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Hello, new to HS with questions

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Hello, 

I am planning on hs'ing my 2 boys (a rising 9th grade and rising 7th grade) next year and have alot of questions. I have just read the WEll Trained Mind and it seems overwhelming with all the options, plus we would be starting so late in the progression, I don't know how to start.  I feel my 7th grader is behind, he has been receiving passing scores in school, but I don't think he learning anything much, my 9th grader is doing fine. I plan on using Saxon math for both or teaching text book for my older, but I don't know where tostart with the English and grammer b/c I think they both are lacking in grammer and I know they are in writing. I also would like to start a basic latin course to help with vocab. I looked at some of the choices mentioned in the book, but it looks a little too advanced for beginners. 

 

There is just so much material, it's overwhelming. Thanks for any help in advance.

Heather

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Hi Heather,

 

I suggest Writing with Skill I with both boys. 

 

If Latin is only for vocabulary perhaps you should start off with a roots program. You may catch the latin bug as you gain confidence in homeschooling. If you want to dive in then get a grammar school level Latin and progress quickly though the first couple of levels before moving on to a high school level Latin. 

 

It's been a while since we've done grammar, but again, I would choose something you can use with both at the same time. 

Edited by Karenciavo
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I was going to suggest Writing with skill also. It worked well for my ds.

 

I tend to agree that if you are just doing latin for vocabulary a workbook like thesehttp://www.christianbook.com/page/homeschool/language-arts/vocabulary/vocabulary-from-classical-rootsmight work just as well. Ds used these. Dd did latin. If you go with Latin something like First Form from Memoria Press or Mother of Divine Grace syllabus with Henle might be easiest for you.

 

You might want to start a thread for grammar suggestions.

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I like IEW for writing, especially for your rising 7th grader.  it will give a strong foundation in writing.  As for Grammar I really like the Easy Grammar program.  You could do the Easy Grammar plus book with both of them (it is for jr/sr high) over 2 years.

 

As for Latin, have you looked at Latin Alive yet?  I really like the Classical Academic Press materials.  We plan on doing that program when dd is in high school (she is doing French now in middle school).

 

I also highly recommend Art of Argument if you are thinking of doing some logic with them.

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Since you will just be starting out and homeschooling has a pretty significant learning curve and adjustment period for most parents, I suggest you use materials that provide you with a lot of scaffolding at first.

 

Personally, in your situation, I think I would go with the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) Teaching Writing Structure and Style (TWSS) program because it has DVDs to show you how to teach it and the material is clearly laid out and systematic.  There are also DVDs that teach the student directly called the Student Writing Intensive (SWI) if you would prefer the DVDs teach your children with you acting as facilitator.  Some buy both and use both but many only buy one or the other and do just fine.  

 

There are three levels based on age/developmental appropriateness.  With a rising 7th and rising 9th grader you might consider getting TWSS-B/SWI-B.  Level A is for elementary, level B is for Middle School but could easily be used with a rising 9th grader, and level C is for High School.  They are all the same program, just geared to different ages.  Once you finish whatever level you used (A,B, or C), you would not go on to another level of this program, you would either go on to the IEW Continuation program or another of the writing options from IEW ...or at that point you might want to switch gears to something entirely different.  

 

Fix-It Grammar is great for pairing with IEW TWSS/SWI and is also easy to implement.  The student can function pretty independently and you could use it with both of your children, just adjusting the pace if one is grasping and one needs more time.  It is normally scheduled for 15 minutes a day, 4 days a week.  There are 6 books in the series, with each book taking a school year using that schedule.  It starts off very gently and ramps up to pretty intense grammar by the end.  Some people double the lessons so they do two lessons a day, including Fridays.  With that schedule you can complete two books each year and still only increase time spent on this to 30 minutes a day, tops.  

 

FWIW, my daughter who loathes grammar loves Fix-It and is retaining and applying what she is learning to her writing in other subjects.  We go over the first lesson of the week together on Monday, she whips through what she is expected to do, we review what she did to make sure she understands the concept, then the rest of the week she functions pretty independently.  She does the lessons on her own.  At the end of the week we review what she did for the week and she makes any corrections necessary.  She loves that she can do it pretty independently and likes the set up.  From the teacher end of things, it took about 45 minutes at the very beginning to print out the student workbook pages and the reference cards and help DD set up her notebook.  After that, prep each day is less than 2 minutes.  

 

Here is a link to the IEW TWSS/SWI-B program:   http://iew.com/taxonomy/term/8/?f%5B0%5D=im_field_grade_level%3A8

 

Here is a link to Fix-It Grammar (make sure you buy the updated one since it is MUCH better put together) http://iew.com/search/site/fix%20it%20grammar?f[0]=im_field_category%3A20&f[1]=im_field_category%3A17

 

IEW has a 100% money back guarantee so if it doesn't work out for you it is easy to return for a full refund.

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OP, may I also say that if you are going to use Saxon please give the placement test.  A lot of kids end up hating Saxon but many may hate it because they were placed incorrectly.

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I agree with using an IEW video program for writing. However, I would recommend using something more explicit to teach grammar rather than Fix It. I think Fix It is very good to use as a supplement or review for kids who already have some grammar background, but does not provide enough teaching otherwise.

 

We use Rod and Staff English for grammar which is very straightforward, systematic, and thorough, though most people find it dull. Your could start with the 5th grade book which is very advanced compared to public school. Or choose something else, but look for explicit grammar teaching along with written exercises for your kids to practice.

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I had a nice post all written out last night and Rainbow Resource crashed my browser :mad:  TBH, it is prob more about my service than RR, but still.

 

First, I wanted to ask if you want religious or secular materials.  That can make a difference in suggestions.

 

For grammar, check out Hake grammar. It is a secular program and gets high marks.  I would put both of them in the 5th grade level. If it seem easy, tell them to count themselves lucky, lol.

 

If you are truly having a grammar crisis, then do First Language Lessons 4 with them both this year and then move to Hake grammar 5 next. Yes, FLL 4 it is for fourth graders, but it isn't babyish. It is pretty straighforward. It does require some things like poetry memorization and reciting of definitions BUT I think every kid can stand to spend some time doing that.  It is a scripted program so you read out of your book and they work in their workbook. You can get them in PDF, so you can buy one copy of the student workbook and print out the two you would need. FLL4 can also be a good place to start if you have no grammar yourself and you feel unprepared to teach it. It assumes no knowledge and walks you, the teacher, through the program.

 

Latin, have you considered The Big Book of Lively Latin?  You buy it as a PDF and download. Both my boys liked it quite a lot as a middle grades latin program. It starts at the beginning, and assumes no prior knowledge.  You can buy it and use it for both boys.  It is a LOT of printing, but that hasn't bothered me.

 

http://www.livelylatin.com/

 

If you just want Latin for the vocabulary, then, as previously suggested, consider a root words program. There are a number of good ones, as you can see:

 

https://www.rainbowresource.com/searchspring.php?q=root+words

 

 

For writing...Writing with Skill might be a great place to start.  Have you considered online classes?  I have taught Writing with Skill 1-3 with my older boy and my younger boy is now using Writing with Skill 1. But I enrolled him in The Well Trained Mind Academy, so someone else is teaching it.  It has been a great learning experience for him. It's not cheap, I'm not going to sugarcoat it. But it is about the same price as all other online classes. You can also pay all at once, by the semester or even monthly. Your younger boy could take "Expository Writing 1" and your older boy would take "Preparation for Rhetoric" .  The Preparation for Rhetoric is a 'crash course' writing class for kids who are high school aged, but haven't had the prerequisites to start rhetoric. You still have to be involved. I have the teacher's book for Writing with Skill and I am right there helping ds2 with his assignments, keeping him on track and proofreading, etc. It's not a total hand-off, but it is less pressure and work for me.

 

FWIW, the Academy is also offering Saxon math at the high school level. So you could also sign the older boy up for Algebra etc. 

High school is a different beast when it comes to homeschooling and it isn't uncommon for parents to outsource several courses. You might also want to consider signing up for a 'mentor mom' session through the Academy (you don't have to have a kid taking online classes) for information about high school transcripts, making sure you are meeting the requirements for college etc.

 

http://www.wtmacademy.com/

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I'm guessing this thread is leaving you more overwhelmed instead of less. I'm probably not going to make it better. To start with, all the wonderful options in tWTM can be overwhelming to a new homeschooler, particularly jumping in at Jr High/High School There is fear of getting it wrong without time to fix it, particularly for the 9th grader. I'll tell you not to panic :). You can follow SWB's suggestions or you can use some prepackaged curriculum to make jumping in easier. Here are my suggestions if you want to go the later route.

 

For grammar, I would use Analytical Grammar. For your 9th grader, do the whole thing in one year. For the 7th grader you can spread it over 3 years - there are plans included to do both.

 

For writing, certainly take a look at WWS. However, some kids have a hard time adapting to a classical approach to writing when starting at later grades/ages. IEW is a good choice for those who want clear instruction and a very structured approach to writing. If neither of those approaches appeal to you (or your boys), you could look at Sharon Watson's writing materials. Jump In is perfect for 7th grade and The Power is in Your Hands is her high school level course. I consider each of these to be much more like the writing instruction that they will likely have had in the ps, but they will help the boys get on track for their age/grade. 

 

To finish out their English Credit, you will also need to add in some literature. Lightning Literature 7 is a great introduction to literature for your 7th grader. For high school, I prefer Excellence In Literature

 

Be careful about overloading your English credit for your 9th grader. You probably won't want to put more than 1 credit of high school English on his transcript. It is easy to overload that and have him working a couple hours a day on English. Take your time. If he needs to work through Literature and Writing spread across 2 years, that is fine. Just have him work on it consistently and make sure he is making progress.

 

For math, I suggest looking at some samples and letting the boys take some placement tests. Saxon is very unique in its teaching style and approach. If they haven't used it before it can be difficult to jump into. TT is much easier to jump into, but is considered somewhat light. I don't know what levels of math you are looking for so it is hard to give any suggestions. I'd suggest you look through math options for the high school maths on this pinned thread on the high school board. 

 

If you haven't already, you should come on over to the high school board. Your 9th grader is already there and your 7th grader isn't far behind. Homeschooling high school can be intimidating, but it is well worth it, I promise!

 

Welcome!

 
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I echo everything Momto2Ns said. :)

Analytical Grammar, IEW, and look at other math options than just Saxon and Teaching Textbooks. We've enjoyed and got a lot out of Video Text Algebra, although the price tag is pretty steep. And as long as they're progressing, it's ok to not follow the Well Trained Mind completely.

 

We jumped in to hs'ing when my oldest was in 8th grade, and there was a learning curve for sure, but it's been so worth it. If I can do it, and I'm certainly nothing special, then so can you! Welcome! :)

 

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I think at that age you can include the boys in helping to select what they would like to study. We started hs'ing when my kids were rising 6th/8th graders, so just one year behind where you are now. I let them pick what they wanted to study for science, history, and literature. Both were interested in the Ancients for history, Physics for science, and I let each pick out books to read for literature and found resources on the internet to use as a guide for discussions. We did a lot of reading and talking that first year, a few science labs, and some writing (IEW), but nothing over the top. I guess you could say we started off slowly and picked up momentum as the year went on. We started with Saxon for math, but after the first year both kids hated it so we switched to Art of Problem Solving. You'll find out what works and doesn't work and can tweak as you go along. Try to find used materials or perhaps your library has some curriculum you can check out. Also see if there are homeschool groups in your area and meet other homeschoolers whom you might be able to borrow materials from before investing heavily in something you might not use for the whole year. BE FLEXIBLE. If something isn't working, toss it and try something else. That's one of the great things about homeschooling, you can ditch something entirely and try something else. What works for student may not work for another.

 

If you read one of the big threads like 2016-17 7th grade planning, you can see how many different options there are for everything. It can be overwhelming. No matter what you do it will be OK. There may always be something newer, better, faster out there, but if something feels right, go with your instincts and don't worry about what others are doing.

 

I would also suggest listening to some podcasts on homeschooling. Some of my favorites are from Bravewriter's Julie Bogart (she is the author of a writing program, but also has podcasts that are applicable to all hs'ers whether you use her program or not), WTM's own Susan Wise Bauer, and Andrew Pudewa from IEW does some great podcasts about teaching boys and also about writing. Go to their websites and you can find recorded podcasts to listen to, some cost $, others are free.

 

Good luck!

 

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Welcome!

 

English:  Analytical Grammar with IEW is where I'd start.  Add in something like Vocabulary from the Classical Roots, unless you have a child who really wants to study Latin at this age.  I am starting to use Mosdos Press for grades 3-8 and Textword Press for grades 9-12 as a general spine, then adding additional novels for reading (I make a list, we do 6-8, I select 2-4, they choose the rest from the list).

 

Math:  I would suggest you look somewhere other than Saxon and TT if you can.  Check out Chalkdust Math or Forester's (Homeschool Connections has video classes using Foerster's now), but take placement tests (especially for Saxon and TT). 

 

If you want to start with Latin, your 7th grader could look at Latin Alive.  If your rising 9th grader would also like to use Latin as foreign language credit, look at Homeschool Connections courses using Wheelock's.  I suggest Homeschool Connections, because the courses are available through an unlimited recorded option (I pay $30/month).  Some of the classes have issues with audio/video -- which they are working on fixing more and more each year.  

 

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I echo the recommendation for IEW writing SWI-B, with videos.  As someone new to homeschooling, with the ages of your boys, this program will be much easier for you to implement successfully than WWS, imo.  Analytical Grammar/Fix-it Grammar or Easy Grammar are all fine additions for grammar. You would need to add literature/analysis to that.  For your younger, Lightning Lit 7 would be good.  For your older, Windows to the World -- and you might want to add novels with lit guides to that.

 

For math -- Saxon is definitely a solid choice, but unless you are very confident in teaching math for middle/high school, I recommend that you get a set of one of the various teaching cds/videos to go along with it.  Saxon Teacher is probably the most complete, but Art Reed and Dive also have videos to teach/supplement the program.  Definitely have them both do Saxon placement tests to figure out their levels.  Otherwise, an online math program may be the way to go.

 

If I were just starting out with kids your ages, I would start using Plato Science through Homeschool Buyers Coop for science -- maybe with Physical Science.  I would add in the QSL Physical Science kit to that, and line the labs up with the Plato Chapters.  Your boys could do these together.  In the meantime, I would be researching what I wanted to do for the following year for science that might be textbook based.

 

History -- there are a number of options.  We liked Human Odyssey from K12 with the student and teacher pages bought from amazon. 

 

Good luck!!

 

 

 

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How involved will you be able to be?  Will you be home with them?  Working from home?  Do you plan to learn alongside them or are you wanting something independent?  What is your strongest academic subject and your weakest?  I agree with listening to podcasts or audios.  

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