Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Home Schooling High School Ramble

I just have some random thoughts about homeschooling high school, giving grades for a transcript, and other homeschool things in general. This is all based on my experience, so don’t take it for gospel truth.

I’m very glad kids are resilient. I’m sure PWM and I have made tons of mistakes with Rosie Girl that we won’t make with Wild Man. The biggest one I can think of right now is generally being stressed about being “on schedule”. I actually think being on a good schedule is incredibly important when the kids are in high school because I want to be able to justify what’s on the transcript. But, when they get behind, I’m learning to be more relaxed and just make some schedule changes and keep going. The main thing is to remember that their teenagers and that their attention span is short. Keep reminding them, especially in 9th and 10th grade, to check to make sure all their subjects are done.

I’ve also decided that schooling was more fun when the kids were younger. Nowadays, we have to consider credits, transcripts, and getting the boring work done. When they were younger, it was easier to do a field trip, some reading, make dinner, and call it a day. But, I have decided that we’re going to figure out how to do some field trips this year – for my sanity if nothing else.

We don’t give grades in our little “homeschool”. I’m not a fan of them. Mostly, they measure how well a student kept up with their homework and assignments. They are less good at showing how much a student actually learns. Our goal is for Rosie Girl and Wild Man to learn the material. They also need to learn responsibility, but that’s separate from Math, History, or English. And there’s no need to move on to another topic in their course if they didn’t master (i.e. make an “A”) in the previous topic. This is most important in skills courses like Math, but it also applies in Social Sciences, etc.

Grades are also hard to use when you have kids who are as different as Wild Man and Rosie Girl. Rosie Girl is good at taking tests and writing essays, the most common ways to grade students. Wild Man is another story. His dyslexia makes writing, particularly spelling, but also the act of putting sentence to paper or computer, very difficult. If he was in a traditional school, he would likely make low grades in social sciences and natural sciences even if he knew the material because he can’t express his knowledge of it. At home, we work hard  on the spelling and writing, but I can evaluate his understanding of many subjects just by talking with him (because he has GREAT verbal skills).

Overall, our grading system hasn’t been too bad. One problem that has cropped up is Rosie Girl’s perfectionism. If she can’t make something perfect, she becomes paralyzed and won’t even start. And since we’re working toward mastering the subject, she feels the need to get any assignment perfect the first time. Somewhere along the way, we failed to instill in her the concept that making mistakes is good. It’s an opportunity for learning. But, let me tell you, writing rough drafts has been very difficult for Rosie Girl. The idea of going back and redoing her work just drives her crazy! And when there are multiple deadlines, she has trouble prioritizing the projects so she can do her best work on the most important assignment, especially now that she’s working on piano lessons, composition lessons, BYU Japanese, and her regular homeschool work. She told me the other day that her life would have been easier if she could have learned to take the “C” and move on. I think it would have been better for us to discourage her perfectionism, instead. I think we’ll agree to disagree on this one.

The other issue with our grading system is that it doesn’t translate well to a transcript. Either she gets all “A”’s or all “P”’s. I don’t know what a college will think seeing a homeschool transcript with all “P”'s. And I do think that she deserves “A”’s since she mastered the material. I think part of  the problem with all “A”’s is that PWM and I know the blood, sweat, and tears that he and I have put into getting her to that level of mastery. The thing is, though, that it hasn’t been actually teaching the material that’s been difficult, it’s been parenting a teenager.

Which brings me to being the parent of two teenagers. One of the hardest things about homeschooling is that these children are always HOME. This isn’t a big deal when I’m feeling well and am up at the shop for a good bit of the day so I get a break from being Mom. But, when I’m home, there’s always a kid. I love my kids dearly, but sometimes I need a break. When I’ve got a migraine, I really need a break. Homeschooling is wonderful but very “home” intense.

The other problem with them being home is that they make a mess. It’s not that they won’t clean up when asked – they’re really good kids – but neither is much of a neat freak. So far, I’ve managed to get them to take responsibility for their own laundry. The only issue there is that I still have to get them to bring the baskets back downstairs. There’s very little interest on their part in cleaning the kitchen. When asked, they do clean and they do a good job and without complaining. But the very fact of them being home all day means that there are more dishes to deal with, books strewn all over the house, and general messiness. I handle it pretty well for about a week or two, depending on the headache level, and then it becomes clean-up time before Mom goes insane. Although, occasionally, I’ll just clean it up and they never really notice. Sigh.

Those are my rambling thoughts about home education tonight. I welcome any and all comments.

No comments: