Thoughts

26 Apr

As well as making ministry decisions right now, I’m also processing home schooling the kids.  Ben is 8 (next week!) and Grace is 6 (also next week!).  They been going to school since they were both just turned 4, 8.55 – 3.20 every day.  During this time they have also had homework every night  (reading Mon – Fri) then  literacy or numeracy  for 30 mins or so over the weekend.  I don’t think I got homework until I was about 9 or 10!

My main reason for thinking about home school is because Ben has special needs – his paediatrician thinks he is borderline on the Autistic Spectrum.  Ben doesn’t really get on well with school, and boy do we know about it when he gets home!  He is now at an age where children are starting to bully him, and he is noticing.  I know I can’t protect him forever, as it were, but I have a responsibility as his parent, and it really pains me to keep sending him back into school.  My other reason for home schooling is that Ben and Grace will receive so much more one to one.  We have some friends who are also thinking about homeschooling their girls.

I don’t really want to follow an overly Christian curriculum, because some I’ve seen are quite “religious”.  Anyway, does anyone have any thoughts or advice?  Do any of you  home school?

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19 Responses to “Thoughts”

  1. sonja April 26, 2007 at 17:09 #

    Hi Lyn …

    I homeschool and have done so for about 6 years now. I (loosely) follow the recipe given in The Well Trained Mind. She gives great advice for children across the academic spectrum, although if you’re not careful you can get quite caught up in being overly academic. She also gives great advice for including your family’s faith traditions, but also teaching your children about other faith traditions. So that you emphasize what is important to you, but your children aren’t raised in a vacuum.

    If you’d like talk more, I’m happy to do so anytime. It’s not all fun and games. As with any decision, there are drawbacks, but there have been some wonderful benefits as well (my children are 13 and 10 now).

  2. Heidi April 26, 2007 at 17:34 #

    Hi Lyn! We’ve been homeschooling for about 9 years now. Mitchell is 13, Faith is 10. One of the hardest things, or perhaps the most frustrating thing is actually dealing with people’s attitudes and serious misconceptions about homeschooling. People tend to assume you are trying to provide a sanitized Godly education…just saying that makes my skin crawl! We’re simply choosing a different lifestyle that tries to honour the child in their journey to find out who they are what turns them on. The fun part is that after awhile you tend to relish the idea of being a social rebel…or maybe that’s just me. 🙂

    My mantra with home education tends to be “less is more”. I also vehemently reject/avoid Christian curriculum simply because I don’t see the need to “religify” math, or language arts. Not to say that there aren’t gems out there that are Christian AND top quality at the same time, but they are few and far between.

    People tend to think homeschooling is a harder choice than public school, but I could NOT stand having to rush my kids out the door early in the day and do homeschooling for hours in the evening, and deal with all the other stuff. I also get to have the most profound conversations with my kids because we have the TIME to do that. People imagine I don’t get any time to myself but it’s precisely the opposite. Half the time I don’t see the kids for hours at a time because we’re so used to being together that we all want/need our “me” time.

    E-mail me if you want to talk about it more!!

  3. Heidi April 26, 2007 at 17:36 #

    Whoops, I meant to say “homework” for hours in the evening. When ever I start to type anything that starts with “home”…”schooling” automatically follows it. Too many years of being one homeschooling e-mail lists! 😛

  4. lynhallewell April 26, 2007 at 19:50 #

    Sonja – The Well Trained Mind looks similar to the Charlotte Mason approach, am I right?

  5. Heidi April 26, 2007 at 20:28 #

    Of all of the approaches, Charlotte Mason is my most favourite.

  6. lynhallewell April 26, 2007 at 20:38 #

    Heidi,

    Do you use a bunch of material or do you buy one particular curriculum?

  7. Heidi April 26, 2007 at 21:23 #

    I’m a pick-and-choose kinda girl, very eclectic in our approach.

  8. cindy April 26, 2007 at 22:02 #

    hey Lyn,
    We homeschool too- 3 years. i’ve been using primarily Christian material because that’s what I’ve come across, but i just skip over the overt bible training (usually in KJV!) I also pick and choose various curricula, based on my daughter’s needs, strengths, and interests. BTW, my daughter has what we call “homework” but it actually is finishing up things I know she can do unsupervised- we have school for about 4 hours a day this year (2nd grade)- and we cover a lot. There is never homework left over in the evenings. Like Sonja said, there are low points and certainly bad days, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for us. My daughter has just realized that she is great at math! I know that, because of the kind of learner she is, if she were in a conventional classroom she would think she can’t do math at all- and would hate it. Those kinds of things make it all worthwhile.

    Feel free to email me as well if you have specific questions.

  9. cindy April 26, 2007 at 22:03 #

    oops- i meant to just make “never” in bold. i don’t even know how that happened. :-/

  10. sonja April 26, 2007 at 22:25 #

    Hi Lyn … yes, there are a lot of point of crossover between Charlotte Mason and Well Trained Mind. But Charlotte Mason is pretty much geared for elementary/grammar school years and WTM takes the entire scope of a child’s education in mind. I like that because even if you have no intentions of homeschooling the whole way, you’re learning with the child’s end result in mind. The end result being (for me) a fully functioning well educated adult. Now my children might not get to that point all under my roof, but that’s my goal for them.

    I agree with what Heidi said about people’s attitudes and misconceptions about homeschooling. Many people think you’re doing it to keep your children “safe from the **world** and all its evil influences.” Think Christian ivory tower here. I’ve given up on trying to overcome that. I just smile and nod. Sometimes if someone seems genuinely interested in getting to know what I actually think, then I engage. But otherwise I let them think whatever they want.

    My rule of thumb for schoolwork is one hour less than the grade they are in … so my 7th grader should be spending about 6 hours on school a day and my 4th grader about 3. They’ve been slipping badly recently as I’ve been going through a bout of depression and anxiety which is the result of a some issues with leaving our church. So I let them in on this little rule the other day. It was a bad shock to their systems …. LOL 😉

    OTOH … as Heidi also says you have time for some of the most wonderful conversations and insights with them that you just don’t get when you have to adjust to the regimen of public school. It’s really beautiful.

  11. lynhallewell April 27, 2007 at 15:13 #

    Heidi, Cindy and Sonja – thanks so much for your responses. How did your children respond at first to home schooling? Are you planning on home schooling through to grade 12? When you say you home school for four hours or so a day, do you include in that time trips to museums, galleries, river walks etc? My friend who home schools concentrates on a theme and then all of the subjects come into that theme. Recently she looked at the ocean, so art, english, math etc was all ocean based.

  12. sonja April 27, 2007 at 15:49 #

    There was definitely a period of de-schooling for my daughter … she did Kindergarten and 1st grade in public school. My son has always been homeschooled and has been fine with it. Although he is the one I have to sit on and be more consistent with.

    And, yes, I am very liberal in what I consider “school.” For instance, the other day my daughter decided she wanted to try homemade henna body art. So she did that on herself and her brother for about 2 hours. Her brother read to them both while she was painting on them. So … that was art for the day. She is now writing a paper on the history, religion and “culture” of body art and tattoos. And … I shoot for averages, not exactly that time every single day … because some days there are hockey lessons and other classes, or other fun things that come up. But field trips, nature walks, museums, etc. … those definitely “count.” 😉

    Your friend is using a form of homeschooling called “unit study.” I’ve always found that very appealing, but it’s time intensive for the teacher … so I’ve been too lazy to carry it out 😉 … You might find it lots of fun though. It’s a very holistic way to learn and one that I’ve always wanted to investigate … but there’s that lazy bone that got in my way. LOL. If you’re interested in it, I can find some websites for you that will be good. Not that you’re not capable, but I can sort through the chaffe more quickly.

  13. lynhallewell April 27, 2007 at 15:51 #

    Yeah, if anyone’s got any good web addy’s that will be great 🙂 thanks

  14. cindy April 27, 2007 at 16:27 #

    lyn- we’re not declaring a definite plan for long term. we take it one year at a time. because of where we live, however, there are no other good options, and few even satisfactory options. so, even though we say it’s one year at a time, it would take a lot to convince us to do anything different.

    our 4 hours (or so) are at home school hours. extra curriculars and field trips (soccer practice, music class, and violin lessons) are in the afternoons. my daughter needs a lot of structure so i try to keep it that way without letting it get boring- which is quite a trick! our at home work is not all reimgented though- next week’s geography and social studies (maybe writing and spelling?) will be based on “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?” 🙂 These kinds of diversions are very good for mom, too.

    we’ve never used unit studies before, but i’m looking at a unit/theme based curriculum for several subjects for next year. it wouldn’t require so much of my personal preparation as what your friend may do. she’s a real trooper if she does all that herself!

    here’s the website- it is a Christian company- I don’t yet know how obtrusive their bible emphasis is, but it sounds like it may simply be a separate unit.
    http://www.winterpromise.com/

    I’d also be interested in websites that encourage self designed unit studies, sonja.

  15. cindy April 27, 2007 at 16:35 #

    that should have been regimented. eesh. snack time.

  16. Heidi April 27, 2007 at 17:34 #

    We started pretty much from the beginning so they LOVE being home and have no desire to go to PS. We tentatively plan to go all the way through to high school, but I’m open to that changing…not for awhile though.

    We hardly do field trips anymore as we got burned out on the homeschooling group my best friend and I “ran”. Mitchell who’s 13 spends about 4 1/2 hours a day on homeschooling. He works on his stuff, and my hubby checks his math at night. We’re very much into self-learning at this stage, unlike the old days when I was much much more involved. Faith spends about 3 hours and she’s in grade 4.

    Where my kids are older, they are much more independant which is very very nice for me. I get to pursue my own interests again. 🙂

  17. Heidi April 27, 2007 at 17:59 #

    I should mention that when my kids were younger, I lived and breathed homeschooling and it was really enriching for me. I read to them lots of great books and I have my doubts that I would have chosen the books I had if I hadn’t been a homeschooler. Homeschooling opens up a whole new world of rich reading that your average parent may not be aware of. I used to spend hours planning what we’d learn and I enjoyed every minute of it. Mind you, I wouldn’t necessarily carry out all my plans, but it was fun all the same! 😉

    One thing I would recommend is checking out lapbooking as it might be fun at your kids ages. I used to balk and cut and paste stuff, but this is really more than that and is a fun and creative way for kids to organize what they’ve learned about a particular subject. Here’s a good link:

    http://www.squidoo.com/lapbooking/

    One last thing, I’ve never ever met a perfect homeschooler and we all suffer from doubts and fears…that means you’re normal!

  18. cindy April 27, 2007 at 19:26 #

    Lyn, i forgot to say that we started from scratch too, so there was no transition for us either. also- we do sometimes have field trips that- by nature of the timing- may take all our regular school hours. being flexible is imperative. if you want to stay sane, anyway. 🙂

    Since your kids are young I thought I’d mention that since Kindergarten i’ve used a Highlights publication,”Top Secret Adventures,” for geography. It’s a great addition to homeschool geography books that can be a little thin. It’s all I used the first year, in fact. My daughter loves them. http://www.highlights.com/shopping/product/detail2main.jsp?itemType=PRODUCT&itemID=1477&iProductID=1477

  19. David April 28, 2007 at 21:05 #

    We have a friend who homeschools and her children seem to love it. I think I would find it difficult to do myself – I would rather let someone else do it and help as an enthusiastic parent.

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