Learning patience

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the most patient person. I get frustrated at little things that go wrong, only to have it work out in the end. I get frustrated at being frustrated. I don’t want my kids to be that way. There’s no need for it.

Today my son made a toy dog travois. It was a project in one of his history activity books. This was his idea to do. He gathered all the materials and did most of the work. I just showed him how to do the steps and got him started. It turned out good. He gave it to his sister to use with her doll house dog.

Part of it was tying the poles to the cardboard with yarn. There was a big jumbled knot of loose yarn attached to my skein. Grrr. We got enough cut off to make his travois. Then I untangled as much as I could close to the skein and cut the rest off. I gave it to Richard to untangle. He took it as a challenge. He then spent over an hour patiently following the ends in and out to untangle that jumble. He said it was good exercise for his fingers and a puzzle to make him think at the same time.

Patience like any other skill, can be learned with practice. As parents and homeschool teachers, it is our job to try to find opportunities to allow children to practice. They need to be allowed to fail in a safe environment with something that will eventually lead to success if they don’t quit. Projects like untangling knots or putting together jigsaw puzzles are great ways to do this. Make it something the child will enjoy or be interested in, otherwise they will learn frustration rather than patience. Be sure to offer praise even for small accomplishments, especially early on. This gives them the confidence to continue.

’08-’09 school’s almost over

We have just about a month of school left to do. Originally I had planned to be finished by now but with our unexpected long vacation, we got a bit behind. This post started as a comment on another blog, but I thought everyone may be interested in a wrap up of the year. I’ll probably do one more when we actually finish to let you know how the last few weeks went.

One of the biggest changes was switching from Abeka to Christian Light Education for language arts and reading. We started with just CLE Bible last year. Then we switched to CLE for reading and language arts this year and love it. CLE is a very thorough reading and LA program. I didn’t need to worry about spelling. I ordered another spelling program to supplement CLE but didn’t need it. CLE has 3 spelling lists per Lightunit workbook with 15 words each. Then each lesson has an activity they do using the spelling words.

So far we haven’t had the frequency of huge struggles to get him to do his work since using CLE. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have his bad days when it takes all day. We just have fewer of them. If he stays on task, he can usually have everything done in less than 3 hours. Sometimes he really zooms and gets it all done in less than one hour. Just getting started seems to be the biggest hurdle. Once he’s working diligently, he keeps going. He likes a 15 minute break between subjects if the lesson takes awhile.

CLE has a consistent work load. There’s enough variety from lesson to lesson to keep him engaged rather than just fill in the blanks like Abeka seemed to be. The major subjects are broken into 10 workbooks called Lightunits. Each Lightunit has 16 lessons, 2 quizzes, a unit test and a self check. We don’t do all the assessments though. We do one lesson in reading and language arts a day. This makes it easy to plan each day. We did this with Abeka too but their workload was less consistent.

I use MathUSee for math. I actually bought the CLE 2nd grade math to supplement MUS but didn’t use it. He’s making great progress with the MUS. He’ll do Gamma and my daughter will do Primer this fall. I like MUS because we don’t have to do math everyday for them to make progress and understand math. We usually do it Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I also added American Story 1 by WinterPromise for history/social studies. That was another great choice. He’s really enjoyed the books and activities. They’re challenging and engaging with enough variety to keep him interested. His favorite part is making 3D maps of what we’re learning. I’ve added and substituted few extra books but mostly use the ones from the program. The longer novels he usually takes a week or two to read. The shorter single topic books he reads in a day or two even though they are scheduled to take a week or more. He just loves to read and surprises himself when he gets to the end.

I wish I had kept on schedule better with the history. Toward the middle of the year we had many weeks when it just didn’t get done. As such we are only a little over halfway through. I’m not sure if we’ll finish over the summer or next fall. I want to get him American Story 2, which is another 36 week schedule program. It would be nice to finish American history at the end of 3rd grade.

Karen was doing preschool. She enjoyed listening to some of Richard’s read alouds. She finished the Beginners Activity Series and is working on the ABC series by Rod & Staff. This fall she’ll do kindergarten using CLE’s Learning to Read. Since they go from LTR into second grade we may take a year off from CLE after that for her and do literature then pick up CLE again as second grade the following year.

Science has been an on again-off again subject. Still, we have done enough to progress him into the third level this spring. This is where things get tougher. He starts to need to do more in depth investigations with write ups. I think the Real Science 4 Kids will continue to be a good fit. The biggest problem is I forget to document when we’ve done something so when it comes time to submit proof, we need to recreate it. I should try keeping a science folder for it.

Overall, this year has been great. The curriculum changes I made worked out well, with the exception of WinterPromise science: The World Around Me which was too easy. Starting RS4K got that back on track. I don’t plan any major curriculum changes for this fall. It’s going to be an adjustment enough having Karen doing kindergarten while Richard does third grade. I’m glad CLE is laid out to be fairly independent.

Teaching using CLE has been more fun for me too. Not only are there much fewer arguments for doing school work, it is easier to teach. The teacher’s guide is more clear. It doesn’t take an hour just to introduce every lesson like the Abeka did. It is fun seeing his enthusiasm for learning again. Giving him variety and seeing him catch on to the topic rather than just drill rules and memorization was just what we needed. Last week, my friend (who has several children she homeschools) confided to me that whenever she went looking at different curriculum, she kept coming back to CLE because she felt such peace about their materials. I would agree. I’m looking forward to starting Karen with CLE.

Fitness update 2009 #11

This is my first fitness update after returning from our cruise. I did meet my goal weight last month for those of you who were wondering.

I am at 157 today. To meet this month’s goal, I have to loose two and a half pounds still. I haven’t been very diligent about diet or exercise because work has been pretty hectic after getting back. Not surprising since I was gone almost 2 month because of taking the extra week to visit my parents. So I have some fitness work to do the next few days to get back on track.

The last few days I have gotten a lot of muscle work done by lifting 35 pound cartons of used cooking oil and dumping them into settling drums. The drums are on concrete blocks which makes the top of them almost level with my head. Each carton holds up to 5 gallons. We’ve processed 450 gallons this week. That means I’ve lifted at least 90 cartons. However, several of them are not full or unusable (still frozen) so in reality it is more like 120 cartons. A gallons weighs 7 pounds for a total of 3150 pounds of oil hefted. This doesn’t include the cartons we moved out of the way to set up a new holding tank. So, I’m rather sore this morning. Today we hope to do another 150 gallons if it doesn’t rain.

Along with hefting oil cartons, I’ve gotten some exercise over the weekend canoing. Ray figures we went about 4 miles total. It is a very still slough so we had to paddle the entire time. Great exercise for the shoulders and arms, especially the triceps. We will be planting the garden this weekend. We had hoped to also go canoing again, but Ray’s truck broke the water pump yesterday so we have no way to carry the canoe.

I haven’t done any cardio specifically. I tried to go for a walk last night but a moose was in the road just 3 driveways down from us.

2009 CLE ordering

Today was the used curriculum swap and ordering for Christian Light Education. There weren’t as many people selling stuff as the past few years. Still, the kids found a few things they spent their allowances to get. Karen got 2 wooden puzzles. One is ABC’s the other numbers 0-9. Richard got a 3D horse puzzle, a small toy tractor, a game, and 4 chapter books.

I did my order for Christian Light Education. For Richard I ordered 3rd grade Bible, reading, language arts and a handwriting workbook. Karen’s order saved about $35 because they had some returns which I took for half price. These included the 3 teacher’s guides I needed: Learning to Read, Reading 1, and Language Arts 1 along with many of the workbooks. Then I ordered full price the rest of the workbooks and other materials she would need.

One of the things I got Karen were letter flash cards. These are just plain colored cardstock. I can’t remember if I also ordered the fancy color printed laminated cards or not. I hope so. She can play with these but I want the others for her school. They have the letter, it’s sound and a picture on the front. On the back is a poem using the sound and picture.

I ordered teacher guides for all of Richard’s subjects this year. They include the answers. Not only will this help me teach him but he can start to grade his own work.

It was nice to see the family that does the CLE ordering again. While filling out my order, we had a nice chat. She had read my article in CLE’s Lightlines. They spent the weekend with some of our other friends who were also there. My friend (who has several children she homeschools) confided to me that whenever she went looking for different curriculum, she kept coming back to CLE because she felt such peace about their materials. I would agree.

Canoe adventure & garden update

Yesterday afternoon we went canoing on the Noyes Slough. With one notable exception it was fun. For those of you familiar with Fairbanks, we put in near Danby road and paddled up to the Illinois street bridge. There were a few log jams we had to plow through and one beaver dam we portaged over.

There was another beaver dam under the Illinois street bridge. We had just arrived at it and were deciding what to do when we heard a motor behind us. A jet ski pulled up a little ways behind us and stopped. We had paddled over to the side. He yelled at his buddy but he didn’t stop. There was plenty of straight water behind is so I know he saw us. Instead, the second jet ski zoomed by us, jumped over the beaver dam and kept going. We were nearly swamped. The slough is rather narrow there so the wake rocked us hard. Karen got really scared and cried for a long time afterwards. We all got pretty wet from the spray thrown up by the jet ski. Richard, Ray and I had managed to turn so it hit our backs but Karen was hit by the flying water right in her face. We decided to turn around and head back to the truck. The other jet ski rider apologized, but that didn’t change the rudeness of his friend.

Other than a few people in their yards, we didn’t see anyone else on our trip. The trip was a bit over 2 hours. We hope to go the other way down the slough soon.

After getting some business done, we went to the garden store Saturday afternoon and bought the last pots and tomato cages we need to finish transplanting. I transplanted 2 tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and flowers. We have some wire shelves which are just wide enough to hold a plant tray. We set them up out in our temporary greenhouse on the porch. Then we moved about half of the smaller pots onto them. We still have several pots in the house that didn’t fit. I went and filled the last 2 big tomato pots from the garden soil but they were heavy since the dirt was wet so I couldn’t carry them up to the house. We really need a wagon.

Today the plants are doing great. It was sunny and warm all weekend. They really took off, especially the ones recently transplanted. They were getting root bound in their old pots. I put 2 trays of smaller plants outside to begin hardening them off this morning. We will plant some seeds into the ground next weekend then do the pre-plants the following weekend when the danger of frost or freeze should be past. It was freezing in town this morning.

Homeschool progress reports

Progress reports are due to the district today for our homeschool. Rather than just listing each subject and having an arbitrary letter grade, Chugach progress reports list each individual target for the levels your child is in of each subject. The targets that have been previously met are already marked off. I go through and mark which targets he can now do. The report is 22 pages long. You only need to turn in pages where progress has been made. For us that is just about every page this time. Along with this they need a math and language arts work sample.

Once all targets have been met, I provide proof including assessments and he then moves up to the next level for that subject. I had previously submitted proof for his science but I got an e-mail stating that they wanted another assessment for science so I’m including that as well.

I really like doing school like that. It gives us direction in exactly what needs to be learned. Rather than just saying second grade math or reading, it is all laid out. I know what he needs to learn when looking for materials and curriculum. For instance, I discovered that the third grade Abeka health book I ordered does align with the standards he will be working on.

These reports and having levels with detailed targets do take more record keeping than traditional letter grades. I need to keep track of what proofs I have for each target. Luckily proofs can be used to cover more than one target at a time. Some subjects such as math, science, and language are rather long. Whereas other subjects such as technology and social studies may only have a half dozen targets.

Faith and works together

I have recently begun reading through the New Testament again. I haven’t done this since high school. I’m only halfway through the book of Matthew. Still, in those few pages, there is tons of instruction on how a true Christian should and should not live.

I am struck as I read through how some Christians and even churches take these verses apart, ala carte style as to which they will hold. Jesus himself spoke against this. All quotes are KJV.

Many know and hold Matthew 4:4 “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” [emphasis mine]

Matthew 5:18-19 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” [emphasis mine]

There are many who say that it doesn’t matter what we do or say as long as we believe because Jesus knows our hearts. I say this is a dangerous doctrine to hold to. It does matter. Jesus speaks of this when he talks about fruits of the tree in Matthew 7. Especially verses 20 and 24,26.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them”, We need to both hear and do. “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man…And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man” [emphasis mine]

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith until me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [emphasis mine]

Also, Matthew 18:7 “Woe unto the world because of the offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” Jesus didn”t use exclamatory speeches very often. This must be a serious matter to warrant such a harsh warning.

In Matthew 19:17, Jesus tells what must be done to have eternal life. “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

As for what you say, Jesus spends a good amount of time on this subject as well.

Matthew 5:33-37 forbids the swearing of oaths. Instead verse 37 simply says “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” In other words, don’t swear to tell the truth, just be honest and truthful.

Matthew 12:36 forbids gossip. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment”

Matthew 12:37 “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”

Matthew 15: 18-20 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart preceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”

So you see, it does matter. If it didn’t why would Jesus have taught thus? Righteousness alone won’t get you into heaven, nor will faith alone. Instead, both are needed.

How can you best know what righteous living entails? Read your Bible. The book of Matthew is loaded with how a Christian should live.In there you can find guidance for any situation direct from the Master Teacher. If you believe and live a righteous life as laid out in the New Testament, you shall be saved.