Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Five for the Week

A few bits from last week.

1.  A peek at school...

A morning spent watching this stick bug. 

Working on math skills.

Learning about craters (like Mercury's surface).

An afternoon treat.  Pumpkin frappuccinos.

A morning dentist appointment.  Cavity free--YAY!  
Also, this quote on the office wall is beautiful.

2.  A day hike with friends on a day off from school.

In the water up to his knees with nary a complaint.  

To catch a crayfish.

3.  Beza had a great week at school.   I nearly cried when she came home with an empty lunch dish.  (Instead I took a picture.)

And I always feel like cheering when she eats (gobbles might be a better word) up pasta sauce.  (Dinner out on Friday.)

This week she was actually charging down the field in the soccer.  Go, Beza!

4.  A weekend hike to a mirror lake.

Where he had the best time walking down a spider-web infested pipe catching frogs.

5.  A Sunday picnic at a Vanderbilt mansion.  

We like to pretend that it's our house.  Our country house.  
Oh, this front door?  It's nothing fancy.

We also happed upon this monster praying mantis.  (I kind of feel like this could be the year of the praying mantids--I've never seen so many in my whole life.)
And Beza found this caterpillar.  It was attached to the stick so we brought it home and what do you know?  It turned into a chrysalis. Wild.

It was a good week.  (A little buggy, but good.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

From Summer to Fall (Mini Tour)

A peak at home from summer to fall.

(*Note: The background image is not a turkey--as one of my children suggested (see the solid round body, legs and large tail plumage?), but rather a rough attempt at a Ferris Wheel. ;)


Not pictured: Copious amounts of sand, pasta, cereal and crumbs in general all over the floor all day, every day, stacks of shoes, piles of mail, the flyswatter (What is with the flies this year?), 12 cups of water belonging to no one, and the people who make this place a home. ;)


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Our Third Year (First and Third Grade Curriculum)

Our Curriculum This Year 

We start every day with journaling. (Journals from TJMaxx.) 

Journal Prompts 
Seasonal topics found online.

We're also doing a Bible verse a week--they write it out each day.

(T uses THIS calendar to help him keep track of time.)



US History/Geography

World History



Additional Resources 
(We cover a few chunks of these subjects as we have time over the course of the year.  No pressure.)



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Homeschooling--Our Pros and Cons

Two summers ago, when I was seriously considering if homeschooling was a viable choice, I sat down and wrote out a list of pros and cons.

It is in no way comprehensive.  It's a basic list of the issues that mattered to me at the time.

A few more bits:

When I tell people that we homeschool one of the most common things that they say is, "Wow--I could never have the patience."  There is nothing more than parenting that has taught me that I am definitely lacking in the patience department.  And my patience level when trying to work through homework (even kindergarten homework) is not particularly notable.  For sure, one of the benefits to me about homeschooling is that because I know exactly how they should be doing a math problem (because I have the teacher's guide--invaluable), I don't have to try to figure out how they're learning at school.  Knowing what and how you're learning cuts down on a lot of that frustration.  Also, having a basic school routine makes the formal learning time quite efficient.  All this to say that for me, homeschooling requires far less patience than homework.

Another great thing about being on the inside loop of what they're learning is that it's really natural to find ways to reinforce what they're studying.  I know that I would not be reading their school books--but now I know everything that they're reading.  So when we're learning about whales and I see a cool article or video about whales, we watch it.  We don't sit down and analyze it and write reports--we just watch it because it fits and it's what we're interested in right then.  If we're learning about meteors we can lay outside and watch the show in the middle of the night.  If they were learning about that in school I probably just wouldn't be that motivated.  Also, I can cater to their strengths.  Right now T is just getting the hang of writing, but his thoughts are much more complex.  When he needs to express a complicated thought or story, he can narrate his ideas to me to write for him so that his current writing skills don't frustrate or prevent him from growing his language skills.  And if he needs ten minutes to run outside, we can make that happen.

Another consideration was that I knew that after a full day of school, M would be spent.  By the time she came home I would get the exhausted version of herself and quite selfishly, I didn't want that.  I wanted the best parts, too.

The pros and cons list helped bring some clarity to our personal decision.  I also read a ton of blog posts, news articles (some of the most helpful resources for me are HERE) and books, talked with other homeschoolers and even attended a few homeschooling meetings (once even accidentally ;) ). 

In the end, both options are very good.  (Neither are perfect--but both are good.)  But, when I considered it all, for us, for right now, I knew that I wanted to keep on learning with them--I wanted the time to live this part of life with them more fully.

**I am thankful for the teachers who love and teach students so well.  Education is unfathomably important and it is vital to invest in the lives of children.  I am grateful that when making this decision there are so many good options.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Funnies: Early Reader

T: What's a bult?

Me:  Huh?

T:  Well, you just said we're going to have a BLT.

(Dialogue from 7/30/14.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Five on Friday

A glimpse of our week.

1.  A Monday field trip with Beza's class to the orchard.

2.  Phew!  I'm not sure what's been going on with the laundry.  (Perhaps that's the problem. ;)  The folding and putting away--oh, and pulling out the stuff that doesn't fit anymore--took hours.  Ick.  (Thankful for clean clothes, though.)

3.  Beza is a rock star at music lessons.  She colors quietly for the whole 30 minutes.  (Rock crayons from Stubby Pencil.)

4.  We're studying astronomy with T.  Today we got to make our own "solar eclipse" and investigate the strength of the sun's light (and then hide the magnifying glasses--because concentrated sun is downright dangerous.).

5.  We ended today at the park because it is ridiculously beautiful outside.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Remind Me Again--Why Homeschool?

This year Beza is off to full-day Pre-K three days a week while we're homeschooling M (3rd grade) and T (1st grade).  This is our third year of homeschooling--an adventure I didn't see coming.  So, why are we homeschooling?

Short answer:  We love school, but I fell in love with learning with them when they were little and I wanted to keep doing it.  There are tons of resources and it works for us--for now.

Long answer:
1.  When they were one and three (and just two of them), I felt like I was just surviving my days.  I had worked as a Speech Language Pathologist for two years and there were some parts of my job that I had LOVED.  I decided to start being intentional with the limited time (in terms of their whole life) I had with them. We started having Theme Weeks (just like I did when I worked full time).  Simple, simple ideas that motivated me to play and read and really to make forever memories.

2.  Then, when they were three and five I really wanted to watch Anne of Green Gables with them.  But, I wanted to read the book first.  So we did.  And it worked.  Sometimes they sat quietly and listened or sometimes they played with blocks and guys and only paused during the exciting parts.

3.  I also knew that I want them to walk through this life well (not perfectly, but well.).  We were in the process of adopting Beza and that journey introduces some of the really hard sides of life.  I wanted to both give them a vision for what it looks like to walk through the tough stuff well (again, not perfectly--with grace for our mistakes) and to be a place where we could talk about challenging topics--together.  Books opened those doors.  Right after Anne of Green Gables we read a biography of Corrie ten Boom.  We talked a lot about messy, ugly stuff and about Hope.  And reading became our addiction.

4.  As we were approaching full-day first grade I knew that I would miss all of that fun, easy, natural learning that were were doing together because a school schedule and homework and sports would take over our time.  And even reading, while definitely still possible, would never be the same.

5.  But, through adoption, my network of friends from all over vastly expanded and a good number of them were homeschooling.  They posted about their days and I realized that maybe homeschooling wasn't what I thought it was.

6.  I had thought homeschooling was exactly like being a teacher of a classroom at home.  It seemed pretty redundant when there are awesome teachers and fun friends to play with at our great local school.  But I saw that instead, homeschooling looked a ton like what I was already doing with a few more formal chunks.  And there would be tons of time for imaginative play and loads of reading--two activities that I think are a high priority when they're little.

7.  I read a lot.  Talked it out.  Made a big list of pros and cons (coming soon).  And then took the plunge.

I absolutely love homeschooling.  I love the freedom to own our schedule, but mostly I love the learning together.  Science, history, math--all of it--it's good stuff.  (Okay, actually, I don't love spelling, but the rest of it's totally cool.)  It's not perfect (though nothing is) and every day brings its own challenges, but for now it fits us well.  We'll take this gig one kid and one year at a time.

I'm so very thankful for the option to do school together.

Second Grade Curriculum (Coming Soon)
Third and First Grade Curriculum (Coming Soon)