Grade 9

We are halfway through Emma’s Grade 9 year. It has been full of joy, discovery, excitement and discouragement.

First, the discouragement. It’s always good to sweep the messiness away right at the start. Well, we started the year with our eyes bigger than our brains. Let me re-phrase that. I started the year with higher expectations than life could hold. Emma started her day with the rest of us, enjoying Morning time. She would then go off on her own to tackle her daily subjects: math, latin, history, science and writing. Can you see where this is going? Already, just with the daily subjects, she is slogging through close to 5 hrs and she hasn’t even gotten to logic or reading (she has a pretty hefty reading list this year as well. I will try to share that next month.) During the first week of school it was common to have 4 o’clock roll around and Emma not being anywhere close to being finished her day’s work. Things had to change. So began a month of trial and error. We tried many things to tame her workload. We finally came upon the semester idea. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this in the beginning. Anyway, we settled on math, latin and history being every day subjects. Writing and computer science were her fall subjects. Science and logic then became her spring subjects. Reading took place at night before she went to sleep. This seems to have worked out quite nicely. We will continue the semester system throughout her high school years.

The other root of our discouragement is me. I am having a hang of a time finding time for prep. In order for Emma and I to have meaningful discussions about the books she is reading, not to mention being able to teach her logic, I have to have time to read the books and prep for logic. This isn’t happening. Why? Because I am not good at disciplining myself to a regular prep time. Theoretically, this time could be easily found after our school day–from 4:00 until 5:30, easily found. But other things beg to take that time away from me, like baking, cleaning, playing games with the kids, you name it, it has precedence over prepping. I know that I need to get a handle on this but knowing something and actually doing it, well, that’s a whole other blog post. So this is what I am working on during the dwindling months of our school year.

Okay, enough of the drudgery, on to the joy and enjoyment. We are enjoying our Great Book reads. We have, up to this point read Gilgamesh, The Iliad and The Oedipus trilogy. We are in the middle of The Odyssey right now. The reading is going slower than I had anticipated. It could go faster if I gave up reading the books aloud but I want this time to be a family time, a time to read these books all together so I have given up the plan of reading more books and will be happy with however many books do get finished. The downside of the Great Books is the lack of discussion that accompanies them. I am hoping that this will pick up as Emma gets older. I might just have to resign myself to the fact that discussion is not going to be a part of our reading time. I keep telling myself that that is okay, that I am laying the foundation for the Great Ideas and she can build on it as she gets older. I keep telling myself this.

The other good thing about this year is being a witness to Emma’s growing older. I have a front row seat to the way she thinks, the way she learns, the humorous things that come out of her mouth. I am able to see it all (the good and the bad) and I am enjoying every minute of it. I am also surprised at how conscientious she is at her learning. When she comes across something in her reading that she doesn’t understand, she looks it up–Google is her friend. I am impressed by this because I couldn’t be bothered looking anything up. I keep plodding along, hoping that my ignorance will be cleared up further along in my reading. Thank goodness she doesn’t get that from me.

So this semester will see us tackling biology, logic, math–we are alternating between algebra and geometry, history (she is working her way through Susan Wise Bauer’s ancient history book for adults,) and latin. I am starting to second guess latin, though. I think she needs to work more on writing. She will be playing around with words and experimenting with her writing voice but I think we also need to work on form as well and we can’t do that with latin tagging along. So I have to give this some thought. We will be working our way through The Odyssey and then moving on to Herodotus. I would like to get some smatterings of Aristotle and Plato in as well. We will see just how much time we will have left after we get Odysseus under our belts.

This high school thing is tricky and just plain hard but I am enjoying it. I am enjoying the challenge.

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