September is my favorite month. Yes, it's my birth-month, but I like it for more than that. I like how the weather starts to change (in every place I've ever lived). Here in Texas, the humidity starts to lessen and some days there's practically none. We have had some wonderful September weather so far -- low 80's, low humidity, sunshine. The best. It's good for my soul.
Every year we have homeschooled until this one, we have always started our school year in September. But this year, we started a month early. So by the time September arrived, I felt like we'd been super productive already! That makes this September especially sweet.
School is going very well so far this school year. We are working within a more rigid schedule than ever before -- mostly because we were so loosely scheduled the prior year that it felt like we needed much more structure to regain our footing on the path. It has definitely been an adjustment, but it seems like all of us are responding positively to the change.
S is now 2/3 done with her GED class at the college and she will be ready to take some practice tests soon -- before the big push to get her diploma. I drive her about 20 minutes away every evening (Monday - Thursday) and every night, C picks her up and she drives home. It won't be long before she'll feel confident enough to take her final driving test. Exciting times for her and for all of us to see her finally believing in herself and trusting God to help her through these new challenges.
H is mostly schooling independently this year (with daily check-in's). He is doing a good job staying on top of his assignment list and has been really impressing me with his writing this year. He never has enjoyed writing in the past, but maybe the tide is turning there. He writes poetry four times a week (and illustrates one of the poems on the fifth week day). Some of his poems show incredible depth of thought and emotion that he doesn't often share verbally. It's beautiful to see him be able to express himself this way. He has also been working on note taking and writing more comprehensive pieces. He continues to read A LOT and he is making great strides in math as well. As usual, he really enjoys history and is getting much of that through Khan Academy online. He is using Khan for some of his Biology study as well. Good stuff.
Z is about half independent study. He still requires a lot of guidance and instruction, but he is finally capable of handling big reading assignments on his own, which helps greatly. It is working out better for him to have a unique lesson plan from everyone else because he does not feel the need to compete. He and J are working off the same writing prompt list this year, but he's a couple days ahead of her, so that eliminates competition there and it makes a big difference. He does science with J and O (and me) and this has created some challenges -- I just don't see how to separate him in this subject area at the moment, so we are pressing forward. Z does better with a lot of repetition because he really struggles with anything new or different -- so we try to keep his lessons pretty bland (in my opinion), like, "read this and write a summary," for almost every subject. Somehow he still seems to learn a lot and he doesn't mind that it's not new and exciting or super hands-on. He just wants to have predictable work and get it done.
J and O are learning together and are still with me for most of it. J gets to do some independent work (but still prefers to do it nearby me), while I help O who needs a lot of hand-holding still. Since they are only one grade apart, their education is very similar -- it is only the results I expect from them that really define the difference. J is a strong reader and she loves to learn new things all the time. She takes a lot of initiative and I can see she will quickly transition into independent study over the next year or so simply because I can barely keep up with her desire to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I can expect her to write more in detail, to spell more things correctly, to answer more challenging questions and she rises to the challenge and often surpasses the goals I set for her.
O is still struggling with basic reading lessons and staying on task. He's very easily distracted and forgets what he's doing quite regularly if I am not there to prod him on and help hold his focus. He'd rather just give up on all this learning nonsense and let others do the work for him. But we see his strengths are in math right now and I think he likes that he usually catches on to the lesson a second or two before J and so he's anxious to go help her learn, even if he's not anxious to complete his own assignment. Even though he struggles with reading, we don't really let that be an excuse to let him slack off. Things may take him a little longer or maybe I need to reread a passage he has arduously sounded out so that he can better comprehend what he has read, but we get there eventually. He has a very good brain. He's very bright. The reading thing will work itself out eventually -- but in the meantime, we keep marching forward and he is soaking up a lot of information in various subject areas.
J and O are learning about the United States this year. There is a primary focus on the geography and history of our nation, but we are infusing most subjects into this area of knowledge. Our weekly art projects are inspired by the states, as are our reading assignments. There is a bit of routine that goes along with each state we introduce (they make a flashcard with information we learn and we label maps with major bodies of water and the capital as we read about each state), but then we keep things exciting by playing different games -- Bingo, Trivia, etc. -- to reinforce the lessons.
With all the subjects we are teaching, our main focus is on learning how to learn. So no matter what the subject, our goal is always to help them feel excited about learning and to help them find new ways to obtain new information. To do this, we have some routines like daily Bible studies and math work, but we also take field trips and spend time making arts and crafts.
Just as S did in high school, H is becoming quite the community volunteer. She worked with animals and children and the elderly; he works for the church, for the local library and is participating with our local homeschool group's student council (they do monthly service projects). I love that our children are growing their servant hearts and that their homeschooling schedule allows for an investment of time in these areas. It's wonderful. I think the benefits will be long-lasting.
Anyway, the rest of the month has many good things to come. I will have to post again later in the month... but so far, this September has been very good.