Ready, Set, School!

The kids have both been begging to start school. My son went to visit his aunties last week. I told them we would start school when he got back. Well as soon as he got into the truck at the airport they started asking when we would do school. We usually start mid-August.

I was late ordering, but we do have enough things to begin, mostly finishing up from last year. So it looks like Monday will be our first day of school at The Kitchen Table Homeschool. Don’t you just love that name? It seems very appropriate because my kids always say they go to school at the kitchen table when someone asks  😆

Today I started organizing. Why was I still keeping my son’s old kindergarten workbooks since he’s going to be in 4th grade this year? Out they all went. In fact the stack was a foot and half tall of old workbooks and such that we don’t need anymore. Then I combined items from several different boxes into one double width box. His CLE workbooks are on one side and hers are on the other. After tracking down the other first grade teacher guides, I’m pretty much ready. In the process, I discovered the first of the two second grade readers and teacher guides are missing. I also realized I forgot to order the plan books to record the work they do.

I think it is important to start the school year off with a clean house. I’ve been sick this week so our house is rather messy. Instead of a mad dash to do it all at once, I’ve been doing it a little at a time throughout the day. I even prodded the kids to start cleaning their rooms.

We need to buy just a few school supplies. However, since we homeschool, we can still use most of the things from last year that are still in good condition like crayons and pencils. That’s good because money is tight right now and I don’t think we could afford a huge school supply list.

I’ve laid out the guidebooks and workbooks for Monday. We are all getting back into our earlier sleep schedule. The reward for finishing school will be a trip to the post office to see if any new materials have arrived.

Ready, set, school!

Ordering 2010-2011 homeschool stuff

I am working on ordering homeschool curriculum for this school year. I’m almost finished. Right now I’m still picking out what literature (free reading) books I want them to read this year. Since we have 2 kids eligible for the full allotment, we can get a lot of things. I don’t see how we can spend it all! Even if you include the items from Christian Light that aren’t re-reimbursable, I still haven’t spent even one child’s full allotment. It’s mind boggling how much money is spent (wasted) per child average for public schools, especially considering the poor outcomes that are more and more common.

I have  another busy year planned. We’re going to be doing math, language arts, reading, art, science, and history. As usual, I’m ordering from several different companies. They’re both doing physics from Exploration Education. Bible, reading, and language arts are from Christian Light Education. Math is from Math-U-See. Richard needs both the instructor and teacher kits but since Karen can use his old instructor kits, I just need new workbooks for her which will save me about $40.

Karen’s literature will be First Favorites from Veritas Press after she finishes Learning to Read from CLE. We have it already from when Richard did first grade. He really enjoyed it. She will be learning about communities, ways of communicating, and map skills for social studies.

Richard will be doing a writing skills workbook from Institute for Excellence in Writing. It’s a basic writing skills program which introduces many forms of creative and structured writing including reports, summaries, outlines, and poetry. Now that he has good grammar skills, it’s time he learned to apply them to actual writing.

WinterPromise has something they call Adventures in Sea and Sky which is a combined history and science program themed around travel by ocean and air. I will be getting that and the young learner guide so Karen can do it too. We hope to go see the space shuttle launch this spring which will be a great lesson cap.  I am not ordering the readers for it but am ordering some books from Sonlight that fit the theme instead.

Art this year will be from Safeway, of all places. This spring I found 2 art activity books that teach about different artists then students make something in that style. I found one for collages and one for painting. I may need to go to the craft store and get more materials since both of them will be doing the projects but there’s one set of books.

My husband and I had a good discussion today at lunch about scheduling school and work. We decided to get up this year 630 or 7. Then school would be at least until 10, perhaps even noon a few days since we hired the new secretary. This would hopefully keep work from interfering with school. Also both my husband and I want to take classes so if the entire family did school during the mornings it should work well. He even said we could put on our answering machine that phones won’t be answered until 10am.

Last year we tried just answering the phone during the morning and even that was too much of a disturbance, causing school to be disrupted, delayed, or even abandoned for the day depending upon what the callers wanted. I tried to resume school in the afternoons on days that were delayed, but the quality and quantity of work was much lower. It just wasn’t a good idea. School is best for us in the morning.

I’m starting to get excited about this upcoming school year. My son is out of town visiting his aunts this week. While he is gone, my daughter and I are organizing and cleaning the house, getting ready for school. Hopefully we’ll start mid-August. I don’t expect all of the orders to be here by then, but we have enough stuff to keep us busy. Plus, it is easier to start slow rather than delving into everything at once.

Just us girls

Early this morning my husband, son, and a guy who works for us left for Kodiak. They will be gone 10 days leaving Karen and I here to mind the apartment business with Sarah. This is the first time Richard has gone on a trip without me. This trip was a combination birthday present and reward for finishing first grade. It seems odd to have Karen here but not him. Its too quiet.

I was busy today so didn’t have much time to think about being alone until now after Karen is in bed. I made Richard’s bed with clean sheets and the summer blanket. Karen had a wonderful Parents As Teachers visit this morning about magnets. Then I left her with Sarah at the office while I cleaned carpets in an apartment. Sarah took her twins and Karen to Creamers Field where I met them. After dinner and showing apartments, I went to the dumpsters and cleaned out the car. It was getting pretty trashy inside. Karen said she wanted to go to the vacuum place (car wash) so we did and I spent a half hour thoroughly vacuuming out the car with their heavy duty vacuum. It looks much better inside now plus we found some runaway toys.

All that to say I’m lonely without my guys tonight. I miss Richard’s snoring and Ray’s bedtime chatting. However, tomorrow looks to be another busy day. Off to bed. Goodnight.

Possibly Related Posts?

I just logged into my site this afternoon and was surprised to see a listing at the bottom on my posts of “possibly related posts”. I did not put them there nor authorize them. I do not endorse any of these links. However the way they are attached at the bottom of the post implies that I do. Ugh! After searching the help, I found out this is a new feature by WordPress. Unfortunatly the default for “possibly related posts” is to show them. You have to edit a setting to switch them off. They don’t show up on the main page but only on the page if you directly click on the page or after you click to read comments.

There is no way to edit which “possibly related posts” you want on your blog but is all or none instead. I thought this is what categories and tags were for. If someone was interested in related posts, they clicked a topic tag. You got to choose what tags. Then your reader chose which tag and sites listed on the tag to visit. If you really liked a post you could link to it yourself in your post and the reader knows YOU are the one who chose to link to the site. You don’t have this control with “Possibly Related Posts”. If its irrelevant or personally offensive, they still show up by default unless you turn off this feature. Also, you don’t know the content of the pages where your posts may show up as “Possibly Related Posts”.

Here’s how to turn it off “possibly related posts”:

1. Go to your dashboard

2. Design then Extras

3. Check “Hide related links on this blog…”

4. Click “Update Extras”

This should get rid of them. It also keeps your blog posts from invading others as a “related post”, which may or may not be a good thing.

I am posting this with lots of different tags and in all my categories so others who encounter “Possibly Related Posts” on their WordPress blogs and don’t like them can know how to turn them off. I originally turned them off. Now I’m turning it back on and just adopting a “wait and see”. So far it’s noting really bad or unrelated. Time will tell!

4/30/08 Update:

I found a World of Warcraft link on my curriculum fair post. I won’t condone Warcraft (either directly or implicitly). Since we can’t edit which posts truly are related, I am now turning this feature off. The (supposedly) extra traffic isn’t worth compromising my beliefs.

Too many choices!

One of the great things about homeschool is getting to choose what curriculum and materials to use. However, this time of year, it can also be a drawback as you ponder the many choices. That’s my problem today, too many 2nd grade choices. As a result this is my third post about 2nd grade plans. This time I have the top 4 options laid out to compare. To add to my decision, Karen will be doing preschool and so I need things he can do somewhat independently while I help her.

We are almost finished with first grade. I think we’ll finish up in 2 or 3 weeks. Last week he worked ahead, eager to be in 2nd grade. I’m not too worried about finishing up the books since next year starts with review for math and language plus we’re switching to literature based school instead of textbooks for everything else. I mainly want to get more of the math done before quitting. We may do a bit over the summer so he stays in practice. End of year purchase deadline is the 30th. I have money left over from this year’s allotment still so I will buy a bunch of books and things to do over the summer.

The curriculum fair tickets came in today’s mail! I’m glad the curriculum fair is next week so I can see the programs and put an end to my debating. I really need to just go and look at the different WP programs and look through my friend’s Sonlight stuff to decide which would be best fit. They all sound good and interesting from the catalog. I’m not good at these kinds of decisions. Once I choose, I’m sure he will like any of them.

Lately Richard has started showing an interest in early US history. As if I didn’t have enough choices for next year. *sigh* Now I’m considering American Story 1 with LA2 plus readers and World Around Me (science) from Winter Promise. Abeka for Language Arts. Then third grade would be American Story 2 with Rock Around the Earth (introductory geology). We would do Sea and Sky for fourth grade before starting world history in 5th and 6th grades. Then perhaps American Crossing for 7th. Sea and Sky is really designed for upper elementary grades anyway so I don’t want him to be overwhelmed but I don’t want him to miss it either.

The 4 choices I’m considering are all about $700-$800. I can’t decide between WP or Abeka or both for Language Arts without seeing the WP books first. I would probably supplement the US History with books from Sunlight’s Core3 for things he was really interested in since those are harder books. I’m leaning toward WP’s science rather than Sonlight because we haven’t really done science yet and it seems to align better with the goals of level 1 & 2 science for his homeschool program. What he’s picked up has been unschooling so I don’t want to overwhelm him. If we breeze through it, we can always add something else if needed. This doesn’t include any Bible or geography yet.

I think we should also do art but not being artsy myself, I want something easy yet meaningful. I only did crafty art which I think may be why I don’t like regular art much. He’s done 2 years now of Abeka’s craft “art” so its time to move on. I am again considering Atelier Art. It is a video based art program. First they watch a demonstration then they do it. There are different age levels rather than grade levels. Each level has 3 modules which can be purchased separately or together. I may just get the first module of the recommended level and see how it goes because it is expensive ($55/module + teacher guide). They will be at the curriculum fair so I can see it then.

Choice 1: Total $782.95

Sonlight Science 2 (4-day) $142.95

WP Adv. Sea & Sky $459 + Young Learners Guide $19

Math-U-See Beta (std & teacher) $55

Abeka workbooks $107

Choice 2: Total $815

Math: $55

WP S&S: $459 + Young Learners Guide $19

WP LA2 CAW readers: $75

WP S&S readers: $78

WP LA2: $129

Choice 3: Total $700

WP American Story 1: $380 (history)

WP LA2 for AS1: $165

WP World Around Me: $100 (science)

Math-U-See: $55

Choice 4: Total $732

WP American Story 1: $380 (history)

WP readers for AS1: $90

WP World Around Me: $100 (science)

Math-U-See: $55

Abeka LA workbooks: $107

more 2nd grade plans

I need some advice. I am considering taking the plunge into literature based curriculum for second grade. A lot of this depends upon seeing the WinterPromise (WP) and perhaps Sonlight (SL) books at the curriculum fair at the end of this month. Second grade seems to be a gap for WP but I wasn’t too enthusiastic about SL or Abeka. I can’t wait for the curriculum fair the end of the month! My head is swimming with conflicting plans and ideas. Anyway, here’s my latest plan for next year. Any of you have any suggestions or comments to help?

Math: Math-U-See

Beta (2-digit addition/subtraction)

History & Science: Winter Promise

Adventures in the Sea and Sky with Young Learners Guide OR

Hideaways in History (may be too easy)

Literature: Winter Promise

LA2 readers for Children Around the World has lots of books I was wanting for this year as read-alouds (they don’t have LA2 for S&S or HiH)

readers for S&S as free-reads

Language Arts: Abeka or Winter Promise LA2

He’s not really enjoying Abeka anymore so I may switch to WP for all of Language Arts rather than just literature. He’s learned a lot with Abeka though. I need to look at the WP books at the curriculum fair and compare them to Abeka before deciding. I want him to learn but not be frustrated. Abeka has such a wonderful concentrated phonics program for K and 1 that I don’t think he needs half the books from the WP LA2 but some like the parts of speech/grammar sound like just the thing for him. Perhaps if I selectively order and use WP? I think he’s starting to tune out Abeka because it is soo repetitive. He needs something fresh. He devours books so we don’t need much for phonics aside from spelling tricks. Exposure to reading real books has greatly helped in this aspect over just using the traditional leveled readers and phonics “books”. So Abeka has been useful in laying a foundation for reading success, but I think it is time to move on. Can anyone help here?

If we do this with both reader sets, it will be a bit more expensive than I last estimated but should be more fun.

Math: $55

WP S&S: $459 + Young Learners Guide $19

WP LA2 CAW readers: $75

WP S&S readers: $78

WP LA2: $129

You may also want to check out my post on literature based curriculum.

Anyone have any useful thoughts of the similarities/differences between Abeka and WP for 2nd grade LA? What about S&S for 2nd grade? Has anyone switched from Abeka LA? If so, why?

no added science

I talked to my school and she said that the families which are using Winter Promise usually don’t have a separate science program. Since the Sea and Sky is supposed to include science lessons, I am leaning away from Sonlight science next year. I don’t want to overwhelm him.

2nd grade plans

3/20/08 2nd grade plans

I’ve been looking into second grade (and beyond). I want to layout what social studies he should do when so we don’t duplicate or leave anything out. I have some gaps and some that I’m not sure about but have a basic idea of what to cover which years. Second grade was one of the gaps. I don’t think he’s ready for a traditional history study but is too advanced for some of the basic intro studies. I like using individual books instead of big textbooks. He seems to stay better interested.

I looked through several catalogs for low/mid elementary history and didn’t find anything that really seemed a good fit until I tried Winter Promise. Beside the traditional history breakdowns they have something called Adventures in the Sea and Sky about ships and planes. Its designed for 4-6 grades but there is a separate guidebook for adapting it to lower grades. Richard is really into planes and ships now so I think we’ll try it. It uses mostly real books rather than text books.

Some of their traditional histories are similar to Sonlight so I may be able to combine them starting with US History 1 for 3rd grade. I don’t like some of the “random” books Sonlight throws in that don’t seem to have anything to do with what is being learned. Winter Promise seems better at staying on topic and often uses several of the same books. I’m considering going with Sonlight for science. They will cover geology, biology, and mechanical technology. That will be a good continuation of what we learned this year. I also made a list of what fiction books I’d like him to read before he graduates (almost 100!). I then tried to match them to the social studies for the year.


If we do all of this the cost will be:

Science: Sonlight 2 (4-day) $142.95

Winter Promise Adv. Sea & Sky $459

Math-U-See Beta (std & teacher) $55

Abeka workbooks $107