Monday, July 28, 2014

Year 2, Week 2-ish

     I say 2-ish because this week had a lot of reworking.  I was attending my first Classical Conversations Practicum which also included tutor training.  Monday we were able to get our work done, but my plans for the rest of the week were just all over the place.

     My daughter was at the practicum with me attending the Geo Camp while my son stayed at home with The Principal.  I left him with my son's scheduled work for the week.  Tuesday's work was completed, no problem.  Wednesday was a different story.  My husband and son were volunteering at the practicum in the morning but on their way home after lunch they were rear-ended, just a few minutes and blocks from where I was.  I thank God that my son was not sitting in his usual spot in the back...that side took the brunt of the hit and had my son been sitting there he would have incurred substantial injuries.  God had his hand on both my son and husband because I know it could have been much, much worse.  They walked away a bit achy but unharmed.  When I got to the scene my son was still shaking and visibly upset.  Needless to say, both husband and son were too shook up to even think about school work and I let them skip doing any work on Thursday.

     With that, school was back in session Friday and Saturday.  Both kids are finding their rhythm, though my son needs to learn to be more patient with himself.  He gets frustrated when he doesn't get something right the first time and I have to remind him that he's still learning.  He's stresses out about his grades (his math program grades him automatically as he answers the questions) and gets upset to the point of giving up when he gets something wrong.  I let him know that the grades are just an indicator for me that he has to review it again, not that he's failed.  I even showed him how I'm allowed to delete the grade so that he can start over again.  That seems to calm him down.

     That's our week 2-ish.  It was a jam-packed week and I'm about to start another one with Vacation Bible School.

     Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Year 2, Week 1

     That title is a work in progress.  Since I'm homeschooling both kids this year I can't call it "Kindergarten, Week what-have-you" because my kids are in different grades.  For now I'll just call it "Year 2".

     Our first week started out slowly, trying to ease our way into the schedule.  We had to adjust to the puppy as well.  Frequent puppy "potty breaks" were timed to give the kids a break from learning, without being too much of distraction.  That is also a work in progress.

     Other than that, the kids are enjoying themselves.  We're studying the California Missions this summer and mapping them as well:

     They drew out California (with the help of The Principal) and I hung their pieces on a wall.  On Friday I printed out labels for them to stick on the right place.  We're studying them in the order of their founding and the kids get to see how far each mission is away from the other.  So far, we've studied the first three missions.  I'll post pictures of their maps toward the conclusion of our studies.

     We're also reading The Wizard of Oz.  Now, I read this to the kids just a few months ago, but our Language Arts curriculum begins with this book and my kids don't mind hearing it, again.  The good news (and the reason I chose this particular curriculum) is that we get to read some great classics later on.  I can't wait!

     That about wraps it up.  Oh, wait!  I have some exciting news!  In a previous post I mentioned that I had been asked to be a Classical Conversations tutor.  I didn't say whether or not I had accepted, since I wanted to get more information and The Principal and I wanted to pray about it.  I'm happy to announce that I will be leading one of the classes for the 2014-2015 school year.  I feel honored and blessed that our Director asked me to assist is this growing homeschooling community.  Praise be to God!

2014-2015 Curriculum

 Our 2014-2015 school year began on July 14, 2014.  We are still participating in Classical Conversations, which starts in September, but I put together my own curriculum this year instead of purchasing a complete curriculum as I did with Sonlight last year. Don't get me wrong, we LOVED Sonlight, it's just that the books they have for American History (which is our focus this year) are beyond both of my kids.  Here is what we're using:

  • Bible:  Both are using Long Story Short.
  • History:  We've begun with studying the California Missions.  In September we'll be studying U.S. History for the remainder of the school year.  They will be reading a variety of books with me and independently to further their studies.  Of course, there will be plenty of copy work!
  • Language Arts:  A380 is using Teaching Cursive and Little Toughie is using Explode the Code workbooks.  Both are using English Lessons Through Literature, Level 2.  I'm still looking for a Spelling Program.   We'll be using All About Spelling.**
  • Math:  A380 is using Monarch.  Little Toughie is using Singapore.
  • Science:  We're studying Human Anatomy this year.  Life-sized outlines of both kids will live on our walls until the end of the school year.
  • Geography:  Learning the States and Capitals and how to draw a map of the U.S.
  • Spanish:  La Clase Divertida (which will start in August)**
  • Keyboarding:  Typing Pal

     This page will be updated with any changes we happen to make throughout the year.  Sometimes you find something doesn't work and you have to use something different.  If that's the case, I will explain the changes below.

*I was having a hard time finding a spelling program that used the Orton-Gillingham method and one that I liked. We decided to give this a try this year. We can always change it if we have to.

**We passed on an official spelling program this year.  My kids do so much copywork and dictation writing that I didn't feel the need to get it.  We will likely use it in the 2015-2016 school year.

***I'm up in the air about Spanish. We're covering a lot of Latin this year in Classical Conversations and I don't want to make it harder for them by throwing Spanish into the mix. I was told by a long-time homeschooler that teaching them Latin first will actually help them when I introduce Spanish. I think Spanish will have to wait.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


     I've never given my kids an allowance.  Frankly, I didn't know where to start and I felt that "paying" them to do their chores was counter intuitive to what I was taught; that you help out around the house because that's what families do and you take care of what you've been blessed with.

     I've seen firsthand what that kind of payment system does to some kids, my son included.  As a child with special needs all of his behaviorists implemented a reward system (I think it falls under ABA Therapy) and while it may work with some kids with special needs, it backfired with my son.  He started to only do things if he was going to get something.  Before he even began the task he would ask what he would get.  Other times he would straight up ask, "What do you have for me?" before even knowing that anything was going to be asked of him.  Then he started asking people for gifts.  People that he'd see weekly, like the deli guy at Whole Foods.  This was obviously not acceptable.

     Hence, I was hesitant to give them an allowance.  I mean, I never really had one.  My parents graciously gave me money when I needed it and I knew to be thankful when I received it and to not be greedy; never taking for granted the hard work they put in to make sure we had what we needed.

     I was hesitant until I saw this:

T's Chore Chart.  I've covered the names.

     This was created by my eldest step-daughter for her three kids and she kindly shared it on Facebook.  My husband showed me and I immediately liked the idea.  My kids already have a chore chart; it was the allowance part that really caught my eye.  I liked that the $5.00 was already theirs to begin with but it's the child's cooperation and work that determined how much they actually got by the end of the week.

     Now, as I don't have anymore wall space for another whiteboard, I instead took their chore chart and tweaked it a little bit.  They are laminated so that we can use dry erase markers on them.  Their charts will be hung on a kitchen cabinet so that they can easily see what needs to be done and where they are (I think I saw a magnetic strip somewhere that I can stick to the cabinet and then just place a magnet on the back of the chart.)  Below is a picture of my son's chart, partially filled out.

My son's chart.  Just so you  know my daughter is at $3.90
Tick marks are $0.25 and dots are $0.10.  There was a lot of whining
and tattling going on.

     Since chores usually get done (It's the reminding that I have to constantly do and the tattling I always hear!) I chose to deduct $0.25 from their allowance.  Reminding them or repeating myself to get them to do something cost them $0.10 every single time and of course lying cost them a $1.00.  Brilliant idea T!

     I put this together rather quickly, so I may make changes as needed (luckily I have a laminator!)  Perhaps I need to re-word some things, but for now we're using this. I don't know if you can see it but on the bottom right I also have a small image that lists the Fruits of the Spirit.  This is to serve as a reminder what they should focus on as they do their chores and interact with others.  "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ." -1 Thessalonians 5:18

     I also want them to learn how to handle their money sooner than later, which is the reason I decided to give them an allowance.  Financial responsibility is rarely taught and most young adults don't have a real clue how to go about it.  Giving my kids an allowance gives them a head start.  Out of their allowance 15% will go to the church, 15% will go into savings and the rest is for them to spend.  I probably should have put that on the chart as a reminder.  Oh, well.  See, I knew I'd have to make changes!

     Regardless, thank you T for coming up with this fantastic and easy chart.  Awesome!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer is Almost Done!

Need something to do for the rest of the summer?  Are the kids a bit bored and you're out of ideas?  Well, the folks over at Educents have compiled a list of 50 (!) activities to keep the bored bugs at bay!  Head on over to their site and check it out:

Two and a Half Days, 12 Sessions, 1 Exhibit Hall (What I Learned at My First Homeschool Convention)

     I attended my first homeschool convention organized by Great Homeschool Conventions.  In the weeks after registering for the convention The Principal and I carefully looked over all the scheduled sessions and decided which ones I would be going to and which ones he would attend.

     Then we got a puppy.  Two weeks before leaving for the convention.

     We could have waited on adopting this one (and we did...barely 24 hours), but we had been sort of searching for a dog for some time now and this one spoke to me.  ME...a not-so-big-on-dogs person.  Thus, my husband and I agreed this was the dog for us and wanted to snap her up before someone else did. This changed things since we couldn't leave a newly adopted puppy with anyone during our 3-day trip, nor could we board her since she had not received all her vaccinations just yet.  We decided before we adopted the pup that The Principal would stay home with our son (still finishing his last week of school) and the puppy while Little Toughie and I made our way to the convention.  We had to narrow down our sessions even more, deciding which ones were absolute musts and which ones I could either pass on or purchase the recording.


      Homeschool Lesson #1:  Be flexible.  Things will change.  Your plans, your schedule, will certainly be thrown off; whether by puppies or kids.  Besides, one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is the ability to adjust to those changes.  View it as a nice break in the norm!

     Now, I don't drive on the freeways a lot where I live.  I've never had to and though I used to do A LOT of freeway driving in my younger days (I hear "You young whipper snappers!" in my head as I write that) I've never had to once I had my first born.  Everywhere I had to go was close to our home or could be reached via local streets.  Why am I telling you all of this?  Well, I had to drive on the freeway to get to the convention BY MYSELF!  (Not exactly by myself, but I don't think my daughter knows the freeways better than me.)  I was a little apprehensive, even trying to carpool with someone else, but it didn't pan out.  The morning I had to leave (still hoping that someone would call me for carpooling) I opened up my Devotional and it addressed phobias.  God at work again!  That message plus the easy route my husband provided for me got me on the road and on our way.  Easy-peasy!


     Homeschool Lesson #2:  Start your school day (and everyday) with your kids and God.  If there is a project you have to take on with the kids then dive into God's Word before beginning.  If there is a lesson you fear will not get through to them bring it to our Lord before you even start.  What I got from that devotional was that God would not allow anything to happen to me.  We got there and back, safe and sound.

     Between sessions, shuttling my daughter to and from her Children's Conference and walking the exhibit hall, everyday  was a whirlwind that ended way past my daughter's bedtime.  She enjoyed her time alone with me though and we even decided to share a piece of chocolate pie in bed as a special "business trip" treat (The Principal told her since I'm a teacher this was my business trip).


     Homeschool Lesson #3:  Make time for something fun and special at least once a month.  Make it something you wouldn't normally do.  It doesn't have to be anything extraordinary or expensive.  My daughter's favorite part of her time with me while at the hotel was the 45 minutes we played in the pool before my first session began, thus kicking off the jam-packed schedule.  That and sharing a late-night treat of chocolate cream pie with me in bed.  Do a reverse day, dinner in the morning and breakfast at night.  Work with the kids to get ideas!

     I got plenty of information from each of the sessions I attended.  I was well prepared, with my homeschool notebook in hand and Paleo snacks at the ready.  Walking to and from the convention I observed the interactions between several different parents and their children.  I was pleasantly surprised at what I saw.  Practically every child there was well behaved and respectful.  The only whining and crying I heard were from the little wee ones, not quite ready for homeschool.  It opened my eyes to the other benefits of homeschooling.


     Homeschool Lesson #4:  The difference between being socialized and socialization.  I get people who are concerned about my kids be socialized and I have to say, considering how kids are today, so am I.  Which is why I'm homeschooling them.  There are things out there that I don't want my kids to learn, especially from their peers.  Does that mean they don't have friends?  Not at all.  My kids play with others, but they're not around them 5 days a week for hours at a time.  Homeschooling will allow me to foster the Christ-like qualities I want them to have instead of them learning inappropriate behavior from the "cool" kids.

     As I finish writing this I'm preparing our curriculum for the new school year which starts next week.  My son, A380 will be joining us this year!  I've also been asked to be a tutor for our Classical Conversations co-op and am seeking God's guidance for that.  Plenty of changes ahead.  Plenty of prayers needed.  Plenty of praying happening.  Just more for me to write about!