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  1. #1

    Default Ensuring ease of return to public school...eventually

    I am homeschooling my rising 5th grade daughter due to Covid19 but would like to have the option of her re-entry after this year. This may be a really dumb question but how do I ensure I cover what she would be learning in the 5th grade core curriculum for my state? I am in Virginia where the public schools are driven by the Standards of Learning (SOL’s). My daughter didn’t have much trouble with these tests but I am sure she wouldn’t miss them if she didn’t have to take them! I know I need to cover the broad categories Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, but beyond that, how do I determine specifically what I should cover so she won’t be lost when/if she returns? Or does it not matter other than to cover the topics generally? I’ve looked at the VA dept of ed. website and other than mentioning the SOL test requirement I see nothing specific. I was thinking of just mixing and matching unit studies from different curricula but I am getting confused and wondering if for this semester or year following a complete course might be better.

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  3. #2

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    I'm in NJ, not VA, but I have a cousin in VA who homeschools her littles and I've chatted with her about the process there. If I recall correctly, you'll need to either have your daughter take the standardized test next spring, or you can have a teacher (or retired teacher, I think?) review a portfolio of her work. (My cousin goes the portfolio route, from what I understand. She comes at it from a religious angle - I didn't ask for too many details when I realized we were taking very different approaches!)

    Does your specific school district have some kind of curriculum summary available for you to review? Here, it's on our district's website, as a matter of public record, under "programs of study." You can use that to review the general outlines of what your daughter would be learning in school next year, based on the standards. If the district doesn't have that info, the state's education dept pages on the .gov site should. (So on a broad level, 5th grade math covers all types of arithmetic including long division, multiplying and dividing fractions, multiplying and dividing decimals, and starting to learn how to calculate volume.)

    I initially wanted my son to more or less stay on target with his peers, but the more I think about it, the more I'm not too stressed about that. Kids learn different things even if they're in the same classroom all year. And next year (assuming we're closer to "normal" again), there will likely be a bunch of kids who are returning from online instruction/homeschool/etc. Plus kids who are new in town, etc. They'll all have slightly different knowledge bases, and yet they'll all get on the same page, more or less, as they start learning together again.

    I felt like keeping my kiddo (also rising 5th grader!) on track with the standards in math was most important, so he wouldn't miss a topic that they'd expect him to know and find himself lost... that felt like the situation where there was the most room for confusion, the hardest place to "miss" a topic and learn it on the fly later on. So I went with a standards-aligned math curriculum.

    Beyond that, there's wiggle room in science/social studies/ELA. My son's school does 5th grade science as a mishmash of topics - a little physics, a little bio, a little earth science, a dash of chemistry. I bought + created unit studies that will interest my son - he wanted to learn astronomy, some chemistry, some earth science. Great. He may not learn exactly the same stuff as his peers at home with me, but he'll have a good base in what we do cover, I think. (In fact, I'm pretty sure we're working at a higher level than his elementary school will be...) I know that even in his 4th grade class, they were split into reading "clubs" and reading different novels at various points throughout the year, so as long as we hit the same important reading/writing topics, it doesn't matter exactly what we read/write to cover those key points. Social Studies, we're again following the broad outlines of his school's curriculum (prehistory/ancient history), but if we don't focus on the same exact Egyptian pharaohs and Roman emperors as his classmates, yet he learns what we set out to learn together, it's fine. When I taught middle school, I covered the same topics from the same textbooks as the other teachers in the same grade, but of course we all had our own ways/lessons/etc. We weren't in lockstep, and I doubt all the teachers in my son's school will be...

    Anyway, I hope that makes sense. (?)

    Good luck!

  4. #3

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    Another thing to consider is that students move around the country all the time, and what is learned in Xth grade one place is not what is learned somewhere else.
    You can do what you want. Theye not going to hold back your kid because she didnt study the state tree of Virginia this year.
    Dig around and find the topics that they would cover, decide how many of them are interesting to you. If theres some major component that takes you by surprise, you could consider covering it. (Like, “Trigonometry”, or “Computer Programming”.)
    If you buy some year-long program, its not likely going to be tailor made for your county or school district, anyways.

    As far as the assessment in the spring goes, theyre not going to use that to grade you or her. I think if you read up on it, the state wants all children to do it, and its used for their overall metrics. Most invasive case, they want to see if your child is making progress. Even if not, they have no real recourse. With all the covid homeschoolers, Im guessing the state will just want its paperwork all filed.
    Our charter asks that we take an annual assessment, they provide all sorts of reasons, including hey want to see how well they are doing overall. Its never been a problem.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by heatheremme View Post
    Does your specific school district have some kind of curriculum summary available for you to review? Here, it's on our district's website, as a matter of public record, under "programs of study." You can use that to review the general outlines of what your daughter would be learning in school next year, based on the standards. If the district doesn't have that info, the state's education dept pages on the .gov site should. (So on a broad level, 5th grade math covers all types of arithmetic including long division, multiplying and dividing fractions, multiplying and dividing decimals, and starting to learn how to calculate volume.)
    Thanks for your input! I have scoured both the school district's website and the VA DOE and it's about as clear as mud. For some reason it is not spelled out on either site either under SOL or Programs of Study (on the latter, there is a detailed listing for middle and high school but nothing for elementary.) Since DD was above level in both Math and Language Arts though, I may have to consult with her Gifted Resource and Math Teachers any way, but they are not even in the office until August. I know I am probably over-analyzing this but since at this juncture both my DD and I hope to return to public school at some point I would like to be somewhat aligned on a high level at least, with what her contemporaries are covering.

  6. #5

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    Good points alexsmom. That is a relief to know about the spring assessment! It is a shame the district site and state site just don't have the basic info but you are right, kids funnel in all the time from other localities and systems and do just fine. I think I will have time to figure it out once the administration is back in the office in August. It sure would help to have an idea though, if only to have a starting point when reviewing unit studies from various curricula.

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Ensuring ease of return to public school...eventually