Stepping Outside the Grade-Level Box

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

A note from Jamie: As we begin to contemplate and plan for fall, it’s good to keep in mind that we’re not bound by grade levels like traditional schools are! Enjoy this repost from Sarah, which originally published on July 1, 2011.

Ask a homeschooled kid the innocuous “What grade are you in?” and you’ll often get a furrowed brow and an answer with a question mark at the end.

“Fourth?”

This response can be alarming to grandparents, non-homeschooling friends, and the cashier at Walmart. Their raised eyebrows ask, “He doesn’t know what grade he’s in?”

Well, no. Not exactly. That hallmark of traditional schooling—the passing from grade to grade—isn’t of utmost importance in homeschooling. The age/grade correlation just isn’t necessarily present.

If your nine-year-old is reading at a post-college level, does that make him 23? Who decided, after all, that picture books are for preK-3rd grade, that pre-algebra is done in middle school, and that high school takes four years?

Who came up with all this stuff? I don’t know the answer to that.

What I do know is that homeschooling allows us to provide learning opportunities for our children at their own pace.

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A guide to navigating the homeschooling community

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

We homeschoolers are an opinionated bunch. After all, at some level one of the reasons we home educate this is because we want to do things our own way. And, well, let’s get down to it:

We often think our way is the best way, and we want to share that with as many of you as possible.

We are prepared to opine on any number of topics, from science programs to parenting philosophies to clothing choices. We like to raise our eyebrows, give a little shake or nod of our heads, and give you knowing smiles.

Sometimes we turn our backs on you because you are a different breed of homeschooler—an “other.” “Otherness” has to do with anyone who does things differently than “we” do: from wild, unruly unschoolers; to middle-of-the-road eclectic folks; to rigid A Beka advocates; to tight-lipped tomato-stakers (please note: popular stereotypes listed here intentionally to make a point and not reflective of personal opinion). Pick whatever category you fall into, and the rest are “others.”
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Of America and war (2012 curriculum fair)

Ages of my kids at home: 15 and 11 1/2
Educational Philosophy Influences: Literature-based, Eclectic, College-Bound

I am so excited about this upcoming year! I have always maintained that educational flexibility is the highlight of home education, and 2012-13 will be one of those years that embraces flexibility.

Shouldn’t education be crafted by creativity, rather than squished into a box labeled “scope and sequence”?

For me, part of the joy in homeschooling my kids comes with the designing, the knowing that my kids get an individualized education plan that suits them perfectly.

So here is what I have planned for my two at-home kids:
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Homeschool Through High School? You Really Can!

Written by contributor Sarah of SmallWorld at Home

Homeschooling high school. Those three little words can alarm the calmest parents. I have seen the stress cross their faces and watched their hands clench tightly. “I know my daughter is only 8, but I am already getting nervous about high school!”

Oh, please don’t get nervous. Don’t throw away those precious years pondering how in the world you will teach algebra and chemistry and essay writing. Enjoy them while they still like climbing trees and making baking soda-and-vinegar volcanoes.

But one of these days, yes: you will have to think about high school.

It used to be common in our homeschooling support group for kids to go to public school for high school for various reasons. Some parents felt that they could no longer meet their kids’ academic needs at home, that their reasons for homeschooling no longer applied, or that adequate social opportunities just weren’t available.

Times have changed in the 12 years since I started this journey. Our co-op classes offer an extensive variety of subjects, easily covering the basics (math, sciences, English, and history) as well as electives (art, drama, computer skills, personal finance, study skills, etc.). Rather than a mass exodus after 8th grade, we now see only a few students opting for public school. [Read more...]

Sarah’s Homeschool Day in the Life (with an 11-year-old and 14-year-old)

Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home

The first thing I had to do when asked to take part in this year’s “Day in the Life” series was to look back at my post from last January.  I wondered how much our daily life had changed in a year.

Well, a lot.

Long gone are the exhausting, bustling days of going from child to child with a little one playing all around us. Gone are the sticky crafts and, blessedly, the endless games of Candyland. Gone are those evenings spent “doing bedtime,” with baths, books, snacks, and one-more-drink-of-water. And in the not-so-distant past, my days were filled with hustling about, trying to figure out schedules for an elementary, a middle-school, and a high-school student.
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