Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Trying and Testing

We have entered into our fifth week of school, and I've began making changes to our curriculum.  Maxwell (5) has breezed through learning his numbers, so I ordered him the same Math books as I am using with Maya (7), Horizons Math.  The two books will (hopefully) be here by the end of the week.  M5 has already finished 4 addition pages, and is hungrily asking for more!  I hope this enthusiasm lasts for a while!

One bit of information that I learned from this purchase is that waiting until late-August (or later if it fits into your schedule) allowed me to pay about half-price for the books I purchased, compared to buying them before our school year began.  I also plan to buy the same phonics books for M5 that we've used this year, so I will be watching the prices of those books to get the best value for next year.

For those of you thinking about homeschooling, I can tell you about one overlooked bonus - your house stays clean!  I know you think that having your children home all day will leave your house looking like a tornado has touched down in every room, but that just isn't the case.  The bulk of our day is spend in a structured learning setting, with scheduled lunch, recess, and activities planned into the schedule.  Your children are not running from one room to another just looking for things to do, which happens a lot at our house on Saturdays and summer days.  Plus, adding a chore for each child to complete into your daily routine helps to ensure that they are doing their part to keep the house in shape.  Elementary-aged children can:
  • empty/take out the garbage for pick-up day
  • sort/fold/put away laundry
  • dust
  • wipe kitchen counters
  • vacuum
  • make beds
  • straighten rooms
  • wipe down sink/toilet in bathrooms
  • clean the windows/doors with Windex 
  • loading/emptying dishwasher
  • setting table for meals
I'm sure there are more they are capable of doing, we just haven't found them yet.  Do you have any suggestions for chores/activities for elementary-aged children?  I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Weeks of School

We are now entering our third week of school.  To answer your question of whether our first year is off to a good start, I would give a resounding, "Yes!"  It wasn't easy learning to teach to our two children on two different levels (with a toddler in the background, I might add), but the Lord has given me direction and I am able to teach them at the same time without losing my focus.  With thanks to one of my sisters in Christ, I have found this verse to meditate upon for our school year: Eph 4:29 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." May the Lord bridle my tongue and use me to build up my children, as well as train them in the way they should go.

Our first unit of our year is the "Attentive" unit from the KONOS book.  (You can read more about it and the other books for our curriculum here.) We are studying our five senses, as well the expedition of Lewis and Clark.  It will be a seven-week unit in which we will spend one week on each sense individually, as well as an overall look at the five senses in general for one week at the beginning, and one week at the end of the unit.  We have just finished week two, studying the eye and sight in-depth.  The kids are really loving this unit, and I'm glad the Lord gave me this path to take.  (If you would like to have more details about this unit-study, feel free to check out my 7-year old's blog here. She "tries" to update daily.)  We have found some great exercises and videos online, and are looking forward to learning about our sense of taste this week.

When we begin our study of the ear and hearing, we plan to visit one of the free performances at the Singletary Center, which will have a full calendar once the college students are back full-time.  We're also hoping to visit the Hummel Planetarium in Richmond, KY for one of our weeks, but I'm going to have to make sure we don't have any belief conflicts before I plan that trip any further.  From there, I don't know where this unit will take us, but I'm very encouraged by the excitement I see in my children, as well as their desire to learn more.

Do you have any suggestions for our upcoming weeks?  I'd love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

We Dove Right In!

Well, since my first post, so many things have changed!  I traveled to Louisville, KY with a couple of other first-year homeschooling moms to visit the CHEK conference.  I absolutely loved it, and got a lot of encouragement from attending.  I enjoyed the Mom2Mom room most of all, where we got to ask homeschooling moms specific questions about their homeschooling experiences and methods.  It was that discussion that helped me decide on a curriculum.  I had been leaning toward a unit-study program, but had no idea where to start.  Most of the ladies that I had the pleasure to speak with in the Mom2Mom room used a Charlotte Mason/unit-study approach, and this helped me gain confidence to know that YES, I can do this!

So, I decided not to go with a boxed curriculum, and instead picked spelling, math, grammar, and other books based on each child, and their individual strengths and weaknesses.  I am also using KONOS to help direct our unit-studies approach.  From the books I purchased, I'm MOST satisfied with my 5-year old's Explode the Code, and my 7-year old's Horizon's Math.  These were perfect for them respectively, and I look forward to seeing their progress as the year goes along.  We bought several other books that I will talk about in upcoming posts.

In our first two weeks of school, we have seen some difficult days, as well as exciting ones.  However, most importantly, I can already see them moving on up the ladder as the build on each skill on a day-to-day basis.  I should also mention that although KONOS is great as far as giving you a starting point and a basic foundation of a unit-study, I have found that my outside sources (books from the library, videos online, electronic information) are what I use most when teaching for our unit studies.

And you know what? Worrying really didn't help or change anything, so why did I waste so much time doing it?!?  :)  May God bless you on your journey!