Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekly Wrap Up: How Long is This School Year?

Had a moment mid-week where I took my eye off the baby-step in front of me and instead considered the mountain that is 8th grade. I faltered and wondered for a moment if I am certifiably insane for taking this on. It was only a moment. I don't really have a choice and it wasn't lost on me that the thought came moments after I gave glory to God for the strength to make this journey. We have a very real enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy all things good.

Our highlight this week came early as SJ attended his first guitar lesson on Monday. We opted for the group lesson, my prayer being that he could meet up with some like-minded kids. Prayer answered. My first clue that this pursuit would hold SJ's interest was the faux-hawk--the guitar teacher's faux-hawk, that is. The guy emits cool, a hugely important trait to earn my son's respect. Two other boys showed up, all the same age, all homeschooled, and all seemed like great kids. Exhale deeply. I am so glad.

After a few weeks discussing what history is, we delved into our first lesson. I'm giving the People, Places and Principles curriculum a shot. Each unit is in its own magazine-type format and topics are looked at through lenses such as: foods, recreation, government, agriculture, family. After reading, there are workbook questions to answer. I am not a huge workbook fan but I think SJ needs some regurgitation to aid him with comprehension. I haven't yet figured out the pace this curriculum requires but the presentation is understandable. We are supplementing our American Indian unit with literature, reading "The Light in the Forest" by Conrad Richter.

We also started Easy Grammar Plus. It wasn't the curriculum I ordered but after so many blog recommendations, I figured it was worth a shot. It starts simply enough and I saw a little light go on. The program suggests memorizing 50 prepositions which may prove to be a little challenging. SJ isn't big on memorizing and I come up short in devising methods to help him. So far, he has written words in chalk on the driveway and we also bounced a basketball back and forth while rhythmically reciting some of the words. The jury is still out on whether any of this will actually work.

My greatest encouragement this week came as we read through SJ's science text. In the past, he has read aloud with no stops or inflection--a sign to me that nothing is sticking to his brain matter. This week, I heard progress. For those with reading comprehension difficulties, the road is long and laborious. We, as teachers, can't just hand over a text and assume it will be read and understood. We spend a lot of time previewing headings, stopping to consider a sentence, and resaying what we just read. The glimpse of progress this week was especially heartening because it is for this issue that we are homeschooling.

We have much ground to cover this year and I do wonder how we will touch all of it. Our handler dropped off the Art curriculum and I am a little baffled as to how to fit that into our already full days. I fear it may be the thing we just "get to" sometimes when it really needs to balance SJ's harder academic endeavors. Any suggestions?

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