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Everything posted by lewelma

  1. I wrote a massive post on this topic many years ago back when I was researching writing programs. My kids were older than yours, but I'm not clear by how much. There were lots of contributors and I kept adding to the thread over many years. Mostly targets 5th through 12th grade. Ruth in NZ
  2. It was Regentrude that convinced me that my older ds was doing way more work than I thought. I was only counting seat time - so 3 hours on all core classes 5 days a week (no weekends) and 2 hours of competition math. I would mention the hours of reading he did at night, but I never counted them in his 'hours.' Regentrude helped me to see that there was a lot of learning happening in his reading, and in the end I created courses for his transcript out of these hours - Contemporary World Problems, Philosophy, Economics of Inequality, American History in a worldwide context, Paleontology, Russian literature, and Postmodern literature. Basically, I came to believe that he was schooly in his STEM courses and unschooly in his humanities/Social Sciences courses. So when people are talking 2 hours a day and then saying but we do this this and this. It might be that their kids do much more but are only counting the school-type work. Work dictated and organized by adults.
  3. As I said above, I find that some of the deepest conversations that I have in real life are with homeschoolers with kids with learning disabilities. I have come to believe that this is because the standard programs don't work for their kids. That they have to think deeply about how their ideal education or even an average education has to be altered to be implemented. They have to make the hard choices. They have to weigh the benefits of certain ideals with possible negative consequences. They have to decide how resilient their kids are to working a way that their brain is not designed to work. They have to balance shoring up weaknesses with letting strengths run. These choices are incredibly difficult to make, and it is very easy to second guess your self as you wander in the dark. No one can actually tell you what the ideal education is for your unique child, and that has been more scary to me than empowering.
  4. I am a big fan of open ended questions. Science is about investigation. Investigation is about the thrill of discovering something you cannot look up, that no one else has ever done. We really enjoyed figuring out how the different types of water supported different communities of critters. And the more you study, the more questions you have. You could study puddles in sunny areas vs shady areas. You could study water from different frog tanks in different peoples homes. You could study water from different locations in a stream - fast moving, slow moving, deep, shallow, muddy, clear. You could make a grid and try to figure out why each is the way it is. You can even get into experimental design if you want and try for replication of pools, replication of samples, etc. This is basically a community ecology study on a micro-organism scale.
  5. Farrar, I think the thing you are missing is how students can acquire transferable skills. My older ds did not write a single paper in 8th or 9th grade, not for English or History. He was a poor writer at the beginning of 8th grade (at least a year or 2 behind), but basically refused to write because there was MATH to do. I was pulling my hair out, and had many conversations with my dh about what to do, and in the end we did not feel it was worth it to destroy my relationship with ds to pull a luke warm paper out of him. He was still reading hours of high level literature, so we decided to ignore his poor writing skills for those years. So you can imagine my surprise to find that when he was assessed in 10th grade for the National NZ English Exam, he was an advanced writer for English - top 10% for 11th graders and he was in 10th grade. Um, like how do you advance 5 years in 2 when you are not writing at all?!?!?! But yet he was. He was writing math proofs. Piles and piles of them for AoPS. These were page long, logically organized, properly spelled and punctuated math proofs graded with feedback by mathematicians. Writing math proofs directly translated into writing literary analysis. So, for my ds he saved a ton of time by basically doing two things at once - doing his Math was also doing his English.
  6. I will take this one on as my shorter post might have been interpreted that way. I think that we as high school educators need to evaluate each of our children as individuals and ask what they need to move to the next level. Sometimes a kid needs external requirements to learn independence, sometimes a kid needs deep time-consuming discussions about literature, sometimes a kid needs detailed careful commentary about their work, and sometimes a kid needs more freedom to find their own path. Each choice we make should be made for a reason, and although occasionally that reason can be easy for parent or get-it-done course for a child, that should NOT be the overriding approach of a rigorous homeschool highschool program. Some examples: My older boy needed outside math courses as he got to a higher and higher level, so we outsourced with AoPS and then later to the university. Outsourcing was wonderful for him and for me, because I just could NOT keep up with the speed of his learning. But when we found the courses were WAY too easy, he quit taking them. They taught him time management and meeting external requirements, but they also taught him that outsourcing for his best thing was a waste of time. At that point he needed to do courses on his own, and my role was to find 2 things 1) resources, and 2) people to answer his questions. I also had to do 2 more things to support this independent work 1) set a reasonable but flexible schedule, and 2) check up on his progress on a daily or alternating day basis. The Point of this example: every experience was chosen for a reason and then we adapted as he needed different things. We didn't say, oh well, the university courses are too easy, but that is the best we can do so we will make do. That might have been ok for something he didn't care so much about, but it was NOT ok for his best thing. Example 2: my younger boy has dysgraphia. There was no text-based or online that could have accomplished what I have accomplished through LONG diligent face-to-face work with him. 2 hours per day teaching, mentoring, struggling for years and years. Sure I could have said "oh, my boy has dysgraphia" and just accepted it. But through long persistent work, *together* we have dug him out of a deep hole that was impacting every aspect of his education. Have I gotten everything right? HELL NO. I have written about all my failures on the learning challenges board. But the point is that *I* am the educator, *I* make the choices. But the other thing to know is that because he works so hard on his *worst* thing, I let him take an easy-pass on other subjects. The goal is balance. For Literature, he is doing a survey of the different types of fantasy. Certainly not the War and Peace that my older boy was reading at this age. But for my younger boy, he needs to do something easy after doing all the hard work on writing. But here is the thing, I am *choosing*. I am not just letting marketing ploys of 'oh we can fix it' or 'oh, homeschooling is easy', or 'just buy this program and your kid can be independent.' What does he need that is NOT taught by me? He needs courses that drive him to succeed in things that don't require writing. Violin so that he can learn to meet other's expectations and know that it is not just his mother with high expectations, and drama because he needs to learn to talk in public, to be a leader, to work in a group. I choose to outsource for this child what he needs outsourced. He cannot write, so outsourcing courses with a written component would never work, but yet he still needs the experience of outsourcing because he tends to want to slide by. So for every kid there is a balance. Some stuff should be as challenging as they can handle, which clearly depends on the child. And some stuff should be easy so that a child can build independence and confidence. You use outsourcing to meet specific goals you have for your child. But the entire program must be planned holistically, and carefully adjusted as a child grows and learns. That is how you make a great education. Ruth in NZ
  7. 8, there are still many of us here that share your vision. I too keep looking for the deep conversations we used to have here. What I am seeing is that newbies don't ask the right questions -- they just ask about curriculum or outsourcing or time in seat questions. Where are the big threads like Depth vs Breadth? So, if the oldtimers need to be pushed and challenged by each other, we need to create these threads ourselves. We cannot rely on the newbies anymore. But if we start these deep threads, they will come.
  8. I'd love to add something to this thread, but really am just agreeing with everyone. I'm meeting on Sunday with two parents of 9th graders who have physical illness who are considering homeschooling, and I really don't know what to say. If they expect me to say, 'oh, it's easy to educate teens,' then they are going to be mistaken. I know these kids have physical illness, but it is still hard to educate anyone at a high school level. I don't plan to pull any punches as they need to know what they are getting into if they choose to leave school and try to educate their own. Homeschooling highschool is HARD. For me, REALLY REALLY HARD because my kids are crazy high level, and I am not. I do think I have high standards, but I also am not willing to just have my kids go it alone. So I learn all the subjects they learn, which has been a hard, some-times lonely journey, but it has allowed me to ensure that they are learning to be deep and insightful thinkers. I'm not ok with just punching a ticket. I homeschool because I think I can do *better* than the local school, and the local school that my kids are zoned for is the TOP school in the country, as in number 1 public or private. I can do better because I can tailor an education to their interests, and I can run interference with the bazillion national assessments kids are required to take here. And I feel vindicated by the experience my older boy has had at university in America. But unfortunately, I am surrounded by unschoolers here who tell me I am 'amazing' but basically don't have the energy, motivation, or intellect to do high school *with* their kids. People seem to want easy solutions to difficult problems. The most dedicated parents who are the most interesting to talk to are the parents with kids with learning disabilities. They seem to work way way way harder than the parents with neuro-typical kids. I'm not sure why exactly, but definitely true in my experience with many many families. Ruth in NZ
  9. Do you have a microscope? If so, we did an awesome biology project. Not microbiology or genetics, but we collected water from lots of different sources (a puddle, a stream, a rocky intertidal pool, and water from a frog aquarium. My ds identified the organisms, drew them, classified them, measured their size, measured their density, measured their speed. His question: "which of the different environments had the most diversity?" Secondary questions: 1) where was the diversity located (top/bottom/sunny/nonsunny/muddy/clear etc) in each location? 2) how do you decide what *diversity* is? 3) Is the stream safe to drink from with a filter bottle? 4) What is the best way to make a slide? 5) how do you measure density? How do you measure size to help you with identification? What are all the parts he saw within each micro-organism? etc. There were so many problems to solve when doing this study. It was so much fun! And I still have all his drawings.
  10. We are interest led -- almost unschooling in style. So the 2 hours is because *he* wants to. Fortunately or unfortunately, his best and worst thing is in English. He is a highly-gifted writer with the inability to handle the *encoding* of his ideas. So we did 'typing dictation' for 30 minutes per day where he worked on spelling and mechanics and punctuation for four years 7th-10th grade, and then 1.5 hours of studying other's writing and having him dictate to me. Now that his encoding piece is finally cleaning up, we are focusing on him writing high-interest papers with LOTS of scaffolding as I described above. So right now he is trying to write a high-end National Geographic article; he wants to make it adult-level of publishable quality with nuance and deep insight. To accomplish *his* goal, for the past 10 days we have spent 45 minutes per day reading 4 different National Geographic articles and then analyzing one in a really deep way (likely 5 hours). Now we are on our 3rd day of 45 minutes working on a thesis and outlining his article (the *thesis* has been really hard to identify). He will try to write the first 3 paragraphs tomorrow, and I will sit next to him but do something else at the time. I expect this 10 paragraph paper to take 8 full days to write, at that point we will edit. So I'm not pushing, nor are we doing a 'program.' He is writing what he wants to write, in a way he wants to write it, with a ton of support from me!
  11. I could, but I'm not going to. They are too cool to list under a title that implies textbook use and general topical coverage. These are intense single subject courses, worthy of course recognition. 🙂 180 hours on comparing Botswana to the DRC is not really 'cultural geography' or 'sociology'. It is a course with a single focus. And ds has written nine 5 page papers for the topic during his study. I'm thinking something like 'Impact of colonialism on Sub-Saharan Africa.' His half courses could be: 'The politics of land use in the South Island of NZ' 'Demographic history of Maori and Pakeha in NZ' 'Economic and Environmental Consequences of Damming NZ Rivers.' Would be fun to put together a transcript. 🙂
  12. My younger spends 10 hours per week on research projects for Geography. He has done 4 over the period of 45 weeks. So 450 hours. I plan to make these into a 1-credit and three-0.5 credit courses. He has compared the impact of colonialism, resource identification, and leadership at independence to the economic and social development of Botswana vs the DR Congo today. (full credit) He evaluated the different perspectives of farmers, tourism operators, and environmentalists on how the Mackensie Basin should be used and the economic, social, political, and environmental ramifications of each perspective. Plus a two-day field trip to evaluate environmental impact of farming and conservation efforts in the Basin. 1/2 credit. He evaluated the historical, political, and social causes of the hydroelectric dam project in the South Island, and economic and environmental ramifications of its construction. Plus a full-day field trip to tour the dams and river systems it impacted. 1/2 credit He compared the causes and effects of the demographic transition timelines of Maori vs Pakeha (European) from a historical, political, and social point of view. 1/2 credit We are doing these projects for his "geography" class, but they are getting big enough to be classes in and of themselves. I just need you guys to come up with cool sounding names. 🙂 Ruth in NZ
  13. Even my older boy who is at MIT only did 30 hours of seat work each week 10-4 each day junior year including "classes" and "homework". He simply could not do more, and if I pushed, he rebelled. But he did read a LOT at night as in 3 hours, and I created courses out of his self-directed reading for his transcript. Now in university, he has had no trouble ramping it up and doing 60 hours per week. I'm not convinced this will be true for my younger as he doesn't work as hard and his night time reading is not at the same level, but it does give me hope that older kids can handle more.
  14. My younger son does 20 hours of solid work per week in academics (schoolwork/homework/ all of it). He cannot do more. If I push him at all, he just gets less efficient. The work he does is good stuff -- for example, he just wrote a research paper comparing the impact of leadership on economic and social development in the DR Congo vs Botswana. High end stuff, but he still just doesn't put in the hours. I've considering suggesting that he only take 3 course (instead of the standard 4) in his first semester at college. My older boy's university doesn't count grades in the first semester, so having my younger take a 25% fewer courses is my way of giving him the chance to succeed in college. For him, socializing is a very important part of his life (just read my siggy), and he is using it to hone his leadership skills. Sometimes I think that we as a society only count/value what we can measure, and we can't measure what he is gaining by doing non-academic work. And he is gaining a LOT.
  15. I told mine that if he wanted to go he had to find some little kids to take. And he did - a 5 and 7 year old. They had a blast!
  16. My older was born by c-section, and lost his sucking reflex due to some trama during birth as my labor was 4 days long. He could not suck, he just didn't know how. This meant that there was no stimulation to get my milk in. I hand pumped every 3 hours for a full hour round the clock for 10 days to get my milk in - so EIGHT HOURS a day round the clock. My mom and dh did shifts to sterilize equipment and feed older ds by cup. I pumped an hour, slept 2 hours, pumped an hour slept two hours for TEN days. Because of of a history of cow milk allergies, we gave my ds donated milk from other bf mothers we knew. We fed by cup so there was no nipple confusion. For the first 5 days, my milk supply after a full hour of pumping would be 5ml, which is a teaspoon. My mom kept telling me that my milk would 'come in' like in some big rush, but it never did. I *pumped* it in. It was long, slow, horribly exhausting and discouraging work, but in the end I bf my older ds for 2.5 years with no trouble. Ruth in NZ
  17. Nerf guns! Little lego kits (my older teens loving building lego even now) Frixon colorful pens - I tutor and ALL my kids put in orders for them when I go to the USA where they are cheap!
  18. My younger son does 4.5 hours 4 days per week - 5th day is for sports, drama, and socializing. He works for 3 blocks of 1.5 hours each with a break between each 830am-330pm. These 1.5 hour blocks are for HARD work, not mucking around. 40 weeks per year. He does not do a foreign language and has no plans to given his dysgraphia. Block 1: 30 min english, 1 hour math Block 2: 30 min violin, 1 hour chemistry Block 3: 1.5hours geography/english writing He does history with his dad at night for about 4 hours a week year round (read aloud and discuss). He reads his literature on his own time. The hours above do not include Violin lessons, trio rehearsals, or concerts. He has kept this same schedule from 8th through 10th grade.
  19. My younger boy needs a ton of exercise to be happy. This weekly list is barely enough. He is much much happier after a 6 day 80mile tramp with a heavy backpack, because that is about 6-8 hours per day. So here is his weekly list that he has done from age 11-15 (he turns 16 next week!): Sunday: 2 hours badminton +1 hour walk roundtrip to get there Monday: Music lessons + 30 min walk home Tuesday: play outside 1 hour (usually finding and carving sticks, but sometimes walking 30 minutes roundtrip to the lookout up a big hill) Wednesday: 1.5 hour gymnastics (which includes 30 min hard core conditioning) + 20 min push scooter to get there Thursday: 2 hours swimming + 30 min weight lifting at gym + 30 minutes walk home Friday: 2 hours drama + push scooter 40 minutes round trip to get there. And on alternating weeks ALSO does 2 hours of multisport with the homeschoolers + 20 min walk roundtrip to the bus to get there. Saturday: Long hike with dad while I'm tutoring - usually 2-5 hours. PLUS he started an daily exercise routine about 4 months ago that includes pushups, squats, pullups, jumps etc. Takes about 15 minutes daily. ++++++++ This is barely enough. DS still struggles to get to sleep, and on tuesdays he is Jittery because it has been 2 days with less. As you can see, transport is a large portion of the exercise, but we live in a safe city. And most of these activities are either cheap through the homeschoolers, so our costs are not crazy.
  20. I did not read until I was 12, and throughout highschool I only read the cliff notes for any assigned novels because I could not read them. PeterPan made me think about how I have created my own reading approach over these many years. 1) I still struggle to read novels because they are long and linear and my mind jumps to wanting an answer that is not available until the next chapter. I struggle to put these question out of my mind for many many pages until it is answered. And an even bigger problem is that these questions are not even answered in a way that I can find, and I never know when the answer is coming up. For these reasons, I don't read novels, and if I do, I read them out of order and keep notes on the characters and actions. 2) Because I struggle with a linear argument, I also don't like creative nonfiction or literary nonfiction (I'm thinking about Guns, Germs, and Steel). They are too long and make me wait for answers. Because of this, I like reading nonfiction that has little headers all over the page - these can be textbooks but can also be trade books like DK Oceans. I also like books that have clear cut short chapters that can be read independently, so right now I am reading the 48 Power Laws. Each law of how people manipulate you is about 4 pages long. And there are subheaders within the 4 pages. I am also currently working through a collection of essays, each about 4 pages, and I like magazines like the Economist and National Geographic. All of these genre are short, one idea, nonfiction texts with headers. That is my go to. 3) I struggle to read without also engaging. Basically I must read and write together. So I write all over my books, little notes in the margins, or ideas or questions. I also look up questions on the internet as I have them so that I can keep reading. Then, I often write basically a response paper in my journal when I am reading about education or power (like the book above) or some other topic that is particularly relevant to me. 4) When I am really in need of relaxing, I write. Writing is about my ideas ordered in my own way. Reading is about trying to conform my brain to someone else's wishes, which is much much harder. So I think PeterPan is right. Those of us who have struggled with reading find things that we *can* read, and sometimes they look like an odd collection.
  21. Dealing with Dragons is a fabulous book and series, and listed as reading level 4-6th grade. My ds is 16 and a great reader and still rereads it every Christmas. Not babyish at all.
  22. I am considering having ds only take 3 courses his first semester so that he will have time to learn how to learn in a more formal setting. Older son's university does not give grades in the first term so that freshman can figure things out without fear of mucking up their transcript. Pretty awesome idea. Wish my younger ds's uni did that.
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