Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back-to-School Interviews

I have posted how I plan our school year before, and even once before that, but have never posted about our Back-to-School interview.  Today I will remedy that.

For the last few years, I have created a Back-to-School interview for my children.  I print it off and give each child a copy to complete.  Children who can not yet read or write get to do it orally with me.  I ask things like, "Which book you enjoy most last year?", "What would you most want to learn about this year?", "What did you least enjoy last year?" and "What do you need to practice more this year?".  There are usually 8-10 different questions of this sort.

After giving them a day to complete it, I call them to me one by one, privately, and discuss their interviews.  I find out what they didn't like about a particular book or subject; what their specific, personal interest is for the term or the year; and specifically what they think they need to work on more.  We pull books from the shelves according to their interests and later I begin working on their term work forms. I really enjoy our time talking together and getting some insight into their feelings about school.

I often craft a course specifically for a child's interest or need discussed in the interview.  For example, last year for my 10th grader, I made a Health and Nutrition course.  I chose three books for her to read and wrote down the specific requirements for her to earn her credit.  I will write out the specifics in a future post.  I made two copies of that page, one for me and one for her.  She was required to complete all the points before the end of the school year.  It helped teach her responsibility of time management and how to budget her work load throughout the Term.

For another example, one of my daughters loves to cook.  She has mastered making most of our normal meals and wants more challenge.  Therefore, this school year, she'll be doing a "World Cuisines" course. I haven't planned the entire study yet, but consists of an overview about a culture (Japanese, for example), a history of their geography and natural food sources (which greatly affect their traditional foods),  their 'stereotypical' dishes and if they are realistic or not, specific vocabulary relating to their cuisine (wok, chopsticks, etc) and choosing a few of their dishes to prepare and serve.

Our back-to-school interview makes this kind of planning easier because I can really get to know what they would like to learn about in depth.  It makes school so much more worthwhile than simply doing Math, Science and History blah-blah-blah.  To have a real personal interest to explore makes a world of difference!

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