Thursday, September 13, 2012

Heavier Workload Than Expected from Classical Homeschooling Endeavor

I don't know what to call this thing that my younger son is a student in. It is not a co-op. We pay fees and they go to classes one day a week, some are professional teachers earning income from their work. It is still homeschooling because they have assignments that must be done at home AND the work is not all independent work, they have to work with Mom and do things like have parent-child discussions.

In any event the way they described it to me when I signed up was kind of vague. The marketing materials didn't flesh it out enough for me to fully comprehend what my involvement would be and exactly what work my son would be doing. I thought he would be doing more independent work than he is doing. I am very much involved now.

I had to sign a form that said I would not talk negatively about the company on social networking sites (all the parents have to sign them). I am not doing that here, I am sharing our experience.

I am happy with the overall plan but we are suffering through a learning curve. One mother said she cried for the first year and a half due to frustration. Another said she cried for just the entire first year. I heard this after classes began. One said it took until the end of the second quarter to understand all the processes and procedures. I have never cried over my kid's classes before. Until now.

It is a bit time intensive for administrative work. I have to go to a few different web pages and print of worksheet pages, assignment lists, maps to color, and other such things. For example I have to print a map from an eBook and a map from a website every week. I have to follow multiple links to read materials online. Other materials are in eBooks we own or in books or workbooks.

I have to oversee my son doing lessons in textbooks. I have to give spelling tests. I own teacher manuals and have to use them in addition to student texts and student workbooks. We are drowning in curricula here that we are indeed really using.

Some of the confusing processes are what to turn in for homework review versus what he does that the teacher never sees or what gets turned in once a month but was supposed to have been done one piece a week for each week. Where the papers go is confusing: in the three ring binder or keep in a spiral notebook or in the folder and what gets writtin in the composition book journal? They want it done in a specific way and they are strict and regimented but the directions are a bit unclear so it's hard for a newbie to understand. That's why they assign newbies a mentor to call to ask questions of.

For history there are four pages of assignments to do every week. There is a spine text to read online, an out of print book that is free online. There is a historical fiction juvenile lit book to read. He has to take notes on both readings. He has to answer reading comprehension questions in writing. There are parent discussion questions about the reading. There are lists to fill out and various other activities in writing. Then they have a Socratic Dialogue discussion in class.

In English there are three or four pages of assignments each week. They are reading a classic novel (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea right now). Everything I said about the historical fiction book, ditto for this. There is a spelling text and a grammar text (A Beka). They are doing writing composition with IEW.

Vocabulary words are everywhere. There are those in the spelling text, those in historical fiction book, those in the classic novel, and those in the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) US History Based Lessons volume 2. In addition they are to write out every word they find in the books that they did not know the meaning of.

They also have to keep a journal discussing a couple of things or thoughts about each book they are reading.

Also he is doing architecture, art history, Bible education and memorizing a Bible verse every week.

There is memory work for history, they are memorizing states and capitals. They are doing a four year history cycle and this is year four. There are also history related presentations, 3D models to make, multimedia presentations and more.

He is also taking a class on General Science (Apologia text) and Latin (Wheelocks Latin) and Logic (Fallacy Detective).

We have finished week three and I am starting to get it better now. We are behind in the work and yes I have cried out of frustration. We are still trying to understand various processes and procedures.

And the uniform finally came from Lands' End but the pants don't fit.

I feel like we are a work in process.

I am glad we are doing this but I am exhausted and stressed out about following someone else's plans and having such tight deadlines and so many different procedures. Each week we "get it" a little bit more and we get better at managing our time.


luv2ski said...

My big question for you is this: Is he enjoying the challenge of the experience? It will all be worthwhile if he is. If not, and the stresses start to outweigh the benefits, then that's a different story. I'm all about education with no tears...mine our my children's.
Keep us posted on your endeavors.

elisabeth s. said...

I am currently reading "The Well Trained Mind", about trivium theory and classical education. I am trying to decide whether to homeschool with the classical model, Charlotte Mason, or Montessori method. I like the idea of classical, but it does sound organization intensive compared to the others.

I can feel your frustration, especially coming from your Charlotte Mason background. What motivated you to change direction so drastically? How is your son handling the challenges? Is he the kind of student who likes to charge through and conquer, or does frustration shut him down?

I hope the organization gets easier for you to manage. It would drive me bananas.