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How to make sure your little darlings get a decent education
I believe pretty strongly in homeschooling if at all humanly possible. Before any public school teachers get too hard on my case, I understand you have a thankless, underpaid job. You're expected to practically parent all 30-180 of your charges nine months out of the year. You often have to cope with regulations you dislike and can wind up forbidden to keep any real order in your classroom. It's unlikely that you have the time to devote to the actual teaching you desperately want to do.
Look at me, the homeschooling parent, as someone who is trying to help. I have done a small part to reduce the burden on you by educating my children myself.
I had always said that I wanted to homeschool my children. I was also wondering if this was going to be at all possible. It was beginning to look as if my dream to be a well-paid geek, or my dream to have a well-educated child were going to go to war with each other.
Fortunately, I now have spice. Yes, folks, we have another situation in which the poly family has an advantage over the monogamous or single parent. Four people can support a family and educate the children at home much more easily. We have a greater variety of skills and life experience, so we just plain can teach our children more. For instance, in this house we have:
Okay, that's actually not a very full list, but you get the idea. The funny part is, there is not one college degree amoung us. No, we're not that hyped on formal education, though we believe very strongly, indeed, in continually learning.
Of course, when you're getting to know people with alternative lifestyles, it is not unusual to find that they don't do anything "by the book". This includes homeschooling. In a Usenet discussion on the topic, I asked a Poly mom who homeschooled, how she handled things and this is what she had to say:
I consider myself a curriculum schooler, with my oldest, because we use schooling materials and workbooks to cover a pre-defined set of goals. I don't use a specific curriculum each year, although that's certainly one approach, and it can be a good one.
I look at the grade level standards for my son, and I look over what's out there to teach it, reinforce it, and practice it.
Last year, I used "The Home Education Curriculum" ( such an original name). It was a nice whole curriculum book with weekly plans, workbook pages, as well as a years worth of ideas to add for each weeks studies. It calls for plenty of prep work though --focusing on reading materials borrowed from a local library, and I couldn't find all of the fiction it called for. It was also pretty liberal, and I'm fairly conservative.
Honestly, I'd recommend it to anyone who really enjoys having a pre-set with room for lots of flexibility in teaching style, if not content. This year, I'm using a grade 6 curriculum book from McGraw Hill for the Grammar, Writing, and Math sections, and their 6th grade Geography as well- but that seems to be at a 3rd grade reading level, so we're really only using it to get an idea of a good order to cover things in, and what not to leave out.Our idea of that includes some history as well, but we're focusing on Geography this year.
My son writes like I do ( eep) so this year we found a handwriting book at his reading level, and we've added that.
Dh is taking Biology this year, so we'll be following along at home with his book- a very well thought out text.
My daughter is 5, 6 in late sept. I don't honestly worry about her being at grade level, so although I quess although it looks like curriculum, it's more along the lines of giving her workbooks and learning opportunities she asks for.
She wanted to learn to read toward the end of last year, so I picked up a SRA-DISTAR program designed for home use. The one I found is entitled "Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons" and it's by Siegfried Englemann. She wanted to do 2 or 3 lessons a day for about 2 weeks, then it slowed to her asking once or twice a week, as the concepts got more difficult. She's about halfway through the book now,and starting to pick up speed. he enjoys counting, so I give her workbooks to use that involve count and olor, dot to dot, and making numbers, etc. She likes to write, or copy, more than she enjoys reading what she writes. We ave a few workbooks for that, but she mostly likes to grab a favorite story, and copy words out of that on a piece of paper.
Most of her 'school stuff' is crayons, paint, play-dough, glue, and the many million accesories to those in our craft cupboard. I'd love it if she continues to show such an interest in learning- she may make an unschooler of me yet. But largely, my lack of concern on her part is due to my beliefs about child development and the age of reason. I don't really like a formal curriculum until about the age of 7, and I firmly believe that for some kids, that age may be as high as 9. Until then, the best education in the world is running, playing, doing crafts, and exploring thier own interests- and most of what gets drilled into a k-2 grade child can be easily taught in 6 months to a really ready 7 or 8 year old who has had lots of large muscle playtime, and an eager interest in the world. (deep breath)
Set hours- well, they both have chores, including personal care stuff...these must be done by 9 am, or points are lost, and 9am is the start to my son's day. He has set hours in that he is given his list of assignments a week ahead, and must get at least that day's done before free time.
His sister often wants her reading lesson at that time, so I've begun a tradition of starting the day with journals for each child- the toddler joins in with an identical book ( and crayons, lol) followed by assisting the oldest as neccesary and working with my daughter for as long as she's interested.(varies).
Of course, add in trying to keep the toddler busy throughout,but he's usually happy with a 'close enough'. If she gets a workbook, he colors, if she paints, so does he.
Set place- yeah- absolutely. We have a huge kitchen table, and it's an ancient, durable, messable monster. It's also the only room in the house not covered by rug. We generally clear away for meals though, and the kids have places to set works in progress.
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