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.