Your Thyroid Problem and Your Breast Cancer Risk

A 36 year-old spunky, bold, compassionate mother of two (and good friend of mine) discovered her own breast cancer. It wasn’t even a lump, more of a “leatheriness,” she said, and she almost hated to go get it checked out, as it felt like something she might just be imagining. But alas, it was not an overactive imagination. It was advanced breast cancer requiring chemotherapy, radiation, and mastectomy.

When I was in med school, I was taught that breast cancer under the age of 40 was RARE. Yet, every month or so it seems as if I hear a story of someone younger than 40 getting breast cancer. Good friends and acquaintances. Indeed, the statistics are changing, and it is a documented, terrifying fact that breast cancer rates are increasing in women younger than 40 years old, particularly the rates of advanced breast cancer requiring chemotherapy and radiation. (1)

(This post will not be about  breast cancer. It’s just going to briefly touch on the idea that thyroid condition patients are at higher risk for breast cancer, a fact I don’t think they all know.)

“Could my thyroid cancer have anything to do with my breast cancer?”

My friend asked her breast surgeon: “Could the thyroid cancer I had when I was younger have anything to do with my breast cancer?”

His reply to her question was apparently a flat-out NO.

He told her wrong.

If you read no further than this next paragraph, here’s my take-home:

If you have thyroid disease, I encourage you to be assertive about breast monitoring. Those with thyroid disease deserve to know that certain thyroid conditions are definitely associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.  Print off any of the articles I list in my references which may apply to you and take them into your healthcare provider to develop a breast monitoring plan together.

Thyroid Cancer Points to a Woman at Higher Risk for Breast Cancer

Thyroid cancer is associated with an increased breast cancer risk. In 2015, Dr. Jennifer Kuo (M.D.) of Columbia University presented pooled data from something called the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Database-9 (between the years of 1973-2011), reporting that patients who had had thyroid cancer were at an increased risk for developing breast cancer in comparison to the general population.

The 10-year risk for developing breast cancer at 40 years old was 5.6% after having thyroid cancer, while for the general population, breast cancer risk was only 1.5%. By age 50, the rate increased to 12.8% while the general population hung out at about 2.4%.

Simple recap for those with a history of thyroid cancer:

  • At age 40, 5.6% risk of breast cancer versus 1.5% risk in “normal people.”
  • At age 50, 12.8% risk of breast cancer versus 2.4% in “normal people.” (2)

Review of different data by other researchers indicated that a woman who had survived thyroid cancer was 1.18 times more likely to develop breast cancer than controls. Interestingly, this review also indicated the risk went the other way too! A breast cancer patient was 1.55 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than the general population. (3)

So the answer is not NO. The answer is YES.

If you’ve had thyroid cancer, you and your doctor need to know that you’re at a higher risk for breast cancer and should take steps for monitoring your breast tissue.

Will Continue Next Post

In the next post, I’ll briefly cover other thyroid conditions and what the research indicates regarding breast cancer risk. And of course link it to food and encourage you to stick with whole, real food rich in vegetables and fruits! Both you AND your kids.

Have a wonderful Monday! Remember something that really makes you smile today. Think on it all day. And let that smile out. Share it. The world changes only as people’s hearts change. Your smile and joy can change people’s hearts.

Terri

 

Citations:

(Doing the citations is the biggest headache of my scientifically related posts, but I think citations are monumental to include–and especially helpful when the citation is linked to the piece of information in the article so you don’t have to go searching for which article information came from. When I re-write paragraphs, it messes the citation order ALL up. What a headache. So please, let me know if something doesn’t look right and I need to look at it again. Or if you’re a scientific writer who knows the trick to doing citations more easily, please do share!)

1. Johnson RH,  Chien FL, Bleyer A. Incidence of Breast Cancer With Distant Involvement Among Women in the United States, 1976 to 2009. JAMA. 2013;309(8):800-805; doi:10.1001/jama.2013.776. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=165625

2. Thyroid-Cancer Survivors at Higher Risk of Breast Cancer. Medscape Web Site. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/845605. Published June 1, 2015.

3. Nielson SM et al. The Breast-Thyroid Connection Link: A Systemic Review and Meta-Analysis. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. February 2016 25; 231. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0833. http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/25/2/231.abstract

Gluten-Sensitivity Validation and More Discouraging News about Obesity

I’ve wanted to make time to share two articles with you from the last week or so. One on the brain and obesity and one about gluten sensitivity.

The first, and I’m going to summarize brutally, indicates that middle-aged obese people have smaller brains.

Now let me fill in a few details. The journal Neurobiology of Aging posted the article  “Obesity associated with increased brain-age from mid-life,” reporting that when middle-aged, obese study participants were compared to middle-aged, normal weight study participants, the obese patients had more brain atrophy. (Atrophy means shrinking or wasting.) When matched according to white matter volume, obese patients’ brains appeared the size of patients ten years older.

Make sense? Basically, obesity for some reason predicted that a middle-aged person would have a smaller brain, about the size of someone ten years older. (Brains naturally atrophy as we age.) An obese patient’s 50-year-old brain would look 60 years old.

(What is obesity? If you don’t know your BMI, I suggest you calculate it so that you are not lying to yourself about the state of your weight. Obese people tend to just call themselves overweight. And morbidly obese people tend to just classify themselves as obese. Here is a BMI calculator.)

Please focus on changing your eating for forever—not on temporary weight loss. The article (and other articles reporting on it) really focuses on the weight. I DO believe that weight is important—BUT more in light of the reflection that food choices are not being matched for the individual person. You can lose weight eating only green beans from a can and shrink your belly. But I don’t think that’s the best deal to protect your brain!

Eat real. Don’t eat anything processed. If the weight is still stubborn, eat real, unprocessed AND make it PLAIN. Protect the brain. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your kids are worth it. Obesity kills your life slowly. Painfully.

Next article up is about gluten-sensitivity.

Do you feel bashful saying you’re gluten-sensitive? I mean, it’s not like you’re terribly allergic and going to die. Or celiac and really killing your organs by eating wheat. You just, well, you just don’t feel good after eating that bread. And your mom gets a little frustrated with you at family gatherings, having nothing to thicken the gravy with! Can’t she use a little bit?!? That wouldn’t hurt you, would it?

The journal Gut ran a research article titled “Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease.”

That’s a long title. I’ll explain the article really briefly:

Definite lab abnormalities were found in those who reported gluten sensitivity, and the changes were NOT the same as those found in celiac disease. Gluten sensitive patients had lab markers suggestive of systemic immune activation and a compromised intestinal epithelial barrier integrity. (Specifically, they had increased levels of soluble CD14, increased lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, increased antibodies to microbial flagellin, and elevated fatty acid-binding protein 2.)

Specific symptoms they looked at for inclusion in their study were bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, memory problems, thinking problems, or numbness and tingling of your arms and/or legs. They felt these were the most common symptoms associated with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

After six months of a gluten-free diet, the non-celiac gluten sensitive patients felt better and their labs returned to normal.

The discussion of the article is very interesting, worth a read if you are up to the terminology being thrown around.

I’m one of those people who hates to be a nuisance, but when I eat gluten, I get side effects. So I went gluten-free four years ago (and ate real, whole foods and watched out for other food sensitivities). Being a medical doctor by training, it was really hard for me when the medical field really shamed the idea of gluten sensitivity. Suddenly I was personally pitted against everything and everybody I believed to be true and right professionally. The last four years have been QUITE the eye opener professionally.

So it’s good to see validation.

I really, really encourage you to eat whole, real food. No strange added ingredients. Grains as fresh and whole as you can if you do them. Oils and fats as unprocessed and as close to the source as you can get them. Skip white sugar unless you’ve decided it’s a really special day.

The Homeschooling Doctor logoYou are worth feeling good.

Terri

 

Give Your Kid a Brain Edge

Vertumnus_årstidernas_gud_målad_av_Guiseppe_Arcimboldo_1591_-_Skoklosters_slott_-_91503.tif

Want to give your kid a brain up? I know we think about waistlines and cavities when we think about junk food, but we really need to be giving thought to THE BRAIN!

A brain is a precious thing to waste, but indeed as parents, we are doing just that with our dangerous eating and feeding habits. The food a child eats nourishes his or her gut bacteria (or doesn’t). Then, by-products and interactions of the child’s own gut bacteria feeds forward to interact with the function and development of his or her brain.

Stomach. Brain. Connected.

Fiber Helps the Brain

Research supports that high fiber foods– and I ALWAYS suggest that any nutrient (including fiber) be eaten in NATURAL, WHOLE food forms (cook ’em, saute ’em, roast ’em, bake ’em, eat ’em raw—-don’t care–just eat them)– contribute to children’s “cognitive control.”

Cognitive control? Sounds spooky. What the heck is cognitive control? Some sort of mind straight-jacket?

Ha! NO!!! It’s simply a scientific way to say: the ability to adapt to a situation and make good decisions, to execute better behavior in it, and the ability to perform a task well.

Can anyone say, “Make a bed!” or “Put away the silverware!” or “Do your math homework!” or even “Hold still!”? All those, and so much more, require a person’s cognitive control. His or her ability to complete a task properly, to reason it out, to put a brake on talking and moving when talking and moving aren’t appropriate in the moment.

According to a study in The Journal of Nutrition, “Dietary Fiber is Positively Associated with Cognitive Control among Prepubertal Children“, dietary fiber may play a role in cognitive control among children. The children in this study, ages 7-9, who ate more total dietary fiber, insoluble fiber, and pectin performed better on the selected performance task in the study. (The performance task wasn’t making a bed but I think it should have been…)

A big, bad, sad 90% of American children do not get even close to the recommended fiber intake set (ranging for about 20 grams to 38 grams, depending on the age and sex)! AND the sources that most people turn to for fiber (breakfast cereal laden with sugar) is a sickening poor fiber food source for the gut bacteria.

[I also disagree with the use of bread for fiber, unless the bread is honest and pure. I’m sitting here looking at the bread label in my parents’ home and this is what I see: enriched unbleached flour (refined flour), high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, monoglycerides, sweet dairy whey, ethoxylated mono- and diglycerides, calcium propionate, natural and artificial flavor, calcium sulfate, citric acid, ascorbic acid, soy lecithin, and so on.

This is NOT bread. I do not know what exactly this is. But it is NOT bread. I have made plenty of bread in my life, and I did so with about five or less ingredients: flour, water, salt, yeast. If I got fancy, I added eggs, milk, and butter or olive oil. You must seek out the ingredient list and not rely on the large print on the front that ways, “Whole grain bread!”]

Where to get “Fiber”

What do I suggest instead? Real, whole food rich in plant matter (Always keeping in mind what is tolerated by an individual. I know many people don’t tolerate nuts or legumes or certain vegetables. But there IS something a person can tolerate. Find it.). Good examples:

  • Greens and lettuces
  • Broccoli and cauliflower
  • Apples, oranges, blueberries, cherries, grapes (all fruits higher in pectin)
  • Carrots and parsnips
  • Potatoes, sweet potatoes, and hard squashes
  • Nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Avocados
  • Peas, beans, lentils
  • Real, honest, pure whole grains: pure oatmeal, pure quinoa, pure wheat
  • Dried fruits: raisins, figs, apricots

Not a Matter of Your Parenting

When we feed kids diets low in lots of vegetables, fruits, and fresh produce, it’s not just a matter of “good mom”, “bad-mom.” It has nothing to do with you, mom! We’re talking about your kids. I am not here to define your parenthood by your nutritional choices.

But please know when kids don’t eat plant matter as close to the way it is found in nature, they miss out on all these complex fibers that scientists are realizing now affect us by affecting our gut bacteria. And the gut bacteria affect the development of the brain.

When your kid fusses and you want to throw in the towel and let him eat macaroni and cheese every day, realize the role you are playing in the complete development of your child’s brain, at a time when really, what goes in their mouth is mostly up to you and the groceries you bring home.

Persist, mother. Persist, father. A secure child is a child who knows that their parents will never give up on them. Your persistence and devotion is your greatest asset! Don’t stop just because of some pouting.

Be creative. Be firm. Be funny. Be loving. Be stubborn. Give rewards. Withhold rewards.

Do what it takes with love and compassion to get them there.

Your child’s gut microbiome is overwhelmingly tied to the health and function of his or her brain. Don’t give up on vegetables and fruits.

The brain of your child is at stake.

Good luck! Questions always welcomed.

Terri

 

Citation:

Kahn, Raine, et al. Journal of Nutrition. Dietary Fiber is Positively Associated with Cognitive Control among Prepubertal Children.  January 1, 2015 vol. 145 no. 1 143-149: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/145/1/143

Image from Wikipedia: Giuseppe Arcimboldo [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Self-Doubt and Jealousy

I have a fear. I have a fear that it’s all in my head. What would that be? What’s in my head? Many things.

That food really matters. That I don’t feel good after I eat sugar, bread, and milk. That I can influence how my children develop. That I deserve time to myself as a mom. That I’m any different than anyone else. That I can write. That I know anything that I am talking about.

It is self-doubt. I’m not good enough. I haven’t done enough. Everyone else is smarter. They know what they’re talking about and I don’t. I’m flighty.

All my life I’ve fought it in any way that I could. I’ve fought the quiet little girl from podunkville whose parents (the best parents for me, I would never trade them ever) live exactly where they were born and never wanted more than what they had. Heck, they’re probably related for all I know.

(I remember these two doctors for my med school interview. I had to list on the application where my parents were from and even went to high school. Oh, man. They noticed that right off. “So, your parents went are from the same county? Went to the same high school?” I think I replied, “Yeah! They were first cousins.” No, I didn’t, but I felt the implied insult.)

Each day has been spent in not failing. If I do this well, maybe then I’ll believe in myself. But no matter what the measuring stick, whether you raise it to ten feet tall or drop it to 4 feet 6, my self-doubt persists.

I try to pass it off in nice terms: humility and goodness. I’m supposed to strive to be humble and good, yes? Right? It’s my religion. (Shame on me. I’m sorry. Wrong religion.)

Beginning yesterday, finally, after all these years, I see my self-doubt for what it is.

Pride.

I am too proud to allow room for failure. I am too proud to risk room for being wrong, not doing it right.

The real changers aren’t too proud. They change the world. They change ideas. Their pride doesn’t interfere with what they think they know and want to share, what they’re called to share. The good ones, the humble ones–they just re-work their theories and thoughts as people expand or rebut their ideas.

The best ones DO without attaching the results to WHO they are.

Oh, don’t confuse my self-doubt with lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem. Honestly, I don’t want to be anyone other than who I am. Hand me lots of things, and I have confidence in my abilities to pull them off. (But someone else can always do it better…)

Lately, I’ve noticed sometimes that I have these strange pangs of envy and jealousy. They are not common themes in my life, and I haven’t understood them. I’m not normally that type. Because normally I’m living up to my full potential in each area of my life. Probably living up to my full potential in areas of life I shouldn’t be.

(What do I mean? Well, I’m not naturally neat, but I keep my house neat. I’m not naturally the science type, but I’ve culled myself that way for 26 years.)

I really couldn’t give a drop more in most places. And guess what–I’m not jealous in those places.

But there are a few places—places that make me characteristically me—that I’m not putting myself out there because of self-doubt, and as I stepped back to look, I saw jealousy telling me exactly that.

My self-doubt has taken me from a place of caution, which is probably good, to a place of fear and holding back, to a place of developing jealously. I see it now.

So today I say thank-you to my self-doubt and jealousy, both “BAD” feelings, for teaching me. For telling me to live up to my potential and to stop making excuses.

(“I don’t have enough time… My kids will feel neglected if… I couldn’t do that… I’m not good enough… It has already been said… I’ll look stupid… People will think I’m a fruitcake… I can’t post that blog post without a picture… I don’t run a clinic, so what I have to say isn’t important… Another real expert has a blog on this, so what is one more… Homeschooling, inspiration, and nutrition science on one blog is weird… I’ve spent 42 years of my life learning to keep my mouth shut—a very hard task for me— to look smarter, so I can’t possibly open it… My grammar isn’t good enough… Sometimes I don’t eat the way I should… Of course they can do it, they have more time. They understand computers better.”)

My self-doubt has been keeping my childish pride safe, the part that wants to prove I can do it, the part that says bicycle falls hurt. The jealousy is my inner parent telling me I’m not living up to my own potential in areas that I am called to.

Are you feeling self-doubt? (No worries! So am I–for writing this post!) Are you feeling jealousy? Despite feeling content in life? Then, my friend, you have some work to do.

Get on it. YOU have a difference to make.

Terri

Why Shouldn’t I Eat That?

Choosing healthful foods has not always been so easy for me. I have an intrinsic sweet tooth and intense carbohydrate cravings (which aren’t necessarily bad things if I stick to whole, real foods). Knowledge keeps me on track. I think knowledge helps keep us all on track.

Today, if you don’t already know, I’d like to share briefly with you about why

  • choosing fresh vegetables, including root vegetables, and fruits;
  • avoiding food preservatives found in foods and drinks; and
  • limiting sweeteners and sweetened foods

MATTERS!

In your intestines live trillions of bacteria which are supposed to be there. They are called your “microbiome” and they

  • break down and beneficially use substances in foods that your own body simply cannot.
  • transform toxins (and potential toxins–like any food dyes or pesticides you ingest) that you eat into something the body can get rid of.
  • make substances to inhibit the growth of illness-causing bacteria that you may come in contact with, like Salmonella or stomach viruses.
  • make your own personal nutritional supplements, like B vitamins, vitamin K, and necessary fatty acids.
  • help you regulate blood sugars, obesity, and your moods.

Choosing real, whole foods supports these helpful bacteria. Eating sugar-laden, preservative-laden, boxed foods deprives your body of the  help it needs from these bacteria. Every day, every bite is a choice.  Will I choose to strip my colon of these beneficial bacteria, or will I take the high road?

Will I eat for me? Or for my tongue? Or for the person whose feelings will be hurt if I decline?

I know what makes me feel best day-to-day. I know about the bacteria in there. I know what harms them. I can share my knowledge with my kids and husband in a loving, kind way so that they may also have the knowledge and power to choose.

I can share my knowledge with you that maybe you can go about your life making better choices day in and day out.

Don’t obsess. Don’t fret. There are times to eat cake. There are times of joy and feasting. But day in and day out, I’ve got some bacteria I want to take care of.

How about you?

Terri

PS: I know there is SO much conflicting information out there about what is and isn’t healthy. Meat. No meat. Grains. No grains. Beans. No beans. Carbs. No carbs. Dairy. No dairy. If you are a person who gets lost and confused in all of this, simply focus on making your choices as close to nature as possible. Read EVERY label if there’s a label. Honest and pure is what you want. Just like your honey’s heart.

Questions (and comments) always welcomed on this safe spot. And as always, don’t use my blog information as medical guidance.

A Society’s Selective Silence on Education

“Colleges now, including all the major ones—Stanford and Yale and Harvard—are actively seeking kids who were homeschooled or unschooled or who had an alternative type of education because what’s different about those kids is that they’re still interested in learning… In fact, I read a statistic that… and I may have the numbers slightly off here, but I think Stanford’s admission rate for homeschooled kids is 26 percent as opposed to 6 percent for traditionally schooled applicants…” (Jeremy Stuart in an interview with Chris Kresser)

I was shocked and excited to see that Chris Kresser, a well-respected alternative health (integrative health) guru, ran a blog segment on homeschooling. Unfortunately, I cringed at the paucity of usual comments from his typically active readers.

Sixteen meager comments. Sixteen. Compare that to the 111 comments on his organic meat article! Everybody wants to talk organic and glyphosate and gluten. But darn. Kids’ futures and alternative education. Near dead silence!

What really counts? I mean, I’m a real-food, watch-for-food-intolerance believer, but what does it mean when kids don’t learn to read or get bullied in school? When parents are beginning to feel like school is an elephant on their families’ chests?

What does it mean when Chris Kresser’s responsive readers will leave 200 comments on proton pump inhibitors and only 16 on alternative education? (When there are only 26 comments on a distraction and mindfulness article. . .)

I heard a great story once. I was at a conference, and I attended a teen panel of unschoolers. These were all kids who had never been to traditional school. Many of them had never actually set foot in a school. There was one young man there, and he had enrolled to a university to study astrophysics. . .

And someone said to him, “Obviously you’re interested in astrophysics.” That wasn’t the question. The question was, “Why would you enroll yourself in a college when you’ve never set foot in a school? What’s that like, and how did you manage to get in?” And he said, “Well, I realized that the only way to really study it to the degree that I wanted was at this particular institution, and so I applied, and when I applied, I realized I didn’t really know any math.” He said, “I went to my parents, and I was kind of upset. ‘Well, how come you never taught me any math?’ And they said, ‘Well, you weren’t interested.’” And he said, “Well, I need it now,” and they said, “Well, you know what to do.”

So he went to the library, and he got grade one math, then grade two, grade three, grade four, and so on. So He spent three months just reading math books, and in three months he took the necessary examination to enter the college and got 92 percent on the test. (Jeremy Stuart in an interview by Chris Kresser)

Do go and check out Chris Kresser’s interview of homeschooling filmmaker Jeremy Stuart. If you can make time, leave a comment! (Even if it’s just to say, “Hey, interesting!”)

Blogs are live productions. You comment. Blogger responds generally in some way (perhaps not right away–but over time they get back to it).

I’d LOVE to see more people exposed to the idea that education doesn’t have to come in a box! That one-size (one school, one curriculum, one teacher) doesn’t fit all! Maybe if we comment, generate questions, and create discussion, maybe Chris Kresser will remember and do another piece like this in the future.

If you homeschool, you may have fun  reading (or watching) this interview. If you don’t homeschool, and school isn’t going so well for your children, maybe you’d want to consider homeschooling. He calls it “unschooling,” but I’m of the opinion that anyone who chooses to teach their children outside of the classic halls of education is “unschooling” to one degree or another. The interview covers:

  • How did public schooling come about? (It’s only been around about 150 years.)
  • What was the purpose of public school?
  • Student (and parent) “burn-out” and how homeschooling can avoid that
  • How our modern education is “banging its head against a wall”
  • Discussion of Finland’s education system
  • Misconceptions about homeschooling and unschooling
  • How colleges are coming to view homeschoolers
  • What kinds of things homeschoolers can learn
  • And so much more!

Unschooling as a Cure for “Industrialized Education”–with Jeremy Stuart

Check it out! You learned once. Or didn’t learn. How did that happen? How could it have been better? Don’t be selectively silent. More standards don’t brighter kids make! I’ve watched my own kids learn and the differences among simply three kids is ASTOUNDING.

These schoolkids of today will be running your nursing home.

Speak.

Terri

 

Our Sixth Grade Curriculum

Adriaen_van_Ostade_007Our school year was fine. I had no fear of gunmen, confusing bathroom escapades, or bullying. Fear of toddler tantrums, maybe, but–not the same, eh?

Each year, I type up the curriculum of my lead child (after we finish the year). I don’t deviate material too much from year to year. Call it “boring,” but I prefer the label of “stability.”

Our Sixth Grade Curriculum

Learning definitely took place, despite my frustration of teaching three multi-level students with a toddler in tow. But check out the painting I used for this post titled The Schoolmaster. I’ve got it good compared to that guy!

  • Math: Saxon Algebra I (Monday-Thursday)
  • Grammar: Easy Grammar and Easy Grammar Daily Grams (Monday-Thursday)
  • Spelling: How to Spell (2-3 days per week)
  • Reading: Abundant amount of self-guided, usually self-selected books (Daily)
  • Spanish: Live teachers (On average 1-2 times per week)
  • Latin: Lively Latin (Monday-Thursday for a couple of months each semester)
  • History and Geography: Lively Latin’s Roman history components, study of the states using The Star-Spangled State Book as a guide, and study of our own state (2-3 days per week)
  • Typing: A computer program called Typing Instructor (Monday-Thursday for a two month block)
  • Physical Education (extra-curricular): Dance (all year) and archery (three-month block)
  • Music Education (extra-curricular): Violin and guitar (all year)
  • Miscellaneous classes available through our homeschool group: Local museum history class, build a toothpick bridge class, science, art
  • Self-led activities (with outside instruction as necessary): sewing, YouTube class, poetry contest winner

I’ll proceed with a few comments about our curriculum.

Algebra I: Saxon, 3rd Edition

We carried over Math 7/6 from fifth grade and finished that up early in the first semester of sixth grade. I then decided my daughter could handle Algebra I if she took it slowly.

She did about half a lesson each day and she covered about 50 of the book’s 120 lessons. We just keep math going on a rolling basis, and we’ll do a few lessons this summer, finishing up the book next year as her abilities allow.

Understanding the algebra concepts was no issue, but retention of the algebra rules and putting it all together was. (Like a child can spell words, but when he or she writes a letter, he or she will misspell even common words.) By skipping a book, I also noticed she needed extra practice in dividing decimals and fractions.

Starting algebra early required that my daughter have great patience with herself and be willing to re-do problems. Her confidence did take a blow because she was used to getting everything correct. It was a good time to reinforce that we are NOT learning for grades but for mastery and understanding.

If I could do it over again, I would have done Saxon’s Algebra 1/2 and just moved through it quickly based on her understanding. Why didn’t I? Because my husband and I both had that book in junior high school and hated it. In addition, I tutored many people in math (Saxon-style) in my younger days and felt confident I could watch for lapses and breaks in understanding.

Note: I saw that the 4th edition of this had mistakes in the answer keys. I’m sticking with 3rd edition.

Grammar: Easy Grammar and Easy Grammar Daily Grams

Easy Grammar makes my life easy. It’s super thorough and super straightforward. We’ve used it for several years now. It’s perfect for us. Stable. Boring.

There are two components I use: the Easy Grammar textbook and the cumulative, short, daily worksheets called Daily Grams. I just buy the teacher’s manual for BOTH the textbook and the Daily Grams. If you think your student will peek at answers, you’ll need to make copies of the worksheets and tests from the books. I love that the program has cumulative review tests and that the Daily Grams worksheets are cumulative.

Spelling: How to Spell

How to Spell is only our guide of what to cover, the order to cover it in, and the “rules” to learn. We tried a computer program for spelling, but I just couldn’t keep up on looking at what she did and finding the appropriate lists for her.

How to Spell doesn’t have enough worksheets, and I usually print off extra worksheets from the internet on each topic. It is not a self-contained curriculum. I just love the way it presents spelling in an orderly fashion with the rules defined as much as possible, and I supplement it greatly.

Latin: Lively Latin

We have been slowly working through Lively Latin (Book 1) for a couple of years now. We start and stop because sometimes other subjects are more difficult and pressing. Sometimes, the Latin grammar seems to be just a touch above her understanding. If I wait, I’ve noticed that her English grammar knowledge improves, and then we can easily move forward again in Latin after she understand more grammar in general!

I have not taken a Latin course, so I do not know the best way to proceed with Latin. The author of this program seems to keep it simple and moving forward, all the while keeping it fun and interesting. It’s full of Roman history, definitely a huge plus! My daughter loves this part!

Sixth and seventh grades seem perfect for this book (although I did start it a smattering in fifth grade), and I do not regret my purchase.

Typing: Typing Instructor

Typing Instructor is a computer CD program I bought several years ago. I’ve been satisfied with it, and the girls like it. I bring it out each semester so they can get faster at typing in a progressive fashion.

Closing

I love questions and hearing about what other people do, even if I stick with my own thing! That way if anyone ever asks me for an idea, maybe I’ll have a suggestion! Share away! Please know that this is OUR curriculum! I, in no way, condone following our curriculum for your child. But I’m happy to answer questions on what we do to generate ideas! Part of what we do now is contingent on knowing what I plan to proceed to later!

Terri

Art attribution: Adriaen van Ostade [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons