[ Katy's First Day by Aliki © 1962 ]

I haven't blogged in quite awhile because the first semester of our year didn't go very smoothly. Somewhere early on, J decided that school was "boring" and simply stopped doing much of his work, despite my every effort to motivate him (I've tried both rewards and punishment, to no avail). My two boys in public school made a similar decision (finding our new school district too hard/overwhelming), so I've had a real problem on my hands and no clue what to do about it.

My highschooler has been begging me to homeschool him again, but I'm full of reservations about this because if he won't do his school work now, what will change at home? I'm not sure I can handle another rebellious student at home, day in and day out. Also, I'm simply not prepared to homeschool high school yet; the mere thought sends me into a panic!

Now, it's a new semester, and I'm full of optimism that things will improve - they simply have to. Perhaps I'm being delusional, but let's hope not. My goals for this semester are simple: a greater emphasis on writing, getting J to do ALL his schoolwork in a timely manner, and grading assignments the moment they are done. (I did great with this last goal all week and, my oh my, does it make it life easier!)

Langugage Arts


For literature, M has been reading books from this list that I compiled (though she is not going in chronological order), in conjunction with activities from my "reader response cards." Over winter break, she was on an Elizabeth Goudge kick - her favorite author, thus far.

This week, she read Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. She enjoyed it tremendously it and requested the remaining eleven books in the series. Unfortunately the second book, Swallowdale, appears to be out of print. We ordered a used copy, but in the meantime I started her on the third book, Peter Duck: A Treasure Hunt in the Caribees.

J did not get anything done in literature this week, though I'm hopeful there will be something to report next week.


We've reverted back to Voyages in English for grammar - simple (for me) and effective, tried and true. This week they continue a study of verbs: verb phrases, regular and irregular verbs, "troublesome" verbs, transitive and intransitive verbs, completing one lesson of two to three exercises per day.


We're on Week 9 of Writing with Skill and I'm really loving it. The kids merely tolerate it, but I can already see the improvement it's made in their writing.  This week's exercise on "space and distance words and phrases" did cause some stumbling, but otherwise things went well enough.

We also added The Creative Writer by Boris Fishman to our schedule for the first time, designed as a supplement for Writing with Skill. The kids had requested creative writing, so this seemed a good solution, though it is only one day per week.


I've officially given up CPO Life Science this year. After the bumpy start we had, it just never really worked for me (or for M). So now, without a back-up plan in place, I'm essentially winging it for the remainder of the year.

This week, we embarked on an eleven week study of Real Food, Nutrition and Health from Food Renegade, used in conjunction with the excellent (free!) discussion guides from Gnowfglins. The way I've scheduled it, we'll spend roughly three days per week on health/nutrition. On Monday, we begin by watching a documentary - this week it was Food, Inc. (since M hadn't seen it), along with this worksheet. Generally though I've tried to align the documentaries with our reading schedule. On Tuesday, we'll read a chapter from Real Food... and go over the activities and discussion questions for the chapter. Finally, on Wednesday we'll work on the activities (though some are designed to be done over several days).

Thursday and Friday are free days for the kids to pursue something science-related on their own.  For example, this week M chose to read about squirrels and write a brief (one-page) paper on them. J never got around to doing anything, because he was still muddling his way through other work, though he did read up on this week's American Astronomical Society report on the potentially billions of other Earth-sized planets in our galaxy.


Math has been blissfully uneventful, M completed one lesson per day from Teaching Textbooks, in addition to a chapter quiz. She's never gotten less than 95% on any assignment, so it's going very well for her.


French was review this week, at M's insistence. She wanted to make sure that she remembered everything we've learned so far this year before proceeding. So far, so good, though she's far better at translating written material than actually speaking in French - we'll need to practice this more in the weeks ahead!


In history this week, we began Chapter 12 of American Republic and embarked on our Lowell Mill Girls Study Unit. We're way off schedule in history, thanks to J's constant refusal to finish assignments, so will have to really pick up the pace this term.

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I scheduled this unit, but the reading this week has been intense: 3-4 chapters of Lyddie per day, in addition to comprehension questions, plus the regular textbook reading and workbook assignments. It's been A LOT, but M has handled it valiantly.

Not done this week: Religion, Art, Vocabulary and Geography - yikes!