Sunday, February 28, 2016

Our New Homeschool Plan

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
~Corrie Ten Boom

I have not been writing on my blog for a number of reasons, most are excuses, but a few are quite valid. One is that I needed to focus on getting our homeschool structured. I wrote about this in Homeschooling Mama Still Learning the Hard Way nearly two months ago. After much seeking my Lord on the issue, I began to give in on my ideas of working towards the perfect college-prep transcript and come back to the things I loved about homeschooling; teaching to the child and encouraging her gifts and talents.

I think that going to the Home Learning Center encouraged a sense of conforming to the conventional academic expectations and with this being my daughter's first high school year...well, we both got caught up in everything counting with far more importance than the previous years. For instance, when the Princess began taking a science class it was to supplement our homeschool, although it was quite demanding. The next year she took the full STEM program, which it seem to take the position of priority in our homeschool. Knowing that this year everything would go on transcripts for colleges to look over, we both put far much importance on that.

I had to come back to placing my trust about our homeschool to my Lord... completely.

My daughter is a writer and an artist. She tries to sneak in writing one of her fictional stories whenever I am not watching over her and she knows how access her stories with every technical device with Wi-Fi access because she saves them online in Google Docs. We have some new rules about her tech now. She cannot have any tech in her room at night, because she will write when she should be sleeping and she was also having issues with her sleeping patterns that have been corrected for the most part after working on this for a few months. We believed that her abnormal sleeping patterns were contributing to her anxiety and depression, and she is doing far better now. We allowed her to have an extra 30 minutes for her bedtime curfew, but she has to be off all screens an hour before. Now she falls asleep more easily and stays asleep through the night most nights. She also cannot have any tech in her room until all her assignments are completed or I have given her permission for an assignment she wants to do in her room or listen to music. Permission depends on attitude, what she plans to do with the tech to help her with an assignment, and how responsible she has been at getting her assignments done.

My daughter takes a clipboard, pencil, and paper with her everywhere when we go out so she can draw whenever she can. She is also great with anything to do with dramas and, even though right now it is not something she loves, she is a pianist. We are in the perfect church for her. The people heading up the dramas actually teach acting. More recently couple of the youth have decided to start their own praise and worship band asking her to be on the keyboard and I am again seeing her spend extra time on the piano playing things for her own enjoyment once in a while.

This is what I felt led to do with her home education:

In the morning, we begin with devotions. We were skipping them when she got up late, which was more often than not. (I know, I know, and it was meant to be the most important thing of the day, but unfortunately, we made the schedule a higher priority.) To emphasize its importance and give the Spirit time needed to speak to us, we just do not have a schedule about how long to take with devotions. Sometimes they are quite long, because we still have some challenges to work out.

After devotions, we talk about the assignments for the day. On Monday, we look over scheduled appointments and such to plan the entire week assignments. I made a check-off chart so that we both could see everything that she is expected to do. Last week we went to the science museum for the Lunch & Learn on Rocket Science, so I had to cross off a few assignments for the week. Part of her problem was she could not see what I expected from her each day, each week. I remember she used to say that the more work she did the more I would give her, while I was thinking that she was under achieving what I wanted from her most of the time and I was trying not to overwhelm her with giving it to her all at once. We are communicating better now.

My chart has two columns, the first is the daily assignments and the second is the assignments that need to be done during the week at any time she wants, with the only condition that I have to check each assignment done before she starts the second one in the same subject. We also continue to have talks about time management and that she might have to rethink her expectation that no matter what she did or did not get done, she feels she should not work on any assignments after 4:00 pm. The first week we started this was rough, partially because she was ill for two days. The second week was a bit better. The third week, I was seeing her take more initiative—I actually found her working on her grammar in the evening after dinner!—but she came down with a cold so it fizzled out understandably.

The daily assignments are mostly morning ones, but we are flexible so if I have something I must do in the morning, we can flip them to the afternoon. All this is discussed after devotions each day, so we both have a clear understanding of the expectations of each other for the day.

Daily Assignments

The first assignment is piano practice for at least 45 minutes, which is usually always the first thing done.

Algebra is timed to one hour a day and the Princess also has to sit at the dining room table to do it, so that I am right there to help her should she need it. This is because she gets distracted when doing math. I cannot tell you how many times she was doing math in her bedroom that took hours because she actually was writing a story.

Latin or Greek may be before or after math, but we both take together because I am learning it also. Ideally, we should do two lessons of each one during the 4-day week. (We have only four days because Wednesday is our errand day.)

Vocabulary, based on Vocabulary from Classical Roots, is also mostly done at the dining room table because I have most of her studies on Quizlet, so she needs tech to do it. However, for each lesson, I require a writing test: I give the word and she must use it in a sentence that is graded on spelling, use, and identifying the root from Latin or Greek, which is indicated by underlining. She can earn extra points with five more words from the challenge words and variations lists. This overlaps Greek and Latin as well.

Weekly Assignments

Grammar is two assignments per week. When we finish with Analytical Grammar with all the parsing, sentence diagramming, grammar rules, she will be completely done with Grammar and we will move on to more writing and reading assignments.

Literature is something that got pushed to the wayside for too long now, but we have added it to our weekly assignments.

World History is one assignment per week. These are done in units of my own design. Each unit requires reading at least three chapters from various resources and then journaling at least one paragraph and drawing a picture of her choice associated with the time for each chapter. Her writing is checked before she prints out the paper and draws the pictures. So, this also is also a grammar and writing lesson.

Civics is one assignment per week, which is one chapter of Uncle Sam and You. Although it is intended for middle school students, I think it is more in depth than most get in high school. The tests are a little light, but the chapter review questions are quite good. It reminds me of my tough 8th grade social studies text and teacher, who expected every one of those review questions answered in full sentences.

Science was the one subject I was dreading, mostly because I have not taught it in two years. However, I obviously had my Lord's leading when I bought the Bob Jones Physical Science textbooks she was required to have for the school because I bought the entire set! Teacher's manual, lab manuals, everything! When I finally got the courage to look into the books, I fell in love. Right now the Princess is just doing reviews of the chapters she covered when in the school, because she did not do all the assignments and could not recall many things. She can get most things from the book without me, but we will be looking into doing lab work when we do our weekly plans.

French is still being worked on, but she decided that she likes the Duolingo app on her Kindle better for now and she is supposed to do two 30-minute sessions.

I feel this is how my Lord wishes it to be for now. The Princess is so much happier and far more engaged with both her father and me than she was. She seems willing to take more responsibly in her own education, even though the stories in her head are practically screaming to get typed out. I keep telling my Princess that college may not be where she is to go; she could be a published author making money while most of her peers are sinking into their student loan debt. She rolls her eyes, but then as soon as she can she sneaks away to smile at her computer screen as the words stream out of her.

My Lord, it has been a difficult time for my daughter. I see her gifts, gifts You gave her, but I hear the world and its demands for her education loudly. Quiet the world. I only want to hear you, my Lord, what You want for her. Thank you for guiding us and making things better for us.

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