Sunday, July 28, 2013

Homeschooling, Week Three

     This week flew by quickly.  So much so, that I jumped ahead of myself and did an extra reading from Day 4 of our week when we were clearly on Day 3.  Oops!  The kids didn't seem to mind.  They enjoyed wrapping up our lessons about Ancient Egypt and finishing learning about the weather.

     We moved on to Ancient Greece this week and when I mentioned Athens the kids excitedly yelped, "Hey, that's where Paul is from!"  Paul is my favorite disciple and he happened to be the focus of Vacation Bible School for my kids this year.  It was awesome to see them make the connection.

     Our study on the weather ended with making a windsock and a weather vane.  Below are my little students hard at work.

     I love homeschooling.  I was unsure of how it was going to be, but I'm enjoying seeing the kids pick up on the details of what we're learning.  I'm enjoying discussing whatever it is we're learning, whether it's our Bible study, Geography or Math.  If I had to pick a favorite, I would say that I get a kick out of creative writing.  (I guess that's no surprise given this blog.)  This week my daughter had to make up a story based on a picture.  (The picture showed a boy sitting with a simple robot.)  Below is what she dictated to me while looking at the picture:

     Isn't that a great story?  My son was completing reading comprehension work at this time and I was happy to see that he got all the answers right without my help.

     I know this is just the beginning, but I have the feeling that as we move along, even if we hit a few bumps, this experience will strengthen our faith, our family and our minds!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

When Plans Fail

     During the summer my goal is to go on an outing at least twice a week.  It doesn't have to be anything big.  It can be a play date.  It can be a trip to the local library or Farmer's Market.  It can be a couple of free games of bowling or a bike ride along the beach.  Nothing big.  These aren't field trips; just something to break up the monotony of our homeschooling schedule and to perhaps even apply what was taught to the world around us.

     Today, we had planned on meeting some friends for a couple of games of bowling.  Our local alley provides 2 free games for the kids all summer long.  All you had to do was sign up.  For a small, additional one time fee (shoe rental excluded) parents can join in.  It's a great deal.  My kids were looking forward to this since last week.  They wrote up and sent invitations!

     However, as we were getting our shoes on to head out, our friend called us to let us know that everyone else had the same idea of bowling after lunch.  Thus, there were no lanes available and a long list of people waiting.

     Not my idea of fun.

     Before I even got off the phone, both kids were in tears.

     Not my idea of fun.

     I mentioned that we were going to an Ice Cream Social (again) later this week and that their Aunt and Cousin would be here over the weekend.  That seemed to soothe them.  A little bit.

     It occurred to me that I need to have contingency plans in place, should our regularly scheduled program fail to commence.  I just can't think of anything!  Aside from our local museums (which I'm saving to use as our field trips) I can't think of much else.

     So, I'm reaching out to YOU.  Of course, the outings need to be kid-friendly but no to low cost as well, because, let's be frank...I'm underpaid ;-)  Plus, two outings a week can add up.  I haven't won the Lotto, yet!

     Send your ideas my way.  Either comment below or on our Facebook page (something I'm trying out).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Homeschooling, Week Two

     This week was even better than last!  Aside from a little excitement early in the week, we had fun learning about Ancient Egypt as well as the different components of the weather.  The kids are getting into the routine and are even grabbing books off the homeschool shelf before I'm ready to start.  Talk about eager!  I pray that they are always that enthusiastic about learning.

     We've implemented a couple of new things into our schedule.  We now start with the Pledge of Allegiance (we even have a flag) and then begin our prayer time.  Our prayers are more organized now so that the kids give more thought to who and/or what they are praying for.  At first, we were a bit all over the place.  I remembered our pastor encouraging us to designate a different day of the week to pray for something/someone specific.  I found this schedule online and I like that it coincided with the first letter of the day, so I went with it.  (It helps my daughter memorize the days of the week as well.  Bonus!)  It may change a bit as we find our footing, but I thought this was a great start:

  • Mondays:  Missionaries
  • Tuesdays:  Teachers (including therapists, coaches, church teachers)
  • Wednesday:  Wisdom to witness (I tell my kids that most people don't read the bible, they read the Christian.)
  • Thursday:  Those in authority (from local government and on, as well as our military and civil service members and those in the medical field who we seek for treatment.)
  • Friday:  Family and friends (though we pray for them everyday, these prayers are more specific)
  • Saturday:  Salvation (for those who are lost)
  • Sunday:  The sick and suffering

     We started this schedule on a Thursday and I led the kids in prayer, giving them a moment to add to it before we closed.  When I told my daughter that it was "Family and Friends" prayer day, my daughter immediately wanted to pray for her good friend Connor, whom she misses dearly.  My kids always pray, thanks be to God.  Even at church I'm told by their teachers that they're always the first ones to raise their hands to volunteer to pray.  It's a lovely thing!

     My favorite part of this week was when during our Bible study discussion (somehow our discussion went from Isaac and Rebekah to heaven) my daughter asked, "When we go see Jesus will we need space suits?"  We had learned the different parts of the atmosphere and she remembered that in the exosphere, oxygen tanks and space suits are needed.  She needed clarification.

     My other favorite part (Can I have two favorite parts?) was when my son showed me his math work.  He's memorized his multiplication tables through 11x20.  Awesome!  My goal is to have him memorize all the way to 20x20, sooner than later.  He's doing great.  I may not be officially homeschooling him come September but that doesn't mean that I can't work with him now or even implement of few of the lessons I learned while reading The Core, even when he starts school. (Great book, by the way, and not as daunting as The Well-Trained Mind, which I will tackle one of these days.)

     We do copy work everyday but we ended this week with a fun one.  The kids had to write and send out an invitation.  Below is a picture of my Kindergartner at work:

Focused on copy work
     I'm in the process of getting a whiteboard to use, though I'm not sure if I want to get a tabletop one (for easy transport) or if I want to get one to hang on the wall.  (We've made very good use of our space at home, so finding a place to hang a whiteboard will be a little difficult.)  Or I might get both!  Maybe.

     That's it for this week!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Homeschooling, Week One

     Before I get down to the nitty gritty, let me first give you bit of insight into the title of this blog.  I had never imagined that I would be homeschooling.  Not even a little bit.  Even last Spring, when we knew that our son would be starting Middle School and my daughter would be a kindergartner, we thought about MOVING.  We laid out a plan as to when we would put our house up for sale and start looking around in the area we wanted the kids to be.  Homeschooling wasn't even a blip on my radar.

     I'm not even sure when exactly that changed.  We had the opportunity to enroll our daughter in a Classical Conversations class mid-year and the only reason why we chose to do so was because we felt that the preschool (which I referred to as play school) wasn't going to really prepare her for a Kindergarten schedule.  So, I guess after that God started to shine a light on things before me.

     My daughter, at 5, is not potty trained and is still in a diaper due to Cauda Equina Syndrome with Neurogenic Bladder.  In mommy terms:  she was born with a tethered spinal cord and there was nerve damage affecting her bladder.  We have to use a catheter every 4 hours (except overnight) to empty her bladder.  It also affects her bowels.  Either way, we didn't feel comfortable sending her to school this way.

     As the days passed and the decision about education for both of our kids approached, God made a clear path for both of my kids.  Our son got into a school we prayed about and the decision to homeschool our daughter was pressed strongly upon me.  We forged ahead and purchased the Sonlight curriculum.  It's been sitting in a box since April.  That is, until a couple of weeks ago when my daughter said she wanted to start homeschooling after Fourth of July.

     Hence, this is a wrap up of the first week.  I hope to share my experiences every week, along with the progress that she makes.  I'll also be sharing about our time with the Classical Conversations group which begins in September.

     The first day of Kindergarten began July 9, 2013.  Although the curriculum is geared toward my 5-year old my son can participate because I am able to adjust the work to his level.  Plus, I procured a couple of workbooks for him knowing that I'd start homeschooling before he begins school in September.

     Our day looks like this:

  • We open with prayer and Bible study
  • Reading (lots of reading) and discussion
  • Language Arts (plenty of copy work, handwriting practice and creative expression)
  • Recess (which means I get to either workout or fold laundry or do lunch/dinner prep or read)
  • After recess is our Math time
  • Lunch
  • Science and Art
  • We close with a book of their choice for me to read
     Our days wrap up between 2:00 and 2:30, though this first week they opted for a little break before choosing a book for me to read and they also wanted their dad to read one of their books in the evening, so it technically ended later.  That's the benefit, though, of homeschooling, it's on my time and when it works for us.  While my daughter chose to start early and it ended her summer break sooner, I rather like it since it means come the holidays, we can take a longer "break".  I put that in quotes because I may not be officially homeschooling during the break but there will still be plenty of reading and opportunities to teach.

     All in all this was a great first week of school.  We're planning on taking it to the library, beach and park.  I've told my daughter that once a month we can have a homeschool lunch date, where I bring the remaining part of her school day with us to a restaurant of her choice and we finish up the day with a nice meal.  I mentioned that when Winter arrives and we're stuck indoors that we can bring it to a cozy coffee shop where she can indulge in hot chocolate and I can sip tea.  I know most of the time we'll be at home, but I like having the different options.

     So does she.