09-10 homeschool 2 month update

Where did the last 2 months go? It seems time just flew by. We got off to a bit of a rough start as the kids settled into school. Recently, they were sick then I went away for a 3 day weekend, so we’re a few days “behind”. I try to do school 5 days/week, but that doesn’t always happen. That’s ok since it all works out somehow in the end.

Karen’s kindergarten is great. We’re only on lesson 13 because she needed extra time on some days for review.  We haven’t been making the alphabet book recently. I’ll probably have her do the letters we’ve covered recently as a fun review. She’s starting to get the idea of sounding out words. It’s not as frustrating for her anymore. She’s really enjoying math and insists on doing all 6 pages in each lesson. She’s also doing Beginning Readers, puzzles, and other learning manipulative games.

Richard is finally settling in and getting his work done without too much hassle. We do have to give him rewards like computer time if he finishes all his school on time. Hopefully staying on task will become habit soon.

The math arrived and he’s doing well with multiplication. I’m glad they already explained things like 7×5 is the same answer as 5×7. I never learned that until algebra in high school and so struggled to learn all the multiplication table when really you only need to learn half. I’m following the same 2 day schedule as last year with new material on Tuesday and review on Thursday. I let him choose which review page to do in the lesson.

Science arrived (finally). We’re having fun learning about physics. He’s wanting to skip around which is hard to do this year. He needs to learn things in order or we have to fill in a lot of gaps which is frustrating. If we go in order, it works much better. Plus, it teaches him patience to wait for topics. We did do wheels, axles, and gears out of order first though because I wanted to ride bikes and knew it would be too late in the winter if we waited. I’ve somewhat coordinated the two programs and their labs.

We’re starting the Civil War and Western Pioneers as we finish American Story 1 for history. We’re not studying pioneer life much since we do many of the same things in our everyday life like heat with firewood, large gardens, conserve water, etc. It’s very similar to the subsistence/homestead lifestyle many Alaskans live today. We read Little House on the Prairie as a read aloud over the summer which we all enjoyed.

This week he’s reading a book about the Underground Railroad called Freedom Crossing. After that I’m going to have him read a book about Mennonites in the Shenandoah Valley at this time called War Torn Valley. It’s a very well written story giving more daily life details rather than battles like most history books focus on. It also gives a third perspective of the war, that of conscientious objectors. When we study WW1, I ‘m going to have him read about conscientious objectors in a military camp called Report For Duty. It also talks about the flu pandemic of 1818.

American Story 2 arrived. I’m not sure how the transition between AS1 and AS2 will be. It looks like more great reading and activities, although I haven’t looked over the teacher guide yet. One of the activites is panning for gold. It come with a rubber gold pan and some sand with mineral flakes in it. However, there are many places nearby where we can pan for real.

We had our planning meeting with the school district last week. Karen is officially pre-k so she has no specific goals. Richard’s goal for this school year is to learn to type. Rather than a typing program (although I may need to add one if he’s not making progress), I’m going to have him learn by typing his spelling, writing letters and stories. This fits in with his technology and some of the language arts standards.

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A new color: white

Last night we were introduced to a new color: white. I don’t mean we studied white for kindergarten homeschool. No, I mean white as in snow. That’s right, we are having our first snow of the year. It is a week earlier than last year.

It started yesterday late morning with rain/snow mixed then turned to snow overnight. This morning we awoke to about an inch of snow on our porch and in the woods with more still falling. I let the kids take a break from their schoolwork to play outside. They had fun making snowballs. Richard also rode his bike.

It’s letting up now and expected to quit by noon. Nothing is sticking to the roads so driving is still good. They are wet but not icy. Temperatures are around freezing with highs supposed to be near 40 so I don’t expect this snow to stick around very long.

More snow is in the forecast starting Friday through the weekend. The organizational meeting for this winter’s junior dog mushers is Saturday.

Quick trip to Kodiak

I’m off early in the morning to spend the weekend at Kodiak where I’ll check on the boat and make sure it is ready for winter. I was originally scheduled to leave at noon and arrive in Kodiak around 3pm with 45 minute layover in Anchorage. However, the second airline changed the departure time earlier, leaving me just 30 minutes layover. Now, the Anchorage airport is pretty small and I’d probably be ok, but it’s illegal and I was forced to change my flights. I could either go later and arrive around 11pm or earlier and leave at 6am. Not very good either way. I decided to go earlier.

We were very careful in scheduling my tickets so that I’d only have to rent a car for 2 days. The change in times means I could either add another day for the car rental or twiddle my thumbs at the Kodiak airport for 5 hours *ugh*. Needless to say, I got another day of the car. I’m hoping I can talk the airline into a discount on my next flight for the hassle since it was their fault.

I’d better head to bed early tonight since my friend will pick me up at 430 in the morning to take me to the airport. I’ll be back on Monday evening. If you leave me a comment over the weekend, I’ll respond when I get back or Tuesday.

Homeschool socialization

But what about socialization? This is a major concern of those who don’t homeschool. Their concern is that by not being around same age peers most of their day, homeschool children will somehow become social misfits, unable to function around others.

In fact, the opposite is true. Homeschool children aren’t limited to only same age peers, therefore, they are better able to relate to people of all ages. They are less influenced by peer pressure. They are better able to make decisions based upon their own values rather than expectations of their peers.

There is a critical difference between being social and socialization. Being social is how a person relates to others of all ages. Being social is partly genetic, but can be influenced by their environment. As parents, we can gently encourage a person who is shy to be more comfortable around groups of people by controlling what groups the child will be in. An outgoing child, usually won’t become shy by being homeschooled.

Being socialized is knowing how society expects a person to act in a given situation. We are socializing kids in public schools, not necessarily making them social. It is through socialization that most children learn bullying, prejudice, stereotypes, and peer pressure. Socialization teaches what society in general wants people to do, not necessarily what they should do. It does not take into account individual morals, but rather replaces them with group think morals (for better or worse). It changes with society and culture.

For instance, society expects rebellion in teenagers and portrays them as such. Therefore, by rebelling, teenagers are just subconsciously fulfilling society’s expectations learned through socialization. There is nothing inherent in teenage rebellion. Homeschools have the opportunity to guide teens toward independence and can better accommodate any issues they may have which could otherwise result in rebellion. I’m not saying homeschool teens never rebel, just that they are less likely to do so or to do so in a dramatic way.

Homeschool does not mean the children stay home all the time. There are numerous opportunities for homeschool children to be around other people, just not necessarily their same age peers. We take our children shopping, to parks, and have play dates with other homeschool families. Their are classes on science, writing, and other subjects to give exposure to cooperative learning designed for homeschools. Plus, they have neighborhood friends. Children do not need to be constantly surrounded by those of the same age to become well adjusted adults. In fact, those who were homeschooled are better adjusted to life after high school because they have more life skills and are better able to interact with people of all ages.

It is through constant, unstructured exposure to peer groups in schools that an outgoing child will become shy as they experience the negatives of socialization. The shy child is even less likely to “get over it” in this setting. These children may be forced outside the group. This is what makes your social misfits.

I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to understand how to be polite and thoughtful toward others. I want them to be strong in their values, not changeable with those of society. I want them to be social, not socialized.

Sick boy

My son is sick today. He had a dry throat Sunday at church. Yesterday he stated coughing and had a stomach ache. Then a fever started last night. He woke up several times needing a drink of water. I also gave him some cough medicine at 2am. He’s happy but still sick today. I’ll try to have him rest today and hopefully take a nap this afternoon.

His sister went with his dad this morning to run errands. They’re bringing Taco Bell home for lunch. Hopefully the rest of us won’t come down with it.

I don’t know if this is a cold or flu. There’s a lot of flu going around recently.  No sense going to the doctor and exposing him to more sick people just to tell us if it’s the flu or not unless he gets significantly worse. It doesn’t matter. I’ll still treat it the same way: rest, soft foods, Coke for upset stomach, get well tea and lots of fluids, cough syrup when the cough gets bad. Fever is actually a good thing since its the body’s way to fight infections. I’ll monitor it and give Tylenol if it gets too high.

My husband says we’ll probably need to stop going to church and other public meetings for the winter. Limiting when we come into contact with others, the less chance of getting sick. We’re exposed to the public a lot already from showing apartments to strangers and dealing with tenants. It seems to help some. Our friends who don’t limit their winter outings get sick a lot more than we do.

Fun with science: gears, wheels, axles

The science order from Rainbow Resource arrived today. Yeah! It looks just perfect for us this year. We’ll be studying matter & physics for science and the human body for health.

Rather than just reading the books and taking tests or doing worksheets, we will be making practical applications whenever possible. So today we started playing with science. He read 2 lessons in Machines & Motion on axles, wheels, and gears. We then examined several examples of gears in a music box before going  outside. We looked at the different gears on his bicycle and discussed why the front and rear gears are different sizes. Then we went into the garage to look at the various gears on my mountain bike. We discussed how different combinations of gears would be useful. He then got to explore how his gears work for 20 minutes (ride his bike). Tomorrow he will look at and diagram the an auger and gears in a coal heating system.

We will be using books from 2 sets which compliment each other well, God’s Design and Real Science 4 Kids. I really like how the God’s Design series are laid out. Each subject like chemistry, biology, physics, etc is broken down into 3-4 smaller texts. They’re now in color. For this year we have Heat & Energy, Machines & Motion, Properties of Matter, and Human Body. The covers are color coded so you can tell which belong to what set. Each lesson has vocab words, fun facts, and investigations to do. Plus, they’re multi-age depending upon how you use the information so Karen can get an introduction from the Beginners pages to concepts at the same time Richard gets more detail in the regular lesson plus there’s challenge questions to stretch him.

From RS4K we have Physics Level 1 which has 10 chapters with experiments and write-ups. There’s also activities in the God’s Design books that are a lot of fun playing with science. They both have a Biblical view backed by mainstream scientific facts.

We do reading, language arts, and handwriting every day. Then we do focus subjects the rest of the day. That way we can spend more time rather than little bits each day of everything. I haven’t quite figured out what each day will be. Tuesday and Thursday are math. That leaves science/health, history, and Bible. I will probably double up on those so each gets covered at least twice a week. Which days would depend upon his interests. We may rotate by weeks if it’s something he’s really interested in.

New patterns

Tonight I decided to buy a cape dress pattern. I need winter dresses but all that seem to be on E-bay are cotton. However, I’ll need more than a cotton dress for Alaskan winters at -40F. So, I’ll make my own from wool, flannel or knit. They’re pretty similar to the dress I just made for my daughter only larger and with the cape. The ladies at church have been encouraging me to sew for myself and complimented some of the cape dresses I’ve worn, which gives me an idea of what colors would look nice. Sewing is something my husband doesn’t mind me doing in my spare time either.

I looked at several different sites before narrowing down to 2 choices: Friend’s Patterns (#205 Contemporary Plain Dress) or Candle on the Hill (Ladies Simply Modest Dress). They both sound similar in included directions and options like elastic, sleeves, collars, etc. The Friend’s Patterns says their cape dress pattern has been used with CLE dressmaking lightunit. I have those and used them to help make my daughter’s dress. It was $15 with each size sold separately. However, Candle on the Hill included all sizes for only $4 more so I went with them since I’m supposedly loosing weight. It even has pockets. I also bought their girl’s nightgown pattern set and leggings which has patterns for every size from girls to women.

I cut out the pieces for another dress for my daughter tonight. She decided she wanted a pink zipper but the one I bought was too short. I’ll have to exchange it. I did use it to play with my new zipper foot (without the thread of course since I’ll be taking it back). That should help with the pucker and uneven stitches on the last dress. It’s kind of hard to put it on, but it sure will be nice if I’m going to be making more dresses.