Monday, September 29, 2014

This Homeschooling High School Thing is.........

.......working out!  Nearly six weeks in, it's taken us this long to settle into a nice daily rhythm.  I think it's important for families to expect and allow this adjustment time for any type of schooling.  The transition from Sunday nights to Monday mornings looms large in some people's lives on a weekly basis, so why wouldn't moving from the carefree days of summer into the more structured days of the school year pack a bit of a wallop?  Maybe that's the ultimate goal:  to keep those schooling days footloose and carefree!  I have yet to figure out how to do that, though.

In the meantime we've been housing a few interlopers as foster dogs from various rescue groups.  Speaking of transitioning, it always takes a few days for everyone to feel at ease with one another when a new dog arrives on the scene.  Our six-pounds-of-total-terror Chihuahua, Miley, is always the last one to wave the white flag.  She hasn't yet realized that all her fury and resistance is futile.  She's a bit of a handful.

Here's the latest little guy hanging about the house.  His name is Kermit.  It's been less than 24 hours and I can already proclaim that he's a delightful, dynamite little companion.  He is available for adoption through Lap Dog Rescue of New Mexico.  He's the kind of fellow who runs toward you full speed and jumps into your arms with much trust and gleeful abandon.   This guy would make for a fantastic agility dog.  He also likes to stare at himself in the mirror.


Most school days get started around 9 or 9:30 a.m.  The teenager usually tackles guitar practice first, since it's his favorite activity.  He's learning how to play Sultans of Swing by Dire Straights.  We are both admiring Mark Knopfler's prowess with the guitar and watch him on Youtube.

He generally saves math for last and hopes that it will just go away already.  Much to his surprise, he seems to be good at math this year.  He scored a 90% on the first chapter test and has been getting most of the problems correct in the text.  We are using Chalk Dust's Pre-Algebra program for review and to fill in those niggling gaps, like absolute value, something that had never crossed in front of him before.  

The math instructor (on DVD), Dana Mosely, is a very good teacher.  He's thorough, engaging, and boy, can he write well on a chalk board!  There is something so nostalgic about watching someone write on a crisp clean chalkboard with a big fat piece of chalk.  I find the sound rather soothing.  Is that weird?  His numbers are written so precisely and I think it's all very cool.  With the DVD lessons and the text, this is a program that is easy to take with you when traveling, too.  It's a self-sufficient way to learn math.  

After guitar practice he usually reads for an hour off of the literature shelf.  This week he is indulging in Isaac Asimov's Foundation.  I should have researched this series a little better and should have picked up the first book in the series, the prequel.  Oops.  The teenager remarks that some things are rather confusing in the book.  My bad.  He does concur, though, that Asimov was clever in his writing.  When he finishes a book from the shelf, he writes about it either sharing how the book impacted him, how it related to his life, how it made him think/feel, or how he would have written it differently.  Next semester he'll brush up with a grammar mechanics class; for now I am not at all concerned about the occasional misspelled word or run-on sentence.  I want him to be really comfortable in spilling his thoughts onto paper and thinking through conundrums while he writes.  All of the editing and parsing will be fine tuned later.  

Then it's on to history, either work out of his history detective work book or lectures from The Western Tradition by Eugen Weber, a history professor who taught at UCLA.  He is enjoying learning about the conquests of the Athenians, Spartans, and Persians and often shares tidbits of interesting information. 

Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw gets tackled 3-4 times a week for however long he wants to work on it.  Sometimes he's at the computer for several hours, others are briefer encounters.  It's clear he is enjoying this pursuit.  It might be a little premature to say so, but I think computers will play a large role in his future.  He was using Grok Learning to learn Python, but discovered that the leaps were too big to make from exercise to exercise.  It left him feeling very frustrated.  Zed, on the other hand, takes his students through step-by-step and expects you not to understand it all at first.  He believes that at some point your brain will have an 'ah-hah' moment and you'll get it!  The teenager is working toward that point with determination.

We removed Schmoop's Biology class from the curriculum about a week ago.  It is very heavy on text, not so much of a match for visual/tactile learners.  He was slogging through it and hated it, so I pulled the plug.  He is still watching some Neuroscience lectures from a Great Courses DVD and is pursuing other science interests, but we'll move a formal science class to next semester or next year.

I also picked up this book last week and he's started reading it:

That's all the good stuff.  We've only argued "vehemently" :) about three times, so not too bad.  Mostly over him getting lazy and trying to take short cuts.  Honestly, though, I have been super impressed with his stick-to-it attitude and his willingness to work through any problems he encounters.  He is definitely maturing, which is a good thing because driver education is about to commence!

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