day 237: i spent almost $200 on workbook curricula today.

It seemed right to try T4L’s online curriculum this year.

I do like the content.

But is there any retention of that content? It’s hard to say. Lessons are plotted out, day by day, for the whole year. One and done.

And the back end falls out regularly: lessons the kids did, sometimes aren’t recorded by the system. I plot out what days of the week more or less work should be done on, based on our schedules, and find in the morning it didn’t save. The system only updates at 6:30 AM … I can’t always record what’s happened in our day until the next day, and the software can only record what it knows — whether or not it was open and someone was hitting the keys.

I liked that there was a wide science and social studies offering. But: my kids’ “eureka” moments, what they struggled with, what they love… it’s all reduced to what I thought was the selling point of the program.

Which was that you could create reports that looked like “transcripts”. I thought this would be good for Claudia if she wanted to look at brick and mortar high schools.

Except Philly’s high schools regularly accept homeschoolers and unschoolers. Knowing they don’t have transcripts. They have what the District requires, and they move into District schools, from home education, if that’s what they do.

There have been things about T4L that the kids have liked. The content IS good, but it’s not irreplaceable. It’s hours more in front of a screen; before this, they could go days without looking at a screen. Books. Musical instruments. Art materials. Electronic components. Paper. Hands on.

Other than Claudia’s fiction writing, they aren’t writing — with their hands — much at all. Béla seemed to get a lot of math worksheets. Claudia’s Latin homework is done longhand. I mean, it’s not nothing, but…

It just hasn’t felt quite right. Not as engaged. Too many red eyes.

They’ve done some great projects in the first eight weeks of the year: Béla built and raced a pinewood derby car, Claudia voiced a potato in an animated film, Béla is part of a Samba band in a movie being made in England, Claudia recited Homeric hymns online. But T4L feels like it has to be done first, like dishes or laundry, and the work completed is just transformed into… percentages. Averages. And the slightest whiff of “get this over with” despair was definitely in the room.

Teaching to the test.

This is the first year of homeschooling where neither of them HAS a standardized test.

Today we read Riddley Walker. We watched the first episode of Britannia, and Claudia knew the Gauls from the Celts by looking at them.

Learning what you love helps you learn. And most importantly teaches you how to learn. How to ask questions. How to make contacts. How to utilize (and assist) your community.

New, state-standard, grade-appropriate workbooks in all core subjects start arriving tomorrow. Both kids say they miss “old-fashioned” school. We will see what happens, but I’m not worried. I’m just always willing to improve and question.

(Our Halloween was two days long last weekend and still we only managed to make our Guy Fawkes o’Lantern today.)

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