Monthly Archives: August 2010

Day 3- We’ve almost finished our first week!

We had another great day today! Elliot continues to impress me each day. He is such a diligent student. He is also becoming quite the little reader. We’ve done Bob books all summer and he flew through the first two sets of those and we are now on the third set. We’ve also started reading some “I Can Read” books too and he’s so proud that he can read “real books”.

We’ve had a chance to use both ”Explode the Code” and “A Reason for Handwriting” and I have to say that I love them both and I’m really excited that both of these turned out to be good picks. Since he was reading so well already, we started with the second book of “Explode the Code” and he’s already progressing in his ability to read longer words with consonant blends. I really like that there is a nice balance of reading, and writing/spelling in the lessons. “A Reason for Handwriting” is also just a really neat program. One things I love about it is the unique way it teaches children how to remember where each letter goes on the line. Each lessons starts out showing the letter inside a treehouse. Within the treehouse there is the floor, the ceiling, and the roofline. Some letters also hang down the ladder down to the ground as well. It’s a lot easier and less confusing than trying to explain “This letter goes up to this line and comes all the way down to this line…..and then you cross it at that line.” Also, after they have the letter formation down in Kindergarten, from first grade on up, the practice sentences they write are all from scripture, which I love! They practice the same verse throughout the week and at the end of the week they make a special copy written out in their best writing and they are supposed to send it to a friend.

We’re eagerly anticipating starting our “Five in a Row”. We’ve decided to hold off on that for a few weeks. Caroline will be going to a Mother’s Day Out program two days a week so that Elliot and I can focus more on our school work. On those days, we are going to be doing most of our “Five in a Row” stuff since we’ll really want to be able to focus and get the most out of it. We can’t wait to begin!

His handwriting is almost better than mine.

Another beautiful day=lunch outside! (and yes, those little pouches are technically baby food, but they are awesome for kids too! They’re organic, mess-free, and the only way my kids would ever consider things like parsnips and peas to be a “special treat”.

Enjoying a good book on the front porch

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Day 2- Testing out the routine

Today went very well! There were still challenging moments with my two-year old, but I expect that her and I are both going to be learning how to handle this for a while. Elliot and I are quite used to doing school work, but Caroline is still adjusting and we are still adjusting to having her around when we work.

I tried to stick as close to my newly created routine as much as possible to see if it was reasonable. As much as I like the potential for flexibility that homeschooling allows, I still have certain things I’d like to try to do every day in pretty much the same sequence. After we get up and get dressed for the day, we have breakfast together. During this time, we’ve recently started going through a family devotional book, and it’s already proven to be such an enjoyable and sweet time for us. After we clean up breakfast, we say goodbye to Daddy and shortly after that we do whatever is on the list of chores for the week. I’m trying to get both of the kids involved in what I’m working on, even though sometimes that makes it even more difficult when they “help”. Part of what appealed to me about homeschooling was the opportunity to teach the kids life skills and their responsibility as part of this family to help out, so I really want to make sure I am doing as much of that as possible. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that whenever I announce to the kids that I have a job for them, they are always very eager to do it. We’ve had no issues with complaining at all.

After our chores are done, we start our school work. We usually work until shortly before lunch time. At that point, everybody gets a little bit of a break and then I prepare their lunches. During the summer, I was reading to the kids from the Bible while they ate their lunch, but I decided that I wanted to try something new for the school year. Our new motto is “Jesus comes first”. Though I have their lunches ready, I keep them on the counter and the kids sit at the table and I read to them. This summer I created a bunch of mini Bible studies to do with the kids to last us through our first semester, so it’s been nice to have that all planned out in advance for myself. I have been so impressed that both of the kids, even my youngest, is willing to sit and listen intently and they haven’t complained at all about having to wait to eat. After that we enjoy lunch together, clean up, and then finish up whatever school stuff still needs to be done. Today we were able to take some of our stuff outside on our porch and enjoy an unseasonably cool day. We were done so early that we still had lots of time to play, draw with side-walk chalk, weed the garden, sweep the porch, and ride our bikes around a bit. I truly enjoyed our afternoon together so much! It really hit me that it is a huge blessing that Elliot could enjoy these things with us today instead of sitting at a desk in a classroom all day. I most definitely felt God encouraging me in our decision today.

Giving the tub a good scrub. Such cheerful little helpers!

“CHEESE”

What a beautiful afternoon we had!

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First Day of School!

Today was Elliot’s first day of homeschool kindergarten. It also just happens to be his fifth birthday as well, so it was an extra special day. I couldn’t ask for a better student. He is great at staying focused on his work and he does his very best. Our biggest challenge today was the constant distraction of my two-year-old, Caroline, who seemed to need something every two minutes, but hopefully once we get more into a groove, things will improve with that. He and I have technically been doing a lot of “school” stuff already over the summer, but we have always done it during her nap, so it’s something I’m still learning to manage. Overall, I think things went pretty well for our first go at it.

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Charlotte Mason and Reading Selections

Over the last few months, I’ve been examining a lot of different homeschool and educational philosophies and methods and one that has really captured my attention is that of Charlotte Mason. Though we won’t be following her methods precisely, there is a lot that I really like and hope to implement in our homeschool. One thing, for example, is that she believed in exposing children to only the very best literature and avoiding what she called “twaddle” or the dumbed down books. It makes sense to me now that kids probably do understand more than we give them credit for, and exposing them to good quality writing ensures that they are learning new things and being challenged. It’s been really fun for me to research and find different books to add to our “to read” list. Being the obsessive planner that I am, I have already compiled a LONG list of all the books I want to make sure we read to the kids or that they read themselves from now all the way to high school. I get a lot of excitement out of finding these kinds of books, especially old classics, to add to our collection at places like Half Price Books or various homeschool stores I’ve discovered.

In addition to exposing children to better books, Charlotte Mason believed that Children should be doing most of their learning from these “living books” rather than learning and memorizing a bunch of dry facts out of textbooks. I definitely think that makes a lot more sense. If something is exciting and becomes an emotional experience, you’re more likely to retain the information because it means something to you. I’m not completely against textbooks all together, but I plan to try to utilize a lot of “living books” to supplement our learning and make it come alive.

Though we haven’t even begun yet, I’m extremely thankful that homeschooling has become a part of my life because without it, I don’t think that reading aloud would have ever become so important to me and I probably would have never thought twice about what we were reading just as long as we were doing it occasionally. It’s fascinating for me to think about how different my children’s lives are going to be because of all God has taught me through this journey into homeschooling.

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Our Five in a Row Keepsake Notebook

I’ve been browsing the forums on the Five in a Row website and have enjoyed seeing how different families keep all their school related projects organized. Many people make lapbooks for each book they go through while others make notebooks. I decided one big notebook for our entire year of Five in a Row seemed more like my style. Efficiency and organization are things I’m passionate about! I also love looking back and reflecting on times in our life that our near and dear to my heart and I think it would be easier to flip through one big notebook rather than track down a million different folders and trying to remember which ones we did our kindergarten year.

I’ve created a section in our notebook for each book we’re going to read this year and as we do different projects and activities, I will place them in the notebook. At the end of the year, hopefully we will have a notebook filled with the priceless memories of the fun things we learned together. I can’t wait to get started!

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Target $1 Section=Awesome Homeschool Finds!

I absolutely love Target and have found so many cool things there for homeschooling in the last few months and I’ve recently just discovered how great the $1 section is as well! I’ve always just rolled right on past, thinking it’s probably just a bunch of junk I don’t want in my house, but lately I’ve begun to stop and browse through the stuff and I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by some of the things I’ve found. The big find today was these cool flash- card sets, each for just $1! They will go along perfectly with our Five in a Row studies since the books all take place in various states or countries and we will study each one as we read them. I thought the landmarks cards were especially neat, since there are plenty of those connected to the books, like the Eiffel Tower in Madeline and Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Another Celebrated Dancing Bear. My adorable knowledge-hungry son wanted me to go through all of the cards with him and read him the all details on the back. He is quite possibly the perfect home-school student because he is so open and ready to learn about all the world has to offer!

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