Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ten Weeks of High School at Home

Into the 10th week of doing high school at home.  That would be a prepositional phrase, one not meant to stand on it's own as a complete sentence, but this is how I think and write.  The teenager is engaged in an 8 week Time4Writing class called Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics taught by Mrs. Barrett (good thing it's not me teaching since I am a choppy sentence writer). I have peeped over his shoulder a time or two to be reminded what clauses of the dependent and independent varieties are.  Mrs. Barrett is uber positive in her comments, which he appreciates.  She is good at correcting a student's line of thinking with encouragement.  Everyone needs a little encouragement.

Time4Writing offers short classes in paragraph writing, essay writing, tackling research papers, and coping with the writing portions on the SAT.  I felt a grammar review class this year was imperative since we will be gradually writing more and more as high school drones on.  Check them out if you haven't visited Time4Writing. They offer classes for elementary through high school.

I'd like him to read this, too, for fun:

Literature has been a favorite subject thus far.  Currently he is reading a book by Orson Scott Card.  His needle seems to be stuck on science fiction, even though I had imagined him taking great big gulps from the bread(th) of the literature shelf this semester.  We know when he likes a book because he chatters about it non-stop!  Orson has gained his respect.  I've been instructed to gather more books by said author.  Because this book was on the literature shelf, it seems he has gained more trust in my abilities to meet his reading needs.  Silly boy.

He's been tackling community service hours via some volunteer stints with a couple of organizations, one involving the care and keeping of foster kittens.  It's a really tough road.  He has to pick them up, pet them, play with them and feed them when I need help.  I bring up the rear with litter box duty, laundry and washing food dishes.  Needless to say we get attached to each bunch that travels through, but it's such a good and rewarding service to provide for them.  We also know that another bunch waits at the shelter for a turn at home life, so there is never a shortage of kittens in need. It's sheer enjoyment for one thing, and the kittens benefit greatly from caring hands.  They arrive as hissy missies (not always) and leave as certified companions of the highest order.  I feel I have done remarkably well allowing only one kitten to remain on board permanently, especially since eight or so groups of kittens have moved through our house.  Good thing my husband is a limit setter.     

THIS one.  She arrived as a foster and stayed.  This is Pogo.  She's now a year old.

Math is going as well as it can be expected to as he cruises through pre-algebra for review.  We've figured out that math work should come early in the day before his energy tanks.  Tanked energy and math do not a happy couple make.

He has turned to Learn Python the Hard Way by Zed Shaw for programming and continues to enjoy it.  Three days a week.  Forgive me if I've mentioned these resources in previous posts!  He also started watching lectures on Cybersecurity via The Great Courses:

Professor Paul Rosenzweig teaches the course on cyber security.  

Let's just say Mr. Rosenzweig knows his stuff when it comes to understanding the Internet, cyber crime, cyber security and cyber warfare.  Each lecture is 30 minutes in length and there are eighteen of them.  Lots of topics for discussion here.  Professor Rosenzweig is an engaging and dynamic expert on the subject.

I cannot rave enough about Eugen Weber's (free) Western Tradition lectures online.  The teenager states that history is 'actually interesting', thanks to Mr. Weber.  The lectures are dated (1989) but full of valuable insight into how non-linear history really is and how events shaped themselves into what we recognize as everyday life as a Westerner.  I've mentioned that he wrote companion books to accompany this lecture series.  A quote from a 2007 New York Times article about Mr. Weber's death states:

"Mr. Weber was encyclopedic in his depiction of an era, a movement or a social trend, focusing more on the many facets of everyday life than on historical theories. History, he wrote in “Europe Since 1715,” was “not just the epic of collective deeds, but the tissue of the times; not just what happened, but to whom and how; not just wars and politics, the doings of a relatively restricted group, but the way people lived — humbler and middling people, and the rich as well — their food, their housing, the warp and woof of their existence.” 

Finally, rounding out each day is guitar practice.  And more practice.  And still more.  He's become passionate about learning new songs on this wonderful instrument.  I figured he might enjoy learning about some of the guitar gods, so picked up a copy of the 2013 documentary about Jimi Hendrix titled Hear My Train A Comin.

So far so good, for the most part.  He still would prefer to have much more freedom to explore his other interests, but I maintain that he has plenty of non-school time to follow his nose more intently.  This has been an ongoing struggle for me as a homeschooling parent - one of determining how much structure to provide for learning.  Ultimately, the built-in beauty of this homeschooling business is that we can continued to tweak and adjust until both of us are satisfied with the outcome.

Point blank, I love homeschooling.  Even high school!


  1. Loved your post! What a fun high school year! :) My son did really well a Time4Writing course as well. He loved what he learned (he completed a middle school mechanics course), but he told me after, that he enjoyed the communication with his teacher and that he really appreciated learning to be accountable to someone other than us for a change. :)

    Good luck with the guitar lessons. My dad has played guitar my whole life and tried to teach me to play for the longest time. I could never work through the pain in my fingertips. :/ I have since learned to console myself with that failure by mastering the color coded button guitars that come with games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. ;)

    Wishing you the best for your continuing high school journey!

  2. Hi Katie! Thank you for reading :). Having an online teacher available is the bomb; I've been very happy with Time4Writing thus far and will sign him up for more classes.

    Rock Band is so much easier on the fingertips - ouch. The guitar is such a cool instrument; it's been sheer pleasure watching him actually like it and crave more time with it.

    Glad to connect with a like-minded homeschooler. Thanks! Best wishes in your journey, too.


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