2017-18 school plans

The days are starting to get cooler and wet. That means fall up here in Alaska isn’t too far away. Time to plan and order school stuff!
To hopefully avoid the long delays we’ve had in the past from Sonlight, I decided to do something different. I ordered the reading books through Amazon, and only got the 2 guides directly from Sonlight. Unfortunately, Amazon broke the invoice into 25 different orders! Ugh. Oh well, there’s a lot of books. I was able to get decent free shipping on about half the items. Plus, since they were mostly used books, it was a lot cheaper than buying from Sonlight. I had to make a spreadsheet to put the books into the correct courses again from the different sellers to figure out total costs. The disadvantage is we won’t have a nice, study box for it all, but that’s not worth the extra cost.
Both kids want to continue FXC skiing. Richard’s coach convinced him to join the high school XC running team to get ready for ski season. Practice starts this afternoon and is 2 hours every day. There are 2 groups of people in FXC: skiers and runners. The skiers run to stay in shape for skiing. The runners ski to stay in shape for running. Yet, it’s the same big group of kids in both. Just different attitudes. Richard says he’s a skier. Hopefully this will help, since he didn’t make the top level summer training team like he was hoping.
They are both still finishing last school year’s work. They took too many days off between me and Richard being gone when my dad died, and Ray’s business trip when I had to run things here by myself. So, they used up their summer. We plan to start the next school year September 1. If they finish before then, they get that time off until we start again.
RICHARD, officially a sophomore:
US Gov’t/Econ: $143.10 & 23.49 ship, 29.69 guide  Total spent $196.28.  The Sonlight package price was $507! The Econ was supposed to have a Thinkwell internet course. I did not order that. I’d like to try to find it cheaper. Sonlight was $150. Even if we get it from them, we’ll still have saved $150.
Amer Lit: $134.54 & 43.67 ship, 25.19 guide Total spent $203.40. The Sonlight package price was $387.66! Again, well over $150 in savings.
Math: I found a kit that includes Saxon textbook, answer key, tests, and video explanation of lessons for $117. It’s algebra 2. That’s getting beyond what I can help him with, which is why I think the video will be a good resource. $7 shipping, plus lower cost than the store in Anchorage we got his math from last year!
KAREN, 8th grade:
I ordered math, US history, reading, and Language Arts from Christian Light for $167.30 plus $15 shipping. Total spent $182.36.
Science: Apologia General Science we already have.
Time to get the kids up. I couldn’t sleep, so took care of this. May need a nap this afternoon. We’ll see.
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Curriculum delays

Ugh. After waiting 6 weeks for our homeschool order to arrive, I finally was able to get in touch with our district’s homeschool coordinator and find out what was going on. Apparently they had some confusion about what items they could and could not order so they didn’t order anything, nor did they notify me about the problem 😦

Anyway, we decided it would be best if I would place the Sonlight order myself then sort  out reimbursement with the district after items arrived so our school year won’t be delayed any longer (we actually started last Monday, planning for these items to be here by now). So I  submitted the order today. Unfortunately, that meant paying $150 for 2-day Fed Ex shipping since we’re in Alaska. Oh well, at least I know we’ll have all the items soon.

The Rainbow Resource order did finally go through this morning. I recently found out that the chemistry textbook is available as an e-book, but only for I-pads. I’m hoping to find someone to lend me one until the regular textbook arrives so he can begin science sooner.

EDIT: After searching more, I found a pdf of the entire chemistry book. My son needs to download it and make sure it will run on his computer. If it does, that will save hauling around another heavy textbook this year.

Sneaking math

All of my daughter’s school books have arrived. Not all my son’s have arrived, but his math and carpentry have. The high school items from Sonlight haven’t come in yet. (They were very slow arriving last time we ordered from them too. So keep in mind if you plan on using anything from Sonlight to order early as possible.) We still plan to start school on Monday, August 1 and will just catch up on the late subjects as they arrive.

However, the kids’ have both been literally begging to start their math. This is surprising considering how much my son struggled last year and my daughter usually does not like to do it. Night before last I saw my son’s bedroom light still on late so I went to see what he was up to. I was expecting him to be reading or perhaps drawing. Nope! He was doing the second lesson of his geometry at nearly 11pm LOL

When I told him to quit and get to bed, he begged to finish. He says he likes the Saxon math better than the other programs we have used. Hopefully that means less trouble this year with math. However, I knew he needed sleep more than geometry so I praised his enthusiasm for what he had done but told him to finish it at a more appropriate time.

 

 

Martians and essays

We homeschool using one of Alaska’s many state correspondence programs. One of the district reading targets in one of the higher levels (usually done during traditional high school age) before graduation is to read a book and watch the movie version then compare them. That is what my son is working on now. Last Christmas my son got 3 copies of the book “The Martian” by Andy Weir. LOL! Yesterday, my husband bought the move version.

Just before watching the movie, I assigned him the essay. He was a bit reluctant then realized he gets to read one of his favorite books and watch the movie as schoolwork. The assignment is to write at least a 1.5 page essay comparing and contrasting the book with the movie. Today he read the first 75 pages and took several notes. This went much better than more grammar drill, research reports, and sentence diagrams.

Our school district is unconventional. Besides being one of the largest geographically yet smallest in population (with schools in just 3 small villages and 2 correspondence programs), we also do not have traditional K-12 grades. Instead, each subject is broken down separately into levels and targets within each level. As long as you meet all targets for all levels within 12 years, it doesn’t matter if you take more or less time on certain areas. So for example in “5th grade” a student can be on level 4 math, level 6 reading, level 4 writing, level 5 social studies, level 7 technology, etc. It’s a bit confusing when trying to describe what grade your children are in. However, it makes a more tailored education.

2016-17 curriculum plans

Sorry, it’s been too long since I last wrote. Already it’s July and we hope to start our new school year next month. Last week was rainy so I took the time to do much over due organizing of old school work and finalize our curriculum plans for the upcoming school year.

RICHARD:

  • MATH: Saxon geometry
  • SCIENCE: Holt Modern Chemistry (AP?)
  • CARPENTRY
  • HISTORY/BIBLE: Sonlight 320-20th Century World history
  • LITERATURE/ENGLISH: Sonlight 230-Classical Literature
  • PE: FXC Prep running & ski team

KAREN:

  • MATH: CLE math 700
  • READING: CLE reading 700
  • LANGUAGE ARTS: CLE LA 700
  • SPANISH: Speedy Spanish (CLE)
  • HISTORY: CLE Social Studies 700 (world history)
  • PE: FXC Jr. Devo running & ski team

Richard will officially be in high school. I say officially because he has been working a year ahead so already did one year of high school level work. The good thing is that we have an extra year to play with so we can explore more things he is interested in before college.

Richard’s science homework, tests, and quizzes are online this year. We found a great deal on a used computer. It’s a 2013 Alienware laptop that he’s been wanting. Our friend picked it up for us and set it up for him. Then we surprised him with it Thursday as a welcome to high school present. Needless to say, he loves it.

We decided to move away from Christian Light Education for Richard this year. While we’ve had good success with most of Christian Light Education’s courses, many of the high school ones are not the updated Sonrise editions yet and so do not fit his learning style very well. He will switch to Sonlight for history, bible, literature, and English this year after he struggled last year.  Plus, he now knows his facts well so more drill won’t be useful. Instead, I’m hoping Sonlight’s literature based programs will give him more of a chance to apply what he’s already learned. Plus, Sonlight uses real novels rather than an anthology textbook for literature study. Sonlight is a LOT more expensive but I’m hoping it will spark his love of learning again. He’s also using Saxon math instead.

If Sonlight works out, I hope to also do Literature 400-American Literature next year then Literature 600-British Literature the next along with their economics course. He probably will skip Literature 500-World Literature. This is mostly ancient classics and tragedies that don’t interest him. He’s really excited about the other 2 courses though.

One of the standards he needs to complete is reading a book and watching the movie version then comparing them. I would like to use Great Gatsby and do this over Christmas break as a family or perhaps Weeks 6-7 of history since that covers the 1920’s. I’d substitute it instead of All Quiet on the Western Front.

Karen is continuing with Christian Light Education again. However, considering how much Richard struggled with Bible 700 & 800, she’s not doing them. For us, the focus on using a concordance and other Bible reference books isn’t as important to know. Not sure what, if anything, she will do for Bible instead. She will be learning Spanish this year. When Richard was in 7th grade, we did a combined study with her that covered astronomy and geology so this was a empty year of science for her.

Both of them will continue with the FXC running & cross country skiing program. Richard moved up to the Prep level. Most of the others his age did Prep last year and will do Comp this year, but since he started skiing later and had a lower overall fitness level it was decided he should do Jr Devo last year then Prep this year and finally Comp next year. Karen will remain in the Jr Devo level for another year.

Monday I ordered everything, so we are now eagerly awaiting Box Day when the orders arrive.

 

Why is homeschooling allowed?

There’s been a lot of negative reports and stereotyping of homeschool students lately, leaving some to wonder why homeschooling is even allowed in the US. All forms of schooling have kids that fall through the cracks. However, homeschooling can have many advantages when done properly. Let me explain a few.

1. It gives families a chance to be in charge of their child’s education. Not everyone learns the same way. Homeschooling allows you to pick curriculum that fits your child’s needs, interests, and learning style instead of being stuck with the all-for-one curriculum provided by schools. That can help students who struggle while in school excel at homeschooling.

1b. Curriculum choice is important not just to learning styles. Public schools often have a hidden agenda of the current political correctness in their curriculum choices. This comes out in not just the reading books but also story problems in other subject areas as well. Not all parents appreciate or want that. Homeschooling gives parents more direct control over what will influence their children’s learning through curriculum. Is it religious or secular? Is it conservative or liberal in regards to morals and lifestyles portrayed? Parents can choose what to include, but also what NOT to include.

2. Students can go at their own pace. If they need more or less time on something, they can. Again, that can help struggling students. It can also help gifted students because they aren’t held back if they want to move faster.

2b. Not only can students go at their own pace through the curriculum, they can go at their own pace regarding time management. You aren’t tied to a clock. If you finish sooner than expected, you can move on. Similarly, if you need more time than expected, you can easily do so without worry about being late or losing your train of though by having to finish at another time like after school for homework. Wiggle breaks can be as needed instead of a certain time or waiting until the entire class is ready. Sometimes just a 5 minute wiggle break can be enough to get focused again. (You’d probably get sent to the principal for disrupting class if a student did that in school.)

3. (This is related to both of the above) You can easily explore related topics that interest you. Schools are limited by approved curriculum guidelines in what they can cover. So if there is interesting topics, students must learn on their own about them. Homeschooling allows you to take time to explore those issues without worry about approved curriculum or wasted time. Being able to cater better to the student’s interests helps keep them engaged with their learning.

4. Socialization is a natural concern for people unfamiliar with homeschooling. You don’t have to be surrounded daily with people your age to be properly socialized. That is actually unnatural socialization. No other place outside a school has everyone exactly the same age but 1 or 2 much older people. Even nursing homes and college classes have a wider age range than the average school classroom.

Homeschool students usually get involved in group activities, church, private lesson, sports, and volunteering. That way they are around others who share their interests instead of just the same age.

5. Some families like/need to travel a lot. For us, we are gone at least 6-8 weeks of “school days” every 2 years for long vacations. We’d miss out on a lot of great opportunities if we had to wait to travel only on school holidays. Instead, we just take what we will need to study with us. There’s no worry about how to teach it or getting behind the class. The world is our classroom. We’ve seen a lot of places and things most students only read about in their textbooks. For example, we went to Nagasaki and saw where the atomic bomb was dropped in WW2. While in a museum in Lima Peru, our family was invited into the room where ancient Inca and Aztec gold artifacts were stored, which is usually off limits to visitors. We’ve seen penguins on the Falkland Islands and komodo dragons on Komodo Island. Most recently, traditional Middle Eastern clothing was explained and demonstrated by a shop keeper in an Oman bazaar. None of these trips would we have probably done if we didn’t homeschool.

6. You don’t need to be a teacher to teach homeschool. Parents of school students do this naturally when helping explain a tough homework problem. Homeschool is like that. You don’t give your child a lecture then issue assignments. Instead, you help your child understand what is covered. Plus, you can get teacher guides and answer keys for most curriculum to help when you don’t understand it well enough to help your child.

No state required parents to have a college degree or teaching certificate to homeschool. A few states require parents to have completed high school or gotten a GED. Otherwise, those families must be supervised by a certified teacher, but they can still homeschool.

Finalizing 2014-15 school plans

Well it’s almost that time of year. Time to get organize all the homeschool stuff for this upcoming year. I’ve made a few changes from my initial plan. Mostly those are curriculum changes instead of major subject swaps.

I bought the Apologia General Science used for $15 for my son. After looking it over, we decided it just wasn’t what we needed after all. A tenant had left behind a Life Science book from Holt Science & Technology. He liked the format, but like the Apologia general science, it would have been mostly review of stuff he already knows. However, I looked online and they have 2 other books in the series: Physical Science and Earth Science. Since we did geology and astronomy last year, that just left physical science still to cover to have a good science base going into high school sciences, so I’m ordering the physical science books. It’s a bit expensive ($132), but unlike Apologia, it is fundable with out state allotment.

The other change is Karen’s social studies. I didn’t really like what Christian Light has for 4th or 5th grade. I looked on Rainbow Resource and found several world history workbooks and narrowed it down to my top 3 choices then let Karen pick which seemed most interesting to her. She decided on 2, which is ok since one is a bit light to use by itself.

I asked at our school district what they do for Alaska studies and they told me about a website which is a complete curriculum. So I’m going to have him go through that in addition to the Judy Fergesson books I already picked out.

So here’s the revised plan for how this year will go:

RICHARD 8TH GRADE

Language Arts– LA800: CLE $40,

Writing– Rockets Radar & Robotics: Institute for Excellence in Writing $29

Literature- (All Veritas Press Guidebooks $12) Call of the Wild & White Fang, Fahrenheit 451, Around the World in 80 Days

Math– Math 800: CLE $52

Reading– Reading 800: CLE $27

Bible– Bible 800: CLE $70

Science-Holt Science & Technology: Physical Science homeschool pkg & CD: Rainbow Resource $132

Social Studies– AK state study online (www.akhistorycourse.org), Judy Fergusson books

Spanish

KAREN 5TH GRADE

Language Arts– LA500: CLE $50

Math– Math 500: CLE $52

Reading– Reading 500: CLE $27

Literature– (All Veritas Press Guidebooks $12) Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Secret Garden, Where Red Fern Grows

Bible– Bible 500: CLE $26

Social Studies– 2 world geography workbooks from Rainbow Resource $12 & $16

Writing– Student Writing Intensive A & Continuation Course A: Institute for Excellence in Writing

Science- Real Science 4 Kids: middle school physics, chemistry, biology $65/subject Rainbow Resource

Spanish