15 January 2013

Piecing Together The Puzzle

Homeschool high school.  Those are three pretty scary words when put all together.  And yet in the midst of its clutches is where I find myself ... planning a course of action, questioning myself, thinking I had it figured out only to discover I didn't have a clue.

The situation in which I find myself is not unlike others who have traveled this path and are still on the journey.  I use the umbrella school option offered by my state because it's what has always made the most sense for my family.  Every umbrella school is different.  The one we use has undergone some revamping the last couple of years.  One change is that I must provide them with a list of every course my soon-to-be high schooler will study throughout all four years of high school and during which year.  Planning out all four years is a daunting task!  I'll be honest ... at first I was taken aback and even quite irritated that I must do such a thing.  Now I view it as a good thing.  It's no less stressful, but I've concluded the required structure of the situation is what I/we need.  (I know more relaxed homeschoolers will disagree, and that's fine.  That's one of the wonderful things in life - we're all unique and have our own thoughts, opinions, and beliefs.) 

I find it somewhat amusing that just before Christmas last year I cleared out over 200 books from our home library.  Many were children's books my kids have outgrown, but every member of the family chipped in and did his/her own weeding out.  I truly had a plan to bring no more "clutter" into my home.  But I'm a homeschooler.  I should have known that plan was doomed from the start.

Recently while my oldest was attending his weekly youth group meeting, I found myself wandering through Barnes & Noble.  I felt a nudge in my heart that's where I should go to spend my wee bit of quiet time that evening.  The above photo shows what happened.  I didn't mean to do it, but am glad I did!  I believe that nudge on my heart was God directing me to some wonderful bargains we will use during our high school journey.

I had been looking at The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens for my oldest because he is very much in that wonky young teenager phase where I feel as though the sweet, driven boy I used to know is no longer inhabiting his body.  I've been told it's a phase he'll (hopefully) outgrow soon.  I thought this would be helpful for him and even put it on my Goodreads list recently.  I was thrilled to find it way cheaper than other places I had been looking, plus I received an additional 25% off using my B&N educator card.  I don't know if my teen will dive into The Bare Bones Bible Handbook For Teens or save it for our "Introduction To The Bible 1" class I tentatively have on his list of high school courses, but it looks fantastic.  The Daily Dose of Knowledge Bible is absolutely magnificent.  I'm currently reading my way through (at a pace of more than a dose a day because I'm enjoying it so much), and it would make an additional great "textbook" for the aforementioned high school class.  Both of those books were also a great price and qualified for my 25% educator discount.  The remainder of the books are classics we did not already own.  They were on sale 50% off, so that was motivation enough for me.  They were cheaper than the paperback versions, much more pleasing to hold in the hands, and the font size is better for someone of my mature years (LOL).  The Darwin book is honestly something I never thought I would allow through my front door, however, in my recent online searching of how to turn Apologia Biology an honors course I discovered and determined it really is a necessary evil.  My oldest's current career plans will mean he will have to major in biology or something very similar in college.  Going ahead and including Darwin in his high school studies will help prepare him for what he will find himself faced with during college courses.

04 January 2013

Cleaning House ... A New Adventure

I've tried for years to get my kids to do chores and keep their rooms clean.  No amount of money promised, begging, pleading, or threat-making has resulted in any success.

Back in November I read Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wills Wyma.  While I didn't agree with the entire book, nor could I financially afford to do as the author did in her experiment, I did gain quite a bit of insight into all the skills I really need to be equipping my children with (and thought of plenty more not mentioned in the book).  I tried desperately to get my own version of the experiment underway at the beginning of December, but my troops remained unmotivated and I had too much on my plate at the time put up much of a fight.  I did make it clear, however, that January 1st marked the start of our adventure with the methodology described in Cleaning House.

For this month - January - I am focusing on my kids keeping their rooms clean and orderly, keeping their belongings picked up from around the house daily, and making their beds each morning.  Just as in the experiment in the book, my kids have the ability to earn, or lose, a set amount of money/allowance each day based upon their performance.  As an added twist, since it's my house and I am certainly entitled to make my own rules, my kids must also be polite to one another or they risk losing their allowance for the day.  They found out on day one I meant business with this rule.  When our homeschool year begins again in a few days after the close of our winter break, they must also have all their work completed for the week before the next week begins or they lose a set amount of their allowance that has been earned.  That may seem unfair or harsh, but it's a necessary evil with my teen at this point.

In the fury of getting their rooms cleaned up and prepared for the beginning of this month - and believe me, that was quite the undertaking with the state of how things were - my youngest constructed this "desk" in his room.......

He declared he wanted a place where he can go draw without having to do so on the dining room table or spread out on the floor somewhere, so he made his own using one of his toy castles, a 3-drawer storage unit, and a shelf that was removed long ago from a piece of our furniture.  He equipped himself with pencils (held in an empty peanut butter jar), paper, and a storage box full of colored pencils.  I'm proud of his ingenuity!

So far, so good with this experiment.  We'll see where it leads.