Sunday, August 26, 2007

Planning for the School Year

I am a little late in my planning for the school year, I usually start before the previous year has ended and here we are getting ready to start up again in a week and I haven't even finished my planning. Part of planning for the school year is evaluating where we've already been and what of that worked and what didn't. This year I will be schooling the three boys, who will be in 11th, 8th, and 6th grades. The oldest boy may be at the community college the following year doing the dual enrollment program or running start as it is known in our state and so I am looking at what I want to accomplish with him this year before he moves on and out of our homeschool. He is also thinking that he might want to go to college and work towards a degree in Graphic Design - so I want to keep that in mind as I plan out our year. I recently finished reading A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver Van DeMille and got some food for thought from it. I am considering scaling back our subjects for a time and focusing on Reading good literature and writing - we will, of course, still do math. I have felt a little scattered as of late with our schooling, struggling with boys who are not strongly motivated in their education and one thing I learned from reading TJED is that I "can't" educate my children, they must do that themselves, I can learn how to become a better teacher/mentor - but they need to take some ownership of their education. That said, here is our tentative program for the fall:

11th Grade:
Exploring America: History, Literature and Faith by Ray Notgrass
(we started this last year and found it to be interesting and challenging. It will take us through the Holidays and then we will figure out where to go from there.)

We started Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive level C last year and will continue on with it this year. Writing is our weakest area, and this program has helped us tremendously. I won't say that it is a miracle and the boys love to write now, but it is helping them to develop the skills that make it a bit easier.

He is working out of a book called Practical Math. He also started this last year after he finished up his algebra and will be done with it early this fall. We are going to give Teaching Textbooks Geometry a try next. I prayed about this a considerable amount and looked at many curriculums and reviews of curriculums. I have taken algebra but not geometry and decided that we needed some help. It is a pricey step for us and so I am hoping this will be the answer we need, we shall see.

We will be adding in some other subjects too, such as Art Appreciation - which went by the wayside last year and he will finish up his Barry Stebbing Art Course videos and continue to work on the Mustang with his dad and brother. He also has a part time job now and we will have to work around that schedule too.

8th Grade and 6th Grade:

Last year I had both boys together for history and we used This Country of Ours and some other books I had to start our journey into American History. I used Ambleside Online year 4 for ideas of what books to use for literature readings. It worked OK for us, but the boys don't want to read and they are not fast readers so it is a constant battle. It seems as if we get through very few books in a year. I am pretty sure we will continue on our course of history study and probably pick one or two books each outside of that for them to read.

Last year my middle son started into Exploring Creation Through General Science from Apologia and he struggled with it. He dreaded science each day. I am not sure I want to continue on with that. I worked through one of the Glad Scientist books with my youngest son and that went OK. We then did a unit on Reptiles because he wanted to study them. I am really undecided what to do this year with either of them.

My middle son is working through Saxon Algebra 1/2 and doing fine with it. We are going slowly and I think that helps. My youngest son did Saxon 65 last year and will move into Saxon 87 this year because that is the next text that I have, we will take it slowly and I am sure he will be fine.

Both boys will also use the Institute for Excellence in Writing materials, except level B instead of C like their older brother.

This looks so scanty to me, but I am feeling called to cut back and work on some basic things such as habit/attitude training and doing well with the little before we move much more into our schedule. It is amazing to me as I continue on this journey of homeschooling at how each child is SO different and their needs, likes and dislikes are so different. Trying to plan what they NEED is important to me and proves to be a challenge. I am confident, though, that with God's help we will persevere.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Guess Where We Went

Does it look like New Mexico or Arizona? Well, it is desert, but it is the actually in Canada and is the only desert in Canada. We celebrated our 27th Anniversary this month and took a trip to eastern Washington and then drove up into Canada to a city called Osoyoos, BC. The buildings in the picture are actually part of a resort built by the Okanagon indians from the area. The city is built in the middle of the desert, but there is a huge lake, Lake Osoyoos that has several resorts with beach front property. It is the place for those who love water recreation of many kinds. The area is also known for grapes and wineries. While we were in Osoyoos, we visited the Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Center. You start the tour with a visit into a small museum that has information about the original natives from the area and their history, from there you go outside where there are displays that give more information about the people and the animals from the area. There are trails through the desert, we took a short one that leads to replicas of the summer and winter homes that the original natives lived in. The whole center was very interesting and well worth the trip.

Where has the Time Gone?

I must admit that I contemplated deleting this blog - due to lack of inspiration and interest on my part. I am not sure why I decided to continue on, but alas, for now I am. The summer seems to have flown by and yet, when I look back, I have a hard time figuring out where it went. Hmm. We did have a couple of short trips, one to the Sun Lakes area of Eastern Washington in June, it was wonderfully warm and sunny, which was greatly appreciated after our cool spring. The second trip was a camping trip with dear friends in the Olympic National Park Heart O' the Hills Campground. Lush, old growth forest envelopes this campground and God's handiwork is truly evident. Other events have filled our summer too. Our oldest son, almost 17, has started his first job at a nearby Jack in the Box restaurant and also received his drivers license. These events have brought many changes to our daily routine. We are entering yet another season of our family's life - another child growing and moving a bit closer to independence. It is exciting and yet bittersweet, my babies are growing up. Time marches on.