high school

A Little More Information about Our High School Curriculum

A Little More Information about Our High School Curriculum

Answers to your questions about our new high school curriculum. (Feel free to ask more questions in the comments!)

Homeschool Transitions: Making the Shift from Middle to High School

Homeschool Transitions: Making the Shift from Middle to High School

The secret to transitioning to high school isn't so secret: Just keep doing what you've been doing, and trust that you've gotten to know your kid's academic abilities.

Library Chicken Special Edition: Short Stories for your Spring (and Summer)!

Library Chicken Special Edition: Short Stories for your Spring (and Summer)!

All that short story reading has paid off: Suzanne has the definitive guide to the best short stories for your middle school or high school homeschool (or for your own personal reading list).

How We Created Our Homeschool's Studio Ghibli Literature Class (Without a Curriculum)

How We Created Our Homeschool's Studio Ghibli Literature Class (Without a Curriculum)

We used Studio Ghibli's film adaptations of beloved children's books for a high school introduction to comparative literature. Here's how we did it — and how you can, too, no curriculum required.

Great Books for Studying Native American History: High School

Great Books for Studying Native American History: High School

On the 150th anniversary of the Medicine Lodge Treaty (a trio of problematic agreements that forced the Plains Indians onto reservations) ensure that your high school U.S. history studies include the country’s marginalized original inhabitants.

New Books: Recently Read Roundup

New Books: Recently Read Roundup

It's all about adventure in these new books, whether you're visiting a fantasy world where one brave guild stands between a city and disaster or meeting a tween determined to start her own restaurant.

At Home with the Editors: Amy’s 9th Grade Reading List

At Home with the Editors: Amy’s 9th Grade Reading List

Our 9th grade homeschool reading list is heavy on U.S. history and literature, with an effort to bring in diverse voices and stories. (Plus lots of physical science and a Studio Ghibli lit class!)

Homeschool FAQ: Teaching What You Don’t Know

Homeschool FAQ: Teaching What You Don’t Know

My daughter wants to study Latin—which is great, except that there aren’t any home- school Latin classes in our area, and Latin is—well, Greek to me. Is it possible to succeed in teaching a subject when I know almost nothing about it?

As you move into middle and high school, you may find yourself with a kid who wants to take classes outside your knowledge base. It’s totally, absolutely, 100-percent okay to outsource those classes, either by using a plug-and-play curriculum that gives you step-by-step guidance, signing up for online or in-person classes, or joining a co-op where another parent can take over. The older your student gets, the more important outsourcing will become in your homeschool life. But don’t think outsourcing is your only option: You can teach a class you know nothing about—and teach it well.

The key is to drop the mantle of teacher and put on the mantle of fellow student so that you and your child become learning partners. For this to work, you’ve got to tackle the topic together. How do you do this? It breaks down into three simple steps:

Making the choice that works for your particular kid always counts as successful homeschooling.

Be upfront with your student: “I don’t know much more about Latin than you do, but I’m excited to learn about it with you.” It’s important to talk about this with your student and to really listen to what she has to say— maybe she’ll be thrilled to continue your learning-together tradition, or maybe she’ll be concerned about whether your Latin adventure will adequately prepare her for the college classics classes she wants to take. Don’t let your ego or your desire to teach everything get in the way of what’s right for your student—if she’s looking for an academically rigorous course and you aren’t confident your plan will deliver it, consider other options. Making the choice that works for your particular kid always counts as successful homeschooling.

Be prepared for a big commitment. Self-directed learning can be invigorating and exciting, but it isn’t easy—expect to spend a lot of time and energy resources in pursuing an unfamiliar subject. For this kind of learning to work, you can’t expect your student to do anything that you’re not doing yourself, from memorizing vocabulary cards to working through translations. You want to keep pace with your student, but you also want to set the pace for the class so that you’re progressing. Expect to spend at least a couple of hours a week working on your own for this class, in addition to the time you spend working with your child.

Choose a simple, straightforward program with a workbook or lots of exercises to give you plenty of practice with concepts. (We use Ecce Romani for Latin, which I really like.) It’s scary to think about taking on an unfamiliar subject in your homeschool, but if it’s something you’re interesting in learning about, too, this kind of learning together can be a homeschooling win-win.

This Q&A is reprinted from the summer 2016 issue of HSL.


7 Signs It’s Time to Outsource Homeschooling

Whether it’s looking into school options, hiring a tutor, or just finding an outside class for a specific subject, sometimes homeschooling means  not  doing it yourself.

Whether it’s looking into school options, hiring a tutor, or just finding an outside class for a specific subject, sometimes homeschooling means not doing it yourself.

Some homeschoolers happily DIY from kindergarten through graduation, but most of us will face a time when outsourcing—whether it’s one class or the whole shebang—is the best way to preserve our sanity and ensure our child’s education. It’s not because you’re a bad parent or a bad teacher—it’s just because sometimes we all need a little help. Here are some signs that it might be time to explore outside class options for your homeschool:

You dread getting started in the morning. If you’re miserable when it’s time to break out the math books or work on an essay, something needs to change. Everyone hits bumpy patches, but if your bumpy patch feels like it’s dragging on and on, a different teacher might be what you both need.

You’re starting to dislike your kid. No parent-child relationship is going to be non-stop rainbows and sunshine, but you may need to shift gears if butting heads over worksheets is having a persistent, negative effect on your relationship. If you’ve starting asking yourself things like “why is my child so stubborn?” or “why does he always complain?”, it’s a sign you need a break.

You aren’t doing a good job. If you’re operating on autopilot, doing the bare minimum, or just plain never doing your best work, it might make sense to put your energy into what you do well and let someone else take over where you’re falling short.

You’re bored. You can’t fake enthusiasm, but you can hire it. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging that a particular subject doesn’t get you excited. 

Your student is super-critical. If you’re getting lots of negative feedback on subject matter, assignments, or your teaching style, there’s nothing wrong with testing whether another teacher might be a better fit.

It’s crazy-expensive. If curriculum or supplies for a particular subject cost more than an outside class would, weigh the benefits of doing it yourself before writing that check.

Your instincts tell you its time. You’ve spent years learning to hear what your gut is telling you about what’s right for your child. Don’t stop trusting it now.

This article is reprinted from the spring 2016 issue of HSL.


At Home with the Editors: Inside Amy’s 9th Grade

Today, I’m sharing some of the resources I use with my 9th grader.

Every year, Shelli and Amy open the door and invite you to step inside their homeschool lives. (Please ignore the mess!) We talk about the resources we're using in our own homeschools and how we structure our days. There are lots of ways to homeschool, and we don't think our way is the best—just the one that happens to be working best for our particular families at this particular time. If nothing else, you will get a behind-the-scenes look in the homes of the editors of home / school / life, but if something here helps you, all the better! Today, Amy's talking about how she homeschooled 9th grade this year.

Because there’s a pretty significant age gap between my kids (six years), I decided to do two separate posts to make things easy for myself. Today, I’m sharing some of the resources I use with my 9th grader. (You can see what 7th grade and 8th grade looked like for us in the archives, and you can see my high school planning post here.)

So first things first: We survived our first year homeschooling high school! In fact, I would go so far as to say that it’s been one of our most enjoyable homeschool years to date. I felt like we were trying to strike a difficult balance—I wanted to make things academic enough to prepare her for a competitive college (in case that’s what she decides to do) without giving up the fun parts of homeschooling that make the experience worthwhile. Overall, I think we succeeded reasonably well.

 

U.S. History and Literature

We did this as a sort of combination class, but I did go through the steps (they’re not difficult) to get my syllabus approved by the College Board so that we could call the history part AP U.S. History on her syllabus. For our spine, we used a pretty traditional textbook, The American Pageant. I am not a fan of textbooks generally speaking, but it helped to have the whole class outlined in one book. We supplemented with tons of books (if people are interested, I can do a 9th grade book list in a future post—Edited: I wrote one!), some of which we read together and some of which we read separately.

The big challenge with history — for us, anyway — was following such a specific timeline. We are year-round, as-we-go homeschoolers, so we’re used to taking our time with things. Having to cover a set amount of material within a set timeframe was a new thing for us and not always easy — we’d sometimes have to keep moving, even though we wanted to spend more time on something. (We kept a list of things we want to return to this summer, but it’s not the same.) We also did several practice tests and essays to prepare for the AP test this spring, something else we wouldn’t usually do. My daughter did well on her practice tests and said she felt good about the exam, but whatever score she ends up with, I think working toward a focused goal on a focused timeline was a good experience for her — but I definitely wouldn’t want every class to feel this narrow!

For literature, we worked our way through the Norton Anthology of American Literature (the condensed, two-volume 8th edition) and read a range of novels, from Hawthorne to Faulkner. (Favorite: The Great Gatsby. Least favorite: The Red Badge of Courage.) Our interest here was in what, specifically, made this literature American, and reading it as we studied U.S. History really helped with that, I think. Literature is always one of our favorite classes, and we did most of the readings together as readalouds. (We love readalouds.) We did read a lot of novels by white men this year, but I’m actually proud of that fact: We’ve done such a good job keeping a diverse reading list that we had to catch up on some classics this year.

We’d typically work on history three-ish days a week, reading a chapter in The American Pageant and working up a list of short-answer questions as we read. There are lots of online resources for this book, so we’d usually check our list of questions against one online to see how they compared. We do annotated reading, so we mark the text as we go, making notes, highlighting important terms, dates, and people, and summarizing key points as we’re reading. Each night, my daughter would use her annotated book to copy notes down into her history notebook — she enjoyed this part because she got to make her notebook pages aesthetically pleasing, and writing things down is almost always helpful for remembering them. We also made notecards for important people, terms, and events so that we could review them — we’d pull them out after dinner or when we were waiting at the doctor’s office or something, and flip through them together. And we’d do a three-question quiz for each other each week and grade it according to the AP test rubric— I feel like grading my answers was as helpful for her as writing her own. We’d read related books — sometimes together, sometimes separately — to broaden and deepen our understanding of different topics and to make sure our class included women and people of color in a meaningful way.

We read together every day, so literature is part of our daily routine. I have never found a literature curriculum that I really like, so I didn’t even try with high school — I knew I would be making it up myself. We read aloud together every day, but with the amount of reading we did, we also had to read on our own to keep up. Again, we do annotated reading, so we mark up our books for discussion as we go. (This does mean that we’re often reading books or parts of books twice—once together out loud and again to annotate. I’m a big believer in rereading, so this is fine with me.) We had a particular theme this year — what makes something American literature? — so that was the thread running through all our conversations. As usual, we wrote several short essays throughout the class and one large (25-page) research paper at the end of the class. We also continued our family poetry tradition by memorizing a poem every week or so — we focused on works by poets from the United States.

As far as the AP test goes, whatever her score ends up being, I think it was a good experience for us. We did have to call around to find a spot for her to take the test, which got a little stressful (though now I have a great place for future AP test-taking!), and we took two full practice tests before the actual test, which felt very school-y. She said she felt pretty confident coming out of the test, and she scored well on the practice tests, so at least I can feel like she was well-prepared. This is probably the first of a few AP classes that we’ll do for high school, so we can apply all the practical things we learned this year to future classes.

 

Comparative Literature

If you read the spring issue, you know all about how we put together our Studio Ghibli-themed comparative literature class, in which we watched Studio Ghibli’s adaptations of books, including The Secret World of Arrietty (an adapatation of The Borrowers), Tales from Earthsea (an adaptation of A Wizard of Earthsea), Howl's Moving Castle (an adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle), and When Marnie Was There (an adaptation of When Marnie Was There), and compared them to the books. This was probably our favorite class.

 

Japanese 

I’ve mentioned how sad I was when my daughter decided to trade Latin (which we’d done together since 3rd grade) for Japanese, but it’s awesome that she was so excited about something none of us really knew anything about. At first I thought we might be able to piece it together with an online program and a good textbook, but that did not prove successful, so we ended up hiring a native Japanese speaker for twice-a-week one-on-one lessons. This was not cheap, but it has been totally worth it — my daughter has learned a lot, and I have someone I can ask when a question comes up. (That was the hardest part of introducing something I really don’t know to our homeschool — not having someone to ask my stupid questions!) The books we ended up using were Japanese From Zero and the Genki textbook. My daughter’s not fluent or anything, but it’s helping her make sense of anime and manga in their original forms, which was one of her big goals, so I say it’s a win. We’ll be sticking to this plan for next year. 

Schedule-wise, we used a similar pattern to the one we used when we were studying Latin: We make vocabulary flashcards and review them about three times a week. (My daughter loved making these because she got to write Japanese characters.) She’d study a chapter in the book with her tutor, then work on the exercises between sessions and go over her work with her tutor at their second session. About once a month, we’d all watch a Japanese movie with subtitles together — I am not sure this actually helped with her Japanese study, but it was a fun way to connect the rest of the family to her studies.

 

Math

I did nothing for math this year, and it was wonderful — Jason did it all, and he did it brilliantly. (If you are in Atlanta, he teaches a few classes, and I am not the only person who raves about his high school math teaching ability!) He has his own curriculum that he uses, but it’s basically a spiral approach that reinforces middle school concepts that kids might not have totally grasped while moving kids into high school math. He mixes up algebra, geometry, and trig, so that you’re always working on something new and on something that feels familiar, so he builds his student’s math confidence and skills at the same time. I was worried that it might not work for our daughter, but it’s been terrific. (And not that we are obsessed with test scores, but her math SAT score took a huge jump this spring.)

 

Science

High school science is really hard to homeschool — there’s just not a lot of good stuff out there. I wanted something that’s more rigorous than “oh, hey, here are these fun experiments,” but also something that still had lots of hands-on experiments (that I could swing in a reasonably equipped home laboratory) and that really explained scientific ideas. This year, we used Holt’s Physical Science, and while it was fine, it wasn’t earthshakingly great, and I ended up doing a ridiculous amount of supplemental book and lab hunting. Physical science covers a wide range of topics (from the laws of motion to geology), so tracking down good books and labs took a ton of research. It was worth the effort, though.

We did roughly a lesson a week, usually reading the text as a kind of orientation and then following up with a more engaging book about the topic at hand. We did an experiment for each topic, keeping a lab notebook for lab reports. (We’ve progressed beyond worksheets, so we just broke down the sections in her notebook so that she could give each section as much space as she wanted.) We usually did our experiments during the weekend, which was a time when I knew we could set up, perform, and clean up a lab without anyone having to get stressed out. (My daughter didn’t love this, so we’ll try something different in the fall.) As with history, she did annotated readings and transferred notes to her science notebook every day.

She also did a science fair project — none of our groups does a science fair, so it was really just her doing a project, but it sounds more fun to call it a science fair project. She had to come up with a question and a hypothesis, figure out a way to test it, and present her results. She really enjoyed this — I definitely want to incorporate more projects like this into her high school experience. (Maybe I can get a proper fair going at Jason’s school this year—it would be more fun to do this as a group, I think.)

 

Other Stuff

What I think of as “actual hands-on class time” took up more time this year, which I guess isn’t really surprising. My daughter found time to take a couple of Craftsy drawing classes (one was great and one was so-so — read the reviews before you sign up!), and she continued with her guitar lessons and worked on several crochet projects. She joined me and her 3rd grade brother for nature journaling occasionally, but it was definitely not a frequent occurrence this year. (That was a little sad for me, but she really did have a lot going on.)

As far as scheduling goes, we stuck (mostly) to our regular routine, which means my daughter started schoolwork whenever she woke up and felt ready—usually around 11 a.m. We’d work together for a few hours (usually about three), and she’d also do a couple of hours of work on her own, usually after the rest of us went to bed, which is when she likes to work. She did go to Jason’s math lab on Tuesdays and Fridays, so she had to wake up early on those days, and we did set the alarm for the one SAT practice test she took this year so that we could more accurately reflect the test conditions. Because our schedule is loose, there’s no compelling reason to implement an early morning start time, and my daughter really likes sleeping in. We’d sit down on Sunday evening and talk through the week ahead — what our schedule looked like, what we wanted to accomplish, any looming deadlines, etc. — and review the previous week together. My daughter kept up with her own schedule and deadlines — last year, there was a big learning curve with that, but this year, all went smoothly. Her transcript came together pretty easily, probably because we did so much big picture planning up front.

The work we did last year to prep for high school—working on papers, practicing taking notes, setting concrete goals for classes, adding more to our to-do list—definitely helped make the transition easier. I highly recommend building some of those skills before you get to the classes that require you to use them on a regular basis.

I think it helped that we’ve been homeschooling for several years now, so we know what works for us. It’s not as hard to plan out the year or figure out the right resources because we have a clear idea of what we want: We’re very bookish, and my daughter learns best through reading and writing, so we tend to build our year around those things. (That also happens to be how I learn best, so I got lucky there.) We like to go for depth rather than breadth, so we’re likely to build a framework that allows us to focus on a few specific areas instead of trying to recreate a survey class. I feel like we tried a lot of different things over the years to figure out what worked best for us, and now we kind of get to reap the rewards of those efforts, which is kind of nice.

I was nervous about homeschooling high school, but this ended up being such a great year — I think we both really enjoyed it once we figured out how to make it work. (The Japanese thing was hard to get sorted!) One of my big goals was not to lose the fun, relaxed spirit that I think is one of the best parts of homeschooling for us, and I think we managed that, even though the workload for both of us definitely increased. The work we did last year to prep for high school — working on papers, practicing taking notes, setting concrete goals for classes, adding more to our to-do list — definitely helped make the transition easier. I highly recommend building some of those skills before you get to the classes that require you to use them on a regular basis. I would say my two big lessons from this year were 1.) get help if you need it — you probably can’t teach everything, and 2.) don’t get so bogged down by details that you lose sight of what you want the big picture for your homeschool to be. Wrapping my head around homeschooling high school was a little scary, but I’m so glad we took the plunge. It’s so much fun.


Related Posts

HSL Book Deal of the Day 6.1.17: The Brontës: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family

It's no secret that we at HSL totally buy into Brontes mania, but the three sisters of literary legend make a great high school lit study, especially if you add this academic biography to your reading list. Even if you think you know all about Charlotte, Emily, and Anne (and Branwell—don't forget Branwell!), you'll discover new details in this deeply researched study. One of the best ways to learn how to write intelligently about literature is to read intelligent writing about literature—this book definitely fits the bill.

(Hey, are you a fan of the daily book deal? Leave a comment—we've been doing them for a couple of weeks and want to be sure we're not cluttering up the blog with stuff you don't want to see!)

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.


HSL Book Deal of the Day 5.31.17: Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution

The understanding of evolution didn't spring fully formed from the head of Darwin—though even in Darwin's own time, scientific thinkers who'd advanced pieces of theory were already being forgotten. Stott does a great job in this book of illuminating evolution's controversial intellectual history, from ancient Greece to Victorian England, pointing out that long before the Scopes trial, evolutionary ideas were shaking things up. A really fascinating read about a piece of science history that doesn't pop up in many places. I think we're going to do this as a readaloud this summer.

(Hey, are you a fan of the daily book deal? Leave a comment—we've been doing them for a couple of weeks and want to be sure we're not cluttering up the blog with stuff you don't want to see!)

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.


Best of HSL: Our Favorite Advice for Homeschooling High School

Best of HSL: Our Favorite Advice for Homeschooling High School

Expensive doesn’t mean better, but some things are worth paying more for. Do your research before you commit your resources.

Take lots of pictures. You may not run into as many obvious photo opps as you did during the early years, but you will treasures photos of your high schooler at work. 

Don’t feel like a failure if your teenager decides to try traditional school. Giving him the freedom to come to that decision on his own totally counts as success.

Keep quarterly records of classes and reading lists.

Let her stay up late. Let her sleep in.

Travel as much as you can, as many places as you can. 

You will realize sometime during your child’s senior year that you left a hole somewhere in his education. Let it go. Everyone’s education has some holes.

Take your time. The worst thing that can happen is that your child graduates later than his public school peers. That’s not so bad.

Sign up for a community college class, just to get a feel for what it’s like.

Stick to what has worked. Don’t feel like you have to break out hardcore curricula or make your daily work time serious business just because your child hits high school. 

Give your teen freedom to set his own goals and schedules. Let him mess up.

Make everyday activities, like budgeting for groceries or doing laundry, part of your curriculum. Your teen will thank you later.

Plan like your teen will be going to college. Expect that he might decide to do something else. You’ll cover your bases and minimize senior year stress.

Do not stop taking field trips and baking cookies together.

Give lots of feedback. Your high schooler needs to know how her work measures up. 

Don’t panic. Yes, suddenly it seems like there is so much to do and so little time. There will be even less time in six months when you realize you just spend the last half-year freaking out.

Take a few SAT prep tests. Don’t take an SAT prep class unless your teen is applying to a super-competitive school.

Invest in what your child cares about most. If that means scavenging free math curricula and grammar lessons to pay for drama lessons, that’s okay.

Do not get so caught up in the this-should-be-on-your-transcript checklist that you suck all the fun out of homeschool.

Keep quarterly records of classes and reading lists.

Find a way for your child to do real labs. Even if she’s not a science person.

Visit lots of colleges.

See as many concerts, plays, ballets, poetry readings, films, and other performances as you can.

Plan ahead for timing-matters issues, like college applications and driver’s license testing.

Make plenty of one-on-one dates with your teen. These years fly by so quickly, and you’ll be glad you made the time when she’s not living at home anymore.

Help your child define what a successful high school experience for her would be. Then help her find ways to achieve it.

Talk seriously about technology and social media. Give your teen freedom to find her way and information to guide her.

Bask in your own glory. You did it. And you did great. 

 

This list is adapted from a feature in the summer 2015 issue of HSL.


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HSL Book Deal of the Day 5.30.17: Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited
By Evelyn Waugh

Waugh's surprisingly tender novel explores English life between the two World Wars through the eyes of a young man captivated by an aristocratic family. Waugh muses on privilege and ambition, class and religion, politics and faith in this classic book.

(Hey, are you a fan of the daily book deal? Leave a comment—we've been doing them for a couple of weeks and want to be sure we're not cluttering up the blog with stuff you don't want to see!)

 

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.


HSL Book Deal of the Day 5.21.17: Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars

The original computers weren't machines, they were people—specifically women who, armed with slide rules and sharpened pencils, performed the complex calculations needed to get the space program (literally) off the ground. This book shines a long overdue spotlight on the women scientists and mathematicians who contributed to the early work of the space program, and it's a great read on its own or as part of a larger study with The Glass Universe and Hidden Figures.

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.


HSL Book Deal of the Day 5.12.17: And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None
By Agatha Christie

The suspense builds over the course of this mystery classic as ten people with spotted pasts realize that they've been lured to a posh but deserted island to be murdered, one by one, by a vigilante who wants them to pay for their crimes and who—they slowly realize—must be one of their number. It's both tense and intense, and don't start it unless you're ready to read it through to the end. (The recent BBC adaptation does a great job capturing the book's atmospheric suspense.) A great book for your high school summer reading list.

We're highlighting our picks for best book deal of the day on the blog, but you can always find our favorite Kindle book deals here.

Homeschool Rewind: Winter

This winter has been a challenging homeschool season.

OK, I’m a little late with my winter homeschool update, but that is actually metaphorically sound. This winter has been a challenging homeschool season. I’ve been spoiled for most of our homeschool life by having a super-flexible work schedule and a partner whose schedule allows him to work from home most of the time, too. Now that Jason’s running an actual school, there are days when I have to get up and get dressed and get everyone out of the house before my second cup of coffee kicks in, and it has been an adjustment. These are the seasons when I am glad we homeschool year-round—otherwise, I’d be stressing about whether we were actually doing enough work.

Other than scheduling, this has actually been a lovely season of homeschooling. I was nervous about our first year of homeschooling high school (I might have mentioned it a few times), but now that we’re well into it, I think it’s one of the most satisfying years of homeschooling we’ve had so far. With earlier grades, we’re interested in “what does this mean?” and “why does it matter?” — totally valid, interesting questions. But I love that high school pushes us to also ask “what does that tell us about the world we live in?” and “how does that connect to what else we know?” The hardest part has been Japanese, which my daughter was passionate about studying but which no one in our family has any real knowledge of. I’ll talk more about it in my end-of-the-year wrap-up, but we ended up hiring a tutor and using a combination of GENKI I: An Integrated Course in Elementary Japanese and Japanese from Zero for texts. This was good for me: I can’t do it all, and I couldn’t do this. But I don’t have to do it all. It’s a useful reminder. (And our tutor is awesome.)

Having two kids is great because it keeps me from getting overconfident—whatever works with one of them is almost absolutely guaranteed NOT to work with the other one. This year, it’s language arts. Suzanne and I were talking about it on the podcast, but my daughter would write just because she loved writing — she used to play school and write essays for each of the different students, grade them, and have the students revise them. (Gunther, I recall, did only the most slapdash revisions.) My son, on the other hand, would happily embrace any reason not to write. (Recent reasons have included: “This pencil is itchy” and “The lines on the paper distract me.”) We’ve fallen into an uneasy but tentatively effective program, combining Patricia’s brilliant dictation method (I could not homeschool without it) and comic book pages (which he seems to have more patience with), and I’m trying to just take it one day at a time. 

This is maybe a superfluous thing, but it’s been so great I want to mention it: For Hanukkah this year, my mom bought the kids bungee chairs. They are awkwardly shaped and look a little silly, but holy cow, these chairs are little miracle workers. My bouncy, can’t-sit-still son can read in one for long stretches of time and my daughter likes bobbing up and down while she’s doing math. Who knew chairs could make such a difference? 

What about you? What was your winter homeschool like?