Let me start, as usual with my annual disclaimer:
For most of you, this post will definitely fall into the category of over-sharing. For me, this is record-keeping. If you're interested in the nitty-gritty details of What We Do For Homeschool, here's your fix. If not? Nothing to see here - move along ;D
And now, a brief moment of exuberance...
We did it! We did it! We did it!
We made it through another year!
and early 2008...
to these growing young men in 2013.
I guess it has been six years. So, down to the nuts and bolts.
Gunnar's excitement in the photo above came from finishing his math book... in January. And here he is with his 6th grade math book, but we'll get to that in a moment.
First, yet another disclaimer... their grade levels are "off". I want them be older, rather than younger, when they hit Running Start so we've labeled Wyatt and Tate down a grade. They haven't failed. They're not slow. They're progressing wonderfully. It's just on paper. M'kay? At church and with friends, if you ask their grade they'll tell you 10th and 8th. On paper, it's 9th and 7th. Moving on...
Wyatt - Grade 9
If you're a regular reader you already know that Wyatt has been dividing his time between homeschool and public school this year, part of a process of preparing him to transition to community college for Running Start in 2014. I confess I had very mixed feelings about him re-entering public school, but Wyatt has done wonderfully. I've seen the young man shining through, more and more. I picked him up this morning - his last day - and he showed me where he'd written down emails for a couple of friends from his math class. Completely unprompted he explained that he hadn't gone out of his way to make a lot of friends ("not a social butterfly") because his main purpose at school wasn't social but academic. But he'd found a few guys with who were "like-minded" - not at the top of the social pecking order, perhaps, but friendly and focused on their work (rather than messing around and popping off) - that he enjoyed getting to know. Can you imagine how reassuring that was to me?! And (yes, I'm a bragging mom) also completely unprompted, he asked me for a thank-you card so he could write a note to his math teacher, who "made math fun." Amen and hallelujah.
Anyway... his report card will come in the mail, but he's getting A's in math and English, and most likely a B in Spanish. He had some issues with staying organized and keeping track of his work early in the semester that he has overcome. As far as mastering the material, he's an A+ student, but if he finishes with a B... well, we're REALLY PROUD.
As far as homeschool goes, he's been very self-directed this year. I've scheduled his work for him, to even out the work-load, I help him review for tests, and I correct his work. And that's about it. He's earned A's in his Apologia Biology and BJU's American History, and I'm not grading his Logic (P/F - he passed). Along with his Biology course, he read and summarized Jay Wile's Reasonable Faith, and Duane Gish's Evolution: the Fossils Still Say No!
Like last year, he's continued his involvement with the choir, singing in both the Christmas and Easter concerts, and is thriving in the Civil Air Patrol (recently promoted to Master Sergeant). I have a hard time convincing myself this is the same child who was suspended (twice!) from first grade.
Tate and Gunnar start their day together (with me :D ) for prayer, Bible Memorization (Philippians 2, Psalm 19 and 23, Luke 2, and others), spelling and a grammar warm-up.
I've found Sequential Spelling to be a great help to my boys. The books are designed for a 180-day (public) school year, so we're off cycle, but who cares. We finished Book 2 and got through 100 lessons in Book 3, and we'll pick it up again next year. Wanda Phillips Daily Grams take just a few minutes, with five daily exercises. 1. A sentence missing all it's capitalization. 2. A sentence missing it's punctuation. 3. and 4. vary widely from sentence type to verb agreement to pronouns/antecedents to dependent clauses etc. 5. Always two to four clunky sentences that could be combined into a smooth one. My only complaint about these books is that so many of her sentences are passive-voice. BO-RING. ("Flowers were laid on the table.") I encourage the boys to reword them to make them more active and interesting. ("Dad brought a dozen roses to Mom, and laid them on the table.")
Then the boys split up and work separately for the rest of the morning, on language, math, and science...
Tate - Grade 7
It looks like a lot more than it is... though it's plenty. He worked his way (a page a day) through the Getty-Dubay handwriting book long before the year was over. After that we copied Bible verses :D He only needed to do edit one article per week in Editor in Chief to cruise through that. And the Wordly Wise (20 chapters) and Vocabulary From Classical Roots (16 chapters) balance out for a year of learning vocabulary. It's the A Beka Grammar and Composition that's the heavy hitter. He waded through 2-3 pages a day of rather boring (but thorough) nuts and bolts of language. The A Beka language books have some funny quirks, though. They're obviously written by southerners and spend a lot of time correcting errors that are all but unheard of around here. Things like "used to could" or "he took sick" or "I'm fixin' to learn you to spell" etc.
After spending five years with Saxon math I thought it would be good to broaden our math horizons. Like Wyatt, Tate needed to make the transition to doing his math more independently. Lial's Basic College Mathematics kills two or three birds with one stone. Contrary to the title, it's not really college-level math, rather what you need to know before going on to higher math. And, frankly, it covers nearly the same material as Saxon's pre-Algebra (Algebra 1/2) - which helped Tate gain confidence. He worked through it at his own pace, mostly on his own, and got to experience a different style of math text and instruction. Win-win. And when he finished that, we launch into Jacob's Elementary Algebra. He'll continue that next year and may or may not finish the book. Like Wyatt, unless he shows an amazing aptitude for Algebra, I'll have him take it again at the high school. I want the boys to be SOLID with math.
Tate made a big leap up into Apologia's General Science. I love Apologia's materials, but it feels to me like there's a huge jump up in difficulty from their elementary curriculum to the middle grades books. I'm glad we didn't try this last year, but this year? He did great. I expected him to work through most chapters in two weeks (for one longer unit we budgeted three weeks). He had to take notes as he read, give written answers to questions embedded in the chapter, perform and write up most experiments (if we've done them in recent years and he remembers them, he can just read through the evaluation), give written answers to the chapter review/study guide, and then take the written test. I gave him help with several of the experiments, but he could've done everything on his own. Can I just say again how much I love Apologia?
It was kind of funny at the homeschool sale last week. Several folks asked if we had any Apologia science for sale. Apparently it's hard to find used because most people want to keep the books. Me too.
Gunnar - Grade 5
Gunnar and Tate are pretty similar in their handwriting skills, so I'm having them use the same books, and then progress to writing verses. (Helps with our memorization as well!) Gunnar also launched into his first Wordly Wise book this year, with good success. I started out helping him through A Beka's Language A, but as the year went by, he did more and more on his own.
He also worked through Red Hot Root Words, a lesson or two a week, finishing it sometime early in the spring. Easy squeazy.
Gunnar has always been "off-cycle" on his math, as we started his Grade 1 math midway through his Kindergarten year. I never want to rush the boys, but no fear of that :D He finished his Grade 5 math in January and launched right into Grade 6. One advantage of being off-cycle is that you can whiz through the first twenty-or-so lessons in about a week, as they're all review. Win-win!
Gunnar loves animals. Given the choice, he wanted a third year of zoology, this time, Apologia's Land Animals of the Sixth Day. Apologia took a different view on their elementary science curriculum - it's not graded (1st grade, 2nd grade, etc.) There are six subjects, all very doable (with a little tweaking) for any elementary student, so you can pick and choose. If I remember right, they offer Flying Creatures, Swimming Creatures, Land Animals, Anatomy, Astronomy, and Botany. I thought about choosing for him - probably would've done one of the zoology books along with Anatomy and Botany, but he loved these science courses, so I'm glad I let him pick.
Tate and Gunar came back together in the afternoon to read with me. A generous friend loaned us her Sonlight "Eastern Hemisphere Explorer" core, and we really loved it! She had just upgraded to the new, revised instructor's guide, and loaned that to us as well. But since several new books have been added (and some deleted) we ended up using the older IG, to keep things simpler. This core is kind of a departure from our usual history studies as it really has more of a social studies focus. Not all the books tie in; some are just plain good reading :D
We did a LOT of reading!
I bought two packets of maps, worksheets, and projects so the boys could each make a notebook - lots of fun! - and we toured the Eastern Hemisphere. Sonlight includes fiction and non-fiction - along with missionary biographies - that relate to the era of history or area of the world you're studying. We used our encyclopedias and internet as well :D It went something like this...
Ships, Sailors, and the Sea
Torches of Joy
Henry Reed, Inc.
All the Small Poems
Exploring Planet Earth
The Island of the Blue Dolphins
Call it Courage
Australia and New Zealand
Faces: Australia Through Time
Red Sand, Blue Sky
The Incredible Journey
Whatever Happened to Penny Candy
Genghis Khan and the Mongol Horde
The Horse and His Boy
The Land I Lost
The Master Puppeteer
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun
Born in the Year of Courage
The Big Wave
The Cat Who Went to Heaven
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
The Kite Fighters
Tales of a Korean Grandmother
God’s Adventurer: Hudson Taylor
Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than God
Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze
Li Lun, Lad of Courage
Mission to Cathay
The House of Sixty Fathers
William Carey: Obliged to Go
Just So Stories
Daughter of the Mountains
India: The Culture
Gandhi: Peaceful Warrior
Teresa of Calcutta
Around the World in 80 Days
India: The People
* Amy Carmichael – I added*
Arabs in the Golden Age
Ali and the Golden Eagle
Aladdin and Other Favorite Arabian Nights Stories
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons
Mary Slessor: Forward Into Calabar
King of the Wind
Journey to Jo’burg
David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer
A Glorious Age in Africa
Star of Light
Beat the Story Drum, Pum-Pum
The Rat Catcher’s Son
I added in an extra missionary biography of Amy Carmichael, just because I wanted to. And we dropped The Wolves of Willoughby Chase because none of us could get into it. And I saved The Hobbit for last, though I think it was originally slotted with New Zealand. We really enjoyed most of the books :D I have to say that the YWAM (Benge) missionary biographies are not exactly works of literary greatness (*ahem*). They're very formulaic - each one begins with a dramatic event from the (chronological) middle of the story, then goes back to the missionary's childhood and progresses from there. The writing is so-so. But that's not why we read them. The stories are inspiring. And the other books? Some of the boys' favorites...
They giggled their way through Henry Reed, Inc. howled through Just So Stories, and absolutely loved the
revenge justice of Seven Daughters and Seven Sons. Some we've read before but enjoyed revisiting, like The Land I Lost, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, The House of Sixty Fathers, Shadow Spinner, The Horse and His Boy, and of course The Hobbit.
And now for a break :D