Sunday, August 08, 2010

Annual Education Reassessment

Every year about this time I start thinking, "What do we need to learn this year?"

I suppose it's a throwback to my years as a teacher. I taught at a private school and had my students for 2 years in a row (7th and 8th grade), so I couldn't teach the same thing every year. And I was perfectly free to teach anything I wanted each year. My instructions were to teach the kids how to write and how to think.

Since I generally despise the literature that's in textbooks and most English teacher's hearts and shelves, I didn't do much teaching of literature. I did lots of writing and humanities, though. Some grammar. Shakespeare. One year I did calligraphy. One year we did film studies. One year we wrote and produced plays. One year we did design. I think we made paper once.

So every year in August, I had to think, "What am I going to teach this year?" I didn't start until August because I always started the same: Essay Writing.  So I knew I had about 3 weeks of lessons ready come school starting. It was after that that mattered.

Since I'm a DIY homeschooler, I don't have a curriculum I know we're going to buy this year and use, so I don't have the lessons laid out for me.

The information is out there to do complete everything free using online resources, including math (thanks to IXL -- a fairly rigorous K-8 Math scope and sequence online in a parent-friendly format). You do have to jump around from site to site to get everything, though. Especially with math.

This year I finally did what I should have done years ago but didn't have the experience to do: I made a K-8 educational plan, listing the subjects and what I wanted the kids to learn in each (working from a master list I made of the subjects and what I eventually wanted covered).  So now I'm trying to stop myself from spending HOURS making all the k-8 lessons right now. Why not do it? The web is not a steady, reliable place--I might choose links that don't even exist 5 years from now. Plus I might have a kid who wants to do things faster, slower, or in a different order. Plus next August I can almost guarantee I'll be sitting here doing the same thing I'm doing now.

Still, having a general outline of all the kids' elementary and middle education is kind of a relief. I was starting to wander that "am I covering ANYTHING they need to learn" land. By the time I have my kids graduating from 8th grade, I think I'll have the materials amassed for anyone to educate their children completely free, using the best of the web and in approximately half an hour a day (that's how long it takes us to cover what public schools take 5 hours a day to teach, since they have one teacher trying to educate too many students at once).

In the meantime, I sure get tired of copying and pasting!

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