2019-2020 School Year

2016 SOS disks

This is our 13th year of homeschool.  Aprendemos Academy already has one graduate, and only has about three years left until all of our students have graduated.

Diva has started 11th grade this year, Lt has started 10th. They are both taking Geometry, Art, Physics, and Typing, but are taking separate, grade-level courses for Language and History.

Homeschooling though high school is both easier, and so much harder at the same time. It’s easier because the kids can now teach themselves for the most part. I’m just here to help them if they need it.  The hardest part is trying to guide them into the next phase of their lives.  But I know we’ll get through it, with God’s help.

Exciting and scary all at once

We’ve just kicked off our 11th year of homeschooling. Our oldest will be graduating high school this year. In fact, in 5 years all three will be high school graduates.

Let’s just all pause a moment, and take that in. In five years, our wonderful homeschool journey will be over. I will have three high school graduates.

Honestly, if I stop and really contemplate that idea, I get overwhelmed very quickly. I have to just pull back and focus on this year.

Tho, my oldest, is taking the Math-U-See’s Stewardship course, which looks to be a personal finance course with a Biblical slant. Most of his courses in Switched on Schoolhouse again.  Language and Government & Economics are in SOS, as are the two half-credit Networking courses. He’s decided he wants to get into the cyber security field, so he’s got more than a few electives in computing this year.  Hacker Highschool looks to be the best course so far, as it provides alot of hands-on work with both Windows and Linux operating systems.  He’s also taking control of his own education, by finding podcasts and websites devoted to cyber security, and learning everything he can about the field.

Diva is starting 9th grade this year.  Most of her classes are in Switched on Schoolhouse as well, which is helpful because we already have most of the disks, so it saves us some money.  English 9, Geography, New Testament Survey, and Health are all SOS course.  Math-U-See’s Pre-algebra, PE, and Apologia’s Physical Science round out her coursework. She’s also doing some amazing digital art work.

Lt, AKA Tiimmy, has skipped up to 8th grade.  This is on purpose, as 8th grade is available to get high school credit for up to three course in our state & with our umbrella program.  So by skipping him up to 8th grade, he can take Apologia’s Physical Science with his sister, and get high school credit for it.  This way, they can work together on experiments, and when Biology rolls around again next year, I only have to supervise on more frog dissection.  His other courses include MUS’s Pre-algebra, and using SOS for Language and History.  He’s also doing very well with his swimming, and has already passed the deep end swim test!

Closing out the 2016-2017 School Year

So, another school year has come to a close. I don’t blog as much as I used to, for many reasons. Here on the school blog, it’s mostly because I’m not trying to make my own lessons anymore. With everyone doing most of their classes in Switched on Schoolhouse, the kids have been primarily teaching themselves. They log in, do their lessons, and only need me when they are struggling with a concept. Even with Math-U-See, the oldest watched the lessons and ran with it all on his own. He essentially taught himself Algebra II. There were a few times when a concept was hard to grasp that I had to help out. My real job in this whole process now is just to be available to help when needed, and keep track of the grades and paperwork.

All in all, it was a successful year. Everyone passed their classes with flying colors. So now that they’ve started their vacation, it’s time for me to plan the next school year.

No More Elementary Kids Here!

2016 Teacher Manuals

2016 Teacher Manuals

It’s so hard to believe how quickly time flies. Seems like it was only yesterday we began our homeschooling journey with our oldest son. That five year old is now fifteen! He’s just started 11th grade, and is on track to graduate a year early with an Honors Diploma. This year his coursework includes MUS Algebra 2, SOS English 11, SOS American history, Apologia physics, TeenCoder computer programming, and more.

He’ll also be doing year two of Spanish, but it’s the Spanish 1 Abeka course. He did Switched on Schoolhouse’s Spanish 1 course last year, but none of us liked it. The SOS Spanish 1 class seemed to focus more on the cultures of the various Spanish-speaking countries rather than learning to actually speak Spanish. The Abeka course is all language-driven, and needs much more supervision than the SOS course. The Abeka course is the one I took when I was in high school. It did take some time to create a lesson plan to work with just one student, as it’s a classroom-based curriculum, but the end result will be so worth it.

My Diva is starting 7th grade, and my youngest son will be in 6th. That means we have officially left elementary school behind. It’s a big deal, because so many homeschoolers give up and send their kids to the local public/private schools for middle and high school. The plethora of resources available to a homeschooling momma with elementary kids begins to dwindle once you hit middle school.  So far, homeschooling through middle and high school has been easier in some ways, harder in others.  It’s easier because the kids can teach themselves.  They can read the curriculum, do their projects, and even most of their science experiments with only minimal help and input from me.  It’s harder because I really need to keep on top of the grades and paperwork, to make sure I’ve got a paper trail to back up the transcript I’ll have to write should any of them decide to go to a college.  Honestly though, the biggest reason it’s been so smooth is the confidence we’ve all gained in the process over the years.  The grandparents have seen them flourish, and no longer have any reservations. Dad has always had my back, reassuring me that this was possible.  He’s pitched in to help whenever we hit topics of his expertise, like Spanish.  As for me, I still struggle with doubt and questions, but I have so much more confidence now than I did ten

2016 SOS disks

2016 SOS disks

The younger two are both using Math U See Zeta, but for science, history, and English class they’ve made the jump into Switched On Schoolhouse. The 11 year old has also taken on the KidCoder computer programming course in an effort to step up his Minecraft coding game.

Speaking of, all three of the kids have learned so much about computers, programming, the internet, and even some business skills – just from playing Minecraft this summer.  They found a cool server to play on, and a guild of kids (mostly made up of a group of middle-schoolers from California), and started posting “Let’s Play” videos to YouTube. The youngest really latched on to this idea, and ran with it. The other two are now playing catch-up. They’ve learned how to record, edit and post their videos. We use OBS Studio for recording, and Sony Movie Studio 13 for editing.  So if you’ve got a Minecrafter in the house, check out LtVv111, Capt740, and OmegaVaporeon, aka my Diva, on YouTube.

So that’s how our year is shaping up.  What about you?  What’s your plan for the upcoming homeschool year?

2015-2016 School Year, Already in Full Swing!

So last year was our first year back in Maryland. It was much easier than I’d anticipated, mostly thanks to the wonderful folks over at Calvary Gospel Home Educators who made it a breeze.  The hardest part about the whole year was keeping up on the paperwork.  However, that same paperwork will make it extremely easy to create a transcript for my high schooler when the time comes. It also helped that my husband made an excel version of the grading report that does all of the weighted grading for me. Nice.

So this year, we actually started back on July 6.  I felt really strange, because for once I was fully prepared for the school year to start. I had almost everything planned, printed, and scheduled a few weeks before we actually started.  The younger two are both working on a 5th/6th grade level.  English is once again a mix of reading and Easy Grammar. Math-U-See Epsilon is proving challenging already for my Diva, while Lt continues to easily grasp the math concepts.  After going over several history options with them both this summer, they both decided they wanted to do Mystery of History. Apologia’s Exploring Anatomy rounds out the extent of my curriculum for the younger two.  They are constantly doing art, not just with pen and paper but also in their Minecraft builds, photo editing, digital drawing, and LEGO creations. I just periodically grab a few screen shots or copies for their portfolios.

My Diva is struggling some to grasp the math, but that’s normal for her. Once she gets these first few concepts under her belt, she will fly through the book.  Same goes for the language.  She is teaching herself history & science, only joining her younger brother & I for the experiments.  She likes to work at night after her brothers go to bed, because it cuts down on the noise and distraction.  She’s the biggest night owl in a family of night owls. She likes to do her school work, then often reads until 2 or 3 am.  Her current favorite are the Warrior Cats series. When she wakes up, her time is spent hanging out in the LEGO friends gallery, making edits, drawing animals, creating things with LEGO, blogging, and playing Minecraft.  She’s also the one behind the dog’s blog, Peanut’s Paws.

We’ve done a lot of work with Lt over the past school year. He was officially diagnosed with both dysgraphia and dyslexia last year. I also discovered his mild hearing difficulties, and synesthesia. Last year we used All About Spelling to jump start his reading, and work to train those pesky letters.  Just reinforcing letter sounds has made a huge difference.  His reading has taken off. He does still get tired after a while, and that when he struggles with reversals and missing or changed letters.  He’s been reading his school lessons to me whenever he can, as well as learning and researching new ways to code in Minecraft.  His downtime is often spent on Minecraft, playing with LEGOs, or on the Xbox.  He also blogs occasionally.

The oldest is in 10th grade this year.  I can not believe I’m old enough to have a 10th grader, even if he is working ahead of grade level.  He uses Switched On Schoolhouse for English II, Geography, Spanish I, and Old Testament Survey. Science is Apologia’s Biology course on CD.  We got the microscope kit and the dissection kit from Christian Book Distributors.  Math is Geometry by Math-U-See. Honestly, he’s almost completely self-taught at age 14. Every curriculum he’s using is either self-explanatory, or comes with a teacher on DVD.  He only ever comes to me when he needs help. Sure, he has times when he misinterprets the lesson and we have to go back over things, but overall, he’s doing really well.  I’m kind of in awe of how well he’s doing on his own at his age.

When he isn’t doing schoolwork, Capt740 can be found on Minecraft, in the middle of a pile of LEGOs, or reading anything he can get his hands on. He blogs on the rare occasion.

So that’s the beginning of our school year, even though we are already half way through the first quarter! I can’t believe how fast time is flying this year.

World War 1: a really brief overview

Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungry was killed, which ignited a world war on a scale that no one had ever seen before.  There is some neat actually video footage from the era over at Telegraph.co.uk.  The kids really liked this quick overview of the war:

Of course, we’ll get more in-depth coverage of World War 1 in the coming weeks, but for now, I wanted to post this video where LtVv111 can find it for his blog. Pop on over there and comment if you can, he loves getting comments.  Also, check out P1nky’s blog, and Capt740’s blog if you have the time.

Llama, Llama, Duck! & Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Science for the younger two today was a lesson about Camels, Llamas, Deer, and Caribou. So of course, we had to play the Llama song.  Enjoy.

 

Then during our discussion of Caribou, we learned that it’s the females that have the antlers! That means Rudolph is a girl! We also learned that Rudolph wouldn’t have needed his shiny nose, because caribou have innate radar that leads them home.  My 9 year old then chimed in with, “But if Rudolph didn’t have his shiny nose, NORAD wouldn’t be able to keep track of him! Even though he’s fake anyway.”

Begining Secondary Education

Photo By: Chris

My oldest has started a few high school courses already. Not going to lie, the thought of homeschooling my kid through high school has me a bit nervous.  But it’s too late for nerves, my 7th grader (according to the state), has already started 9th grade English & a 10th grade history course!

I won’t lie, I’ve been in denial about this for too long.  Right up until about January of this year, I thought high school was a long way off.  Then my son finished his Mystery of History book, and I realized that he was too old to continue in the Mystery of History curriculum and be able to fulfill high school requirements.  Yikes!

Some fast research led me to the Switched on Schoolhouse program.  We had considered SOS back when we started this grand adventure.  Unfortunately for Capt740, SOS didn’t start until 3rd grade, and at that time he was in 1st.  While it is on the more expensive side, SOS  is all computer-based, which makes my son very happy.  I chose to start him with the 10th grade history course, World History, after about a week of pouring through research and required credit hours for a high school diploma.  Virginia only requires 3 credit hours of history.  We chose World History, US History, & Government. Switched on Schoolhouse’s high school history starts with Geography in 9th grade.  While Geography is a worthy subject, it can very easily be integrated into World History.  So Capt740 got to skip straight into 10th grade history.

As long as we were getting into SOS, I promoted him into 9th grade English I as well.  I had him using Easy Grammar’s 8th grade course, which seemed to me like it was supposed to be more of a grammar supplement to whatever else he was supposed to be doing in 8th grade.  I was utterly lost as to how to supplement or even what sort of activities I should be supplementing the course with.  I looked over the 9th grade SOS course, and it looks much more like an English course should, what with the literature & reports and such.

So far, Switched on Schoolhouse is a winner.  Capt740 loves it.  He also really likes his Apologia General Science course this year, and Math-U-See is still working for him.  After all my research, and much discussion with my husband & son, we came up with a course of study for the next few years for our high-schooler.

English:  Switched on Schoolhouse; English I, English II, English III, and English IV

Math:  Math-U-See; Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Stewardship (aka Personal Finance)

History: Switched on Schoolhouse; World History, American & Virginia History, and Government & Economics

Science: Apologia; Physical Science, Biology, and Physics

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone; Spanish, 2 credit hours

We’re still looking at our options as far as electives, but we’ve got some great ideas.  I’m hoping to put together some kind of Lego Art class, as well as Life Skills (that’s a MUST for all our kids!), Bible, and maybe Photography, or something else.  We’ll see what happens.

Two Weeks In…

Here we are two weeks into our current school year, so what have I learned?

— My Diva wants to learn cursive.  This will be hard considering I HATE cursive and haven’t used it in years.  Guess I’d better remember quick. Good thing I’ve got the internet.  There are plenty of resources, freely available, including fonts.  The best resource, however, is likely Donna Young’s Cursive Handwriting.  Lots of worksheets, animations, and more.

— Diva hates our current history curriculum because there aren’t enough females taught about in the text.  So, Google to rescue again! I’ve been supplementing the book with research about females from the era.  Luckily we are headed into the Exploration/Frontier life era.  I just happen to own all the Little House on the Prairie books.  Thank you Laura Ingalls Wilder!

— After a week of spelling, I’ve learned that while my youngest boy is doing a decent job learning to read, his spelling is atrocious. Then I found (via a friend on facebook) this article about good readers who spell horribly, and realized…  I need to take my boy back to phonemes.  We need to try to intervene in these neural pathways and make sure they being formed properly.

— After the above breakthrough, I had another breakthrough with my youngest.  It seems that his vision is all sorts of wonky again.  He’s seeing everything, but it’s off to the right and down from where it’s actually printed. IE:

Vv111-vision

So apparently spelling is the least of his worries.  We’ve got to get those eyes back on track.  Sigh.  Guess it’s time to visit Dr. Wescott again.

— Capt 740 is doing well, and learning how to do all this stuff on his own.  It’s kind of a relief to finally have one old enough to work on his own primarily.

 

Constitutional Convention

From Wikipedia

It took me so dag-on long to get this one together, mostly because I just sort of winged it due to other events in my life.  But the one thing both of my kids really liked, was the video & companion quiz over at Education-Portal.com.  They liked the video there better than the dumbed-down textbook we’ve been reading through.  That’s a big part of why I do a lot of supplementing the American Heritage Series.

My youngest son loved it so much, he blogged it.  He’s been busy blogging all of his history lessons lately.  He just loves history.  My Diva, however, is thoroughly bored with the subject.  She pays attention, and does the lessons, but, unlike her momma, history is NOT her favorite subject.  Oh well.

 

Anyway, another good resource for information about the Constitutional Convention is TeachingAmericanHistory.org.  How did I not know about these websites before?  Both will definitely become go-to places for future lessons.