Home Education

Discussion in 'Family Issues' started by andrew, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    cubanito and I were talking this morning about what my family does for home education, and I decided I'd just post this up here in case it would be helpful for anyone else.

    Over the past 30+ years we've been all over the map, from buying a complete curriculum-in-a-box from a big publishing house and trying to do 'institutional school at home' to straight up unschooling (no structure at all, all self-discovery). Currently we're using a blended approach featuring the following four building blocks:

    Discovery K-12 (online, structured daily work, free)

    Just ran across this last year. Provides daily structure in several subjects, with testing and daily reporting so I know what they're up to. They ignore the math section (see below) and do all the rest. Provides general exposure to a lot of information they wouldn't otherwise come across, and it's on a regular, predictable schedule. I look at their report/email each day after they finish and ask questions if I need to. Otherwise it's pretty self-contained.

    Khan Academy (online, self-directed, free)

    Khan is a huge player, maybe the biggest, in free online education. Started by Salman Khan about 10 years ago when he made some short videos to help his nephews with their math work. Has expanded greatly since then, aided partly by a big grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and covers more subjects than just math. Kids do this at their own pace, and I get a weekly email that details how many minutes each student spent on the site that I can drill down on if I have questions. I push "time on task" but otherwise let them decide what they're going to learn about.

    Life of Fred (set of books, can be read to younger students or self-paced for older, $$)

    Gotta credit FollowingHim and FollowingHim2 for introducing me to these delightful books. I read these to the 9-year-olds and they love them (the 13 & 17 get their math from Khan). Good Daddy time, too. Math facts and skills presented in the course of a narrative about, well, the life of Fred—that is, Fred Gauss, a 5-year-old mathematics professor at Kittens University. Math is learned from 'real-life' applications in the story, rather than as isolated skills with the occasional forced, unengaging 'word problem'. Not just math, either, as the author introduces all kinds of cultural and literary information as well as moral lessons. Books new at retail are $16/each, but you can get them used on ebay in great condition for less.

    Unschooling (life adventures, self-paced, self-directed, cost varies)

    The kids typically finish all the above between breakfast and lunch, leaving the afternoons free for pursuing their interests. We have what we refer to as "constructive free time", which includes basically anything they're interested in as long as they're not just wasting time or 'veg-ing'. They go through interesting phases along the way; for example, Paul made a solar panel out of a CD jewel box, studied navigation, and learned to fletch arrows, among other things, before he really focused in on his work as a musician.


    At the end of the 'business day', typically right before dinner, assuming all other stuff is finished and cleaned up, they each get 30' of 'electronics time' (video games or youtube browsing or whatever). Obviously they spend other time on electronic appliances (the 9's each use a hand-me-down laptop for school; Neil bought his own laptop over a year ago, Hannah shares a MacBook with me for music stuff and is about to buy her own). The free time on electronics has more to do with borrowing an iPad or getting on the X-box for R&R.

    Other thoughts

    When all the kids were younger (my oldest is 36, youngest is 9), we started them reading with Sing, Spell, Read & Write and the McGuffey Readers. We tried the Robinson Curriculum and Saxon Math, among other things, but never really got any traction. All of my kids are voracious readers, but that's partly because I never made them read anything they didn't enjoy. The object is to expose them to opportunities to learn and then try not to screw it up as they figure out for themselves where their interests lie. I want kids who are motivated, curious, auto-didacts who know how to ask good questions and solve their own problems. The 'joy of discovery' is a thing, and it's amazing what a curious child can learn left to his or her own devices.
  2. cubanito

    cubanito Well-Known Member Male

    We need to start getting our feet wet. This is something we need. Thanks
    andrew likes this.
  3. frederick

    frederick Well-Known Member Male

    Amen and thanks Andrew. The kids get excited over learning; over being able to discover for themselves, rather than being constrained through the mind-set that they need to have someone; i.e. the teacher who is the expert, tell them . God's creation is an amazing class-room and real-life experiences make terrific opportunities for application. Lessons learnt that way are more memorable than making notes in an exercise book.
    JessicaP, andrew, Kevin and 2 others like this.
  4. J D Right

    J D Right New Member Male

    A lot of good information , thanks . Will use this with the grand children .
    andrew likes this.
  5. mystic

    mystic Well-Known Member Male

    From "Doing Your Thinking" by Thomas Buckley (1979), which deals with traditional education among the Yurok Indians of northwestern California:

    Thoughts-and-feelings, being parts of situations, of actions, are simply another sort of thing, to be seen and defined. Explanation is largely useless, because a person can only see for himself, and must be both encouraged and allowed to do so.

    Thus, a young child is actively taught very little; it learns by watching and copying when it has enough interest. Most things are not explained, since people can only learn by and for themselves, learn to sort out facts, to draw conclusions about what works and what does not. For example, among certain families there is a great emphasis on table manners, a very definite etiquette. Nothing much is said: a young one watches and learns. When it is old enough to know right from wrong but still misbehaves at meals, its meal-basket is turned over, upside down. Hungry or not, no more food. It's up to the child to figure out what's wrong and to fix it, and thus to start learning about the laws concerning food and the respect for both resources and other human beings that underlie them.

    To explain too much is to steal a person's opportunity to learn, and stealing is against the law.

    Children grow when they grow, as they learn to see, learn to learn, according to their spirits. A famous man of the last century learned very early to observe the men of his village carefully. After a while, using his toy bow, he killed a bird with valuable feathers. He made a small wooden storage box, as he'd seen done, put the feathers in this, and showed the men. One of them made him a real hunting bow, a small and light one, and from then on he was free to join hunting parties, with all of the rights and responsibilities of a hunter. He had done what a man does and, in this respect, was treated like a man. He was six at the time.​

    Reprinted in I Become Part of It: Sacred Dimensions in Native American Life, edited by D.M. Dooling, and Paul Jordan-Smith; New York: Parabola Books. Pp. 36-56.
    JessicaP, Kevin and andrew like this.
  6. joe88

    joe88 Active Member Male

    We're using Heart of Dakota for our main curriculum guide. However, instead of the math we're using Rod and Staff for the arithmetic and Life of Fred for conceptual work. So far, it's working well for us and our kids are thriving! Since education can never truly be neutral, the main thing we're looking for is a solid curriculum that teaches concepts from a Christian worldview throughout.

    We can't be deterministic (teach a certain formula and guarantee our kids will turn out the way we want), but we can ensure that regardless of their decision, they will be given a clearly defined choice. That, and we pray for them constantly.
  7. Littles

    Littles Member Female

    @andrew thank you so much! I have been homeschooling for 6 years now and as much as I love our way of doing it I am always looking for new things.

    I have never heard of Discovery k-12 it looks and sounds interesting. I love that it is not school district based, which makes me teacher/principal/counselor etc. I have had a lot of friends where they unschool and have a husband or in laws that quiz the children daily on what they have learned. This might be an answer to their prayers! Thank you for passing it along.

    As for us, we use Learning Language Arts Through Literature, Wordly Wise, Explode the code and a book group for Language Arts. I know it sounds like over kill to some but I have yet to find a full English curriculum that I just love. Math is Saxon math with Life of Fred weekly study group. Apologia for science. Story of the world for history. We also live on a small farm so everyday is a learning experience. We even “took a week off” for wood working and candy making. (Both are quickly becoming lost arts :( )
  8. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    Love this. Our family business is a music school, which has its own advantages and disadvantages, but there is nothing quite like the learning you get on a farm. And being able to manage our own schedule and take time off regularly scheduled activities to do super-cool interesting and fun stuff is imo one of the best things about home education coupled with a family business.
    JessicaP, Kevin and ZecAustin like this.
  9. Mojo

    Mojo Esteemed Member Male

    Depending on how far away you want to get away from the public schools, looking into your local school district for resources is another option.

    I don't know what everyone else's districts do, but our local district began offering a home school program a few years ago. I think they saw the handwriting on the walls and began offering it once they saw many students leaving the district for private and/or homeschooling.

    They know who they're trying to appeal to and make sure to tell parents, in so many words, that even though they will offer help in setting up lesson plans, the parent can decide what to focus, or not focus on within the curriculum. It's most likely a wink and nod to religious families who don't want to teach evolution, or study controversial historical or political personalities or subjects.

    Other than your tax dollars already being taken from you, it's no cost. I believe they even throw in a laptop computer. You can also opt out of any standardized testing.

    Again, I don't know what y'alls districts are like, but just something to think about.
    Sonny Chancelor, andrew and Kevin like this.
  10. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Male

    Varies widely from district to district, but yes, good advice, and always worth checking into.
  11. Mojo

    Mojo Esteemed Member Male

    If you live near a Christian university, check to see if they offer homeschooling programs, or aid homeschoolers. As your children get older, helping them with calculus or physics can be challenging (if you choose to have them explore that). The help of a Christian prof. is invaluable in those situations.
    Sonny Chancelor and andrew like this.
  12. Broncos4life

    Broncos4life Member Female

    Thank you for posting this!! Even though I have a while before I can homeschool my daughter this is great so I can start thinking about it now.
    Soldier4Jesus, andrew and Mojo like this.
  13. Well loved wife

    Well loved wife Well-Known Member Female

    I really like structure. I’d be a great teacher if life didn’t keep happening :rolleyes:
    I like Landmark Freedom Baptist curriculum. Last year we stepped away from their Science and History. LFBC is very ‘sheltered’ in these two areas and I wanted a deeper level of understanding then what they have to offer. We enjoy Burean Builders Science and Apologia Science. Notgrass is what we use for our History. It is well written. Rod and Staff Math and English are my favorite, but we chose more of a workbook style of curriculum. LFBC is a close second to Rod an Staff. I’m a big fan of Khan Academy as well. When you have visual learners or need a little clarification, Khan is such a good resource!!
    Mojo and Kevin like this.
  14. cnystrom

    cnystrom Well-Known Member Male

    The great thing about home schooling is that you can customize it however you want. You do not even have to use the same program for each child.

    We have homeschooled for years. We only have two left at home. Currently they each go to a one day a week program. One goes to Classical Conversations and learns latin and such. The other goes to One Day Academy which has more for lack of a better team regular subjects. The one that goes to ODA also attends a co-op for a few other subjects, but I think that is mostly becuase his girlfriend goes there, too.
  15. cubanito

    cubanito Well-Known Member Male

    Andrew, you mentioned this method before, sounds very interesting, so free. I can see why normie mind set would have a hard time even exploring it.
    Schools always felt oppressive, weather private muns with big rulers or beastie institution control scenarios.
    I was an A kid when interested in the subject, barely C when obligated.
    Here are more people talking about it.
    Simple concept.