Nothin' 2 Prove

The building of Gunn Ranch Academy one caliche rock at a time; our friends, family, passions, learning adventures and our little piece of HIStory in the making!

The Final Stretch

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 As we are in the final 6 weeks of our schoolyear, I’ve been immersed in the fun and somewhat tiring task of evaluating where we’ve been, what we’ve accomplished, and where God will lead us in our next season. 

 While Morgan has been working on a high school level in many subjects, we will “officially” begin her high school adventure next year. I’ve been researching and digesting high school credits, transcripts, college entrance requirements, and Morgan’s interests and the direction she feels she’s being led for a couple of years in preparation for this time. While I am feeling a bit anxious, excited, and hopeful for our upcoming high school adventures, I’m not feeling as overwhelmed or nervous anymore. We can do this, and Morgan will be well prepared for her college journey.

 

This year I’ve seen tremendous growth in responsibility and independence in Morgan as she’s followed her schedules and dived into her studies head first. She has almost completed her entire history program for the year, a month and a half ahead of schedule. She has just devoured the books and learning resources, far outreaching my own experiences.  Upon completion of her science, she will definitely be ready to tackle Freshman Biology next year.  With Math falling as her least favorite subject, Algebra has probably been the subject for which she has shown the most growth. After spending the first half of the year struggling to wrap up Math U See, we finally settled on VideoText Algebra, which wraps pre-algebra, algebra 1 and algebra 2 altogether in one series of modules. While I’ve helped her through a few parts of it, most has been self directed, and she is moving through the program better than we both expected. 

We are currently finishing up our Great Latin Adventure, which has been the favorite and focus subject for both Morgan and Taylor for the year. I received both levels of GLA last year at the end of the season as a review product, and we have worked our way through two levels this year.  I did find as we got on into the program that we put aside much of the teacher portion as it really is better utilized by a teacher who already knows and understands Latin, or one that is working diligently ahead of the students to learn the lessons prior to the students learning. While I just don’t have the time to devote to Latin, this hasn’t hindered the program at all. At first glance I was really surprised this program was labeled for 5th, 6th, 7th grade level. It just seemed too much for late elementary age. I was thinking that without the knowledge of English grammar that the course would surely be too hard for this age.  We had just completed Bridge to Latin before beginning this, so I guess that’s what I was basing my assumption on. But as we continued the course, I found the girls understanding it very easily and moving on rapidly through it. Then, when we received another Latin program about 6 weeks ago that is more high school level, I began to see that GLA was properly labeled, and felt very blessed that we had the opportunity to use it before moving on as it has really given us a good foundation to move on. In the future, however, I probably won’t use it as a stepping stone, because it really is quite dry, and the extensive teacher’s notes didn’t serve us as they might serve others.  When Levi is ready for Latin, we will be using Song School Latin, then Latin for Children, which are the younger levels of Latin offered by Classical Academic Press that our Crew reviewed. I’m thrilled to have found this wonderful company and excited to add them to our future plans!

We were blessed beyond words with the opportunity to review Institute for Excellence in Writing’s Student Writing Intensive Level C along with Teaching Writing Structure and Style.  This came along  just as the girls were participating in NaNoWriMo this year, for which we had completed the student workbooks available on the NaNo young writer’s website. They both really enjoyed their NaNo experience, both completing their wordcounts for their novels and both learning and growing a great deal in their writing abilities. Therefore, when IEW came along, it just really was a God send. Really. I just can’t imagine teaching homeschool now without it’s inclusion.  While Morgan has had much more writing instruction in her past, she has flown through much of it, pretty much completing one assignment per section and moving on. Taylor has not had much formal instruction, so she and I are hanging back completing most of the extra reinforcement activities to concrete in a firm foundation. Level C is really geared as high school, but the three levels of the program A for elementary, B for middle school and C for high school actually have the same instruction,  just different reading levels and more mature content in the stories as well as the upper level moving a bit faster. Since Taylor’s reading level is pretty much high school level, she hasn’t had a bit of problem with using level C, we’ve just taken advantage of most of the reinforcement activities before moving on. This is hands-down one the the BEST and MOST VALUABLE pieces of learning we have added to our homeschool. I will absolutely not hesitate to say it is truly an answer to several prayers I had been praying about for quite sometime concerning our homeschool. It has definitely given Morgan the basis she needed to be able to move into her high school studies and complete her history studies and will be a wonderful springboard for her literature studies. Through IEW we have found an AWESOME high school English program called Excellence in Literature that we will be using. More on that in another post!

Morgan has been a wonderful part of several other studies this year we have done through the Crew. As we finished up our Grapevine studies first semester, we spent time in some character studies, then we received an awesome resource from Apologia called “Who Is God” which is the first part of a four part series for children on worldview. While this first book hasn’t brought much new information to the table that we haven’t talked about elsewhere, it has been a wonderful resource, and has certainly brought Levi in with our discussions. I really LOVE resources that close the 9 year gap between my kids 😉

While horse judging and vet science are technically extracurricular actvities, they are truly great learning resources and have been an integral part of our homeschool year. Morgan has invested a significant amount of time and energy into these and has certainly reaped the rewards as she earned second place at the San Antonio Stock show, and was in the top ten percent at the Houston show.  We will be finishing up our Vet Science project this year with a dissection of four organs to reinforce our anatomy and physiology section, which I feel is definitely an  important learning experience.

Morgan’s year has been sought and wrought with accomplishment to say the least, and I’m looking forward to her high school experience after our successful “trial run” year. I have no doubt she will end up at the top of her class 🙂  (Planning to make another post with our high school plans soon!)

 My Taylor has grown leaps and bounds this year as well. The middle child. Such a hard place to be sometimes. Always striving to keep up with her older sister, yet not really wanting to be kicked off Momma’s lap by her baby brother.  Taylor has her own ideas on everything. My toughest challenge with her is making myself stop and evaluate what she really does and doesn’t know, what we really need to SLOW DOWN and cover- in light of her tagging along with her big sister.

It’s so tough to remember her age when she strives so hard to keep up with her older sister, and when we are so focused on moving into high school.  This year I was blessed with the opportunity to choose between reviewing for the older crew (jr high and high school products) or elementary level products. With Morgan needing to get used to focusing on a schedule and meeting goals and deadlines, and Taylor excited and willing to review more products as well as throwing Levi in the mix this year, I was able to really evaluate where we’ve been and what we really need to get a better foundation with. 

I must say she was a trooper last year completing Bridge to Latin and learning grammar and diagramming sentences to a college level in places. It was hard, and she got frustrated many times while Morgan rushed through it easily, Taylor still sitting at the table with a blank stare and tears in her eyes.  This can be frustrating for everyone when teaching children together that are 3 grades apart. A review for one and a new challenge to another. But she hung in there, and really got a great foundation of English grammar that has taken her on into learning Latin very easily. She gets it. She loves it! What a really cool thing to see her understand and bask in this academic success!  She will not continue with Latin Alive 1 just yet. We will just save that adventure for a couple more years, and I do believe not having to keep up with her sister will be a stress relief when she decides it’s time to begin upper level Latin. I do believe she will greatly enjoy listening in and helping out her younger brother with Song School Latin when he is ready to begin that, though.

Taylor likes math. She has helped me review many math fact programs this year which has really helped her out a lot. She completed Delta in MUS this year very quickly, and instead of moving on with MathUSee she has really enjoyed Life of Fred. After completing the first three books in Life of Fred (fractions, decimals and percents, and pre-algebra), we’ll just have to re-evaluate where to go from there. Not sure she’ll really be ready for video text at that point, but we’ll just have to wait and see. That’s why I love homeschooling. We can meet the child’s needs all the way, right where they are, right when they need it. 🙂

Taylor has enjoyed Apologia Botany this year, and completing the Notebooking Journal that was created to go along with it. While we just printed off notebooking pages with a few of the books, and both girls completed their own scrapbooking/sketchbook type journal for one of the books after growing tired of notebooking pages, I thought the new printed journal that accompany the books looked really cool, and Taylor really has enjoyed using it. I really love that my ten year old can follow the schedule in the front and begin to learn to complete studies independently. In the middle of the year we had the opportunity to review another science program from Bright Ideas Press, and while I wasn’t so sure she’d be able to keep up with both, she chose Christian Kids Explore Chemistry, and has done an amazing job at completing both Botany and Chemistry. She has worked completely independently on both aside from us getting together to go over tests, and experiments.

Once we finished up our studies of Ancient Greece first sememster, we were blessed at just the right time with a complete curriculum in American History. While Morgan moved on with Ancient Rome, Taylor and I have been digging deep into American History with Our Land Of Liberty. I must say this has also been an obvious answer to prayer, because I was really feeling as if I should let Morgan go on independently with Truthquest and hang back with Taylor, and had been researching American History. For me, the curriculum actually seem a bit dry. But she absolutely LOVES it and is learning it so well. It consists of 32 4-5 page “newspapers” that she reads, and then we discuss the “articles” with an extensive teacher’s manual. The newspapers portray the history as if the people, places, events are actually happening- very cool concept. She has really taken an interest in geography, and totally LOVES map studies and the globe. Something I was never very good at or really interested in, but she is a natural cartographer and wonderful with geography. So wonderful to see her individuality bloom!!

We have also continued on with our All About Spelling through level 6. She is a natural speller, and I’ve felt at times we didn’t really “need” spelling but it’s quite easy for her and she enjoys it, and we have hit a few minor “snags”, so we continue with it. We go through the lessons very quickly.

She has certainly continued her Marine/oceanography interest, and studies and writes essays on her own about marine animals.  She really enjoyed our review of Puffer Fish with the Crew, and has continued to research and learn about them on her own.

Both girls are avid readers, and have completed numerous series of novels. They have both read all of the Harry Potter books and can’t wait to read the books in Latin once their Latin skills get to that level.  I am just amazed at the amount of books the girls have devoured this year. Just amazed!

My Tayt, who will be a 6th grader next year. Plans for next year’s studies will, again, be in a future post.

She continues to be my animal whisperer, and has had her ambitions set on Marine Biology/ Marine Veterinary Medicine since she first started thinking about her future. I am never surprised to turn around and find her holding  a wild baby bird, baby chick,  orphaned critter of some sort. She takes right to feeding all the sick animals, orphans, and caring for the pets. She has found her first love- who will forever live in the deepest part of her heart- her horse Napoleon. She spend half of her time on his back, or brushing and bathing him, bakes him homeade treats, and when she rides him bareback, which is most of the time, I always say it looks like her bottom is super-glued to his back. She is an amazing horse-woman, and a kindred spirit with the horses and all of the animals. She is everything I really wanted to be at ten. 🙂

Last but not least, my baby boy. Levi has grown up this year into a self thinking little man. The beginning of the year found us continuing on learning letters and sounds, and doing very well with his muscle control while writing. He loved his Critical Thinking math books, but still wasn’t much for coloring.

We began Teaching Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and he was doing so great. Sounding out everything, knew all of his letters, and I was thinking how great it would be when he was reading by himself. But for whatever reason, that all came to a screeching halt, and he decided he didn’t want to participate in anything “school”. Nope. Nothing.  At four, I am not going to push him. I’m not interested in snuffing out his fire for learning. But I was becoming increasingly concerned on into the second part of the year when he just continued to rebel.

Our crew reviewed a great DVD by Andrew Pudewa, which I wasn’t on the list for but purchased on my own because it just sounded like something I needed to hear, and I think Mr. Pudewa is extremely insightful and a great speaked. This DVD, Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day, was a great find. Not sure I really learned anything I didn’t already know, but it was very comforting, and I needed to hear many of the things he talked about. Mid semester, my hubby somehow sparked an interest in Levi to “learn” his letters. It was as if he’d never even heard of the alphabet when they started, LOL. But hey, whatever works. One letter at a time, Levi and Daddy went through the letters and he began writing them, then learned to write his name, which gave him a great sense of accomplishment. While they only continued to the letter G or so, Levi definitely found his interest in learning again. He can now write his name very well, and seems quite advanced with his mechanical skills- handwriting and following mazes is very good. We do have some work to do, as he writes his name in all caps, LOL, but hey, that’s a good start.

Levi has really enjoyed Kinderbach this year. He rebelled with it as well when he decided he didn’t want to do anything, but we are back to moving through the dvd’s slowly, which has really let him learn music well. Don’t tell Levi, but there is much more learning with the program than just music. He’s learned his left and right, and letters and numbers, and many other things. He is a natural musician, though, and I see him thinking and using many of the concepts he has learned from Kinderbach quite often. I am thinking music will definitely be one of his many talents in the future.

I am excited for him to pick back up his reading and I think he will be excited for the Kindergarten activities next year. We’ll see.

With 2010-2011 school year about to wrap up, I’m looking forward to a fun summer, finishing up plans for our 2011-2012 school year, and hearing whether I will be continuing on with the TOS Homeschool Crew for another cruise. The crew has definitely blessed us and enriched our homeschool experience, so we’ll see what God has instore for us next year. Stay tuned for next year’s schedule!

Happy Homeschooling,

Chris

*Disclaimer: these kids are property of Gunn Ranch Academy. I do not have to return them to a government institution, and opinions expressed here are my own. 🙂

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