I Can't Help It, It's a Disease

With the year happily underway, I know what it means.

It's time to start thinking ahead. Time to start thinking about... 2011-2012.

Yes, I just created the "Homeschool 1112" folder on my computer.

I know, I know. Some haven't even started the 2010-2011 school year! I spread out our buying throughout the year, though, which means that very soon, I'll need to have a plan in order to purchase.

There's some good news. I know what I plan to use for FB for language arts and mathematics. The only real prep work that will need to be done for him is with regards to science and history. I know we'll continue with SOTW, so that is simply a matter of getting the activity guide and beginning to select books. For science, we'll do life science/biology, as suggested in WTM, but I need to select our spines, any experiments or experiment kits, and supplemental books. For EG, I know what I plan to use for language arts, including about half of the literature list. I plan to have her tackle geometry next year, and I have two of the three resources I plan to use. I do need to choose her history supplements. We'll continue with Latin Prep, and the art & music appreciation plans that we began this year. I think we'll use The Snake and the Fox for logic. So far, so good, right?

There's a little matter of a class called biology. O, hai there, bane of my existence. She wants to do high school biology next year. She's capable of this. That's not at issue. It's just... well, advanced math is pretty easy. We just keep doing the next thing, whether it's the next thing from Art of Problem Solving or the next thing from Life of Fred, or both. The sciences have more leeway. There's the molecular focus, or the zoological focus, or the ecological focus, or... well, you get the idea. To make matters worse, I was a biology major. Why does that make it worse? Because, as a result, I think every single part of biology is Of The Utmost Importance.

You would think that the lack of secular science material would mean I have few options. In a sense, this is true. All of the options I have identified were originally designed for classroom use, not homeschool use. It will also be necessary to add a laboratory component to the course, whatever I choose. The LabPaqs look like a possibility. If I seem to be rambling, that's because I essentially am. This has me far more flummoxed than I would like!

There was a thread on out of the box chemistry on WTM the other day, and I have half a mind to post a thread about out of the box biology. Surely there's some resource out there for biology that's vaguely reminiscent of Fred or MCT or...

In sum, though, my major decisions for next year are few. Decide on first grade life science spines, experiments, and supplemental books; choose books to accompany SOTW 2; finish EG's literature list; choose remaining history supplements for EG; and pick a biology curriculum for EG.

Sure. No sweat.


Weekly Report: Week Five (days 019-023)

Since we're five weeks into the school year, I asked EG what her favorite thing about school this year was. She told me she "liked all of it." Not exactly the kind of specific answer I was looking for, so I asked a second question – what was her least favorite thing about school this year? She still couldn't pinpoint an answer. I assume that means that the schoolyear is going well.

EG finished up Grammar Voyage this week, and we read two chapters in A World of Poetry. She read Mara, Daughter of the Nile and the second Alanna book, plus she's still in the middle of The Yearling and continues to pick up The Complete Poems of Christina G. Rossetti and read a few poems at night or other times. This list of books is current as of our Thursday evening ride home from Math Olympiad, so who knows what she's reading by now. :)

EG's overall performance on the final three exercises for chapter three of Latin Prep was good. She did all of the translating from Latin to English 100% correct! She started on chapter four and also began learning the vocabulary from chapter five; I like for her to have mastered the vocabulary before she starts declining, conjugating, or otherwise manipulating it.

Four lessons of Life of Fred & one chapter in Real World Algebra this week, plus she did drill each day. Her one request was that rather than doing RWA once a week, I save it and schedule it for her between chapters of Fred. Easy enough.

In science, she's ploughing through the third unit of PLATO life science. If you've seen this, you'll understand my use of the word "ploughing." It's the unit with the most different segments, and each one covers an entire kingdom – plantae, fungi, you get the idea. She finished the worksheets from the second unit, and read another chapter in Science Matters.

History is going well. So far, I seem to have managed in the plans to strike a balance between covering the material and practicing skills versus overwhelming her with moremoremore books, content, and so forth. She's officially finished with ancient Egypt (that "officially" is important, since she's taken the books to her room; Egypt is a love all the time for her), and read this week about the transition between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age in Mesopotamia.

Master's Academy resumed this week! EG's piano lesson is now at MAFA in the mornings, along with a public speaking course. She has a thirty minute "study hall" between piano and public speaking, and then a forty-five minute lunch period before the afternoon MAFA program begins. She also finished the first section of Art, and started using The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music History (despite her dislike of the name) for music appreciation. This week's listening selection was Ankh: The Sound Of Ancient Egypt.

Together, the kids & I listened to the Classics for Kids segments on Telemann.

FB also had a good week. He was delighted to go back to Master's Academy, and didn't understand why he had to wait until the afternoon when Sissy got to go early! He has such a great time there and loves his teachers.

We covered three lessons in OPGTR and reviewed, for what feels like millionth time, ank-ink-onk-unk. Agh! He also completed a lesson in ETC and was happy that it moved on to the short /i/ sound. We also officially moved into the lowercase letter portion of his handwriting book.

He did five lessons in FLL and week five's work in WWE 1. Books read included Something Special for Me, Hana in the Time of the Tulips, Click, Clack, Moo, Puff the Magic Dragon, all library books he currently has checked out, The Golden Sandal, four stories in Tales from Ancient Egypt, and Casting the Gods Adrift. He also read several books to me this week.

In history, we read about Sargon and his empire. After doing the narration, coloring page, and mapwork, we also read two pages from UBWH, and You Wouldn't Want to Be A Sumerian Slave. For science, we re-read All the Colors of the Rainbow and completed another experiment from his Colors Little Lab.

In math, we finished four lessons, and he's working on adding tens. He loves to play Go to the Dump and Old Main. His overall grasp of math seems excellent, so I hope that continues to be the case.


Challenging the Gifted Learner

One of the common criticisms leveled at gifted programs administered through public schools is that, rather than challenging gifted students, they merely give them more work to do. The "smart kids" have finished their grammar worksheet? Never fear, here's another one! While homeschool parents usually manage to avoid the most egregious examples of this, in practice it can be difficult to challenge a gifted child without accidentally slipping into merely requiring more work.

Smrt Mama and I discussed this recently. While some skills do need practice and repetition (even for gifted students), it can be all too easy to throw content, content, and more content at a child. Despite my love for most of The Well-Trained Mind, at times I think SWB's recommendations with regard to history and literature can fall into that trap. And, of course, there is more knowledge in this world than any one person can master, so there is going to always be an idea for another subject or another area of study that could be added, in yet another attempt to challenge a student.

Ultimately, though, more work does not challenge a student intellectually; it merely challenges a student's time management skills. Challenging a student while maintaining an appropriate workload may require more work on the part of the parent-teacher. A gifted reader doesn't need to be required to read two, three, or four books in a short amount of time; a gifted reader needs a book with vocabulary, sentence structure, and content that will stretch him or her, without being developmentally inappropriate. A gifted writer does not need to write more essays, stories, or poems, but he or she does need to be challenged to improve the organization, clarity, and depth of the essays, to tighten the narrative of the stories, and to enhance the imagery and language used in the poetry. A gifted mathematician does not need to do sixty-four similar math problems instead of just sixteen or thirty-two, but he or she does need to see multiple ways of approaching the problem and thinking about math.

The challenge, as it ever is, is finding the appropriate resources and curricula to accomplish these goals. It is harder for the parent-teacher to go deeper and wider. Compression and additional work are far easier responses. While compression may at time be appropriate (one common example of this is First Language Lessons; many have shared their experience in covering the first two levels in just one school year, for instance), additional assignments rarely are. Additional work may approach the material from a different angle, require a slightly different set of skills, or increase understanding in some way; in these particulars, additional work may in fact be appropriate. In many cases, however, these benefits could possibly be acquired through a different approach, rather than merely through further assignments.

Some of the resources I have discovered and have either used or planned to use:
Michael Clay Thompson's language arts curriculum If you watch a video of this man speak, you can see that he really gets it. These materials are exceptional! I also cannot wait to see him speak in person next March – I'm planning to drive to Greenville for the chance to see him & Susan Wise Bauer in person.
Art of Problem Solving mathematics resources. AoPS publishes mathematics resources for approximately sixth grade and up, as well as providing online classes to correspond to the textbooks as well as classes to prepare for prestigious math contests. Also available from AoPS are a few resources for elementary-age students. We have two of their books so far (Introduction to Number Theory and Introduction to Counting & Probability), and plan to have EG participate in some of their online courses in the future.
TIP (Duke's Talent Search) store I am most familiar with TIP because we are in their geographical region; I'm sure other regional talent searches have similar resources. There is an in-depth study of Greek mythology available, as well as one for the Arthurian legends. Actually, I think all of it looks excellent; those are just two I plan to purchase for use later this school year.

What are your best resources for challenging students?


Today was a lovely day of homeschooling, with regards to education, and I think that's instructive. So many components can go into a homeschool day, and the chances of getting all of the components to work in sync are, unfortunately, quite small.

What is a good day, educationally speaking? Today, it meant that EG completed her work within the assigned time parameters, with a good attitude, and did her work well. FB also completed his work with a good attitude and showed understanding. Both of them have time this afternoon or evening to work on science projects; EG is going to help FB with his, and later she'll work on her own. EG has a trumpet lesson this evening, and she's practiced for 20 minutes in preparation for that. She's also practiced piano and marked off a majority of the items on her "chore" checklist, which enumerates her responsibilities each day outside of the schoolroom.

A particular triumph today was that both children started a new poem for memory work yesterday, yet both were able to recite more than half of it by memory already this afternoon.

On the other hand, there's the "home" portion of homeschooling. There's also a toddler, but we'll get to her in a moment. I told Spousal Unit that today was pretty crappy, and when he asked what had happened, I simply said, "No. Literally." The cat left feces on the bed (she's mad at us about getting a dog), the dog had an accident in the living room, the toddler had an enormous diaper, and FB had a slight constipation issue (for the first time in a few months). There was, literally, a lot of crap in my day today. I forgot about a laundry in the washer (though I am thankful that my washer works - Heather, you have my sympathies, and I hope you found an adequate replacement today), and the table has a disturbing number of piles on it. Also, my internet at home went out most of the afternoon. Thank you, Mercury Retrograde. Not my finest "home" day.

Finally, of course, there's PC, who has been in a mood for several days (which also coincide with Mercury going retrograde, come to think of it). She's not sleeping well, which leads to a very grumpy girl. She's not explicitly in need of anything in particular, she's just plain grumpy.

To swing the pendulum back to the positive, I've read several good books in the last few days, and am reading another at present. I've read Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire, The Link, and Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, and am in the middle of Remarkable Creatures. I have more good books waiting.

Best of all, perhaps, is that tonight is Custard Night with my girls. <3


Goals for Writing

One of my goals for this year was to expand my general homeschooling goals into more specific goals in some areas. One of these areas was writing. Writing occupies a prime place in my overall goals, but I wanted to break it down further, into the "nitty-gritty." For example, one of the ones I have so far is "To be fully comfortable with the editing process, and use it well."

I have six specific goals so far, but I feel as if there is something missing. Naturally, then, I turn to the internet. Help me, internetz, you're my only hope! ;)

So - what are your specific goals with regards to writing?


Weekly Report: Week Four (days 014-018)

Our main accomplishment this week was that we got a dog! Technically, we are fostering her for a period of thirty days to ensure that she's a good fit with us. She's a young (just past a year old) Siberian Husky; her name is/was Skyler, but we're planning to rechristen her a different name. The cat is not so sure what to think. So far they appear to tolerate each other, but where they go from here remains to be seen.

Purple Child continues to be crazy and stubborn. Really, what more can you say about twenty-one month olds?

Fabulous Boy had a good week. He finished three lessons in OPGTR plus ten pages or so in ETC. He told me he was tired of the short-a sound in ETC today. He finished five lessons in FLL and completed week four from WWE 1. I also started him doing the exercises from ReadyWriter, since I have them on CD-ROM already. Why, yes, I am trying to give him a few things that give me a minute or two to check on EG or PC. We finished Egyptian Myths this week, and are close to finishing Tales of Ancient Egypt. He also listened to I Am the Mummy Heb-Nefert, Millions of Cats, The Berenstain Bears' Thanksgiving, Bronto Eats Meat, and Jackalope, amongst others. He didn't learn any new poetry, but continued to improve his recall. The next poem is long ("Godfrey Gordon Gustavus Gore").

He also did five lessons in Right Start A and we read Give Me Half!. I could probably move a little faster than we are, but it's working for now, so why mess with it? He's got the memory work of parallel & perpendicular well-memorized, even if he does sometimes forget what a right angle is.

In history, he learned about mummies & pyramids. We read chapter four in SOTW 1, after which he narrated each section orally. He also did the mapwork & the coloring page from the activity guide. We read the corresponding pages in the Usborne Book of World History, plus Mummies Made in Egypt and You Wouldn't Want to Be A Pyramid Builder. He played with the Building the Pyramids sticker scene and colored three pages he selected from Life in Ancient Egypt. In theory, we're going to do two history projects tonight or this weekend: a sugar pyramid, and start mummifying a chicken. He's memorized the periods of early history quite well and is working on memorizing some of the most important/most commonly mentioned gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. He's also memorized the seven continents.

FB did two more experiments from the "Colors" Little Lab, one of which involved making our own sidewalk chalk! He keeps wanting to make more. He played with a prism again, and we read What Makes A Shadow? His recall of the colors of the spectrum/rainbow appears to be regressing rather than improving, oddly. He also had his second oceanography class where, he reports, they talked about crabs.

We listened to the Classics for Kids' recent segments on Benjamin Britten, and I'm trying to convince myself to drag out some paints later, just for fun.

To further my goal of having kids with strange skills, FB began memorizing the names of some of our elected officials this week. I started with the federal level, as the elections won't bring any substantial change there. Then we'll work on governor, state senator, and state representative after November. He finally has our telephone number memorized!

Eclectic Girl also had a good week. Together, we went through some of the remaining material in Grammar Voyage, as well as the second chapter in A World of Poetry. My tentative plan is to revisit the poetry book periodically throughout the year after this initial go-through. I also had her re-read chapters three, four, and five from Paragraph Town Her literature this week was Aesop's Fables followed by Ludmilla Zeman's Gilgamesh trilogy. She also read The Devil's Arithmetic and is reading both The Yearling and Mara, Daughter of the Nile. She appears to have finally mastered "Sea Fever" in poetry, so I think it's time to move forward next week for her as well.

EG finished her turn through Ancient Egypt, and started today focusing on Sumeria. She'll get further adventure in Egypt for a few weeks yet, though, thanks to her little brother. She read The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt this week, and evaluated a primary source (in prior weeks, I had just required her to read them - easing her into it, I suppose). Her art appreciation tied into history this week, also, as she read "Egyptian Artifacts in History" from her history book and studied it. She also has memorized periods of early history (though I required some dates from her) and ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses, as well as periods of Egyptian history.

Latin went well. She's nearing the end of chapter three of Latin Prep. I'll be very interested to see how she does on the cumulative exercises in the workbook next week.

Math continues to go very well. She finished four lessons in Life of Fred, did one chapter in Real World Algebra, and beat both levels of drill. She had Math Olympiad last night and enjoyed it.

EG finished the second unit of PLATO Life Science and did two worksheets from the first unit. I'm deliberately spacing these out so I can check her recall a bit! She also read chapter two in CPO Life Science and Eyewitness Science: Ecology. She continued her general science overview with chapter four ("The Atom") in Science Matters, and is memorizing a few things for biology.

Her fine arts work continues to go well. She read about the brass and percussion sections of an orchestra and took notes for music appreciation, and I mentioned art above. This was the last week of driving to her piano instructor's house; next week she will be doing her lessons at Master's Academy in the mornings (same instructor). I'm excited about not having to drive as far! Trumpet lesson went well, and her teacher suggested that next year, when she's eligible, she audition for All-State Band!

EG is memorizing our current elected officials also, as well as the current justices of the Supreme Court.

Me? I'm feeling frazzled. Two students this year versus always only one before, a new dog that we can't yet leave unattended unless she's in her crate, plus all the other various and sundry responsibilities that tend to plague me... yeah. But hey. The kids are all right.


"A Host of Strange Skills"

My favorite portion of The Well-Trained Mind is this, from the Prologue:

I had a host of strange skills: I could diagram sentences; I could read Latin; I knew enough logic to tell whether an assertion was true or faulty.

A host of strange skills. I have always loved that phrasing. I do not know if it is an appropriate goal to have for one's offspring, but I admit: it is a goal I have for mine. I would love for each of them to say, "I have a host of strange skills, strange interests, and strange behaviors." By "strange," of course, I don't mean "undesirable," but rather "uncommon." Skills, interests, and behaviors that would be considered desirable, but not often found.

I actually think that perhaps I am doing well at meeting this goal. There have been several times lately that I see a glimpse of this.

For example, EG got some money for her birthday; $5 from my great-aunt on my father's side, and $10 from her maternal great-grandmother. The first thing she thought of when she got the $5 was taking her siblings to Bruster's for ice cream. So, on Saturday, that's what we did. Last night, she spent the remaining money on a toy for the new dog.

No, it's not horribly uncommon, but if I raise a child that thinks of others before herself, then I have succeeded where too many others have not, unfortunately.

Last week, a lovely eighteen year old of my acquaintance came by the house. While she was here, she was in EG's room. She saw a large book* sitting on EG's bedside table, and moved closer to discern the title. "Oh, poems," she said, "I wondered what kind of big book your mom was making you read."

"Oh, she's not making me read it," EG hastened to assure her. "It was a birthday present!" This was said without a hint of dismay or any suggestion that she was, in fact, forced to read it.

Said eighteen year old furrowed her brow, and made a comment about when parents give books as gifts, it's usually a hint. Her voice trailed off as she spoke, and one or another of us in the room changed the subject within a few seconds, natural in the course of conversation.

Clearly, this was not exactly "normal" behavior.

I know that we still have a long way to travel, and I of course have other goals, including those that are, shall we say, more quantifiable. Still, I hope I raise children with a veritable laundry list of strange skills, behaviors, and interests.

*The book in question is The Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti.


Weekly Report: Week Three (days 009-013)

Eclectic Girl
Language Arts: She read Tales of Ancient Egypt and re-read two chapters of Paragraph Town. Together, we read the first chapter of A World of Poetry and finished up Part One in Grammar Voyage, then moved along and wrapped up Part Two as well. She's also listening to her father read The Golden Goblet to both her & FB in the evenings. We did a bit of phonogram review (I really need to order All About Spelling 6, but neither she nor I are eager to return to that subject.), and she's got the Egyptian gods & goddesses well-memorized, as well poem fourteen, level two from IEW's poetry memorization program. She also reviews the words and stems from Caesar's English I on an alternating basis.

Mathematics: EG finished four lessons in LoF Advanced Algebra, did chapter one from Real World Algebra (Zaccaro), and beat both levels of drill this week! I think we're going to try doing four days of LoF and one day of Zaccaro for awhile. She's also doing Flashmaster daily, to get her speed up to, well, speed, and most evenings, she works in AoPS's Introduction to Number Theory, more or less for fun. Math club/Math Olympiad started this week, too, and she reported that she learned a new type of diagram (?). Sounds good to me.

Science: EG has nearly finished the first unit of PLATO Life Science, which consists of five different segments. She's completed a worksheet for two of those segments and done well. She also read the first chapter of CPO Life Science and did the section reviews. I don't know that I'll have her read in the CPO text weekly, but it made a nice diversion this week. She's reviewing the five senses for memory work. She also read Eyewitness Skeleton, and read chapter three in Science Matters. Her History of Science class (through a local homeschool enrichment program) started this past week, and I think it will be a good fit for her.

History: Continuing her study of Ancient Egypt, EG wrote her summary this week on mummification and burial. She read Macaulay's Pyramid, as well as reading in their entirety Eyewitness Mummy and The Ancient Egyptian World. She's been doing outlining easily, which I had suspected. She has memorized periods of early history, and is working on memorizing the periods of Egyptian history. She's also reviewing the four oceans, since I never formally required her to memorize them in the past.

Latin: EG is continuing to work through chapter 3 in Latin Prep, and reviews the vocabulary for chapters 1-4 daily. This week, she finished exercises 3.4 through 3.8 in the textbook, and exercises 3.7 through 3.10 in the workbook. In other ancient languages news, she's learning the Greek Alphabet Song for memory work.

Fine Arts: Orientation for Master's Academy was on Monday. EG was pleased to see her friends again and learn that she was in the Sapphire class this year. On Tuesday, she had both her piano lesson and trumpet lesson. For art appreciation this week, she read about Media Techniques, and for music appreciation, she learned about strings and woodwinds.

Overall, an excellent week! No new activities begin next week, but the following week, Master's Academy will begin, which will be a long day for EG this year - her piano lesson there, thirty minutes of "study hall," public speaking class, then lunch followed by the regular Master's Academy program. Whew!

Fabulous Boy
Language Arts: FB still shows some resistance about this reading thing. He can clearly do the work, but just doesn't seem to care that much about it. Despite that, we had a good week. He finished five lessons in FLL, and week three in WWE. He worked on his handwriting each day, and finished four lessons in OPGTR plus four pages in Explode the Code book one. Since I have ETC, and since he likes workbooks and writing, I've decided to go ahead and add it to the mix. We read lots of books this week - Arrow to the Sun, Katie Meets the Impressionists, Tigers and Sails and ABC Tales, The Peace Book, A Chair for My Mother, The Egyptian News, It's About Time, Mummy Math, several stories from Egyptian Myths, plus chapters from Tales from Ancient Egypt. As mentioned above, he and EG are both listening to their dad read The Golden Goblet in the evenings. He's nearly mastered poems eleven and twelve, level one, from IEW's poetry program. He's also working on his telephone number and the Egyptian gods and goddesses. Finally, he read me a book today – My Pal Al, which we had checked out of the library.

Mathematics: Seven lessons in Right Start A this week, and he's nearly finished memorizing the definitions of parallel and perpendicular, at least as far as they apply to lines.

History: This week, we read chapter 3 in SOTW 1, which is about the first writing. FB did the mapwork and coloring page, and gave me an oral narration. In the car, we've been listening to Jim Weiss's Egyptian Treasures. He also chose three pages from Life in Ancient Egypt to color. He's nearly mastered the periods of early history and has the seven continents down cold.

Science: Tuesday is our science experiment day, and this Tuesday was fantastically busy, so no science experiments got finished this week. We kept talking about color, though, as FB works to finish mastering the colors of the rainbow for memory work. We read All the Colors of the Rainbow and played with a prism for awhile. He also started his class at the same place as EG's history of science class - Oceanography.

Fine Arts: FB's orientation for Master's Academy was also on Monday, of course, but his did not go so smoothly, at least at first. He was initially placed in the same class as last year – Amber – while all of his friends had moved to Gold. Needless to say, he was crushed when he went to sit down and they were all in a different row. As I waited for the orientation to start, I plotted about how I was going to approach the problem. Luckily, one of the teachers came over and asked if I'd like to have FB moved up with his friends in Gold. Yes! Please! Problem solved, thankfully. :) We also listened to Classics for Kids podcasts about Scott Joplin.

FB is both excited that he does schoolwork now, and I think a bit sad that he can't goof off ALL day long any more. He's adjusting well, though, and I still hold out hope that his literacy will take off like I know it can. (No, I don't understand how someone can not really care about reading... it's totally outside my paradigm!)

Purple Child
PC cannot decide if it's worth the effort to talk or not. We often hear a word once or twice, and then not again for at least a few weeks. Some of her favorites, though, are directions. "Blow!" when EG is practicing trumpet; "Go!" when I am driving and there is a red light. You get the picture.

I'm still adjusting to teaching two students. It's different on so many levels. EG still needs me somewhat, but not as intensely, and hasn't for years at this point. FB needs more hand-holding and direct teaching than EG ever did, in a lot of ways. On the other hand, his fine motor skills are more developed than hers were at a comparable age, so with the addition of ETC, I should be able to assign him a page and go to teach EG without him automatically getting into mischief. Yes, their desks are only five feet apart. He'd still get into mischief.

I'm surprising the kids with a trip to Chuck E. Cheese this afternoon after EG's vision therapy. Shh!


Recommending Curricula

I need some help, fellow bloggers.

I'm trying to put together a list of recommended curricula for a friend of my mother's. Here's the thing, though. She comes from a Pentecostal background. She has three children that are very close in age (10 in October, 9 in October, and 8 in January). The oldest two (10 yo boy, 9 yo girl) are both doing third grade this year (in public school). She plans to either pull them out mid-year when they move back home to Mississippi, or at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year. She will want a Christian, YEC perspective, and a lot of things she can combine. She also is working with a limited budget; there's no way she could afford to purchase a package like MFW, WP, or Sonlight, is my understanding.

Most of this falls outside my area of expertise! Here's some thoughts I've had. Please tell me how they'd work, and offer more suggestions!

Rod & Staff grammar (I thought she could possibly start all of them in the third grade book and keep them together)
Apologia Elementary science
Mystery of History
Spelling Power (my understanding is that you need one book for all levels?)
Writing With Ease, probably starting all three in Level 1
Handwriting... A Reason For Handwriting?
Math... She (the mom) is really good at math, so she doesn't need a lot of hand-holding. At the same time, I don't think Miquon is the best fit and they're not ready for Life of Fred. What's a good basic, relatively inexpensive mid-elementary math curriculum?
Literature... I thought I'd point her towards the Ambleside Online booklists
Music - Classics for Kids podcast
Art - I outsource/d grammar-stage art appreciation. What's a good source here?

I thought I'd also mention CLE as an option to her. I don't think she's wedded to a particular approach. Her oldest has some learning difficulties (hence the reason he's in the same grade as his younger sister) but I don't know what they are/how they play out - they were caused by birth trauma (life-flighted to Memphis from Mississippi just after birth, may have had severe meconium aspiration).

Help me help her! She definitely wants to 'afterschool' until they can start homeschooling, so I'd love for her to feel like she has a good place to start. :)


Double Digits

This has been EG's most anticipated birthday yet, I think, and that's due mainly to that phrase above: double digits. She turned ten on Thursday, and has ended up with something of a birthday weekend. Birthday weekends, by the way, usually mean quite a bit of work for the mom. How is it that this always happens?

Wednesday night, I baked a cake (yellow, two round layers), and Thursday morning, I frosted it (chocolate buttercream). I also made our family recipe sweet rolls for breakfast, along with scrambled eggs.

After a few false starts (literally - our van would not start and we had to all squish into my parents' van), we made our way to White Water. EG went on nearly every slide there! We saw Smrt Mama and company there, as well. After we left White Water and cleaned ourselves up a bit, we headed to the new Chipotle in our area for lunch. Yum! Then it was back to our house for cake and presents. Spousal Unit and I gave her The Complete Poems of Christina G. Rossetti, which she loved, and a charm bracelet with two charms already on it - a big initial "G," and a "Big Sister" charm. My parents gave her two more charms for the bracelet, as well as a book - Spy vs. Spy.

Then, Spousal Unit and my father spent a few hours fixing the van, which now runs again. Hooray!

The next day, Friday, we headed downtown to the Zoo. This was after baking cupcakes on my part. We rode the train and the carousel, made nice with the animals at the petting zoo, peeked in on various animals, and were saddened at the lack of otter play. We had lunch at Piccadilly (the one with the best fried cod), then dropped off EG's bracelet at the store to have the other two charms added. We had ice cream and went to the bookstore while we waited, then picked up the bracelet. In the evening, I made more buttercream and frosted the cupcakes.

Today started earlier with finishing up the necessary cleaning, decorating a bit, and heading to the farmers' market. I am overjoyed because I am an autumn girl at heart. There were both apples and sweet potatoes at the market today! Bliss. Then FB was off to a friend's birthday party while I finished putting away a few things, vacuumed, and decorated the cupcakes.

EG's family party was this afternoon. MIL was over 30 minutes late, which was more trouble than it sounds, as the first item on the agenda for the party was eating lunch. So I had to keep the beans & taco meat warm for longer than anticipated. Then my aunt acted weird after awhile. I never know why she acts weird. Rapid cycling bipolar? Despite all of these hiccups, EG had a great time. She got a couple of big double-dutch style jumpropes, a fashion design projector, Julie's Bike (American Girl), Julie's Floral Jumpsuit (American Girl), a mood ring, and a digital camera. Almost all of the cupcakes are gone already, too.

Because I was clearing and cleaning for the party, the main rooms of the house (living room, kitchen, and dining room) look fantastic, as does the playroom half of the schoolroom/playroom. The schoolroom half and the bedrooms all look decent. Now if I can only translate that success to the upstairs landing area, the sunroom, the library, and the cupboard under the stairs.

We have a quiet day planned tomorrow for the remainder of the birthday weekend. Then it's back to work on Monday morning! Up this week: Master's Academy orientation and the first meeting of math club.


Weekly Report: Week Two (days 006-008)

I admit it - I could get used to a three-day school week.

EG's tenth birthday was yesterday, so we stopped for the week on Wednesday. Who wants to do school on her birthday or his sister's birthday? As an added "bonus," it was the first day of school for the public schools in our county. We were definitely the antithesis of "back to school" this year.

EG had a good shortened week. She finished up the last sentences in Practice Town and covered more in Grammar Voyage. She also finished reading Mythology as her assigned literature book, and read The Westing Game in her free reading time, before turning to the second book in the Alanna series and Spy vs. Spy, one of her birthday presents.

She completed lessons six through eight in Advanced Algebra and did drill each day. She completed another segment of PLATO Life Science and read an additional chapter in Science Matters. She also watched lectures one through three of The Joy of Science. I found worksheets of a sort for the PLATO science course, so I gave her the first of those as a sort of review. It was multiple-choice and she aced it.

For history, she read about ancient Egypt, writing her summary about the Nile and how Egyptian life was dependent upon it. She continues to take well to outlining. For Latin, she completed three exercises in the text and two in the workbook. Finally, for art appreciation, she read about Light & Shading.

EG also had her ten year old doctor visit. She continues to hover near the bottom of the chart for weight, and her BMI is somewhere below the fifth percentile. I swear, I feed her. Her new trumpet mouthpiece is making a tremendous difference, too.

FB also had a good week. He finished three lessons in OPGTR, and finished the remainder of week two in WWE 1. He also did lessons five through seven in FLL, and practiced copywork plus starting corner capitals.

Among the books FB read or had read to him this week were two or three Bob books, Secrets of the Mummies, Henny Penny, The Boy Who Loved to Draw, Meet the Orchestra, Color Dance, Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, Water Dance, and Leonardo and the Flying Boy. He's also listened to several stories from Green's Tales of Ancient Egypt.

As the above list indicates, FB started learning about Egypt in SOTW this week. He really enjoys his coloring pages and the mapwork. We got the film Mysteries of Egypt from Netflix, and he's done a few experiments from the Colors Little Lab for science.

I'll write a more detailed memory work update next week. :)



Ten years ago, some of the top songs were "Kryptonite," "Oops... I Did It Again," and "With Arms Wide Open." It was the end of the 20th century; it was the end of the millennium. It was designated as World Mathematical Year. The Republican National Convention had just ended, and despite his nomination as their candidate, I did not truly believe George W. Bush would ever take the oath of office. Sir Alec Guinness died. It was the "Year of the Golden Dragon." Millennium babies, in retrospect, would outnumber those born in the years immediately previous and immediately following; it was a baby boomlet for the year 2000. X-Men, The Perfect Storm, and The Patriot were playing in movie theaters across the country. Earlier that summer, you might have enjoyed Scary Movie or Mission: Impossible II. This was, after all, long before Tom Cruise jumped on couches and went a little bit crazy.

Ten years ago, Saddam Hussein was in power, and so were the Taliban. The World Trade Center towers still stood in Manhattan, and no one had ever driven a plane into the Pentagon. I had, just two months before, dreamed of a plane going down in a field, a field and a setting I'd never seen. I wouldn't see that field, in Pennsylvania, until September 11 the next year. Katrina had not yet hit New Orleans, soldiers had not died in Iraq, oil had not plunged out of the Gulf of Mexico, we had never had an African-American president. When there was a presidential election, we knew the outcome before sunrise on Wednesday. If we wanted to listen to music while we exercised or merely walked down the street, we need a Walkman or a Discman. Napster was huge. No one had tweeted. Some people had cellular phones, but a lot of people didn't.

Ten years ago, I was nineteen, and all that that might encompass. I knew exactly what I wanted, and like any good college student, I knew absolutely everything. Except, perhaps, organic chemistry, but I knew enough about it to pass the class. I hadn't been on a horse in months; I didn't realize it would be years before I would be again.

Ten years ago, on a sunny Saturday, at 8 am, I pushed out one tiny (7 lb 1 oz) baby girl, sitting in a hospital bed in Cobb county. It was the last time I'd have a child where all of the grandparents would meet the child on the day of birth. I put her on my bare chest immediately. I felt both exhausted and exhilarated.

For ten years, I've had the privilege to watch her grow. In the beginning, I tried hard to be both parent and student. Two weeks after she was born, the fall semester started. I remember someone asking me where I had gotten a baby; needless to say, I hadn't been showing much during spring classes. Life had a rhythm, busy though it was. We did our best.

She showed an understanding of sets at barely two; I knew, somewhere, what that meant, though I never anticipated her tackling algebra at age nine. She loved to nurse, though I never expected her to wean two days after her fifth birthday. She loved to be read to, and I wasn't surprised when she read early. She has sung, she has danced, she has been serious and silly. I cannot sum her in words.

In the end, I'll quote Loudon Wainwright III. That's my daughter in the water - who'd've ever thought her?
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"A little rebellion every now and then is a good thing." - Thomas Jefferson