Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 2014

Happy New Year!  I have a feeling 2014 is going to be challenging.  I don't know why. Maybe it's because:
  • I'm nervous about J getting into her school of choice
  • K will be starting a new school and possibly a new career
  • W will need to start really preparing for public high school (if he still wants to go down that path). 
  • My unemployment benefits will end early this year
  • I'll be looking for a new part-time job
  • I'm finally starting regular doctor visits this year
  • W is turning THIRTEEN
  • My stepdad's physical and mental health is rapidly heading downhill
Well, I'm going to do my best to make this year wonderful regardless of my (hopefully irrational) worries.  

This is the schedule we've been experimenting with this month.  I'm going to give it another month then let you know how well it worked (and if we'll continue with it):  

Current Events:  Channel One News  (Daily)
After watching the daily 10-minute video, we discuss what's in the news and W hand-writes one complete, perfect sentence from one news topic.  
Math:  Saxon Algebra 1/2  (Daily)
Moving along nicely here.  W still loves this program and still uses the whiteboard to work out all the problems.  
Cursive:  Harcourt Cursive Practice  (Daily)
He's 1/2-way through this workbook.  His cursive is a little nicer than his print writing.  Spelling is better and there are no letter reversals.  Once this book is done, it's done.  
5 min break  
Literature:  Lightning Literature 7  (Daily)
We just finished Tom Sawyer and we're about to begin a study of about 7 poems from Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages.  This section should go fairly quickly.  One poem, plus vocabulary and comprehension questions every couple of days.
Writing:  Lightning Literature 7 and Jump In  (M,W,F)
I'm not sure how much I like the LL writing exercises.  W will do a few since we have it, but our main writing book for the rest of the year will be Jump In.  Most of his writing will be typed.  Jump In already seems like a keeper.  W is not only doing the writing exercises, he's doing them really well!  He even typed for 10 minutes straight, completing more than a whole page of creative writing.  I'm in shock.  There were a few spelling and punctuation issues, but damn, it was good.  I knew waiting until he was older to start creative writing was the right idea.  He has been preparing for it, doing small chunks of things, for years.  Now, he's ready and it shows. 
Geography:  Runkle's World Physical Geography  (T,TH)
So much information in this book.  The short lessons are perfect.  I try and make this very hands on, using maps, the globe, and the flashcards I printed out from another site.  
Poetry:  Shel Silverstein's Every Thing On It   (Daily)
W reads up to 6 poems out loud.  This alone has improved his reading so much.  The rhyme, the tempo, and the humor all seem to work really well together to procure a wonderful reading confidence in him.  He uses some of these poems to practice typing as well (with and without looking at the keys). W is actually sad that we're almost done with this book.  I promised I'd buy 2 more, lol.  
History:  K12 Human Odyssey 1  (M,W,F)
I like this book a lot.  W reads sections of it silently and aloud.  It includes great photos, maps, and stories.  I combine this with documentaries once or twice a month.
Science:  (T,TH)
I love the Holt Physical Science book - W, not so much.  Sigh.  So, I'm going to try combining it with the Apologia experiments (I still have the Apologia books and lab kit - it's the only part of Apologia W liked), the Apologia textbook (for me to read and prepare the lab), and utilize the Holt CD Rom and various website for worksheets and video clips.  
Spanish:  Getting Started With Spanish  (Daily)
W likes this book and the short daily lessons are simple and easy.  He'll probably get more out of the quick daily lessons than K did in all 4 years of high school.  He reads this independently.

The interesting thing is that W retains a whole lot more when we keep the lessons short - from 5 to 30 minutes per subject.  Dropping the subject time made them a lot more fun and interesting. Then he much more eagerly moves onto the next subject.  Charlotte Mason knew what she was talking about when she said short lessons are important.  I'm still concerned that W may plateau at the middle-school level when it comes to reading and writing.  It's all too common with dyslexics.  I plan on doing everything I can to make sure that does not happen.  So, if it means we keep the lessons short and fun, then so be it.

W is getting more and more independent with his academics.  He already is self-taught with anything technological and computer-related.  Now he's starting to do more independent work in more than half his subjects.  I supervise, correct, and encourage - which is all he needs from me.

Even though W will make his own decision about high school, I have to say, I do hope he chooses homeschooling.  I mean, he already has an idea as to where he will start working/volunteering when he's 14, at which company he'd like to be an apprentice, what will be a "starter" job in his chosen field, and ultimately what to have as a career.  Academics will be done at home, outsourced, and in organized groups of other homeschoolers.  NYC is and has always been a homeschooler's dream due to the great homeschool community and all the resources available.  I have hundreds of field trips and classes bookmarked that he hasn't even done yet.  SAT and/or ACT tests will be taken and his transcript will look amazing.  I just feel that public high school is an unnecessary, stifling 4-year holding bin.  W doesn't want his future postponed like that.  If he had his way he'd start applying for jobs now, lol.  I can understand wanting to go to a top specialized or performing arts high school (with 3 or 4 classes each day devoted to a particular art, not 1 or 2), but that's really it - and only for certain types of children.  Even the NYC high schools that focus on a certain field don't focus enough to make the rest of the nonsense worth it.  But that's just my opinion.

Anyway, W will decide by the fall.

J had a busy month.  Here's a look at what she did.  She:
  • is still in heavy rehearsal mode for the upcoming competition season and for Rising Stars
  • was part of a filmed dance demonstration for one of her choreographers.  He had it filmed like a music video and is featuring it on his new YouTube channel.
  • rehearsed for and performed in her Senior Dance Showcase.  This was a beautiful bunch of demonstrations of what the kids do in their classes.  There was a ballet, Horton, and Graham demo, some Junior Projects, and solos from 4 kids who got "merit" and "honorable mention" in the YoungArts  Presidential Scholars program this year.   
  • went to a friend's birthday party at Jay-Z's 40/40 Club
  • was in a music video for another up-and-coming artist (who is also a friend from school)
  • was asked by a celebrity photographer (who was at the aforementioned music video shoot) if she would like to be in a music video (for a young rapper) a few days later because she has "the look" they want.  Wow. (and it was a paid gig)
Here is the first music video J is in - she's one of the background dancers: