Gearing up for 2009-2010, Part 2

As I previously mentioned, I’m going to talk about courses and course lists when you’re using other methods of homeschooling.

In the classical style, your list will be similar to what I listed in my previous post. Your subject list will be determined by the specific model you are following, but you could have a simple course list for each grade level. Your history and science courses would be named for the period of study you’re working on.

If you follow the Charlotte Mason method, your job in listing courses is also simple. Charlotte Mason was very specific in the subjects and topics.

If you are using a pre-packaged curriculum, your job is probably easiest here. You would simply name your courses after the texts you are using.

If you are using unit studies, living-books, notebooking, or lapbooking, you need to get a little creative here. I would say that we use a method that is closest to this and I’ll explain what I’ve done.

I have instituted using credit units in our homeschool, even though my students are all still in elementary school. I have several reasons for this:

1) One of my children prefers a “school-at-home” style education, so by implementing this system, she has her required courses that are all one credit each, then for Literature, History, and Science, she will pick units to do or books to read that will total one credit for each subject per year. She’ll also have to choose Social Studies and Life Skills credits totalling 1/2 credit per year. This allows her to choose courses and have coursework independently of her brother and sisters, and she can study as many different things as she can keep up with (one course per subject at a time).

2) My other children specified that they want to study one thing at a time, so I can schedule assignments at a faster pace so they can become immersed in the topic. They still have to choose enough courses to meet the same requirements as my other daughter, but it is child led.

Some of the courses are simply reading a piece of literature, then narrating it or doing an activity with what they read. Other courses may be full-blown unit studies (from the Internet or other resources). Most importantly, each course is planned out ahead of time so that the students can simply choose their course. They then will get a list of assignments to do to complete the course. Some of these assignments will require my attention, while others will be group projects or independent work.

Now, in order to determine the credit unit for each course, I had to make some assumptions.

  1. If the student was doing one assignment per day in a course, the course would take so many days.
  2. Each “assignment” would take an average of 45 minutes; each assignment period = 1 session.
  3. Therefore, a course (aka unit study) that would take 2 weeks to complete at 3 assignments per day equals 30 sessions.
  4. Since one credit unit = 180 course hours (or 180 sessions of 50 minutes each), I would take the 30 sessions and divide by 180. A 30 session course would be .17 credit units.

To me, 45 minutes is more than enough time to read 1-2 chapters in a book, including writing down and looking up vocabulary words, narrating the chapter, creating an illustration, etc. They could easily start a research project, and possibly complete it, in 45 minutes. A hands-on project could certainly be started in 45 minutes. A short science experiment could be done in 45 minutes. There’s a lot that can be done in 45 minutes!

So, if a student has chosen only one course, they will get 3 assignments in that course per day, and they will complete the course in 10 days. If the student is studying one history course, one science course, and one elective course, they will get one assignment in each course per day and the course would take longer, but the student would be working the same amount of time each day as the first student.

I know it sounds confusing, but it is possible, and rather practical. In order for the course to be available, you have to have it all planned out, so you know how long it’s going to take! Plus, once it’s done, you don’t have to do it again because you save your records for the future students! Plus, if the student decides to take the course again at a later grade level, all you have to do is edit the assignments and make them a little more difficult and in depth. Plus, you also expect more from an older student.

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