Monday, October 31, 2016

My Nemesis

So... math. As I have pointed out in the past, math has never been my strongest skill. I can balance my checkbook, calculate interest, determine a discount on a sale item, figure out my gas mileage. All of these things are math, and are essential in my life, but the more challenging concepts in math escape me. This has led to many different methods of helping my boys learn the math they have needed over the years. This year it's a bit of a hodgepodge again.

JT's math has not started out as a defined course this year. We did a lot of prep work for the PSAT on Khan Academy. Now that he has taken the test, we are working with an algebra 2 text until the test results are accessible to link with Khan Academy to allow him to prep for the SAT in the spring. I am not equipped to teach algebra 2. JT has elected to work independently, using the textbook and online codes to learn the material. The codes include access to homework help videos, graded quizzes, and graded chapter tests. Nice for me so I don't have to grade any work. We'll see how this goes for the next month or so before I declare it a successful venture.

EM is working his way through the algebra 1 texts with dad instruction. EM and my husband share the same style of math thinking, so they work well together. He seems to catch on to most concepts fairly quickly. The only issue is that he hates doing repetitious work, but it's not always easy to determine what he knows without the practice. So, I get to listen to some whining about the number of problems he gets assigned.

This will be the last year JT will be doing any math at home. Next year he plans to take a budgeting math class through the community college. He thinks that will be more practical and fit his future plans better than continuing with a higher level math class. And if he changes his mind, he can always go back and take a course in the future if needed.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sharing Homeschooling

The weather couldn't have been better for our trip to the shore. It was really just what I needed for a renewal of my energy.

We arrived right at sunset Friday night, so we didn't get to do much that evening. The next morning, we headed to the boardwalk to do a little walking. We discovered how gorgeous the weather was and decided after lunch we'd hit the beach.

There had been a beautiful sunset on Friday as we were arriving and I wanted to go back out to the visitor center on Saturday to take pictures at sunset. We were in luck to get some good pictures of the super moon over Ocean City too.

My husband had been doing some research on other things to do in the area and found the Cape May County Zoo that we had never visited before. We took a quick drive down the coast Sunday to check it out.

We were thrilled to find they had a great collection of animals and admission was free! We were especially impressed with the snow leopards and this amur leopard. It was a nice day to visit the zoo, not too crowded, not too hot. After another quick walk on the beach, we ate our dinner and hit the road. It was a quick but great trip.

JT had a big week ahead of him when we got home. He had a midterm Tuesday evening in his English Comp class and the PSATs on Wednesday. He took the PSAT at a local school district, not our own, but a closer one. While I was waiting in the guidance office, one of the secretaries asked me about unschooling. Her daughter is homebound this year dealing with a chronic illness. The daughter was asking her mom if she could homeschool instead of use the homebound instruction from the school. She felt she was getting behind since they expected her to do all the work the students in class were doing, instead of customizing it to her situation. We talked for a long time and the mom realized her daughter would have a better experience as a homeschooler. When I got home, I sent her a bunch of links to do some research. It's always nice to have the opportunity to help someone get their start in homeschooling. I know I am thankful for the friends and strangers who helped encourage me to pull my son from school and start this journey.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Can't Stay Home

Today was a crazy day on our schedule. Because we are going to the shore this weekend, it was extra crazy because I had to do laundry and pack for the trip. I know it will be all worth it when I step on the boardwalk and get my first look at the ocean, but until then things will be running at a high level of stress.

Our busy day started with getting the boys out the door for a 40 minute ride to our evaluator's home. EM had his 8th grade testing required by the state scheduled for today. He did well, scoring above grade level in everything except spelling. Because of his auditory processing disorder, he will probably continue to struggle with spelling. Thankfully this deficit is easy to make up for by using spell check.

JT went with us to the testing because his music theory class was scheduled for the same time frame. His teacher lives only a block away from the evaluator so he was able to have his lesson while EM did his testing. After both were finished, JT had a quick lunch in the car while I drove him to the library for his volunteer work.

By the time I was able to be home today, I felt like I had very little time to get everything together for the trip. Luckily my husband has offered to take EM to gym class tomorrow morning so I can finish my packing then. When they get home at noon, we will hit the road. This will be our last trip away from home until spring. JT's classes are starting to get more involved and I don't want to cause him more stress by pulling him away from home when he needs to be working. His spring semester will add an extra class to his schedule; but will still be just a three day week. As soon as his finals are finished in May, we will be hitting the road for another vacation. I know it may seem like we are always heading out for another trip, but I know our time with the boys at home is slipping away and I want to enjoy every minute we can.

Friday, October 7, 2016

60 Days

I think of our 180 required days of schooling in three 60 day chunks. This week we completed the first chunk. Sometimes it feels like we've already been at this year for a really long time and sometimes it feels like we've barely started.

JT's college classes are approaching their midterms. He has a midterm exam in his English comp class on Tuesday. He just completed a paper for his chemistry class. He seems to be doing very well in both subjects. It was a nerve-wracking time for me as we discovered whether or not I had properly prepared him for this challenge. When his first writing assignment was returned with an A, I felt like the success was mine as much as his. This week we were able to send in the paperwork to register for his spring classes. He's going to be taking music appreciation, World War II, and fundamentals of speech. The only work he will continue at home in the spring will be algebra 2 and his music composition work. The one downside of this schedule is that he will not be able to participate in fencing for the spring session since the history class runs the same night.

In September I had called our local school district guidance office to register JT to take the PSAT. Our high school is located about 40 minutes from our home because we live at the furthest end of the district. I was dreading the super early morning we would be doing to get him there on time the day of the test. Plus, the school is in a very rural location and I would have nothing to keep me busy while he was there. While talking with a friend, I realized he could test at another school instead. I called their guidance office yesterday and they still have room for him. Now we'll only have a 20 minute drive and the school is near stores and restaurants so I'll have something to do while I wait. Another bonus is that their school day starts later. Win for me!

One other thing happened this week that made me feel more confident about our homeschooling life. As I mentioned above, JT had a paper to write for chemistry. After struggling to put it together for two weeks, he took it into to class to turn in and found out it wasn't due until the next class. Instead of turning it in the way it was, he decided to bring it home and make improvements on his work. Now, it is important to understand that JT HATES revising his work and always argues with me when I want him to make changes on his writing at home. I was blown away by the obvious signs of maturity and care for the quality of his work for this class evident in his actions. Another win!

We've had a pretty stressful couple of weeks due to some other things in life. As a result, my husband and I decided we should all have a spontaneous beach trip next weekend. I found a great deal at our usual hotel in Ocean City so we'll be hitting the road next Friday. JT knows he will probably need to take school work on the trip, but he was okay with that plan. EM, who is a real homebody, is not thrilled, but willing to indulge us.

Have I said enough times how much I love this life of home schooling?