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Thread: Homeschool Thread

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Homeschool Thread

    For random thoughts and discussion on the topic, since it looks like we'll be doing this for at least the next year.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

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    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    I don't think that I struggled with reading and math nearly as much as my kid does at times, and I wonder if that's because I was in a large class with a bunch of kids, public school, and the expectations were always lower than whatever level of achievement I was currently at.

    Whereas with my kid, he's at a 1:1 student:teacher ratio, and I'm constantly challenging him to operate at his highest level of competency.

    I think he's also more of a perfectionist than I was as a kid, but I wonder which is the chicken and which is the egg.

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    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    Just want you to know I'm interested in your experiences. It's probably not applicable to us right now, but I've never been a fan of institutionalised education and assumed there was a strong possibility any child of mine would end up homeschooled. Now the child's here, but still have to see how he develops and what school/education opportunities exist...

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    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    I have some experience. I was a bigger fan going in than going out, but there are so many variables that matters little.

    Thought #1 is think about your philosophy first, and then consider if it matches what you know about your child.

  5. #5
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    So it's still going pretty well for us, I think.

    His learning is maybe 15% stuff that I deliberately teach him following the curriculum in my head, 15% stuff I teach him because he's interested on his own, and 70% just interacting with the world around him

    Part of that interaction is via a friend of mine, another homeschooling mom who has two kids a year on either side of my son's age. She watches him a couple of days a week, so he gets to play with the kids, work through conflict with the kids, and also learn from the resources that she has. They do a lot of cool project-based stuff. They also have a bunch of building toys that my son loves.

    My kid's interests: building, electricity, natural science, natural disasters, space exploration, siege warfare and bombs.

    My curriculum for supplementing his interests: reading, writing, math, and human history/world geography.

    The actual schoolwork can get very intense and frustrating, because my kid is a perfectionist and gets very frustrated if he starts to struggle with a task. We're constantly trying to work on handling frustration, feeling good about mistakes, learning to focus on the task instead of getting overwhelmed by feelings. But usually if I can pinpoint his area of struggle and slow down the lesson (sometimes it takes weeks to find the right balance) then he'll find his equilibrium.

    For example: We're using the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, which I like a lot. I started out trying to break down and explain the English language on my own. We touched on Indo-Europeans, the Norman Conquest, the great vowel shift. I read him some passages from Beowulf. I'm glad we did all that. It gave us context for explaining why English spelling is as crazy as it is. But when it comes down to actually teaching him how to read, 100 Easy Lessons addresses most of the main difficulties of English and corrects them. So the kid is presented with a simplified, more logical spelling to master at first, and it very gradually removes the corrections so that, by the end, the child is reading standard English. It's a beautiful system.

    So anyway. The lessons started out super easy. Kiddo was able to breeze through them. But then more and more sounds were introduced, some look-alike vowels (short A vs long A), and kiddo started to get frustrated. It took a couple of weeks of trying to push through it, but we finally settled on cutting the lessons in half. Now the kiddo knows to expect a short lesson. We work up to the story one day, and then the next day we review a little bit and tackle the story. It's less intimidating for him, he feels more confident, he can work through difficulties instead of feeling like he's up against a giant wall.

    So that's reading. Mathwise, we're a little all over the place, but that's cool. We have different tools we use - base ten number counters, coins, fraction circles, a 100 chart, a rekenrek. The rekenrek came with a workbook, so some days we do a lesson from it. I also made counters for base 2 and base 12. I have a broken clock. For our actual lesson we do the next page in the rekenrek workbook or do something else based on something we're doing anyway like cooking, or telling time, or watching a movie that talks about binary, or whatever. I watched part of a Feynman lecture where he mentioned the Babylonion vs Greek? maybe? approach to physics. How one was very systematic but the Babylonians just taught things randomly and expected students to make their own connections. About how with physics, everything is connected. No matter where you start, you're going to make connections to everything else. So that made me feel better about our scattershot approach to math. He's learning all these pieces and gradually making his own connections. With different approaches and repetition, certain concepts are starting to click.

    Writing: We're on our next cursive notebook. I love cursive because it's really kind of meditative. It follows a pattern. It's less about problem solving than about focus and flow. Kiddo enjoys it, too. He might still get frustrated with reading, but he's confident enough in his cursive that usually he just sits down and does it. We keep it very short - only a couple of lines at a time.

    Geography/History: Today we pulled out the world map tapestry and talked about how for most of history, the world was actually divided into several self-contained worlds with barriers like deserts and mountains and oceans between them. Looking at the spread of the Mediterranean/Eurasia, the isolation of sub-Saharan Africa, Australia, mountains between North and South America, etc. Kiddo grokked it immediately. He said the different parts of the world were like different planets, and the first ocean-going ships were like space rockets.

    Yes yes yes.

    A nursing schedule might suck in some ways, but it gives me four days a week to stay home and teach my son.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  6. #6
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    On the other hand, I now frequently fantasize about him being in a *class* with *peers* working on deep learning projects.

    That's still doable with homeschool - maybe even easier with homeschool if you find enough like-minded people. Right now it's Covid throwing a wrench in everything.

    But on the first hand, being forced to slow down and take it easy for a year instead of potentially over-committing to different programs and projects might not be a bad thing.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  7. #7
    Ieilaelite pensive_pilgrim's Avatar
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    Suggestion: teach him the basics of how computers and the internet work. The parts of a computer, how electricity is turned into numbers which are translated into instructions. The basics of coding as well: Scratch might be good at his age, but if he gets really into it move to python.

    Give him a raspberry pi to play with. You can set him up with everything he needs for under 100 bucks (biggest expense should be a monitor), and keep it offline until you think he's ready to spend unsupervised time on the internet.

    Also, typing lessons. From what I understand, most schools aren't teaching this anymore and it will likely prove very useful. Kids who spend a while using a keyboard without learning the proper method will develop their own methods and be less effective.

    Also, robotics. I think you've talked about lego mindstorms already, which is good. I suggest looking also into FIRST robotics. They are an excellent organization that organizes competitions for kids at every age level, and if he's into that stuff then I imagine he would love the program. I have no idea what the status of things are with the pandemic, but it wouldn't hurt to get in contact with them and they might have resources for you.

  8. #8
    TJ TeresaJ's Avatar
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    Good suggestions.

    I think I'll hold off on the programming until he learns how to read. But that does remind me of my intention to only allow him to own a computer when he can build it himself. But I will definitely revisit all this hopefully in a year or so.
    Too bad, Lady Une. You were far too lenient.
    As a soldier, yes. But as a civilian I lived an austere life.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Guess Who's Avatar
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    From what I have heard, early education is more about developing the brain (making and strengthening new neural connections) to set students up for future learning than it is teaching content.

    It is the type of activity that is more important than the content that the activity is based on. This is probably why educators emphasize literacy and numeracy. Literacy and numeracy develop abilities with inference, imagination, visualization, abstraction, logic etc.
    Back yourself.

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