Tag Archives: Homeschool

Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Week 12

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week… Party Boy has been out of town all week. That’s just hard. It just is. Still working on stuff for the new house and getting ducks in a row on that “little” project. I updated my phone and iPad to iOS5 and succeeded in duplicating everything in my calendar to appear no less than 4 times on each device. It has been a bit of a pain to go in and clean that up.

In our homeschool this week… MOTS took the California Achievement Test (CAT) for the first time ever. Really it was her/our first standardized test. They aren’t required by the state, but I wanted to see where the holes/gaps/problem areas were. She did well and her results reinforced what I already knew. It was a positive experience because seeing the number on the paper showed her what she wasn’t willing to admit. We regrouped and formulated a plan for the rest of the year and plan to test again in the fall of 2012 to track progress. Other than that it was Ancient Americas week, so we looked at the Maya and Inuit as well as studying the geography of North and South America.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… One of the problems that we have been struggling with of late is attitude. From MOTS, everything is stupid! This was driving me insane. Grammar is stupid. Math is stupid. Maps are stupid. Another homeschool mom gently pointed out that MOTS was using stupid to stand for hard, frustrating, difficult, etc. And in some cases just to complain about doing any work. So MOTS and I had a nice discussion about using better words to really relate how she is feeling and that just saying stupid won’t help me help her because I dont know what she really means or needs. Hopefully we can break out of this rather nasty “stupid” cycle.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… We went to the Orthodontist where MOTS got her bottom braces put on. I didn’t tll her beforehand, but the bottom ones hurt me worse than the top. I think that she would now agree with that assessment.

My favorite thing this week was… Captain Chaos drew a fairly accurate representation of a jellyfish all by himself.

What’s working for us… Like I said above, the testing was hard to argue with, so it was nice to have that backed up by numbers on a page. 

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Spooky!

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Week 10

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week… Transition. We are back into a semblance of routine after a 3-week hiatus (1 week of vacation that was much needed and 2 weeks of frantic moving prep and packing and moving). We are settling in and getting down to work now and it’s nice to be back.

In our homeschool this week… We started Unit 2 of ToG Year 1 with a study of Ancient India. It’s interesting and frustrating all at once since somebody checked out all of the books on the subject at the library. It’s okay though, we got lucky and used an amazing interactive website instead. It turned out to be a nice break from books.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… Don’t be afraid to take breaks. Both girls came back stronger than ever after some time off. 

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… We visited our new local library. They were a bit surprised that we had just moved into town on Saturday and were at the library applying for a new card on Monday. Hey, we’re homeschoolers. The library is like a second home. We went back on Thursday for an art class, too. We spent some time with the pediatrician when Chaos got sick again this week. It was viral. 

My favorite thing this week was… Hollywood was able to read several of her history pages. The effort exhausts her, but it really boosted her confidence as well. It was wonderful to see her start to believe in her abilities.

What’s working for us… Writing it down. The girls do really well when they have their assignments laid out for them. Not so well when I have to direct them every minute. This is especially true for MOTS. She likes to move through her day at her own pace and really hates waiting for me to tell her what to do next. Thanks to my Dad’s heroic efforts with the wireless network I got the ability to print on Wednesday and was able to get assignment sheets out. Stress levels returned to green all around.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Week 7

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week… For once, relative peace. I laid down the law a couple of weeks ago and got the kids back into a regular bedtime routine most nights. I still let them stay up a little later on Thursday and Friday nights (unless we have something going on the next day). We’ve been finishing school stuff in four days lately, so Fridays are a day off – WaHoo!

In our homeschool this week… Just a bit of tweaking. We have a pretty good rhythm going on who does what and when. And when is Mom available. And when Mom is in the bathroom is not a good time to ask about prime numbers.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… I found this handy-dandy report card/attendance tracker/book list/everything I need to track the girls progress and thought you’d like to see it too. It’s a free download from FiveJs.com and it does everything that I need it to do. It’s originally an Excel spreadsheet, but again, I use it in Numbers with no problems. You can find it here – Gradebook+

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Regular check-ups at the dentist for both girls this week. We also had a couple of showings that resulted in trips to Target and Mardel. Heh.

My favorite thing this week was… MOTS taking the time to make and use flash cards to really help cement the multiplication tables. Seeing her take responsibility for her own education, even in small ways, makes me very happy!

What’s working for us… Relaxing. Years ago I had a color-coded schedule and we did not vary from it. At all. For 2 whole weeks. It was misery. We were all hating life by the time I gave up and we almost went anti-school completely. We salvaged it and changed it to a routine. We just did things in a certain order and let the clock do its own thing. Now that the girls are a little older I feel a bit more comfortable letting them have some control and I just guide and coach.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Chillin'

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School Days

School has taken over my life for the moment. We are just two weeks away from finishing our first quarter! Yay! It’s a mad push to get to that point – this schedule is new for this year.

We have schooled year-round for a few years now and I really like the flexibility that the year-round schedule offers. The downside was finding a good stopping place in the schedule to take a break. I hated being in the middle of a read-aloud or new math concept only to have a break scheduled. Then you always spend time refreshing everyone on what had happened where you left off.

That all changed this year. Tapestry of Grace is already broken into 4 nine-week units. So everything is neat and tidy and has a natural stopping place. Well, except math and science, but I digress.

I just adjusted our schedule for the rest of the year and it looks like we’ll take a long break in December and still finish the year mid-May.

At any rate, I am on my toes most of the day answering questions about fractions (shoot me now) and prime numbers (please kill me) and reviewing multiplication tables (for pete’s sake, help me!) and then moving on to talk about the Ancient Mesopotamians (or ancient potatomens and Chaos refers to them).

The days are long, but the years are short, so I am doing my level best to appreciate this time buried in flash cards and sight words and hearing all about Fancy Nancy and Houdini and how prime numbers are going to destroy us all.

It’s fun, if a little time consuming! And I get to look forward to having all of December off. So there’s always that!

Flashcards

Sight word flash cards in neat stacks – the second set. The first set has mysteriously disappeared…

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Week 3

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week… Fairly routine. Started Monday morning getting some dental work taken care of. I hate waiting for the numb to wear off, but I am sure happy that they can numb my mouth before the work starts. I took my iPhone in with me and listened to 2 episodes of The Digi Show while they were working in my mouth. It passed the time and helped me focus on something besides my teeth!

In our homeschool this week… We wrapped up week 4 of school. MOTS seems to be finding math easier these days – or the practice is finally paying off. I am not sure which. Hollywood is still improving her reading, which is nice. She’s excited about going to the library these days because there are so many books that she can read all by herself! We seem to be schooling pretty much between 10 and 3. I’d like to see that pushed back, especially if we are going to fit science in there somewhere. I am aiming for 9 to 3 by Labor Day. I’m okay with a more relaxed start time in the summer.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… Schedule (roughly) one week at a time. This is hard-won advice, trust me. I always want to schedule a full semester or even a full year, but I have learned that things never go as planned! Now I schedule on Friday for the upcoming week. It saves me the hassle of rescheduling everything a million times. I know some moms that can write in what they did every day, but when I tried that I went 3 weeks before I realized that we hadn’t done a science lesson. Doh!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… It’s too hot to really go anywhere! The highs have been around 112° so we have closed the blinds pulled the curtains and stay under the ceiling fans as much as possible. Library and grocery store. And me to the dentist.

My favorite thing this week was… On Monday afternoon I laid down for a quick nap after I was done at the dentist. While I was resting Hollywood looked through her craft book (Old Testament      ) and found a craft to do. She made a Spice Chart all by herself, carefully drawing a grid, placing a spice sample in each space and meticulously labeling each sample. No prompting from me at all. I was so impressed with her work!

What’s working for us… location, location, location. I set up my computer and notebook in the dining room. I can see into the office where the girls do their computer work and still hear what’s going on in Chaos’ bedroom. The girls trade out working on the computer and working at the dining room table with me. It works much better than being on the other end of the house from each other!

Questions/thoughts I have… What is everyone using for science this coming year? It’s the subject I struggle with the most as far as finding curriculum.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Love it!

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Week 3

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week… We are home and, I think, fully recovered from camp. The laundry is caught up and I have caught up on sleep. Everyone is getting back into the semblance of a routine. I’d still rather be playing Nubbyball.

In our homeschool this week… We’ve finished week three of TOG Year 1. That means that we are 1/3 of the way through Unit 1. Shocking. It’s been so much fun though, so far. The girls are really enjoying their time in Ancient Egypt.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… This is my first year “going it alone,” so to speak, in planning. I am enjoying it, and I feel a bit more connected to what the girls are doing because I am spending that time every week gathering books, reading the weekly overviews and notes, etc. Every week is like a reassurance that I made the right decision in choosing our curriculum this year.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Nothing very special this week. We’re trying to readjust back to normal life after a week at camp, so I have found that we really just needed to be at home a little more. A trip to the library, some grocery shopping and being out of the house for a showing were really it.

My favorite thing this week was… I am just continually amazed at the rapid progress that Hollywood is making in reading. It’s like a switch was flipped, to be honest. Yes, there are still struggles, but those are largely overshadowed by the fact that she can now pick up just about any book and read most of it without help. Confidence is the last thing to come along, but I imagine that easy chapter books are not too far over the horizon. 

What’s working for us… Keep Moving Forward (from Meet the Robinsons). I have to keep reminding the girls (especially MOTS) that it’s okay to not do all the required reading in one or two days. It’s okay to take your time through a book or labelling a map. I think that she sees her assignment sheet as a challenge to be gotten through. I want her to view learning as an experience to be enjoyed. Consistent reminders to just do a little each day and gentle direction as to what that means seem to be helping.

Questions/thoughts I have… I am wondering if anyone else has a stop time? I tell my girls that my teaching job ends at 3 p.m. MOTS especially would follow me around trying to get a head start on math assignments and other work until much later. It’s not that I want to discourage her from working ahead or going above and beyond, but I also have other activities and my own things to do and the constant interruptions asking for yet another explanation of fractions at 7:30 at night was about to drive me off the deep end. 

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Hollywood reads Scooby-Doo

IMG_1081

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Week 1

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week… Besides celebrating Independence Day, we started our new school year (hence the switch back from the summer icon).

In our homeschool this week… We started Tapestry of Grace, Year 1 this week. Ancient Egypt is a great place to start. MOTS has been through Ancient history once before, so that makes it a little easier for me to turn over the reins to her a bit as far as her own education goes. This will be Hollywood’s first time through. She seems to like it, I mean, what kid doesn’t enjoy archeology and mummies and such (the cartoony versions anyway).

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… It’s hard to be in the homeschooling community and not hear about Donna Young and the amazing resources that she shares. It’s almost exclusively what I am using this year to plan our days. I am in love with her Excel planner – and yes, it works in Numbers (which is what I use on my Mac) beautifully.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Last night we went to the library so MOTS and Hollywood could attend a presentation given by the FBI. It was very neat, and I really appreciated the emphasis that the agent placed on internet safety and how to stay safe out and about. I know it’s all stuff that I say, but somehow hearing it from an authority figure made it a little more real to the girls. The agent also explained that CSI was not an accurate reflection of crime fighting. Crushed me, that one did. Hee!

While they were attending that talk Chaos and I looked at all of the children’s magazines (he loved Nat Geo Kids) and every dinosaur resource book on the shelves. So pleased that he loves books so much and loves being at the library.

My favorite thing this week was… On Wednesday MOTS made a delicious Lentil Soup from her Egypt activity book. It was pretty cool to eat what the people we are studying might have eaten. It was hard to get behind eating a piping hot bowl of soup when it’s 101° outside. Oh well, maybe that’s how the Egyptians felt, too!

What’s working for us… This year I have turned over quite a bit of responsibility to MOTS in regards to her schoolwork. I write down what I expect to be completed in a week for her and it becomes her responsibility to complete it in whatever manner she likes. I was careful to sit with her and explain what it might look like, but I am trying to stay out of it as much as possible, only checking her records at the end of the day. I also stated that I did not want to see any marathon math sessions, because I still get dragged in on that quite a bit and I need time off!

She did well this week, completing the bulk of her assignments by Thursday and just cleaning up some loose ends this morning. We have agreed to plan for a four-day week every week, with the understanding that any incomplete assignments will be finished on Friday at the expense of having an extra free day. I’ll need to refine her assignment sheet some, but I do like that she is taking a little more responsibility and I have removed myself from being the chief nagging officer when it comes to completing schoolwork.

Questions/thoughts I have… I bought the ToG DE version. Everything exists digitally and I print off what we need every week. Honestly, it’s everything I always wanted Sonlight to be. From the get go I wanted a digital version of their Instructor’s Guide. I wanted maps that I could print for the kids to mark. I could never get that from Sonlight. Don’t get me wrong, we got a lot of good books from them, but I underestimated how much I would love being able to wield a bit more control over the paper.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Library magazines

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Summer Week 3

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

It was Vacation Bible School at church. This is the first year in a while that I haven’t worked VBS. It was weird and satisfying all at once. Weird to be dropping the girls off and not staying, but satisfying in that the peace that I had in not participating was reassurance that I made a good decision in avoiding burn-out. The girls had a fantastic time, made lots of crafts, learned lots of Bible stories, and performed in a really fun musical on Friday. Chaos and I did lots of errands and had lots of time just the two of us. And I was able to sit and plan out the first couple of weeks of school.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Chaos and I went all over this week. We went to church to drop off and pick up the girls, to Michael’s, JoAnn’s, the library, McDonald’s, Corner Bakery for a breakfast date with Party Boy, the outdoor mall, the pool, and out to my parent’s house.

My favorite thing this week was…

Having uninterrupted time to sit and work on lesson plans, goals, and overall school related stuff.

Things I’m working on…

Like I said, I spent the week making lesson plans. This is new territory for me, planning out the year. We have used Sonlight for 6 years, but have decided to move away from them this year. It was great to have a boxed, open and go, style curricullum for the early years. It was nice to be able to just open the binder and find the corresponding book and get started with little to no thought. For a multitude of reasons, it just wasn’t working for us anymore.

This past spring I spent a lot of time researching new and different curicullu for us. I looked at Heart of Dakota, Winter Promise, Tapestry of Grace, and though about just doing a build your own style following the recommendations laid out in The Well-Trained Mind. They’re all good, but I was mostly drawn to Tapestry of Grace for several reasons. Mainly, I love having all the kids in the same year at the same time, which I could NOT do in Sonlight. Upon closer examination I also really, really liked that I could find most of our books from the library. That alone has saved us a ton of money! The final selling point for me is that I can see the rigorous nature of the high school level for myself since you only buy the curicullum once and can reuse it for every level of teaching.

I will say that having several years of homeschooling under my belt has made me a bit more confident that we can pull this off without relying on owning all of the books that we need for school outright. Even confident enough to make do with some books that aren’t listed as resources. I am making my own out of ToG and it feels pretty good.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Dinosaur book! His current favorite.

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Summer Week 2

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

Best laid plans of mice and men. Hmmph. We did school on Monday. Party Boy was home on Monday night so the kids stayed up late to see him and we all crashed late on Tuesday. Then we had to rush around getting things ready for being away for the rest of the week. I had deadlines to pre-plan for and we had to do massive amounts of laundry and packing and cleaning. So no school. Ugh. Wednesady my Mom had back surgery so we spent a good portion of the day at the hospital or driving in between the hospital and my parents house. Thursday we were still at my parents getting things ready for Mom to come home. We got home late yesterday afternoon. Today? Apathy. Not a great school week. But, it is summer and it is unpredicatable and I knew that. I deal with this every year. It will get better once fall rolls around and not so much going on!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We went to the hospital for Mom’s surgery (the nurses and the patient coordinator LOVED my kids) and to my parents house to watch their dog. Some time at the pool. The grocery store.

My favorite thing this week was…

Seeing my Mom up and walking around after her surgery.

Things I’m working on…

I have some deadlines to meet, some blog posts to write. And I need to get back to working out.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Waiting

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Homeschool Mother’s Journal | Summer Week 1

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…

This is the end of our second week off from school, so we start back next week. <Sigh> We have all been really enjoying the break and the ability to just hang out and do a whole bunch of nothing! The girls have been playing The Sims 3, I have been scrapbooking, and Chaos has been bouncing off the walls because it’s too hot to go outside!

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

Lots to do today – we’re joining the library summer reading program, joining the local pool, and then going swimming!

My favorite thing this week was…

On Wednesday I walked into the living room from the office and the girls didn’t hear me come in behind them. MOTS was having her turn on The Sims (they set a timer and trade off) and I could hear Hollywood – READING! She had gone and gotten an old Dick + Jane book off the shelf and was reading it out loud to the room. Seriously, it’s the first time she’s ever done that, read alone willingly. She was doing good and I can definitely hear an improvement in her fluency. We still have a long way to go, but it’s nice to see progress.

Things I’m working on…

Schedules and chores and schoolwork, oh my! Summer is a tricky school time anyway with vacations and VBS and camp and, and, and… But I am also trying to be mindful of the fact that we have our house on the market and I don’t want to bring in a big box of books to clutter up the place. Still investigating all of my options, but I am thinking that Tapestry of Grace + the library will be our best bet.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

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