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.