Saturday, August 31, 2013

Homeschool Replanning Out Loud

Write your plans in pencil and let God have the eraser. ~Unknown

L.I.F.E. is the name of our homeschool: Lessons in Faith and Education. The name is far more than the acronym, it is our life and if there is anything that is constant in life, it is change. I know, the terms themselves are contradictory. "Constant change" is an oxymoron—hey, even "oxymoron" is an oxymoron—but such is life.

Since my post Homeschool Planning Out Loud and even my latest enthusiasm over Ask Dr. Callahan's math bundle more recently, I have changed my mind or added some other items.

Before I list my final (?) decisions, I have to write about the mandatory parent meeting for the Home Study Center on Tuesday night. We asked one of my best friends, who also happens to be the Princess' piano teacher, if we could drop her off while we attend the meeting as no children were to be there and her place was on the way. The meeting was 7:30 to 9:30 PM with us driving a two hours there and back. For the most part, it felt as if it was a meeting for the school's benefit rather than ours or at least for the mainstream homeschool "schoolies"...kind of a rah-rah thing. They did cover the online interface, which was pretty self-explanatory to me once I logged on after paying the tuition, and a few things offered that I would would have looked over in the newsletters as they are not really relevant to us currently, but mostly it was pep talk. There was no talk of dress codes or supplies; in fact, they said that they read through the manual last year, which made the meeting go into overtime, and that we could read the manual ourselves. Many people were talking to each other as if they knew each other, but we were not in that group and I did not get connected with my mentor, who had called me earlier saying she would try to meet up with us.

As I sat there, I felt increasingly out of the mainstream...for this school, I mean. (I know how out of the mainstream I am with homeschooling as it is.) For one, my daughter is only taking one class and we live an hour away while many of these people have multiple children going to this school for several classes. We simply are not going to be as involved with all the other social and fund raising activities. I saw a map of where most of the students live and probably 50% are just fifteen minutes to the school with another 40% within a thirty minutes. We might make it for the barbeque picnic next weekend, but not much else other than maybe tagging along with the expedition in the spring. However, when we watched some of the videos with their STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program, we just knew our daughter would want to do more there, especially the engineering.

After that meeting, I felt overwhelmed and oddly inadequate...and this after taking pride in her great test scores. I know I got her to this point and I know that we felt that the science class would enhance her learning. But, when faced with the "institution," even one as Christ-centered and homeschool-based as this one, I felt that everything I have been doing was second rate...like they could do it better than me in every way. I was interested in a few sidelines: They had a company that was very familiar with preparing transcripts for their students (for a fee) and another company who would help students get scholarships (for free but worth $3,000+) as his way to support the school. It made me think how I was on the right track about my instincts to get even more serious about preparing the Princess for the future beginning this year. Still, it took a few days to shake off those inadequacy feelings and get real about it all, but I am now in the mode of its a supplement for our homeschool as it was meant to be for us.

As to my thoughts of this year, when both her father and I were the age of the Princess, we were at least a year ahead in school, actually he was nearly two years ahead for he graduated within a month of after turning seventeen years old. So, his entire senior year he was sixteen until the last month, and I graduated at the age of seventeen a few months before turning eighteen, one of three of the youngest in my entire class. He skipped a year after going to a private Christian school, even though they took a year off from school as they traveled the country, and I just started early at the age of five into first grade because of a change in birthdate deadline in the county I lived at that time. So, when we were twelve and a half as the Princess nearly is, I was over halfway through 7th grade and my husband was in the first half of 8th. I have always had this in mind as I planned her lessons because she gets one-on-one tutoring and should be ahead of the standard grade for her age, however I also think it is time to step up our approach and tighten up on some subjects. I have always focused my encouragement on her piano and creative arts, but I want to focus heavily on building her skills within language arts, art, and music.

One big change for the Princess is that she is going to be tested regularly. I did not find testing necessary previously, except with spelling in a way, because I know what she really knows (and doesn't), however I have also noticed in the past two years that if the information does not interest her and she sees no obvious reason to retain it, such as she will be tested on it, she may not be able to recall it few weeks later. Oddly, she seems to want to be tested and many of the curricula I have decided on have built in tests. Maybe she will thrive on the challenge regular testing and grading will provide! Okay, it is not my ideal homeschool philosophy but, hey, whatever it takes.

The two problems that we really need to work on are following through as instructed, whether in writing or verbally, and listening to her instructors (so she knows how to follow through with the instructions), mostly me, but her piano teacher has problems with her at times and now we are adding a science teacher. I am hoping that the science class will be a good lesson for her in more ways than in science itself.

There have been some changes since the Homeschool Planning Out Loud post—actually, some were made just today as I was writing this post:


Math

Language Arts/Grammar
  • Vocabulary from Classical Roots starting with Level 4.
  • Analytical Grammar which has 18 units of daily work. Then it has just two sheets of review and reinforcement exercises for each of following 10 weeks, at which time I will make a decision about what to focus on like reading, narrating, copywork, memorization, or writing.
  • Classical Writing for Older Beginners Here I go trying it again! I know I wrote previously that I did not like the grammar of the Aesop book, but I either am into self-punishment or I really do like the way they present their progymnasmata method. I am at least going to give it another look, because the Older Beginners version should move along faster so we can get the basics down and get to the really good stuff in the next level.
  • Classical Writing Poetry for Older Beginners to follow the one above and I am hoping she have a greater understanding of poetry as she used to write poems often.
  • Writing Strands beginning with Level 3. This is to further develop her writing skills.

Required Reading
  • This year I am going to have a list of books for required reading. The Princess is an avid reader (and writer), but I would like to at least have an age appropriate list of classics and good literature from which she can choose.

Classical Languages
  • Lively Latin has caught my interest just today. I wish it had been available years ago when I first looked at Latin programs for young children, but once I started another program, I was not looking for this one when it came out. Both book volumes together made for younger students are equivalent to one high school credit. Although Greek 'n' Stuff's Latin's Not So Tough!, currently Level 4, has been a program that worked well enough for the Princess at a younger age and we stayed with it even though I was getting lost with how it was structured. I have been doing the lessons myself along with the Princess and have had as much difficulty as she was (and she gets languages). The switch to any other Latin program would mean they will not line up so I have to determine with which book to begin or get both and find a good starting place with a little review and before launching into too much new stuff.
  • Elementary Greek is another switch-off just-decided-today from Greek 'n' Stuff's Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek!, currently Level 4. Greek has been the Princess' favorite of the classical languages, but I was concerned we would be slipping into the same rut as we did with Latin, which is further along in Level 4. Elementary Greek has copying scripture built into the lessons, which we were doing as extra work with the other. A huge plus is that it is currently on sale, so I just now bought all three courses for just a bit more than I would pay for just one course alone and even less for two, and I did not have to make a hard choice of only ordering what I hoped would line up with where we are now. Wow!

Modern Language
  • Tell Me More French is the first homeschool version and it is very good, however now available is an updated version with a friendlier user interface available up to ten levels, which goes well into college level. The one I have is comparable to the current five levels...still, I would really like to upgrade. It was on sale through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op but I restrained myself to buying it only if I could sell the one I have first. That did not happen before the sale deadline so I will be patient for the next sale, which is at least once a year, sometimes twice, I believe.

Science

Music

Art
  • I am still planning to direct that myself without a curriculum.

Social Studies
  • Story of the World Audio CDs to listen to on our errand day, which is more of a school day for the Princess than ever before with her science class and piano lesson. This was one change I had in back of my mind, but thought it was unaffordable until I found that they are discounted at Christianbook.com. I already have most of the books for this series, but the problem is we will be spending about two hours or more in the van on Wednesdays and the Princess gets carsick reading, so this might be our best solution for using a portion of that time wisely. I still need to work out a social studies plan for lesson time at home also.
  • Uncle Sam and You is my pick for civics, but the change is that I think I would rather begin it next semester.

Well, I think I have finalized my decisions...maybe. I received the history CDs yesterday. I just order Elementary Greek today, but still need to order Lively Latin and I think I am going to do the online option and download everything. I should be receiving the algebra curriculum and a few missing books for the two Classical Writing curricula next week that I am buying used. I will order Uncle Sam and You later in the year and after I sell off some of my no longer needed curriculum, which I should get busy to listing now.

Such is my L.I.F.E. homeschooling.

~ Thank you, my Lord, for the guiding through this selection process and please bless the Princess with desire to learn, enjoy, and thrive in all these choices to guide her education. And, if I may, please help her to actually enjoy algebra more than she thinks she will or may want to admit. ~

2 comments:

  1. Wow. That is a lot to cover. I should have liked to do more languages but we did more music instead. Only so much time in one day & everything we did for music meant travelling. Cait has ended up doing a lot of language through music but nowhere as systematic as when she was studying German seriously. It has stood her in good stead. You are far more civic minded than we ever were ~ though your politics are extremely odd. Few people get het about government out here, not the way Americans do. All the best with the science stuff ~ & I am pleased to returned to It's a supplement thinking. Institutions, even the best ones, can be intimidating but they are not good for people.

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    1. I just received the algebra program! I know you will not get this, Ganeida, because we part ways on the math, but I am so thrilled with it that I can barely wait to get her started and I have not even seen the videos yet. I was getting a bit concerned as I found it described as going into college level, but I have not seen anything in it that I could not solve without the solutions manual.

      The textbook is an excellent approach for my Princess. If she just does not let the textbook itself intimidate her, she could really enjoy it--but, of course, there will be no admitting that!

      I am rather political and into the study of laws, not that is going to change much, but I still feel all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing or say nothing. I feel government is far too easily corruptible for me to turn a blind eye.

      It was overwhelming. I felt like a country-bunkin in the big city for orientation of the big state university--although it was really not that bad. Just my feelings and doubts getting to me.

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.