Friday, July 08, 2011

Homeschool past and future.

I realize that in my last post I was all gushy, gushy over summer and now here I am talking about starting school again.
I think I have ADD.
But really, I have just one month until we start school so it's time to get planning!
First, let me give my thoughts on our school year last year and homeschooling through a charter. I think most of you know that I really loved homeschooling. Like way more than I thought I would. First of all it's given me something to do. A job other than sweeping floors and folding clothes. Not that that isn't great and all...but I think I really needed something else to focus on, goals to achieve etc... I think I'm a happier person and better mom and wife because of homeschooling. And secondly, it's allowed me to step out of my comfort zone in a lot of ways. I've gone places, done things and met people all because of this homeschooling gig and for the sake of my kids. I'm a pretty shy person. I tend to always want to go somewhere new with someone I know because I get a little freaked by new social situations. I'm awkward. I'd rather just stay home all day. But I can't do that. My kids need to get out and see the world and meet people and socialize. (and they are not like me at all--both social butterflies!) So I signed us up for every field trip, class and activity I could get us in to. And it was fun. And I'm not scared to do it anymore.
As I mentioned we are homeschooling through a charter. A charter school is basically a 'parent run' public school (sometimes these schools are just like any other public school..sometimes they are more of an independent study program). The school receives funding through the state just like any other school and is held to testing standards results (among other things) in order to hold on to their charter. So the major plus to homeschooling this way (for me) is basic: money. The school gives each enrolled student a certain amount of money each semester for curriculum and classes. It sounds perfect. Someone will BUY all my curriculum for me?!! Well, yes... and no. Here's were some of the drawbacks come in. First there's a TON of homeschooling curriculum choices nowadays. Way more than there used to be. BUT a lot of them still lean towards a more Christian view, rather than secular. Which is fine by me...but not fine to the public school system. So I found that even though I had all this money to spend last year, I ended up spending a lot of my own money anyway. The other + and - to using a charter school is having to be held accountable. At first this seemed like the perfect thing for me-someone who was a little reluctant in the beginning-to have someone to help guide me and to know that I was being held accountable so that we wouldn't just sleep in till noon every day. I still view this as a plus and a minus. A plus because I really, really like our teacher. And because schedules and deadlines really do drive me. I am a notorious procrastinator. But knowing that I have to report to someone else, forces me to get going. So all that works for me. But...but, but, but....sometimes I just don't like being told what to do. LOL! Three categories that bug me every month (subjects that we have to list on our learning record that gets submitted to the state) are: special interests, PE, and life skills. Now, Jake's 'special interest' is archery. Doesn't that qualify also as PE and a life skill?? I think so. But apparently the school wants more. I have to list new life skills each month. And I have to show a progression in his special interest. And he needs to be doing other things for PE too. It's annoying. Especially when it's winter and freezing and raining. I do not care about PE in the winter.
But anyway overall I'm still glad to be going with a charter school because bottom line: we just don't have the money not to do it this way. Did I mention they also pay for classes like swimming, gymnastics, dance, karate etc...? Jake got to take this really cool outdoor explorer class that was very expensive and it was completely payed for by the school. It was an opportunity he would have never had if we didn't go through the charter.
So here we are with a month left until school starts for both Jake and Megan so I've been busy getting us ready. Here's our curriculum line up for the 2011-2012 school year:

Language Arts:
For Jake this will be a hodgepodge of things we'll put together. First I will be ordering several literature packs from a company called Moving Beyond the Page. The lessons use literature for comprehension, writing, spelling and grammar.
We will also use Writing Strands 3 (continued from last year) And I'm pretty sure I'm going to order All About Spelling for both kids. Spelling is by far Jake's worst subject. This program takes a phonetic method along with common spelling rules to teach spelling. I know for a fact that Jake has many gaps in his early teachings of phonics and was never taught any spelling rules at all until last year. So I'm hoping that by taking a small step backwards we can quickly make a giant step forward with spelling.
For Megan I am using Explode the Code workbooks for phonics/reading and handwriting. I will also use the All About Spelling with her along with a computer program we began last year called Reading Eggs.
For Jake we will continue with Singapore Math 2B, 3A and 3B. (each level takes about a semester and we've already started 2B) It's worked well for him and we're just going to keep going. For Megan....I'm still on the fence with this one. I'd like to just use Singapore since I already have it. But she's a different kid and numbers don't seem to a) interest her and b) I think she may just learn differently than Jake. We've begun the kindergarten curriculum, but I don't really like it. I'm thinking of starting Megan with Math U See.
History/Geography: We will continue with our study of Early American history and move into Western Expansion. We'll use Beautiful Feet Books for this again. The guide says this is for 4-8th grade, but I think we can make this work for us since we will be doing this as a family. And since this seems to go right along with the US and western expansion, we will be doing a geography study of the 50 states. I purchased a curriculum online that looks fun called Road Trip USA.
Science: My kids love science and unfortunately, last year was kinda boring. I tried to make it more interesting, but it was a lot of work gathering ideas and supplies for experiments etc...So this year I'm going to try out Nancy Larson Science. It's expensive, but it comes with everything. No hunting around for things or trying to come up with ideas on my own! sounds good to me!
PE/extra curricular/special interests:
Jake will continue to study archery and go to his outdoor explorer class. Pete also promised him he could play baseball this year so we will be looking for that ( in spring?) too.
Megan: for now we're looking for either a gymnastics or dance class (or both) for her and just kind of see where her interests lead her. I already know that she's extremely interested in horses. I'd love to get her into some lessons or something, but our school only will pay 30% (because they're generally so expensive) and a lot of the lessons won't start her until she's 7 AND a lot of the lessons around here are for English ridding and I'd rather her learn Western Pleasure. (i grew up with horses and it's what I would prefer her to learn).
And I think that's it. *Whew* It only took me 4 days to write that all up! I know it doesn't pertain to many of you, but I don't know...It's our life right now. :)
Now to go pack the trailer for camping!

1 comment:

nicole said...

you amaze me corey! just reading that was much credit to you for taking on this challenge for them!