homeschooling

Planning to Homeschool

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Proverbs 29:18a

If you are about to begin homeschooling in the fall or you’ve made the leap in the middle of a school year, you’re next step is to have a planning weekend with your spouse. While you may think that, its unnecessary to plan with your spouse since you’ll be doing most of the teaching… But you won’t. Homeschooling is a family affair, and you will need your spouse’s understanding and unconditional support for the road ahead.

A planning weekend is just the incentive needed to develop your homeschool mission, handle current behavioral issues, list personal struggles, decide your homeschool budget, review avenues of outside support (coops, magazines, plan field trips, bible studies, and other homeschool groups), organize your schedule, discuss commitments outside of homeschooling, and agree on yearly goal. DonnaYoung.org has wonderful free planning sheets that you can use as daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly goal planners. Its a great start for getting your thoughts organized and not feeling overwhelmed with things to do.
If you need a checklist for starting a school year for your weekend you can find a wonderful one at TeachingHome.com

Here is a little of what our planning discussions look like:
Marriage
How well are we relating?
Are we having our weekly dates?
Are we praying together regularly?
Is there still “fire” in our relationship?
What are we doing to nurture our relationship? Should we be doing more?
What relationships would we like to pursue as a couple? Are there marriages we admire or respect? Would spending time with those couples be helpful to us? What could we learn from them?
Has either of us read anything we think would be helpful and would like to share?
What are we doing or going to do to keep our marriage
strong?
Is there something we would enjoy doing or learning to do together as a couple?

Family
What is He calling us to as a family?
How does that look?
How should it look?
Are we fulfilling that call?
Are we spending enough quality time as a family?
Are there areas we need to change – to refocus?

Children
What is our vision for our children?
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Where are they doing well?
What areas need improvement?

Home Education
What’s working, what isn’t?
Do we need to make curriculum changes or just approach from a different direction?
Are they ready for this yet or should we wait awhile?
Do they have a real interest in something that we should let them pursue now and drop something they aren’t so interested in until later?

Finances
Are there areas where we want to increase/decrease our giving?
Are we staying within our budget? Do we need to
rework it?
What items do we need to budget for in the coming
year?

I hope this motivates you to get planning!

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curriculum, education, hampton roads, home education, homeschool testing, homeschool transition, homeschooler, homeschooling, new homeschooler

Just Discovered… A Waldorf Education

As often as I find it, I will post a new homeschool philosophy, curriculum, or teaching methodology. As with any new thing, my critique is neither a recommendation nor a condemnation, merely an opportunity for us all to explore a new discovery.

I found Waldorf while doing some research on Montessori. They do seem remarkably similar in philosophy, but there are some differences. For instance, I don’t think Montessori advocates waiting to read as long as this particular philosophy. Have you used Waldorf or are currently using Waldorf? Tell me what you think of it so far….

Waldorf and Learning to Read
Reading is not required in Waldorf schools until the end of grade 3. The Waldorf curriculum is based on the developmental interests of children, rather than skill levels, and does not require reading in the early grades. Material is presented by the teacher in dramatic, interesting ways and the children make use of the material in their play and hands-on dramatic and artistic activities.

Waldorf on Science
by Barbara Dewey
Western culture has created a powerful wealth of scientific knowledge, based on total objectivity. This objectivity means that the observer must be isolated from the observation. It also means that we must ignore, as scientists, a humanly meaningful occurrence such as “a warm smile.” To measure it instrumentally would be ludicrous, because all meaning would be drained from it. For this reason, humanists in our culture have given up any claim of “knowledge.” And science gives up the meaning of being human. As Stephen Edelglas states in The Marriage of Sense and Thought (a book I suggest all parents read), “If we systematically think of a world in which human beings don’t exist, we should not be surprised to find ourselves creating a world in which they can’t exist.”

A Waldorf Perspective on Math
Math with Musical Notation by David Darcy, ddarcy.com
(David’s website includes a blog with lots of information about Waldorf homeschooling)

The following activity is an unorthodox way of using musical notation, but it might be a fun challenge for students who are familiar with note values (e.g. whole note = four beats, half note = two beats, etc.) and who like to solve puzzles. It requires that students decipher a code as they solve a math problem. If you are homeschooling, I suggest that after introducing the idea, you let your student create more of these puzzles and exchange them with friends.

The game is to write out math problems using notes as “code” for ones, twos, threes, fours and halves, or to solve such a problem. (Answers should just be written as numbers.) Since this typing program doesn’t allow me to write out notes, I will write w for whole notes, h for half notes, q for quarter notes and 1/8 for eighth notes. I also need to use / for division.

Please note: Since eighth notes get half a beat, 1/8 is code for _. The code for writing 3 is a dotted half note, which I will write h(d). Problems must be solved from left to right regardless of the “priority of operations” which is used in mathematics.
Below are examples of math problems written in numbers and in “musical notation code.”

4 / 2 + 3 = 5
w / h + h(d) = 5

h(d) q x w q = 7
3 1 x 4 1 = 7

q + h + w x h + h / w = 4
1 + 2 + 4 x 2 + 2 / 4 = 4

And this one is a bit of a doozy:
2 x 3 x 4 / 2 x 4 + 2 / 2 3 2 / 4 = 5
h x h(d) x w / h x w + h / h h(d) h / w = 5
David is willing to email scanned copies of his latest pentatonic recorder songs (Mr. Squirrel, Playing in the Rain, A Winter’s Fire) to anyone who writes him at ddarcytx2000@yahoo.com

Free Waldorf Curriculum and Related Websites!
Here are sites for information and online books in tune with the Waldorf curriculum.
www.waldorfcurriculum.com
www.waldorffamilynetwork.com
http://www.mainlesson.com This is a part of the Baldwin Project, to bring classical children’s literature to today’s children. Many of these old books are out of copyright and can appear online in their entirety. It is organized according to the Waldorf curriculum, by grade. Some are for sale, but most are free. A great resource!

http://www.amblesideonline.org/ This is an adaptation of the Charlotte Mason Curriculum, which is very close to Waldorf. It is also covered at mainlesson.com.

Uncategorized

August 1st Testing Insecurity

Henry H. Goddard, former head of the Psychology Department at Princeton and father of standardized testing, said in his book, Human Eficiency (1920) that government schooling was about “the perfect organization of the hive.”  He said standardized testing was a way to make lower classes recognize their own inferiority. Like wearing a dunce cap, it would discourage them from breeding and having ambition.

For those of you who may not know, in Virginia homeschoolers are to turn in”proof of progress” by August 1st.  If you are a new homeschooler, and this is your first year homeschooling. August 1st is more than a date…. its a deadline, looming in the back of your mind like a sledgehammer.  However, it doesn’t have to be.  When did our obsession with “testing” begin I wonder? There was a time when a test was just an assessment.  A determination of weaknesses and strengths; not an indictment of inferiority and lack of ability.  Should your child do poorly on a “test” are they then an inferior human being not worthy of your further investment time and materials?  Ever notice that on most standardized tests, that there is a constant comparison of your child’s ability with other children of the same age. If all children are unique and individuals in talent and ability why would this matter so much?  I believe that the notion that all children of the same age should all know the exact same information at the same time is ridiculous. We are all different and inherently we will learn at different rates.  I recall being in 3rd grade and I could not learn my multiplication tables. I just couldn’t do it. I just didn’t understand the lack of calculation required. I didn’t like the memorization of it,  and I just resisted learning it.  I remember the teacher telling my mother that I was just not good at numbers, and it was really going to hinder my 4th grade progress and how I would never be good at math… because I had not learned my multiplication tables “on-time”.  I didn’t really “learn” my multiplication tables until I was well into 4th grade, and I would have to say that it didn’t “hinder” me at all. I just learned them in my own time.  I still see that 3rd grade teacher.  She still lives in the town I grew up in, and when I graduated from engineering school, she couldn’t help but marvel that I must have finally learned my multiplication tables 🙂  I tell this story because I pray that you and your homeschooled student will see tests the way they were meant to be used… as assessments and nothing more. They will not determine your child’s love for learning or their ability to learn… no test can do that.  Do not allow the labels of standardized tests to infiltrate your homeschool and pollute the love of education and learning you are striving to build for your children.

Blessings always,

HomeschoolNewbie

curriculum, homeschooler, new homeschooler, Uncategorized, virginia, Worry

Transitional Anxiety

We Love To Worry!!
We Love To Worry!!

I’m in Virginia, and today it was an absolutely gorgeous day! My kids and I spent the day enjoying nature and each other. We took a break from homework and curriculum and seized the moment. I remember my first few months homeschooling. Oh, I would have never dared to stray from the many lesson plans I had charted for my kids. I had so much anxiety about making sure they passed the end of the year test; that they were as smart as the public and private school students; and that my relatives didn’t think I was just a slacker. I had to try and get to everything everyday. Oh, perfection is soooo exhausting. Nobody told me that sometimes all your children needed was your time, not your curriculum. I could have saved myself so much anxiety and many anxious moments. Since then my children have miraculously tested well above their grade levels. I cannot take the credit. I delight myself in the Lord, and he has given me the desires of my heart. More than anything, I have learned that anxiety and anxiousness are sure signs of my weak faith and have no bearing on God’s awesome ability to answer prayer even when I am less than deserving. Are you having a bit of transitional anxiety today? I challenge you to cast your cares to God and start enjoying your children and your family.

Blessings always,

Homeschool Newbie

homeschooling, Uncategorized

A True Leap of Faith….Making the Transition to Homeschooling!

Such A Small Word.... For Such a BIG Problem
Such A Small Word.... For Such a BIG Problem

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV)

Okay, so I’ve been thinking about all of the reasons I had for not wanting to pull my kids out of “school” five years ago when I first began homeschooling.  I’ll call them “fears”, because really any reason I had, was rooted in a fear. Fears are terrible things… They keep us from being able to truly live life.  They freeze us in place and take away our ability to move forward boldly.

These were some of my fears:

  1. I was not smart enough to teach my children.
  2. My children would not be able to get into college.
  3. I would not be able to afford all of the “stuff” schools have to educate my children.
  4. People would think I was crazy.
  5. We would not be able to live without my second income.
  6. I would be home all day with my children, and they would be come weird some how.
  7. I would do a terrible job.
  8. My kids would hate me for doing this.
  9. My husband  would think I was crazy.
  10. Maybe the “school” was right about my kids, and I should just let them make it/fail on their own. {Except, the teacher had the principle, the superintendent, and the teacher’s aid on her side… all my kid had was me.}

What’s amazing is that over the last five years, with God’s help, I’ve confronted every single one of these fears with Victory.  If you are struggling with fear right now. Don’t let it overpower you. Write up a list of your fears and confront them. Don’t allow fear to rule your life.

Blessings,

HomeschoolNewbie