Thursday, March 26, 2009
Taking the Curriculum Plunge
So as I told you at some point, Forrest has been doing a Biology Correspondence Course through Keystone Highschool. It is an online accredited school. We chose the correspondence course because it was cheaper but also secretly because i didn't want him hogging my computer all day. there, i said it. Any way, he loves it. Its tough and thorough. Exams all have at least 3 multiple part, essay questions and he must complete two term papers. They do have an open book policy but I know from experience that doesn't really make a huge difference. All it really means is that if you are unsure of something and you know where the info is in the book you can check. Otherwise it just takes a ton of time flipping back and forth. It is so much better to just study and learn the material. Forrest agrees. Any way, he got his first two exams back 88 and 91 and he really loves it. Or as he said, "as much as you can love school work".
We have been a little unsure of Forrest's next move lately. He was considering going back to public school for high school next year. Mostly because we have recently moved here to VERY rural Maine from Massachusetts. Forrest doesn't have any friends here and it's proven tough to meet kids his age. He doesn't play sports and there just isn't much going on outside of school. I met a mom of two teens at the ski lodge one day. She used to homeschool her kids. She sent them back for the same reason, a recent long distance move, no friends. Her advice to me was to find "any other way for them to make friends, she very much regrets putting them back into school". I have been more worried about his education. We have basically been winging it for a long time now. We have always used a Math curriculum, but everything else has been all over the place. We recently purchased Rosetta Stone French for homeschooling. It is wonderful! The kids are really learning french! Forrest is very bright and articulate and reads more than any person I have ever known. He can even read in the car with out getting sick! A gift! He also really enjoys writing and writes very well. But, I just felt like it was time for him to get serious about school. He wants to graduate early and he wants to be a CSI. So we chose some classes and ordered a full course load through Keystone. If he completes enough credits through them he will earn a true diploma. They will even evaluate and transfer credit for any other curriculum he has used. This means his Rosetta Stone French will count as credit through them. Because he is going to be a science major, we decided to squeeze in as much science as we could. So, here are his course selections. Chemistry, English I, World History and Algebra, these along with finishing his Bio, he is about 1/2 way through, and his French. It is a lot! yes, but even at 5 hours a day it is still less than a typical school day and with no commute. I did ask him not to get a job until he was well into this year and could judge better whether he can handle it all. His goal is for him to finish this in 6 months and move on. We will see.
Forrest voiced that he would really like to do some of the courses online. I just didn't see how this could work with one family computer that is out in the main living area. Distractions are a huge problem for forrest. That is why he has a desk in his room. He came up with this; He had $175 saved from shoveling this winter and another $175 in the bank ( I strongly encourage (force) him to put half of what he makes away for his future). He has already researched and found a laptop for $360 online. Would I let him use his savings to purchase the laptop. He would use it primarily for school and he would never try to use his savings again, he promised. How can I say no?
So we ordered the laptop, And the curriculum, two online two correspondence. He will now be able to work in his room. I still have to purchase a wireless router and I had to fork up the extra money for the online courses. But, Forrest is very happy, so I guess it is worth it. Of course, he hasn't actually started the work yet.
When Forrest's laptop arrived we had some issues. It is re-furbished. Mike had some issues with multiple drivers being uninstalled. I have no idea what this means other than he could not connect to the internet. Then the battery kept dying. Mike called Overstock.com and they told us this was unacceptable. They sent a replacement computer right out, along with a label to send back the old. I was very happy with customer service but Forrest was disappointed he would have to wait again.
I also had an issue with Keystone. They never processed our order. When I called days later, they apologized and processed and shipped the books 2 day. I realize mistakes happen. Besides, they allow interest free payment plans and an awesome return/refund policy so its not a big deal. Besides, we still don't have the new computer so he is in no rush for the curriculum.
The best part of all of this is that I am sort of "off the hook" or so to speak. Forrest has teachers to answer to and to ask questions of. I think we both agree, he needs this. A little positive pressure can be a good thing. I can still help him with the science if he needs it and I will help him with his organization, scheduling and time management. He does have deadlines and these are tough for him. All in all, I think it is going to be great!