Short-cuts, Tips, and Supplementing National Schools

{The following notes were taken by Stacey B at the SHARE 2007 conference.  These are some incredible suggestions, not just for those supplementing national schools.  Some suggestions are useful information for those doing straight home-schooling, as well.}

Notes from Jean on smart supplementing for national schools (for us specifically in answer to our questions…we are currently sending our kids for 3.5 hrs in the morning, eating lunch, and then supplementing with American schoolwork).

Key points on supplementing national schools:

ü      MAKE IT AS FUN AS POSSIBLE,

ü      CHOOSE SILLY WRITING TOPICS,

ü      DO MESSY ART PROJECTS,

ü      BE CREATIVE,

ü      LET THEM SIT ON THE FLOOR,

ü      KEEP IT VIBRANT, FUN AND ENGAGING.

ü      KEEP PROVIDING LOTS OF GOOD BOOKS.

ü      COUNTERBALANCE THE SERIOUSNESS AND STRUCTURE OF LOCAL SCHOOL, WHILE PROVIDING THE MEAT AND POTATOES OF WHAT THEY NEED TO KEEP UP WITH THEIR PEERS IN THE STATES.

Other suggestions:

q       It takes a lot of mental energy to make the switch from local school to English instruction and work, therefore minimize the # of times they have to make the switch, i.e. have them complete their local school homework first off so they don’t have to jump back and forth.

q       With younger kids who are beginning readers, (who are learning to read in the local language) read aloud a lot to them in English and only require them to read to you 1-2 minutes per day to keep their skills fresh.  For older readers provide lots of FUN books.  (It doesn’t have to be heavy literature.)

q       Teachers in schools consider it a good year if they make it through ½ to ¾ of the materialYou can take a course and spread it out over several years. (i.e. history or writing, literature, etc.).

q       In general, supplement math 2-3x/week, grammar 2-3x/week, spelling 3-4x/week (either by self-correcting their mistakes and making a list from that, or use Spelling Power or something similar).  She emphasized having them practice these words on their own, and rewarding for good test scores at the end of the week.  Have them write it correctly twice as many times as they write it wrong.

q       Give kids the Saxon assessment every year (if you are using that curriculum) to see if they will be able to skip any books (so much is review they probably won’t miss much if anything).

q       Only do ½ of whatever the math lesson prescribes—be selective, have them do evens and odds; have them pick the two hardest problems and bring them back to you correct—if they don’t pick the two hardest then you pick!

q       For older kids have them only do one big writing assignment per month so they can really focus on the rough draft, editing, etc. and do a nice job without being rushed.

q       Seat time: (amount of time the kids should be sitting and working on a given subject)–8 year old boys, 15 minutes of work at a time, then cycle in more active things like chores, reading, something to let them move their eyes and body around, then cycle back to the work.  Build in “Lego time” into their school day, (how happy would most boys be to hear, “Now go on over to your Legos and get busy for the next 15 minutes!”) or other centers that are fun learning times.  Make sure to keep them moving as they learn.  Use time at home to actively reinforce whatever subjects they are learning at school.  (i.e. if they are learning road signs in social studies, make the road signs and pretend you are cars that have to obey the signs). 12 year old boys, 30 minutes of seat time; 15 year old boys, 45 minutes.

q       If they hit a learning glitch (plateau, can’t “get” something) don’t move on to anything new for two weeks.  Then, if they get it, move very slowly onto the next thing.

q       Make learning fun, have them physically engage in their school work (jumping rope while spelling words—a letter per jump—or bouncing a ball, clapping their hands).  Another presenter really stressed counter-balancing the conformity and strict structure often found in local schools; and skits, messy art, drawing “whatever you want to draw,” and creativity on every level should be encouraged at home.

q       For reading, compare the booklists from Sonlight, Veritas, other curriculums and look for the overlap on their book lists.  The more you see a particular title showing up, the more critical this book is to read (rather than a book that only shows up on one list…it might be a great book but it won’t contribute to the literacy expectations of schools in the states, if that is eventually a goal—this is particularly true for the high school years).  When efficiency is key, just make sure these are on your must-read list.  Anything else is icing on the cake.

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One thought on “Short-cuts, Tips, and Supplementing National Schools

  1. Pingback: Should My Child Attend a National School? « The Education Cafe

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