Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Our 22nd Year of Homeschooling, November 2017 : High School with a Struggling Reader with Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum and Our Homeschool Report

Last month I promised to tell you more about the curriculum that James and I have settled on for his high school work. I have always been a somewhat laid-back, hands-on kind of teacher, so at first when my son James struggled with learning to read, we just plugged along slowly and was comforted by the thought that although all of my kids (except, ironically my autistic son, Alex) struggled with learning to read, but eventually it kicked in and now the older two are going to college successfully.
But then he was in middle school, about to go to high school and we were still struggling, so we decided to get him tested by experts, to find out exactly where he was with reading and to hopefully get some ideas for ways of teaching him that I had been missing. The results were probably as expected, but they were depressing as I had no hope for something to make it better. He was reading at about mid-first grade level (I had put him at second grade) and they offered no help because James' learning disabilities made it hard for him to tap into alternate resources because he had dyslexia, language disorders that affected acquiring, processing and producing language. This made it hard for him to read, hard for him to understand written language read to him and hard for him to process information. They did not have any advise for me.
In my search for curriculum for him, I picked up a science book I had used with Katie in high school (for her it was in addition to the usual Apologia curriculum) off my shelves because I remembered that it had an easy read-and-answer-the-questions format. 
We began using The People, Places and Principles of Integrated Physics and Chemistry
by Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. 
It has a very structured and repetitive format that is useful necessary for students who have severe language disabilities. It can also be used with students without disabilities, but they may find it a bit too repetitive in format. It drove my son, Quentin, crazy, for example. But, it was just was James needed. It helped him to know in advance what information to focus on. For most students, even students with learning disabilities, following the pattern of reading the entire chapter and then answering the questions will prove successful. The questions range from fill-in-the blanks, true/false and multiple choice. The focus is always on reading comprehension, with questions such as cause and effect, in each section. Other than the fact that the science curriculum does not have any math in it, your student will know exactly everything  else by the end of the series that any other high school student will know, so it is not dumbed down, just in a format that is less challenging.
They have a complete curriculum available, including English, Science, Math and History, starting in 7th grade, and going through to 12th grade. Since we started in ninth grade, we followed their suggestions for science, Integrated Physics and Chemistry I  and English, English I: Language Skills, but we are using Basic Math Skills for math, suggested in seventh grade and American History I, suggested for ninth grade. I chose the math because I wanted to make sure he did not have any gaps in his concrete math before we went on to more conceptual math (harder for students with language disorders) and we picked up American History where we had left off. 
The result? For the first time in a long time, James comes to the table to complete school work without a struggle and it is because it is no longer a traumatic event. Every time he worked on school work in the past, it reminded him of his inadequacies and took an emotional toll on him. It also took so much work for him to do the simplest of activities, he wore out before we really got anything of substance completed. That has all changed since our curriculum switch  and so, I recommend that if you are having struggles with your student with learning disabilities, give Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum a try. Start with just one subject and see how it works. You can purchase the curriculum in chapter sections, starting at about $6.00, so it is not a large financial commitment to try it. I want to also note that I am writing this out of my love for the curriculum, and did not get any compensation for writing this post, not even free curriculum. 
Lastly, I wanted to mention that I received a phone call from the head of the company when I placed my order. He wanted to know more about me as a customer since I had ordered the curriculum across the board, and he wanted me to give him feedback after I had used the curriculum so that he could better meet the needs of his customers. How often do you get this kind of service?
If you have any questions for me about this curriculum, feel free to shoot me a note in the comments or via email.

For November James studied:
American History: Key topics: Gristmills, Daniel Boone, Dr. Benjamin Rush, westward migration, apple orchards, The Boston Tea Party, community recreation, newspapers, drafting the Declaration of Independence, Valley Forge, Nathanael Greene, fighting ships, streets and coaches, slavery, Noah Webster, Phyllis Wheatley, Northwest Ordinance, drafting and overview of the U.S. Constitution, holidays, families, furniture, John Jacob Astor, spinning machines

English 9: Language Skills: Key topics: reading and writing skills—cause and effect, sentence structure, fact and opinion, noun-verb agreement, verb tenses, creating paragraphs, correct placement, compare and contrast, punctuation, spelling, capitalization, sequencing, descriptive paragraphs; composition—informative, narrative, persuasive, inspirational; outlines, transitional sentences, drafts

Now on to other to other educational happenings in our household...

Quentin, 8th grade
Quentin is doing fine on his own self designed program. He has quite a large array of subjects, so he only gets a little of each completed each week, but that is fine by me as he is getting a well-rounded education and is progressing each week.
He is writing a paper on the history of weapon and armor progression. He is struggling at this a bit because he wants it to be perfect and I cannot convince him of the concepts of drafts.
For his science worked on Biology mainly this month, finishing the chapter on the chemistry of life and will soon experience his first test on it.
He is continuing work in Ancient Greek and Latin, preferring Latin. He is writing little reports for history. We are reading George Washington's World and The Sherwood Ring, as well.
He is still working on fractions in math and I have turned math teaching over to Sam, as he now has the most math education under his belt, having taken more math classes than either Steven or I in college.
source: pictures from Rod and Staff, Growing with Music
He is doing well with his voice lessons, focusing on breathing and the parts of the body that make the different sounds we sing. I happened to find these illustrations of these while looking through my books as I was getting rid of curriculum that is too young for my high school-ish boys.
After suspending fencing in October due to illness, he came back to it in November with gusto.

The Graduates
This is a nearly finished piece of a griffin that he will be giving James for Christmas.
Alex is still enjoying creating beautiful pieces of art (that he will be giving as Christmas presents) using the tutorials at The Art Sherpa.

A set of tiles Katie made in Ceramics I class.

I am happy to announce has found her calling. She absolutely loves ceramics and wants to pursue this as her career. She will be taking Ceramics II next semester as well as other courses. I won't be showing too many more of her pieces as some of them she is giving out as Christmas gifts.
A few of the pieces Katie has done for her Drawing class. The top one is her rendition of Rembrandt's View of London, done in ink and the bottom two are done in charcoals. A charcoal sketch of an egg can also be found here.
Now while she is doing so well in her other classes, she is struggling to make an average grade in her drawing class, which just baffles me as she has always gotten excellent grades in her other college art classes and her high school drawing classes. All of the above pieces have gotten her "C's." She says that her art teacher expects too much and that the only people who are getting "A's" in her opinion, have no business being in a Beginning Drawing class. I found these above drawings crumpled, which just shows what the class has done for her self esteem. What do you think?

A couple of his Statistics tests I managed to find in his computer bag.

Sam has a more cerebral load of classes, and has been doing well with it, getting almost all "A's" in all his classes. He is still enjoying politics and is looking forward to taking more such classes in the future.

How was the month of November in your schooling?


  1. I think art teachers are a pain in the neck! Her drawings are great and she is in beginning drawing class. The teacher should be encouraging a love of art and creating art. Thank you so much for talking about Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum. I am going to do the diagnostic math test on Dean tomorrow. We may try a few science chapters as well.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. 1. I tried Paradigm before with my kids and loved it (but they were too young at the time). I keep intending to go back to it, but keep forgetting. I need to dig it out and complete it.
    2. Those drawings are amazing and her instructor is nuts.
    3. I'm super impressed at all of her artwork and wish I had that kind of skill.

  3. You always amaze me with what you accomplish! The Paradigm curriculm sounds outstanding for kids with language disorders!


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