October Update

So how are we doing?

According to the laws of the state that we live in, we must have our oldest registered, informing the state that we are homeschooling her. It is also recommended that a certain number of hours be dedicated to lessons each year. They also recommend tracking these hours for one’s own reference.

I’m actually finding the exercise useful, being as it makes it easy to see what we’ve actually been doing. However, even with working a couple of hours six days a week, I’m not sure that we’ll actually hit the number of “lesson hours” recommended. The problem is, of course, the easier it is to work with the kids, the less time it takes to go through the work. For example, with Tabitha, a normal reading exercise usually takes her 15-20 minutes to complete. On a day when she’s being stubborn, it can take up to an hour. In terms of “lesson hours”, it looks better when she’s acting up, because then we have an hour of a reading lesson. In reality, though, she does better when it takes her the 15-20 minutes, because she’s actually listening well, and thinking about the lesson rather than expending her energy being upset and not concentrating. So, practically, I’m trying to make sure that she gets a number of thing in in a day, and not worry so much about the “lesson hours”.

However, it does get me to thinking – a LOT of what ‘education’ has become is the counting of hours rather than accomplishments. A school day these days typically lasts between 6-7 1/2 hours. If a child is in school, all of that gets counted, regardless of what was actually done. Now, I’m not counting lunch or ‘recess’ or any of these things as lesson hours, even though a regular school would be able to, which seems somewhat unfair. Furthermore, a teacher will have 30-45 minutes blocked off for students to complete a worksheet, for example, but if a student has it completed in 10, it still counts as 30-45 minutes of “class time”. At home, if that exercise took 10 minutes, I certainly wouldn’t feel right counting it as 45.

I’m somewhat surprised, though, at how much Tabitha and Asher actually enjoy their school time. This isn’t to say that it’s always easy, in particular for Asher who wants to wiggle a lot. They are learning a lot, and probably well ahead of where most of the kids are in the classes for their grades.

Sorry for the silence

Well, an update here – our first year, “unofficially” homeschooling (meaning that even though we were doing it, the kids were too young still to need to register anywhere) was somewhat of a qualified disaster. Somewhere about 2/3 through the school “year”, between one child’s medical issues, and all of them seeming to have taken turns being seriously ill at one point or another, our “plan”, flexible as it was, ended up kind of falling apart.

That being said, it wasn’t as if the year had been lost.

Tabitha is reading and reading well. Had she been in public school, she would have been in kindergarten, and by the summer, she was easily reading things that first and second graders read. She still likes pictures in the books, so hasn’t really reconciled herself to switching to chapter books without pictures, but in the meantime, there are a couple of series (one’s a Disney princess one) that are chapter books with pictures. She’s doing well in math, pretty easily going through the addition flash card deck, and has done some harder stuff both with addition and subtraction. (Not that she’s always happy to do it.) She’s got a good sense about a lot of things.

Asher, while not quite up to Tabitha’s level in reading, is close. He seems to have an astonishing ability to concentrate and pick things up (at least when he’s interested). Math is good too. As we shift into daily stuff with him, we’re going to have to work on things like handwriting (printing) because he sometimes acts like he’s allergic to writing instruments.

I can’t be to sad about that, especially in a district that is rejoicing in “improvements”, citing statistics that still show LESS than 50% of children enrolled at grade level for reading and math. Furthermore, the kids were still learning here, despite the health issues, which probably would have gotten Tabitha, at least, in trouble with some authority for days missed.

As the “school year” rolls around again, the kids will still be at home; our school district is dismal, and we can’t swing private school tuition, but we try as much as possible to keep them learning. 🙂