Not sure if you’ve figured this out from reading our blog, but we’re not your average family, nor your average homeschooler. With so many full curriculum package companies out there I am starting to call myself old school. Eclectic. Today I’d like to chat bout school year – the pace of a high school unschooler – who is also a product reviewer. How does that look like on a day to day basis?
We have goals for high school, chunked out into year long studies. When they were younger, we might have focused on a unit study, based on a delight directed topic, for a week to a month. We’d dive as deep as the boy would want to go, and let up when the interest level was exceeded, or they decided they weren’t. ha. Now, in the older years, we find that we have a shelf full of interests so to speak. Areas that we want or need to learn about, but it doesn’t have to be all – right now. These, we span out over a year – some over the four years.
I still play the role of igniter, hunter, gatherer, and cheer leader. I’ll hear of a topic, like electronics / stereo systems/ speakers – and then keep my eyes and ears open for resources. Books, videos, movies, mentors, supplies, etc.
I am working with EEME for Jon to learn how to build his own amplifier from scratch. Tiny lil parts. Empty breadboard. Once a week he gets a new package in the mail and spends all morning working on it. It is supposed to be a month long project – for each packet – but he wants to get to the next step. I’ll be sharing our journey with you this week of how it is going so far. Spoiler Alert – it is awesome.
As much as we love Institute for Excellence in Writing – (IEW) it can grow stale after years of use. I was praying for a spark for writing, when along came Writers in Residence from Debra Bell through Apologia. It is a spiral notebook that the student goes through – student led. So far – Jon really enjoys it. Which, is why I know it is a miracle, an answer to my prayer. Ha. I have enjoyed how Debra pulls thoughts and writing out of me even in my homeschool planner. She is doing the same for Jon.
Speaking of stale, US History. Sort of one of those topics where we know enough to think we know everything. The curriculum we chose through Notgrass is awesome, but 8 months later, it’s hard to face after breakfast. Again, praying for something fresh and along came Homeschool Copywork. I looked through their high school suggestions and found a few poems that I knew Jon would enjoy. He has been writing out The Charge Of The Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson the last couple of weeks, to the point of memorizing it. I have a few more picked out as well.
Which – sparked another need – poetry memorization. Both of my boys enjoy it, both are really great at it. We had done almost the whole first unit of Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization from IEW a few years back, and I had it out to start again. Then I saw a reviewer opportunity and discovered that they have 5 levels. The 4th and 5th level have several poems and writings that would fit into our US History, and we could listen to the CD on the way back and forth to baseball practice. I downloaded 4 selections and we started yesterday. I just found out this morning that I get to review the new edition in a few weeks!
But what about reading US History? We were chosen for another YWAM Publishing Heroes of History book – Meriwether Lewis. I’m thinking that this will need to be paired with a trip to Astoria, Oregon this spring as well.
We are finished (3 lessons to go) with our Science Program – again, out of the blue, didn’t even know if Jon would like it, and I signed up for the US History portion ended up with the Earth Science from Standard Deviants Accelerate. Now, we’ve been working through their lessons all year. I like to do some nature study in the spring, but I can’t find the spark from the boys. Maybe some experiments? Right now Jon is aware of the stars and fascinated with the night sky. Can you guess what happened this week? We were chosen for a review of the Book of Astronomy Set from Memoria Press. We’ve done some history and geography from Memoria Press and it is a perfect student led self directed workbook in easy daily chunks. Perfect for 20 minutes here or there throughout the week.
So as the review season heats up with the Schoolhouse Review Crew and folks like EEME, most schools are gearing up for end of year testing and wrapping up a grade level of learning. We’re just now branching out fresh exploring new topics. When we say yes to a review – we agree to use the product 3-4 times a week for 4-6 weeks. We don’t just look, touch, feel, and come up with a quick reaction. I read through the entire text as much as is possible, and dig deep. Jon goes through his student path day by day digesting not only what he is learning, but reporting back how the program works from his perspective.
When review season is over in late October, early November – we take a serious break from physical resources. Usually, this is when we attack math and writing mechanics. We do Math year round as well, at a pace where mastery is the objective.
Learning year round is a bit of a different approach. When they were younger we’d spend a month on each topic. A month is geography, a month is Nature Studies, a Month in Grammar, etc. By the end of the year, we had dug deep in each topic. Other times we’d do one topic per day. History Monday, Science Friday, Geography Tuesday, etc. With reviewing we sometimes take a six week approach, diving in deep to a topic, and then swimming up for air for a couple of weeks. Some review materials we shelf after the review period, and some we continue on for years to come.
You might think it isn’t enough of a full education to only spend 4-6 weeks on a topic. But that’s where my role comes in – as described above with US History. I know what I’d like him to learn this year, and throughout his life about our country. We have a full year resource through Notgrass, but we also take time out to let other resources fit our need like YWAM Publishing or Homeschool Copywork. It is a crazy mosaic that when looked at from a distance, after time, creates a beautiful picture.
That’s what I’ve found from my own experience and from others in the homeschool community. At the end of our journey, standing back, it is a beauty and joy to behold. Worth it.