Thoughts on the Future

Today is another Amtrak day for me, and I was planning on writing the newest blog post today. It’s so much easier to write when not having to constantly stop to break up fights between warring children. My plan was to tell you about Amberly and Lea’s November school projects. I started outlining the post in my head and couldn’t proceed. It felt hollow and completely unimportant in the wake of the election and it’s fallout this week.

I’m having a difficult time knowing what to write, mostly because I’m still processing. I went from incredulous to dismayed, scared, angry, and resigned throughout the course of the week. The most difficult part of this, for me, was trying to process while still being reassuring to the kids. I tried to console Amberly, two states away. She was distraught and fearful for her future. Joey was just confused that the “big orange monster” was actually going to be the president. I’ve done my best to assure them that things will be okay; the make-up of this country has not suddenly changed overnight. Inside, I’m feeling not so sure. I’m a worrier by nature, and the thought of a Trump presidency is terrifying. I worry about things on a national, global, and yes, personal level. I worry about food security, personal security, access to health care, and the freedoms we take for granted every day.

I feel incredibly sad right now. I’m sad watching the news, I’m sad reading my FB newsfeed, I’m sad talking to my kids, and I’m sad seeing how sad other people are in my faith community. It feels as though we have moved beyond rational thought and appropriate discourse in this country. There’s so much hysteria on both sides of the political aisle that there is no chance for compromise because we can’t even agree on the facts of an argument. This isn’t new, but this election has made it so, so much worse. We are an arrogant nation, and if we don’t change, our arrogance will be our downfall.

On a large scale, there’s not much a I can do. I am a tiny voice in an ocean of voices. I will do what I can, though, to make the lives I touch better. I am stepping back away from social media, news sites, political commentary, etc. It makes me angry and bitter, and those emotions are not conducive to healing. I will instead invest my time in nurturing relationships I have and building new ones. I will work ever harder to teach my children love and compassion. I will take up social justice projects where the opportunities arise. I will read literature and listen to music that touches my soul. I will learn alternative medicine techniques and work to heal my body and mind. Mostly, I will love and accept love, and try to focus on the blessings I have right now.

Homeschooling High School

I would like to preface this post by saying it’s unlikely that this is going to be edge-of-your-seat exciting. There just isn’t a real stimulating way to present this material. Previously, I talked about what homeschooling looks like for the two younger kids, but this week, I’m going to give an overview of what classes the older two are taking this year.

Both girls are in high school this year, although Lea was taking some high school courses last year as well. Chronologically, Amberly is a junior, and Lea is a freshman. Their coursework meets the requirements that most colleges and universities require of high school students, even though both Michigan and Illinois have very few homeschool requirements. I do keep transcripts, their work is graded, and I will issue their diplomas based upon their completion of these classes. Yes, this is legal, and it will count as a valid high school diploma. No, they will not be taking the GED test, because it’s not necessary, and can actually be detrimental. They will be taking the SATs, as the Midwest is currently transitioning to the new SAT vs the ACT, and I’ll talk more about their testing later.

Courses

Much like public school, the girls have core classes that they must take, as well as electives that they can choose. All of their curricula is chosen to help them learn in the way that works best for them, and support their interest and passions.

Math

Note: All math is taught to mastery, which means that they take as little or as much time as necessary to learn the material.

This year, Amberly is taking advanced algebra, and she’s drawing from multiple sources. She is primarily using All In One (AIO) high school for her class, which sets her pace and gives her the basic course outline to follow. When she finds a topic that causes her to struggle, she uses Khan Academy or YouTube videos to help clarify.

Math has always been Lea’s strongest subject. She completed pre-algebra and algebra in 8th grade, so she started geometry this Fall. I don’t anticipate it will take her much beyond the first semester to finish it, so she’ll move on to advanced algebra when she’s ready. She primarily uses Khan Academy, particularly the mastery challenges, because it allows her to move swiftly through material she already knows, and gives her more practice to master new materials.

Language Arts

This year, both girls are taking British Literature. I found an online course for literature using Dr. Who. I adapted it to fit their grade levels and added new materials to take them through the full calendar year. So far, it’s been a lot of fun! They read the assigned books, watch documentaries about the authors and literary analysis videos, write reader responses, and complete hands on projects. After completing the writing assignments, they watch the corresponding Dr. Who episodes.

Science

Amberly has chemistry this year. We’re pulling from several different resources and textbooks, and lab work is included. This summer, I plan to have her take a lab course through the community college to get her further lab experience.

Lea studies biology, and is using the AIO high school as her main course. She also has a lab component to her course. Thankfully, as the labs get more in depth, we are able to order supplies from Amazon.

History

This year, both girls are working on American history. We use documentaries, original documents, text books, and other writings to get a rounded view of history. They are currently reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States 1492 to the Present.

Foreign Language

Amberly is taking French 1 using Duolingo this year. Lea is taking Latin 1 using William Linney’s Getting Started with Latin and Linney’s Latin Class online.

Foundations and SAT Prep

Foundations is a course offered through AIO high school that teaches character development along with success strategies and study skills. The girls alternate Foundations with Khan Academy’s SAT math and reading prep each day. They will both take full-length practice SATs the end of November, and will continue studying until they take the actual tests.

Electives

Creative writing, cartooning, computer programming, sewing, and cooking are all examples of electives the girls have taken and are continuing with this year.

I know this hasn’t been a real breathtaking post, but I did promise to share how the older kids do school. Next time, I’ll write about what makes this month so differen. I’ll also write about an impressive project they have coming up. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.