Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Putting an End to All the Overlap ~ And Making Connections

At one time or another we sit back and go over our plans we have for teaching and it all seems wonderful doesn't it? Everything is written down, outlined and the HS budget seems to be in line with what we have set out to do.  Then you go over things again to make some last minute decisions~

I think its easy to get sucked into the curriculum machine~they make it sound so perfect! and you feel guilty if your child doesn't have that particular workbook or expensive lab set. We don't have to be sucked in though. We just need to remember who we are teaching and what our childrens needs are.  Once we know this, many programs begin to look less and less exciting. 

I had a realization recently and have found that a leaner homeschool budget and better organization really helped me to realize the overlap I was starting to see in our home learning.   As I saw this I went to my book shelves and starting pulling out things one after the other... wow, I have ALOT! ( I even need a new book shelf and I have already six now!)

I heard from so many how Highschool was SO expensive I felt like I had to have  all these really expensive programs that others were using. NO, I didn't.  Just because one program may be beneficial to one child doesn't mean it will work for another.  We need to remember that as we go into the teaching years beyond Elementary learning as well.

Some changes were needed and I realized that "less may be more" as long as things are kept comprehensive and on target. Here are a few of how I am changing things;

First a bit of some background of how I got here~
We finished our school year this past May. Each May or beginning of June the boys have their evaluations and we have portfolios we do ( state requirement where we live) and as much as I hate having to do these portfolios, I have found that the time  I spend going over things that we have done and their accomplishments helps me to have a better understanding of just "how" overall things have been going.  What adjustments might need to be made with time or goals and objectives.

One thing I came away with this year is I found the boys ( now 12 and 14) are beginning to come together a bit more in their learning.  Before, there were many times the younger boy would come and watch an experiment or plop down for a reading time with my older son. But now, I started to really see how he wanted to be much more involved. How when I would go to work on something completely new in math or grammar he would already be able to teach it to me~!  Yah!  I hadn't yet understood the full extent of how successful learning together for them could actually be, that is until this year this year. When my evaluator brought up the fact that the younger one was working well above grade level while the teen was beyond highschool learning in many areas.

She had a more objective,  outside view of the boys and in their work. She explained how in schools they "try" and do this by teaching children in groups so one works with another and that studies have found it to be very successful.  She noted that in our setting the boys have learned on their own to do this very naturally which is why it is becoming so successful.  I never really thought of that.

This year we are combining many subjects together, excluding Mathematics and some Science ( but not all ).  I have re-vamped my plans over this summer to incorporate things where they will be working side by side on things at the same time with products we are familiar with ~ I will be sharing what we are using soon and just how I plan to do this. ( still collecting books in specific areas for my older teen)

I decided this summer that when I sat back and looked at things and the plans I had for this coming new year~ I could see overlap.  Something I have tried very hard to stay away from.  This was the first year I really saw that my plans had some and I have weeded those things completely out.

Why use a Language Arts program and yet also have a separate Grammar program as well or Vocabulary Program?  I could very easily see this when I help other parents with their planning and sitting back I realized I did not need a separate Grammar program with what we are going to be working. I don't want  to over do and that is where we were headed in some areas.

I hear so many times that some parents wish to do a bit extra because it is a "weak" area~ why do another program? Why not try making the program you have more comprehensive by attempting to find ways the skills can be incorporated into other areas/subjects of their learning? Try being more creative with the practice of concepts, with games, posters, skits etc...  I think some could find it won't be the dreaded subject and if they are weak in one area chances are they won't do much better in that area with more drilling and another program ~

I think it is worth stepping back and looking to be sure that our plans do not overlap.  And with the tight budgets we have look to be able to connect learning (especially in the area of language arts) more instead of buying and drilling through all of the books/programs that are out there. It is MUCH easier on the budget~!

I am so glad I found and realized our Overlap and am putting and end to it~ ~! :)


Mary said...

I love this post - great food for thought!

Mary said...

I love this post - great food for thought!

nagymom said...

WOW SO much of this could have been written by me! I've been coming to the same conclusions after 6 years of homeschooling. (Apparently I'm a slow learner LOL). Thanks for sharing your wisdom, and I plan to share with my homeschooling and facebook friends.

Learners at Home said...

Then you and I are both slow learners! lol Or maybe it is the 6th year of homeschooling underneath us that might be helping so much? either way I am glad you can relate, it is helpful to me to hear that others might be thinking the same way :)



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