Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Homeschool update...

Lots of changes going on in our homeschool lately.

Good changes...

I'm so excited about the school year! (Yes, after 11 years of homeschooling, I still get excited in the fall... the possibilities within each new curriculum book, the excitement of watching my children learn, and fun of learning new things myself.. I've never gotten tired of it.)

Anyway... starting this year M is only homeschooling part-time. He's almost 19 now, and plenty old enough for our county's school/work transition program. He actually could have started last year, but I really wanted another year of full-time homeschooling before I let him go... This transition program spends part of the day working on "life skills" (cooking, handling money, housekeeping kinds of things) and half the day at "work sites"... businesses in our community that have given permission for the kids to work (volunteer) for them. The kids go to the work sites on a schedule, Monday might be the library (for example), Tuesday Goodwill, etc. The kids work with the help and supervision of their teachers for a couple of hours then head back to their main building for dismissal. I'm really hoping the program is good enough to really teach M skills that he will be able to use as an adult. The life skills part of things is always helpful, although we've already done a lot of it here at home. I enrolled him in the program primarily for the job skills piece of it, and the connections to the community. (As in after 2+ years of volunteering at Goodwill or Hobby Lobby every week, might he have the skills for a real part time job there?) M is only doing a half day with the program right now, he just isn't able to manage a full day (9-2:30) and even the half day is wiping him out and making evenings and weekends difficult. I'm doing everything I possibly do to help him succeed in the program... It is only open to him through his 21st birthday and I don't know of any similar programs for adults over 21. So.. it feels like now or never.

The result of M being gone for 3 hours each day, besides my missing him terribly and appreciating him much more when he's home... is that I have a good two hours to do school with R. That is two UNINTERRUPTED hours... no checking on M, no dealing with his stomach pain, abdominal pain, headaches, hips, anger, or perseveration. Two QUIET hours to do school.

It feels like heaven to me... and to celebrate I totally revamped R's schooling. I put a bunch of stuff back on the shelf and went shopping for things that will hopefully really maximize the time R and I have together each day.

R hates Saxon math... she always has... but she learns from it. But she hates it. So it's back on the shelf and I'm using Teaching Textbooks supplemented with Life of Fred. I thought that seeing her math lessons taught on the computer (via CD) rather than taught by me might help in terms of her teen girl attitude. (If Mom says it, it must be wrong, stupid, etc.) I'm available for questions, and we sit together while she works, but her instruction is coming from some anonymous guy talking on the CD. Life of Fred is strange... but strangely enough she likes it. Go figure...

I put her regular journaling, writing, language arts work on the shelf and started a blog for R. Now she can write and journal online, and get feedback about what she's writing. (Again, not feedback from me!) She's learning a lot about editing, but I'm afraid I've created a spellcheck monster... Rather than thinking about how to spell a word, and taking a minute to puzzle it out she spell checks first. We're working on spell checking last. ;)

She's still doing Sequential Spelling, and is pursuing her love of Shakespeare on her own.

Science is a challenge. She is very good at life science... particularly the study of animals. It's mostly all knowledge she's picked up through life experience though, which is good... but leaves many gaps. And her earth science and physical science is sadly lacking. So I bought a Daily Science book and in addition to her working in it each day, I'm using it as a guide and will be supplementing it with activities, etc. from other sources.

In history we've gone back to Story of the World. We worked through about half of year one in 2009 but it eventually became just impossible to do with M. The format of it (we used the CD's and activity book) seemed to just bring out the worst in him. He would make faces and be disruptive while we listened to the chapter, then shut down when it was time to do the map work or activity from the book. R loved SOTW, but I didn't have the patience to deal with M's shenanigans while we worked. Remembering how much R liked SOTW, I decided it was the perfect time to revisit it. When we stopped (in 2009) we were reaching the end of the lessons on Ancient Civilizations. Since then R has, on her own, almost compulsively studied ancient Egypt, and after more than two years of ancient civilizations and their languages, customs, kings, pharaohs, etc. being a daily part of R's conversation I made an executive decision to skip(gasp!) large portions of history...at least for now... and start with SOTW 3 which begins in about 1600 a.d. I bought the CD's and the activity book and was soooo excited to leave the ancient world behind, at least for this year... But within two minutes of starting the first chapter on the first CD, R's eyes glazed over and she started fidgeting and paying attention to everything but the lesson.  I knew what the problem was without even asking... the person reading on the CD was different than it is on SOTW 1 and 2. It's a man... and he reads slowly, and has some weird inflections when he talks. R really doesn't like the way he reads. So... since I already had all the SOTW 1 stuff around, I told R that if she would reread to review the work we'd already done in it, I would let her start again where we'd left off. She jumped at the chance... and I'm trying to resign myself to another 4-5 months of ancient civilizations.

I'm working Geography into other subjects (science and history) and will use some living books as well.

I think that's it for the academics... We'll be doing some cooking during school (so much easier with M not at home) and she wants to start volunteering with a therapeutic riding program just down the road from us.

M is still homeschooling part-time, focusing mostly on math and science. He just loves to learn and and I still just love to watch him learn, so we're just going to keep going...

All in all I think it will be a very good year.

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