Monday, December 13, 2010

Well I've been missing a few weeks. A lot going on around here. We are looking to move so I've been preoccupied with that while trying to keep up my homeschool schedule. For the last two weeks we've done primarily Math and Grammar with Science and History twindling down to about once a week. Eeek! I have got to catch up. Monday started our 3 day class with Stebbing "How Great Thou Art." There were over 80 homeschool kids signed up for this class locally. I was looking forward to it because we hardly do any Art around here. I just don't know how to fit it all in. I purchased one DVD on Drawing to continue the basics we learned during the class and some of his paints. I think everyone had a great time.

Come January I plan to turn over a new leaf - new home, new homeschooling space, more time (as I will be scaling back my work outside of the home) so that I can do so much more with our studies.
Hope you had a productive week. Join the weekly wrap up by visiting the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Monday, November 15, 2010

We are wrapping up our study of Botany this week. We visited the US Botanical Garden in WDC. It was a really good trip. Kids enjoyed moving from room to room - Hawaii, the Desert, Orchid Room, Endangered plants room. The Garden has such a wonderful ambience. We had a little time before we needed to be back home before rush hour so we walked over to the National Gallery of Art. We aren't cultured enough to enjoy all the art but we thoroughly enjoyed the gift gallery. I was able to pick up Renaissance Art Cards to play "go fish" and a activity book on Arcimboldo - an artist whose works were made of fruits and vegetables. What a great segue from Botany to Art. I found this book at the library and finished it on Monday. The author mentions visiting the Gallery of Art and purchasing some great items for art appreciation for her homeschool. It gave me some really great ideas for homeschooling as it chronicles a mother's homeschooling year with her 5th grade daughter. Unlike a lot of homeschooling books I've read, the book reads like a novel instead of a "how to" book. But I should have expected that since the author is a college literature professor. Makes for some good reading especially for a newbie like me.

Tuesday we worked on Botany collages - finding pictures of people using plants in our world aesthetically, culturally, religiously, etc.

Wednesday & Thursday are a blur with the exception of buying supplies for our human body science unit on Thursday, and going to the library. But today we shopped for our Christmas box for Samaritan's Purse. We will have to do some work on Saturday to catch all of the things that fell through the cracks during the week.

Hope you had a productive week. Join the weekly wrap up by visiting the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Week 11 and 3 weeks behind in TOG Y2. I just can't get it all in but we are progressing nicely through the lessons. This week's focus was Marco Polo and exploration of the far East. The only thing the girls knew was the pool game Marco Polo which we couldn't figure out the correlation. I'm a little nervous taking on the next 9 weeks of Middle Age History without the TOG unit guideline but SOTW and the Kingfisher Encyclopedia will have to day until I can order MFW Exploration through 1850.

I'm also venturing into a Human Body Unit by using Alpha Omega LifePacs that I used with DD13 last year coupled with library resources and worksheets from Now I see why people come up with their own curriculum. It so hard to use the shelf curriculum exactly the way it was intended depending on your goals. I looked at Apologia's Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy but just couldn't justify the cost as I know I'm not going to use the text for a complete year.

Here is how the week wrapped up:

History - I set up a hands-on activity from the SOTW Activity Book where we traveled on the Silk Route to trade goods in China from Europe. I made signs for the Gobi Desert and the Taklahaman Desert with pit stops equipped with snacks and water. We navigated the Yellow River (the steps from the basement to the main level) using a broom as an oar before reaching Kublai Khan's palace where we traded for gold, silk, and exotic plants. See, Kublai Khan is a Redskins fan??

It was fun and I know it solidified geography into the minds of my girls. Even though DD13 isn't formally studying history with us she joined us on this activity. I really need to break away from the book work and do this activities more often. They are really good for reinforcement.

Classical Conversations - we all went to the public library for DD13 to meet with her group for a study session. DD11, DD9 and I did our schoolwork at one of the tables in the library and then perused the shelves for new books. When we left the library DD13 left with a stack of historical fiction. She was turned on by a fellow student in her group and now she wants to read everything in that genre. In that moment I saw the benefit of her being involved in this group. Positive peer pressure!

Veteran's Day - we took the day off.

Math Lessons/Test, SOTW - The Ottoman Empire seizes Constantinople and updating our timeline. Playtime on the hill in the back of our house. I remember when the girls first discovered the hill they would run up and down the sides playing and yelling in delight. Now they dig in the ground pulling up roots and shouting "I found a fern"! Oh the joys of homeschooling.

Join the weekly wrap up by visiting the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Well as usual Monday was our most productive day. We covered Genghis Kahn, did mapwork and updated our history timeline with SOTW. Math lessons done and worksheets completed for Language Arts. Tuesday - two worksheets done and some math done but we had a wonderful visit with family who were in town so that's a good reason not to get a lot done. But the highlight of our week was our visit to George Washington's Mt. Vernon. We aren't studying early American History but I couldn't refuse the reduced rate for homeschool day. Just like last year when we visited Monticello I forgot the camera! I took pictures with my cell phone but I don't know where the data cord is to transfer the pictures from the phone to the computer. So I'll have to visit the Verizon store to pick up a new cord then I can post the pictures here on tomorrow. Please visit late tomorrow if you've never seen Mt. Vernon, I think I got some pretty good shots.

Join the weekly wrap up by visiting the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Monday, October 18, 2010

We are wrapping up the Seeds chapter in Exploring God's Creation through Botany. We ventured outside in search of Monocots and Dicots. We didn't have to walk far to find so many interesting things growing in our neighbors' front yard. A green pepper and other flowers we have yet to classify. Next in Botany - Fruits.

Also this week we completed the 3 week diaroma project on Feudalism. I was so proud of the results. It was so easy to get excited about it in the beginning and then let the project drag on. But I was determined to get it finished and I'm so glad we did. Do you see the knight standing guard on the tower?

Speaking of Feudalism from our study of the middle ages using TOG, I've decided not to purchase any other units from TOG and just follow the lesson plans from SOTW CDs and the Activity Book supplementing with books from the library to complete our second 9 weeks of History studies. After that I am excited to finish up the 3rd and 4th 9 weeks using My Father's World Year 4 - Exploration to 1850. That should take us through the year and then some.
The reason I decided to switch was to save time on lesson planning. TOG is such a smorgasboard that it is too time consuming to put together. I had trouble making all that information comprehensive to ensure my kids were learning and progressing through the information week after week. "Learning and progressing" leads me to my next point - I issued Homeschool Report Cards today. Today officially marks the end of the first 9 weeks so I tallied grades and did my official final grade for each subject. I picked the "homeschool report card" up from the homeschool conference I attended last summer. The 8th grade report card I downloaded from the web and customized it to fit my needs. I can't find the site now but if anyone is interested I'll be happy to email the document.

Join the weekly wrap up by visiting Jamie's blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Visit Forever, For Always No Matter as well to see what other homeschoolers are doing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It seems like I am always looking for new resources and wanting to incorporate so much material that I don't have time to do. Sometimes the monotony of our routine sends me looking for new things to add to our studies. Day in and day out Math lesson, History reading, CDs and activities, library visit, Science reading and notebooking, Writing Lessons, etc.
I can't afford to always buy new things to add some spice to our day but if I don't switch it up I get extremely demotivated. I haven't read much about this from other moms but I can't imagine I'm alone. So I'm looking to add Art & Music Appreciation to coincide with our Middle Ages history lessons. Barb over at Harmony Art Mom seems to have the perfect affordable curriculum.

Here is how it all wrapped up this week.

DD13 - Progressing with Challenge A program through Classical Conversations. Nature study research topic this week was on Arachnids. Daily lessons in Latin and Math, and Geography focus this week, South America. Catechism memorization from two texts, Don't Check Your Brains at the Door and It Couldn't Just Happen.

DD11 & DD9 - Finishing up Feudalism in our SOTW and TOG History Lessons. We are still working on dioramas of the classes. I reviewed the First Knight with Sean Connery on last night as it was recommended on a movie list to correspond to this point in History we are studying. I think my kids would think the movie is boring so I'm going to try one other Knight movie before deciding to pull the plug on these movies altogether. Only one IEW lesson completed this week, daily math and only one Science lesson. I'm not sure why I'm not meeting my scheduled Science lessons each week. We are suppose to do two per week. I'm getting a little weary of Botany, it's a great curriculum its just that I think we've all had enough of plants. I'm skipping the flowers and pollination section as they've had a lot of this in public school so we will be moving on to the chapter on Fruits. I may have to buy another Apologia text because we will be finished with this book I believe before January.

Other happenings this week - State park visit with friends for PE, piano lessons (DD9 every Tuesday), Missionettes (every Wednesday night), Library visit (once each week).

Join the weekly wrap up by visiting the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wow I can barely remember this week. It went by so fast. We went to the Shenandoah Valley over the weekend so I didn't get any planning done for homeschool. But it was a nice getaway. We visited my alma mater - James Madison University. DD9 says that's where she wants to go to college.

Here is how it all wrapped up:

Classical Conversations Challenge A
- Four Math Lessons Done. Latin exercises and Vocabulary work. She didn't do too well on her Latin quiz. I'm powerless to help as I know nothing about Latin. She does well at learning the vocabulary but gets the different verb(declensions) and noun endings (conjucations) mixed up. I guess I need to set up something with the tutor to see how I can assist. This is the last week on Central America in World Geography - map work nd country capitals. Memory/Mastery work of 1-14 of 50 Catechism questions. IEW Bible Based lessons paper this week on Jesus' words from the Gospels. Dress-Ups and writing tools worked on this week include sentence openers, and topic/clincher sentences. Science nature topic - mollusks. Her research was on Squid. Gleaned from work done with sisters in History - reviewed Fall of Rome through Alfred the Great.

Here is what the rest of the gang did this week:

DD11 - daily exercises in Wordly Wise 6, 4 math lessons complete from Saxon 6/5, 1 IEW SWI A exercise done; writing tools introduced - "who/which" clause and "-ly" words. We really should have done more but didn't work it in. Finished up chapter on Seeds in Exploring Creation with Botany. However, 12 day experiment in process in recording data on seeds growing through germination. Finished 1 of 4 shoebox diorama on Feudalism and review History lessons to date (Fall of Rome through Alfred the Great).

DD9 - same as above with the exception of math lessons from Math U See.

We've also been slowly working on a lapbook (my first attempt at one) on the Fruit of the Spirit.

Even though we do homeschool PE every Friday at a nearby park sometimes I need to really let them loose in the backyard to make some of their own fun. They surprisingly find ways to make that outdoor fun educational as I learned on yesterday.

Join the weekly wrap up by visiting the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Mondays are always our most productive days. Maybe its the idea of starting fresh from the rest of the weekend and going full steam on the first day of the week. Here is how it all wrapped up:

Classical Conversations Challenge A
- Four Math Lessons completed and one Test done. Latin Lessons and New Vocabulary from Latin's Not So Tough Book 3. However, dd13 would disagree that Latin isn't tough. Nature Science Topic done on the Weeping Willow. The topic this week was trees. She makes such beautiful drawings on her science reports each week. I really need to help her hone her Art Skills.
Geography topic was Central America - map drawing and memorizing countries and capitals. You are suppose to know geography terms and major bodies of water but she never seems to master the terms or major rivers. I usually let her skip them as I don't think they are all that important. Do we really need to know what a bog or cavern is?
Expository Writing (IEW Bible Based Lessons) included a paper on Faith, comparing the faith of the Centurion, Peter, and the woman with the issue of blood.
Apologetics - more memorization from the Catechism questions based on It Couldn't Just Happen and Don't Check Your Brains at the Door. Reading done from both of these texts.
I think that does it for DD13.

Here is what the rest of the gang (dd11, dd9) did this week:

We did one out of two Science lessons I planned for this week. Instead of doing two lessons next week we will do three to catch up. The girls always complete their Vocabulary exercises from Wordly Wise for their grade level and their assigned math lessons. We started Lesson 1 from IEW (Student Writing Intensive). I love the idea of having different ways of teaching subjects. For example: notebooking journal for Science, Story of the World CDs and Read Alouds for History, and DVDs for the Writing Lessons. I think the kids appreciate the variety as well to keep things interesting and so do I. DD9 had piano lessons on Tuesday but homeschool PE was cancelled today because of the puddles the rain left behind from yesterday's 24 hour rainfall. Fridays lessons plans were shot out of the water as I heard "let's go somewhere" twenty times after breakfast. I abandoned my plans and we all went shopping to find materials to make our "4 Alls" diaroma depicting feudalism during the Middle Ages. This project will include 4 shoe boxes outfitted to represent the peasant life, knighthood, monks, and nobility. I'll post pictures when it's all done.
Join the weekly wrap up by visiting the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

This is my first attempt at a weekly wrap up. This is week 6 of the homeschooling year and this week I felt like we've been doing the same routine day in and day out so Thursday when we began school I felt spontaneous. I called another homeschool friend and we spent the late morning at a nearby park.
The kids had a blast and I enjoyed catching up with a friend. I think that's what I've been missing for the last 6 weeks - some out of the house time. In the same spirit of breaking up the monotony I am planning to visit the farm for Harvest Festival next week.

Classical Conversations - My oldest daughter has been doing great in her Challenge A class. She is self motivated and daily attacks her subjects one by one and gets it all done. She hasn't been able to memorize everything for the week in all subjects but she is making progress. Her Natural science has been a great learning experience in using the library and the Internet to do research and the material "sticks" because she can focus on one topic at a time. Saxon 8/7 doesn't seem to be a big challenge. When they break in December for a month, I plan to start her in pre-Algebra.

Math - The younger two are making progress in all subjects. I had to switch from Saxon 3 to Math-U-See for my 4th grader's math but the transition has been smooth. My 4th grader and 6th grader practiced memorizing times tables together.

Language Arts - We are at the end of our grammar lessons for the 8 parts of speech, we've been reviewing this since Day 1 of school. This coming week will be a review as we prepare to begin the Student Writing Intensive A from IEW. I am excited about beginning this curriculum. Oldest daughter has been using the bible-based lessons in Challenge A and her writing has dramatically improved.

Science - Gathered a collection of leaves for 4g & 6g to classify according to margin, shape, venation, and arrangement in keeping with the notebooking activities from Exploring Creation with Botany.

History - Tapestry of Grace Week 4 - study of Charlemagne. Listened to the Story of the World on CD. The girls listened to these on their own and summarize the CD for me so I know what is going on.

Bible - attempted our first lapbook on the Fruit of the Spirit. This was truly spur of the moment as we were all a little "testy" with one another when the week began.

Join the weekly wrap up by visiting the weird, unsocialized homeschoolers blog and sign up and see what other homeschooling families have been doing this week.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Visitor at my door

I put out the trash tonight through the garage door and was met by the most unlikely creature. Maybe this visitor would be a welcomed guest in a house full of boys. But in a house full of girls - this guest is unwelcome. I can't think of anything worst than FROGS!!! I don't even want to leave the house tomorrow for fear of meeting him again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm here just so busy doing 1000 things everyday. Some necessary and some temporarily necessary (stuff I add to my life to achieve a short-term goal but cost me in time and energy). I had to find another math curriculum for my 4th grader as Saxon Math 3 isn't organized in the way that the higher grades are organized and it just isn't working for me. I just don't get the separate Teacher's Edition book and the way concepts are introduced. It seems like there isn't good scope and sequence. I'm buying a used copy of Horizons Math and I'm praying for a better outcome. I had my 4th grader do placement tests for Math U See and Horizons and its amazing how different programs can be and what they teach when. I really don't like switching gears midstream but I can't take what I'm using now another day. Another change - I got the SOTW CDs at 50% off regular price from eBay so the kids can listen to the History Read Alouds. Well worth the investment. Everyone pays real close attention to be sure not to miss a word.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Half Way Through Week 1

Well so good so far. We seem so sail through Math and Language Arts pretty quickly without much pain. Science with Exploring Creation through Botany has been a great pleasure. The lessons are planned out for me, the notebooking journal is in place, the activities and experiments are hands-on and fun. We did the shoe taxonomy activity yesterday to learn how Botanist classify plants.

History with TOG to say the least is a little more daunting. Between SOTW and the suggested Read Alouds from TOG it is a lot of reading. I really do feel like I need to read both because SOTW tells a story which is easy to remember but the other resource gives the biography information needed to understand the key people of the time and serves as a resource for doing timeline work. I'm starting to think that purchasing the stories on CD may be a way to cover the read aloud work in SOTW. That way the kids don't have to hear my voice for an hour. On top of the suggested reading for history I selected 3 separate literature books for the girls to read during their reading time. Oldest daughter finished this in one day! The younger dialectic and UG daughter are reluctantly reading their choices. It's Wednesday and we have yet to do the Geography and Arts section of the TOG curriculum. I really thought History would be 3 days a week subject but with TOG it seems to be an everyday subject. I know they say to make it your own, you don't have to do it all, etc. etc. and I thought I had done that but I may have to pair it down even more. Whew!

Yesterday was UG daughter's first day of piano lessons - this was pure joy to watch. I am really looking forward to her progress. I also need to find something for her to practice on.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Easing into the New School Year

Yesterday I explained the History notebooking system to my younger girls who've never been homeschooled and we started in the first 2 chapters of SOTW. Boy do I love the way SOTW teaches history in a storytelling fashion. Because my rising 8th grader is preparing for high school after this year I am second guessing myself as to whether she should be doing the "standard" American history or join us in our study of the Middle Ages with TOG. Between her first semester study of history in public school and her second semester with me we started with Jamestown and barely began the Civil War when summer began. However, public school did some WWII & WWI studies first semester. Part of me feels like we should keep going until we hit modern times but I really don't want to divide myself between the Middle Ages and the Post-Modern era. What to do??

Won't she get enough American History in high school for me to not really worry about it?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Tentative Schedule

So here is the tentative schedule for our days:

8:20 - 9:00 Prayer Circle/Scripture Memory/Devotion

9:00 - 9:30 Drill & Math Instruction

9:30 - 10:00 Independent Math Work
(10 min Break)
10:10 - 10:55 Language Arts

11:00 - 12:30 History (M, W)
Science (T, F)

12:30 - 1:00 LUNCH

1:05 - 2:00 Art / Music /Computer

2:00 - 3:00 P.E. (Park Days / Rec Center)
Independent Reading / Library
3:00 - 4:00 Finish Morning Work Assignments

5:00 - 6:00 Dinner / Clean-Up

6:00 - 8:30 Productive Free-Time


Here is a copy of the weekly planning sheet I plan to give the kids so they know what should be done on a daily basis and can use it as a checklist of their accomplishments for the day.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

4 weeks before the start of school

I knew when the summer started it was going to be over before it even began. With August nipping at my heels I am feeling the pressure of having everything together for the start of school. Last Saturday I caught a wind of motivation and planned out 4-6 weeks of Language Arts Lessons from a book I picked up from Classical Conversations when at a practicum in June titled "Our Mother Tongue: A Guide to English Grammar." I don't think it was intended to be a stand-alone curriculum but it seemed like a great idea when I purchased it. I ended up typing up all the grammar exercises in a Word document to give to my 4th & 6th grader for practicing new concepts introduced in my daily lessons for them. I just feel more prepared if I have sheets for them to work on while I figure out the flow of my day. I used "work" days this summer to get an idea of what it will be like this fall with all 3 girls. Here were my observations: one daughter doesn't like others talking while she is working on an assignment, sometimes 2 or 3 have questions about their individual assignments at once so there is a lot of waiting before they're able to ask questions, sometimes they need individual attention at the same time! Hence the reason why I see a need to have ready-made things for them to do during these "wait" times. I recall during my substitute days in public school a lot of that "wait" time was filled by the kids having a book handy in their desks to pull out. That's an idea. When you have nothing to do - READ. I realize also that my kids (especially the younger two) are used to very tight organized schedules. Even if we end up easing up on a schedule maybe I should start out with one so they know what we are doing and if there is a lull in the schedule or if we are behind = READ.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A great find!

"Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends" has been a great read-aloud for the girls and me. It has really opened up conversations about how to live in relationship with each other. What starts out as a great conversation about the inner workings of sibling relationships turns into how to relate to any and every one (friends, family members, etc.) It has been a time of tears, forgiveness, and laughter. Looking for a great study to help bring peace among siblings this is it!

Monday, July 12, 2010

An Elightening Trip to the Doctor

Whenever we visit the library I always peruse the homeschooling section and look through books I haven't read yet as the kids look for books they want to check out. I left with HomeSchooling The Right Choice! by Christopher Klicka and Beyond Survival by Diana Waring. Reading through the sections of Klicka's book I was most intrigued with the chapters dealing with Children's rights, Social Workers, and Doctors. As I read these sections I was reminded of the well-child visit appointment for my soon to be 13 year old a few weeks ago. I thought it was a little weird that the Nurse Practitioner asked my dd a series of questions that dealt with how she feels about herself, if there was anything she didn't like about herself, etc., to which my dd answered "not really." So she further asked "well there is something that everybody wishes were different about themselves ... on and on, can you think of something like that?" I was like what the? So the NP informs me that at age 13 my child has the right to a private doctor's visit. huh? If the child objects to the parent being in the room then by law I have to stay out of the room. She goes on to tell me that there were standard questions they ask focusing on teen issues like alcohol, drug abuse (I can't even remember what else she said). My dd innocently asked why wouldn't I want my mom in the room? My thoughts exactly! On one hand I do understand for the children that are at risk for various abuses these laws go on the books to protect them but you can't help to think the more government imposes on the rights of parents the more it undermines the authority of the parent. I could tell the NP was a little taken a back by my reaction to what she was saying but I just explained that I am very involved in my kids lives and education on those topics are supplied by her parents. It still causes me to have an emotional reaction - the audacity of some laws to interfere with the training of my children. Which brings me back to the books from the library. Klicka spoke about the importance of the HSLDA and the work they do on behalf on homeschooling families. He gave many examples of families who have received knocks on the door from authorities because a neighbor saw kids playing outside during school hours or they were in dirty clothes (boys playing in creek, etc.) Just one allegation can open up an frivolous investigation because people don't understand the legality of homeschooling. It was eye opening but good information. I think I may join the HSLDA or not play outside before 3 pm. Just kidding.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


We are on vacation this week. But always learning. Here is my favorite pic from the Kennedy Space Center visit.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

So much to be thankful for . . .

I am amazed at the list created by this homeschooling mom
Following her lead I thought I would try to see how many I can come up with. I'm sure she didn't create her list of over 100 items in one day. So here goes:

My gifts for which I am grateful, the blessings and grace enjoyed in this life:

1. The love of a good man (my husband)
2. A God fearing mother who taught me the fear of the Lord
3. Salvation's free
4. second chances
5. a best friend
6. 3 healthy girls
7. the sound of birds that sing in the morning
8. homeschooling freedom in all 50 states
9. forgiveness
10. panera bagels
11. a good cup of coffee
12. Ross & Marshalls :)
13. a good bargain
14. an unexpected check in the mail
15. learning something new
16. knowing an alternative route in traffic
17. a warm hello
18. blue, see through water
19. Sunday drives
20. Thanksgiving dinner
21. watching Football with my BFF
22. VIP treatment
23. laughs that make you cry
24. traveling as a passenger
25. homemade baked goods
26. summer cook outs
27. new friendships
28. clean sheets
29. fall weather
30. a good word
31. songs that make you cry
32. talks with children
33. talks with wise elders
34. a compliment
35. things that move you to action
36. accomplishing a goal
37. the feeling you get after a good workout
38. overcoming temptation
39. visible growth
40. fresh vegetables
41. Mexican food
42. girls night out
43. Christian radio
44. good conversation
45. a dress that fits just right
46. pedicures
47. time to think
48. trailblazers
49. acceptance
50. an honest opinion

Alright . . . 50 is a good start!

Friday, June 4, 2010


For awhile I didn't share the fact that I homeschooled so that I could stay focused on what I was doing and to give myself a chance to get my footing. Now that I've been at it for 20 weeks (yes, 20 whole weeks!) now I share more confidently, many times trying to bottle my enthusiasm as to not come off as "you should be doing this too!" The inevitable question from most people is "what made you decide to do that?"
I've yet to come up with a to the point, concise answer. I would love to hear what other homeschoolers say in response to that question.

I have no idea who reads this blog outside of people I know and most of them don't homeschool :) so it will be interesting to see if I get any responses. OK . .. go ahead . . . hit "post a comment" (laughing)...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

At some point you have to say no more . . .

I'm talking about buying books. I just keep finding things that I think would be great to incorporate in our homeschool. For the last two days JW and I have been at the CC practicum where I've been learning more about the classical model of education. JW has been in a logic camp. What is a logic camp? Well, Logic is one of the classes she will be introduced to next year, so from what she told me today they did different activities to identify opinion and fact statements. You really have to understand classical education to get it but within the logic class they are taught how to critically think through statements that people make, how to discern truth from fallacy and make arguments that can be supported by truth. A big part of the program is writing, speaking and debating. The debates which are introduced in high school really make the kids examine the truths in their Christian faith as revealed in the bible and teaches them skills to defend their faith. Logic is foundational to debate. So I purchased all the books she will be using next year along with some great grammar finds to begin teaching grammar to the younger two and myself as well.

The kids are so excited about summer vacation. I'm excited about having them all home finally. I'm also excited about getting them into summer reading and math which they just can't understand why I'm so excited about "school." I just believe its been a wonderful gift God has given me - the privilege of being totally responsible to nurture and teach his children at home. Here is the conclusion I've come to - homeschooling and adoption are such a wonderful effective tool to raise up mighty warriors for God's army. OK where did adoption come from? That's another story for another time maybe another blog. But here is a treat - A family with such a heart for God's children. Their story resonates with me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A near miss

Today I'm driving home with my two younger kids in the car when a guy turns into my lane from a street clearly marked with a stop sign. He did not stop at all and never even looked in my direction as he nearly side swiped me. I was sure he was going to hit me as I veered into the lane next to me. I didn't even have time to see if the lane had traffic in it. I laid on my horn for a while, the guy didn't even look in my direction. The kids were a little shaken and when I got home I realized my hands were shaking. All I can say is thank God for seeing us through dangers seen and unseen.

Ok . . . what's been going on in homeschool?

3 weeks to go until the end of the "school year." I haven't stuck to my 9 weeks plan but it did serve as a great guide to what I needed to cover. My language arts plan included doing a unit study on Adam and His Kin but I just couldn't get into it. I'm thinking about making it a summer study. We did enjoy Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and followed the study with the video starring Michael Keaton, Keanu Reeves, and another famous actress I can't remember her name. Warning on the video - includes some brief back nudity that I wasn't expecting. It was rated PG-13. I guess I don't really know what that means anymore. I'm pretty much finish with LLATL so we will just read good literature and view the movie if one is available. Next pick - The Last of the Mohicans.

We are on Lesson 91 out of 120 in Saxon Math. But we have the summer to complete the book.
I have one more Unit that I can complete in AO LifePacs. We are finishing up The Earth, Moon, and Sun Unit 608 this week. Unit 609 continues with Astronomy covering stars, and the galaxy.
We've skimmed the last two chapters in our Abeka history chapters. It's just too much information so we've taken the most important information to focus on. JW did her fist oral presentation on the "technological advances of the mid 19th Century." This was an independent assignment and she did very well. She really got into the presentation and included a powerpoint slide with great graphics and a poster board display. I will upload pictures shortly. We are now in the "Education & Culture" chapter highlighting poets, and novelists of the time. This is where I got the idea of reading The Last of the Mohicans, as it was written during this time. I'm thinking of how I can lapbook this material to incorporate more hands-on activities in this study.
Track ends in a week and I think that's it. I am still preparing for next year and look forward starting summer reading and math lessons in preparation for next fall studies. That's it for now.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Lesson for the day

. . . for the gracious hand of his God was on him. For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. Ezra 7:9b - 10.

Yes, I forever want the hand of God on me. What I've realized is how its so important to be intentional about most things. Do I want my children to adopt the Christian faith? Of course I do. Well how intentional am I in teaching them the things of God, writing them on the doorposts of my home, talking about them when we get up and when we lay down? Are we sowing the seeds of what we want to reap in our lives? In discussions about the children of Israel and thier constant rebellion against God and his Word the question always comes up "these people are punished over and over again for falling away why don't they get it?" We aren't so different. I realize I have to intentionally open that Word, remind myself of what God says and what he requires of me. Things that I know and have heard over and over again but I have to be constantly reminded. Just like our children have to be constantly reminded of things we tell them. This is part of training in righteousness. I have to train myself to do what God asks of me. The moment I don't intentionally seek him out (daily) it is so easy to fall away. Lord, help us in this flesh to go hard after you.

We've been praying about good friendships for ourselves and our children to encourage us in our homeschooling journey and just in our walk with the Lord. What I'm often reminded of is "he who wants friends must first show himself friendly." Proverbs 18:24. Ok coupled with this prayer - we got to do some friendly intentional things. Who have we extended invitations to for fellowship?

This principal can be applied to so many areas of our lives - the discipline of eating right, exercise, maintaining our homes and relationships. Things will quickly fall by the wayside if we aren't diligent (intentional) about the things we do. Some of it is making a conscious decision but not without first submitting to the grace of God to walk in these things. I'm sure I'll have to read this post over again to remind myself :).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My first homeschool conference

I think the 3 hour drive kept me from fully enjoying everything the conference had to offer but it was still worth it. The exhibit hall was overwhelming. There were so many great books and resources - makes you want it all. I did stick with the resource list I plan to use next year and was able to buy them at a deep discount. I am always encouraged by others' stories so that was an encouragement when listening to the speakers.

I purchased the digital edition of Tapestry of Grace the night before I left and read through the program while out of town. I was actually able to plan out the first 2 weeks of school for 4th & 6th grader today along with the worksheets they will need to complete the lessons. Each child will have their own 3 ring binder divided up in 36 weeks with a checklist plan for each week's reading and writing assignments, worksheets that need completing, and any supplements to do hands-on projects. If I can keep up the pace to get the first 18 weeks done by Aug/Sept that would be an huge accomplishment.

Although I'm sure the plans I come up with will not be followed to the letter and there may be times that I have to tweek things it makes me feel like I have a game plan. I did the plans in pencil to leave room for flexibility.

Friday, April 30, 2010

April 30, 2010

I can't believe tomorrow is the first day of May. It's been a pretty good week. We were introduced to Shakespeare this week in Language Arts. LLATL takes you through Much Ado About Nothing but we went to the library to check out retellings of Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo & Juliet, and one more whose title escapes me. We had a blast reading these books aloud. JW assigns voices to the many characters in these books. She wrote summaries of the books and a biography of William Shakespeare. I must say I see great improvement in her writing and that makes me very proud. I can attribute this improvement to the study of grammar and the IEW "Elegant Essays" lessons. I've purchased Wordsmith to continue building on her writing skills. This in combination with vocabulary study will make for a good high school writer (smiling). This has been one of my goals in the beginning of this journey - to improve JW's writing.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21, 2010

We started the standardized testing this week. One of the track moms suggested Seton Testing. I took her suggestion because of the $25 price tag. I was going to use Stanford Testing in a group setting but by administering the Seton Test I save $25 and gain some convenience. The test seems really easy. It included elements that LLATL introduced in the lessons we covered so I was very happy with that. The math sections are pretty straight forward as well.

Including this week we have 9 weeks left before the "end of school" so I looked at the lessons that we still need to cover in LA, Math, & History and divided the work up into weekly lessons through the week of June 12th. I hadn't done that before I just planned based on covering at least so many hours weekly in each subject. But since we are close to the end I thought it best to break it up to make sure we get everything in. I will continue with Math, Reading, and Writing with everyone over the summer and I'll allow JW to finish any Science lessons we don't get to. I'm still putting together all my plans for next year with great anticipation. I'll be attending the CHAP Convention in Harrisburg, PA in a couple of weeks with a good friend. I'll be taking JW along for the ride as well. I'm looking forward to this rite of passage, especially the exhibit hall which so many people warn me about. I don't plan to buy anything unless there is an irresistable deal in the used curriculum sale. I plan to use;; and for all the texts I need for next year and I know exactly how much everything should cost.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Planning for next year

Seems like I keep going back to the drawing board when it comes to planning for next year. Initially, I used TWTM as an outline as to what and how to teach certain subjects at different levels. But as I look to have more than one homeschooler it seems wise to use one curriculum resource where possible. JW will do Classical Conversations once a week using Saxon math, Latin grammar, World Geography, Creative Writing, and Newberry Literature. I'm going to add Wordly Wise to help strengthen her vocabulary. I'm expecting her to be responsible for her work and accountable to her tutor for her assignments with my oversight. She will do history as a unit study with her sisters and physical science under my direction.

My most recent find has been Tapestry of Grace. It will allow me to do Language Arts Reading, History, and Bible/Church History with all three kids using real books and resources catered to their grade levels. I downloaded sample lessons from thier website and I believe it will help make things interesting and a little easier as far as lesson planning goes. I will use Saxon for each kid for their grade level, younger two will do Apologia and Spelling Workout for Spelling. I don't have anything formal for grammar - not sure what I will add if anything for that. Seems like an awful lot to do. Not to mention the fact that I want to incorporate Art & Music as well. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out but I am looking forward to all of this being a family affair.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spring Break

OK Spring Break is over! We didn't get to make the Buffalo head but we made a diorama of a pioneer log cabin. The fireplace came out lovely thanks to the man of the house who was an architecture major in college. We drew the fireplace but he suggested the 3D version. Yes I know the furniture isn't to scale.

Because Spring Break is during Easter Week it was very very busy. Most of the family with the exception of JW and myself were in the church's Easter Production. So the week was filled with practices and ended with three productions that took place Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Needless to say we were all exhausted.

The weather is beautiful. I look forward to the end of school so everyone will be home together. I'm planning now for all the things I want to do with the kids. I really missed out last summer as I was working full-time. I remember how sad it was when everyone went back to school because I felt like we spent very little time together. But this summer will be different. I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Catering to a Learning Style

Today was a fun day. I mentioned before that textbooks are not JW's favorite way to learn. So I went to the library last night and found a cookbook with recipes associated with time periods from every US war (revolutionary times, colonial days, civil war era, etc.) The index was filled with reference books for each time period. I pulled those books from the shelf and we spent two hours today reading about the Western Expansion. We started with Daniel Boone then read about the Lewis & Clark expeditions. Because these books were juvenile books they were very entertaining but historically accurate. It really brought the material alive. One book even had activities like making a buffalo head, an indian dancing stick, and pioneer stew. You know I'm going to try and make that stew but I'm going to leave out the bison meat :) maybe add chicken instead. I can't believe how exciting this was for me because history hasn't been the easiest thing to teach. This really made me realize again how important it is to teach to your childs strengths and get out of the box. It really helps me when a book is available to lay out a plan. You know creativity isn't one of my strengths. Spring Break is next week so maybe all of us will do the buffalo head and eat pioneer stew. I'll be posting pictures!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Week 11, Day 2

Whenever I sub in the school system, I am more encouraged in my decision to homeschool. Are students damaged beyond repair after graduation? Probably not, but do they thrive? Probably not. Here's what I witnessed today:

* a 5th grade math student who couldn't add simple whole numbers in a class that was going over converting fractions into decimals.

* class instruction interrupted by constant "sit down, raise your hand, no more outbursts or you will leave the room, etc. etc. etc."

* failed attempts to keep children on track and paying attention.

* repeating directions over and over again.

* very little silence even during a test.

* with every interruption children who look to see what's going on, consequently, not finishing their assignments.

Only the strong can survive in this environment. If you are a student who can stay on track regardless of what's going on around you, you'll be fine. If you don't need one on one attention because you always understand the instructions given, you'll be fine. I was speaking with a teacher who was given me instructions on how to do a project for her, and I had trouble understanding her directions. Her ability to thoroughly explain was somewhat lacking. How much more her 2nd grade students? I see how students fall between the cracks. Add to that parents who don't check assignments, who aren't in communication with the teacher regarding their child, or who has a teacher who isn't very interested in staying in contact with you regarding your child, and its just a volatile mix all the way around with the students in the middle. It tugs on my heart everytime I work one on one with a child who doesn't get it and then walk away knowing I won't be there on a consistent basis to help that child out. I was helping that child who couldn't do simple addition and she asked "are you going to be here all day?" I know teachers do the best they can, they have 20+ kids in a room but what is the solution? I guess that's what principals try to figure out day after day, year after year. But they can't save everybody either. It's not a perfect system. Okay I'm rambling but it just really concerns me. I actually asked God "Lord what can I do on a larger scale? You have given me mine and I try to do all I can by them." Perhaps the days I am there I'm able to encourage to the point that maybe a one time encounter with a child makes a huge difference in their life or just a huge difference for that moment.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Coming out of the Matrix

I read on a blog somewhere in blogosphere that for a first year homeschooling parent it is hard to convince them that homeschooling is not so much about the curriculum or even academics. I first realized that at the homeschool retreat I went to two weeks ago. These veteran homeschool moms knew something that I am beginning to realize -its really not about the academics at all. I'm sure those who are experienced in homeschool know exactly what I am speaking about; and those who know very little about homeschooling, that statement probably feeds their doubts about the whole endeavor. The more I walk down this road less traveled I realize God's hand on all of this. This isn't just about the kids getting into college or a high paying job. It is about seeking the one who created them and knowing what his will is for their lives. Believe me this takes a complete mind switch for me. To completely trust God with their future. My traditional mindset does come into play as I plan out their studies but I have to train myself to be flexible that God may be leading us in a different direction.

I often characterize this homeschool journey as coming out of the Matrix. Remember the movie? That is what I feel like. I'm going to have to watch that movie again just to make sure it truly encompasses what I'm thinking. I feel like I am living in a world I never knew existed and that through this experience I'm getting closer to a destiny I never knew I was destined to live.

As I continue to plan for next year with more than one homeschooler, I get a little overwhelmed. I have to bring myself back to - God is in control. He will always provide for his purpose. I can relax and rest in what he is doing.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Week 9 Complete

Whew! What a week this has been. As I am planning ahead for Week 10, I was looking over the last 9 weeks to see what we've accomplished and how much more we need to cover. Anyone familiar with Alpha Omega LifePacs know that each year's study has about 10 packs. Since I started mid year, completing 5 Pacs is probably a good goal. We've only completed one. It was a good in depth study but still one in 9, well really 8 weeks. I notice that JW needs more time to go over lessons so some things I just can't rush through. I knew she learned the Human Body unit when she had a cut on her arm and said "come on white blood cells do your job!"

We've done quite a bit in Math as Saxon does an excellent job of giving plenty of practice in each lesson for concepts learned in previous lessons. So as we are building in new material she doesn't lose what was learned in previous lessons. I don't think we will have much of a problem completing this book by summer.

As I become more aware of the way my child learns I have to change the way I do things. One day this week I stopped mid way through a history lesson, somewhat in frustration because I couldn't understand why she couldn't remember what we had just read. She has to re-read sections of text to understand what she's reading. I notice she only does this with textbooks. If she is reading a storybook (novel) she is engrossed in the text to the point where she doesn't hear you talking to her and she remembers the content. This was a huge "aha" moment for me. I don't think you can learn about the constitution in story form so we put all the facts from our text on flashcards to commit this information to memory. When possible we use biographies to learn about the founding fathers and other notable people in history.

Speaking of the founding fathers, we had an opportunity to visit Monticello on Wednesday, the home of Thomas Jefferson. What a wonderful trip and the weather was beautiful. I was able to envision Thomas Jefferson standing on that mountain looking at the wonderful landscape all around his home. No wonder he never left Monticello in his retirement. If I had thousands of acres on top of a mountain I wouldn't leave either. Thoughts about slavery on that plantation wasn't far from my mind either as we walked the underground passage ways "the dependencies" of this great house. I spoke with my mom who accompanied us on this trip about how their lives must have been. We discussed the children of Israel and how their slavery in Egypt compared/contrasted with slavery in America. That would be a good high school paper to write. I didn't realize James Madison lived not far from Monticello at Montpelier. Umm maybe another trip at another time. I can't believe all this history is in our backyard. All the kids went on this trip and learned a great deal. I don't think they'll soon forget the lessons learned on this trip. Neither will I . . . how about I didn't even realize Thomas Jefferson was on the back of the nickel along with a picture of Monticello! I love my 2nd education.

I forgot the battery to the digital camera on this trip so we took pictures using the cell phone. I will be creating a page titled Monticello to post the pictures we have.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Homeschool Support Group

To say today's retreat was a blessing would be a major understatement. Words can not begin to describe what I received today by being a part of this retreat. I gleaned so much from the ladies in attendance. The day reminded me of what we (Christian women) should be doing in the lives of one another. Whether homeschooling or not we should be encouraging one another in our lives. The hospitality was unreal, the conversation, the ambiance, the food! I just soaked it all in. I left feeling encouraged, supported, and excited about the future. I wish I had taken my camera but I should probably get to know this group before I began taking pictures and posting them on my blog :)

I am so on fire for what I'm doing. I know the fruit of my labor will be forthcoming and what I am doing is not in vain. I can't begin to post all that took place today but I am so glad I attended and look forward to many more such events.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Week 8, Day 4

It's been a pretty productive week this week. I've even started planning for next year. As I come across different resources in my reading I jot down notes from those things that are of interest to me. I'm going to teach JW and jw(rising
4th grader) the same subject matter in History and Science next year. I was researching different ways to do this as they are on different grade levels. They will both participate in Classical Conversations (CC) next year so this will direct a lot of their lessons but I have to supplement and incorporate other subjects in some areas.

Since posting last time I did join a local homeschool support group and will be going to a day long retreat on Saturday. There will be approx. 30 moms in attendance, I'll post after the weekend how everything turned out.

JW starts swim lessons tomorrow. Eight, one hour sessions once a week. We really need to incorporate physical activity in our day. We were mall walking but that got old for me. I would love to join a gym but the price tag on the local recreation center is pricey. I'll have to plan that for down the road. I keep a list of all the things I want to take advantage of and purchase and the list gets longer and longer. Of course I feel like I need it all NOW! I guess I need to think outside of the box. I need to find a text for teaching writing. JWs writing needs some guidance. I'm looking to try Elegant Essays from IEW to get started. I would love to hear from any who has experience with this program.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Week 8, Day 1

March 1, 2009

Today begins week 8 of the homeschool journey. I spent a lot time over the weekend reading homeschool blogs and was a God send. Video of their homeschool day was awesome. I got a great idea from this blog on constructing a paper skeletal system. Maggie had video of her and her son putting it together and it just so happens that we are studying the skeletal system as part of our human body unit. We just finished it, and I'll upload a picture shortly. Because JW is so visual and hands-on this was a great project and we had lots of laughs as we were putting it together. It was such a simple idea but remember I'm not very creative so I may have never come up with the idea on my own. Thanks Maggie!

Yesterday we all played Monopoly after church. I sent my husband an email on Friday asking him to stop by our storage unit to get the game because I wanted to play. Now monopoly is one of his favorite games and I would never play with him in the past because I hate it. Well since homeschooling, I realized it is a great teaching tool so now I'm all for it. We had a blast! JW was the banker in addition to playing her own hand. I wanted to grasp her mental math skills. MW (5th grader) had to use her mental math skills as well. I think this game will be a staple in our routine as I want to see their math computation skills increase; not to mention persuasion and negotiation skills are used heavily. It is hard to beat my husband in negotiating real estate. The kids were a little intimidated by our negotiation tactics but they held their own as we tried to make side deals with them for their properties. Of course hubby won but there is always next time.

Friday, February 26, 2010

February 26, 2010

Remember as a kid on the playground how you would just walk up to a kid and ask if they wanted to get on the slide or the see-saw, and then they were forever your friend? My two best friends from college saw me and asked if I wanted to go have dinner with them in the dining hall and we were inseparable for 4 years! Seems odd as an adult to connect with people in this way. Things usually progress organically between adults as you are involved in activities together or work together. Well after 7 weeks of planning, researching, and teaching my child I realized how isolated I've become. The homeschool checklist says to join a support group but I hadn't had the time to really check one out. I did receive two newsletters from one such group but didn't see an opportunity to participate. They have an upcoming day retreat but it seems odd to show up at a member's home for a retreat for your first introduction to the group. The Classical Conversations group will provide this type of "connecting" structure next school year but we have from now until August/September to plug in somewhere.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

February 24, 2010

I've lost track of which week of school I'm in so the title of this blog is just today's date. As I'm thinking about the yearly testing that must be done to satisfy Virginia homeschooling laws, I realize the test will be more of an assessment of learning from public school than what we've done in the last 7 weeks. Next year's test will be a better indicator of what we've accomplished. But I must say I felt pretty good when JW helped MW with her math homework tonight. The subject matter was something that her and I went over since we've been homeschooling.

Jordan's working in her "after schooling" book for the first time tonight. Her report card came out yesterday for the 2nd 9 week term. Two of her grades went from an A to a C. When exchanging emails with the teacher regarding this her answer was basically "the kids know what they need to do in class and she will bring up her grade next term. It's not the question of her knowing the material but rather her not turning in assignments." This answer did not satisfy me. If she was in high school this answer would be acceptable to me because she is totally responsible for completing and turning in assignments. But a third grader who clearly knows her work for some reason isn't turning them in? Does anyone think the parent should have been made aware of this issue well before grades came out?? I think so. Granted, the teacher has been out on maternity leave and the class was left in the hands of a sub who just graduated from college but I really have a problem with this. Part of me feels like leave it alone she's coming home next year and another part of me feels like letting them know how I really feel about this but will this change her grade? I think not. Not sure how I'm going to handle it but at this point in a child's academic career I really feel like grades should reflect a student's mastery of material.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Week 6, Saturday

I haven't blogged in a while. The routine is starting to settle in and I felt a lot of frustration this week. We still seem to move a little slow for my taste but I am not sure why I'm in a rush. I finally got a history curriculum from Abeka to add some structure to our history lessons. So far in black history we've learned about Sojourner Truth and Frederick Doulass. Of course this is of most interest to me, I suppose it has deeper meaning for me. I didn't know Douglass grew up on the eastern shore of Maryland which I've passed through on many occassions. And secondly, his final home is a historic landmark in SE Washington, DC. Without a doubt a homeschool field trip in the very near future.
The first field trip on our calendar is a day visit at Monticello next month. We haven't studied Thomas Jefferson as yet but I'm sure we will before the visit.

Well that is a wrap for now.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Week 5, Day 1

Another snow day today and tomorrow! The snow has hit the east coast and the result has been all 3 kids at home participating in homeschool. The kids didn't go to school on last friday either but JW and I took that as a snow day as well.

But today things were back to normal. I found a fun activity on-line where I hid clues around the house that the kids had to find to answer 18 questions about the human body. It was so much fun to watch them run around to find the clues without letting each other know where they found them because the first one to finish received a money deposit into their piggy bank. While having fun they learned a lot of facts they, or I for that matter, didn't know before. For example, I never knew the left lung was smaller than the right lung to make room for the heart. God is so amazing in the way he has knit us together. This scavenger hunt is in keeping with JW's science unit on the human body. We finished up a unit on the digestive system next will be the circulatory system. JW has such a gift for drawing & illustrating that I am using this to help reinforce lessons. She drew a beautiful colored picture of the digestive system and labeled its parts. I got the great idea of having her do this for each system we study and then construct a book when we are finished. I believe this will go a long way in helping her to really learn this material. I am also excited about finding her a drawing class being taught at a local arts center. It's a 6 week class that starts 2/15 once a week for an hour. There is a second 6 week class that builds upon the skills introduced in the first which I will probably register her for as well. I'm eager to see how her natural gifts develop as a result of this training.

I'm thankful to God in giving me creative ways to teach her lessons. Creativity is truely not one of my gifts so I know its from him.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

JW's Diamante

blue, flat
falling, dropping, hitting
Teacher, Student, Controls, TV
screaming, running, flying
fun, challenging

Week 4, Day 3

Since we've begun, I've blogged everyday until now. I guess I felt there wasn't anything new going on so I didn't want to post the same schedule everyday.

However, yesterday was the first day of the 4H Veterinary Program that I enrolled Jasmine in. It is a 5 class session on animal care and the profession itself. Because this class was 7:15 - 8:15 pm the younger two got the benefit of attending some of the session. This first night was spent on touring the facility, looking at xrays and discussing animal diseases. JW said they saw pictures of parasites, ticks and other gross things. A golden retriever was on site for petting and "examining."

The animal clinic was minutes from Mt. Vernon which I had never seen. It was dark and snowy so it was hard to see, but we got a glimpse. This stop is definitely on my list of places to see in the very near future.

Today is also an interesting day. Because of the snow, school is out so the younger two have enjoyed participating in our timed math drills this morning and everyone got a chance to write their own diamante poems during Language Arts. This was one of those unplanned moments where I was able to see how working with more than one child can be juggled. They thought today was going to be a sit in front of the TV kind of day -NOT!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Week 3, Day 3

We are moving right along, making good progress especially in Math & Language Arts.
We are starting a Poetry Unit in Language Arts this week and moving into some new concepts in Math. To this point in Math, we were mainly reviewing previously introduced concepts. In science we're starting the human body unit - nutrition, skeletal system, digestive system, etc. This is a lot more interesting than plants and animals. History is slow as we go, can't seem to dig out of the American Revolution. I think this is JW's least favorite subject, so the information doesn't stick as quickly. Overall, I'm proud of our progress and I continue to search out as many resources as I can to perfect our approach.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Week 3, Day 2

Well Classical Conversations was a real treat today.
JW was into every lesson. First the pre-algebra lessons were introduced, JW was able to solve problems along with the other students; second, was the Latin lesson - absolutely intriguing; lastly, rhetoric and history. Students presented reports on Asian countries for history - Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and China. Rhetoric consisted of each student reading aloud their paper comparing/contrasting the characters of Narnia to the "characters" in Genesis. All of this took place from 8:30 am 'till noon. I had to leave to see what the younger kids did in their session leaving JW to observe the lesson from 1 - 3 pm.
I finished filling out the application to participate next year during the lunch hour, that's how convinced I was that this group will be a great supplement to our homeschool next year. I am looking forward to learning as well. It's amazing for me to revisit the fundamentals I've been taught. All the disconnected pieces of information retained over the years began to connect and come to life.

This is truly a journey with so many twists and turns and exciting things around each corner. I really see how this is changing me, eventhough I was being prepared all the while. Hindsight is 20/20. Even my temperment is changing. I find myself being more patient with the children, eager to listen to all of their stories and details, loving and hugging them more. My motivation for what I do is shifting from doing things b/c they have to be done to doing things b/c I want to do them, it is a joy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Week 3, Day 1

I didn't blog on Friday as it was not a very good day school wise. But today was a good day. I like the Language Arts curriculum that I received last week. The math and LA resources I have make my mornings run easily. JW took her first Math test today and scored 99%. Twenty questions of which #20 was a 4 part question. She got one of the four answers incorrect. I'm thinking I should start to double up the math lessons to make sure we are finished with this book by the end of the "school year."

We are off to the Classical Conversations open house tomorrow. We will be able to observe the day to get a glimpse of how the program works. I'm really looking forward to this. I made a list of the goals I wanted to accomplish at the beginning of this experience, one of which was to improve JW's oral communication skills. This program works well with accomplishing this goal.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Week 2, Day 4

This was a long day. The Language Arts book finally came today. To this point we've been reading good literature and having great discussions but hadn't incorporated vocabulary or grammar. Lesson One begins tomorrow in this book.
Love Saxon Math . . easy breezy. History is still a struggle because I'm piecing it together - homemade timeline, DVDs, Internet sites, and biographies of key people. It takes so much time to assemble what I'm going to do that by the time I do it I'm exhausted. I probably need to invest in a turnkey solution. I was thinking about Switched On Schoolhouse for History.

I went to an informational session for Classical Conversations curriculum this evening. It's an interested concept rooted in the Classical Education philosophy.
It's somewhat expensive but it would be a consistent 30 week program that meets several objectives to include positive socialization. The more I look into options and resources the more expensive things seem to get. I'm trying to keep it simple but there is so much to cover.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Week 2, Day 3

Today was a half-day for the younger kids so JW and I worked quickly through Math, discussed our latest literature read Shiloh and watched DVD 1 on the American Revolution. Because history is rather boring for Jasmine the DVDs will be used often to reinforce the lessons. After picking up the girls we had lunch and stayed at the library for the afternoon. JW had research to do for a Science paper and the younger girls took part in a library sponsored craft class.

We've been primarily reading fiction for Language Arts and I have a few nonfiction books lined up for History. The county curriculum suggests various works of literature to be covered in 7th grade to include poetry, short stories, etc. Since we are getting close to black history month I wanted to include works from black writers - Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Dubois, Jean Toomer. I found a lot of their work in one book on the Harlem Renaissance to include their most famous writings. I hope I'm not getting carried away. In planning for lessons I feel like I'm being re-educated. I want to know more about everything I read. I know JW may not share the same excitement and appreciation I have for these "historical" writings but maybe just maybe I'm planting a seed for future interest. Some things just come with time and maturity.

Off to Missionettes . . .

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Week 2, Day 2

2nd daughter stayed home today with a stomach ache. She was real curious about how homeschool works and hung in the background to observe (as if she had to see if I really knew what I was doing. But today started a little differently than most . . .

Because the kids attend Sunday School and Wednesday night missionettes I don't include a bible curriculum in our studies. However, as a part of a "Read Through the Bible in a Year" sunday school class hubby & I are apart of, we've been doing our daily reading together as a family. This morning started with an impromptu character lesson which I was able to draw upon our daily readings for support. This was totally unplanned as I was helping JW navigate an issue she was having that was causing her a lot of emotional distress. I was holding back my impatience with how much time this talk was taking as I had a lot of academic work to cover. However, I started to realize there was another purpose at work. So many start homeschooling because they want to instill Christian principles and character within their children. This was not the overall reason for my decision to homeschool as I felt these lessons were already being taught even though my children were in traditional schools. However, the 30 minute character lesson was just a teachable moment that made me grateful that I have this opportunity to homeschool. You know there is a place for tradition and doing things the way we've always done it but I am coming to realize that it's so much more important to be doing the will of God for your life.

Why is my youngest at this very moment complaining she doesn't like her school, asking me to homeschool her? She says it's the same routine everyday and the teacher (a temporary sub, as her regular teacher is on maternity leave) teaches the same thing for a long time. She says "I got it already, can we move on."

OMG . . what is going on here?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Week 2, Day 1

MLK Day!

To my surprise my kids didn't know much about MLK. My 5th grader didn't even have a discussion about it in school. Are you serious?? The only thing my 3rd grader could remember about her class discussion was Ebenezer Baptist Church.

So the History Channel aired a documentary that we all looked at for an hour. Afterward, I had them write a few sentences about what they learned. Jordan (3rd grader) took it a step further and did a worksheet I provided on describing her personal dreams and the steps she can take toward reaching those dreams.

This exercise really made me realize how much I've taken for granted as a free African-American living in America. So many others paved the way for me to live the life I live. They died and suffered so many injustices so that African-Americans and other racial groups can enjoy the freedoms we now enjoy. I've often wondered if its really beneficial to teach the next generation of the painful American History we all share but the exercise of this morning shed some light on the significance of remembering. Often it's painful and can stir up a lot of emotion but it causes you to remain humble, grateful, and self-aware. I think it also helps to bring more reconciliation and peace between the races when you observe how far we've truly come as a nation.

What an awesome man Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was. He sacrifaced so much personally for the cause. I believe he was doing God's will - a Moses for his people. Today started like any other day. I'm sad to say I had no plans for the observance of the day but I'm so glad we took advantage of the opportunity to teach the children about the significance of Dr. King's life and his ministry to the world.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 5

The day started with mall walking for about 30 minutes this morning. Then we did 30 minutes of Saxon math. I really like this curriculum - daily math drills, practice tests. I have one more curriculum to buy to guide the language arts lessons. I've decided on Languare Arts through Literature as I like using real books to guide our lessons. I got lesson plans done at the library this afternoon so I feel a little more organized for next week's lessons.

The whole family joined in for some scrapbooking fun during the evening (Art class). Well everybody except hubby. However, I must give him credit for cutting pictures for us.

I think I'm enjoying this.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Day 4

JW says I'm a good teacher with all my worksheets and stuff. I think its more that I'm an overachiever and want to make sure she gets better than what she's been getting. It feels like a 9-5 job because I'm constantly researching, planning, reading, preparing. I'm sure it won't be as intense when I get my flow going. I didn't have a lot of time to prepare for this either. It just kind of snuck up on me. Is snuck a word?? But there is something to be said about jumping in the deep end of the pool and going for it. I'm putting in the long hours now. By the time I'm ready to start 8th grade (did I really just "say" 8th grade)? I will probably have the first 6 months all planned out.

I took an afternoon sub position today so I have a lot of independent work lined up for JW for the afternoon. This will give me a chance to see if she can stay on track and how she retains information she has to do on her own. To this point we've been reading lessons together and discussing. This approach will be a little different. She has a story map to do on "Second Cousins;" a science lesson to begin in LifePac 3 of Alpha Omega; notes to write from the Animal Classification lesson from yesterday; a computer assignment; and a worksheet on the 13 colonies.

Day 3

This entry is actually for yesterday (Wednesday). Stayed up late finishing our literature pick "Second Cousins." I was in a rush to finish before JW. We spent a good 20-25 minutes at breakfast discussing the author's use of words to convey meaning in the text. Discussed clues in the text that pointed to the time in which the book was set. I forgot how it feels to read for analysis instead of fun. I was eager to see if Jasmine picked up on the foreshadowing technique the author used that lead up to the climax of the book. She noticed the clues but didn't label the technique. She'll be doing a story map today of the book for more discussion. I like the freestyle approach we are using for Language Arts but I really need to find a curriculum for guidance. I'm constantly referring to the County curriculum for guidance but I still need something a little more concrete.

Science curriculum arrived today (Wednesday). Started with animal classification system. Combining BJP curriculum with Alpha Omega, making sure I hit the subjects listed in the county's curriculum. Doing plant and animal behavior tomorrow leading to the study of DNA and genetics. OOOh. . . fun, I rather do history.

We spent 2 hours on Math today. Did an overview of Associative, Commutative, Distributive, and Multiplicative Properties (I'm going on memory not sure if I got them all or spelled them right :) Completed a worksheet sent by former Math teacher (he keeps us on his email list with worksheet attachments)on solving for x in Percentage math equations. She got them all right! I'm still waiting on Saxon math curriculum.

I think that's everything. Today is really Thursday so yesterday's events are not as fresh in my mind. I got everything written in my planner - the good record keeper I am ..(laughing).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 2

Lots of US History & Geography today. I'm more excited about this subject than JW. She thinks I'm going into too much detail but I think it will help her to learn the information and connect the dots when studying other subjects in US History. I found an interactive US Map on so I could reinforce the lesson and she was interested in that. She is really a high-tech learner and I'm a traditional learner so we have to find some middle ground.

Went to the library and got US History on DVD. I'm thinking we will look at the video first then do a "traditional" lesson and see if she is more interested in this approach.

Started the second literature book today as well. I'm going to read this one with her as the language is a little complicated, then we can discuss it.

Waiting on my Math curriculum to arrive. I hate the idea of not doing Math everyday but I'm sure she will be OK.

The journey moves on . . . .

Monday, January 11, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010
Well today was Day 1 and I'm exhausted. A lot of the homeschooling books say don't rush in feeling like you need to recreate traditional school at home but that's easier said than done. Jasmine expects a tight structure so I feel the need to live up to that expectation.
Summary of our day:
9:15 - 9:45 am - We did a half of an hour walking the mall for PE this morning waiting for the library to open.
10 - 11:20 am - Learning the layout of the regional library, checking out our literature books and black history bio books.
12- 12:30 Lunch
12:30 - 2:45 - working math problems from her Saxon assessment test. I have no idea why this took so long. I had her rework problems she got wrong but knew she understood. I explained some concepts she didn't have down (order of operations, multiplying/dividing fractions, decimal placement when dividing and calculating percentages).

I left her to read for an hour one of our literary picks while I left to pick up the younger kids from school. She finished the entire book in two hours! We will do a story map of the book tomorrow for language arts and discuss. I think this wasn't too bad for our first day.
I meant to post a picture of our first day but just didn't get around to it. Maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just Beginning . . .

I've done homeschool research over 3 years ago but we always made a different decision for JW - private school to public school then a different private school etc. So when Jasmine got into the car after school last week fed up with the watered down academics she was receiving, I knew we had to change things.

Since last Wednesday I've been up 'til after midnight researching Virginia laws, attending a homeschooling seminar in Richmond and making the decision to start homeschooling JW starting Monday. I'm scared and excited all at the same time. I believe the last 3 years have been leading to this point. I'm excited about all the many opportunities that are now open to us - extracurricular activities, field trips, etc. Living in the state of Virginia alone makes US History come alive- Jamestown, Williamsburg, Yorktown, & Washington, DC! I can't wait to take our lessons on the road.

Younger sister is already wondering why JW is the only one being homeschooled because she is bored as well. Do you see where this may be headed?? I'm just open to whatever God wants to do.

I haven't shared this with anyone as I want to stay focused on our goals without having to explain to others what I'm doing. This blog will serve as a place for those closest to my family to keep up with our journey.

Keep us in your prayers.


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