Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Dog Days of Winter

I haven't posted since Sunday -- that's rather a long time for this blogger. It just hasn't crossed my mind. What've I been doing? Crocheting first. The stripey blanket is at row 90 out of 131. And I've been homeschooling. I'm sure some of you wonder what in the world homeschooling would be like. What exactly is a smart 10th grader up to in school, in February? (If you don't want to read about homeschooling, just zip down to the last paragraph!)

We've finished four books (out of 21) of this:
It's been reasonably enjoyable for us. New vocabulary words, like unnethe, interest us and keep us typing "define: ----- " into Google. Unnethe, by the way, means "with difficulty." We're skipping book five, in which Arthur defies the Roman emperor, subjects all of Europe under his thumb, arrives in Rome to be crowned Roman emperor, and then goes home. We'll move on to book six, the stories of Lancelot's adventures. We may spend another month in Le Morte d'Arthur.

In history reading, Julia is proceeding through the 1300s, and we've watched loads of great videos, everything from Stephen Fry (Jeeves!) investigating the development of the printing press with Mr. Gutenberg, to the Scottish victory at the Battle of Bannockburn. Julia will be writing a short paper on Henry VIII, whom she finds rather disturbing and creepy.

She does science first, a kind of broad-spectrum study focusing on astronomy, planetary science, physics, and anything else fascinating that Adam finds for her. Generally I guess you'd call it an earth science with lots of fun stuff thrown in. She listens to a podcast or (more usually) watches a video on Adam's playlist for about 45 minutes, and then does pages in her textbook, a self-study guide to astronomy.

We finished Algebra before Christmas, and now we are doing a semester of Geometry, and this textbook (Abeka, I think?) is tougher than any of us expected. Poor thing. Right now she's going back and writing every theorem, corollary, and definition on a flashcard, for memorization. Geometry has gone beyond measuring angles and drawing trapezoids, I'm sorry to say!

We finished the last of her high school grammar, and now she's going through a series of geography quizzes online, one last time. This is our third time to do this website, and I think it's given her a great grounding in knowing her world.

French is going much better this semester than last. We are keeping up. I'm enjoying reacquainting myself with the language. I think we will finish the level 1 book by May. She's finishing a chapter about every two weeks, so 32 weeks of school, 16 chapters. That's good!

I do one-on-one with her: literature, history, and French. I started her in grammar each day, if there were concepts she didn't remember. Homeschooling occupies nearly all my time from 9:45 a.m. -- 1:30 each day. That's a big chunk of time, but so worthwhile for the sake of her education, of her mind and for my peace-of-mind, knowing exactly what's in her head. I want her to have a broad, rich knowledge of the world.

I called the local community college representative about dual enrollment for her next year. They have classes she can take for free. I'm looking at chemistry and her 3rd math. Apparently they don't really do "Algebra II" anymore, but something else, depending on the student's academic goals. Julia will take a placement test; the lady said she's never had a homeschool student not do well on it. I'll submit her high school transcript thus far, which I've kept in (too much) detail. And I'll hand over my North Carolina Dept. of Non-Public Education I.D. card, so they know I'm legal.

All that to say, for those who know little about homeschooling -- yes, there are families who stumble through homeschooling, do indifferent work, don't keep good records, don't teach the kids rigorously, but -- don't have college as a goal. Compulsory school age here goes until 16 years old. These  homeschoolers differ little from some public school kids who are not academically inclined and are not college-bound. Not everyone should be. But many homeschoolers are highly invested in their children's educations and strongly encourage them to attend college or otherwise pursue academic enrichment after high school. It takes work! We all admire what high school teachers do to prepare kids for college; remember that hundreds of thousands of homeschooling parents are doing that too -- training your future doctor, nurse, policeman, CPA, attorney, or real estate agent to be dedicated and gifted at their jobs. Appreciate the homeschool parents you know!

Well, THAT was long-winded! Otherwise, Adam is riding his bike a lot, even when it's freezing outside, or bodaciously windy. I am cold. Even in the house with the heat on 70ยบ, I'm still chilly. We're tired of winter, but these are those weary "dog days," when we get tons of schooling done, tons of yarn work done, lots of reading. Otherwise ... we're boring! But the daffodils have pushed well up through the old grass, and the bees have survived the winter. Philip has bought a new-to-him car, a 1999 Mazda Miata convertible. Pretty nice! Peter keeps looking for a car to buy, with no luck so far. Anna makes plans to go back to China, probably next fall or winter. Wedding plans for Philip and Kara proceed happily. Generally, life is good. But I'll be glad when warm breezes blow from the south, and we can take walks in the evenings again.


  1. Julia's study of French makes me think about how I am still surprised at how many novels include some French or German that is not translated. Von Arnim has both French and German in her novel In the Mountains that I just read, and I couldn't figure it all out. Even a recent novel The Girl in the Blue Beret has a lot of French phrases and words, though they are easier. I am always glad for my several years of French study, and German too, and wishing that I'd studied more and least, von Arnim's book I read on a Kindle and I could hit the "translation" button which helped somewhat. The literary people of a hundred years ago were so much more literary!

  2. YOU are such a good teacher, MK!
    You are crocheting so swiftly!

  3. Sounds like life is going along contentedly for you and your family. It got warm enough here today (57 I think) for me to venture a walk this afternoon. It is good to be on this side of the holidays and back into a good routine.

  4. Wonderful update....thanks for the homeschooling news!

  5. I completely support homeschooling and look forward to my grandson having that kind of education! I'm not going to be his teacher. As his loving "Gigi", though, I celebrate his parents' decision to keep him out of the public system, now corrupted like never before. I saw so many changes during my own teaching career from 1968 to 2006. I applaud your decision to stay home and give your children the real thing --- quality all the way!

  6. You all are doing great in your homeschooling! So excited for you. I LOVE to read what people are doing in their studies. I'm pondering going back to college and doing something with all the credits I've accumulated. Maybe something in the medical office field. Everyone's talking about flowers coming up! We haven't even had much snow yet. Waiting for the other shoe to drop! :)


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