Finished: Two days of homeschooling. And, if I do say so myself, it's going well.
I homeschooled before for four years, but did it very differently: 1) the children were younger, 2) I used an outside, organized curriculum & testing to help me and give accountability, 3) I had a baby to tend to while teaching, and 4) I basically tossed the textbooks to my kids, told them to read and understand it, and went and did my laundry or dishes. If they had a question, I gave it my attention. If they needed to be tested, I hunted up the test.
It did not work well, and the kids did not like it much.
But this time, I think it will work well, and the children will learn better. How are things different this time?
1) I don't have any little children underfoot. All the kids are being taught, and the youngest is in 5th grade.
2) I'm teaching material that I know very well, have taught before, and I don't need a company to help me. Because I've organized my own curriculum, I have more interest in it, and more invested in it.
3) I'm sitting at the table with them, lecturing just as I would in the classroom, making my own quizzes and study sheets, and reading all the material before they do. This takes work, but it makes all the difference. I'm being a real teacher.
I'm NOT saying that homeschooling parents have to do it this way; I'm just saying that it works well for me. I know from years of experience that this teaching will produce very well-educated children who will slip easily into college-level work.
For those interested, this is how our day goes:
8:00 - Anna and Peter begin their day with Adam. On Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays, he spends an hour instructing them in math (Algebra II, Bob Jones text). He leaves for work, and they spend the next hour, till 10:00, working on math independently, doing the problems he's set for them. Thus, they get 6 hours of math work each week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Adam does science with them (Astronomy, Moche's Self-teaching Guide to Astronomy). They do independent work again in the second hour.
8:30 - Julia begins her day working on her memorization. She's memorizing the same Scripture passages that Adam used for his middle-schoolers last year. She's also doing one Q/A from the Westminster Catechism each week. Not too strenuous, but will be great as she amasses it all year. During this first hour, I get to tidy the kitchen, start laundry, or whatever else I need to do.
9:00 - While the older two continue with their independent work, I do grammar with Julia (Abeka, God's Gift of Language B). 2 pages per day. On MWF, we work on a lesson in Writing Strands, and on T/Th, we do dictation from McGuffey's Reader. She finds both of these enjoyable.
10:00 - Julia reads literature. She's reading retellings of ancient classics, or fiction set in ancient times. There's lots of this around, good stuff. She's starting with Egypt, so she's reading "The Golden Goblet" right now. When she finishes the book, she'll write a summary of it.
While she's reading, I teach literature to the high schoolers. We're using the American Literature text by Harcourt Brace, which I used in Iowa. I love this book. It's so thorough, and is VASTLY superior to the Holt text that took its place on publisher's desks. I teach exactly as I did before, with all the rigorous quizzes, essays, charts and study sheets, and unit tests. AND, I'll be supplementing the text with pieces I taught in Massachusetts too. They'll be SO ready!!
11:00 - The high schoolers are worn out, so they do their reading at this time, preparing literature for the next day, while it's on their minds. They work studiously until lunch. Meanwhile, I do math with Julia. I can do 5th grade math, thankfully! I explain the material, and then set her problems for her.
12:00 - Lunch! They are LOVING having yummy, hot, fresh meals from the kitchen: quesodillas, hot dogs, pasta, sandwiches. And I get to eat with my hubby, who comes back for lunch.
1:00 - After a nice lunch and break, they're ready to begin again. Julia works on a logic puzzle (These are easy to find. Even Walmart has them.) on MWF. On T/Th, she works on beginner Latin. I'm listening to Adam teach her Latin as I sit here. It is a hoot. She loves both Latin and logic. She can hardly keep herself from those logic puzzles, and when she does one, Peter can't help but assist her, b/c he loves them too! Anyway, while she does all that, I teach American history to the high schoolers (Bob Jones US History text. Good book). I taught this text in Massachusetts, so again, I have all the curricular assists that I need. And I can integrate the lit and history well - sweet!
2:00 - Anna & Peter end the day working on their Bible assignments for the semester. They are summarizing the chapters of their assigned books (Anna - Luke; Peter - Acts), writing a chronological journal of each book, drawing maps indicating the movement in the books, and a timeline of the book's events. While they do this, I work with Julia on her history. She has a HUGE Kingfisher History Encyclopedia; she is summarizing each paragraph in the Ancient Period, and doing further reading on points that interest her. This week it's pyramids. The summarizing (and outlining) were very hard yesterday -- these are skills not taught in schools much -- but today was better. On T/Th she will do science during this hour, with help from me b/c she will be doing many experiments. She's studying astronomy also, using the "How the Universe Works" text -- high on hands-on experiments.
All in all, this is a schedule that works. I can't say that Peter is enthusiastic about homeschooling yet; he may not feel that way until he's 25. But the girls are pleased with it, and Julia is thrilled. It is a learning environment perfectly suited to her.