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Walk5
01-08-2014, 09:02 PM
So, we are doing it! My 14y DS (8th grade) is not going back now that winter break is over. I'm nervous but here we go...
I need to cover the core subjects and I'm thinking we are going to do Thinkwell for math. So, here's my questions....

What do you do for Science... I know he wants to do experiments but what else do you do?

What about History? Aside from reading about it what should he be doing?

And last, English, how can I cover that subject with him when it was one of my worst ones?

farrarwilliams
01-08-2014, 09:29 PM
For English, what are your goals? What help does he need?

For science, you can always wing it... But if not... Look at Mr. Q (I heard the middle school levels are decent - they're newer), Inquiry in Action, Real Science Odyssey's Level 2 biology, Elemental Science...

ScienceGeek
01-09-2014, 01:34 AM
For Science I would ask him what he would like to study - go to the library and let him just pick some science books. My son went nuts on plant books and got really into carnivorous plants, so much so we joined a carnivorous plant society and then ended up helping out at the at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show! He was also invited to bring his collection of plants to a local nursery and spent the whole weekend telling people about his plants.. he was 10! Now he's more into rocks so I'm thinking about having him research the rocks and minerals he's already got for science next year (9th grade) and we'l learn earth science around that.
Read National Geographic or other science magazines/news and if something catches his interest run with it.

dbmamaz
01-09-2014, 09:49 AM
At high school level, for me, its a slightly different approach than lower years - you have to look more towards the goal. Is he likely to want to go to a 4 year or community college? Or does he have a strong idea of what he wants to be when he grows up? These things have a bigger impact on curriculum choices at this point.

I started homeschooling my oldest in 8th grade. Here's what I can remember of what we did in 8th grade:

Math - was a total failure. We tried 4 or 5, maybe 6 things and basically started over the next year

Science: Started by reading some random science books (Dr Arts Guide to Science, The Mad Science book), and then I bought a very old used Bio textbook and he started reading that, and I'd find videos to go with every chapter, and sometimes other activities - like cell coloring pages (free found on the web), a genetics worksheet set (also found free on the web) and a DNA building kit, which he actually didnt like much.

History - well, here 8th grade is government, so we did the government unit from Intellego, and I forget what else .. .

English, I started by having him read a book I remember loving in middle school, and having him write up a summary of it. I gave him some ideas, I forget what, now. LIke summarize the story, what did you like and not like, how did you related to the character, what lessons did the character learn. His writing was awful. What stood out to me was that his paragraphs were all over the place, not put together like paragraphs should be. I ended up buying MCT's paragraph town, which is aimed at gifted elementary school kids, but was actually find for us. We worked through that. I dont remember much else.

Later, we've read through other science books - he doesnt like experiments, so I cant help there. We worked through a full year of MCT voyage (which took us a year and a half), we did Bravewriter Help for High School, we did the full year Literary LEssons from Lord of the Rings . . . I basically look at what I think he needs next, each year

MrsLOLcat
01-09-2014, 10:44 AM
Obviously I don't have high schoolers, but I'd probably start by checking the state requirements and finding out if he has to take any certain classes for graduation. Many high schools make you take certain things - I know for Oklahoma, we have to have a semester of Oklahoma history as one of the history requirements and a year of biology, regardless of what other sciences you choose. I know yours is only in 8th grade, but if there are any classes coming up that he HAS to take for which he doesn't have a good foundation, it might be a good place to start in both science and history. Just a thought.

For science this year, I'd probably just do a few unit studies and watch videos, find experiments online to do, and read. I probably wouldn't buy a whole curriculum for one semester. After that, if mine are at home, I would be looking into CK-12, Khan Academy, or see if there are any MOOCs that he's interested in.

History... I don't know that there is anything other than reading and unit studies. If there are any good reenactments or historical monuments nearby, I guess I'd go visit those?

English... maybe look into some Brave Writer classes? That one is largely going to depend on his/your goals. If he's going for an arts-based career, then he'll probably need more English than if he's pursuing a STEM-based one, KWIM? Like I said, I'm not there, so I'm just thinking aloud. I'd probably check to see what is required to graduate for that, too.

Congrats(?) on having him home!

dbmamaz
01-09-2014, 11:06 AM
Sarah, I'm really curious why you suggest checking on state requirement - homeschoolers are not required to meet state requirements and dont get state diplomas. Its generally a lot more important to figure out what the colleges require than what the state high schools require. Unless your state requires that of homeschoolers?

jsaffold
01-09-2014, 11:44 AM
Sarah, I'm really curious why you suggest checking on state requirement - homeschoolers are not required to meet state requirements and dont get state diplomas. Its generally a lot more important to figure out what the colleges require than what the state high schools require. Unless your state requires that of homeschoolers?


Knowing she's from Michigan..I too am from Michigan...nothing is "required".. you can go on the state website:

Homeschooling in Michigan (http://www.homeschoolingmichigan.com/Michigan_MDE_info_excerpts.html)

They do list"requirements" but only as subjects.(which I found laughable... they didn't cover half of that in the PS schools!) All you have to do is tell your childs school that she/he is no longer attending public school. you can tell them they are homeschooling, they just put in the their file.

Then they leave you to it. No reviews, no protfolios. We really have it good here. you can opt to standardized test if you wish... I believe you have to pay for it, but if you want it you can.
Also all homeschool kids are allowed by law to participaite in a/all elective {art choir etc} classes and "club": that are offered at what would be "your childs" PS school. my dd does ski club and optimist club at what would be her middle school.
my 2 cents

P.S. K12 is free in Michigan FYI, but that's really more school at home than homeschooling.

seeker12
01-09-2014, 11:56 AM
I am also pulling my 8th grade daughter to finish the year at home and am totally overwhelmed with the requirements/options. At this point, she may return to school next year (we will see how it goes) so I want to make sure she's on par, if not ahead of the other kids. I am disorganized and have enough trouble keeping myself on track with my work, etc. so I really want to find a curriculum that has as much oversight (tracking, organization, etc.) included as possible. The only one I have looked at so far is Time4learning, but I think I will need to use the high school classes rather than the 8th grade stuff. Does anyone have experience with this program or know of another that is similar/better? So many options...I'm not sure whether it's better to pull different things together or stick with one overall thing. HELP!!

MrsLOLcat
01-09-2014, 12:38 PM
No, Oklahoma doesn't require you to follow the state requirements but most colleges - especially local or in-state - require about the same stuff, and I figured it would be easier to check one site than many. *shrug*

crunchynerd
01-09-2014, 12:50 PM
Well, even though I'm a ways away from that age (but not that far...my eldest is 9, and I know time is shortening!), for math, there's nothing at all wrong with Khan Academy, and it's free. In fact, it's fun. I use Mozilla Firefox for a browser, and the DoNotTrackMe addon from Abine, even though it may not be a perfect solution, it's a lazy person's stab at protecting privacy, and it's free, so I do it.

Khan Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/) is self-paced, has level-up mastery challenges, patches, energy points, and a social aspect. It also now (this is new) offers grade-level curricula, but that ends at 8th or algebra, BUT the "world of math" option on the dashboard, offers everything through calculus (basically all of high school math), so if he finishes everything Khan Academy offers, he's ready for college math.

So that's a free, self-paced math option, with plenty of tutorial videos, people he can ask questions of, and great graphical displays of how much time he spends on each subject (what his focus is), what his progress over time is, where he's struggling, etc. You or any other adult you and he choose, can sign on as his coach, too, and then be able to see his metrics (what topics he spends the most time on, where he is struggling, what he has mastered, what he's in need of practice on, etc) and make recommendations to him, like assignments to complete. I have a Khan Academy account myself, and sometimes stay up late enjoying doing the math, firming up the shaky poor foundations I had in high school, and doing and understanding my kids' current work better.

Khan Academy is what I'd do for each of your kids, right off, because it is free, is self-paced, does motivate my kids at least, and you'll know exactly what they are doing in math, even organized to grade level based on US standards, and they have science content and other content on there as well. It will keep them occupied (and perhaps even interested!) and you calm, and you'll know they are progressing and it's costing you nothing. Peace of mind really matters while the dust settles.

Another free site we like a lot is Math Is Fun (http://www.mathsisfun.com/index.htm) and their multiplication drills are the best because they broke the times tables down into manageable chunks, showed where DD was weak, and adapted to those areas so she could focus on them. She mastered her times tables to 12 in about 2 weeks of on-and-off effort. Not bad!

Yet another fun one is Math Playground (http://www.mathplayground.com/) which has some truly fun Algebraic reasoning games that truly use reasoning, not just rote, plus some fun social online speed-based interactive games where you can actually compete against other kids, which my daughter enjoys.

Language arts, I don't have a lot of experience with except to say that Time4Writing wasn't our bag. My DD did well at it but found it really annoying, and so did I. It was nothing I couldn't have done just fine without spending a cent, but it did point that out to me, and perhaps I needed it pointed out.

If we had the money right here right now, I'd go for BraveWriter (http://www.bravewriter.com/). I have heard so many good things about them here and elsewhere, and perusing it, makes me wish I had a nice homeschool fund instead of a gonna-need-car-repairs fund. If writing is your weakest point and you want to help your kids become great at it, even though I haven't used it, it looks really good. Plenty of others here have, so ask them.

Last but not least, we have some Discovery Museums in our area that have regular homeschool classes and the memberships are a good deal, at around $100/year for the family. THat's chump change compared to how much it costs to go there for just the day, if you have yourself plus two, it's like a third of the yearly membership cost already. If you have such in your area, take advantage of it! Our State Museum also offers free admission to homeschoolers, and many other attractions and things that cost admission, offer educational discounts that it's worth asking about. Staples gives us the same discount they do teachers.

Best wishes! :)

crunchynerd
01-09-2014, 01:26 PM
I am also pulling my 8th grade daughter to finish the year at home and am totally overwhelmed with the requirements/options. At this point, she may return to school next year (we will see how it goes) so I want to make sure she's on par, if not ahead of the other kids. I am disorganized and have enough trouble keeping myself on track with my work, etc. so I really want to find a curriculum that has as much oversight (tracking, organization, etc.) included as possible. The only one I have looked at so far is Time4learning, but I think I will need to use the high school classes rather than the 8th grade stuff. Does anyone have experience with this program or know of another that is similar/better? So many options...I'm not sure whether it's better to pull different things together or stick with one overall thing. HELP!!

My kids were excited about Time4Learning (and we tried both levels, the Upper and Lower because I have kids of both age divisions) and ended up hating it, finding that the cartoons were a thin veneer over something repetitive, boring, shallow, and annoying. It was like one long endless animated standardized test. We also tried Time4Writing, which my DD did quite well at, but still found unpleasant and basically, at the end of that, was really glad we didn't pay $100 for the pleasure, and so was I. If I had the money right now to plunk down, I would be all over BraveWriter, (http://www.bravewriter.com/) but plenty of other people here can share their experiences of it, and are the reason I first even found out about it. It's something I'll probably save toward soon.

Another one I would pay good money for is Pandia Press (http://www.pandiapress.com/). Their curly comic-sans-esque font was offputting, as were the amateur little cartoons where there were illustrations at all, but the content was jaw-droppingly thorough, concise, and experience-oriented rather than "follow a set of directions mindlessly and learn nothing from your experience". Pandia is pricey and looks dinky, but wow, I would spend it there, if I had it to spend! They have a very generous try-before-you-buy PDF download, so you can get a real feel for what it is, without spending anything, and I think anyone could look past the first impression that silly font and lack of rich photographs gives.

On that note, some splashy colorful Houghton-Mifflin texts I thought were great, my daughter didn't like so well, because she found the books needlessly large and heavy due to being so fluffed up with photographs and splashy graphics, and also found it distracting and confusing to navigate compared to the monochrome, picture-free Logic Of English Essentials text and workbook. Even though you'd think a text that is only content, no eye-candy, would be boring, she found it much easier for self-study, not to navigate through so much graphic noise.

So colorful and fluffy isn't all it's cracked up to be.

If they are still offering, if you have a blog that has been around for 3 months or longer (if I recall), you can try Time4Learning free for a whole month, in exchange for a blog review. That's what we did. A week wouldn't have been long enough to see that they didn't like it. But then, there is also no contract, so if you pay for a month or two, and they don't like it after all, you're not committed, so it's low-risk in any case.

Best wishes!

lakersey
01-14-2014, 10:08 PM
We also tried T4L in 5th and 7th grade. My kids liked it for about two weeks and then they were sick of the cartoons. I also didn't feel comfortable when I realized that their entire education was in cartoons. I was trying to add in stuff from PBS, NASA, Smithsonian, etc. to add something more "serious", but that was more work than it was worth. So I went back to putting things together myself.

That being said, considering that it is only $20/month and requires no commitment, it's a great immediate solution while you check out other things. It covers all the basics while you look at other options and decide what you think would work best in your homeschool. Take a look at the Resources page here - it lists a lot of different curricula.