Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Question and Answer

Mrs. Q at Five in the Potter's Hand asked a couple questions in the comments that I thought I would answer in a post, in the event that anyone else might be interested in the answers.

Q. I was just curious, do you use Sonlight curriculum? Or do you just pull all of this wonderful educational material out from thin! If you do use Sonlight, what do you think of it? I am considering it for my boys next year because the focus is very much that of Charlotte Mason, but it has the needed structure that my boys most certainly will require!

A. I love pouring through the Sonlight catalog! They have excellent literature recommendations, and I have purchased many books from them. I don't use their full packages or go by their schedules, but I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Sonlight for those who would prefer to have the planning and structure taken care of. I do know that many people find their language arts to be a little on the weak side and supplement with their own phonics/grammar/writing/spelling programs.

I essentially create my own 'package' of curricula. The Well-Trained Mind is the closest model of education and curriculum recommendations that I follow. Susan Wise Bauer does an excellent job of making a do-it-yourself neo-classical education attainable for the average parent. I enjoy reading books on other homeschooling methods (particularly Charlotte Mason) and always feel free to add, change, and adapt ideas to fit our family. Soon I will post an updated list of resources and programs we are currently using.

I also enjoy finding 'extras' in the way of books, videos, and resources to supplement the curricula we use. Many of the music and art books I've reviewed or recommended are not part of our core schooling, but are read and enjoyed as part of life in our home and as a family.

Q. Do you worry about your children's education being accredited? You and I live in the same state, so I wondered what your take on it is.

A. The short answer is 'no.' I won't be worrying about accreditation until high school, at which point I probably won't worry about it either.

I have no problems conforming to Oregon's laws regarding homeschooling. We'll be notifying the district of our 'intent to homeschool' prior to each child turning 7. We'll be doing standardized testing in the required years. Other than that, all record keeping will be done for my personal purposes.

If, for any reason and at any time, we choose to enroll our children in a public or private school, the school shouldn't have any problems testing to place the child in the appropriate grade. High school might prove to be a smidge trickier, although I have no idea what the state of things might be in 6-8 years when we get to that point. I have a feeling that the increasing popularity of homeschooling will lessen the red tape and hoops somewhat.

We will evaluate whether we want to homeschool for the duration of high school and go from there. For us, homeschooling through high school will likely include online classes, tutors, and/or college classes for some subjects. The Well-Trained Mind provides detailed instructions on how to create a high school transcript. Most colleges accept homeschool transcripts along with a portfolio.

And a question from Susan at From the Narrows:

Q. I am thinking about using Right Start math for the first time with my last girl, a 6 1/2 yr old. She is a reluctant learner, busy and active and highly tactile/kinesthetic. I am thinking this might be the best way to go with her. Can you give me anymore feedback?

A. RightStart has been a terrific choice for Levi, and so far Luke has been enjoying the lessons along with us. The lessons are completely laid out for the parent who is unsure of teaching math. Level A is a great way to start off with a 4 or 5 year old. Level B can be used with an older child without first using Level A. I appreciate the fact that a child needs very little writing skill to begin Level A.

RightStart Math is a very hands-on and visual program. It includes many simple games and manipulatives (making it worth the investment). I think it helps a child to truly understand numbers as more than a symbol on a page. Using wooden popsicle sticks as tally marks, the child begins to create numbers in groups of fives. The abacus is an excellent tool, helping the child see numbers in groups of fives and tens. Levi particularly enjoys the games and asks to play them over and over. Because the lessons are not worksheet oriented, we often 'do math' on the living room floor. This 'sits well' with Levi who doesn't care to keep his bum in a seat. I don't care if he is standing on his head, as long as he learns the concepts.

My son is very interactive and needs one-on-one time to learn the concepts, which works well with RightStart, as it is very teacher intensive. This might not work so well for a parent who is stretched thin teaching multiple children at different levels or for children who prefer to do independent work in a workbook.

Each lesson lists the supplies needed (either items included in the package or simple things from around the house), includes a warm-up, and the lesson itself is described in detail for the parent. I have found the books (A and B) easy to follow for the most part.

I can't compare RightStart Math along side another program since I only have experience with this one, but I can say that I am completely happy with our math curriculum choice. I can watch my son grasp the math concepts, and I am seeing simple math in new ways! I would highly suggest downloading the Level B Sampler and reading how the program was developed, general thoughts on teaching mathematics, and sample lessons.


Jenny said...

Thanks for posting this today, Heidi!
I've been wondering about Right Start Math for daughter. We are currently using Math-U-See and like it a lot. However, I've heard so many great things about Right Start...especially all the games the kids play. I really like disguising learning math as much as possible! I am glad to read about your experiences with it.

Precision Quality Laser said...

Thanks for answering all of my questions! And thank you for not thinking they were too intrusive :) I am going to have to get that book "The Well-Trained Mind"! I appreciate all of the encouragement and inspiration you provide--whether or not you are aware of!


Mrs. Q

Anonymous said...

I'm excited to get started. The lady at the booth showed up the program for older kids (5-7th) and we took that one too for our oldest. She is great at geometry and this is geometry based. I think it will change the way she thinks about math. SHe is very artsy and creative and I feel like this will be a good balance for her.