As I’ve mentioned before, my son, CT (sometimes called The OG Kid since he likes the Olive Garden), is homeschooled. We’ve been homeschooling him since he was in second grade. With Aspergers and Bipolar Disorder, the school system wasn’t exactly supportive of CT and his special needs. While he is quite smart, he needs one on one assistance to stay focused. The school system took his inability to concentrate as a cue to give him substandard work (they were giving him “spell cat” worksheets geared for kindergarteners late into first grade).
Of course, CT’s solution was to not do the work. He knew how to spell cat, so why should he have to prove it over and over in these stupid worksheets? At home, he was already exploring his mom’s Shakespeare books. The easy work made him bored, but the on-level work meant he wouldn’t do it because he didn’t have the supervision to keep him focused. Needless to say, the school system was mean and abusive about it, so for his own safety and well being, he’s been homeschooled.
I started dating my girlfriend in 2002. I’ve been through part of 3rd grade and onward homeschool-wise. I also grew up in a household with a teacher, so I’ve graded papers, kind of knew how to do lesson plans, and I spent my senior year of high school working at the elementary during free class periods as both a tutor and a teacher’s aide. Still, none of that could have prepared me for planning an entire year of school. I can see why (sadly) some public school teachers just brush over school lessons. It is a lot of hard work when you have to plan out a curriculum.
Unlike public schools, CT uses his entire book. I remember the teachers in my school skipping over lessons and doing what they wanted. Our theory is, if it is in a school book, the lesson is there for a reason. I’d hate to skim over something that might help him better understand future lessons. Besides, I find that completing a book fits in well with his schedule. Sure, we’ve had to make a few tweaks and change around a few classes here and there, but the planning process is imperative, to make sure CT learns everything we want him to learn.
This year, things are going to be different for CT. When it is all said and done, we’ll have paid around $1000 for everything he has needed for the year. Granted, this is the year he received his graphing calculator, but we’ve also decided to do a lot more hands-on activities. Usually, we’ve just had him do book work. With him being so visual and sensory, we’re hoping a more hands-on curriculum will make his school year run more smoothly. Yes, he’ll still have to complete book work, but with some internet activities and hands-on experiments it should balance things out to where he’ll start to realize school can be fun.
Because of his schedule, we have to plan CT’s curriculum out for the entire year. I know many teachers just do it by quarters or another, smaller group of time. We can’t do that simply because we have to make sure everything we want to teach is included. This involves counting days, putting certain subjects on certain days (and sometimes not on others), and splitting up his curriculum into parts. The hardest subjects we’ve had to schedule have been math and social studies/history. That is simply because there are just so many lessons to teach this year.
A lot of people who don’t *get* homeschool do not realize how similar to public school curriculum some of us teach. The difference is in how we teach. We go more in depth, allow for field trips to accompany lessons, play interactive DVDs, offer a smattering of online supplementations and make sure he truly understands and is getting the concepts. Just so you can see how *normal* CT’s curriculum is, let me give you a break down of his year.
CT is taking the following classes:
Life Science for Middle Schoolers
Language Arts for 8th Grade
Health & Human Sexuality
The Americans (American History) & a Political Process Book
For Reading/Lit, I’m having him read the following books. He has worksheets for each group of pages he reads and he has tests after each book:
Flowers for Algernon
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl
Where the Red Fern Grows
Anne of Avonlea
The Call of the Wild & White Fang
The Miracle Worker
The Neverending Story
Jason and the Golden Fleece
My Brother Sam Is Dead
CT will have a midterm and final exam in every subject but Reading/Lit. He’ll go to school for 189 days and get off most of the same holidays that kids going to public school get off. For example, he gets from Tuesday-Sunday off, the week of Thanksgiving. On Halloween, he doesn’t have school, but we substituted his classes for that Saturday instead. He has from Dec. 13-Jan. 4 off for Christmas break. He has an entire week off for Spring Break. We give him a four day break for Memorial Day and he also gets off one day in February (the 16th). For a homeschooler, he really can’t complain!
See, the thing is, planning everything is hard work. CT’s books came late. He starts school tomorrow and Ash and I are scrambling to finish up his last subject.Then I have to make sure his first week of reading worksheets are printed out. I hand design all his reading worksheets and his tests. He also watches the movies for those books that were adapted into movies. I hope that this helps him to see how a book’s vision can be changed by a movie. Reading is always so much better than the movie version.
So, right now, I feel like a chicken with my head cut off. Last minute things are happening so he can start school tomorrow. We’re trying a new behavioral chart. We’re hoping the visual aspect to it will help him see when he is doing something wrong. We’re also starting a new thing where he receives grade cards every quarter. I’ve designed a template for a grade card. It’s pretty awesome! I also will be inputting all his grades into this new grading software I found. He’ll be able to check his progress with it online. Check out Engrade for the free software. So far, it seems to work quite well.
Planning a homeschool curriculum isn’t hard. It’s just time consuming. My son is worth it though, so I’ll go to whatever lengths I must to ensure he has a great year all while receiving an amazing education.