In the Rough: Plans for Fall 2010 (Age 13)

It’s that time again.  No sooner do we finish one homeschool year (the formal stuff, that is) than it’s time to peruse web sites, consider curriculum, and start again.  I’m a continual planner, honestly, so June planning never means starting from scratch.  However, June marks the time to make some more concrete decisions and (gulp) financial commitments.  So here’s the rough plans for Fall 2010 for my older son (13 years old, 8th grade).

Math:  If the practice ACT he took was any indicator, he needs some additional Algebra II to go with precalculus and trigonometry.  However, my understanding of precalculus is that it’s whatever hasn’t been done previously that’s needed before Calculus, so this doesn’t really change his or my plans.  He’ll use the Art of Problem Solving’s Intermediate Algebra and Precalculus books, with me at the helm and a great tutor to make the math really sing.

Science:  I’ll lead my older and his buddy from biology in a high school level chemistry course this fall.  Wish me luck on this one:  chemistry is not my domain in the way biology is.  I’m delighted to have a family friend and university chemistry professor willing to back me up in this endeavor, although we’ve yet to define what that support means.  I do know I’ll need the help.  For texts, we’ll be using one of Chang’s titles:  either Chemistry or General Chemistry:  The Essential Concepts, which is a bit shorter and simpler.  We’re not attempting AP chem, here.  For labs, I’ll be using Robert Thompson’s Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments:  All Lab, No Lecture.  While we’ll need a bit more glassware and a few additional chemicals to pull those experiments off, we’re already embarrassingly well equipped for a home.  No calls to homeland security please.  For more chemistry resources, peek back to this post.

History:  We leaving war behind, thank goodness, and delving into music history with Discovering Music:  300 Years of Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture.  That move was my older’s choice and will be a welcome change.

Language Arts:  We’ll continue with Michael Clay Thompson, moving to the fourth level (Magic Lens I, Academic Writing I, and Word Within the Word I).  He’s not done any of the poetics books yet, much to my shame, since they’re beautiful parts of the program, so we’ll be using a few of the earlier poetics books in his series.  I love this series, and my boys enjoy it greatly.  For my review of the first three books, here are posts one, two, and three on the topic.

For reading, he’s trying a course by Online G3:  Literary Lessons of Lord of the Rings.  My older’s not a huge fiction fan, but I do have his buy-in for this online course with Jamie Linehan Smith aimed at gifted kids.  I’ve heard fantastic reviews from families whose children who have participated in G3 courses and am excited to have my older participate.

Latin:  After three years of kinda-sorta-but-not-so-much-lately studying Latin, I’m turning this subject over to a qualified Latin teacher.  My older will take Latin 100 through Lone Pine Classical School, an online course that, again, has received great reviews from trusted families.  Finally my older will be in the hands of someone who actually knows the language.  Wild, huh?

Others:  Piano study continues, with an hour of practice a day expected and weekly lessons.  Karate (Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art) also continues, with classes at least twice a week.  We’re all progressing toward our black belts, so the intensity of this work steadily increases.

I’d yet to write this plan out, and I’m finding that it appears quite rigorous.  Appropriate but rigorous.  As he ages, I’m looking for more time of instruction from other voices, somewhat because he needs to learn from those with expertise beyond what I have in some areas and somewhat so he can learn to follow the schedule of someone other than me (Read: someone who won’t cut him some slack because he didn’t sleep well for a few nights or because the moon is full.  He hasn’t used the latter as an excuse.  Yet.) My next post will be shorter, as my younger’s course of study is more flexible and, as of this writing, less predetermined.  Stay tuned, and do share what you’re planning for fall.



9 thoughts on “In the Rough: Plans for Fall 2010 (Age 13)

  1. Gosh you sound so organized Sarah! I’ve done a little Year 3 planning for us but it will still depend on what we can cover this summer (I assign some stuff throughout the year). So far it’s looking good but ask me again next week 🙂 Good luck!

    • Thanks, Suji. I’m far less organized for my younger guy. At eight, he continues to soak up the world around him. Our summers are pretty open. Piano and Karate continue, the Math Can rules for my little one, and they follow their passions. Good luck with your planning!

  2. Sarah,
    Just kick me in the pants about math education, subject precalc. 🙂

    I would say that pre-calc makes the student familiar with all the challenges of math that calc helps to solve, without the calculus, with just algebra as the tools. That way they can take to the calculus easier because they are more familiar with the problems that are trying to be solved.

    That’s my experience anyway. Hope that helps…

    sincerely, w/best wishes ever, always
    tom e.h.

    • I know several very mathy sorts who never bothered with Precalc, and a high school math teacher friend says it’s whatever the district/state doesn’t include in Algebra II — some schools do trig in precalc, some in Alg II. AlgII happened at a rough part of life for the family and didn’t get all the attention it deserved. Ah well, he’s just turned 13. No hurry (and he set the pace thus far). Thanks for your thoughts. That’s a different way to look at the subject. The texts we’re using are quite challenging (thus the addition of a tutor. I may get stuck.), and they should give him a firm base to move onward.

      • When I was in high school, we had a semester of Trig and a semester of Analytical Geometry between Algebra 2 and Calculus. We never had anything called Pre-Calculus, but I suspect that most Pre-Calculus courses cover similar things that we did.

        Of course, when I went to school, there was no such thing as Pre-Algebra either. You just went from 7th (or 8th) grade math right into Algebra. Of course, much of what we did in our 7th grade advanced math class is what is covered in today’s Pre-Algebra courses, but we never called it that.

      • My older skipped pre-algebra — he moved from Singapore 6B into Jacob’s Elementary Algebra, which had the pieces he was missing and moved right into the real thing. The actual new content in Jr. High math classes seems quite minimal and, depending on the curriculum used earlier, could likely be skipped. I can’t remember much from pre-algebra except negative numbers, and all I recall from precalc is matricies. Hmm. Perhaps there’s a message there. Good luck in your planning for your boys!

  3. Thank you for posting this! My boys are 12 and will be starting 7th grade this year, so it’s always fun to see how others are handling the junior high school years. I think I need to update my web site to reflect our plans for the fall!

  4. Homeschooling is something that I really do not understand. The transition from home to the outside world is something that I think is essential in making people grow. Schooling is not just about learning academic material, but interacting with a host of other people that would build skills in interpersonal relations. Being at school, I’ve figured that in the long run, the former would be more important than the latter for the rest of my life.

    • You’ve voiced common concerns about homeschoolers from those unfamiliar with the day-to-day life of those families making that choice. Connections with the outside world abound for us (and for all the homeschooling families I know). My children have daily opportunities to be with people outside of the family of all ages, from infants through adults, in many settings. They have a far more diverse set of contacts each day than do most traditionally schooled children, who spend most their day with children their same age. As an adult, I’m rarely just with other 41 year olds but rather with a spectrum of ages and backgrounds. I’m grateful for their chance to live day to day in the real world, rather than waiting until adulthood to do so.

      Certainly both interpersonal skills and academic skills are necessary for success in life, and each family needs to choose for themselves the setting that will best provide those skills. For us, that’s homeschooling, which offers rich interpersonal opportunities and more appropriate academic content. In short, it works for us. Thanks for sharing what is a common concern.

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