July 25, 2012

Educating Ourselves As We Educate Our Children



One of the reasons I wanted to homeschool was to give my children a better education than the one I had.  Make no mistake, I went to a really good high school.  I did have some incredible teachers.  I also had some big duds.  Part of the problem was my own lack of ambition; I didn't mind doing the bare minimum as I was much more interesting in talking and having fun with my friends.  When I got to college, I felt extremely unprepared, especially for college level writing.

Sometimes the task of educating my children seems daunting.  Sure I only have one "student" now and he's only in first grade.  The only hard thing I have to do are the crafty things that he loves and I dislike.  I received the advice to further my own education while my children were young rather than spend a lot of time on perfecting 1st grade lesson plans. This eases my fears about being able to homeschool in high school.  This also gives me freedom to pursue many academic paths while still taking care of young children. 

I'm not very consistent at studying nor have I done all that much.  My hope is to prepare enough to be able to handle the high school years.  I plan on homeschooling during high school; I'm aware my plans may have to change, but for now I'm planning on it.  My greatest weaknesses are math and science.  This is where I'll spend most of my time.

I've chosen resources that are fairly low cost (I can't afford to buy Math U See's Trigonometry books) or available in the library.  Homeschooling children can get fairly expensive. I just don't have the resources to put a lot elsewhere right now.

Math resources:

Life of Fred-I find the secondary books really stretch my understanding of math.  I think about math in ways I never have before and things that made no sense before suddenly click into place.  I have two of the books and have started working through all the problems.  My plan is to get a few new ones each year.

Khan Academy-I don't have an account, at least I don't remember signing up for one.  But I have done several of the videos and worked through a few problems.  This is great for the auditory learner or one who has to see it to understand it.  Never in all my life, have I ever understood the instructions in math textbooks; I always required a teacher explaining it.  I can't read the instructions and understand, I need to see to understand.

Science-To be honest, I'm not sure what to do about science yet.  I don't know what will get me over my fear of chemistry and physics.  We do watch a lot of Bill Nye the Science Guy videos and those help me understand quite a bit that I never knew before.  It's not a full curriculum, but they do make science fun and less scary.

History-The Story of the World books by Susan Wise Bauer.  In the seven years of school between grades 6 and 12, I took American history four times.  That left one year of world history, one year of sociology and 1 semester of American government.  Does that seem a little lopsided to you?  I love American history, but we only take up a small portion of the world's history.  There is so much more out there.  The SOTW books work chronologically and are simple enough for elementary students to understand (which is good, because it also means *I* can understand!)  Dr. Bauer also has two adult history books out.  They get rave reviews, but I need to read SOTW many times before I read the upper level ones.  I've tried and just don't understand them very well yet.

Literature-The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer.  She talks about how reading classical literature is a daunting task and we shouldn't fear it.  We should take our time and often we will have to read the same piece two or three times to really understand it.  Sometimes working with a buddy

Foreign Language-Mango is a foreign language program that can often be used for free through your library program.  The libraries near me don't offer it, but I recently found out that the Davis County Libraries offer it.  For $35/year I can get a card to their library and use Mango.  It's a fun program, although I've only used it a few times.  I'm trying to learn French so I can teach it to Pigby.

Various other courses-

Coursera.org offers free courses from universities like Stanford, Princeton, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and Duke University just to name a few.  Right now I'm signed up for several courses, though I haven't started yet.  Each course usually has a syllabus, video lectures, assignments and a discussion forum.  Obviously since everything is free, there is no credit offered.  But for someone who's mostly interested in education, this can be a great way to learn because it's affordable and flexible.  Some of the ones I've signed up for are Greek and Roman Mythology, Intro to Finance, Introduction to Astronomy, and Introduction to Logic. 


Megan is the proud mother of Pigby (boy, age 6), Digby (boy, age 3), and Chuck (girl, age 1).  She likes to read, teach, crochet, and is overcoming her fear of crafts.  Her blog is here and it documents her family's journey as they navigate this homeschooling path.  She is not an expert at anything, so come learn along with her. 

2 comments - Add a comment below -:

JRoberts said...

For Science, Thames & Kosmos has some amazing kits. They put together a learning booklet for you, and you work your way through doing experiments. We love them here. My 2nd Grader, 6th grader and 8th grader ALL can work together and love them at the same time.

Also, I take The Great Courses. They are College and University courses on DVD or CD. This makes it easier for me to take them wherever I go. You can even get them on Mp3 if you prefer that. It is fairly inexpensive for a course (ranging from $20 to a little over $300 if you get the whoop-dee-do-dah ones) and make me feel like I have learned a great deal.

Deila Taylor said...

I love your post. I have learned so much by homeschooling. I too have used all of the history books and then we moved into the ones after the story of the world. She writes so that I love to read about history. We did the timeline and that was helpful too -- put it up on the wall. I appreciate Susan Wise Bauer's advice and have used her books quite a bit. Khan I love too. And free. My 17 yr old just started a coursera class on science fiction and fantasy -- he is really excited about it and I was so impressed with the videos and the professor. MIT courseware has a class on kitchen chemistry that I want to try that is free. My fav. science is Plato for middle school and high school, I got the best price through homeschoolbuyers co-op. I also love the Adaptive Curriculum that is online and very visual. They are a good price and worth it -- $49 for a year. I tried so many others. For the younger ones we watched the magic school bus, those are hard to come by now, but maybe a library.