Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Report Cards!

Today marks the end of our first learning module in homeschooling – and, thanks to Homeschool Tracker’s lovely (and FREE) program, I have report cards to prove it! Yay!! I have found that for lessons that don’t have a point value assigned or easily visualized, a “scale of 1-10” works well, and I enter all tests 2 times so they count more (I didn’t know that was a thing to do until I read about it; apparently, it’s called “weighting” the grades…handy!).

I don’t remember if I’ve covered this before so if I have, please forgive the lapse in memory. If I haven’t, here’s a breakdown of our schedule. We begin our school year in January, so even though we’re technically in the middle of the 2009-2010 school year according to traditional academic calendarl, my kids aren’t really starting in the middle of the year according to our calendar. We’re using Ambleside Online’s curriculum (link in sidebar) and staging, so we’re officially in Year 1 with them as well.

January 3 (the first Monday), 2010 began the first learning module (“mod”) in our year. I mark off 6 weeks (that’s M1), then we take a one week break. We do another six weeks of school (that’s M2), and then a one week break, and so on for the whole calendar year. That gives us seven 6-week learning modules (instead of only 6 like “regular” school) and we stop at the end of November/beginning of December, depending on the calendar. Then we take the month of December off (except for maybe the first few days or so if the calendar is wonky that year), and begin the next school year in January. I haven’t done the math to figure up exactly how that compares to a traditional academic calendar – we end up with 168 school days per year; I seem to remember our former school’s calendar had something like 77 school days in a year (but that could be off).

Our school week is Monday through Thursday, and we test on Thursdays in Math and Spelling, and we do a mid-mod review at week 3 in Science, Social Studies/History/Geography (combined) and another review at the end of the mod. We go to the Library on Wednesdays and we also meet with our playgroup (weather permitting). Since we have a short school week, we try to schedule field trips for Fridays or in the afternoons so they don’t interfere with “class time”.

I guess you’d say what we’re doing at this point in time is “school at home”, though admittedly with much more flexibility than “real school” (that’s not to say that we will always “do” school this way, but it’s working for us right now, and so we continue). A lot of what we’re doing is oral, or comes from literature instead of text books, so it doesn’t feel like school-in-a-classroom, even though we have a mini-classroom here. I was reading about how some families started out with a dedicated homeschooling room/space and eventually abolished it because “school is life”… while I respect the sentiment, I know that I need to have “school” contained in one area and not taking up half my kitchen, and I definitely don’t want it cluttering up the living room! It makes me a much happier mama to be able to close the door to the school room and have my house company-ready (not that we ever have company, hermit that I am lately).  That doesn’t mean that learning stops when the door closes – most of the kids’ craft supplies, and mine, too eventually has migrated or will migrate into there, so we’re constantly using the space for something, and as soon as I get a rug, I’m sure even more fun will be had, strewn across the floor. Today, even though our tushies were cold, we made Valentine’s cards whilst lounging on the school-room floor. It was nice!

So, like I said, today marks the end of our first mod in homeschooling. Even though this mod is short by 2 weeks due to the boys still being in public (well, charter) school for the first 2 weeks of the year, I want to stick with our calendar so I am marking M1 officially

SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED!

{bows to wild applause and whistles of congratulations}

Thank you, thank you… it’s been a journey, but one we were more than happy to undertake.  {/smarmy speech}

I just can’t get over how impressive it all looks on paper! Well, impressive to me, at least. In 4 weeks, we’ve had 16 school days, and spent 67+ hours (it varies a bit by kiddo on the minutes) in official lessons. That doesn’t include the extra learning that happens just because we’re an inquisitive family… and just think – that’s 67 hours of almost PURE learning/instruction time – not 5 minutes of learning and 20 minutes of trying to get in a quiet, straight line so we can go to the next classroom/lesson. With only 2 kiddos, my time is pretty evenly divided between them, so that’s nearly 34 hours of one-on-one instruction time that each of my boys has had over the last month. If they were in school-school, taking out 30 minutes for lunch and 15 for recess, that’s 6.5 hours of instruction time per day (and that’s not counting the 5 minute between-class bells – so it’s actually going to be even less time than that). Anyway – with 6.5 hours in her day, a teacher with 25 students (the ratio at my kids’ former school) can give each child, at most, 26 minutes of her time per day. Over a week, that would be a whopping 1.3 hours per week; 7.8 hours per 6 weeks; 46.8 hours per school year. And that doesn’t include making lesson plans, keeping the “class” on-task, lining up, handling discipline issues, sick kids and emergencies, fire drills and other interruptions that plague the classroom teacher daily. Gee, based on that math, I could stop RIGHT NOW and my kids will have gotten almost as much time with their teacher as they would in school-school….

Seeing everything laid out like that is really reinforcing the idea that we made a good choice here. So… any friends out there who wanna make plans for next week since we’re out of school? 😉

Warmly,

~h

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2 responses

  1. alyson

    Mom of struggling 1st grader here (in Virginia) thinking of homeschooling next year, doing lots of research/reading and reading and reading. Not to mention all the second-guessing and worrying about making the right choice/taking this huge step for our oldest son. Just wanted to let you know I look forward to your posts, they are inspiring. Thanks for sharing your journey — it is a huge help on this end!

    February 12, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    • I struggled with whether to pull mine out of school or not for a while. Looking back now, I think “school” was a good experiment, but I can definitely see an improvement in LittleBoyBlue’s self-confidence since we’ve been homeschooling. I am really glad that we decided to take that educational leap into the unknown. It was the right thing for my kids. You’ll find the right thing for your kiddo, too. Kudos to you for being willing to explore all your options!! And thanks so much for reading and commenting!

      February 12, 2010 at 9:17 pm

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