Sunday, October 29, 2017

Religious Education Time and Homeschool Transcripts

This afternoon I was setting up the format for my son’s high school transcript. We live in a state that doesn’t require record-keeping or reporting. We only need to “provide instruction the same number of days as the local public school” with no actual definition as to attendance; so we’ve always just done our own thing for tracking – some years that means nothing in particular other than finishing a resource. We don’t even have set start/end dates, though I basically utilized the liturgical year as our guide for grade level.

As I set up the transcript, I put theology first. It is the most important and I want it counted as a separate subject, even separate from “electives”.
Indeed our faith is key to our entire lifestyle.

The first item I entered was my son’s attendance at the local parish’s religious education program this coming semester.

Legoboy in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium
Age: almost 2
Background TMI: He didn’t enroll in 7th grade because the curriculum used and the ensuing discussion would have been a waste of his time – redundant for a child coming out of 11 years in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium – he started at age 1! Also there are serious legitimate concerns regarding the teacher for the class he would have been in. Not for the children’s safety or theological teaching, but for personality conflicts and a negative attitude about the atrium. This year, the whole 7th-9th grade program has been revamped – and I LOVE IT! It more fully supports children coming out of several years in the atrium as well as honors their natural faith interests at this age. We didn’t do first semester because of personal issues going on – we didn’t know if he could commit. And I am strong on commitment. Fortunately the resource used is one we have already done as part of our homeschool CGS atrium for the oldest children (Altaration). He isn't missing out on much - though I would have liked him to have further exploration and discussion on this program. 

He is enrolling for second semester, because while our family issues continue, we have arrangements for his steady attendance regardless of outcomes. They are utilizing the new YOU program – the updated version of Theology of the Body for high schoolers. I was able to preview the videos online and see the textbook and teacher manual. LOVE IT! I had reservations for homeschoolers on the original TOB for high school, but the YOU is appropriate.

Ok great. Let’s add it to his transcript. Typed in the title of the class, the name of the resource, go to total up the hours. OH. Ok. Hmm.

I’m not sure how many homeschoolers have actually thought this through on a practical level, but have merely responded to it intuitively.

Our local religious ed program is 28 sessions for 1 ½ hour each time. 42 hours of instruction time for the entire school year. Most other parishes in the general vicinity are 45-60 minutes each class, maybe meeting 20-25 sessions. Our local archdiocese would like to see a minimum of 30 hours of instruction time, over the course of an entire school year.

Let’s look at the transcript. To record a credit for a full year, 180 hours of instruction time must be achieved. Public schools have some room for padding this – 48-53 minute classes can count for 1 instruction hour at our local public high school. In a 180 day school year, children can have a certain number of excused and unexcused absences, thus reducing the number of attended hours; as well as school events, fire drills, and other occurrences that cut into this time. Homeschoolers tend to go for recording actual instruction time for the entire 180 hours needed. We are already outside the norm, we don’t usually want to invite any questions on how well we are following the law.

180 hours for an entire year. This is 90 instruction hours for a one semester course. 45 instruction hour for a quarter-year course.

Even our generous local parish does not provide a full 45 hours of instruction time through the entire school year. Not even enough to count for a quarter-year course on a transcript, if using the full clock hour definition.

This is why many homeschoolers intuitively don’t see the value of the parish religious ed program. Because the pastors and the DREs are saying “we are providing less than a quarter-year course of instruction on the faith.”

I understand we parents are fully responsible for our children’s faith formation and that the parish is supposed to be an assist to that noble undertaking. By offering so few hours of instruction (setting aside teacher quality, curriculum quality, scheduling issues, how much we study the faith at home already, setting all that aside! And focusing on the number of hours provided), the parish religious ed program is saying of itself “we don’t value religious instruction enough to provide even the public school equivalent of a quarter-year course.”

At 42 hours, our local parish provides more actual instruction hours than our local public schools do for a quarter length course, considering their usual classes are 51 minutes long but get to count for a full “hour.”

This still leaves me wondering – a quarter-year course on something that is so foundational to our very being.

And it leaves me understanding why those same homeschoolers who say no to the regular religious ed program leap at the opportunity for a 2-hour weekly atrium that meets 30 sessions – providing 60 hours of actual instruction time which is only 16 ½ hours short of a full semester course. These families see something of value – value for their time, their children’s intelligence, their family’s faith formation.

Official Definition
Public school:
don’t usually finish the book; absentee time still counted as instruction time (up to a point)
finish the textbook, add in supplements to fill the time; absentee time not counted as instruction
1 year course
180 hours
51 minutes = 153 instruction hours;

180+ hours
½ year course
90 hours
51 minute classes = 76.5 hours
90+ hours
¼ year course
45 hours
51 minutes = 38.25 hours
45+ hours

The chart as an image:

A re-formatted version of this post as an explanation to pastors and DREs:
Religious Education Hours - Letter to Pastors and DREs

Monday, February 9, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Team Work - Family

Being a family, means we are working together for an ultimate goal of reaching Heaven - little goals in the between-time, like assuring proper usage of finances and other resources over which God has given us stewardship.

I grew up with several friends whose parents did everything; these children, then teens, then young adults who struggled with the most basic of tasks. I was blessed to grow up in a family situation where I DID stuff - real stuff. Sometimes it was just observing (Grandpa would NOT let me touch his saws and other heavy machinery as a very young child - he cared about my safety!), but I was right there in the truck with Grandpa delivering play sand to a customer; among many other tasks and experiences gleaned from my other Grandpa, both of my grandmothers and my mom.

The thing is, I honestly know people who honestly could not put together some casters on a shop-vac at age 20 - and some even at 25. Really. As parents, we should consider whether protecting our children from any kind of manual labor is really a good thing in the long-term. Children shouldn't be on physical labor inappropriately or alone - but we work *together*. Unless it is a task he is perfectly capable and competent at. Like the following one.

Today, as he did with a regular carpet vacuum a bit over a year ago, we came home from making a vacuum purchase and Legoboy got right to it:

Hm. Let's not SIT on the underside until we take off the lid. 

Yay! DONE! 

Chilling with some reading and some cookies. 

What!? I just put your vac together
and you want me to eat in the (GASP!?) DINING room!?

That's right, Kiddo. Get moving.

Yes that is still Christmas items in the background - actually our O Antiphon Tree and our basket-manger with Baby Jesus; and our books and CDs/DVDs. We celebrate Christmas fully until January 11 (this year); and in many ways we are still celebrating until February 2: The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple (technically the Wise Men arrived after that, by the way; but anyway).

We have put off purchasing the shop-vac. We need one for the basement. I have borrowed two from two different friends since we moved in, thinking it might be just a short-term need. Now we are looking to move the wood-cutting area from one side of the basement to the other and I really want to keep saw-dust down; as well as we need to clean out the window areas more thoroughly. There is simply always something to clean up that I would rather NOT go through our rather awesome Shark Navigator I use in the rest of the house. So $63 later (shop-vac and an attachment set with a chisel nozzle and a brush nozzle (I didn't actually want the brush, but it might come in handy - it was packaged with the chisel, I had no choice if I wanted the chisel)), here we are: the proud owners of a shop-vac ;)

It has a hose I can connect directly to the saw to get most of the sawdust, keeping the saw cleaner, then I can clean up as needed which will be less often and more thorough than previous practice.

And we can keep the wasps swept up until we find the nest and eradicate it.

Oh yes - and it has a blower! He is looking forward to a bit of a thaw to see if it works to blow some leaves off the back driveway - instead of our usual sweeping!
Hmmmm. This could be useful for the porches too.....

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Altar Server Training - Traditional Latin Mass

These are from last school year, but they still make me smile :)

He was barefoot the whole time.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Liturgical Seasons Sale - 10% OFF

Liturgical Seasons 10% off sale at Garden of Francis

A bit of a sale between now and December 31st (ends at New Year's EST).

10% off all items in the liturgical season categories of Garden of Francis. This includes such items as the following:

  • cosmic cross puzzles
  • Christmas season version of the Jesse Tree ornaments
  • Jesse Tree ornaments (Advent)
  • Jesus Tree ornaments (Lent)
  • Easter season version of the Jesus Tree 
  • season-appropriate prayer table cloths, made to the size needed, with or without lace

Anything with a Christmas season item will be upgraded for free to rush order shipment, so that you might enjoy those items during Christmas THIS year. All other orders (and the non-Christmas components of large orders) will ship in the order orders were placed, over the next 2-3 weeks. 

God bless!

This item is not on sale, but is SO beautiful, I am advertising it anyway ;)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Quick Notes on the Bible Mini-Series

My son and I just today sat down with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix Streaming to watch the Bible Mini-Series that we have had many good things on. Yes, we heard that a few little things were slightly off, but we figured we wouldn't let that bother us.

My 10 year old saw and verbally noted the following things that annoyed him in the first half (not even a full half!) of the first episode - and when our internet momentarily dropped and I started to refresh the page, he said, "Perhaps we can just watch something else. Artistic liberty should NOT CONTRADICT the Bible in a show ABOUT the Bible!"

  • the ark would not have leaked - covered inside and out with pitch (tar)
  • it likely didn't rock very much - think cruise ships
  • no sunlight entering (God sealed them in)
  • could not have walked on the deck (God sealed them in)
  • Abraham/Abram was called earlier in life - events re: Egypt and his wife being so beautiful as to be brought in with the concubines of Pharaoh - making all his eives infertile until he released her)
  • God changed their names after they had been traveling a while - so should have said Abram, instead of Abraham when God first called him
  • Abram/Abraham gave Lot the choice of direction
  • artistic liberty is great as long as it doesn't CONTRADICT the text: the wives did not act like that - Lot's wife isn't recorded as saying much; Abram's wife didn't hate Ishmael until Isaac was weaned (at age 3) - the dates are off in all of that too

If this is a person's only exposure to the Bible - let's at least be accurate. Visual impressions are strong and lasting. 

I am not sure we'll come back to this....