Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Homeschool Chemistry: A Bunch of Advice From Kerrie

My friend posted this comment yesterday in response to me saying we had an "off" week homeschooling because I was sick and yet the kids learned and did so much anyway:

THANK you for posting that! I'm new to all this homeschooling stuff and really don't know how to do it on my own or at least I'm scared too. I am slowing pulling away from a boxed curriculum but have only done it with Science and History. Here is my MAJOR worry. My friend, who uses K12, says that my kids should be learning all about chemistry right now or it's gonna really mess them up for high school. They have to really, really understand it, the ins and outs. I feel like they are still really young and it seems to be going in one ear and out the other. Would love your thoughts.
1. K12 is not technically homeschooling. The HSLDA does not recognize it as homeschooling. You are not a protected homeschooler if you use that program because you are using a state program. It's like public school at home on the computer, no? A lot of people use it when they are just starting out because they don't want to mess up their kids, and they need some guidelines. I totally understand and love my fellow homeschoolers who use this program. If it works for you, great. If it's just a means to schooling your own way eventually, that's great, too.

2. Some people choose to move away from K12 and structured curriculum (i.e., often COSTLY) as they gain more experience in THEIR OWN KID. They learn what their kid likes and is good at and they want to foster that. They also want to make sure their kid knows things like: how to balance a checkbook, how to do laundry without turning it pink (chemistry!), how to cook (chemistry again!), how to clean a bathroom naturally and how different products (like baking soda and vinegar) act together (there's that dang chemistry again; it's getting annoying!). If you're doing stuff like that, they will absorb it! If you do flash cards of H2O and O2 and sodium di-whatever-ide, they probably won't retain it.

3. Do you remember the entire periodic table of the elements (is that what it's even called?) from 7th grade? I barely squeaked by back then and it didn't make a bit of difference in my life. Haven't blown anything up. Got through high school and 2 years of college just fine. I can hold my own at a cocktail party, as well. Scratch that. I've never been to a cocktail party.

4. Don't let people scare you! It's hard when you're just starting out. Surround yourself with positive people who have been there. I don't have kids in high school yet and plan to do high school myself (already the naysayers are getting to me on that and I just ignore them). But I am in groups of homeschoolers who have homeschooled many high school kids and they are lovely to talk with. They are smart. They go on to college. They are in careers they love.

5. I don't know what to say about your friend. What "ins and outs" does she mean? Can she give you specifics so you can touch on some of those things? If you get really freaked out about things in general, do some standardized testing that you can get online and give the test at home. Then you can see what holes your kids may need filled before, say, taking the ACT or SAT. Around here kids can get into JuCo at age 16 and then go to another college no problem. I would really only worry about super-schooling if you have a brilliant kid who wants to go to Yale. I know people who have brilliant kids who win chess trophies and spelling bees and I am happy for them. They have an extra challenge and they are rising to it. Good for them!

6. In all your spare time, since you're a SAHM and eat bon bons, read all you can ... I'm working on some John Holt right now that if it doesn't put me to sleep it might get me all fired up and renewed about homeschooling. Try some John Taylor Gatto, as well.

Love ya, friend. I'm here for you! We'll do this together, long distance homeschooling pal. After all, can we do any worse than how WE were schooled? I think not. Our kids will be fine, so will the school kids. It will all work out how it's supposed to :-)
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