After weeks of research and contemplation, I think it's finally done! I put in my last orders this morning. I'm a bit taken aback by all the money I have spent, but as an old friend in California once said to me, "sometimes you have more time than money and other times you have more money than time". Not that I have so much money...but since I am now working a job, I can squeeze a little more out of the budget to get materials that my son can use a little more independently...which is good for both my schedule and his development. And since he's going into his junior year of high school, his development is becoming more and more important.
"What to do for U.S. History?" has been on my mind a lot these weeks. This past year, his primary resource for what I call "World History and Culture" was movies (from Netflix). I used the book, Learning with the Movies, by Beth Holland to get ideas, along with doing a bit of research for myself. We discussed the movies, discussed time lines, discussed world events...and he wrote essays. I'm really pretty pleased with our "program"; however, for U.S. History, I wanted to be a little more comprehensive and cohesive in presentation of material. Because my son is legally blind, it isn't easy for him to read very much at a time...and I didn't really see anything in auditory format. So I was delighted to discover the Graphic U.S. History series. Somewhat like comic books in appearance, they are written at the level of a newspaper (easy to read but interesting for all ages), and it looks like they provide lots of great history knowledge...and in timeline order. We will continue to use movies and essays, as well.
Most difficult to decide was what curriculum to use for Spanish, simply because I had a hard time bringing myself to pay the cost. However, we finally decided to get what I hear and hope is "the best"...Rosetta Stone. There is even a homeschool edition with tracking capabilities. I ordered ours through Timberdoodle, a homeschool supplier in Washington State (the same company where I discovered the Graphic U.S. History). Why did I go through Timberdoodle for the Spanish? ...because their catalogs have helped me find such great materials over the years...over the decades...and, of course, it doesn't hurt any that they're from my home state, either. :)
For Algebra 2, we will continue to use Teaching Textbooks, which we already possess from the next older son having used it. As I have watched newer and more homeschool-friendly materials develop, this has been my very favorite. The kids just pop a CD-Rom into the computer, watch the problems as the authors discuss the lesson, and then work the problems in the book. Peter has used this for Algebra 1 and Geometry, and done beautifully (it might not hurt, either, that math is his "thing").
For English, I went the "spend time rather than money" route. I don't know if there's any other way to go for composition, anyway, than to spend time with the student and their work. Well, you might think I can easily teach writing, since I'm a writer, but the one doesn't necessarily follow from the other (especially since I pretty much "play by ear" when I write). What I have been wanting, I think, for teaching writing, are the right materials. I hope I have found just that in Jensen's Format Writing, which I ordered from Catholic Heritage Curricula. This book can be used in one high school year or two, and covers single paragraph formats, five paragraph essays, business writing, major papers, and etc.
This past year for science, we used Biology 101 by Wes Olson and I was very pleased with the program, which provides hours of interesting, basic instruction on DVDs, accompanied by a guidebook for adding reading, field trips and labs to accomplish enough learning and hours for an accredited course.
Chemistry was my son's next choice for science and I did a lot of research to try to find the right program for us. This might be another subject where I will have to put in a little time - and I'm not a "science person", but Friendly Chemistry looks very...well, friendly. I emailed the authors some questions about our special needs and they emailed me back promptly. Also, I liked that there are experiments which use materials that are readily available.
Last night I finally decided what to do for religion. I ordered the Catechism of the Catholic Church on CD-Rom as reference material. He also has the New Testament on tapes. For the meat and potatoes (and dessert), I plan to join Pius Media, online Catholic DVD Rental Club...which appears to work a lot like Netflix. I had fun last night browsing the selections, where it looks like we should be able to get talks on apologetics and doctrine, as well as both instructional and devotional Bible presentations, along with stories of great people and what they have done.
I'm not sure where in the world he will find the time for this last item, but I know it's important. We have a CD-Rom for preparation for the S.A.T. pre-college exam, which we obtained for the cost of shipping as members of Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
If you have read this far, I am guessing you either have a high school student or you are a family member or friend interested in how I do it (including a cyber-friend? ). If you reading this simply because you are my friend or relative, thank you for your interest! :)
If you are reading this because you yourself are trying to plan your own homeschool curriculum, and if you happen to be a Catholic homeschooler, I'd like to recommend one more resource for you. You can listen to a Homeschool Connections webinar given by Alicia VanHecke on June 10th about "Choosing Worthwhile Homeschool Materials". Homeschool Connections, founded by Walter Crawford and my friend and homeschooling colleague Maureen Wittmann, presents free webinars for homeschool parents, as well an interesting offering of webinar classes for teens.
And now, please excuse me while I go work toward finishing up this past year's schoolwork...