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This is the End

April 19, 2018 Leave a comment

We or I should say “the main educator” was going through our homeschool room cleaning out the room. I would venture to guess thousands of dollars worth of homeschool items were being reviewed and sorted as we began our decluttering of homeschool material. The numerous books, language courses, math texts, and science-related material were bringing back memories and the “Oh, I remember that, now. We never used it.” It was a culmination of over ten years homeschooling that we were cleaning out.

Our humble beginning began when a school teacher recommended ADHD drugs to my wife for use with my oldest son. The only knowledge I had of homeschoolers was some old 70s movie and a 60 minutes episode talking about those crazy people. Other than buying into the media’s version of who these people were, I never gave it a thought until I came home from Colorado and was told we were homeschooling. My response to my lovely wife was, “Okay.” She was persuasive in her own right, but the issue of drugs upset me. My family isn’t the first to encounter the standard school indoctrination issue. Also weighing on me was this same teacher telling me to NOT teach my son mathematics because he was “too far ahead of the class and needed to slow down.” Our parent-teacher meeting was not very friendly and I was not going to be bullied by a woman that is too lazy and hate teaching (Another story). In as kind of a way as I could, I told her where she could go and that I would continue to educate my son. He paid a price.

I must say that I was naive about homeschooling as I was told of unschooling and how you only teach a student for three hours which amounts to the same as a public school. My sons and I took a field trip on our first day of school together as I had no clue what to do. Thankfully, I had my wife who was organized and planned out the path we as a family would take.  I became the principal, Severus Snape, the evil headmaster, Mr. Wizard (Gotta go way back for that reference), and several other instructors. As Mr. Wizard indicates, they were all antagonists to my sons. My niche became the evaluator of the curriculum which meant I went to homeschool shows and talked with those selling items.

I learned quickly that most children do not do well teaching themselves, so you had to understand your child’s method of learning. Unfortunately for my family, my sons were different learner which meant different material at times. Science and math were my things, and you could sucker me with neat science experiments, however, I bought from established companies and not the Mom and Pop sellers. History was another area of expertise, but this did not translate well as my sons did not enjoy history. Go figure. They can’t be mine.

What developed in our family was a closeness where our education was year round and vacations were education oriented. We would go to a talk at the local historical society about a figure in history and then go visit relatives with the primary focus on visiting the site of the where the figure had an impact on history. It was also easier to go to a sporting event on a weeknight and get home late. My sons could sleep in.

It was not all wine and roses as my sons could be difficult. Think of being the husband arriving home to a frustrated spouse, obstinate son, and the thought that work was the better place. I never mastered the idea of what I was supposed to do when I came home. I got used to eating in a small place at the table surrounded by experiments and even the smells of unfinished dissections. Struggling with a stubborn child could be frustrating. We still find occasional notes in the math texts my oldest wrote about me. See where the Snape reference comes in?

We held a huge fear that we were not doing enough and were failing in our educating of our children. There was a constant question of our effectiveness even though all indications said otherwise. Even as my oldest come close to graduating from college this May, we won’t confirm a success until he is holding that degree. How could you brag about your child knowing that they will fail? Our children’s success was an affirmation of not only what we did but the fact we did the right thing.

As we went through the various curriculum in the room and reviewed the old posterboards, papers, and whatever else our children wrote on, smiles came out like a bloom after a Spring rain. We chuckled and remembered everything with fondness recognizing it was hard work but work worth doing. These items had served their purpose and some of them, hopefully, will help others as we decide what to sell and toss out. For me, the memories brought some sadness as I missed much of the experience while working.

This curriculum and documents are an affirmation of the work my family willingly performed in order that my oldest can graduate and go to graduate school in the science filed and my youngest can go to a university with a scholarship. Soon we will have only memories and a few mementos as we finish cleaning the room. Even this blog will finish its transition from homeschooling to some other activity. Our fifteen or so years of homeschooling was an overwhelming success in so many ways. We went from going into the unknown to the enlightenment with homeschooling. We chose a tough path but the rewards were worth the effort. I have reached the last page of a book that had no title. I encourage others to take on that book with no title and create the title as you will not regret it.

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Life of Homeschool Science #8

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Early in our homeschooling experience, we heard about a young man who graduated from a local community by his tenth grade. I never could confirm this for it was learned from a friend’s husband who taught at the community college. This put the seed in my mind of if this person could do so would my oldest. I pushed the Educator to direct our oldest’s education towards a community college. It became apparent in a year or so that my goal could not be achieved. My oldest was not going to graduate by tenth grade. He first had much to learn before being able to take on that type of load.

There is a point with homeschooling families where they believe they can not teach the subject. The Educator thought the sciences to be this area. The Educator was wrong but this direction was no longer needed. A college opportunity for Youth 1 arrived and we seized the opportunity.

Youth 1’s senior year required a math and a science. Youth 1 was ready for calculus and only physics was never attempted. The college placement exam allowed Youth 1 to proceed with these classes if so desired. This is what Youth 1 did. He took calculus, chemistry and physics. Taking these course alleviated the need to find curriculum for Youth 1 and the Educator. These courses also count at credits if my son goes to this school after high school.

He recommends you teaching your child physics at home before taking it at the college level. This would apply with chemistry. If you’re familiar with the subject it will help in college. I would say do precalculus before taking calculus. We made a mistake by skipping physics.

Check with your local community colleges and universities to see if your child can attend. You are not relieved of duty if they can attend and take these courses. I recommend you get every supplemental help you can get and monitor your child. Youth 1 has visited his professors quite often and developed friendships where they help each other. There are also other online help and books to assist. The biggest need in these types of classes are problems to do. The more you do the better you get.

Give this route a thought.

Life of Homeschool Science #7

March 23, 2014 Leave a comment

I’m going to jump ahead to the late middle school years and early high school. To me this is a very important time. For some scholarship requirements, you need to start applying letter grades and documenting textbooks. This is also an important preparation period for college bound students.

The Educator had an initial fear of how to instruct Youth 1 in the sciences at this point. The experiments were easy enough but when you apply mathematics everything changes. How do you teach a subject you are not familiar with? We started looking at ways to educate Youth 1.

We looked at my old college textbooks. I had a chemistry and a calculus book ready to be used. The help would come in a form of the internet. It was doable but difficult. This would require some concentration on all to get this done in a school year. There were other alternatives.

This is where a homeschool group is worth the value of membership. There was a parent that would teach biology. I believe Apologetics was used. The class was formal and instruction occurred. Labs were also done in this class. All reading, homework and lab reports were done outside of class. Even the exams were to be given by the parents.

Youth 1 experienced a classroom environment consisting of homeschoolers. Quizzes and lab were graded and grades posted. This was a real-world experience for Youth 1 and the other students. This class helped to prepare Youth 1.

There was even a chemistry course that Youth 1 participated in. This class was of a similar environment to the biology course. This chemistry class used Apologetics as well. In fact, this course helped provide the opportunity for Youth 1 to test out of first year chemistry at the local university, an option we chose to not take.

As a student enters the upper years of schooling, the educational style needs to change. If you look at chemistry you now need to know how to do stoichiometry. No longer can you only scratch the surface. If your studying physics the simple stuff no longer apply. You need to be able to understand the formulas and utilize them in order to do the calculations.

As a homeschooling parent, you need to be aware of the time to change the way your child is learning. We transferred to a textbook and away from multiple books. No longer was Youth 1 looking at a general subject. He was now going into depth with the subject. Think about how you will go about educating your child during the middle school and high school years.

Why was Apologetics textbooks used? The person teaching required this.

Life of Homeschool Science #6

March 22, 2014 Leave a comment

The early years of science in our household was based on many books and magazines supplemented by visits to nature parks, museums and yes even the television. I can not begin to tell you of the many experiments done in this house.

If you were to ask me if there was one item in our science program that was instrumental to us what is it? The first word would be TOPScience (http://topscience.org/). We have relied on this material for many of the experiments. The PS
material has been used into the middle school years. There are a few Tops ideas we have used since with Youth 2.

The higher grade years for us has required a more in depth look at science than TOPS provides. We have never touched to my memory the physics or chemistry. A different method has been utilized by us. These two fields require more than what TOPS can offer but could be a supplement to the main material.

I highly recommend everyone to check this out. The parent can learn just as much as the child. A good way to go through this material is to use outside material as well. We commonly use age appropriate books to go along with the tops.

Life of homeschool science #5

March 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Support.

Unlike many adults, I do not find it odd to come home and see paperclipped leaves and paper on a tree alongside my driveway. Entering our kitchen, it is not uncommon to see organic items in various states of decay and rot. A visitor would think us a bit untidy with our food. I am not surprised to see a blue or purple celery stalk or some liquid concoction of a strange color. Open my closet door and I can find some type of plant growing there such as a lima bean. I have no problem of having to stand and eat my dinner because an lab experiment is in progress on our dining room table or has just finished. There was even a time when the solar system was pinned to our living room wall that required my covering the holes as the Educator repainted the living room later on. I must confess the room was due to be painted in the summer.

There are strange requests, too. It is not uncommon for me to receive requisition requests for items. We do not regularly consume two liters bottles of soda. I find Walmart, Lowes and the local grocery store a nice place to get some of the items. Others I must rely on ordering from Amazon.

There are experiments where I am asked to be involved in. There has been a time where I had to set up a telescope in 40°F weather for Youth 1 and Youth 2 to see a planet or the moon. I have been asked to help identify the type of lizard we have or to find directions to the Maryland Science Center and participate.

I support my family in these tasks as well as other homeschooling tasks. I am inconvenienced often but willingly go along with this. Eat cereal, waffles or some other quick food for a dinner is not minded by me. This is part of my duty as a spouse and parent.

Homeschooling in general requires support from the spouse. The more active the support is the easier and more educational homeschooling is. It is sad for me to hear some homeschooling families that MUST clean up the area before the husband is home and need to get that meal ready. How is this translated to the children? The message is as straightforward as intended, though not the message that was expected.

Life of Homeschool Science #4

March 15, 2014 2 comments

In our “enlightened” society sexuality and sexual experimentation is encouraged. Even drug used is subtly encouraged. You can not go far without these being thrust at you. There is even a new show called “Sex Box” to be displayed on the tely. This is a show where couples have sex in a box with a studio audience outside. After their encounter, they come out and talk to three experts. This is what our world encourages. It is pushed off as educational, but we all know it is exploitation and a form of sexual gratification. By the way we got this show from the Brits.

What is not encouraged is the exploration of the world around us. How many families encouraged their children to explore nature? I constantly hear “Don’t pick that UP!” or “Leave it alone!” There is a push for us to not explore nature. My children have always been encourage to explore what is around us without damaging anything. This is why I know what reptiles are on my property. We know what trees are growing on my property and what insects are damaging our trees.

I see too many teenagers more concerned about sexuality than education. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are not important to them. It is dating, kissing and sex. This is happening at eleven, twelve and even earlier. Parents are seeing nothing wrong with immature and developing brains dealing with complex issues. These are children and NOT adults.

Why am I concentrating on this. We do not allow exploration anymore. Everyone is discouraged from climbing that tree over there. Don’t walk in the water. Don’t touch the creature. We even say these things will hurt you. How can we improve in the science field if all we know is NO.

How do we solve this problem? We stack more shingles on the leaking roof instead of fixing the leak. We get a few successes and declare the program worth the money. We fail to see the student that is succeeding with STEM is the student that would succeed without it. My children have been involved in STEM style programs and the people involved are the families that stress education. Sorry, but lower incomes families are not there. Sports pushing families are not there. Materialistic families are not there.

It is my personal belief we need to encourage and allow our children to explore nature. This will help to enhance our love of science.

Life of Homeschool Science #3

March 15, 2014 Leave a comment

Our second year was much of the same as the first year. This year 46 books were read. Wow! That is a lot isn’t it? Each science subject Youth 1 learned had multiple books to it. There were at least 13 books on the weather. This is where I public and private schools fail. You may get two books involved in the subject you are studying.

I need to explain the books. A few of the books were indeed educational magazines. The majority of the books were age appropriate, too. Nah, let say all of the books were age appropriate. Having multiple sources helped the Educator to understand the subject as well as Youth 1.

We also looked at our local community for help in science. Youth 1 went to a community college for additional learning during the summer. The program was College For Kids. Here Youth 1 was in a classroom setting learning about science. Youth 1 really had a lot of fun with this program. It cost a few bucks but was worth it.

This year we learned of the lapbook. It was very helpful in educating Youth 1. As the Educator and Youth 1 worked on the weather, they would build the lapbook. This would reinforce what Youth 1 learned. It is also a nice keepsake for Youth 1.

A pizza-book was constructed for the study of reptiles. Youth 1 really enjoyed studying reptiles. We would forever be cursed with Youth 1 bringing snakes, lizards, frogs, toads, salamanders and whatever creature that could be found to us. Many times he would bring them indoors to the chagrin of the Educator. Watching Youth 1 smile as the creature has a mouthful of this finger or hand was amusing for me at least. The Educator not so much.

How does the pizza-book work. In our case the pizza was cut into four quadrants with information on each. Each quadrant could open up in a different direction thus allowing more information to be included. This is similar to a lapbook.

Another method similar to the lapbook is the overlay. While studying plants Youth 1 and the Educator created an overlay. The finish plant and soil was on top. As you open it up or peel it back, you see the life cycle of the plant. Now the cover is the finished product and as you open each section you see the growth of the plant. The very end is the seed.

Kitchen Chemistry was big this year, too. The book Kitchen Chemistry by John B. Bath and Sally C. Mayberry was the main part of this education. Youth 1 would learn about mixtures, solutions and reactions. Even Youth 2 got involved when they were making pennies shine once more.

We are beginning to set our educational structure. Lab experiments and reading will become a major player early on. Our family utilizes outside help for science education. Everything we do is hands-on and exploration is encouraged.