Homeschool Chronicles: off to School
This has been a great year in homeschooling! Though, it feels funny to say that because this March Aria started public school! Still honestly, both are true. Haha! I'd better explain.
To start at the beginning, in my last Homeschool Chronical I outlined plans for the 2016-17 school year. We were able to resume our two-family co-op, affording Aria and Liam weekly time with close friends and the opportunity to take history with miss Laura and writing class from me. Even with our new baby, things have gone fairly smoothly, with two exceptions:
Although both of my children are good students, spelling has been a weaker point. Liam in particular started 4th grade as a poor speller, even though we'd been working at spelling since he learned to read. Over the course of the first semester we increased spelling lesson frequency, but to no avail. According to Spelling Power, our spelling program, he was retaining little to nothing, despite our hard work.
Enter Apples & Pears. First, who names a spelling program "Apples & Pears"? Well, they did. After some research at the Well-Trained Mind homeschooling forum, I decided to give it a try. This program is a worksheet-based spelling program with lots of repetition and dictation. It teaches Liam to break words into parts ("re" + "turn" = return) to aid in memorization.
Fortunately, something about it is working for Liam. Even though the Apples & Pears lessons take longer than Spelling Power did, he has a better attitude and is actually retaining his words. In fact, he is finally spelling words correctly that he hasn't studied, based on inference. I'm so glad we're getting there!
I'm proud that both of my children have excelled in the aggressively paced Singapore math program. This year it was time for Aria to start PreAlgebra, so we elected to use Art of Problem Solving's PreAlgebra, a popular resource for mathletes. I figured, keep pushing her!
Well, that didn't work. I guess she actually needs a math teacher at this level? Go figure. Now in case you think I am the math teacher, Aria actually fired me round about 3rd grade. She insisted I stop teaching her math and just let her read the lesson herself. Since she was able to learn easily on her own and preferred the independence, we have functioned well this way. I simply check her work, require she correct any mistakes and clear up any confusion.
The trouble is that Art of Problem Solving is WAY beyond what I understand about math. Both my husband and I are somewhat math-y, but the stuff in that book is wild. You can read some of the Chapter 2 questions to see what I mean. We're not equipped to help her play with math at that level.
Aria struggled with the book for a few months, then switched through a few different PreAlgebra programs as the year went on. Eventually we found a groove in Singapore's Dimensions Math 7, but I still found I was spending more time trying to help Aria with her math than either she or I appreciated.
Because, I don't actually want to remember algebra.... I'm just saying.
As I mulled over the situation, I began to see that Aria would need an online math class next year, just as we are already doing this year with science. Aria has loved, loved, loved her online Potter's School science class, but it's expensive. As she requires more and more to be challenged, how would I be able to do that on a budget? I don't really want to put in loads more time and effort than I am already doing. I value having time for myself and with baby Rora.
Aria will be entering the 7th grade next year. Turns out the public middle school down our street has excellent ratings, Algebra for 7th graders, honors classes, science club and chess club. Hmmm.... When I discussed the idea of trying public school with Aria we both had our reservations. We had a few great discussions about positives and negatives, then concluded we would give it a try. We could always take her back out!
Aria added chorus and dance classes to the positives list.
Then I began talking with the school about getting the testing required for honors class placement. Well, that's not a thing. Homeschoolers entering public school with advance planning and wanting to get honors placement - not a thing in our district. Soooooo... we enrolled her in the public school 6th grade this month! The required testing for next year's honors classes is cycling through now, so she's accessing that and getting to test out this whole school concept all at once.
So far Aria is a fan. She recognizes that school wastes a lot of time, but since she's a very social creature, making new friends is worth the trouble. The honors 6th grade classes (no testing required at this level) are easy for her. I'm so glad! It is very confirming as a homeschool parent to find she is so well-prepared for class. On the other hand I am hoping that the middle school will be considerably more challenging, because I'm concerned she is learning very little. I know she learned something in math class last week... I'll keep checking in.
And so ends the Homeschool Chronicles? I think not! I still have Liam at home and little Rora to school someday (oh lovely thought!). I'm snatching up the chance to focus on Liam next year as I make my plans. More on those later!