Long Summer

January 10, 2010

Is this what homeschool success feels like?

Filed under: Curriculum,Inspiration — by dbmamaz @ 11:29 am
Tags: ,

Orion’s school year is really shaping up well.  Lets compare to last year:

Last year, in 7th grade, he was in mostly ‘collaborative’ classes, with some special ed students and some ‘regular’ students who just needed more help. The academics were never a challenge for him, so he was bored and often asked a lot of questions, which annoyed the teachers. Meltdowns, incidents, and tearful calls home were frequent. We upped his meds several times just trying to get him through school. By the end of the year, there were suspensions . .. mostly, imo, because the teachers couldn’t handle him. They constantly made his disability in to a discipline issue, and punished him for things he cannot control. What few friends he had eventually lost patience with him.

This year, home school – much better! So what are we doing? First of all, I make a schedule for the week which includes Orion’s assignments, lunch breaks and chores, plus appointments and classes for everyone. Then each morning, I give Orion a checklist which basically tells him what he should be doing all day – along the lines of: read sections x-y in science book and watch named video; set timer for 20 minutes; do math; watch 1 Khan Academy video; exercise and lunch . . . Orion gets agitated if he doesn’t have something to do, so this helps keep the day running smoothly. He has something to do just about every minute of the day until his electronics are allowed at 4:00.

Curriculum so far:

Science: He already finished a middle-school level science overview book which we both really enjoyed (i only read a few chapters, tho). Now we’re working slowly through an excellent biology textbook, generally used for high school ap or college non-major classes. I assign him about 15 minutes of reading each day, plus a discovery streaming clip to complement it. We’re both enjoying this, too!

“Lab”: Orion received a very nice microscope for Christmas and we are doing 2 labs/week from a wonderful microscope book.

Math: We started using ALEKs, which was great, but is no longer an option because he has destroyed another computer. LOF algebra 1 became too difficult when we got to word problems, so we bought the pre-algebra and biology book, and he’s been working independently again. He does 20 minutes of LOF every day, and then gets to choose any video from Khan Academy to watch. I asked him to stick w algebra videos, but the other day he told me he wanted to watch one about converting decimals to fractions, because he never really got that . . . great!

Social studies: he worked through a (low-level) unit study, and some printouts from the VA General Assembly website. Now he’s reading “ The United States Constitution, A Graphic Adaptation.” Its a really good book and he seems to be enjoying it.

English: he has a fiction book to read at all times, and reads at least 30 minutes daily. I tried adding in 2 MCT books, WWW and Magic Lens, but his writing was so bad, we went back to Paragraph Town. We are working through this together, and so far it seems like a really good thing!

Extra-curricular: he’s taken a drama class, a sewing class, and now he’s been whittling and asked a friend’s mom to teach him to knit.

Friends: doing pretty well. He has friends at both park days, and the other day we went to the north side park day, and he did a great job of playing w boys who were pretty physical – he said ‘ow’ a few times, but didn’t make a big deal out of it. . . . .and we had just lowered his meds 3 days earlier!!

Attitude: pretty great! Orion is STILL taking the daily school checklist I make for him and contentedly doing his work. He comes to me when he’s stuck, but is mostly independent, leaving me time to work w his brother and keep up w a few things around the house. Even my husband, who wasn’t so sure about homeschooling, told me after 2 months that this was clearly an improvement over last year.

Is this what home school success feels like? I sure hope so! Cuz it feels good!



  1. Great post Cara! I’m glad you shared your blog on the writers’ chat. It’s wonderful to have successful days in our homeschools, hopefully more frequently than we have bad ones! Keep up the good work and good luck with your blog! — Terri G.

    Comment by TerriG — January 11, 2010 @ 2:52 pm |Reply

  2. Cara! It sounds like you have really hit a groove! I’ll be checking back often!

    Traci W.

    Comment by Traci — January 11, 2010 @ 4:24 pm |Reply

  3. That is awesome, Cara! That really makes me wanna homeschool. Was it bumpy in the beginning?

    Comment by Maddy — January 11, 2010 @ 5:03 pm |Reply

  4. Sure, Maddy, it was bumpy at times, and still is. In many ways, its just like parenting – good days, bad days, times you totally doubt yourself and times you know you’re in the groove. Raven is still very oppositional, and Orion’s schedule and curriculum has been through a lot of adjustments. But i think it helps that the boys both REALLY wanted it. and i have done a LOT of homework!

    Comment by dbmamaz — January 11, 2010 @ 5:13 pm |Reply

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