Things That Change a Life

I’m stealing a few moments to write in because my kids, somehow, are all still sleeping! Ah, silent home…

My poor homeschooling blog, which I really enjoy, has been squeezed to the side the past few months. I do apologize to anyone who was actually enjoying the things I’ve shared. But I wanted to give a quick update as to why I’ve been so quiet.

Firstly, I’m moderating over on the new AO Forum. It’s an excellent resource for all things Charlotte, so if you aren’t over there, please join us! I’m leading a Count of Monte Cristo Book Discussion and it’s going really very well. You can still join us- read like mad to catch up and then share for the second half of this novel.

Secondly, I am a working woman! Well, to be fair, I’ve been working hard on my birth/breastfeeding related business ever since Fae was born, but things have ramped up since the spring. I work at least 15 hours a week writing, teaching, etc. New and exciting opportunities have opened up before me and the best part is- I get to do most of my work once the kiddos are tucked up tight in bed for the night. Homeschooling is protected!

And speaking of, homeschooling is going really, really well this Alex (and tag-along Fae) this year. Alex is full-out reading, so no more lessons except for the practice of reading things. He’s doing addition to 8 now and we’re all very much enjoying our literature, poetry and history reading. (list below)  Nature study has been an especial joy for us- we’ve found a new rocky river beach to visit filled with crayfish, acorns, cranes, minnows… Alex and Fae love wading in the water and just watching what moves!


Yes- they are holding hands as they face a monstrous crayfish!


Our books: Winnie the Pooh, My Father’s Dragon, The Hobbit, Stories of American Life and Adventure, Burgess Animal Tales, among the Forest People, The Red Fairy Book, and The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter.

And also speaking of homeschooling, I am now homeschooling a teenager. Yup. For many, many reasons, Brian and I decided to bring Selena home from school. Now Selena is *everything* your homeschooling friends warmed you public schooled kids are: apathetic, behind, unresponsive, etc. But, we knew this would be best for her on many levels so we discussed our concerns with her. She didn’t resist. We were surprised that she seemed relieved to be removing all unnecessary stressors from her life and her education.

So there I was, tasked with putting together an education for a sophomore, of course I turned to AO. I quickly realized that Selena would in no way be able to handle a full Year 10. Or a lite Year 10. So I went to a lite Year 8 and then slimmed it down…

Selena’s been a trooper. She’s been willing to try, but even after cutting everything except a paired down AO (or more correctly House of Education) Literature and History, she’s still struggling. So we’re going to a text-book (sigh) for History. In the three years of schooling she has left, I want Selena to learn to think about things she’s told, not to just passively receive and regurgitate. I’ve had her narrate everything via a journal both Literature, Grammar and History and we’ll continue that even with the text-book.

Selena’s schooling looks like this:

Literature: The History of English Literature for Girls and Boys by HE Marshall; Poetry: John Donne & selected Shakesperean sonnets; Shakespeare in Film: Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V and Othello (with selected reading); Independant Reading: Little Women and A Christmas Carol (on Audio). I’m going to ask her to do a small project when she’s completed a selection, but I don’t know what that will look like, just yet.

History: We’ve chosen British History by John Stobaugh (which is a book written by a single author. I hope, hope, hope it will capture her imagination!) to replace Churchill’s Volume II, she is mapping England, and is reading biographies of important people in British history. These are all journaled and she’ll have a test at the end of each week on her textbook readings. She also has a weekly PA history research assignment and two current event articles to read that she narrates orally.

At the end of the semester, she’ll take an oral exam in which she’ll share her overall thoughts and impressions about her Literature selections and will share what she knows about the English Reformation.

Math: We’ve selected the Algebra Survival Guide by Sally Blakemore along with the accompanying workbook. She completes almost a chapter per week along with about 50 practice problems. She has a quiz each Friday.

Science:  Selena is completing’s biology course. We may split this up into two sections Biology I being completed this year and Biology II (the second half of this course) next year. Selena is not science minded, so the short lessons, videos and online quizzes work for her. I offered to find a way to add a lab to this and she wasn’t interested.

Overall Impressions: Selena is actually working diligently at her studies, even with those that aren’t to her liking. I think she’s expanding her mind a bit and I’ve had to find a way to balance the desire to push her toward growth and respecting her individual needs (which have been shaped by her last decade plus of inadequate education). But she’s working and she’s responding. It’s been nice to hear her thoughts about Every Man (a 12th century morality play- she liked it!), the events in Gaza recently and to see her working with her uncle on Algebra. I feel she’s more connected to us as a family and she is thriving under an education that has been and will be adjusted to fit her needs.

So that’s my update, friends! I hope you’ve found a little nugget of something to enrich your own schooling here and I hope (hope, hope!) to be able to post again soon. This week is Thanksgiving and the first Sunday of Advent. Lots of good richness for family life and I hope to share what ours is like!


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