If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. ~ Adlai Stevenson

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Where We Are, and Where We Are Headed Next...

Since we are getting closer and closer to the end of the year, I thought I would share where we are at with homeschooling, and what our next big plans are!

The Boy
He is doing so well with TabletClass Algebra as his math text/program! As he's currently on chapter 2 out of 14, I doubt he will finish by the end of June, but in September, we will just pick up where he leaves off, and move on from there.

In writing, I have sort of dropped the ball... a lot. However, I am taking steps to remedy this. I have accepted that as an English tutor/teacher-to-be, I am not good at following a pre-written curriculum. I am much better at putting together assignments myself. So I am going to just work with him on the steps of writing various types of essays, though we will continue to use books like Writing With A Thesis for examples and refining. His first essay, an expository one, will be at least 5 paragraphs, and we'll be starting that today. I plan to have him read a least one sample essay, brainstorm, work on an outline, then a rough draft, and a final draft. In between all those fun steps, he'll continue with freewriting, etc., a la the Brave Writer Lifestyle. After the expository essay, we'll move on to a persuasive or descriptive essay. 

Next year, we'll continue essay writing, with at least one research paper, and various short essays across the curriculum.

The Girl
Our current approach to math—using Math Essentials and filling in any weak spots with Math Mammoth's Blue Series—is working quite well. She likes both programs, which is a rare find here, and is making nice progress! We'll continue on with this for next year's math (pre-algebra), and then decide where to go from there. I might have her try out the free pre-algebra lessons offered by John Zimmerman, the amazing TabletClass guy. Our primary focus the rest of this year is getting her up to full speed on multiplication, division, and fractions.

She does some writing/freewriting, and I should have her doing more Brave Writer Lifestyle activities, but our main focus is spelling, since that is a major weak spot. She spells very phonetically, which can be interesting, but not necessarily easy to understand. I bought a Spelling Workout workbook at a lower level than her reading comprehension, and she's flying through it, doing an entire lesson in a day. I assume we'll slow down as she moves up through the levels. 

Next year, we'll add in written narratives, and the beginnings of essay work.

Downton history, while we haven't read/watched everything on my list, has been a huge hit! That said, I think next year we'll simply aim for watching series, documentaries, and movies... a visual interest-led approach. That is because we have decided we need a year that focuses more on science, which brings me to my next point.

Science has been largely interest-led this year. The Boy is reading a couple of books on black holes, and other cosmological phenomena; The Girl has practically memorized entire animal encyclopedias. We've watched documentaries, done an occasional small experiment, but we haven't really dug too deeply into science this year. I would like to finish out the year with some anatomy and nutrition, but we'll see. 

Next year though, both kids will be doing biology, The Boy because it's a science he has not focused on previously, and The Girl in order to broaden her horizons past animals. I'm looking at either Life on Earth (which looks fascinating, but is an iBook and therefore more difficult for me to access), or something along the lines of Exploring the Way Life Works, or maybe even a (gulp) textbook (this one, or perhaps this one).

OR, we'll be doing the Big History Project with extra science, primarily biology. [Personally, this would be my number one pick]

Literature has not been great this year either, mostly because I did not put enough emphasis on it, and I failed to make it a cornerstone of our education. The kids do read a lot on their own—right now I've got one enmeshed in the world of Harry Potter, and the other one millions of miles from here with The Martian—but at read-alouds... well, I'll just say it: I've sucked this year. I am working to remedy that a bit though. We're finally wrapping up A Wrinkle in Time, and then will either read A Wind in the Door, or something entirely different.

For next year, we are toying with the idea of a lit study based off of another favorite series of ours, Once Upon a Time. We would bring in everything from Alice in Wonderland and Pinocchio, to the Grimm fairy tales, Peter Pan, the legend of Blackbeard, and so forth. 

So,  biology/Big History  interest-led science and literature would be the main focal points for family studies, bolstered with math and writing as individual activities. Plus, The Boy may well take another junior college class.

So yes, we're still aiming high, and falling a bit short. 


  1. Science-wise, we just received the curriculum The Private Eye (which is used with magnifying loupes and is for all ages) and it looks like a great way to encourage independent science interests....I wonder if it might appeal to your family too. I got it at Rainbow Resource which has a very good description, but I think their website is www.the-private-eye.com if you'd like to see in more detail.

    Big History looks pretty great too though!

    1. The Private Eye looks SO cool! I'm ordering that? Because, of course, the second I get done "planning", I realized it won't all happen. So back to unschooling the "extras" (see edited post)


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