Sunday, November 18, 2012

Home schooling update, November 2012

It’s been longer than I can remember since I wrote up my last homeschooling update. Home school tends to lack clear beginnings and endings, with some stuff continuing on into the summer, and with milestones spread throughout the year. But we’ve just hit a big one: H has finished her last Singapore Math book: Challenging Word Problems for 6th grade, and has moved on to algebra.

Yes, that’s it for Singapore Math. Much as I loved the elementary school curriculum, based on what I've seen and heard about what comes next (New Elementary Math), I'm somewhat ambivalent about continuing. So I’ve selected the best beginning algebra book currently in my possession--my fragile copy of Wentworth’s New School Algebra, published back in 1898, excerpts of which I’ve frequently posted in my problems of the week. H has just finished the first chapter, calculating the value of such expressions as:

a(b+c)÷(ac-d) where a=4, b=3, c=7, d=8

She’s had a good foundation for beginning algebra, as a number of the more challenging of the Challenging Word Problems cried out for algebraic solutions, which I helped guide her through. And she seems comfortable with variables and order of operations--probably because these were covered periodically throughout latter half of the Singapore Math elementary school curriculum.

In other subjects she’s reading and summarizing the Arabian Nights, Lives of Saints, Wrinkle in Time, Watership Down, and Story of the World, III. She’s half way through French in Action and has started the ALM French Level II (a 2nd year college level French textbook). She’s working her way through a World Geography book, taking notes and copying maps. And she’s been doing a lot with sentences: combining them in Sentencecraft, unscrambling them in exercises Catherine Johnson has created for her writing class and generously forwarded to me, and, in a series of writing exercises I’ve been developing, constructing passive and active counterparts pairs to slot, as appropriate, into paragraphs.

For “extracurriculars,” there’s music every day--listening as well as practicing. H has a violin lesson on Tuesday, a piano lesson on Wednesday, duo practice on Thursday (violin duets, piano duets, and violin-piano duets), an organ lesson on Friday, and trio practice on Saturday. In the chronological survey of classical CDs that we began nearly 2 years ago, we’ve reached Prokofiev and Janáček.

Besides music, there’s horseback riding (and, shortly, cartooning) on Mondays, creative writing class on Wednesdays, pottery on Fridays, and girl scouts every other Friday evening.

Every once in a while I flirt with the possibility of the somewhat local K-8 French International School for 7th and 8th grades. But besides wondering whether H's French will be good enough by then and how the school's overall curriculum* compares with what we're doing, I think of how much harder it would be for her to keep up all those extra curriculars if she were to return to an actual school.

*The school's curriculum, taught half in French and half in English by middle school, partly follows the French national curriculum (good); and partly follows the Pennsylvania State Standards (not so good).


Nancy Bea Miller said...

Wow, I don't know how you have time to breathe Katie! Sounds like a wonderful curriculum, kudos to you!

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

You might want to look at the Art of Problem Solving Algebra books. They are quite good, though they may not have enough practice for your taste (the problems are almost all challenging, rather than routine).

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the Russian books that were intended for mathematically advanced kids who had surpassed what was available to them locally? Your brother would be delighted to send you a list of recommendations for H, I bet! -- Diana

Katharine Beals said...

GWP and Diana ( :) ),

I'm filing your recommendations away for later, H (who turns 12 next month) is just beginning algebra, and for the moment needs more drill and practice with algebra basics and higher level problem solving.

Those Russian books are hard to get, though, so I'd love a link.

Anonymous said...

There is a different series at the Singapore Math site, called Discovering Mathematics, that might be worth looking into. New Elementary Mathematics is an old series, out of print actually, and so quite challenging. A lot of learning goes on through doing the problems.