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  1. #1
    Junior Member Newbie Enviro_Mike's Avatar
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    Default Greetings from Western Pennsylvania!

    Hi All,

    I'm a home educating father of a soon to be 6-year old boy. My wife and I recognized the failures of the public schooling system before we even conceived, so we've been on the home education train ever since DS was born.

    Up until now we have taken a largely non-schooled approach to education and let it flow organically through play and LOTS of reading. I am proud to say that DS is doing very well with our so far un-regimented approach. Now that he is coming into the age of reason though, we both recognize we are going to need to ramp our efforts up and find more and more creative solutions for teaching. Which is why I'm here now. Having visited these forums in the past for insight, I recognize that I'm going to need to be more active in my role as a teacher as DS grows, and what better way to get this job done right than commune with others who are also doing it (or have done it).

    I also recognized that next year we will need to prepare and submit and register with the school district, and I've heard that PA isn't the easy state to satisfy.

    In addition to seeking meaningful feedback for structuring the education of a highly expressive and energetic young boy, I'm also hoping to get some ideas for an online course that I am creating, aimed at teaching logic and critical thinking to college bound students (or parents interested in teaching it themselves).

    I hope to chat again soon.

    Regards,
    Mike

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  3. #2

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    Welcome, Mike!
    “Age of Reason” sounds either like the Enlightenment, or something from Well Trained Mind. :0 (Those crazy people! Dante in 2nd grade, wtf!)
    For some people, they can wing everything without a curriculum. They somehow go through homeschooling riding a sparkling unicorn over rainbows, joyfully interweaving Trigonometry and East African Studies as they are out rescuing sea turtles from plastic entanglements.
    For other people though, and probably the Pennsylvania Annual Review, some sorts of curriculum are probably preferred, to give some structure, scope, and sequence for what they do. (And to teach them as discrete subjects.) For example, having a math workbook will provide work samples for the review, as well as guide you along with what order you teach stuff in, as well as what is typical to cover at that “grade”. This isnt to say you shouldnt do it your way, or that you have to do every problem, or not skip boring stuff that isnt teaching your kid anything... or have a school-at-home approach.
    For choosing curriculum, I would avoid anything online at this age. Your kid needs human interaction to learn, needs your brains to assess if he is getting the message, if hes tuned in, if you need to phrase it a better way that he understands or with a situation he can relate to.
    I would also avoid all-in-one Grade X curriculum. These are overpriced packages to lure newbies in, and are not tailored to your kid.
    Pick the subjects you want him to learn, and look for how to approach that (either from the back of a unicorn or with curriculum). Even PA will accept unicorns if theyre properly documented (I think).
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3

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    I was thinking about this today, structure and so forth, and decided that I always tend to circle back to trying to structure things because then it feels overall more achievable and I can check I am on track and know where I am going. Otherwise, DD's education seems like a very amorphous and slippery jellyfish that is hard to grab long enough to get a good hard look at it and truly understand what it is. But then I thought that it is not meant to be structured really. You have no idea who your child will become and their education is meant to evolve with that. So you can't really structure it fully in advance.

    Though I know that is hard especially if you have legal requirements to meet.

    How often do you have to report/register? Is this is a once off or a yearly requirement?

    When I did my DD's application to homeschool here in NZ, I found in helpful to think of in terms of the general description of what sort of young adult I wanted her to become and then the broad subject areas I would teach to achieve that. Then for each broad subject area I broke it down into what sort of resources I could use. With an emphasis on could not would so it showed more that I had a knowledge of what was out there but we would not be bound to any one particular choice.

    We settled with going with a set curriculum for math that we use each year, the Bravewriter methods for writing, and then interest-based for science and social studies.
    New Zealand-based. DD 10 (year 5 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 5 (year 0 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

  5. #4
    Junior Member Newbie Enviro_Mike's Avatar
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    "Age of Reason" - certainly there are some physiological transformations happening around this time, when a child starts to become more self aware, less irrational? or maybe this is me projecting my own wishes for my son to stop acting so crazy sometimes, but why the hell would I want him to do that anyway - he is just a kid! I know the day will be here very soon when I'll be wishing he was doing those crazy kid things than the crazy teenager things, anyways, thanks for the responses.

    I totally agree that education is not actually supposed to be structured in such a strict fashion, yet this old conditioning of my own is damn hard to escape and fully shake off. My son is learning how to read and conceptualize complex subjects already, with little to no actual instruction, it has me fully convinced that a hand off, child led approach is the way to go - provided he has someone around to decently answer the never ending "why" loops. So the structuring I suppose is only to satisfy this arbitrary bureaucracy that is the state of pennsylvania, who requires yearly reviews and one-on-one student evaluation, portfolios, records, and even standardized testing. Fortunately the latter I can opt-out of, and all the rest aren't required until he is 7, but it does seem nearly impossible at times, especially when DS already knows everything...I've become quite careful never to preface any of my communications with "I'm going to teach you something....."

    Even if the other end of that sentence was "how to ride a unicorn," I think DS would still convince me that he already knows how, and I would concede, watching him climb on quasi-horse's back with no saddle and no formal training. He would fall off and I think all would be fine as long as my wife or I were there to pick him up, brush him off, and tell him to try again.

  6. #5

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    Yearly reviews and all sounds tough. We just have to apply once to be "exempt" from schooling requirements, and then they want nothing to do with us.

    If it was me, I would want to start now too. Maybe start by making up some templates (if they do not provide them) of what you would put in a portfolio or in records. I only just got my act together after 2.5 years of homeschooling to do portfolios for my daughter. They are not required but I like to do them for us to both see what she has done. I wish I had made a template at the start for that as it would have made it quicker.

    For records, does keeping a daily journal or schedule count? I just keep a regular notebook for my DD's daily schedule as her record of what she has done and attendance. We usually both contribute to writing it up each day as we go of everything that was counted as "school". Then I keep track of the number of half days that she has done. We are technically meant to do the same as public school.

    I would just pick one thing to start with like introducing a curriculum for one subject to your day or working on keeping a record of attendance/learning, and then when you have that sorted, move on to adding another thing.

    Sounds like your DS is a confident learner.
    New Zealand-based. DD 10 (year 5 [NZ system]) homeschooled, and DD 5 (year 0 [NZ system]) who is currently trying out public school.

    Freelance copyeditor, specializing in scientific text, who will make mistakes in my posts (I don't self-edit).

  7. #6
    Junior Member Newbie Enviro_Mike's Avatar
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    Thanks for the tips! I think I will check in with the local library to see if they have templates or examples that other homeschoolers have prepared in regards to portfolio and records.

    It'd be nice to find that type of thing online, maybe once I put something together for my particular area, I'll post something up.

  8. #7

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    The PA people that have posted here havent ever described the portfolio pro ess as being miserable or particularly difficult. As far as an annual standardized test (when he is older), thats not particularly scary either. It lets the Education Board know that your kid has the skills appropriate for that grade. We dont want kids uneducated and falling through the cracks, with homeschooling to blame, right!? If your 6th grader doesnt know arithmetic, unicorns or no, you want the state concerned. (Think - protection from Quiverfuls.)
    Child-led is fine, but kids dont know what they dont know. Getting solid foundations is beneficial, hence knowing a scope and sequence. If your son is compliant, he likely wont mind an engaging workbook or two. Critical Thinking Company makes some of the better ones, more engaging and less busy-work.
    https://www.criticalthinking.com/cat...type%5B%5D=all

    Another child-friendly resource you might want to consider is Bravewriter’s Jot it Down - introducing meaningful written communication.

    Take a trip around the world with Build Your Library’s Level 0 curriculum. Read stories, watch videos, learn about the animals and people from each continent, make recipes.... all sorts of things - and you dont have to follow the optional timetable, which leaves lots of time for exploring rabbit trails as his interests take him. (I simultaneously used Level 0 and 7 last year to school my two boys together.)
    Build Your Library – Secular Literature Based Homeschool Curriculum and Educational Products
    There are tons of resources in the curriculum, as well as “additional resources”. It covers language arts, social studies, and science - thats three of the core subjects that your state likely wants you to cover.

    Good luck! Dont worry about the bureaucracy, its not that bad!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

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Greetings from Western Pennsylvania!