Scheduling and Substance

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Scheduling and Substance

Unread post by bro.jason » Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:54 pm

Good afternoon,

We started our school year yesterday. We have 3 (6, 9, 10) in ECC. I have two questions.

The first concerns scheduling around major holidays. From what I can tell, in the ECC schedule all weeks are 5 days. What are some good ways to modify that to fit in the four-day weeks that accompany major holidays?

The second question is about the substance of the curriculum. Last year, our current 9 and 10 used the Ace Paces curriculum. This year we decided to try something a little more interactive. We are all-in with MFW and the suggested curricula (Singapore math, Language Lessons for Today, Spelling by Sound and Structure, Spelling Power). As I said, we are only two days in, but my wife has concerns that our children are not really learning anything. Last year, she had the workbooks to point at as something to show for the work done that day. She is not seeing that so far with MFW. She also feels like there is not enough reinforcement for our kids to fully grasp the math and English lessons they've done so far.

To recap:
1) How do you plan a week around a holiday weekend?
2) How can we know our kids are learning from the assignments?

I'll appreciate any insight y'all can provide. If need be, I can answer a few questions to help you be specific in your response.

- Jason

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Re: Scheduling and Substance

Unread post by manyblessings » Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:36 pm

Hi. I've been homeschooling for about 20 years, and tried many different methods, including similar to ACE. So I can definitely understand the feeling of wondering if enough is being done in the absence of many workbooks. I can assure you that for my family MFW has always been enough. Some of our best years were when we used MFW, and I regretted changing to more "rigorous" curricula. The difference is that children are encouraged to learn not only on paper, but through daily experiences, reading good books, spending time exploring nature, and having time to be a child. The Charlotte Mason philosophy, which is a big influence on MFW, seeks to value children as persons who are discovering the world, not just vessels to pour information into. The years that my older children were in MFW, they enjoyed learning, and even when school was "out", we had wonderful discussions as they made their own connections to things we had done at an earlier time. The best part for me, of course, is the solid Biblical and character foundation they received those years. I have a wide age gap between my two youngest-in fact, all 4 of my olders are done with high school. I am very happy that MFW revised their early education just in time for me to start with my youngest when she was 3. She is now turning 5 and on the 4th week of Kindergarten. The Teacher's Manual introduction and appendix pages are valuable tools for making the most of the student sheets and resources. Give it time :)
As for taking off one day a week, you can either just skip one day and pick up where you left off the following week (Day 1 does not have to be Monday, you could take a Monday off and have Day 1 Tuesday, Day 2 Wednesday, Day 3 Thursday, Day 4 Friday, Day 5 Monday, and so on). Otherwise, you may notice that Day 5 is a little lighter than the rest of the week, so you could do add all the Day 5 things to Day 4, or spread them out over the other 4 days. I have found it to be a really flexible curriculum. I hope that helps a bit :) Edited to add, putting all the completed Student Sheets in a 3-ring binder makes a great annual portfolio and keepsake, and you could also keep samples of their math, spelling, and grammar work.
Mom of 4 adults, 1 daughter-in-law, 1 son-in-law, 1 in 1st, and
3 in heaven 8/11/06, 8/18/10, and 9/13/13
Married to my soul mate since 6/20/09
2019-2020: ADV

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Re: Scheduling and Substance

Unread post by bro.jason » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:54 am


Thank you for your thoughtful, thorough response.

I'm encouraging my wife to give it time since we're only three days in, as of today. I think part of the problem is that she is intimidated because she didn't do well in school herself. She feels a bit overwhelmed because she's tasked with teaching our three children who are "gifted," according to their previous public school. I keep telling her she underestimates herself and that everything will be fine. She has put unnecessary pressure on herself because she doesn't want our kids to carry the same stigma of being "uneducated" that she applies to herself. Her fear is that our kids won't "know as much" as their public-schooled peers when they grow up and need to get jobs. My response is that knowledge and facts rarely gets somebody hired; more often, employers are looking at people who can think and solve problems, which MFW seems to encourage far more than public school, ACE Paces, or any approach based on memorization and repetition.

In fact, I believe God wants all of life to be a learning experience. That's why Jesus spoke in parables instead of being direct most of the time. He was teaching us to look for God in everything, even menial tasks like gardening, making bread, or finding something you've lost.

I believe she'll see the benefits of this program soon. It will take some adjustment for her and the kids since it's a new approach for everybody. I love it so far, but there's only so much I can do to help since I'm at work all day. I still do what I can to encourage, support, and direct, though. We would appreciate your prayers.

I appreciate the scheduling suggestion as well. Since the schedule is flexible, we'll work with those ideas and see what we come up with.

- Jason

Julie in MN
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Re: Scheduling and Substance

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:10 pm

bro.jason wrote:
Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:54 am
I keep telling her she underestimates herself and that everything will be fine.
I wanted to reinforce this with my own experience. I do have a college degree but honestly was ignorant in many areas. For instance, history. I remember not knowing the difference between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, not knowing which came first, and frankly not thinking it mattered. Now, after having taught my children at home, it seems amazing that I would not have known that you can't have a civil war before you have even formed a nation, but I did not know that whatsoever until I homeschooled my children.

The other area I knew nothing about was grammar. I went to 5 different grade schools in 6 years, so I imagine I learned to compensate, but truly I didn't know what an adjective or any of those things were, and I think I just threw commas on the page whenever I thought one would look nice :) However, after educating my children at home for several years, I became a grammar tutor, of all things!

Because of the family learning style used with MFW, your wife will be learning along with the children. She will be becoming the amazing teacher that she wants for her children. She will start at the beginning with them, and along the way she'll remember more details and make more connections than they do, because she is older and has more life experience. The kids need not remember every detail right now. They are young and don't have much life experience. They will cover everything more than once. Some homeschoolers describe this as "building hooks" to hang later knowledge on. And your children will have her -- and you -- to prod them along. And if no one knows an answer, then everyone will learn how to figure it out together, by opening up their past notebooks or digging into books etc.

I don't think homeschooling is easy, but I do think it is a great preparation for learning to think, to explore, to learn, to cooperate, and to spend each day with God in it.

You may not see a pile of worksheets building up, especially at the beginning of the school year, but don't forget that narration (having children tell back what they've learned) and notebook pages and even cooking projects are all reinforcing what has been learned. Narration in particular may require a learning curve, because many of us were not taught to absorb what we have been learning, own it for ourselves, and then tell it back. In the beginning, you may need to stop after only a couple of sentences and have the children summarize.

It can help to just set some simple goals for the year, so you can all see your progress -- maybe just "getting used to homeschooling" or "figuring out where each child is at in each area" can be one of them :)

Blessings as you set out on this new venture!
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

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Re: Scheduling and Substance

Unread post by bro.jason » Tue Aug 15, 2017 12:48 pm


You said exactly what I think my wife needs to hear. Thank you for sharing your personal details. I'm probably going to share your post with her. I hope it encourages her. I'm praying that this year will help her overcome her educational insecurity once and for all.

- Jason

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Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:44 am

Re: Scheduling and Substance

Unread post by Guatejen » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:28 pm

I may be echoing some of the previous responses, but as far as "scheduling," just take each day as it comes. You will have difficult days where the kids act like hooligans and you wonder why you're even doing this in the first place. Then it might be time to take a break for a couple of days. I usually try to get 4 days done in a week. But sometimes we do 5 days, and sometimes we even do 6 (if we're bored on Saturday and it's raining and we just feel like it...). Just ignore "Monday, Tuesday, etc." and think, "day 1, day 2, etc"... Just do the next day as it comes!

Also, you said that one of your fears is that your children won't "know as much" as their public schooled peers. My husband and I were homeschooled, so I can tell you the things that I didn't know:

I didn't know what it was like to be bullied. I didn't know what it was like to have to get up early every day and be gone all day. I didn't know what it was like to sit in a desk for several hours each day. I didn't know what it was like to eat cafeteria food or to eat packed lunches. I wasn't exposed to cursing or drugs or s e x (and those are the things that shocked me when I entered college). I didn't get a chance to spend a lot of money on a prom dress I would only wear once. I never knew the power of peer pressure to get me to do something negative, and I was confused when people in high school made fun of me for not following the crowd (and I didn't care; I didn't understand why these kids were so dumb and didn't stop to think for themselves and be original). I DID occasionally get teased by public school kids for not wearing the cool clothes, for not having a boyfriend, for not listening to the cool music. (But surely I would've been teased for the same things had I been at school, right?)

Now college was easy. The public schooled kids did not know how to study. They didn't know how to write. They did not know how to learn. I knew how to do these things: I was an active participant in my own education. I did not sit for hours listening to a teacher lecture; Instead I was busy reading books with living ideas, books that interested me, books that STUCK with me. We discussed our ideas, and in my spare time I was not wasting time with friends, I was busy working with my parents (we were missionaries; I helped to lead Bible studies and translate for mission teams.) By high school, my mom had me doing most of my schoolwork independently. Therefore, I learned how to be self-motivated. My peers at college did not have this advantage. They were spoonfed in public school all the way through high school.

I, my husband, and all our siblings who have been to college have all been honors students. And all of us were homeschooled. I don't know everyone's GPAs, but my husband graduated from college with a 3.8, I with a 3.9, and my oldest brother with a 4.0. Five of us have gone on to graduate school.

In my mind, there is no comparison. When there is a willing and able parent who will work alongside his or her children (not all parents ARE able and willing), then I believe in MOST cases you will have a successful homeschool. (I say in MOST cases, because you really never can prevent a child from being rebellious. The best of parents can have the worst of children; even God is the best Father and HE has rebellious children).

Those are just my thoughts. I know homeschooling isn't best for everyone, but it has been such a blessing for us. I also recommend that you and your wife read the book Teaching from Rest. It changed my perspective on some things, in a good way.


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Re: Scheduling and Substance

Unread post by bro.jason » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:31 pm


You're a great cheerleader for homeschool.

I went to public school, and my wife was (mostly) homeschooled. We fully believe that homeschooling is what God wants us to do, especially considering a few of the experiences we had during the few years our kids were in public school. Our struggle thus far hasn't been the "what," but the "how." I'm really excited about all that MFW has to offer. One thing I love about it is that the curriculum promotes critical thinking and problem solving over rote memorization.

This is only our second year homeschooling (first with all 3 at home), so we're still learning what's best for us. That's one of the great things about homeschooling, though. The family gets to learn together.

- Jason

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