Homeschooling in the Late Teen Years – Sit Back and Enjoy the Ride

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This year the twins has been a transition year for my twins. They matured a great deal this year, and they began to think about their future. It is wonderful when your kids begin to take on more responsibilities and when they start to think about their own future. After being the one in charge for so long I happily pass on the responsibility to the twins. It is a wonderful transition made even more wonderful because the twins are very intelligent and very responsible. I don’t worry about their decisions too much (can any parent not worry at all?), and I enjoy hearing about their plans for the future.

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In September of last year the twins decided to apply to Bard College at Simon’s Rock. They were not 100% sure if they wanted to go there, but they were intrigued with the idea of early college. They applied, which was an adventure in itself, and much to their surprise they were accepted. They also received merit aid and need-based aid which was great, but they would still have had to take out loans. They weren’t 100% sure that they were ready for early college so far away from home, and Tru wasn’t sure whether he wanted to take on student loans at such a young age. They spent some time thinking it over and ultimately decided that they weren’t ready for college yet.

After this the twins toyed with the idea of starting community college next fall. I went to community college early, and they thought maybe they should do the same. In California going to community college early is a very good option for homeschoolers. The twins thought this would be a good idea, and they started to plan out where to go and what classes to take.

At the same time they weren’t too excited about this option. The twins have very specific goals for their future, and they both were unsure whether this was the right path for them. I tried to stay out of their decisions and let them find their own path. This was not always easy, and I admit that I spent some time worrying about them and what they would decide, but in the end they made the right decision for them.

And what was that decision? They decided to enroll with Harari College Worldwide full time this year. Last year my daughter took a few classes from them, and my son took one class towards the end of the year. The classes were intellectually stimulating and challenging in a good way. In addition, the online community of Harari has been great for them, and they have connected with other teens all over the world.

And what is their ultimate goal? They would like to study in Europe, and Harari is one of the few schools we have found that will help them meet that goal. Hopefully in two years the twins will be on their way to university in Europe and happy with the decision they made this year. Either way, at this point, I am enjoying watching them grow up and make very adult decisions about their future. I am happy that they have each other in this process, and I am grateful that they are mature enough to make these decisions. After twelve years of homeschooling them I finally feel like I can relax a bit and sit back and enjoy the ride.

India Ink and Rice Paper – Art with Grandma

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The twins do art every week with their Grandma at her studio. They love this time of coffee drinking, art talking, and art making. This week they and a few other students had fun working on rice paper. I was going to write a blog post on the topic, but I wasn’t sure exactly what they did, so I decided to have my mom write up a short post. She was happy to oblige.

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This week in my teen art class I taught the kids how to let go of control and introduced them to moderately uncontrolled drawing! I had the students pick a a few long sticks from their yard or park or wherever the gardeners haven’t been over zealous and cleaned the yard of fallen branches. They brought them to my studio and I supplied india ink and rice paper. Traditional rice paper is an absorbent, white paper that feels almost like fabric. It happens to be very responsive to ink which is why I choose it. Although other papers do some of the same things but I have always liked the way rice paper feels.

I cut long sheets of it and put it on the floor and showed the kids what to do. Here’s what happened: they stood and dipped their long sticks in a tub of ink and without getting too close to the paper proceeded to create an image that reacted in a way they weren’t expecting. Some of them were very abstract and resembled to me, Joan Miro’s work, some resembled the artist Cy Twombly and others looked like self-portraits but in a whimsical way. They had fun and used up almost all of the roll of rice paper! Some of the surprises:

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Updates and the youngest boy

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It has been quite a while since I have posted here. As most of you know we had a difficult summer, and I found it hard to come here and write. The good news is we found out that the eldest boy does not have a connective tissue disorder. We found out two weeks ago and have been getting our lives back on track ever since. It is amazing how a medical issue can take over everything so quickly, but I am happy to be back to our old life and routine.

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The twins are hard at work on their school year. We had a few changes from the original plan I posted earlier. One major change was that I enrolled the boy in a pre-calculus class as it was too hard a subject to work on independtly. The twins also switched their science from physics to chemistry as the physics curriculum was a bust, and they both realized they would rather work on chemistry this year. Besides these few changes everything seems to be working out great, and we are especially enjoying our British Literature course (I say we because I am reading the books along with them). The twins have read Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, The Canterbury Tales, and the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. They have also been writing a number of essays this year, and I am both amazed and thankful at how quickly they are getting through them now and how mature their writing has become.

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I realize that I never shared my year plan for the youngest boy. The reason behind this is that I don’t have a concrete plan for him. My approach to his schooling is very different to the twins because he is a very unique learner. He is a 2e kid, and because of this I have to approach his schooling in a very different way. Too much work or structure has him frustrated, too little also leads to frustration. Therefore I strive for a balance. He needs a good deal of time for his own projects, but he needs some formal curriculum and a schedule to keep him happy.

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Currently he is working on Scratch games and animations, writing books, and creating his own languages. I add to this by having him work on his basic math skills using this great little book from Rod and Staff, and I have him work on his language arts with Bravewriter. This year he is not only working through issues of the Arrow, but he is also taking some of their classes which we are both very happy with.

As far as science and math the boy primarily watches Brainpop movies and then works through some of their worksheets they have online. We add documentaries and books to this and call it a day. He is studying American history and astronomy right now, and these resources seem to work best for him.

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In addition to everything else the boy discovered that he actually likes audiobooks. He has been listening to them around the clock while he works on other projects. His favorite series so far this year has been The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, and now that he has finished that series we are looking for another one.

Hopefully I will be updating the blog more now that I have time. I actually missed being here, missed thinking about homeschooling, and missed reading other blogs. I am appreciative to have the time to be back here again.

Almost 15…

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These two are going to be 15 in a few days. I can’t believe it has been fifteen years since I brought home two very small babies from the hospital.

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That first year I slept less than I ever had in my life, but I also had more fun than I ever have. And it has been an adventure ever since with these two.

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I sit here and reflect on all of this, and I think about the last few months. It has been a somewhat difficult few months around here due to the fact that we are in the process of trying to figure out if the older boy has a genetic disorder. We won’t know for a while if he does in fact have one, but we have had a somewhat hard time navigating this new world of doctors and genetics. It is very time-consuming and emotionally draining but we are all thankful for the great health insurance we have and for the wonderful doctors we see.

I am also thankful for the twins. They have had a wonderful attitude through all of this. The girl has been supportive and sweet, and the boy has managed to stay positive even when facing all of this.

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Happy Birthday you two!

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Checking In…

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I have been missing in action here at TadTown for a little while now, but I am going to try to make an effort and get back on track with my posts. Life has thrown us a few curve balls lately, and the kids and I have been trying to stay on top of everything which hasn’t left much time for anything else.

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Through it all the kids have been plugging along with their school work. The twins are nearing the end of their studies this year and overall they have had a positive experience with their first year of high school. I believe the kids had the right balance of online classes and at-home classes. Next year they will have a similar balance of classes because I strongly believe that if something works don’t mess with it.

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The twins have also begun fencing, and I am so surprised at how much they love it. It has been such a positive addition to their routine and they are both so psyched about fencing. It is wonderful to see them both so excited about something new, and it is wonderful that they have a shared passion.

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Decca has also been plugging along with everything although most of his studies are now interest led. He reads often, works on his Scratch projects (his newest is ScratchTopia), writes, and animates. In between all this I try to sneak in a few math lessons here and there. Math is not a favorite subject for him, but I encourage him to keep working at it. Slow and steady is our math motto and I believe it will be that way throughout his school years.

 

 

Weekly Report

It’s funny how every year I start the summer off thinking that the kids should continue doing some academic work. The kids always readily agree to this, and I think the reason is that they know that I never stick with that plan. The kids know that I love summer as much as them! It’s funny, but I think my big speech about how we are going to continue homeschooling through the summer actually signals the start of summer for the kids. So as I give my big talk, the kids just nod and agree, and then they run off and celebrate. One year I think I will surprise them, and actually make them work through the whole summer ( That would show them!).

So what have we been doing? Well Autry is actually still in public school, but it is winding down, so even she feels that she is on break. Her last official day is next Wednesday, and I can’t wait!! It has been a great year for Autry, but I really need a break from getting her up every morning and packing her lunch everyday.

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The twins birthday is coming up (they’ll be 11), and I am planning their party for next Saturday. We are having an old-fashioned outdoor party at a park. We are going to have a water-balloon fight, a limbo competition, and other games. It is getting harder to plan their birthdays. Autry wanted a dance party, and Tru wanted a Nintendo DS themed party (not sure how I would have done that). Tru very quickly nixed the dance party, and Autry didn’t want a DS themed party. They couldn’t agree on anything, so I just took it over and planned it myself. Sometimes I think it is a little hard for them to have to share their birthdays, but they are quite close. By the end of their birthday, they are always happy to be twins and to have each other.

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Autry had her end-of-the-year performance for her acting class a few weeks back. She played a turtle in Yertle the Turtle and Sylvester in Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. She was great!

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As Sylvester

Decca decided to start his Hideaways in History program early, and he didn’t need anyone’s help. He found a box and made it into a sarcophagus. He decorated the lid with a picture of Prince Decca and added some hieroglyphics that he found in one of his Egyptian books. He then wrapped up in some cloth and also “mummified” his cat. He had so much fun! I am so happy with Hideaways in History already, and we haven’t even started it.

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I started a summer reading/writing program for the kids (is that school?). It is just my way to get the kids to read and write in the summer. They are working at earning gift cards to Barnes and Noble. My mom and I put together a little bulletin board. It is a summer themed scene. The kids read and write to earn beach balls, and each beach ball they earn equals a dollar from Barnes and Noble. At the end of summer they will get a gift card, and they can use it for new books for the fall. They are all working hard trying to earn their beach balls. Tru seems to be putting the most effort into it, but reading comes easy to him, and I think he already is planning what to do with the money he earns.

I am still working our history program for next year. I have weeks one and two scheduled out, and I have decided on many of the books we will be using. I will post our schedule up in a few weeks for anyone that wants to see it. I am happy with what I got so far, and I think this will turn out to be a great year. You can see my book choices here.

Some of the books for next year