Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Getting into the swing of things

I suppose most families that home school have gotten into a great routine by now.  Our school has an expected pattern, but most days we fall short!  Today is our 50th day of school and we still are a bit off course much of the time.  Now to clarify, we have not done book school all 50 days.  We've gone on several educational field trips and have included sports in our physical education program starting in July.
I don't have a structured schedule as in we do math at this time and language at this time, but I do have a schedule where we start school at 8:30 AM and take scheduled breaks.  I let the kids decide which subject to start with.  Today, I started with history because we do it together on activity days and read aloud days and I like to get that over with.  Last week, we had 3 days of field trips or living education and 2 days of school.  Needless to say, yesterday was miserable getting back to the swing of things.  Its not like they have just started school and don't know what the expectations are.
We started the school year off with yet another new curriculum choice.  We are still using Story of the World and Apologia and Spelling Power, but for the rest of our subjects, we've made the switch to Easy Peasy All-In-One Homeschool .  We really do enjoy this and it requires a lot less planning for me!
I have made the mistake of letting a few days go and just trusting the kids to do their work while I do other things.  I then go to my gradebook to log assignments to find that they have only played the games on the site and not followed instructions to do the paper work required.  I quickly learned to have their assignment pages pulled up on my computer and ask them, "Where is that poem in ABCB format?" or "Did you write out definitions for these words?"  Usually my questions are met with a sigh of exasperation or a dumfounded look as if they didn't think they were really going to have to do that particular portion of the assignment.  Recently, I've not met as much unfinished work.  The part I don't understand is the fact that if the kids really focus on school, they could be done with book work in 3 hours or less each day and have time for documentaries or art studio or what I call living education.
One thing I've had to let go of is the idea that each subject needs a numerical and letter grade.  I see the point in high school for transcripts, but right now, I would rather see them learn and they are.  My gradebook app has 2 options.  One is grading scale and another is basically pass/fail.  How do you put a letter grade on someone working through a grammar game until they get 100% correct?  I really appreciate that my kids want to "win the game."  If I were to give a worksheet to them with the types of verbs and they got 50% correct on it and then we touched it again and then took a test where they got 70% correct and then move on, I don't think they would retain as much.  This personalization is something I love about home education!  I still give a numerical grade in language on some assignments, science on the vocabulary and review questions, history on the review questions if applicable and math on worksheets and online quizzes.  Typing, Bible, Spelling, Life Skills, Computer, Music, Art, and Physical Education are all given pass/fail in this school.  I was always graded with a letter grade in PE.  So subjective!  Most of our assignments are graded on a, you did it, or you didn't basis.  How can one grade a child with no artistic or athletic ability beside one who excels and not be swayed?  Life is not going to down grade an accountant who can only draw stick men.
Living Education to me is the time where you skip math class and go to the kitchen and make a recipe.  You ask the child to double the recipe and cook.  If the cake doesn't turn out on a recipe that you know is good, then math must not have been good or reading as they may have put baking powder in instead of baking soda.  Or we are studying Rosh Hashanah and make Challah, blow a shofar, read a story about it, go to the pond to cast our bread crumbs out on it.  Return to eat your bread and apples and honey.  Those things are great and some homeschools are solely living education.  I'm impressed with those who are able to do that, but for us I like the mixture. 
I'm not going to end with a promise to blog more often because every time I do, it takes me months to get another one typed out.  School is still happening and we are doing more than sleeping in and watching movies.

Oh yeah!  I made a new logo for our school and put it on the bottom of the blog. :)