10 August 2011

The Year of Discovery

Well, I think I am at the point here where I can disclose some fairly important details about the upcoming year.  It is shaping up to be a year of important discovery for our family...the following reasons:

1.  I've alluded to it here before, but I'll make the formal announcement now: I will be homeschooling my seventh-grade son next year.  It is scary and exciting all at the same time.  I truly feel my mettle as a teacher will be tested, and I look forward to the challenge.

My son happens to be a pretty smart kid, but not smart enough to meet the criteria in enrollment in most of the enrichment programs.  He does 8th grade math, but otherwise, he is in a classroom with average to low-performing students in his other classes, consequently, he wasn't being terribly challenged (which is the danger when teaching to the middle, most public school teachers' only option).  It also occurred to me that I knew absolutely nothing about my son as a learner.  Did he get right to work or did he have to be prodded to begin?  Was he one of the first ones?  Did he double-check his work?  Did he know how to take notes?  Well, I guess I'm no longer content to be ignorant and hope it all works out for him.

After researching, I opted for the Classical Education approach for Spencer's homeschooling...with some modifications of my own.  Ultimately, I value reading, great literature, note-taking, and critical thinking and reflecting in education, and an education based on the book The Well-Trained Mind appealed to me the most.  However, that was just the beginning.  I spent several weeks this summer researching curricula....and it is overwhelming.  Just a few days ago, I firmed up Spencer's reading list, and with that, had all the pieces in place to start the school year.  As it stands, this is his schedule and texts:

Science: Apologia - General Science
Math: Saxon 8/7
History: Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (combined with outlining, additional reading/research, and a weekly composition).  We will be covering the Medieval-Renaissance period (400-1600 AD).
Writing: Writing Strands, Level 3
Grammar: Combination of Holt and Glencoe Grammar, along with Easy Grammar Plus
Vocabulary, Wordly Wise 3000, Book 7
Logic: The Fallacy Detective and Thinking Toolbox
Reading: Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Dante's Inferno, L'Morte D'Arthur, Sword in the Stone, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Shakespeare (He will read these intermittently with historical novels like Rolf and the Viking Bow, Catherine Called Birdy, The Samurai's Tale, The Emperor's Winding Sheet, etc.)

Doesn't that look fun?!  I think it does!

2.  We are hosting a foreign exchange student in our house this year.  He will be arriving on the 18th from South Korea (well, from his orientation at NYC, really).  I only knew one family personally that ever hosted, and those were my in-laws, who had a really bad experience.  Needless to say, I did not anticipate hosting...ever.  But, then we got a call about a week and a half ago.  the student seemed like a really good fit for our family: plays soccer, in orchestra, 15 years old, likes camping, board games, and reading.

Brent and I talked about, made a pro/con list, talked through solutions, and finally decided to go for it.  We figured the potential goods outweighed the potential bads.  As long as we kept the lines communication and our expectations clear, we could avoid everything but the freakiest of personality clashes.

So yeah, soon our family of five will be a busy family of six.  We've done some rearranging and outfitted a fourth bedroom for the student.  We've done a little reading about Korean culture, and I think all of us in general will be in for a little culture shock.  But...it could very well be the best experience of our lives.

And like my friend, Taoist Rose says, no matter what happens, we'll learn something.  And that is good.


  1. HD:

    Kudos to you for having the courage to homeschool your son. That arrangement doesn't always work out well for some families, but in your case I think your son will be the better for it.

  2. Sounds like an interesting year. I assume you've found various homeschooling support groups, on line resources etc? My sister homeschooled her son and I was surprised how much support is out there. They had local play groups for the kids, a newspaper/magazine put out by a regional or national organization, lots of options for lesson plans, etc.