14 October 2011

A Homeschooling Post

A year ago I was trying to sort out homeschooling supplies for two years, getting books scanned, and generally feeling a little frazzled about homeschooling in Central Asia again.  This year it was the easiest thing ever to get ready for school because I'd done everything last year.  I purchased two pdf books, downloaded 20 more free ebooks, and it was done.  Here's how it's going after a 5 weeks.  For reference, my older boys are in 7th and 5th grades.

The best thing about this new year is having a friend of ours come play with the three-year-old for two hours a day.  Like so many people here, she can't find a job in her profession, so it helps her, but it helps me at least as much since the three-year-old gets the attention he craves and I can work with the older boys.  She took care of my older boys when we lived in Bishkek 6 years ago and it's been nice to be with her again.  

I'm also loving the relatively speedy internet connection.  We weren't able to do any online school subjects in Tokmok, but we do quite a few now.  The boys are doing French and Spanish on the computer.  It's silly they're not doing Russian, but I can't make them learn it, and it's far more likely that French or Spanish would be useful to them.  They also do online Latin exercises with Lively Latin in addition to working out of the ebook.  They're reviewing countries and capitals and doing online logic puzzles too, but the best part is CNN Student News and watching these videos about the periodic table.  I LOVE them.  Science is one of the most difficult things to do here and I've pretty much given up on science experiments, but watching these guys blow things up online is pretty satisfying.

We're also working through an atlas for geography and going through logical fallacies and we use Sequential Spelling, except I just downloaded the great big book and we work through that because it's a lot cheaper. The oldest is using NEM and LOF Economics and the youngest is on LOF Biology and Singapore 6.  Both do WWS and GWG.  I've been very pleased with WWS; we beta tested it last year.  I've never been excited about GWG but it's easy to use and the boys learn from it so we've continued with it- I think this is our 5 year with it.  We read from How Science Works and other ebooks about the periodic table that I check out from the library.  I like the entire How ____ Works series and we've been happy using them for science for years. 

I'm still delighted with OUP's history series and we're working through the last three books now.  We'll finish those by the end of 2011 and then move on to US history and some more 18th and 19th century world history for the rest of the school year.  And finally, there's lots of reading.  I use the early modern list from WTM which is easy to do here because nearly all the books are free to download, and I supplement with some more diverse selections since the WTM list is very heavy on western Europe.  That's a little harder to do here, but not impossible.

We do every subject every day and it takes us 4-5 hours to get through everything, including lunch and music.  The oldest is playing the guitar and middle son is on the keyboard.  I find it easiest to just do everything instead of trying to do some subjects once or twice a week for a longer time.  For example, this week we read a chapter from Age of Empires on Monday, then the boys did a level one outline of the chapter on Tuesday.  One Wednesday they filled out their outlines and on Thursday they did some supplemental reading about the Mughal Empire.  They spent about 90 minutes total on history this week.  Science was similar.

Overall things are going well as long as the three-year-old is happy.  It's been so much better to not have to do so much housework because I'm able to do a better job with homeschooling.  I'd always wondered why Ma in The Little House on the Prairie books was always so worried about living near a school when she was a competent teacher.  I always knew she was busy, but I don't wonder anymore.  There's no way she had time to teach her children well with the life she was living.  My life wasn't anything like that, of course, but I understand better now.

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