Friday, August 5, 2011

A New Chapter

We have been homeschooling for five "official" years. My oldest, DS, 10, would be in fifth grade this year were he in school, and he has always been homeschooled.

Up until this point, you could have labeled us as either unschoolers or ecelectic homeschoolers. We've done various levels of structure, mostly on the low-structure side. The most we've done lately is a little Time4Learning every day. However, the kids are a little bit bored with it, truth be told, and they are craving more attention from me.

Thus begins my quest for more structure this year. Mostly, it's a way of kicking myself in the rear-end every day to make sure I spend some good time with the kids, seeing where they are (and not just what level of Diablo II DS has gotten to) and not getting to the end of the day feeling like it got away from me.

My life is full, jam-packed, crammed to the crannies, about-to-explode, full. I work 30-35 hours a week from home. I have three children, DS10, DD4, and DD2, who are all homeschooled. DS, in addition to being an all-around smart guy, also deals with Aspergers (a gift as much as a curse) and anxiety issues. He often has various "appointments" in our never-ending quest to get him/us help when needed. We attend group field trips, visit family/friends out of town, and are generally constantly on the go. It's no wonder that I sometimes wonder where my days have gone.

It's not that I don't think my kids are learning. They certainly do that every day with no help from me. But why not do it together more? If I have to pencil in quality time with my kids to make sure they all get it, then so be it! NOT doing it is not a regret I want to have.

So, how to reconcile our unschoolish ways with my desire for a little more structure?

I think I may have found the answer in Oak Meadow's homeschool curriculum. It is Waldorf-inspired, and as I commented tonight to a friend on Facebook: "it's got the spirit of learning that I've always believed in--using what they're interested in, not worrying about it so much if they're not, giving them different options for completing assignments, considering learning styles, and it's slow paced, which I'm coming to appreciate more and more." The curriculum is also heavy on the creative arts and the spiritual (though not religious), the latter of which I feel has been a bit lacking in our homeschool thus far.

Another thing I've decided to try this year is using an evaluation or portfolio at the end of the year for our state's proof of progress requirement. DS has scored very well on the tests so far, but to be honest, the stress and anxiety they cause are just not worth it. I'm sure would rather sit down and talk with an evaluator (a.k.a. another homeschool mother who is also a certified teacher and qualified evaluator) or not have to do anything (i.e., me creating a portfolio) than go through all that again. He'll have his share of tests, I'm sure, but these particular tests are so imbalanced (all that counts is math and reading) and arbitrary that I'm not worried about skipping them.

So, in that vein, I'm blogging again. I want to record our progress, our challenges, our creations, and use those records for either a portfolio or evaluation at the end of the year. In the meantime, maybe I'll entertain a few people besides myself and maybe even inform some or at least provide some options. I hope you'll join me.

So, this is what I've come up with so far for our learning resources this year. With my almost 3 yo, I'm just going to work side by side with her and her sister (almost 5) and let her join in when she wants or provide her with a distraction if she doesn't want to join in. We'll see how that works!

For DD1 (almost 5), Oak Meadow Kindergarten, including:

  • Oak Meadow, The Heart of Learning
  • Oak Meadow, Home Teacher's Process Manual
  • Oak Meadow, Kindergarten Syllabus
  • Oak Meadow, Kindergarten Fairy Tales
  • Oak Meadow, First Book of Crafts
  • Wee Sing CD
  • Growing, Growing Strong (Health Curriculum for Grades K-3)
  • Nature walks, verses, songs, stories, crafts, and whatever else works for us!

For DS (almost 11):
  • Oak Meadow, Math 7
  • Oak Meadow, US History/English 5
  • Oak Meadow, Science 5
  • Oak Meadow, Readers Grade 5, include:
    • The Story of Harriet Tubman: Freedom Train
    • Ben & Me
    • Johnny Tremain
    • Little House on the Prairie
    • Sarah Morton’s Day
    • The Witch of Blackbird Pond
    • If You Sailed on the Mayflower in 1620
    • Where Do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Columbus?
    • Children of the Wild West
  • Oak Meadow, Fifth Grade Teacher Manual
  • Scratch (MIT): for exploring computer programming and game development
Scratch is free, and I am purchasing as many of the other items as I can used because they are rather pricey new. There are a lot of resources available, through different Yahoo! groups and other e-mail lists, Facebook, e-Bay, Amazon, and even Paperbackswap.

Off we go!


  1. I can't believe L. is almost 5! This looks like a great curriculum, well rounded and flexible. I look forward to hearing now A. likes the Scratch program.

  2. Mind-blowing, isn't it? I hope DS likes Scratch, but I'll have to sit down with him and do it together before he'll give it a chance, I think.