Monday, August 1, 2011

First Day (of 2nd year) Success!

I put alot of thought into our 2nd year and really hoped it would go better than our first year. Don't get me wrong. Our first year was great but it was more about learning HOW to do it and building confidence. I've gone into this second year with so much more confidence. I don't have to worry about if I can do it or not. I know that I can now. With that being said......

This year has started off on the right foot! My slap bracelet system worked as I had anticipated. Number 1 says it really helps her since she knows what she's accomplished and how much is left. I think it kept the school time from feeling "unending" to her. And since she is able to remove a bracelet for every subject completed, she felt as if she were getting somewhere and reaching her goal for the day.

And because we dare not leave #2 out:

I think our favorite part of the day was history. Mystery of History is awesome. I'm suspecting that #1 is an audio learner so having the CD's "read" to her as she followed along in the book worked well. Draw and Write Through History was fun for her too since she likes art. Here's a pic of her during her history lesson. It's my fave pic of the day.

Number 1 was in tears last night. She was terrified of going into 4th grade. I would say the school day ended very well as everyone was happy and had smiles on their face. And #1 realized there was nothing at all to fear.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Gearing up for our 2nd year!

We made it through our first year! As I tried to convince my skeptical hubby to let me HS over a year ago, one of my arguments was that it didn't have to be a forever deal. We could try it and if it didn't work, no biggie. Put them back in public school. Thankfully it did work. Even hubby is convinced of the pros of HS and has no objection with continuing.
I will say that the first year was hard and a bit chaotic. I heard that it would be. So much of the first year is trying to figure out how to do it and what works best for the family. I started out with a strict traditional approach that just about killed it all for us. Once I realized that we do not have to recreate PS at home, it went much better. We are, after all, schooling at HOME.
Then I had to figure out the whole curriculum thing. Honestly, I think I'm still figuring it out. Could curriculum be one of those things that are never fully perfected? Time will tell what we settle into. Our first year was a whirlwind of curriculum swapping. I hope there will be much less of that this year. Thankfully the only thing we are behind on is Math (as I changed math programs more than any other).
I am looking forward to starting back in August. The plans were to school through the summer but that didn't work out. I don't think we have spent any time on schoolwork in the month of July.We have several new things to try as I narrow down the curriculum choices that seem to work best for us. We still haven't found the perfect math program though......
The biggest changes I'll be making for the upcoming school year is having an official "schedule" for the year. I read a great book that has given me lots of tips. The main tip I'll be implementing is a yearly schedule. Last year we sort of flew by the seat of our pants. This year I'll be trying the 3/1 schedule. As in, we'll do 3 weeks of school and take one week off. I think this will be a great schedule for us. Especially for the way hubby's work schedule is. The week off will give us time to breath, rethink anything that needs to be done different, and clean my HOUSE! Our schedule will allow a week off every month and still have the whole month of July off. We shall see how this works out.
Another thing I'll be trying is "subject bracelets." I got these slap bracelets ordered from Oriental Trading. My plan is to use a Sharpie marker and write one subject per bracelet. So we'll have a math bracelet, handwriting bracelet, spelling bracelet, etc. She has to put all the bracelets on when she gets up in the morning. As she completes a subject she can take the bracelet off. Hopefully this will help her to take some responsibility for her learning instead of depending on me to tell her what's next. She loves it when I get distracted so she can "forget" to get her schoolwork done. Then at 9pm we realize spelling (or whatever) was overlooked and it's now too late. That's got to stop!
I won't be using the subject bracelets for #2's Kindergarten work. I don't think she's quite old enough yet. But her day is coming ;-)

So far our 4th grade curriculum choices are looking like this:
Mcruffy Math (will be trying BJU math or Teaching Textbooks when we finish)
BJU English and continue with Winston Grammar
A Reason for Spelling (will probably switch to BJU when we finish)
BJU Handwriting
Mystery of History for the first 1/2 of the year (along with correlating History pockets, Draw and Write through History, and Drive Through History videos). I'm really excited about history this year!
Undecided on Science since we won't be starting it until mid year.

For Kindergarten:
BJU Phonics and Worktext
BJU handwriting
continue with Horizons math

I really hope this all works well for us so I don't have to make any more changes. I'm ready to settle into a program and keep it there.

The one thing I'm most concerned about for the upcoming year is teaching #2 reading. I've never done it before. It's so foundational to everything else so I've got to get it right! Number 2 is showing signs of reading readiness so hopefully this goes well.

I'll be back with updates as our 2nd year progresses! :-)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer "plans" update

I had high expectations for summer. That didn't go so well! My 16 year old sis in law decided to stay the summer with us. It's been great and the kids have loved having her here. It has, however, messed up the summer plans and our normal school routine. We have managed to fit in some math, handwriting, and grammar here and there but that's about it. So much for my grand plans! But that's ok. Relationship with family is more important in the long run.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teaching Reading Makes Me NERVOUS!!

I've been thinking alot about teaching #2 how to read. It freaks me out a little! Reading is so foundational to everything else. It's one subject/skill that has to be done right. Number 1 went to public school until 2nd grade so she was already a good reader when we started HS. I've never had to teach reading.

I've been looking at all kinds of phonics/reading programs. How in the world does one know which one to pick? There are several different theories of which approach works best. Of course every approach declares that it is the best way to go. ~sigh~

I think I've decided to go with BJU Phonics program. I was able to look through it in person not too long ago and I liked what I saw. It's the K5 program. Number 2 will be 5 years old in November and I wonder if starting in August would be too soon.

Decisions, Decisions. I can do this. I can do this........

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shiller Math update

We've been using SM since January. So what do I think of it now that I have more experience with it?

For #1 (now 9 years old):
I haven't used it with her for a while. I think I had a hard time placing her within the program from the beginning. She got bored with it quickly because it mostly seemed like review. She hates math anyway and I got discouraged. That's when we switched to Time 4 Learning.
A few days ago I looked into the third book (the last of the first set) to see about doing a few pages with her. Again, I just wasn't sure where to place her. So I'll probably just sell the 3rd book to someone who is interested.
We still use the manipulatives.

For #2 (4 years old):
We started Horizons Math for her since I felt she needed something more workbook-y. I was surprised at how well she took to Horizons. I do give the credit to SM for a good beginning foundation. Horizons moves pretty fast and she's not faced any troubles yet.
We're almost to the end of the first book. I plan to continue with it as long as it seems to work. I'll be alternating back and forth between SM and Horizons.

Overall, I think it's great for little ones starting out with Math. It's gentle and fun. I'll use it with #3 when she's ready for Math. I wish #1 had started out with it. That's the only reason I don't think it has worked for her.

So nice to have friends.....

....that HS too. I know I could do it without them, but I certainly wouldn't want to! They offer ideas and encouragment. Not having to go at anything alone, especially HS, is truly a blessing.

For instance. I heard about a representative for a certain curriculum publisher coming to a nearby town. I planned to go with or without anyone I knew. But a fellow HS mom met me there. It was nice to be able to look through the books together. Our kids got to play (quietly) while we did so.

I do wish my HS friends lived locally but I'll take what I can get. At least the times we do get together is even more precious. The friendships that have developed between other HS moms and also between all our kids is another one of those rare and beautiful treasures.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Our Summer plans

It didn't take me long to decide that we would school year around. I don't want to lose ground by taking the whole summer off and then having to spend time in review once we start back. I also like the routine that schooling provides. It keeps everyone from getting bored and acting out.

So what are we planning to do during the summer? We are currently on a one week well deserved break (haven't had one of those since the beginning of March!) so I've had time to think this over. I don't think we're going to do a full work load like we usually do. My biggest concern is Math since we switched programs a couple times during the year trying to find the right match. We are a little behind and need to get caught up. Besides, Math is one of those subjects that if you don't use it you'll lose it pretty quick. At least, it is in our case.

So, our summer program will look more like this:
For 3rd/4th grade
Math: Continue on with Time4Learning. T4L is still working out great for #1. Math is still not her fave subject but at least we don't have as many tears. I also want to incorporate some workbooks to give her math time that's not on the computer. I haven't decided on which workbooks.
Language Arts: Continue on with T4L and Winston Grammar.
Art: Start Artistic Pursuits
Handwriting: We were doing Abeka's cursive worksheets earlier in the year. As we tried to adjust to homeschooling, handwriting was one of those unnecessary subjects that we quit. With a lighter summer schedule, I think it would be a good time to start it back. However, I will not be using Abeka. I'm looking at D'Nealian handwriting or BJU Press Handwriting.
*UPDATE: We started BJU Handwriting today (6/7/11). Thoughts on it to come later. 
Spanish: Grandma has actually been working with #1 on this!

Right now we are still using My Father's World ECC for Bible/Science/History/Geography. It's going well and we really like it. We'll be putting it aside for the summer though and start back in the Fall.

For Pre-k/K:
Not really going to be making any changes here. We already take things easy for #2. She's only 4!
Math: A combination of Shiller Math and Horizons Math
Early Phonics: Keep going with Get Ready for the Code series. We're about to start Book C of the series which is the last one!
Handwriting: We haven't been doing this as she just hasn't been ready. She's finally showing signs of readiness so I've been looking into what I'd like to start. Right now, I'm most interested in D'Nealian.
*UPDATE: Will be going with "Write Now" from BJU Press. I decided to wait until we start Kindy work in the late summer/early fall.

We'll see how this goes. I consider us to still be in the tedious learning stage of homeschool. Hopefully, summer school works for us. If not, I'll know better for next summer!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I had heard about Time4Learning through other homeschoolers. I was never really interested for several reasons. 1) I wanted to be more hands on and do the teaching. 2)It's a secular program and I prefer Christian based curriculum. 3)Didn't want to pay the monthly fee of $19.95.

So, why am I now using T4L? Main reason: I got stressed out about being behind because of a busy month (see March Madness post). I am also realizing that, while I have some really GREAT programs/curriculum now, everything is very hands on and requires heavy teacher involvement. Which is what I wanted. I didn't realize what I was doing to myself though. I'm teaching TWO kids, have a toddler running around, and living a real life. What can I say? I'm still in my first year and learning alot about the hows of HS.

Math is my biggest challenge. Number 1 hates math so I hate dealing with her hating it. Catch my drift? Everything else pretty much rolls smoothly but not math. So to take some of the pressure off of myself, I decided to try T4L's math. The program offers Math, Language Arts, Language Arts extensions, Science, and Social Studies. It can be used as the core curriculum or as a supplement. I was thinking to use it as a supplement.
After using it for a week now I will be using the Math as our core. LA will be a supplement (even though it's thorough enough to be a core). Number 1 doesn't love the Science. It's a lot of reading. That's fine with me since it's secular based anyway. We haven't checked out Social Studies yet.

I'm just so relieved to have some pressure off me. And I'm willing to pay a monthly fee for some breathing room! :-)

March Madness!!

Truly, March has been crazy for us! We are normally a very laid back family. We're not the type to always be on the road. Normally. This month has been the opposite. I hate that feeling of being behind. I keep having to remind myself that we are year around schoolers for this very reason. We can break any time we want. Still, I pushed hard this week to get caught up.
The biggest help to me this week has been to try out Time4Learning. I normally research things to death before trying. I had heard of T4L before but wasn't that interested. I wanted to be more hands on. Neither did I want to pay the $19.95/month fee. But at the height of feeling stressed out about being behind, I decided to try it out. Without tons of research. After all, there's a 14 day trial period so I wouldn't be out anything if we hated it.
We don't hate it! We actually love it. Well, I love it. Number 1 likes it. Tolerates it. As she does most of her school work. ;-) I love it because it takes some pressure off of me. We're mostly using the Math and Language Arts section of it.
The Math section is my BFF. I've found that I don't love teaching math. I don't know if it's the program, the child I'm teaching (she gripes so much about math!), or if I'm just not good at it. I understand math pretty well (though I'm much more of a English girl) but may not be so good at teaching it. Whatever the reason, I'm thankful for T4L's math. It's so nice to be able to send #1 to the computer while I work hands on with #2.

Anyway, March madness has been mad but it helped me find a better way of doing things. So I guess it wound up being a good thing after all.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Summer School

I've been thinking about breaks. I started the year off planning to stick as close as possible to the public school schedule. I've changed my mind. Drastically.
One of the perks of HS is that it doesn't have to be done like public school. I've learned that in more way than one. Certainly, HS provides opportunities to take a break whenever you want. We can take a family vacation in the middle of October or February if we want. Thankfully, the HS laws for our state are pretty lenient as long as we get in 180 school days a year.
I decided that we will be schooling year around. This gives us more days throughout the year to play with for breaks. We also won't be wasting any time with review for a typical new school year. As we finish one curriculum we'll move right into the next level instead having to wait until August. We'll break when we feel like we need it. Hopefully that will prevent the dreaded burn out that I hear about.
I like the routine that schooling for a few hours provides for us. It seems to keep our day "neater." I don't want to lose that during the summer.

Our "classroom"

No, we do not have a room dedicated to school time. Most homeschoolers do not. It would be nice to have a space dedicated to school time but that's just not the case for us. So we make the space that we do have work for us.
We started with a small desk and a bookcase in my husband's man cave (den). #1 is very social and hated being alone. She even balks at being sent to her room to read for 15 minutes. So I moved her to the kitchen table. That worked for a while but for some reason we started doing everything at the kitchen bar. We've settled here and it works well for us. My kitchen/dining area is becoming very educational!

This is the laundry room where I keep the art supplies.

A few books scattered here and there

 A broom closet that needs some serious help

Monday, February 14, 2011

New Spelling Program

We got so tired of the typical spelling program of say-spell-say and write write write. It was boring and hard and #1 wasn't retaining anything. As is typical for me, I read about spelling programs until I was blue in the face. I was looking for a few things in whatever program we chose: 1)Worksheets. I wanted more than a list of words. 2)Friendly to the kinesthetic learner. In other words, worksheets PLUS hands on activites. 3)Christian based (though not completely necessary).
I looked at several programs and narrowed it down over a few days. I finally settled on A Reason For Spelling. It met all 3 of my requirements. We've only used it for one school week but didn't use all the worksheets for that week. So far, #1 and I both LOVE it!
It comes with the student workbook and teacher's manual. After using the placement test on the A Beginning Advantage website, we chose Level C to start with.
We haven't had a full school week to use it yet. It came in the mail on a Tuesday and I was too excited to wait until the next week. It is easy enough to use that I didn't have to study the teacher's manual and make out a plan sheet. I want to spend the next day or so getting more familiar with the materials and use the program at it's maximum. With that being said, one could see that it can be a user friendly (mama friendly) program.
I'll update more when we've had more experience.

Oh, I bought it from because it was cheaper to order from there.

Valentine's Day

My girls have been working so hard at school. That means Mama has been working hard too! My house is a total disaster (no, really). We had a busy weekend. So we took the day off from school today. I desperately needed to get some house work done.
It's quite amazing how horrible the house can get. But there are THREE kids here all the time. So it makes sense that my house is a wreck! Sometimes I feel so guilty at how bad the house gets. Let's just say that I'm not the super organized type (though I'd like to be). I want my house to be clean, or at least picked up, but not so clean that we all feel stifled. That balance has been a difficult one for me to find. Clean but not too clean......

When I laid #3 down for her nap, the big girls and I did a Valentine art project. Nothing fancy, just fun. I also started an idea sheet (my attempt at being organized!) of projects/toys for #3 to play with when I'm schooling the big girls. For some reason #3 just does not like it when she not getting all the attention! Go figure.
I'd add my idea sheet here but I'm too computer illiterate for that :-/
Here's the blog website I get most of my ideas from for tot school.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Baby schools too!

I had one of those mommy moments and had to snap a pic. The baby hates being left out of school time. She loves it when I pull up a chair for her to stand in while I work with the big girls. So I've started incorporating tot trays. Here she is hard at work.

I love this intense concentration!

And a picture of all 3 of them. My babies.

I got the tot trays idea from another homeschool blog mama. She has alot of really great ideas.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I think I need a HS budget!!

The curricula available to homeschooler's is awesome! I'm so thankful for the choices to us now. I know there was a time when choices were limited to the library and mom's own creativity. Thank goodness times have changed! I wouldn't be doing real good if I were limited to my own creativity.

Some of the hardest choices I've made regarding HS is picking the right program. It took me forever to decide on a math program. I just bought a new spelling program a few nights ago. It took me several days of reading and debating to decide on just a spelling program! Crazy, right?
It's a good thing I know my oldest daughter's learning style (kinesthetic). That narrows alot of choices for me. Even so, there are still so many options available. There really is something for everyone.

Reading about (and trying out!) new programs is a guilty pleasure. And it's why I may need to set a HS budget!

The MAIN reason I love homeschool

There are a lot of reasons I love HS. Building a program that fits my individual child. Watching that child "get it." Better grades! The delay of the world's view of what is "right." Avoiding bad influences (such as my 7 yr old getting asked to have sex in the first grade). Getting help with cleaning the house (tee hee).

The MAIN reason I love HS, though, is the closeness it creates. When my oldest was in public school, our routine was a little like this: Up at 6:30 a.m., on the bus by 7:30. Home from school around 4. Quick snack, a little play time. An hour (or more) of homework (with tears). Supper, baths, bed.

Now we are together all day. Some view this as a bad thing but it's just not! I'm amazed at the closeness that has developed since we started HS. I get to see the the light go on when they figure out a math problem. I get to see the delight over a science project. I get to take the credit for my child's education. I get to answer the hard questions about life (not the silly kids at public school). There are always opportunities to talk about whatever, whenever. It's really hard to explain the relational development since we started HS. I think other HS-ers would understand what I mean.
Now, I'm NOT saying that this type of relationship with children is impossible when the kids are in PS. I think it just takes more work to develop it since the time spent together is limited.

I will admit, sometimes I wish I could have a full day to myself without kids. I LOVE to be alone due to my introverted personality type! But now that I know what I was missing out on, I wouldn't trade those days alone for what I have now for anything.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shiller Math review

We started off the year with A Beka. I bought the full DVD curriculum kit. Another post explains why I've decided not to stick with A Beka. Right now I'm trying to finish this year and I'll be switching. I didn't, however, stick with the Math. My oldest hates math and A Beka's math, while good, is very dry. I felt she needed something different and more hands on for her kinesthetic learning style.
So began the reading about different math programs. I read until I was blue in the face. The main programs I considered most was Singapore, Math U See, Saxon, and Shiller Math. I never could figure out Singapore and I was unsure of the mastery based programs. I felt that my child would need review for it to stick. I was turned off by Math U See after reading that it was video learning. After A Beka DVD, I'm really gun shy about video based learning now. Besides, #1 really prefers that I teach her. It finally came down to Saxon and Shiller. I prayed about it and decided to go with Shiller. We've been using it for about 3 weeks now.

Shiller Math (SM) is Montessori style learning. It's very "hands on" which is what I was looking for. It's manipulative heavy and worksheet light. SM claims that it is an "incremental spiral method."  Even so, some might feel more review is needed. In that case, free worksheets can be found easily online on other websites like I haven't felt that extra worksheets are necessary at this point.
Right now, the whole program consists of two kits. Kit 1 is for roughly ages 4-8. Kit 2 covers ages 9-12. I've heard rumors that a high school kit is being worked on but I have not tried to confirm that. I have the Kit 1 (no download) version that I'm using for my 4 year old and 8 year old. So I will be reviewing only that kit.

When I got the kit in, it was neatly packaged in one large box. I'll not list the manipulatives included since they are listed on the SM website. However, here are some pictures (please keep in mind I'm not a photographer and do not know any fancy camera tricks!):
So far, we've only used the red bag once for a lesson on probability. Under the red bag is the work mat. The work mat is used with every lesson that manipulatives are used. It's quite large (22x37) as you can see compared to my hand. This is supposed to help the child focus on the one space in which they are working. It washes up nicely. I HAD to wash it when we first got it because it smelled strongly like "factory."
Of these items, we've only used the CD, the shapes pieces, and the coins, and the tray that's holding all the contents. The tray seems sturdy and well made as do the shapes pieces. The shapes include squares, rectangles, triangles, circles, diamonds, trapezoids, parallelograms, and hearts. The coins are made of plastic, of course. The CD has 25 songs on it. We've only listened to one song so far (Right, Left song). The 4 year old acted like it was dumb but I heard her singing it later!

All the blue stuff is unit cubes (100 all together), 10's rods(27 all together), 100's flats(27), and a Thousand cube (just one). The green and white grid looking paper in the foreground folds up into more thousands cubes (16 all together).
This seemed a little flimsy to me. We'll see how it holds up over time.

Here are the workbooks. I originally ordered one set thinking I could use them for both kids. As soon as I got the kit in and flipped through them I realized each kid would need their own set. Not all, but quite a bit, of the pages are consumable.
In the front of the book is a Table of Contents. At the back is a Concept Index and Manipulative Index. The concept index groups the concepts covered throughout the book in one place. For example: Probability is covered in lessons 91, 92, and 130. Logic is covered in lessons 16, 18, and 88. The Manipulative index covers the manipulatives used throughout the book in one place. For example: the foam ball is used in lessons 27, 106, and 180. Number tiles are used in lessons 41, 85, and 90.
On the inside of the back cover is a table to record the Date, Minutes worked, Lesson #'s completed, and lessons to revisit.
The first "real" lesson in Book 1 covers circles, triangles, and squares (as in "What is this shape?). The last lesson in Book 3 covers Using Numbers for Letters.
All the lessons are scripted so you don't have to try to figure out what to say. Some would see this as positive, others as a negative. I like it for the days I'm feeling unsure of myself. On the lessons I feel more confident, I read over it and then say it how I want.

This is the answer guide/teacher's manual.
The only problem I see with these is possible typos. For instance, lesson 12, 16, and 20 (in book 1) was completely skipped. I'm not sure if it was done by accident or on purpose. Maybe they were thinking a key was not necessary for those lessons. Not sure.

The Montessori style is all about being positive, positive, positive. And if either parent or child starts feeling frustrated it is stressed to put the math away and come back later. I really love the positive approach to making math fun.
In the Parent Guide the SM ThreeStep Approach is explained. "This is....." "Show me......" and "What is......"
Basically, any time a new concept is introduced the ThreeStep Approach is used. For example: When introducing shapes you would use one of the circles out of the shapes bag to show the child and say "This is a circle." Lay the circle down on the mat (either alone or among other shapes) and say "Show me a circle." Allow the child to pick up or point to the circle. Then say "What is this?"
The Parent Guide, in general, is beneficial and helps with troubleshooting.

This program is not heavy on tests. Tests are included but not so much for a grade. I think it could be more appropriately called a diagnostic review. Basically, at the end of each section (there are 4 sections in Lesson Book 1) there is a review test. If the child misses some answers then you know to cover those particular topics again. These tests are also used to place the child in the program if you won't be starting at the very beginning (like I had to do with my 8 yr old). These tests can also be found on SM's website.

The initial cost of the kit can turn some off. It was the main reason it took me so long to make a decision to just go for it. Each kit (the no download version) cost $399.95. For an extra $100 you can get the downloads of consumables for 5 years. Each additional workbook, if bought alone, costs $79.95. You won't need to buy extra workbooks if you get the download version.
SM does have periodic sales (I got in on that!) and that helps alot. You can also watch the free webinar and get $100 off on a kit. However, I couldn't figure the webinar out so I missed out on that promo. I did get a promo code from Mr. Shiller when I sent an email with a question. His reply back  included the promo code that saved me $100.
In all, if you consider that the kit can be used for 4-5 years and for more than one kid, that isn't too bad.

Overall, I'm very glad I decided to go with SM and I would recommend it to other HS families.
Shiller Math website

Monday, January 17, 2011

My daughters

All I ever wanted was boys. I got girls instead. I honestly wouldn't want it any other way. I wonder what it would be like to have a boy but even if I was to have another girl one day I would be tickled.

Daughter #1 came when I was just 21. She's 8 now. We knew before we left the hospital that she was a drama queen. She's held true to that to this day! She's so emotional. Life is either grand or just awful. She's got a strong conscience and is easy to discipline. She's got a very tender and compassionate heart and loves to be around people. She's very social. She went to public school until 2nd grade.
The social aspect of her spills over into how I have to school her. We started off the year at a desk in her daddy's small den. She hated being alone and constantly complained about schooling. So I moved her to the dining room table. What a difference! She had a better attitude and was more compliant about school work. We now do everything at the kitchen bar.

Daughter #2 came when I was 25. She's 4 now.  It took a year to conceive her so I was so happy to have another. She's mischievious and head strong! She's shy around people she doesn't know well. She was the one to hide behind my legs. She's petite but has quite the personality to make up for her size. Dynamite comes in small packages. She keeps us all on our toes around here. Fortunately, she gets sweeter and sweeter the farther behind we leave 2 years old. For now, schooling her has been easy. She catches on quick and likes to sit in on big sister's lessons most days.

Daughter #3 came when I was 28. She had her 1st birthday last October. Like #1, she's social. She loves to be the center of attention and make everyone laugh. She's such a ham! She can be a bit dramatic (and loud!) and oh-so-sweet. I would tag her as a sanguine for sure. Oh, and she LOVES to eat. She can't stand for us to school. I guess she knows the attention is not on her. I've learned to pull a chair up to the bar and let her stand in it so she can be a part of the school day too. Or give her lots of snacks to keep her quiet!

I truly look forward to the next years of homeschool.

And just for the heck of it, here's the women who started it all. This my mother and me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Very Wonderful Day

Today was one of those days when it just clicked. Everyone was in a good mood. Everyone was cooperating (for the most part). Everyone was enjoying learning (for the most part). When we took our lunch break I heard my oldest say "This is a very wonderful day." We had just finished Math. She hates Math and yet it was still a very wonderful day. I think the new math program is working.
While I was cooking supper (leftovers so not too much cooking going on) the 4 yr old asks if we can "do school."
Be still my beating heart. Words Mrs. Mom likes to hear!

Our "schedule"

We don't have a schedule. No. Really. We don't. We do, however, have a routine.

I tried the whole scheduling thing.
8:30 am- Bible
9am- Math
10 am- 15 min break
10:15 am- Language
11 am- Penmenship
12 am- Lunch for 1 hour
Etc etc

Did NOT work for us. I know that some families thrive with this type of schedule. More power to them. We are much more relaxed than that.

Our typical day looks more like this:
Sleep until whenever (usually around 9am). Breakfast. Chores. Start school around 10ish (usually in our PJ's). School until lunch. Eat. A few more chores. Prek work is usually finished before lunch so I focus on finishing with the 3rd grader after lunch. Most of her independent work is done after lunch with just a few instructions from Mrs. Mom. I probably take an hour for PreK work and around 3 hours for 3rd grade work.
I usually try to fit in a full load every day even though our goals for the day are really light. We usually find ourselves ahead of the "schedule."
We start with prayer and Bible time. For preK we do beginning phonics and Math. She also sits in for History and Science when she feels like it. For 3rd grade we cover History, Science, Math, Language Arts, Penmanship, and Reading.
One day a week we have gymnastics. I also try to do my grocery shopping and such on this day. So we usually have a lighter school work load. This particular week we will be taking a day off so I can go pick up Mr. Dad from the airport.
The only thing I write down is our goals for the day. I sit down on a Sunday night to write down our goals. I started off doing this weekly but have moved to doing it monthly.  I use a cheapo Walmart Mead Weekly/Monthly planner that lasts for a year. On the full calendar view page I mark the days we might need to take off (vacations, appointments, etc). On the daily view pages is where I jot down what I want covered for that day. Later, I mark it with a check when it's complete.
Sloppy.  I know. Did I mention we are Relaxed Homeschoolers? But it works for us.

Blessed are the flexible for they shall not get bent out of shape ;-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Found our groove

We're about 5 1/2 months into our homeschooling adventures. I can say I've learned alot. Yes, I've learned as much if not more than the kids. I've heard that the 1st year of HS can be the hardest. It's the year that you have to figure out what works and what doesn't. Teaching styles. Learning styles. Type of homeschool family that you are (unschooler, relaxed, traditional, etc). Organization. Schedules. Routines. Curriculum. Fitting in extracurricular activities.
On top of all that I've been planning and starting a new cloth diaper business. I've been a little stressed. I'm a VERY laid back person and I took on a lot (it seemed) at one time. The adjustment of HS alone can be stressful. I loved it from day 1 and haven't looked back but I had no idea the toll it would take on me. I began to feel a fatigue that I've only ever experienced when I was pregnant. Not cool! I went to the doctor about the fatigue and was also diagnosed with low Vitamin D.
I really clung to God during those first months. How sweet He always is to let me whine yet not let me give in to it. I don't know how but everyday I made it through. I cling to the Scriptures in general but especially when things "just ain't right." Here's a couple that spoke to my heart and got me through.

Isaiah 40:29-31 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.

Psalm 84:5 and 7 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage... They go from strength to strength.

I love the Hebrew word for strength. It means capability, skill, valor, wealth, warrior, army, troop. It's the same word used for Ruth and the Proverbs 31 woman when they are described as "noble" or "virtuous."

Strength to strength. Day to day. That's exactly how I had to take it.

I feel great now. I still have my days that I'm more tired. If it's possible, I take a nap. I stay on top of the Vitamin D by taking a D supplement as well as a B12. That helps alot. I've also adjusted to the new way of life. I've got a routine that works for us. I've switched curriculum and changed how I teach. I'm so glad I've stuck it out cause I really love where I am. We have definitely found our groove and it's working well.

Now, I'm going to get a cup of coffee and sit down with a Homeschool curriculum catalog. There's a sale!