We're starting back into our homeschool routine on Monday. Don't be impressed. Our normal approach is to do "school" year round, taking breaks as needed due to holidays or trips or family demands or pure exhaustion. We do typically take off the full month of August. Not this year. Our homeschool routine has been so frequently interrupted this past year and the interruptions have been so extended that we all agree we need to refocus now, not next month.
I will be spending the weekend trying to get our books and plans in order. Here's the first step: a listing of what we plan to incorporate into our studies this year. It's a pretty big list. My older son has one year left at home before he heads off to college, and we plan to make the most of it.
British Literature, using Elements of Literature (Sixth Course) from HRW as the framework and supplementing as needed/desired.
A survey of grammar, using my accumulated knowledge and textbooks from English courses of lore.
A research paper, which I have not yet had either of my teenagers do. As a former classroom English teacher, I think that research papers are overrated and prone to abuse and that most students in traditional schools are required to do too many of them (every year starting in junior high or earlier is overkill). But it's now or never with my son, and I do want to guide him through one before he has to do it on his own in college.
How To Read a Book - To hone reading skills for all those college texts.
Caitlin started Algebra I last year and will finish it this year. I have told her she can take the whole year if she wants. She does fine with math but it will not likely play a significant role in her college studies or career path, so as long as she has the equivalent of three years of high school math (geometry and Algebra II are on the horizon) I will be satisfied. Our math curriculum of choice for some time now has been Teaching Textbooks.
Trevor completed pre-calculus/trigonometry his sophomore year. Last fall he took Introduction to Statistics at one of the local junior colleges. This fall he is signed up for Finite Mathematics.
We spent last year working through about half of Apologia Biology. We will finish it this year. Trevor also wants to study Advanced Physics, and he will be doing that concurrently on his own.
Our approach to history from the beginning has been to attempt to follow the 4-year ancient through modern cycle suggested by most classical educators. It has been a rather slow go. This year we are going to do whirlwind reviews of both world and American history using the Short Lessons texts from Walch Publishing. Once those are under our belt I would like to end the year with study of the 20th century, which always seems to get neglected.
Trevor will be studying Government this year using Clarence B. Carson's Basic Government and several supplementary texts: What Would the Founders Do?; Lies My Teacher Told Me; Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity.
There have been times in our homeschooling journey that we have incorporated art study, but never in a systematic way. This year we will try to do so using another Short Lessons text, this one a survey of Western art.
My huband, fluent in French, will continue his dearly held desire to pass that fluency on to our children. Our curriculum is French in Action, a great immersion program which my husband and I used to watch on PBS early in our marriage. The videos are now free online, and the supporting texts are widely available for purchase. We just ordered and received the audio cassettes, workbook and teacher's guide for Part 2 (Lessons 26-52). I doubt they will finish Part 2 this year, but they'll go as far as possible. Maybe I'll even drop in to class and do a little auditing this year (there was a time I took part regularly, but Crazy Life and Mommy Brain finally got the better of me).
This is a particularly weak area for all of us (except my husband, who knows everything. I'm serious. He knows everything.) The Short Lessons incorporate some geography and map study, but not enough. We will supplement with The Complete Idiot's Guide to Geography (yep, that's us) and The Handy Geography Answer Book. I have also purchased one of Sonlight's markable maps (we had one years ago but they have updated/colorized it), and we plan to do some listening to world news and marking corresponding places on the map.
Philosophy & Psychology
We have long been teaching our kids about the variety of world views that are out there. It is a natural by-product of bringing them up in the faith, since so much of what we teach and confess is foreign to the culture. But before Trevor goes to college we would like to arm him with the fullest possible understanding of what he may encounter in the secular culture. To do so we will use three texts (and Caitlin will join him in reading them):
100 Essential Thinkers - for some historical context
Understanding the Times (we have an older edition of the book, purchased used)
Homeschool Psychology - to prepare for and provide balance to college psychology
Let's see, have I left anything out? There will be piano lessons, of course. And church choir. And chess for Trevor and Tae Kwon Do for Caitlin. Lots of work on life skills particularly for the young man that is about to fly the coop.
I haven't included Bible and catechism because those are incorporated into our family devotions, which my husband leads and selects the materials for. But in addition to whatever he does, I plan to read some more C. S. Lewis with Trevor and Caitlin. We have read The Screwtape Letters. Next on the list is Mere Christianity. Maybe we'll do a few more.
I know. I have one more kid. I'm saving him for another post.