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    Joined: Oct 2008
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    Hi, bronxmom,

    I'm sorry your sweetheart is having a hard time at school; it's no fun watching them be sad and anxious. I think researching another option is a good idea, even if you decide not to go ahead with it, just to make you feel not so trapped in a bad situation. I like having a Plan B in my pocket, too!

    Homeschooling works really well for us, and I'm so grateful every day--even when it's not a great day!--that we are doing this. We have three boys, 7 (Harpo, grade 2), 5 (Groucho, kindergarten), and 3 (Chico), and we've homeschooled from the beginning, partly because my husband works shifts, and this preserves our family life, and partly because Harpo seemed unlikely to have his academic needs met in school (no gifted programming at all until grade 11 in our district, no skips under any circumstances either)--also, he's a very quirky child, and I was really afraid that people might be able to see the giant invisible "bully magnet" sign on his back.

    Frenchie (my husband) was not really on board with homeschooling at the beginning, but kindergarten is optional in our province, so he agreed to let me give it a go the year Harpo was 5, and see how it went. Well before the year was over, he was well and truly converted! And he's probably even more ardent about the virtues of homeschooling (for us and our particular circumstances, anyway) now than I am.

    Our schedule has evolved quite a bit over the last three years, partly as I have figured out the boys' learning styles, and partly just as people have grown (we can do more all-together things now that I'm no longer juggling naps, diapers, etc. for Chico, for instance).

    What has worked for us pretty well this year is trying to do most of our work in the morning, and spending the afternoons outdoors (we go on long nature walks, with field guides, binoculars, magnifying glasses, sketchbooks, etc., or to historic sites, etc.) In the morning, we do some math, a lot of reading aloud (poetry, novels, plays, history, science), some art history and/or music history, and a little Latin or French. After we get home from our walks, the kids work on their own things (free reading, map projects, science projects, bike rides, etc.) At bedtime, the kids do more French with their dad when he's here, since his French is infinitely superior to mine!

    They take music lessons, and are part of a homeschool play/fieldtrip group that gets together every two weeks (this has not been unmixedly successful, but we are trying out various ways of expanding their social circles--my kids really don't like crowds, and neither do I, so we are actually happiest getting together with just one or two other families, which we also do every week). We also belong to an orienteering group, which is fun, and when they get a bit more advanced, there's a little orchestra run by their music teacher which they will join.

    It's definitely a work-in-progress; I am still trying to juggle the different needs of three kids with different personalities and different strengths, interests, and challenges. One thing I haven't pushed at all yet is handwriting--I am scribe for a fairly significant portion of their work still--and I suppose at some point I will have to get a bit more insistent about penmanship, but for now, this lets them get their ideas down without the frustration of muscles getting in the way.

    I don't want to do "school-in-a-box", but I am certainly not averse to using curriculum--I figure why reinvent the wheel if there is something already out there that will work for us. But I don't use curriculum for every subject, either--lots of "living books," if I can go all Charlotte-Mason-y on you for a minute. The most useful book I read along the way was Lisa Rivero's book about homeschooling the gifted--she's very sensible, and has lots of good booklists, and useful interviews with parents and kids who have been there and done that.

    Here's some of what we've used along the way:

    -for math, Miquon, Life of Fred (my kids love stories, and will soak up anything with a good story attached, so Fred was a real find), Don Cohen's Calculus for Kids, Borenson's Hands On Equations, and the Mathematics Enhancement Programme from the Centre for Innovative Mathematics Teaching at the University of Plymouth. Also tangrams, pentominoes, pattern blocks, cuisenaire rods, various card and board games, etc., and quite a bit of math history (check the Living Math website for lots of good ideas in that regard).
    -for language arts, we like the Royal Fireworks Press materials (Groucho used the Hegemann Aesop's workbooks this year, and Harpo has been through two years of the Michael Clay Thompson series now, which I cannot recommend too highly--really great, I think). Mostly we just read, read, read--the kids know several Shakespeare plays really well, for instance, we zoom through several novels a week, and they memorize some poetry most weeks.
    -for Latin, we've used Minimus and Minimus Secundus, as well as Learning Latin through Mythology and some Latin reading materials (Esopus Hodie and Mater Anserina)
    -for French, we just chat and read stories (Tintin in French is especially popular, as well as French versions of some of the picture books they like, such as The Hockey Sweater and so on. There's also a nice little magazine called J'aime lire that they like a lot.)
    -for history and geography, we use lots of atlases and encyclopedias (the favourite things here are the "Times History of the World" historical atlas and the Kingfisher Geography Encyclopedia), plus lots of things from our shelves, and from the library.
    -for science, we have science encyclopedias (and we have a botanist, an entomologist, two oceanographers, and a nuclear physicist in the family, so I figure we kind of have science covered!), lots of library books, a weather station in the backyard, a huge garden, some chickens, all of the great outdoors...next purchase is a microscope, I think.
    -we like the BBC dancemat typing (a lot!), but don't do anything else online or with software or video (I'm a bit paranoid about really little kids and screens), but I know a lot of people find a lot of valuable things out there. I'm about to relent and get some stuff from the Teaching Company, I think!

    It helps to be surrounded by lots of books, I think, and not to worry about finding the "best" curriculum--you can go crazy trying to figure out what would be perfect. I think, especially coming off a not very happy school experience, it might be a good plan to think about letting his interests take the lead--go to the library and just follow rabbit trails from one interesting thing to another--it's fun when their interests generate some really exciting project that absorbs them, and unites lots of areas of study, too (Harpo has been very busy working on a project about the Enigma machine this month, for instance, so a great way to integrate history and math).

    Oh dear, as usual, I have rabbited on far too long...Sorry...

    peace
    minnie

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    Yes bronxmom - take a deep breath. You can do it! Remember, education is not about content. Just think how each state has different content, how even schools in the same district have different content, and then finally how each teacher at a given school has different strengths and weaknesses and slightly different content. what you are aiming for is learning how to learn, how to think, how to be critical of information ... content is just a means to an end, not the end itself.

    Start w/ the basics first ... all else is icing.

    Math - what grade is he in? Try Singaporemath.com for a placement test to see what he knows.

    Literature - is he an avid reader? Are there specific titles you'd like to see him read and discuss with him?

    WRiting - what are you thoughts on writing? Do you want a step-by-step approach? Do you want a more holistic approach such as Bravewriter.com? Is this a strength or weakness for DC?

    Then make a list of your son's passions. Does he like history? Ancients? Modern? Medieval? Does he like science? Astronomy? Earth science? Biology? Chemistry? Physics? Ask him what he wants to learn about.

    does he want to play an instrument? Take TKD lessons? Swimming lessons? What can you do to keep him active?

    I really liked this post from a friend regarding Charlotte Mason philosophy on HSing.

    Quote
    CM is not unschooling, nor is it delight-directed. To illustrate the difference, imagine that you had a son who was interested in knights and wanted to learn more about them. With unschooling, you wouldn't plan any lessons but you would let your son read all the books he could find about knights, play knights games, look up knights on the internet. Then, you'd count those hours as school time. With delight-directed, you would note his interest in knights, and ditch your plans to teach about ancient cultures and US History, and instead plan a semester of lessons about knights. With CM, you would allow your son to learn all he wanted about knights in his spare time, but during school hours, you would continue to assign readings from chronological history and literature so he'd still be learning about ancient Egypt, Rome, US History, etc. because, as Charlotte Mason said, you never know what will ignite a passion in a child, so exposure to many topics is necessary. However, you would keep school hours short to give him plenty of time (and inclination) to learn about knights after school.

    I'm thinking for $9.95 I might pick up at that book " "Homeschooling and Loving it!"

    Last edited by Dazed&Confuzed; 03/10/09 05:30 PM.
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    Well, it took me so long to type the last one that there have been a couple more posts in between! (See the perils of gabbiness, minnie!!)

    You know, if you're feeling overwhelmed, what I would do is just get a math book (print one of the free MEP ones at CIMT) and pick a few novels you want to read together. Start small. Don't try to figure out every subject at once (I wouldn't even try to figure out if you think you're an unschooler or a classical homeschooler or a Charlotte Mason homeschooler or a unit studies homeschooler or a school-at-homer or whatever); pick two things that you'd like to do every day and leave it at that. See where the journey takes you, and take time to enjoy the scenery! If his health permits, I also think it's lovely to get outside every day--so many of our kids have "nature deficit disorder".

    And RJH is quite right about how far ahead our kids are as compared to where they'd be in school anyway--on days when we don't get as much done as I'd like, I think to myself, well, what would they be doing at school in kindergarten (or grade 2) today? That makes me feel better!

    peace
    minnie

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    for a curriculum-in-a-box, there's also www.K12.com, a school (free) online. I have to say we have no personal experience with it, but a friend just pulled her gt Ds6 from grade 1 to use this at home.

    Good luck! You're not alone!

    our ds9 lasted halfway through 2nd grade before we took him out... he's SO MUCH happier!

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    Also check out your local library for resources. A series of books by E.D. Hirsch, "What Your Nth Grader Needs to Know" will help you formulate a plan. We don't HS(yet), but a friend who does recommended that series when we weren't sure if GS would be staying with us permanently. It helps make sure there are no gaps if the child is going to different schools. We use it to round out our afterschooling. I use it for ideas on reading material for GS9. It gives the typical math sequence, and we use Singapore Challenge Word Problems for math supplements.

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    Thank you all so much! THis is such a great resource. You see, I'm feeling a little better already...

    You've given me some stuff to work with... Lisa Rivero, Charlotte Mason (never even heard of her before), those Hirsch books (which are actually sitting in front of me right now in the library I run)... I'll feel much better when I've read a little.

    Thanks, keep it coming if you're so inclined.

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    Yes I use the "what Your Nth Grader needs to know" as a general guideline. And if I need a quick read-to for my Ker, it's a great book to pick up and go.

    I would concur w/ someone above about just picking a few things you want to do everyday and start there. My point about the Charlotte Mason philosophy is you can plan to get the core done in the AM (those two things you want to do everyday) and have the afternoons free to pursue all the other stuff where the learning really happens! HSing is much more efficient than PS so you can be done in just a couple of hours w/ an efficient kid (which I don't have lol he's a dawdler).

    One thing I think most HSers would recommend is some decompression time. There is even a formula...something like a month for every year in school or every week or something. However, for HG+ kids who have been craving challenge, they may want to jump right in or may just need some decompression time to pursue his own interest. So I wouldn't go out and buy a lot of stuff until you find out what he wants to learn and do. Perhaps he has a passion for computer programming wants to spend a month pursuing that.

    I too like Lisa Rivero's book on HSing gifted kids.

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    I don't have a lot of time for a real long answer either - very sick kid at our house today! frown But I'll do my best.

    We have a math, history, and science curriculum that we kind of follow when we feel like it. Math we're pretty regimented about - everything else is up in the air. My son takes piano, which I count as music and as an art. And it's also history sometimes too! We are very casual and rarely do table kind of work for more than an hour or 2 a day. We also attend a co-op once a week. My son journals everyday too on various things - book reports, directed questions on things we're working on, grammar, creative writing. We also using writing without tears to learn cursive (DS is not the best writer). He is in 2nd grade. He uses the computer a lot - for research, math games, typing papers.

    I never imagined us homeschooling 2 years ago. The school work part of it has actually been the easy part! It's the running here there and every where that has been kind of a pain at our house. We have lots of field trips and extras available in our area.

    Good luck! I will say, homeschooling definitely gave us our son back! I can't say exactly how much we spend total with all the extras but the curriculum books I've selected tend to be pretty inexpensive. Especially good, since I use them fairly loosely. They tend to be more guidance for me. We use our library and the internet a lot.

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    We too do most of our hs in the morning. We try to do math and LA every day Mo-Th and then whatever we feel like. Some days we cover more some days less. Friday is DS6's day. He is free to choose whatever he wants to do as long as I find it educational.

    DS6 spends 2 afternoons in a small private school. He takes piano and goes to gymnastics. He attends weekend gt classes. We have a French tutor. We have 2-3 playdates each week not counting the weekends. We did one hs class but it's over now. We intended to take 1-2 next year.

    I am not sure how much $$$ we've spent on hs. I believe DS6 would still take piano, gymnastics and gt classes even if he were in school. Perhaps we wouldn't do French. Then there are books and different programs but that's much less than the classes he takes.

    I too liked the book by Lisa Rivero and own the "What should your x grader know."

    The nice thing is that you don't really have to get it right at the beginning. As a matter of fact I wouldn't even attempt to get everything right. Start with one subject find a good match and go from there. If you get a chance borrow some of the hs material before you purchase it.

    The resources we found useful this year

    Math
    Singapore - regular workbook and Challenging Word Problems
    Zaccaro

    LA
    All About Spelling
    Wordly Wise

    Science
    CyberEd (unfortunately no longer available through the hs co-op cry)

    enchantedLearning.com is a great source of maps, tests, exercises, articles, crafts, etc.

    http://www.sheppardsoftware.com
    has priceless geography games


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    I think you should frame Dazey's line above and stick it on your fridge ("what you are aiming for is learning how to learn, etc....")! (I think I'll stick it on my fridge, too!)

    Another useful book you might want to look at is Rebecca Rupp's Complete Homeschooling Sourcebook--some of her suggestions are out of print now, but there is still an awful lot of useful stuff in there. One of my favourite parts is the series of excerpts from her diaries about what each of her kids was doing at any given time--a nice snapshot of how it worked in one family.

    There's another very nice book (Learning at Home) by a woman named Marty Layne--she makes it all seem easy and warm and family-centered, so it might be a good read if you're feeling like you could use some reassurance.

    Although we do use some curriculum, the most expensive things we do (music lessons & instruments, plus lots of novels) I would have done anyway, even had they been in school, so I don't have too much guilt about expense. (I suppose the biggest real expense is the fact that I'm not working, but I choose not to think about that right now!) There actually is quite a bit of decent-to-excellent free curriculum online (there was a long thread about it on the Well-Trained Mind K-8 board recently--I lurk there occasionally looking for book ideas).

    Some other places to poke around are people's homeschooling blogs--I particularly like the Farm School blog, myself.

    I will undoubtedly drop in again later to blab some more!

    minnie

    PS--Kimck, hope your little one is better soon! And hope that your migraine passes quickly, Kriston.

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