In a few weeks, I am going to be hosting a seminar on homeschooling. I’m super-excited for the opportunity (on the one hand, it makes me feel like a bit of an expert; on the other hand, it makes me afraid I am anything BUT an expert). I have been keeping notes for months now on what I want to speak about. I think I’ll mostly be talking to people who are considering homeschool, have recently begun to homeschool, and maybe even some people who just want to know more about it. I want to tell them everything I can that will help them see the benefits of homeschool, the way homeschool has changed over the decades, and how to go about providing this amazing service to their children.
It’s had me thinking a LOT about scheduling and how different families approach homeschooling. We have friends who do it many different ways. Our closest homeschooling neighbors order from curriculum providers such a A Beka, throwing some unit studies and hands-on stuff in. The next closest family uses a Waldorf approach and attends a local co-op on a regular basis. Most of the people I know personally who homeschool do something similar to those families. I follow the blogs of some moms who take things one subject at a time–for instance, doing science for 6 weeks, then history, then literature, etc. Some people unschool. Some people are crazy enough to do something like I do. hehe Certifiable.
If you’ve read my ‘About’ page, you know I have history in library and education. In fact, I was working at one of the local elementary schools when I decided to homeschool. I went to public school. My experience with school is scheduled with many subjects thrown in. Just like any ol’ public school. So I schedule, schedule, schedule. It’s a blast, but since I tend to write my own curricula and study guides and unit studies, I am always working. I’ve talked about my schedule a few times here, but I thought it might help me get things straight for the seminar to explain the way I homeschool.
I’m a firm believer that some type of English and math must be practiced every day. It doesn’t have to be difficult, just practicing and building on what has been learned before. For math, I believe there is no better way to learn, which (since math is as far away from my strong point as I am from the Himalayas) is why I stick with Saxon books. The boys do a chapter every day. Math is as easy for them as constructing a sentence is for me, so it works. Right now for writing we are working from a wonderful ebook by Sharon Watson on compare-and-contrast writing that is teaching the boys how to make persuasive arguments through comparisons. We used a grammar book last semester to go over the basics and now are doing worksheets every morning to practice the rules. The free everyday edit worksheets at Education World are super for practicing all types of grammar. We do one of those a day, every day. They’re so fun–kind of like looking for the mistakes in a picture, but with words. The rest of our schedule looks like this:
Usually, school lasts till closer to 1. I have a schedule to follow, but it’s more to make sure we’re doing everything I want to accomplish than trying to hurry through the material. We have a tendency, even during math, to hop onto paths that lead to politics or world issues and follow them until we’re talked out. Some chapters in reading take longer than others, and some activities in our long classes make us run over. This is the first year I’ve tried doing longer classes on alternate days. Last year we did every class every day, just like a public middle or high school. I’ve said all along that if (God forbid) my Littles ever have to go back to public school, they will be a grade or two ahead if I can help it and they won’t suffer too much shock at the schedules.
But the truth is, I am envious of those moms brave enough to tackle one class per six weeks. I am envious of unschoolers who follow their kids’ leads. I am even a little envious of moms who let some other curriculum writer do some of the work. Slowly but surely I have been adding some of these elements to my eclectic way of doing things, but I have an abject fear of going off schedule. Don’t ask me why. I can’t explain it. And when one of my peers calls and says, “Oh, we just couldn’t do it today. We had such a busy weekend and were too exhausted for school,” or something like that, my mind starts literally gibbering with fear at the idea of Ever letting that happen.
Having said that, I would love to hear how you homeschool. Or if your kids go to public school, how do you help them with homework?
By the time I become an expert at this, my Littles will be graduated. But don’t tell the folks at the seminar.