Monday, September 5, 2016

When Plans Fall Flat Before They Begin

That title sounds more dramatic than I intended, but it describes our experience with high school science so far.  This just may be the homeschool year that kicks my butt.  

There have been a few baby issues.  First it was a cold, then teething, then realizing she had insomnia caused by her continuing dairy insensitivity.  Good-bye again, cheese and butter! All that makes for a mama who is tired, distracted, and not her best self. 

Our primary stumbling block, though, has been high school.  More than the increase in work or the difficulty of the work itself, it is navigating new expectations.  I'm putting pressure on myself.  I'm putting pressure on Gavin.  He's putting pressure on himself.  We both need to take a deep breath and realize it's not as hard as we're making it. 

I mentioned in another post that we shelved what I had planned for science.   One of the joys of homeschooling is tailoring the work to our children's interests, but it doesn't mean they must love everything they do.  Algebra is not going away just because some of my kids hate math!  We're teaching them that sometimes in life you have to do something just because it has been given you to do. 

That being said, in the first weeks of school as we slowly began each subject, we avoided Gavin's science day after day until finally it was the only subject left to begin so we cracked open the book, The black and white pages with very little color, the experiment supply lists, and the lack of insight on what was important and what aspects could be skimmed was too overwhelming.  Two weeks into school and we put the book back on the shelf and started a search for new science curriculum. 

At the same time, I was pondering where to plug in the 3-D printing class Gavin took over the summer.  I wanted to give him credit for the 15 hours of classroom time, but wasn't sure what it could "count" towards.  My mom sent me this link, telling me she thought it sounded like Gavin, and the pieces all clicked for me.

The traditional sciences (biology, chemistry, etc.) will wait as Gavin dives into The Way Things Work Now by David Macaulay.  The subtitle says it all: From Lasers to Levers, Windmills to Wi-Fi,  a Visual Guide to the World of Machines.

I almost ordered a used copy of The New Way Things Work  at an incredible price, I might add, but I decided to pre-order (at full price) the new edition that comes out in October because the topics and technology covered are more up-to-date and include a section on 3-D printers. 

While we wait, we checked  How Machines Work: Zoo Break by the same author out of the library.  It is an incredibly fun, hands-on look at simple machines, and I had Gavin teach it to the younger kids. It was his idea to build an example of each simple machine with Duplo blocks as they read the book. They each (Gavin included) also illustrated a chart for their school portfolios. 

I'm sure there will be more bumps in our journey this school year, but this has put us on a more confident path.  Fellow mamas, don't be afraid to insist that your kids do hard things, but don't be afraid to change course if it's the better choice.

Bonus points if you can give us a name for this science course.  It goes beyond general science and I don't think it quite fits the description of physical science.  Help! 


  1. It's sometimes hard to find that groove needed to move forward.

    Hmm...course name for science...what about Introduction Physical Science.

    The beauty in homeschooling is that you get to learn together and find what works best. Have fun!

  2. This is exactly the beauty of homeschooling!

    As to a name for the course, what about 'mechanical science?'


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