Saturday, May 10, 2008
2008 Home School Expo
This morning E and I met up with Dru (who met us at the Descanso Park-n-Ride with her 2008 Prius -- what a treat!) in order to venture all the way up to Escondido for this year's Christian Family Schools Home School Expo. For at least the last eight years, the CFS Home School Expo has been held downtown at San Diego's Golden Hall, but this year it moved all the way up into North County to the large campus of Emmanuel Faith Community Church. This year's Expo is Dru's first, and I think she found it helpful -- I'm judging that from the number of books she purchased. :)
On our way, we stopped by the new Starbucks in Alpine where Father Acker, Jack, and another member of the Free Teen Guitar Class that Father teaches in Alpine were playing for the Grand Opening. (I can't tell you how nice it is to have a Starbuck's a mere 15 miles from home -- it used to be a nearly thirty-mile drive to Starbucks, not that I drove all the way into the city JUST for Starbucks, and I don't even LIKE coffee... I simply love the coffee house atmosphere, one of my favorite places to write, read, study, etc.) They sounded great, jamming on their guitars. Hap and Alice were there as well, sitting in chairs and providing an audience. After a quick visit, it was off to Escondido, about hour's drive from home. We stopped in Escondido on the way to the Expo to drop off Caroline's surprise with Carmen, something I'll clue you all into in a day or two.
But getting from Carmen's house to the Expo site ended up being quite an adventure. I had brought along my trusty Thomas Brothers Map Street Atlas of San Diego, but when I saw that Dru had a GPS unit in her new car, I left it in my car at the Park-n-Ride rather than dragging it along. Mistake. Big Mistake. Dru's GPS wouldn't accept the address, wouldn't look up a church, and was less than helpful. Her Mapquest directions she had printed out weren't helpful either. We tried driving this way and that, up and down Felicita, trying to find the church where the Expo was being held. I finally called Keith who checked the Thomas Brothers Guide we had in the house, and he let us know that we were a mere three blocks from our destination. So it was with relief, and a far more thorough knowledge of Escondido than we would have liked, that we drove into the huge lot and parked.
In the past, I have enjoyed the speakers at the Expo, but lately I'm there for one thing: the Exhibit Hall full of vendors. And the other thing: running into homeschoolers whom I don't see very often otherwise. We strolled past exhibits by Bob Jones, ABeka, Math-U-See, Sonlight, ACE, Institute for Excellence in Writing (blech!), Lamplighter, HSLDA, Paul Tripp Ministries, Lamp and Quill, Teaching Textbooks (where our piano teacher, neighbor, and friend Teri and her daughters works each Expo), Tapestry of Grace, Usborne Books, Total Language Plus, Alpha Omega, and Area 127, plus others. We spent a good deal of time at Area 127 with their eclectic selection of books of every type -- I made quite a list of books to get from the library or buy later, like the boys' grammar program (Easy Grammar's red book), their logic or Latin program (they get to choose which one), and lots of readers.
My main reason to go was to look for something "cool" (T's stipulation) for the boys' science, and I found a really "cool" classical astronomy text that will be the basis for our study of astronomy next year. It's called Signs and Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy, and it's published by a Christian company, The 4th Day Alliance. I was very impressed with the book and the breadth and depth of the study which doesn't require a telescope, although we do have one. But with the great night skies we have being so far outside of the city and at the altitude we are makes astronomy a natural choice. My brother is also very "into" astronomy, so I hope he'll perhaps help out when we get together. In addition to astronomy, we may do a semester of natural science as well if the boys get tired of one subject for science. Goodness knows we have enough science books in this house! So the astronomy book was my only purchase of the day. Don't you admire my restraint???????
E found a really great chemistry program -- much better than the ABeka-at-home and Apologia-at-Class-Day approach we had resigned ourselves to. Spectrum Chemistry is a high school level college-prep chemistry program with two days each week of text work and one day of lab work. EVERYTHING is included for the labs except distilled water. So E can do chemistry at home and NOT at Class Day as we had planned to do. The Class Day teacher uses the Apologia text, a series that E HATES (and I do not use that word lightly!), and she instead wanted to use the ABeka text, but their labs are designed for classroom settings and are far too complex to do at home. So the Spectrum Chemistry is something that is designed especially for home education, plus it is student-driven. That means I just have to check in with her once in a while, but she does all the text and lab work on her own -- the text is written directly to her (like the Apologia series) yet isn't nearly as subjective and chatty as the Apologia books. The program is expensive -- $300 -- and it will cost each of the boys around $100 to replace the lab consumables and get a new workbook each time. If we can afford it, we'll do it!
I appreciate the irony of talking almost exclusively about science programs when I'm an English/humanities person, but we tend to buy what we NEED help teaching, not what we already know. :)
I also found some great Usborne books that I may get when it's time to buy books: T would adore the Usborne Internet-Linked Complete Book of Chess! I talked Dru into purchasing the Usborne Shakespeare book -- it's brilliant, and I'm using it a great deal in preparing the Shakespeare workshop through Brave Writer that I'm currently facilitating. I could just buy all of their books ... fortunately, I already have a good number, and we use them a TON, especially for World History this year and next.
Overall, today was a very productive day, with many decisions made regarding our home school for next year. It was worth the admission fee just to see some of the books in person, to thumb through the pages and get a "feel" for it far better than choosing books from catalog descriptions only. Science is settled. Grammar is fairly-well settled. The boys and I have to decide if we want to pursue another year of Latin or try some classical Logic instead. They'll be doing ABeka Math (T will be starting Saxon for pre-algebra), Sonlight 7 for history, Bible, and literature (second half World History), Beginning Writing (curriculum I wrote myself), Easy Grammar, Astronomy, Sequential Spelling, A Reason for Handwriting (B&J), Explode the Code 6, 7, 8 for B, piano, and perhaps a music appreciation class. The boys will take art and P.E. at Class Day, and one additional class for "fun."
E's coursework and curricula are decided for her junior year: ABeka American History, SMARR American Literature, Saxon Advanced Mathematics, Spectrum Chemistry (most likely), and something for Bible that I haven't yet figured out. As of next month, she'll be finished with two years of high school Latin. If she's not taking chemistry at Class Day (a double subject -- two hours instead of one), she'll take Intermediate Writing with me at Class Day rather than doing it at home with me one-on-one, plus Driver's Ed. and something else "fun." She and Erika, Teri's daughter, are also curious about taking ballroom dancing classes at Grossmont (a junior college in El Cajon).
Well, if you're a homeschooler, then this post has been most informative, but if you're not, then I doubt you've read this far. These are big decisions for us: they cost scads of money and will be the basis for nine months of our children's education. These decisions are not taken lightly. And I still have much to weigh and decide about next year's schooling. But right now I also need to focus on finishing this year well -- shouldn't be a problem as they're all on track and are ready to celebrate summer vacation starting in mid-June (California schools get out very late and seldom begin before Labor Day). So it was a goooooood day, and it was fun to explore all of the possibilities with E and Dru. Thanks again, Dru, for driving!