First Final Test - Chemistry Class is Complete


In his tenth grade year, my older son took his first traditional class, every single thing about it was traditional and school-y. It was a chemistry lab class in a homeschool co-op taught by a retired medical doctor who also is a bio-chem major. Since my son wishes to attend college for a STEM major this course is necessary.

The textbook was boring and I don't like it, and my son's two tutors didn't like it. It's from a Christian publisher which makes the Christian mothers who run the co-op happy. There is no religion in the text, that is not what I am complaining about. The problem is that it is too summarized, too boiled down. If you don't understand the one way they say it, you are lost. It is boring, to boot. There are not multiple math examples. That is why to get help in the class we hired a tutor, who moved, so then we hired another.

The second tutor was a bio and chem college professor who formerly taught pre-AP and AP chem and bio in a gifted magnet school. She knows her stuff. When she says the textbook stinks, I believe her authority.

Anyhow the point of this post is to say that this is the first time in my son's alternative homeschooling experience that he has taken a final test. It was a learning experience to have to go back to chapter one and re-study everything that he learned from August through May. This test was also a week after the last chapter test, so he was busy up to then learning that material. It is also a challenge for a student with five learning disabilities to study an entire year's material.

We paid the tutor to help him review the old material. Not enough time was spent with her to thoroughly cover everything with a fine toothed comb. This was also during spring sprint racing season and the two weekends before the test we were traveling to race. We got home at 10pm after driving 400 miles the night before his 8:30am test. Not good timing. That's life. What can you do?

(Above: son studying at the Regionals regatta in between races, with his girlfriend's help.)

My son was also busy with all the appointments for new therapies for his newly diagnosed learning disabilities. I did not slow down regular life to make time to study for the chem final. He also continued his regular homeschool lesson workload in that time.

He survived the test and thought he did fairly well. Come to find out he got a 77. His grade for the spring semester was 82. It was 81 for the fall. Not bad for a subject that is really hard for most students. Not bad for his first completely traditional class.

My son learned a lot about deadlines over this year, about procrastination not being so good a practice. He learned that cramming is not always a good thing. He learned early on that he cannot function the next day when pulling all-nighters or even staying up to one or four to do homework.

I would rather my son learn some of these lessons and start realizing some tips about time management now rather than when he starts college. Now is the time to make mistakes. This is something the chemistry teacher told me in the beginning. She has worked with a lot of students all over the Houston area for years and he knows what normal teenagers are like. She herself was homeschooled and she understands the value of an alternative education yet knows the traditional way of learning must be learned and done if one is to attend college. She said she learned time management in college and it was hard for her. It is better to slip up in high school than college. She knows that college prep for STEM majors is difficult. She gives the students grace and realizes that they are all on a learning curve. I am grateful that my son had such an understanding teacher.

Chemistry with lab is not something I could have taught my son at home. I never took chem in high school or college. My son never could have self-taught this course to himself. The deadlines were imperative to get through this large amount of material. This included Algebra 2 level math and labs. I am glad I had this co-op to use for this year even though I think it was expensive at $850 plus material fees, lab fees, and textbooks. In the future we will use community college for lab sciences since it costs just $200 a semester (or is free in grade eleven or twelve), the selection is larger, the commute is shorter, the campus is beautiful, new, and safe, and because attending it does not require that I do volunteer work for the school.
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