August 18, 2006

Homeschooling meme

I've been tagged for a homeschooling meme by Lissa in her Lilting House, and though we're still enjoying summer -- it's still warm, hurray, and I'm still battling weeds in the shelterbelt trees and now a sneaky mole in my raised bed vegetable garden -- the project seems like a good way to start making some back to school preparations, since we'll begin the day after Labor Day.

One homeschooling book you've enjoyed:
Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson, who wrote this back when he was a public high school teacher. As lyrical as you would expect from the author of Snow Falling on Cedars, even on the subject of democracy and education, but also thoughtful and well-researched. And entirely secular, which is refreshing considering the subject.

The first title that occurred to me was Marva Collins' Way: Returning to Excellence in Education, but then I remembered that it's not really a homeschooling book. But it can most certainly be applied to home learning and it's wonderfully inspirational, especially when it comes to confirming one's thoughts about what motivates and challenges children.

One resource you wouldn't be without:
A CD player, or three.

The boys received one for Christmas last year, Laura has had one in her room for the past few years, and the best one is in the kitchen. We listen to all kinds of music, audiobooks (particularly useful for stretching out storytime when Mom's voice gives out), book and music combinations (the Classical Kids series, the Naxos Audiobook's "History of Classical Music"), and foreign language instruction. Some of the audiobooks are just for fun, others for learning, most are more than a bit of both; at the moment I'm waiting on the delivery of Jim Weiss's "Thomas Jefferson's America" and "Abraham Lincoln and the Heart of America" discs. Laura has recently discovered the library's selection of unabridged recordings of classic literature from Recorded Books, reading and then reading and listening her way through Little Women (17 cds!) and A Little Princess (only 7 if I remember correctly). A sort of layered approach to literature, not to mention great practice for listening skills that I'm hoping will come in handy for college lectures.

One resource you wish you had never bought:
Not as dire as the question makes it sound, but I wish I hadn't spent the time and money on Modern Curriculum Press's Spelling Workout, despite its recommendation in The Well-Trained Mind. Fortunately, Laura used it for only a few months in first grade before I realized she wasn't retaining anything and that SWO needed the old heave-ho. Ever since, Laura has been happily using and retaining Avko's Sequential Spelling.

One resource you enjoyed last year:
Story of the World: Early Modern Times (volume 3), which we get to enjoy again this year, because I've added in enough early (through 1850) U.S. and Canadian history to make 1600-1850 a two-year study.

One resource you'll be using this year:
Write with the Best by Jill Dixon, recommended by my friend L. of SCHOLA and Road SCHOLA fame and recipient of of some intriguing reviews. I was looking for a composition program that uses imitative writing and follows the progymnasmata, offers a variety of examples and activities (I'm fairly certain of headbanging at best and a full-scale writing mutiny at worst if I offer Laura nothing but fables or Homer for an entire year), and is a good deal (not only is it $26 CAN, but also it can be used for kids from grades 3-12).

After some digging, I found that the only Canadian source for WWTB had been A + Books Canada in Ontario, and while WWTB wasn't currently in stock, the new owner was more than willing to bring it in, along with a few other things -- such as the Jim Weiss CDs mentioned above, not carried by either or for some reason -- to encourage some one-stop shopping. So now the publisher, the vendor, and I are all happy (well, I will be when it arrives, which should be soon). Moral of the story: it pays to ask, and that goes for asking publishers about Canadian distributors as well as vendors for bringing other items in. If you want it, chances are someone else will, too.

One resource you'd like to buy:
I'm tempted by several things from BrimWood Press, especially their new coloring book, Color the Western World: An Artful Journey through 5,000 Years of History; it's hard to resist items called "Tools for Young Historians". And knowing that Circle of Quiet includes the Brim family in her circle of friends and recommends some of their other "Tools" is a lovely, more than reassuring surprise.

One resource you wish existed:
An enormous warehouse within a half hour's drive containing each and every one of the books, programs, CDs, DVDs, manipulatives, etc. I've ever considered purchasing, where I could see, read, touch, and listen to them.

One homeschooling catalogue you enjoy reading:
Tree of Life from New Brunswick; not secular but lots of goodies for the classical homeschooler

One homeschooling website you use regularly:
I can't think of a particular homeschooling website, but I'm a regular and frequent visitor of our library system's page for placing online ILL requests. And on a related note, another plug for Library Elf, which keeps me from spending more time than necessary at the library website searching out due dates for our oodles of items. And the Elf needs only one visit to its own website, after which you get handy dandy reminders in your email inbox.

For the final item I'm supposed to tag five others, but as usual I'll just leave it open, and if you decide to play along let me know in the comments, please!

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