Tag Archives: classes

A Disadvantage to Homeschooling?

While homeschooling offers many opportunities and advantages for students and their families, every once in a while I come across a disadvantage. This week was one of those times.

There is something to be said for the accountability that a traditional classroom affords. While all homeschooling situations are different, with some stricter than others, ours tends to be on the less-strict side. I don’t always feel the need to administer tests if I know the children are learning the information; if the kids are a day or two late completing an assignment, I’d accept it from them just the same. It was helpful to us, then, when we joined a co-op last year; now, for some subjects, my children have someone else to be accountable to, someone who won’t let them “slide” by. It has helped encourage self-discipline and time-management skills.

But this week, I taught a class in which a student just didn’t want to participate. While the rest of the class was working on the assigned project, he just sat there. By the time the other students were finishing up, he had only completed half the project, and he left with it undone.

What’s a homeschooling parent to do? If the parents of this student force their child to attend class, he will be difficult to teach, and it will affect the other students. If they don’t make him go, they will be giving in to his disobedient and rebellious attitude.

Parents of students in a traditional classroom aren’t faced with this type of dilemma; a student must attend class and must do the work in order to make the grade. They may not like math or history, but they must pass those classes in order to make it through school.

Then it occurred to me: while parents with children in school don’t have those issues to contend with, the teachers still do. In one class they may have students who are eager and ready to learn right beside those who won’t do any work at all. Often, teachers can’t move ahead with the material because some students are continually (and intentionally) behind.

As both the parent and teacher, homeschoolers are forced to deal with all sides of the issue, no matter how difficult it might be. But then, isn’t that what being a parent is all about?

First Day of Co-op

y 039aWe joined a co-op again this year for the first time in several years. Today was the first day for my oldest son, John. He had a one-hour class in geography that started at 9:00 am. He didn’t want to go; he doesn’t know many people at the co-op. “But,” I reassured him, “this is going to be good. You’ll see.”

All I had to do was get him ready with his supplies and get him to the class on time. Then I had an hour to wait before I picked him up and headed home again. The rest of the children will start their classes on Monday, so this was to be a good trial run.

Well, it should have been. I remembered reading in an email that he needed to bring a notebook and pen, but it’s been a busy week, month, — okay, summer, and I forgot to look over the list again. John reminded me to do it last night, and when I checked I saw that he needed a workbook too. We had no way to get it in time.

I felt sick inside. He was going to his first class with students he didn’t know, and he’d be the only one without a book. In my panic, I emailed the teacher, asking if she had an extra I could replace later. But that was all I could do. I gathered the rest of the supplies and went to bed, quite discouraged.

I woke up all the kids early this morning, so we could be sure to leave early in case I had to meet with the teacher. I checked my email once more and whew! — there was her note, saying they didn’t need their workbooks today. I took a deep breath, and we headed out the door anyway, just to be sure we’d be on time.

When we arrived at the church where the co-op is held, I didn’t see very many cars — and we weren’t that early. Where was everyone? Then I remembered another email I received earlier in the week giving instructions on where to park. I had briefly read over it at the time, and now I couldn’t remember. We followed another car into a lower lot and tried all the doors. They were all locked.

“Well, we’re getting off to a great start,” John said. All we could do was laugh and keep looking for the entrance. It wasn’t a good start at all — I was disorganized, un-informed, and confused.

But, the good news is, we did start. We found the door, the classroom, the teacher, and he went in for his first class. On Monday, though, I have to get all four to class. Hmmm….

I Think We’re In…

pencils2Last week I received an email stating that the co-op we visited had enough openings for the next school year – they have a place for each of my children if we decide to join (we were actually put on the waiting list last year).  The cost of the classes is minimal and they offer a variety of courses from elementary through high school. 

Just a couple of days before, I had spoken to a friend of mine who had registered her children at another co-op and was still waiting to hear if they had the room. We talked about starting our own co-op, and she seemed excited about the possibility. We both knew other families who might be interested, and we discussed location possibilities. 

My children were especially excited as they thought of attending classes with their close friends. While they recognized a few faces at the co-op we visited, there were many students they didn’t know.                                    

Then I opened the email, and I wondered what to do. I was glad they had room for us, but now the other plan was taking shape. 

I spoke with my friend again, and I found out she had been accepted into another co-op. They are going forward with that one, so the plan to start one of our own has been placed on hold. Although I’m a little disappointed, I’m also relieved – starting and running a co-op is a lot of work. This past year has been a very busy one, and adding such a big responsibility to my list probably would have become overwhelming.   

We officially have until June 1 to decide whether we will join the co-op or not, which gives me a little more time to think and pray about it. But it’s looking really good to me right now, so I think we’re in…. I think we’re in… we’re in?

Literature Class

a-booksAlthough we weren’t involved in a co-op this past year, my children were part of a literature class put together by a couple of homeschool moms. Yesterday was our class for April.

Our literature class meets the fourth Thursday of the month from 10:00 – 11:30 at the centrally-located home of one of the families. Students divide up into four groups: grades K-3rd,4th-5th, 6th-8th, and 9th-12th.

Every month, students in each group are assigned a book to read – one that can be easily found at our local library. Some of the books they’ve read this year include Misty; The Whipping Boy; Shiloh; Sarah Plain and Tall; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe;, The Cricket in Times Square; Carry On, Mr. Bowditch; A Wrinkle in Time; Call It Courage; and The Bronze Bow. Then, when we meet together, students break up into their groups in different rooms of the house to discuss the book they’ve read, with one of the moms leading the discussion.

The K-3rd group is the largest group, so they usually meet in the living room. This younger group reads one or two picture books and then work on a corresponding activity, such as making a craft. This past week they read a story about a dog and made “dog” biscuits that were actually baked treats for the kids. Of course, not all of them were shaped like dog biscuits – the children shaped them into stars, squares, and even a rock.

The class has lent itself to other activities as well. When the middle school class was reading The Hiding Place, a special guest was brought in who was a girl in Holland during the Holocaust. When the older elementary students were reading Tall Tales, they created their own tall tales and shared them with each other.

With only one class to go for this school year, literature class has been a great way to get together while reading good books!

Photo by Faeyran

One of Those Days

bandaidEver have one of those days? Recently, we’ve had one, this one involving a lot of injuries. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been working through some back problems, so I started the day with quite an ache to deal with. My oldest, John, had a sore knee from playing basketball the day before, so he woke up achy too. Nevertheless, I was determined we would get our schoolwork done.

I called for my daughters to get out of bed, and moments later eight-year-old Lillie came into the kitchen crying. She had fallen off the ladder of her bunk bed and bruised her arm. We tucked her arm in a sling for the day, which made her feel a little better. It wasn’t even breakfast time yet, but I already knew it would be hard to get our schoolwork done. Still, we kept going. Not very well, but we tried.

We almost made it to lunch time and the end of math when five-year-old Luke began to cry. I turned (slowly – my back was still hurting) to see what happened.

“I poked myself in the eye…” he said through his tears. I held him for a minute, and then he continued. “We all got hurt. My eye, your back, John’s knee, Lillie’s arm…”

“We’re re having a rough day, aren’t we?” I agreed. “But Cassie’s still fine. And in a minute, we’ll head out to sewing class for the girls, and we’ll all feel better.”

Luke recovered fairly quickly, and though we didn’t quite finish with school, it was nearing time to go. I pulled out some fruit and bagels for a quick lunch in the car, as well as other items we needed to take along. John grabbed one of the bagels and spread it with cream cheese, and we all headed out the door. With my aching back I was moving slowly, and by the time I reached the van everyone else was already inside.

As I was about to shut the sliding door on the side, John suddenly moved up from the back seat and pulled a piece of the bagel from his mouth. He looked at it for just a second, then threw it out into a bush.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

He got out of the car and started searching for the piece of bagel. “I just lost my tooth!” he said. “It got stuck in that bagel.”

“Was it loose?” I asked.

“Yes, it was a baby tooth,” he answered. “Look, my mouth is bleeding.”

Though I probably should have shown more compassion, all I could do was laugh. What a conclusion to a day of mishaps!

Photo by AMagill

Abstract Fun

abstractOnce a week, I teach art lessons from my home to homeschool students. Most of our projects involve drawing or painting from life or photographs. But as we are finishing up the classes for this year, we decided it would be fun to have a day of abstract art.

I have a class of boys ages nine to twelve that meets every other Tuesday, so yesterday we gave modern art a try. We used several different methods of painting the masterpieces, the best being spatter painting. It was an easy and (according to the boys) a very enjoyable project. This is what we did:

1. First, each student put on a paint shirt if they weren’t wearing old clothes. Painting can get messy!

2. Then, for each student, I supplied a half sheet of posterboard to paint on. We went outside and nailed the posterboard to a tree with just one nail in the center at the top.

3. Next, they chose the colors they wanted for their paintings. We used craft acrylic paints, and they squeezed them out onto styrofoam plates (their palettes).

4. The students then chose the brush or brushes they wanted to use. I had a container on the ground with brushes of all sizes, including larger house-painting brushes. I also had a container of water available for them to wash out their brushes when they needed to.

5. Then the paint went flying! Each boy stood in front of his paper and spattered the paint by using quick flips of the wrist.

It was interesting to me to see how deliberate the boys were in their choice of colors and where they made the paint go. Each painting was a unique original, and, by the boys’ reactions, a lot of fun to create!

Bartering

I’ve read where many homeschoolers barter for goods or services, and I think it’s a great idea. In fact, I’m one of them!

I teach art lessons to children, and I know how costly lessons can be. Three of our children are involved in music lessons, and although the teachers have given us a very good price, the cost can add up over time. So when parents ask me if I’d like to trade, I understand, and I’m happy to oblige. The barter has always benefited both families.

At one time, I had two art students whose family raised goats. Each week, we traded art lessons for fresh organic milk, something I wouldn’t have been able to afford had I purchased it at the farmer’s market. Now I’m trading lessons for homemade organic bread. The mom who bakes it even grinds her own grain. It’s good for my family and tastes delicious, and it’s something that would be too costly for our grocery budget. It’s a wonderful trade!

I’m also trading a class for a class. One of my daughters spends a couple of hours one day a week at a nearby horse farm, where a friend who works there teaches her all about horses. My daughter feeds them, waters them, cleans the stalls, and learns about the different types of saddles, bridles, and bits. She also has opportunities to ride. In exchange, the friend’s son comes over once a week to practice his reading skills with me.

If you’re on a more limited budget and don’t have the funds for classes for your children, you might want to consider bartering, too. You can trade off household or yard help, childcare, sewing services – whatever you can offer. Don’t be afraid to ask – the worst a teacher can say is “no, thanks,” but you might just receive your “yes!”