Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homeschooling a 6th Grader

Tim's in 6th grade now. His school calls that intermediate not middle school. I have no clue why, or what the difference is. When you google "intermediate school" the first result that comes up is for the Wikipedia definition of middle school. Whatev, I think it's weird and we just say middle school.

Oh and by "Tim's school" I mean last year we switched from traditional homeschooling to a virtual school.

Real quick explanation of the differences in case people don't know.
Traditional homeschooling: we picked & purchased our own curriculum & school books, choose what lessons we wanted to do and did them when we wanted to. If we didn't like something within the curriculum we didn't use it, we found alternatives online or we created our own. We put together a portfolio, had it evaluated by a state certified evaluator and reported the results to our local school district. We had to account for EITHER 180 days of school OR 900 hours (of course it was easier to track the days vs. the hours). The only downsides to this option were: it isn't free (like public school) and our school district doesn't give high school diplomas for this route of education.

Virtual homeschooling: a virtual charter school is basically like any other public school EXCEPT you don't get up and go to an actual school building each day, the work is done at home. Because it is a public school we are given a standardized curriculum chosen by the school (which means we are pretty much stuck following all of the lessons as they are written). There are teachers to report to. Assignments to be turned in. Attendance is captured by logging into the school's website (that's considered "showing up for school"). There are classes to attend through an online meeting program (there is a teacher (usually more than one) in the "classroom" teaching the day's lesson using a virtual whiteboard, the teachers and students can all interact with each other through the use of the whiteboard, microphones and webcams). There are progress tests throughout the year as well as a week long standardized state mandated test we Tim has to take at the end of the year. We have to account for BOTH 180 days of school AND 900 hours. The instructional hours as well as all of the lessons and assessments we have to complete are tracked through another school related website. The downside to this: we basically have to follow what the school wants done when they want it done, with deadlines and such.

This year is a little different than the previous year though. Last year (5th grade) the parents were responsible for teaching every single subject the school enrolled the student in [Math, Literature, Grammar, Composition, Vocabulary, Spelling, Science, History, Art, Music, Strategies for Success, we also had to come up with our own P.E., Technology and Health activities/lessons]. That was WAY more than we had to do homeschooling the previous way (some of the subjects were a total waste of time and nonsensical but that's our personal opinion on that).

Let me just say that I HATED last year!! I was ready to send Tim back to regular public school and be done with it all. Somewhere between the end of last year and the beginning of this year I lost my mind changed my mind about sending him back though (and he really doesn't want to go back either). Also, for the record, it wasn't just the school/curriculum's fault I hated it so much, a big part of it was Tim, he had this "I don't want to know this stuff so I'm not going to learn it" and "this is dumb, I don't need to know this so I'm taking the easy way out" attitude all. year. long. So each and every day was a struggle just to get through the required subjects. He would take his bad attitude and hatred of school out on us and carry it over to the rest of the day. I kept telling him that if he just learned what he needed to know to pass the assessments and show me he knew how to do it we wouldn't have to do all the book work and we could just move on. For some reason he just couldn't grasp that concept though.

I was very reluctant to continue school that way and I really don't know why we didn't just send him back to regular public school (there are a few reasons but honestly after the year we had last year I didn't think any of those reasons were strong enough to change my mind about this year).

This year things are different. Because he is now in middle/intermediate school the structure of the school is different. He has a teacher for Literature & Composition and another teacher for Math (he has to report to his Lit/Comp class Monday-Thursday at 9am and his Math class Monday-Thursday at 10:30am). He also has homework to complete before the next day's class.

Those 3 subjects alone took up a good portion of our day last year and were a source of 50% of his bad attitude. The other 50% of the bad attitude came from History and Science. This year (before we knew we wouldn't be responsible for Lit/Comp & Math) Alex suggested we split the subjects, he would teach some and I would teach some. He took History & Science. So far this setup has worked out great (and not just because I hardly have any subjects this year, lol)! Tim has only gotten a bad attitude ONCE so far (I realize it's still just the beginning of the year and things could change at any moment, actually, I'm expecting them to change at any moment. lol). I also told Tim that I wasn't putting up with any hint of a bad attitude this year and at the first sign of a bad attitude -grunt, groan, huff, anything- we would be closing our school books, getting in the car, driving down to the school district office and enrolling him in regular public school. Lucky for him he got his bad attitude during Science, a subject I'm not involved in this year. He also seems to have grasped the "if I just show I know this, pass the assessment we get to move on" concept that we tried to stress last year.

So, for now, this year is going 10x's better than last year and I don't regret keeping home again this year. Like I said, I do realize that can change at any moment but for now things are good.

On a lighter note, we do have a bit of a twist to homeschooling this year. It comes in the form of a very rambunctious, into everything, comedic monkey also known as -the younger brother-. Of course he was around during school last year but this year he wants to be a part of EVERYTHING or into everything or climbing on top of everything.

1. Tim studiously working.
2. But I need to do 'cool too mom! Those crayons, he eats them.
3. I'll just borrow Tim's mic & headphones. That mic puff, yep, tries to eat that too.
4. Human helicopter on the table top!

1 comment:

  1. Hi from Saturday Social Party via The Pennington Point!! Very impressed with parents who homeschool. I look forward to coming back to your blog! Gotta party on to meet everyone!



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