Monday, July 27, 2009

Being strong and courageous

As I sat yet again with my school plans before me this morning, a verse that I had memorized for a Bible study a few years ago came to mind:

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

I thought that was pretty interesting, considering it was the word terrified that I used in my last blog post.

So I'm going to print that out, along with a couple of other helpful verses (suggestions anyone?), and put them in the front of my notebook. And I'm going to try to be strong and courageous and just move on with the plan that I felt led to develop for our coming school year. And I need to trust that if there are changes that need to be made as we go along, God will reveal them to me (if I stop trying to control everything and listen to Him).

Yes, it's still scary. And yes, I'm still worried that I don't have what it takes to do it well. And yes, I'm afraid of messing up the kids. But until I really give it my best effort, I won't know.

And it's not like I'm off to battle the Philistines or something. I've just got to educate my kids.

(OK, this funny picture just popped into my head of me standing on a hill with books in hand and my kids are standing on the other hill glaring at me! LOL)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Shaking in my Crocs sandals

I'm looking at my nearly completed plans for this coming school year and I'm scared to death.

TERRIFIED.

I'm worried about how I'm going to keep up with everything! Three kids doing everything individually... that's a LOT of reading I have to keep up on.

I'm worried about trying to teach spelling with studied dictation - last year, I ended up skipping it because we'd run out of time.

I'm worried about not teaching Riley grammar this year, and about not starting Reece in grammar.

I just don't think that I have what it takes to really implement a CM education effectively.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A system or a method?

Last week I read what is perhaps the greatest article about homeschooling that I have read in my 7 years of homeschooling: A System or a Method? from Simply Charlotte Mason. I especially chuckled at this quote:
"We want the 283 easy steps to an educated child. "

Yep, that's exactly what I want! LOL

Yet, I know in my heart that it's just not possible, especially with children who have special needs.

I get very wrapped up in following a system... because I feel like if I follow it, it'll be the "283 easy steps to an educated child." I don't like to deviate, even when I feel uncomfortable, for fear of messing up the steps.

But in the end, it's the methods that really make the difference. Ambleside... Well-Trained Mind... Simply Charlotte Mason... they are all systems. They are all good systems, but I can't be so ingrained in them that I forget that I'm teaching children. Real people who don't always fit into systems. And that's OK! It's the methods that matter in the end!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Harry Potter at midnight!

My mom and I took Riley to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for the midnight showing on Tuesday night!




Great movie! Will do a review soon!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Masterly Inactivity

Yesterday, because of the storms in the area, we couldn't go to the pool. So Riley got out her sewing bag and began to stitch. She ended up making this beautiful pillow with her name on it!

Today, we were faced with more storms. Reece was lamenting the fact that she doesn't have any clothes for Knuffle Bunny! Riley asked for my sewing box, and got to work. When she was finished, Knuffle Bunny had a beautiful new dress!
She even sewed on velcro closures in the back!
She even sewed on velcro closures in the back!
A very happy little sister holding beautiful Knuffle Bunny who is wearing her new dress!

Friday, July 03, 2009

A family rhapsody

Yesterday was a really great day with the big kids while Reece was at her last day of art camp. And speaking of art camp, her picture was featured on the front page of our local newspaper when they did an article about the camp. You can read the article and see her picture here. Austin and Riley and I went to IHOP for brunch, and then went to the bowling alley to use our free game coupons from kidsbowlfree.com. I decided to bowl with the kids, which no longer made it a cheap event, but was a lot of fun!

I was amazed at the differences in Austin since the last time I took him bowling. He doesn't like to use the bumpers, because he thinks that's too young for him. But that means that he gets some gutter balls. And that used to provoke tantrum behaviors, which is pretty embarrassing when it's a kid whose voice while having the tantrum is deeper than mom's voice. It was stressful, to say the least.

But yesterday, he handled his gutter balls with ease, and when he knocked down all pins but one for the 3rd time in a row, he didn't lose control... but joked that he must be cursed! I claimed that the pin must have glue on it, because it was the same pin each time. Finally, towards the end of our 2nd game, he finally knocked them all down! He was pleased, especially since Riley and I had already had strikes ourselves! Bowling was fun, relaxing, and enjoyable... like it's supposed to be with a 10 year old and a 13 year old!

Then he continued to shock me while we were in line to pick up Reece from camp. We like to listen to classic rock in the car. Austin's a huge fan of the music that I listened to as a young girl, and even the stuff that his Nana and Papa listened to. One of our favorites, is Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. It takes all sorts of twists and turns, or like I always say: it takes you on a musical journey. As the song began, I quickly whipped out whatever I could find to use as microphones (drinking straws, a toothbrush, a hairbrush - not sure what some of those were doing in my van but oh well! LOL), and we all started jamming along.

Including Austin. The guy who doesn't like to sing was singing at the top of his lungs! The guy who usually claims embarrassment when Riley and I break into random song was having a blast with both of us! It was pretty exciting not only from an autism standpoint but from a teenager standpoint! ;) How many teen boys do you know who wouldn't mind jamming in public with their mom and younger sister?

I told the kids that we needed to video ourselves doing it and putting it on YouTube! Maybe we'll work on that next week! For now, I leave you with the real version from Queen! :) Rock on!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Our Academic Plans 2009-2010

I've agonized over this post for much of the last two weeks. That's why I've been quiet on my blog - didn't feel the need to put those of you who are nice enough to read my blog through my waffling! :) In the end, however, I decided to stick with the plan I originally designed a couple of months ago, which is Charlotte Mason/Ambleside inspired.

Austin will be using a modified Year 4/5, which will cover the early modern time period up through about the Civil War. His literature reading will include Treasure Island, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Captains Courageous. His biography reading will include Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, Johnny Tremain, and Of Courage Undaunted. Science biographies will be Isaac Newton, Alexander Graham Bell, and George Washington Carver. Geography will be reading A Child's Geography of the World by Hillyer, and then comparing the locations on modern maps and the globe. For science, he will use Apologia's General Science curriculum. He will begin Analytical Grammar. In math, he will finish Math U See Epsilon and work in Zeta at his pace. For a fun introduction to logic, he will use Logic Countdown. Copywork, Dictation, and Oral and Written narration will round out Language Arts.

Riley will be using a modified Year 4, which will cover the colonial/revolutionary period of American History. Her literature reading will include Robinson Crusoe, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins, Sleepy Hollow, and Rip Van Winkle. Her biography reading will include Poor Richard and Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution. She will read the same science biographies as Austin. Geography will include reading Minn of the Mississippi, and using maps and the globe. For science, she will learn about chemistry through reading Exploring the World of Chemistry and The Mystery of the Periodic Table. She will also complete experiments using a middle grades experiment kit. In math, she will complete Singapore Math 4B/5A, and perhaps begin 5B. She'll begin critical thinking using Mindbenders puzzles. Copywork, Dictation, and Oral and Written narration will round out Language Arts.

Reece will be using Year 1 as written, but I will adjust the pace to meet her needs. Her focus will be on biographies and famous legends. I will read all of her literature aloud. For reading, she will read from the Sonlight readers lists, Pathways readers, and anything else she wants to. For math, we will continue to work through Math U See Alpha and hopefully will begin Beta. Copywork will round out her language arts.

We will still do several subjects as a family. Our composer study will include Handel, Mozart, and Beethoven. Our artist study is driven by the local art museum, and will include Monet, DaVinci, and Michaelangelo. I plan to supplement artist study with readings from A History of Art: Painting by Hillyer. Our nature study will focus on reptiles, fish/amphibians, and mammals. Hymn study will continue by working through the WOW! Hymns CD. Character building will be with the book Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends. Poetry will use the book Favorite Poems Old and New for the big kids, and A Child's Garden of Verses/Favorite Poems of Childhood for Reece.

I am planning to begin our study of Plutarch's Lives, using a children's version. And we will tackle Shakespeare through Reece's readings in Tales from Shakespeare. I will also read aloud a more difficult book from Riley's year called Age of Fable, which includes tales from mythology (a favorite in our home!).

We will continue in our Latin studies, though I haven't finalized those plans yet.

I think I covered it all! Leave a comment if I've left something off! :)