. Trust her to make her own decisions, the right decisions for herself.

02 June 2014

Bread with Butter and Jelly

Dino asked me for a snack the other day.

"Sure! What would you like?"

"Bread. With butter and jelly."

This kid loves bread! Doesn't even need it toasted - just soft, fresh bread. It would have taken me maybe 20 seconds to get up from the couch where I was reading to fix it for him, but it was a good opportunity to teach instead.

I replied, "Ok, go for it!"

After an awkward pause, Dino thought maybe he just hadn't asked politely yet. "Would you please get me bread with butter and jelly?"

"Actually, you can reach all of those things. You can get it yourself," I said with a smile.

Dino was excited at the opportunity. I gave him pointers about butter knives vs. teaspoons, and to put the bread on a napkin instead of straight on the table, but I mostly kept quiet while he figured out how to do it himself.

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day;
teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.