Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Popping in for a brief update!

So far, the beginning of our school year has been a little crazy! Last week what was supposed to be our first full week of school ended up with Mom being so sick she couldn't even get out of bed Tuesday and Wednesday! Add to that all of our outside classes and sports starting, plus mom wrapping up her half-marathon training, and you have sheer chaos!

But there have been bright spots amid the craziness! :)

The most important bright spot is that the kids are getting themselves up and ready for lessons to begin. They are getting dressed and eating breakfast, and Austin is even showering in the morning because it helps to wake him up. I've noticed this week they have been waking up later and later (except for Reece, but that's another matter), but we are still getting started on time!

Riley's glee club and musical theater classes on Monday are nice and she enjoys them, but it's very hard on Reece. We are gone for 5 hours, 1.5 spent in travel, 2 spent for Riley to do her classes, and another 1.5 spent eating lunch. I am doing lessons with her during the waiting time, and we got permission to use a quiet area of the building away from the main waiting room, so it is quiet. But it's still being out for 5 hours which is hard for her. She hasn't slept well since Sunday night, and I think the business is part of it. She was also very argumentative and cranky during lessons yesterday. I am praying that everything will moderate as she gets used to this new schedule.

I already dumped a curriculum for Austin. I was using Vocabulary Vine, which bills itself as a spiral study of the most-used Latin and Greek roots. But the method is a bit contrived, and when they defined "enthusiasm" as "a god inside" because of the roots it is derived from, I threw up my hands. I'm trying to help broaden Austin's vocabulary. That is absolutely meaningless and is therefore a waste of time. I've got to regroup on that plan. Maybe we'll use Spelling Wisdom for dication and copywork, and discuss it and use that as a jumping off point for vocabulary. I'm not sure yet.

Which leads me to my last point. I'm totally in over my head. I can't keep up with all the readings. I do fine with Reece's because I'm reading most of them to her. And I do well with fine arts because I read most of that aloud, too. Same with Plutarch, which is pretty much over everyone's head and we're using the children's version. LOL But I haven't found my groove yet on the other stuff. I'm lucky that I am familiar with Riley's book and I have the Activity Guide for Story of the World to help me. I'm not panicking yet, because I know it's still early... and I've got the half marathon and our beach trip looming over me. It's not a fair test of my abilities when I'm being pulled in a hundred different directions. I'm going to try to be patient with myself and re-evaluate in October.

All in all, things are starting out nicely!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A few words about the first day (or two) of school

We officially began our new school year yesterday which basically means everyone gets up and I take their picture outside and we start back with the same sort of schedule we use during Sun and Fun: reading, math, etc. As always, I start us with a great wake-up routine. This typically lasts about a month, and then we're all back to wandering around in a daze in the morning. But since we have so much to accomplish each day now, I really hope we can stick with it.

I told the kids that they will be responsible for getting up and getting ready to go on their own. They need to be up, dressed, fed, bed made, teeth brushed, chores done, sitting at the table for family lessons at 9 AM. I'm not going to wake anyone up. There are no real negative consequences for not doing this, except missing breakfast because lessons start promptly at 9 AM. I am really trying to get away from punishment-oriented parenting. I've basically presented it to them as I know they are capable of doing this and they are getting older and they can be responsible for getting themselves up and ready. There doesn't need to be a punishment because they will be doing it. I have eager expectations! LOL It feels "Charlotte Mason-y" but it may just be wishful thinking. So far, both days, everyone has been up and ready! Austin has even gotten up in time to shower, since he says that helps him to wake up.

So we start our morning with family lessons. These vary day-to-day, with the exception of Bible and Scripture Memorization. We're also doing morning prayers, which is a challenge for me because there are few things I dislike more than praying aloud, even in front of my children. Thankfully, Reece has been willing to begin our prayers for us each day! :) Yesterday our family lessons were mythology and art history. Today they were composer study and oral reading (which will eventually lead to elocution, in my dreams anyway).

Yesterday I asked for narration on the section of the mythology chapter I had read, from Bulfinch's Age of Fable. Riley gave a nice, detailed retelling of the major events from the story of Prometheus and Pandora. Reece pouted that Riley said everything she was going to say. Then I turned to Austin, expecting to get his typical, "Nope, nothing to add." Instead, he surprised me with, "You know, I'm reminded a lot of the creation story and Eden. Except that it isn't eating an apple that brings all the sin into the world, it's opening a jar. And Pandora is like Eve." I sat there for a moment in a daze. Austin looked a bit concerned, thinking he had messed up! LOL I was quite impressed at his evaluation and told him so. :) It made me feel like narration has really kicked in for him!

Reece and I did some RightStart math games to review what she had previously learned. She was concerned at first that it wasn't Friday, and she only does math games on Fridays. I assured her that we can do math games on any day of the week. She said that we should do our math games ALL the time since she really learns math best that way! :) I told her we could do math games as often as we want to do, but that we still needed to do lessons and worksheets every now and then! Today we did a lesson in the book, but we had to improvise since the abacus was in the RightStart box which was buried beneath all of the books I'm rearranging on my 2 additional bookcases! LOL She got to use the "math journal" for the first time!

Riley got a new desk for her room, as is tradition at the Black Pearl Academy when you begin middle school. My dh and I were talking about this last night and how excited she is to be starting "middle school". In reality, nothing has changed... she's in the same house, same teacher. I guess the new desk really makes all the difference! LOL Whatever it is, she is up bright and early and getting dressed and really seems to be making an effort to work hard. I sincerely hope that continues. Her academic load is heavier this year, and she has additional outside classes that will take a few extra hours away from home.

As usual, it took a really long time to get through just a few subjects. This is not unique to homeschooling, so I wasn't too concerned. We'll all get back into our groove, I hope. Or we'll make a new groove maybe? I posted on FB about how long it took, and Austin replied, "I could have done it in half the time but you were busy with the girls." That's true! He was waiting for me to finish up a few things to start working on his new Racing Math book. It turned out he didn't need me at all for the first page, and I felt bad for making him wait. I told him to go ahead today and start on his own and we'd discuss any problems he had. He did that, and missed two (the answers are in the back of the book). He was able to fix one but not the other. I looked it over and realized that he had copied the number down wrong, which made his math wrong. I told him that's one of the first places to look - transcription errors - when you are having a hard time figuring out where your mistake lies.

Overall, the first two days have gone quite well. I'm nervous about adding more subjects next week. I think I'll have to just keep it fairly light as we start all of our activities again, and see how it goes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

First Day of School 2010-2011

I'll add more details tomorrow! :)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Change in plans!

What?? "Already?!?!" you say. But wait until you see this!

Look what I found at The School Box today when I was getting posters and a new calendar for this year:

Racing Math: Checkered Flag Activities and Projects for Grades 4-8

Doesn't that look like so much fun!?!? So instead of the "Understanding and Solving Word Problems" series, Austin and I are going to do this Racing Math together! ;)

And when that's done... they also have Baseball Math! ;)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

School Year 2010-2011 Plans

I know you've all been checking my blog multiple times daily in eager anticipation of this post. What has all the agonizing and the planning and the stress been about? Has it been worth it? What is the end result??

Well, wait no more!

Austin (8th grade):
World History - Story of the World Volume 4, Modern Times
American History - Landmark History of the American People, Vol. 2
Geography/Time Line/Book of Centuries - from all content areas
History Tales/Biography - Across Five Aprils; Carry a Big Stick (Teddy Roosevelt); Never Give In (Winston Churchill)
Science - The Physics of NASCAR; The Physics of Baseball
Science Biography - Michael Faraday, Father of Electronics; George Washington Carver; Albert Einstein
Natural History - The Sea Around Us; School of the Woods
Literature - The Hobbit; Around the World in 80 Days; The Call of the Wild; White Fang
Grammar - Analytical Grammar, Season 2
Writing - Written Narration; Wordsmith
Spelling - Spelling Wisdom
Vocabulary - Vocabulary Vine
Critical Thinking - Logic Countdown (finish); Logic Liftoff
Math - Key to Fractions, Decimals, Percents (and Algebra if time); Understanding and Solving Word Problems

Riley (6th grade):
World History - Story of the World Volume 4, Modern Times
American History - Landmark History of the American People, Vol. 2
Geography/Time Line/Book of Centuries - from all content areas
History Tales/Biography - A Passion for the Impossible (Lilias Trotter); Carry a Big Stick (Teddy Roosevelt); The Story of My Life (Hellen Keller)
Science - Elementary Physical Science; Experiments Kit
Science Biography - Always Inventing (Alexander Graham Bell); George Washington Carver; Albert Einstein
Natural History - The Sea Around Us; Wild Animals I Have Known
Literature - Little Women; The Hobbit; Animal Farm
Grammar - Junior Analytical Grammar (finish)
Writing - Written Narration; Writing Strands 3 (finish)
Spelling - Spelling Wisdom
Latin - Latina Christiana 1 (finish)
French - First Start French 1 (first half)
Critical Thinking - Logic Countdown
Math - Singapore Primary Mathematics 5B/6A; Challenging Word Problems; Your Business Math

Reece (3rd grade):
American History - "Welcome to _____'s World" (from the American Girl company)
Geography - Tree in the Trail; Minn of the Mississippi
History Tales/Biography - Abraham Lincoln; Little House in the Big Woods; Little House on the Prairie; Understood Betsy
Science - Pagoo; The Burgess Animal Book
Literature (read-aloud) - Heidi; The Secret Garden; The Wind in the Willows
Grammar - Primary Language Lessons
Writing - Oral Narration; Copywork; PLL
Math - RightStart Mathematics Level B
Learning to Read - Sonlight Level 2 Intermediate readers

Family Lessons:
Composer Study - Bach; Brahams; Foster/Sousa/Gershwin
Nature Study - Astronomy; Rocks/Minerals; Climate/Weather
Poet Study - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; Robert Frost; Maya Angelou
Hymn Study - WOW Hymns (one per month)
Shakespeare - The Taming of the Shrew; A Midsummer Night's Dream; The Merchant of Venice
Citizenship - Plutarch for Boys and Girls
Artist Study - Winslow Homer; Mary Cassatt; Henri Matisse
Art History - A Child's History of Art: Painting
Art - Discoveries in Art
Scripture Memory
Bible - New Testament stories from the NLT Bible

Yeah, I'm wondering how we're going to do it all, too! :)

And the planning is done...

I wrapped up the planning today and started working on the assignment sheets for the first week of lessons next week. I'm looking at it and thinking the kids are going to flip out when they look at it. I can just hear it now:

"But I thought we start off with a light schedule at the beginning!?!?"

"This is the light schedule."


All that's left is to gather some scripture memory verses and search for some poetry for recitation. Longfellow is our poet for the first term so I'll start there. I'd also like to add folksongs this year if I can get through all the resources.

My next task is reorganization... bookshelves and desks and supplies need some serious attention! Our first day is a week from tomorrow!

This is why God gives you a husband! :)

Russ made an executive decision for me. OK, before any Girl Power readers panic - I asked him to! LOL

Our children will be on the same time period for history. From here until the end of time, or until Riley graduates and it's a moot point.

And he told me that I can't turn back! ;) He's holding me to it!

He's a good man!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Why is this so hard for me?

I've been so sad this evening. I am looking at our plans for this coming year and it makes me feel overwhelmed and nervous, and sad. I've had myself all worked up about keeping the kids all in the same history cycle, and even talked to Russ and my mom about it yet again.

But then I did a "search" in my blog for same history, combining history, and history cycle and pulled up years of posts where I've struggled with this one topic. Why does this seem to be a sticking point with me? Why can't I just let it go?

Why can't I just decide once and for all - same time period or not? It's not a life or death decision! It's not a deal-breaker! Either one will be fine for all of us. Why do I make it so hard????

Ugh. I'm going to go to bed.