BigGuy enters “middle school” for 2015-2016

My BigGuy would be entering 6th grade in the fall if he were in public school.  As we were discussing what he’d like to learn this year, he noted that Algebra I and Physics would normally be high school classes.  I agreed.  He asked “If that’s the case, what grade would I be in if I were in school?”

That was a relatively long discussion.

It involved his biological age, his aptitude, how we need to challenge him a little harder than public school might be able to do for him (thus, he’d now be doing a half step up from middle school in rigor) and the reality that in science and math–he really is now at a legit high school level.

He then prompted a discussion that led to Husbeau and I asking if he’d rather just start high school.  We talked about what that would mean in terms of work effort and topics, etc.  He gave it some obvious thought and decided that he WOULD like to attempt high school this year.

Mama is not so sure this is a brilliant idea.  Although I have to say that it is sticking in my mind that his EEG or whatever scan they did showed that his brain was at a maturity level of an older teen.  We also watched him pull off an impressively demanding science lab camp last year.  So I’m kind of wondering if he’s possibly capable of pulling off high school level thought and this might be being masked by the lack of challenge and compounded by his mild Asperger’s.

So here are my thoughts for next year:

We are absolutely going to explore nature more and visit the library in person more.  I want to schedule each for once/month along with a service project and a field trip.  I’m trying to plug those into the calendar by end of August.

History:  geography and an overview of history 

I’m going to take a year and do geography with him so 1) he has time to focus on developing other skills and 2) he learns geography.  We own Mapping the World with Art so I’m hoping to use that.  It also takes us through some level of history but not in-depth.  I feel like trying to keep up with a history-heavy curricula spine last year did me in.  I feel like geography is important and frankly, given the other things I we want to do, I’m not sure we have time for a full-on year of high school level history.  I might be wrong, but I’d rather underplan for our time than over plan for it.

Math:  Algebra I (maybe Geometry) 

Algebra I is a given.  It’s what he wants and it’s what he’s worked for.  We’re going to continue with IL Virtual School because he can work through the course at his own pace and potentially finish the year of work during the fall semester if he has the time and desire.  We investigated Art of Problem Solving and that’s not going to work.  For one, he’s beholden to a weekly call.  For another, he needs to be a better typist than he is.  But we will join their online forums.

Science:  Conceptual Physics & Science Olympiad

In other words: “Physics that doesn’t require Algebra I or II to already be completed”.  I think this is a good path for him.  I’m considering an online course that uses “Conceptual Physics” by Hewitt–which is a text we already have.  It would be way easier for me to hand this over to someone else and he would likely enjoy that.  Plus, whatever he’s going to study for Science Olympiad.  I suspect that will be Anatomy & Physiology plus Meteorology.

Writing:  IEW’s SWI-B 

He’s going to participate in a co-op through the year (one hour/week) that goes through the Institute for Excellence in Writing‘s Student Writing Intensive – level B.  It’s written to address 6-8 grade and since he is at the lower end of this grade range by biological age, I feel like his lack of formal instruction in this area will be less noticeable.

Language Arts:  creativity and critical thinking 

I’m not clear on this part yet.  We are awaiting a reply from an amazing organization that works with boys and they would definitely fill this slot and then some.  The group would be once/week for 3 hours (we can’t afford for him to go twice/week).   Beyond that, we discussed BigGuy starting a blog and posting an entry once/week.

Fine Arts:  choir & possibly an instrument 

He is already signed up to sing with the boys choir again; but I think it’s time to re-introduce piano or flute.  We’ll see how he feels about it.

Technology:  typing, design & programming 

It’s time for us to start backward engineering the computer science college programs and helping him prepare to get into those.  I’m not sure where that will leave us just yet–but I’m working on that.  We NEED to be more serious about touch typing; and he is very taken with SketchUp so we’re going to expand on that skill set.

Phys Ed:  swimming & puberty 

Just this past weekend, BigGuy suggested that he return to swim lessons.  I’m with him on that.  BAM!  Excellent.  But I think this is also going to be the year to use puberty to have a lot of health and development discussions.  And maybe relationship discussions.  I have plenty of resources available for this.  We’ll start with hygiene and take it from there.

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