June 21, 2012

The End is Near!!

Day 160...out of 170.

It's not that I HATE homeschooling, it's just that we have NOT got the hang of it--even this far into the year.

I am fairly certain it has to do with the curriculum choice we went with.  I am not saying this curriculum is horrible and has no value or worth, but I do feel like it's my duty to record my thoughts regarding it so that future homeschoolers can make a more educated decision about what curriculum will work best for their child(ren).

In 10 more school days (5, if I can ever convince him to do two classes a day and actually have a summer vacation this year...), we will have completed Abeka Academy Grade 3.  We are using the DVD program.

What I LOVE:
* It's HOMESCHOOL!  No getting up early (we travel a lot and have LOTS of late nights with church)
* The memory verse work.  Honestly, I did NOT think my son would be able to memorize 4 & 5 verses at a time and be able to recall them for a test.  However, he can quote nearly all of Hebrews chapter 11, which is TOTALLY AWESOME!  He really surprised me and I am SUPER proud of him.
* It's pretty straight forward learning.  Repetition (which works for Jon) and building on each concept as you go along.  This is especially true with Arithmetic.  (Jon no longer uses the word "Math", he prefers "Arithmetic", which I think is kinda cute/cool.)
*Jon really enjoys the Bible class stories.

What I LIKE:
* I really like the Science, History & Health, Safety & Manners classes.  These are the classes Jon has been MOST excited about.  He is quick to let us know something he has learned nearly EVERY day in one of these classes.
*They keep my grades and I don't have to do much work, other than grading and sending in the info.  This is only a minor hassle, but gives me a chance to review again what he is learning and see if he is "getting it".

What I HATE:
* It is a LOT of work.  I mean a lot of busy work.  The "Seatwork" is a long list of additional work that you can assign (or eliminate) as needed per student.  It did not take long until I started creating my own Seatwork list, which MOSTLY consisted of him copying Spelling words only.
* The Bible class pushes a trinitarian doctrine throughout the year, pretty strongly.  I use it as an opportunity to reinforce the Oneness doctrine and so far, I do not think he has any confusion because he already had a strong understanding of the Oneness of God, however it is not something I'd want him exposed to continually.

Overall, I'd say this curriculum is BEST suited for students that REALLY enjoy school to begin with.  I was one of those weird kids.  I think I would have LOVED doing Abeka and would have finished the entire year in half the time.  But, admittedly, I am kinda weird.  I have a friend whose daughter has been doing Abeka since Kindergarten and her daughter is doing REALLY well.  She enjoys all the memorizing, the work, the setting, etc.  She even enjoys the Art class.  We eliminated the Art class VERY early in the year, as it had zero appeal to Jon whatsoever.

Jon tolerates school.  He is a decent student, but some of it doesn't come easily to him (as it did me).  Abeka, pushes the student to a maximum learning potential and I feel like it's just too much pressure for him.  He does not test well with Abeka and with no grades counted for daily work, his test scores are KILLING his grades.  He does well on quizzes and daily work, which obviously do not count for as much in grading.  This is frustrating for me, as a parent.

I am "shopping around" for an alternative for next year.  The good news is, that after completing (almost!!) one year of homeschool, I have a better idea of what I want and what Jon needs.  This is where I was hoping to start my search from last year.  So, we've struggled quite a bit this year, but at the same time, it's been a great learning process and I can't be upset about that.  Jon is learning responsibility and accountability this year and that is definitely a bonus.

Homeschool is not really an option for us.  We HAVE to homeschool with our weird travel schedule, but just because we have NO CHOICE about whether to homeschool or not, does NOT mean I have no choice about how it's done.

Ultimately, I hope to become more confident and do a mix n match of various curriculum and get involved in a charter school type scenario where he can attend a classroom setting at least once a week. However, I have not quite landed on the perfect solution at this point in the game.

My son's education (and eventually Ella's) is the 2nd most important thing I have influence over in his life.  First, his salvation & personal walk with God, then education.  These are the best tools I can offer him for life.  I don't want to mess it up.  And with God's help--we will get all the kinks worked out and my kid will grow up and be thankful and proud of what he has learned.