Wednesday, June 4, 2014

And Just Like That The Year Is Almost Over

(Yes, I know I shouldn't begin a title with And, but I wanted to.)

It's June. It's hot. We're eating watermelon. It's time for the outbreath of summer. We are definitely in wrap it up mode.

This has been one of our oddest homeschool years ever. I learned to let go, to be flexible, and to relax; the boys learned without my planning and hovering.

To remind everyone of where we are, T-Guy (a moniker long ago discarded) is 15 and was in 9th grade for the 2013 - 2014 homeschool year.  J-Baby (oh how he hates that name now, but I'm not changing it on the blog) is 14 and was in 8th grade this past year.  Wait, didn't he do 8th grade last year? He did, but I still had him registered as a 7th grader in my little private school. We will decide when to graduate him based on when he finishes the courses he needs for university.

Our yearly summary:

Mathematics: The boys are using Teaching Textbooks Algebra I and it has gone better than I ever dreamed. They aren't quite finished; their true summer break will start once they get through the last few chapters.

Language Arts: Hmm, I don't keep track of eery book they read because it would be impossible. Together we read Oh Pioneers! by Willa Cather, and Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. They have also read several books, fiction and non-fiction, with Papa. They did some spelling and vocabulary using SAT Vocabulary Lightning, but we relaxed on that when we learned that the SAT test would be changing and that the obscure vocabulary wouldn't be focused on any longer. Now I am working with spelling, vocabulary, and grammar in a more holistic manner, correcting it as needed. Writing is usually done in a subject journal format, which works well for them.

Science: We started with Elementary Chemistry. J-Baby loved it and went with it, T-Guy hated it and stalled. Still, they did a lot in the five months that they used it. Since then we've approached science with documentaries and discussion, along with some non-fiction reading. This spring we watched Cosmos (new version) together as a family and used it as a springboard for further discussion and exploration. We star-gazed, we traveled into nature and identified rocks, plants, and animals, and we explored lakes, rivers, creeks, and the ocean. We even went to fish hatchery to learn about that (which tied in with last year's reading of The Giver). Papa took the boys on a JPL tour, and I took them to tour both a high tech noodle factory and a low tech olive factory.

Social Studies: Short Lessons in World History was far more time consuming than the title would suggest. Still, the boys put in the work and gave it an hour a day until race season started.  We then switched to the documentary and discussion format that works so well for them, as well as assigned non-fiction reading. We went on a few field trips, including one that taught us about early settlers to the USA. This spring we spent considerable time discussing politics; J-Baby was fascinated by the incoming political mail and informally gathered opinions and ideas about politics from it. This has given me the idea to watch our fall general election closely and do more scientific gathering of data from the political mailers.

Foreign Language: I had almost given up hope that they would gain interest in Spanish, but they did, and they have been putting our Rosetta Stone program to good use. I don't even have to remind them - they do multiple lessons daily and it's 100% child directed.

Health: We focused a lot on puberty, sexuality, and social relationships this year. Along with physical hygiene, which now includes caring for skin with acne and how to prevent fungal infections (luckily, no one has gotten one yet).

Arts: Piano (J-Baby) and Guitar (T-Guy) have been their main instruments again this year, although J-Baby picks up a guitar fairly often and I imagine that a request for lessons is forthcoming (do you know that when your mother regularly uses words such as forthcoming that you end up with a great vocabulary organically?). Both boys also sing and have been working on harmonies. They also enjoy using Garage Band.

Physical Education: This has been the year of the bike! Both boys were on the mountain bike team, with T-Guy on the high school team and J-Baby on the middle school development team. This isn't just riding bikes, this is learning about being athletes. Learning new skills, improving existing skills, practicing good nutrition, learning about physiology - it's all there.

Vocational Arts: The boys are learning the ins and outs of both bike maintenance and repair and trailer maintenance and repair.

I'm starting to think about next year, and how I can bring back some Waldorf elements to our days while still keeping the responsibility for learning on the boys.

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