As I write this I am waiting for said 15-year-old, who is taking high school geometry at a homeschool co-op in our area. The co-op meets Monday and Friday at a local church. Monday is their academic program and Friday is their enrichment program. If we were so inclined we could sign up for a full contingent of academic classes but we prefer to do the rest at home. Students attend Monday and work independently the rest of the week, returning Friday if they desire for electives. Students who are taking advanced math, however, are required to return Friday for a math lab, so Caitlin will have geometry twice per week (which is a good thing, as math is not her strongest suit). The teacher seems to be highly qualified, having many years of experience teaching math at both the high school and college level, so I am optimistic about the outlook for the class. It is a small group and the teacher seems to be organized and readily available for email help (grades and communication are being managed through Engrade). The text is Glencoe.
For science we will stick with Apologia. I offered Caitlin the option of doing something different, but she likes Apologia and does not wish to change. She will be studying physical science this year. She has been accustomed to doing science with her brother for the last few years and he, of course, has left for college, so I hope we are able to maintain motivation. I will probably need to invest myself in studying more with her so I am glad she is doing physical science as I much prefer it to biology (which she took last year)!
For history we plan on doing some rapid review using the Short Lessons books. We'll start with world history and if we finish that move on to U.S. history. We had actually planned to do this over the summer but, well, you know how that goes. Our history study over the years has been very spread out so I am hoping this quick, broad sweep will provide a succinct overview on which we can build with some more in depth study in Caitlin's last two years of high school. We will supplement the Short Lessons text with some historical fiction and whatever else we can come up with, including several of Genevieve Foster's books.
Caitlin is an avid reader and excellent writer and has studied a good deal of high school literature alongside her brother the last four years. So strangely enough this English teacher has had a question mark hanging over her head when it comes to what to do with Caitlin for English this year. I toyed with the idea of just reading stuff we like and I think to some extent that is what we will do: read a book together and discuss it. But someone recommended a book to me that upon investigation seems to have a lot of potential: Philosophy & Literature: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Commitment. It is an older text that has recently made a comeback. I like the emphasis on reading literature as a means of meditating on the true and the good, and the table of contents is incredible. I doubt we will read the entire book but think there will be much of value that we can draw from it.
In addition to literature, Caitlin would like to spend a little more time on grammar, not because she needs it to became a good writer (she already is), but because with her interest in language she would like to better understand how English works. We did some grammar this summer but got bogged down with schedule demands so will be revisiting that goal. I'm thinking of using the latest rage in grammar study because of the author's fun and lighthearted approach. I'm an English teacher who loves grammar, but I am also the first to admit it's not the most exciting topic out there. The pleasure of grammar comes not so much from the learning of it but from the having learned it to the point that all the puzzle pieces start to fall into place. From what I've seen, Grammar Girl makes the learning part of the equation more fun.
Those are the big four: English, math, history and science. Last year we did some psychology, philosophy, geography and art history but have not exhausted the resources we have on those subjects so plan to return to all of them at various times during the year, most likely in rotation rather than all at once. In addition to her academics Caitlin will continue with Tae Kwon Do (she is now a brown belt), bowling, church choir, community choir, piano and voice lessons. As if all of that isn't enough, I have started thinking it might be nice to add a video component--something we can just sit back and watch and enjoy together without additional preparation and stress. I have always been interested in Francis Schaeffer's How Then Shall We Live video series and see now that it is available on DVD at a very reasonable price. So perhaps that is the ticket. (I must admit that part of me wants to watch it just to blow a raspberry at the liberals currently giving presidential candidate Michele Bachmann grief for speaking highly of Schaeffer.)
So there you have it: Philipp Nicolai Lutheran Academy's 2011-12 sophomore curriculum!