Monday, March 24, 2008

Curriculum Choices Abound!!

So, I decided to home school. Once I was able to put a few of my major fears aside it was a pretty easy decision to make. The next step for me has been to decide on a curriculum. WOW! Talk about OVERWHELMING! The choices are amazing. There are so many different educational theories and styles.

Originally I wanted something that told me exactly what to teach each day...for example:

On Monday have child read page. ** of *** book. As them this question....

I like the idea of unit seems like such a fun way to teach and to learn but I am scared of missing important educational milestones for my kids. What if God leads us to send them back to public school at some point and we have done unit studies and they are seriously lacking basic information because the unit study didn't cover it? So I started like this....

I looked at the My Father's World curriculum. This curriculum had everything except math, spelling and language arts. It looked great - it told me exactly what to do each day and all the books came with it. Plus you could buy it used lots of places and it was around $150 for the whole thing (used) But as I looked down the road at the topics to be covered the following year I didn't think it would be anything that would interest my girls at such a young age. (ie: studying Creation to the Greeks in 2nd and 5th grades).

Then I looked at Winter Promise. I LOVE the look of this curriculum online but I want to actually view it in is SO expensive and the prices are only for the history portion, or only for the science, or only for the language arts. We're talking like $300 just for history. YIKES! Plus, you can't buy it used. The publishers won't allow you to sell it used so that really hurts the pocket book! Of course it is pricey because the curriculum uses a TON of looking age appropriate books that kids would really like. But again...the price and I hate to spend that kind of money and then get it and start using it and have it not work. Then I couldn't even sell it! (If anyone has used this curriculum and has any cost saving measures to pass along please do!)

The next thing I looked at is a unit study. I am interested in the Little House on the Prairie unit study but with my middle child only being in 1st grade next year, it is a bit too old for her. However, both of the two oldest girls are currently interested in the American Girl books. We saw a movie about Samantha and they wanted me to do reading at night using those books. So I thought...hmmm, I wonder... and yup...they do: This is where we are at right now. I purchased the curriculum and am quite excited about getting started. It is more work that I wanted for myself but it is only March and I have now and all summer to prepare a fun year for us.

We will be adding on Math (Saxon Math), Spelling (Spelling Power), and more than likely some science (Apologia).

The choices are so overwhelming and it sure takes time deciding and researching things but it also feels really good to say - "this is what we are doing" and not feeling the stress and pressure of having to continue to research.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Socialization Issue

When I would hear about people having decided to home school their kids the thing I immediately thought about was socialization. "How are their children going to learn to get along with people?" "How are those kids going to make friends?" "Will those poor babies ever learn to carry on a conversation with anyone other than their parents?" "What about things like class parties and PROM?!?!" Well, now that I have heard God's call for our family and decided to give homeschooling a try, I have read SO much on the socialization issue and it all makes sense!!

First of all let me say that my oldest daughter has always been involved in different playgroups and the like and when it was time to send her to school in Kindergarten I thought she would be little social butterfly. But what I learned is that she is actually very shy when it comes to meeting new people when her mom isn't there. Even through 2nd grade when I would ask her who she played with on the play ground she would tell me that she often played alone. Now, do I believe that EVERY DAY she played alone? No, but in her mind she wasn't making friends. Then in KINDERGARTEN I got an idea of what it was like to have her "socializing" with other kids. Here's a story I think you will like:

There is a girl that lives down the street from us who happened to come over to play a couple times. She lives 13 houses down and around the corner and her mom NEVER came down to meet us but yet allowed her daughter to play down here. Whatever...I'm not a perfect mom but it seemed odd to me. I wouldn't even let my daughter walk down the street 3 doors down without standing at the end of the road and watching her get to the door and get inside before I went into my house. Anyway, this little girl ended up in Sissy's class. I thought that was a good thing so that she would get to know someone else in the neighborhood to play with. (We live in a predominately older sub with few children). Well, one day Sissy and I were walking together from the bus stop and she innocently asked, "Mom, do I have a p**nis?" I nearly choked in the road! Obviously we hadn't discussed "THEM" before if the poor girl didn't know if she had one! So I said, "No honey you don't. Where did you hear that word?" It turns out the girl who lives down the road was sharing it with her. So, I went down to the house later and wanted to let the mom know that her precious 5 year old was talking about this stuff. Mom wasn't home but step dad was. He wasn't interested and just said "I'll have her mom call you when she gets home." When mom did call I explained the situation and told her that I would want to know if my dd was talking about stuff like that and this is why I contacted her. She laughed and said "Oh yes, that sounds like my dd. The first day of school I got a call from the principal because she was talking about sex at the block table." All the while giggling. I was mortified that mom would think that was funny! Kindergarten this was my first glimpse into what it meant to "socialize" with other kids. I later found out that this same child was talking about oral sex in 1st grade. Thankfully my requests to keep her and my dd out of the same class were heard during 1st and 2nd grade, unfortunately she is now in my dd class this year.

Other important socialization issue: In "real life" will we work only with people who are our same age? Before staying home to raise my kids I worked with people who were teenagers to near retirement age. What a blessing that was! In class rooms kids are placed with 29 other kids based solely on their age and nothing else is taken into account.

For my kids, we attend our church every Sunday and most Wednesdays. On Sunday they are in 2 different classrooms with kids their age and a year older (or younger depending on my kids grade in school) and the same is true on Wednesday. They get plenty of time to work in groups and meet other kids. In addition to that, there are AMAZING home school groups out there that afford your kids experiences they couldn't get in traditional school and they are with other kids their age. It is the best of both worlds! And did you know that some of these groups (specifically one near me) gives their high school students a commencement ceremony and a PROM!!!