Golden Grasses

Monday, November 23, 2015

Smash, Cram, Smoosh. Fitting It All In as you Homeschool High School

This month's topic in Homeschooling High School has to do with fitting it all in.
Great question. There is a LOT to high school= academics, volunteering, work, family, church, sports, camps, special interests. I've written about it a bit before- you can check out previous posts here:
How Do You Get It All Done
How to Keep It All Straight
Getting Things Done
Let's Get Organized
Creating Time

1) We set SMART goals for the kids and work consistently towards them. We stick with tried and true curriculum as much as possible (Apologia Science, anything by Memoria Press, etc) This saves us time and energy in learning new curricula and systems.

2)We don't do everything and we don't always get everything done.
 Our kids haven't played organized sports since moving to our acreage, more's the pity, because of availability and time costs.
 3) We realize that so much of what we DO do is seasonal. What we do in the winter is different than what we do in the summer. What we do in 9th grade is different than what we do in 10th, 11th, and 12th.
We choose academics and extra-curriculars that are much like the protein drink we consume- they might look a bit pricey at the front end, but extremely efficient in what they deliver, and we don't waste a lot of time and energy trying to back-fill what we are not getting by going with inferior products, goods and services. In other words we do a lot of front end load investment. If we can't afford something, we go all A.F. and improvise, adapt and over-come by creating something ourrselves (Co-ops), bringing programs to the area (TeenPact) bartering (blog posts/social media promotion in exchange for curriculum), investing in what's already here with out time and services (the local drama camps).

 What we get done.
Academics Every day. Every week. We've are part of Classical Conversations Challenge program this year- Challenge A and Challenge 1.
My kids are busy doing Latin, Math, Debate, Science with Labs, Literature/Composition, and Rhetoric. When the CC literature says that they recommend 1 hour a day of studying for each strand throughout the week, they are not kidding. We are doing every bit of that.
Faith Building  My kids are loving the sweet country church that we have been going to, the smallish and down to earth youth group(s). My kids also go to many church activities and events outside of that related to other groups we are involved with. This isn't regular, but they get lots of steeping in the Judeo-Christian tradition, including almost daily discussion from Biblical Archeology Review, First Things, Jerusalem Post, CJCUC. They both have their own devotions going on and have taken up the challenge to read the Bible completely through.
Politcis my kids are pretty steeped in politics in this house-hold, read World Mag and others, and do their fair bit of campaigning and volunteering for political organizations.
Art- Music, Visual and Dance (ballroom, y'all). Gotta have art. They are my kids. We supply materials, room to create, paint, draw, feed-back, books and teachers/courses when we can find quality, skill building programs.
PE-personal work-outs, jaunts and visits to the gym.
Reading. You gotta breathe and read. Have to.

We don't do a lot of extras during the week, nor do we have a lot of distractions. My high schoolers, however, do several camps throughout the year.. It kind of goes along with the idea of "batching."

They do TeenPact in the spring, and sometimes TeenPact Alumni events, like Back to DC or Survival in the fall. As a result of this, they often serve or campaign with various groups, like the Family Policy Council and Family Heritage Alliance.

The participate in a One Act Play festival every January, Drama Camp every June and Shakespeare Camp in July. Sometimes they participate in Poetry Outloud. It's a lot of theater, but the real benefit is public performance, memorizing a complete Shakespeare play every year, memorizing tons of great poetry and lots of fun with friends.

Jobs My high schoolers have also held odd jobs- most of them seasonal and ag related, although the ubiquitous barista work has appeared. Having regular work hours during the week tends to disrupt what we are doing, and again, because we live way out, and I work from home, leaving during the day takes up huge chunks of time, or messes up my work life.

So, how do we fit it all in?

Weekly Meeting -Weekly Goal Setting
The Day after CC community day the kids and I sit down with their Challenge guide and calendar and we divey up the week among the remaining 4 days. We add in church and any other activities, like odd jobs, ballroom dancing, etc. Setting goals, even when it is as simple as writing them down in a weekly planner, is one of the best steps I've found to actually accomplishing those goals.

Our Day-to-Day
 We usually knock through Math first and together. We usually do Latin together-ish, because we are often cross-referencing and utilizing each other to get the work done. We are all really enjoying Henle Latin this year. Though it is hard work, it is satisfying work and we are putting together pieces of the puzzle and finding great joy in it.

Other subjects, the kids do on their own. Cub does 90% of his work completely independently, but if we don't map it out on his planner together, he struggles with getting everything done and on -time.
The kids take breaks throughout the day to go outside, or do reading they've decided upon, but generally, during the week we are hitting the academics regularly and decidedly.

Often, the kids are doing some school work on Saturday as well. My kids are not the fastest hard workers, but they are thorough and committed to getting a good job done. Cub, especially, is a deliberate thinker, slow and steady, and accurate. If he doesn't have time to mull through an assignment or project, it really stresses him. This year, with the formal debates, and teams, we've schedule several couple hour times to meet with team mates. He is willing to put the time in on the week-end to get a good job done and be prepared for every community day.

Why Do We Focus So Much on Academics? 
Isn't one of the greatest joys about homeschooling the ability to NOT be tied down to formality, be delight directed, do what we want when we want. Why yes, yes it is. And we have chosen a classical method, pedagogy and curriculum for these specific reasons:

Classical Education teaches you how to think. 
Furthermore, Classical Education teaches you what to do; addressing 2 of the greatest needs in the world and in the church right now.

So, we do a lot of challenging, formal academics. And then my kids have time to do a lot of other things, like read, wander, wonder, create, build, play, work-out, chat with friends, do projects, etc. @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Making it Happen; Homeschooling Your High School Super Hero

We are on our 4th run through High School. We are decidedly classical in our approach. We have read and loved many books, gone on hundreds of field trips, written papers and poetry, planted gardens, done art, camps and programs and memorized hundreds of pieces of information, poetry, scripture verses and fun facts to know and tell. Eled has been a blast. 

But it's time to get down to business and get serious with High School. 
We have "done" high school a variety of ways- delight directed, with enrichment and academic co-ops. and with Classical Conversations. We are back to CC for our last two and plan to camp there until they've both graduated. 

CC provides the framework of what we are doing classically and provides a cohesive community that is committed to Christian community. We have an absolutely terrific community with great Directors and a growing commitment to classical ed in our area. It's only going to get better as we go and grow. 

What is Cub studying this year as a Challenge 1 student? Algebra I and Geometry, Physical Science + lab,* Latin, Shakespeare, American Government (using source documents) and Economics, Lit and Comp (LTW), Formal Debate. Add in TeenPact's Survival and State Class (alumni) +Speech class, ballroom dancing, Drama Camp, Shakespeare Camp, One Act Play and Youth Group and you have a busy and balanced curriculum. Oh, and however many books and hang out with peeps time as he can cram in. And working on the acreage and odd jobs. Busy.

(*you might notice that he is taking science "out of order"- so far Cub has had Biology + lab, 1/2 Adv. Bio, Chem Lab). Physical Science + lab is part of CC's Challenge 1 and Cub's Tutor is a former Engineering major. She gets science- loves it- and for some reason, we skipped Physical Science (I think it was one of the books lost in the fire). No biggie. It's another lab class, taught by an enthusiastic Lead Learner. Plus, repetition is a great way to master material making this a win-win all the way around).

Paying for CC seems like it's an easy fix- I've simply delegated to others courses that might be intimidating to me. On some level  that's true because I'd rather have a former engineering type teaching science and math to my kids than me. I have found is that the first Law of the Teacher does apply. If the teacher doesn't know what they're doing, the student probably won't either. I always encourage people to interview their Challenge Tutors. Do they have to know everything? No, but they need to have the time and drive to learn what they'll be teaching - at least enough to dialog and discuss intelligently, and challenge the kids to interact, learn and discuss beyond what they currently know. And so do the parents. CC parents are still homeschooling and the parent is still the kids front line resource. Cub and I sit down together regularly throughout the week to plan, discuss and talk about what he's doing. I go through Math and Latin with him. CC doesn't mean I am no longer homeschooling; it means that someone is walking alongside of us on the journey. 

Practically speaking, at least for me, that often translates into Tutoring a CC class myself. Despite my own good intentions, my life, like yours, is crazily  busy (hence the lack of blog posts lately), and if I don't carve out the time to keep up with where the kids are in Latin, it's not going to happen. If I'm tutoring, however, I WILL make time to learn, if only in order to teach well. CC is really about redeeming the education of two generations, and CC provides amazing resources and learning opportunities for every Challenge Director. I am learning Latin- finally, after years of wanting to. I'm learning alongside my kids and we are having a blast sitting next to each other  wrestling with declensions and parts of speech. 

For some classes during our high school years (upper level math) we've hired a Tutor. It just made sense. For some classes (Chem lab) we've had our kids take on-line classes with science teachers who just get stoichiometry. It totally made sense. For some things (Shakespeare Camp) we've paid and driven to get our kids there. Having a Master teacher is a no-brainer if they are reasonably priced, show up and provide something you don't, regardless of how much you study and try to get up to speed in an area of study. 

How do we assign credits? We generally follow a 4 x 4 schedule using Carnegie Units. If we get half way through a subject, I'll assign 1/2 credit (for instance, last year Cub completed 1/2 of Adv. Biology, along with .5 credit of Bio lab and .5 credit of Chem lab. I gave him .5 credit of Adv. Bio, which he can complete later or not at all, depending on our schedule. (for more on credits and how to create classes I highly recommend Barb Shelton's Homeschool Design Form+U+la).

We have spent more time and money on trying to find a Math curriculum for each kid more than anything else. Between 4 kids going through high school so far we have used Saxon, Videotext,  Prentice Hall, the Keys to Series, Life of Fred, AOPS and Math U See, along with on-line programs and Tutors. After trying a few different programs, we are camped on MUS with Cub. It's working, he gets it, he loves the videos, he is cruising along. Win. He is about a 1/2 year behind in Math, but he's quickly making up time and will be back up to speed by next fall. 

We have also used on-line resources, DVD's and Great Courses to supplement or to add interest to courses that our kids don't love, are struggling in, or can't get enough of including history, math, chemistry and physics. 

Homeschooling High School is a blast- there are so many excellent resources and materials available now that High School is really about finding or creating a grid that makes sense for your family and plugging in what works within that framework. For us, during an incredibly busy season, Classical Conversations is the grid that is allowing us to keep it all going!

Have fun and enjoy the journey!

 @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Best Day Ever

This girl made Memory Master last spring (way back in April). 
It was hard work and her courage waned a bit mid-year. We told her she could pick a reward (within reason) if she made it. She chose a day at the Omaha Zoo (which rocks), stipulating that it had to include the Bros. Feeche gave up a day of first week of college week-end fun and Cub gave up Ballroom Dancing and DQ with his peeps to make sure Flower got her wish. Best big brothers, evah!
So yeah, 5 months later we finally all had a free week-end to go! 
Do you see the Monkey in the Middle? 
And the tall kid?!

We left sorta early to meet Lynn and Paul, friends from Seminary, for brunch. 1/4 century old friends are some of the best; love them! And they promised to make it up to our place for more Gun Fun before Thanksgiving. Which totally made Cub's day, but makes us all happy. They are readers and thinkers and love to travel, learn and eat good food, so we never run out of things to talk and laugh about. 
And then 5 hours at one of the best zoos in the country, with perfect weather. It was absolutely glorious out and we took turns at exhibits together, breaking up and going separate ways, some of us sauntering, while others speed walked to the last couple of places before we closed the zoo down. 
We tried a new place for dinner; Cheddars, which is always dicey, given food issues and a few unnamed people who like to stick to the tried and true. Phenomenal service, huge portions of yummy, healthy food and did I mention the great service?! (It's near the mall on 92, sit in Mark's section). 
Such a fun, fun day. I asked Flower if it was worth the hard work AND the wait. 
And now back to your regularly scheduled crazydays programming. 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Building Copiousness- Resources for Challenge, Week 1

A word that defined a thought I've had for years (search GG for "Lasagna Learning") is copiousness. I ran across this word at the CC Speaker Training in CO last spring with the lovely Lisa Bailey. Copiousness
I love that word. It's why we often do 2-5 history programs a year, or CC AND a co-op each year. It's why we do immersion with Rosetta Stone and a classical language acquisition program, like First Form or Henle. We are creating breadth of understanding and with that, depth. In the same way repetition builds mental muscles and eventually brings understanding, copiousness does the same thing.

Building copiousness when your schedule is jam packed.

We have been watching 1-3 Latin Tutorials on YouTube most mornings. History, language, grammar; it's all in there; and engaging to watch. Even if you aren't studying Latin this year, spend a few minutes with Latin Tutorials and build your language muscles.

Don't underestimate the power of chats. We are chanting our Declension charts daily, as well as in class. Along with this, don't underestimate the power of repetition and flashcards. Don't just make them, use them and review them.

Latin grammar wall charts from Memoria Press are great resources to have around. We've been using them at home and I take them to Challenge every week as well.

Circe Institute- want to love classical ed, even if you don't implement it? Not convinced you should? Check out this video of master teacher and historian Wes Callihan teaching on
The Golden Horn: Norse Saga, Saint Dracula, and the Defense of Christendom in the Middle Ages
(and then get yourself to a Circe conference so you can hear all of this wonderfulness in person!) or, purchase the Old Western Culture DVDs from Roman Roads Media for hours of history in your own home!

For the Debate strand in Challenge A there are plenty of good resources out there. We have enjoyed Drawing Canada this week, along with tracing and labeling.

And that's week 1. Pshew. It's been a great week. And it's Saturday and we are still going strong. Flower and Cub have worked most of the morning, we have chanted and I'm about to go outside to do flashcards. Good stuff. Now, where is the maid when I need her, cause my house is trashed!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Year 25/ Week 1

This week marks the beginning of our 25th year of Homeschooling. I've blogged for 8 of them. Pretty crazy how time flies. I've been blogging less, but it's not for lack of cool things to do and share, it's for lack of time. I am always And I do miss blogging. I will continue to muddle along, and hopefully, you will continue to check back every now and then and see what we are up to. 

25 years later. We are a far cry from where we started homeschooling: in L.A. with our 2 oldest daughters and 6 full time daycare kids. We did a zillion field trips, went to the beach and the many beautiful L.A. Parks as often as possible, swam in the pool, read so many  books and served so many meals and snacks they were coming out of my ears. All from the comfort of our little grad school back-house, while Dr.Dh and I earned grad degrees. 

And here we are in the Territories, so many grad degrees behind us, having graduated our 3 oldest and back to Homeschooling Two again. It's a different climate, culture, and Homeschooling World. I started out Homeschooling working full time and going to Grad School and I am mostly back at it working 30+ hours a week at my job. Not another Grad degree, but Directing Challenge is, shall we say, challenging, and I spend my fair share of time doing homework every week. 

So what's up for school this year? Challenge A and 1. Our co-op will add in Spanish, Art and Music History and a class on Entreprenurialsm. Plus Ballroom dancing, TeenPact events, Drama, and other life happenings (as in, every week-end has been booked solid for the past month). The kids have begged NOT to add in on-line classes. The only one I am still waffling on is the Test Prep. 

We did finish the last brick walk/patio area/garden bed. The boys also took down more miles of barbed wire fencing, continued to clear the grove of dead wood, continued to take down chain link and old fence posts. It's looking park like around here. 

Flower's Garden didn't work out so great, but the zinnias,sunflowers and squash that she tucked in here and there thrived. We have a bumper crop of acorn squash and eggplant about to be harvested. She has big plans to make a straw bale garden next year, which we are going to tuck behind the white shed; another re-claimed odd corner with decrepit fencing gone. 

We started our Classical Conversations Challenge program this week; Challenge A and 1with a total of 17 kids- pretty amazing since as of the June Practicum we had 1 Challenge program and only 6 kids.  A rocking CC Practicum and several Windows into Challenge Meetings later and here we are. I'll be posting some great Challenge A helps later today, so stay tuned. 

 @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Math, Science and History - Homeschooling High School

I've written a bit already on how we teach Math, Science, Biology and History in our home. Check out some previous posts:
Godly Patterns in Homeschooling
Discovering Patterns
Social and Physical Sciences 
Classical STEM
VCF-Globe Trotting

I've also talked about lasagna learning in our  homeschool. This is a very classical approach to learning. What I mean by lasagna learning is layer upon layer; overview, review, mastery. Going over material one time, in simple form, might be just enough to whet an appetite, but to really get a-hold of an area, to own it, love it and be able to play with it, requires familiarity, understanding it from multiple sides, from different depths and perspectives.

I am always a bit perplexed by people who talk about nailing down the one perfect curriculum for a specific subject area- especially those areas that are content rich, like Bible and History. We grab as many resources as we can find and do, what is probably best described, a yearly smash up in content areas. For instance, in Bible, my kids have their own reading/study; will be doing some serious Apologetics in CC, have spent the week-end immersed in presentations by a Rabbi from CJCUC, took part in a Middle East study last fall presented by former Missionaries to Turkey, etc. Their history reading delves into church history, as does Timeline memorization, along with much of the fiction that they read. Yes, we do actually intentionally purchase curriculum, but at this point, in High School, it's more pre-determined by who they are studying with, any outsourced classes they are taking and areas of interest.

The year, Cub will be delving deep into American History. We just finished Notgrass' 900+ page 2 volume series on "America the Beautiful." This year he'll be reading source documents and thinking and writing deeply on issues such as Free Market Economics and Liberty. Is redundancy wasted time? Hardly, if it is done with intentionality and purpose, and not as a time -filler- it takes the studetn from passive to active learner. Love that. 

In between, and for fun, he is reading The History of the Renaissance World and the Story of Science by SWB, so it's not like he'll be solely focusing on American History for the entirety of high school.

Skill specific subject areas like Math and the hard sciences require a different approach. For these classes, memory work has to happen. Laws, Rules, facts memorized make everything go so much more smoothly. Then, time on task. You can't get through much math if you don't actually sit down and do the math. I do have a math slug and for that student I set the timer. They work hard while the timer is going and when the hour is over, they are done with that subject; otherwise they'll spend all day in front of their math book, getting more and more discouraged, not getting anything done and feeling guilty about their lack of motivation.

Check out more on Math, Science and History. @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It is Well With My Soul

we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 2 Cor 4:9

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor 4:17-18

Do God's Commandments- Love One Another.

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 4- 7 Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Circe Institute 2015 Annual Conference

Circe Institute 2015 Annual Conference in Charleston, SC. The break-out sessions were good  but it was the plenary sessions that I loved. Holy Buckets, these guys can make it all come together. The crowd consisted of Classical Educators from private, public, university model and homeschools. In other words people from all over the country (and some from beyond) with the common purpose of using the vehicle of classical education to bring the Gospel to the hearts and minds of others. Super love. 

Not many vendors- but the ones that were there were amazing- IEW, Lost tools, Roman Roads Media, 8th Day books. What made it so good, so refreshing, so fulfilling? The great food, great conversations, great teaching  had something to do with it. But also, the common vision of Goodness, Truth and Beauty, the fellowship of the Saints who believe that God reigns in the midst of crazy educational philosophies, political foolishness and a world gone a little skewed. 

If you haven't had the chance to get to a Circe conference yet, make it so. Worth it on so many levels! 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!