Friday, October 31, 2008

The Old Switcheroo

Hopefully all of you had a wonderful week. Ours was fast and furious, which is why I haven't been posting too much lately. It sometimes seems like just taking the time to sit and focus and organize my thoughts enough to get them down would take too much time out of my day. Or I could possibly just be a little too lazy to do it. Either way, I should probably stop acting like it's a strange phenomenon and just admit that I only update my blog once a week or so. Apparently, that's just how it's going to be, LOL.

Anywho . . . in homeschool news . . . during the past couple of weeks, we have made a few curriculum changes. I always use the first 6 to 8 week period sort of like an introductory or auditioning type period. This is the time period when we decide what is working and what is not and allow both Baby Boy and myself to give our honest-to-goodness feelings about what we are using and how we are using it so that we can make decisions that will need to stick for the rest of the school year. We have lots of hit, and a couple of misses. An itemized list below:

  • The first change is that I simply cannot do Sonlight anymore. Not. one. more. day. I know. Shocking! If you follow any of the homeschool forums and yahoo loops that I am in, then you know that I researched the heck out of that curriculum choice and was simply over the moon wanting to introduce it into our program here. It just hasn't worked for us. First of all, I must say, it's an excellent program, meticulously planned, and through beyond all reason, but not for this family. Let me explain why, in case our misstep may be able to prevent any heartache or mismatched purchases for anyone else out there.
  • It takes forever. I imagine if you can read super fast, this would not be the case; however, if you are a slower and more deliberate reader, the chapters and chapters assigned can take all day long. Baby Boy falls into the latter category and I'm not an advocate for home schooling taking all day long, especially since we also have a full math and science program we are trying to get done as well. For those of you unfamiliar, Sonlight includes literature as well as history.
  • It sucked every single drop of joy out of reading for us. I LOVE to read. I could read all day long and all night strong, but Baby Boy is a "take it or leave it" kind of reader. It has to be incredibly interesting and be about very specific subjects to hold his attention. He is, however, dedicated to getting an excellent education and will plug along even if he isn't particularly enjoying the selection, usually without complaint. I just got tired of watching him be miserable. It's not necessary to be tortured to learn. I could just send him to public school for that. (I'm not talking about your class, if you're reading this, Jason. I'm positive you're one of the great public school teachers) We found ourselves just checking our reading off of our list of things to do instead of reading because we were enjoying the story. Not a good thing.
  • I didn't anticipate this beforehand, but it turns our that neither Baby Boy nor I like reading a few chapters out of 3 or 4 books a day. We would rather read one book all the way through and then start up on another book. We are apparently too simple-minded for this form of learning. During our discussions regarding the literature selections, we found ourselves confusing the stories' characters, locations, and themes. We had to make a cheat sheet to keep them all straight. This led to much frustration and confusion.
  • It doesn't contain nearly enough literature analysis for my taste. It is full of the regulation R&R (read and regurgitate) questions. Usually at the very beginning and very end of a reading selection, it will ask you if the book contained round or flat characters and inquire about the theme and conflict. This is not enough, in my opinion. I'm an actively involved homeschool parent. I already know my son is doing the work. I don't need to ask him a bunch of "what did so and so say" or "what did so and so do when such and such happened" type questions. I felt the majority of the questions are really surface level and a waste of time. I'm looking for more critical thinking questions. Luckily I'm familiar with the WTM method of literature analysis even though we aren't classical homeschoolers. Also, sometimes the answers didn't match up exactly to what the question was asking. Baby Boy and I found this frustrating.
  • Although I did already know I was dealing with a religious curriculum, and was prepared to secularize it, I found it a little over the top. It seems geared to an extremely narrow and specific religious group rather than to all Christians as a whole. I don't knock them for that, it is what it is. It just seemed like I found myself cutting out more than I was leaving in. What's the point of keeping something that you just aren't really getting good use of?
  • I do want to say that the curriculum is not a total disaster. It has some very interesting reading selections. Lots of things I would not have thought of on my own. I did and still do benefit daily from the book list and reading schedule, especially for the History of US books, which Baby Boy and I are continuing to use in our American History program. It was not the right fit for our family, but please, don't let my negative experience deter you from trying it if that's what may work for you.
  • In case you are wondering what I have replaced my Sonlight with, we are using various literature books that I'm pulling from various literature lists easily available online. We are focusing on American Literature this year, as we are studying American History as well. I have also acquired a copy of the LLATL Gold Book. It has a "just the facts" approach to literature analysis that I like and we are using a little bit of this to add to my homemade literature curriculum. Strange but true, LOL. Nothing comes into this house and gets used "as-is." It simply does not happen.

  • As I'm sure you have already guessed. I had to give up Chemistry. I'm most disappointed in this decision and did not come by it lightly. It was after much prayer and contemplation that I simply decided that I am not adequate enough in this subject to provide Baby Boy with the instruction he needs. Somehow, back in the old days, they would let you get a high school diploma and even a college degree without stepping foot into a chemistry lab. Now . . . not so much. Baby Boy simply needs more adequate leadership in this area, and I don't want to handicap him in this subject. He's too good of a student, person, and learner to be short changed. We have decided to out-source this class to the local community college. We're too late this year, but he will be taking it next year. I can't talk about community college too much, because it brings on tears, cold chills, and dry heaves. I believe this may be the last year that I get to teach Baby Boy anything at home. Next year, I think he's planning on taking all classes at the community college. Can you say NNNOOOOOOOO!!!! That's what I want to say. They grow up so fast. Let me try to stay on topic. It's hard. This is the first time, ever, in all the years we've been homeschooling that I have felt that there has been something I cannot teach. It's disappointing, to say the least, but I also do think that every person needs to be fully aware of when they have reached their limits. It doesn't do me or Baby Boy any good for me to be prideful and keep this going. He is the one who would suffer later in life, not me. So that's that.

  • On a much happier note, we love the sciences in this house and have replaced chemistry with human anatomy. Baby Boy is excellent at all of that biology vocabulary and loves to dissect things and he knows all about everything, so this is basically just a fun course for him. He's breezed through the first few modules of the book and saves this subject for last every day so he can linger over it and possibly do a little extra in it. WHAT?! Who's kid is that, you say? It's mine! When we received the box with the dissection specimens in it (YUCK!) I refused to look and just the thought made me want to . . . uhmm . . . regurgitate, but Baby Boy and Mom #2 were both so excited they could barely sleep. Needless to say. Dissections happen outside as in NOT IN MY HOUSE and Mom #2 will be supervising them. I'm just not into dissecting.

  • Everything else is going well. I'm not going to give a detailed overview of each subject, because this post has already gotten very long winded. I'm sorry. I really just needed to come to grips with my thought process and this is the only way I can just get it out in the open. I'll probably be re-reading this post myself in a couple of days . . .just to make sure I don't need to check into the psych ward, LOL. If you've read this far, thanks.

Oh, and just in case you thought it was all business and no fun. I would like to let you know that something extremely miraculous happened in our home this week!

The Baby sat up all by herself! Well I don't know if you can really call it sitting up, because she's sort of resting on her big baby belly, but, as far as I'm concerned, it's a developmental milestone and it DOES COUNT.


If I don't get anything else posted between now and then, don't forget to set your clocks back Saturday night before going to bed (THANK GOODNESS!) and if you haven't already, don't forget to vote on November 4th. It's a monumental election this year, and no matter who you chose to vote for, please let your voice be heard.


Until next time . . .


Katy said...

Is it something with the moon or the planetary alignment that this is the week for reevaluating schooling decisions? Must be...

You are doing such an amazing job homeschooling BB and I am in slack-jawed awe of all the work and planning that you put into it.

Baby girl - OMG I could just eat her up. She is soooo beautiful!

Ami said...

What an adorable, precious, and lovely little girl. She is just... gorgeous.

And I won't comment on your curriculum choices. Choosing curriculum is as personal as choosing underwear. :)

But if you unschooled you wouldn't have all that crap to deal with.


Anonymous said...

Just found your blog today, and really enjoyed your curriculum post. Curriculum choices are such a bear sometimes. Our 12 year old adores Time4Learning because it is multimedia, and he is a media freak. Our oldest is a tech geek and is attending a virtual academy where he can attend classes via avatar. We've been happy with these choices for over two years now, but before that... oh vey! Sure would love to know how to get into the Secular Homeschooler site on your do you get an invitation?? Had fun stopping by!!

ravengal said...

Just wanted to let you and Baby Boy know that our 10yo dd just finished "Stink Alley" as a result of one of your blog posts. We use the Sonlight catalog as a guide for selecting books from the library, but I must have missed "Stink Alley" somehow.

SabrinaT said...

She is a beautiful baby!! Love the headband...
We are also changing some curriculum around here. I have to remember the boys do not learn the same. They each need different things!
Baby boy off to college already! Time flies when you wear your goggles. Why not sign up and take Chemistry with him? The 2 of you would have a blast!

Jason said...

Wow. This is a LOT OF WORK! I know it must take a lot of dedication on both of your parts.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of boring, ineffective public school teachers out there.

I just do my very best to make sure I'm not one of those!

Anonymous said...

Aw! Baby Girl is too adorable! You honestly crack me up. I loved Biology in college but I was heaving when we received our specimen box too. LOL It was just something about those cold beady little pig's eyes looking back at me. Ew! I'M getting chills now just thinking about it! LOL
But a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. ;)

Rachel said...

I'm sorry Sonlight is not working out for you. You know that if you bought anything directly from them, you can return it, right?

Llani is a voracious reader-- not only does she LOVE to read and wants to read all the time, but she reads very quickly. For that reason, Sonlight is a perfect fit for her. Even so, we don't follow the schedules for the chapters, and I gave up on the literature questions a few weeks into it. They were mostly factual questions and seemed designed to check that she really was reading and paying attention. They also were turning one of her favorite activities into a chore. I just let her read, have confidence that she is learning from it, and only question/comment when I'm struck by a major point.

Think of this: COMMUNITY college means he will still be home with you next year!

And the baby is sooooo cuuuuute!!!

Anonymous said...

I don't think we would like reading too many books at once either. How does it work? Because really, James does have a few books going on at once. One that I read to him, one that he reads to me, and an independent reading. But, if he had severa he had to read to me, he would crack.

Community college is a great option. Although you might consider testing the waters spring semester witha couple classes before taking a full load, so he could get used to it. Just a thought.

Outside dissections smell less anyway ;-).

:)De said...

I love how invested you are in Baby Boy's education. I am so happy that you are concerned about his schooling not being an experience of torture, but one of success.

And that grandbaby.... ymmmy!


kitten said...

I have something for you at my blog!

Rebel said...

Totally understand the community college for higher science. It has been an eye-opening experience for KJ, but a good one.

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