Adventures in Homeschooling


This was my first week as the home school parent. Lucky for everyone concerned, my husband doesn’t start his new job for another week. I keep getting caught up in my writing. My son, being the opportunist teenager that he is, takes advantage of this and slips on his headphones and starts watching episodes of MASH. Now I love MASH (I watched it live, for Pete’s sake) but he’s gotta do the work.

It’s pretty amusing when I try to help him with his math. It’s definitely the blind leading the blind. I took an aptitude test to help with my job search and this is what it said about me and math:

“Math may be about the same as a foreign language for Karen. At least, it is foreign to Karen’s mental preferences in one-way or another. Mathematical problems seem to become bigger problems if Karen tries to solve them. Mental gears seem to get jammed in the middle of a math problem, and success in the form of a solution is without internal reward or satisfaction.”

Thank goodness, the answers are in the back of the book. Plus, my husband has done an amazing job, so mostly the boy gets them right. Biggest issue is reading the problem correctly. But those I can figure out. And this is good for me. I can’t stay math-phobic my whole life. Can I?

Literature is more my style. We’re reading Pilgrim’s Progress with the Home School group. I introduced the boy to one of my favorites “Gone Away Lake” which he loves. The dated language is introducing him to some interesting words that I take for granted. Apparently teenagers in this day and age don’t know the word bureau,  which is what I always called a dresser. He’s also reading the first Artemis Fowl book out loud to me. That’s painful but really great practice for him. He’s 100 times faster reading silently, which frustrates him. I get that. But he’s 1000 times faster and more accurate than he was in 2009, so the progress is definitely there. I would say that there are very few words he can’t sound out using the Barton method.

I was thinking of learning to be a Barton tutor. I might still do that. But my husband pointed out that I am already taking on a lot of new stuff, plus trying to write every day, so maybe I should hold off on that. Plus, gardening season is upon us and we all know how crazy I get. I mean, how devoted I am to my garden. Last year was the guest house lawn and the side yards. This year it’s time to remake the front yard and I cannot wait.

But meanwhile, back at the Brier Patch Academy, the boy bought a 1950’s Underwood typewriter at a thrift store yesterday. He cleaned it and it’s working great and he’s teaching himself to type. Considering the age of the machine and the condition of the ribbon (we’re looking for a replacement) he’s doing surprisingly well. And it’s fun to see him sitting at the fold out correspondents table built into the case, clicking away. It’s the kind of thing newspaper men used in the Vietnam war. Deeply cool.

What else? He’s got a novel he’s working on. (We call them stories.) He’s sharing it with his friends who are the main characters. They are all having fun with it. One friend shared her writing back and I think it was good for him to see that what other people his age are doing. I want him to be challenged but not flattened, if that makes sense.

We’re also introducing art history. I’m having him Google for an art work he likes, then research the artist and do a fill in the blanks paper about it. I want him to try imitating the artist’s style, too, but that’s for later.

He’s already a history nut and seems to take care of that on his own. He’s just finished Turn, the Revolutionary War series. It was quite good and not too adult, though there were a couple of scenes that made him squirm.

We’re adding in chores and exercise to our schedule so it is less hit and miss. I’m sure the chickens appreciate it. I know I like just having to clean up after meals instead of the big clean every weekend. All in all, despite my initial concerns, it went pretty well.

Gotta run – I have my own chores!

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