You may remember my article about our decision to leave public school (HERE), published in our local Gulf Coast Newspapers back in August. I was afraid I’d receive some negative feedback, but was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming positive comments and encouragement I received.
Many readers have asked how everything is going and are curious as to how it works, so I thought I’d give you an update on our homeschool plan.
So far, I can say without hesitation, it has been one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Our family is more relaxed, we’ve been able to pick up and take a few trips without worrying about missing school, and I am positive my son’s learning is higher quality and quantity than what he was receiving in public school.
My 10th grade son claims he’s getting about “four times more” work than in previous years because there’s so much wasted time in public classrooms. Many of his teachers gave “free days” where no teaching at all was done. So now that I’m in charge . . . (insert evil laugh here) he’s plenty busy!
One thing that helps is that I have a very motivated son. 90% of the time, he’s eager to get started and work hard on his tasks. The other 10% of the time, he’s a typical teenager and I have to say, “Shouldn’t you be working?” I get an eye-roll, but he eventually gets moving. I give him his schedule for the week on Sunday nights and throughout the week, he can do as much or as little as he wants every day, but by Friday, it has to be done. This teaches him time management, responsibility and organization skills.
The only negative so far? Mornings.
When he was in public school, he had to wake up at 6:00am. For a growing teenager, that was horrible. So now, we allow him to sleep until 8am, but he’s terrible about stretching it out, so . . . after losing his driving privileges for a week, he’s back on track, for now. (car keys have POWER!) Another negative, which really is more of a surprise than negative, is that with him home all day, I’m constantly feeding him! He eats so much and I don’t know how he used to survive on one tiny school lunch each day! He knows how to cook a few things, but when he’s busy working, I’m in the kitchen whipping up breakfasts, snacks and lunch, and more.
Here’s a break-down of what he’s working on:
Algebra 2/Geometry – We found an awesome tutor my son visits twice a week. She’s found some gaps in what he missed over the past few years in a large classroom situation and has been able to go back and help him catch up. With his own tutor, he’s soaring and moving ahead at a rapid pace and shockingly . . . likes math! He’s now on course to take college level math classes his senior year of high school.
Anatomy and Physiology – This is an on-line class we found through the Georgia Department of Education. By simply clicking on the daily link, he reads text, watches videos, uses interactive games and puzzles to learn the material. There are labs involved and the first one had us in the kitchen with eggs and syrup all over the place. (There’s a rumor that later this year a lab will require me to visit the butcher shop for “materials.”) The tests and quizzes are all on-line and the results sent to me where I keep track of everything.
American History – We based this class on The History Channel’s own school curriculum which gives them an episode to watch for each chapter directly from The History Channel’s high quality movies. They provide vocabulary words, discussion questions and other supplemental materials. I also provide extra reading material and short videos and films to watch, since my son loves movies. For example, I recently had him watch, The Patriot, and also found history related questions for this movie on-line. (I wouldn’t normally let him watch R-rated movies, but I think The Patriot is an exception and is a wonderful, heart-breaking movie about the sacrifices of those who founded America).
American Literature – I’ve organized this in a way to compliment what he’s learning in history, so as he studies a certain part of history, there will be either short stories or full novels to go along with what he’s reading. He will probably read twice as many books as his public school friends this year.
Poetry – This wasn’t planned to be part of his studies, and started out as a handwriting exercise, but every week, I give my son a classic poem to write by hand (a dying art with all the computers) and also either read an analogy or watch a short teaching video that summarizes the poem and/or discusses the author.
*The first week of school, his assigned poem was, “The Road Less Traveled” by Robert Frost. My son told me, “Mom, that last line . . . I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference . . . that’s kind of like our choice to homeschool, isn’t it?” – BINGO!
Italian – In addition to the computer program “Duo Lingo,” he also attends an Italian Language class once a week through the Eastern Shore Institute of Life Long Learning. His high school only offered Spanish as a foreign language.
Vocabulary – each day, he handwrites a new word from the list of “100 words every high school graduate should know,” then defines it and writes a sentence using that word. The site also provides on-line tests and reviews. After we plow through this list, we’ll find another.
Grammar – Every day, he completes a full page from the workbook, “Daily Grams.”
Robotics – My son meets with about 40 other homeschool students once a week and in addition to building a robot for a huge upcoming competition in Mobile, AL they are also learning entrepreneur skills by presenting the judges with a business plan, budget, marketing brochure, video commercial and scrapbook. The presentation is done in front of a panel of judges for public speaking experience as well.
Drawing – A drawing class at the Eastern Shore Art Center is wonderful, since his public school schedule didn’t allow for an art class.
In addition to these main courses, I also have him look at these sites each day and take a quick note of what he learned: This Day In History, SAT Question of the Day, NASA Photo of the Day, and Verse of the Day.
We’ve also been able to attend a college Astronomy class at Samford University during Family Weekend, which we wouldn’t have been able to do if my son had been tied up in public school. We’ve traveled on a few local day trips and will soon be in the mountains for several days of hiking and exploring. A trip to historic Pensacola is also coming up to reinforce his first chapter of American history.
I’ve had help from three wonderful ladies who have all homeschooled and successfully sent their children on to college (most with scholarships and a couple with full scholarships). They’ve been a wealth of knowledge and encouragement, and I would highly suggest anyone who is interested in homeschooling find a co-op or support group of some sort.
The surprising thing about homeschooling these days is that ANYTHING can be found on-line! If I want to find a quiz on a book, I just google it, and the questions pop right up. Future classes? There are many AP (advanced placement) courses, as well as; Psychology, Art History, Law, Typing, Finance, Guitar . . . who knows? The internet’s the limit!
Homeschooling is truly the road less traveled that has enabled us to see our son take joy from learning once again.
To read my original story about why we left public school, click HERE.
Here’s a site that has been helpful for high school plans: The Homeschool Scholar.
To see a list of films organized by subject matter look at: Movies That Teach.