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Shawna in North CA

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  1. Online classes have filled an important niche for us. In my experience, the value of a live instruction class is all about the skill of the instructor. If my child is provided 3 hours of live instruction per week, with a master teacher who knows their subject inside and our, who love kids, AND who can trascend the online classroom format and provide a authentic, relationtional classroom experience, it is WELL worth the investment. We've also experienced online courses that did not meet those expectations, particularly in the area of the instructor being able to bridge the relationship gap online. And in those cases, I should have spent half the money for a self-pace, static-content course. Some instructors can reach through that web-platform and connect with students, and some just cannot. We've had great experiences with most of the Veritas Press Online Academy courses, and next year are enrolled in a couple of courses from Wilson Hill because some of the most skilled teachers we've enjoyed at VPSA are teaching courses for WH. We've also prioritized online courses (because of financial constraints) to those that really lend to rhetorical discussion and master teaching, rather than skills instruction. For us, that means the Great Books courses such as VPSA's Omnibus and WH Great Conversation. I can find math instruction, or even science instruction, from a variety of (cheaper) online, DVD or book-based options. But having a master-mentor teacher lead my child through an in-depth study of Dante or Plato, with rich, participatory student discussion...$700 per year is a bargain.
  2. A couple of years back, I found a website with a private individual offering thematic online writing courses using the IEW materials. We have taken several online courses directly from IEW and they have been wonderful. However, I am seeking to deviate slightly from the SWI and SWI-CC sequence. If anyone knows of any instructors online offering courses, and could direct me that way, I would be grateful! Thank you!
  3. I print a checklist for my kids weekly. It has a place to check off their daily independent schoolwork and chore tasks: 30 minutes piano practice, 30 minutes math fact practice, etc. A finished daily checklist is their ticket to freedom to do as the please the rest of the day. Its working great!
  4. Pretty much everything we buy will eventually end up in a landfill. We need to come to grips with that fact, if we are going to be consumers. The more we buy, the more garbage we make. Americans just have too much STUFF. We could probably stop manufacturing clothing for the next 10 years and easily clothe our entire population by sharing around what already exists in the nation's closets, attics, basements, garages and storage units. I have no problem landfilling stuff that is worn out, and that I don't realistically think will be used by others. But I try to balance this by buying very minimally and using things up. My whole family has a very limited wardrobe....just what we need for the season. By the end of the week, if we don't do laundry, the closets will be empty. As stuff wears out, we replace those items, preferably with used clothing. When I have a bag of stained or worn children's clothing, I will advertise them on our local Facebook "Free" page as "Girls size 6 clothing...playclothes quality." Usually I have some local person snap them up. If not, to the trash they go. The rare unstained but too-small used children's clothing items go to the consignement store. I think we need to reconsider the idea that donating our "excess" so that we can make room to buy more stuff that we want is somehow generous or moral, and perhaps consider why we have so much "excess" in the first place.
  5. Is food subsidized in Germany? That may account for the lower prices. It may also be that your Euro just buys more than the dollar.
  6. I just wanted to add that in our quite-informal homeschool group (that is mostly about somewhat organized play...not academic) we had a GRANDMA, who homeschooled her own children, and now her daughter is homeschooling, offer to plan some fun preschool activities for the little ones during our get-togethers. It was wonderful. She brought playdough, cookies to decorate, simple art projects....just for the under 5s...most of whom were younger siblings. She offered to do this because she said she remembered how desperate she was for adult conversation when her kids were all little. We don't have a minimum age for children in our homeschool group. Again, our group is just for socialization though. We meet in a community gymnasium with a large rec room attached. The gym is open for active games, and the rec room is set up with board games, legos, and art projects. Kids are instructed to find something to do with their friends, and moms drink coffe and talk and supervise. So little ones fit in pretty well. However, having a grandma with a plan is awesome, and I think our preschool mom feel very welcome. Our group is about relationships and support though...not about academics and enrichment.
  7. Beth, I loved your original post. I so remember feeling like you do. I so remember my excitement about curriculum for my first born...I was chomping at the bit. And now, being more "seasoned" I realize that all that curriculum was not important for him...but it WAS important for me. I was sequestered at home with 4 little ones under age five. I was the only mom on the block not sending her 3 year old off to preschool. I so hear you. I think you've been given some great insight and ideas about what works and what doesn't in terms of integrating the preschool crowd into homeschool groups. Every group is different. I think you've also had some great input about starting a group that meets your needs. So hopefully you are inspired and encouraged. MY takeaway from your post though is for us more "seasoned" moms. Lets not forget what it is like to be the only mom on the block not sending your kids to preschool. These preschool years are crossroads years for parents who are choosing to do something counter-cultural....not take advantage of institutionalize learning and all the community and routine it brings. The mindset and lifestyle shift to homeschooling does start in preschool. When a mom eschews the modern mandate of "early childhood education", and the huge cultural push to send your little one out the door to preschool at age 2 or 3....she finds herself swimming upstream. I certainly did. Even in my own tight church community! When my mom and baby group friends were now finding time to go to the gym together, attend morning ladies Bible Studies, or volunteer in the classroom...I was still HOME, wondering what to do with myself. And so I focused on creating school at home for my little ones. Necessary? Not academically, but for my own santity and sense of purpose, absolutely. So I for one will pause before telling the newbie preschool mom "just relax, enjoy the moments." Its not helpful. I might be more willing to offer her some of my favorite, inspiring homeschool reads that I enjoyed back in the day. And to introduce her to some of the fun preschool curriculum we used to love....like Five in a Row, or Right Start math games. And definitely invite her to park day. Because we have the opportunity to support the next generation as they embrace real learning in their homes.
  8. Thank you! That is very helpful. She really needs to meet real, flesh and blood people, who are on this journey!
  9. I have a friend in Portland who is considering not enrolling her daughter in kindergarten. She is looking for homeschooling communities in her city. Any suggestions? My friend has one daughter age almost 5, and another on the way soon from China. She is a Christian, but is open to any supportive group of moms! Thanks!
  10. I am working with a few other local parents to help our high school district understand how vast the educational options are for students in the private sector. Currently, our high school district offers an "indepent study" program that allows students alternative coursework, and also allows them to participate in school activities such as sports, music, theater, etc. The trouble is that their only course options are very low-level, textbook driven courses. They literally have two options for each course: textbook A, or textbook B. We are proposing that the district allow indepent study students to purchase alternative courses (on their own dime of course) from some of the MANY private providers that exist, and receive course credit. I am brainstorming a list of the various options that exist on the market. Will you help me add to my list? I know I have barely scratched the surface. And, I am interested in both religious and non-religious options. Thanks! Purchased courses may include: Live interaction online courses. Examples: aphomeschoolers.com potterschool.com Veritas Press Scholars Academy https://vpsa.veritaspress.com/ landryacademy.com apologiaacademy.com Stanford Online High School http://ohs.stanford.edu/academics.html Self-Paced online courses Examples: kineticbooks.com thinkwellhomeschool.com Apex Learning Ascend Learning K12.com Kahn Academy Multi-Media Self-paced course (DVD/CD ROM) Examples: Institute for Excellence in writing (DVD courses) The Great Courses 4. Private or small group instruction with qualified teacher
  11. Jackie, those are absolutely big ideas! Glad to see that. So I'm not really sure what our friend is talking about.
  12. I'm pretty ignorant of these changes, but a couple days ago we had a visit with a family friend who is a high school administrator. One change, among many, that he cited was a change in emphasis away from reading literature, poetry, great books, etc., and towards reading for information. Then, in the same breath he said that history and humanities curriculum will focus more on answering "the big questions". For example, "Is democracy the best form of government?" "Is war unavoidable?" Now, these two changes really seem mutually exclusive. If you want students thinking about "big questions", but you are not exposing them to "big ideas" I'm not sure how that is going to work. The idea of eliminating literature, in favor of modern, academic writing, is troubling to me. That presents students with a very limited, exclusively modern, world view and discourages free-thinkers. Anyone else know anything about this?
  13. My 7th grade son is doing Omni 1 Primary this year, and is really enjoying it. However, he is taking it through the Scholars Academy online. Speaking only for myself, I would have a very hard time, and so would ds, doing Omnibus without the support adn guidance of a teacher. In my opinion, the readings are really a lot for a 12 year old to tackle on their own, without a lot of support. My ds is an excellent reader, and still the amount of reading and content was rigorous. With his EXCELLENT teacher though, he's had a blast with the Omnibus readings. If I were going to do 7th grade history/lit on my own, I would choose the Sonlight booklist. I love Sonlight, and yet have never really used their Instructors Guides....just their books. I don't find that I really need to follow their sequence. Its kind of obvious what order to put the book in, and I'm not sure it matters too much anyway. I just have my kids read what comes next. We talk about it. I may have them do a few writing assignments. I don't feel that read-and-respond comprehension questions are necessary for learning through literature. Someone already mentioned the Omnibus Self-Paced course. Great idea. Only $200, adn could be a great hybrid solution between Omnibus all on your own and paying the $$ for the live course. If your son loves fun history literature though, consider grabbing a few titles from the Sonlight list for Ancient History to supplement the Omnibus books. A few high-interest, easy-to-read historical fiction books would be a nice addition. And, if you do decide to do SL now and wait a year or two for Omnibus, you could certainly start Omni 1 as a 9th grader. Four years of Omnibus, even though it has 6 levels, will certainly give a highschooler PLENTY of good history, literature, theology and thinking skills!
  14. I totally agree, and this has been my experience. We lived in a darling, farmhouse style home with an attached garage that we converted to my dream school room. It was absolutely beautiful, especially when there were not kids in it. But when thre were kids in it, it quickly became a disaster zone, because more times than not, they were in there with out me. That is because my house is a home and not a school. I have to integrate "school" with "life." And that means lots of multitasking. Putting dinner in the crockpot while facilitating a spelling test. Folding laundry while we listen to an audiobook, etc. Separating school from life by way of a separate room DID NOT work for me. It also caused me to accumulate lots of stuff that I didnt' need. When we did move, I purged about 75% of my "school" stuff, becuase again, this is not a school...its a home. Our new house is an open ranch style. Bedrooms surround a huge, open, living and dining area. I have 2 kitchen tables and a short kids-size tables, book shelves, toys shelves, my desk, art cabinets, comfy couches, a woodstove, and awesome views out to our barnyard and pond. Learning and living are very integrated in this space, and I find it is much more natural to homeschool in this integrated room.
  15. Yes. Every night, for going on 16 years. :)
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