Friday, January 23, 2009

New Year, Renewed Commitment

January is nearly over already...I find that so hard to believe! We have hit the books again with renewed enthusiasm all around, for which I'm thankful.

I still struggle sometimes to remind myself to slow down and not stress out about "grade levels" and "school years." Frankly our school year just doesn't look like a traditional August to May thing. It hasn't even been quite a year since we first abandoned Abeka DVD, and began on a new journey with a new philosophy of education. Because of all that entailed, we have fallen more into a pattern of year-round schooling just breaking when it's necessary for our family. Sometimes those breaks are longer than I'd like, but we're moving in a good groove again now, and I'm so thankful for that.

I registered us last week for the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention in April. So excited about that! And I've already begun making up my curriculum lists for next year, and resource lists so I can be on the lookout for those items at the Vendor Hall.

Lauren will enter the Logic Stage of the Trivium next year. That just blows me away. I am excited about entering that new chapter, but a little nervous as well. My girl is just getting so big.

My biggest concerns revolve around Math. I don't feel like we're on the right track there, and that could just be because I have personal shortcomings in that area. I'm strongly considering giving Math U See a shot. From what I've read, that may be a solution to my hesitations in math.

As a closing thought, I would like to share some personal observations and feelings about this journey. I've been re-reading my Well Trained Mind (bible for our education purposes). I've been reading the Logic section really for the first time. I'd only skimmed it before, b/c we weren't anywhere near it yet. I've also been re-reading some of Jessie and Susan's philosophy of education, and noticing how my own has changed. I used to always say that our decision to homeschool was born of necessity. That we were doing it for practical reasons more than for idealogical ones. I don't think that's true for me so much anymore. I am more fully embracing an "idealogy" about this, after all. It's making more and more sense to me that the socialization of a child is best accomplished by the family unit, as well as by interactions with various groups of different ages with whom families may have contact. The notion that a child is best socialized by only their peer group is making less sense to me all the time. That is quite a shift in philosophy for me. And again, I recommend reading the WTM book for anyone of any education background, because they explain these things so well, and so logically! I guess I'm a slow learner! In truth, it's just such a massive change from the philosophy of pop culture that it just takes time, experience, observance, and information to help one start fresh.

Okay, so that's my update for now! Just trying to get back in the habit of doing my weekly reports, and I'm looking forward to sharing some of the kids' work in the coming weeks.


Monday, December 1, 2008

We're not Shutting Down

SO? It's only been six months since an update....that's not so bad, eh? Seriously, I do apologize to my readers for my delinquincy. We spent a great deal of time without a computer or internet coverage, and blogging took a major backseat to busy everyday life.

Things are moving on a more even keel now, though never exactly calm around here! We are still schooling, of course. After the holiday season is over, I plan to come back to the regular updates on this blog.

So that's just a short note to let you know....anyone who may still be reading......that I'm not intending to shut this blog down. We'll be back!

Blessings and Merry Christmas to all!

Monday, June 30, 2008

An Example of Narration

I thought I would post a couple of examples of narration from our language studies this morning. These are from Cameron, age 7, and Sophia, age 5. You can see the difference in maturity, detail memory, and re-telling of things.

This morning I read a short story to the kids entitled "The Little Girl Who Loved to Be Dirty". Narration method requires that the child retell the story to you in their own words. This can be done in nearly all subjects, and it is profitable for developing proper language patterns. Every few weeks, I go back through their recent narrations, and I read their own stories aloud back to them. It's really interesting to see their reaction to hearing their own words and word choices. Sometimes they are really proud of how it sounds, and other times, they understand just by listening that they could have told something better. I never correct them when they're narrating, but do give gentle prompts to keep their flow going at times. I write their words down exactly as they give them to me. If you see capitalization of words, it's because those are the words they emphasized in their storytelling!

So without further ado, here are just a couple of very simple exercises from this morning.

There once was a little girl who HATED to have baths. Whenever her mom told her that she had to take a bath, she WHINED and CRIED!
The little girl went to bed, and had a dream. She was in a pigpen in MUD! She thought it was very good. And when someone called "SUPPER", all she found there was slop. And there was old corncobs, and rotten potatoes and the ends of tomatoes.
The little girl thought it was TERRIBLE then. And the little girl went down the street to her own house. She snuck in the back door, and went upstairs and took a bath and put on purple flowered pajamas. She dug down deep in her clean bed. THE END
By Cameron

Once there was a little who loved to be dirty. And then her mom said, "You have to take a bath!" And the little girl said, "Aw, I don’t WANT to take a bath. I don’t like them! I want to be dirty!!!"
And then the little girl had a dream. And all the sudden her dream came true. She was in a pigpen. And it was with mud and 3 little pigs. And somebody called "SUPPER!" And there was old slop. And the pigs enjoyed the slop. But the little girl thought it was horrible. She cried and went on the road to her natural home.
And she came from the back door, went up stairs and took a bath. And her mom said, "You had quite a dream!"


The thing that interested me the most today out of these, is that nowhere in the story was the little girls house referred to as her "natural" home. But that was Sophie's word of choice! I found that particularly amusing! :)

Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I know, I's a long time in comin'. This is a very quick update as this is vacation week! YEAH! Turns out, we're not going as far or doing as much as we were hoping, but we're still looking forward to a whole week with Daddy home, and a few fun adventures along the way.

We've been taking more breaks from the schoolwork as summer has been approaching and life has turned so incredibly busy. However, we are planning to go ahead and start up again after vacation and I have decided to give the "four weeks on, one week off" schedule a try at least through the summer months.

I have two new resources that I'd like to mention that we're just getting into, and are very excited about. The first one is a book entitled, "How to Study Your Bible for kids" by Kay Arthur and Janna Arndt. This book is probably a bit more suited to children a little bit older....maybe ages 7 and up? This is a six week course on inductive Bible study written in kids' lingo by making them detectives with M&M Detective Agency. They embark on an adventure to learn the mystery of biblical observation, interpretation, and application. We are enjoying taking Bible study to a whole new level, particularly with Cameron and Lauren. On a side note, we've recently started doing sword drills with the kids. To tell you the truth, I had nearly forgotten about these! They were a regular part of my growing up years at HSCA that I really loved. Truthfully, it's not quite the same in a homeschool environment, but our kids are LOVING it anyway! One day the memory of doing sword drills popped in my head, and I suggested we try it. Now I have to turn the kids down or they would want to do them all the time!

Okay, on to our second new "goody". I found a CD entitled, "My Favorite Opera for Children; the world's favorite tenor introduces you to the joy of opera." There is a label in the upper left corner stamped Pavarotti's Opera Made Easy. This has been a truly fun resource, that I have been surprised by! The kids have really gotten into it, even though it's so much foreign language. I read them the basic story line of what's being portrayed by the music, and they enjoy identifying how it's coming across.

So that's my two cents for this week! I think for many schools and probably homeschool families this is the time of year where things begin to die down somewhat. For us it's sort of the opposite. I feel like after vacation we're going to be a bit more revved up and ready to learn more. And it's a good thing: if you have followed this blog from it's inception then you may remember that the first portion of this school year was rather rocky to say the least. We changed horses midstream, so I feel it's very important that we continue the education process through the summer.

Blessings to you and yours!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Report from the Trenches.....

My goodness, if I have any faithful readers on this blog you surely must wonder what happened to us! We have been so busy, and it's the kind of busy-ness that you look back and wonder what is it exactly that you've been doing! LOL! (though to name a few: doctors appts. for my sick baby, practicing and playing for a wedding on 24 hrs notice, cooking meals for a pregnant friend on bedrest, etc. etc. etc.)

School has been somewhat of hit and miss for a couple of weeks. School in the sense of sit-down and complete paperwork, etc. I try to always be teaching the children no matter what we're doing or what is going on. There are so many lessons to be learned in everyday life, both of the academic and non-academic nature.

However, consistency with the "pencil and paper" is important too. That builds on everything you're hoping to accomplish. So we are putting our noses back to the books with a vengeance between now and our much anticipated vacation....4 weeks, 6 days away! YAY!

I think I've mentioned before about considering a year-round schooling schedule. I'm intrigued by it because I know that after 2-3 months of no schooling at all, you spend the first portion of the year in so much review. I would like to keep the momentum of learning rolling full speed. I'm still looking for the best way to accomplish this. There are several ways people do it. One system I know of is to consistently do 4 weeks on, 1 week off throughout the year, except for a longer break at Christmas, of course. The other system takes shorter breaks for Spring and Christmas and instead of taking 3 months for summer, only take the month of July for example. Of course, the ultimate beauty in it, is that when you're homeschooling you can adjust any schedule to fit your own needs. I do think it's nice to approach it with some semblance of order, though. Just makes you feel more prepared, and if you have to change something you can.

If any of my readers are more familiar with the year round scheduling, please share your thoughts and experiences with me! And what do you think of the schedules I've mentioned??

Blessings on the remainder of your week. I plan to get back to my weekly reports now that we're cookin' again! :O)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Catching Up

So I'm back in my own words now. That last post was just for laughs, though some of the strains in it are little eerily real. And I hope you appreciated my "guest writer" who posted about the convention. Derek has his own brand of humor which he stamps on things!

I, too, enjoyed the Convention very much. Learned so much. Really wish we could have stayed through Saturday, but...there's 'next year in Jerusalem' I'm hoping.

If I could sum up the most lasting impact that was made upon me, it would be the following: 1) Trust my "mama" instincts. Now, that is something I've been doing since I became a mother. It has nothing really to do with home-schooling. Every mother who has that "feeling" that something just ain't right should listen to that voice, and act upon it. Jessie Wise gave the first session on "If I Could Do It Over Again". She shared in it the mistakes she feels she made over the years, as well as the things she feels she did right. Reagan fussed for some of it, so I didn't hear it in it's entirety, but I did get in on MOST of it. My observation was that things she most regretted were not really "curriculum" issues. They were issues of who she let her kids be around, church youth groups she was uncomfortable with (and turned out to be for very good reason), and then several things regarding when your children are approaching College age that she learned the hard way. So, all that just to say "trust yourself" in knowing what, who, when, where is right for your family. 2) READING AND POETRY; Through Andrew Pudewa's sessions, of which we attended many!, I came away more challenged and encouraged to continue with read-aloud times as a family. You may recall in a previous post here that I had commented about the switch to the classical approach and it's affect on my vocal chords! SO MUCH READING!!! But it's good, it's right, and we're doing it. And I'm glad we are; the encouragement and statistics given for doing so was inspiring! Derek has taken over the reading of one of our read-alouds, so that helps my voice get a little break! The other thing that Mr. Pudewa really hammered home was the importance of Poetry reading and memorization in children. I realized I needed to incorporate that more into our school day and am endeavoring to do so. We always have checked out poetry books from the library, etc., but I am placing more importance on it now.
Also as previously mentioned, I greatly enjoyed time with friends. Lunch with Sonja on Thursday, and "hanging out" at convention with Julia, Becca, and Kelly. Was also so nice to re-connect with Lora from IL as well.

Thanks to Laura F., I now have the Teacher's Manual and Pronuciation CD to go along with our Prima Latina workbook. Yay! This has been such a help and we enjoy our Latin study even more now. I find myself more and more aware of all the words we use and are perfectly accustomed to, which have their roots in Latin. It's even more fun to see the children beginning to draw that correlation.

The last few days have actually been lovely Spring days. IT'S ABOUT all I gotta say! We have loved spending time outdoors, and have even managed to do a few of our subjects out on the back deck. Doesn't get any better than that!! The kids are lovin' it.

I consider it such a blessing to be able to have my children home with me. Even though I probably can't imagine how much more housework I would accomplish or how much more "me-time" I would have if they were in a school somewhere for 6-7 hrs each day. The truth is I just don't think I could send them off like that. They're growing so fast, and I don't want to miss out on a thing; I also don't want to miss out on the chance be a forceful influence on their lives. Psychologists tell us that the same sex parent is the most powerful role model in a child's life. My girls are watching me, and these boys are gonna hang on Daddy's every word. We only have one chance to do it right. I pray every day that God will teach through me. I know there are so many things that I don't get right, but I yearn to place the proper value system and belief system before my family.

Thanks for stopping by and offering your interest and encouragment in this journey we're on!

Oh, yes, one more'll notice we officially "named" our school now. I actually had thrown out several suggestions, and when I half-jokingly quipped "Trivium Pursuit Academy", Derek was determined that would be the name. So we're stuck with least for now! :) We have learned that it's nice for you to have a name for your homeschool for the purpose of signing up for things (such as educator's discounts at bookstores, etc.; as well as for transcript purposes; no reason why this couldn't just be OURLASTNAME Classical Academy/School, whatever, but we think we have to be creative! HA! We're so weird. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Just a Funny....

April, 2008
Reunited Press

After much heated debate on the house floor, legislation was passed today to allow a growing number of families to cook meals for their families in their homes. The children must have annual physical examinations to assure proper growth and weight gain. Attempts to require weekly meal plans and monthly kitchen inspections were voted down.A spokesperson from the National Association of Nutritionists (NANs) condemns this decision. "These children are being denied the rich socialization and diversity that is an essential part of the eating process. Without the proper nutritional background, it is impossible for the average person to feed their own children. We, as child advocates, see this as a step backwards and speak out for the sake of the children who cannot speak for themselves."Homecooking parents say the benefits of eating at home include increased family unity and the ability to tailor a diet to a particular need. Elizabeth Crocker, a home cook, states, "We started cooking and eating at home when we realized that my son had a severe allergy to eggs. The public kitchens required him to take numerous medications that had serious side effects in order to counteract his allergy. We found that eliminating eggs was a simpler method and our son has thrived since we began doing so."After this experience, the Crockers decided to home cook for all of their children, and converted their media room into a kitchen. Elizabeth says, "We have experienced so much closeness as we have explored recipes and spent time cooking together and eating together. We have a dining circle with other families where we sometimes share ideas and meals together."The Crocker children have done well physically under their mother's care, weighing in at optimum weights for their ages and having health records far above average. It should be noted that Mrs. Crocker, while not a professional nutritionist, has a family history rich with nutritionists and home economists. "Surely the success of the Crocker children is due to the background of their mother," responded the spokesman from NANs. "The results they have achieved should not be viewed as normative." Mrs. Crocker counters that her background was actually a hindrance to the nutritional principles she follows. "Our paternal great-grandmother was a home economist, but she prepared most meal from pre-made mixes. In our homecooking we try not to duplicate public-kitchen meals, but to tailor our meals to the needs and preferences of our children."In a related issue, legislation is in committee that would provide oversight for the emerging homecooking movement. Says the Home Eating Legal Defense Association (HELDA): "We want to provide umbrella kitchens to aid parents in the complicated tasks of feeding their children. Many families lack the expertise of the Crocker family, yet desire to eat at home. As we have seen, the umbrella kitchens meet the needs of all concerned. We are happy to provide this service."