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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Best Laid Plans.... Part 2

The Lost Files
What a Difference A Year Makes Part 1
Chapter 1: What a Difference A Year Makes Part 2
Chapter 2: Background Influences
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 1
Chapter 3: What Am I doing? Part 2
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 1
Chapter 4: Best Laid Plans.... Part 2

Whether we end up using these books according to my original intention or not, does not really matter, as these books are necessary in any homeschooling house. The author/ Editor of What Your Kindergarten-Sixth Grader Needs To Know, E.D. Hirsh Jr. has compiled every well-known fact in American culture such as literature, slogans, sayings, history, math and all other subjects that a child of a particular age or grade should know.

There are seven volumes in all.

The premise of these books were to create a national standard so that children in the same grade are learning the same things at the same time be it from classroom to classroom, or from state to state. In the introduction of these books, Hirsh explains how a parent of twins were concerned that they were learning completely different things and thus were both getting different and abbreviated educations with many gaps. He saw this as a sign of trouble that teachers in the same school did not know what children in other classrooms where learning on the same grade level. They also had no idea what other teachers had covered in previous grades, and what future teachers would cover.

I can identify with Hirsch's concerns as a parent who has moved from state to state across the US. My son was in three schools in three years and as far as I could tell, repeated Kindergarten three times with few exceptions. When he finally got to a school that was up to par with the first school he attended, he was lost. Therefore, having a unifying curriculum across the United States is very helpful. Having been widely acclaimed and used in public and private schools across the country, I believe it will be very useful to my children and me as we embark upon our homeschooling endeavor.

As far as the plan for unit studies using the Hirsh books, well, that fell by the wayside as well. My children have a hard time seeing me as their teacher, which in an integral part of doing unit studies. They prefer to use me as a math tutor, and a walking encyclopedia. We do still use the Kingfisher history book, because it is a major resource for history facts in our home. As for bible studies, we decided that they get enough of that in Sunday school.

Looking back at what is actually left of my original plans, you would think that our homeschooling endeavor has fallen apart. That could not be further from the truth. Instead, what we have done is adapted. The online interactive programs I was searching for ended up covering every subject completely. The children love it because they can work independently of me and of each other. Since they have each been using computer games as learning tools since 18 months of age, it was a natural thing for them to do all of their subjects online. The music and phys-ed classes have gone exactly as planned and we have recently added swimming lessons at the local YMCA, which they take with other homeschooling children.

Although many of my well laid out plans have been set aside, this was not done haphazardly. I worked with and observed the children over time, and as long as I knew that they where meeting or above their grade level in the work they where doing, I let them learn in a way that was natural and fun for them. I had to decide what was better, my ruined plans, or the children having an enjoyable learning experience. I chose the latter.

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1 comment:

Carrie said...

I just stumbled across your blog and can't stop reading it! Your early entries about your misgivings have been so encouraging to me! I feel like I could have written them myself (in a few weeks I will begin homeschooling my oldest in kindergarten). But I must say that your last sentence is very pertinent - I had to decided what was better, my ruined plans, or the children having an enjoyable learning experience. I think those words will stick with me for a while! Thank you!