Wednesday, March 26, 2008

quarterly reports

This time, I am only a little bit late in submitting our quarterly reports.

What are quarterly reports, you ask? They are a law-abiding homeschooling mom's nod to the New York State Board of Education's requirements. According to the powers that be in our fair state, each academic year must be 180 days of instruction consisting of 5 hours of class per day. Broken down into smaller segments, it translates into 4 quarters consisting of 9 weeks each (36 weeks total). The other 16 weeks of the year, no-one is required to learn anything; just watch T.V. and play video games, I guess.

Just kidding.
(Gotta watch the sarcasm here, this is a public space.)

At the end of those nine weeks, we submit a report to the local school district detailing our progress in the proposed curriculum we submitted last summer. Many of our friends and relatives are curious about how homeschooling parents choose their curriculum. There are many- and I mean many- educational choices available. It can be overwhelming for the novice!

One of the best ways to narrow things down is to talk to veteran homeschooling parents. I have a friend who is a walking-talking encyclopedia about such matters! She also has a degree in education. A quick call (or long call) to her will usually help me sort things out. She understands that a parent knows their own child better than any sales rep, and armed with that knowledge, is best equipped to find the material to engage him or her.

I always take a ream of notes on her recommendations and then go online to see what the products look like and, just as relevant, what they cost. Sometimes the less-expensive curriculum will do the job just as well. And then again, you can always explore buying a used copy or borrowing it from another family. I'm a huge fan of that!

Our local homeschooling community is a great support to me. Our homeschooling institution, Christian Fellowship Academy, provides guidelines for our requirements and all kinds of extras. (such as choir, gym, public speaking, art, and even a real yearbook!)

Last year,after three years of using a literature-based curriculum, which uses various historical novels and such instead of big fat textbooks, I made the big leap. We went off the grid---which is backwoods-talk for generating our own power. What I mean is this: I picked our history/literature/social studies topics myself! And then went to task finding the books to illumine us all about them.

It was a scary, daring, out-of-the-box, and crazy experiment. How did we fare, you ask?

We learned a lot about local history, the Underground Railroad, and our old farmhouse. Then we dove into the mysterious Middle East and learned all about Persia, the birth of Islam, ancient Egypt, the birth of modern Israel, Islamic art and architecture, way-cool cuisine, and much much more.

Our year was as satisfying as a big ol' slice of grandma's apple pie.

So we are trying it again this year with British Literature. I can tell you this much: I am getting smart from all this high-brow reading! And imagine this: my two teens are enjoying the journey even though mom is along for the entire ride. That's golden.

(Don't be unduly impressed. I stuck like a burr to math and science textbooks. This mom is only brave about certain things.)

Anyway, I'm not trying to impress anyone. Just sending out a holler to the clear blue sky that YOU CAN TEACH YOUR OWN CHILDREN in the State of New York. And HAVE A BLAST DOING SO. AND ALSO LEARN INCREDIBLE THINGS.

You just gotta fill out these infernal forms every now and then.
That's all.


Blogger jean said...

As usual, I'm very proud of you!

4:45 PM  
Blogger KathyLikesPink said...

Thanks for the insight into how homeschooling works. My sister and I have always talked about wishing we could have done it but neither of us felt qualified, and were overcome with fear of our kids growing up lacking something major in their education.

I enjoy your posts.

1:18 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

Those "infernal forms" will save you hundreds of hours when you get ready to send son and daughter off to college. They are a blessing in disguise--and this coming from one who is observing parents in a more "free" homeschool enviornment.

6:01 PM  

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