In case you were wondering, yes, I did survive Christmas.
I definitely think I'll plan a more low-key holiday next year, as I was so spazzed out that I could barely enjoy myself. Mom #2 really wanted lots of family around this Christmas, so I guess we'll have to manage a way to take turns so we can both enjoy our holidays. I'm taking suggestions if anyone has a workable solution. Maybe one of my New Year's Resolutions will be to be more laid-back in general so that I don't obsess over house cleaning when people come to visit. After all, it's mostly family and they all know and love us whether the house is spotless or not.
Of course, I've come to that conclusion only after putting Baby Boy and Mom #2 through high-holy-heck in the house cleaning department. Hindsight, you know.
I hope everyone has and continues to have a wonderful holiday. Ours was lovely and frankly, I'm glad it's over. Kind of like a roller coaster ride . . . the anticipation is delicious, the experience is dramatic, and the after glow is oh-so-delightful. *HAPPY * SIGH*
On the homeschool front, I guess it's time to wrap up the first semester and label our hits and misses . . . so without further ado . . .
- Composition - We completed all the lessons in SWI-C. I'm glad we finished it. I did consider throwing it out a few times, but I'm also attempting to teach character here and we know that the entire world won't be structured to our liking once we hit the big time. All in all, I think we learned a lot from it. It really got us looking at writing from a different angle. It certainly is a different style of writing. Baby Boy and I had sort of fallen into the routine of simply writing book reports and lecture summaries, but this taught us to think outside the box a little bit and write from different angles and viewpoints. My only concern is the extreme rigidity and formulaic approach. Like any homeschool Mom, I tweaked it to fit our needs, but the setup can be a bit too structured for us loosey-goosey homeschooling types. Another concern is that I personally think it's very expensive and I don't really know if I'd recommend it to a friend new, but I purchased it used at a substantial discount. It's definitely worth it from that standpoint. I think we'll label this one a moderate hit on sale and a miss at full price.
- Vocabulary - We managed to get through the first half of Vocabulary Cartoons 2 book, approximately 150 words. As a matter of fact, I gave Baby Boy a comprehensive quiz covering all of the words we've covered so far this year and he made a 100%! What we really do is try to incorporate the words we learn into our every day speech, although you can't tell from the simpleton talk on this blog, LOL. This helps to solidify what we've learned and take the knowledge from being only abstract in nature to more concrete. We'd already had success with Vocabulary Cartoons: SAT Word Power last year, so this was a no brainer for us this year. This is definitely a big hit.
- Literature - We have thoroughly enjoyed our literature selections so far this year: Frankenstein, The War of the Worlds, and our most recent The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. After years of the obligatory American Lit and British Lit, it has been fun to branch out and do a little something free and fluid on our own. I've never read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde before myself, but had lots of ideas about how the book would actually be since it's such a classic story. It was fun to read the actual text firsthand instead of relying on popular culture for the plot. Baby Boy also enjoyed it too. I think he may have enjoyed this book over Frankenstein, which was hard to beat. Neither of us really enjoyed reading The War of the Worlds, but listening to the 1938 radio broadcast and watching two versions of the movie, I can say we definitely made the best of that one. I think this idea of reading classic sci-fi and fantasy has been a great big hit.
- Pre-Calculus - I heart Teaching Textbooks. That's all I have to say. I know there is talk amongst those on certain homeschool message boards that it is not as rigorous as other math texts. I don't know about too many other texts as we began homeschooling Baby Boy his last year of elementary school, reviewed a little with workbooks during an abbreviated middle school and jumped right into high school math. I guess he can be labeled a "mathy" kid. Our first attempt at higher level mathematics was Saxon Math with DIVE cds, as it was recommended to me by everyone as the gold standard, but it simply wasn't a good fit for us. We switched to Teaching Textbooks at pre-algebra and have never looked back. Pre-calculus has been the most challenging subject we've had to tackle thus far, but having the detailed video explanations for each and every problem has really been beneficial. Baby Boy has consistently placed better than grade-level on standardized testing and also tested solidly into collegiate level math on the COMPASS just a few weeks ago. That's good enough proof for me and I've long since gotten over concerning myself with what others think anyway, so as you can imagine, another enthusiastic hit is among us.
- Chemistry - As you know, we've outsourced this subject this year, but that hasn't stopped me from developing opinions on it, LOL, because that's just the kinda gal I am. If you've been reading for a while, you know this is our second attempt at chemistry. Last year was a big-ole-bust. Historically we've used Apologia high school science courses because they are extremely user friendly and many online retailers have supply packs for them at reasonable costs. We've had great success with biology, marine biology and advanced biology/human anatomy (Can you tell we like biology?), however the chemistry was a huge struggle for some reason. Baby Boy and I both read the textbook and couldn't seem to make heads or tails of it and ended up ditching it about 1/4 way through the year anticipating he'd just eventually take it at community college. Our new textbook, Chemistry Matters, from Singapore Math, has been a transformational improvement. Even though I am not the primary instructor for this particular class, when I do have to assist either with Baby Boy's homework, lab presentation, or grading during co-op time, everything makes so much more sense to me. Also, this may not matter to some people, but the text is lavishly illustrated with lots of color and holds the interest of even the most non-sciencey Mom (and student). Baby Boy has also commented on how much better he likes it at well, so I'm going to rate this one another hit. Additionally, adding in The Teaching Company's chemistry DVDs have been invaluable. Mr. Cardulla is both entertaining and enthusiastic about chemistry, something I thought was virtually impossible. These have been well-worth the expense and receive a whole-hearted thumbs up from both Baby Boy and myself. Consider chemistry to be a double hit.
Baby Boy will be taking Freshman Composition and math at community college and will continue with his chemistry co-op next semester, so the frequency and depth of our
This has been a loooooonnnnnnggggg post. If you read it all, thanks. If not, I completely understand, it's just something that simply had to be done for my sanity's sake.
We'll return to our regularly scheduled silliness . . . soon . . . you know . . . when I get around to it. ;-)
Until next time . . .