Monday, January 28, 2008

Birthdays and grade levels

As you can see from my last posts, I get kind of obsessed about grade level every once and a while. I really try not to, but my mother was a teacher and is always concerned about whether my kids are on grade level. And my poor oldest gets the brunt of this worry. My middle has an October birthday, so she would have just missed the cut off for the next grade. If she were in first grade now, she would probably be advanced for her grade, so I don't worry about her. But my oldest has a June birthday, so she would be in 4th grade. We are just now finishing up Right Start Level D for math which is the 3rd grade level, so if I think in terms of grade level she is a semester behind, but if she had a October birthday like Kali and she would be right on grade level finishing third grade math at 9 years 7 month.

It's crazy, I know. I'M crazy. I should just chill out because I am a homeschool mom and I don't have to worry about grade level. Again, I need to remind myself to keep the end goal in mind. If I can prove in the end that homeschooling is as good as, if not a better way to educate my children then all will be well.

Friday, January 25, 2008

It's that time of year again...

Around this time last year, I started getting that sinking feeling that I am a doing a bad job homeschooling my kids. Well, the other day that feeling came around again. Luckily it was shorter lived this time and I only felt bad for one evening. The feeling was set off by my oldest crying over her homework for her one day a week homeschool program through the school district. It was not hard homework. She had to write 4 pretend checks and record them in a check register. Now I am sure it didn't help that she had put off doing the homework until 9pm the night before, but really, she is 9 years old. If she went to school she would have homework every night. I suddenly felt like I was doing her a disservice by not requiring her to do more writing and math. If I made her do more it would get easier and she wouldn't be crying over something so simple, right? Maybe, Maybe not.

A day and a half later she and I were working a story for her monologue that she is preparing for a program called Young Chautauqua. The program is for children 9 and up and each child researches a historical character and presents a 15 minute monologue as that character. This is a huge project for a 9 year old and since Sierra has never done anything like this before I am guiding her through the process. Since has trouble writing for long periods of time - like more than 5 minutes - I offered to type the story while she dictated. I offered suggestions, but she came up with most of it and I was very impressed with her "writing."

Although I am still finding my way, I feel better when I realize that my daughter is only 9 years old. And while I worry that if she ever goes to school she will be behind, I know that my goal is not to have a 9 year old that can write and do math for long periods of time without complaining, but to have a well educated child by the time she is an adult.

Julie at Bravewriter has some good posts what to do when your child is complaining about homeschool work.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Europe picture books part 3

We are finishing up our unit on Europe. Her are some of the books we enjoyed about France. We also read some books about Scotland that I got from my friend who is of Scottish descent, but I returned them to her before writing down the titles. We enjoy a book about the famous dog called Greyfriar's Bobby, a Scottish Pop up book and a book with Scottish Folk Tales.


The Red Balloon
The King's Giraffe
Count Your Way Through France
The Moon was the Best
Bonjoir, Mr. Satie
Eloise in Paris
Harry and LuLu

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Mid - Year Review

Since it's the middle of the traditional school year, I thought I would take some time to see how our homeschooling in reality compared to the plans that I made this summer. The following was my plan. In bold face is what we really did.

Here is my plan for the coming "school" year:

8:00 - 8:30 Get up! Ha, Ha I tried I really did, but usually it was more like 9am. I know, I know. Don't hate me because I am a lazy homeschoolin' mama!
note: I am a night owl, so this is sometimes hard for me. The girls get usually get up around this time. Sometimes they are up earlier, sometimes later. They are pretty self sufficient in the mornings, so I don't have to get up with them anymore :)

8:30 - 9 Exercise Um, sometimes...
Remind girls to do morning chores: "Have you made your beds, yet?"

9 - 9:30 Shower Yep, I did manage to shower every day :) but not usually at 9am
Remind again:"Did you brush your teach?"

9:30 - 10 Breakfast and computer time for me Ok sometimes the computer time lasted more than a half an hour. Gotta work on that.
Final reminder: "Are you dressed? Did you eat breakfast?"

10:00 School Time (about 1 hour)Well, since I didn't get up at 8am and I usually spend more time on the computer, we started school more like 11am. OK, 12 sometimes, but at least we managed to get to doing some school on the days we were home. Last year if it got to be lunch time before I could get organized, I would call the day a wash and skip doing school.

Each day we will start with one of the following: learn a word from English From the Roots Up, do a Mindbender, learn a spelling rule, read a scripture story, learn a saying from the Core Knowledge Series, etc. We did these for the first month, but then we got busy and these got skipped. I will try to reinstate these as we get back into "real" school mode next week.

Then we will read books and do projects based on our current "topic". Topics include areas of interest from Science, History, Art, and Music. We do one topic at a time. When we are done, we move onto another topic. This works so much better than trying to fit everything into a day or even a week. By the end of the "school" year we seem to have covered a balance of each subject. This we are good at doing. The girls love listening to books and doing projects. We didn't get as far in my list of topics as I thought we would. There were just so many great picture books about countries around the world that it has taken us a while to get through them all. But that is the beauty of homeschooling, right? We can take as much time as we need to explore different topics.

Copywork 3x a week / free writing 1x/week (5 - 10 minutes) Freewriting never happened, but the copywork is going well.

Break until lunch

Lunch around noon

After Lunch, More School (30 - 60 minutes)
Math - every day most days
Spelling/Grammar on alternating days as often as we had time, but got cut if we were busy.
Phonics for 4 year old. Um, not often, just when she asked. When we decided that the older girls would go to OPTIONS on Tuesdays, I planned to work with Arwen while they were gone, but then ended up working in the OPTIONS child care, so that plan when out the window. Gotta add that back in, too.

Afternoons - free play Oh, yeah! We're good at free play.

In an effort to encourage independent learning and responsibility for my 9 year old, I plan to make a chart for her to mark when she has done the following: Practice piano 5x a week, typing CD rom 3x a week, and Rosetta Stone Spanish 3x a week, Math computer game 1x a week. Nope, didn't happen. The math game I got wasn't very good. I didn't get the typing Cd rom until November and I never got motivated to set up Rosetta Stone. Sierra did practice her piano though. That should count for something. I do have making the chart on my list of things to do. Kali is taking piano lessons now, too, and wants her own chart.

I plan to take a nature walk or have a poetry tea time at least once a month during the afternoon. Nope, didn't happen. Never, not once... We did go to park day lots. Does that count? And I taught a poetry class at co-op.

We listen to books on CD in the car and I read bedtime stories, sometimes picture books and sometime chapter books. Yep, books on CD are good! And so are bedtime stories.

Dinner around 6pm

Free Play

Clean up Rooms starting around 7:30 or 8pm depending on if it is bath night.

8:30pm Bedtime Stories Most nights. We had to skip it if the girls took too long to clean up their rooms or we had evening activities.

Bed time 9pm

Younger girls can read in bed until 9:30
Oldest can read until 10pm.

I usually go to sleep around midnight and then we get up and start all over again...

Note: We are involved in a co-op that meets on Wednesdays, so this is our M, T, Th, F schedule. Also, we have a Park Day on Fridays, so we will need to get any school work done by noon on Fridays if we want to go to Park Day.

So, not too bad. There are a few things that I let slide that I would like to add back into our schedule and others like the nature walk and poetry tea that we just don't have time for since we are doing co-op and OPTIONS. Maybe next year...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Europe picture books part 2

I had planned to start back with school on Monday, but 2 out of 3 kids woke up sick. Ah, the best laid plans... My husband doesn't go back to work until the 14th, so it still kind of feels like Christmas break at our house, too. But we did manage to get some school - like stuff done this week. Here are the books we enjoyed.

Patrick Patron Saint of Ireland

The Princess and The Painter

Michelangelo's Surprise
Gaspard on Vacation
Look What Came From Italy
Gabriella's Song
Days of the Blackbird
Pages of Music
Bravo, Zan Angelo
Strega Nona
Big Anthony

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I feel a little guilty, but...

...I kind of am enjoying the fact that my kids are sick. 2 of them have been laying on the couch watching TV all day for 2 days. The third is moping around bored and lonely, but my house has stayed clean :P

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year to me!

We had a New Year's Eve party last night. We got a karaoke machine for Christmas and decided it would be fun to host a party. It was awesome fun! (that's right, I said it, awesome fun - who cares if I sound like I am from the 80's) So, today I began the process of cleaning up. My neurotic side would have stayed up and cleaned last night, but my kind and loving side wanted to spend time with my darling hubby, so this morning I faced the aftermath. It wasn't that bad really, but before I was finished cleaning up, people wanted to eat, so my almost clean kitchen was suddenly a mess again - ugh! Perhaps, I should have stayed up last night. At least then no one would have wanted me to feed them 3 times in a 12 hour period...