**Disclaimer: All information on homeschooling methods will be just a generalized and very brief *if I can help it* overview of the method. Every family who uses these methods will of course work them to fit their needs. After each overview I will discuss some of the things I do and don’t like about the method in relation to our family. **

The Montessori Homeschooling method is based on the Montessori method of educating. The Montessori method was created by Maria Montessori which promotes more of an emphasis on learning life skills than on an academic curriculum. Montessori encourages children to learn by doing, and to move on when they are ready not when a guideline says they should be ready.

Montessori method is more geared for the younger set (think preschool-early elementary), and at this age learning is meant to be fun and child paced. The child isn’t forced to do any work, instead they are given access to various learning tools, which they choose when and for how long they want to interact with them. In Montessori the teacher is more of an observer and model. Their job is to keep records of the child’s progress and interests, as well as offering kind suggestions of activities that may interest the child. They don’t directly teach the behaviors they want the child to exhibit, they instead exhibit those habits for the child to pick up in everyday interactions *like kindness, compassion, and sanitary actions *hand washing**.

The Montessori method can be extended to the older ages, with the student learning from the materials in their environment and by following their own interest. With older students though they are encouraged to research their interest, but they aren’t forced to adhere to any schedule, they have the hours that are dedicated for schooling *or the whole day depending on the family*, which they can use as they wish. In the older aged child there are subjects that may be required to be taught depending on the homeschooling laws in your state, aside from lessons to meet these requirements the child is just as free as they were in the early ages/grades.

One of the biggest components to Montessori education are the materials used in the environment this includes the furniture the children use as well. Everything needs to be kid sized. The children should have their own cleaning supplies that are easy and safe for them to use. They should be able to use actual kitchen items *and even have their own apron*, so they can experience cooking and learn the skill *as well as safety* by actually doing it. The same thing goes for gardening, woodworking, using tools, and any other skills the child can learn that will be vital. Furniture needs to be kid friendly as well, with tables and chairs low to the ground so the child can sit comfortably with their back against the chair and their feet flat on the floor. Bookcases and other storage devices *including the shelves for storing the child’s clothes* need to be low to the ground *eye level for the child*, and items need to be easily accessible for them. The key is to allow the child to get to what they need/want without having to stop and ask for assistance from an adult.

So to recap: Montessori is child lead, with the environment *in this case the home* providing the child with tons of materials and most importantly the time that allows the child to learn how to interact in the world, take care of themselves, and learn about subjects that interest them. In Montessori education teachers are observers and guiders giving helpful suggestions on ways for the child to further their learning, while keeping records on how they are doing, and what they are doing.

Now when I was looking into preschools before we arrived here *since at the time my husband wasn’t a fan of homeschooling* I was aiming for a Montessori school. I figured this would allow our son to learn at his own pace and not be stuck doing preschool work we he clearly understood elementary level work. I also am very big on children learning to be independent *our children already have chores, they know how to navigate our kitchen, they are responsible for cleaning up after dinner, and washing their own hands and faces after a meal or after playing*.

So there are elements of Montessori that I really like, as far as practical life skills goes. I think it is great in the early years also, and even on a smaller level as the child ages *by keeping a large amount of supplies that allow the child to explore*. Giving them time to just follow their interest(s) can add another dimension to schooling and giving them an incentive to accomplish the structured part of our day in a timely manner with little to no complaint.

But to be fully child lead is a negative for us. We believe there is a lot to be learned from having structure and a set of objectives that need to be meet. The biggest reason we chose homeschooling is because we wanted a highly academic setting for our kids. We want the learning to be fun *hence the use of various activities like our pizza Earth layers*, but there are objectives we feel should be meet during all the fun.

The other negative is cost. To have a fully Montessori home, would cost a lot of money. First their would need to be tables, chairs, and large furniture of that nature in a kid size for them to use with ease. While we do have some of these things already, we would need to alter their closets, and get rid of their dresser in order to bring in something lower to the ground that they could easily access. Then there are the kid sized materials, like gardening tools, kitchen supplies, and so on. Since Montessori encourages use of an item that actually has a purpose, plastic toys would not fulfill this. Then we would need to make sure there are enough high quality supplies/materials of various types from various subjects, in order to spark learning sense formal lessons aren’t promoted in Montessori education. Educational supplies/materials, especially high quality ones, don’t come cheap. For a family on a budget this can pose a problem.

So could a full Montessori education work for us beyond the toddler/preschool years? No. But the life skills/independent learning already has a spot in our home so continuing it and even increasing the level at which it is done can be very beneficial and effective.

There are still six other methods to dissect though. Next up on the chopping block The Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Method.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

**Disclaimer: All information on homeschooling methods will be just a generalized and very brief *if I can help it* overview of the method. Every family who uses these methods will of course work them to fit their needs. After each overview I will discuss some of the things I do and don’t like about the method in relation to our family. **

The heart of Classical Homeschooling is your child’s cognitive development, or should I say a teaching style based on your child’s cognitive development, also know as the trivium. The trivium works like this:

In grade school the focus is put on concrete thinking and memorizing subject facts.

In middle school the focus shifts from concrete thinking to analytical thinking and actual understanding of the facts learned in the grade school years.

Finally in high school analytical thinking morphs into abstract thinking and the student is expected to articulate the subjects they are learning about. Classical Homeschooling uses Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric as the main subjects in order to achieve the ultimate goal of abstract thinking and articulation.

Now the flow of Classical Homeschooling goes something like this:

Kindergarten is strictly a choice grade, if the parent finds it unnecessary than it can be skipped. If the parent decides to start at Kindergarten then the main focus is lots of reading, including poetry and great literary works. Art is also brought in to work on fine motor skill, and if the child is developmentally ready phonics and math can also be brought into the fold as well.

Kindergarten aside Classical Homeschooling is divided into three stages which closely mirrors the three subjects used to achieve the ultimate goal of the trivium. The three stages are: Grammar (grades 1-6), Dialectic (grades 7-9), and Rhetoric (grades 10-12).

The first stage Grammar, obviously promotes grammar/language above all other subjects. This doesn’t just mean English, but also a foreign language(s), usually Latin and/or Greek, but the family can change these if they choose to. Remember the beauty of homeschooling is that nothing is set in stone, it’s more like non-drying play dough which you can rework as needed.

The Grammar Stage starts with one of the most important things we all must learn to do and that is learning to read! The first year of Grammar deals greatly with learning to read, phonics, and introducing spelling. From then on formal grammar lessons steady progress. Writing is also introduced through copy work and other writing activities. Foreign languages don’t get much attention the first year unless the family wants to focus on it formally, if not then formal lessons are expected to begin at the 3rd grade level.

Formal math lessons can also be delayed with the Classical Homeschooling method, until around grade level 3. By this point reading, writing, and phonics are expected to be mastered. Of course the family doesn’t have to wait until those three things are mastered to being formal math lessons, but if they do opt to wait then they can engage their child in math games in order to expose them to mathematical concepts. Learning an instrument (especially piano) is also encouraged and art is covered by learning art history, which includes copying various works of art. Science in this stage consist of nature studies. Geography starts out as learning through the literature you are reading, then by about 3rd grade *when the reading, writing, and phonics are expected to be mastered* memorization of geography facts is introduced, grades 4th-6th tack on map skills and geographical exploration through history.

After the Grammar Stage you enter the Dialectic Stage which focuses on the subject of Logic to the same extent the Grammar Stage focused on Grammar. The Logic Stage (grades 7th-9th) ends formal Grammar lessons and replaces them with formal lessons on Logic. The reading of great literature is still heavy promoted and at this point the child is expected to be proficient in their foreign language. Writing develops from writing clear, grammatically correct sentences, to paragraphs, and then essays by the 3rd year of the Dialectic Stage. In the areas of Math and Science*usually Earth Science topics* logic is expected to be applied, and the skill of debating is introduced by studying the principles of debate. Music lessons are still highly encouraged, but Art upgrades from copy work to learning about the relationships between the various elements of art.

The last stage (Rhetoric) deals with the subject of Rhetoric, which is the last subject to be achieved in the trivium. This is done through formal courses in learning to communicate. Language is less formal and focuses more on reading literary works in the foreign language the child learned. Writing focuses on finding the individuals particular style as well as on research papers. The subject of Philosophy is also introduced during this stage, and the subject of literature still consist of covering great literary works. Advanced math subjects are taught, and science focuses on a different branch each year (biology, chemistry, physics, in that order). For art the child learns how to create art themselves and music lessons are still attended.

By the end of the 12th year the child should have mastered the subjects taught thus mastering the trivium. I intentionally left off History because the way Classical Education does History it spans the three stages, and thus needs its own space.

Classical Education’s History is broken down like this:

Ancient History (1st grade, 5th grade, 9th grade)

Middle Ages (2nd grade, 6th grade, 10th grade)

Renaissance/Early Modern (3rd grade, 7th grade, 11th grade)

American/Modern History (4th grade, 8th grade, 12th grade)

Each time the topic is covered the level of depth is increased in respect to the age and maturity of the child. It follows the sequence of history, and allows each year to grow from the pervious one. Instead of bouncing around it adds steps to an ultimate goal. Now the higher grades also tie in politics, economics, and government/civics as well. That just further goes with the whole increasing the depth of understanding and topics covered with increasing maturity and age.

There is one other element in Classical Homeschooling that I have left out, and that is the Christian element of it. Classical Homeschooling is more commonly known as Classical Christian Homeschooling, and every element/subject is to be drenched in Christianity, if taught from the Christian viewpoint. One subject that goes through all the stages is the Bible *reading it, knowing it, and having it become the way in which the child views the world*. Even the various subjects like philosophy or logic are to be taught in a way that encourages the questioning of scientific theory while neglecting to actually teach *and understand* the scientific theories they are attempting to tear down, since the science materials recommended don‘t actually explain most scientific theories including the big one of evolution.

That aside though this method can be used in a secular sense *almost any and every item out there can be used in a secular sense if you try hard enough*, but for our family this is a big negative when it comes to this method. Simply finding curriculum or supplies strictly geared towards this method that still respect the core beliefs we hold could prove to be more of a headache than they are worth.

BUT, the idea behind it, the way it promotes teaching to the development of the child is phenomenal.. I really like the way this method flows when it comes to teaching history, I don‘t like the emphasis solely on Western Civilization that I have found in some texts on the method though, I feel each civilization needs emphasis in order for the child to fully understand the world, and where we come from.

I do strongly think that subjects should be taught from beginning to end though. I never liked all the bouncing around in school, just follow history the same way you do math, by stepping up each new year. Consistence is very important to us, and this offers that. We are going to teach science in the same light, starting at the beginning, and going up to present day. Each year getting more in depth as we go, and tying it all in together so the boys can see how it all interlocks.

Are there other flaws to this method in relation to our family, yes. I think there should be a stronger focus on math, especially in the early years. We need a strong foundation in math to function in our world, just like with reading. This of course can be changed for our family, but then you run into burn out with a heavy language/literature/history load coupled with a heavy math *as well as science* load. Reading is very important and shouldn’t be neglected, but for us math and science as just as important. So for us we would need a method that puts a greater focus on math and science, and allows reading to be done as an enjoyable plus once reading is mastered, more like here is a book read it and lets discuss it around the dinner table, instead of a formal lesson on it.

So to recap:

Are there things we can use from the Classical Homeschooling Method? Yes.

Are there things we would drop if we used the method? Of course.

So far just by looking at the method it isn’t exactly what we are looking for. There is potential there though. But there are other methods to explore first before we make a decision, so stay tuned!

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

We accomplished a lot this week, but did not get everything that was planned done, such is the life of a homeschooler. Things don’t always get finished when you planned, but we are able to get to them the following week. On Thursday we enjoyed having The Spouse home with us, so we didn’t do any school that day, which put us behind in some of our lessons. On Friday we started to experience the rain that never seemed to end, which prevented us from going out and finding something to explore. Instead of exploring the outdoors, we explored books inside the comfort of our warm home. One of the books we enjoyed was Ten Apples Up On Top!, which Child #1 read to all of us while we enjoyed a snack. It is always so wonderful to hear him read, he is getting even better at it with each passing day.

Now onto our upcoming week:

Monday: Lesson 4 in First Language Lessons
Three lessons in Saxon Math 1
Continued talk on Dinosaurs

Tuesday: Lesson 5 in First Language Lessons
Three lessons in Saxon Math 1 *this will bring us up to date so we can finish up our “school year” when we originally planned, allowing us a much needed break.
Discuss Modern Mythology *when I say modern mythology I mean the mythology of present day religions*.

Wednesday: Lesson 6 in First Language Lessons
Two math lessons in Saxon Math 1
Play Date
Finish up our discussions on Dinosaurs

Thursday: Lesson 7 in First Language Lessons
Two math lessons in Saxon Math 1
Finish up our discussion on Mythology *books we are currently reading will be read until we have finished them*.

Friday: Two math lessons from Saxon Math 1
Possible Field Trip

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Our week has been fairly productive. We have covered the first three lessons in First Language Lessons, with me changing up a few of the sentences in the book. It discusses common nouns in the third lesson, it makes the point of mentioning a family is a mother and a father. I took the time to state that families come in different combinations, some kids have two moms, some have two fathers, and so on. Those kids are still brothers and sisters, their family just looks different than ours. Aside from making that one little change the lessons have been quick and easy. The boys both took part in the second lesson on illustrating the poem we read, and they really enjoyed it. It also tied into the Science lessons we did the week before on butterflies.

We got through six lessons of math as well. For now we are covering addition and subtraction, as well as money *identifying pennies, nickels, dimes, and dollars, along with their worth…quarters aren’t included in the lessons but we have covered those on our own*. There is also some time telling to the hour and the half hour. Lastly we have done some measuring with a ruler *more will be done at the end of the week*.

Our mythology reading is coming from THIS book. We will also tackle reading Say Cheese Medusa and Stop That Bull, Theseus both from Myth-O-Mania. These books should offer a fun alternative to learning about myths versus the usual text that is rather boring in the eyes of a small child.

For Science so far we have watched Dinosaurs Alive, as well as read The Big Noisy Book of Dinosaurs and watched the accompanying DVD.

Aside from the general subjects we also enjoyed a nature walk, some time playing soccer at a nearby field, and some park fun. So far things have gone really well and the rest of the week is looking like it will end on a very lovely note.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Upon digging into homeschooling I discovered that there are various ways in which to instruct your child/children. Every family, in fact every child, is different. Even if two families are using the same method it will still vary based on what best fit’s the needs of the family implementing it. That is the beauty of homeschooling, no need for a one size fits all approach, this also invites frustration in locating the method(s) that work best for your family. As we come to a close on our first full year of schooling, I’m still working out what method(s) we will use and what we won’t. So as I work my way through it all I will be posting one post a week for the next eight weeks that will give a brief overview of the featured method, a list of books or other resources that relate to that method, and a list of pros and cons of the method in relation to our family’s needs.

The following methods will be covered *in this order*:

After I’ve gone through each method I will post one last post which will discuss the method(s) that we have decided on and why we choose it/them.

Hopefully it will offer some help to anyone else trying to weed through all the various methods out there. Stay tuned for the Classical Homeschooling post!

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

So what is on tap for this week? Here is a quick run through of our plans.

Monday: Two math lessons from Saxon Math 1
Lesson 1 in First Language Lessons For The Well-Trained Mind (Vol.1 Level 1)
Greek and Roman Mythology using books from the library that I will share later and online resources.

I picked First Language Lessons up from the BX a few days ago. Just on a quick glance the lessons seemed easy to implement into our day. We are heading to the end of our first full year of home schooling, so I don’t want to take on anything to heavy, but I still want the boys to continue learning through the summer. First Language Lessons will allow us to spend a few minutes everyday tackling one of their 100 lessons, which will get their feet wet before getting heavy into Language Arts lessons when we start back up in September.

Tuesday: Two math lessons from Saxon Math 1
Lesson 2 in First Language Lessons
Dinosaurs using materials from Enchanted Learning and supplies currently on hand.

Wednesday: Two math lessons from Saxon Math 1
Lesson 3 in First Language Lessons
Modern Day Mythology using internet resources and books currently on hand

Thursday: Two math lessons from Saxon Math 1
Lesson 4 in First Language Lessons
Continue discussion on Dinosaurs, with hands on activity

Friday: Two math lessons from Saxon Math 1
Field Trip To Be Determined

Copyright (c) Rayven Holmes

So what has happened since I posted The Homeschooling Issue post? Well as readers of our family blog will know The Spouse came around. But how/why did he? And what does this mean for our homeschooling? Well after the post I collected the comments I received *thank you all very much!!* and put them in a word doc for him to read. There was some nodding, a few chuckles *that is ALWAYS a good thing with him*, and then a sigh of relief. He asked if I would be able to home school both of our boys and I assured him that I believe that I can. Then a few weekends later we went out and he purchased the two desks I had been wanting to get for our classroom, and he has frequently commented on how great the classroom is looking/coming along, and has even helped me with the plans to revamp the closet in that room ,so it is more useful for the purpose of that room, while not breaking any of the rules put in place by the housing office.

Of course having him onboard does come with some new challenges. Before I just had to contend with him not being thrilled with it, and it being a topic he didn’t really want to deal with, since he just assumed I would get off this kick when our oldest meet the age requirement for school. Now though he is very involved and wants it to be my main focus. Thus the reason for some of the changes I’m attempting to make over this weekend and this upcoming week. A lot of his questions now are “How will you work this in with schooling the boys?”, “What did you all get done today?”, and so on.

While I jumped one hurdle *a very massive hurdle actually* and we have moved to an area of agreement on the boys’ educations, we still have to learn the importance of balance. Yes I can still manage our home, have some shred of a social life, be a wife/lover/superwoman, and educate our children. It is just going to take balance…and a lot less time on Facebook.

But I am happy to have him onboard because,… I don’t think I could do this without a partner in the balancing act of home educating, at least not on the level I am aiming for.

Here’s to getting an A on the balance beam of homeschooling!

And just in case you are in need of some encouragement here are the wonderful comments I received.

Karen said...
Rayven and The Spouse,
Rayven...LAY OFF THE MAN! LOL Sometimes, "just because" means that he hasn't had the same amount of time that you have to research, think, formulate, and assemble his argument... ;-)
As for his arguments, though, I think that his fears are the "usual" ones. They are, actually, the fears of most parents, regardless of how one chooses to educate their children.
The Spouse is proud of his children and wants to stay that way. From the sounds of it, being proud in his family is scholastic success. It is the same in my family. Lots of disapproval here too.

HOWEVER, what can only be shown with time, the scholastic advantages are far less memorization and rote education and more critical thinking, creative thought, the ability to question, research, and seek out answers on their own. They embrace and welcome differences in people. We have very close friends of many different races, cultures, religions.

Just the other day, the kids were in the car with their public school cousins. The cousins called someone they disliked a "Jew", they made fun of a pedestrian's hair, and they said disparaging remarks about a black family walking towards the store in the parking lot. Seriously! *I* was steaming in the front seat. But I heard my kids say, "Well, we have friends who are Jewish, so we don't find that funny." and "His hair is different, but it's cool!" and "What is funny about people who are different?!" My kids were, in fact, shocked to hear the things the cousins were saying.

Also, I can speak of my kids and the other HS kids that I know: people are ALWAYS impressed with how mature they are. They are a wonderful combination of MATURE and INNOCENT. They can and do talk to ANYONE with confidence and interest. They also still sleep with their stuffed animals and play with them.


So, while my kids can't name the capitol cities of Peru or New Jersey, they are brilliant in other ways, and they know exactly how to find out and to evaluate the efficacy of websites they are one. Also, *I* don't know the capital cities of Peru or New Jersey.

So, Holmeses, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

MOM #1 said...
Well, as someone who has homeschooled a son from elementary through high school, all I can say is where there's a will - there's a way.

It really depends on what state you're living in at that time and the requirements of the colleges you plan to apply to. I live in a state that's so ridiculously easy to homeschool in, it's just plain silly. All of our local universities actively recruit homeschoolers.

We also went the route of community college first and will transfer to a major university in a couple of years. I feel this is a way to get Baby Boy acclimated to being in a classroom since he hasn't been in one in almost 10 years. I don't want him to have his first classroom experience away from home with a bunch of strangers. I feel that would be irresponsible of me. We chose that route because we COMPLETELY home-schooled high school, as in only one outsourced class during his final year and no tutors, etc . . . so he has no classroom experiences other than a few years of elementary school.

Another benefit of this method, in my opinion, is that the high school transcript becomes inconsequential, although I know for a fact that universities do accept mommy-made transcripts all the time. When transferring to a university, they will be looking at his previous college transcript.

It's way too much to discuss thoroughly in a blog comment, LOL. ;-) Mom #2 and I just always knew we could do it, so we did. But we have inflated egos like that, I guess.

Everyone's education is so personal anyway, there's no way to actually standardize education. Children in different states, towns, even different areas of the same city are never actually all learning the same thing. We taught Baby Boy what we thought he should know, included stuff he wanted to know, and just kept an eye on our target university guidelines . . . it really isn't as hard as people make it out to be.

Email me anytime. Also visit the high school and college boards of the WTM forums . . . they are a WEALTH of knowledge.

Karen S. said...
Many colleges are actively seeking homeschooled students because they excel in academics and have proven themselves to be leaders on campus. My oldest attends a private university that recruited him because of ACT scores. My next son will be attending a state university. Neither schools had any problem with a homeschool transcript. No GED's for us either!!

Wendy said...
At the moment, I would like to homeschool until our son is 16, and HOPE he will go to college at that point (I'm so envious of Mom #1!!!). But, of course, that is our son's choice.

Anyhow, the plan at the moment is to homeschool until the age of 16, but we will revisit the issue of "how long" when he's old enough for middle school, and again when he's old enough for high school.

So we have a basic plan/hope/desire, but know that things could change and are open to analyzing each year. :)

Melonie said...
Rayven - I have some resources and hopefully some encouragement that I can share later. As others have already commented, though, there are schools out there who not only "accept" homeschooled applicants but actively seek them out and recruit them heavily *because* they are homeschooled. And some of them are Ivy League. So while I know that won't take away all of Mike's worries, I can attest to it (I've worked with some of them directly on their ad campaigns) and hopefully it will be a little encouraging.

With love, your right wing nutball homeschooling token LDS friend. *guffaw*

Oh wait, that might not encourage him.... heeheeheehee {{HUGS}}

PS (Mostly to The Spouse) For the folks at work who are either a) not familiar with homeschooling and just think it's "weird" but are actually curious about it or b) are uninformed/misinformed jerks who are way to nosey.... a good tactic for dealing with it is to simply say, "Actually home education has grown exponentially in the military community because it provides a security and flexibility in scheduling as well as a flexibility and opportunity for continuous flowing schooling despite PCS, TDY/TAD, etc that military families face throughout the years. There are multiple military sources that not only 'allow' disemination of information to service members about homeschooling but actively support/encourage families who choose to educate at home."

Military Spouse Magazine has run a pros/cons article, and The Griffon (which is "required reading") for the upper echelon of multiple Army units actually provides support/encouragement articles directly to troops/families that are provided by homeschool companies and homeschooling parents (myself included - they've run multiple pieces by me and I've also sent them edited pieces by other authors for a previous employer).

Oh yeah, and then there's that whole Rosetta Stone thing......a few military folks might know *that* name. LOL ;-P

Once he gets more comfortable with it and feels more statistically informed, I'm sure he'll come up with his own more personalized (to the questioner) response... but that's a basic start he might like to reflect on. When the high-mucky mucks are supportive of it, then it's either really good or really bad. hahaha (Totally kidding - it's a good thing.)

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

Well with a new year there come new issues as well as dealing with old issues. The other night The Spouse and I had a discussion about home schooling. With this new year there will be a new school year starting this summer/fall. The 2010-2011 school year would be the year Child #1 is “old enough” to start school. The Spouse expressed a desire for Child #1 to enroll which I strongly disagreed with and have shared that with The Spouse countless times. With 2009 winding down I felt it was imperative that we finally got it all out on the table and dealt with our differing opinions on our boys’ educations. The Spouse told me that he has heard the pros from me a million times over and he gets that, but he just wanted the kids to go to public school. That answer wasn’t good enough for me (naturally), if you are going to take a side on an issue then you need to have clear reasons why and be ready to state them and defend them when debating/arguing/whatever with me. That is just how I am, I’ve never been ok with “just because”.

After sometime of getting “just because” I went to print out some information on the pros and cons of home schooling. I then returned to our discussion and read off some of the information to The Spouse. He once again told me he heard some of the pros from me before, he was floored by some of the quotes I read him, as well as the information I had on the number of high school teachers (out of roughly 1000 who volunteered the information…there are definitely more than that) who admit to teaching creationism in their science classrooms. As well as the fact that some school systems actually are or are trying to be allowed to teach the bible as an actual course in school. Now yes I want my kids to be religiously literate, we will be devoting a whole year or two (depending on how long it takes) to examining religions of the world and their written texts if any are available.

BUT in a country were roughly 78% of the folks say they fall under the Christian umbrella (even though 35%-41% of born-agains don't even read their religious text), the likelihood that this would actually be taught like a typical literature class is very, very slim. It will most likely be taught as fact, with the atrocities ignored or twisted to be justified, and the fact that no other religious text is being discussed in a class setting speaks volumes at the aim of something like that. Sure there could be some good from that, but I would rather handle something as big as religion instead of trusting it to someone who has their own slant (and has never read the religious texts). While religion had nothing to do with our original desire to home school it does play a part more and more everyday, especially the more I learn about various school systems in states where we could end up one day.

Now after dealing with the pros of home schooling and bringing to light the things that we don’t agree with in the public school system, I moved on to the negatives. One of The Spouse’s biggest negative to home schooling is what people will think. He fears the boys will be picked on for not attending regular school. I reminded him that the folks we spend our time with either home school themselves, or respect a parents right to choose the best educational route for their children. I also brought to his attention that most of the homeschoolers I talk to say that any negative comments they have or do encounter come from the mouths of adults not children. In fact it might be safe to say that lots of children, if given the choice, would choose to stay home instead of getting up at the crack of dawn to head off to a concrete building for eight hours a day.

Since we don’t interact with our neighbors aside from a nod or a half-smile I don’t foresee them or their children directly saying anything hateful or uncalled for. The most I could see is someone actually stopping us to get confirmation of something most of them probably already suspect. And if someone did have something negative to say…well then they can learn first hand what happens when you open your mouth without me asking for your opinion. I also told him that they would more likely face bullying in public school as well as a need to conform than they ever would with being home schooled. And by us sending them to public school even though we know home schooling is the best thing for our family just so we don’t go against the grain spits in the face of every value we are attempting to teach our children.

We can support their desires to own dolls and dress up in my shoes and clothes, but their education is somehow separate from that? I don’t think so! The Spouse knew of course that debating this with me was pointless, which is why he didn’t want to outright say that was one of the problems. Although I respect where he comes from, he does have to spend 10-12 hours a day with people who don’t understand our approach to childrearing. The fact that our children own dolls is boggling to their minds, and then to educate them at home? We must seem like freaks to some people, but the thing I did my best to get across is that no matter what folks may think we must always do what is best for our family, especially when it comes to the boys.

He of course waved the white flag on this point, but then brought up a very good point which kind of had me quiet for minute or two. It silenced me for two reasons #1 I had never really thought he considered allowing us to home school until the boys reached college age, and #2 While I do have various things planned for the boys as they grow I really hadn’t considered how we would handle high school and college prep, I always figured we would cross that bridge when we got to it. Since college will be the boys choice, not something we force on them.

The point he brought up was how can they get into college without a high school transcript. I actually went and looked up information on colleges that have previously admitted homeschoolers and some studies on how homeschoolers fair in their battle for their choice school. I also let him know that there are ways to make transcripts for the boys, and colleges also take portfolios of the students work, which I have already started working on, by filling up a filing cabinet with things the boys have been doing. Once they get older it will be filled with writing samples, math test, and maybe even a few results from standardized tests I may cave and have them do over the years just to act as a visual progression of their knowledge growth for outsiders (since I will be able to see everyday how much they are learning and growing). I also told him of a homeschooler I knew in high school who was only enrolled part-time to meet certain state requirements, and brought up the various methods in which someone can finish high school.

I did leave out the letters GED because those are not to be spoken in our home. For the hubby they conjure up thoughts of those who dropout of high school not of students who test out early so they can move on to college. Which is a path I can really see Child #1 taking, although I don’t think it will be allowed by his father. Instead he will probably have to do some sort of duel enrollment where he is taking community college classes while working on credits to obtain a high school diploma (maybe an online type thing done at home), and it is an issue I know better than to fight with their father about. To receive a high school diploma in The Spouse’s family is rare…very, very rare, so for his kids to not have one is just unacceptable. I assured him I would do what was needed to make sure that whatever path they want to take they are able to take it.

He eventually seemed pleased, he is still nervous about it, but I don’t know one home school family that doesn’t fret over their children’s education. It is extremely important to us, which is why we undertake the painstaking task of overseeing every single detail of it. Yes I will admit as I admitted to him, that there are days when I could use the eight hours to get A LOT done. Having no one around would allow me to get the house clean and in order, but what good is that? Yes my house would be neat and orderly, but what about the boys’ minds? Yes I would be able to have more time for myself, more moments of peace and quiet, more time for the gym, but what would be the cost of those moments? For me the answer is their education.

Yes they would both probably get through public school fairly well, but would they have learned anything? Would they have a deep understanding of the things that interest them, would they have the time to really get to know themselves? No I don’t think they would. So I have no problem in saying I will gladly give up those moments I miss, to ensure our boys have the education they need, that they deserve. The thing is I don’t want our boys to do well in life I want them to EXCEL in life.

So with that is this debate over? I highly doubt it. In the end will we always make the choices that are best for the boys, of course. Does anyone else’s opinion of those decisions matter? Hell no! So that is that.

I do have a question for the home schooling families that read this blog though, what are your plans for your children as they grow? For those with high school age children how are you prepping for college? How are you handling the lack of a transcript or have you found a way to home school while still meeting your states requirements for a high school diploma?

This is very long…but very important to our family (which is why it gets so much blog space LOL).

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

…to go over plans and supplies and see what I want to add and what I want to continue using. We haven’t hit the one year mark yet, so I think we are doing good with getting through our first official year of home schooling. There are things I want to change. Right now we are focusing on Phonics and Math more than anything else, and some days we may just watch an educational video, do flash cards, and goof off. Which I am allowing partly because Child #1 is already ahead of where they say he should be, and because Child #2 actually listens to Child #1 and picks up the things he tells him. Come September though I want to have worked out some of the major kinks (mostly getting me to bed at a decent hour so I can get up at 7am and get our day going, and get through all our lessons), and be serious about this. With The Spouse on board he expects certain things to get done now and that accountability on everyone’s part will be awesome and needed at times. Anyways here you go…

Homeschool Revision:

Phonics: Saxon Phonics 2
Language Arts: Harcourt Language Grade 1
Handwriting: Writing With Ease Level One Workbook

Math: Saxon Math 2

Science: R.E.A.L Science Level One: Life, Earth and Space, and Chemistry
Science: Houghton Mifflin Science Grade 1

Social Studies: Harcourt Horizons
History: History Odyssey Level One: Ancient, Middle Ages, Early Modern, Modern Times
History: A Little History Of The World

Art: Artistic Pursuits Book One Grades K-3

Music: Guitar Lessons

Physical Education: Karate

Japanese Studies: Teach Me Japanese, Teach Me More Japanese (the second part of the Teach Me series), plus other books on Japan

Sexual Education: OWL (Our Whole Lives) Grade K-1

Religious Education: Various UU materials and open honest discussion with the boys. This will be a more in depth subject with actual materials when they are older.

Virtues: The Virtues Project has info on teaching virtues to kids and that is where I got the idea to include a virtue for every week that we would discuss and go over. You can click here, here, and here to find out what items we will use. Aside from those we will also use fables and other stories that demonstrate the various virtues.

History twice a week, Social Studies twice a week. Covering two lessons a week in each subject.
Art twice a week covering one lesson a week. First part of the lesson will be the teaching part (on Monday), second part of the lesson will be the activity that ties into the lesson(on Wednesday). Some weeks if there is a holiday coming up Art will be based on that holiday and not come from our curriculum book.
After Grade 2 we won’t be using a phonics curriculum it will be strictly Language Arts.
Saxon Math works for us and it is easy to use. It also goes all the way up to High School Math (Algebra 1 and 2, Advanced Mathematics, Calculus, and Geometry).
We will have other materials and books to supplement these things, these will just act as our foundation for each school year.
Japanese Studies will change when we PCS, it will then become the study of whatever country we end up at, unless we end up back in the US then I’ll figure it out from there. Hahahaha.

Phonics and Handwriting: Monday- Thursday
Language Arts: Monday-Friday
Math: Monday and Wednesday
Science: Tuesday and Thursday
Social Studies and Weekly Virtue: Monday and Wednesday
History and Geography: Tuesdays and Thursdays
Art: Monday And Wednesday
Music: An hour with an instructor and 30 minutes of practice at home on non lesson days
Physical Education: One hour twice a week and then 30 minutes of practice at home on non lesson days
Japanese Studies: Fridays
Sexual Education: Fridays
Religious Education: Two Sundays a month

Ok here is our schedule time wise:
730am: Breakfast
8am: Get ready for the day
830am: Outdoor time (weather pending, if it is too hot or raining then we will stay inside and play)
9am: Phonics, Handwriting, and Language Arts
10am: Break
1130am: Lunch
12pm: Quiet Time
130pm: Art and Snack
2pm: Math/Science
230pm: History& Geography/Social Studies & Weekly Virtue
3pm: We Are Done!!

So it looks like our “school” day breaks up to about 2 ½ hours, 3 ½ if you add in the hour of practice that will take place at home (but that will only be on days when there are no lessons to attend). I think that is plenty and honestly some days we will probably get done with our work sooner than what I plan. But we do need a plan we can adhere to rather closely. I had made one at the end of 2008 and it was similar to this, but this seems far more doable and allows for plenty of none “school” time. This of course is just the Monday-Thursday plan.

Fridays will go like this:
730am: Breakfast
8am: Get ready for the day
830am: Language Arts
9am: Japanese Studies
930am: Head out for our Enrichment (the way things are going it looks like it will be either an ASL class or something to do with Japanese culture *either a craft or a field trip of some sort*)
12pm: Lunch *either with our friends or back at home, just depends on how the day goes and what we did that day*
1230pm: Quiet Time
130pm: Sexual Education and Snack
2pm: We Are Done!! Until Monday!!

I know folks will look at this and go “It’s so structured and school like”, and you know what that’s right it is. And there is a reason for that! We need structure in our home. We are the kind of folks who if we don’t have a schedule or a plan then chances are nothing will happen. We will sit back and chill, enjoy some movies, and surf the net. And while these things are great to do (I LOVE our lazy Sundays, and how we randomly clean the house while enjoying movies, and burst of excited playing), there are other things that need to be done. Our home school is school/academic focused because the main reason, the first and foremost reason, I ever even thought about teaching the boys was because of education. I care deeply about educating my children and don’t want to trust anyone else with something as important as my children’s education and minds.

I get that the unschooled thing works for some folks, but it doesn’t work for me. I’m all good with it at the age Child #2 is. It makes total sense to me at his age, but for Child #1 it doesn’t. He is at the point where we need to have things ironed out, planned, and structured so things get accomplished. Especially with the whole host of things life can throw our way I want us to have a plan in place so we can easily get back to our routine when duty calls, or someone gets sick, and so forth. We’ve had a lot of crazy things happen this first year of “active” home schooling and the one thing it has shown me is how unbelievably important a routine/schedule is to our schooling. We need this in order to handle the things that will get thrown our way.

For those wanting to know what grade we will be doing next year it will be more of a 1st/2nd grade thing. As for Child #2 he will keep working on the Preschool curriculum I found online, and going along for the ride. He is already saying the alphabet with a few missed letters (but he is only 2!) and he is counting to 10 for the most part with a few missed numbers like with his alphabet. He is also able to point out the parts of his face/head, and a few other body parts as well. So I’m pretty confident that he will do well this upcoming “school” year with the preschool work. I don’t foresee me starting Kindergarten work with him when he is four like I did with Child #1 (not any sit down work anyways), but time will tell. We will just take it day by day.

I think that is pretty much it. I know this is kind of long and rather sporadic, but I’m using this as a place to work out details. You all just get to witness the process LOL. So until my next set of ramblings folks…insert witty comment here.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes

I figured it was time to start a blog just for our home schooling stuff. There are lots of things I want to discuss as far as our schooling is concerned and I really didn’t want to bog our family blog down in school stuff; since our schooling has really taken on a life of its own in our home. So stay tune folks while I tweak this. Or rather ramble my way through the boys education.

Copyright (c) 2010 Rayven Holmes