When we first started homeschooling through the LAUSD, it took a little while to get into the swing of things. The way that I ended up finding it best to organize our work was binder style. Once a week, we meet with our check in teachers and hand in the work from the week before.
Since the work is organized by week, I organized the binder the same way. The start of each section had a sheet protector with that week’s assignment sheet in it. Then, all the work for each subject is hole punched and put in the binder – and each subject is paper clipped together to make handing it in easier. When I’m setting up each week, if I am missing something I remind myself to print it later or order missing items by putting a sticky note on the sheet protector so it’s the first thing I see for that week. For assignments that don’t fit in a binder, I write down the assignment on a sheet of paper and put it with the other assignments. I do that honestly so we don’t forget to do it, or come back to it if we have started it and set it aside to work on something else. Generally, we were easily able to finish what was assigned for each day long before it’s time to call an end to the school day.
That was a good thing and a bad thing. It was a good thing because we supplemented with other curriculum to both fill in some holes and to reinforce concepts we were working on, and it allowed a lot of free time to work on things that are important to us but not part of standard curriculum, like programming and their physical pursuits like competitive dance and jiu jitsu. It was a bad thing also because while the free time was good in a way, I feel like there was too much free time because the kids were not being challenged enough, also because there is not a lot of opportunity for social interaction.
Socialization with homeschool kids is for sure the biggest issue, both to us personally, and it seems to other homeschoolers as well (and to all the randos who want to weigh in on this kind of thing). I have met a lot of homeschooled kids at meetups when we first started doing it and were searching for ways for the kids to make friends. Some of them were great kids – and some of them were the version of weird that is the stereotype of homeschooled kids. I mean obviously there are weird kids in public school, Catholic school, and private school too – but we’re not talking about them. 😉
It’s been almost two years now that we have been doing this and I absolutely feel that I am way more focused on my kid’s social lives than I was when they were in school. Between dance, jiu jitsu and playgroups, all three of them have found great friendships here and unlike friendships cultivated at school with kids I don’t know from families I don’t know, I have a much better understanding of what they are up to. I understand that when they are older they need to be able to judge for themselves who they should be spending time with, but I really believe that they need more time than just elementary school and honestly even middle school to be able to make those judgments. I’m a big fan of The Mommy Mess, and back in September she posted this about her kids not having formed their social circles yet – and I totally agree that it is a good thing!
Next week, we are starting a different homeschooling program, based mostly online. There are two big reasons we decided to switch programs, the first was the community days in this program where we will have the opportunity to meet other kids doing the same program, in a social instead of academic environment (knowing that there is a traditional graduation ceremony for high school was a pretty big bonus too). The second reason was the curriculum, this program has great curriculum that I am looking forward to starting. The more I looked into the program and the more research I did, the more excited I got about it. As soon as I was officially able to log in and check out the interface this week, I was impressed. Every morning the kids will check in online and they have a list of tasks to do and a list of materials they need for those tasks. I have already sat in on a few workshops that were full of great ideas.
This program being mostly online with some offline schoolwork to be done each day fits well with us as a family. We’ll update as we get into it!