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Designing a tailor made home education plan


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When and how do you start designing a tailor made curriculum for your children?

 

My eldest (12yo) is very linguistically minded, loves reading, writing, learning foreign languages, speech and drama. Ambleside Online seems to be a perfect fit for her. At this stage, she wants to complete a Bachelor in English Literature and English Writing. She has a few ideas of what career path she might want to pursue, but she is really drawn to this particular degree to begin with. So I am thinking that AO7-12 will be great in getting her there.

 

I had just thought that my younger two would follow the same primary and secondary education, as I have all the books and understand how they work together. However, they are two very different learners with very different interests and they aren't as keen as big sis in some of the subjects. For instance, my 8yo does not enjoy the history suggested by AO as 'they all fight and get killed' (her words). I have pulled that from her day, and instead realised that I need to spend more time with her on the mechanics of reading and writing. She is not as interested in reading independently as her older two sisters were at that age/level, but she really gets maths and is very smart. For a few years now she has talked about being a surgeon or a pilot. 

 

My 10yo loves to work quietly and independently and often teaches herself her maths lesson. She too has always understood math! Her interests have always been with horses, and recently asked me if she could go to uni to learn about horses. Her dream for the past few years has been to teach children how to ride horses. She has never shown any interest in any other occupation, so it wouldn't surprise me if she did choose something to do with horses. She could earn a bachelor of equine science, which she would need a high level of maths and science.

 

So both of my younger two will most likely benefit from a strong maths and science path. From my understanding, AO is not very strong in maths or science. I wonder if they would be better with a different science program and not so heavy literature curriculum. I know they are so young still and could change their minds several times between now and adulthood, and I also understand they really need to be exposed to all sorts of topics. A friend had given me Abeka Science textbooks for grades 7, 8 and 9. As well as Apologia Biology. Would these be a better option? I do also have Abeka science from grades 3-5 as well. I had previously dropped them though as I found them rather 'textbooky' and I would much rather living books, but maybe I need to drop my ideals here for science??

 

I understand their choices may differ from their interests now, but I want to set them up as well as I can for whatever career path they choose.

What long term plan would you consider for each of my girls, considering their interests and current levels?

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I have a strong math/science kid here.  While we have stumbled on to some great things, like MEP math, I find my self constantly adapting to his needs.  I broke down what our year would ideally look like and worked back to find items to fit.

 

Also, I give him the choice when possible.  When our subscription to Mystery Science was over I showed him Building Foundations In Scientific Understanding and did a sample lesson with him.  He looked over the table of contents and was willing to try for this year as long as we have DIY Sci as a back up (a tv show on Amazon).  I gave him the choice between two math programs.  I want him to start being involved at his level.  So honestly, I wouldn't say it matters so much what you think of Apologia, but what your kids think.  It's not worth slogging through a shoddy program if your kids hate it.

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AO leaves it up to you to choose a math program, and at least for many years, nature study can be the strongest science background for kids. Those aren't weaknesses of AO. If your world view is New Earth creationist, I'd stick with nature study (done well) for kids who need a strong science background. They will need to un-learn many of the things they will learn with Apologia and A Becka to participate in the scientific community.

 

You could also check out Homeschooling at the Helm for guidance on structuring a curriculum on children's interests.

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When and how do you start designing a tailor made curriculum for your children?

My kids are younger than yours, but I think and rethink about this constantly.

 

My goal is to put a lot of thought and energy in to a well designed curriculum for the kids while they are young--then to gradually released my preconceived notions about the education that they will need and keep my ear to the ground for opportunities for them.

 

We are a family that intentionally and systematically offers and encourages academic skills in our kids young with the intent of accelerating the 3R skills to a point of mastery.

 

Our plan is--unless a child demonstrates that they struggle to do it--have each child in the place of being able to read to learn by 1st grade.

 

We have a fairly short list of skills/subjects that WE want them to learn to a high level, but one of our main goals is to enable the children the ability, freedom, time and resources to explore broadly and develop a passion or interest of their own early. Or to invest the time in their preferred form of recreation. :laugh:

 

Reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking and research skills never go out of fashion.

This is my thinking and my hope. Ofcourse self discipline and strong work ethic too, but yeah. Our plans are to mostly get them strong abilities in reading, thinking, drawing and writing and to keep them in a steady supply of things to read, write, speak, listen, think, draw and research about according to their interests, or ours
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AO leaves it up to you to choose a math program, and at least for many years, nature study can be the strongest science background for kids. Those aren't weaknesses of AO. If your world view is New Earth creationist, I'd stick with nature study (done well) for kids who need a strong science background. They will need to un-learn many of the things they will learn with Apologia and A Becka to participate in the scientific community.

 

You could also check out Homeschooling at the Helm for guidance on structuring a curriculum on children's interests.

 

Can you please explain/elaborate on the sentence in bold? 

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Can you please explain/elaborate on the sentence in bold?

I don't want to be rude to people who choose to believe that way, or raise their kids that way.

These books are written with a new earth creationist belief. They try very hard to mould the science to that belief and provide information on how to refute accepted science that relates to the age of the earth. Many of the statements are just not true scientifically, and the refutations are almost silly in their lack of rigor. People sometimes think that the limitations are only a matter of evolution and carbon dating, but determining that the earth is far far over 5000 or so years old is only a matter of math and a telescope, or studying ice.. so there is a lot of creativity of the side of the book publishers to make things fit. They don't and can't teach real scientific thinking while trying to bend ideas to support a religious belief.

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Are you specifically wanting a curriculum such as Abeka and wondering which is the best fit for your child's interests, or are you unsure about how to design a course of study yourself? At some point a student interested in continuing in science will have to study fields that they don't like, but you can sometimes choose to mold standard classes towards their interests. For your horse-loving child, maybe for science they could do anatomy and include comparative anatomy, which compares different organisms (one of my favorite exhibits at science museums!). For the times in history or areas of geography, you could include a study of the animals - what is domesticated, what is wild, what is eaten, ridden, kept as pets? In other words, extend the topics to include areas of interest. You can't necessarily do it every year - it would be harder to incorporate 'chemistry and horses' as a subject - but you could include at least one area of interest each year - anatomy one year, history the next, and literature the year after that.

 

Your surgeon/pilot child might like physics, weather, or biology - all things that are relevant to their interests. The girls might be able to do anatomy (and dissections?) together.

 

I've chosen not to do a 'middle school science' books series with my soon-to-be 6th grader. Instead, we're picking a few subjects and learning them. Our plan is to do astronomy in the first semester next year - we may expand it to be all year, or we may pick something different for spring (geology, anatomy, etc). As long as they get the basics of biological and physical sciences, you can choose some eclectic specialties.

 

I would not choose a literature-heavy program for a student who dislikes reading - there are many options, so there is probably something that is a better fit. I've had to make some changes between my 'reading is the most efficient way to learn' kid and my 'let me build a model' hands-on student, and they both seem to learn more once I find a good fit.

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Have you our own 8Fill's Homeschooling at the Helm? It's not book which tells you which courses you should choose for your kids; rather, it gives you a method for designing classes and coursework that are tailored for your kids' interests. The link to buy her book is in her signature.

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Reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking and research skills never go out of fashion.

I agree with this.

 

I also think that when you can read, write, listen, speak and research about topics which interest you the positive attribution to the skills listed make them a stronger. For example my oldest does love to read, and would like to possibly become an author. However she hates history and biography. Her favorite genre is fantasy. We got so much further in literary studies with LoTR than we ever did with The Hiding Place. Or my son, who would like to be an ichthyologist but is loath to put paper to pencil even to write his name - with him writing a research report on a species of fish in the style of a popular science magazine was much more successful than WWE.

 

You asked at what point an individualized home education could begin and I answer: from the beginning. All four of my children actually enjoy and are capable in maths. I still chose to use a different sequence of curriculum for each, and taught slightly differently to each, based on their learning styles. It is one of the primary advantages, in my opinion, of homeschooling.

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