Weekly Update – Slowing Down

As is typical at our house, we have begun slowing down with school as the holidays approach. I usually feel a little guilty about this, but this year the kids have done so much work in the last three months that I really have nothing to feel bad about (not that I should feel bad).

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The boy is half way through Latin, has worked on 3 math programs consistently for the year, has read over twenty books, completed The Great Chocolate Caper, is halfway done with his geography program, has taken off with piano (I am so thankful to his new piano teacher) and has written quite a few books for the year. I feel good about where he is and what he has accomplished.

This week he continued working on his animation series, Cindy and Chris. He made two new episodes for it which includes writing the episode, completing the drawings, doing all the voices, and putting it together on Scratch. Here is one of his episodes that he made this week.

We are also reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire together, and he finished Tree in the Trail and a few Scooby-Doo books this week which he never tires of. In addition he kept up with his math fact practice (he wants to memorize all his multiplication facts which doesn’t come easy to him) and spent a good deal of time building Legos. This was his whole week, and he loved it. He appreciates having time to work on projects that are very important to him, and I believe it is good for him to have the time he needs for his passions.

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The twins had a more structured week as it is not so easy to take a break when you are in high school. They have online classes and other obligations which they have to keep up with. Even within this framework though they have eased up some. We work on history and biology at home and we moved to a lighter schedule with these two subjects. They are actually done with the book work in biology for this semester. We will spend the next few weeks working on labs which we all love, but other than that they are done until January. History they are still keeping up with the reading, but we are adding in documentaries and other activities for fun and to mix it up a little.

Their French class is in session until the second week of December and Tru’s online math class will only break for a few days around Christmas, so there is not much of a break there. This is a good thing though as he loves math and is the one who set his schedule. He needs to be done with this class by February so he can move on to working in calculus which he is looking forward to.

The twins also continue to have their music lessons, Autry has choir, they have book club (this week they are still reading Great Expectations) and they continue to work out with their trainer every week.

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Autry is spending hours a day working on music and Tru is spending hours a day on his math/astronomy studies. This is where the bulk of their time goes each week. In addition to all of this we were able to spend time this week with some close friends enjoying a long day out at a friend’s house with great food and even better company. It was a day out that we all needed.

In their free time the twins are developing a game/comic book series that they are very excited about. Tru started working on the series about a year ago, and he has made nine games so far in the series. He draws and designs all the character graphics and has created over 90 characters. He also makes posters for the games.

Tru's poster for the "epic finale" of the series, which he is currently working on.

Tru’s poster for the finale of the series, which he is currently working on.

Tru has created an entire world in which the series takes place. He has recently brought his sister into the project to help him “elaborate the franchise” as he puts it.  Decca is also on the staff as a play-tester. The twins have been writing out the world’s entire story, from its creation by True the Alchemist to the time after Monsters roamed. It is a very elaborate history, from what I’ve pieced together. Here is the beginning:

Monster Battles World, Sylvera, was created by True the Alchemist, 19,870 years before Pentail’s adventures. Humans were put into this world, along with Monsters and Elves. True the Alchemist also created another world, a perfect world. Every inch of this other world was quintessence, and everything was light and purity. This world was known as Valcalerata, and existed alongside the world of humans, although it was an empty world.

In the world of humans, some were able to talk to monsters. For True the Alchemist had intended for a special few to be the friends of monsters, because these few could accomplish great things with the Monsters’ help. These people became the first Monster Battlers, who befriended Monsters and fought epic battles with them.”

The twins have now decided to turn the Monster Battles into a comic. Here is some of the concept art that Autry sketched out.

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They were all based on Tru’s original drawings that he did on the computer. Here is Dragon and Bag Boy he created so you can see how Autry interpreted it.

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This project has taken up whatever free time they have, and they are having so much fun with it. I love how they enjoy working with each other on creative endeavors.

Next week will be an even lighter week with Thanksgiving. We are all going up to the mountains to my parent’s house to celebrate with them and my aunt and uncle. The kids can’t wait, and with the chance of snow in the forecast, either can I.

Weekly Update – Spotlight on my Youngest

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I wanted to shift focus this week from the twins to my youngest. I was so worried about the high school years for the twins that I haven’t spent as much time on my youngest. It is not that we have not been schooling every week, but I haven’t taken time to reflect on what is working and what isn’t. This week though I thought I would do just that.

This week Decca worked on Latin every day and as always did wonderfully with it. He also likes it a great deal, and I know this because he always chooses to do it first. I will be keeping him in Latin all year, and next year I have plans to continue with Latin and perhaps add another language.

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Also this week Decca finished A Wrinkle in Time and read a biography on Albert Einstein. A Wrinkle in Time turned out to be one of his favorite books of all time, so we are going to get the rest of the books in the series to read. He did not like the biography on Albert Einstein, and he disliked the work associated with it even more. He enjoyed learning about Albert Einstein, but I believe, as I reflect on it, that the book was too young and basic for him. He was bored with the book and the work.

He worked through five chapters of Life of Fred fractions. He does not like math, but he does like Life of Fred. The lessons are short, he picks up what he needs to know with only a few problems, and he laughs about the story. He is engaged in this curriculum, and it is working so no need to change anything there.

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This is all he did academically this week. Outside of academics he worked on piano daily, he wrote for hours a day, he created new rules for a game he loves,  he made several episodes of a cartoon he is working on, and he also made a game on Scratch. He fills his days up with no trouble. He is never bored when he is working on his own projects, and he is always doing something creative.

Most days I feel like he is an unschooler who I interrupt to work on formal academics. He doesn’t like giving up on his personal time to work on his work even if it is Latin or Life of Fred. He loves those subjects when he finally starts working on them, but if he had his way he would not be working on any formal school.

Anything that bores him he despises. I don’t blame him for that. We are homeschooling, so I should be able to find materials that engage him. I had him tested last year and I was told that he should be working a grade or two ahead overall, and specifically in language arts, he could easily be several grades ahead. The problem I have is that I am having trouble finding material in language arts that is on his level.  I find that it is quite easy to accelerate a student who is ahead in math, but I struggle with language arts. This is confounded by the fact that Decca has a great deal of anxiety and reading anything at a high school level tends to deal with topics that he is not ready to learn about.

So what to do? The truth is I don’t know. He does learn so much on his own that part of me believes I could leave him alone and he would be fine. Another part of me feels like we should be spending so much more time on academics. The truth is that I am far too relaxed of a homeschooler to do that. I do think that I will double his reading, as he loves to read, and I will pick up a grammar book for older kids for him to work through. Other than that I will leave him to his own devices. He is happy to be working on his projects, and I am happy to give him the time.

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