Saturday, October 13, 2012

Homeschooling Update

We're ending our 7th week of homeschooling this year, and I thought some of you might be interested in how things are going this year.
Julia is making good progress in her literature study. She's completed Treasure Island by Stevenson, Little Women by Alcott, and The Hound of the Baskervilles by Conan Doyle. Today she started The Jungle Book by Kipling. The nice thing about a classical model is that the student generally reads entire texts, not snippets and excerpts. I tell Julia I'm giving her the education I didn't have; she regularly reads books that I've never read. She's memorized and recited "Ozyandias" by Shelley.

In history (1800-present) Julia has read books about the development of the train, Franklin's expedition to find a Northwest Passage, and life on a Southern US Plantation. She's also read other broader resource books, some online primary source material, and watched a couple of good documentaries (the War of 1812 and the Greeley Expedition).

In Bible, she's read biographies on George Mueller, Gladys Aylward, and Amy Carmichael, and written brief essays on each one. She's memorizing Psalm 100.

She's making great strides in Latin and hates every minute of Math. Sigh.

In science, Julia has been frustrated. I bought lots of science books pertaining to early physics study, so I would have plenty of resources. I think I overdid it. Julia wants more structure and less dashing from book to book. There is a method to her study, but she couldn't see it, and thus she felt she didn't grasp the material. So after today, we're scheduling her science work for Tuesdays and Thursdays, primarily using the "How Things Work" text, and adding the other books as resource material to support it. Experiments will be done on Tuesdays, and reports will be written on Thursdays. This is one of the many beauties of homeschooling done well -- the student can tell the teacher when the instruction is not working for her, and changes can be implemented immediately. In a classroom, Julia would just have to tolerate instruction that confused her, and try to compensate for it.
The stack of offensive science books. Yes, I over-bought. The Matter and Motion text alone would be a science book for a students for a whole year. We'll primarily use How Things Work and How Science Works. The others will take a backseat, I'm afraid.

Another fun science extra -- a coloring book of visual illusions

Julia does well in grammar, which we do daily with a good, old-fashioned, rigorous grammar workbook. I loathe the laxity of modern grammar texts. She's also reviewing world geography with an online map/quiz site.

So for a moment I'll talk about using the computer for homeschooling. My old Apple laptop (it'll be 7 years old in January) stays on the dining room table. I keep some tabs open all the time: her geography page, Fordham University's modern history sourcebook site for primary source history reading, a science encyclopedia,  and a music note trainer website for easy note-reading on piano. I like to use the University of Virgina's electronic text center for our online reading in literature. I have some friends who frown very heavily on the use of a computer screen for reading literature. But we can't buy all the books she'll read this year (and for many years). And even if the library did carry them all (it doesn't), it costs me about $4 each time we drive there, plus the cost of overdue fines. Plus, copies like the ones that University of Virginia post are beautifully done -- Kipling's Jungle Book, for instance, has a picture of the original cover from the 1897 edition and the original frontispiece. The tacky, well-thumbed paperback from the library wouldn't have that. I bet that our library here doesn't have a copy of this book at all. And the primary source material she's reading in history? Where am I going to find that, in print? Impossible. Original letters and essays from the Industrial Revolution, manifests from ships, or petitions from textile workers in England in the 1800s -- these documents are free online. And the literature she's reading in this time period is also free, in public domain, online. If I have a copy of a book, as I did Little Women, then I'll have her read it. But from this point out, it'll definitely be a mixture of print and digital, and I'm so thankful for all the resources afforded us on the internet.

That's about it. She's in an art workshop every Wednesday for 2 hours, and plays chess each Wednesday afternoon in a club. I think this is a well-rounded education. Today, she started studying piano, at her request. I arranged Carol of the Bells for her with a free online composing program. That's her favorite Christmas carol right now.


  1. I feel sure all your children love to learn, MK.
    I love homeschooling. I didn't do it, but I believe in it.

  2. I am in awe of the North American homeschooling phenonmenon. I only know one family here who have homeschooled- and they were from Donegall originally, which always seems more frontline than over here in the city suburbs! Ozymandias- I love that poem too. I used it over and over when I was a teaching assistant in France, where we'd read it for comprehension and vocabulary, and then as a stimulus for discussion. I got weeks and weeks of work out of it!!

  3. Isn't it a great poem? Julia really liked it. I forget why I pulled it out to show her, and then when she was intrigued by it, I decided to have her memorize it. It was easy for her since she already loved it :)


Hello! I hope you leave a word ~ I will get back to it as soon as I can!