School year begun!

     Well, we did it!  We actually began school early this year.  In years gone by, I have planned to get started sometime in August so that we might finish earlier in May, and almost always something would happen—we’d be a little short on cash and not be able to get some of the materials in, or we’d have to make a trip out of town just before the planned starting time, or some such thing.  So I finally gave up trying to start early and focused on getting started the day after Labor Day, like all schools used to do.

     This year, on the last Sunday in August, Jeremy, who is a sophomore in high school this year, said that HE thought we ought early so that we could get done earlier!  This from a boy who really enjoys his vacation time.   We already had everything we needed to get started.  Of course, with our older son Mark having already graduated, we have what he used, although we needed to make a few changes, but I had already purchased these earlier in the summer.  So we started this past Monday, and things are going well.  Here’s what we’re doing, in case anyone is interested.

     For Bible, we’re just reading through the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes to help us gain wisdom.  Also, we start with a hymn each day using my “Young Person’s Guide to the Hymnbook.”

     For literature, here’s a list of the books that we’re reading: Dragonslaying Is for Dreamers by Dave Marks; DragonSpell by Donita Paul; Theras and His Town by Caroline Dale Snedeker; The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Spear; The Black Arrow by Robert Lewis Stevenson; Indian Captive by Lois Lenski; The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Spear; Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes; Silas Marner by George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans); Banner in the Sky by James Ramsey Ullman; and the “Space Trilogy” (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength) by C. S. Lewis.  I also thought about including A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, but haven’t decided on that yet.  Some of these may be below his “reading level,” but they are good stories.  We prefer to read whole books to the snippets usually included in literature courses in schools.  If he wishes to read more of Marks’ “Dragonslaying” trilogy or Paul’s “Raising Dragons” series on his own, he is free to do so.

     For language arts, we are using Easy Grammar Plus by Wanda C. Phillips from Easy Grammar Systems for grammar and continuing with the original McGuffey’s Fourth Reader from Mott Media for vocabulary and spelling.

     For what I call “life education,” which is a combination of health, “sex ed,” life skills, and even philosophy, we are using several books, including Love, Sex, and God by Bill Ameiss and Jane Graver from Concordia Publishing House’s “New Learning About Sex, a Series for the Christian Family;” Growing Up in the Lord: A Study for Teenage Boys by homeschooling father and gospel preacher Jeff Hamilton from Brentwood Christian Press; Boyhood and Beyond: Practical Wisdom for Becoming a Man by the late Bob Schultz from Great Expectations Book Co.; Showin’ Ya the Ropes: A Young Adult’s Resource Guide to Navigate Life by John Eyres of St. Louis, MO, from Kenzie Publishing; Make It Your Ambition: Encouraging Young People to Live for God’s Glory by John Notgrass from the Notgrass Co.; and then going into How Should We Then Live? by the late Francis A. Schaeffer.

     For world history, we are using Streams of Civilization from Christian Liberty Press.  We already had Volume I, which we used for Mark, but when he finished it he wanted to do further study in the Middle Ages, so we found several books for him to read about that and never did purchase Volume II.  I got that for Jeremy, along with the other things that we needed, from Mott Media’s Homeschooling Book Club store.

     For biology, we are using Exploring Creation with Biology by Jay Wile from Apologia.  Mark used this, but he took a co-op type class offered through the support group with which we were associated when we lived in St. Louis, MO, so I didn’t really teach this to him, or oversee his study.  We don’t have this benefit where we live now in rural southern Illinois, so I’m having to go over this with Jeremy.

     For geometry, we are using Saxon Geometry.  We liked Saxon Algebra ½ and Saxon Algebra I, but when Mark was a sophomore Saxon didn’t have a geometry program, so we tried Alpha Omega, which I did not like because it was not laid out well and was not “parent-teacher” friendly.  I guess that it was designed for Christian schools and requires a “math expert” teacher to do properly.  Math is my weakest subject, and geometry is my least favorite kind of math.  So for Jeremy we decided to try Saxon Geometry because we generally like the Saxon approach.  However, John Saxon didn’t do the Geometry and so far I haven’t liked it as quite well as the Algebra ½ and Algebra I.  We’ll continue with it and hopefully it will work, but I may wish that I had chosen Jacobs or Accelerated Christian Education Geometry.

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