Sunday, July 29, 2007

Summer laziness and Fall plans

Well, we haven't actually been all that lazy this summer, I just haven't been blogging anything. O has been doing lots of math and reading, and has joined a football team. His team is training up to 5 nights a week, so I've been letting him off a bit easy this month.

We went to Folk Fest at the beginning of July, had a fantastic time, I'll eventually post some pictures if I get around to it. Best show by far was That One Guy in the festival campground at 1am. Crazy one man band guy surrounded by 2000 half-naked dancers covered in glow sticks, running up and down the hill in the dark. A total Folk Fest kind of experience.

O is really starting to make some progress in bringing up his math skills. I wouldn't really be pressuring him so much, but he has so much stuff to make up, in terms of basic math skills, and he wants to start studying some more advanced science, and has nowhere near the math skills to do it. Thanks to Math-U-See, he's really starting to grasp division, after 6 long years of both of us banging our heads against the wall. I've decided to go ahead and buy Epsilon next, even though he doesn't need most of the program, because he still has so many little gaps and a thorough review wouldn't hurt. I hope he can get through Epsilon, Zeta and Pre-Algebra this year, so that he can start with some serious math at the same time that he wants to be doing some serious science.

Math has been so frustrating for both of us, because he's had such a hard time learning the really basic stuff, like subtraction and division, but has no problem with, and grasped at a very young age, much more advanced stuff, geometry, algebra, game theory, probability and ratios, fractions and percents. As long as he isn't required to write it down, and do something really hard like subtract double digit numbers, he's away and flying. But since he's so science-oriented and has plans, possibly, to study science at a fairly deep level, he's going to have to buckle down and try to learn the basics. He's always been a kid for whom really abstract concepts were easier to grasp than concrete basics. It's added a special flavour to our homeschooling journey. The kid who could discuss marxist theory at 10, couldn't figure out how to write on a line, not under, hovering above, or through the line.

I've been doing lots of planning over the last month. I think I've pretty much chosen our plan for next year, which will, of course, change almost immediately. I'm planning on buying History Odyssey level 3, Ancients for the fall, probably I'll just buy the course book to look over, since I have many of the books used in that level anyway. I also want to be able to have a good look through it before I commit to buying a $200 program (see, I'm learning!)

For science, I'm still looking for something that satisfies me, and will be challenging for O, without being Christian, a tall order in the homeschooling world. Another mom pointed out Spectrum Chemistry 's high school program as not being overly Christian, despite the extremely creationary bent to their life sciences junior high program. I would love to be able to use something like this, because it's so complete, but will have to look more into the religious content. The life sciences were so ridiculous in it's creationary content that doing the course, even from a point of view of critiqueing the religious content would be totally useless from a transcript point of view.

I feel perfectly comfortable putting together my own resources and programs for the history/literature/writing end of O's education, but in science I'm wading into the deep end of the pool of my personal knowledge, and I just don't know enough about actual practice (as opposed to history of science) to put something together on my own. My big fear, too, is that I don't know enough to really parse out the religious content in some programs. We might just wind up using the provincial Distance Education program for science, but the grade 9 and grade 10 program are so far beneath his level, and he doesn't have the math or lab background to go into the grade 11 programs, so that's just a place-filler more than anything right now.

I've been putting a lot of work lately into the history courses, outside of the classical history cycle, that I want to put together for O. We've decided right now on a Military history course, along with a History of Religions and Holy Wars course. I'm thinking of a History of Terrorism course. Along the way I will need to put together a History of Canada that isn't painfully boring, and a History of the US, that isn't painfully jingoistic. Probably we will do some in depth study of the Revolutionary era, that will include the American and French revolutions.