So after a four year hiatus where the boys went to school, we have gone back to homeschooling again. They are in the last half of year 5 and year 3. Getting them formally registered for homeschool has proven to be harder than it should be. Consequently, we are being meticulous with our curriculum planning and accountability.
In my work these days, I operate in a somewhat obscure niche. I look at fairly subjective organisational processes, quantify them, and then put processes in place so that people can work with defined measures of what they are doing. Although the context is completely different, this shares a lot of common ground with planning and assessing in a school / homeschool environment. Its actually very difficult to measure someones education in a truly meaningful way.
The last couple of weeks have been a process of working out what the boys have done in the last four years, and what they are capable of. Not a great deal came home from school, especially in the last year.
To make the whole thing a collaborative effort, I keep a workbook the same as the boys. Partly it acts as an example of what I want their books to look like and copy off. Mostly though, it lets me take an active part in the lesson. This is important, and its also fun. I also find it kind of funny that we can spend a solid two hour block of intense focus and only walk away with a short paragraph and a couple of pictures to show for it. It seems about the right output though. It is more about consolidating ideas than recording them.
They both read and spell very well, which is no real surprise. I would love to see them write more neatly though. A surviving example of my own work as a ten year old shows that neatness was emphasised a lot more when I was a kid. Still, its not a big deal really. What did horrify me was realising that neither of them had ever written a story. Writing your own story used to be the best part. We will be working a lot on that in the future.
Also, neither of them seem to have studied any history over the last four years. I find this kind of incredible, given it is one of the six keys areas that every primary school kid is supposed to cover. Still, they both deny it, and when I look through the work they brought home, I see nothing of note there either. I have no idea what either of them did in that space. I love history. I tend to use it as the main lesson of the whole week. It easily acts as a gateway into all the other subjects.
I was happy to find that they both do well at maths. My youngest boy especially was bored out of his mind doing maths at school. He said it was too simple and too slow. I took a bit of a stab and guessed they could both do year 5 level maths. So far, we have largely been sticking to worksheets. They mostly rip through these, although sometimes it slows to a crawl. I think this is the right level for them. Always incapable of fitting inside the box, my eldest boy fills out his number squares with carefully counted patterns instead of blocks.
So the last couple of weeks have been quite exploratory. It has been a good opportunity for all of us to find our balance points working out what is expected and what is possible. It certainly has been a lot of fun.