Monday, January 20, 2014

Race To The Finish Line

I can't believe I haven't blogged on this since October 2012! What have I been doing? Oh yeah, surviving, learning, teaching, being, growing, backsliding, experimenting. Yeah, surviving. DD Phee is half way through 9th grade. Her interests and talents are emerging. This means once again I question all that we're learning or trying to shove in her brain that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Each day I question the validity of impending college requirements and if we should even 'require' or push her in that direction. Each day I think God is saying 'slow down, one day at a time'. I'm not good with one day at a time.

Last night I was having some pains. I googled them to make sure I wasn't having a heart attack. I wasn't of course but it sure felt like it. Most likely gas, right?! lol But while trying to go to sleep, I was planning in my head what needed to happen if I did have a heart attack. I'd need to make sure someone grabbed my bra and socks. I tried to remember the meds or vitamins I take regularly so I could tell the nurse. It's not that I'm a paranoid. I'm just a 'here's a problem, what needs to be done about it in sometimes great detail' planner. Okay, this sounds funny typing this since I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants person as well. Is that possible? This is probably why I overthink Phee's schooling or lack there of and worry about her schooling future. I'm conflicted.

On the one hand I'm thinking, it's already January and we haven't gotten anywhere in American History this year! I need to throw together a curriculum plan to finish it up in 14 weeks! Race to the finish of 9th grade! On the other hippy mama hand I counter with 'what does she even need American history for? She loves art and music and writing. She's learning guitar, piano and drums. She's writing a book about Doctor Who as a kid. She loves words, looks up definitions and plays word games all the time. She's teaching herself how to write music. Last night she was in the art studio inventing and spray painting and drawing. Why muck all that ambition up with learning by rote?'

I read this interesting article by Matt Walsh today that someone posted on Facebook. He talks about not being college material. I so agree with this line of thinking! Not that my 2nd child has struggles with schooling. It's more an application problem with her, attention to drudgery; unlike my older daughter who worked extremely hard but felt like she would never get anywhere. I understand there are kids whose choice of career warrants a college education and beyond: lawyer, doctor, microbiologist, engineer, architect. But what about the musicians, the writers, the artists, the inventors, the chefs? Can't these skills be just as easily learned and earned through books and classes (but not necessarily a degree), experimentation and apprenticeship? What harm are we causing in placing an expectation of 'you have to get a degree or you'll never amount to anything?' This thinking will not work for everyone, in fact it might backfire on us. Quashing creativity has only gotten us more drones in the workforce. Those who go against the grain are the inventors, the dreamers, the impossibles. I'm using a computer, a phone and an Ipad invented by the company started by a man who never finished college, Steve Jobs. This is not to say I don't have high hopes and goals for my child. Slacking will not get you anywhere, unless your goal is McDonald's fry cook. And even then slacking can get you burnt or fired. But creativity is monumentally important. Have you listened to this TED talk by Ken Robinson? It's a must!

I think my goal as a parent is to equip her to be able to go to college if that is her desire; make sure she has a basic to advanced understanding of english, math, reading comprehensively (even if we never learned additional information over these subjects, which we will, she will have a leg up on many a public school child.) However, I will not require it of her. As long as she is always learning, has a plan to move forward and not a plan to live on my couch in front of a TV for the rest of her life, I'm good with that.

Linking to Monday's Homestead Barn Hop, Homeschool Link Up & Hip Homeschool Hop.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

8th Grade Reading List

If you've read this blog at all, you'll know I'm not a traditional homeschooler. We tend to piece meal all our subjects, try different things. And with reading, its no different. I don't think I've ever had a reading program. I just don't see the point. We discuss what she reads and that seems to get us an in depth look at the books.

Each year I make up a list of books I want her to read. The lists include some classics, things I read with I was a kid as well as new or recommended books. I also add in some spiritual books as well as biographies. This year I'm doing it a bit different. She can choose any from the list but has to alternate between fiction and nonfiction/biographies each time. So far she is enjoying the freedom of picking. I thought I'd share this year's books list. Some are more advanced and some, like Mere Christianity will probably be read with one of us. I would love to hear any other suggestions you have...

8th Grade Reading List

Lord of the Rings book 1, 2, 3
Wrinkle in Time series
Adventures of Robin Hood
Wind in the Willows
Watership Down
All Creatures Great and Small
Huckleberry Finn
Prince and the Pauper
Door Within Trilogy
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Search for WondLa
Peter and the Starcatcher
Fantastic Voyage
The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents
Phantom Tollbooth
Don Quixote
The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear
And Then There Were None
City of Ember series
Inkheart/Thief Lord/Inkspell
The Silver Crown
House of the Seven Gables
Flowers for Algernon
Chronicles of Narnia
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
The Mouse and his Child
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Book Thief
Romeo and Juliet
The Giver
The Little Prince
Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Joan of Arc
Around the World in Eighty Days
Hound of the Baskervilles/Sherlock Holmes
Cheaper by the Dozen
The OZ books (L. Frank Baum)
The Princess Bride

Jesus Freaks
Experiencing God Youth edition
Voices of the Faithful
Case for Christ, Youth
Case for a Creator, Kids
Case for Faith, kids
Sister Freaks
Cross and the Switchblade
The Hiding Place (Ten Boom)
In My Father's House (Ten Boom)
Eleanor Roosevelt, Life of Discovery
Florence Nightingale (Dengler)
Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
Story of My Life (Helen Keller)
Mere Christianity
Luther: Biography of a Reformer
Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman
Miracle Worker
Diary of Anne Frank
God's Smuggler
The Light and the Glory

Short Stories & Poetry:
The Gift of the Magi
The Monkey's Paw
The Minister's Black Veil
Split Cherry tree
The Tell-tale Heart
Shel Silverstein books

extra books:
Straw Into Gold
Stewart Little
Danny Dunn series (and his Homework Machine, bk 1)
The Mad Scientist Club
Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters
A Whole Nothing Story
Penny from Heaven
Tikki Tikki Tembo
Winnie The Pooh
Half Magic
The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf
Beauty (Robin McKinley)
Far Flung Adventures series
A Barrel of Laughs, a Vale of Tears
The Tattooed Potato and other Clues
Complete Adventures of the Borrowers
Grimms Fairy Tales
Hans Christian Andersen
Poppy and Ereth
Ben & Me
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh
The Penderwicks series

Monday, October 1, 2012

Schooling 2012

This has been a tough summer for me, school planning-wise. I waffled back and forth, to and fro, up and down about whether I was going to schedule (ie: overschedule is more like it) my child this year. I know she's getting into those formidable years where a transcript must be kept and hopefully she takes some classes that count toward a potential college. I don't know though. The oldest got into college with no transcript, just her ACT scores and the college's math/english testing. So what does it really matter, I ask you? Anyway, this was my stress this year. 

I prayed and prayed about it, wanting to unschool but not having the guts. My child loves to learn and figure out things but I don't know if I'm comfortable with my 13 yr old planning how much she'll learn at all. I don't know how unschoolers do it! Maybe if I'd started from the beginning days I'd be fine. She'd learn differently. I talked to her about unschooling. She thinks it sounds 'great!' (eyeroll) because she wouldn't have any assignments. In the end, there were a few things I wanted to learn and we compromised. It's 1/2 school, 1/2 unschool time. Oh, and wait until I tell you about math! 

Here is our schedule:
Grammar - Grammar Made Easy computer game, or Easy Grammar
Grammar - Daily Grams
Math - online program
History - Sonlight One Year World History reading program
Reading - List of fiction/non-fiction/spiritual books I compiled (will share soon)
Music - She's started Percussion & Band classes, Piano sporadically

That's it. No, I didn't schedule in Science, Art, Foreign Language, Writing, Poetry, Typing, Home Economics, PE, or Bible. Some things are a given. We go to church two times a week and Hubby and she do bible studies every night. Currently she has been reading Jesus Freak and I found there is a separate Live Like a Jesus Freak book with questions at the end of each chapter. They've been working through and discussing that nightly. I want to start memorizing scripture again with her but I need to find a fun non-school way to present it. Maybe by painting the words on paper and drawing pictures to go with it. I don't know, thinking on the fly here. 

Art is a given in our house. I'm an artist because I can't help myself and my daughter draws almost daily about what she's reading (Trojan War) or watching (Doctor Who, lately.) I keep art supplies at the ready in a mini studio space on top of the piano. Any of it can be used at any time.

Her schedule is, to hopefully get up with hubby every day at 7 am. If she works diligently she's done with her work by 12-1 pm. Then the rest of the afternoon is hers to study what she wants. I ask that she slip in a bit of piano and drum practice and chores and maybe work on training the dogs a bit but the rest is hers. Here is where we have the problem. I'm hoping she fills that time with science and art and poetry, etc... but she likes to think of it as her time to do what she wants. It is, but... Yeah. I'm having trouble with it. Maybe I need to plan some sciencing just to feel better about getting some in. Experiments and maybe a few field trips. I have 107 library books out from the library and a 1/3 are science so hopefully she is getting some in. It's just not a traditional way to do school and my brain is on fire because of it.

Okay, on a happier note. Math this year is LOVED! We've been doing textbooks like Saxon math for years and the repetition and blah blah blah was killing her. We've found something different for this year! Khan Academy. I heard someone talk about it and link to it but I didn't go look. Then my brother who is studying to be a doctor or some sciency person said he uses it for upper level science courses. Okay, this got my attention. THEN, 2 other homeschool groups mentioned it! I had to look. I found it has from the very beginning to hugely hard mathing. You do practice problems and if you get stuck you can watch the videos to learn how to do it. You earn badges and all sorts of goodies. Best of all, its free! It's a God send for me really.

For those other subjects I'm wanting her to study but didn't schedule her to study I've been a bit sneaky. I've bought software or other things that encourage her to learn them.
Typing - bought Typing Instructor
Foreign Language - our library has Manga on tap for free, most any language
Poetry - bought magnet sets in Haiku and Genius and put them in large metal tins with room to form sentences. Great on the go, take to a restaurant type sets.
PE - I bought a bow and arrow set for her birthday she uses, plus I let her walk the dogs or ride her bike around the block now that she's older. We also have Wii Fit
Science - so far we only have engineering games like Roller Coaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon 2 and similar programs

So this is my not-so-quick schooling update! lol

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