Sunday, October 24, 2010

School Update

We have finished seven weeks of school and I thought it was time for an update. We finally, in this seventh week, had a "normal" week with no disruptions for illness, doctor's appointments, travel, or alien invasion. I tried not to let it get to me that each of the first six weeks were interrupted in some way. That's life. We just picked up where we left off and kept plugging away. That's a heck of a lot better than getting riled up and fretting. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint, and you can't let disruptions derail you. That and that doing something each day, even if it's only a little, adds up unbelievably fast. This is brought home to me each spring when I prepare Girl of the House's portfolio for the dreaded Annual Evaluation by a Public School Teacher Who Is the "Real" Educational Expert and Will Yea or Nay Our Entire Efforts for the Year. When I lay everything out and see it altogether, even difficult years like last year come out far better than I was hoping. It all adds up. Okay, so that's two things. :-)

So here's how our year is going so far. Let's start with Girl of the House's (aka Girl 2) Potter's School classes:

Physical Science~~Going very well. Girl 2 loves the textbook (Apologia) and while the teacher is new to TPS and has some challenging circumstances in her life, she's inspiring Girl 2's love of the subject. That's what I like in a teacher. :-) The math is challenging for our mathophobic daughter, but she's working hard to learn it. So far they've covered topics such as the atmosphere, atoms, and air. The experiments are the most fun part. This past week we made a stream of water bend~~no touching!~~by using a comb and a cat!

German I--This class and physical science are Girl 2's first forays into high school courses. The challenge of ramped up expectations and requirements were being met a bit shakily in the first two weeks, but we are on a roll now. Vocabulary, conjugations and the like are being mastered, and Girl 2 can now recite the Lord's Prayer in German from memory. The teacher is experienced and organized and knows her stuff. A real blessing!

Ancient History and Literature~~Man of the House is spearheading this. I am so blessed to have a husband who plays an active part in our children's education! They've moved into Herodotus after finishing the Iliad and Odyssey and were going to do selected portions, but Girl 2 insisted on reading the entire thing (a la Helene Hanff). Who could say no to that?? She's also doing work in Spielvogel's Western Civilization, which is going well as far as I know.

Math--Well. Humph. Math is not the favorite subject at our house, either to learn or to teach. That's where That Boy comes in. He's been tutoring Girl 2 and also helping her with the math for science. It makes a difference to have a tutor who loves the subject and knows the in's and out's of it. . . not like some I could mention . . . meaning myself. They've moved into the Zeta level of Math-U-See, which deals with decimals and percents and other mathematical perplexities. So you see we are "behind" in math, whatever that means~~we are where we need to be for Girl 2, and that's what matters. She also gets a dose of Calculadders each day when I remember. For some reason she never seems to remind me. ;-) This is the area where I need to constantly remind myself that doing a lesson each day really adds up over the long term. It's so easy to lose track of the great gains made through regular, faithful work each day.

Grammar--We've been devotees of Rod and Staff English for a long time. It's thorough if a little preachy, which we find amusing at some times and annoying at others. I had hoped to make it all the way through the 8th grade book this year, but it's beginning to look like that won't happen. Since I'm more concerned with my children learning the material than covering a certain amount of ground each week, at our current pace we'll have to continue next year, but that's okay with me. Who knows, though? Maybe we'll be able to pick up the pace. Right now we are in chapter 2 and slaving away at clauses~~dependent, independent, and otherwise.

Spelling--Progressing nicely, thank you. We are in the D section of our dumb spelling mistakes book. When we get to Z, we will leave spelling as a formal study forever. Hopefully, we will never leave proper spelling in actual usage.

Writing--I cannot say enough good things about the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. Girl 2 loves it, and I've learned a lot just grading her work (which doesn't take much time at all). There are online webinars (phooey on that word!) and plenty of additional study aids on the website. This is just what Girl 2 needed to help her develop and hone her fiction-writing skills. Worth every penny!

Bible--We are studying our way through Luther's Small Catechism (and explanations) at the dinner table. Man of the House has also set Girl 2 to reading through an Old Testament survey. I don't really know how this is going, but since I'm not hearing sounds of wailing or the gnashing of teeth from either party, I assume all is well.

In addition, voice lessons are going well and Girl 2's singing is improving. She's spending time outside most days (though not as often as I'd like) either riding her bike (and falling off said bike all too frequently, walking in the park, or persuading a litter of wild kittens to take up residence in our backyard instead of the neighbors' by plying them (kitties, not neighbors) with food and the promise of much petting if they will comply.

So goes the first seven weeks of school. Only twenty-six more to go!

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