Why do I get so nervous publishing posts ike this?
Maybe because it's a culmination of very careful and personal decision making laid bare for the world to see. At first glance you wouldn't think a discussion about learning material could leave one feeling vulnerable... but, well, it does (at times - on the internet).
Still, I'm jumping in because every year I look to so many families in my community, both virtual and here at home, and glean wonderful ideas on how they "do school." Like many homeschool parents, I'm particularly interested in reading about families one or two years ahead of us.
This year we have entered high school! So, if that is on the radar for you, this post may provide some new ideas that you can file away in your planning. The downside to writing a curriculum post in September is we haven't spent a great deal of time with our chosen resources yet so this really can't serve as a review, but I'm happy to explain what we're using.
Before I jump in, a quick revisit to our homeschooling philosophy, and a brief mention of the style and rhythm Emily looks for in her homeschool days.
Emily is very clear about how she likes homeschool to play out.
She likes structure, accountability (to other adults/peers, in addition to Adam and I), measured progress, assignments and projects that can be completed and moved on from, etc. She also likes a bountiful social calendar balanced with equally important unscheduled down time.
So, I share the details of how Emily likes our days to flow because our homeschool looks very much like, well... school. (Except without all the other school 'stuff' that we're not so much interested in.)
There are textbooks and online classrooms and grades and lessons plans and even homework on occasion. We've designed our days around exactly the sort of learning experience Emily has requested, so that means our rather formal way of doing things is totally "child-led." Maybe we are Classical Unschoolers - ha!
As parents, we all want what's best for our kids. Each of us hopefully does our parenting job consciously, and lives out our days as best we can. Nobody does it perfectly. We strive to align our values, hopes, and dreams with the actions of day to day living. Some of us homeschool, some of us don't. Still, we're all moms and dads doing the best we can - hoping to offer up some pretty awesome people to the world when our work is done. (Is it ever really done?)
Okay, so let's get to it.
A rather extensive list of all that we have going on this school year:
For the first time we are enrolled in an online school for two subjects, English being one of them. Through k12, Emily is taking Honors Literary Analysis and Composition. I'm pretty excited about this. Her teacher in highly interactive and the work I've seen so far is rich in content and appropriately challenging. There is a learning curve involved in the new territory of an online classroom (it's quite sophisticated!), but we are now in week two and she's finding her way around just fine.
Wordly Wise - This is a spelling and vocabulary workbook series that Emily has done since her early Montessori days. We don't do the new online version, preferring the old-fashioned workbooks. It isn't necessary to do this really, as there is a vocabulary/grammar strand in the k12 class she's taking, but Wordly Wise is such a part of how we've always done things. And it's fun.
Teaching Textbooks - We started using this last year and really like it. The reviews are generally excellent if you do a quick online search, the only common "negative" being that the classes are slightly below level in their content. If you have a child that is not so strong in math, this might be the perfect solution for you. It is for us. We are condensing Pre-Algebra into the first half of this year (she is moving quickly through it) and adding Algebra I beginning in the second half. Technically, this track places Emily slightly behind "schedule" according to her grade level, but I believe whole-heartedly in mastery of each concept before moving on.
This year (and probably into next) we are studying US History and I'm happy to say I've finally liberated us from a formal history curriculum! As much as I've tried, I just can't seem to get behind any textbook type history program. Too much is glossed over or left out entirely, leaving us hungry for more. This year, thanks to the recommendation of my new homeschool mama friend, Melinda (who has a beautiful blog by the way), we'll be using Joy Hakim's, A History of Us. In addition, we'll be touring many of the Historic New England Homes, working our way through a great literature list, using A Young People's History of the United States, and creating weekly timeline cards based on the period in US History that was studied that week. (Have you ever done that? I'll show you more about that in a few weeks when we have a few more in our binder - it's a great project for any age.) In keeping with how Emily likes things, I did go ahead and order the assessment book for weekly tests based on the reading we've done.
Rosetta Stone Spanish - This homeschool version of Rosetta Stone allows for record keeping and grading. We actually started using this last year and it has proven effective, Emily is indeed learning Spanish. Technical and customer support have not been fantastic for us (various issues) so that is a little disappointing. Also, lacking a real classroom feel to the language has me thinking of moving her foreign language to a k12 type of option for next year. Of course, so many of us took 2-3 years of language in high school and can barely exchange the simplest greetings. I'm not looking to stress about the perfect program, but Emily does have a natural propensity to language so I am mindful of fostering this appropriately.
Apologia Biology with Lab - This is the second science book we've used from Apologia. It's not for everyone, if you're looking exclusively for a secular science program this is probably not for you. Dr. Jay Wile writes Apologia's textbooks (the two we've used anyway, not sure if he's written all of their texts), his personality is quite something and Emily has grown to look forward to what he has to say each day. He can be outrageous, funny, brilliant, frustrating, and incredibly thought provoking (oh, the discussions that can stem from a curriculum you don't completely align with, philosophically speaking - I guess we embrace our differences rather than resist them). But the science is excellent, and it is not dumbed down which I appreciate. (I really dislike textbooks that aren't much more than a collection of sound bites.)
Samantha of To Be Busy at Home wrote an excellent review about this course and it helped us to make our decision to go for it. We are pretty much doing this course as she describes, including ordering the supplies from Sonlight (we now have a microscope!) and the Lapbook Journal Kit from Knowledge Box. Emily is going to love that. I really loved Samantha's thorough review, if you have a minute and are looking ahead to high school science you might like to pop over and have a read.
Web Design - This is the second course Emily is taking through k12. It doesn't begin until tomorrow so I don't have much to share about it. She did have her orientation with her teacher and that went well, other than that we are just waiting and looking forward to it.
In many ways, we live this subject everyday. To formalize the experience we are using Vintage Remedies, Family Herbalist Course - We started this class last year and plan on taking it at least until the end of this year, perhaps into next year. This is something we do once a week and usually there is a project involved - one that is provided by, or inpspired by the unit we are currently studying.
You know, I think I'm going to save this for another post. What we have in the works is brewing itself up right now so I'll wait until a few more pieces fall into place.
Emily is an athlete and filling this part of her experience as she gets older proves to be the only (slightly) tricky part we need to deal with as homeschoolers. This is because many towns lose there youth sports come high school age. In my state (not sure if it's the same elsewhere), any homeschooled child can play team sports, participate in band, and even take certain classes in their district without being fully enrolled in public school. It makes sense because you do still pay taxes, after all. Some kids however, don't get too excited about the idea of only attending school for select activities - feeling it can be awkward socially. Some kids have no concern and jump right in, those kids often find the notion of social awkwardness to be a myth. They are accepted just fine by their teammates. Each kid is different with how they feel about this.
Artistic Pursuits - I don't want to say too much about this yet as it just arrived here two days ago. I'll share more in the another post down the road. Of course creativity happens each day in so many other ways too, but this pulls together a few key techniques and teachings that I'm looking forward to.
So to speak. Important to Emily at this point in her development is having plenty of great things on the calendar to look forward to. She is a teenager now (or young adult, as I prefer), and is looking to explore her growing independence and interests with peers and through various out of the house activities.
Basically, in order to know what she would like to do in this world, she is more eager than in her younger years to get out there and explore it. October is already pretty full and she's quite pleased about it - looking forward to a Haunted Hayride (for teens), two dances (one Harvest themed dinner dance, one Halloween themed), two concerts (Brandi Carlile and Regina Spector), and Yale Splash.
Teen Book Club
A wonderful group of about eight young ladies (just happens to be all girls) have begun meeting once a month for a traditional book club. Their meeting place is a funky cafe in Northeastern Connecticut and the gathering is a nice balance of discussing the book and moving on to discussing life. Emily is having a wonderful time.
Emily is finishing up her first year of piano lessons at The Community School of the Arts at Uconn. She loves her teacher and loves the piano too. All is well there... although there is mention of adding the cello next semester. (!!!)
We have joined a new to us (weekly) co-op that is quite popular in our area. In our new home we are about twenty minutes closer to the co-op which brings the drive in under one hour. Emily is taking three classes this semester - Constitution, Freakonomics, and Gluten Free Cooking. We've only had one week so far but I'm sure I'll have much to say in the future about this community, it feels like a really wonderful group of people.
Oh my goodness this looks like so much.
And it is! This is by design and not all things meet daily, or even weekly. They are all worked into our regular schedule and I have a feeling this is going to be our best homeschool year yet!
Is there any new curriculum happening in your homeschool this year? No matter the age range, if you have a minute, do share a link to what you are using. We all love to peek in on what each other is up to. Thanks!
(And thank you for sticking around to the end of this very long post!)