Schooling is the first thing most people ask about when they learn about our upcoming family world trip – and rightly so. We would be negligent parents if we hadn’t considered the educational needs of our boys (now almost 10 and 14) when we decided to do this trip.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I started by meeting with the principals of my childrens schools. The strong message I heard was that our trip would be an invaluable educational experience for my children which both teachers wholeheartedly supported. For both children the required trip schoolwork boiled down to: grade-level math, daily writing and plenty of reading – which is what I had suspected would be the recommendation before I met with the teachers.
Of these, math is the skill for which I needed to have a year-long curriculum, relevant teaching material, and plenty of exercises to practice new skills. In the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, reading about, and learning about what is required for 5th grade and 9th grade math. On top of this, I had my own requirements relating to portability and flexibility so that doing math can be a short daily activity and not something we battle with. My kids have used online programs such as Johns Hopkins CTY Distance Learning in school breaks already but I opted to exclude such programs from our search because I don’t want to be tied to having internet access to keep up a daily math habit.
Thanks to the many dedicated parents who homeschool their children, there is a wealth of information available on the internet about math programs. I found Homeschoolmath.net one of the best summary resources available. For BigB, I needed a workbook-based program which would cover much of the same material as the Washington State 5th grade curriculum requirements. This ruled out many of the spiral-type programs since it was difficult to discern where we’d start in the spiral and be sure that the program would cover all the required topics in a year. We’d like to keep our bags as light as possible so programs with a heavy reliance on manipulatives are also not suitable. Since he’s very capable, I looked for a program which would challenge him – and easily allow us to continue with 6th grade material if we need to. I chose the Singapore Math program. As a side benefit, I was able to pick up complete sets of workbooks and textbook for both 5th and 6th grade on Amazon.com.
High school math was a completely different and much more challenging problem for me to solve. What, in heaven’s name, does a kid learn in 9th grade math? And what do you do with a kid who’s a math geek already? While it was nice to think that I could have BigB ready for 6th grade, his teacher had already assured me that “if there are any holes when you get back, we’ll work through those with him”. I didn’t think that the AP math teacher at our local high school would be so helpful.
In the end, I reached out to a friend who put me in touch with her co-worker, a math teacher at a local high school and I shared my problem. For a fee (roughly similar to the cost of a single CTY course), this teacher tested CAM to understand his current skill level, investigated the entry requirements for 10th grade AP math and put together a detailed program for us based on this Geometry textbook. I now have a textbook and a set of more than 70 worksheets to complement the book – and the textbook is available in a Kindle edition which is an added bonus.
I’m finally ready to check this item off my pre-trip to-do list. Next up: reading material for a tween and a teen for a year. I did a little crowd-sourcing to come up with a list of books because most of what I was reading at the same age is way too girly for my boys. Check back later this week when I’ll be sharing this part of our road-schooling curriculum.