How do we know it’s working?

Home schooling is a bit tricky. We have adopted a curriculum from Oak Meadow School in the US – it’s a popular school – to the point they seem too busy to talk to us! But it’s not straightforward. Here are some of our first questions:

  • How many hours to spend?
  • How much discipline is right (for us and the boys)?
  • How much to invest in preparation each day?
  • How important to stay on track with the curriculum?
  • How to know if it’s working?

I guess we’ll find out as we go along. We’re in a couple of weeks now, and it’s fun and daunting at the same time. I expect that most parents new to home schooling have a lot of questions. One resource that is helpful is the Yahoo discussion group associated with the Oak Meadow School – it’s populated by parents who are enrolled, or interested in enrolling at the school. The group is called [OM_HS]. You have to enrol and it’s all done by e-mail – much less fashionable than blogs and RSS!
More observations as they come to us!

More tech: building a computer

Along the same theme as the previous post, Caelean and I are building a computer. Actually it’s one I built a while a go and have now taken apart.

Caelean reads about it first, and makes some notes and draws the critical things, then we sit down with the bits and look at them to understand their roles and how they fit together.

Actually building a PC is really easy, as all the interfaces are standardized, and you mostly have to simply plug things in. But there are some ways to get it wrong (blow up chips with static, bend pins on plugs etc.), so we have to be careful.

In any case Caelean likes building – but this is rather different from Lego, where you can work visually and by feel. For this project one has to understand the parts and what they do to some extent. There is some configuration (jumpers, location in the case etc.), and without care it won’t behave as expected.

We won’t be booting up for a while, but so far it’s been interesting and a good experience for both of us, I think.

Starting to teach: fixing a bike

I really enjoy teaching – it’s interesting to see people learn, and fun to work out how to create the conditions in which it can happen.

Jeremy and I are dismantling a bike. Today we took apart a wheel bearing and cleaned and re-packed it. So we discussed grease and oil, how adjustable spanners work, and why we need closed and open spanners, and the difference between metric and imperial sizes. We got our fingers dirty and clean again, and the next step is for Jeremy to illustrate the bearing, so we can remember where the ball bearings go, and how it all fits together.

So the one topic gives us some engineering, some observation, some writing and some drawing. And it’s supposed to be good for dads to spend time with their kids, so who’s complaining?

Home schooling

We’ve started a programme of teaching our kids at home this year. Properly we should call it distance learning, as we’re actually enrolled in a school called Oak Meadow – they provide us with curriculum and guidance so we won’t stray too far from the straight and narrow.

I’ll try to keep a sort of diary of our experiences with this – so far it’s proving to be a lot of work, but very interesting and rewarding. And the kids don’t seem to mind!