You know, it's been really good for me to write these summaries of how my kids are doing in school. It helps me put things in perspective and it helps me realize just how much they've learned and how far they've come. That's especially a good thing when it comes to Bean, who has struggled so much over the years.
Bean has come so far. He is doing quite well. Here's what he's up to:
Math: Bean does well at math. Due to what we discovered about Teaching Textbooks running a year behind, we decided to try skipping pre-algebra and going straight to algebra 1. I wouldn't have tried this except that I felt the math he did in 6th grade public school was quite advanced and covered a lot of the concepts from pre-algebra. So far he is doing just fine.
I will also mention that at the beginning of the school year I didn't quite have the money yet to shell out for Teaching Textbooks Algebra. So at the start of the year we did a free trial of A+ Math, which is an online math program. We liked that there were a lot of resources and it seemed very thorough, but Bean found the voice that taught the lessons intolerably dry. We decided to just back to our familiar Teaching Textbooks. As soon as I had the money I bought it and in the end he shouldn't be behind if he doesn't let himself fall behind from this point out. He's a lot better at staying on task than he used to be, thank goodness.
Writing is still my big challenge with Bean. He's doing a lot better, but he's still not where he ought to be at his age. I figured the daily journal and copywork would help him simply increase the volume of his writing without worrying much about content. I hope the copywork will also help with his spelling, which is slowly getting better. (But he still does stuff like spell "killed" "cild," even though that should have been thoroughly taught out of him in All About Spelling.... maybe I need to do more review.) I hope to finish the All About Spelling series with him this year. Spelling City really helps him with retention.
I have him doing pages from Word Roots on Mondays and Fridays, which I think has been helpful for his vocabulary. Then on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we work out of the Wordsmith book. So far, Wordsmith is going okay... at this point it seems to be mostly about word choice and knowing how to find more specific words to say what you mean. This is good stuff for Bean, and he does a good job on assignments when he applies himself (sometimes he doesn't apply himself and this causes me much vexation.) He also does a page from Easy Grammar Ultimate Grade 8 every day. The pages in that volume are quite different than the pages in Easy Grammar Plus that we did last year; in fact, they are just like the pages in Roo's Daily Grams, with a short activity to do on each of five or so topics. But they are perfect for him because they gently review the concepts we learned last year in Easy Grammar Plus.
I bought Bean a volume of Critical and Creative Thinking Grade 6. He enjoys it and the little puzzles are a good challenge for him. It's funny how Fish hates those books and Bean does great with them.
Latin: I am glad we played around with Latin over the last four years, so that he had a good experience with it. And now I am glad we are going to buckle down and get through it. So far, everything is review for him, so that's been going fine.
Bean did NOT want to do Discover the Scriptures this year. He says he really dislikes the writing (not like there's really that much!) and that he's not really learning anything new. I think he has learned a lot more from it than he realizes and I wanted him to keep going into Discover the Acts of the Apostles because he really doesn't know much about that part of the New Testament, but I finally told him that if he would read his scriptures every day and then write in a scripture journal that could replace Discover the Scriptures. Well, he and I had vastly different ideas of what constitutes a scripture journal. So he would read a few verses every day and then take his notebook and write a sentence: "I read about Nephi building the ship." In my mind, I was thinking about the elaborate scripture journals I have seen on blogs... I knew Bean wasn't going to do anything that fancy, but the hope was that he would think about what he was reading and to write about what he thinks. I'm going to have to work on that with him, but for now, I don't have much spare time. So I made a deal with him that if he would do Discover the Scriptures again I wouldn't make him do any of the writing assignments... all he has to do is read it. We'll try that this term.
Bean practices the piano every day. Again, as I said about the other kids, I feel like they would be progressing so much faster if they had an outside teacher who worked with them consistently. However, we are doing what we can, and I am just glad he is playing the piano every day.
Science: Our Apologia Botany that we're doing as a group is a little young for Bean, but since the content is new to him I feel it is helpful. And those Apologia books do a good job of making stuff understandable to younger children without dumbing it down, so really, there's a lot for Bean to learn in there. I can't get him to take notes or do much else besides just listen to me read, but for all Bean's struggles in school he does retain unusually well. When Bean just listens to me read he retains most of it. What a blessing for both of us.
History: Bean LOVES history. He doesn't love the summary paragraphs I make him write though, and for that reason he just barely finished Story of the World Volume 4 that he was supposed to finish over the summer. Finally! Now he is going to start on Mystery of History volume 1, working independently. I am excited to see how this goes and how Mystery of History compares with Story of the World. I already like that it provides adaptations for older and younger students. Bean really wants to get into it at the older student level. I hope he does.
It is so fun just discussing things with Bean now that he's older and can really talk in depth about various issues. I love teaching him when we can just talk about stuff. I especially love that now he's been through world history from ancient times up through modern he has a framework for discussing many things from the scriptures to the humanities to current events. He also has a good background in geography and I was impressed when I tested him on all the countries in Europe and he knew most of them. This geographic literacy has come mostly from his own interest and from the study of world history; we have never done much with a formal geography curriculum. We hope to do more with geography in the future though, since we both enjoy it so much.
There's a lot I hope to do with him in the future... it's kind of terrifying that next year is high school for him. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about homeschooling in high school. I feel very adequate-- excited, even!-- to teach some subjects, like literature and history and geography and writing. For math I will depend on Teaching Textbooks. But science really intimidates me, especially chemistry and physics. And there are so many other things you could do in high school, like computer programming and foreign languages, which I cannot teach. Aaack! I know there is a lot of support out there for homeschooling high school. I have seen a lot of books and articles and things that say "don't be intimidated, you CAN do it!" So I guess I need to get reading a bunch of those books to get myself psyched for next year.
Meanwhile, I am enjoying teaching Bean and I am grateful I can have him home with me!