“Do you realize that if you push a child too hard it can do a lot more harm than a poor grade!” ~ Ms. Crump, Opie’s Teacher, Andy Griffith
This quote came up in my memories today. As a homeschool family, I have always known that grades aren’t everything in the scheme of learning. Spiritual health, emotional health, physical health, social health, and academics all have unique characteristics in each of our children. How we balance assessing these areas is equally important.
Interesting reading this nugget from Ms. Crump with the lens of a college sophomore, 8th grader, and two 5th graders. Our diamonds all have different seasons, different needs, and different abilities, yet God requires parents to do the best they can, equipping and training them in all. Defining the how’s, why’s, when’s and what’s of “push” is the key to developing a great relationship with our children in every season. Pray for God’s guidance as we grow in executing these areas without leaving others undone!
Nuggets from Andy Griffith
As we contemplate another school year under new “pandemic” circumstances, let us not forget that our “students” are still children and need a fair balance of academics, play, problem solving, conflict resolutions, and discussion. Being at home will never replicate a 6-hour day of public school; instead, it should be rich with reading, writing, discussion, critical thinking , and more. Change your thinking about what learning looks likeHomeschool won’t fit into the 6-hour box that most families are used to . Seize smaller moments of in-depth conversation as your students (big or small) mature right before your eyes. Time waits for no one , so make the best of those small opportunities . Before you know it, these precious moments add up to a lifetime of love, learning, memories, and growth ! The children are learning from us how to persevere or how to give in! Which will we choose to be our legacy? #togodbetheglory#deut6#parentteacher#conversationsbuildmemories
I already did a post about the curriculums we will be doing for the new school year. (You can read that here in case you missed it 😉! A common question for homeschool families is, “How do I choose my curriculum for the year?” Well, that may be a loaded question for some. Many homeschoolers have spent hundreds of dollars on “good intentions,” hoping to implement pricey curriculums purchased on a whim, by a referral, or to fulfill some requirement. I tend to lean towards whatever is simplest, cheapest, and the least amount of prep 🤣! So it was a no-brainer when I adopted a curriculum based on my state’s education requirements.
Homeschool families may opt to sign up for the FREE portfolio reviews in many states. This is the tool we chose instead of using an umbrella homeschool program. Here’s a brief explanation of the two options.
What is a portfolio review?
Homeschool portfolios are a form of student record keeping that documents regular educational instruction. In Maryland, homeschool portfolios illustrate that a child is consistently learning specific subject areas. By law, they should not be checking for “progress” or grades necessarily, but that the child is receiving a consistent education. This is assessed through dated materials.
What is an “umbrella” or “cover” school?
An umbrella or cover school is different than a portfolio review. An “Umbrella” or “cover” school will approve and oversee a homeschool program. They may offer distance learning that can be used for one subject or as a complete curriculum. I have heard great privileges about using umbrella/cover-school resources, particularly in the high school years, but, our family has opted for the free portfolio review through our county.
My Portfolio Review Process
For us, FREE, is always good. It comes with a bit more work, but I don’t mind. Homeschool reviews can cause a lot of anxiety for folks. In the beginning, I certainly lead the anxiety club for that! However, over the last 7+ years, I have come up with a system that has helped me receive a compliant assessment every time. Prayerfully, sharing 5 easy steps will help you with your next review!
1) GET YOUR MINDSET RIGHT. PREPARATION IS KEY! “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” ~ Robert Collier Success doesn’t come from one day’s effort; it requires effort from the starting and needs repeated effort every day.
If we begin our homeschool year accepting this as our motto, then there should be no room left for the worried feeling that comes with portfolio review.
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” Colin Powell
Once you register with your state/county as a homeschooler there will be requirements that every homeschool family must meet. KNOW WHAT THOSE ARE! Like anything else, you can access them online. They are usually found in the Dept. of Education for your state under the homeschool section. Knowing the expectation can establish the confidence necessary to meet the requirements. Knowing the requirements also helps with school planning for the current school year and future planning. The parent that is clueless about the state requirements has plenty of reason to be worried and anxious. This, my friends, is an easy fix!
2) PLAN YOUR CURRICULUM ACCORDING TO THE REQUIREMENTS. Because homeschool is customized, families have a variety of ways to fulfill these requirements. The beauty of homeschooling is that life is learning.
“I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.” — Eartha Kitt.
Many daily activities can be credited as academic instruction. Most elementary subject areas are as follows: *English. *Mathematics. *Science. *Social studies. Art. Music. Health. Physical education. [Foreign language (optional)]
Purchase a 3-ring binder (3″ or larger) for each of your students. Create tabs for each subject. Also, create a Google Drive folder for the current school year, each student, the term (Fall, Winter, Spring), then the subject folders in each student folder. Put SOMETHING in (*) subjects daily. Be sure to DATE each assignment!! It can be video, worksheets, pictures from a field trip, etc. The other subject folders may be added to weekly. Again, pictures, worksheets, field trips, etc.
Organizing my quarters this way has made for seamless compliance. I am no longer scrambling to get papers and other evidence together to confirm regular homeschool instruction. I begin my year like this every year, making sure to label folders (Fall, Winter, Spring) for each academic school year in case I need to reference them.
3) GET YOUR KIDS INVOLVED (If you want). Since about 3rd grade, I have always involved our kids in the homeschool review. They have shared about specific projects that affirm the “regular instruction” that officials require. It’s not necessary, but it has been a great experience for our kids and another assessment tool for me to know whether they grasped an understanding of the particular assignment.
4) BE SURE TO HAVE A FOLDER FOR ELECTIVES (EXTRA-CURRICULAR). Although it’s not required, officials have always inquired about “extras” like foreign languages and other subject areas that are not “required” learning. No harm in logging those as well. I have found that when it was time to do resumès and/or transcripts for our college student, going back to past experiences added to her portfolio.
5) BE CONFIDENT IN YOU AND YOUR KIDS ACCOMPLISHMENTS! Organizing work this way has given me the blessing of seeing the growth in our children and the growth in my abilities as their primary teacher. Certainly not without mistakes, our homeschool has flourished since I implemented this process for our family’s organization. It’s a great way to get dad involved too if he isn’t already. Having children “show and tell” at dinner time, Saturday mornings, or other favorable times gives me other assessment opportunities.
“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he/she has overcome while trying to succeed.”~ Booker T. Washington
You can be confident in knowing that growth is happening in your homeschool, and your review is an opportunity to share that growth!
Jamia E. Christian. Wife. Mother. Educator. Model. Actress.
Lord, give me the wisdom to navigate through this life all to your glory. ~ James 3:13-18
Over the years, homeschool planning has been pretty simple since we use Classical Conversations as our spine. Automatically, I spend the summers, combing through online sources to add diversity and inclusion using the different learning methods: auditory, reading/writing, & kinesthetic. Here is what we have for the upcoming school year:
5TH GRADE TWINS
MATH: Saxon 5/4 My Math Assistant. Game changer for me! Grading site created by a homeschool dad that grades their work, provides videos for extra assistance and keeps a running tally of assignments, tests, and facts practice!
ENGLISH & WRITING Classical Conversations Grammar Students learn how to parse the English language, focusing on all the parts of speech and how to recognize them. This includes an excellent practice of diagramming one sentence 4 days per week.
Editing Learning how to use punctation correctly, recognize spelling and grammar mistakes is an essential part of the language process. They edit a paragraph of Scripture 4 days per week.
Writing We use the IEW writing process that introduces structure and style to writing. Students write about historical events.
Presentations Students do weekly presentations. Since our homeschool lacks in people of color and female contributions, my kids tend to enlighten their classmates with notable characters that enhance historical contributions.
PACES CURRICULUM Paces is an Easy-To-Implement, Rigorous and Biblically-Centered Workbook Curriculum For Grades Prek-12. We use them for Bible Reading, Social Studies, and Science.
Bible Reading This year focuses on the life and parables of Christ.
Social Studies PACES Social Studies. I love these books because they are easy, informative, and keep God as the focus. Students learn about all kinds of careers.
Science PACES Science. This year’s focus is on water, matter, and gas.
Art Usually, I rely on the 6-weeks dedicated to the basics of art through Classical Conversations.
Health Horizons Health
PE Mateo – Soccer Inez – Tennis
8TH GRADE CURRICULUM
Classical Conversations – Challenge B Classical Conversations has been our core for over 10 years. When a student gets to the Challenge years (7th – 12th grades), the work becomes more rigorous and uses a classical Christian process for learning. Essentially subjects are used to teach a skill. For example, Math is used to teach Logic, Latin is used to teach Grammar, etc. Following is the 8th Grade curriculum for this year:
LOGIC – Math Saxon
GRAMMAR – Latin
RESEARCH 1st Semester History of Astronomy. 15 weeks of researching different Scientists that have left on mark on modern society. We include black inventors and the origins by which Greek scholar acquired their info.
2nd Semester 10 weeks discussing the Creation/Evolution debate w/ the last 5 weeks devoted to chemistry and how to use the periodic table.
REASONING 1st Semester Introductory Logic
2nd Semester Intermediate Logic
EXPOSITION – Literature & Writing 1st Semester: Reading the following books, discussing w/ me, and write papers on each:
The Phantom Tollbooth
Where the Red Fern Grows
2nd Semester: Students transition to the adult reading level recommended in the higher Challenges by studying short stories from various famous writers they will encounter in Challenges I–IV. Students take the entire semester at home to write a short story of their own.
DEBATE: 1st Semester The American Experience Storybook Additional reads and discussions w/ mom and dad: -Bible -A People’s History of the United States -Digging Deeper Document I created to add diversity and inclusion to the discussion
2nd Semester Mock Trial
HEALTH: Horizon’s Health
ART: Free MOMA Class Course: Reimagining Blackness and Architecture (FREE CLASS)
Charles Davis on the expansive field of architecture
Adrienne Brown on the Reconstruction era
Kara Walker on 40 Acres of Mules, 2015
Deana Lawson on Nation, 2017
This is the plan for the year. Our big girl is in college, so I’m down to three at home. Always make time for emotional check-ins, one-on-one time, field trips, and fun!
Jamia E. Christian. Wife. Mother. Educator. Model. Actress. Lord, give me the wisdom to navigate through this life all to your glory. James 3:13-18
10 Things 18 years of homeschooling has taught me:
(1) I could never have done it without leaning on God’s strength;
(2) Patience is needed and cultivated with each day, but some days it’s lacking ;
(3)There are moment-by-moment victories & mistakes ; so don’t be a helicopter parent…God isn’t ! Grace and mercy coupled with the Word sow seeds in their hearts, which make for sincere change!
(4) While life is happening (births, death, trauma, sickness, moving, family turmoil, delays, etc.), learning is still taking place;
(5) Kids learn from your example (the good with the bad, & the things you THINK they are clueless about);
(6) Trust the process – growth happens in baby steps, not overnight;
(7) Trust that learning is happening even in “failure/mistakes” for parents and children;
(8) It’s better with a village of support than without;
(9) Discussion is the BEST assessment tool ;
(10) NEVER compare! Just don’t do it! It hurts everyone involved! Individual achievements build up our children! Celebrate accomplishments and work together to provide tools for improvements. Don’t “fix” mistakes, instead teach how to recognize them, then provide resources and guidance so they will learn how to be successful .
This HS process is always evolving. Be warned that everyone doesn’t know the labor you are pouring into your children. You May even run into naysayers ! Learn to rest in God’s approval and not necessarily the approval of all those around you. Sometimes labor is not evident to onlookers. But because growth is a process, know that your labor will never be in vain, and the fruit is the real evidence !