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Homeschool Projects
2 March 2008

The numbers are straightforward and irrefutable.  The child who attends public school typically spends approximately 1,100 hours a year there, but only twenty percent of these - 220 - are spent, as the educator says, "on task."  Nearly 900 hours, or eighty percent, are squandered on what are essentially organizational matters.

In contrast, the homeschooled child who spends only two hours a day, seven days a week, year-round, on basics alone, logs over three times as many hours "on task" in a give year than does his public school counterpart.

- excerpt from "Homeschooling for Excellence"

I attended public schools while growing up.  They weren't horrible but they weren't great either.  I remember some good times but I also I remember spending hours and hours trying to stay awake in boring classes.  I had learned that if I stayed out of trouble and kept quiet then the teachers would leave me alone.  I'm sure I could have worked harder if I wanted to but it was easier to slip by with the minimum effort possible.

Chicken Time at school was supervised in the sense that adults were usually nearby.  Unsupervised time during lunch and outside the classroom often took on a "Lord of the Flies" type of chaos.  The choice of after school activities were band, drama or sports, none of which interested me.  Very few of my teachers knew anything about computers so I taught myself, gaining the important skills I would later need during my career as a computer programmer.  Now that I have my own kids I want them to have more help, more choices and more fun than I did.  I want my kids to have every advantage possible.

As I discussed previously, we've decided to homeschool our children.  There is no doubt in my mind that the academics they receive from homeschooling is far superior to anything available in the local schools.  Our kids absolutely spend far more time on task than I ever did in school.  They also have more time for non-task activities such as art, science and other projects.  Sarah, 13, has lots of hobbies including drawing, writing and working on the computer.  She has been writing a story in her spare time and has fourteen chapters so far.  Emily, 9, has inherited my old camera and enjoys taking pictures of everything she sees.  In a recent lesson about Photoshop she learned how to make a picture of a giant chicken towering over her tiny father.

Pig1 Pig2 Pig3
Math The girls do lots of homeschool projects.  Many are typical school projects but some are a little less ordinary.  One of my favorite projects was with a wild pig that had died in our back field.  After the corpse decomposed (it doesn't take long here in the tropics), nothing was left but the bones and a few scraps of hide.  The girls carefully collected the scattered bones just like real paleontologists.  They cleaned the bones then laid them out on a table for cataloging and identification.  It may sound morbid but it was Scissors actually quite interesting.  The big bones were easy to identify while the little tiny bones were more difficult.  Did you know that complete animal skeletons can sell for thousands of dollars?  It's tempting to get out the hot glue gun and start assembling but complete skeletons are more complex than most people realize.

We can often tailor the homeschool projects to suit the child's interests as well as help around the farm.  For example, Sarah likes taking care of the chickens so one of her projects has been to study chicken diseases.  The next time we get some baby chicks, Sarah will be our resident expert.  Emily wants a new pet bunny so she's been compiling a list of everything we need to do and all the stuff the rabbit will need.  She's priced cages and she's read all about rabbit care.  Both girls spend time helping in the kitchen.  Emily learns a new recipe from her cook book every week and Sarah loves experimenting with new desserts.

They girls have made Egyptian hieroglyphics, funeral masks, a life sized condor sculpture, countless pictures, dozens of art projects and plenty of science experiments.  The giant scissors and pencil were for a recent 4H presentation.  Sarah wrote the script and the girls rehearsed it several times.  They did a great job and received lots of compliments.

Even with all their studies and all the extra projects the girls still have plenty of free time.  Sometimes it's amazing how well kids can entertain themselves with the simplest of toys.  The other day they spent several hours playing with a box.  First they took pictures of themselves in the box then they took pictures of all the pets in the box.  I'm not sure the cat enjoyed it but the girls sure did.

We aren't the first farmers to homeschool our kids.  Being self employed means our schedules are flexible enough to allow homeschooling and living on the farm means there is plenty to keep everyone busy.  If it ever appears that homeschooling isn't working then maybe we'll try something different.  For now, homeschooling and coffee farming seem to go great together.

Box1 Box1
Box1 Box1

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