Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 Goals update

I didn't do a February update for my progress on my goals for the year. So, this update is for both February & March.

Basically, I did not get as much done as I wanted to.

I've been having problems breathing & coughing a lot since the beginning of January. The current theory on this is that my original thoughts were right. I got the virus that caused Jay's croup. It caused infectious laryngitis in me. The virus is gone now, but the inflammation it caused hasn't gone away yet. So, I'm on another round prednisone and more inhalers. Hopefully, this gets rid of the coughing, breathing troubles, and gives me my voice back. However, difficulty breathing and constant coughing make exercise really hard to do. So, I'm still nowhere near my fitness goals (since I'm lucky if I can work out for 10 minutes without a coughing fit). I have shown some improvement in the last few days, though. Tuesday, I managed 10 minutes of Pilates and .5 mile on the Gazelle, and Wednesday I did a full 1.5 miles on the Gazelle. Considering how difficult exercise has been for me since getting pneumonia in Nov 2009, and even more difficult since getting sick in January, that's real progress for me. The stupid asthma doesn't agree with respiratory problems & it's been really difficult to control it for the past year & a half.

I also haven't had as much time to read as I would really like. I did finish The Second Foundation, the final book in Asimov's Foundation Triliogy. I also read Dubliners. Plus, I've been reading other books of short stories.

We did manage to fit in a family game night & a family movie in February, but not in March.

I finished cataloging & putting away the new additions to our DVD collection & book collection.

As for the educational goals, those get a bit strange. I will most likely not be doing any formal schooling for me this year. It just wasn't in the budget. However, I'm looking into some free classes that I might want to take. I might also just decide to spend the year focused on art and/or foreign language.
The break from formal schooling officially ends this week. So, I made it through the 6 months (there were many times I wasn't sure I'd make it). Jay has finished his school year & will start 2nd grade next week. However, Dea is not done yet. It appears that they will now be on different schedules. So, I guess the goal of finishing their current school year is half done. I have finished planning for their next school year.

So, not as much progress as I'd like, but at least I'm making progress.

Friday, March 25, 2011

2nd Grade Materials - pics

Here are some better (hopefully) shots of the materials for Jay's 2nd grade year:

These pics show the Science kits, arts & craft supplies, materials for projects, and the main books he'll be using. Since we'll use a lot of books from our personal library, tons of materials from the public library, the internet, and Netflix, it would be impossible to show everything he'll use.

2nd Grade

Now that Jay is done with his 1st grade year, I figured I'd post the plan for his 2nd grade year.

So, Jay's 2nd grade (2011-2012 school year):

Music: Alfred's  Kid's Guitar Course book 1, 1-2 days per week
guitar practice 3 days a week
guitar lessons 1 time per week
recorder practice at least 1 day per week
Native American Flute practice (starting 2nd half of year)

History: 2-3 times per week for at least 1 hour each day, various materials, lots of hands-on projects, lots of library books, documentaries, Learning Through History Magazine, Notebooking Pages, websites, etc.
Ancient China: 8 - 10 weeks
Vikings: 8 - 10 weeks
Native American History & Culture: 15 - 20 weeks

Geography: Map Corner, World Geography & You
1 - 2 days per week, since it's his first year doing Geography, I only planned out 28 weeks worth, to see how these programs work together & to get a feel for how long each chapter/unit takes him

Logic: Logic Safari book 1, 1 day a week

Computer Program: Logo Adventures, 1 lesson per week

Language Arts: daily
Grammar - Easy Grammar grade 2, Grammar Tales
Writing - Discover the deck
Reading - free reading 1 hour per day

Math: daily, at his own pace, games for practice & review
Subduing Subtraction - the pages on subtracting time & measurement
Mastering Multiplication - finish from where he left off at end of 1st
Defeating Division - start when done with multiplication & work till end of year
Key to Measurement - we have all 4 books, so he can go through them at his pace
Key to Metric Measruement - we have all 4 books, so he can go through them at his own pace

Science: Magic School Bus based, 2 - 3 times per week for at least 1 hour per day, MSB kits, various books on topic (including but not limited to MSB books), dvds, documentaries, websites, labs, Notebooking Pages, etc
Flight (and forces & motions): 12 weeks
Space: 12 weeks
Electricity & Magnetism: 12 weeks

Latin: 2 days per week, Latin For Children Primer A

Spanish: 2 days per week, Tell Me More Spanish

ASL: 1 day per week, Signing Time dvds, other various dvds from library

Art: 2 days per week, various materials, origami, working with clay, projects connected with History, Geography, and Science

We also do Home Ec & PE, but both are really unstructured and we don't exactly keep track of them. The kids spend 1 hour outside each day, weather permitting. They also have access to various exercise dvds that they can do when they have to be inside. Right now, his Home Ec mainly consists of doing his chores & learning to cook.

We're also trying to find some ways for him to get into volunteering/community service (something more than helping us box up & drop off donations, choosing food to buy for the food pantry, and helping as we determine which charities to send money to each year). The kids are planning to make all natural, homemade bird feeders, sell them, and use the money to buy animal food to donate to a local animal shelter or sanctuary.

First Grade is Done!

Jay is now officially finished with 1st grade! He is taking next week off, then starting 2nd grade on April 4th.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Take on Textbooks

Textbooks are a bit of a hot button topic, with homeschoolers. Many will say to avoid textbooks, because using them will somehow ruin your kids. Others prefer to use them & swear your child won't get a proper education without them. So, what's the truth?

Well, I think that, like every other decision in homeschooling, the choice to use (or not use) textbooks is a personal one.

Are textbooks perfect? No! Are they generally dry & boring? Yes! Are textbooks written with a bias? Most definitely!

Personally, I think textbooks have their place. We don't use a lot of them, but we do use them. I can't imagine having to teach Math without textbooks (or workbooks that have the text in them). The Latin programs we're using have textbooks. I know for a fact that I could not teach Latin without a text. We also use one as a base for Geography. For us, that's really it for textbooks, until high school level. Once they hit high school level, we use textbooks for Science, as well.

The textbooks we use for high school Science are not the entire course, but serve as a spine. We can then feel free to add in supplements, while knowing that the base of our course is organized and covers the important topics (at least some of them). I'd consider using a text for Language Arts, if I ever found one I liked.

However, I will not use a textbook for History, at any level. This is personal choice, and I'm not saying others shouldn't. If you do choose to use a History textbook, though, I do suggest reading it first, so you're aware of its bias. I also wouldn't suggest using just a textbook for History. I would use other resources, as well, to verify the information in the text.

So, I wouldn't use textbooks for every subject, but I don't discount them as learning tools. If textbooks are what works for your child (and as much as some of us dislike textbooks, they do work well for some people), you should not feel bad about using them.

I think this goes back to 'Don't compare your homeschool to someone else's.' Some people use textbooks for all subjects, some use textbooks for some subjects, and some don't use textbooks at all. It's about doing what's right for your family. This is why I get so irritated when I'm reading a book, article, or blog that tells you that you should never use textbooks, because you should make homeschooling as unlike school as possible. I also get irritated when reading something that says that learning should always be fun. It just simply isn't realistic to expect that you'll enjoy every single thing you need to learn. Kids need to learn that sometimes you have to learn things you don't enjoy, don't care about, don't find particularly important, but you need to to do it anyway. Of course, I also get irritated at articles (or books, blogs, etc.) that make it sound as though your child will be a drooling idiot if they don't use textbooks for most, if not all, subjects.

The reason those things irritate me, is that they confuse new homeschoolers and make some homeschoolers feel bad about their method. Not all homeschoolers are confident in what they're doing. When an insecure homeschooler, who uses textbooks, reads an article saying that you should never use textbooks because they stifle children's creativity & ability to think for themselves, that homeschooler will likely become more insecure about their homeschooling. We need to be supporting each other, not make others feel bad because they choose materials we don't use. We need to remember that each child is different, has different needs, and that how to best meet those needs is up to each child's parents.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

some work from this year: pics

As I was spring cleaning, I came across some of the projects Jay has done this year for school. SO, I took pics and got them boxed up for storage.

painted Greek urn:

Roman Standard:


Trojan Horse:

model of Anceint Greece:


ball & socket joint & homemade stethescope (for study of Human Body):

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week in Review

Jay will be done with 1st grade next week. I need to get all of his projects for History together, take pics, and box them up. I also need to put away all his finished work from the year. Then, I'll go through all our school  materials and see what we can get rid of.

Dea still isn't putting as much effort into her school as I'd like. I think part of it is the lack of her meds for the last week. Part of it is also the change in weather. It's been so nice that all she wants to do is play outside.

I'm not as far in my Spring cleaning as I'd like. I was spray painting something yesterday & it caused a coughing fit. I actually coughed until I vomited. I had a huge headache after that. Anyway, I've done some more work today. When we go do our grocery shopping today, we'll also be picking up our new microwave and dropping off stuff for donation (3 bags of clothes & 3 boxes of stuff). Tomorrow, we're doing clothes shopping for the kids. Then, I'll be spending the rest of the weekend cleaning. I want to have the Spring cleaning done before next weekend.

Well, that's our week.

Oh How Things Change

Our local Community College holds classes for elementary school-aged kids. When I was young, my parents signed me up for several. I took classes in French, Astronomy, Nature Science, Model Rocketry, etc. I loved doing those classes. I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to take some of those classes, too. Unfortunately, I can't bring myself to sign them for any of them.

I refuse to pay almost $100 so my kid (4th - 8th grade only) can do Paper Mache, when both kids can do it at home for a lot less money. I think it's insane to pay almost $100 for my kid to learn about Fairies or Princesses, or over $100 for my kid to dress up like a super hero.

Jay would probably love the Greeks & Gladiators classes, but it's only for grades 3-4. Both kids would like the CSI class, but Jay is too young & Dea is too old. The only foreign languages offered are Spanish (which we already have a program for them to learn) and Chinese (which neither has an interest in learning).

Not to mention that so many of the classes are only 4-5 sessions each. So, you pay anywhere from $50 - $150 (depending on the class), and you get a short intro to a subject. I guess I can see how it might be useful if you are trying to find some interests for your child other than video games and tv. However, for us, this just doesn't make sense. My kids have plenty of interests, so we don't need to sign them up for classes to find an interest for them. They also have plenty of time to persue their interests, and likely know more about their areas of interest than they would learn in these short classes anyway.

Every year, I've looked through the course list, hoping to find something worth paying for, only to be disappointed. I guess it's time to give up on even thinking about having them take any of these classes.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

next year's materials: pics

Here are pics of the materials for the kids for next year. Actually, this isn't all of it. It wasn't until after I had taken the pics & put it all away that I noticed I forgot Dea's Latin, her Advanced Algebra, the texts for Anatomy & Physiology and Psych, and Jay's Geography. I guess I didn't think of those since we already had them, so they weren't sitting in the boxes with the rest. So, here's pics of MOST of our stuff for 2nd & 8th grade:

Dea's stuff:

Jay's stuff:

More of Jay's stuff:

most of the art stuff & stuff for Jay's Native American study:

the stuff in the middle is for both of them:

Like I said, that's most of it. There's a few books and some art supplies that aren't there. There's also quite a bit in the piles that you can't really see. Maybe, as each starts their new school year, I'll do new pics with everything spread out more. That way, you'll be able to better see it all.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Cleaning and end of school year

I'm spring cleaning the house. My wonderful husband is picking up some dust masks for me tomorrow. The dust & cat hair, that is being disturbed by the deep cleaning, is causing awful coughing fits. It's never really been a problem before, even with my asthma. We're thinking that it's because of the new cats. More cats = more cat hair & dander. Thinking about it now, having 6 cats when I was younger caused breathing problems, just not the coughing fits. I guess this just means that we all have to put in more effort to stay on schedule with the chores/cleaning. In addition to the deep cleaning every room is getting, we're also filling boxes for donation. The first batch of boxes for donation will be dropped off this week.

Jay is almost done with 1st grade. He has decided not to do the last few labs for Science. He already understands the concepts they cover, and he doesn't feel like growing mold on bread right now. He only has one project left for History. He has decided not to do the final exhibits for Science and History. We have so much going on right now, and he has decided that the exhibits would be too much to add to what's already going on. Since the exhibits are optional & the labs are to help with comprehension & to keep it fun, I'm cool with him choosing not to do them.

So, all Jay has left for 1st grade is the one project for History, Lesson 13 & the Posttest for Explode the Code book 8, and a few chapters of Song School Latin.

Dea still has some work in English, a little Biology, and a lot of work in Geography to finish. We aren't putting any time limits on her Math. We've told her what Math needs to be done to graduate. We have all the programs we need for Math, except Accounting, which I'll get next year or the year after. So, she can do them at her own pace, in the order she chooses to do them. She's convinced that she won't be done with the work for this school year by the end of the month. She's a bit upset about it, since she wanted to start the next school year at the same time as her brother. I think she could do it, if she really buckled down and spent most of the day on school for the next few weeks.

Dea is not happy with the fact that she will have a schedule for school, starting in April. I tried explaining that we have to put her on a schedule if the work is going to get done. She had her opportunity to prove that she could so the work, on her own, without a schedule or plan telling her how much to do each week or how much time to spend each day. What we learned from that is that she will work on the stuff she finds interesting and avoid everything else. She'd end up with nothing but subjects she hates for her last year of high school. She'll get to help set the schedule, and I hope that helps. I'm really just not in the mood to fight anymore. She's been so volatile lately. She's been off her meds for almost a week, which I'm sure is playing a big role in her behavior. We have to see her psychiatrist every 3 months for them to continue to write the Rx for her meds, but  they cancelled the last appointment. We rescheduled, but her appointment isn't until later this month, so they wouldn't write the Rx when we ran out last week.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Week in Review

What did we get done this week? Hmmmmmmmm... let me think.

I went to the Dr and got some medications for whatever it is that I've had for the last 2 months. I'm still coughing, but my voice is finally coming back. Dea wasn't feeling good on Wednesday. She had a headache, a stomachache, and was really congested. Plus, two of the cats appear to have colds. Winter and all of it's illnesses can go away now!

Dea is doing great in some of her subjects, and not so great in others. She really needs to pull up her grade in Geography. She also needs to kick her butt into gear to finish up her Math. Her Biology is almost done. She's got some labs to do, the test for Unit 5, all of Unit 6 (including the unit test), and the final exam. She still has a decent amount of Grammar & Writing left, too. If she really buckles down and works, she could still get it all done by the end of March. I don't think she will, though. She's taking a break every 20 minutes or so. She's actually choosing to do chores instead of her school work. She's been informed that I will continue to be lenient about this until the end of the month. Since our 'break' is over at the end of March, she will be put on a schedule as of April and will no longer have the option to choose what work she does each day.

Jay is doing a great job in all of his subjects. He enjoys school so much. It's fantastic. Right now, he's finishing up some bookwork & he's just got a few projects left to finish up. He's doing Math pages about 3 days a week and playing Timez Attack almost daily. He has a few labs left, which we'll do next week.  We're hoping to do his exhibits for Science & History, but I'm not sure if we will. He was working on several things at once, so it would be easier to do just one exhibit for each subject, covering all the topics at once. That would mean his Science exhibit would be on Insects and Spiders, Human Body, and Germs. His History exhibit would be on Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. We might do it. We'd like to, it all just depends on if we have the time (this is a busy time for us).

Almost all of our materials, for next year, are here. We're just waiting on one more box. It will be here next week. The planning is pretty much done. I still need to create the Notebooking Pages for some of Jay's topics. Of course, there's also minor things like picking up some more paper, some tri-fold display boards, pens, etc.

So, that was our week. We're working on finishing this year, finishing planning for next year, and trying to have fun with it all. If the weather permits, we'll be outside this weekend doing dissections, spray painting a trojan horse, and staining a jewelry box.