Monday, September 1, 2008

Homeschooling Adventures

This week we started our home school adventures with E's new Honors Chemistry curriculum, Spectrum Chemistry. She spent almost an hour opening the various boxes of supplies for her weekly laboratory experiments, locating the compounds and ingredients necessary for this week's adventure -- I mean, um, lab. She was certainly attired for danger with her protective glasses, special gloves, and long plastic apron as she worked with different compounds to see which ones dissolved the packing pellets (labeled "ghost turds" in our home -- our kids have had too much practice with these packing materials with all of the books shipped to us by different home education vendors each autumn).

E fell in love with the Spectrum Chemistry curriculum at last May's "Home School Expo," an annual event in San Diego County in which many home education vendors ply their wares to unsuspecting (and sometimes suspecting) bibliovores. Some families tend toward packaged materials, such as ACE Packets which contain workbooks for each subject. Others prefer the "textbook" approach of having "school at home" -- using traditional texts such as those provided by Bob Jones and ABeka, for all subjects in all grades, preschool through 12th grade. Still others like "hands-on" materials like Konos or Tapestry of Grace in which families study historical "units" with plenty of handicraft projects and playacting. Some families teach according to the Classical Approach, teaching Latin and Greek in early grades and following the Trivium: grammar, logic, and rhetoric stages of education. Others prefer teaching "whole books," following the educational philosophy of British educator Charlotte Mason in which teaching becomes a natural part of each day, with plenty of time for outdoor play with nature journaling, art and music studies, narrations of history lessons, and wholesome books read for literature.

Our family has tended to a rather eclectic approach to our home schooling, taking a little from the Charlotte Mason, Classical, and traditional philosophies. When the kids are little, we do a great deal of Charlotte Mason ideas with lots of art, classical music, nature study and drawing, narrations, and copywork. As the kids become older, we tend to utilize Latin and logic studies usual in Classical theory, and as they enter high school, we transition to a traditional approach with ABeka texts for most subjects as they are considered to be "honors" level.

Over the past several years, E has accompanied me to the annual Home School Expo so she could express her opinion regarding the direction of her education. I inform her of which subject must be covered in the coming year, and we discuss the various curricular options that will cover these required subjects. In May, the big question for E was her chemistry studies as she doesn't care for the most commonly used textbook line of high school science books (Apologia, to be precise). Last year for Biology she attended a twice-monthly Biology Lab at our school's Class Days using the Apologia text, but she completed her own study of the subject using ABeka's excellent Biology text. Although the same option was available for her with Chemistry, we had heard that the ABeka Chemistry book was extremely difficult. Needless to say, we were thrilled to come across Spectrum Chemistry which included every single item for all of the laboratory experiments with the exception of distilled water. And E was attracted to the colorful and clearly-written textbook.

So she's happy with her Chemistry curriculum this year, and I'm happy that she's happy. It's one less subject that I have to be concerned with since I've volunteered Keith to help her with the weekly labs. A home schooling teacher must have her priorities, of course.....

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