March 9th, 2011

Firefly: OMG Yeah!

I know all y'all experts out there

think I'm nuts....but I can't help being excited at the homeschooling. Himself is actually *excited* to go to class now - I don't have the "I don't wanna go to school today!" chant every morning. He willingly does chores first (NOT to put off class! but to get them out of the way), and he's just...a totally different kid than he was 2 weeks ago. It's...fantastic. I know, early days and all that, but still.....he even babbles about school at DINNER each night - which is unheard of!

We're still feeling our way, a bit. We've added Science to every day - the book is great; the modules are set up to take 2 weeks. I KNOW we aren't tied to that, but he LOVES Science, and there are experiments every 2 or 3 pages - which he also LOVES. So, why not? He wants to go into Science (Robotics, actually), so this is good...Thursdays we'll deviate from the book and do one of the kit activities we have (tomorrow we'll build a weather station - the kit has a whole class in it.) Today's Science reading included something we read about in World History - evolution - and the way he made connections was cool. (The experiment today was on Chemical reactions - basically using baking soda and vinegar to inflate a balloon. He was *geeked* over it!)

In the spirit of sharing (thanks, Anna!) - here's the sheet I drew up for logging experiments:

I looked all over the place to find something simple that could be used for more than 1 type of experiment, and couldn't find anything I liked. I originally set it up for microscope studies (for example, comparing water samples from around the homestead), but it works just as well for other experiments. It should print out OK...I hope. :grin:

Math is our sticking point. Yesterday, I fired off some emails, then hit google. Seems that Saxon math - which is what Texas uses - is..well...not really good. It's a "spiral" method - today you learn about adding, tomorrow you learn about division, next day fractions, then back to adding, then multiplication - you don't actually *master* the concept before moving on. He tested well....but. The textbooks are out of my price range, and there's not a lot of *teaching* in them, so I'd have to get the teacher's guide, too. (More $$).

I was recommended Chalkdust...but WHOA. $200/year. :gulp: (I've got to go from 5th to 12th...:ack:) Even half-off (which is what I hunt for - you really can't expect to save more than that in books!) it's still out of my league. I was also recommended Teaching Tutor (I think that's it - it's all online)....again with the cost! doesn't get that great of reviews.

Khan Academy has a lot of classes online - FREE! - but. Since we yanked him out of public school, we are a bit jumpy right now. I'd prefer to have textbooks on hand, along with some form of assignments (either in the text or in a workbook) to show that we ARE meeting the state requirements. SG that means that MEP and Mammoth Math are out (plus, MM only goes to 6th grade. :sigh:)

I started digging....Singapore Math gets rave reviews. It's mastery-based...and they offer free assessments. I printed off both 5A and B for Himself (since that's the first half and 2nd half of 5th grade); there are 20 questions for each one. He could only do to #8 on 5A. :bangs head: So....we'll be reviewing 5A and trying to get him up to speed...yeah, I bought the books. From the Distributor, no less - because a) $9/textbook and b) eBay prices are $8.50/textbook. Not much difference.....

I ordered 5A - 6B, and figured I'd order for Herself later. Well....SG thought about it, and told me to use the rest of the IRS refund to buy ALL the books for High I did. Plus the matching workbooks for Himself, too....for a grand total of $290 (give or take a little - shipping's high!). Compared to Chalkdust......yeah. I could have saved a little on eBay....but not much. (Oh, and CraigsList here? Abeka/Saxon are about it. And $25/textbook., thanks!)

So....we're now set to go thru High School. Herself wants to learn I found a book on that. I also found some CDs on Watercolor painting, Sketching, and Watercolor pencil drawing - so her Art classes are covered. Math for her....she's going to have to backtrack a bit. Right now, she's Pre-Algebra....and she has NO clue on what she's doing. Singapore supposedly teaches the "grammar" of math - so not only do you learn the rote stuff, but you learn the *why* of it - which both kids need.

Oh - and he *enjoyed* math today. Why? Because I decided to work the problems, too...and totally screwed up the multiplication on the first one. (We're multiplying fractions right now) He decided to "show me up"....and he did. :giggle: I don't mind - it's been years since I messed with fractions, but I can still do it...and if it gets him to having fun, so be it.

I'm totally DONE with the textbook buying (I hope). I think I've got all the subjects covered that he'll need......and Herself, too. The General Science book has a section on Anatomy, so I skipped buying a separate text on that; ditto Biology. A lot of the books they aren't ready for....but you know what? That's OK - books don't spoil. I'm worried that the 'net might go down and leave us stranded - if I have a book, I can still teach them something. (And yes, I am a bit worried about that....there's been a lot of testing the waters lately....hard copies are safer.)

Gotta go rustle up lunch.....