Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I'm doing it again

I just took the plunge last night. I purchased the materials I'm going to need to homeschool both of my two older children again this summer. Like last summer, we're going to see how it goes and if it goes well, we may just keep on going right through fall.

It seems like every Fall I want to give the public school system the benefit of the doubt and try it out again. Then, each Spring (after I have come to my senses!), I realize that I was mistaken and that things are exactly as bad as I had thought they were the year before and I turn to homeschool as a viable option. Our homeschool experience was a good one overall last year.

Last summer, we used Saxon Math 1 and 3 to catch both kids up to the point at which I thought they should be. Saxon was just an "okay" fit for us. It probably worked better with my son than my daughter. It was simply too repetitive for her. If I were one of those people who could deviate from the lesson plan, there probably wouldn't have been a problen. But, if you put a lesson plan in front of me, I just have to follow the letter. I can't seem to skip over things because I've afraid that the things I will skip over will wind up being the most crucial part. But, we did achieve our goal. They did get caught up and I felt really good about things after last summer.

But, now I'm feeling exactly as I did last spring. The only difference is now it is my daughter who has mostly fallen behind.

This year, after A LOT of research, I chose to use Singapore Math for both kids. Children who learn math using Singapore seem to consistently score well on achievement and aptitude tests. In fact, many children who switch to Singapore have to complete the course before the typical grade in which they should be enrolled because the program moves more quickly. For example, a child who just completed fourth grade would usually have to start with the 3B version of Singapore. But, they highly recommend that you test a child to see where s/he should start. I did this with both children. My son, who just finished first grade, tested in the 1B course which was exactly what I would have expected.

On the other hand, my daughter, who just completed third grade, tested into the 2B course. She is now a full year behind where Singapore would place her as a fourth grader. That was extremely disheartening to me particularly since she has always exceled in math. In fact, this past year at her public school, her teacher placed her in a group of students that received supplementary work in math because they were all doing so well in her class. Unfortunately, these students were "taught" by parent volunteers and didn't really receive any additional instruction from the teacher. But, I have to wonder how a child who does well in the classroom falls behind according to Singapore's standards. Could it be that the regular classroom work was brought down to such a "manageable" level that the students at the top just spun their wheels for a whole year? I have to think this might be the case. I believe a good, concrete reason for homeschool just dropped right into my lap.

We are also going to use the Sonlight Core 1 curriculum for reading, history, geography, and language arts. I have fallen in love with Sonlight. It is a literature-based curriculum without an "over-the-top" Christian spin. My plan is to have my son use the Sonlight 2 Regular Readers and my daughter the Sonlight 2 Advanced Readers. We're also going to work on phonics using Explode the Code and Plaid Phonics. I have purchased some of the readers from Amazon, but I plan to borrow most of them from our local library.

I've also signed them up for Time4learning to supplement what we are going to be officially doing. My daughter is also enrolled in Elementary French 1, Semester 2 through powerspeak12.

Of course, at this point, the children would rather clean the house every day than homeschool. They think I'm the meanest parent in the ENTIRE world to expect them to actually learn! I'm sure we will have some battles like we did last summer, but I find that once they accept the fact that we are going to do this, they settle down a little. Also, my three-year-old will be in daycare three days per week so we will have uninterrupted time to focus on school.

Right now, we are just waiting for the materials to arrive.

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