Saturday, February 19, 2011

What works for Jazz. . .

Inspired by a question posted on a homeschooling email list I'm on, here is part one of the Winter 2011 version of What's Working at Our House.  I'm finding it a challenging yet heartening exercise.  ☺

By a huge margin, Jazz's most successful curriculum to date is the Michael Clay Thompson Language Arts program.  I feel a bit like a broken record (if you're on the Secular Homeschool forum you've probably already "heard" me blather on about it), but it is really quite amazing to see the amount of retention of material that happens with so little "work."  By work I guess I mean what I did in school for language arts--filling in blanks on vocabulary worksheets (or worse! filling in circles for multiple choice!), reading mind-numbingly boring grammar books, completing meaningless writing assignments, etc.  Jazz gets to learn about the origin of words and word roots, analyzes a few sentences per week, reads about seemingly every aspect of poetry, and completes writing assignments that make sense to him.

He still likes to read, but would read fantasy and science fiction almost to the exclusion of all else if he didn't have a little "assigned" reading for our history & geography curriculum from me.  I choose his books carefully, and if he balks at one of my selections (usually one I didn't put as much thought into) and he has a good reason for not liking the book, I'll find him something else to read.  Usually he ends up enjoying his assignments.  Sometimes they even make it up to his room to be tucked on a shelf next to his bed.

Tucked in his bed, even though he finished reading it for homeschooling, is Joy Hakim's Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way.  I hope we're seeing the beginning of a passion for science here (or a passion about anything not having to do with Jedi Academy, please, please, please).  Next up is Newton at the Center--may it be as interesting to him as the first book!  We did try the Student's Quest and Teacher's Quest guides to go with Aristotle, but didn't enjoy them as is.  In my opinion, the manuals need some serious adapting for successful non-classroom use, and I had neither the time nor inclination to take on the task.  In a co-op setting, the quest guides could help a parent run an excellent study group based on the book, though.

My plan for Jazz for the remainder of the school year: finish his MCTLA level, read and discuss Newton at the Center, get as far across the Eastern Hemisphere as we can (we're almost to Russia), complete the PLATO Physical Science for Middle School program, finish his pre-algebra course, and follow any rabbit trails that appear.  Art will happen with his co-op (a stained glass class), and if we get back on track with composer study a la Charlotte Mason, I will be a happy homeschooler once more.


BrendaE said...

OH I love it :D Giving children over to the wonder and magic of science and philosophy early on is one of the best gifts we, as parents can ever give. I also worry about the Jedi syndrome.. DSS (7) has this. GAHHHHH!!!!

Bailey said...

I worked with a public school teacher a number of years ago that worked with English Language in this manner and I used to teach his kids social studies so he would teach mine English. It is such an amazing way for kids to learn and I learned so much from his curriculum. Sadly, as with many intelligent projects the school shut down the exchange as it was not an approved unit.

Your sharings and my experiences is what makes me so glad to support homeschoolers with their efforts when ever I can. The possiblities are endless when others are not their to stop you.

Alex said...

I sent you a question about MCT through the board. It looks very interesting to me and might be a good fit for my oldest for next school year.
I have had that series of science books on my amazon wish list for a couple of years! I keep getting them out of the library. They are excellent in my opinion!
I really enjoyed reading your post.

jonnia said...

We are in love with the MCT materials here, (I'm not really exaggerating!)and I'm looking forward to introducing my science nut to The Story of Science.

Thanks for leaving a note on my blog so I could follow you here!Terrific blog!

Cindy LaJoy said...

Thanks for responding to my original post! I can see I'll need to visit your blog more often :-)

Queen Bee said...

Thank yo so much for posting this! I am in the planning phase for my rising middle schooler... and I appreciate this!