Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Final Week of Home Schooling ... Until August

Today is our final day of "book work" home schooling for this academic year as we have Class Day tomorrow and a field trip to the Wild Animal Park planned for Friday to celebrate Jonathan's 12th birthday and the last day of school. We will have roughly nine weeks off until we start again in mid-to-late August, early enough to allow us three weeks of Christmas vacation and two weeks at Easter. It's been a good year -- actually, one of our best, even if it has been crazy-busy with tutoring four other students, two Class Day writing courses with a total of 15 students turning in a 3-5 page paper at every class, teaching three courses online at Brave Writer (poetry, grammar, and Shakespeare, plus helping Julie with the junior high language arts subscription, The Boomerang), and doing proofreading for two churches and one missions organization. And all that is besides teaching our four kids who have done quite well this year, especially when one takes into account their standardized test scores.

Benjamin is completing third grade this year. One of my later readers, B has picked up the pace and is reading much closer to grade level. Timothy picked up reading at about the same time in his schooling, and he currently begs me to check out science books from the USD Library. Jonathan was my earliest reader, yet he is picking up books to read for pleasure at the same age as Timothy. It seems that whenever kids learn to read has little bearing on when they start reading for pleasure, at least in the boys of our family; the older two both picked up novels to read for pleasure at about 12 years of age, even though one started reading three years earlier than the other. Anyway, back to Benjamin.... He has done very well in math this year, rarely receiving less than a 96% on his math tests in the ABeka 3 Math book (which is advanced about a year above California math standards), and his penmanship is simply gorgeous: as neat and well-formed as many adults' handwriting. He loves doing handwriting and copywork. Benjamin also did well with grammar (Daily Grams 3), studying the subject for the first time this year, and he definitely enjoyed his Primarily Logic workbook. And he has been just as quick as the older kids in picking up our Greek and Latin root word vocabulary cards that we do as a family. We wrote a few essays this year with him dictating to me while I typed his words, good practice for later writing assignments. Benjamin also enjoyed his Genesis for Kids science book and listening to the older kids' world history and literature. At Class Day (our twice-monthly co-op with Heritage) he took PE, art, and social studies. Overall, he's had a very good year.

According to our PSP (private school program) with Heritage Christian School, Jonathan is graduating from elementary school this year as he finishes sixth grade, although our church added him to the junior high class when he completed fifth grade last year. Jonathan struggled a bit with math this year; the ABeka 6 Math has thrown all three of the older kids for a bit of a loop as it introduces so many new concepts so quickly, but after they complete the ABeka 7 Math, they have it all down and do well. His math scores on the Stanfords this year were very nicely above average despite his low-B grades on tests at home, so we're assuming that he'll pull it together as the other two did once he has Johanna tutoring him next year in math. He and Timothy worked together in several subjects this year: world history, literature (read aloud by me), readers, poetry (Barron's Painless Poetry) and Bible from Sonlight 7; an astronomy unit and most of ABeka's Observing God's World for science; and the Greek/Latin roots that we studied together along with Bible (Sonlight 7 Bible reading schedule, plus Little Book of the Saints and Jason Boyett's Pocket Guide to the Bible which needed a bit of quick editing as I read it aloud when remarks became too, um, adult in nature, plus Bible verse memorization). In Class Day, J took Grossology (a science class dealing with bodily functions and disgusting boy stuff of all kinds), PE, and Cooking. Jonathan also did penmanship (gotta get that boy to slow down and form his cursive more carefully!), Spelling Power, Daily Grams 6, and continued piano with Teri Carpentier-Antti here in Pine Valley as well as guitar with Father Acker's Free Teen Guitar Class in Alpine. Jonathan definitely has a gift for music and is our best all-around student.

Timothy is graduating from eighth grade this year and will be starting high school next fall. (Ack - how did that happen!) He passed me in height over the winter and just this week is officially taller than Keith, too. Timothy and Jonathan studied many of their core subjects together: Bible and Greek/Latin roots, World History Part II (1750 to present), science, poetry, literature (which relates to the same time period as our history studies), readers (also relates to same historical period), etc. Timothy also studies piano with Teri, and he also was tutored in pre-algebra (Saxon Algebra 1/2) with Johanna Vignol, my college friend and home school tutor extraordinaire. He also did Spelling Power (spelling is his one weakness every year on his Stanford tests) and over half of a huge grammar book, Easy Grammar Plus, which he will complete next year. At Class Day, he took two volleyball/basketball classes and a chess class; in fact, he's still undefeated going into the final tournament at Class Day tomorrow. Timothy is always either drawing or tinkering with robots and computer programs; he would like to study engineering or graphics in college, so I will keep those strong areas of his in mind as we plan his high school years. He's just got to decide on a foreign language to study; I doubt he wants to follow in his sister's footsteps and take two years of Latin. In the past we have studied elementary German and Latin, so I hope he will choose one of those as I know them the best, or Spanish of which I still remember a little. He and Jonathan also took my Beginning Writing Class that I have taught in the past at Class Day; Olivia, a neighbor girl J's age, joined us every other Thursday, and they wrote some very creative and interesting essays and also worked on the five-paragraph format. I'm very proud of my little writing class! Timothy wrote a very creative essay a couple of weeks ago, "How Turtles Got Their Shells," based on Kipling's Just So Stories, an idea I stole from a Brave Writer class. Perhaps I'll post it here later on; it was truly wonderful!

Elizabeth completed her junior year of high school and took her SAT test for college entrance this past Saturday. She's had a very busy year with taking my Advanced (Honors) Writing course at Class Day for which she wrote twelve 3-5 page essays and one 7-10 page MLA paper (due tomorrow), and she's done very well. This class is basically a college-level course, and I'm pleased with the quality of her work. She also is taking Cooking as an elective at Class Day. After learning how to make jewelry from her Arizona cousins last summer, Elizabeth has started her own little earring business, and she sells her creations at Class Day during lunch and at small craft fairs in our area. She's had to figure out the cost of beads, the time for labor, the best way to advertise, and must also keep track of profit and inventory; it's been a great practical lesson for her in business/economics. She's finishing Algebra II (Saxon) with Johanna and still has a few labs to do before completing Spectrum Chemistry. Elizabeth has enjoyed ABeka's American History this year; she's taking her final exam today. And she has studied American History from a list Johanna and I made up for her as we didn't care much for the home school curriculum options available; Elizabeth has completed units in the short story and poetry and has read American lit from Ben Franklin to Bless Me, Ultima. Elizabeth has also been involved in our art council's theatre group; last spring she played Lady Olivia in a home school production of Twelfth Night, and she had two parts in the original play A Journey Through Christmas in December. Our theatre group is directed by Dianne Holly who has worked at The Old Globe and has been on staff at SDSU and UCSB; it's delightful to have such a professional living right here in Pine Valley who is willing to work with the community. Elizabeth has been on the front lines of fundraising for the Pine Valley Players, organizing the young people in several events to help provide funds for the PV Players. Next fall she hopes to assist Judith Dupree with Pine Valley's monthly newspaper, The Valley Views as an intern, and she is currently volunteering at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center once weekly with housekeeping which may become a paid position in a couple of weeks. Elizabeth has narrowed her college search to three universities: Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego (which was helped along when Dean Nelson of the journalism department led a writing workshop in February here in Pine Valley), San Diego Christian College in El Cajon, and The Master's College near Magic Mountain, north of Los Angeles. We'll see where the Lord leads her.

All this is probably too much information, but it's nice to look back through this school year and evaluate what worked well (almost everything) and what didn't (very little, mostly just E's chemistry labs). Grades are due on June 25, but I hope to have them in much sooner so that I can rest and relax this summer and not think much about home schooling until the beginning of August when I need to start ordering curriculum. I'll definitely write about what we choose, too, and that will be another extremely lengthy blog post....

Happy Summer, everyone!


Jane D. said...

Wow - I am very impressed Susanne, I really admire what your are doing with your children - they sound like fab folk as well!

Susanne Barrett said...

I think they're pretty darn fab, but that's Mom Talk. ;)


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