Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Giving Your Kids The Credit They Are Due

fresh home canned beans
I am currently homeschooling three highschoolers and, as if the high level courses weren't enough to keep up with, I am spending a significant amount of time putting together transcripts for my two college-bound sons. One of the most exciting dicoveries I've made through this process is that many public highschools have their course descriptions posted online. It's exciting because I've come to see how many of the things my children are learning outside of their normal studies are being taught for credit in the classrooms of these highschools.

Now, let me clarify that I am not one of those mothers who tries to count every normal childhood experience as a "learning experience." I do believe that they are learning experiences, but I'm not writing them all down on their transcripts. But if students in the public schools are earning credit for classes in agricultural science, carpentry, and food prep, I think it is fair for my children to also get credit if they are doing the same work.

onions drying on the sidewalk

My children have planted and cared for two HUGE gardens in the past two years. And, due to pregnancies and births, I haven't been able to give them much help. They have learned about insect pests, plant diseases, and how to improve the soil. And they have also done quite a bit of canning, freezing, and drying. They have all been helping with meal preparation from a young age and are accomplished bakers and cooks.

My husband grew up in a family that hunted and raised their own meat and he has passed this knowledge on to his children. They have all participated in the butchering and processing of deer, cows, and pigs. They've hunted and skinned small game, and cooked things that I was too squeemish to prepare. They have butchered chickens for our own family and they have helped friends butcher for their commercial enterprises. They have seen calves being birthed, they have bottle fed goats, and they have helped castrate calves and pigs. The older boys even researched tanning and attempted to produce their own leather.

My husband is a trim carpenter by trade (one of the best!) and he has also passed those skills on to his children. The older ones have helped him with various projects and know more about wood, stain, and joinery than some adults who make their living in construction. They've completed projects which were far more complex than what is taught in a highschool shop class, and they've had a wider variety of experiences than could be offered in a classroom.

In researching how to transfer this experience to their transcripts, I came across a simple formula for determining how much credit to award. (I wish I could credit a source, but I've lost track of where I saw it.)

1 credit= approximately 120-180 hours of work

Lab science courses are usually closer to 180 hours, while English and history classes average 150 hours for a year-long class. 120 hours is usually considered sufficient for an elective class (art, music, sewing, carpentry, web page design, etc.)
I would also recommend that in planning "classes" for your child, you mix hands on learning with research (assign books or articles to read) and at least one written project to demonstrate mastery of the material covered.

Edited 2/6/12 to add: Cindy Downes of Oaklaholma Homeschool also has some good information on  transcripts and giving credit for extracurricular activities.

Notgrass History's Literature Selections In the Public Domain

My older children have used both Exploring American History and Exploring World History by Ray Notgrass. I thought I did pretty good by purchasing most of their literature books through Paperback Swap. However, I've since found the majority of them are in the public domain and are available as e-books for free. Even though I had a hard copy of the books, I still ended up downloading several of them to my iPod so two children could be reading the same book at the same time. Here are the links, so you don't have to go out hunting for them yourself:

410586: Exploring America: History, Literature, and Faith--Curriculum Package, Second Edition Exploring America: History, Literature, and Faith--Curriculum Package, Second Edition

By Ray Notgrass / Notgrass Company

Literature Titles:

  • The Scarlet Letter   Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Narrative of the Life of Davy Crockett   Kindle   EPUB 
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass   Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin   Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Co. Aytch  Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Little Women   Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Humorous Stories & Sketches (not available for free online)
  • Up From Slavery  Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • In His Steps   Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Mama's Bank Account  (not available for free online)
  • Christy (not available for free online)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird  (not available for free online)
  • The Giver (not available for free online)

410371: Exploring World History Curriculum Package Exploring World History Curriculum Package

By Ray Notgrass / Notgrass Company

Literature Titles:

  • Mere Christianity (not available for free online)
  • The Cat of Bubastes   Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Julius Caesar   Kindle  EPUB  Audio
  • The Imitation of Christ   Kindle  EPUB   Audio
  • Here I Stand   Kindle  EPUB   
  • Pilgrim's Progress  Kindle  EPUB   Audio
  • A Tale of Two Cities  Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Pride and Prejudice  Kindle   EPUB   Audio
  • Heart of Darkness   Kindle  EPUB   Audio
  • Eric Liddell: Pure Gold (not available for free online)
  • The Hiding Place (not available for free online)
  • Animal Farm (not available for free online)
  • The Abolition of Man Kindle  EPUB   

  • *This post contains affiliate links.

    I have also made lists for the 2014 revised versions of Notgrass World History and American History:

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Who Owns Your Image?

    Innocent fun or free photo op?

    In this age of digital media, it is easy to get confused about things like copyrights and rights to privacy. For instance, imagine you're out in public and someone snaps a picture of you or one of your adorable little offspring. In the space of one click your image became someone else's property, which they can post all over the web or turn into marketable merchandise without your consent. Or can they? Before you start cutting eye holes in paper bags, check out this article on The Rights of Publicity and Privacy. It may not keep Uncle Herb from posting snapshots to Facebook, but can keep your child from becoming "Mr. May" in the Cutest Kids Wall Calendar.

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