Saturday, October 29, 2011

Back to the Books: Take Two

You may have noticed I haven’t been much of a blogger lately.  There’s a reason for that.  You see, shortly after posting the back-to-school pictures of the kids two months ago, I took on a new job.  Now, instead of chatting with my mom-friends long after the bus has pulled away, I rush back into the house to get started on my workday. 

My new job is a little different every day.  I might start off by reading a little about the ancient Sumerians or the Code of Hammurabi.  A little later, I may need to assist in calculating the area of a parallelogram.  It’s possible that at some point I will need to review the difference between transitive and intransitive verbs.  By noon, I could be having a discussion about the benefits of a double-blind experiment and the importance of recognizing experimental variables. 

Some of you are thinking, “This woman gets crazier by the minute.”  Some of you – especially those who share similar work duties – are simply thinking, “Oh, she started homeschooling.”  The answer is…you’re both right!

Approximately a week after the kids returned to school for the fall semester, Samantha started asking me if she could be homeschooled.  The topic had popped up periodically in the past, but was always dropped after I quickly dismissed it, ensuring her that she would miss school and regret such a drastic decision.  However, her homeschooling requests had started coming more frequently, and understandably so.  She would leave the house for school early in the morning, go immediately to gymnastics for four hours of practice, then come home for a quick dinner and homework.  I could tell she was exhausted and overwhelmed.   So, after a very eye opening curriculum night at the middle school she was attending, I brought the topic up with Dave over the weekend.  His response was, “I think you should do it!  In fact, don’t even send her back on Monday.  You should just start now.”

What???  I was shocked at both his certainty and his confidence in my ability to suddenly pull this together.  Perhaps it was because I remembered the first time someone told me they homeschooled their children and how my first thought was, “Really?  I didn’t know you were Amish.”  That’s what we did though.  We went to  the middle school on Monday to let the administration know that she would no longer be enrolled and cleaned out her locker.  Samantha’s sureness was unwavering.  I, however, felt a bit like a delinquent lunatic, one step away from churning my own butter.

I spent the next few days frantically researching curriculum options and reading curriculum reviews for 7th grade homeschool students.  Luckily – although not coincidentally - several of Samantha’s good friends at her gym are also homeschooled and I was able to sit down with their moms for a crash course in Homeschool 101.  All of her books were ordered online and started arriving within a few days.

We’ve been at it for eight weeks now.  While it took a while to find our groove, I think we have a good system in place now.  I think that I’m a better teacher than I was a student, and I absolutely love spending my days with my sweet girl.  Although I have very little free time, I have no regrets.  I’m not sure how long Davidson Academy will be open.  We’ve agreed to a two-year commitment, which will wrap up her middle school years.

To anyone out there who homeschools their children and is curious to know, here’s a list of what we’re using.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice.

Math: Teaching Textbooks.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this and wish they offered other subjects. 

Science: Apologia Science, Exploring Creation with General Science.  We like this – even though it is very similar to the science I took in high school!

History: The Mystery of History.  I’ve never really cared for history, but we look forward to every lesson.  I enjoy learning everything I missed the first time around.

Language Arts: Easy Grammar PLUS, Wordly Wise, and Editor In Chief.  We like both Easy Grammar and Wordly Wise.  Editor In Chief…not so much.  We’ll be choosing a replacement next semester.

Spanish: Rosetta Stone TOTALe.  This was a little pricy, but we think it’s great.  Feels like you’re playing a game.

If, after reading my blog, you are disturbed that I am teaching my child to write, worry not.  Samantha is also working with a professional online writing coach.

Science is more fun with safety glasses on.