Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Break

We're now on our Christmas Break. I plan on getting some work dione around the house over the next few weeks. Right now, I'm taking a short break from working on the book inventory. Jay is reading to us. He's reading Mummies in the Morning (a Magic Tree House book). He's doing such a fantastic job.
Later today, I hope to get some work done in the office. We need to rearrange it again. I hope to get some of it done today, some tomorrow, and be done with it by Wed. The book inventory is my main concern over the break. I need to get it finished. Rearranging the office comes next. I'm also hoping to get rid of some boxes of stuff we have, but I need to go through them because the kids have tossed stuff in them. So, that's what I'll hopefully be getting done over the next two weeks.

Friday, November 20, 2009

So nice to be home

I don't know that I can actually explain how happy I am to be home from the hospital. Hospitals are horrible places. There is always a smell that's a combination of formaldehyde, antiseptic, sickness, and crappy hospital food. It's either too hot or too cold, you can never get the  temperature just right. Every time you're about to fall asleep, they come in and bother you for something. Every time I shut my eyes, 5 minutes later, they were coming in to take my vitals, draw blood, do a breathing treatment, or some other ridiculous thing. I felt like a human pin cushion, between them drawing blood and putting in IVs. My veins have always been hard to find. They can see them just fine, until they put in the needle. As soon as the needle gets in my arm, the veins just disappear. They don't roll, they disappear. Anyway, thanks to multiple IVs and blood draws, I look like a junkie. I have bruises & needle marks all over both hands & arms.
The food they serve is awful. There was one meal they brought me that was allegedly pot roast. Pot roast usually means beef. I tasted one bite of the meat (I could only cut one bite off because I needed a chainsaw & all they gave me was a butter knife), and it tasted kind of like pork. You couldn't use the color of the meat to figure it out, either, because it was grey.
As if all of the regular hospital stuff wasn't enough, I got a nurse who was rather condescending about the fact that we homeschool. There is this Co-op type program in our city, except that the classes are taught by certified teachers, not the parents. It's a Christian program, so they use Christian materials for the subjects. They have a strict dress code, multiple fees, and it's mandatory to attend chapel. Basically, it seems like a private school that only has class 2 days a week. Anyway, so this nurse asked something about when the kids were getting out of school for the Thanksgiving break. My husband told her that we homeschool. She automatically assumed that we use the Christian program I just described. We told her that no, we don't use that program, we piece our curriculum together ourselves. Her response to that was "Oh. So, you don't use a Structured curriculum?" I wanted to smack her! Just because we don't use a prepackaged curriculum that tells me what to do & say for each subject, every day, or a part-time private school that dictates what my kids learn, that does NOT mean that we don't have structure or that there is something wrong with how we homeschool. I don't use the program she was asking about for multiple reasons - 1) I don't homeschool so that someone else can dictate what my kids learn, what materials we need to buy, how my kids can dress, what kind & how much jewelry they can wear, how long my son's hair can be, etc. 2) I'm not religious. Not all homeschoolers are Christian & I'm rather irritated that people just assume that I'm Christian because we homeschool. Since I'm not religious & my kids are allowed to choose their own religious path, I'm not going to use religious curriculum. 3) If I wanted my kids being taught by certified teachers, I'd have them in a public or private school. Basically, there is just nothing about that program that would fit in our lives or fit with the way we homeschool. However, just because I'm not involved in that program, that doesn't mean there is something wrong with the way we do school. Yet, this nurse had this condescending tone with me just because I'm not part of some program run by a church & taught by certified teachers. I was so angry. It was probably partly due to being sick. Having pneumonia doesn't exactly put me in the best mood. However, that wasn't all of it. She was really rude about it. She really seemed to think that we were doing something wrong because we're not part of this stupid program. Of course, I wasn't in any condition to defend our way of homeschooling or our choices, being as sick as I was. That just made it worse. My husband didn't seem to notice the tone of her voice & I was too sick to really say anything.
I am so glad to be home, away from needles, IVs, condescending nurses, terrible food, and uncomfortable beds. There's nothing like spending time in the hospital to remind you just how good your life really is.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sick

Well, Dea seems to have gotten over the  flu quite well. Jay had a double ear infection. I haven't fared quite so well, though. Around the time the kids got sick, so did I. I went to the Dr with congestion, coughing, and a headache, figuring it was a sinus infection. They gave me a shot for the headache & sent me home. A few days later, I was back at the Dr. the coughing had gotten a lot worse, I had no appetite, a fever, and no energy. They gave me an inhaler and sent me home. I spent the next 5 days in bed, sleeping fitfully, with a fever of 105. I went to the Dr again. This time, they finally acknowledged that there was something wrong me. I was admitted into the hospital for pneumonia. I was released yesterday. I'm not fully recovered, still have 10 days on an antibiotic (a very expensive antibiotic) and need to have another chest x-ray in about a week. I'm starting to feel better, though.
I've promised my husband that I'll take it easy as I work on getting everything back to normal around here. There's a ton of work around the house that hasn't been done because I was sick & unable to do it. I think we'll spend this week & next getting caught up on the housework and getting the book inventory finished. Then, the week after Thanksgiving, we'll buckle down on school, doing extra every day until we break for Christmas. We've been off for weeks with everyone getting sick. Hopefully, we can still get caught up by Christmas.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Flu

Well, the flu has finally hit us. On Sunday, Dea started coughing. Monday, she was coughing, had a fever & a sore throat. Yesterday, she still wasn't feeling well, so we took her to the Dr. She has the flu. Today, Jay started coughing a little. He doesn't have a fever, just a cough. I'll keep an eye on him for the next day or two. If it doesn't get better, I'll take him to the Dr. Last year was the first time any of us had the flu. My husband got it last year. This year has been pretty bad health wise for us. Normally, none of us really get sick. We might get a cold once in a while, but not usually more than that. This year, we can't seem to keep all of us healthy for long.
Since the kids haven't been feeling well this week, no schoolwork has been done. I'm hoping that tomorrow they're feeling up to doing some school. There are certain things I'd like to have done by the time we break for Christmas. If we have to take off too many more days, those things won't be done by the break.
With everything we had going on over the weekend & the kids being sick this week, I haven't had a chance to do more work on the book inventory. I really need to get that done. It's driving me crazy having that project half finished.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

awful weekend

So, my Halloween sucked. We spent the entire day at home, waiting for the cops to call us back. They finally called today, a full 24 hours after we called the first time. With dealing with the break in, securing the garage door so nobody can get it open again, and dealing with the cops & Ins Co, I got nothing done this weekend. I was hoping to finish the book inventory, but haven't worked on it at all. We didn't really do any kind of Halloween celebration, since we weren't sure when the cops were going to call. All we ended up doing was watching an Addams Family marathon on TV. None of us were really in the mood to celebrate. It was such an awful weekend.
I'm determined not to let this continue to bother me. I won't even think about it anymore, unless we're talking to the police or Ins Co. I want this whole thing to be done & over. I hope the Ins Co pays out a decent amount & soon. That way, we can start replacing what's gone & end this whole mess.
Since it's November, I guess Jay will start studying Thanksgiving tomorrow. It's not exactly my favorite holiday, but he needs to learn about it. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a time to spend with family. I don't teach my kids those ridiculous stories about the so-called first Thanksgiving - how it was some fun, shared celebration, or that the Pilgrims invited the American Indians. Thats not how it happened. I won't teach my kids patriotic lies instead of true history. So, we'll start that tomorrow.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Well, my Halloween is ruined!

I hate people right now. Some time last night, someone broke into our garage & stole pretty much all of my husband's tools. So, we called the cops. You would think that would be the logical thing to do. You call them, they come out, look at the damage, take a report, look for some kind of evidence that might help them actually SOLVE the crime, right? NO! Apparently, cops don't believe in work. I called, told them someone broke into the garage & stole our tools, and that we need to file a report. They took my cell number & told me that someone would call us back. They file reports over the phone now. Driving to the scene of the crime & actually seeing the effects of what happened might give you the idea that they intend to find the person that did it. They wouldn't want to give that impression. Why would they want people to feel like the police are actually there to help them, to serve & protect them. If they gave that impression, they might have to get up off their lazy asses, put down the donuts & fast food once in a while and actually WORK! We wouldn't want that now would we?
They're talking about making cuts to the police department. Considering how little they do now, cuts will probably mean they do nothing at all. Maybe we should just do away with the police all together. They don't do anything anyway, who'd miss them? I mean really, they're completely inept. Let's face it, real crimes don't get solved like the ones on TV. On TV, crimes get solved & criminals actually get jail time for what they've done. The real world, on the other hand, doesn't work that way. The cops don't actually work. Criminals often get off (or easily escape from the courthouse). What exactly is the point of our so-called justice system? Isn't it allegedly to protect the law-abiding citizens, to punish those who break the law, and to actually deal out JUSTICE? I guess that would just be too much like work, though.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This shouldn't be so hard

I've been looking for High School level Health curriuclum. We won't need it for a few years, but I wanted to look & see what was out there. I'm glad I didn't wait until we actually needed it. My choices seem to be 1) Buy a public school Health textbook, 2) Buy a homeschool Health curriculum written from a religious perspective, or 3) Create it myself.
I really don't want to go with a public school textbook. I'd have to buy it relatively new, to avoid it being outdated. Then, I'd have to buy another one when Jay gets to that level. As we all know, textbooks are not exactly cheap when you buy them new.
I don't want to use a religious one, because I'm not a religious person. All of the homeschool Health curricula I've seen so far are from a religious perspective. Some say there is scripture throughout. If I wanted my kids to read scripture, I'd hand them a Bible, not a Health book. Some say they "don't waste time on things like drug abuse & reproduction", but instead focus on bringing the child closer to God. If I wanted my kids to become closer to God, I'd send them to church, not hand them a Health book. Now, I'm not insulting those who want their Health curriculum to teach their kids how to live a more Christian life. I'm simply saying that is not what I'm looking for in a Health curriculum.
High School Health should not have to focus on nutrition & fitness. By the time a child is in High School, they should know how & why to eat healthy and exercise. Hygiene is something else that should not need to be taught in high School. By that age, they should understand why they need to shower, wash their hands, and brush their teeth. I also don't need one that focuses on Sex Ed. & Reproduction. We start talking about that stuff, with our kids, when they're little. We start with how boys & girls are different. Then, we regularly talk with them about it, giving them more information, as they're ready for it. We want to maintain healthy, open lines of communication with our kids about this topic. First Aid & CPR aren't a problem, because I'll sign them up for classes with the Red Cross.
So, that leaves the use & abuse (and effects thereof) of prescription medications, illegal drugs, tobacco, & alcohol; mental & emotional health; and stress management. So, I need a curriculum that focuses on those things. I would be fine if it covered the other topics, because we could skip those we don't need. However, it seems the only way I can get something that covers those topics & doesn't focus on religion, is to get a public school textbook or create it myself.
Now, I tend to piece together our curriculum from various supplemental materials, activities, experiments, projects, DVDs, computer programs, tons of books, and materials I create. I don't mind doing this & often enjoy it. I'm even building some of Dea's high school classes from scratch. Again, I don't mind it & have been enjoying it. However, it would be nice to not have to do it for so many subjects. Health curriculum should not be so hard to find. I shouldn't have to create that one myself. Why can't I just find something for this subject that I don't have to tweak, add to, or skip stuff to use? Why can't I just find a curriculum for it that covers what I need & isn't loaded with stuff I don't need? I never would have thought that Health would be one of the most difficult subjects to find material to cover. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last week

We have 3 big pumpkins, and I decided to let the kids each paint one. So, they did that on Wednesday. The pumpkins are kind of funny looking, but that's okay. I'm going to carve the 3rd pumpkin. I probably won't get to it until Monday or Tuesday.
Thursday was the first day last week that I didn't have a headache. For the most part, it was a really great day. The kids were done with their school work by lunch. After lunch, we pulled out the dissection kit. We spent the afternoon cutting up an eyeball, heart, kidney, and brain. The kids loved it! They had so much fun looking at the different parts of the organs, talking about what the organs do, and poking the organs. We made jokes about how the heart mucle felt like the beef roast we we're going to have to for dinner. When we got done, the kids asked for a snack. Only my kids could be hungry after playing with organs & smelling formaldehyde. The organs smelled like a hospital - that stinging chemical smell all hospitals have. We had a great day.
Yesterday was the first day I've been able to work on the books since last weekend. I'm now finished with the Non-Fiction. Today, I'll start the Fiction. I should still be able to finish by the end of next weekend. I probably won't get any work done on it during the week, but I should have time next weekend to finish it up.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ancient Egypt Day

I'm on day 2 of a migraine. Since I'm feeling awful & light and noise make my head want to explode, I decided to let the kids have an "unschooling" day. They decided to spend the day studying Ancient Egypt. They drew pictures of mummies, pyramids, the sphinx, etc. Now, they're researching on the computer. They have a stack of books picked out to read after lunch. We've got some DVDs about Ancient Egypt, maybe they'll watch one of them today.
I love that they chose something educational to do for the day. As soon as I told them we were having an "unschooling" day, they immediately said they were going to study Ancient Egypt. They're having so much fun with it, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ambitious

After spending most of the last week keeping an eye how all of us are feeling, I've been feeling ambitious this weekend. A family member was diagnosed with the flu, not sure what type, so I've been extra attentive to our health. It's been almost a week now since any of us was exposed & we're showing no signs of being sick, so I'm pretty sure we're safe.
So, since I'm no longer concerned about any of us having the flu, I've been working. Yesterday, I decided to continue work on the home library inventory & rearranging project. Since it's a weekend, I actually have time to work on it. Between yesterday & today, I've finished all of the Non-Fiction Social Studies books. I finally decided to take a break from the books. So, I cleaned the kitchen. It's not quite done yet; there's a load of pots & pans soaking. It's almost done, though. I'm going to get back to the books & get the Biographies/Autobiographies done. After that, I have to go make a batch of laundry detergent and pick up a little before company gets here tonight. Even if I only work on the books on weekends, I should be done next weekend or the weekend after that. That's assuming, of course, that nothing comes up & I have time to work on it. In addition to finishing the books, I also need to finish getting my store set up, again. I had to change to a new storefront software & am still figuring it out. I'm hoping to have it up & running by Halloween. I guess I'll be busy for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Have to get her organized

Dea has a binder to hold her finished schoolwork. I remind her daily to put her work in the binder, so she knows where it is. Yesterday, I was going through her binder. None of her English was in it, and most of her Science & Latin were missing. So, she has to redo it all. Everything that she can't find, has to be redone. Even though I had checked & graded most of it, I hadn't recorded the grades, yet. With no recorded grades & the work itself missing, there's no proof that she did anything in those subjects. I've tried explaining to her that she needs to make sure to put her work in hte binder when it's done, or when she's done working on it for the day. We're working extra hard this week (and with extra attitude on her part) to get as much of this work done as possible. Hopefully, by the end of next week, we'll be caught up again.
I'm taking this as a sign that we need to focus even more on organizational skills & study skills. I know her disorganization isn't her fault, it's her ADHD. However, she needs to learn to deal better with her ADHD & put effort into learning better organizational skills. This is going to be a major focus point for us for awhile. I guess I'll be spending the rest of the night figuring out a game plan for this.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We need to support each other

In various groups and message boards that I'm on, there has been a lot of talk lately about homeschoolers being made to feel bad or insecure about homeschooling. It's got me thinking about how divided the homeschool community is. Not only are we divided from most public school parents, but we are also divided within the homeschool community.
Unfortunately, there are homeschoolers who seem very condescending. Some believe that the methods and materials they use are THE BEST and all other methods & materials are inferior. Most of us, at some point in our homeschooling journey, have been in a situation where someone inferred or bluntly told us that our kids aren't getting the best education because we aren't doing things their way. While some of these situations are due to unfinished thoughts or mistaken meanings, some are clearly intentionally condescending. When we make suggestions or give advice, it's done with good intentions. However, we all need to be aware of the negative impact our words can have and choose our words carefully.
We each have our preferred method(s) of homeschooling. We all have materials that we prefer to use. However, we have to keep in mind that what works for us won't work for everyone else. Just because Mastering Mathematics is the best Math program I could possibly think of for my son, that doesn't mean that everyone should use that program for grade school Math. The Spectrum workbooks have too much repetition & review for my kids, but that doesn't mean that they aren't fantastic resources for others. Whatever methods & materials we do or don't like, we need to remember that each family, each child has different needs, tastes, strengths, weaknesses, etc. We need to support & encourage each other, not tear each other down, making others feeling inferior or insecure.
We, as homeschoolers, as a community, need to be there for each other. We need to remember that the reasons we chose to homeschool have to do with what we feel is best for our families. Therefore, the methods and materials we choose also have to do with what we feel is best for our families. We need to keep in mind that what works for us won't work for everyone. Instead of berrating or insulting others' choices, we need to provide advice & opinions when asked and give support & encouragement. If we spend our time fighting amongst ourselves about which methods or materials are best, how can we expect to stand together to fight to keep our freedom to homeschool?
I call upon all homeschoolers to support other homeschoolers, encourage them. Think before you speak about a method or materials. Instead of making broad statements like "That curriculum just isn't enough" or "That method won't work," be more specific and say "That curriculum doesn't have enough structure for us" or "That method wouldn't work for us due to my kids' learning styles." Even though you may not intend to insult someone or make them feel inferior or insecure, thinking before you speak may help prevent it from happening accidentally. We can't always tell what someone means when they say something, especially online, so we should all be careful about how we word things.
Education is not a competition, it's a journey. It's not about who is right or wrong, who has smarter kids or higher standardized test scores, etc. It's about giving our kids a well-rounded education, preparing them for the future, and having them become life-long learners.
We need to stop competing with each other, tearing each other down, and fighting amongst ourselves. Instead, we should put that energy into encouraging & supporting each other. It's time to put aside our differences and focus on the similarities. If everyone in the world could do that, the world would be a much better place. Let that movement start with us.

Me and my wonderful ideas

We have a lot of books. I'm not really sure how many. I lost count a year or two ago, when we got rid of a bunch, and that took us down to eight hundred something. I try to keep my books organized so we can easily find whatever we need. Well, in the last month or two, we had an influx of books. Someone we know was clearing out their bookcases & we brought home 6 or 7 boxes full of books. So, now I need to rearrange all the books in order to fit all the newcomers in the proper places. I figured, since I was going to be moving almost every single book we own, I might as well also inventory them. So, I created a database & a form in Access. I'm keeping track of the title, author, ISBN, binding, genre, location (which of our 6 bookcases), etc.
Now that I've been working on this for a few days, I have to ask "What was I thinking?" This is taking so much longer than just rearranging would have. I wish I had a week to dedicate to nothing but this. I can't do that, though. I can't put everything else on hold - the housework, cooking the meals, the kids' education, etc. I'm not even done with 2 full bookcases, yet. There are piles of books all over the living room. The kids have been helping when they can. They like to read off the information to me & help carry the piles of books to the bookcases.
The kids don't have too much time to help, though. They still have their normal chores & schoolwork to do. Jay is doing fantastic with his phonics/reading. He'll be finishing the current Explode the Code book tomorrow. Then, next week, he'll start the next book. He also has been reading to me every day. What he reads to me changes from day to day. It could be a story from Beyond the Code, a book from the library, one of our books, or a few books from Starfall.com. Recently, he's decided to start reading the stories from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We stopped using it for instruction when he got bored with it last year. He's been reading the stories again this last week or so & really enjoying it. We're studying Autumn in Science. I think we'll head out to a park this weekend to find some trees that are losing their leaves (our trees aren't yet) & collect some. Today, being October 1st, starts our study of Halloween for Social Studies. He loves Halloween, so this study should be pretty fun.
Dea's been better about doing her work without complaining. She also seems to be putting in more effort, at least for some subjects. Now, if we could just get that effort for all subjects & her chores, things would be much easier around here.
Wow! That came on fast. As I was writing this post, Jay got a bad headache. My husband has been getting migraines since he was a kid, and I started to get them when I was pregnant with Jay. I'm wondering if my poor little guy has a migraine. Dea & I got some blankets folded up on the dining room floor for Jay to lie down on. The dining room is the only room in the house that we can get almost completely dark. So, he's in there on blankets & his pillow. He's got a bowl next to him, just in case. Poor little guy. So, I'm going to go see what else I can do for him.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Binders, Binders, Binders Everywhere!

I love binders. I mean, I really love them. I use binders for so many things. I have one for my business, with ideas for products, research for my products, what I want each product to cover, etc. I have one for my general homeschool info, with ideas, plans, possible materials to buy, field trip info, an inventory of our homeschool resources, etc. Two for the current school year, one for each child. These conatin info on what we're covering this year, what specific topics we're covering in each subject, what projects we have planned, what materials we're using, etc. I have one that contains all my research on Giftedness, ADHD, and Bipolar. I have one for Arts & Crafts, with ideas for crafts, directions for crafts I've found online, material lists for different crafts or types of crafts, etc. I have one in the kitchen with recipes I want to try. I have one that I call the Family Brain. It has a calendar with the family's schedule, bill info, info on home improvement & home decor projects, shopping list, and other info important to the family.

Now, I'm working on another one. This binder is my Holiday Organizer. There's a section for each season, birthdays, and each holiday we celebrate. I'm including lists of holiday and seasonal decorations, traditions, gift lists, card lists, lists of movies & books related to the holiday, and ideas for games, crafts, and activities. Christmas & Halloween are our biggest holidays, and we tend to celebrate for the entire month - watching movies, reading books, doing craft projects related to the holiday. This binder will hopefully help me keep track of all of our holiday stuff, what foods I need to take to family celebrations, which traditions, activities, games, books, & movies we enjoyed doing, etc.

I just love the flexibility that binders offer. They come in a variety of sizes, so I can get the size I need for whatever its use will be. They come in different colors & have different colors & types of labels. That makes it easy to tell them apart when they're on the shelf. I can use dividers to make as many sections as I need. I can use page protectors to hold pages I don't want to put holes in, or to save paper by marking the page protector with dry-erase markers instead of marking up the paper. Plus, they provide a great way to organize & store papers on a shelf, in sight & in easy reach.

File cabinets are great for storing papers you don't need to look at often. Tax info you only need to pull out once a year, the owner manuals for appliances, and home & car insurance plan info are great things to store in file cabinets. You don't often need to look at them, but they're there if you need them. Extra printer paper (especially the nice kinds you don't use often) and envelopes are also good things to store in file cabinets. Each one can have its own folder, and you don't have to search through the folder to get what you need form it.

However, things you need to look at regularly - the family budget/bill info, school info, grocery lists/weekly menus, etc. - are easier to access (and more portable) if they're in a binder. This is why binders are one of the best organizational tools available for dealing with paper clutter. I'd be lost without my binders. I can see myself one day having a bookcase of binders to organize all the different aspects of our life.

Did I mention that I love binders?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

6th Grade

Well, I said I'd post with what Dea is doing for school this year. So, here it is.

Math - Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra. She actually did this last year, but we're making her redo it. She HATES Math. She'll do just about anything to avoid doing her Math. So, she'll whine, cry, and throw a fit. Then, when she does it, she doesn't put any effort into it. Last year she handed in several assignments where you could tell that she hadn't bothered to read the problems before she wrote an answer. We decided to make her redo the course in hopes that it would get to her understand that that kind of behavior & lack of effort is not acceptable. She's so good at Math, too. That's a big part of why it's so frustrating when she doesn't put effort into the work.

Science - Power Basics Earth & Space Science. This is a High School Science textbook by a Secular publisher. The book has 4 units - Astonomy, Meteorology, Geology, and Water. It has a workbook to go with it, but we decided not to get it. We're using the textbook as a spine & adding in multiple projects for each unit. Also, she decided that she wants to write a book on each unit. So, we're using those as her assessments.

Latin - Oxford Latin Course Part 1 & 2.

Geography - World Geography & You

History - We're studying wars this year. She decided that she wanted to write a book about each war she studies. She started with the Crusades, then the Trojan War. Next is the American Revolution & the American Civil War.

Music - She has a guitar, but rarely practices. She sometimes practices her singing. We're trying to get her to practice both on a more consistent basis. For Music History & Appreciation we're covering a variety of genres & some musicians for each genres. We try to make sure to cover musicians that made large or important contributions to music. I know we won't be able to cover all of them, though.

Art - Every 2 weeks she studies a new artist, does a small biography on him, and does a project in the style of the artist or using the same mediums as the artist.

Writing - Writing Strands level 4

Grammar - Power Basics Basic English, textbook & workbook

Spelling & Vocab - She has a notebook dictionary, organized by Latin & Greek roots. Each day, she's given a new word, has to look it up, write the definition, and use the word in her daily writing assignment and/or conversations.

Reading - I allow her to read pretty much whatever she wants. If it has content that I feel is too old for her, I won't let her read it. Occasionally, I'll require a book or two. Other that that, it's up to her. She's pretty good about choosing good quality books, as well as fluff.

Well, that's her 6th grade year.

Kindergarten

Jay is in Kinder this year. I thought I'd post what we're doing for the year & what materials we're using.

Math - We're using Mastering Mathematics. It covers 1st - 6th grade Math. It's set up for the mastery approach instead of the spiral approach used by public schools. The program is split into 6 workbooks - Attacking Addition, Subduing Subtraction, Mastering Multiplication, Defeating Division, Perfecting the Point, and Finishing Fractions. Each workbook focuses mainly on the title topic, but also covers additional topics such as time, money, etc. The program also comes with flash cards, games, self-checking fact wheels, etc. He's currently working in Attacking Addition. We do one page a day. Each day, we also go over all the flash cards for the facts he's learned.  Two days a week we play games for review. He gets to do the fact wheels whenever he wants.

Reading/Phonics - We're using Explode the Code & Beyond the Code. We've got books 3-6 for Explode the Code & 1 -2 for Beyond the Code. ETC is still just review for him, so I don't make him do all the pages. He does about half of each lesson, then moves on. BTC is pretty much just review as well, so he just reads the stories & answers the reading comprehension questions. We have Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but don't use it for instruction anymore. He got bored with it last year. He does sometimes pick it up & read the stories in it, though. He also gets on Starfall & PBSIsland a few times each every week. Starfall has interactive books & PBSIsland has reading/phonics games. Of course, we also read together every day.

Logic - He's been using Lollipop Logic, but has already finished it. We don't have anything else planned for this for the year. Maybe I'll find something, though. Since I know how much he enjoys doing it, I'll know to order more than one workbook next year.

Science - For Science, we're using a lot of materials I create & lots of hands-on activities. We've already covered The Senses, Animals & Habitats, Food Chains/Web, and Life Cycles. We're also studying the Seasons. We school year-round, so we're covering each season during that season. We've already done Summer & are currently doing Autumn. We still need to cover Winter, Spring, and the Water Cycle. After those, we'll do some nature studies, and I'll introduce a few other Science concepts like electricity & magnets. We do a lot of hands-on work in Science. He's made posters & collages, experimented with the senses, and did a tri-fold display board on animals & habitats. We also read books on Science topics that interest us - some from the library, some from our own collection. He really enjoys watching Science DVDs like The Magic School Bus, Bill nye, & Eyewtiness. He's even learned some cool Science facts by watching Mythbusters DVDs.

Social Studies - This is another subject with a lot of hands-on work, library books, educational DVDs, and materials I create. So far, we've covered Community Helpers, All About Me, and learned the Continents. We're also studying Holidays. Like with the seasons, we study them around the actual holiday. We've already covered Independence Day & Labor, and are about to start on Halloween. In addition to the other holidays we'll study this year, we still have Fire prevention (during Frire Prevention Week) and the Ice Age. After that, maybe we'll do some cutural studies or start a few of the Ancient Civilizations.

Art - Really we're just doing fun art projects. Next year, I'll start introducing him to different forms of art.

Music - At this age, we just expose him to a variety of music styles & genres.

So, that's pretty much Jay's Kindergarten year. We do a lot of hands-on stuff, watch educational DVDs, play games for review & practice, etc. We have some things planned for him to study, but he's also allowed to follow his interests. We keep school fun & interesting to encourage his love of learning, instead of crushing it out of him. We let him learn at his own pace, instead of only allowing what the BOE believes should be covered at each grade. I firmly believe that using a child's age to determine what they should learn or know is ludicrous. We say Jay is in Kinder because that is the grade he would be in if he was in public school. That has no bearing, however, on what he learns or what grade level work he's doing in any subject. It's simply easier to say they are in whatever grade the public school would have them in, than to explain the different levels of work they are doing in the different subjects. My kids have never been at the same grade level for all subjects. So saying they're in whatever grade kids their age are usually in is just easier & faster.

I'll post later with what Dea is doing this year for 6th grade.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Beef stew is not a finger food!

I never thought I'd have to tell my kids that beef stew isn't a finger food. However, I had to tell them that at dinner tonight. Jay was digging through his stew to find the chunks of meat. Then, I look at Dea, and she's holding a piece of potato in her hand. When did beef stew become a finger food?

Anyway, our day before dinner was good. Jay did a page in his Math & his Math flashcards. Then, he did 4 pages in Explode the Code. While he was doing those, Dea did her Language Arts & Latin. Then, I went over Dea's work with her while Jay did Lollipop Logic. He loves that workbook. I think he did about 6 pages of it while Dea & I went over her work. By the time we got done with that, it was almost 11am. So, I let them take a break. Dea played & Jay did a puzzle while I got dinner started, put lunch together, and did some dishes. While they ate lunch, I let them watch a show. After that, Dea hopped on the computer to work on Science. She's doing High School Earth & Space Science this year. The textbook we're using as a spine has four units. She has decided to write a book for each unit. Right now, she's doing Meteorology. While she worked on her book, Jay and I read. We read some books about Autumn, his current topic in Science. Then we read a few Halloween books. Once we were done with that, the kids painted Jay's Solar System model. After the Solar System was painted, they watched a DVD about Ancient Egypt. While they did that, I folded & put away the laundry, finished the dishes, straightened up the living room, and got the library stuff together.
Dea still has to do her History & Math. she'll work on her History in about 30 min. She's studying Wars this year & has decided to write a book on each war she studies. Her current war is the Trojan War. After she's worked on history for about an hour, she'll get her Math done. Then she'll read for awhile before bed. While Dea does History, Jay will do a puzzle, play, or read. Then he'll head off to bed.

After they've both gone to bed, I'm going to curl up with my book and read for awhile. I've been reading this series by Jack Whyte. It's the Camulod Chronicles. The series is a take on the Arthurian legend. It's more realistic than most. The series starts a few generations before Arthur & Merlin. I've finished the first 3 books and now I'm reading Uther. Uther isn't the 4th book, I think it was actually the last to come out. However, it happens during the same time as the 3rd book, just from a different view. The 3rd book focuses on Merlin's life as he was growing up & into his twenties. Uther focuses on Uther's life during the same time. So, you get to see how their lives were similar & how they differed. Plus, some of the same events are covered in both books, so you get to see them from two different views. Since Uther takes place during the same time as the 3rd book, I figured I'd read Uther before starting the 4th book. It's a really good series. I wouldn't let my kids read it anytime soon, but it's a good read for adults.

Me

I'm a homeschooling mom of two amazing kids. My daughter (Dea) is 11 & my son (Jay) is 5. Homeschooling them (well, raising them) is a challenge. They are both gifted, both have ADHD, and Dea also has Bipolar. That combination makes for an interesting time. The Bipolar was just diagnosed earlier this year, so we're still learning about it. The kids are always on the go. Even when they ask to watch tv & pick the show themselves, they rarely make it through the episode. Life is definitely not boring with these two.
Right now, they're watching a Goosebumps DVD that we borrowed from the library. This is my hour of TV & relaxation before the day kicks in to full gear. At 9am, we'll start school. We wait until then so that the kids can sleep in if they want, we have plenty of time for breakfast & showers, and we have time to veg out a little. That way, our day starts calm & refreshed, not groggy & irritable.
It's cloudy today & is going to rain. That means we'll get little, if any, time outside today. Maybe we'll do a fun craft or activity today, something to break up the day a bit. Jay has a Solar System model he's been wanting to paint & put together & Dea has a dissection kit she's been wanting to do. Maybe we'll do one or both of them today.