Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Learning Low-Down

Although I'm often on a tangent of some kind, this is, of course, a homeschooling blog. So now that we've all endured a hideously hot summer (some of us are still enduring it . . . but I've complained enough about the weather in the past few months), let's get back down to the business of learning.

First of all let me say in advance, if something appears to be missing, it probably is. If it seems to be too much, it probably is. We like to utilize a lot of textbooks, living books, DVDs, CDs and good old fashioned discussions here at Two Moms' Homeschool. We aren't married to any specific style of learning or educational path. In fact, we have a "do whatever the heck works" philosophy of learning.

We also have been flirting heavily with the the idea of community college. We have confidence issues. We have transportation issues. We have issues with one of the Moms craving Higher Education when the son should be, but really isn't. We have a lot of issues. I'll have to really get them all out one day, but today can't quite be that day. I have a feeling this post may be long enough.

So . . . after three full paragraphs of disclaimers . . . on to the show. I'm describing all the stuff over there <--- in the sidebar, in case you hadn't figured that out for yourselves, but we're a smart group, so I'm sure you did.

  • Composition - We are attempting to actually use the SWI writing curriculum this year. We have a love/hate relationship with writing right now. I love to write even though I'm not very good at it. Baby Boy hates to write, even though he is pretty good at it. We're attempting to define some actual rules and parameters before I send him off to the big world of college. I've heard good things about this method from some, not so good things from others. Everything gets a 6 week trial period around here, so stay tuned.
  • Vocabulary - We literally loved Vocabulary Cartoons SAT Word Power last year, so we're going to continue with Vocabulary Cartoons II SAT Word Power this year. It's a quick fun and easy way to expand and enrich your vocabulary. We usually spend about 5 minutes going over 2 words a day in the mornings and then try to make sentences out of the words throughout the week. It's lots of fun. This is the one thing that I know works, for sure.
  • Literature - We'll be indulging in some classic sci-fi and fantasy this year in the literature department. We're starting off the year with an oldie but goodie, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
  • Shakespeare - As many of you know, Baby Boy has been in two Shakespeare productions in the past couple of years. Both times we have found ourselves pleasantly surprised at how much we've enjoyed reading aloud, analyzing, and (him) performing Shakespeare's works. This year, we've gone ahead and full-on committed to a Shakespeare group where they will read and discuss plays and sonnets throughout the year and will undoubtedly perform a chosen play next spring.
  • Pre-Calculus - This year Baby Boy will embark on that subject that no one in this house dare say aloud, but only in hushed whispers . . . pre-calculus. No one in the Two Moms' family has ever successfully achieved higher math skills, so if any of you are good at math, please email me your exact physical location. Have graphing calculator, will travel. ;-) I'm pretty good with basic math, but as parents I think it's important to know our limitations. Pre-calculus would definitely be one of those limitations.
  • Chemistry - If you've read here for a while, you may remember my tried and failed attempts to teach chemistry to Baby Boy. Finally I am able to accept defeat in this area, not necessarily gracefully, but with a humble heart. When you are an artistic language arts soul, there are certain subject you just weren't meant to master. For me, chemistry is that subject. BUT where there's a will, there's a way. Here's our way: Baby Boy has been playing Ultimate Frisbee for going on three years now and I sit and pretend chat with a lot of the other homeschool Moms there about a little bit of this and a little bit of that and mostly a lot of nothing. Well, do you know what one of those nothing conversations turned up? The young man who Baby Boy gets along with BEST OF ALL on the whole team's Mom has a PhD in chemistry. AND she's actually excited to have Baby Boy over to teach him in a delicious (read free) co-op situation this year. She's just the nicest lady ever and I'm oh so grateful. She's using a Singapore text with supplemental DVDs from The Teaching Company. We are so there! And she is ready to jump in with a full on chemistry lab, I mean on the first day, she's already giving them a blow torch. So wise, yet so foolish. Teen boys, you know.
  • Economics and American Government - We're going to make this a year long project which will include lots of current events, newspaper reading, documentaries, Hollywood movies, with a dash of textbooks and educational DVDs. I expect a lot of lively discussion, which is what our family is known for.

If you've read this far, thanks. If not, I certainly understand. This is one of those things I have to do at least at the beginning of the learning season. This will be the bones of our structured learning, although we fully support a living and learning lifestyle around here and strive to make every moment one to remember.

Happy Learning!

Until next time . . .


:)De said...

I think your curriculum choices are great and I hope you share more of your SWI writing this year. It looks interesting.


Teacher Tom said...

What an amazingly complete curriculum. My daughter is starting on Pre-Calculus this year. I've been able to help her with her homework all the way through Algebra, but this is where my math education started to fall apart . . . I'm hoping I can just learn along with her! I'll be looking here for tips, so share, share, share!

Katy said...

Pre-calculus and Chemistry are enough to give me nightmares, I cannot fathom teaching them! Scientist Genius Brother got all those genes in the family. lol Good luck and have a wonderful year!

Rebel said...

*sigh* I miss homeschooling. The researching, gathering of curriculum, teaching, discussing, I miss it all. The Chemistry co-op sounds FANTASTIC! Good luck with Pre-calc...I gave up and outsourced math. That vocabulary program looks interesting. We may do that here in addition to KJ's community college stuff.

Freakmom said...

Awesome chemistry co-op! Baby Boy and Best Friend will have a blast! (Well, hopefully not an actual blast but at least it is at the other mom's home and she should know how to put the fire out when it occurs.)

Anonymous said...

You're giving me shivers. It all looks like so much fun! An Amamzing curriculum. Baby boy is well rounded indeed.

O.k., let's lay it on the table. Pre-calc maybe doesn't look like so much fun. And I took many a semester of calculus. Some of them twice ;-).

SabrinaT said...

Pre-Calculus... Yikes! We are just delving into Algebra 1 here. Thank Goodness Christopher's teacher knows how to teach it.

How wonderful to have found a co-op for Chemistry.
Blow torches to teenage boys? She does have home owners insurance right?

I am now off to Google your vocabulary program. Sounds interesting.

Wendy Hawksley said...

At the library this week, I looked rather enviously at "Frankenstein". I've never read it, and I considered picking it up for some Halloween chapter-reading. But not yet... I don't think Gavin is old enough. Maybe in a few years.

Enjoy the new school year!

Oh, and maybe Baby Boy will be more interested in Community College over time. Or maybe other ideas will come up. Do share and let us know how everything progresses and/or changes.

Although it is FAR in the future for us (10 years), I want Gavin to start college at 16 AND take some time to backpack around Europe.

Then again, living overseas NOW might cause him to be completely disinterested in such a trip OR he might want to return when he is older!

The Foil Hat said...

I love how you write! For me, writing comes pretty easily, too. The IEW programs have been a HUGE lifesaver (expensive and a little time-intensive at first) for me. Only one of my sons is a 'natural' writer - the others struggled. IEW changed our world! I hope it works as well for you.

I'll keep blogging about our community college experiences to help you get a feel for it. It's a weird and big leap!

Paula said...

I read your list and peer cautiously over at the high school math and science books that take up two shelves nearby.

We're only doing 6th grade and I can glare at the books for at least another 6 weeks before I panic wondering if I can translate them into my version of English before teaching.

Your courage gives me hope. But if we were venturing into a haunted house together (homeschooling can be that scary at times ;) I'd make you go first.

Jennifer in Vancouver said...

I love hearing the curriculum choices you've made. Baby Boy will be very busy!

Why do I find it hard to imagine my gang doing all that kind of stuff? It's very impressive, and inspiring.

Happy learning!

Obi-Mom Kenobi said...

I'm right there with you on the Chemistry and Pre-Calc. I've been researching how to source-out those courses since PL was in 2nd grade!

Isn't it funny what our kids will do? PL decided to listen to the unabridged Anna Karenina on his iTouch and it just amazes me to hear him discuss it out of the blue.

Anonymous said...

I love writing. I love Shakespeare. I love current events and Hollywood movies. I even made an A- in Pre-Calculus. So ditch Baby Boy and adopt ME! You guys have entirely too much fun over there in 2-Mom land! I'm mucho jealous!! (See, I'm even BILINGUAL!!)

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