Tuesday, October 20, 2015

First Quarter Academics Update

Now that we've completed roughly the first quarter of eighth grade, we took a look at how successful our original curriculum selections and schedule plans have been. (For references, click here are our eighth grade curriculum plans)

Overall the year has been one of our best starts which we can attribute to a few outstanding items.

1. Illuminating Literature: We cannot say enough good things about this curriculum. It has helped Amber solidify her desire to continue in writing.

2. Life of Fred Math: It's not quite the math education I expected for Amber, but it is what works for her right now. She finished Algebra 1 and is starting Algebra 2 now.

3. Answers in Genesis - Answers for Teens: Amber absolutely loves this set and it has been our most successful religion curriculum to date.

4. Personal creative time: This was a non-academic goal, but it has bled over into Amber's academics. Not only is she writing during this time, but she is happier and more willing to cooperate on other subjects when she knows the trade off is more time for personal creative expression.

As each week goes by, Amber is more and more confident she wants to pursue a future in English, primarily in writing. If possible we are going to provide even more language emphasis and allot additional time for unstructured creative writing. She has many ideas in her head, but not enough time to get them all down.

Curriculum Changes / Additions:
There have been a few curriculum changes and additions since originally planning eighth grade.

1. Because of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, we altered our plans to include the Progeny Press Intro to Poetry and it turned out to be a perfect fit for Amber! However I had already purchased the Memoria Press poetry, which we still want to use and will squeeze in some day this year- or next year.

2. I had not scheduled any vocabulary or spelling lessons this school year, mostly since I was indecisive on what to use and wasn't sure if there would be time. We were selected as part of the review group for the IEW Phonetic Zoo (level C) and it's gone so well that we've permanently added it as part of Amber's curriculum. She truly enjoys her spelling time.

3. Again due to the Review Crew, we had the opportunity to use several history products which fit with our current topic and easily supplemented our normal Tapestry of Grace and Home School in the Woods combination. In most cases, the review items simply replaced suggested Tapestry of Grace year plan books and often were a better match for Amber.

Schedule Changes:
Since scheduling out Amber's daily lessons, regular physical therapy appointments have been added to Amber's weekly schedule. Changes to had to be made to incorporate these appointments, additional therapy time at home, and desperately needed life skills learning.

1. Science: Since Amber is not interested in science in the same way as when she was younger, we've decided to cut some of her science time out in favor of languages. It just wasn't feasible, without more hours in the day, to accommodate Amber's interests, needs, and one of her least favorite subjects. Thankfully, we had planned for the possibility of Amber not completing any single science credit in only one school year and allotted five school years to complete three (or four) credits of science. I'm still holding out hope she will finish Physical Science over the summer before ninth grade.

2. Math: It is creeping along much slower than anticipated. Amber no longer has the anxiety or dislike of her math lessons since we switched away from Saxon Math. Still, when faced with limited school hours she will choose almost any subject (except science) over math. Other days, due to the variable cognitive impairment that comes with dysautonomia, she just doesn't have the brain power for math. Again, since she is just beginning Algebra 2, we have plenty of time to complete the necessary mathematics classes before high school is complete - she just may not get as far as we once hoped.

3. Grammar: Our initial plans for Season 2 of Analytical Grammar were to complete it straight through in the first 8 weeks, or so, of this year and then switch to their recommended review mode. We hit difficulty with this plan right away when Amber had a dysautonomia flare. She could work on other topics, but could not process the grammar lessons. Instead we've decided to intersperse the 8 weeks worth of grammar throughout the entire school year. This has been a much more successful plan.

4. History: Early on I used our homeschool tracking software to project out our history lesson plans and worried there was not enough content for an entire school year. I was very wrong. We've been slow to move through our actual Tapestry of Grace lessons because of all the supplemental items that were made available through the review crew. Amber has been having a fantastic time learning about early modern history and I'm no longer concerned with our history pacing at all - we might actually have more than can be covered in a single year now.

All in all, this is probably the least amount of tweaking I've ever had to do to our homeschool plans. We hope these few changes will successfully see us through the rest of the school year, but odds are I'll be laughing at myself come January when I make changes yet again.

1 comment:

  1. This was very interesting to read. I think we have needed to do the most tweaking this term because my girls are not quite ready to be as independent as they thought they would like to be. T does so well working alone and is so driven, but without concrete goals for their futures yet, the girls don't have quite the same drive. That said, we have altered C's work to a primarily English base and she is in seventh heaven! Changes are sometimes hard to make but really worth it if one finds an alternative which works so much better.