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  1. I would have loved a Rainbow Resource catalog. When I first decided to homeschool, it took me a couple months of research before I found their website. Even if it's just an older catalog you were about to recycle, it would let her know that the company exists, and how much variety is available now.
  2. I had three years of textbook-based Spanish in high school. My brother also took Spanish, and we used it as our secret language when we didn't want our parents to know what we were talking about. By the end of the three years, I was dreaming in Spanish. Having a conversation partner is very important for textbook-based foreign language to work. My husband and parents did not have this, and they never reached any level of fluency with their studied languages and never use them now. With whatever budget you have for this last minute subject, I would spend money first on a conversation partner, and if there is anything left, then buy a textbook.
  3. Our's started watching it in 6th grade, but we limited them to one episode per week during the school year (reward for getting all work done that week). That slowdown also keeps them from reaching the Spike episodes too early. I've found that watching Buffy together helps awkward conversations happen more naturally, and we ended up discussing a lot of things I might not have thought to discuss otherwise.
  4. Don't use Anime Studio (aka MOHO)! Even with tutorials, that killed my oldest's love of animation. Layering is a good intermediate digital art skill to work on. Anything that focuses on layering would be good. My oldest had previously made digital art in Scratch, Gimp, and Inkscape. She's currently using Clip Studio Paint (she wanted Adobe, but I won't pay for software subscriptions) with an XP-Pen drawing tablet. I haven't registered her for any classes, but Google shows that there are a lot available (free and paid). Even the official tutorials have a lot to work through and you can filter "for beginners": https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/official My daughter taught herself independently how to use the software. She said Google was her friend when she had specific issues. She wasn't taking an art course that semester, so she just made art for fun in her free time, learning new techniques as she needed them. If you're interested in doing an independent course, I would alternate tutorials with projects. You could have the student do a step-by-step tutorial with the tutorial's subject, then do a creative project using those same skills with the subject determined by personal interest (for my oldest, it would be dragons, avatars, and fan art). Digital art can suck up hours and hours of time, so it would not be hard to earn credit(s) even without a formal class. I just thought I would throw the idea out there in case you'd be willing to spend money on software rather than a teacher. FWIW, I think learning the software on her own was a good general learning experience for my oldest. Also, it's worth asking your child if she could come up with a syllabus. I have been pleasantly surprised by how much my daughter would plan out an elective when given the opportunity.
  5. I like Johns Hopkins: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html If you click on the tab labeled admin1, you see state info. Admin2 shows county info. It's cumulative, but I just write the # positive and deaths in my planner to keep track of the delta.
  6. We do Vocab From Classical Roots. We also do Spanish, with occasional comparison between the Spanish, Latin, and English words, to show how the languages are related. When my oldest switched to public school, she said she could understand more complex words than the rest of her class. They had no idea how to decipher meaning from a word that was new to them. She'll be doing the ACT in a few months, and it will be interesting to see how she scores. If you're going to cover Latin anyway, you could probably just add in some of the Greek roots on your own.
  7. I read the document as saying it needs to be done by a professional testing service, with Sylvan being the only one listed. Then it separately lists standardized tests which can be done. It lists Seton and others as "ordering sites", not professional testing services. When I emailed all the people I listed above, I asked them specifically where the test could be done. I would have been fine taking my kid to the local brick and mortar school for the couple days of testing, paying for a proctor (like what Sylvan used to do), or doing it at home. I just wanted clarification, and over and over again, they all said Sylvan. Not once did anyone say I could have her take the test at my house. The people in my county said they have never had anyone do the alternate testing, so this is new territory for them. Still, I would think the state would be able to offer better guidance. Surely I am not the first person ever to make use of this law. I didn't use a cover school because I had been homeschooling for years before moving to TN, and I didn't see any benefit in a cover school. The independent requirements seemed straightforward at the time, and with Covid we were not going to meet up with anyone in person anyway. We have high academic ambitions and I keep detailed records, so I was not afraid of anyone poking their nose in. I just didn't anticipate outdated guidelines and an unwillingness to update them.
  8. The document that lists Sylvan as the professional testing service to use also lists the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills as one of the allowable tests. Since that test is no longer offered (Iowa realigned the testing to the new educational standards and Iowa Assessments Form E is the new test), the document clearly needs to be updated: https://www.livebinders.com/media/get/MjA4NzM4ODc= The homeschool coordinator for the state said that document came from "our testing department", but did not elaborate further. I think that when the Director of Schools contacts me, I will tell him that my daughter will take the Stanford 10 in my house, unless he can find a professional testing service that can proctor the test. Either way, I'll be satisfied. I'm just sad I haven't able to get the education department to find a global fix before it impacts everyone else needing to do the testing. You would think they'd be grateful someone brought this to their attention so far in advance of spring testing.
  9. In Tennessee, standardized testing is required at certain grade levels. This coming year will be my first time dealing with this. If you do not want to do the TN TCAP tests, the state legislature provides for alternate testing. From https://www.tn.gov/education/school-options/home-schooling-in-tn.html "Yes, there is an option outlined below in TCA § 49-6-3050 which would allow for a home school student to take a test other than the TCAP or End of Course Assessments. The law states: (5) (A) Administration by the commissioner of education, or the commissioner's designee, or by a professional testing service that is approved by the LEA, to home school students of the same state board approved secure standardized tests required of public school students in grades five (5), seven (7) and nine (9); (ii) Tests administered by a professional testing service shall be administered within thirty (30) days of the date of the statewide test. Tests administered by a professional testing service shall be administered at the expense of the parent-teacher; (iii) All test results from either administration by the commissioner or the commissioner's designee, or by a professional testing service, shall be provided to the parent-teacher, the director of schools and the state board of education; So the test would need to be standardized, administered by a professional testing service within 30 days of the statewide assessments, and the results provided to the LEA for review." I have been contacting people in the public educational system and the only place they have said alternate testing can be done is at Sylvan. Sylvan says they made a policy change nationwide this year to longer offer test proctoring. So far, I have emailed 1) the Homeschool Coordinator for my county, 2) the Homeschool Coordinator for the state, 3) the Testing Coordinator for my school, 4) the Director of Assessment Program Management for the state. All of them say to do the test at Sylvan, despite me telling them Sylvan says this is not an option. Sylvan specifically requested their business be removed from the TN education documents listing them as a testing proctor. They have been trying for months to be removed, but they can't seem to get anyone in the Department of Education to do so. Who should I contact next to get this sorted? State legislature? Governor's office? Someone further up the ladder at the Department of Education? I can't believe none of the state education people listed above tried to discuss the issue with their boss, since this will be impacting quite a few students in the spring. I'm also disappointed that they allowed a single business to be their only source for something that is required by the state.
  10. I have finalized my plans and here are my updates: Language Arts: We're going to alternate Writing Strands with fiction writing, maybe continuing Adventures In Fantasy, or maybe doing and using pieces of NANOWRIMO. She will also work through Vocabulary From Classical Roots books 6 and A, as well as Commas. Otherwise, grammar will be corrected on any completed schoolwork. In lieu of a spelling workbook, I will put any misspelled words into her Word Vault (she daily writes the words from the vault, and she gets to tear up the index card once she spells it correctly three days in a row). She will continue to work on handwriting, with an emphasis of writing smaller. Literature: We do secular homeschooling, so we will be starting the Bible as literature, covering Genesis-Psalms. She will also read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Macbeth. If she finishes that early, I will offer Sherlock Holmes. She absolutely loved the one episode of the BBC's Sherlock that we let her watch. Beyond that, I haven't decided. Maybe Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, Douglas Adams' books. If she plows through all of that, I'll let her loose on her sister's bookshelf and just make sure she's reading something every day. I also added some LOTR themed parties for the family at different milestones in the books. I think she is going to love it. Math: Start Saxon 8/7. I'm not sure yet how many lessons per week or if I'll add in something different for Fridays. In the fall she'll do 4 lessons per week, then around week 20 she'll only do 3 a week. I decided to give her a math-free day so she has more time on Fridays to finish up any other subjects. Science: We are doing biology, with Holt Life Science as the spine, but we'll take a detour with McHenry's Protozoa. Social Studies: For the first time since I started homeschooling, we are not going to use SOTW. Instead, I am creating a history of science/inventions course, emphasizing mealtime discussions of how innovation influenced politics. I will probably assign a research paper per semester. Spanish: She will finish Spanish 1 (an old textbook my high school teacher gave me) and the customized workbook. On Fridays, she'll use the British Mi Vida Loca website. Art: Seventh grade art is a year of choices. Every week, she'll get 2- 3 choices for ideas for her art journal, as well as 2- 3 choices for multimedia projects. She can choose to do one or more from each list, as well as anything else that tickles her fancy. We may work through a colored pencil book to work on shading, highlighting and blending. I decided to leave art as completely choice. If she wants practice with colored pencils, I have a book ready for her, but I won't push it. Logic: She'll do Logic Liftoff, Mindbenders 4, read Fallacy Detective, continue doing variety puzzles or crosswords. We'll be doing the spreadsheet section of EasyPeasy's Computer Level 8. The year before my kids turn 13, I have them do CommonSense Media's Digital Citizenship course, so they understand the potential consequences once they are finally able to have their own email address. She will also continue Python programming, maybe continuing with Minecraft, or maybe something else. My husband still hasn't decided what kind of programming he wants to do with her this year. I think he's trying to decide if she is ready for Unity. Life Skills: She will cook one dinner per week, gradually building up her cookbook binder with recipes that she wants to eat. She'll also work through Discover What You're Best At and research potential careers related to those results. Health/PE: She wants to learn about specific communicable diseases, so I'll make up a list for her to research one per week (done!). She and I both have health issues with our legs, so we'll continue with leg stretching exercises. We're also getting her into the habit of riding a recumbent bike when she watches tv (added distance goals). She enjoys archery, so I'll probably include some practice for that as well. Electives: She wants to study developmental psychology, but I am struggling to find an appropriate source for that (I ended up buying a book about baby/early childhood development designed for new mothers, so the reading level is fairly low). She also wants to learn how to play her father's trumpet. We'll see if he has time next year to give her weekly lessons. His workload has more than tripled this year and he's expected to head his own (brand new) department soon, so he is going to have to be less involved than previously planned. It has gotten to the point where I have to bring lunch, snack, and sometimes dinner to his computer. If he is able to hire enough people under him to reduce his workload, we'll reconsider trumpet. I have all the subject schedules printed and filed. She is going to keep the schedules in a binder divided by subject so she can refer to them each week when she fills out her planner. I also made photocopies of worksheets and project pages and filed those by week. I think I am all ready for the first day of school (14 days from today). Once she is used to this year's workload, she will be more independent and I intend to start writing fiction again. I haven't had time to satisfy my muse since having kids, and this feels like a good time to start indulging my own hobbies again.
  11. About a month ago, I smacked my eye with my own ponytail. It hurt at the time, and then I didn't think about it. Then my eye started hurting a couple evenings later. By the time I woke up the next day, my upper eyelid was visibly swollen and red. The eyeball itself was fine. I went to the eye doctor and it was infected, like pinkeye but only presenting on the eyelid. Some antibiotic eyedrops cleared it up. So even if it's just a swollen eyelid, it could still be infected. And yes, the eye doctor filed with the medical insurance, not the vision.
  12. The plain surge protector is what we use for small electronics, like cell phones or tablets. These can be bought just about anywhere (groceries, Target, etc). The surge protector shown has five items plugged in: three for cell phones and two for tablets. The battery backup is for computers and video game consoles. We also plug the televisions into these so we can save and exit a video game if the power abruptly cuts off while we're playing. Our whole family is into video games, so spending $70-80 on the battery backup is worth it to us to not lose hours of game progress. The battery backup shown is for my computer, so the two things plugged in are my desktop and monitor. The whole house surge protector takes up two slots on the electrical panel. It's the roughly square part with the bright green light. If your electrical panel is full, an electrician can create a subpanel and move some of the breakers over to the subpanel to make room for the surge protector on the main panel. If you do the subpanel and whole house surge protector at the same time, it's about $1,000.
  13. We hired an electrician to install a surge protector to our electrical panel that protects everything in and out of the house. However, we still have battery backups on our major electronics (tvs, video game consoles, computers). In the case of a power outage, this gives us time to properly shut them off so the hardware will last longer. If we expect a strong storm, we will shut off all the computers ahead of time so we don't get woken up during the night. Our rule of thumb is that if the electronic device costs twice more than a surge protector, it's worth buying a surge protector for it. If I would have had to replace the item, then I will have saved money with the surge protector. Since the washer fire nearly burned down our house, it was obvious to us that the $356 whole house surge protector would be a huge savings in the long run.
  14. Gyros Stroganoff Muffins to serve with a salad If none of the main dishes appeal, it's a great addition to smoothies, or you could make your own froyo with whatever flavorings you have on hand.
  15. A sewage grinder takes waste from the house and grinds it up before pumping it out to the sewage line at the street. It's like a hybrid between septic and sewer. It works great until the power goes out. I've thought about buying a generator just to ensure we can flush toilets during power outages.
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