New Curriculum, Pajamas and Family

Another Weekly Wrap Up Post!

This week went by fairly quickly. It wasn’t an outstanding week, nor was it a boring week. But it’s over, and here comes family time, Peanut’s last basketball game of the season (whew!) and the chance to prepare for another week with my beautiful children.

Monday came the introduction of the new math program we’re using. School went well- and so quickly, and I’ve gotten completely sidetracked from doing preschool with Bubba.

Tuesday was the Pajama Party and movie day with our homeschool group. After trying to figure out the technology and which computer would work with a DVD and be compatible with the church’s AV system, we found that we wouldn’t be able to watch the VeggieTales movie that I had brought. No fear, though, we just streamed Netflix. Gotta love Netflix.

Wednesday came the next installment of our Pursuit-For-The-Perfect-Curriculum. Spelling Power arrived, and I kind of dove right in to the placement for Peanut. I’m thinking I’ll be giving the Manual an hour of my time this weekend and perhaps even watch the DVD that comes with it to explain the process. I’m fairly confident I’ve placed her correctly (I did follow those steps to the letter,) I just need to solidify my idea of how the program actually works.

Thursday was a different kind of day. I think the whole Nesting complex is combining with my utter exhaustion of this winter, and I wrote out a three page list of all the things I want done around the house. But I started in Bubba’s room. Shame on me for not taking pictures. But imagine taking out every. single. toy. from his room and piling them up in the living room. Picture a 4-foot by 3-foot pile about two and a half feet high. It disgusted me that he had so many things in his room. (I am so leaning towards minimalism sometimes.)

Then I vacuumed and shampooed the carpets. Then we went to the pile (and I had to stop Bubba from jumping into the pile for fear of hurting himself and crushing his things) and we organized everything. Peanut brought up two boxes from the basement- one for Doesn’t Belong in His Room, and one for Not Keeping Any More. We sorted all the things, making a pile for all the toys that went back in his room. Then we methodically placed his toys back. I dug out a basket for the cars, the dinos went back into their bucket, all the Pirate toys went on the correct shelves, and I brought back the toddler bookshelf from daycare days.

Now, his room is delightful and much easier to clean. We’ll see how it is next week.

Today was another up-in-the-air day. At 8:30, I called my sister to see if they’d had breakfast yet. Then I told her I was coming for her four year old, and I took him and my two kids to McDonald’s for sausage and the Playplace. They played for over an hour. I also met a nice lady with two little boys. One of which was a Cheetah who wanted to attack any children he saw playing. Fun times. I mentioned something about homeschooling to her, and she asked me some questions about it, saying she was thinking about homeschool for her older boy. I had the thought that I wish it were that easy to drop comments about my faith and witness to people like that. Because Moms who want to homeschool are almost like people searching for God sometimes. They’re afraid to ask, afraid to commit, afraid to jump off the public school bridge. If only we could be so bold to share a little about Jesus like we do with our school choices.

After McD’s, we stopped by the grocery store, and then home, where Peanut finished school in an hour. Wait, is that right? Yep, an hour. What did I do here? I switched math and spelling, and now school takes an hour? I feel like I’m missing something, or I’ve forgotten a subject somewhere in my closet… Maybe it’s because we’re nearing the end of our My Father’s World year, and things are just slowing down.

Looking forward to next week, and hoping to find ways to make it GREAT!

 

Adapting in Homeschool

A couple months ago, I started thinking about what our homeschooling day will look like next year. Bubba is going headfirst into pre-reading preschool activities, Peanut will be advancing in her studies, and there will be a new little munchkin to cuddle, feed, change and love on.

One of the decisions I had to make was in the subject of Math for Peanut. I had heard about Teaching Textbooks from various web reviews and from a friend who uses it with her seventh grader. The thought of a computer program doing the teaching for math was very appealing.

The website has placement tests (most math curriculums do for homeschool) and Peanut did exceptionally well on two different tests. I was confused at her placement in the curriculum, so I gave the company a call. They were extremely helpful, and they also suggested using the sample lessons on the website to give my daughter a feel for the program. Peanut loved it.

I found a Teaching Textbooks Curriculum Sale group on Facebook, and purchased the appropriate level at a discounted price. When I told Peanut that it would be arriving in the mail this week, her eyes lit up and she looked so excited. I looked at my husband and asked him if he thought we should wait until next year and have her finish the curriculum she’s using (I mean, there’s only two months left in our school year!) He said, “Not with that look, just let her start it.”

So with that, she’s started Teaching Textbooks, and she’s loving it. She’s working at her own pace, the computer is checking her work, telling her what she’s getting wrong, telling her how she should be doing the problems, grading her work, and keeping track of it.

I loved our old curriculum, and it challenged Peanut, but she started getting bored with it. I would find her staring out the window, doodling in her book, and not getting answers right because she just didn’t care. This new curriculum is cutting at least an hour (sometimes two!) out of our school day. It’s amazing the difference a little change has made.

I’m not prescribing it for everyone- not all texts work for all kids, but I would like to encourage parents to not fear change, no matter how far along in your school year you may be. A little change may mean all the difference in whether or not your child is learning something!

Rabbits Everywhere! Impromptu Writing Exercise

This Video is circulating around my Facebook Feed:

 

Peanut is a Rabbit Lover. We have a twenty-something pound Californian Rabbit in a gigantic cage in her room. Her “lovey” since she was born is a yellow rabbit (well, it used to be yellow-it’s well loved) named Hoppy.

I saw this video and assigned her the task of a creative writing exercise. It was cute and I thought she’d love it. After she watched the video, I told her I wanted her to write about it, and her face fell through the floor. NOT the reaction I was expecting.

*sigh*

She came back with five sentences squished together, no regard for spelling, grammar or punctuation.

Insert character lesson here. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” This is the verse that came to mind.

She came through, however. Not as wonderfully articulate and creative as I had hoped, but nevertheless, she did as she was asked.

I’m thinking creative writing assignments are going to be a struggle with this child. Unless I ask her to write about My Little Ponies or Ninjas or Rainbow Unicorns. She writes those in her free time. She even writes comics about them. Which is wonderful. And I encourage it. Those topics bore me to tears though. I loved writing assignments as a child. I loved writing assignments as a teen, and all through college. I even thought I wanted to major in English when I graduated high school. This child, however, has different interests. I guess we aren’t as much alike as I thought we were.

How WE Started Homeschooling: Part One

untitled shoot-24129I hear a lot of parents whose children are either in public school or just turning home school age that they don’t know how to start home school. Usually it’s coupled with a panic in their voice, or a distressed and overwhelmed look on their face. It makes me sad that the thought of educating one’s child causes so much stress in so many parents. While I can’t really tell you how to start home schooling *your own* children, I can tell you how *we* started.

But first I should start with the WHY:

Before my husband and I were even married, when we were just silly kids in love, talking about our future, and when we would be married, and if we were going to have kids, and what we were going to do with our kids, we considered home schooling an actual option. My husband was home schooled in high school. But not in the way you’re thinking. He was enrolled in some correspondence school, and from what he tells me there was little studying going on with him. That didn’t stop him from learning. He just pursued his own interests. He was very much in to computer programming. As a teen, he knew logarithms and algorithms like he knew his alphabet. He studied physical science because he wanted to. (weird, right?)

I went to public school all the way through high school. I loved it. I was in honors classes and I loved Algebra and English both. I had good friends who were home schooled that I had met at church. Very good friends. One of them is a Scientist at a local college back home who has been on so many missions trips and is involved in great ministries in her church, and the other is a Nurse who has looked to the Lord for guidance and just in the past few years got married and started her family. I look up to both of those beautiful women and I am so much in awe of the things they’ve accomplished in their lives.

Even though I had studied Early Childhood Development I college, my husband and I  decided to put Peanut in preschool at the local private school- more for (haha I can’t believe I’m admitting this) socialization- than anything. She entered preschool with a good attitude and honestly enjoyed going. We wanted her to be in situations where she could choose her own friends and learn independence.

We sent Peanut to preschool for two years. It cost a lot of money. Public school was not an option for our family, just based on the decisions we had made before we were even married. So, private school it was.

My husband and I still hadn’t completely decided what we were going to do with schooling at the time. Homeschooling was always an “option” but not set in stone. We were happy with the school, it was a nice, Christian environment, and had good people running it. (It still does, by the way!) We even were looking at how I would make it work to pay for tuition through high school- with lots of nail-biting, I assure you!

I still remember the day Peanut came home from preschool, and at just four years old asked the question that would change her educational fate. I asked her how her day was and she said, “Good.” Then I asked her what she learned that day, and I remember her EXACT words:

“Mom, we learned about the letter Q today, but I already know the letter Q. I know how to read. When I go to Kindergarten next year, can you teach me after school so I can actually learn something?”

I stood there in a bit of stunned silence for a few seconds, my daughter hanging up her coat and looking at me with such an honest expression. My response was, “No, if I’m going to teach you, I’m going to be your teacher and you can do school at home.” She looked thrilled.

As the years pass, my reasons for why we home school change:

  • I want to be with my children.
  • I want to watch them grow.
  • I want them to spend time with their siblings.
  • I want to have time to instill Biblical truths in them.
  • I want them to know the most important things in life center around family.
  • I want them to learn how to keep a home.
  • I want to be the one deciding what is worthwhile knowledge for my children

I’m sure in the next few years, that list with grow and grow and grow. But these are the reasons why we home school. I’m sure your reasons are very different. They may also be similar in some ways.
Stay tuned for part two:  HOW we started homeschooling.

A LOVELY week

Another week down! And it ends with Valentine’s Day! I thought I’d start participating in the Weekly Wrap Up over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

Monday we started some preschool activities with Bubba. I downloaded the Raising Rock Stars Preschool from 1+1+1=1, and the Animal ABCs from the same website. I only printed out the Letter L for the week. He was pretty excited that he had some work to do.

Our Bible Verse for the week is John 3:16. We started learning it on Monday. He’s really loving learning his verses!

Monday night I decided to change things up on the kids yet again, and I planned out a schedule. I told the kids school starts exactly at 8am, and we need to get back on track. Together activities are in purple, Peanut is in green, and Bubba is in orange. I planned things out according to time with the full knowledge that most of our days won’t look like this. But it gives us something to shoot for!

Our New Schedule
Our New Schedule

Tuesday went without a hitch! Peanut got her work done early, and preschool time included more letter L activities, some Busy Bags and independent play.

Hard at work building monsters.
Hard at work building monsters.
Math Fun
Math Fun

Wednesday was appointment day for the little bun in the oven. All is well for the little one, but mama’s putting on some weight! I’ve still got four months to go! I wasn’t too thrilled with that, and now that I saw the scale, I’m much more self-conscious about it. The kids did well at the appointment so afterwards, we went to my sister’s house to play. We stayed there until after 3, and they were worn out! I also borrowed a Prenatal Yoga DVD from my sister. I haven’t started it yet.

Cousins and Best Friends
Cousins and Best Friends

Thursday we got the oil changed in the car, so there was another field trip! We got home, finished up lunch, did some more alphabet activities, read a book, and took naps. Wednesday night was a late night with AWANA and no nap at cousin’s house, so we definitely needed a nap.

Friday, today, the kids opened up a package from a wonderful family we met on a Facebook Penpal and Swap group for homeschool families. They got all kinds of Valentine goodies. Bubba has decided that he is a baby today and has pushed his “crib” around all day and stayed in it most of the time. Now, he’s sleeping in it in his room. I tiptoed  into his room and got a picture. Hope his neck doesn’t hurt when he wakes up!

He says he's a Baby
He says he’s a Baby
Fell Asleep in His "Crib"
Fell Asleep in His “Crib”

 

Saving Money in Homeschool

There are a few things for our homeschool that I refuse to spend full price on. Many office supplies can be purchased second hand that are like new quality, and are super cheap. Here’s a few items I won’t buy new:

  • Pencil Boxes: My kids love them. I find them handy for storing things with little pieces (like the base ten foam set). And they break so easily that I end up replacing them all the time. And I won’t pay more than $0.75 for one of them. Whenever we go thrift store shopping, I keep my eye out for these lovely little items. I’ve found them for as cheap as a quarter, and only pick up ones that latch and don’t have many marks on them. (Sometimes I find them with kids’ names blacked out in permanent marker, but no one really notices.)
  • Three Ring Binders: These I can find at a couple different places. I’ll look at thrift stores, but I find the cheapest places to buy these are from people we know who are just giving them away. The warehouse my husband delivers for was cleaning out their office and this lovely pile of three ring binders was sitting in the trash pile. He asked if he could have them, and I got ten binders for FREE! The second best place to pick these up is a garage sales. I can usually find three-ring binders at garage sales for $0.25 each. Can’t really beat that price if you do have to pay for them! I’ve looked at thrift stores, but they’re usually over a dollar each, and that’s just too much for me, so I pass them up. A lot of times, these binders have some print transfer from pages that have been left in for too long, but as long as the rings line up and they function properly, it serves our purposes!
  • Loose Leaf Rings: These aren’t something that I normally find at garage sales, but when I do, I pick them up. The last time I found them, I picked up a baggie full of them for $1.00. I do know that office supplies stores sells them in sets of 10 for upwards of $6.00, so that’s a savings in my book!

What are some examples of homeschool items you will not purchase at retail price? Share some tips at how you get them at a lower cost!

We Are The Branches

Today was probably one of the hardest homeschool days I have had in the past two and a half years. It was emotionally draining, exhausting and so very hard.

And of course, I probably made it harder.

Peanut and I clash sometimes. I love my sweet girl so very much. She is so much like myself, which is what most of our problems are.

Today was a day of struggles. Peanut struggled to stay on track. And she didn’t. Three hours later and her work wasn’t done (not for lack of understanding, just because she wouldn’t, then she’d cry because she didn’t want to, then she’d say she was horrible at it- she’s not) and I would struggle to keep my cool. And I didn’t. I struggled to stay calm about Bubba and his refusal to have a bowel movement anywhere near the bathroom. I halfway didn’t. (Is that possible?)

Although it was a hard day, and most of our bookwork, and a fun science experiment didn’t get done, all was not lost.

We sat down for breakfast, the three of us, and afterwards had Bible Study. John 15:5

I am the Vine, and you are the branches. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will produce much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.

We actually had an amazing discussion about John 15:1-2 also, how Jesus is the Vine, the Father is the gardener, and we are the branches. We talked about being pruned to produce good, tasty fruit.

And what I loved about this, is that our neighbor actually has a wild grapevine. So the children understood how the grapes were good, but not as good as store bought grapes. The neighbor doesn’t prune them. And they understand pruning because their father is a great hobby gardener. And the kids are always out there helping him.

I am actually looking forward to more discussions this week. I think this is a great springboard for learning the fruits of the Spirit, and working on developing those in each of us (myself included!).

Academically, the day went so horribly wrong. But I believe we laid the groundwork for some amazing life lessons this week about the kinds of fruit the Lord wants to grow in us.

Cold, Cold Monday

With the bitter cold temperatures, we have not ventured outside of the house much this past week. After Christmas and New Years, we stepped back in to school on Thursday. Friday, we slipped back into Holiday Mode.

Today was a little of both. This mama wasn’t feeling too hot, so I stayed on the couch while Peanut did some bookwork. Bubba got to experience his first phonological success, as we read the first book in the Progressive Phonics Alphabetti Series. The look on his face was priceless when I told him he sounded out the word “dog”. (Although, I’m fairly certain the retention isn’t there, and we’ll have to read this book a few dozen more times for him to grasp the concept.)

I also opened up an account on Khan Academy to make math skills a little more fun for Peanut. She enjoyed having goals, and seeing her progress. Hopefully we can make this a regular activity and encourage more joy in math.

All in all, I consider this day a success when Bubba is happily playing in his room with his Jake and The Neverland Pirates toys, and Peanut is sitting in her room reading Nancy Drew: The Bungalow Mystery.

What we’ve been up to

Life has definitely whizzed by. And a lot has gone on.

Party Time

Today we are getting back in to the routine of school. Tomorrow we are going to a Valentine’s/ 100 Days of School Party with our homeschool group. We are all excited about it.

Yesterday we made valentines:

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I gave Peanut full creative license on hers. She decided to add her own artistic touches with glitter glue and ball point pen.

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Bubba and I worked together on his. He loved the stickers.

Today, we counted out 100 goldfish and 100 chocolate chips for the group trail mix, and 100 crayons for show and tell. Peanut was shocked that we had 100 crayons, and was amazed at how small of a pile it really was.

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This afternoon we will be making cupcakes and cookies to bring to the party. (I’ll post pictures when they’re done!)

Random Projects

I have been working hard the past week crocheting a blanket for a friend who is about to have a baby.  It took me four attempts to get the width right, and I feel like it’s still shrinking. It could be the yarn I chose, but I think it’s the variation in my tension with each row. I should be done by now!

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Bubba thinks it’s his blanket, even though I told him it was for his friend’s new baby sister. He keeps taking it and wrapping it around himself, which pulls out some stitches. Ah, but he’s so cute putting the blanket over his little toes.

Success

I am so excited, however, that my dining room has FINALLY gotten the second (and last) coat, and I can hang my pictures back on my walls! I am so relieved that it’s done, and I can check that off my list!

Preschool??

 

ImageYou know, I’ve been driving myself crazy the past few weeks with what to do with my 2 year old and homeschool. I mean, he’s going to be three this calendar year, and he has to start school right? Right?

I can’t *not* put him in some kind of formal education. You know?! Everyone’s kids are doing preschool- it’s the social norm. I even sent Peanut to the Private School down the street for prek at 3 and 4 years of age. And if he’s not in a preschool, then I sure and heck better be teaching him something, right? I mean, I better get cracking on those lesson plans and curricula for his every waking hour. When I taught Child Care, I paid big bucks for a curriculum because that’s what all the parents wanted their kids to be exposed to. So, I have to find something to fill his little mind with all the information that he should be learning right now!

/ end sarcasm here

Sheesh. I can’t believe I almost got sucked in to believing this again. Don’t worry, I’ll probably get sucked in to the “my kid can recite the alphabet forwards and backwards and multiply through 10 before his third birthday” comparison again in Bubba’s toddlerhood.

But for right now, this moment, I’m going to enjoy his toddlerhood. I’m going to crack up whenever he asks me if his ramen noodle is “the biggest I’ve ever SEEN??” (just imagine a grover-like voice and wide eyes as he holds a noodle above his head) and I’m going to tell him he drew a wonderful boat on my gas and electric bill. I’m going to let him cut his coloring pages with scissors, and run around the house like a madman, almost crashing his dump truck into the kitchen cabinets. 

We are going to read stories, and sing songs, and play with puzzles. (By the way- my kid can put together a 24 piece puzzle faster than any other two year old I know!) We are going to play ball, and build blocks and pretend to blast off to outer space. I’m going to let him “help” with cleaning the bathroom, and he’s going to stick that darn stepstool on my foot AGAIN while I’m cooking because he needs “to see what mama’s doing”. 

And just to satisfy that secret guilt and the wanna-be teacher inside of me, I found http://www.abcjesuslovesme.com for a free toddler curriculum that I’m going to be selectively picking and choosing from. Mainly just the Bible Curriculum. Because I need a reminder sometimes that he’s not too young to learn about what really matters.

And he’s going to watch Sissy do school every day most days. And one day, when he’s ready, he’s going to want to do it, too. 

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