I decided to post my 7th grade daughter's curriculum before Jackson's, because, frankly, it was much easier to put together! She will be following the public school calendar and the Virginia state SOLs pretty closely, so I was able to create a comprehensive program for her in about a weeks time. Jackson's program has taken me all summer to think through, and I am still not even close to finished...ugh!! I know many of you homeschool at least one other neuro-typical child, so I thought a quick blog about Caroline might be helpful, and also make you feel less guilty about not having all your ducks in a row for your autistic child's upcoming school year.
As an FYI, Caroline is 12 and going into 7th grade. While in public school, she was enrolled in the gifted program (called AAP or Advanced Academic Program here in Fairfax County). We homeschooled her in 5th grade just for a one year experience, (she was jealous of her brother), but we found that when she went back into middle school for 6th grade, it was not a good fit for her...1500 out-of-control kids between the ages of 11-14 was just too much for my shy, introverted, witty, serious and intense kid. She will finish all her work for the following program by noon every day and spend the rest of her time with her many other homeschool friends or in the gym, where she is happiest.
As Caroline's mother, this has been my favorite age so far by a mile! I am so looking forward to spending more time with the most interesting, kind and funniest person I know, second only to my husband.
Math: Algebra 1
Math-U-See: Algebra 1
Caroline is a visual learner who needs a multi-sensory approach to new concepts. Math-U-See uses a manipulative number system to help students learn new concepts in a variety of ways and styles. This curriculum also offers an option for live online co-op support groups for extra help, as well as instructional DVDs, student & teacher manuals and an extensive test book.
Life of Fred: Beginning Algebra
I love the Life of Fred series, it is a textbook like no other. It presents math concepts in the form of a novel about a kid named Fred Gauss and his life adventures that revolve around the need to use math to solve his various problems. Since Caroline's major weakness in math has always been word problems, this series is essential to her developing a stronger understanding of Algebra.
Hot X: Algebra Exposed
This is such a cool series of books written by Danica McKellar, the actress who played Winnie Cooper from Wonder Years. Caroline has read all her other books up to the Algebra level. McKellar's focus is to help girls feel powerful and confident in their math skills while maintaining their right to be a girl first. So many STEM programs attempt to turn gifted girls into stereotypical "math nerds"and disregard their unique identity and interests as girls. Caroline has the right to like to make-up and nail polish as well as complex equations and brain matter.
Caroline used this introductory algebra program during her 5th grade year. We had the single student set and finished levels 1 and 2. It can be used with kids as young as 1st grade, and is a fantastic tool for students with multiple learning styles. This year, she will be doing level 3 using the iPad app only. Since we still have all the boards and pieces from 2 years ago, she can easily incorporate those if the app is not hands-on enough.
Science: Life Sciences
Caroline will be doing all of her science exclusively through a STEM Enrichment Learning Center called Ideaventions. She will take 3 classes per term that meet once a week for a lab session with a project assignment to accompany each lesson. This fall there are over 20 class offerings for grades K-8 ranging in topics from Kitchen Chemistry to Newtonian Physics to Ninja Robotics. Caroline is the most excited about having the opportunity to dissect a cow's brain!
Social Studies: U.S. History 1865-Present
History of US
I used this text as a supplement to my 10th grade U.S. Government class because of its excellent use of primary source materials and well organized format. PBS created a 16 part series, called "Freedom: A History of US", based on this text that is an excellent supplement to the program. Caroline will only be using books 7-10 for her 7th grade curriculum as they align with the time periods to be studied. This text also comes with teacher support materials such as an assessment book, resource guide, and teacher's manual. I enjoy reading them as well, so I am excited to deepen my education into the history of us as well!!
I was very dismayed that Caroline was not required to read 1 single book last year during 6th grade. Not one in any subject!! I am a strong proponent of the benefits of literature in the development of a well rounded understanding of history. So as part of each unit (9 weeks), she will be required to read between 3-5 novels that fill out the picture of life during each of these unique periods in American history. For example, her 1st unit is " Reconstructing America: 1865-1890" Therefore, she will be reading the following books:
1. Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia McLachlan
2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
3. Water Street by Patricia Reilly Giff
4. Alligator Bayou by Donna Jo Napoli
Language Arts: Oral and Written Presentations
I am very excited to have a new language arts teacher in our ranks this year! My husband will be taking over as Caroline's writing teacher! He will be focusing on her presentation skills to include both the oral and written formats. While she is an excellent creative writer, and feels very confident with short stories and poetry, she needs to begin developing her organizational writing skills as well. Paul will bring a discipline to her work that has not been taught, nor even expected before, while challenging her to elevate her writing to a level that rivals the work he edits daily at his job.
Music/Art: Digital Music Mixing and Drawing
Mixed in Key: MashUp 2
For the first semester, Caroline will be learning how to mix digital music files. Her music interest does not translate into playing an instrument, or performing, but she does seems to gravitate towards music appreciation. Through this software program, she will learn to identify and match tempo and key in order to create new and unique pieces of music.
Caroline loves to draw. She has played around with sketching with charcoals and other pencils. We found this basic online drawing program that seems to be a good match with her current skills. We expect to try a new program next semester that aligns with another artistic interest of hers: photography.
Physical Education: Strength & Conditioning
Caroline will be taking tennis lessons from a friend of ours who is a wonderful teacher and super passionate about the game! She has maybe hit a ball twice in her life, so this is a new adventure for sure.
Caroline's typically takes a few months off from basketball from July-Oct to refresh her body and mind. She just finished up her summer swim team, and is looking to find a new basketball team for this fall/winter. This fall, she will be doing light training during open gyms and guest playing on different teams. We avoid joining teams until the winter season, so she can rest from the intensive Nov-June season that she currently participates in.
Personal Physical Training
As Caroline's basketball gets more serious, she needs to be adding as much muscle as she safely can for a girl her age (12yrs). She is currently 5'7" and 100lbs soaking wet. She plays with girls who have 30 lbs on her and it is getting to the point where she is constant danger of getting injured because of her aggressive style of play. We are looking into everything from CrossFit Kids, to P90X, to a personal trainer (to be done with a friend), to daily workouts here at home with my husbands extensive gym equipment. She is too young for weights, so body mass resistance is the main focus of whatever program we finally decide on.
Bible Study: Proverbs 31
This year, Caroline will be focusing her Bible studies on gaining a better understanding of what a Godly woman looks like based on the model presented to her through Proverbs 31. There are many great small group and individual studies available on this topic. She will begin with both a new Bible and the book P31 Bible Study for Teens.