Friday, August 24, 2012


If Mapping the World by Heart proved my sole home educating responsibility, I think we'd stand an excellent chance of completing the curriculum this year.  Many other areas require some tweaking.

DS17 got the mother of all viruses coinciding with the beginning of our new homeschool year.  Two weeks and one ER trip later, I think he may be on the mend.  I've been letting him sleep until 10 a.m. because he needs it.  Teenager morning mode puts him ready for school at close to lunch time.  Not ideal.  Fortunately, his math and science classes at the local college don't start for another few weeks.  Here at home, he's been doing our geography course while grousing that it is not challenging enough.  Granted, the introductory lessons are easy, but I think once I hit him with the research essay on disputed water rights next week, the grousing will cease.  Rather, that particular strain of grousing will cease.  New grousing may commence.  He's gotten a jump on his AWANA curriculum and finished the prologue and first chapter of Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel.  He read Fahrenheit 451 in anticipation of his high school lit group beginning in  a couple of weeks.  He is plowing through the second training module--12 videos and a 50 page manual--for his Mathnasium job, hoping to get that out of the way prior to his college classes starting.  He continues to meet with his college professor to discuss their summer research topic.  All the boys wrote a creative essay which required incorporating Harry Potter, a mop and contour maps into their storyline.  I needed them to write something, anything and we don't do enough creative writing.  Interestingly, I could detect elements from last year's lit group in this son's story, as well as influences from his own reading of choice.

DS15 lost his Trig book.  We searched for a couple of weeks, and yesterday conceded defeat and ordered a new one.  This son started Apologia Biology with a live, online class via Virtual Homeschool Co-op.  He promptly complained it was far too easy.  I knew I should have trusted my anti-Apologia instinct.  This kid is Goldilocks; last year all I heard was how AP Chem was way too hard.  Now he recalls it fondly as a challenge.  This week, he switched to Saylor's Microbiology course.  It's college intro level, so that should fix the lack of challenge problem.  Not sure yet what new problems may arise from it.  He did all the same geography, AWANA, reading and writing as his brother.  This kid claims that he keeps reading the same book for lit club, "dark, depressing and weird" over and over again.  I point out to that they are really quite different dark, depressing and weird tales.  While he read me the required length essay from the creative writing assignment, he has gone on with his story and is now at 5000 words and not nearly done.  This provides good reminder to me about what feeds this one's soul.  He is artistic and creative.  I need to build in the freedom for him to explore that.  He got his permit yesterday (two teen boys with permits!  Lord have mercy) and sits for two hours every Sunday in a stupefyingly boring Driver's Ed class for which we paid an ungodly amount of money.

DS11 approaches his schooling in a surprisingly workmanlike manner.  Geography takes him a while, but he breaks down the task into manageable chunks.  He read Project Mulberry for his middle school boys' lit group that begins in September.  Life of Fred's Pre-algebra with Biology is too easy for him, but he likes the story line.  Teen hormones haven't kicked into gear for him yet, so he's usually up early, cheerfully and in full control of his faculties.  He started jogging because his older brothers do it.  He also attacks pogo-sticking with similar tenacity, setting a record of over 2000 jumps.  He's been on break from piano lessons for a couple of weeks, but demanded I print out Fur Elise for him after he couldn't find it by googling "Four Leaves."  He's mastered it and waits impatiently for lessons to start again so he can show-off to his teacher.  His soccer started yesterday and he loves it.  I am particularly glad I had this one read his creative essay to me, rather than handing it in for me to read.  He crafted a  story full of creative descriptors.  Had I merely read it, I might have missed his voice for the distraction of spelling and mechanics issues.  Throughout the year, I think I will continue to have him read his work aloud to me first and then we can follow up by correcting the grammar.

DD6 needs more academic attention.  She loves to read and is hooked on a variety of junk books that my inner Charlotte Mason conscience scolds me for.  Anything fairy-related is a huge hit with her.  There is no end to poorly-written fairy books at the public library, matched only by their seemingly endless supply of Mickey Mouse graphic comic books that the princess also loves.  Twaddle, all of it.  I need to, but haven't yet, gotten her Five in a Row curriculum rolling.  She has been reading aloud to me daily from her Christian Liberty Press Nature Reader, book 2.  Seems like we've been learning about crabs forever now.  I'm about ready to move on (or scream), but that may have something to do with the fact that it's my fourth time hearing an emerging reader tackle crabs.  She shows good oral narration skills, usually able to retell the highlights of what she just read.  We're just beginning to add in our Singapore math, completing the 1B book leftover from last year.  I purchased a sticker atlas book for her to do when the boys are working on geography, but haven't started it with her yet.  Writing will remain mostly copywork.  Typically, we use her AWANA verses for this.  Until AWANA starts, she has a few thank you notes to relatives that she can be writing.

DS 2 and 3/4...well, doesn't "2 and 3/4" about sum it up?  Mercurial, charming, demanding, curious, exhausting, adorable, maddening, inquisitive, whirling, running, exploring.  There is no underestimating the impact this one has on my ability to focus on the other four.

I'm glad for these warm up weeks to see how our actual schooling works.  We have no end of activities yet to start; I'm concerned how the days will flow once we are fully up to speed by mid-September.  Still to add in:  two different lit groups, one speech club, an art class, gym classes, piano lessons, another soccer schedule, youth group, AWANA nights, two Science Olympiad clubs, college classes with a lab, wood carving, karate and a request for fencing club.  Stay tuned, I expect more tweaking over the next month!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Comments, Suggestions, Recommendations, Critiques?

We are going to dip a toe into academics tomorrow, doing an introductory Mapping the World by Heart lesson.  We'll do a subject or so a day this week, a little more next week and probably nearly full speed by the week of August 20.  I'd be interested in what you all are planning and how you all are feeling as the school year gears up, though I realize for many it never really ends.  I have some questions at the end of this note and I'd appreciate any insight and advice.

Our plans for the year ahead:

Math--taken at his college.  Real Analysis I and II, Topology (knot theory) in the spring.  Continue summer research on Weakly Viewing Lattice Points (whatever that means).
Physics--taken at his college.  Physics I, II and III.
Geography--Mapping the World By Heart, done here at home with DS15 and DS11.
English--Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond and research paper offshoot from that.  Grammarlogues.  Writing the Easy Way.  Monthly lit group. I'm sure we'll read other stuff, see question below.  Ditto for DS15.
Bible--AWANA and a start on Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem.  Ditto for DS15.
Gym--weekly group gym time at local homeschool co-op.  Jogs on his own.  Ditto for DS17.
Extras:  part time job (Mathnasium), AWANA volunteer, church tech crew volunteer, youth group, Science Olympiad, Lit Group, Gavel Club (Toastmasters for the under 18 crowd).

Areas of concern...really needs to pick up another year or two of language.  He doesn't want to continue with Rosetta Stone Latin--he finished the first one, which Rosetta Stone says is equal to Latin 1 and 2.  Maybe LiveMocha Spanish?  Also, he needs a fine art of some sort...maybe digital photography?  Or perhaps computer programming?  

Math--Life of Fred Trigonometry.  Competitive math club--Geometry.
Biology--Virtual Homeschool Co-op free live Biology class online using Apologia.
Geography, English, Bible and Gym same as older brother.
Art--Advanced Art at local co-op, Woodcarving.
Driver's Ed
Extras:  very part-time art class teacher, fall and spring rec soccer, AWANA volunteer, youth group, Science Olympiad, Lit Group, Gavel Club.

Areas of concern...same language concern as older brother.  

Math--Life of Fred Pre-Algebra I with Biology and Life of Fred Pre-Algebra II with Economics.
Geography, Bible, Gym--same as brothers, minus the Systematic Theology.  
English--not sure here.  Probably written narration of some of what he reads for Bio and Econ, Grammarlogues, free online spelling at  Once monthly boys' lit group.
Extras:  fall and spring soccer, gymnastics, AWANA, youth group, Science Olympiad, Gavel Club, Lit Group, piano lessons and possibly adding in drums.

Areas of concern...he's not finished with Rosetta Stone Latin.  Do I make him continue?  

Math--Singapore 2A and B.
English--outloud reading from Christian Liberty Press Nature Readers, McGuffeys and Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans.  AWANA verse copywork.
Geography sticker book to work on while her brothers do Mapping the World by Heart.
Literature Unit Studies--Five in a Row (Three on Occasion for us)
Art--informal.  She's little.  Do you all think access to lots of craft supplies about covers it at this age?
Extras:  karate, gymnastics, AWANA, church group.  Maybe Daisy Scouts if I can get into the neighborhood troop I want.

Holistic, kinesthetic approach to his world.  Puzzles, reading to him, toy trains, etc.  Trying to keep him alive and safe while attempting to tend to the others.

Question:  What are your very best recommendations for high school and middle school for literature that ties in to a continent?  Can be any time period.  I prefer historical fiction, but am open to other suggestions.  I just want to give them the flavor of the continent we might be concentrating on during the geography units.  (Edited to add--thanks to the several who suggested All Through the Ages by Christine Miller as a must have historical/geographical book list).

Comments, suggestions, recommendations, critiques?

What does your year look like?  I'm curious (and nosey).