first semester homeschooling thoughts and questions - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 12-17-2013, 03:45 PM - Thread Starter
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almost done with our first semester of homeschooling.


my main fears are that my daughter (8 yrs old) will not learn everything that the school wants and if she goes back to public school, she will be behind.  Im worried that Im not as good at educating my child as the schools...


My favorite parts of homeschooling- the days when we just go with it...  like today.  I saw something on the poem Annabel Lee and we looked it up, read the first three stanzas & discussed them, found it spoken on youtube and closed our eyes and listened to it several times.  Then we talked about who Annabel Lee might have been, talked about Poe, etc.


So cool!!!


But now I'm sitting here scared that my DD wont know what a predicate is for the state test this spring (my state makes homeschoolers take a test every year)


Another cool day--  DD is interested in Ancient Egypt.  So we studied mummies, and turned her Barbie doll into a mummy and made a sarcophagus out of an old spaghetti box.  We schooled for over 5 hours straight that day.  It was awesome!!


So...  Im coming to a thought that I want homeschool to be more about inspiring a love of art, music, literature...  and learning stuff like predicates is ok, but I want the main focus on really enjoying learning.  Math we do Saxon math, which is very laid out...  we are on lesson 50, and even that is freaking me out, I feel like we should be farther along.


is this a normal first time homeschool mom feeling---- you slowly go from thinking "what does the school say she needs to know" to "what do I think is important for her to know, and what does SHE want to explore"


I get so nervous that Im ruining her education!!!  =(

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#2 of 8 Old 12-18-2013, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by lauriebeth View Post


is this a normal first time homeschool mom feeling---- you slowly go from thinking "what does the school say she needs to know" to "what do I think is important for her to know, and what does SHE want to explore"


I get so nervous that Im ruining her education!!!  =(

We have the luxury of not worrying about what the state says about what they should know, but I'm no stranger to feeling a bit panicky.  I also am chronically guilty of poo-pooing silly things (see? like that!)  like predicates (actually, they know that one from the excellent School Rock song "Mr. Morton").  On her assessment test, the results of which are private in our state, she passed every section with near perfection, except the spelling which she totally bombed.  Bombed, I'm sure, because I've disdained spelling drills in the past, and she was never interested.


I think homeschooling has benefits, even if at any given moment a child is "behind", and one is retention.  Schools have a lot of rewinding to do.  You might find that over the months and years, your daughter will slowly creep ahead, but at the beginning, yes, it's entirely possible that she is behind now.  But I suspect that you are homeschooling for the long-term benefits, and at the beginning those might not include staying even with the class.  


Even so, at the end of the year, how many school kids who *studied* predicates are going to get it right on the test?  I think we hsing parents tend to feel like hsing failures if the assessment results are not glowing.  However, they probably look like most of the school kids' results.  Totally.  Average.  I was surprised by my daughter's test results showing that even the spelling section she bombed, she was not too far behind the average student's scores, and other sections she was far, far ahead.


Kids at home get individual attention from an educator who knows where they are in their skills, who is responsive to their needs and interests.  That trumps a professional degree, IMO, which focuses on learning theory and classroom settings.  For retention, you might consider doing even more learning centered around her interests--both short and long term, the spontaneous question about what's inside the earth (quickly asked and quickly satisfied), to an immersion study about horses that takes weeks and months.  While the direction seems slightly more random, depending on how much of your studies are child led, the benefits are going to be more long-term than an "essential" list of terms and dates that are easily forgotten (except for those random tidbits that we mysteriously retain forever :p but have no control deciding which ones but are unfailingly the useless ones!)


I also think that parents should get to know what happens with the test scores in your state.  I started out panicky and defiant, close to wanting to hs under the radar.  However, testing in our state is a cakewalk, and I wound up choosing that as the least intrusive.  So, learn about how the results are assessed for your own peace of mind.  You can order a practice test, usually.  I think reading over the practice test did more to ease my nervousness than anything.  It was insanely easy.  But, second, knowing that even school kids are all over the map on test scores, even for the excellent classrooms.  Covering the material does not ensure that on test day that information is there.


It sounds like the two of you are having fun!  I won't say "don't sweat it" because you will.  We all do.  Just don't let it undermine your confidence.  You are doing fabulously.

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#3 of 8 Old 12-18-2013, 08:54 PM
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How old is your daughter? When I started exploring homeschooling, I did look at what students are supposed to know by grade level. Then, I went straight away to what I thought my kids needed to know and discarded the rest. Slowly but surely, over a couple of months we ended up drifting towards what the kids want to explore merely because I found it to be the most efficient way to learn.

The list of things the state says kids need to learn seems scary at first but if you look at it more closely, it isn't really that weighty. If you discard the edu-speak then it becomes clear where you can simplify -- this is only if you are interested in the general scope and sequence schools follow. I tend to glance at it every once in a while as a reference point but I don't feel the pressure to abide by it in anyway. For example, my 7.5 year old son couldn't write much last year but we didn't start working on it until this year, when he himself became frustrated with his spelling and asked to learn. This year, he is doing more writing than ever but it is still not much and I don't think his work is on par with what is expected (not what is actually the case) of a second grader. This doesn't bother me because I know how he works; he is reading a ton, observing, parsing words, paying attention to writing; at some point I am going to see a skill jump.

I really have no experience with tests but SweetSilver has given you a ton to think about. I hope the results are private and something you don't have to worry about. I just wanted to share my experience.
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#4 of 8 Old 12-18-2013, 10:22 PM
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If it would ease your mind, make a list of the things you think should be covered this year for your child to be on par with kids in school.  Then you can hit those things and not worry about it (using curriculum or not).


Many states have lists  - or there are those "what your X grader should know" type books.  My province has lists.  Once you learn the teacher-ese vocabulary about what is covered, the lists are helpful at allaying the fear of "being behind".  


BUT, yes, your feelings are very normal and the transition to learning for its own sake and for the glory of the discovery is quite wonderful and so much better than the lists. :)  It doesn't sound like you are ruining her learning - it sounds like you are facilitating it.

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#5 of 8 Old 12-19-2013, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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It doesn't sound like you are ruining her learning - it sounds like you are facilitating it.

thank you.  we had a HORRIBLE day yesterday and I needed to hear this.

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#6 of 8 Old 12-19-2013, 08:31 AM
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How many school-children in 3rd grade will correctly answer questions about predicates on the state exam next spring? Probably less than two thirds. How many of those will remember what they've learned such that they don't need to be re-taught it in 4th (and 5th, and 6th) grade? Probably less than half of them. 


And yet how many of those school-children will emerge from 3rd grade curious, enthusiastic and confident in their ability to learn through self-motivated discovery? Inspired by a love of art, literature and knowledge? I'll leave it to you to make a guess at that.


The feelings and worries you're having are perfectly normal for a new homeschooling parent, and they'll gradually go away if you work on releasing them. It's called "deschooling:" the gradually letting go of all the school-based assumptions about learning that we parents have been steeped in for most of our lives. Many of them just don't apply when homeschooling, and it is very freeing to let them go, even if the process of learning to do so can be challenging at times. Sounds like you're doing a great job and you just need to stay the course!



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#7 of 8 Old 12-19-2013, 12:43 PM
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Your child will know more than her ps counterparts. Don't worry. I recommend doing the CAT test. U can order from seton and give it at home yourelf. If u order it u will know what's on the test to include in the fall.
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#8 of 8 Old 12-19-2013, 11:33 PM
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Just the fact that you put that much thought into it makes me sure you're not going to ruin her education! No public or private school teacher could possibly care more or know her better than you.

What state are you in? We're in NC, and the testing isn't nearly the big deal I thought it would be. smile.gif We can choose any nationally standardized one and no one sees the results, nor do they have to "pass". We use Seton, too, and spead it out over a few weeks. We delay most formal academics until around 10 yo in our house, so when dd1 first took the tests (at 8 )she'd probably never heard of a participle; she still did just fine. I did look through it beforehand and explain anything I thought would be entirely new to her...there wasn't much IIFC.

Relax and have fun! The second year will be much easier.
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