Sunday, May 18, 2008

Homeschool Curriculum

We had an interesting discussion and talk this week about homeschool curriculum. Our goal was to build familiarity with our support team about the different approaches to homeschooling. Here's how our discussion roughly went.

Curriculum in a box - A highly defined day-by-day lesson by lesson workbook approach. The parent reads / teaches lessons directly from the teacher guide. The kids do the assigned worksheets and assignments. While very formulastic, if you follow it, the quality of the education can be high. Saxon math is often cited as a very thorough education. Primarily A Beka, Saxon, and Bob Jones. Usually a very religious approach. Maybe 15% of the homeschoolers.

School at home - A textbook, discussion, and lecture approach which imitates the classroom. Maybe 5%.

Classical - This is the hardest to summarize. It is a Classical approach in the sense of the Greeks of the Great Age of Greece , think 50BCE. They have three stages of education...the trivium -- grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric. Very roughly, these correspond to elementary, middle, and high school. Since they view the children as being ripe of a certain type of education at each stage, you could perhaps summarize this as the Stuffing stage (make them memorize a lot of great stuff), the Arguing stage (make those middle schoolers take and defend a position. They have lots of logic and passion at this stage, put it to work), and Judgement stage (OK, by high school the kids should be able to evaluate complexity and make an intellectual decision based on a variety of subtle factors, let them think). Excuse me for this rough summary. Other defining aspects on a scorn for textbooks and enthusiasm for original literature and texts. There are great stories and books, read them. Did I mention their enthusiasm for reading, Latin & Greek, reading in Latin & Greek, and then memorizing it all? In the right family, this education is incredible. There are also classical schools. Perhaps 10% of the homeschoolers do this.

Unschool - Perhaps 10%

Eclectic including unit studies - Dominant. Maybe 50%.

This is rough. I'll redo this essay next week


Friday, May 09, 2008

Homeschool Curriculum

For homeschoolers, the concept of curriculum is understood. For non-homeschoolers, this word merits a little explanation.

A curriculum is basically what you are going to study. Unless you are an Unschooler (meaning you base the work on your child's interests as they evolve), you will need to pick a curriculum.

Many people start with the most popular sites such as or AZGomilipitas or homeschool online to get ideas.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Educating children on the autism spectrum

If you are the parent of a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), you have probably already had your fair share of educational struggles. Most parents feel overwhelmed at one time or another.....Autism and school often do not mix well. Children with autism have different academics strengths and needs as well as different learning methods. In addition to subject matter, adapting to a classroom and the array of interactions and stimulations in an institutional structure is often a challenge.

One mother said, “My emotions ran from guilt to defeat to exhaustion. I couldn’t stand answering his same questions over and over, or watching him ignore his room full of toys, preferring to peel the paint off of his dresser or the wall. I couldn’t stand to watch him get rejected by other children over and over. There were times when I wished I could just send him away to an autism boarding school. I hated autism, but felt guilty for even thinking it.”

The article goes on to describe one mothers experience with a child with autism's education.

The public school principal promised us the moon and stars and all the autism support we would need. We never got it. He was physically harmed, constantly teased, and his schedule was switched so often that it was confusing for him. Within the first quarter of the school year, my son was miserable. One night, as I was tucking him in, he looked up at me and said, “Mommy I hate school. I want to die.” That was it. I pulled him the next day and began homeschooling.

Although I had been reading about homeschooling for a number of years, and knew many of the methods, I had no idea what to do with my son. We needed help with our education plan. I considered unschooling, but knew that would be a disaster for a child who needed a set schedule just to get him through the day. The eventual abstract nature of classical learning would have been difficult for my concrete little boy. There were a number of good boxed programs out there, but at that point, just looking at a workbook or worksheet made my son shut down.

She then describes how she ended up using an ecletectic mix of materials including an online education program that has proved popular for special needs homeschooling.