Homeschooling High School First Impressions

Homeschooling High School First Impressions

So. High school. Can you believe it? Can I believe it? We’ve now finished three weeks of high school and so far it’s gone really well.

For the most part we are following the Mater Amabilis curriculum for high school. B. is continuing to do algebra through Khan Academy which she’s used for the past couple of years. She likes the format — and why mess with what’s working? She’s also taking Biology online through Homeschool Connections. And continuing to be active in her BSA troop, working on merit badges.

B. told me this spring that she was looking forward to a more rigorous high school experience and that lined up neatly with what I was hoping to do as well. In the last year she’s done a few classes online with Homeschool Connections and in other venues and she’s really been good at self-paced work. Now she’s dipped her toes in she tells me that she’s really liking and enjoys most of the readings.

I’m very happy with the Mater Amabilis curriculum. So much of it is what I’d have chosen to do if I were designing a curriculum– but even more so. For example, in English right now she’s reading The Iliad, Twelfth Night, selections of Old English poetry and prose, and Myths of the World– this is a lot more than I’d have assigned all at once, but actually it’s working very well. Two days a week on the Iliad, one day a week on Shakespeare, one day on early English poetry and prose (last week it was The Seafarer and the Wanderer, this week it’s riddles), and one day on Bravewriter’s writing program for high school. It’s a varied reading list and it seems quite good at keeping things interesting. History does a similar thing: two days a week of world history and two days of British history and one day of Church history. She’s chosen to focus on Asia for her geography for the term. In religion she’s doing readings from the Church fathers on one day, readings from the Bible on three days (started the OT in Genesis, the NT in Matthew and also reading through the book of Psalms), and also reading Deus Caritas Est and the Creed in Slow Motion. Again, lots of variety, spread out over a week.

I’ve been writing her a checklist on Google docs and she marks off each assignment as she completes it. She has a second Google doc where she writes all of her narrations– one for each reading she does every day, minimum three sentences; but she often writes more. With the Google doc format she can leave me notes and I can leave her notes and we’re beginning to have conversations in the margins of the narrations. I’m hoping that continues and we start to get some bak and forth. Of course we’re also having plenty of in-person conversations about the readings too.

We encountered a checklist hiccup this week– I guess I was a little tired when making up her checklist and I forgot to put history on it. What’s bizarre is that I didn’t notice until Wednesday night– and she hadn’t noticed either. Or, rather, we both were thinking: this week seems a little lighter; but somehow neither of us noticed what wasn’t there. Oh well, I guess she got an easy week and I learned a little lesson about staying on top of things.

She’s divided her day into a morning and afternoon block — which is how I’ve always divided the kids’ day, but it’s fun to see her finding that the division is a natural one: “My brain needs a break before I can continue.” And she has proved really amazing at pacing herself.

One day she said she got bored having finished her work and impatient waiting for everyone else to finish. I gave her permission to work ahead if she gets bored again. She was happy with that idea, though she hasn’t done so yet.

We took a hike on Labor Day morning, but in the afternoon she managed to do two of the assignments for the day.

She loves the History of the English Speaking Peoples by Winston Churchhill but was a little sad about the version the curriculum uses being abridged so… I checked the four volume unabridged set out from the library today and she’s been happily flipping through it at bedtime. History is her jam. I also picked up In the Steps of St Paul and she’s been bingeing that. I thought about putting it on the reading schedule, but I think it’s good to also have some books that she can binge read at her own pace.

She love Shakespeare, loves the Iliad, and is very excited about the economics and government selections. I think writing creatively with her sister has really helped her to become a more confident writer. Anyway, I’m finding the whole high school experience so much smoother than I anticipated and we’re both having fun with it and I am so grateful to all of the ladies of Mater Amabilis who have worked so hard to put this curriculum together. It is such a gift!

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