Well, we are really excited to share that we will be starting homeschool kindergarten with Jarvis this year! I wanted to share our plan, our reasons, and our experiences as we go. We aren’t sure where this will lead us exactly, but we have decided it is what we are being called to do for our kiddos and our family.
So let’s start out with the big question. Why? Why are we choosing to homeschool? Especially as a former teacher, who spent years learning how to impart curriculum knowledge in a large group setting, why are we choosing to disengage from the mainstream way of educating?
I believe the majority of educators do the best they can. I believe that teachers truly want to inspire a love of learning and a passion for knowledge in their students. I believe that many kids can learn and come out just fine from the public school system (obviously, we did!). However, we also believe that one on one learning and curriculum application can serve a student even better. We believe that the majority of children are unable to meet their full potential in the current set up of the public school system.
The current school design was established in the Industrial Revolution, with the main goal to produce a literate, rule-following workforce who would contribute positively to the economy and culture. Students are exposed to a huge variety of topics at a very shallow depth. This isn’t all bad thing. There are lots of positives in these goals. However, we believe there are some important elements missing, ones that we feel we can best offer at home.
Our goals are:
1. To provide our children with a life-long love of learning. And the skills necessary to seek out knowledge as they desire or as needed. This means that we will work on developing the ability to learn, process, and apply information; not just the ability to regurgitate facts from many areas.
2. To facilitate their ability to view the world through the eyes of God, to acknowledge Him as their Creator, and to process information and decisions through that lens. With the ultimate goal that they seek out a personal relationship with Him in their own lives.
That’s what it boils down to. We do think that parents can help their children to become Christians themselves even if they attend public school. However we believe these purposes can be fulfilled more easily and effectively at home, with significantly less time wasted. With the added benefit of more time as a family and more time to learn through self-driven play and experiences which is the stuff of childhood.
One of the big questions I get a lot is about “socialization” and if my kids will be able to cope as adults. Quite honestly, this is not something I am concerned about. We spend plenty of time interacting with other people. Plus, as quoted in this Washington Times article, homeschoolers apparently end up more “socialized” than their peers!
So, now that we have given you a very brief reasoning behind our choice (believe me, we could go on and on!)- now onto the facts of what we are doing!
We consider this a family effort. Although I, Chelsea, will be doing a larger portion of the more structured learning because I am home with the kids, Jace is just as much a part of this endeavor. He will be taking the lead in some areas that are his strengths and passions, and I will be taking the lead in others. We also intend for each child to have their own responsibility for their own education and we view this as an opportunity to all learn and grow together.
We have filed with the state; Maryland is noted as a requiring “moderate regulation.” However in reality, they are bordering on the high regulation threshold, at least in our county. We must notify yearly and we meet to evaluate progress and workload twice a year. Initially, this means bringing all workbooks and keeping really careful and thorough documentation of activities and evidence of regular instruction. For elementary we are required to show thorough and regular instruction in English, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, Art, Music, Health, and Physical Education. We are permitted to choose our own curriculum, specific areas of studies, and scope and sequence for the school year.
We did a bunch of research when it comes to curriculum. As a former teacher, I think curriculum selection is a blast! There are so many awesome programs and workbooks and studies; the homeschooling curriculum world has really exploded in the last decade. Ultimately, I wanted to be able to pick individual curriculum pieces for each subject that would allow me to tailor them to his needs, learning styles, current knowledge level, and goals. There are a lot of really good comprehensive programs that lay out the entire scope and sequence for the year and have set daily goals and that require only a single bulk purchase. But, as I mentioned before, we want the ability to tailor and pace curriculum based upon his needs. A good friend pointed me towards the website Timberdoodle, which is an independent (non-publishing) company that gathers and reviews homeschooling curriculum from many different publishers. Ultimately, I was able to use their recommendations and selections to hand-pick what curriculum we were going to use. Here’s the “short list” of the curriculum’s we are focusing on; my scope (content breakdown for each subject) for the year is 4 pages long, I’ll save you from that! The titles listed are a mix of workbooks and resource books.
English: The Reading Lesson, Bob phonics books, and a lot of read alouds.
Math: Mathematical Reasoning
Social Studies: Bede’s History of Me, Beginning Geography, and selections from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know.
Science & Health: Big Bag of Science in conjunction with the Messy Science e-book (this is a experiment based curriculum), First Illustrated Science Dictionary
Art: Big Book of Drawing, self-initiated art projects, and selections from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know.
Music: self-initiated experiences, and selections from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know.
Physical Education: no formal curriculum, but weekly “grab-bag” of activities teaching various skills. Plus, tons of free-time in the backyard!
In addition to the more structured items in each area, we also plan to explore things through play, through more in-depth books at the library as interest develops, to utilize field trips and hands-on learning for real-life learning, and to be open to needing to slow down for certain concepts or speed up as necessary. This is one of the joys of home instruction. We are free to tailor our curriculum and plans as necessary for each student, or for the family as a whole!
As of now, I plan for part of my documentation process to happen on the blog: perhaps with a post twice a month with pictures and anecdotes from what we have been learning and experiencing. Perhaps something more, or maybe we will decide to post less frequently. We aren’t sure what their journey will look like, but we hope you will pray for our entire family as we start out (more formally) in this journey of learning and discovering that started the day our children were born!