Thursday, February 28, 2013

When will these long cold days turn into sunshine?

This is my 3rd full year homeschooling and I don't know how I'm going to make it until the end of the school year.  We are only in week 23 out of 36 and I have no mental strength.  Okay so I know part of it has to do with being sick for a week but what is the other part?  There is always housework undone, something I have to run to the grocery store for yet again, and someone always needs my attention.  And why can no one fill the dog's food and water bowl?? Really?

Perhaps I am just overwhelmed?  I think I need a women's retreat.  You know a place I can go stay overnight in a hotel room, eat food someone else has cooked, encourage and be encouraged by others.  Where can I find one of those places?

I need my motivation back and apparently I'm not the only one.  I just received an email from a friend saying she just wanted to go hide under her covers with snacks and a movie.  If we could find babysitters I would go hide somewhere with her. 

Maybe when the sun comes back out the warm breeze will bring back the optimism.

College Commonsense

I will be graduating my first homeschool student in 2 years.  That thought is a little scary.  I’ve been very proactive in sculpting her high school years so that she is prepped for college level work. Year after year fussing over curriculum and resources and then you are faced with the overwhelming process of college applications.   I have researched schools, saved scholarship information to review when needed, and done countless other things to help her grow and mature in her desired field of study.  I am determined to not screw this up.  That is what every home school mom fears – screwing up their child’s future. timing could not have been better for me to review the College Common Sense “Going to College and Paying for it” DVD and Workbook program by Denise Ames, as I am now discussing post high school options with my sophomore student.  College is definitely on our minds and having this product was timely.  The product comes as a DVD/Workbook combination for $50 + shipping or you can pay $25 for online access to the videos for one year and a downloadable workbook.  The latter is the product I had access to.  My daughter and I watched the online videos together and it really held my high schooler’s attention as she is really interested in knowing more about the process and how to get money for college.  The College Common Sense program can be used with students in all grades since there are scholarships out there for elementary aged students.  In my opinion it is most beneficial for the high school student.

Lesson Plans were sent via email telling me exactly what to do for that week.  The first set of plans I started with had me filling out the FAFSA4caster at to see if my daughter was eligible for need based aid.  Going through this exercise helped me to understand how need is a relative term.  What one needs in terms of financial aid depends upon the cost of attending a given school.   So I shouldn’t avoid the expensive schools just because of cost.  The lesson plans also include SAT type activities for kids to practice.  Since we do our own SAT prep we skipped over these exercises.

The second set of lesson plans had us actually searching for scholarships that my daughter was eligible for.  We found one that was relatively easy to apply for and sent off the online application.   This really gave us a feeling of accomplishment.  Two other scholarship opportunities my daughter emailed to herself to fill out later as they require essays.   She picked essays that didn’t require too much research as she could pull from her own experiences and produce a good essay easily. 

Before viewing the online videos you can download a pdf file which is a detailed explanation of what is on the video.  This is great so that you can go back over the details after looking at the video.  The video covers topics such as the financial aid process, and how to find free money for school, and organizing the system.  Currently, I keep all scholarship information in an email folder on my computer.  Ms. Ames' system is a paper system that organizes all scholarship information by month in a binder.  This is a good system as it ensures that you always have something to put your hands on and that you constantly work on your binder and scholarship goals.  Depending upon how many scholarships you apply for, I do see how it can get confusing if you don’t remember what you’ve applied for or which deadlines are due when.  I have a spare binder and printed out some of the scholarships that require essays so that my daughter can work on these as soon as possible.  Highlighting important information on scholarship requirements as Ms. Ames suggested allowed me to catch important information on one scholarship with a 1500 word essay limit.  My daughter thought 1500 was the minimum so now we can go back and edit the current essay she is working on.  The College Common Sense program can be very time consuming but you only get out of it what you put into it and I think it is well worth the effort.  Even if we don’t win any scholarships, my daughter has had an abundance of essay writing practice which will come in handy at college.

We were able to visit one of the colleges on my daughter’s list during the review period.  It really opened our eyes.  The school has a very comprehensive website and there is so much information there but visiting the campus and hearing what the professors and administrators had to say about their school was an entirely different process.  It is an urban campus with 20,000-30,000 students.  It has the best program for my daughter’s intended major but we aren’t quite sure how we feel about the campus being in the middle of a major capital city.  We got to tour two residential halls and eat at the student commons.  It was a long walk between buildings in cold weather but we enjoyed sharing this experience together.  The College Common Sense program includes a college campus tour worksheet but we didn’t take it with us.  Most of the information on the sheet can be found on the school’s website so when we get closer to knowing which schools my daughter wants to apply to we will look over this worksheet to try and fill in the blanks.  For this visit we just wanted to soak up the experience.  
VCU Rams

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Flu season

There is no fun in being sick.  Tuesday two of my daughters and I were in bed all day.  My oldest daughter took care of us and the baby.  Wednesday all of us except for the baby were in bed or on the couch all day while my husband stayed home from work to take care of us.  A visit to the doctor revealed that two of us tested positive for strep throat and the flu.  We are all on antibiotics and tamiflu as we all have the same symptoms.

Thursday my husband comes home from work and barely makes it up to the bedroom.  He said it hit him like a ton of bricks when he left work and the 2 hour commute home almost did him in.  It has been a miserable week to say the least.  One bright light to my day was having the lady in front of me in the grocery line give me her BOGO free strawberries just because the kids looked as if they would enjoy them.  God bless that woman for her small act of kindness!  It wasn’t even about the strawberries as much as it was about her thoughtfulness.  She has no idea what kind of week I’ve had but she really did make my day.

Needless to say no school happened this week.  Because I am on the upside of healing I managed to crank out a study guide for my daughter’s science test and we finished the video for a poetry curriculum I am reviewing.  I am looking forward to next week being completely different – better.

 Head over to weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers to see what other moms were up to this week.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The kid who never has enough to do. . . .

Is this really an issue, a 6th grader who no matter how much you give her to do finishes before noon?

We have daily bible readings.  I try to start our day with this but if for some reason it doesn't happen the kids read the passage on their own as scheduled on their grid sheets.  She does one lesson daily in her grammar book, one lesson daily in her math book.  We do geography and science together but more times than not she is waiting on me to sit down to do it with her.  On occasion I'll copy the mapwork or worksheet for geography and she does it on her own.  I purchased a Prentice-Hall literature workbook to give her more literature work to do.  This is usually reading a short narrative, taking notes on the concept, answering a few questions about the story, and doing short assignments in a reader's journal. Finally, she is suppose to read an hour a day (may or may not happen).  She doesn't like to read.  She says it makes her sleepy.

She still is often finished between noon and 3 pm.  There is also 20-30 minutes of piano practice.  Honestly, I don't always hear the piano.  If I didn't have 6 kids (3 homeschooled and one running around in diapers) perhaps I could make sure she dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" then she wouldn't finish before the end of the day but that just isn't possible.  She really is on top of everything she just often skips the hour reading and piano practice sometimes.  I grapple with feeling guilty that I haven't planned adequately for her but then realize she will often get ....(as I'm typing I hear the piano :) and its 11:56 am)...... all the academics out of the way so that she can run off to the basement to do what she wants to do in solace - sewing, writing in her journal, building with Legos, or nod off :0.

This is where being a part of the TOS review crew is really a blessing.  While my other two older kids are swamped daily and often need the weekends to catch up, the products I have to review for the crew are a sneaky way of giving my 6th grader extra work in the name of helping mommy do a review.

I suppose having this "problem" isn't so bad I just don't want to slack off in keeping her challenged.  I desire for them all to reach their full potential.   I'm off to look at curriculum for next year perhaps a change is in order.  Something that is more challenging and takes a full academic day to complete.

Head over to weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers to see what other moms were up to this week.


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