Friday, July 26, 2013

A little update

I didn't mean to stay silent for a week!  The only books I've finished have been re-reads of mysteries by favorite British authors.  I have some serious reading going on too, but let's face it--it's really hot, there's a lot going on, and I'm trying to get ready for the start of school, and my brain has not been quite up to facing the Great Depression or Kafka.  Even though they are really interesting.  I haven't even touched the EBB/RB love letters since Monday!  Oh no!

What I have been doing is prepping for the start of school in a few weeks, and in case you care, I'll tell you about it.  This is your cue to skip this post if you don't care!   We are due to start in about 3 weeks, and I have done very little over the summer, because by June I always need at least a month where I do not have to think about homeschooling at all.  I do have most of my materials, because I do the bulk of my purchasing in the spring before the old school year ends, but that doesn't mean they're ready to go.  Ha ha.  (I do have some things squared away: grammar, spelling/vocabulary, math, and logic are ready to go.)

My most pressing job has been preparing for a year of physics.  I have a Great Courses DVD set, several boxes of experiment supplies, and a textbook for my 10-year-old, but I spent a good deal of the summer trying to figure out what text to use for my 13-year-old.  Once I chose that, I had to match all these disparate things together.  I am expecting to have several kids using these things and participating in labs, so I have to be ready.  I've prepared a syllabus that correlates lectures, textbook chapters, and labs so that everyone can be on the same page; it still needs a little work but I feel very accomplished about it.  There is also the small problem that we have a physics nerd right here in the house....but he's the one with the full-time job.  So I get to teach it, with him for backup.

My youngest, all ready for Kindergarten 5 (!) years ago

History is another subject that takes heavy preparation.  We are going to be doing modern world history, 1850-present.  Luckily, when my older daughter was younger, I spent summers preparing reading lists for each year that match up with the history book and what books are available in the library, so my 10-year-old is pretty much taken care of.  I looked at several different lists of recommended literature for the middle grades, and put together a list of things for the 13-year-old to read this year; some of them are required by her history text, and others are things I chose to go along with it.

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with the 13-year-old's writing, too.  She has done well with the curriculum we've used, but I think this year we need a change.  She and I would both like to try the online course from BYU Independent Study, so we'll see how that goes.

Oldest girl, with her 3rd grade books long ago. 
 I want to do a year of government, so I've been preparing that.  I'm excited about this one.  We'll be studying American governmental structure, the Constitution, and major cases, and once we have a reasonable understanding of that I have one of those "You Decide" kind of books about Bill of Rights cases and questions.

I'm still thinking about languages.  What to do, what to do...the older one thinks she would like to continue with Spanish and pick Latin back up again.  We'll see how that goes.  10-year-old should pick one of those.  (Unless she wants to do something really neat, like Koine Greek or Russian!)

There is lots more to do.  I haven't stocked up on supplies yet, or gotten the school areas straightened out, or all sorts of things. So you can see why I've been going very slowly with my reading lately...



12 comments:

Ekaterina Egorova said...

I hope I'm not intruding or sound stupid, but I was always interested what this homeschooling thing is. Does this mean the children don't go to school and do everything at home (and if yes, why and how is it possible?) or is it just the additional stuff to help them with their classes?

And oh, how I wish I had reading lists corresponding to my history classes! I never remembered anything unless I read some fiction about the period...

Jean said...

Of course you don't sound stupid! It's not exactly a common thing. :)

There are a lot of ways to homeschool, and what it comes down to is that the family is in charge of the child's education rather than an outside institution. The child probably does most of her work at home, but may well be taking classes somewhere. Additional work to help with regular schoolwork is usually called afterschooling.

How to legally homeschool varies with the country--and in the US, the state. It's legal in the Czech Republic! I used to homeschool independently by registering myself as a private school, but now we belong to a charter school, which is a public school that works outside the usual system. Mine runs an independent study program. We have a teacher who meets with us monthly and collects work for a portfolio. I tell her what curriculum, supplies, and books I want and she gets them for me (with certain restrictions--I can't have anything I want or train an Olympic skier with their money, but they do pay for violin lessons). My kids do have to take the same yearly test as kids in school.

I decide what we study, choose materials, and teach. Or I can have them do some outside thing. Or I can choose a full program for them to follow. It's all very flexible.

By all means ask questions if you want to know. :)

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

Koine Greek would be amazing! Although I admit I am biased in favor of Latin because it is so beautiful and elegant.

Your school preparations sound complicated but amazing, also.

Ekaterina Egorova said...

Thanks a lot for explaining, Jean! It's very interesting! I guess I would have wanted to do this for my children, as I don't approve of some of the school techniques and oh what amazing stuff you can teach them in the time they would have lost while others answer their homework in class! But I guess that's a lot of work and responsibility too, and don't the kids miss socializing? They escape bullying, which is a good thing, but there are some useful things to learn in school that have nothing to do with the classes :)

Jean said...

Thanks Jenny! I am not actually amazing (though my books are). I have no idea how some folks manage to do what they do. I just try to hang on, honestly, but it is fun. By the end of the day I'm sure tired! I'm not very good at producing dinners...

Jean said...

It is a lot of work and responsibility! It's sort of parenting without a net. ;) And making sure the kids get plenty of time with friends is part of the job. My kids have friends who are homeschoolers and friends who go to public school, and they do lots of things with other kids. It's just a little more work to make sure that happens enough. :)

Ekaterina Egorova said...

I really admire you, Jean :) Good luck with all this difficult but amazing work in the new school year! :)

jrleek said...

Jean, can I have lists of books that match up with history and age? That sounds great.

Jean said...

Sure thing.

Amy said...

When you said that you are starting school in three weeks, my initial reaction was, "oh, they start early." But then I realized that three weeks from now is late August, and we start in late August, too (lightbulb!). I've been floating in my little happy Ramadan bubble, intending to order my curricula "in August," and hello, tomorrow is August! :) I did my planning last spring, knowing that this summer would be full with travel, etc., but I've got to actually order the stuff, don't I, lol?

Jean said...

Ha! Well, mid-August is early to many folks, but around here it seems to be the usual thing, so we start then too. You'd better break out the CC, it's coming at us like a freight train...:D

jimleek said...

I have had occasion to observe public school classrooms. Teaching is aimed at the standardized test. The material to be covered is laid out in some detail. At some point the teacher is charging through the material with a few kids keeping up and a few kids totally lost. If you have some education and interest in your children, you can hardly do worse.

However, I've seen some home really lousy home schooling where the kid only learned how to skate by. Those kids belong in a real school.