1st Week of Homeschooling

Our curriculum arrived in the mail at the end of last week, and we have worked diligently on one lesson a day since then. We are using the Christian Light Education curriculum. Specifically, the one with workbooks. It’s nice and easy because everything that you need to do in one day is laid out in one lesson in the workbook. So we get math and language-arts covered. I know where to start and I know when to stop. As a first-time homeschooling mom that is absolutely great. And the curriculum seems pretty good too. At least so far. As students go through the workbooks they frequently have to review and reuse information they have learned in previous lessons.

I decided to start Angelica with the kindergarten 2 curriculum. Kindergarten 1 seemed a little bit to basic for her age. The first grade curriculum is much more comprehensive with social studies and science, but I think the language arts and math would have been right over her head at this point. So I ordered the curriculum for the second half of kindergarten and so far we are just going along. There have been some difficulties though, and we are wondering if it has something to do with her language comprehension – or something else. Hopefully it is nothing. The first week of school can have some bumps for every kid, whether homeschooled or in public school. But between her speech issue, her problems with directions, and her difficulty playing with age-appropriate board games we are going to just check up on Angelica with a developmental pediatrician.

English is definitely Angelica’s strong suit so far. She has trouble with the math. A lot of trouble with the math. She’s having a hard time remembering how to count, although we have worked on this for a very long time – well before we started officially homeschooling. And sometimes she will get the counting right and then the next time she goes to count she will have it completely out of order. We are trying different methods to teach her, from singing to using manipulatives and toys. We will just have to see what works.

We are still using supplemental materials as well. We are using a Pre-K science book and soon we might start a geography book. I’ve been saving these books since she was two. And then of course we have flashcards of the letters and their sounds. We are using those and in a few months might start with sight word flashcards. And pretty much daily we use her dry erase letter and number tracing book. That’s really what’s teaching her how to write. She’s practicing her writing in her workbook, and she’s making some improvements each day, but it’s the dry erase book that lets her practice over and over again and gives her bigger letters to trace. Angelica makes some really beautiful letters in her dry erase book. She seems to have more fun with it too. It is so colorful.

I can’t wait until she knows how to read and I can start getting her science books to study, and books to really get into history. I suppose I could try to get some supplemental materials for those subjects now, but they’re kind of hard to find for her age group and honestly I think she’s got enough on her plate with the language arts and math. That’s a lot of learning to do each day.

I’m trying to be careful not to burn Angelica out. So far she seems to do school willingly, and even look forward to it. I want to keep it that way. Of course, school requires some level of discipline. You can’t just do school when you feel like it. Even if she gets up one morning and doesn’t want to do it we still need to work our way through the lesson, but I choose times to use the supplemental materials very carefully. So far though she has been eager.


Prelude to Homeschooling

Today we had a preliminary run for homeschooling. Angelica’s curriculum for kindergarten will not arrive for another week or so. But she has this wonderful dry erase tracing book that teaches her how to write letters and numbers. She really got into it! She liked it! We worked on the letter P, the letter R, the letter q, and the letter M, as well as the letter s. That was the hardest one though and I don’t think she has mastered it. But Angelica made great progress overall, and I think she really learned a lot so we’re going to keep using that book until the curriculum comes and maybe even after that. I hope that she continues to take joy in learning. And it was nice to have Craig help starting out, but sometimes I will be schooling her when it’s just me alone. I hope I can do a good job.

Low Standards and Mediocrity Among Homeschoolers

I talk to homeschoolers every chance I get to learn about their process, their curricula, their activities, and structure. I join homeschool groups. I’m already researching different methodologies and philosophies in homeschooling. I am deciding between homeschool and private school, and I want to be prepared to homeschool.

But for every homeschooling family that rigorously teaches all subjects and have children at or above grade level, there’s two more with children below grade level…..AND THEY DON’T CARE AND THEY JUSTIFY IT!

So often I hear people say that their children technically read two grade levels behind or are 7 and can’t count yet, but why do public school standards matter and their kids are still getting an education.

Yeah, right.

Today a woman posted in a homeschooling group that she started her son in private school, pulled him out to homeschool, and after homeschooling for a year plus, he is now not only not making progress, he is behind. She says she thinks the problem is she has twin two year old boys and she gets so distracted and has to watch them so much that she can’t focus on her older son’s education. She wanted to know what she should do. I said to put him back in private school, wait til her twins are older and ready to do school themselves, then start over again with homeschooling and pull her older son back out of school. Many moms of many children were saying that you can easily homeschool with many children. I said that although some moms of many succeed in providing a good home school education, many do not. Their older kids spend more time helping mom wrangle the younger ones and helping her with laundry and lunch than they do studying. If she feels overwhelmed by her twins, she shouldn’t feel bad about delaying homeschooling til they are older. Even many moms of one and two find homeschooling difficult. With twin two year olds it would be extremely hard.

Then this woman starts in on me talking about how she has five kids and she does a great job homeschooling them. At first, as I start to read what she has written, I am impressed. To successfully homeschool five kids is an accomplishment that not everyone can pull off. It is easier for her if all her kids are school age now, as they seem to be, but it is difficult nonetheless.

Then I read the rest of what she says. She says how sure, her kids are not at grade level for public school, but that it doesn’t matter and they are getting a great education.

If your kid is not at or above grade level for public school, your homeschooling is not successful. Your child is not getting adequate instruction. Public school is not difficult. It does not set the bar high. Even though there are as many kids in public schools that aren’t academically inclined as there are kids who are gifted in that area, most kids who flunk in public school do so because they aren’t interested and didn’t try (or have some really off the wall, bad home situation) – not because it is difficult. The majority of even the least scholastically gifted kids pass. They are at grade level.

If your kid is not at public school grade level or above it, you are failing. What is the point in taking your kids out of public school supposedly for a better environment and education if you are going to let your fourth grade read like a first grader? If they spend more time watching their siblings than they do hitting the books? Public school grade level is not some unattainable goal. It is basic, the minimum knowledge and aptitude a child of a certain age should have. I’m not saying you have to follow the curriculum of the public schools. You can teach American history when they teach world history, and world history when they teach American. You can add subjects like botany and geography. But with reading, writing, and math there are standards that should be met. The basics should be the minimum of what is covered, sufficiently taught, and practiced.

It is disturbing that many homeschoolers do not seem to care much about…well…school. I am a firm believer that the state needs to stay out of a parent’s right to educate their children as they see fit. Parenting shouldn’t be in the realm of the state. I don’t want any regulations. Most of these homeschoolers feel the same way. But then they turn around and give their children a substandard education and low standards. It puts their children at a disadvantage, and hurts the cause of homeschooling. What better argument is there for state interference in homeschooling than homeschool parents leaving their kids 1,2,3, or even 4 years behind on skills and knowledge?

For people who have children of special needs, homeschooling might look very different. A child with special needs may not be able to stay up to grade level, and successfully homeschooling a child with learning disabilities might look very different and a lot slower paced than teaching a kid without them. But if your child isn’t learning disabled, they should be at or above grade level.

If this woman was the only one I came across who took this attitude I would just think she was a random flake. But I hear this all the time. Of  course it isn’t all homeschoolers. My babysitter is a homeschool student and she is starting nursing school at 15 years old. Some of them are hardworking, dedicated families who emphasize knowledge, success, and achievement. But many more talk about the importance of being “relaxed,” of not having any competition, of “letting kids be kids.” How it is okay if your third grader can’t subtract? Will these children’s bosses be relaxed? Will their babies just relax and decide not to need care and feeding around the clock because these kids have grown up thinking they can just relax? And how is keeping kids away from competition a good thing? Life is competition. It is filled with competing for jobs, honors, accolades, wealth, and a mate. Not everyone gets a trophy. These kids aren’t going to get to live in some utopia. And kids being kids? The time for that is after school, on the playground. As much as kids need to be kids, they also need to be taught to grow up. Education is necessary and there is no excuse for keeping your kids home and then allowing them not to be educated.

I really hate it when homeschoolers treat the school part like it borders on the unnecessary.