Friday, August 18, 2017

Oh... Math. Why? (Wk3 - 10th)

Another fantastic week of 10th grade is in the books, minus the calamity of last week. I don't want to jinx it or anything, but this has been a very productive start to the school year. Quite often we flounder at the beginning of the year, which leaves us scurrying to make up the hours and work during the winter. Of course, winter is the worst time of year for Amber and her medical conditions.

We worked around appointments, errands, and time out with friends to stay on track with an even 20 hours of school this week. No, it's not exactly a full week of school, which for us would be 28 hours, however it was all we needed to not fall behind. And honestly, it's better than most years at this point.

Marine biology (the book), and online driver's license practice tests - she did missed one question over 11 tests!

Amber worked on:
  • Greek - lots of Greek and finished another lesson.
  • German - more German than she did all of second semester last year.
  • Latin - we plan for it to go at a slower pace than the other two languages, since she already has three years of Latin under her belt. So, just a small amount of Latin this week.
  • Both creative writing and her IEW writing course, plus grammar.
  • She finished the assignment for her summer literature, and is ready to start her next unit.
  • History and government, both. She seems to honestly like the Notgrass curriculum, which is fantastic, while not really being what I thought was ever her type of curriculum.
  • Marine Biology - It's a review curriculum, but she is enjoying it. We do not do the labs. Nope. Not gonna happy. We are not biology-studying people. Still, she is finding the course interesting as long as she can read and answer the questions only.
  • Driver's Ed - She is ready to take the written test! Hallelujah! Now, to find time for it.

I will admit that Amber has yet to start her math class for the year. We've had a good start to everything else that is not part of the homeschool co-op, which begins next week. Math is another issue all together. Every time I bring up math as the next subject of the day, I can just see the terror in Amber's eyes and the rapid breathing starts. We can't do it as the last subject of the day, because she simply does not have the brain power by then. Yet, trying it earlier in the day results in panic and then she's not functional after the panic attack. So, this is something I'm working to resolve.

I'm hoping if we can just get past the first lesson or two, she will remember how much she likes the Life of Fred math, comparatively, and it will all be ok. It's never going to be sunshine and roses, but I'm only asking to avoid the daily math panic attacks. Thanks.

We've been working really hard with Biscotti to make him more comfortable with the other cats again. Rose accepts him just fine, but Biscotti is scared still because of the incidents with Milori. This week he willingly got that close to Rose. Tonight he watched Rose wander about in the same room as him, and SHE didn't have a leash.  It's huge progress from hissing and growling at her smell or sight. We're still not sure how Milori will react to Biscotti in close proximity. Milori is having... referred anger from critters outside.
Fred was out of town for the beginning of this past week, which left Amber and me to our own devices. Oddly, those were our most productive school days, but only because we had absolutely nothing scheduled either day. I really do like having our Mondays free of activities and appointments. It allows us both to have an easier day after the weekend, which inevetably leaves one or both of us sick. If only church and Sunday school started around 11 am. I'd be good to go on Mondays.

Wednesday I had an appointment with my GI doctor to discuss what the Sjogren's diagnosis means for the care he gives me, and what in the world I'm supposed to do with my gastroparesis (or is it something else... please let's just stick with gastroparesis). Fred worked from home after his trip that day and managed Amber's out of the house lessons. It was nice to not worry about getting her places on time after an appointment.

Thursday was the open house for our homeschool co-op at their new location! It was exciting and fun to see our friends again and wander about the church that is hosting us this year. We are so appreciative of the new church and their welcoming attitude. Amber kept talking about how much she likes this new building, and how nice it is inside. While it is an older building, the current church has worked hard to remodel the inside and everything looks fantastic. And clean. It's hard to admit it, but our church, where the co-op had been, is not cleaned very well. There is always a layer of dust around, and I would be embarrassed if my bathrooms looked that way after cleaning. It's not awful, but it's not pleasant either. (When your teenager notices how dirty your church is compared to a much older building, perhaps I'm not just being my OCD self on this topic.)

Co-op supplies: Meteorology and Debate. 
After the open house, we even were able to have lunch with friends at a favorite restaurant that happens to be a couple of blocks from the new co-op location. I think I may have to go out to lunch during my three hour teaching break this year. I don't think I've ever had the hour after lunch off before and now I'm off from Noon until 3:00. Or, I can even go home for lunch. We live so close now and there is plenty of time. My possibilities are endless. Amber's possibilities include eating the lunch I pack her and not eating lunch because of her class schedule. Poor child.

This weekend I'm doing the final prep on the three co-op classes I'm teaching - wish me luck. Amber will continue to build on her huge new Lego set: Ninjago City from their Ninjago Movie sets. It's almost 5000 pieces. We ordered it the day it was available for VIP members, and amazingly it arrived the very next day.


Now that the weather forecast shows a better chance for sun on Monday, we're looking forward to a little science with the eclipse. We actually live in the path of totality, so will be going out to our backyard to view it through approved glasses. If Amber's best friend and her mom can manage to get through the anticipated traffic, they will be joining us. Because our area has such a good view of the eclipse, the officials are expecting many visitors and a lot of traffic jams. Unfortunately, the edge of the totality path goes right through the metro area, so friends not 10 miles away won't see it. We are personally planning on staying home, and seeing what we can see. And that will be it.

Linking With:

Weekly Wrap-Up  Homeschool Coffee Break

Isn't It Hard to Homeschool High School?

Today's topic in our Back to School blog hop is "Dear Homeschool Mom."  I'd like to address this to the moms (and dads) who are curious about homeschooling high school. While I don't have all the answers, I do know that homeschooling high school is quite possibly the best decision we made.

Without a doubt, the number one comment or question I hear from people in regards to homeschooling is how hard it must be to homeschool high school. Even from seasoned homeschoolers, I have heard the worry and concern of homeschooling the high school years since before Amber was even officially in high school.

Unexpected Homeschool: Isn't it hard to homeschool high school? Encouragement for those considering the high school years.

Do you know what I tell them? It's easy. It really and truly is easy. However, it's not for everyone - parent or student. And that's alright. But don't let the fear of homeschooling high school hold you back.

I hear questions about how do we ensure Amber is getting enough credits, or learning enough? How will we actually graduate her? Will she be able to go to college? Will she be able to get scholarships? Won't she miss out on the typical high school life?

So much worry about high school, yet in my estimation the younger years were much more troublesome and formidable. I am still thankful my daughter went to private school for her early elementary years and someone else had the responsibility for ensuring she learned her basics. Except, thinking back, we taught her to read prior to Kindergarten. We worked on her math over the summer. At this point of her schooling life is easy; she knows how to learn and I simply provide her the sources of information needed.

Yes, it also is my job to function as a guidance counselor who ensures that Amber takes all of the courses that the colleges will expect to see. I need to help her decide what path she might take after high school and prepare for it. However, wouldn't I do that for her anyway? I'm not the type of parent to leave those decisions up to a stranger who may not know my child well. 

The questions then always return to how hard it must be in our daily school life. How do we get the lessons finished? Well, the same way we always did. It's even easier now. She is a more mature person who sees the value of her school lessons and knows the purpose of it all. There are definitely days Amber does not want to work on school, and subjects that she would prefer we never study. We all have days like that. Instead of arguing with her over it, like when she was in fifth grade, I ask her what subject she would rather work on that particular day. Amber knows full well this means she will be doubling up on the skipped lesson at another time, and makes her decision accordingly. 

Amber is a mostly independent student now that she is in high school. That doesn't mean I hand her textbooks and expect her to finish them by the end of the school year. What it does mean is that many of her subjects do not require me to sit with her and go over every single detail all day long. She can read her history, work on the assignment, and then discuss with me the take-away information. Each subject has a varying degree of independence, but all require my input at some point. However, none of them necessitate the full days of instruction like elementary school and early middle school. This alone makes high school so much simpler to homeschool.


Amber will admit that she does not, in the least, miss the drama and stress of the normal high school life. She is involved with our homeschool group where she socializes with teens of varying backgrounds and situations. The only thing some of them have in common is being homeschooled. The local homeschool groups hold formal dances for all high school students several times a year, which means that Amber actually will go to more formals than if she had gone to public school. We've already got quite the used dress shop going in our spare bedroom. So, no, Amber will not miss the typical high school experience.

I know I have not yet graduated my only student / child, so I don't have all of the answers in regards to college. Although, I do know many people who have graduated homeschool students, and their children have easily gone on to successful college careers. Which leads me to believe that yes, Amber will be able to go to college. Will she get scholarships? Well, that's a hard question to answer. 

I will admit the scholarship question is not pinging my radar most days. Amber does have a chronic illness that shows no sign of relenting. She will not be able to attend college full-time the way her body currently stands. She will be able to go part-time with accommodations, but how many part-time college scholarships do you know of? We have a plan in place for her future college attendance, but a scholarship is not part of that plan at the current time. 

For everyone considering homeschooling high school who worries that they can't be enough or that it will be too difficult, I cannot guarantee your path will be as easy as ours. However, I can tell you that most of the time it is not as hard as you think it will be. Calm your fears, research requirements for your state and maybe a few potential universities, and talk to your student. Guiding your child through a homeschooled high school experience can be the most rewarding time of your homeschool years, if you give it a chance.


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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Why We Attend a Homeschool Co-op

Some homeschoolers love them and others don't understand the fascination with homeschool co-ops. We were part of the second group for the first couple years we homeschooled, mainly because we didn't have time for any additional activities. Amber was in elementary school and danced almost every evening of the week. There was no time to take out of our daily routines for some co-op thing that I wasn't even sure I understood.


Then Amber became sick with the first symptoms of EDS and dysautonomia. Eventually her doctor made the call that was so hard for us to do: Amber needed to stop dancing for her health. That left her with an excessive amount of free time and almost no activities outside of our home. Neither of which are necessarily a bad thing, but for an only child who was still trying to understand what was happening to her, it was rather upsetting. I looked for a group to join so that Amber could feel camaraderie with kids her age, instead of feeling isolated.

We found a new homeschool group with a co-op that met at a Lutheran church that I always forgot existed. Taking that first step to join the co-op ended up being a huge catalyst to changes in our lives. We ended up transferring our membership from a different Lutheran congregation to the one where the co-op was held. We were looking to change churches and we found the perfect one for us. The co-op turned out to be a fantastic match for Amber too.

She met quite a few new friends and has thrived over the past 4 years that we have been members. What started out as an easy way for her break away from the isolation of her illness, ended up being the community we had been looking for. Amber found not only sincere and understanding friends, but classes and activities that grow her interests.

Co-op Fun: Character Day - she was Annabeth from Percy Jackson; Hat Day - Her One-Hat-To-Rule-Them-All; Yearbook Superlatives - She won Best Smile.

In our ever-increasing co-op, Amber has participated in several drama productions when she never really wanted to have speaking parts in plays before. She's taken and enjoyed art classes, while learning to deal with her feelings of inadequacy that had previously been fueled by poor art instruction and rather mean children in the private school. There have been Bible classes taught by our pastor with topics different from what she would take at church. She's been part of the homeschool group's yearbook staff for two years straight where she learned responsibility for herself and cooperation as part of a team.

I taught and Amber took a speech class that would have felt odd and unnatural at home. Instead she and her friends (new and old) were able to encourage each other past their nervousness to speak in front of a group. She's taken a mythology class, a hands-on ancient technology class, and my forensic science class, which was infinitely more fun with friends. She's learned to take classes that do not sound like her "cup of tea" to please a friend, and ended up enjoying herself as well as spending time with her friends.

All of this is why we continue to spare a day out of our busy school week to attend enrichment classes at our co-op. And while, yes, it does provide Amber (and me) with some much needed socialization, the real reason we attend is that we are enriched and bettered for attending - it's as simple as that.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are also talking about their classes and learning experiences outside the home. Please follow the graphic below to read some of their amazing ideas.


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