We moved recently, as most of you likely know. And I have two teens and a pre-teen in the house. So moving meant changing school districts, because we were unable to find a place to rent in the town we lived in (I’ll rant on that in another post). I didn’t want to do it, the kids had just gotten settled into a new school system after a major move, but staying put in the Little House was impossible for any longer. Once we’d resigned ourselves to the inevitable, we made plans to transition schools over the Holiday vacation, and then the Junior Mad Scientist made her pitch. “could I be homeschooled?” she asked me.
I hesitated, torn. I’d always wanted to homeschool my offspring, having been homeschooled for most of my own education, but it hadn’t been possible. Now, I still didn’t think it was possible. The plan was for me to graduate, and then start work full-time. Could I teach her and do that? No… and there was another complication, in that she has two siblings. The Otaku Princess is 16, a junior in highschool, and I did not want her last year and a half of highschool interrupted. Add to that, and there’s the factor that she prides herself on being lazy. We’re working on that, but lazy and homeschool do not work together. And then there is the Little Man, who is in a defiant stage. Not possible to homsechool him without an in-person teacher and a lot of effort. A lot of effort – it exhausts me thinking about it.
At first, it looked impossible. But then I mentioned it to my mother, and a while later, she messaged me “what if I taught her? We could use chat and Skype.” Mom, after she’d given up on my home-education in ninth grade, due to the level of math I was in being beyond what she thought she could do, went on to teach school for several years in a small Christian school. She had also realized that math was not that big a problem, especially not now, with the internet and Khan Academy at a student’s fingertips. With Mom and I both teaching, we could maybe make this work… The irony is, the JMS is in ninth grade. Mom is picking up where she left off with me.
So over the break, while Mom was here, we all sat down, First Reader and everyone, and hammered out a plan. While I am job-hunting, I’m here to help. The OP and LM have been firmly told that they are going to regular school (with supplements at home, of course) and there will be no arguments. And the Junior Mad Scientist was warned that it’s actually harder work to be homeschooled. Since this was part of the reason she wanted to come home – to be challenged and not bored in classes, this didn’t daunt her. As her friends found out about it, and told her how hard it will be, how she won’t be able to do it, she became even more determined to make it work. Mom works from home as a caretaker, so she’s available to JMS via the internet to assist during the days. With all that settled, we got down to the nitty-gritty of planning. Over the last few weeks, we’ve put in probably a hundred hours of looking for materials, looking at the state requirements, and pulling together a curriculum and resource list to use for the coming semester. We asked in online forums and got a huge amount of help with books and ideas. I’ll be blogging some of our lists soon, for homeschool or just supplemental education ideas.
Things I’ve learned so far:
- Google docs is going to be an essential tool. We’re using it for weekly lesson plans that the student and her teachers can access and make notes in. We’re setting up assignments there, and she has a log she is keeping track of her time spent (Ohio requires a set amount of time spent, 900 hours a year, on school. Which is ridiculous, but we’ll make it work), in addition to the overall curriculum Mom and I created to present to the Superintendent to prove we’re doing what the state requires.
- If you need help finding a resource, ask. You’re likely to get more help than you can possibly use. We have a reading list longer than she is tall (and she’s taller than I am) which we will be pulling resources from for the rest of her highschool education.
- Homeschooling is a family affair. All right, I already knew this one. But today as we were working on math, her older sister sat down with her and was showing her how to do problems. And when I mentioned that she’ll be having music appreciation later in the curriculum, the OP’s eyes lit up with an unholy glee. “Can I help teach music theory?” she asked.
- Homeschool forums and groups are perversely harder to find online than they were 15 years ago. I used to be involved in a very active online forum, which is no longer in existence. And when I searched for a local group, all I could find were dead links to facebook and yahoo groups. I’ll reach out to the local librarian, and I don’t feel a pressing urgency to find a local in-person group since I do have a lot of support already, but I found it odd that this is not an easy thing to find any more.
So what does day one look like?
8:00 am Late start since it’s still vacation for most of the family. Read CS Lewis’s essay for Literature, On Reading Old Books.
8:30 am Sit with Mama and do an orientation on how to set up google docs, share them, and keep them organized.
9:00 am math review – finding the place to start in the new math curriculum since it’s different from previous books. Settle on lesson 34 (Saxon Math, by the way, since it’s the best I know of).
9:30 am break time
10:00 am math problems
Noon: Reading in Physical Science, reading “Thoughts on Science” and choosing her favorite quote from famous scientists from Aristotle to modern era.
All sciences are connected; they lend each other material aid as parts of one great whole, each doing its own work, not for itself alone, but for the other parts; as the eye guides the body and the foot sustains it and leads it from place to place.
And we’ll go into the afternoon with the introduction to Principles of Art History and Cooking for Geeks. She’ll begin work on a History Timeline project, take a walk (phys ed), and skip the Latin lesson for today, since the book doesn’t arrive until tomorrow. It’s a good first day. Tomorrow, I think we’ll take a field trip!