I don't know where to start this.
The Elf is ten. He's in fifth grade. I think. Ugh. That makes me sound like a totally negligent parent. We don't put a lot of stock in grades, we work at his level and at his pace. Which may well be the problem.
This is going to be a total ramble. I applaud you if you make it through this mess.
We don't use a curriculum. We can't afford one. Not even really parts of one. So I've been muddling through since kindergarten with him. We tried to unschool, but that didn't work for us. Not totally, anyway. He taught himself to read, mostly. But he doesn't have.. interests. I'd try to "strew" books from the library. He might have glanced at some of them but if he could classify it as "school" it was met with scorn. So I turned to ambleside and classical learning (minus all the religion). But it's literature intensive. And while he can read it - he isn't absorbing much of anything. At least not that we can tell.
So I've cobbled together this and that over the years. I don't think it's working. If something cataclysmic happened and he had to attend school tomorrow, it would be bad. And that's just speaking academically. B tells me that I focus on the negative. I do. I know that. But let me run down this list for you, just because. The Elf doesn't know the days of the week in order (he's getting better), the months of the year (or how many there are), our phone numbers, the continents (and sometimes the difference between a continent, country, and city), the alphabet in order. And on and on. No amount of memorization practice has improved things. It's not the end of the world, I know. But it might give you some insight into my turmoil. He's a great calculator (despite not knowing his times tables, either) but has no idea *why* he's doing what he's doing. Told, step by step, what to do - no problem. Asked to find the percent of a number and I'm met with grunts, groans, and half-started words.
Science is laughable. We tried using Botany in a Day and various websites. That worked for a little while, but neither of us is terribly sure how to identify anything we find (it doesn't help that none of the resources are specific to the American Southeast - and it was winter). I've gotten a book from the local forestry people about native trees. So I have that to try out. We've tried using Herbal Roots Zine but can't find many of the plants locally and can't afford to buy all the supplies and things (or the zine itself anymore). But "real" science? Not a clue.
Getting random books from the library isn't helping because I don't know where to start or what to do. He's not interested in anything remotely scientific. He doesn't care how or why things work. And science curriculum options are so out of our budget that it isn't even funny any more. We have a bunch of books full of experiments. We've done some of them, but he'll admit that he doesn't know why we did or why they work - which makes it a failure as a learning tool.
We use The Story of the World for history. I've bought the books and activity books (which is about as far as we go financially). I supplement with things from the internet and books from the library. So I think I've got history at least mostly covered. It's the only thing I'm remotely okay with (it helps that I'm a history person). But he's never written a report, researched anything. I'm lost on how to teach him those things. When I was young we used an actual card catalog at the library and had to write everything ourselves. With the internet - Google, Wikipedia - is it even worth trying to teach it anymore? Of course it is, but do you see my despair?
I've spent most of my time consoling myself with the fact that we're teaching the practical, actually useful things. But what if he wants to go to college? Take the SATs? It would be a nightmare. There are gaps big enough to get lost in.
I'm overwhelmed by the extent of human knowledge. I don't know where to start. Curling up into a ball in a dark corner and weeping sounds good except that I know it won't actually accomplish anything. Top all of this with the fact that I need to start officially teaching the Imp in two years (and wanted to try and include the Beast with him since they're only about 1.5 years apart in age) and it's a miracle that I haven't gone completely nuts yet.
So is this a rant? A cry for help? Brain vomit? Probably. All of the above. Sigh. If you do comment, please be kind. This was very hard for me to write, to admit to the world. I'm feeling insanely vulnerable.