Over the summer, my husband and I had some major conversations and decisions to make about the education of our oldest son Jake. In the end, we chose to homeschool because we felt that the public school corporation was actually leaving our child behind.
Jake’s time with public schooling was rough from the beginning. Lack of communication from the school staff, bullying, being pushed through grades even though he was lacking knowledge in key concepts, a poor excuse of an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) all led up to our decision to pull him out before more damage was done.
Looking into our options, I was certain that k12 would be the most beneficial. k12 is an online public school where most of the learning is being taught by the parent or learning coach. I thought it was the perfect way to ease into homeschooling after my son had been in the public system for 8 years. Over the summer we enrolled with Hoosier Academy Virtual School (HAVS) that uses the k12 program. We were overjoyed!
9 weeks later…
It’s not the right fit for us. The problem we have with HAVS is… it’s still a public school. There is something within the laws of public education that does not allow the school to place a child in the grade that they perform in. After testing Jake to see what grade he performs academically in for both Math & English, my 8th grade child would be in a 4th grade setting with Math accommodations! This is how badly the schools have shoved him through each grade even though we’ve asked time and time again that he be held back to better understand the material.
I will say this about HAVS, they have indeed bent over backwards to help my son even though they can’t move him back to even a 6th grade level. They started with revamping his IEP and then added what they call ‘Intervention’ classes with tutors to help him understand the material. The problem is, his foundation has too many holes from previous years. You can’t teach a child algebra when the child doesn’t understand the basic math system. Because Jake is a visual & kinestic learner, to help his visual side I made this photo to explain that he isn’t dumb… he’s just missing holes in his education and my job as his mother is to make sure that those holes are filled in before he graduates.
Our New Plan…
We finished the first 9 weeks of school with HAVS Friday. Today we begin the second 9 week period with traditional homeschooling. It’s the only way we can go back to fill in those gaping holes in his education. I’ve spent hours upon hours finding free resources online to use this year.
The first was mindsprinting.com which offers tutoring at a price but also free assessments. Their Math assessment was fantastic. It showed that Jake has missing concepts from multiple grade levels and showed each concept he needed additional teaching to understand. We also used the Reading Comprehension assessment that showed he is at a 4th grade reading level.
Using those assessments, I set out to make our own curriculum. Below is what we will be focusing on during the second 9 weeks before retaking the assessments to see if we have any progress.
Daily: The following will be focused on daily.
Math- Using the list of missing concepts, I have been able to locate many youtube videos, free worksheets, and free math games online to use. Our goal for this course is to master the few missing 2nd & 3rd grade concepts this 9 weeks.
Language Arts- Using k12reader.com at a 5th grade level. They have spelling, vocab, and one I think we’ll love (education-wise) is reading comprehension! Our first focus will be on sentence structures, concepts of paragraphs, and from what I witnessed with our small time with k12… lots of focus on writing essays.
Typing- Since nearly everything is computer ran now-a-days, I think this would be more than beneficial. typingweb.com
Weekly: The following will be focused on once, possibly twice a week and are interest based as in Jake asked to include these subjects* or the focus of the subject**.
History**- Jake has asked to learn about the Dark Ages first as that time period appeals to him the most. If we’re going to excel in the homeschool atmosphere, I’ve got to get him back into loving to learn. So we’ll be looking into videos on Netflix, books at the library, and any other resources that we can find on the medieval times.
Science**- Jake has requested Earth Science. Again, Netflix & public library to the rescue along with anything we can find online. 100% interest based.
Music*- Jake will take piano lessons from my mother-in-law.
Art*- This 9 week project will be designing and building our own castle to go along with History. Using a salt dough recipe found online we’ll build the castle and with other material, a surrounding village. If we finish it too early we can always add in creating our own coat of arms or even building a model of a catapult… or something equally creative.
Life Skills- Cooking. Jake already know how to make enough meals to keep him out of the fast food lanes every night when he moves out but this is an excellent opportunity to “make” him learn more. I think it would be a great time to also include budgeting money, first aide, and other topics that would be beneficial to know that you may or may not learn in a public school setting.
As for socialization that many worry about, even within my family… Jake has the ability to be part of 2 youth groups and we’re co-op “shopping” if you will.
So this post ended up being much longer than I had planned and I didn’t even cover everything that I had hoped. Just wait for next year when I plan to have all 3 children homeschooled. Might have to make a post for each child… or a book! It does feel good to get it all written out and feels even better knowing that we start this today! Wish us luck!