Saturday, April 17, 2010

Well, Mom, You Asked

I was inspired by Belinda to ask my kids, in a non-threatening, non-judgmental setting , what exactly they each enjoy about their school work, and what they don't like, what they would change, and what they would rather like to learn about or learn to do, given their druthers.  I am hoping this will be helpful in choosing next year's curriculum, a chore I don't relish. 

First question, "What do you like about school?" 

Deafening silence. 

Then laughter.   We had a somewhat enlightening discussion... and then the school principal, who was eavesdropping, entered in and gave me some much-needed guidance and some goals for these girls. 

The concensus:

We will no longer be using Landmark's Freedom Baptist Curriculum, with the exception of the Bible courses that require actually reading the chapter from the BIBLE and answering the questions in the workbook.  Although Landmark is used for homeschooling, that curriculum is designed for teachers in a classroom setting. To do it right you have to supplement quite a bit.  It requires NO critical thinking.  The questions are given in the order in which the answers are found in the reading, and they are stated in the exact same wording that the answers are given in. My kids call that copy-and-paste school. I'm glad they don't like it that easy. Landmark doesn't seem to have hurt them at all, but from here on out I want more thought-provoking material.  I don't know why we stuck with it for so long -- probably because it was easy for ME.

Apologia is the opposite, requiring understanding of the concepts before you can answer the questions, and not just the memorizing of facts. We Like It. (Well, Alison is the only one who uses Apologia material right now, but I think I will be looking into more of it.)

Alison: The Fallacy Detective needs to be done as a family or in a group of some sort.

Elisabeth: It would be good to have school start at 9:00.  Math is evil in the afternoon. In fact, all school work is evil after lunch time.

Amy: Spelling lists should be made up from words we use.   And, we want spelling and vocabulary together.  (Anyone recommend a good resource?)

All: It's too noisy and there are too many distractions while school is going on.  Some want to try doing it together at the kitchen table, rather than having one or two on the floor with school books and Legos or Kinex, one at the piano, and one at the computer, and the teacher being pulled in pieces.

Amy: No Greeks and Romans!

All: School room needs to be kept neater.

Alison: Algebra is fun, but geometry takes too long and the proofs are HARD.  Likes the critical thinking involved, however.

Amy: Consumer math is wayyyyy more practical than algebra and geometry.

Elisabeth: Teaching Textbooks is fine but I want MORE WORD PROBLEMS!!  Easy Grammar is too easy. And boring.

Emily:  Speed drills are fun.  I like social studies and spelling and science.  Reading is bad and I don't like study words in a box. And I want a Bible curriculum! 

All: History textbooks are booooring.  We want hands-on stuff.

One child wants to build with bricks, make a chair out of wood, learn how to tat, and how to use her left hand as well as her right.  (Can you guess which one?)   One wants to stop the academics and learn how to cook and play the piano. (After all, two hundred years ago that would have been sufficient.) Another wants a boxed curriculum that is perfect for her learning style and her preferences.  And one wants to have the rules posted on the wall: Raise Your Hand Before Speaking, Don't Interrupt, Be Courteous. lol.

DAD:  All girls need to learn keyboarding (goal: 75-80 wpm) and basic accounting.  Also, add a good word-processing program and spreadsheet program to the curriculum, and learn how to do stuff like using lists to print envelopes, balance accounts, etc!  (Good idea, Daddy.)  Additional goal: be able to play through the hymn book on the piano by high school graduation.  These are far-reaching skills that can be used in ministry for the Lord in many ways. 

Well.  That does help  me some.  Okay, Belinda, I'm ready for you to tell me what to do with this information.

The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge:
but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.

Proverbs 15:14


  1. LOL, I did something similar to that about a year ago and got the same response, I have to do that again soon.

    Oh great, I had such little time to look at the exhibits at Mache, but the one booth that I did spend a whopping 5 minutes at was Landmark Freedom. I thought I wanted to get: Baptist History, The Inspiration of Scriptures, and US Gov/Economics, but now I'll have to think about it some more. I may get them anyways but maybe I should scope out my options too.

    I looks like each one of your girls needs a real custom-planned curriculum. It may be hard to orchestrate, but then again, it may lead to more harmony in the school day with everybody happy & excited about what they are doing.

  2. We had a similar conversation on our little break. I think it is good to take stock. As to what to do with the information, I think you are doing it.


  3. What a good idea! When I homeschool, I'm going to have a family meeting each year that discusses what we want to change about the year, just like you did.

  4. I LOVE this post, and your tone is so humorous. You were so sweet in alluding to my blog--twice--and I wish I had something more to say in terms of advice. Hopefully this is enough--it's how we've always done spelling:

    I know that you'll be able to take this and shape it into something that will benefit your girls, and moreover, keep shaping them into people that the Lord can use. However that happens is between you, your hubby, and the Master Crafter. I just want to read about it!

    God bless you, Sally!

  5. Wow! How brave of you to ask these questions. It must've been hard to hear some of it! Sounds like great feedback though. My oldest told me he wants a more rigid schedule. What a challenge for me. I'm already failing at that one. There's always tomorrow!


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