Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Books, books and yes, MORE books :-)

It's almost that time of year again, to go book shopping. Not just any old books, but homeschooling workbooks, text books, answer keys, teacher's guides and all those goodies. In some ways I look forward to it, and in some ways I sort of dread it. The part I look forward to is actually getting the new books in the mail, and going through them. It's always an exciting time to see the new material the kids will cover in the following school year, and how much their minds will grow as a result. The part I really don't look forward to, is the idea of getting all their current books out, and making my list for each kid, one by one to determine where they are, if they'll need a new book for next year in each subject and then compiling those 4 lists into one list to place my order. It doesn't seem to matter that I've been doing this now for almost 9 years, it's still one of the things about homeschooling that as a public school parent you just never have to think about or do, and one of the things I would still rather someone else do. Of course in the grand scheme of things it's really a rather small task, but it's a task nonetheless and it has to be done carefully so that I'm sure to order the right books, and the right amount of them.

In some subjects, for certain grade levels, each year we have a limited amount of books that we've hung unto since we started homeschooling, so I don't always have to buy new ones. Last year we sort of came full circle, since we started homeschooling when our now 17 yr old was in third grade, and last year was the first time those third grade books were used again. We have quite a few text books like that, but now we have 3 kids in some of the same grades so we still have to buy extras. Last year was also Ruth's first year of formal schooling, and other than extra workbooks that I get at the dollar store, we'll never have to buy her any of the text books.

From time to time folks ask me questions about homeschooling, and I like to be able to offer as much insight as I can to help them make informed choices about homeschooling. I've written about all this many times before, but I know for new readers who might be wondering how all this works, this might be new information. For the books themselves, we use Christian Liberty Press as our core curriculum, and then add various things to round it out. For the best deals on shipping those books, we use CBD almost exclusively. The rates are still the lowest, and the turnaround time from date of order until that pretty brown box with blue lettering arrives at your door, cannot be beat. I always try to get my list done by July 1, and get the order in by mid-July so I have time to set up a fall schedule for each kid, each subject.

One of the trickier things to juggle, is the grade levels. When someone asks me "what grades are they in?" of one of the kids, it's an almost-impossible question to answer. Ontario schools have kids in a grade higher (they start at age 4) than Washington schools (where I'm from, YES, I am an American!! lol), so that always throws me off a bit. Then, each of them have strengths and weaknesses that have either allowed them to excell or have them in a grade level below their age. So to give an example of what that looks like, I'll use my son Samuel as the sample. Samuel will turn 8 in September, so if he were in public school (in WA) he'd be entering the 2nd grade. Here in Ontario he'd be entering 3rd grade. At homeschool, here is the way it breaks down for Samuel's daily workbooks beginning this fall:

Bible - entering 5th grade
Math - continuing 2nd grade
Spelling - entering 3rd grade
Phonics - continuing 2nd grade
History - entering 5th grade
Science - continuing 4th grade
Handwriting - beginning 3rd grade

In addition, while I have not tested him yet (and will, just for my own records) his reading level is roughly that of a 6th grader. Due to the fact that we've allowed the kids to move at their own pace through their workbooks, all of them are much further ahead in certain subjects than in others. If for some reason we had to put any of them in a public school classroom, they would quickly become frustrated because they'd be miles ahead in certain areas, but would be expected to muddle through the same grade level work as all the other kids. It's funny but I remember those kinds of kids in school that zipped through their work (and did it correctly the first time) then found themselves getting into trouble for talking or distracting other students because they were finished with their own work, and bored! Something is just very wrong about not letting kids excell, as much as it's wrong to push them ahead when they haven't mastered the material yet.

So, that's where this homeschooling teacher-mom is at right now, in our summer vacation. School may be on break for them, but summer is the time we re-group and gear up for the following year.

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