Jun 30, 2010

Last week of break....

and we have been taking it slow!

We have been trying out some new culinary ideas from Eat at Home Cooks - one of my new favorite websites!

While in the kitchen we also got to make our first - second and third - batch of raspberry jam from the wild bushes on the edge of our property!

KM had fun with some science kits that had been collecting dust...

and I had some time to get things finished up for next week and all our lesson plans finished while KM was visiting with an old friend over the weekend. As we prepare for upcoming 4th of July weekend events it might get a bit quiet around here, but we start back to lessons next Monday (7/5), so I will be sure to post as we start to get into our summer session routine.

Jun 26, 2010

Why such short breaks?

I am on a national homeschool yahoo list and when I responded to a scheduling question I got an email asking why I felt we needed only 2 or 3 week breaks. I have been asked this in the past and thought since the year round schooling and amount of "vacation time" is always such a big topic of debate amongst homeschoolers I would post my response here as well.

We do 10 week sessions that correlate with the seasons and have two or three week breaks in between them and a week off at Thanksgiving. Whenever we are out of our routine for more than two weeks and are at home, it is HORRIBLE! KM will do nothing but watch TV, she is not terribly restricted from television the rest of the time, it is just all that she will do unless she has someone over or I suggest something else. She has no issue doing something else but won't take the initiative herself and it drives me BANANAS!!! She also starts to get really cranky and easily irritable. There are plenty of things for her to do, but again she just loses all motivation.

During our spring session which should have ended 6/11 and we would have had a 3 week break til 7/5, my dd decided to work hard and get her lessons completed two weeks early, so we have been off since 5/28 and it is getting to me at this point. We have been doing a lot of things, we spent the first two weeks of the month getting in all the field trip locations that we don't like to go during the summer because of the crowds, have spent time at the beach and with family, this week her PS friends have all been out of school so they have been doing things, but the days that we are just home "not doing anything" - cause you know there aren't any chores or projects or gardening or anything else to do around house on a regular basis - it is TV, ROKU, TV, ON Demand, TV....I think you get it.

But as far as our schedule we do the 10 weeks because we also only do lessons 4 days a week, it was 3 days last year because she was doing co-op and theater group on Mondays. We leave Fridays open as field trip day or as a catch up day if we decide to do something in the middle of the week. This ensures that our weekends stay as down days. This coming year I am doubling our ELA days to pick up some of the slack that we have had in this area to prep for High School level work next year (2011-2012).

I have also found that homeschooling year round significantly reduces review time! This allows for us to get more done as we can often skip a far amount of the repetitive work in Math and can stay on track with the flow for history and science.

Hope that clears up why we homeschool year round and take such short breaks! Every family is different, but that is one of the greatest gifts of homeschooling, customization to whatever fits your family!

Jun 23, 2010


I can't even tell you how EXCITED I am right NOW! KM's writing issues have been the bane of my existence for the past 6 years! If you search this blog you will find nearly every frustration I have had with homeschooling has stemmed from writing. However I have had a breakthrough! I decided to take a look at the Official SAT Study Guide, that I got off of Paperback Swap so that I could use it as a guide for our studies over the next few years, and I came across this AMAZING little paragraph...
"There is no formula for writing an effective essay. You are free to choose your own writing style. For example, you can write an essay that is narrative, expository, persuasive, or argumentative. Furthermore the SAT will not reward or penalize you if you write, for example, a five-paragraph essay. Good writing is marked by the strong development of ideas, the ability to connect to an audience, precise use of language, effective organization, and appropriate choices of evidence." p. 103
Why on earth have I been trying every method under the sun to teach her to write a five -paragraph essay if it is not even REQUIRED on the SAT? Why is this nearly the ONLY method of writing that is being taught to children in Public, Private and Homeschools, yet the national be all to end all of tests doesn't even require it?

I am baffled, dumbfounded and completely elated all at the same time. I read on to some of the example essays that were given perfect scores and was ecstatic to see that the content was the main derivative for the scores. They want the student to be able to express their point of view clearly and thoroughly!

I am DONE trying to teach KM how to write. She knows how to write and has always known how to write, she just has had a very difficult time getting her information to come across intelligently in the 5-paragraph essay format. Instead I will be helping her to develop her point of view clearly and effectively, organize and focus her ideas so that they are coherent, enhance her use of language by using varied vocabulary, and to continue to improve on her grammar and mechanics.

I had KM read through this section of the SAT guide herself as well, so that she could get a grasp at what she should be aspiring toward. She was also SHOCKED to find out that the writing style wasn't all that important. We spent quite a while discussing strategies and wondering why in the world the school had spent so much time and beat her down so hard over something that apparently means very little in the grand scheme of academia.

Of course we never came to a real conclusion, yet we did develop another truly solidifying moment for homeschooling!

Jun 22, 2010

A Little Visitor

Every afternoon, at just about the same time, I have a little visitor who appears outside our workroom window. He sits on the ledge and waits for his turn. After several failed attempts over the last few days, I was able to snap a few quick shots of him today.

He comes to eat the leftovers in the dogs bowl. Apparently the bird seed and bread chunks we leave out back are not good enough for this Blue Jay! We are waiting to see if the kibble bulks them up like it did Dixie!

Jun 19, 2010

A Day of Remembering

Every year it gets a little bit easier when Noni's birthday rolls around. My sister and I always try to make sure that we spend the day together and celebrate in some way that we think she would want us to. So this year we took the girls to the cemetery and brought balloons,
then headed to the beach for the afternoon with one of our favorite aunts. This was GC's first trip to the ocean, but she settled in quickly and we all had a great time.

I know it is a cliche, however you truly can never imagine how much you will miss someone until they are gone. I feel sad for the babies, that they will never know the love that they would have received from my mom, but know in my heart that she is watching out for them each and every day. We make sure that they know who she was and how incredible she was. KM is constantly showing SC pictures and telling her stories about her all the time.

If Noni taught me anything in the 27 years of my life with her was that no matter what happens family comes first. You must push through the hard times, stick together and be there for one another. This last year has pushed some of us in different directions, but we are staying to the principal and sticking together.

Happy Birthday Noni!
We love you and miss you EVERYDAY!

Jun 16, 2010

Not quite quiet time!

Although we have been taking a break from "lessons" things have remained busy around here. Lots of projects, visits, birthdays and more! Here are some highlights -

Playground day with the Littles -

A Sewing Project -

GC had her 1ST birthday!!!

Lots of Gardening -

SC had her 3RD Birthday!!!

A trip with OR to the children's museum...

Lots more to come.....we have a new sport to discuss a bit about as well...see you all soon!

Jun 11, 2010

Update on Camper Project

I got an email this morning from a long time reader that was wondering how our camper remodeling project has been going as I had not updated on it quiet a while. It is ironic as CJ went to Lowes last night to get the floor tiles -
KM hasn't been able to help with the project as much as we hoped as she was having issues with the dust and dirt agitating her asthma, but we are almost to a point that she can start helping again. On the exterior CJ has removed the awning, caulked all the seams and seal coated the roof as there were a LOT of leaks. After he was sure the leaks were sealed he was able to reinforce and straighten the outer walls. He removed all the 70s orange shag rug and will be working on painting the interior before installing the floor tiles. Once it is all painted and the floor is in, we will be reinstalling the refrigerator and installing the larger sink where the stove was - we NEVER used the stove when we camped - except for more storage, so I felt the bigger sink would be wiser use of the space. The last and most daunting area will be the bathroom. We are hoping to be able to salvage the shower and sink unit and just have to get a new toilet as the bathroom units are rather pricey.
I will be sure to post pictures once the painting is done, I really think that is going to make such a huge difference!

Jun 7, 2010

Summer Curriculum Picks - Starting 8th Grade

I believe I have most of KM's 8th grade curriculum choices laid out. I have decided however to list them each session, as I had done a while back, because we do change our minds quite frequently and I want to be sure to leave lots of space for changes and new interests that are developed along the way.

We school year round in 10 week sessions so we begin our "grade" year in the summer. KM will be an 8th grader started July 5th and will be studying the following topics -

English Language Arts - there will be a very strong focus on writing over the summer utilizing our free Mondays to boast ELA up to two days a week.

Math - KM will be finishing up Algebra, utilizing the free Ko's Journey subscription we received and working on word problems -

Science is always a huge area of study for KM so we are not slowing down, but charging ahead into the time line approach -

History will also be continuing on a steady pace and we hope to have Volume 2 completed by the end of the summer -

Music will be continuing with piano, voice and some extras -

We will also be doing some electives in Financial Literacy using Brain Pop and finishing up our Ocean Study using lots of movies on Netflix. Our physical education will center around swimming and bowling - Kids Bowl Free. We will be using some free resources for Art from the National Gallery of Art.

Since I had posted about thinking outside the box KM thought it would be fun to post some of her top Wii and DS game picks that she finds very educational...

Jun 5, 2010

How do you get it all done?

I have gotten quite a few emails over the last few days asking this very question.

I just wanted to preface with my strong belief in that all children are different, so though I can let you know what we do here, it may not work for your family.
With that being said here is what we do...

Our general schedule that we have done for the past 6 mo can be seen HERE - this has totally changed the length and flow of our day. KM gets up some time around 9, eats, gets herself ready and does her chores before starting her lessons. I hope to start each day by 10, but it tends to be closer to 10:30. We work on the main subject area for the day first, unless she is really running behind ~~~ I will not just hang around and wait for her since I work from home, help moderate several lists, am secretary and membership coordinator for our local homeschool group and am on the board of directors for our state homeschool organization, so I have far too many things to get done in the day - as every homeschool mom I know does - to just wait for her ~~~ so if I am in the midst of something when she is ready to start then she will do Math, Spanish, Reading or Piano as these are her daily independent study assignments. Her work is usually completed by about 1. Sometimes it is later in the day, but that is usually only if she is really into a project or experiment. If she started on time in the morning and only did her main subject for the day, then sometimes she will work on her independent things in the evening.

It wasn't always this smooth, mind you. It has taken us the better part of the past 2.5 years to figure this all out. One of the biggest things that we have changed is that I have done away with all the "busy work." If something doesn't seem like it is productive, is just a battle to get her to do it or just seems like a disconnected subject that doesn't need to be done right now or would be better if we waited to do it when it connects with something else, then we do away with it - either for the moment or permanently.

One of KM's biggest problems when she was in PS was always dealing with the repetition of things so now I really think "Is this necessary?" before I plug an assignment in. I also tend to look at things that she takes a long time to complete and see if it is because she is not understanding it, doesn't really want to do it, or if it is just not of any interest to her. This is not to say that I don't assign her anything that she doesn't LIKE to do, because I do, I just really think about why I am having her do certain things.
I know what her likes and dislikes are and how she learns the best in each subject, so I try to tailor things to that and don't really bother with the excess. I really try to allow her to make as many of the choices as I can. There are some things that do just need to be covered and I don't budge, but we might just glaze over it rather than force her to spend a ton of time on things that she has either already covered or is just not interested in.

We also do a lot of things like Health, Economics, and any other elective type things on Brain Pop or other computer games. We LOVE LOVE LOVE the wii and use it for as many educational areas as possible. We have things like My Word Coach, Deep Blue Ocean, and Wii Music. We also have lots of educational games for the DS- Spanish for Everyone, Future U, and so on. Basically I am very flexible in what I see as educational and have tried to think outside the box as much as I can. This has lead KM to be able to do the same.

My daughter isn't fully self-motivated, as some have suggested, but has begun to understand that I am only trying to help her and that her education is her choice. I can't FORCE her to learn anything, I can only expose her to things and hope that it sticks or sparks an interest for her to want to delve deeper.

I really love getting questions and they tend to inspire my postings, so please feel free to ask or even just let everyone know what the best way is for your family to get things done.