Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Homeschool begins

My granddaughter did not flourish in the public school classroom when she attended first grade. The clamor of 20-30 students and the constant threats and discipline from the teachers made her very anxious.  So her parents made the decision to homeschool her and I have taken over about half of that effort. This is in no way a religious or political statement. It is simply a matter of providing the best early education for my granddaughter that we can.

As a professional writer, I am well-qualified to teach Language Arts and as a potter of many years, my experience also qualifies me to teach her arts and crafts.  Those are the areas I focus on for her, but I also teach her some social studies including history, civics, and geography.  Her parents focus on math and science.  I provide some projects in these subjects as well.

Last year was third grade for her and tomorrow we begin fourth grade.  Her parents and I have decided on project-based learning on a six-weeks-on, two-weeks-off schedule.  What this will do is allow us to structure her studies around specific, relevant content that can be experienced in context rather than around a purchased curriculum.

My granddaughter is smart and self-motivated but has anxiety issues about her performance. She aced the end-of-year tests the state requires and she is proud of that.  She always wants to stick to the easy stuff, the stuff she knows well and can excel at.  My job is to make her crave more.

For her first six weeks in language arts I am assigning her a poetry project.  Each week we will study two forms of poetry and she will write two poems in each form. My goals for her in this is for her to understand the role of all the parts of speech, which she learned last year.  As poetry requires a brevity that necessitates the use of only the most perfect words to convey a thought, this will enhance her use of grammar, her understanding of the power inherent in words, as well as giving her a decent background in literature.  I will be assigning her specific poems to read so that we can discuss them, but I will also require her to read fiction as a background.  Last year she completed the Harry Potter books and has since re-read them.

She will watch the Netflix Egypt series to accompany her study packet on that and will also study Canada in some depth as her father is Canadian and she visits the country often.  I will use Netflix and PBS to enhance her studies at home.

The project she has voiced enthusiasm for is another craft-based sales booth.  The child has business in her blood, I think, and she really enjoyed the booth we had at the end of last school year.  This is a project I am letting her self-direct and I will provide the necessary resources and guidance.

I am pleased I can help my granddaughter develop a useful set of skills to navigate this life.  And I am humbled her parents trust me with her.

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