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Just not enough time

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Here's a question for some veterans who've already put one or more students through homeschool.


My oldest is a 7th grader, and I've a few more down to a 2-year old. I was just thinking, if I only had one student, I would be schooling her, and choosing curriculum that would be the "best" in every subject, after endlesss research, comparison, etc, regardless of money, time and teacher-effort!


However, as that is not my reality, I need to balance the amount of time I spend with each child and not spend time doing "unnecessary" things from grades 1-8, because there simply isn't enough time and energy to go around! Even if there were enough time, are there academic areas that don't need to be exhaustively covered, because they pick it up in high school anyway, without any problem? So if I had an extra hour, I might not choose to do a weekly biology lab, but instead go to the park (wow, what a luxury!) and just PLAY!


So far, I've decided these subjects will not be taught formally: a second foreign language, art, music, logic before 7th grade, spelling before 3rd grade. I've also decided not to use some great-looking curriculum, for the sole reason that they are parent-intensive: IEW, SWR, CW....etc.


But I'm curious what insights others might have, at the end of the journey. What would you say now, knowing what you know, are things you would NOT have chosen to spend so much energy and time on in elementary/midddle school years... and also the reason behind your thinking/experience.


I appreciate any advice you can toss this way!

Edited by Jean in CA
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I would respond to this in more detail, but I just don't have the time. :D So I hope others will weigh in. Because, yes, absolutely, you have to decide what is essential and do those things well, rather than lots of things poorly. I work outside the home, and it took me years to realize that I need to pare down to what was realistic and useful. Good for you, figuring this out sooner than later! :tongue_smilie:

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With my dc, I try to shore up their weaknesses in late elementary/middle school. Once they are high school age, it's all about their strengths and interests, and only the minimum necessary in areas they don't care about. For my oldest dc (now a junior in college) that meant that he had 7 credits of foreign language and about the same in lit/English, and only the bare minimum of history and science. He did a bit more than the minimum in math, because he finished Saxon's Advanced Mathematics book, although he does not like math AT ALL. For my current high schooler, who has dyslexia and dysgraphia, that means that I am accomodating her LDs while doing high school level work instead of working where she can on her own. I read a lot to her, and we are currently working on an Attica prison riot essay (her choice) by her dictating and me typing. She will do much more rigorous science than her brother did because she may go into a science-related field (probably biology or natural history).

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We discovered outsourcing classes when my oldest was in 10th, and we have used these extensively to cover areas that 1) I didn't feel I had the expertise or interest to teach; 2) my kids were particularly interested in; 3) the time commitment to do a decent job teaching it exceeded my available time; and 4) subjects best taught in a group setting (English lit).


While I applaud and encourage parents to teach their kids many subjects, at the high school level outsourcing can be a blessing to everyone involved.


1) Outside classes can lower the friction between teen and parent.

2) Outside classes provide a level of rigidity (due dates, etc.) that I have never achieved in teaching my own kids (and I don't want to!)

3) Outside classes provide people to write recommendations and provide outside grades

4) Outside classes can save mom's sanity (AP Latin, classes with extensive labs, calculus.....)

5) Outside classes allow a student to get to know different teaching and grading styles

6) Outside classes can provide access to an "expert" to teach a challenging subject.


Outsourcing can take the form of online classes, personal tutor, community college classes, cooperative homeschool classes, and even classes at the local 4-year college.

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Kathy and Gwen, thanks for the great suggestions!


I remember reading about "learning centers" many many years ago, and I set things up for my pre-K and elementary aged dc. It was SUCH a hit! I will definitely try to put together something again.... maybe a foreign language corner, books on tape area, art supplies and crafts/card-making area.


And Gwen, I think I'll most likely be outsourcing Latin at some point, as well as lab sciences.


For now, in elementary grades, does anyone prioritize skill vs. content areas? I consider reading, writing, math to be skills, while history and science are more content-based. There is some skill in learning the method of scientific inquiry, how to keep a lab notebook, etc. but are these necessary to learn before high school? And with history, while you can use the subject to teach outlining and critical thinking/summary skills, the goal is not to memorize and cover all possible topics, right? Similarly, in science, I seem to recall the WTM suggest the goal of science through middle school is to generate interest in the 4 categories: biology, chemistry, earth sciences, and physics, not to cover these branches exhaustively. I agree in my head. But then, why does my heart drool over BJU Science 7 every time I read a post about it!!! I have told myself, more is not better, but then there's that nagging voice that says, "what if I'm not doing enough" and we're not laying a "good enough" foundation!?


And then there are logic and vocabulary studies. How much *formal* study of these subjects (using a separate curriculum) is truly beneficial ? Can you learn to think logically in other ways? Such as through some challenging discussions with mom and dad around the kitchen table on topics ranging from fiction, foreign events, politics, media, etc? And can a great vocabulary be built simply by reading a wide variety of good literature? At least in my family, I'm noticing the child who reads voraciously seems to be the one with the very large vocab!


Other areas I don't get to on a regular basis, or have not taught at all in grades 1-8: geography, lab science, chemistry, world history from 1900 and on, formal spelling rules.


So, what does "good enough" mean for you? In terms of a doable, effective plan of study, for grades 1-8, that may not be exhaustive or comprehensive.

Edited by Jean in CA
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Wish I would have done things a little differently. Early on I wasn't confident in my homeschooling ability and relied on textbooks, and then I discovered lit based curric like Sonlight and now a somewhat classical approach.


Had I known then what I know now, I would have nixed the textbooks altogether. DS still remembers the history we learned through literature. We just finished The Giver and ds was able to analyze this piece of lit, (we are using Windows to the World -- love love love it) and also for Bible, we discuss worldview through it. He also loves to dig and so research is not an issue for him.


I outsource science and in the past outsourced Math. These are not my strong areas and I do ds an injustice if I am not equipped to provide the best for him.


Most importantly, when ds expressed an interest in a particular topic, I would take him to the library and he would come home with a box of books that HE selected. One particular year it was the animal kingdom and he loved learning of them. He wound up teaching about animals and their habitats at one of the local private elementary schools here. Later on, he loved the Old Testament stories about the Kings of Judah and Israel, and learned all he could about them. When he became a teen, he wanted to know everything he could about American presidents and we supported this. I pretty much let him go on his own, except only to insist that he write about what he was learning. This led him to write a few small books (non published), which are very precious to me. Presently it is Politics and I suspect soon it will be Government. Here's the credit card, shop within your limits and have fun learning!


I did't mean to write a book!


Summariziing - support what they love, outsource where you are weak and above all, have fun and count your blessings. Before you know it, they will be close to graduation and you will find yourself remembering those early days when they loved maps so much they would insist that you set aside an entire afternoon of Geography every single Friday :tongue_smilie:

Edited by mom2paul
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Here's a few things that have worked for our family:


One thing I've stopped doing are home school field trips with homeschool groups. Total time-sucker! Everything takes longer when you go somewhere with a gigantic group. Instead my family does the occasional "educational" outings to museums and such- but not as part of school.


I do not do a formal science curriculum for k-5th. Instead my children pick out science/nature library books and during reading time each day they read for 30 minutes from literature and then 30 minutes from science books.


This may be heresy- but I don't do a separate intensive phonics or spelling in elementary. It's worked for us- copywork was enough to turn them all into good spellers.


We don't do organized competitive sports. I know this doesn't work for everyone- but I cannot drag my littlest two around to practice and games because of their health conditions. My high schoolers have found a great intramural group alternative to competitive sports (and they can drive themselves).

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