2013-2014 homeschool 6 week update

Despite starting school way back in July, we are only 6 weeks through. Why? Well, we took 4 weeks off to travel in the UK (primarily England and Scotland). While it was fun, we also managed to get some relaxed learning in. We saw one of the original copies of the Magna Carta, several castles and ruins including the WW2 tunnels at Dover Castle, Stonehenge, some geology, and even went bird watching on Scotland’s north coast. Not to mention learning geography, culture studies by immersion, and a little foreign language (Scottish). There were train schedules and subway routes to figure out. Oh, Richard learned to do a very good imitation of the sound peacocks make and we even saw some cute, fluffy, peacock chicks while we stayed at Pendley Manor.

So now we’ve just been back at the books for one full week.

How’s it going? Overall, I’d say great! We are on more of a fixed daily schedule. Last year our schedule kept getting thrown out as business problems arose even early on. This year we are doing much better. Today, we even managed to get in some art doing collages in the style of Klimt. We are finally doing the Collage It and Paint It art packs from Art Academy.

Also we switched our schedule earlier since returning from England. We are now getting up around 6am and bedtime is strictly 9pm for everyone. When hubby starts his MBA classes which don’t get out until 10pm, we’ll have to see how that goes, but for now this is working. We seem to feel we get more done each day when we get an early start despite neither of us being very early morning type people.

Yesterday we signed the kids up for swim lessons. They are very excited. It’s been 2 years since last swim lessons. Then it was just a month in the spring. Hopefully this year we can get more involved in activities like lessons. The swim lessons will on the 14th. I signed them up for Tuesday/Thursday. There were other families with kids their age & ability so hopefully Karen won’t get stuck with preschoolers again.

Our school day usually starts with science. Monday and Tuesday is geology. Wednesday and Thursday is astronomy. I read the sections in the books then help them with any activities and discussions. To my surprise, my daughter (4th grade) did better on the first test than my son (7th grade).

Richard is doing much better with Christian Light Education’s math 700. He’s actually enjoying math again! He even got mad when we told him he could skip doing math one day :LOL: He’s figured out a way to schedule his assignments each day that doesn’t stress him out.  He does a hard subject, then does an easy subject and then takes a short break. Repeat that 3 times and he’s done for the day. This is something he figured out on his own and so far it seems to be working.

Karen is doing American Story 2 from Winter Promise. She’s enjoying the readings like last year. Once again, I’ve substituted the book War Torn Valley for the civil war coloring book and paper soldiers. While the battles were an important part, it’s more important to understand how the common people lived and were impacted by the war. This is from an Anabaptist/Mennonite perspective so it is a slightly less known viewpoint, but one I think is very important.

Another thing that seems to be helping is we are eating more healthy. Breakfast is usually oatmeal with fruit. Lunch and dinners are home made with lots of veggies. Tonight is a bean and rice soup with the last bits of leftover rotisserie chicken. Snacks are fruit or veggies along with some protein such as a boiled egg, a small slice of cheese, a handful of nuts, a spoonful of peanut butter, or hummus. We have cut way back on processed foods, but so far don’t really miss them. I bought a box of Kids Z bars for Richard when he gets fussy due to low energy. However, we haven’t even opened them yet.

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Starting the school year early

Even though it is mid-July, we started our homeschool year this week. We are starting early this year because we are taking a month off starting in the middle of August for our trip to England. So far, it’s not going very well. My son is having trouble concentrating. However, that’s not too surprising since he often has trouble getting back to studying after a break, especially longer ones. I also hurt my knee badly 2 weeks ago so haven’t been able to get to the store for all their supplies yet. But we have enough for now to get started.

The curriculum is great! K is liking the American Story 2, except we don’t have supplies to do any of the activities yet so she’s a bit frustrated about that.

R is needing lots of review for math since we switched programs. That’s ok. He needed it anyway because the other program didn’t cover all these topics very well. The history is not a Sunrise edition. It’s still the original version so isn’t divided into nice daily lessons. Instead, there are just a list of topics and the questions. We decided to cover 2-3 topics each day, which should get him through the workbook in about 2 weeks. There are 10 history workbooks for the year, so that should be fine.

We haven’t started the science yet, but will next week. I wanted to wait to make sure all the other subjects were going well. It usually takes us a week or so to start everything so the kids aren’t overwhelmed the first week. I’ve figured out we need to do 1 lesson in each of the textbooks every week to get through the new material. I’m still trying to decide how much to do each time to finish up the physics, but have allowed 1 day each week for it.

Today is Friday, so I may dig out the art kits. I’d like to do them more frequently. It seems art and things like that always get left behind as the year goes along.

Summer update and back to the books

Sorry for the long absence here. We have been busy this spring and early summer. In May, we went to Florida for a week vacation. Everyone had a great time at Epcot, Disney World, and Sea World. Pluto snuck up behind Richard while we were sitting on a bench taking a break. It was so funny! I took some pictures before he (Pluto) went to the group picture area where the line was about half an hour (!) for a picture. A stilt-walker teased Karen with a silk ribbon during a parade. We went to Cape Canavaral Space Port but missed the shuttle launch by 2 days. 😦 We also spent a day at the beach and got the obligatory tourist sun burn.

Then a week with everyone back in Fairbanks before I took the kids and drove down the Alaska highway to visit their grandparents in Washington state. 2 weeks of driving (1 week each way) for 1 week visit, but it was better than not going and still cheaper than flying. We bought a new tent and camped out all but 2 nights along the way. We saw lots of wildlife including mountain sheep and little lambs, moose and calves, bison and calves, caribou, deer (one walked right through our camp just 10 feet from the tent!), elk, a coyote carrying its meal of ground squirrel, ground squirrels, a wolf, and a mama black bear with 2 little cubs. We also swam in hot springs and visited some museums.

While in Spokane, we went to Cat Tails wildlife park and Richard hand fed a lion! That’s right, he fed a lion. The cats are behind a tall chain link fence. There is a small plexiglass cage thing with a small hole in it facing the fence you stand in. The trainer puts chunks of raw meat on a plastic skewer and you push it through the hole for the lion to take. I did one piece. You can really tell how powerful they are. This was a big male lion. We were told it is the one that roars at the start of MGM movies. Whenever the train whistles or an emergency vehicle goes past with the siren on, he roars so that must have been how he was trained.

Now 10 days with everyone here. Tomorrow I leave with the kids again. This time to Wasilla and Kodiak for about week.

As a result, we haven’t yet finished the school year. There’s still about a month or so left. I squeezed in 3 days of school this week, but will start again in earnest when we get back from Kodiak. The good news is that the books for this upcoming school year arrived while we were traveling. After finishing up this year’s school, Richard will move up to 5th grade and Karen will start 2nd.

I haven’t decided yet if I want to use the Christian Light Education math or Math-U-See for her. She seems to do better with more traditional style textbooks like CLE.

Here’s what they will be studying:

KAREN 2ND GRADE:

MATH: Math-U-See Beta or CLE math 200

READING: CLE reading 200- phonics, comprehension

LANGUAGE ARTS: CLE LA 200- grammar, punctuation, handwriting, spelling

BIBLE: CLE Bible 200- Old Testament

SCIENCE: Alaskan biology coloring book, CLE science 200 (birds)

RICHARD 5TH GRADE:

MATH: Math-U-See Gamma (fractions)

READING: CLE reading 500- context clues, figures of speech, poetry, inferences

LANGUAGE ARTS: CLE LA 500 – advanced sentence diagrams, verb tenses, subject-verb agreement

BIBLE: CLE Bible 500-Old Testament & maps

WRITING: Institute for Writing Excellence level A

SCIENCE: Alaskan biology written by my old college prof Ron Smith

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.