We have not yet had our first day of homeschooling. As this is my first year and I tend to be very analytical (Take off the ‘ytical’ is you must) I have spend hours planning out a schedule. I have enough work experience to understand that it probably won’t survive the first day. My plan is to monitor how much time it does take and what books work and adjust accordingly.
I got my curriculum about a week ago. After all the research I couldn’t wait to get my hand on it. When I finally got it all I had a huge pile and a minor panic attack. “I need to read all of this”. After reading the Babycenter Homeschooling group I knew I wasn’t alone. I was reminded of the old joke. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
I opened up each book looked at the table of content and flipped through the first couple of pages. I counted the number of lessons, days, weeks, chapters, or sections and made a spreadsheet. I figured out how many weeks of material each book was given how many day per week I was going to do it. I also guessed at how much time it was going to take each day. The time per day is the biggest question mark.
From that I made up my first week schedule and then my daily plan. I remembered the analogy of putting rocks in a jar. You have to put the big rocks in first so you can fit the little rock around the big ones. If you put the little one in first, the big ones won’t fit. So Student Writing Intensive was the biggest so it went first. Words of Wisdom went next. It is very nicely laid out week by week, day by day. IXL Math and Foreign Language both just have one resource so they each got their own daily time slot. I then filled in some language art spots with vocabulary and spelling. I start social studies with Canadian Governments as I looks like I don’t have much material and I have project plans that require that knowledge. Science we are doing human anatomy. I am using material from CK-12.org as I wasn’t going to pay $80 for a book I hated. My background is heavy in the sciences.
So the plan for out first day. Wake up a 6:30 am. That is my wake up time but I’ll have the kids up by 6:45. Breakfast starts at 7am. We also have to get my daughter who is continuing in the public system ready for the day. She has already indicated an interest in homeschooling next year. She will have the opportunity to choose again next year. 8 am is exercise. My son’s ADD medication takes 1/2 an hour to take effect and we have found that exercise first thing in the morning helps with his concentration. Daddy could also use the exercise. Bible is 8:30 am. Again we found that quiet prayer helps with concentration. Math and Student Writing Intensive are next. This when he is most likely to be most focused. I put the break in the middle of language arts as that is his toughest course. That may change I think it will help but I could be very wrong. We then have Foreign Language and music/art. After Lunch we will have quiet reading. Some of that will be assigned for his course work but mostly it will be his choice. We then have either Science or Social Studies. These are his favourites so I am putting them at the end of the day. The last item is writing. We wants to be a writer so this will be free writing. This is also the time that I will have to go get my daughter from school so he will have no distractions. My toddler and I will be out of the house.
Now that I have a plan I am back to being confident and look forward to getting started. Now my wife just reading this post has pointed out that I only have a four day week and my daughter has a short day on Tuesday and the kids have Dentist appointments on Friday. I knew all of that. I made the dentist appointments. Guess I need to re-plan already.
This will will our first year homeschooling so one of the concerns was where we would have him work. The obvious answer was at my wife’s desk in our office. She never uses it and in had become a pile of all things ‘Important’. I’m guilty as well. A day of sorting revealed that it was indeed a desk.
I put some of the curriculum I have on the desk. The book on top is ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. The laptop is my wife’s that she doesn’t need during the day. The kids have their own computer downstairs he can use in the evening if needed. During the day I want him in sight. The stuff that wasn’t garbage or recycling needed a home plus I was going to need some more storage for curriculum and other material. As this office was once a bedroom I put shelves in the closet.
The goal was to have boxes in the back and school material in the front. Over the last couple of weeks thing have migrated into the closet that need to be resorted. I probably won’t do it until my curriculum arrives so I have something to fill the space with. Organization is going to be a challenge. I have a ancient cork-board for anything that we want to display. You can see some water staining on it and there was nothing on the back to attach it thus the 4 screws with cardboard in the corners.
The final thing was a whiteboard again I’m not sure where it came from but its been re-purposed as a to-do list. We’ve been using it through the summer and it was been working great. The kids love to be able to cross items off their list.
I redid the board for the morning. With all the crossing out from Friday it was a mess.
We have decided to homeschool our oldest who is about to go into grade 5. The reason for doing this are numerous. The main reason is that he interacts better in smaller groups. This is something that I can provide through homeschooling. The second is that we have more control over the content and the speed of the curriculum. We can speed it up and not worry about leaving people behind. We can customize the content to be more of what he is interested in. We can go into it deeper if we like and if he doesn’t understand it will be easier to remedy. It comes down to personalized vs mass produced. What would you prefer a mass produced McDonald’s sundae or one made with homemade everything personalized the way you like it.
First I should explain the variations that we have here in BC. First there is registering for homeschooling. That means no funding, no supervision, no criteria. Meaning that I could teach him anything I wanted including outright falsehoods and the government would do nothing. Needless to say that is NOT the path we are taking. The second and the path we are taking is called distributed learning through Heritage Online Christian School. The details differ from school to school. With them we get a teacher assigned to use to provide guidance and mark a portfolio that we provide. We would get report cards with letter grades based on that material. We are required to meet Provincial Learning Outcomes which means the school gets funding from the government. They then pass on a portion of that funding to us to use for material.
The second thing is that there are co-ops where we as parents get together and hire someone to teach a particular course to a small number of kids. I intend to pick at least one of these so that he has a group setting to work on his social skills in. There are also group activities/field trips planned throughout the year that would provide the same.
So for curriculum they have a package that we can purchase through a local homeschooling store. So rather than reinventing the wheel I started with that. There were a couple of areas where I am choosing to substitute material.
The first is with Foreign Language, which we are required to provide at this level. Normally given that we are in Canada this would be French but my son has long had a fascination with China, thus he wants to learn Chinese. At this level he doesn’t need much. Its more of an introduction. So we are going to be using an online version of Rosetta Stone that is offered through Heritage. I am also going to have Grandma who is Bilingual teach him the few phrases he needs for French.
Second is science. I didn’t like the book that they had in their package. Now I may of not given it a fair chance but it was also expensive. I am Catholic and believe all that entails but when it come to science I want to dig deep into why and how. The book had a very shallow explanation and the deeper was all ‘Its God’ I have already had to reconcile the existence of God and the big bang to my kids. I know that he would question some of the statements in the book and thus I feel that it would hurt his faith not help it. As a result we are going to be using the textbook (Probe 5) used by the public system plus my own knowledge.
The third is more of an addition. We are considering adding Student Writing Intensive from Excellence in Writing. Writing is the course that worries me the most. Its not my strongest subject although I have improved from my school days. Its also not his best subject. The other option is to find a local group that is teaching it. A friend of mine from church has the course and is willing to let me have a look at it before I go and buy it.
Below I put my very tentative schedule. I expect this will change the first week in but I needed a place to start. Plus a schedule gives me that sense of security.