Monday, January 11, 2016

Eighth Grade (HS Yr 1) Update

We have one semester of eighth grade(?) completed! After a relaxed December with two full weeks of break, we are now ready to begin anew. Reviewing the progress from first semester has lead us to a few focused changes, the primary one being our schedule. (See our detailed plans)

(We honestly don't know what to call this year. Amber is doing ALL high school level work and if she wasn't chronically ill, we would have skipped eighth and called this ninth. As it is she will need five years to complete the required high school credits, unless she is miraculously healed. I'd rather call this High School Year 1 and just go from there until she's finished.)

As for accumulated hours:  Amber is not quite at the halfway mark for total hours needed (1000) or core subject hours needed (600). I've been very conservative in recording hours this school year, which may factor into this lower than normal total. Our school year schedule also gives us more days in second semester than first, so I'm okay with the standings right now. We don't have any extra hours banked up though, but as long as we are diligent she will complete the year with more hours than needed, as usual.

Curriculum Update:

Math and science are working well for Amber, even if science is moving slowly. Changing to Life of Fred Math was one of the best curriculum choices we've made. Apologia Physical Science is a good match for Amber right now; although she has trouble committing to the experiments. Thanks to our long-range planning, Amber does have time to move slowly through her needed science courses and all will be well even if she doesn't finish Physical Science until early next school year.
Planned Credits: Algebra 2 = 1, and Physical Science = 1

History is plodding along, but with less gusto than last school year. We still are using our Tapestry of Grace Year 2 plans supplemented with the Time Travelers series from Home School in the Woods. Amber much preferred the Project Passport series from Home School in the Woods that we used last year, which unfortunately does not cover our current time period. This semester we aren't necessarily changing any of our history curriculum, but may add in more supplemental items to increase her interest factor.
Planned Credits: Possibly 1 (I still think she will have extra history and this one won't be needed).

German started out at a fantastic pace and then slowed dramatically in October. We need to commit ourselves to this more. Actually, this is mostly my problem. I need to be more focused in her lessons and set better assignment schedules. We won't be changing the curriculum here either (at least not until next school year), but we will be making more of an effort to complete these lessons.
Planned Credits: 1/2

Religion has been another topic where we started strong and then fizzled out. We haven't done any of the Christ Light curriculum yet this year, but made great progress through the Answers in Genesis Teen books and videos. We did also pause for Advent devotions and Amber is in confirmation at church which includes homework. Overall we're doing alright in this area, but we could put a little more time towards it too.
Planned Credits: 0. She shouldn't need it as an elective.

Language Arts has been a huge success this year, but we are going to make a few changes anyway.  My plans for literature were over-zealous and rather unrealistic. We are dropping all the individual novels planned, but will stick with Illuminating Literature and the Progeny Press Poetry. As much as I'd like to use our Memoria Press Poetry books, they will wait until next year. Amber has been greatly enjoying the Progeny Press Poetry and I'm not going to mess with a good thing.

We've had a real problem keeping momentum with grammar this year. It's usually the first subject we drop when our time is short - which it often is.  Our new schedule hopefully will help with this, but if it doesn't then we may need to cut out a literature novel in order to provide more time for grammar. We are staying with Analytical Grammar though. It suits Amber's needs and is rigorous enough for a student planning to pursue a degree in English.

We've been using both IEW and Cover Story for writing this school year. Amber can't imagine giving either one up, and honestly they have two different purposes. However, Amber isn't progressing as fast in either one as she would like, so I've adjusted the schedule to allow more time for writing by taking out one day of science. Amber hopes to finish Cover Story by May and start the next product from this publisher - The One Year Adventure Novel.

Unexpectedly, we added in Phonetic Zoo spelling curriculum from IEW last Fall. It was a review item that we were happy to try. Amber enjoys the short lessons and although she has always been a fantastic speller it has improved her spelling. Phonetic Zoo also filled in the vocabulary gap left by our other curriculum, or so I thought. The problem is Amber doesn't always bother to look up unknown words. We are still up in the air about continuing with Phonetic Zoo and may do it sporadically when there is time, but we need a good vocabulary component.

Amber was lamenting the lack of products like the Greek Morphemes curriculum we reviewed last school year and said she would love a second level of it. Well child, ask and you shall receive. There may not be another Greek morphemes level, but the same author has a Latin morphemes curriculum. We ordered the Latin version over Christmas break and are ready to bring it out on our first day back this semester. Amber is giddy over the prospect too. I have to say that is one review product that has left a lasting impression on us both.

Planned Credits: English 1 = 1 (since she's going for an English degree, she will do advanced literature and English later in high school).

Co-Op Classes: Amber is switching her classes up a little bit this semester. A couple of her classes were only a semester long and another had a time conflict with the new yearbook class. Amber is moving back to mostly fine arts after a semester of history and practical arts. This semester she will be working on yearbook as the middle school / high school layout editor, taking an upper level art class, participating in improv drama, and finishing up the year-long embroidery class.  Given all we have going on, there won't be any other outside art classes this semester.

Planned Credits: Unknown. I'm tracking all her co-op hours, and may use some of the classes for portions of her fine arts and practical arts.

All in all, our plans for eighth grade (aka, High School Year 1) have been working out well. The major issues we have found are time / scheduling and attitude. With Amber's various weekly therapy sessions, specialized exercise times, flute lessons, co-op classes, church events and confirmation, it's hard to fit all the school subjects into her remaining functional hours. Our main goal this semester is to increase her functional hours and decrease her commitments.


  1. I think you are doing amazing. It's been so hard for us to find our flow. Working full time and homeschooling has been a challenge, but we are getting there. Math and science are going well. We are struggling with language arts, reading and writing.

  2. IT sounds like you are doing an amazing job. What great choices for school. We are struggling with what grade Dean is in as well. He is doing half of his studies in 7th grade and the other half in 8th. We will just play it by ear for now.
    Blessings, Dawn

  3. I have been wanting to try Life of Fred for a while now! I don't see many people use it with older kids...and that's who I would like to try it with!

    1. It was a hard decision to make to switch from Saxon, but she just couldn't handle the stress anymore. Life of Fred actually works really well even in the upper grades. I know several families using it for high school, and one even wants to go into a math related field.

  4. We are also continuing to use Cover Story and IEW as well as EIW as an easy supplement. It looks like you are all set for another great year!

  5. Looks like an ambitious schedule, but if she is motivated and enjoying it - why not? :-) We've also been using Life Of Fred, but my daughter struggles with math and is really just starting Algebra. I do think it will remain a good fit for her though. We're also using IEW and my son is doing Analytical Grammar.

    Thanks for linking up, and sorry I took so long to comment! I remember reading your post earlier but for some reason I didn't comment then. Likely I got interrupted. LOL