“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children." G K Chesterton

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Homeschool Planning 2012-2013: What I Bought, Part 2


Personal finance is a new Tennessee state requirement, this is in addition to Economics. I don't have any quibbles with the requirement and bought Dave Ramsey's Foundations in Personal Finance for Emily and Andrew to do this summer.  Emily, who is naturally conservative with money, is happy about taking this course.


Alex has worked on Classical Academic Press's Bible program for 2 years now. He will finish up OT 2 this year and I was happy to see New Testament One is out. Alex will be doing this as a 6th grader which is probably not the target grade but I think it gives him a way of organizing Bible knowledge without being stressful.  In linking to this I see that CAP now has an elementary Greek program. Have any of you tried that yet?  I really like CAP even though their motto kinda bugs me: Classical subjects creatively taught. Any guesses about my quibble?

Misc. Books:

I bought 2 books for Emily so far.

"They Say / I Say": The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing with Readings (Second Edition)  to introduce academic writing. I bought this in response to a Well-Trained Mind Forum post and am not sure I am happy with it.

When No One Sees: The Importance of Character in an Age of Image which was recommended on my small classical education Yahoo group. I am looking forward to reading this with Emily.


Emily and Andrew have already finished The Lost Tools of Writing and Alex is not quite ready for it. You can read some of the benefits of LTOW here. Even so, I have been looking for a way to teach more formal writing along the way without getting bogged down because I feel like one thing I did well with the older kids was to keep them comfortable with writing. So I went out on a limb to try and new program this year: Winning with Writing (Level 5 for Alex and 8 for Andrew).  I was willing to try this because I used Growing with Grammar for Alex and Andrew this year and it seems to be a success. These grammar books are a nice reinforcement to our MT grammar discussions which I still feel are the heart of our grammar instruction. In addition I threw the Diagramming book into the cart. These will not replace daily written narrations and I may use them over a two year period which is what I often do with programs that interfere the flow of life by being rigid, but they look like just the right amount of instruction without being too busy. I tend to go for things with clean lines and more words than pictures. 

The truth is that the Well-Trained Mind boards influenced much of my purchasing in the area of language arts, an area I have traditional covered almost entirely organically. I am not sure how I feel about this. I find the the signatures of moms on the board to be sadly ridiculous with lists and lists of curricula for 8 year olds. Really? Yeah, it bugs me and no, it does not make me feel that I made a mistake with my older boys. I just feel sorry for the homeschool movement which is now defined by such lists and am even uncomfortable contributing to the norm with these posts.


  1. My 7yo will do School Song Greek this year, mostly because he was pleading to do Greek (to compete w/ older brother's Latin). We're using LFC A this year, and I like it. We've only gotten a little farther than halfway, and I think we're going to use this last term just to play with what we've got so far (vocab, declining/conjugating, sentence patterns, writing sentences). Better to have a strong foundation than just keep chugging through lessons.

    When do you start yours writing written narrations and how long are they at first? It's been tough going getting 2-3 sentences once or twice a week out of my 8yo. So this year I'm starting my 7yo on drawing a picture and copying a sentence or two from a book; I'm hoping that helps him make the transition better. I'm rolling around the idea of using notebooking pages (lines + boxes for a drawing) to help them both write & draw about what they've read.

  2. A college instructorTue Apr 17, 08:19:00 PM 2012

    Curious as to what you don't like about Graff. I've been using it really successfully with my college students.

  3. I am curious to see how all this turns out for you. I always enjoy these posts with you (and the later reviews) because you are far enough ahead of me that I can think on all of it long before I need buy it. :)

    What can I say? I like to learn from your mistakes.


    And I repeat my desire for CiRCE to have a forum, though I don't know why I keep doing that HERE on your blog. :)

  4. I love that you did your language arts organically, but I can understand why others have lists of curricula for 8-year-olds. I tried the organic approach in both language arts (narration as I heard about it from WTM) and maths (as per Bluedorns), but I just didn't feel comfortable as I didn't really know how to break it down into teachable chunks in a fashion that was building logically. Fortunately, I found some good resources in Maths (Horizons). The curriculum held my hand. I still use it, but having taken 2 students through it, now I 'get' why they did things the way they did them and I teach along the way, often with my own examples.

    I completely stuffed up my eldest's narrations by expecting WAY too much (poor first-born!). She still hates it. By child 3, I was regularly using First Language Lessons. I've done all four books now, and I can now teach the why behind all the stuff I just knew instinctively. I can teach it along the way now.

    Ridiculously, too, using FLL helped take the 'stress' out of choosing poetry. Pretty pathetic, but prior to FLL, I just piddled around wondering, "is THIS poem good? Hmm, maybe it's not good enough..." So, instead of doing something, I did not much at all. Fortunately we read many good books, most of which were recommendations from trusted sources because I just don't remember doing read alouds with my parents.

    Once again, I think it's good that there are these lists, but I do hope that they never become a lock-step thing (like the horribly Labor-government inspired Australian National Curriculum!).

    One of the most encouraging things I heard from a veteran homeschool retailer, was that it takes time to learn to be a teacher (he said 6 years). These curricula lists helped me learn to be a teacher.

    BTW, love the look of the Os Guinness book!

    In Him


  5. Meredith,
    When I was a young homeschooling mom I would always ask the older moms what they were using and they always demurred and this was frustrating to me, so I understand what you are saying.

    I used Horizon's math for years and loved it and I believe FLL is meant to be organic and organized but many of the moms list several programs that do the same thing and I fear we are becoming defined by these lists.

    I expect around 5 sentences a day from a 9-10 year old. This is much less than you would expect but the key to narration, imho, is to get it done daily and not make it stressful. Alex is 11 now and he writes much more now on his own but even last year he was doing 5 sentences. Andrew, 14, has to write a page in cursive.

    1. It's not much less than *I* would expect. :) 5 sentences every day equals more sentences per week than many of my 10-12yo writing class students did, at least at the beginning of the year. This last term I have my 8yo assigned to write 3 sentences every day; we'll get him there. 9-10yo is still the future for us. :) Do you correct their writing and have them revise it?

  6. College Instructor,
    I think I am bothered that I paid so much money for this tiny book and it is too modern in the way it approaches writing. I am still on the fence about the idea of academic writing. It is a skill the modern student is expected to know but I find the mindset of that sort of writing overly canned. So this book is probably a great preparation for the kind of writing required by colleges but I am not sure I want to waste my daughter's last year at home with it.

  7. A college instructorWed Apr 18, 01:13:00 PM 2012

    I think that's fair.

    I think what those college instructors who like this like about it is that it gives students who have never thought about writing rhetorically, or been taught to think about it in that way, a sort of template to follow. Since the public schools decided to abdicate their responsibility to teach writing as a way of thinking, college instructors have been puzzling over the problem of how we get students to the point where they can function analytically as writers at the point they need to be to do introductory work in any subject discipline. I'm a historian; I can't spend all my time teaching students how to write, as I also have a certain amount of information I would like them to be able to assimilate and analyze.

    Your children have been taught rhetorically from the beginning, it looks like (I'm a long time lurker). So I can see exactly why you would have this particular objection -- the book attempts to reduce rhetoric to formula when it's ideally seen as an art.