June 5, 2015 by mshokie
I began my homeschooling research with what I am used to from being a teacher. I tried to figure out what my school district teaches in the 5th grade. For some subjects, a simple list of 5-7 subjects was given. For others, it was dozens of pages of standards with nothing specific. I had to wrap my head around the fact that, unlike in school teaching, there is no checklist of topics to complete in homeschooling. So, I looked for sources of materials, free if possible. I didn’t want to have to buy textbooks for every subject. I discovered that homeschooling falls into 4 categories of instructional approaches.
This is essentially the parent acting as the teacher for every subject. This is the approach I initially thought I would take. However, one issue with this approach is that I have a much younger child to take care of while homeschooling, so I can’t really be teaching everything every day like I would in front of a classroom. So, my son needs to be able to do a lot of learning on his own. I am also cheap, so I do not want to buy a curriculum. School-use textbook prices are ridiculous. Plus, the materials that he has been getting at school the last few years are sometimes total crap, so I certainly don’t want to buy that same crap to use at home. Materials marketed to homeschooling parents often cater to the majority, so history and science contain a heavy dose of religion.
This seems to be a conflicting concept. On one hand, it is the approach used by many religious families. On the other hand, it is an approach that teaches children logical thinking. It seems to me that the logical thinking aspect would lead to children realizing the religious aspect makes no sense. Maybe the two different groups use the same term to mean different things. I really only read up on the logical thinking version. I would like to infuse some of the logical thinking concepts into my home education. However, I realized, sadly, that I have no training in logic, so I need to work through those ideas myself.
This means online school. Again, I am cheap, so I am not going to pay for someone else to virtually instruct my child. We may go this route of we are going to continue educating outside of public and private schools once my son gets to high school, so that he can get an actual diploma. In the meantime, we are going to make ample use of free online resources, databases, etc.
This is basically letting your kid be in charge of his own education. I am too much of a control-freak to try this. Then, I let the idea marinate a little. I do want my child to peruse his own interests and branch off from what I am teaching him. I want to make use of “teachable moments” that come up in every day life. So, maybe over time, I could loosen the grip a little.
I am starting with an outline of ideas I got from Almost-free Homeschool 5th Grade: A Free-Thinker’s Secular Curriculum (a low-cost Kindle book I found on Amazon). I am going to use the history curriculum and the language arts curriculum pretty much as it was detailed. However, I am going to add some literature related to our history topics using library books. I might have to buy a couple of books for history reference.
The science curriculum was all biology. I am going to use some parts of it, but I am basically going to go with the topics that my school system teaches in the 5th grade. I just don’t like biology that much that I want to just do that all year. We are going to mix in some Earth science and physics.
Math is my subject! I am going to be doing a lot of direct instruction myself here. I have been beyond frustrated with the lack of coherent instruction my son has gotten in at least the last two years. It is difficult for me to even pinpoint what he knows. So, I am using Khan Academy as kind of a skills check and I am making up my own curriculum from there.
Having covered the 4 major subjects, let me talk about the “electives”. We are a bilingual family, so I have been teaching a second language at home my son’s entire life. Homeschooling will actually give me an opportunity to even out his skills between the two languages.
I am going to outsource music, art, and phys. ed. for at least a portion of the year. I am not an artsy/musical person. My son wants to learn how to play the guitar, so there is his music class. I can probably wing an art class, but if I come across some kind of lesson, I’ll take advantage of that. My son doesn’t care for sports despite my husband’s love for them. We are going to try swim class and maybe something else, though.