Thoughts on Homeschooling

I ran into a wall with the homeschooling curriculum I had purchased to use this school year. I made it three weeks into the program when I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me and my kid. I thought it would be because as a student, I’m actually a good fit for the thing. If my mom had handed this program to me, I would have done well in it. But then, as a student, I loved listening to lectures and taking notes. As a homeschool teacher, however, it doesn’t work. I was getting bored and restless. As for my kid, he doesn’t like to listen to lectures and take notes. He wants to be active and do things. This program did not allow for this.

I have to say that these past three weeks have been a huge eye-opening experience for me. I realized that just because something sounds perfect on paper, it might not be a good fit in real life. I don’t know if it’s my age (44) or the fact that I spent two grueling years trying to figure out what the heck I’m going to do with my writing, but I have grown impatient for wasting time. In this case, I was also wasting my kid’s time.

Fortunately, a friend passed on a different homeschooling option that is turning out to be a better fit for me and my kid. It’s not accredited. The nerd in me had to let the accreditation thing go. After doing some research, I realized the accreditation part isn’t as important as I originally thought it was. I’m just going to keep attendance and track of the stuff we’re doing so if I’m ever asked, “What are you teaching your kid?”, I have the binder I can open up and show them. Thank goodness I have years of record keeping with the business side of writing to know how to track everything I do.

I did save the stuff I did with the other program for my records, and I am keeping a paper trail on the shift I’m making as I transfer from one program to another. That way I can always show the school system the dates these things happened, the “why” on the changes I made, and my alternative plans going forward.

This new program is very flexible. It gives me guideline on what he should learn for his grade level. I did go down one grade level. In my state, my kids took Pre-Algebra in the 8th grade. On the homeschool site, they have kids taking Pre-Alegbra for 7th grade. My kid isn’t ready for Algebra. So I’m doing Grade 8 for everything else but Grade 7 for math. Since this program is flexible, I’m able to do that. I can also substitute their plans for the day’s activities for each subject with a plan of my own.

It puts more of the planning on my shoulders. I didn’t think I’d want that, but it turns out I do. I’m energized by it. I get to tailor the lessons for my kid needs and what his interests are. I’m still figuring out a grading procedure I want to use. I want to use an objective standard of measuring to decide what grades he should get, but I’ve decided a huge portion of the grade will be effort. The fact that he is trying should matter. And sometimes getting the overall concept of an idea is more important than knowing specific facts. Facts can be found on the Internet. If I want to know the specific date the US Constitution was adopted, I can find that within two seconds. I’m more interested in my kid understanding why the thirteen colonies fought Britain to become an independent nation. Right now the History course covers the American Revolutionary War, which is why I used that example.

For English, I’m going completely on my own plan. My kid told me he wants to write a four-book series. Since he’s in the 8th grade, these aren’t going to be long books. At least, I don’t expect them to be. But as he was telling me how much he wants to write this particular series, I thought, “If he writes a book, he will learn punctuation, capitalization, vocabulary, spelling, writing, rewriting, and editing.” Since he’s new to writing a book, I will teach him how to outline (or plot) out a book. Making those Roman Numeral outlines is one of the goals of the 8th grade. Now, he might not end up being a writer who plots books. He might plot this one and then decide he’d rather “pants” the next book. But I see no reason to waste the chance to teach him how to make a Roman Numeral outline so he knows what one is. Plus, writing his own story will give him a hands-on approach to learn story structure and discuss elements like foreshadowing and flashbacks. The above were the things the original homeschool course was requiring for their English course. But that original course would never have let him write a book. He was going to have to do a bunch of homework from their books, and that would be boring. This way will be fun for him.

I’ll also help him make covers, which will fall into Art, and he’ll come up with soundtracks for his books, which will fall into Music. He’ll type the story on Word and format, so he’ll learn computer skills while he’s at it. I’m excited about the overlap this particular course will have into other subjects he’ll need to do anyway. He’s really excited about the series of books he wants to write, so we’ll probably end up focusing more in that area. I’m letting him come up with the stories himself. In my opinion, if he can have some control over what he gets to do, he’ll be more motivated to learn. I’m also letting him pick his own books to read because I think reading should be fun.

My ultimate goal is that he finds learning fun, so I’ll be experimenting with different strategies as time goes on. I’m sure there’s plenty more stuff I’ll learn as I get further into this homeschooling thing.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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20 Responses to Thoughts on Homeschooling

  1. Stephannie says:

    Your course sounds like fun. I want to be homeschooled now too. 😂

  2. Sounds like a great program and we’re excited to check it out! So glad it’s working well for you and your son. I’ll be checking with you to see how you liked it next spring. 🙂

  3. jenanita01 says:

    Homeschooling can be fun, but is never easy. Far too many distractions and the ever-present ‘do it tomorrow’ syndrome.
    But it can be invaluable for those children that struggled to keep up at school, for whatever reason. I found myself learning things too as we went along!

    • My other kids are still in school because they’re doing fine. It’s this one kid that seems to need the extra attention. He struggled with the seventh grade, and I didn’t want things to get worse.

      I can see how easy it is to get distracted. I’m still working on establishing a routine that works for both of us. I’ve been writing a lot less because I don’t want him to get too far behind. When I dropped the other program, I started at Day 1. We’re not too far behind in the school year. Worse comes to worse, we’ll finish up at the end of June instead of the beginning of June, but I’m hoping to have him out around the 5th when his brothers will be out. *fingers crossed*

      • jenanita01 says:

        Considering the difficulty at the beginning, I am impressed by how much you have caught up!

        • I almost became a teacher, so I think that has something to do with it. 🙂

          • jenanita01 says:

            Not sure I could cope with a room full of school children, not any more, anyway!

            • Honestly, I don’t know if I could, either. I’m glad my life didn’t go in that direction. My biggest criticism would be that schools make the kids learn the same way. I know why they do it. They don’t have the luxury of independently teaching every single student in the classroom. I can’t fault the schools for it. I just never realized how much some kids benefit from more personalized instruction until I started homeschooling my youngest. My other three do fine in the schools, but the youngest was never the kind of kid who flourished in the classroom setting. He has a hard time sitting still and listening. He likes to talk and run around. 🙂 I find that small segments of sitting and focusing at a time are best for him. Most of the stuff has to be more hands-on and interactive projects to keep him interested.

  4. Shelley Chastagner says:

    Oh my Ruth! I’m sitting here with tears. I’m so excited for both of you. You are going to be amazed at what you both learn. I wish you joy as you go through the year and let him know I’m here when he’s ready to send me his manuscript.

    • I liked school when I was a kid, but I’m finding that I’m enjoying the actual learning part much more as the teacher. If all goes according to plan, he should have a final version by the beginning of March. I don’t expect the book to be too long, but I do want him to go through two rounds of edits to make sure he understands grammar.

      I hate to say this, but last year, my oldest (who was a sophomore) told me his teachers taught him to put a comma between complete sentences. So he thought he should write like this:

      Math is a tough subject, I struggle with it.

      It took me a couple of months to convince him he needed a period instead of a comma because he was under the belief that the teacher knew more than I did. I even pointed him to grammar books and books he read through major publishing houses to. Today, he uses the period, thank goodness.

      I notice a lot of people are separating complete sentences with a comma these days. I have no idea where this trend started, but it’s one of my pet peeves. I might not be 100% perfect when it comes to grammar, but this thing with how to punctuate sentences like this is so basic that I can’t understand why English teachers wouldn’t teach it the proper way.

  5. I like that you’re making sure your kid understands the “why” more than the “what” or the “which.” I feel a lot of schools are more focused on facts and tests and “Is this right?” rather than the kids understanding the material. Getting him to think this early will only help him in adulthood when he’ll be confronted with choices that require him to think, rather than follow what everyone else wants him to do.

    • I grew up in a private school that was heavy on memorization. I got good grades, but later on, I realized there was so much I never really learned. All I retained was how to write an essay because that was a hands-on project. The other subjects are pretty much a blur in my adult mind. It would be nice if the “why” was emphasized a lot more. My kid is lucky. He has a history teacher who is teaching this particular method, and he and I have had some great conversations because of it. It is making him think for himself. That’s a refreshing way to learn. Here’s hoping I can do the same with the kid who’s at home.

  6. I have a friend who’s a high school history teacher, and he doesn’t make them learn a bunch of dates. He wants them to understand the why, just like you said. It sounds like you got a program that’s good fit for both of you.

    I’m excited that he wants to write books. If he needs any editing help, let me know. I’ll be glad to help any way I can.

    • If I can’t explain something to him, I go to You Tube. I had no idea there were so many educational videos out there, and most of them are fairly short and concise. I get overwhelmed with pages of stuff to read. I’ve always preferred something more “bite size”, and the videos I’ve found have been great. There’s a lot of stuff even I’m learning. I think I’m having more fun with this than he is. LOL

      That would be cool to have your help. It would give him a better understanding of the process. I’ll have to see if he’ll be okay with someone reading it. He’s already said he doesn’t want his brothers reading it, but then, his brothers will find reasons to make fun of him. I’ll get back to you about it and tell you what he says.

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