Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Notgrass Company

The Notgrass Company is the home school ministry and curriculum offered by Ray and Charlene Notgrass and family.  I have been reading their articles for years and have appreciated their strong Christian worldview and heart of ministry to the home school community. Their specialty is history and government for middle school and high school, but these courses include Bible and literature as well. 
  They also offer an economics course and more. Check out their website and materials at the link above and you can request a catalog. 

Exploring World History is a one-year high school course that teaches students to understand history from the perspective of faith in God and respect for His Word. In addition to reading the history narrative about events, issues, and people from around the world and across the centuries, students read the words of people who made history in original documents, speeches, poems, and stories. They also read classic literature that helps bring to life the time periods they are studying. A variety of writing assignments and hands-on project ideas help students engage in what they are learning. The updated 2014 edition features hundreds of color illustrations and photographs. In addition to a thorough survey of Western Civilization, it offers expanded coverage of Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

One thing that sets this curriculum apart for the high school option is that world history is covered in one year. Many popular curriculum options spend several years/volumes getting through world history. And while I love some of those materials, sometimes there just isn’t enough time left to spend doing that. Since my dd is doing “10th grade” this year, I am very interested in this one year World History course. I started doing the math and realized that if I take another 3 years to finish world history, we won’t get to the other subjects that are important to me.

Another element that caught my attention is that this course is actually 3 courses in 1. It contains a complete book list (which happens to contain many books I already have listed on my must read list) along with literary analysis and writing assignments. I struggle to find worthy writing assignments, and after looking through this book, I appreciated the assignments in this curriculum. A lot. And by having the reading list incorporated into the curriculum, I believe we will have more accountability for completing the reading. I like that too.  (Note: They include one title in particular (The Giver) that I would skip and supplement something different.)  If you keep track of things like “credits”, this course is worth 3 credits… history, literature and Bible. That’s because the third component to the course is a Bible study.

I also like the fact that I can follow up this world history course with their American history course (also covered in one year… and also has an excellent book list and literary analysis and Bible component), followed finally by government and economics which are one semester courses.

Finally, something that I really appreciate about this course, is that it was just updated in 2014, so it addresses world and American history up through our current administration. So much has happened in the last 6 years, both at home and abroad, that I like the fact that current events will be addressed in our curriculum from a Christian worldview.    

The one pause is that it’s a bit pricey at first glance - $99.00. But when you see that it is two beautiful volumes, as well as a few other supplemental books of original writings, student book and answer keys, includes built in literature guides, and the content is so full that it is really 3 subjects in 1, the cost is quite justifiable.
So to summarize, I have been very pleased with our decision to use this course this year because it covers world history in one year, it is actually more than one course, it incorporates a book list that I like, it has writing assignments and literature guides that I think are worthy, it contains a lot of Bible and Christian worldview, and it is up to date politically and historically.  Cathy Duffy offers her review here .

 Quick mention... they also offer resources for middle school that look great as well.

Children are Dogs, Teenagers are Cats

   I won't say much about this post.  If you have or have had a teen, you will "get it".  If you don't get it yet, you will. : )

   So, for all those moms who are grieving the loss of their "dog", start enjoying your "cat".

Children are Dogs, Teenagers are Cats
  By Unknown

“I just realized that while children are dogs—loyal and affectionate—teenagers are cats.
It’s so easy to be a dog owner. You feed it, train it, boss it around.  It puts its head on your knee and gazes at you as if you were a Rembrandt painting. It bounds indoors with enthusiasm when you call it.
Then, around age 13, your adoring puppy turns into a big old cat. When you tell it to come inside, it looks amazed, as if wondering who died and made you emperor.
Instead of dogging your footsteps, it disappears. You won’t see it again until it gets hungry…then it pauses on its sprint through the kitchen long enough to turn up its nose at whatever you’re serving, swishing its tail and giving you an aggrieved look until you break out the tuna again.
When you reach out to ruffle its head in that old affectionate gesture, it twists away from you, then gives you a blank stare as if it is trying to remember where it has seen you before.
You, not realizing your dog is now a cat, think something must be desperately wrong with it. It seems so antisocial, so distant, sort of depressed. It won’t go on family outings. Since you’re the one who raised it, taught it to fetch, stay and sit on command, you assume you did something wrong. Flooded with guilt and fear, you redouble your efforts to make your pet behave.
Only now you’re dealing with a cat, so everything that worked before now has the opposite result. Call it, and it runs away. Tell it to sit, and it jumps on the counter. The more you go toward it, wringing your hands, the more it moves away.
Instead of continuing to act like a dog owner, you must learn to behave like a cat owner. Put a dish of food near the door and let it come to you. But remember that a cat needs your help and affection too. Sit still and it will come, seeking that warm, comforting lap it has not entirely forgotten. Be there to open the door for it.
One day your grown up child will walk into the kitchen, give you a big kiss and say,
“You’ve been on your feet all day. Let me get those dishes for you.” Then, you’ll realize your cat is a dog again.”