Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What does it cost to educate a child?

I was just reading over at Alan Caruba's blog about the high cost of public education and how poorly we as a nation have been served by the Department of Education.  Evidently the NEA think the best way to solve the "educational crisis," as ever, is to throw more money at it. 

Where is all the money going?  Buildings, grounds, utilities, and teachers' salaries are really not that much.  For what we pay for "free" public education, we ought not to have to pay for a sheet of paper.  In fact, when I was in grade school in the 70s, I remember that the schools provided paper!

What fascinates me is that, as a homeschooling mother, I could take my kids to Greece, Rome, Washington DC, London, and Paris to see for themselves where history was made for what it seems to cost to educate a single child in the public education system.  And I don't have to undo the brainwashing afterward, either. 

In a couple of hours a day (since I don't have to bother with the administrative busywork that public school students and teachers often have to deal with), I can teach my kids history, read to them, get their phonics handled, study math, and give them the afternoon to explore on their own.  I can provide them with prisms, magnets, magnifying glasses, Legos, and let them explore physics.  We grew a garden this year, and my 7 year old Jared has discovered an interest in botany. 

Mercedes is getting old enough that yes, she needs a little more direction in her work.  But not a lot.  Often what is needed (especially at this age) is to pique their interest and let them explore from there. 

We do phonics, reading, writing and math daily.  We do history on Tuesdays and Thursdays, science on Wednesdays and Fridays, read-aloud every evening at bedtime (right now we're reading Winnie the Pooh), and we go hiking (as long as we are able to) on the Saturdays they are with me, which covers geology.  Phys ed is walking or running ever day, plus shooing the kids outside to play. 

Total cost?  About $500 a year.  All together.  Including a bunch of field trips and gas.  If I go overboard on spending, that is. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Moving right along!

It's proving to be a bit more of a struggle than I would have liked to get the kids off summer schedule.  I need to put the schedule back on the board!  Mercedes is trying to weasel her way out of doing her work - but she needs the discipline the most.  Jared, as usual, is "the Math King," as he told me today.

Friday, August 27, 2010

And the drama begins....

This time it's Jared.  He's "lost" his schoolwork twice already - left it at his dad's house once, and "couldn't find it" today.  The ironic thing is that he really likes school, especially math.

Mercedes is starting to really get on it.  I'm so proud of her for her hard work.  She's still struggling with reading words that aren't there, and guessing at the words, but she's doing well.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Just ordered curriculum....

I just ordered our history curriculum for the year, and Mercedes' next semester of math.  Jared's already got his.  I'm looking forward to a fabulous school year!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Setting up routines

Probably the most challenging part of homeschooling to me is getting routines set up.  Getting up, working out, "doing school," getting to work, getting work actually done, cooking dinner, cleaning house.  I have a control journal, but it's been tough remembering to do everything every day. 

The nice thing, though, is that as the routines fall into place, one thing at a time, there is actually less to do.  I don't mind washing three dishes nearly as much as I mind washing three days worth (or dishes for a family of 10, Mom.)  I don't mind mopping the floor if I know it just gets mopped every Monday.  Less at one go, although more little tasks every day.

And, I just realized I have to order a new history book.  I didn't realize we were almost done! 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting geared up for another year

I have so much to do and not nearly enough time to do it in.  As usual.  It's a challenge being a homeschooling, single mother. 

I've spent the past week with my daughter Mercedes setting up her goals.  I'm hoping to start her in college by the time she's 16.  So we reviewed where her peers are (probably) and where I would like her to be, and what needs to happen to get her there.  And then we took that down to bite-size chunks.  Mercedes has been pretty lazy, so she's a bit behind.  Jared, however, is taking great pride in catching up to, and surpassing, his sister academically.  Nothing like a little competition to get them going!

We are giving Mercedes points toward a Build a Bear if she completes her work as we've agreed.  Krista has put that up on the whiteboard, so she knows how many points she needs.

I reviewed the subjects I "should" be teaching, including homemaking - er, life skills/home ec (read "Flylady") - and science.  Music is another that has kind of gone abandoned.  And I want to emphasize more art - they should at least be able to appreciate the great masters, as well as work in pencil to do good drawings.  We're covering physics this year in science - lots of work with magnets and prisms.

And yet, even with all this work in preparation, and the work that goes into preparing each lesson, I spend less time educating my kids than I did working with the public schools and grappling over homework.  Amazing.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Free" public education?

I was looking over my Facebook page, and a couple of friends were talking about being broke now that school is in session.  (It doesn't start here in Utah till next week.)  There are supplies to be purchased, fees to be paid, and of course the kids have to have the cool clothes.

I'm so glad I homeschool.

I purchase my curriculum throughout the year, as needed.  We do take advantage of back to school sales, stocking up on art supplies, pencils, and the like. 

The kids don't care if their clothes come from the thrift shop - and I don't have a rush to get them in fall clothes before an arbitrary date. 

Fees?  What fees?  We just buy what we need, at a fraction of the cost at school, and do our science experiments as we want to.  Later this week, we're driving out to the desert to watch the Pleiades Meteor Shower, complete with a discussion of how to find north and the constellations.

And, I get through more "schooling" in less time than any public school could ever do.  We're always done by noon, unless the kids want to do more, and if they choose to do more, they're still available to play by the end of the school day.  They're blessed with free time, unlike their peers, who are overscheduled with hours of homework at the end of the day, plus structured lessons, and no chance to be kids.

Hmmm.  Seems like I'm getting a deal here!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Exemption filed for another year

I just got back from the district offices, filing my exemption form for another year.  I'm glad Utah is as homeschool friendly as it is! 

I'm also copying the last bit of history work that we'll cover - we've got just the 16th century left and then we go to the next book in Story of the World.  The kids are getting mature enough that we'll be able to start going more in depth.  Especially into US history. 

When we talked about Columbus, I discussed the importance of a compass.  I even built one - out of a cork, a sewing needle, and a cup of water.  Jared thought that was fascinating. 

Someone asked me recently why I homeschool.  My answer stands - why let the teachers have all the fun?

Monday, August 9, 2010

First Day Back!

Today we resumed homeschool after a few weeks off.  The kids were glad to get back into the routine.  I am glad, too.  I think kids need some structure! 

Jared is nearly complete with 1st grade math, and since he would be entering 2nd grade, he's right on track with math.  He's enjoying reading, and he was mad at me this morning because I forgot to get the history handouts ready for them.  History is by far his favorite subject. 

Mercedes needs to buckle down on math, although she's at or above grade level in writing and reading.  She keeps avoiding math.  I find it strange because she's very good at it, and she can get up to speed quickly.  We're beginning serious work on her writing this year. 

And I plan to take them out to the West Desert later this week for the meteor shower.  A cooler, a red-filtered flashlight, blankets, and a couple of camp chairs to watch Nature's own firework show!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Last week of vacation (so to speak)

Mercedes arrived back home on Monday night, tired, but excited about the time she got to spend with her Grandma and Grandpa.  (Grandma and Grandpa, please send me some photos!  You too Denise!) 

We had sort of put formal school on hold while she was gone, because I didn't want to jump ahead in history without her, and Jared just wasn't into studying.  Notice that I said "formal" school.  We have a couple of hours of instruction in the mornings, and then let the kids do their own thing in the afternoon, so I can get my work done. 

Jared caught a grasshopper and made a little habitat for it in a Tupperware dish.

They have spend a couple of days with Krista, boating and playing in the sprinklers.  I try to get them worn out good during the day. 

Today, Jared evidently was over tired, so he got sent back to bed at 10:30 am.  Mercedes is in her room reading Pippi Longstocking and journaling about her trip. 

We'll resume formal school when the public schools resume as well.