Edmonton Home Schooling Is Government Controlled

Here in Edmonton we have three types of homeschooling:

  1. Online 100% Government Curriculum
  2. Blended Government Curriculum and Traditional Home School: the percentage varies based upon how many government curriculum ‘courses’ you use.
  3. Traditional Home Schooling: 100% your own curriculum.

We decided to go with option two since we are home schooling newbies. I was assured that there was lots of flexibility as to schedules, progress of work, and content. Think again.

I contacted my sons government employee/math ‘teacher’ to ask if he would make the entire years math curriculum available online – short answer – no. Based upon his ‘current teaching assignment’ he could not juggle a student that gets an entire years program finished in a month or two. 😦

So I guess we will be moving to a ‘traditional home schooling’ format and designing our own curriculum based upon my son’s interests and needs. So I guess my next decision is whether to use the Government Curriculum, buy a curriculum somewhere else, or create our own.


12 Responses to “Edmonton Home Schooling Is Government Controlled”

  1. 1 Lisa October 16, 2006 at 3:07 am

    Check out Singapore Math. The country of Singapore is consistently rated in the top 5 countries in the world for math. Visit http://www.singaporemath.com We currently use the Primary Math for Grade 2. Our daughter really enjoys it and there is a lot of incorporation of real world word problems. In addition, there are additional problems but there is not a lot of repetitive problems.

    Saxon is another math program that is quite popular although some folks find it a bit repetitive with the math problems.

    I think you can have your son take placement tests and see where he is for each and then decide.

  2. 2 Greg Balanko-Dickson October 16, 2006 at 4:19 am

    Thanks Lisa, I will check it out. One question, there are Handbooks and Teachers Manuals, are they worth investing in?

  3. 3 Lisa October 21, 2006 at 2:00 am

    It depends on the subject and curriculum. Ken teaches the math. We got the home instructor manual for level 2 and he did not find it particularly useful. For level 3 and 4 we go the answer keys but not the instructor manual.. so that he could check her work faster rather than literally doing the math on every problem.

    We use Shurley English for English and Ken has found that teacher manual helpful. I use the teacher manual for phonics for Explode the Code because it gives additional hints or projects of how to help. I use the answer key periodically for science, Sonlight Curriculum.

    I definately use the teacher book for Story of the World (Social studies). Story of the World is produced by a woman who is a college professor and she was homeschooled. She teaches at William and Mary in Virginia. There are several in that series going back to Ancient Times. It incorporates library books, hands on projects (we have made the River Nile, a sugar pyramid, written on clay and parchment paper with blueberry ink, etc.), blackline maps, etc. Some activities I have to admit I skipped just because I didn’t think my stomach could handle it…such as the mummifying the chicken… This series is great because it engages the children, offers hands on, uses library books, etc.

    If you use the teacher manual make sure it is geared toward homeschool. Otherwise you can end up with a manual for a class of 20 with activities for 20 that are unrealistic for homeschool situations. This happened with a math curriculum I tried called Structural Math. Every activity involved working in groups and a blackboard. Needless to say it didn’t last long in our home.

    You can try to look up descriptions of teacher manuals online but sometimes they are a hit or miss. You can also check out forums online for descriptions. The best route I have found thus far is to check with friends. Ask to borrow their books and check them out or visit a curriculum new or used fair and look at them yourself.

    Rosetta Stone is a language program that offers a homeschool version. It is worth it if you are using a couple programs or if several of you want to use it because then it keeps each of your locations separate.

    Some companies may allow a return but check ahead of time. Also, you can sometimes pick things up used. Ebay is no longer allowing homeschool textbooks and manuals to be sold since some other public school kids got smart to figure they could buy the answers.

    The other aspect of this issue is how well you know the subject. If you know the subject well you could probably skip the manual. If not, spring for it. We usually spend a max of $400 or so for a year depending on how she is moving through them.

    Finally, some curriculums include the teachers manual for a better price vs. buying them separate. Again, it will depend. Be sure to include this in your comparison.

    Remember give yourself some time to experiment with curriculums. We did four different formats our first year before we finally settled into what worked for our daughter.

  4. 4 Greg Balanko-Dickson October 21, 2006 at 4:53 am

    Feeling like a fish out of water and I am reminding myself that we are learning as well. I guess I just need to turn down my need to ‘get it right’ and connect with my son – we have made progress in outlining his interests and a rough map of our approach.

    Our ‘facilitator’ is asking for more detail in our approach, how we will measure his progress etc.

    So that is what we are working on now.

  5. 5 Greg Balanko-Dickson October 21, 2006 at 4:54 am

    BTW: thanks for your previous answers we appreciate your support.

  6. 6 Lisa October 21, 2006 at 4:28 pm

    No problem. (I need a reprieve from writing.) For the facilitator, I would offer the following. You will evaluate his progress based on his presentations on what he has learned both in oral and written format (ie. discussions over dinner table and perhaps blog entries, written papers or letters to his grandparents).

    If they are real anal, the words “periodic testing” always gets them to chill. Now I do have to say I remember plenty of teachers IN public school and even college that would allow us to do an open book test or even write a 3×5″ crib sheet with any info we would need for our test. By the time we learned where things were or what we might need for the test, rarely did we ever use these resources.

    Another way of evaluating is to have him teaching someone else. Our daughter does this regularly. She is always teaching me some new math method and teaching Ken some knew political or current event knowledge. This is one of the best ways to learn and I do have to say my math solving repertoire has expanded thanks to my 8 year-old.

    The best answer I can give is write down what you do each day. A polished explanation incorporating what you do can always be written as needed. Another woman I know keeps a notebook of each of her child’s activities/papers. The notebook is a 4″ or larger one. Everything gets put in there by subject. Then she can refer to them as necessary. Find out what subjects are required and be sure to incorporate those.

    One thing I have always believed with subjects such as history is that it is not nearly as important to know the dates as it is to know what led to the problems. Another view on education is one can not know all things. Therefore, one needs to know where to go to learn those things. The crux of this view is one needs to know how to do research, ask for help or ask experts.

    Again, I would encourage you to locate a support group of people doing independent homeschooling. They will be able to offer advice.

    In the US, I have a friend from Pennsylvania and she talked about having to always prepare explanations for the school. She got really good at it.

    Remember also that activities such as riding the bicycle is “gym” and so on. A walk in the woods can count for science if you look for something… A visit to a town meeting one can learn about Robert’s Rules of Order, debate, analysis, town government (ie. civics). The newspaper is great too. One friend of mine requires her daughters to read an article a week and give an explanation and analysis of the article.

    Don’t worry about being a fish out water. Your son is too. Homeschooling isn’t about getting it right it is about getting creative. Learning who your child is, what excites them, creating opportunities and teaching through it all. If you focus on getting it right you will loose your son because the schools define right as sitting at a desk for 7 hours and raising their hand to ask for permission to pee. So, if you aren’t doing those two things you are already not getting it right:) Hence the encouragment to get creative.

    And remember don’t discount outside activities. When we studied for our ham radio license, that whole 6 weeks was focused science. Now she is learning morse code and that counts for communication.

    Take a deep breath. Relax. Enjoy this journey it will go VERY fast. And now….back to my writing otherwise I’ll get in trouble with this guy I know:)

  7. 7 PassingBy January 22, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    Three words. Power Of Ten.


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