Homeschooling – Level 1

Our first official month of homeschooling is in the books. The way is twisted and full of tricky steps, but so far we are weathering the transition as best we know how at this time. I found Khan Academy to be my anchor as it provided a very simple platform from which to set up both math and computer science studies. They offer so much more that we may eventually look into, but we are taking it slow for now. We are using  Crash Course and Extra Credits for a lot of our history and social studies and if you have never given those two a look then I cannot recommend it enough. They really do a great job of making learning fun and entertaining – as it should be. We tried a few Ted Talks and although I personally love them Grant thought they were a little less engaging and preferred the other two, so I suppose we will stick with that for now.

Creative writing is one of the areas we really hoped to focus on. Currently the main project is writing some articles for Plant Powered Gamers, mostly game reviews and musings on video game material in general. Don’t be surprised to see our blossoming little writer posting quite a few times this year. Please encourage him if you have a chance and leave him a note of anything you’d like him to try out, review or ponder!
For Foreign Language studies he decided to try learning Japanese and we are using Duolingo, Japanese from Zero! and Japanesepod101 as well as some simple printable sheets I have found on the web to work on the lettering system. I have some experience with this language and though I’m far from fluent I think we will likely make great progress working together. Eventually I will look into some of the English-Japanese speaking connection programs and apps out there. When I last studied Skype was the only option but I know this has expanded.

We have a fresh sketchbook which Grant has begun working in already and I’ve encouraged him to pretty much doodle anything he likes in it. So far he has designed a few game layouts and of late that is his favorite subject to draw and create. We are also working on sketching some of his favorite enemies and characters from games he likes. We both agreed this would be great to work on so that he would be able to better put his ideas to paper when he is designing things for games. We are working on ideas for a little comic strip as well which we may finish up and use as a web comic. I’ve always wanted to give that a try anyway, so it’ll be a fun project. Painting is a hard sell with Grant. I really hope to work on it through the year and perhaps as he becomes more familiar it will become more enjoyable. He currently struggles with frustration but aren’t all things a little frustrating in the beginning?

Grant is also tackling several chores around the house to help out. This is one of the places I feel like homeschooling really shines – to teach basic life skills. We are pretty light on the chores for now but I really hope to emphasize a lot of these as we go forward. He hopes to learn to cook several basic meals and help with a lot of the house cleaning by the end of the year.

There has been a lot of focus of course on game design, which was one of the things Grant was most excited about adding to his school day. We have only touched on some fundamental computer science and programming but I really hope to bring the percentage of work in that area up pretty high. He is currently working his way through the basics of Java and HTML and we agreed that when he has finished those initial courses we could look into Game Maker Studio 2. We already have and use Construct 2 but it seems that while Construct 2 is good for simpler “mobile-style” games that the Game Maker Studio would be more appropriate for larger scaled PC or Console games. We shall see and perhaps we can even do a comparison/contrast article for the benefit of others who might be headed down this road after us.

Wish us luck as we continue forward!

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