2015-07-16 10.23.53My son is in eleventh grade.


Did I really just say that?  Could that adorable little boy who used to run around the block to watch the garbage truck every Thursday really be a junior in high school? Oh, where has the time gone?

Well at least planning a junior year in high school was easier the second time around.  I've already been through it once with my daughter who is a junior in college this year.  (Don't get me started on those tears again!) I learned from a few more years experience, more research, and yes, from the mistakes I made the first time.

So what exactly are we doing this year in our homeschool for his junior year? Thanks for asking!

In Pennsylvania, the following credits are mandatory for graduation:

  • English -  4 credits
  • Math - 3 credits
  • Science - 3 credits
  • Social Studies -3 credits
  • Arts & Humanities- 2 credits

For English, this year, I decided to focus completely on Literature and a Research Paper.  My son is on the local school district's football team and, as I learned last year, there's a lot of time in his schedule devoted to football so I determined to wait on the research paper until the Spring semester.  He'll be taking an online course - probably here. For the literature aspect, I decided to give him some more of his own leadership this year - which is not easy for me - but I'm thinking it may be beneficial.  Basically, he needs to read about  15-20 books (depending on length; some longer works may count as two books).  I have only made three specific titles mandatory this year:  All Quiet on the Western Front, All Creatures Great and Small and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. Yep- that's it. He has to decide the rest for himself - with some guidance of course!  All the books that he chooses must be sound quality literature and NOT considered TWADDLE (he may pick ONE book that I would consider twaddle just for fun if he chooses but one is the limit!).  A minimum of 2 books that he chooses MUST be considered 'classics' by at least one reliable source as deemed by myself. He will be giving both oral and written narrations of all the books he reads (including a few that we will use as read alouds).

For Consumer Math & Finance, we are using a combination of the Abeka Consumer Math curriculum and Dave Ramsey's homeschool curriculum titled Foundations in Personal Finance as well as taking part in the monthly budget meetings held by my husband and myself.

Science this year will be an Anatomy & Physiology class taken with the local homeschool group. I wasn't thrilled about taking part of this since it would take up our Tuesday afternoons and affects my ability to get my youngest son to swimming lessons but as my older son thinks a science major may be in his future, I felt it important enough to find a class with a teacher that knows more about this subject than me!

One credit will also be given for Home Economics.  I have devised the course myself and have a set number of mandatory hours (120+ total) in a variety of subcategories including cooking, home maintenance, automotive, nutrition, sewing and laundry.  Most of the requirements is hands on participation but some will involve reading articles and other reference materials.  I love the fact that we have recently found a new handyman that would be a great resource to use to teach my son a few things that my husband and are not capable of teaching. I just hope that eventually my son will be here when the handyman is! So far the football season has interfered with that quite a bit!

He will also have two half credit courses this year.  One such course is Economics.  He will be using the well known source Whatever Happened to Penny Candy as well as the Bluestocking Guide Economics and The Money Mystery to complete the course.  All of these books are pictured above with Amazon links!

The other half credit course that I created for my son is Introduction to Christianity.  He will be using the book Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick as well as The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware (Bishop Wares book has actually been used in college Introduction to Christianity classes).  We will be using a Charlotte Mason approach with this class in that he will be giving both oral and written narrations for these book selections in addition to related articles that we find through the year.

Finally, my son will be taking a Study Skills course which I have assigned a full credit as he is using several sources to complete the course and give him a firm foundation in skills essential to success in his college career.  For this course, I have selected College Study: The essential ingredients by Sally A. Lipsky, a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania as well as the other text used by the same university, How to Study in College by Pauk and Owens.  He will also be watching a very old video course that my husband thrived on, Where There's a Will, There's an A.

So there it is!  The plan for the eleventh grade year.  I think it will work well.  But only time will tell!  I’ll keep you posted in other posts this year as well as my monthly updates!





Did I just say tenth grade?? My little boy?   Sigh...yes...he's taller than me now and he's going to be in tenth grade next year.....

It's that time of year where I need to start thinking about curriculum for next school year.  I like to take my time and really consider our options.  We're pretty much settled for Science ( Apologia Chemistry - because the local homeschool co-op and Camp Susque put together labs every year and next year is the year for Chemistry!), Math (Geometry through our favorite math curriculum, Teaching Textbooks!), and Russian II (an online class - he is taking Russian One this year through Curr Click.  My son really enjoys this class and Russian is something I certainly couldn't teach him on my own!

History (Social Studies)isn't so easy to choose.  It's a subject that needs covered (Pennsylvania law requires 3 credits of social studies) but isn't so well-loved by my son.

I'm pretty content with this years pick.  We are using curriculum by the Notgrass Company-   Exploring America.  We are only using the history portion.  It's actually a 3 subject curriculum very nicely put together consisting of history, literature and bible study.  I like to choose our own reading materials (literature) with input from my son and consider his personal tastes. We also do our own religious studies.  However,  I like the presentation and content of the history lessons even though it is a textbook.

I'm trying to explore our options for subject matter.  Not all 3 credits need to be in history as social studies covers a broad spectrum including history of all kinds, geography, cultures, government & politics (civics) and economics.  In Pennsylvania, the following social studies courses must be taught at the secondary level:  American History and Pennsylvania History, geography, civics and world history.  My son already covered American History (With Pennsylvania History included as well as several activities we have done covering Pennsylvania History), geography, and world history. So really, he has covered the majority of what's required by law.  He can repeat a topic that he covered in middle school at a higher level, pick a particular time period or culture/country to study and/or move on to civics and economics.

These are the curriculum sources I have come up with so far that I have considered.

Notgrass Company - They also (see link above) have a nice curriculum for World History, government, and economics.

Alpha Omega - Switched On Schoolhouse or Lifepacs -  Both options have elective courses on Civics, Civil War, Economics, geography, etc.   I've never been impressed enough with Alpha Omega to use it for the serious-minded student for certain courses.  For example, my son who is science minded and may go to college for a science major, would not use Alpha Omega for his high school courses as I want something that would be more challenging.  But for coursework that you want to spend less time on and still get a good well-rounded picture, this is a good curriculum.

Around The World In 180 Days  This looks like it may be a nice course that would be a mixture of geography, history and cultures.  It requires the student to do some research using various materials to find the answers to things about the continents (broken down into units) and resents a nice list of vocabulary, etc.  I've put a question into Apologia regarding how much time it may take per day if broken down into 180 days and whether they consider it a high school course by itself or whether I should supplement at all.

Whatever Happened To Penny Candy?  This was suggested by a friend of mine for part of an economics course.

There's also some interesting ideas listed here for economics.  I haven't had a chance to check them all out yet.  Don't forget- these courses do not have to be a full credit.  One can select several to do and make them 1/2 credit courses.

So that's where I am thus far.  No decisions made yet whatsoever.  Ideally, I'd love a course that he would find interesting but take no more than say 30 minutes a day to complete....  If you have any suggestions on topics for Social Studies (we've mentioned the history of Russia too since he's learning the language and that's his heritage...) or, especially particular curriculum that you find engaging and not a boring textbook, PLEASE let me know!!  🙂

I thought I'd write a bit today about writing.

I've always loved to write.  I can remember and writing being my first loves from as far back as... well, as far back as I can remember.  Reading was an escape for me and I suppose writing was and is as well.  But I know the 'dream' started in 5th grade.  Mrs. Allred, my ultimate favorite teacher of all time and I suppose this is one of the reasons why, read aloud my story that I had shared with her to the class.  It was a story that was highly influenced by my love of Little House on the Prarie and featured a young girl riding through the prarie to save her younger brother who was suffering from the same illness as her recently deceased mother.  I believe the name of the story was Mary, The Serious Child and may just be laying around here somewhere tucked away with a few other childhood memories as well as my 'humerous' rendition of the three little pigs.

Mrs. Allred praised my work and encouraged me to continue my interests in reading and writing...though she prefered me not to do so during Social Studies! What can I say?  Learning about Brigham Young and Salt Lake City did not do much for me.  I moved away from the praises of Mrs. Allred in Heber City, Utah halfway through my 5th grade year and kept my writing to myself for the most part for the remainder of my school days (though one English teacher did enjoy chuckling at the absurd stories I could make up with spelling words), only keeping the dream alive in the corners of my mind.

Only after early retirement from teaching Learning Support type classrooms in the public schools for ten years did I finally consider making the dream real.  I took two correspondance courses through the Institute of Children's Literature, read lots of books on the subject and joined SCBWI.

Over the course of several years, I completed two manuscripts for early chapter books and worked on several still incomplete picture book manuscripts.  I was just beginning to dive into really figuring out how to send those manuscripts off into publishing land and began a young adult manuscript that I had been pondering over for quite sometime when I found out God was blessing (HUGE surprise) us with our third child.  At that precise time I wasn't exactly thrilled nor sure it was a blessing and my writing got railroaded with nausea, fatigue, and then diapers and more fatigue and, well, life.

But,  now with my blessing of 3 1/2 years, I am grateful for God's amazing ways. He is, indeed, a blessing despite God deciding to do things His way instead of my way.  I'm so glad He does that!  However, I still long to write!!!  So here I am, trying again.  A bit with this blog and maybe one day soon, I'll dust off those manuscripts and do a bit (okay, a LOT) of revision and get busy on some new ones again.  I actually have one thought in mind... but I'm not sharing.  I only have a thought and barely four or five sentences written!

So wish me luck... I'm doing well with keeping up with the blog so far but it's not a habit yet and is just a beginning.  I'm hoping to join SCBWI again soon ( thanks to my darling dh who promised to make it a birthday present!  Maybe an early one?) and take a look at those books again...  maybe today, after mixing up a batch of candied pecans and playing with that little blessing I mentioned,  I'll check out a few blogs by children's authors! Do you know of any good ones out there?