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Sat Jun 23, 2012, 12:50 AM

What kind of homeschool programs, curricula, styles do you use?

Our son had a strange year at Kindergarten. Academics great, social stuff was not so great. In fact, his last day of school he told me he wants me to teach him. We are going to let him "detox" for the summer and are researching curricula. I'm not sure I am the type of person who wants to buy a program. I've been more interested in "unschooling" but I'm curious what others have used and liked, hated, and why...

Thanks!

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Reply What kind of homeschool programs, curricula, styles do you use? (Original post)
AllyCat Jun 2012 OP
sense Jun 2012 #1
mzteris Jun 2012 #2
sense Jun 2012 #3
mzteris Jun 2012 #6
AllyCat Jun 2012 #4
mzteris Jun 2012 #7
sense Jun 2012 #8
mzteris Jun 2012 #5
mlr Jan 2013 #9
kaanguler Feb 2013 #10
AllyCat Mar 2013 #11
Name removed Aug 2013 #12
mutian Oct 2013 #13
gopiscrap Oct 2013 #14
AllyCat Oct 2013 #15
apriljessy Dec 2013 #16
AllyCat Dec 2013 #17

Response to AllyCat (Original post)

Sat Jun 23, 2012, 01:30 AM

1. Unschooling all the way!

We home schooled for academic reasons (complete lack of that in school) so it made no sense to us to limit ourselves with canned curriculum. We pulled our eldest out of school when he was 8 and had graduated 5th grade. Best decision we ever made! He was and is a voracious reader and taught himself most of the things he wanted to learn. We filled the house with books, found him mentors and teachers for the things we thought were better learned in groups (he spoke 5 languages by the time he left for college and speaks 6 now), enrolled him in classes in the community (mostly adult) and online and just considered most of life an opportunity for learning. He began taking community college courses at 16 and will soon graduate from one of the most academic colleges in the US.

Congrats on your decision and have a great time!

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Response to AllyCat (Original post)

Sat Jun 23, 2012, 11:46 AM

2. It can be overwhelming.

There are so many different programs out there. Some good. Some bad. Some so-so. Some absolutely TERRIBLE.

STAY AWAY from any of the "Christian-based" Curricula. Their science isn't very sound (to say the least) and the underlying messages are all male superiority and females subservient bs.

I for one have never liked any of the canned "curriculum" because that really just becomes "school at home". Same with most "online schools" (which is different from online courses taken individually.) However, I do know people who've done it and loved it. Some students crave similarity and a rigid structure. Some mom's are afraid they don't know what to do, how to "teach".

Maybe you could try it for one year to get your feet on the ground, so to speak, but in reality - you don't need it.

Children are voracious learners. They will absorb just about everything you give them, as long as you don't make it boring or try and stuff it down their throat.

One of the FIRST things you need to do is figure out what kind of "learner" your child is. How does he learn best? Does he like to be shown, listen, or do? What are his interests? That's very important - you can design an entire program around what he likes and then he wants to do it. Does he have any learning differences. Does he excel in certain areas and struggle with others? The beauty of hs is he can move as fast as he is capable of, and can review a topic until the cows come home if that's what it takes. (Although, if he doesn't "get it" after a few tries, stop and come back to it later - say the next day - and I'd suggest using a DIFFERENT strategy. Figure out another way to present it.)

First off, let him have fun. Don't push him - I mean make it challenging enough so he grows and has to work at it, but don't brow beat him into doing xyz in this amount of time. Don't make homeschooling a whole school thing at home. Heck I knew one poor boy whose mother rang a little bell at 8 am and he had a little desk and had to raise his hand to go to the bathroom and they had math for an hour and english and science all in their little schedule. He had "recess" and PE... BLECH. Although - if that's what your child LIKES then go for it.

Second, don't try to keep to some "schedule" - let it flow naturally. Yes, you need to make sure he learns certain things but he does NOT have to learn them in a certain order or at a certain pace. You can do math ALL DAY if that's what he wants. You can spend half the day doing experiments. You don't have to do every subject every day. He may read on a 3rd grade level, and have problems with math. He may struggle with reading yet do math well beyond his years. THAT's OK. In fact, that's one of the things that is so great about hs'ing!

Do you have a homeschooling store in your area? They can be great resources. So can any second hand bookstore for that matter. Then there's the library and the INTERNET! You can find out about anything on there! I would pick out say two "textbooks" I like and then let him go through them a little bit and decide which one HE liked. Some kids don't LIKE all those colors on the page and pictures and small little pull outs - which are so popular now. I usually had to seek out textbooks from the 50's & 60's because they weren't like that (only for things that don't change much - like math, though.) "Workbooks on a subject" are usually fun for that age, too. Just don't get one too much over his head.

He's first grade right? Then LET HIM PLAY!!! Children learn a whole damn lot through playing. Let him color and play with playdough and build houses out of boxes and blocks. Go for walks in the woods and talk about the trees and the rocks and the birds. Talk about why the land slopes down to the creek. Talk about why it rains (the water cycle) - he may not get all of it, but he'll get some of it and use it to build on later. You'll also find out a lot about what interests him. Go outside at night, look at the stars, talk about the moon cycle. Planets. Make it simple and interesting. 5 minutes 10, maybe 15 minutes for that age and that's usually enough. UNLESS he keeps asking questions - then keep answering them. If you don't know - say so and tell him, "hey we can learn about that tomorrow!" then go online or to the library or find books about it. (I liked to find books ABOUT a subject not necessarily just the factual non-fiction kind, but story books, poetry books, art books, etc . .. ) Let him help you in the kitchen - he learns about measuring and math and liquids and chemistry. Take him to the grocery. Talk about how the food got there, where it came from, how things grow. Talk about why 5 for a dollar is a better deal than 39 cents a can. Again, some will go over his head, but some won't. Go to MUSEUMS. Historical places within driving distance.

You can make EVERYTHING a "learning experience", really. (My son used to say, "Mom, now don't make this a whole hs'ing thing I just want a simple answer . . . " then proceed to ask a question. rofl

Are there support groups in your area? There are tons online (though admittedly I left the hsing community some years ago and not even sure if Yahoo "groups" still exist.) However, I'm sure they are there, somewhere - of every stripe and persuasion. There are unschoolers and pagans and secular and secular christian, there are mensans and chinese and gifted and ld (learning differenced - used to be known as disabled) - and combinations thereof. Again, stay away from any Christian group that makes you sign some kind of purity pledge. (Shudder) Heck at one time there was a HS'ers for Kerry group! And there was a Liberalhs'er group, too.

These groups can be invaluable sources of information about what is available in your area. Your child will have that socialization everyone talks about with play and/or study groups. YOU get other adults to talk to and advice and commiseration. You get ideas and learn what's going on in the community. Who's getting kids together to learn about cooking or chemistry. Or arranging a "field trip" to the nearest whatever...

If you need help trying to find those groups, I'll be happy to help you. Just pm me.

Unschooling is a very unique form that I can go on about more if you like - hell I can go on about just about anything! (lol) Most people I know were eclectic homeschoolers using a combination of methods. Which, I think, is the best way to go.

WHY is a very good word to use in hs'ing? When they ask a question, ask them what they think and WhY?. . . it gets them thinking.

Teaching children to think critically. Help them to recognize what they know and what they NEED to know and how to go about finding the answer - THAT is the heart and soul of successful homeschooling.

(BTW - no offense to the other poster AT ALL, but don't take her child's experience as the norm. Most don't learn five languages unless they're gifted.) Your child doesn't have to be gifted to be hs'd. You'll meet all kinds. Some for educational reasons, some for behavioural reasons, many aspie-spectrum kids - or who are otherwise 'different'. I tell people who say hs kids are "weird" that they aren't weird because they hs, they hs because they're weird. (BTW - we use "weird" as a sign of being DIFFERENT which is a GOOD thing - who wants to be cookie cutter clone of the kid sitting next to them, eh?)

Again, just RELAX. Take a deep breath. And most of all - have FUN!

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Response to mzteris (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 23, 2012, 07:09 PM

3. This is a very good post.

Much more helpful than mine....

My child's experience was not the norm. He is gifted, and weird, and aspie and he was all those things before we home schooled. He's also generous, polite and kind..... and so many other things. We followed his interests and to him, languages were just great puzzles to be solved.

Online support groups were invaluable in making the decision to home school and in providing resources, experience, perspective and encouragement when those inevitable challenges arose. I didn't mean to make it sound quite so easy, as it wasn't. It was, however, so much better and so much more interesting than what we or he had experienced before. It teaches you so much.



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Response to sense (Reply #3)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 11:34 AM

6. Seriously, I don't believe there is a "norm"...

One of the problems with PS - they want to treat everyone the "same" and they're all so very different.

My oldest was obsessed with China for a long time. He did learn Chinese. But I built entire lesson plans around China. History, Math (converting Chinese li in to miles. Figuring out how much it cost to build the Great Wall then versus how much to build now (or back in the 90s anyway).

He watched an entire College level lecture series (The Teaching Company) on Early Egypt. Took notes (to practice his handwriting, listening skills, and note-taking technique). I think it was 9 hours - or maybe 18. He was about 9 or 10. Took a few weeks - or maybe months.

Took an online Chemistry course designed for kids. Started an Algebra textbook at 9. (Frankly I held him back because it wasn't a teachers edition and I had to relearn Algebra to work the problems to see if he got them right! ) If we couldn't, one on the mom's in our group had her Master's in Math.

His handwriting still looks like a primary schooler. He has dysgraphia - for all the reasons, not just one of them - so damn near impossible to correct completely, though he has compensated fairly well over the years. He can spell anything outloud, but used to misspell his own name when writing. (Mom, my hand can't keep up with my brain!!)

I pulled him from PS when he was in 2nd / 3rd grade (split classes - though he was also taking the AG 5th grade supplemental classes, too) when they wanted to move him from the AG (Academically Gifted) program to the LD (at that time Learning Disabled program). What? He suddenly stopped being SMART?? I presented REAMS of evidence that you play to the strength and accommodate the weakness. Long ugly political story. HS was supposed to temporary (for half the year), but he LOVED it so much and advanced to fast, we hadn't the heart to make him go back.

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Response to mzteris (Reply #2)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 12:48 AM

4. thanks! Don't worry about the Xtian nuttery edumacation.

That is part of why I ask. When I talk to other homeschoolers about what course work they follow, every recommendation I've had except one has been religious craziness.

Tonight I found out from a 5th grade teacher that Herr Walker is now instituting reading standards for KINDERGARTEN. They are supposed to be playing and now there will be all this pressure for them to be reading by the time they are six. My kid can read well, but he has a love of it. If a kid was pressured, what kind of love would they have for reading and learning?

Now I think I want to homeschool the younger one too.

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Response to AllyCat (Reply #4)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 11:38 AM

7. Kindergarteners shouldn't be required to read!

Idiot. Of course he's a complete and total idiot about everything.

While SOME kids are ready for reading - or already reading - eye development is such that most children aren't READY to read physically. If you push them, you create a readying problem where none would have existed if you had left them alone.

That's why you see unschoolers with 8 year olds who don't read yet. But one day, they want to read. They learn in a heartbeat and within a very short time catch up and usually surpass those kids in the public classroom. (But most people don't understand that. They only see an 8 yo hs'er who "can't read" and make a value judgement.) Same with math. They learn REAL WORLD MATH, but when they hit around High school age and start looking around and thinking about college, it's Hey - I need to know that. So they get a book - and maybe a tutor - and bam, they've learned it in record time and beyond. (Of course this is only true of unschoolers in a learning rich environment as unstructured as it may seem to some.)

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Response to mzteris (Reply #7)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 03:38 PM

8. Absolutely.

I was one of the unschoolers whose 7 year old didn't read! He wasn't ready or interested and to push and push for nothing except tears and anguish would have been awful for all involved. I admit to being quite worried about him and definitely was questioning our decision to unschool, after the first child taught himself to read at three, but he picked up reading when he was 8. And I say "picked up reading" because when he was ready, he simply picked up one of the books in his room and read it! We had been reading to him every day of his life and despite his seeming disinterest, he'd been paying attention. He certainly made mistakes along the way and we were there to help with pronunciation and sounding out the bigger words, but there was no struggle as there would have been if we'd tried to force the issue when he wasn't ready. He's still doesn't read much, it's just not something he finds the same pleasure in that his brother does. He reads at a college level, but it's not a passion. We're all individuals and that is something that public school doesn't acknowledge or tolerate (in my experience).

My eldest was so damaged by his 4 years in public school where he was not allowed to learn anything new, only allowed to "learn" the curriculum being taught that year, that he completely refused to study math or writing for 7 years. He was forced in school to do page after page, daily, of addition and subtraction that he knew before he was 2. They knew (he showed them) that he entered school (K) ready for 5th grade math and they refused to make any accommodation at all, until third grade (four years of misery). They punished him for wanting to learn. He was finally advanced two grades, but since that didn't address his pace of learning it became obvious that school was simply not going to work for him. While it was sometimes very stressful to just trust that he would eventually want to learn math again and that someday he'd embrace writing, we continued to allow him to pursue the subjects that really interested him. He taught himself what he needed to get into algebra when he began college at sixteen and chose a college that requires every student to write and defend a thesis to graduate!

I think the biggest thing we learned through home schooling is that learning is 24/7. It's not a separate part of life. It's not something you do on certain days or only from 8-3, it's ongoing and kids are soaking up everything all day and their brains continue to process while they sleep. We provided a rich learning environment at home and he was out in the community almost every day experiencing life and learning from all sorts of different people. He was not locked away at home with us, nor locked away in a school setting with only his same age "peers".

I totally support the idea of public schooling, but the execution is sorely lacking for so many.



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Response to AllyCat (Original post)

Sun Jun 24, 2012, 11:23 AM

5. here's a link

to WI HS laws, plus some excerpts:

What Is Legally Required?

Wisconsin has one of the most reasonable homeschooling laws in the country, so it is not difficult to homeschool here. However, it is important to understand what the law does and does not require and how to comply. Some of this information may surprise you. Please take a few minutes to read the information below.

Please note that homeschoolers have worked long and hard through WPA to gain and maintain Wisconsin's homeschooling law, and we are still working to keep it. Read the story behind the law in Kitchen Tables and Marble Halls and join WPA. Your support is needed.

The first official step is filing Form PI-1206 with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on which you agree to comply with Wisconsin's homeschooling law. Instructions on how to file the form are below. However, first let's consider what you'd be agreeing to do.

Homeschoolers in Wisconsin must meet two major requirements. The first is to provide 875 hours of instruction each academic year. You do not need to spend 875 hours at the kitchen table, reading textbooks and completing worksheets, although you can do that if you choose. Children in conventional schools learn through field trips, audio-visual materials, and in other ways. Among the activities homeschoolers can count as instruction:

* Reading books, listening to others reading aloud, listening to books on tape
* Following a purchased curriculum and completing the worksheets provided
* Using computers (with parental supervision as necessary)
* Participating in community activities, including field trips and volunteer service
* Exploring careers through job shadowing, work study, volunteer work, and part-time employment that is similar to work-study programs in conventional schools
* Learning practical skills such as cooking, driving, home maintenance, engine repair
* Playing educational games
* Playing individual sports and on community sports teams

-MORE- http://homeschooling-wpa.org/getting-started/

# Homeschoolers in Wisconsin are NOT required to follow a curriculum chosen by the state; we are free to choose our own curriculum.
# Our children are NOT required to take the state-mandated tests that students in public schools must take. Instead, we can evaluate our children's learning in ways we choose. We can observe them learning, listen to their questions and ideas, and keep records of things they do. If we want to, we can have them take standardized tests that we have carefully chosen because they are consistent with our principles and beliefs, but we are not required to have them take any tests.
# We are NOT required to have school officials review and approve our curriculums or reports we have written on our children's progress. This is as it should be. Homeschools are very different from conventional schools, and we are raising our children according to our own principles and beliefs, not those of the state. So it would not be appropriate for the state officials to review our curriculums or records.

***
If an official asks to see your school calendar or course outlines, politely respond that they do not have the authority to make such a request. If you need more help, see the WPA handbook or call your Regional Coordinator or the WPA voice mail at 608-283-3131.


I used to keep meticulous "time records" (I lived in NC and they were required), but slacked off. They have to give notice of inspection so could do them then if I had to...

I think keeping a log - like a teachers book - or heck even just a spiral calendar with room to write - is a good way to keep track of what you've done. Math Pages 10-12; Worked on handwriting from 2:00 until 2:30. Field trip to (fill in the blank) to study "xxx". Discussed how and why spiders make webs. (Note to self - go to library tomorrow and pick up books about spiders!) Do this list form, btw... Played outside from 3-5 (PE). Saw a documentary on volcanoes on PBS from 1-2. Helped make cookies: read directions, helped assemble ingredients, measured, stirred, watched bake. Discussed why not to eat raw eggs. Discussed how "cooking" changes things. Ate cookies. (OK I just added that last part! ) Played "Math Blaster" on computer for 30 minutes. (Don't know if they still make Math Blaster or Reading Blaster - or Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego . . but I'm sure there is something comparable. "Playing" learning computer games is a great way to learn concepts. They're playing and they're learning. And you get a tiny break, too.

BTW - is used to keep a pocket sized calendar in my pocket to keep track of all of their activities! I had to, to figure out where they needed to be when on any given day. Of course I kept my kids in every sport/activity known to man... the oldest has some slight physical developmental issues that sports helped. Helps with that PE and socialization thing, too.

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Response to AllyCat (Original post)

Fri Jan 25, 2013, 06:55 PM

9. homeschooling

 

I would encourage any one of average or above intelligence to home school their children. My wife and I home schooled our three daughters and were delighted with the results. I have seen hundreds of children home schooled with great results, and only one family that I feel failed. (religious motives with lack of socialization, a perfect recipe to make your children unprepared for life, and heart braking to witness. ) We schooled our children at home due to what we perceived was a weak public school system. Long story short, the curriculum is the least important aspect believe it or not, and positive socialization is extremely important. The simple reason home schooling works is simple group dynamics, and the truth that you as your child's instructor can assure your children get the information they need daily, without the need for homework. The uber-wealthy often retain tutors, since this is the most effective learning mode. That's what you are to your children, tutors. Believe it or not, one productive hour a day is needed for most children to not only learn their lessons, but they will be far above the average public school pupil. Please don't be afraid of "screwing up your kid", because the public schools are already doing a great job of it. The worst thing about public school is the "crowd" mentality they build in children and the need for the child to find a "group" that they feel comfortable in. From then on the children self label themselves and stop seeking who they are. I could write a book on the subject, but you get the idea.

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Response to AllyCat (Original post)

Thu Feb 28, 2013, 12:44 AM

10. Old and New

yes we would start school at age 7 and lived excited to go to school every day in a separate, outstan new friends that share something in school, at recess to chat, read a book would really like it, now that the kids really hard to understand

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Response to AllyCat (Original post)

Fri Mar 1, 2013, 03:15 PM

11. Update: Unschooling

We decided to go this route and are happy we have done it. In fact, if I bring out workbooks, he gets really upset. He likes to do math using money, cooking, talking about numbers with mileage markers when driving. He reads constantly, has learned to ride his bike, working on tying shoes, taking piano lessons and doing really well with it. One thing that has been immensely helpful is games. Any kind of games. Turn-taking, strategy, planning ahead, social skills...it's all there with games.

PE is biking, gymnastics, yoga, swimming, and occasionally ice skating. With Walker's cuts, I'd like to keep his brother home too, but may send him for one year of kindergarten. Still on the fence with that.

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Response to AllyCat (Original post)


Response to AllyCat (Original post)

Tue Oct 1, 2013, 04:53 AM

13. Homeschooling

Very useful information, thank everyone here!

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Response to mutian (Reply #13)

Tue Oct 1, 2013, 08:53 AM

14. Welcome to DU

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Response to mutian (Reply #13)

Fri Oct 4, 2013, 08:59 AM

15. Huh? A link to videogaming?

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Response to AllyCat (Original post)

Tue Dec 10, 2013, 06:30 PM

16. easy homeschool program

The "free" k12 programs are actually part of public school systems. They can have standardized curricula, deadlines, tests, grades, and the like. In other words, it would be akin to moving your public school classroom into your living room. Public online schools may let you do your work at home, but they are *not* home schooling.
True home schooling involves forgetting everything you have been told learning should be and putting together an education plan that best suits your needs. You decide what, when, where, and how to learn. There are no dry textbooks, workbooks, or exams unless you specifically wanted them. You can learn about history by watching documentaries and taking field trips to historical sites. Language arts can consist of reading books that interest you and writing song lyrics. You can learn math through hands - on activities. You get the idea. Home schooling is also a perfectly legal and legitimate alternative to public school. I would highly recommend home schooling, especially considering your learning difference.

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Response to apriljessy (Reply #16)

Wed Dec 11, 2013, 09:22 AM

17. Exactly. Online school is still public school.

I know lots of homeschoolers that have switched to this because it meets their needs, but they are all quick to say "This is no longer homeschooling".

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