Thursday, May 8, 2014

From Average to More Series: Homeschooling

This week I am talking about how I will be schooling Puzzle Boy over the next year. Currently we have been using an online learning program and we will continue through the summer with it or until it's completed. Then we will be taking our 'summer break' September through mid October (6 weeks). We will then start our 1st grade curriculum and take another three week break over Christmas and New Year (14th-3rd). After that it will be petal to the metal to complete our 175 days required by the State of Maine by July 3rd. Some may think that that's a little odd to be offsetting the school schedule like that but that's one of the best things about homeschooling! I get to plan our school year around our life not the other way around. So we will taking a break while I am recovering and we all are adjusting to being a family of 5. If I feel we are ready to start up school again before the six weeks is up then we can enjoy finishing up a week or two sooner in June. It is all up to us!

I have been researching different curriculum and given the way Puzzle Boy has responded to computer based learning I have decided to go with something that will be part computer and some book work as well. He's not yet mastered reading and I also have not been pushing him. Kids on the Autism spectrum often don't understand phonics and instead learn to read by rote memory. Slowly he has been learning words by sight. He has had his alphabet down for a few years now so really it's just a matter of time! As with everything, we are going at his pace.Yet another reason why we homeschool!

Goals for next years curriculum are:
Math: mastering basic addition, subtraction and memorizing time tables up to the fives. Also identifying coins and counting money.

Language Arts: mastering reading! He can already write his full name and some other words so in writing we will just be continuing to practice penmanship.

Social Studies and History: I would like him to memorize and be able to identify all 50 states and all the continents. We will start on basic early American history as well as early Maine history. The history portion will likely be more of a 'fun' type of learning with field trips and books and projects.

Science: a basic introduction! Fun experiments, nature adventures and learning about weather.

Life Skills: cooking, organizing, laundry, simple cleaning, animal care, wellness, serving others and safety. This not something we will be doing as a 'lesson' but more as a mindful training and learning in our everyday life. By seven he should be able to do a load of laundry from start to finish without much help other than my supervision. He will be assigned a few simple daily and weekly chores which he will earn either money, more screen time or 'save up' for a special outing of his choosing. But, I do want to stress that this is an important part of his schooling career! So many young people are graduating from college and struggle with the most basic skills of life despite their advanced degrees. I would much rather see my child function as a responsible adult in these skills over achieving a framed certificate. Humble though it may seem, I was proficient in most of these things before I graduated high school. When I became a mother overnight at 19 I was thankful to have a basic idea about how to care for my new family. I have certainly learned a lot in the past five years but without my mom teaching me to live we would have struggled much more than we did.

Bible: learning bible stories, memorizing scripture, learning the books of the Bible in their order (this will be a refresher for me too!), and understanding the gospel. He knows who Jesus and God are, some of the stories and that the Bible is God's word. We will be taking it a step farther this year. I will also be starting each school day with reading to him from either Proverbs or Psalms and praying before our other subjects. This is something I wish now I had had as a child rather than just once a week and sporadically through church programs. While my mom did pray with us at night and we read Bible story books here and there, we did not have a 'Christ centered' home. This was mainly because my Dad was not a believer and we were without a real spiritual leader. Now, I am in my mom's shoes and have a husband who is not a spiritual leader in our home (whether I think he is a believer seems to depend on the day, so I will be conservative and say he is not a true believer). I had not intended for it to be this way and had thought I was marrying a believer at the time. But, after a year or so it became clear it was not the case. Many spouses find they are unequally yolked one way or another, this is far from uncommon. Without going into a major tangent I will just conclude with, this is my responsibility now. I am my children's spiritual leader.

All of the above has been about Puzzle Boy so far! What about little Mini Me? Given that she is only two her homeschooling won't yet be official. But, she will be learning and I do have simple goals in mind for her. Such as: dressing herself, obedience, picking up after herself, helping mommy, self control, learning animals and their sounds, colors, shapes and starting on the alphabet and numbers 1-10. By the time PB was three he knew 95% of his alphabet and could count to 10 without much reminding and I think this is another realistic goal to have. Potty training will fit in there too but I believe she will train when she is ready. Every child is different and Mini will start her real schooling when she is ready be that next year or when she is six! Right now, I am just enjoying letting her be my baby for the next four months until she is made a big sister. It will be bittersweet for me!

And, to wrap this up before I lose you, I will also be implementing a binder system to keep record of EVERYTHING we cover next year which is required by state law. This next year will be the first year we must declare Puzzle Boy to the state that he is homeschooled and at the end of the year he needs to either do a standardized test or I need to submit a detailed report of everything we covered. Given that Common Core s taking over all public schools and testing I will be doing the latter. I do not believe in this Common Core (it is basically a mass dumbing down of the next generation) and instead will actually teach my child how to properly add numbers, etc. When I get this binder organized I will share with you! Of course we will still be a part of our co-op although we may only join them for field trips in the first semester depending on how we are adjusted after babe #3 is here. We will see!

So there it is, my well thought of plan, time will tell how we do with it!

Only one subject to go! Til next time!

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