Homeschool

It’s that time again…

Posted on September 25, 2011. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yep, back to school.  We actually started back in early August, so we have been at it for about 6 weeks now.  I think we’ve finally gotten our feet under us.  We changed quite a few things this year – the biggest being our start time.  Extra curricular activities have been keeping us out in the evenings more and more, so we gave in and moved bedtime back to 9:45.  Of course that means wake up time gets moved back too (necessary to minimize grumpiness, trust me).  So this year instead of starting school work at 8:30, we are starting at 10.

It isn’t as lackadaisical as it sounds.  We do chores before school starts, and chores have expanded this year.  We now have a mini farm on our property (more about that in another post) so chores include feeding all the animals.  And feeding ourselves, getting dressed, brushing teeth, etc.

Anyway, on to curricula!  We added Latin this year, and started a new spelling program as well as a new logic program.  Oh, and another big change – we are using an online math program!  So far everything is going well, and we stuck with a few favorites from last year too so we have some familiar items.  Here’s our list:

  • math – EPGY online
  • spelling – Megawords and Spellquizzer
  • language arts – MCT island level
  • science – living books, Education Exploration, and The Happy Scientist
  • history – Story of the World 4
  • logic – Logic Countdown
  • latin – Songschool Latin and Latin for Children A
  • piano – lessons with dad
  • ag – swine, poultry, and rabbit study guides (borrowed from 4H)
  • pe – karate

We are really enjoying the online aspect of school this year.  EPGY has a great interactive math program.  Spellquizzer gives me the freedom to customize spelling word lists, even to record my own sentences to go with them, without all the games and extras of SpellingCity that were sometimes too distracting for my little guy.  Exploration Education is a series of dvds with experiment pack, so all the lessons are done on the computer, and The Happy Scientist is a website with awesome science videos that we use to supplement lessons (and sometimes just for fun 🙂 )  Our ag study guides were downloaded from the 4H site, so we view them online as well.  It has really helped reduce our paper waste, plus the little guy likes using the computer – his non school screen time is restricted – so he is more enthusiastic about a lot of his lessons this way.

Overall we are really enjoying school so far this year.  As we progress through the year I plan to review the different programs we’re using too, so stay tuned!

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Some Curriculum Changes

Posted on January 15, 2011. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, Karate, kids, Money | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

The end of 2010 was a time of change for the munchkin and I.  He finished his spelling program and his science program well ahead of schedule (like in 1 semester instead of 2).  At the same time, we slowed down in math to consolidate multiplication and division facts, so we haven’t finished our 1st semester of math yet.  No sweat, he started the school year 2 years ahead of grade level in math, so if he finishes it 1 2/3 years ahead…well, I think he’ll be fine.

So here’s our updated curricula:

  • Math – Singapore Math 3A, followed by flashcards/worksheets/computer games to solidify facts, then moving into 3B when he’s ready
  • Spelling – we have started Megawords 1 and will be learning rules of syllabication, this will probably last us the rest of the year
  • History – still Story of the World 3, no changes there
  • Science – we finished The Elements and are now using living books about chemistry and watching videos from The Happy Scientist website, and in the spring we’re going to do a science project
  • Language Arts – still plugging away with MCT Island level, we find it to be a great program
  • Logic – he finished the Mindbenders logic puzzles book and has moved into a Critical Thinking Academy brain teasers book

He still goes to the public school one day a week for their gifted pull-out class.  And we are still doing piano lessons, martial arts, and painting, and we have added scheduled ‘outside time’ and home ec projects as well.  Home ec has been fun – often we do a cleaning project, but sometimes we cook something, or repair something, or work in the yard or garden…mostly just whatever needs to be done around the house.  I think it is good experience for him to see what is involved with keeping a household running.  As he gets a bit older and has more of an allowance to work with, I plan to add budgeting as part of home ec as well.  Right now he only gets $2 a week for chores; it is hard to budget when he doesn’t even have enough to buy a Happy Meal each week, lol!

 

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Back to school!

Posted on August 6, 2010. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

We started our new school year last Monday!  Yes, we started early.  One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can set our own schedule, and we like to take an extra week off for the little man’s birthday, so we start a week early too.

This is our third year homeschooling – I can hardly believe it!  We still haven’t added Latin to our curriculum (Latin is a must for any well-rounded classical education) but we did add a precursor to logic in the form of Mindbenders puzzles from the critical thinking company.  So far they are a hit.  Actually, he liked the look of them so much that he started working his way through the book over the summer.  I’m going to have to move up to the next book soon!  Anyway, for any interested parties here is our list for this year:

  • math – Singapore Math 3A and 3B
  • language arts – MCT Island level
  • spelling – Spelling City
  • science – The Elements, plus classes at the Florida Aquarium
  • history – Story of the World 3
  • music – piano lessons
  • art – painting lessons and art history
  • logic – Mindbenders logic puzzles
  • foreign language – still looking for an affordable Spanish teacher
  • PE – karate (and maybe swim team in the spring)

I have my excel spreadsheet with our schedule broken down by day, with the assignments all laid out to finish on time by the end of the year.  Of course, a lot can happen in the next 9 months – that is why I use a spreadsheet instead of a pen and paper, it is so much easier to adjust.  But back to that benefit of homeschooling – we adjust our schedule to life, rather than trying to adjust life to fit a schedule.

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More Adventures in Homeschooling

Posted on September 6, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, Karate, kids | Tags: , , , , |

We have been back to school for a full month now, and so far things are going pretty well.  We are learning about the Middle Ages in history, Earth and Space in science, parts of speech and such in grammar, phonics rules in spelling, italic style handwriting (we finished basic italic this past week and are ready to start cursive!), and multiple column addition and subtraction in math.  We are also about to start a very basic introduction to multiplication and division, which is very exciting!  On top of that, coop classes with our homeschool group are starting in a few weeks and I am going to be leading the geography class.  We aren’t sure what Jonathon is going to be taking yet as we are still waiting for the final schedule of classes, but we should know soon, I hope.  Oh, and we are trying to sign up together for a class on basic art techniques at the local technical school.  They have short (usually 6-12 weeks) classes geared for adults who want to continue their education without committing to a degree or certification program, and the professors tend to be pretty flexible, so hopefully they will allow us to take the class together.  Jonathon is still taking karate – he is now a green belt –  and is signed up to start tball in a few weeks.  Needless to say, doing all this in addition to my 2 part time jobs has kept me pretty busy!  But I think we are set up for a good year, and I’m looking forward to learning so many new things together.

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The FPEA Covention

Posted on June 7, 2009. Filed under: Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Yes, I did go.  And yes, it was several weeks ago and I’m just now getting around to posting about it.  What can I say?  It’s summer. 

Anyway, I wound up going by myself since hubby had to work and my grandmother had guests come into town unexpectedly, but the experience was certainly still worthwhile.  The convention itself was huge, with what appeared to be well over a hundred different vendor booths.  I learned about a lot of different curriculum options that are available, and a lot of local booksellers that have great prices.  I also learned about educational programs at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) and the Florida Aquarium– both of which are not too far from me.  They each have monthly classes during the school year geared toward different age groups.  The aquarium (of course) has classes on various sea life topics, and MOSI has all sorts of science classes.  MOSI also has a huge science library that members can use.  ***I wanted to put  a link in for MOSI as well, but apparently they are having issues with their site – Google popped up a warning that there was malware infecting computers from parts of the site.

As Marie from All About Spellingpointed out in her reply to my previous post, they did not have a booth at the convention.  I have looked more at their materials, which seem very thorough, but for right now we are taking a different approach to spelling.  My little guy seems to be a natural speller much as he is a natural reader, so we aren’t going as in depth in spelling as we would with most spelling curriculums.  Instead we are using a website called Spelling City.  It has Dolch list words for each grade level already entered, and you can input your own spelling lists or vocabulary lists as well.  Then the student can be taught the words by the program, and can play various games with each list to reinforce the words.  I will probably take him through all the Dolch words for each grade, then start adding vocab lists based on our reading in other subjects.  Actually, he likes the site and has already started on the lists of Dolch words.

One curriculum I found at the convention that I really liked was La Clase Divertida.  It’s a Spanish language program that is geared for elementary students.  It has videos to go with the lessons, as well as a workbook, and it is designed so that the whole family can do it together if desired.  I was on a pretty tight budget and had not planned to purchase any language curriculum, but when I am ready to do so I will probably get this one.

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Spelling Curriculum

Posted on May 13, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , |

I sometimes hang out at the Well-Trained Mind Forums(there is a homeschool book/guide called The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education – the authors set up the forum for homeschooling parents following their program to communicate with each other) and get tips about various school related topics.  It is a great place to learn about new things in the world of homeschooling, and about how to deal with your kids when you are with them ALL THE TIME.  Seriously people, it is great, but it provides a whole new set of challenges you non-stay-at-home parents never have to deal with.  Anyway, I dropped in on a thread about spelling curriculum the other day.  It turns out that my ambivalent feelings toward Spelling Workout are pretty common.  It isn’t bad, it’s just boring and sort of busyworkish (and yes, I know that’s not a word).

The main recommendation from the parents of early elementary students was a program called All About Spelling.  I looked it up on the internet, and liked what I saw.  It uses multiple teaching methods to reinforce learning, including tactile for those kinesthetic learners out there (people who learn by doing – they use letter tiles to form the words).  I’m not sure if it is right for my little guy since it seems pretty intensive and he is already a good speller, but when I go to the FPEA Homeschool Convention next weekend I’m going to look for a vendor selling the program so I can see it up close.  I’ll post what I find.

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Home, Sweet Home

Posted on May 5, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, kids | Tags: , , , , |

The little guy and I spent most of the month of April traveling (not necessarily together), but we are back home now for a while.  He has another trip planned with his local set of grandparents on Memorial Day weekend – they are going to Kentucky for a family reunion and to do yearly maintenance on family graveyards there.  I think it will be an interesting trip for him.  (Plus he’ll get to put another flag on his US map – he marks every city he has visited.  First time in Kentucky!)

While he is gone, I will be attending the FPEA (Florida Parent Educators Association) Annual Homeschool Convention.  My grandmother (who just turned 80 – happy birthday!) is going with me to help me navigate through the multitude of vendors who will doubtless be hawking their wares.  The convention itself should be interesting too.  They have numerous free lectures on a variety of topics.  Some are vendor workshops, to help customers better use their programs.  Others are tips from long time homeschoolers.  They even have several lectures by frugality experts about living and homeschooling on a budget.  So anyone who will be in the Orlando, Florida area on Memorial Day weekend should definitely attend!

Oh, and I know I have quite a few camera crazy relatives, especially when they are around kids, so any of you who have cute pics of the munchkin’s visit feel free to post them (or links to them) here in comments.

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Butterfly Adventures

Posted on March 15, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool, Karate | Tags: , , , , , |

We went on a field trip with the local homeschool group yesterday to see a local butterfly exhibit.  The kids had a great time and learned a few new things about caterpillars and butterflies.  Actually, I learned a few things too – did you know that caterpillars actually shed their skins as any as six times in the few weeks before they form chrysalises?  Well, now you do.  Anyway, here are some pics (try to be understanding…I’m a terrible photographer AND I was using my cell phone to take the pics):

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Sadly, those were the best of the bunch.  On the bright side, I took pictures at sparring class this week too:

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My little guy is the one in the red helmet.

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Thinking about next year’s Adventures in Homeschooling

Posted on March 12, 2009. Filed under: Daily life, Homeschool | Tags: , , , |

We are rapidly approaching the end of the school year (for us that depends on when we finish everything I wanted to get done this year – could be May or June).  As I look ahead toward next year, I have been thinking about things that worked well this year, and things that did not.  I have already talked about my concerns with Saxon math moving so slowly that my little guy got bored and frustrated with it, and my decision to try Singapore math next year instead.  I also had some issues with record keeping – mainly that I got bored with writing lesson plans down every day.  I wound up giving up after a few months and just noting what book we were working in and keeping all worksheets, narrations, projects, and other evidence that school is actually taking place.  That should be fine for 1st grade, and maybe even all of elementary school, but if we are still homeschooling at higher grades, that just won’t cut it.  So I’m going to try a new record for the rest of this year, and maybe another one after that, until I find one that works for me.

For the rest of this year, we will keep a monthly calendar on the fridge.  I found blank calendar pages in many places on the internet, easy to print out and fill in as needed.  We will fill in known activities at the beginning of the month, and add what we work on in school as we do it, since it does not follow a set schedule.  I’m hoping to get my little guy involved in this so he will help me remember to write things down in a timely fashion.

Also, I think we are going to do more workbook-based learning next year.  My son has gotten used to the format, and he works fairly well on his own in workbooks.  Also, it is easy to set up a reward system for work completed, such as 5 minutes computer or tv time for each page completed, or 1 minute for each problem completed, or something along those lines.  I have been surfing various homeschooling sites, and have seen many suggestions – even one for points based on how much work is completed.  The points can be accumulated to earn a weekend trip or other treat (I’m currently working on getting some camping equipment, so we could do weekend camping trips as a reward — BTW, to any friends or family who have camping equipment you don’t use anymore, we’d love to have it!).  I’m leaning toward the point system, because we already have established limits on tv and computer time.  Plus it gives us more flexibility to reward him with something he is interested in at that time.  And I just like traveling and camping. 😉

Anyway, I’m adding some of the homeschool sites I’ve been looking through to my list of links at the bottom of the page.

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Homeschool Curriculum

Posted on March 3, 2009. Filed under: Homeschool |

I said earlier that I would post the 1st grade curriculum we are using this year, along with the prospective curriculum I have put together for next year, so here they are:

First grade:

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Bauer and Jessie Wise – overall curriculum and homeschooling guidance
Saxon Math 1 – math
Spelling Workout A – spelling
First Language Lesson for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise – grammar, supplemented by grammar     worksheets from various online resources
Webster’s Third Collegiate Dictionary – dictionary work (learning alphabetical order and how to look things up)
The Story of the World Volume 1 – history, ancient times
The Kingfisher First Animal Encyclopedia – science
The Kingfisher First Human Body Encyclopedia – science
Green Thumbs by Lauire Carlson – science

art classes and additional science classes through the local homeschool group’s coop program

Second grade:

The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Bauer and Jessie Wise – overall curriculum and homeschooling guidance
Singapore Math – math, starting with 1B and hopefully going all the way through 2A and B
Spelling Workout B – spelling
First Language Lesson for the Well-Trained Mind by Jessie Wise – grammar, supplemented by grammar worksheets from various online resources
Zaner-Bloser Grade 2c Student Book – cursive handwriting
The Story of the World Volume 2 – history, The Middle Ages
Usborne First Encyclopedia of Our World – science, supplemented by experiments from Digging in the dirt: Earth Explorations
Usborne First Encyclopedia of Space – science, supplemented by activities from Spotter’s Guide: The Night Sky

additional classes through homeschool group’s coop program, don’t know yet what will be available

The 2nd grade stuff is still tentative, but I am pretty sure I am going to try Singapore math as I felt Saxon moved to slowly for my son.  It gave a very good foundation, but it was very repetitive and he seemed to get frustrated with doing the same lessons so many times in a row.  I wound up having to set up contests and challenges for him, like how fast he could do the worksheets, to win prizes.  That has kept him interested for a while, but now even his desire for candy isn’t enough to prevent the complaints about how boring they are.

There is a website and forum associated with The Well-Trained Mind, and a lot of the parents there recommend Singapore math for a quick learner, though I’m told you have to supplement with the extra workbooks because (exact opposite of Saxon) they don’t include enough drills with the basic materials.  It is also tons cheaper than Saxon, which is nice since money is tight these days.  (There are things I miss about working full time, and that sweet paycheck is one of the main ones.)

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