Thursday, July 23, 2015

2015 - 2016 Curricular Plans

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Welcome to any new visitors! I can't believe it's that time of year again, but I'm slowly starting to look forward to our new school year. New books and supplies always help. ; ) 


OVERVIEW

This year I'll be homeschooling my almost 16 year-old son who was diagnosed with autism at age 2. He has been homeschooled since the middle of 1st grade. Although he's starting 10th grade this year, his skills vary. Last year Ryne enjoyed his first year of Classical Conversations. He was in Challenge A last year, but will be skipping ahead to Challenge I this year (many factors led to that decision -- too long to go into now).

I also have two daughters (12th and 7th grades) who attend a classical Christian school three days a week. All three kids now work pretty much independently, but my homeschool days still feel very full with grading, record keeping, planning, proofreading papers, reading the books my son reads, proctoring tests, and a lot college planning with my oldest. It's a very different life than when the kids were young. For those of you looking forward to getting a break when the kids are older . . . sorry, it ain't happening! ; )


THE PLAN

Bible

Memory work from the Heidelberg Catechism and weekly catechism classes at church
Grace and Ryne are entering their fourth and final year of catechism training. They have worked hard and are seeing the fruit of their labor in other areas of life. Such a blessing!

This will be our third year using this series. It gives him structure to his Bible study time, but doesn't get overwhelming, given he also spends daily time memorizing his catechism assignment. 

Government and Economics

Challenge I materials: Words Aptly Spoken: American Documents, Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?, The Money Mystery, A Bluestocking Guide to Economics, An Introduction to Policy Debate
Anyone who has followed our homeschool journey knows how much I have loved our history studies, so you can imagine how sad I am to not have formal history plans this year. God must have known I'd need something good to fill that void, so it's providential and appropriate that this former political science major would get to study government and economics with her son this year! Woo-hoo!!!! : )
Showdown at Gucci Gulch
I'm going to try not to add too much extra reading until I get a feel for how heavy Ryne's workload is this year, but this book is a must-read. Long before I knew the value of living books, I first read Showdown in my legislative process class in college and couldn't believe how exciting tax reform could be. No, really, I'm not kidding. : ) I figured there would be something more current that today's professors prefer, but apparently not; it's now a classic and I'm looking forward to reading it again. 

CNN Student News
Last fall I learned about this resource from another blogger and it quickly became Ryne's favorite part of the day (I enjoyed it too and Grace loves to watch on the days she's home). In just 10 minutes a day, we can follow all the latest world events, often with interesting background information. No, it's not from a Christian perspective, but I actually find the coverage about as ideologically balanced as you can find these days.
Science

One of the positives of skipping Challenge B is that Ryne can start on the traditional high school science progression, and I will have the accountability I need to keep us doing science (my least favorite subject, but a favorite of all my kids)!
Math and Logic

I'm a loyal fan of MUS. It works well for us, so I plan to stick with it for the long haul. Classical Conversations encourages parents to take math along with their oldest homeschooled child and I think this is the year that I just might have to start doing some practice problems on my own. It all looks familiar, but I'm a little rusty. ; )
Just thought I'd throw in this link. Do you ever remember having to start over with your algebra homework just because you messed up a graph? These little post-it style graph paper pads take care of that! Anna has used them all through high school, so I stock up when I place my annual Rainbow Resource order.
The main downside to skipping Challenge B is that we'll be skipping the year they study logic. Having a high school senior who is classically educated, I know just how crucial the study of logic is and that it should not be skipped. I had hoped to start on it this summer, but that has not happened. So we will start lightly and hit it hard on the winter break and when CC ends in mid-April.

American Literature and Composition

Challenge I and II are the heaviest reading years of the Challenge program, but I've always had Ryne do a lot of reading for history, so overall he will actually be reading less than in previous years. This will allow us to focus more on further improving his writing and reading discussion skills.
We didn't get this done last year, so I need to be more organized with our planning so it actually gets done. 

Foreign Language

When it's not broken, don't fix it, right? Ryne did very well with the Latin for Children series (he started with Song School Latin and completed LFC A & B). We would have continued with Level C had he not started Classical Conversations. He did great with the Henle latin they use, because he already knew most of what was introduced in Challenge A. But I noticed that the few things he had to learn new, he didn't learn as well as he had with LFC. Plus, we both found the assignments tedious (especially to grade -- I can't stand the Henle answer key). Many CC families do their own thing for certain subjects (especially math, but other subjects too), so we're going to mostly part ways with Henle. I'll still have Ryne look over the weekly vocabulary and grammar rules the Challenge I guide assigns so he can participate in class, but we're going to use the Latin Alive series (the continuation of LFC) as our main program. I think he'll start in Book 2, but I need to compare scope and sequences a little more.

Computer Science

Ryne loved the first two books of this series he did a couple of years ago. I don't think we'll have time this year to work on the other set we purchased since we need to squeeze in logic, but you never know. : )
Fine Arts

Drama/Music Theory (part of Challenge I studies)

At least two musical events, such as the symphony or a musical -- a BHA tradition!
A tradition we didn't keep last year, but I'm already looking at symphony dates for this year.

Physical Education

Cross Country and Track

Mom Stuff

This book is so helpful!!! Not just for planning Ryne's schooling, but for Anna's college search as well.

It's been two years since I switched from paper to an online planner. I had tried once before with some software, but found it cumbersome and went back to paper. In preparation for high school, however, I felt I needed something that would calculate grades and hours and all that better than what I could do on my own. I have been very happy with Scholaric. It does everything I need it to do without being overwhelming.

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There you have it, our plan for the new school year! We officially start school August 17th, but will ease our way into things the week before. Feel free to ask me any questions or let me know your experience with anything we're using this year.

Happy Homeschooling!!!



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

2014 - 2015 Curricular Plans

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In case you didn't read the title carefully, these are my homeschool plans for the school year we just completed! You see, I never quite got around to posting our plans last year, but it turns out I reference this annual post quite a bit throughout the year, and I really missed not having an online record of our plans. So I'm backtracking a bit and in the process giving a little recap of our last school year.

Since I'm doing this in hindsight, I could be sneaky and not list the things we intended to do yet didn't get around to actually doing, making the 2014 - 2015 school the first time we've ever completed everything on our list. ; ) But I figure there's no hiding the fact that I'm always overly ambitious when planning our school year.  



OVERVIEW

This past school year I homeschooled Ryne (9th grade), while Anna and Grace attended their 3-day a week classical school. The biggest change to our homeschool was that Ryne started attending Classical Conversations as a Challenge A student. We did supplement the Challenge A curriculum to make it more appropriate for high school level work and to finish up our history cycle. I mentioned before on this blog that I wished that instead of starting high school, Ryne could have an 8th Grade Part II, and it did kind of have that feel. Nevertheless, Ryne certainly put in the hours of a true high school student, and I know that several of his classes were far more challenging than I had in high school. I'm so proud of what he accomplished this year!

Sorry, no links are included because I'm, well, lazy. : )


THE PLAN

Bible

Memory work from the Heidelberg Catechism and weekly catechism classes at church

Explorer's Bible Study: (Quest Series) Promises Fulfilled -- Luke & Acts
This was our second year using this series. The format works well for him and gives him structure for daily Bible study.
History and Geography

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The Story of the World: Volume 4, The Modern Age

Veritas Press history cards

Kingfisher History Encyclopedia

Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of additional reading : )

Challenge A geography
Technically, we're still finishing up the history part. We quickly learned last fall that it was too difficult to keep up with our normal history content while also keeping up with Challenge A material. So we scaled back on history and then hit it super hard on the winter break and when CC finished up in mid-April. It turned out to be a blessing, because Grace was able to join us when she finished school in May and we've really enjoyed studying World War II together this summer. We should finish up modern history before the new school year starts.
Additionally, Ryne spent many hours each week working on his Challenge A geography assignments and he did great. By the end of the year he was able to draw and label the entire world from memory, and he learned 150 geographical terms. This has always been my biggest pull to Classical Conversations, and it was so worth it.
I've debated on how to list this on a transcript, but I'm leaning towards Modern History and Geography. Thoughts? : ) 

Science

Apologia General Science 

Challenge A assignments (1st semester -- weekly science presentations, 2nd semester -- drawing, labeling, and memorizing nine body systems)
This is the main area that I think really needs to be supplemented if giving high school credit for Challenge A. Like the history, Ryne worked on the Apologia book lightly during the CC weeks but hit it hard during the winter break and when CC was done for the year. For public school students in our state, high school credit is generally not given for general science, so I'm planning on Ryne completing at least 3 more science credits, even though he did a tremendous amount of work this year.

Math and Logic

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These pictures are actually from spring of 2014, but I never shared them! Ryne came with me to the local homeschool convention to meet the man who has taught him math since 1st grade. Mr. Demme is a big guy (who happens to wear crazy socks) and was impressed that Ryne was catching up to him in shoe size. : ) By the way, Ryne is now officially six feet tall!

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Math U See Pre-Algebra
We continue to be big fans of this program and plan to stay with it throughout high school. Like general science, my understanding is that high school credit is not generally awarded for pre-algebra. I, however, am thrilled at Ryne's progress. I have no idea what public schools do for other kids with autism when awarding credit, but even if we just get through Algebra II, he will have 3 solid math credits. 
Challenge A weekly rhetoric assignments (Fallacy Detective and It Couldn't Just Happen)
I flip-flopped on what subject to include these assignments in, but finally settled on math. The assignments are kind of an introduction to logic, which is taught in Challenge B, and logic is closely related to math, so that's where they ended up. : ) 

Language Arts

Lost Tools of Writing and Challenge A literature selections
In Challenge A, the students read a new book every three weeks and write a persuasive essay for each three week period. This was probably our second biggest success of the year -- I finally had the accountability and structure I needed to teach writing and Ryne really took to the format and made great progress in his writing.

Analytical Grammar, Season 3
This was our big fail for the year; not because of the materials, but because of us. We had a little disconnect in the first few lessons and we just got so behind that we ended up ignoring it all year. Since Season 3 covers punctuation, we really need to complete it, so I guess we'll try again next year. 

Foreign Language

Henle Latin
I hated to give up our beloved Latin for Children since we still had Level C to do (and I already had the materials). The first few weeks of Challenge A latin were so easy for Ryne that I decided try LFC, Level C at the same time so he would still be learning something. That lasted about a month, then things really picked up with his Challenge A assignments and we couldn't keep up with both programs. The Henle assignments were long -- Ryne probably spent the most time on this subject, yet probably learned the least since LFC had already taught him so much. No doubt, the amount of work done in this class is sufficient for high school credit. If a student comes in not knowing any Latin, they will learn a tremendous amount of material.  

Electives

Kid Coder Series
Ryne LOVED the previous year where he completed two books of the Kid Coder series, so we really wanted to continue with it. Unfortunately, due to an already heavy workload, all 3 of our computers having issues, and bunch of just-plain-life, we were not able to add this in. 

Fine Arts

At least two musical events, such as the symphony or a musical -- a BHA tradition!
That's what I say every year in my curriculum post, but this was the first year that we didn't do anything, unless you count attending Grace's ballet performance, Anna's school play, or just listening to classical music in the car (Ryne still loves his Beethoven's 9th). So sad about this, but it makes me especially glad I prioritized it in our earlier years of homeschooling.

Physical Education

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Cross Country and Track
Not only does Ryne run a lot, but he is privileged to be part of two extraordinary teams. Being surrounded by Christ-following coaches, parents, and athletes is such a blessing!


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There you have it, our "plan" for the previous school year -- ha! Up next: "for-real" plans for 2015 - 2016!

Happy Homeschooling!!!


Friday, April 17, 2015

Graceful Spring

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Did you read Wednesday's post? Five years ago, I was giddy about two tulips, and now look at them!

Now, I don't know if it's because we're fresh off Easter or because it's the end of another school year and I've been reflecting on the lessons I've learned, but these tulips struck me as a wonderful reminder of God's grace.

These tulips deserved to be dead. I left them in the refrigerator vegetable bin for two years and then hastily threw them in the ground without any soil preparation. It took 10 years before the first tulip bloomed.

Sometimes I am so discouraged by my spiritual growth. Sometimes I'm frustrated with God for the circumstances in my life. I often act like I deserved to be blessed and complain when things don't go my way. I want God to work on my timeline and bless me the way I want to be blessed.

The Bible, however, explains that I deserve no blessing at all. I deserve death. But in His grace, He gave me faith to believe in His Son and to have life. Because of His grace I have hope. And because of His grace, the gifts of the Spirit are growing in me, until one day when I am with Him in heaven I will be fully in bloom. I will be a full field of tulips.

The progress seems slow, or even nonexistent, when you're in the thick of things. Yet, when I look back over the years I do see growth. Sometimes God totally throws me for a loop -- blessings I could have never expected. See those two pink tulips? What's that about? Unexpected, but a blessing nonetheless.

These tulips could describe our homeschool journey too. So often I wonder if it's worth it, if it's making a difference, but then I look back and see how far we've come. Ryne wrote a research paper this week. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't bad either, and I have to remember that 13 years ago we weren't sure he was ever going to be able to talk. It's slow, steady progress, but he is blooming.

Oh, I could go on and on, but I'll just close with a few more signs of spring at the Blue House. I missed pictures of the peach, cherry, and pear trees in bloom. The lilacs are almost fully bloomed, so hopefully I'll remember to keep checking each day. The magnolia tree was a Mother's Day gift to me one of the first years we lived here. It's grown so much too.

Hope you're having a wonderful spring!

Fair are the meadows, fair are the woodlands,
Robed in the blooming garb of spring:
Jesus is fairer, Jesus is purer,
Who makes the woeful heart to sing.

~ from one of my favorite hymns, Fairest Lord Jesus

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