My oldest is 9.5 and we've been homeschooling all along - very unstructured and child-led. The one thing I've made sure the kids have all kept up with is math and reading. This has worked really well for us through the early elementary years, but now I'm feeling like I need to get more structured with my oldest. I'm noticing a real difference between us and the other kids in the HS group classes we attend, and I think he notices it, too. The problem is.. I'm not sure where's he's at in a lot of things.
Like.. if I want to work on grammar or handwriting, do I pick the level for his age or start at the beginning? What's a good way to assess where he needs work in areas other than math and reading (the two areas I know he's ahead)? I don't want to give him a standardized test or anything, but I really feel overwhelmed and at a loss for how to decide what we should work on. I don't want him to be too far off from public school standards, especially as he gets older.
We unschooled from the beginning, but my kids began to desire more structure and accountability as they headed towards adolescence. What we did was start with one or two areas where they felt they particularly wanted that structure, and look around together for resources that would suit their needs. For instance, when one of my kids wanted to work on handwriting, we talked about different approaches (copy-work vs. workbooks, self-led vs. structured, cursive vs. manuscript), looked at workbooks from various programs and styles (on-line) and then once they chose the style of program they liked, we ordered the two books that looked closest to her level. When another of my kids wanted a systematic approach to Canadian history, we looked at different formats and programs and levels. Same deal for one of my kids doing physics, another with Latin. I found that if I asked "Do you want something that feels easy, at least at first, to build your confidence, or are you looking for something to challenge yourself?" I got helpful information from my child.
By starting just one piece of curriculum at a time, we were able to learn from how that choice worked and make an even better stab at finding appropriate material for whatever the next subject area might be that they wanted to tackle. I find that a child's engagement with the curriculum is far more important than the nominal grade level.
Mountain mama to one great kid and three great grown-ups
if you feel he is behind in writing, grammar & spelling, i would just start him with 3rd grade. if he is ahead in where you begin, just move at an accelerated rate that suits him. it is so introductory at this age and has great review from past years. my son uses essentials in writing grade 3 (he's also 9) & it covers both writing and grammar and is pretty gentle. you certainly don't need anything formal like that, i just like the ease of a curriculum for these subjects. for spelling, i just use dictation, but my son is a natural speller, so this works really well (and helps review grammar and reinforces handwriting). we are somewhat unstructured with subjects outside of the 3 R's. we do veer from our curriculum at times. for example, if he is on a writing spree with stories or such, i just count that as his writing for the day. as for other subjects, we pull from various resources but we don't follow a scope & sequence of any kind really. we just follow our interests a lot.
homeschooling mama to DD 10 & DS 7
Thanks for the suggestions, guys! Sometimes most of what I need is a big "Relax!" :) I love the idea to get him involved in picking out materials, that's fantastic. We have a Lakeshore Learning nearby, I think I'll see what they carry and take him to go check stuff out. I have a few things I have in mind, and I'll add in Essentials in Writing, too.
In the past, I've really refrained from correcting things like penmanship, grammar, etc, unless he asks. My mother was always ON me to be perfect in those areas and I hated writing for the longest time. But now I think it's time to refine his style.
We did talk about increasing our work on science and we picked out something that we think will work well, so that's exciting. :)
Thanks again guys!
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