Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cost of Education

A little while ago this morning, I was listening to the radio.  There was a conversation taking place about the cost of education in our area.  I always think about that this time of year as I am planning and purchasing my curriculum for my 5 full-time students.  The average cost PER STUDENT in our area is $15,000.00.  Let me say that again - 15 THOUSAND dollars.  Per student.  Per year.


I realize that there are bills to pay for each school building.  I realize that the salaries of the teachers are included.  I realize that there are insurance, food, and many other costs included in these figures - not just books.  But, for heaven's sake.  $15,000.00?  Some quick calculations on my part tells me that with those figures, it should be costing my husband and I about $75,000.00 to teach our 5 children each year - and that's only figuring about 8-10 hours worth of their care, five days a week for 9 months a year.  I can tell you, I am pretty certain we don't spend $15,000/child/year in our home - period.  We not only school them, but house them, clothe them, meet their health care needs, feed them 3 good meals a day, entertain them, and the list goes on.  And, we pay school taxes.

So, I ask you - where is this $15,000.00 per student going?  Because, on my paper, it's just not adding up.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What I'm Using Next Year

Ok - I know you all have just been dying to know what our curriculum will be made of next year. All (maybe) 1 of you.  Seriously, is anyone out there? 

Anyway -

Math - Grades Michael, Cassia, and Anna - A.C.E.  This curriculum works great for us as I am not mathematically minded and when the kids can't get it on their own it's written write there in their book where I can understand it!
Katrina, Seth, & Gloria - BJU.  What else?

English - All grades will use the best curriculum in this area - BJU.  Not that I've tried them all, but I did major in English when in college and their concentration on the writing process and the intricacies of grammar are superb.

History - This year, I let the older kids actually choose what they're going to do.  Daring, I know.  Mike is doing (surprise) Evan Moor's Civil War History Pockets.  He already knows much more about this war than I do, but I have a feeling it's going to play a part in whatever he chooses to do in his future.  So, I don't mind him spending a year of concentration on it.  He has purchased even more books and will do reports on it on top of the projects included in the pockets.  I truly hope one summer in the next few years he'll be able to intern as a guide at Mannasses.  
Cassia is also doing a History Pocket - Moving West.  She is very much interested in pioneers, etc.  She will be doing the projects, a report or two, and reading various books including on on Narcissus Prentiss & Marcus Whitman.
Anna is my more orderly, no-frills student.  Therefore, she chose to use the BJU 6th grade Heritage Studies.  She's basically covering world history & geography.  I personally like the organization and "no-thinking" planning that gives me, as well.
Seth & Katrina will be doing history in our homeschool group.  As we have 19 weeks total and most history curriculua for that age-group tend to only last half a year, that will suffice.  We will build on what they are learning in class and we will also be reading the Little House series.  We read that series together when the 3 older ones were young (Anna, my 9 year old, barely remembers that) and I think they'll enjoy it very much.  It also ties in nicely with Cassia's history studies.

Health - each of them will be using the A Beka health books geared towards their grade level.  It's basic, easy to read and understand and covers all sorts of issues such as diet, hygiene, changes in teens, manners, etc.

Science - I'm really excited to join the Apologia family this year.  Mike & Cassia will be doing the General Science program.  Mike will be taking the Hands-on Science class in our homeschool group, as well.  Cassia is undecided.  We will be doing as many of the experiments in our book as possible.  Anna is doing Apologia's Human Physiology & Anatomy and Katrina is doing Flying Creatures of the 5th Day.  The fact that they have notebook activities to go along with their lessons was a huge selling point for me.  Science is more about observing and doing.  Seth will be doing A Beka's Enjoying God's Creation.  It's only about half a year's worth of information and he will enjoy the experiments of the older children.

Reading/Literature - Katrina and Seth will continue with Hooked-on-Phonics for improved reading skills and utilize the Pathway Readers for practice.  I love the Pathway Readers and so do all of my children.  I don't make my kids do a lot of workbook work for reading and I think that has proved a good decision.  None of them see reading as work, but as something they love to do. 
I didn't plan on the older kids doing a formal reading program until I came across some great literature books as a used curriculum fair.  Mike is going to use an old BJU edition of "Explorations in Literature", Cassia is using A Beka's "Of People", and Anna is using the 6th grade Pathway Reader, "Step by Step."  Each book has questions at the end that my kids can answer aloud.  This way, I can make sure they are reading and comprehending all of the material.  This is important especially for those stories that seem to be a bit more dry to them.

Handwriting - Katrina and Seth will continue to use the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum.  Katrina is in the 2nd cursive book and Seth is in the 3rd printing book.  I began using this series about 4 or 5 years ago and I love it.  My kids' never minded doing handwriting and they improved without much time put forth every day.  This program won't last a whole year, but they'll continue to get practice as they write out their spelling words, etc.

Spelling - I found a great antique speller among my husband's grandmothers' books - "The Essentials of Spelling".  This speller was published in 1919 and covers 5-8 grades.  Michael and Cassia will be using the 7th and 8th grade word lists given.  Anna has opted to use the BJU 6th grade spelling and Katrina & Seth will also be using BJU for their grade levels, as well.

Bible - We rarely use a formal  Bible curriculum.  We will finish reading Adventures of Missionary Heroism and probably continue reading other missionary biographies together.  We also go over our church's Sunday School lessons together on school mornings and sing a few hymns together.  I plan on implementing more Scripture memorization, as well.

My children, as I've mentioned, are also involved in our church's homeschool co-op.  They receive their physical education and art instruction from this group.  They will also be involved in choir, home ec., and literature classes besides the classes I have previously mentioned. 

I've already planned what days we will be doing school.  With 4-day weeks beginning August 16, having all school-year birthdays off, a short Thanksgiving & Christmas break - we will still have 180 days of school (19 are co-op days and 6 are field trip days).  I'm excited to have next year planned out ahead of time. 

So, there's our plan.  Even if no one is reading this, it's nice to have it all in one place.  Wonder if I could send a link to this blog to my school Superintendent and use it for my IHIP.....:)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A New Vision

So, I just ordered the last of my curriculum for next year.  I am sure you all are anxiously awaiting to find out what we are doing in our homeschool for the 2010/2011 school year.  But, first, let me explain something I feel the Lord showed me.

These past couple of years, we have been doing unit studies.  As you know, we have enjoyed them very much.  We have been able to do a lot more fun things together and I really believe the kids retained a lot of knowledge - in the history department.  However, I was struggling with the other subject areas as I felt they were a bit weak.  I LOVE history, so doing more research and doing the projects were not difficult.  I am not gifted in the area of science and expounding on the prepared lesson plans (which seemed a bit unorganized) were difficult.  English is my specialty and I know this was very weak in the curriculum I was using.

Another problem was the fact that I now had 2 younger children not old enough to really get involved with the unit study we were doing.  I was doing things with them and that was fine, but running two studies was getting a bit stressful.  Also making things hard was the fact that all of the kids had to be together at the same time to teach them our "together" school.  If one child was out helping a friend or another one was in deep concentration over long-division, we lost a lot of time. 

Most of all, I noticed that I spent most of my time doing school with my kids, leaving little time to minister to others or truly keep my home.  Looking through Scripture, it was confirmed to me that my first priority as a mother is to manage my home and be a help to my husband.  Where is it taught that the Proverbs 31 woman actually sat down all day and schooled her children?  Her children learned how to be a wives (or what kind of wife to seek), how to work in business, how to minister to others by watching their mom and, I daresay, by working along-side her.  She was a mom who loved and spent time with her children - but not just by educating them, no matter how creatively.

Sending my children to school is not an option.  Yet, sacrificing ministry and the organizational management of my home is no option, either.  My children need to be educated to make it in this world and to be a good testimony.  They also need to see me ministering and minister alongside me in order to please God and to be a good testimony. 

So, my answer? Textbooks.  *GASP*  Yes, I realize that textbooks are evil.  They zap my children's love of learning.  They aren't real life. 

Let's face it.  Even in unit studies, the kids know when we are doing school.  No amount of projects and reading aloud is going to mask the fact that they are in school-mode.  They still look forward to being "done" with school and having free time.  As far as textbooks - I don't know, but it seems that I'm still picking up textbooks to learn how to do various things (ie: cookbooks, photography books, sewing books, etc).  Textbooks seem to be a large part of my real life.

I realize that much of my time will still be spent educating my children.  My older children will be able to read most of their material and figure it out on their own.  I will do review questions with them, aide them in their writing projects, correct their work, etc.  My younger ones will still require a lot of one-on-one with me.  That's understanable.  That's expected.  However, I'm hoping that with the organization of textbooks I will have more time to do what I need to do - be a true help to my husband.  Teaching our children is only one of the many ways I need to aide him.  It is not the only way. 

I want to spend more time teaching my children scripture.  If you study the Bible, THAT is what parents are supposed to be teaching their children.  I need to teach them what God wants from them - His Words, His principles, His love.  I don't need to be concentrating on getting my children to love reading the classics.  I need to be concentrating on developing their love for the Word.  I don't need to teach my children every word of the Gettysburg Address.  I need to memorize Scripture with them.  I don't need to spend time developing their love of learning all things scientific, literary, etc.  I need to develop their love for Christ and for others by ministering.  That is what being a Christian mom is all about. 

I've decided that I'm not a homeschooling mom.  I'm a Christian mom who homeschools.  There is a difference.  The difference is in my priorities.