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  1. #1

    Default Made a mistake - trying to recover

    Hello. I'm new to this forum, and I'd be grateful for some advice. I have two middle-school-aged children, and this is our first year homeschooling. Unfortunately, I feel like I've made a terrible mistake. Please allow me to explain...

    Looking back, I guess I was quite overwhelmed trying to soak everything in when I decided to pull my children out of school. I was attending homeschool conferences and exploring curriculum options and reading any and everything that I could. I loved the idea of an eclectic approach, but then a friend invited me to an open house for Classical Conversations. I had never heard of it, and I was impressed by the emphasis on writing skills, logic, current events and Latin. At the event, numerous kids got up and spoke about their experiences with things such as the science fair and mock trial, and I was impressed. I loved the idea of being with a group one day a week and then having the rest of the week to teach in my home. I come from a heavy academic background, and, looking back, I guess I was drawn to the notion of having structure and freedom at the same time.

    Though I was aware of the religious undertones of the organization, I didnít realize until we were actually enrolled just how extreme the religious aspects would be. Without saying too much, Iíll simply say that Iím incredibly uncomfortable, and I donít at all fit in. Moreover, Iím having a hard time exposing my children to a worldview thatís not in line with how Iíve brought them up.

    Iím incredibly upset about all of this, and I feel so foolish. I felt like a fish out of water when I had my children in school, because I seemed to want something so different for my children (primarily, a love of learning) versus what the other parents seemed to be focused on. And, now, Iíve gotten my family involved in something where we fit in even less Ė not to mention that I outright disagree with some core aspects of what theyíre being taught. This is confusing and unsettling for them, and it has made for a very stressful situation.

    Iíve beaten myself up about this so much, but Iím at a point where I want to do whatever I can to rectify this situation. I have to Ė for the sake of my children. I need to act quickly to get on a healthier, more appropriate path, and I would sincerely appreciate some advice. Specifically, Iíd like to ask you about the following:

    - I need to find a good science and history curriculum for 6th and 8th grade.
    - Iíd also like to find a good Spanish curriculum and a good geography curriculum.
    - Does anyone also know of good options for middle schoolers to learn more about photography, graphic design and also sign language?


    I apologize for this long message and for the somewhat general nature of the questions. I was wrong in thinking I had found a program that was going to work well for us, and now Iím scrambling to create my own. Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide in regards to my questions above (or any other perspective you have on the overall experience I described). I would also welcome any other words of wisdom or tips in regards to things you've done through your years of homeschooling that you think were particularly wonderful and that you would advise I look into. Thanks again.

  2. BEH Dec
  3. #2

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    Welcome, and hugs! Youre not alone in trying something so shiny at a conference, and then realising its a disaster. Be honest with your kids, "Hey darlings, this is soooo not what I want. Lets stop and try something else."
    So stop. Give your kids a couple weeks off of formal curriculum - if thheyre like mine, they wont be complaining! Or, if youre worried that you will be failing at homeschool if you take the time off.... have them read some "literature", play the free Dragonbox math app (or use what you have for math if its working), watch some science or history documentaries.

    Teach your 6th and 8th graders their science, social studies, and language arts together. What do they want to do for science? How strong are they in it? (Budding rocket scientists, or just not their cup of tea?)
    What do you and they want to learn about for history?

    You also dont necessarily need a curriculum to learn things. If you wanted to improve your photography skills, you might read a few books, or take some classes or workshops. Or just get out there and practice regularly.

    When my baby was non-speaking, I used lifeprint.com to learn ASL for communicating with him. The site is run by a college instructor, so a bit more reliable than random youtubers. He has both a glossary, and a videotaped into level class (from the college) available for free.
    Other people here have used more kid-oriented ASL learning, but I dont know any offhand.

    Hang in there, its alright to trash the program.
    Homeschooling DS11, DS5.

    Atheist.

    My spelling and typing are fine, its my keyboard that doesnt cooperate.

  4. #3

    Default

    Thank you, alexsmom. It has been a difficult situation, especially because I don't want my children to feel that I've created instability. I removed them from their school, yet they're ambitious kids, so I want them to feel like their education has not gone off the rails in some way. I had been so excited for them in regards to all the neat stuff I thought they'd be learning - like logic and current events/debate and Latin. Now, however, I feel like the bottom has fallen out. I feel such an overwhelming responsibility to take care of my children, so it's tough to realize that I did something this foolish.

    However, I definitely don't want to panic, and I'm working hard to keep my emotions in check and look at the big picture. I know I can get us on a healthier path, and I thank you for your feedback and your comforting words.

    In regards to history, I would like them to develop a more solid foundation in regards to American history. I want them to have a full perspective on the history of our country – the good and the bad. I also want them to develop more of an understanding of government and politics. As a side note, my daughter definitely has an interest in people’s stories, so I’d like to weave in some concentrated study on a few specific, notable historical figures to bring things to life. The Civil Rights Movement is also something that I’d like my children to better understand.

    In regards to science, I’d like to focus on physical science, though life science appeals to my daughter as well. She seems to be developing an interest in biology and genetics.

    I’d appreciate any thought you have in response to all of this, and I thank you again.

  5. #4

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    In addition to the religious elements, Classical Conversations has a number of shady business practices, not to mention some bizarre educational philosophies about how teaching works. Don't feel bad though - they're incredibly good at sucking people in. And, to be fair, they do work for some families who want to do school like that. And some of the things they use - like IEW - work for families who don't like Classical Conversations.

    You're not disrupting the kids. Don't feel guilty. Stability is not sticking with something that is obviously all wrong for you. And sticking with something for the sake of stability is clearly not a good choice anyway, so there's zero to feel guilty about. Part of starting homeschooling is taking some time to deschool, to get to know each other in a new way... Really, you're fine.

    As for specific programs. Here some things to research...

    You'd like to do US history? Joy Hakim's History of US is a good option and very thorough. Chester Comix is a good basic resource as well (it's history in graphic novel form) for just getting through stuff. Are you familiar with Crash Course? Their US history videos are a good resource. They're in middle school, so you could consider doing National History Day, which is an academic contest for middle schoolers. There are lots of good individual books about the civil rights movement and tons of great literature.

    For Spanish... look at So You Think You Want to Learn Spanish, Destinos, Breaking the Barrier Spanish... And you know about Duolingo, I assume?

    For Science... look at Real Science Odyssey. There are a lot of great science programs out there, but a lot of them are for specific subjects, like Middle School Chemistry from ACS. Or they're experiment driven, like TOPS but don't have a text component. Middle schoolers can read pop nonfiction, which opens up a lot of good book options for science. My middle schooler is reading The Disappearing Spoon right now, for example. But some people like a more textbook based option, like Prentice Hall Science Explorer. You could also look at Conceptual Science, which is a high school course (well, courses- they have a number of different ones, but the intro one is the one I'm thinking of) that some people like for upper middle school. The Great Courses is another good resource.

    For graphic design... One of my middle schoolers is doing graphic design this year. We end to wing things, but there's some really good video series on youtube and Lynda. For framing the subject, we used Picture This by Molly Bang (it's SO good). For inspiration, we have Creative Workshop, which has projects to try. For learning things like the Adobe products, Adobe Illustrator in a classroom or Photoshop in a Classroom is a good choice. Vector Basic Training is one that was also recommended to me but which we haven't used yet.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    http://farrarwilliams.wordpress.com
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?
    http://simplify4you.com/

  6. #5

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    Hi Jen, you're probably not the first non-religious family CC has sucked in. I agree, their class lists often sound wonderful, but...it is not for everyone. And from what I understand about their local strong-arm tactics, they make you feel like you're not only letting down your own children, but you're letting the group down too. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...that duck is a cult IMHO

    Your kids are of an age to talk this through. One of the big things I have always stressed with my daughter is the why's and how's of what we do as a family, in other words, the big backstory about why we are not religious people. I am sure they are going to feel a bit disappointed to leave the group. Middle schoolers, for good or for ill, are social beings. If you feel you can still be friends with some in the group, then remain so.

    I second Joy Hakim for your study of the US, as well as Howard Zinn's stuff and Reading Like a Historian from Stanford. Don't be afraid that you have to cover ALL of US history this year; hit the highlights or eras, skip the rest.

    My 8th grader is using Oak Meadow's Civics8 this year. We're not studying US history, we're doing modern world history, but much of the book dovetails nicely with what is happening in the world. For example, though she wanted to say they shouldn't, when studying the 1st Amendment this week, she realized it was OK for the white suprmacists to march in Charlottesville if they had a permit to do so. Sometimes things are messy and extremely distasteful!! I highly recommend it as your kids are of an age to be able to discuss this stuff, and the curriculum is all about research and discussion.

    And as far as physical science goes, I recommend Exploration Education's Advanced program, and have them do it together. It can easily be completed this school year; I had to hold my daughter back from finishing it (she did it in 6th). Otherwise we really like Real Science Odyssey too, we're doing Astronomy 2 this year.

    But yes, don't rush to restart, but sheesh get them out of CC!!!! and ask us questions, we'll gladly help.
    Eclectically homeschooling 8th grade dd, who likes science as much as art...

  7. #6

    Default

    Thank you, farrarwilliams. This is incredibly helpful. I'm going to examine these resources tonight. Some of them are familiar to me, but some are not, so I very much appreciate your response. Thank you - truly.

  8. #7

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    Thank you, fastweedpuller. Yes, these are precisely the kind of conversations I engage in with my children. I'm very open with them, and I encourage them to explore various sides of issues and to be informed before coming to conclusions. I don't force-feed them my opinions, so I'll be darned if I'm going to allow them to be force-fed by others. This is one of the reasons I'm so uncomfortable with CC. They talk about teaching children how to think, but then they don't allow them to do so.

    I had taken an interest in Howard Zinn's material when I was first researching homeschooling, so I'm glad to see your recommendation on that. I'm going to give that some serious consideration - along with the other resources you recommended. Thank you so very much!

  9. #8
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    Hi Jen2017 - I've met other homeschoolers with similar CC experiences, including Roman Catholic HSers who felt CC was too extreme. Hang in there - it is a learning process for everyone.

    Just popping on to say you may also want to look into History Odyssey by Pandia Press for your history needs.
    Rebecca
    DS 12, DD 10
    Year 6

  10. #9

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    Thanks, Rebecca. Yes, I was raised as a Roman Catholic, though, as an adult, I have not been a practicing Catholic. I do appreciate your encouragement, because I've been a bit rattled by the experience I've had. (I haven't even fully described some of the things that have gone on. You would be shocked.) I will check out History Odyssey. Thank you!

  11. #10

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    History Odyssey does have US history now, but isn't it still high school level?

    There really are a ton of things out there. One of the issues you'll find is that there aren't a lot of fully laid out, step-by-step programs intended for homeschoolers - History Odyssey is an exception.

    I would also suggest Build Your Library, which has history, geography, science, etc. all in one. And the middle school book choices are excellent. But it's not US history for those years either.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
    http://farrarwilliams.wordpress.com
    Children's Books, Homeschooling and Random Musings...

    Want help homeschooling or sending kids to college?
    http://simplify4you.com/

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Made a mistake - trying to recover