Thursday, February 27, 2014

Where We Are In Our Homeschool Year

It's been a while since I yapped about our homeschooling this year. We're plowing along in our study of the ancient world. I tend to do best in literature and maybe history, so this classical method works well for us with its focus on the "great books."
We did a lengthy study of Egypt using a fabulous text. Julia enjoyed that. We read Homer's Odyssey and then his Iliad, which we just finished last week. Julia's also interspersed selections from Ovid's Metamorphoses, and has probably read about half of that over the course of the year.
We'd considered reading Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, but I wasn't too keen, and I knew we had to do Julius Caesar. So on Monday we began that play. We ready Act I on Monday and Act II on Tuesday. And I'll interject here a little rah-rah!! for homeschooling. When I taught that play at a school, we simply could not cover the material that fast. Even with students to read every part, I had to spend so much time explaining things, giving setting and background, and (as all teachers know) waiting after every two sentences while they wrote it all down. Waiting ... waiting ... is what makes classroom teaching so  S  L  O  W. With Julia sitting next to me, I explain things that need explaining, and we look at footnotes together. It's so much quicker.
Anywho, I pulled out the lovely poster I bought in London a few years ago of the new Globe Theatre. It's a bit crinkled from being rolled up and packed and moved.
For a long time I've wanted to laminate that poster. This was a good time to do it. I pressed it under my largest literature tomes.
Milton is there, with a Reader's Guide, a few anthologies, Masters of Modern Drama (ugh! What a college class that was!) our History Timeline book, and both volumes of complete Shakespeare -- mine from college, and Adam's from college. When both your parents were lit majors, you don't stand a chance in this area! Poor Julia.
As Adam says, when you study literature, you study everything, because everything is written down. Very true.
Adam had a Riverside Shakespeare; I had the black Pelican edition.
The poster is still crinkly, but at least it's protected. It's a useful thing while teaching and looking into all the staging instructions in the text. And it helps students to visualize the play as it really occurred. Julia picked out her favorite spot for play-watching in the theater.
Okay, so what else? After Julius Caesar we will read Sophocles's Antigone, and (oh! I hope and wish!) Oedipus Rex. And portions of Plutarch's Lives. We're about smack in the middle of our Herodotus, in Book 6. We just read about the Battle of Marathon, and enjoyed that very much. We will simply not make it to Thucydides this year, sorry to say. Oh, and we will definitely study Socrates's Apology (well, it's really Plato's) in good detail. So important.
She's finishing Unit 9 in her biology text. We may not finish the whole book, but we will come close. Some of the material she studied before fairly well, so I'm not worried. She's already done a good bit of grammar (her last year of that) and vocabulary (a study of Latin and other roots).
Math has gone much better this year than I hoped. She was so despairing about math when we started. Yes, we're using only Khan Academy, not a textbook. But it works well for her. For the longest time, we did the lessons and mastery challenges as Khan presented them to us, what seemed a rather random order, jumping around from simple math to rather complex ideas from later algebra. At last I stopped in my tracks and asked myself why we were doing that? Why ever make her do problems that are more appropriate for a 11th grader? So we changed, and began doing the lessons in the order they're shown in her "progress grid" -- a box of little boxes in order, from early algebra lessons, through geometry, into algebra II. Adam says he thinks it may go beyond that. My goal is for her proceed through the practice and mastery levels on about 25% of the skills -- about 1/4 of her high school math study. It's going very well now. She's not angry or frustrated, and she doesn't need my help as much as she used to. I like how Khan circles around and reinforces skills over and over, making the student achieve mastery over time.

That's it! If you've read this far, you're a trooper!


  1. I love reading about your home schooling, M.K. It inspires me to stay sharp and not get lazy! Wish I could come to some of your classes. I believe I'd learn a lot and love every minute.:) Lori

  2. This is SUCH an interesting read!!! I really wanted to know more of what you do. How old is Julia, just out of interest? X

  3. Great post. I volunteer as a steward at the Globe Theatre in London and have just picked my dates for this season's volunteer sessions. It is interesting to see it from an "inside" point of view.

  4. Hi gals -- Lori, I could hardly call what Julia and I do "classes" -- haha! It's mostly sitting on the couch together. I do little "lecturing," just occasional explaining. It helps so much that she studied ancient lit/history also in 5th grade, so she has a foundation for it, and I don't have to start her understanding of that world from scratch.
    Kezzie, Julia is 14, so she is in 9th grade. She has 3 more years to go in high school.

  5. I have that Riverside Shakespeare, too:) Julia is learning lots of interesting things this year.


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