Monday, January 21, 2013

Starting Math

Math is not my kids’ favorite subject. That would be science. But, math is by far the easiest one for them. Since I’m a former public school math teacher and my son never seriously struggled with math, my first instinct was to skip all pre-made workbooks and create my own. Then, I started thinking about all the work involved in making up problems, so I punted and headed to the local curriculum store for workbooks. I’m still designing what is taught when and how, but the pre-made worksheets are a huge time saver.

Eventually, my son will return to public school. To make that transition easier on the academic side, I am trying to include all the objectives required for his grade.  The store had one set of workbooks that were specifically tied to the new common core standards for math. Since we’re compacting 7th and 8th grade together, I bought the sets for both years. They came with separate teacher’s and student’s books. An old fashion Pre-algebra workbook completed the math library.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

School Skills – Math Fluency

Just like fluency in reading, fluency in math refers to how accurately and quickly you can work. I spent the first week of home school assessing my son for potential problems. We’d been told that he was weak in math fluency, but it didn’t make sense, because he could work complicated problems just fine in a reasonable amount of time.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

School Skills – Learning Styles

You’ve probably heard about learning styles. Your learning styles describe the ways that you best learn new information. It could be you learn best by seeing something or hearing. Some people learn best when there’s a physical activity attached.

In the beginning, as the curriculum was coming together, my son and I had to figure out what his real learning styles were and how to take advantage of those. I didn’t limit it to just the standard styles you can find on websites across the net. Instead, I focused on what really worked to get him interested in new stuff. Then I looked at what worked to help him understand, remember and use all that knowledge.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

School Skills – Summarizing

 My son is kind of, moderately, somewhere on the autism spectrum. Since he can function somewhat normally, most people see him as just being a little “different”.  He doesn’t display the symptoms frequently enough to get the label of autism or aspergers, but he does share many of the common traits with others with those diagnoses. We say he has just enough autism to be a great engineer. He is incredibly smart, but is very literal and linear in his thinking. He has limited social skills. Just like all the engineers he’s related to!
Anyway, as a result of his very literal thinking and amazing power of memorization, he’s never learned how to summarize.

Starting Social Studies

Social studies was the subject I dreaded tackling the most. And, of course, it ended up being the easiest to plan and the most enjoyable for both of us on a daily basis.

The objectives for social studies were really hard for me to understand in the beginning. But, I think I finally figured them out. There are time periods we need to study that are called eras (World History Era Standards). The objectives need to be applied to each era separately whenever possible.

Step 2 Content, con’t.

At this point, I had read through the entire published objectives for 7th graders in North Carolina. I had them sorted into charts with the notes from the unpacked PDFs, which gave me a general picture of what we should be teaching in order to stay on pace with public school. I had also looked over the objectives for the next few grades to see where we needed to be at the end.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Step 2 Content

There are two main questions to answer when designing a curriculum: what are you going to teach and how are you going to present it? I’ll refer to the “what” as content.

We live in North Carolina. Their required content is described by grade and subject here. They are using the Common Core Standards for English and mathematics.  These tell you what should be taught in each grade level. Colleges will expect this as a minimum of what students should know.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Step 1 for Curriculum Planning

The first step I took when planning the curriculum was to write down our overall goals. This helped focus how the material would be taught. My son has two main issues that were holding him back. First, he has Disorder of Written Expression. That is a learning disability which means he struggles with putting his thoughts into words and then writing them down. His other big problem is anything to do with organization. Here are the four goals that have guided our year:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What to teach?

When I was looking for middle school curriculum for home school, I felt like Goldilocks. This book is too easy, this book is too hard. Not much on the market for middle school.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Why did we choose home school?


So many people, many of them complete strangers, have asked me why we’re home schooling. I really don’t have a good short answer. Especially since my son is usually standing right there.