I have three pieces of advice for 9GRD:
- Puberty changes everything. Until your kid jumps a foot in height (especially boys) expect the work to be at least 70% parent-leaning for algebra, religion, history papers, and science. It’s just pulling teeth until then. They just can’t do it until that next level of mental connection hooks up.
- Embrace the textbook assignments. “Living books” are great, but that’s just not the real world of education. During this year, kids learn to approach a textbook properly. (Truthfully, they started it in middle school, but I’m assuming that you balked and skipped all that.) They learn to outline the chapter. They cite page numbers. This is the best preparation for REAL college I’ve seen.
- Use the school-provided graders (if you can afford them) for Science and History. The MoDG grader we have is EXCELLENT. She flat out won’t give the child a grade until the paper is an A. It’s the best writing boot camp I’ve ever seen. I’m a professional writer, for crying out loud, but she’s amazing.
ENGLISH: Warriners and Holt are really the same thing but the Holt one has a MUCH better layout. However, Holt doesn’t have vocabulary and spelling in the book. By “in the book” I mean LISTS. That’s it. There’s no other material in the Warriner’s spelling and vocab but a list. Get the lists linked below, and you don’t need Warriner’s, assuming you like the Holt look better. Other families use Holt with Wordly Wise. Here’s the diff: the Warriner’s syllabus allows the kids to “pretest” of out of their spelling and vocab. Wordly Wise doesn’t. Up to you. If you go our way, you don’t need two books. The vocab and spelling are on Quizlet.
HISTORY: This year is American History. Christ Comes to the Americas is overwhelming at the beginning of the year, but totally no big deal later. (See the puberty remark above.) The textbook work is just citing “textual evidence” which as I said earlier is THE BOMB. Teenagers always talk out of their heads; this citing thing is GREAT. “Find me the sentence on the page, dude.” I LOVE this syllabus.
There is a lot of reading, but if you choose your books well, it’s not overwhelming at all. We chose to repeat the “greatest hits” books from earlier years where possible. The discussions are GREAT and the kids feel like they’re visiting old friends. I’ll have to look back at the assignments, but I’m pretty sure this year the fiction books do connect with the papers. Some other years, they do not. (Clearly this is a stream of consciousness post today, sorry.)
LATIN: Starting in 9th, I have to get a Latin grader-person from the school. It’s just beyond me. We use Cambridge in High School. The school likes people to be farther along than we are in Latin, but that’s not my life. My Latin hater is doing Cambridge 1 in 11th. My others did it in 9th. Either way, that’s FAR behind where the school wants you, but we’re not going to a Latin-loving college; we’re just doing it for the brain training, clarity of grammar compared to English, usefulness of the content, and mostly FOREIGN LANGUAGE CREDIT. The level of “advancement” in Latin isn’t going to add much for us. If you’re going somewhere fancy for college, maybe that advanced Latin looks good.
RELIGION: The first half of the year is Chief Truths of the Faith. Second half is Catholic Morality (another genius “learn to study a textbook” course.) I was totally overwhelmed by this syllabus at first, but it’s not that bad at all once you get the structure. (See the Do-Aheads.) Near the end of the year, the religion papers interweave with Language Arts.
*If you did your Catechism in the earlier years, this course is SO EASY in content. They already know it all and can just focus on the outlining, paper writing, and wading through Laux’s language patterns and seemingly over-the-top fire and brimstone talk.
**I have ANXIOUS child and the consultant was worried that Laux’s seemingly “judginess” was going to be upsetting. We haven’t noticed at all.
SCIENCE: Earth Science is also LANGUAGE ARTS! There are a lot of essays. 42! It’s “boot camp.” We always get a grader; we always start the year EARLY; we’ve never gotten through them all. (24 weeks of work, no more than 1/2 with modifications? Full credit.)
Here’s another thing about the science. Unless your child is a really good reader, hunting up all those worksheet answer is a CHORE. They don’t match up as well as, say, the history assignments. Your child may need a LOT of help with this early. And later. Heck, YOU might need a lot of help with it. I did.
Also, the “experiments” this year might make you all go crazy. The rock one makes everyone nuts. The old syllabus version of “find rocks in your yard” is the most impossible way ever to learn rocks. Like, that’s hard for experience rockhounds. And the old syllabus (I haven’t looked at the one this year) had them identify FIFTY ROCKS. In your yard? I have some really elaborate rock collections with supposedly really OBVIOUS differences, because I’m a nerd, and I have all kinds of decision tree flow charts that perfectly match the rocks I own, but still EVERY KID HATES IT after #25. Bummer. I love rocks.
The later in the year experiments I’ve blacked out on. I think the first two times I taught this I was so overwhelmed with the mountains of “special” in my home that I did the bare minimum to get credit and ran away.
MATH: Saxon Alg 1 is like the rest. However, I have the same advice as I do on science: Puberty changes everything. Physical changes signal mental changes in this case. Until you hit it, expect a lot of pushing rope uphill. (EDIT: MODG now promotes Teaching Textbooks, but you have to work a semester to a year ahead if you want kids to do as well as Saxon kids on ACT/SAT.)