Saturday, January 11, 2014

We Evaluate, Discuss, and Make Changes

When we start each new school year, we start with bright hopes and expectations, new supplies, a Daily Lesson Planner, and hopeful excitement. Our new books are lined up in a row, and Mom is so excited, hoping Jr. is looking forward to the new year as well.
 America the Beautiful Curriculum Package    Chemistry and PhysicsHorizons Algebra I Set
For some time now, though, my efforts to educate my son have been a drudge. Most subjects are barely tolerated. He learns more history and politics from the conservative talk radio I listen to than the books I have him study. My husband and I recently decided to plan a trip, soon, to Williamsburg, and my son has no idea what it is. I mean, he hasn't studied Williamsburg in his history studies since, oh, let's say ...November? How sad is that. He is now admitting that he has been reading without thinking or caring, and just hates the materials we are using for that subject. And that subject is a core that also assigns the literature, writing assignments, geography, art... ::sigh::

For that matter, Science hasn't been working out of the textbook, either. It is a combination of the work required to deliver regular hands-on experiments, and the book being a lower grade level. My son has gotten plenty of science, but most of it hasn't been from the textbooks. I get reviewed annually, so this means I need to scramble and figure out exactly what he has actually been doing and write it up so that there is documentation for me to refer to when I get reviewed. And this is becoming the case in so many subjects.

On a good note, though, we've stuck it out long enough in Algebra I that he is beginning to have some victories there, so that's a good thing. But...

Some days (many days) I just want to put him on the big yellow bus in the morning, wave, and then be free to do the stuff around my house that really needs to be done right now.

However, though my son knows he hasn't been loving being home schooled, he is convinced he would hate being in the public school. And I am aware that I would be opening a Pandora's box in his life, and mine, if I did such a thing.

So, not wanting to continue on the track that we are on, I took my son aside yesterday for a student-teacher conference. We talked about ditching what we are currently doing, but explained that we still have to study some era of history. I also talked to him about, if we are switching curriculum now, doing schoolwork at the 9th grade level instead of the 8th grade level, kind of giving us an extra five months to finish our high school studies before graduation. 

I presented my son with a timeline of history to give him an idea of what his choices were of what era we could study. I broke it down using the basic Tapestry of Grace units, and am figuring to transfer to that for now, since I own it. I presented it this way (although later Tapestry presents it in a different order):
  1. Creation and the Ancient Hebrews and other ancient cultures;
  2. Egypt
  3. Greece
  4. Rome to the Death of Jesus
here I got a little fuzzy on how their Year 2 goes, but I presented:
  • The Dark Ages;
  • The Middle Ages;
  • Rennaissance and Reformation
I didn't get any farther. He wants to park in Tapestry's Year 2. And, frankly, that is an excellent year-plan to spread out over a year and a half, so that's what my current plan is. In addition, their Year 1 is an excellent year-plan to do in senior year, which is where it will fall for us if we are doing Year 2 in 9th grade, so that will be my current plan.

Like the curriculum we are walking away from, Tapestry uses history as the core, and then weaves Literature and writing assignments around that. I don't expect I will ever do Tapestry with this child the way I once did it with my older two, but more interwoven with Charlotte Mason methodology, weaving in other methods of teaching subjects the way I used to do with Ambleside Online (artist studies, composer studies, nature studies, etc.)

All of this I need to do with a level of flexibility so that I can, at a few weeks' notice, switch from one plan to another as we end up being offered wonderful new curriculum by the Schoolhouse Review Crew leadership. Flexibility is my middle name.

I still need to settle on a Science plan that we will switch to, so the verdict is still out on that. So, for now, those are our changes that we are going through.

How are things going at your home school? What's working? What's not?  


  1. We are tired of the textbooks here so next year I'm planning on doing just unit studies which is proving harder than I thought to do unit studies with all three of my children who span several grades but I don't want to be planning 3 separate unit studies, too much work. We love our history, MoH Vol. 3 and are almost done and Notgrass but my oldest hates that she has to do more work than her siblings but she's working at an 7/8th grade level.

    1. I've tried unit studies in the past, but I'm just not good at them. I'm not good at following through. I'm not good at documenting what we do for my review.

      The state I am in (Maryland) has homeschool regulations that I find onerous. And as I approach high school with my last child, I truly lack confidence to consider doing unit studies and counting them for credit on the transcript. How much is enough for a credit, you know? So, since I did TOG for high school with my other two, it would certainly be something I could do with confidence, knowing how to do it, what to do, and how to calculate the credits. I also know how well it prepares them for college, since both of my other two were both accepted to all the colleges they applied to (two or three colleges each), and both did well enough, though college can be hard work. One graduated; the other insisted on attending a school we weren't willing to fund, then had to drop out when she couldn't get more funding.

      We'll see. I've tried to go back to TOG in the past and failed. I'm more trying to get my son to enjoy school, in whatever way possible. So we'll be trying to do hands on projects as we study. I hope he enjoys it.