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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Adventures in Homeschooling: Part Three

by Seattle Jon (bio)

Read Adventures in Homeschooling: Part One and Part Two for some background.

My wife and I (mostly my wife, except when she's not around) continue to employ a variety of methods in educating our three children (11, 10, 5). This year our efforts have centered around:

(1) Edmonds Heights (45%): A K-12 homeschool resource center connected to our local school district. Essentially a college for kids, there is a wide variety of mixed-grade classes available to choose from – some cost money, most are no-cost. Interestingly, the resource center kicks back to us for educational use a portion of the taxes we pay the state, a majority of which we use towards classes at the center. So far this year our kids have taken the following courses: Latin, Musical Theater, Geography, Team Sports, Active Games, Engineering, Science, Literature, RPG (Role Playing Game) Maker, Ballroom Dance and Swing Dance.

(2) Maesar Academy (45%): We decided to experiment with online education for the first time this year. The Maesar Academy is an accredited online LDS-based curriculum that uses a combination of streaming videos, virtual labs, interactive practice activities and a variety of other tools to create the learning experience. Units covered include history, life sciences, language arts and math. For the most part, the experience has been a positive one for the kids and for us. We think the material is sufficiently varied and challenging and we like the fact that assignments/quizzes/tests have deadlines and are graded. Our biggest frustration has been the lack of flexibility in the schedule. There is no functionality to schedule vacation or down-time … the deadlines just keep on coming. This has, at times, been frustrating for our sixth-grader as she’s tried to stay on target.

(3) Parent-As-Teacher (10%): Cher’s role has been reduced due to the Maesar Academy, but she continues to supplement the above with memorization work (our youngest is working on the Gettysburg Address), scripture study and participation in a field-trip co-op.

While we realize homeschooling is not for everyone and carries a wide range of stigmas and stereotypes, we continue to find great value in shaping our children's educational experience. That being said, we are staring the dreaded junior high years in the face and contemplating questions such as "Is college an option or a must for our children?" Scary stuff. What the next few years hold, we don't know, but we can't wait to find out.

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