I’m going to update this as we go. Because stuff changes. Fuh realz…
This page is being updated on Feb. 19, 2015 but here are links to the prior versions so you can see how my delusions and realities progress with time. 🙂
Life has taken a slight turn. We recently toured the state-sponsored math and science academy to see if it was something BigGuy would have any remote interest in. I remember a year or two ago looking at their admission requirements and thinking that if he actually had interest, we would have to actually get serious about his education as of September 2015… and that’s fast approaching. So we did the preview tour–just 2 hours and high level. He was out. of. his. mind. and very much inspired to work harder than ever. We’re trying to make that possible for him and providing both opportunity and support. We’ll see how it goes.
For both of them:
Social Studies: BigGuy read “What Do You Believe?” by DK Publishing, “One World, Many Religions” by Mary Pope Osborne, and “In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World” by Virginia Hamilton. Unfortunately, I did not get to read these aloud to both kids–which means that Girly didn’t get any of it; and seeing how BigGuy skims all-reading-materials-he-does-not-choose, he will need a review. That’s on tap. Given the current load, it may not happen until summer. I’m hoping to do a good overview of our own faith (Quaker) and then dive into “World Religions” by Gabriel Arquilevich (an interdisciplinary unit study) and somehow incorporate Girly. I’m going to work on that between now and summer–when we’ll have more time to dedicate to faith and cultures.
Character Education: “Character Building Day by Day” (or, as Girly calls it, “the truthness book”–omgIloveher) was really a great thing and we just fell horribly off the wagon with it. So that’s back on deck. Like, now.
February 2015 – Girly – ending Kindergarten
Language Arts: At the moment, the big to-do has been the Bob Books. She’s come pretty far with them and is now working through their new sets. We’re also using an online subscription to Explode the Code, but I’m noticing that she does better or worse depending on the kind of drilling they do. I’d really like to return to “Language Lessons for Little Ones – Volume 3” by Queen Homeschool Publishing but it required me to spend time with her on it and I’m having a horrible time figuring out how to juggle both kids right now.
We are re-watching LeapFrog’s “Talking Words Factory” and “Word Caper” plus some others to learn or expand some of the basic reading skills. We’ve also been occasionally writing some word lists on the dry erase board–specifically lists that use 2-letter combos like “th”, “ch” and “sh”. She’s doing well, and it’s surprising how far she’s coming with so little. She’s also been playing our very old LeapFrog WordLaunch which has been awesome. Thank you, eBay for finding me replacement letters. WOOT!
Math: I’m looking at what I planned back in August ( Singapore Math level 1A (standards edition) ) and I’m laughing all over again. So totally didn’t happen. We’ve done some Kumon workbooks to help her identify her numbers, start telling time, and start some very basic addition (with the assistance of some manipulatives so that she has a firm grasp of quantity to go with the numbers). I have no idea what we will do going forward, but seriously–the LeapFrog math DVD is looking good right about now.
Science: Nothing. As in: not a single thing. Seriously. What’s worse is that I’m starting to see a real science kid in her. She had a recent class at the aquarium in Chicago, but I need to get on top of this for her.
History: Going forward, I need to make better use of the lower grammar stuff in Tapestry of Grace. That’s the plan, anyway.
Fine Arts: Her Young Maestros and Arts & Crafts class ended; but I got her into an art class for the spring with a teacher she adores (I like the teacher, too!). Plus whatever she gleans from the Tapestry of Grace curricula.
Physical Education: Soccer, soccer and soccer; plus gymnastics just started and she has made amazing strides with swimming! I’m beyond ecstatic for her and she’s SO PROUD of herself!
February 2015 – BigGuy – ending 5th grade
Math: Nothing I planned worked out. It just all sucked. Instead, we went back to Life of Fred’s middle school series. I wasn’t thrilled with that, and BigGuy kept taking the books further ahead in the series just to read the stories. I decided he really needed to be challenged; and he managed to pass a placement test into Art of Problem Solving’s Pre-Algebra. Of course, he did NOT love it. It meant slowing down and being careful and really reading. (see this blog entry when I realize that I’d been treating him like the schools would ). So, with his new-found motivation to get into a math and science academy, we enrolled him in an accredited online school for Pre-algebra. As I type this, he is on day 2 and got to speak to his actual teacher. She thinks he’s going to do well with the content; and I’m finding he has a LOT to learn about interacting online in various ways (e-mails to adults, discussion boards, etc.). Feeling hopeful about the many things he’ll learn this way. And yes, it’s Common Core. I’m totally okay with that.
Science: So, Virtual Homeschool Group Biology using Apologia’s “Exploring Creation with Biology” was an abysmal failure. But I’m thankful for the experience free of charge because I was a lot better prepared for our endeavor into the for-credit online school for math (and, as you’ll see below, language arts). At the moment, he’s enrolled in a program that runs 2-1/2 hours every Saturday morning for about 9 weeks and covers engineering. He loves it. It has also contributed to some technology stuff listed below.
Language Arts: Well, we got through the first level of Word Roots by Critical Thinking Company for vocabulary and started the second level–and then BigGuy LOST. THE. BOOK.
“Creative Writing with Legos” class was completely awesome, but it was too FARRRR and he wasn’t inspired enough to actually do the work–which annoyed me. So we quit it. Writing through the Tapestry of Grace curriculum (see August for my commentary on using a Christian curricula) was going pretty well. But all of this is being temporarily set aside so we can do an accredited online school’s 6th grade language arts curricula and see how it goes. Hoping it goes well.
Social Studies/History: We never got to actually do “What Counts as History?” from Tolerance.org’s Classroom Resources page and I think that was a mistake. We need to revisit that; but I’m going to do it at the break in our main curriculum. We continue to trudge slowly through our first year using Tapestry of Grace and we’re starting with Year 1 of the classical 4-year cycle for our history spine. We are just now entering week 8 of UNIT ONE. That’s right. But I think I’m finding a flow here. On the up side: most people start new curricula in June, August or January–so the likelihood of someone needing a book from the library at the same time as I do is pretty slim. #winning
Fine Arts: BigGuy is singing with a boys choir this year–which includes vocal instruction. Drama class is over and we didn’t sign up again; and flute lessons are stopped, but we will continue at home (I used to play flute, so I can take him a little further before we need to pay someone).
Physical Education: BigGuy is back to swim lessons. I don’t feel like it’s enough, but it’s what he has at the moment. He’s also started meditating with me in the mornings when we remember.
Technology: BigGuy is finishing up Mod Design I by Youth Digital to learn Java programming by way of making Minecraft mods. I think it’s been good. We also own TeenCoder’s Java and Android programming curricula. We’ll see if he wants to continue on with that when he’s done (and if he has the time). We fell horribly off the wagon with Avko’s Individualized Typing to learn touch-typing. But this is absolutely and immediately back on the schedule. And his engineering class has let to a fascination with Google SketchUp. Thank you, intarwebz, for a series of all kinds of explained-for-middle-schoolers projects and lessons. In fact, some of them include geometric nets. Holy moly is that a relief. Last year at this time, his Pre-Algebra: Geometry teacher told me to “go with that” because she had never seen a child so capable of nailing nets (and she taught in a gifted school). So help me, I had zero clue what that meant. But I saw this in one of the bonus projects and thought #WINNING !!!!