I thought I would start off this posting with a little conversation I had with one of my boys – or rather a conversation he had with me that is.
Boy, very spontaneously: “Mom, you should run a school.”
After 6 years of homeschooling I think I was missing something.
Me: “Um….. I thought I already have a school?”
Boy: “No, one with lots of kids.”
I guess a school with 4 kids is not enough 😉 I think I choose to take that as a compliment that he likes learning at home with his mom, and he thinks his mom is a cool teacher. But, as I write this, I am sure his mind has changed for today he is not happy at me and does not like my teaching style! So, I think I will remember that yesterday he liked his teacher and try to forget that today he does not. 🙂
For those that do not know yet, the 4th Annual Torah Home Education Conference will be held in the Baltimore area on Sunday, May 6. All information and registration can be found at: http://www.eventbee.com/v/torahhomeeducation.
I am trying to take a trip down memory lane. As I gain experience and confidence (and with money always helping to dictate direction as well,) I have tried a variety of approaches to teaching. I am always happy to move on and always happy for what we did.
As mentioned in previous posts, we first started off with getting a whole curriculum. I chose Calvert’s all in one package. It comes with everything you need to start teaching including teacher manuals, crayons, pencils, pencil sharpeners and paper, as well as support by phone, email or online chat. There is the option to purchase what is called ATS and with that you send in tests and assignments that the child has completed to be graded by certified teachers. At the end of the year you then have an official transcript so that if one is going to go to a school the next year (either because you want the child in school, or the child is going into high school – at the moment I believe Calvert only goes through grade 8) the child has official grades and do not have to be tested again to see what grade the child needs to go into.
It was always exciting, both for me and for the boys, when “The Box” came in the mail. It is wonderful for we would get it 1-2 days after I ordered it. Textbooks, notebooks, crayons, construction paper, glue, (and the important teacher’s manuals) were all there. There was not very much prep time needed, and for me that was a very important part; partly because of my personality, and partly because I had 3 children. Well, okay, I would say it was mostly because of my personality. I was one who would wait until the last minute to do things, and I was not accustomed to thinking very far in advance usually. My Pesach cleaning would start 2 weeks before Pesach, and yes, I would get it all done. Before I go on, I should mention that Calvert allows you to choose a different math level than the rest of the curriculum. So, if a child is in grade 3, but is a head in math, then you can order a grade 4 math program to go with it.
Ideally, one is supposed to read the manual before teaching for the day, for occasionally (it is more for the very young children) there is prep work that needs to be done. In any case, the manual tells the parent exactly what is going to be done for the day, what pages in what book need to be finished. It tells you the goals, what to say, what questions to ask to attain the goals, etc. I know that the math books come with an answer key, and I am trying to remember if any of the other stuff does, but am drawing a blank at the moment. Perhaps someone else can remind me. If there are any questions that arise, then you are always welcome to call in to talk to someone, email or even chat online. For those using the ATS, the teachers we had were always very positive and wanted very much for the children to succeed. If I had any issues, I could write to them as well, and they would write back with suggestions as well. The teachers would always write and tell the student the positive they saw in the assignments and tests and then any suggestions for areas that needed improvement.
So, that is my plug for Calvert. For when we used it, we had wonderful experiences. There are other all-in-one curricula out there. HomeSchoolReviews has a list of complete curricula, I have not used any others, but I think you can get the general idea – all-in-ones are just that – all-in-one. Great if you are unsure of what to include. The textbooks are generally the same kinds as the ones used in schools, so if you are planning on a temporary homeschooling, then sticking to the same format as a school does have its advantages.
I stayed with Calvert for 3 years. I decided to look into other options at that time for I was having problems getting my child to switch subjects. I would send him 10 feet to the cabinet and tell him to get something different out, and he would take 10-15 minutes each time sitting down by the cabinet. It did not matter what tactic I used to get him to go faster, he just could not. While I was sitting and learning with him, he was great, but to have to change momentum, it was terrible. At the end of the 3rd year, I decided to look into unit studies.