Saturday, March 8, 2008

Homeschooling High School

Welcome back to Algebra and Chemistry class! If you can't stand the thought of re-living that, then I am here to post a warning...don't read on. In reality, I don't know where this post will meander. I am known for going off on tangents so proceed with caution...

Today we received a delivery from the UPS man. The Chemistry lab equipment I ordered for DS arrived and yes we are excited! DS took a very keen interest in the burner (maybe I should be worried) that came with the kit. He promptly unwrapped every item and examined it. I don't think he was very excited about Chemistry initially, but I think things are looking up! He'll really enjoy these experiments. For a kid like DS, the experiments are what make Chemistry click.

Hey, this is the kid that used to sleep with the Periodic Table when he was 5. I'm probably going to have to remind him of that when he balks about learning some of the elements. I WILL NOT ,however, make him learn the Atomic number for all of them. If he ever needs to know that the Atomic number for Yttrium is 39, I'm sure he'll know where to look. What the heck is Yttrium anyway?!

His weakness lies in writing. Oye! Getting this boy to write, is like pulling multiple teeth. We are working through Writing Strands and it is a daunting task that is adding to my collection of gray hair all too quickly. Then there is DD who writes pages and pages of amazing paragraphs, but ask her where Indonesia is and watch her blink. DS will be amazed that she is clueless when it comes to Geography and then she will spout off some large word that will cause him to furrow his brow. I'll tell you, there is never a dull moment around here.

I am in the process of getting DS's high school transcript in order and since DD is a freshman this year, I am working on hers as well. So I am floundering in a sea of transcript forms. We are also wading in a river of SAT and ACT books in preparation for that thrilling experience.

I have always read those homeschooling books that described the homeschooling environment in various families. All I can say is... they look nothing like that in my house! I always feel as if we are behind. Ask my kids. They are sick of hearing it. I always question myself. Are we doing enough grammar? Should I buy the Biology dissection kit? Did we cover the History of the Roman Empire enough? Which foreign language curriculum should we use? It was all so much easier when the kids were younger. We had so much fun with the hands on experiments for simple machines. The day we captured every stage of a tadpole in the creek and then came home to make a poster of it was awesome! The clay model of the ear was too cool. We still laugh when we recall the barley cakes we made during our extensive unit study on Egypt ~ they were disgusting! The hours upon hours curled up on the bed reading chapter after chapter of Summer of the Monkeys and countless other books are treasured still today.

Some days I feel as if I am doing this all wrong. Then I stop and listen to the conversations that take place around our dinner table. Grandpa asks questions such as, "Why do cars 10 miles away from the ocean rust if salt doesn't evaporate?" and we listen to DD give a very scientific explanation that includes density and evaporation and wind and erosion. I listen to DS explain the premise behind George Orwell's Animal Farm and I wonder how he learned so much about Soviet Russia. Then I breathe easy and realize that maybe we're doing an okay job and through the good, the bad, and the ugly (DO NOT EVEN bring up that movie! It is never ending and I don't like it although DH has the theme song for his ringtone and it makes me laugh out loud every time I hear it.) this is an amazing journey!

Please note that I am not campaigning against the school system and I know teachers that are absolutely amazing, but for us, this is the right choice. Our children actually attended school for a few years before we made this choice. I won't go into our reasons for homeschooling because the reasons are many and I, and you, would be here for a very long time. Actually, you would probably just hit that little red x at the top of the page.

In my experience, the most common misconception about homeschooling lies in the aspect of socialization. My parents were the first to voice their opposition to the choice we made. I can not speak for other children. All I can say is that the socialization argument completely ceases to exist when it comes to our children. Spend 20 minutes around either of them and I dare you to find them lacking in socialization skills. DS is quiet, but he's also the kid that just phoned the Senator's office last week and spoke with the Senator's aide for 45 minutes without my knowledge. When I asked him who he was speaking to and he told me, I was shocked and proud. DD has no problem discussing anything with anyone. She writes her own cowboy poetry and recites in front of large crowds without a care. A few years ago, both kids stood up in front of a roomful of my parents' friends (strangers to our kids) and spoke about my Dad. They visited one on one with these adults for 4 hours. My parents received over 40 cards commending them on how amazing their granchildren are. I thought that was so cool! See, Mom and Daddy, we are not raising heathens. Both have friends and are officers in 4-H and although DS would rather play his guitar than write a paper on anything and DD would rather be out riding her horse than working through yet another Algebra lesson, I'm fairly certain they are well socialized.

I will have to remind myself to re-read this post on those days when I feel like pulling out my hair.

Okay, sorry. Stepping down from my soapbox now and heading off to determine how to find the empirical formula for K2Cr2O7. Wish me luck!


Ranch Kiddo said...

Ah the joys of having a mother for a teacher and a brother for your solitary class mate.

We laugh. We cry. We scream. We sob. We through ourselves against doors. We get angry. We get excited.

Oh wait. That's just me.

Ranch wife said...

Shuddering in fear....I hate chemistry. I scares me. It boggles my mind.....I do know that water is H2o. Ha. I ended up being signed up for the class one year. We had 3 days to revise our schedules. It took me three minutes, to switch over to typing.
Algebra....won't even go there. I did make a grade, it was an F, and it didn't stand for Fun.
But the truth is...shh....don't let the kids hear this...I have never used either of them. Of course I have never had all that much scholarly ambition either.
But good for you! I am impressed with your dedication, and your chemistry set. Our chemistry class consisted of making bombs out of acetylene and Oxygen, and watching baking soda foam in vinegar. Ha Ha
Love ya
Ranch Wife

Anonymous said...

Hey Karin- just read your blogs -wow beautiful kids, horses, life! I can't believe you've been 20 years married already! We were just in middle school yesterday. Talk to you soon. xo Sharon

Sara said...

Where oh where is the chicken and dumpling casserole recipe???? Not to put any pressure on you.....

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