In what ways is the classroom experience beneficial to my child?
Students in our classes learn to listen and follow directions, take responsibility for their homework assignments, dialogue with their peers in both a structure setting as well as a casual setting, and...they learn to write their name on their papers. It’s true – many homeschool students neglect to write their names on their papers!
Why do you read only one book per class?
It’s important for students to develop the skills necessary to read analytically. To simply read is not enough. Students must learn to think about what they read, process what they read, and draw some conclusions about what they read. They must learn to read with an engaged and questioning mind. We teach them how to do this, and then we give them the opportunity to practice developing these skills.
Doesn’t reading analytically create a dislike for reading? Shouldn’t reading just be fun?
Of course reading should be fun...but fun should not always be the primary goal of reading. Students must learn to ask “why?” as they read and then ponder the possible responses. Thinking is hard work; therefore, most students will not push themselves to think as they read when they are just reading for fun. The skills of reading slowly and carefully must be taught and practiced.
What if my child has already read the novel that the class will be studying?
Since the novels we study are all classics, occasionally students have already read the book that their class is going to study. Asking your child to read a great classic a second time (or even a third time), should not be problematic. Do they watch a great movie more than once? Reading the novel is essential to the class, but the act of studying the novel creates a new experience.
Do students have to read out loud in class?
NO. Occasionally students will have the opportunity to read out loud if they want to.
Why do students write shorter compositions than many other students their age?
Since great writing has so many components, we have found that asking our students to write shorter compositions (often a single paragraph) results in better quality compositions. Students can concentrate on writing better quality compositions rather than spending the time to write lengthier compositions which lack quality. Once the quality becomes more consistent in single paragraph compositions, we can expect students to write lengthier essays well.
Won’t my child learn to write simply by reading great books?
While reading absolutely contributes to quality writing, it is a false notion to believe that much reading automatically creates a great writer. While reading and writing are both forms of communication, they utilize very different skills sets. Reading simply requires an individual to decode words. Writing on the other hand requires an individual to think deeply, finding words to express his/her thoughts and feelings about any given topic. It requires organizing information and ideas, understanding grammar rules, and expressing meaningful thoughts and responses.
Do you teach grammar in your classes?
Yes we do. We teach grammar primarily in the context of real reading and writing. Students must know proper grammar in order to write and speak properly. We may even have students complete some worksheets, but we do not use grammar workbooks. Grammar does not dominate the content of our instruction; it is only one piece of the language pie. We have found that students who complete grammar workbooks are often NOT strong writers. Much more goes into good quality writing than grammar.
Are the students in your classes required to complete homework?
Our classes are academic classes as opposed to enrichment classes. That means we do assign homework. The homework allows students to implement the instruction they receive in class. We are able to make much more progress towards developing strong writers when each student takes his/her homework seriously.
How much homework is required?
The rule of thumb for homework is approximately 3 hours per week for elementary age students, 4 hours for middle school students, and 5 hours for high school students. Of course this rule of thumb may vary greatly depending upon a student’s work ethic as well as his/her knowledge and ability.
Do students receive grades for their work?
Student assignments will be evaluated by their teacher. For grades 5-12, the grades for essays are based on three criteria: organization, grammar and style, and content. Each teacher will give a numerical score for each of these areas, and she will provide individual feedback on each student’s essays. This allows both parents and students to identify the weak areas of writing as well as the strengths. Individual evaluations are completed at the end of each class.
How do you handle disagreements amongst students during class discussions?
Discussions amongst the students are an important part of our classes, and we encourage “friendly debate”. We create a safe environment for students to voice their ideas and opinions. We encourage students to question and challenge each other in a respectful manner. This develops social skills that are necessary in the adult world, teaching students how to appreciate those who disagree with them and teaching them how to respond to being challenged without being personally offended. Our classes are very orderly even in the midst of lively discussions. As educators, our role is to facilitate thinking, questioning, analyzing, and communicating.
Do your classes meet state standards?
Our classes contribute to meeting state standards, including common core. Since our classes are equivalent to one school quarter, parents and the teachers who oversee student assignments are responsible to continue language arts instruction for the second half of each semester. Our classes often exceed state standards because we use classic literature, and we provide individualized instruction for each student as we work towards developing mastery of literary analysis and writing skills.