Thursday, November 13, 2014

Homeschool Update

This is for anybody out there who's interested in what Julia is studying this year, and how our homeschool year is progressing. Are we accomplishing what we'd hoped this year?

Well, we read a good bit of St. Augustine. We read a good cross-section of Bede's History (6 or so selections from each book). That wasn't as hard as I'd anticipated. We read and studied all of Beowulf. We just finished Dante's Inferno, the entire piece. We skipped the Song of Roland, sadly, because I found I didn't have a copy of it, much less two. I guess when I taught little chunks of it before, it was in a school's textbook that I didn't keep. The only translation online was a bit stiff and boring. Hmm. May return to that later, but not likely.

I had two copies of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but not by the same translators. So I ordered two used copies of Tolkien's translation, and we'll read it together. I enjoy studying literature this way -- aloud, together, sitting on the couch, stopping and talking about it. While waiting for the two Sir Gawains to ride up to our house, we're studying Chaucer and his Canterbury Tales first. We began that a few days ago, with a biography on the author and are well into the prologue. I have an old 1928 copy of the tales in Middle English, and a newer Norton critical edition, also in the original. So I'm reading it aloud to her in Middle English, and she's learning a newish language while we're at it. (Actually, she gets a good study in how a language changes over time, which is useful.) Most people think Middle English is too scary/hard for the modern person to read, but it's not, with a little help. Chaucer will take us all the way to Christmas, and into January, but I may well stop in the middle and pick up Sir Gawain -- it begins on Christmas Day :) Nice holiday story!

To help fill out her history study, she's reading a Western Civ. textbook by Spielvogel, plus a different Spielvogel book with primary source material, plus more primary source documents from the website, which I love to use as a resource. As you know, she has a huge history timeline book, and keeps a timeline herself, to keep everything in order.

Our progress through the French I textbook has been slower than I'd hoped, so we've picked up our pace. We're finishing chapter 5, but there are 18 chapters in the book, so we will be doing French next summer, I presume.

Algebra I is nearly finished, as I'd planned. We covered it last year, along with Geometry, using Khan Academy, which Julia thought she'd like, and which (I think) did get her back on the right track with math. But this year she asked for textbooks, and knowing that the Khan website had tested her on both Algebra and Geometry last year, I decided to cover Algebra again this year in first semester, and see if she could fly through the book. She has. She didn't realize how much she'd learned last year. Algebra is easier for her than she'd thought; she doesn't complain about it anymore -- no tears or breakdowns. She feels more confidence. And in January we'll leap to a Geometry book, which she'll enjoy more. Plus, structuring it this way, I think she will both retain and integrate the information better.

And she's about 2/3 through with reading Ivanhoe. I'm still several chapter ahead of her :)

But Julia loves science above ALL! She adores biology, and studies a more advanced biology text on her own at night.
I sneaked into her bedroom and took a photo of her biology book, on her floor.
It was open to this section on molecular bonding.
She's taking notes. She'll probably kill me for posting these pics.
She still does her astronomy study each morning, listening to many podcasts that Adam selects for her, completing a self-study guide on the subject, and doing early-morning observations with Adam. This year's science also has to be an "Earth Science" to meet state university requirements. So he's adapting her study of the universe and other planets to emphasize a study of Earth too.

That's it so far! Schooling is definitely taking more of my time this year than previously. Homeschooling in high school, especially if your child is college-bound, is not for the faint-of-heart! It takes my entire morning and a good chunk of my afternoons. I do feel I have so much more time with Julia than I would otherwise. We have a thousand memories together, little things here at home, that otherwise we'd never have. It's precious. I want her to understand that learning is a life skill, a way of living, something you do with each breath, and not just in a classroom for 12 years.

Next semester: The Book of Margery Kempe, Morte d'Arthur, the Fairie Queene, and two or three Shakespeare plays! And I might have to go back and visit the valiant Roland on his battlefield. So tragic! So noble! And it's my last chance for all of this with Julia -- must make the most of these quick years.


  1. Good stuff! I had to take Intro to Algebra when I was in nursing school. I got an A, but I was so stressed out and just hanging on by my fingernails by the end. If the class had lasted another week I would have exploded! I remember very little of it. So, I'm admiring Julia's grasp of the subject. I bet you two have fun reading and discussing together. Have a great year! You and Adam are doing a wonderful job! :)

  2. What a great education Julia is receiving; you're doing well, both of you! It makes me sad for public school children; they get the dregs of whatever makes the teacher's job easier come SOL testing.


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