Tuesday, September 3, 2013

homeschool update

We school year round, keeping a lighter schedule during the summer and cranking things up when fall comes around again.

Even though M graduated from our homeschool high school in June, it was a symbolic graduation as much as anything... "doing school" is organizing to him mentally, especially when his schizophrenia symptoms are causing problems... so time for schooling will continue to be a part of his day for some time to come.

Because the kids are older though, (R is almost 17, M 21) our school day looks different than it used to... On this first day after Labor Day (kind of a traditional "back to school" day) I thought it would be a good time to take a look at our plans for this school year.

(You might want to grab a cup of tea if you're going to read all the way through... this is a long one! :)

Our big focus for the past couple of years has been on life skills... basic cooking and household chores, public transportation, job skills, etc.

M will continue to work at the Thrift Store one day a week... his main job continues to be sorting and pricing donations, but he's also learning to use the cash register, run credit cards, etc. (This is HUGE for him... what a gift that knowledge will be, it's a marketable job skill!) R doesn't have a regular worksite, but is working a little here and there at our SIL's business. She doesn't work as often, but she works for longer chunks of time than M does so it works out about evenly. She's learned to assemble mailings, use a time card, and most recently she's been making bungie cords.

We're still working on using public transportation... I think they are both pretty comfortable with how to ride the bus, but the light rail is still difficult... using the kiosks to buy the tickets is hard so is something we need to work on more. We haven't been doing much with cooking lately (it's too hot to even think about cooking!) but both kids are making their own breakfast and lunch each day, using the stove or microwave as needed. I need to work more on teaching them to plan, shop for and prepare a (simple) meal (something we were working on last year). Good thing to add to the "to do" list. :) R and S* are also taking a class through the Rec Center on First Aid and Staying Home Alone... again, another way to hit life skills from another direction. Both kids have checking and savings accounts and debit cards and can use the ATM, make a purchase, or talk to a banker when needed (like when M's debit card got so  badly bent it would no longer work... he had to explain what happened, get the temporary debit card, reset his PIN, etc... it was a great lesson).

As far as academics go... they are still breezing through Teaching Textbooks for their math and loving it. It's such a good fit for them both, it has enough new material and review that they don't get bored or overly stressed that it's moving too fast.  I bought a "Movies as Literature" curriculum and we've started that for our English, at least through the end of the year. They both love watching movies so much, I thought I might as well get some educational time out of it! Part of R's English will also be regular letters to a child their RCC club has sponsored in Romania. The adult sponsor of RCC asked if R would be willing to be in charge of the sponsorship and writing the sponsored child a letter every couple of weeks. R is thrilled about doing it, and it will be a great way for her to work on her typing (the letters are done via email) as well as her writing in general. M is signed up for his first Coursera class which will start towards the end of the month. Coursera offers free online college classes in a huge variety of subjects... M's class is on Comic Books and Graphic Novels (how perfect, right?).

We're still doing our evening read-alouds, which is suppose should also count towards school time... Right now we're reading The Swiss Family Robinson (original, unabridged) which was tough at first for the kids because of the old style language. I explained to them that the book was written two hundred ago, and that was why the language was different... R had a hard time with it for awhile (M was immediately hooked by the story), but they are both engrossed in the story now and seem to be understanding enough (despite the complex, sometimes unfamiliar language) to appreciate the adventures. I found a great teachers guide for the book here which I'm going to start using to give the kids a little more background, and open up some discussion about what we're reading...

Both kids are still involved in Special Olympics, of course... it's such an important part of their lives. Softball season ended a few weeks ago, and bowling season has just started. They'll bowl every week through the end of October, then take a couple months off until Basketball season starts up in January.

And then there are all the great co-op classes offered through our homeschool group! R is taking an "Improv for Teens" class next week, and both kids will be learning about postcard clubs, visiting the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, touring the historic 5-Points neighborhood in Denver, learning about "Postcrossing" and how to get started, and taking some other classes that I'm not remembering right now, through co-op. R is also teaching a class (on sharks) which will be as much a learning experience for her as for her "students".

All in all I think we'll keep busy and keep learning this year... I hope the Coursera class goes well for M. He's so wanted to go to college like his sisters did... I'd like to add a regular (every week) worksite to R's schedule too, maybe something she can work at while M is working at the thrift store. I'm hoping our (small animal) vet could use a weekly volunteer, it would be a great fit for R... I need to call and ask them.

So that's our homeschool year... I'm excited about the things we're doing and am always excited to see the kids growing and learning, especially the life skills that will be so important to them later. Wish us luck!! :)

*Since S doesn't live with us, she doesn't homeschool with us most of the time... although when she's around she joins in our lessons.

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