White Lightning Axiom: Redux: Home schooling efforts

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Home schooling efforts

Eric's lovely and compassionate Mrs once inquired as to how my Home Schooling efforts/investigation was progressing. Well, not very quickly unfortunately. I've just started considering it and my investigation has not progressed that far. A few things that I have dug up are listed below with a short summary.

Balanced Literacy:
First line "In a truly balanced literacy program, how you teach is as important as what you teach.". Hmmm, sounds fairly common sense but then launches into some pretty interesting points. Things like which letters of the alphabet are less mutable than others and how to generate 'spelling lists'. Some of the items are certainly relevant but the Group Planning and Assessment Strategies are probably not quite so. Then they have the 5 rules:
    Five Rules of Thumb for Maintaining Balance
  1. Teach skills as a way to gain meaning. Skills are not ends in themselves.
  2. Each day, include time for both guided instruction and independent work. Otherwise, students will never internalize skills and make them their own.
  3. Avoid teaching children as if they were empty receptacles for knowledge. Instead, allow them to build knowledge in a process-oriented way.
  4. Integrate print and electronic materials effectively. That way, your classroom will reflect the multimedia world in which students live.
  5. Always consider standardized test scores in light of informal assessment data. Encourage parents to do the same.
I'm not too keen on #5 and the conclusion in #2 is, well, kinda fruity. Could probably do without the 'insightful affirmation'. There are lesson plans available too which I find interesting as a rudder rather than a sail.

If you have not heard about this, you need to move out of the cave and read a magazine or something ... get a library card too. They pretty much say right on the page that if your child is under three, get a grip and cut them some slack. So I cheat and peek ahead. They have the typical marketing wording about 'magical books' and 'Our simple step-by-step approach takes the guesswork out of learning to read.' Okay, get to the meat here. It looks like they state the same thing I read in Balanced Literacy: Start with the easy letters/sounds and then go from there. Oh, that and buy all the materials (1 years worth) for $300 smackers. Much cheaper then the load of leap-pad stuff the twins got for Christmas over the long run I'm sure, and the 60 day money back guarantee is a pacifier. They also have a payment plan for those who like the slow bandaid approach over taking a hunk of flesh in one quick rip. The thing that perked my attention is that they have interactive CD-ROM component to the package. My kids are already PC-Enthused, I can see this as a big bonus.

Bible Study?:
This was a bit misleading at first. They are obviously religiously inspired and that is not a big worry to me. Looks like basic phonics packages for about 200$ and it covers K to 1st grade on each subject. Yeah, it can get a bit expensive but there is a wide range of materials available. The Pre-K math book costs 60$ bucks! I am certain that this level is meant for parents teaching at least 5 or so children. To tell you the truth, this site scared the poop out of me. Then I saw their address: Veritas Press, Inc, 1829 William Penn Way, Lancaster, PA 17601. I'll wager these folks have a MAJOR Amish influence. I applied for a copy of their product catalog. They also had a link to the Association of Classical & Christian Schools which seems to be somehow tied to Veritas via a book entitled Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson. This, in spite of the Mrs religious reservations, deserves more investigation.

The Riggs Institute:
Ok, I've seemed to have stumbled over the friggen lodestar of education here. Scary analytical science and all. I am going to read this site from root to farthest leaf and will hopefully comprehend 10% of what they are talking about. It seems to revolve around the "Orton" phonograms that they talk about extensively here. You dont suppose this is the great-granddaddy of 'Hooked on Phonics' do you?

Florida Homeschooling Resources:
Have not gone here yet, may not.

At this point, I think I want to set up a schedule with the kids for our evenings together. Simple thing like family dinner (no TV) followed by desert (with TV). Then some learning about cyphers-n-stuff. I can see splitting this up over the week as follows:Flashcards, math(numbers), art(shapes,colors,CRAYONS), alphabet(letters, writing, words). Just 30-60 minutes of this ... then the wanton destruction of play time.


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