Tag Archives: thinkwell

Summer School

Not a week goes by without someone asking about online support for homeschooling high school — where are all the conversations we used to have back when the kids were younger?

I suspect they are happening in our own minds as we drive to endless rounds of activities — even my relatively antisocial teen seems to spend a surprising amount of time socializing, yet she still can’t drive.

We took a lot of time off of various studies during the fall and winter, and then the spring was so snowy and gray it took all of our energy to stay alive and not go Hunger Games on each other, so a little bit of summer study here and there is in order.

Violet has started precalculus, so that when theater and other things get too hectic she feels free to take some time off. She’s using Thinkwell — our first time using Thinkwell for math — and generally finds Ed Berger entertaining.

I have been sitting with her and knitting for most of the lectures and problem-solving — and I admit every once in a while I get too excited and say “but couldn’t you do it like this?” and grab a pencil and solve part of a problem myself. Let’s call that modeling enthusiasm and collaborative effort, shall we? Anyway, after last fall didn’t go so well I realized that it’s important not to mix up independence and isolation. So I sit in a comfy chair near the laptop and knit and check in periodically, and the whole process of catching up with math feels much warmer. Also, I really like watching her solve problems — as much as she doesn’t like math, she is pretty fluent with it, and I imagine even artistic unschoolish 14yos need an experience of feeling competent, logical, and rational at least once a day.

She’s also working on Chinese and drawing drawing drawing, and I keep trying to slip her new books so she isn’t *always* reading something she read three years ago.

Victoria, now 10, blew my mind last week when she told me she would be worried about going back to school because she thought she was “slow” and didn’t know as much as other kids. Lori Pickert touched on this aspect of homeschooling in a recent blog post, as if she had been reading V’s mind.

I really didn’t know how to respond to this. I don’t like to make a big deal out of test scores with the kids, but — girl, have you seen your test scores?!?! In any case we are keeping up with Singapore math and some history reading. We ditched the Sonlight history readings about the world wars — the light really seemed to go out of her eyes as we read day after day about trenches and fronts and artillery. I know some kids really dig that, but it was turning her off after many years of loving our history reading time, so I set the Usborne World Wars book aside.

We’re trying to get in the habit of compacting all this into two hours or less, so we have lots of time to enjoy the sunshine. Luckily (?). there hasn’t been a lot of sunshine so we’ve been able to approach that goal gradually. Then again, if there were more sunshine maybe I could get the kids to get up and dressed before noon.

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Filed under education, gifted education, homeschooling high school, Unschoolish

A Misleading Guide to This Year’s Resources, Part One

It’s mid-September, and I’d like to do what some other homeschool bloggers have done and post my kids’ rough schedules. I’d like to, but that could be hard. I haven’t even ordered the books for all of them yet. I figure summer isn’t officially over for a few more days yet anyway, so how behind am I really?

How can anyone concentrate on ordering books when there are hummingbirds everywhere just begging to be photographed?

Still, in the interest of sharing information, here’s what my 13yo is doing as of now:

AP American Government via Thinkwell
DD13 is really enjoying this. She took a great American Government class with Online G3 this year and enjoyed it so much that I thought she might as well continue with the subject. The Thinkwell class has some review, but it’s enough material for a whole year – and supposedly the AP exam – so I believe she’ll still get a lot of new stuff out of it. So far, she likes the format and the lecturers, and I think she’s getting some good note-taking practice. Besides, this is a great year to be studying American Government. Speaking of which . . .

Current Events via Online G3
I admit that this class was initially an afterthought. I wanted DD to keep in contact with Headmistress Guinevere and her longtime G3 classmates, but this was the only class that fit our needs at all. Wow, has it been great! I love turning on NPR and having her say “Yeah! We talked about that in class!” and then share more about what she knows. I’m so happy that she is part of the class.

Geometry via Life of Fred
DD did took a chemistry class and a physics class last year, so at some point we completely abandoned math as a formal subject. There was plenty of applied math—and brain overload—happening as it was. We also skipped ahead to trigonometry for a while so she’d be ready for vectors in physics. So there’s some geometry still to do before moving on to what we had actually planned for this year, which is:

Precalculus via Thinkwell
We’ve really liked Life of Fred. DD seems to have a math talent without having a strong math interested, and this has suited her well. But I think we need to move beyond the totally self-taught approach at this point. Once geometry is done she’ll start this up.

Dystopian Literature via co-op
This is a co-op class I proposed to the retired teacher who’s taught several literature classes for our group. It’s kind of a “What to read after The Hunger Games and City of Ember,” including 1984, Brave New World, Animal Farm, and Gulliver’s Travels, among other things.

Japanese via VHSG
This is DD’s first time take a class through this group. So far so good! Community college was just not in the budget this fall, but this still allows some exposure.

Chinese via Chinese Pod
DD has been working through Chinese Pod for some time. While it doesn’t really force her to develop her reading skills as much as she’ll need to eventually, she has a great ear and is pretty fluent in conversation with her teacher, so I’m satisfied with the time and money spent here.

Chemistry via SSE
This is a 2-year chemistry class billed as Honors Chemistry. Several of the students will be studying for AP Chemistry, DD among them, though she may do the SAT Chem test instead/also. I can’t say enough about the great instructor for this class. He does not know how to worry and takes each student as he (or she, but really almost entirely he) comes. He does offer online classes, but we’re lucky to have access to the in-person version.

Fire Good!

Still to come:

Korean via Rosetta Stone
DD was doing this over the summer but has dropped it over the last few weeks to start Japanese. She would like to pick it up again, but we’ll see.

Linguistics via MITOpenCourse
I really need to get the darn book so she can start this!

Writing via Mom
It could be that I am putting this off.

Oil Painting via art teacher
I have been talking to one of Violet’s former art teachers for almost 6 months about getting this on the calendar. Ugh! But since one of her co-op classes was cancelled at least I have the money set aside to get her started. I will do it — I will!

Of course typing it out like this makes it all look so formal and organized. Don’t be fooled! No, we will never be mistaken for radical unschoolers, but we do aim for as much self-direction and freedom as possible.

It’s just that the self-direction and freedom can’t be typed up as neatly as the official-sounding resources we use. There is no official “tumblr creation” time or songwriting time or obsessive drawing time, and yet these take up at least as much of the day. Not to mention bike-riding time and skyping time and novel-writing time and lying-on-the-sofa-reading time. Oh, and piano. Always lots of piano.

Staring-at-stream time is also very important.

Typing it all out may also make it seem like we are more test-oriented than I think we are. We are, to some extent, following the advice of Blake Boles, who suggests in College Without High School that a few College Board-y test scores will make it easier to have an unconventional adolescence and still go to college, if that’s the desire. I’ve also seen plenty PG kids at this point who reach mid-teens and say, “forget it, I’m ready for college NOW.” That’s not the road we’re on today, but it’s happened enough that I think we’ll just take a few precautions. Besides, this particular child doesn’t mind taking tests. When the other daughter reaches this age, I feel pretty sure a different path will be laid out before us.

Speaking of which, I’ll lay out the 9yo’s current resources in an upcoming post.

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Filed under education, Homeschooling