Thursday, January 30, 2014

Spoke Too Soon

I marveled in my Year 5 post that everything was working wonderfully and we wouldn't be making any changes. Well, here I am to eat those words. Its really nothing major, just a pause, I think. Teaching Textbooks' spiral approach was moving a little too quickly through multiplication and we were having to repeat lessons multiple times with some tears and arguing with the computer. As ds was crying over the third time going through a lesson, I realized that after just two more lessons TT would be moving on to division. That certainly was not going to work.


So, we have set that aside for now. I've made a list of links in ds' bookmarks (found in Easy Peasy math 3 & 4) with activities to review some concepts I felt he hadn't spent enough time on, like fractions and word problems. And he is working on multiplication facts using Timez Attack. Math is pleasant once again. And in a few weeks we will resume TT, picking up where we left off. Now the problem is getting him to stop doing math long enough to work on some other subjects. I'm good with that.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ted Talk: School is Optional

This inspires me.
You will have to click the link. I can't get the right video imbedded to save my life. The above links to a TEDxTalk entitled "School is optional" by Ken Danford. He does not mean working, learning, growing, and maturing are optional. "School" as in the brick & mortar building we go to in order to sit in a classroom to be taught - that is optional. In other words "School" is not the only way to work at learning, growing, and maturing. You don't have to reach a certain age or achieve a piece of paper before you can begin finding your interests and passions and living your life doing those things.

This is something I tell ds from time to time and hope he will come to understand. He has spoken of possibly going to school for high school. If he does choose to do that, I aim to support him in that endeavor. But I want him to make an informed choice and know that is not his only option. That is why I've started this Pinterest board, collecting the many options we are blessed with in the area we live. This also will help me as we move into and through the middle school years to make sure we focus on what he will need to study by the time 9th or 10th grade comes around in the event he chooses public, private or charter school at that time.

He is not at all ready to even think of that yet. Right now its still a challenge to get him to think beyond video games and sports. Yup, life is all about the fun stuff. Oh to be a kid again.  ;)  But, I have no doubt he'll be ready when he needs to be ready to think about what he wants to do with his life. In the meantime I will enjoy him where he is as I help him learn how to put words together into coherent thoughts that communicate to others clearly, and understand how numbers work in life. We're taking it one step at a time.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Year 5!

And now on to what we are doing this year. And can you believe it, we're halfway through it and I'm not making any changes. Nope, its all good and we're sticking with it. I think that is a first!

So, first a little background before diving into the list. One of my goals for year 4 was to have him - I think I'll just start referring to him as ds as he's getting a little old for kiddo now ;) - ds, do more of the reading. Well, that was met with a little drama. All. year. long. "What? I have to read it?!" Along with this I realized we really needed to utilize audio and video more for his learning style. So I went in search of how we would do that. I could go on in some detail about that, but I'll cut to the chase. Can I just say that God is amazing. I really believe it is his provision that led us to Easy Peasy. Have you heard of that one yet? One of my biggest challenges in switching materials was matching up history, and Easy Peasy picked up right where we had left off. We are still using living books, with the audio and video and some interactive games all included. I'm still blown away when I see all the work that has gone into developing this free online curriculum and that it is just exactly what we needed.

  • Bible (Mon-Fri) - We started the year off with the SCM study of Hebrews, read A Case for A Creator for kids (which I would not recommend), then went into some Advent devotions. We are now following the Easy Peasy Bible reading plan, starting with the book of John.
  • Math (Mon-Fri) - I decided to present some options to ds and let him choose a math program. He chose Teaching Textbooks - currently using Math 4.
  • English/Grammar (Mon-Fri) - Easy Peasy English 3, continuing to use SpellWell B for extra spelling practice, and he's learning cursive this year with SCM's Print to Cursive Proverbs book. We'll finish out the year with some cursive copy work from CopyCat (free online).
  • Foreign Language (Mon-Thurs) - continuing some lite ASL using a DVD we found on Amazon (Everyday ASL), YouTube videos, and also Signing Saavy.
  • Geography (Wednesdays) - reading through two more H.C. Holling books, Minn of the Mississippi and Paddle to the Sea, and My World by Ira Wolfman.
  • History (Mon-Fri) - Easy Peasy Modern American History along with TruthQuest American History III commentary, and other books along the way.
  • Science (Mon-Fri) - Easy Peasy Chemistry and Physics.
  • Literature (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri) - in addition to what he's reading for English, we're reading/listening to Rip Van Winkle, Railway Children, Pilgrim's Progress in Words of One Syllable, Call of the Wild, Robinson Crusoe, Kidnapped, Men of Iron, and The Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare.
  • Character Study (Fridays) - a chapter of Created for Work, by Bob Schultz, each week.
  • Art and Music Study (Tuesdays & Thursdays) - Easy Peasy again, Modern Art and Modern Music. He also received a guitar for Christmas and will begin lessons this week or next.
  • Computer (Mondays) - we're using TypingWeb for keyboarding, and combined Easy Peasy computer courses (levels 3&4) to learn/review some basics of Word, Internet, and Power Point, and beginning programming.
  • Thinking (Fridays) - Learning to play chess, got that link from Easy Peasy Thinking Level 3, later in the year we'll use some logic games from Level 4.
There you have it. That is what we started the year off with, and will continue through with no changes. And I have Year 6 in the works. Coming soon.

On the Go, Go, Go

One thing I've always felt to be pretty important when home schooling an only child is to get out and get involved in the community. Maybe some kiddos are generally content to be home-bodies. But this one here in my house is a social butterfly who thrives on interacting with others. But I believe even if you have a natural home-body, its important to get them involved regularly in a group setting. Get online and search out your local homeschool groups and go meet them. In addition there is sports, music, dance, 4H, scouts, volunteering, speech and debate . . .

You certainly do not have to go join everything that you find and have something scheduled every day of the week. Balance is important. I have been guilty of that - even as recently as this past holiday season. If you have a quiet kiddo who prefers to be at home, probably just one or two activities is sufficient. My kiddo wants to do everything. So its easy to find ourselves over-scheduled. This is probably why this blog has been so neglected.

I'll list some things we've been involved in - homeschool park days (an absolute must), sports (soccer, baseball, and now football), Cub Scouts (soon to be Boy Scouts), homeschool PE class, Krav Maga class, volunteering at our local food bank, church activities, music lessons, and other homeschool group activities...

Of course we don't do all these things at once. Many of these are seasonal or only done occasionally. Krav Maga has taken the place of the PE class for now. And I have to say, sometimes you have to go create opportunities. We have never gotten involved in martial arts, as much as he wanted to, because of the other activities already taking up our evenings. But another homeschool mom asked at a couple of different places if they'd be willing to offer a day-time class for homeschoolers, and now there is a Krav Maga class we can fit into our schedule. My husband has started a conversation with another studio closer to where we live that may be willing to do the same in the future. So if you don't find what you are looking for, start talking to people that may be able to open those doors.

I wanted to put this out there because I fear many folks may be hesitant to consider homeschooling an only child for fear they may be isolated and lonely. But that certainly does not have to be the case. Depending on where you live, it may be a bit more challenging to find group activities or even to find the other homeschoolers out there. But from what I'm seeing on the various online communities and in my own local community, home schooling is something more and more people are doing. So I know they are out there even in your smaller communities. And it is so worth it to make the effort to find them.

You can start with online groups and often from there you'll find people local to you that may lead you to some groups in your area. There are pages and groups on Facebook and Yahoo, and the SCM board I have mentioned before, that are good places to start if you haven't found local groups yet. And you may have to start with the traditional "after-school" activities and see if you find some fellow homeschoolers there. But don't let having an only child keep you from home schooling if that is something you feel may be best for them for whatever reason. There are plenty of opportunities out there in every community for socializing. The main thing is to be involved in community, and you're good to go.

Another Year Came and Went

Didn't I just wish everyone "Happy New Year" for 2013? Well, here it is, 2014 and I'm saying it again.

To be perfectly honest, it doesn't appear I really have any readers here, so have to admit that I have slacked off in writing - a whole year, actually. But I've decided to stick with it for a couple of reasons. One, I might help one person out there by pointing our a resource we have used that might be just what they need. And, two, this is a handy place to keep track of what we've used and how well things worked or didn't work.

So, I'm back at it. I'll do a write up on what we're using for Year 5 and then how plans are coming for those good old middle school years. Its hard to believe middle school is just on the horizon. These guys do grow up fast, don't they?