Friday, March 11, 2016

Old Posts and Self-education

    I went into last year's planning posts and added notes on how it's actually turned out. The little ones mostly stayed the course, the middle ones had some slight changes, the big ones had some bigger and Very Big changes. The best laid plans of mice and men and all that.

   For no one other than myself this year I've been researching, learning, and reading fictional histories about the queens and kings of England. Fascinating stories! I don't remember what originally inspired the venture. I'd been looking up royalty timelines to get my mental timeline straight, and around then happened to spot some Philippa Gregory books at the Friends of the Library sale. (There's one near Honor, Grace, and Faith's coding class, so those books are constantly calling to me. Good thing it's so inexpensive!)  My stack of books to read is now bigger than my free time generally allows, but I've had such fun with this study.

   I've also been listening to the Joy of Science lectures from Great Courses. These are great for humanities moms teaching STEM kids! I'm hoping to get through Stephen Hawking's Brief History of Time and Bryson's Short History of Nearly Everything before too long too. I've already grazed through Dawkins' Magic of Reality.  Hawking and Dawkins will be on Honor's reading list next year. I like Hawking better. I have a personal hang-up with Dawkins that I'll discuss in detail with Honor before I hand him the book.

    For my next trick I'd like to dig into anthropology. I'm pretty sure I'll start with the Peoples and Cultures of the World lecture series from Great Courses *and* the suggested readings. I was hoping to talk Joy into trying it for 11th grade, as I think she'd really enjoy it too. If not I'll have fun with it regardless. :)

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Poor blog

    It's been eons. Here's a really quick recap of right now, that doesn't account for all those months of zero blogging.

   Valor is doing fabulous academically. His adding up to 7 and subtracting through 5 is super rock solid. He recently started counting over 100 and filling in a place value barn. This is a stretch for him, but he's catching up with it. He's a slow and steady get me ready sort of learner at this point.  He finished Sing, Spell, Read, & Write level K last week and started level 1 this week, which takes a sturdy step back to review penmanship and letter sounds. Perfect timing. His penmanship could use another round, and those reading skills will probably leap exponentially by simmering on the back burner for awhile. He still reads to me from a BOB Book daily. We just started Charlotte's Web for a read aloud.

   Faith is a fun little student who likes to keep me on my toes. She has a good blend of independent work and climb on the couch with Mom work. She's flying through Rod and Staff English 3 and hasn't found it challenging. In some places we even doubled up lessons she could do blindfolded. She's hopped back to Math in Focus 3 and took to long division like a champ. She's happy about math again. For now. O_o She's discovered the Burgess chapter books and adores the stories. (The shorter, character specific ones.) Yesterday she came back to the living room grinning with The Adventures of Chatterer the Red Squirrel in her hands and exclaimed, "I *had* to read *three* chapters today to find out what happened to Chatterer!"

   Grace soars ahead like always, though her distractibility is getting the best of her lately. She and I discussed every subject and decided it's a misuse of her time and not the workload that's getting her. This disappointed her, but she did set her mind to try to get her time management back where it ought to be. She's really enjoying prealgebra, and prefers Horizons over Art of Problem Solving right now. Her personal goal is to start algebra at the beginning of 6th grade, and I have no doubts she'll be able to. Chemistry is probably her favorite subject right now. She says writing is her least favorite, so we switched books again. Hopping between several different writing books was the plan anyway; she gets very bored very quickly otherwise.

   Honor has grown exponentially this year, in size/height, maturity, and academics. Wow! He shot up, lost his little boy soft edges, and thinks and analyzes like you wouldn't believe. It happened right under my nose but I'm still getting used to it. He's branching out and trying more responsibility on for size, and is genuinely proud when he works through hard concepts. The love/hate relationship he's had with Art of Problem Solving's prealg book recently disappeared. I shelved it some time ago and had him plugging through Horizons prealg to make sure our scattershot math year didn't leave any vital holes before he heads off to algebra. On a whim I picked it back up and he blasted through two lessons by just watching the video and doing the final exercises; we skipped the lesson work. Then we looked closely at the table of contents and he lit up when he saw how unintimidating it really was, and he was genuinely excited about doing the roots and geometry chapters. I had to roll my jaw off the floor. This is the same kid who's essentially dragged prealg out for two years, right?

   Joy is a dream student. Hand her a pile of books and ask her to do them by the end of the week, and she will. Even with random babysitting tasks and doing the dishes. She is as independent as she can possibly be. Beyond preparing her syllabi over the summer and collecting the books she needs, my workload has been reduced to grading tests and checking in to see how the syllabi are going. Usually I get a raised eyebrow that seems to accuse me of being ridiculous for even considering that she wouldn't be on track. Silly mother. We toss around ideas for next year more than we talk about this year. LOL

   Justice now attends a brick and mortar charter school. He absolutely hates the bus and takes his bicycle most days. There's a long story that caused him to be enrolled. I may get into it on here someday. For now, the short version is relationships are more important.  He is so much easier to be around now, and the whole family likes him better. He was mad and in serious culture shock at first. Now he's fairly confident and seems to enjoy his niche of the school. He makes good and bad decisions and he's learning from them. Win-win.

   Me? I love spending my days with these people. They continue to amaze me and bless me. Best job in the world. ♥