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."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Homeschool Convention! (A Dad's Perspective)

Hi everybody! Tara asked me to recap our weekend at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Sharonville, OH, last weekend. Unfortunately she forgot to bring the camera, so there will only be a lengthy discourse and no pictures (since I am writing the post, I can blame her for anything).

This was our first foray into the deep, dark caverns of that mysterious underbelly of society known only as "the homeschoolers"! Yes, it was scary, but no, we were not tied down and forced to join the Secret Society of Denim Wearers (SSDW). We thought we might be forced to prove that our clothing was homemade, but actually, for the most part, people were very regular looking and acting. Fear no more. We have joined the ranks!

Our weekend trip, in my opinion, allowed us to see the "intelligence" of our resources. As educators, we are only as good as our resources that we depend on for guidance, material, and inspiration. I was interested to see what I would find, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical.

I had to work Thursday, rather unexpectedly, so I did not get there until the last session at about 8 p.m. We had brought Reagan with us because he is still so little; he was recovering from viral tonsillitis and was in a foul mood! I took him off of Tara's hands and walked between the different buildings, trying to find a session that was large enough so I could stand in the back and listen. My first impression was slightly skewed as I went from session to session. Most were older, incredibly apathetic teachers who didn't seem to want to be there at all. I was slightly annoyed, and starting to regret spending the money to go there, when I stumbled upon a small room in the back of one of the halls. In it was a guy dressed in a lab coat, and he was going through scientific experiments with lightning speed, explaining a scientific law and then demonstrating it for us! The room was full of parents and kids, and they were hooked, as I was after about two minutes. We were all disappointed when he had to quit, and I was wishing I would have brought my six-year-old, Cameron to see this. He would have loved it! The title of the session was McWhiz Kid Science.

Tara had attended the opening seminar with Jessie Wise, "If I Could Do It All Over Again", honestly sharing the mistakes she made in her journey as well as the things she strongly feels she did right. Tara enjoyed learning from her. She also attended a seminar by Sharon Madsen that gave some interesting points on learning with all of our senses. Overall, Thursday wasn't too great for me, having gotten there late, etc. However, we left that night excited because we knew that Friday held some highly acclaimed speakers and topics. We were not disappointed.

Friday morning, we left the hotel and got there for our first session, with Mr. Andrew Pudewa with the topic "Conquering Corrupt Culture by Raising Christian Communicators". Incredible speaker. In fact, I was hooked for the rest of the day, going to two more sessions of his, "Instant Improvement in Writing", and "Nurturing Confident Communicators: The Power of Linguistic Patterns". We found out afterwards that Mr. Pudewa has just received the Convention Speaker of the Year by the National Homeschooling Association. They got it right.

I also attended Jessie Wise's session regarding The Well-Trained Mind, and Jim Weiss' called "Teaching History with G.A. Henty and other Great Works". Mrs. Wise was very methodical, but her information was incredibly practical and informative. Jim Weiss, who is a renowned storyteller and recording voice for many great books on CD, was very personal and funny, while impeccably detailed with his historical accounts of authors and legends. He has great insight into modern culture due to his educated look at historical figures and circumstances. Great session.

Of course, we got to see great friends who were also there. Julia and Becca were there, with their friend Lora. We got to see Kelly S. for a brief minute also. Great to see you girls! I also got to speak with two old friends of mine, Dr. Mark Bird and Timothy Makcen, who were both there helping others.

Overall, the negatives were minuscule, really. My first impression on Thursday evening was entirely wrong. As with any crowd of people, you do have your weird ones, but the majority of those there were intelligent educators. I told Tara, "You know you're at a homeschool convention when you never have to open a door for yourself!" Everyone's kids were so polite, opening doors for everyone and having intelligent discussions with the speaker after each session. :) The vendor hall was a mass of great deals and booths promoting different curriculums for different ages. We gained several great ideas for our own little school, like developing an excel program to track our progress and field trips. I am going to save our money to buy one of those McWhiz Kid Science kits to go through with our family.

I thought that the lecture on Linguistic Patterns was very enlightening, as well as the seminar on improvement in writing. The conclusion? We are hooked, and definitely going back next year with our little "crates on wheels" in tow.



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Weekly Report

We have enjoyed a week of Spring Break this past week, since Derek has had some time off of work. We didn't do anything particularly special. Just hung out together. And we always continue with our library visits and reading. That's just as much fun as it is educational for us. Lauren went ahead with piano lessons and practice this week; Cameron's eye still was not healed enough to do something that strenuous on the optic organ.

I have picked up a copy of First Language Lessons 3 (hereafter known as FLL3) for Lauren simply because I couldn't resist! I am thinking I'm going to switch her over from the Abeka to that for the rest of this year. The publishers are coming out with a FLL 4 very soon, and I was planning to use that for fourth grade anyway. I'm very excited about that! I'll have to add a Spelling program to this curriculum...still looking at a couple of different ones. Next week is the Midwest Homeschool Convention, and Derek and I are really stoked about going! Not only for all the things we're looking forward to learning during the sessions, but also because we're looking forward to fellowship with dear friends.(at least Julia and Becca that I know of, and maybe a meet-up with Sonja for dinner!) I know many people also look forward to conventions like this because it is their only opportunity to actually "get their hands" on curriculums that they would otherwise only see in catalogs or online. I feel very blessed to have a Christian bookstore *a hop and a skip* away that also has a "homeschool headquarters" section. I can sit and flip through all these resources to my heart's content. And anything they don't have, they will order for me. (and at a discount, no less!). So I'm planning to be a very good girl and not spend too much money "shopping" at the convention! :)

The children have almost finished memorizing the Latin prayer, "The Sanctus". I hope to post a video of them reciting it together by next week.

A note of interest: we have had a couple of classical Christian schools move into our general area. I don't know if I'm just paying closer attention to details like that now, or what......Anyway, one of them looks wonderful. They are latin-centered, and work in conjunction with families. Three days of the school week are spent under the parents direction at home, and students report to the classroom for 2 days per week from September through May. A summer reading list is in effect for homeschooling families to follow. I read about them and found it very impressive overall. Here's the part of most interest: they are using nearly all the same curriculum that I am using already here at home, and definitely following the same pattern of learning. THE COST FOR THIS??? For all 3 of my school-age children next year it would be OVER $7000!!!!!! YIKES!! So, while I'm impressed, I'm also encouraged to know that my kids are getting a "hoity toity" education for a substantial FRACTION of what we'd have to shell out. Oh, and the other classical school, which runs 5 days/week???? Would be nearly $14,000.!

Looking forward to getting back to a full-swing school week come Monday. And when we do, you'll read all about it right here. Speaking of which, aren't you impressed with my hubby's blog designing skills? I thought that was a pretty cool looking crest up there. :)


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Green Hour Challenge

I wanted to post the link to the Green Hour Challenge. Started by a homeschooling blogging mom to get families out enjoying nature and keeping a nature journal, etc. It is Week #5 of the Challenge, but you can start anywhere. We've done it VERY loosely as the weather has been pathetic here. :(

Click here to access the blog....and scroll down....on the right column you will see the words Green Hour Challenges. Click that and each assignment will pop up for you to print out. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ode to Public Libraries

If you've read my other blog, then you know what kind of week we've had. Not exactly a week conducive to a learning atmosphere. For one thing, Cameron couldn't tolerate light or hold his eyes open to read for most of the week. So we followed a much lighter, looser schedule.

For all my griping about certain areas of public services, I have to sing the praises of my local Public Library. One of the especially helpful suggestions put forth in The Well-Trained Mind is about taking advantage of this resource. Jessie Wise says that when she first began educating her kids at home (back in the 70's when this was truly a revolutionary concept), she would load up her three young'uns, along with a laundry basket, and head once a week to the library. They followed a simple pattern: they checked out 1 Science book, 1 Math book, 1 Poetry book, 1 History book and 1 just-for-fun book. I have not closely studied the Charlotte Mason method of education, but it is my understanding that this would fall somewhat under what she calls "living books"; it is a rich literature-based approach to learning.

Our family has always enjoyed living rather close to the library here, and at various times since the children were babies, have enjoyed the different reading programs and activities. We are now much more faithful to visiting consistently each week, and are trying to follow this reading suggestion. After weeks like the one we just came through, it's a little comforting to know that we just can take advantage of the educational books we have checked out until we can return to more structured learning. And the kids have so much fun in the process.

Here are some of our choices this week:

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Closer Look

Since this topic has been so warmly received by "ya'll", I thought I would try to give a little closer look at the school day as it stands for us right now. As I explained in the first entry on this blog, we have made the transition to the classical method smack dab in the middle of the school year. So part of my time on hiatus from blogging was spent in figuring out exactly how I was going to make that change, and how to structure the academic part of the day. The advice that is almost ALWAYS given to new home-schoolers who are pulling their children out of conventional classrooms, is to take some time and de-compress from the routine that your children are used to. Give them a chance to relax a little bit and focus on some of the things your family is most looking forward to in making this big change. Then ease into your home-schooling schedule. I tend to agree with this advice. Although Lauren was the only one of ours that was ever enrolled in conventional school, I still found this advice useful. It also proved relevant as we made a change in our learning style, as well. I am looking forward very much to finishing out this year and having a fresh start using all classical curriculums. I read the Well-Trained Mind suggestions for scheduling very carefully and I put together a very simple plan for our children to complete this school year. Next year will look a little different, but this is what I'm endeavoring to follow for this year. And, as a sidenote, I am also seriously considering moving to year-round schooling schedule. I have read many different ways to do this that look appealing. Like four weeks on, 1 week off, etc. At any rate, the beauty of homeschooling is that when it's time for a break, it's TIME FOR A BREAK! And since you're the boss, you can make that happen. Quite Lovely.

So for anyone interested, here is our plan for the remainder of this school year:

Language Arts: Spelling Words review 15 min per day. Test weekly. Spend 30 minutes reading (which can include reading in other subject matter, such as history), and making notebook narration pages. Formal Grammar study 20 min per day; 10 minutes per day reviewing memory work such as Scripture, Poetry, Preamble, etc. Spend 30 minutes several days per week in fun reading, such as library books, American girl series, etc.

Writing: Work on writing out narrations of Reading material; Write letters to friends/relatives at least twice per month; write from dictation and/or copywork 3 days per week.

Mathematics: Mastering concepts, such as times tables, etc. for 30 minutes per day. Continue to improve in Speed Drills and workbook sheets from the Abeka curriculum. (I am looking into a program from Rod and Staff publishers for next year.)

History: Study Medieval -Early Rennaissance era (400b.c.-1600 a.d.) Story of the World, volume two. Listen to History books, read aloud by Mommy; read some historical biographies on her own form the library; keep a narration notebook for all material learned. We study History 3 days per week.

Science: Laid back approach this year. Mainly nature walks, and nature journal, weather permitting. Study animals from library books, and work in our Taking Care of my Body book. Horse-back riding lessons and involvement in horse shows will also serve some of this purpose! Science will be studied twice per week.

Latin: We work several days at a speed we are most comfortable with through the Prima Latina book. Review Latin vocabulary words. Usually 10-15 minutes daily.

Religion: We study other religions of the world through our history study. Our family focuses our time mainly on study of the TRUTH, which is Jesus. We will develop character traits to align with God's Word, the Bible. ( I am still looking for something like a Bible Curriculum for next year, though I am currently impressed with a series called Character Building for Families; we'll see!)

Music: continue with weekly piano lessons. Listen to classical music several days per week with the family; read Library books about great classical composers. ( I plan to do a study on classical composers with the children over the summer for fun!)


Language Arts: Continue to work with phonics and blended sounds 15-20 min/daily. Spend 30 minutes per day reading aloud and being read to, and making a narration notebook. Daily lessons from First Language Lessons by Jessie Wise. Also have 30 minutes several days per week for fun reading, like Magic Tree House books from the library.

Writing: Copy short sentences three days per week working up to 20 minutes daily. Work on simple letters to family/friends twice per month.

Math: Continue with learning new concepts 3o min daily, as well as working on Abeka worksheets and speed drills.

History: Study ancient times (5000 b.c.-a.d.400). Story of the World, volume one, read by Mommy 3 days per week. Make narration notebook pages. Read simple biographies and history books independently from the library.

Science: same plan as Lauren.

Latin: same.

Religion: same.

Music: same.

Reading: Spend time every day listening to Mommy read aloud from all kinds of books. Continue with basic phonics, for fluent reading. Read simple age-appropriate books and readers. Do the First Language Lessons with Mommy and Cameron daily, participating in the enrichment activities as possible for her age.

Writing: Practice writing cursive letters every day, 1o minutes daily. Copy short sentences from a model as she becomes more comfortable.

Math: following the WTM suggestions, Sophie should be able to: Count from 1 to 100. Use manipulatives to understand what numbers and placements mean. Be able to write numbers 1 to 100. Practice skip counting by 2's, 5's, and 10's. Look for Math lessons in everyday life. She's well on her way in these things! Next year I will use a more structured curriculum for her. She just turned 5 last month~!

The other classes, such as Latin, Sophie also enjoys sitting in on, though I don't require from her what I do the older ones.

Music: she begins piano lessons very soon! And listens to classical music with the family weekly.

SO, there you see our current weekly schedule. This will be tweaked over time. But it is the basic recommend plan and it's working for us right now. Each child has their main notebook with a viewfinder front. I made copies of each of their "schooling plans" and put in their own notebook, so they know what their plan is.

Hope this was of use to someone!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Weekly Progress Report.

Tis late this snowy Friday night. We're all snuggled in for the night as "the biggest winter storm in a decade" is predicted to arrive tomorrow. (according to the all-knowing weathermen! we'll see.) I am reflecting on our school week, and wanted to report our accomplishments.

First, you may have heard of the book, "Tuesdays With Morrie", but around here we're quite excited to have "Tuesdays with Daddy"! Derek is on a four day work week schedule, and he is home on Tuesdays. Nothing could be more wonderful for a homeschooling family. We get to plan things without the crowds and bustle of a weekend, and enjoy our time together. We love to take our library trips on Tuesdays, and this week it was extra fun because our local library had a family craft night, painting mugs. The kids really enjoyed it. I feel blessed to have such a nice library so close by. We also try to take advantage of Tuesdays to "split up" and do some one-on-one "dates" with the kids. It's important when you have four to make sure that you still provide for individual time. So this week, Cameron had time in the morning with Daddy, while the girls each had a turn going out with Mommy in the afternoon. Lauren and I went to a nearby cafe' for cocoa and muffins, while we worked in our "Growing Little Women" book together. Sophie and I made a trip to Kmart for accessories for her Baby Alive doll. Nothing grand or extravagant, but their little faces just light up like Christmas when we have these little "dates". :)

As for school, how blessed I feel again this week for the progress made!

Lauren: Spitting out her multiplication tables with growing ease. She's a natural speller. Is enjoying her study of the fall of Rome, and we've supplemented SOTW with books from the library, including an Atlas of Ancient Times. Doing very well with the latin studies: this week we began learning a latin prayer called "The Sanctus". She also handwrote a beautiful letter to a lady from our church who winters in Florida. (The WTM approach encourages letter writing once a week or so to strengthen writing skills. Look could be on the receiving end one of these days!) She moved on to a new song in her piano studies this week that really is tell-tale for how much she moving along in piano study. I'm so proud of her. She had a great week.

Cameron: Still coming along beautifully on his Math speed drills. I marvel at how easily Math comes to him. Definitely a trait from Daddy's side of the family. Cameron used to complain a lot about handwriting, and just didn't want to give it his best at all. I've been so pleased that he has taken to cheering when I tell him to get out his handwriting work! And with that positive attitude has come greatly improved cursive writing! He's still progressing well with First Language Lessons. Enjoys reading independently, although I've been focusing more on having him stand upright and read aloud to me with proper diction. This is a challenge for him, but he's doing well. His latest read has been a book about King Tut from the library, complete with all kinds of photos, and drawings. He's quite taken with this topic right now.

Sophie: This little gal has just thrown herself full-swing into the idea of "school". I can't believe what a difference a few months makes at this age. Even though she just turned five a few wks ago, there is a definite change in her attention span, and she doesn't want to miss anything. Doesn't want Sizzy and Bubs to have school without her! I have worked with Sophie extensively this week on writing. She has learned cursive A's, U's, and E's so far. It is a real struggle for her to form the letter properly; she seems to achieve the look of the letter, but goes around "Robin Hood's Barn" to get there! So it has taken lots of methodical repetition to get these letters formed properly. There's lots of cheering and jigging when this is done! She continues to enjoy the FLL with Cameron, and has been using Math manipulatives leftover from K12 to help her understand groups of ones, tens, and hundreds. More work to be done there, but she's having fun with it. She also gets a big kick out of being the first to answer some of the Latin vocabulary quizzing that we do. It's very cute. Sophie says she wants to be a librarian when she grows up, which would be just fine with her Mama!

I'm just too tuckered out this week to do it, but I hope to start scanning in some of their work to have on record here.

We're thankful for another good week.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Very Important....

I had heard about a situation in California regarding the legality of homeschooling, and I had hoped that it was maybe hype or over-reactionary. Alas, this seems not to be the case. In effect, a court ruling has stated that it is unconstitutional for parents to educate their children at home. This is a very serious matter, and should be of grave concern for ALL parents. Not just homeschooling ones. If the government is able to interfere in this basic parental right, there may be no stopping what other areas in which they may reach their hand into our homes. And it does NOT belong there!

Tomorrow's (March 7th) Focus on the Family broadcast will address this topic further. Let's all be in prayer that a reversal will be achieved.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Weekly Progress Report

We've just ended our first week of schooling fully embracing the classical method, and using appropriate resources. It has been a WONDERFUL week! I have seen the light come back on in my children's eyes. I've watched them grasp material and be able to verbally "give it back" to me. We've spent so much more time together in a productive learning atmosphere. Not that the week was without it's challenges; however, the pros have outweighed the cons, and I feel like we have turned the corner to a new that is carrying us forward to our future. And that's a great feeling.

One thing I noticed that I was unprepared for, was the effect that this process would have on my throat/voice. I have done whole lot more reading/teaching aloud, requiring me to be speaking more. I noticed my voice becoming hoarse, like a presidential candidate or something! LOL! I was taken off guard by that little development.

In a more specific sense, I will give the following personalized reports:

Lauren: continued w/her Abeka Grammar, spelling lists, etc.; started SOTW, book two, since she had covered most of the material from book 1 during her K12 years; worked on narration, and did a little book report just for practice...I was very pleased with her work; continued w/her Abeka Math, which has been her weakest subject, but she had a very good week. Introduced Latin into our schoolday, all the kids excited about that.

Cameron: continued w/his Abeka Math, his strongest subject...he did great in his speed drills, etc.; worked on his cursive writing, his weakest subject, but he had a GREAT week w/it...I think just the overall more positive atmosphere improved everyone's abilities this week!; he gave great narrations back from the SOTW; seemed to really click w/the First Language Lessons style; also seemed to show interest in Latin.

Sophie: gave her first narrations this week, both dictating to me, and through art...did a GREAT job; worked on cursive A's and U' proud of her!; enjoyed SOTW w/Cameron; also sat through all of the F.L.L. w/Cameron...picked right up on the difference between Proper nouns and common nouns; overall a very good week for her as well.

We read the Bible together daily and spent time talking about the practical application of what we read. All of the children did daily independent reading, and I read to them from "the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." They were enthralled with it. After we finished it, we had family night on Friday night and watched the Motion Picture production of it. My heart turned over with pride, when Cameron commented during one scene.."that's not right! That's not how I pictured it at all!" I told him to just hang on to how he pictured it, and that would be just fine! I love it when the kids describe what they imagine things to look like. We also listened to one of my favorite recordings from my childhood, "Prokofieff's Peter and the Wolf". That was a highlight of the week for me.

I've been at this long enough to know that not all reports will be so "cheery", but am very thankful for the good week that we have had. God has been good, and is even allowing us some sunshine on this Saturday for which we are MOST thankful!

Monday, February 25, 2008

How We Arrived Here...

This inaugural post will serve as a summary of how we arrived to where we are in our homeschooling journey. I cannot tell this without giving at least some of the history. I've said before that the choice to homeschool was one that I came to quite reluctantly, and not without a lot of angst. I'm a product of, and a believer in, Christian education in the conventional sense. I guess I always assumed that Derek and I would be rearing our children in FL, and would place them in the school I grew up attending and where Derek later came as a high schooler. The thought of homeschooling never entered into my thoughts of parenting.

Then I became a parent. That changed everything. I looked at the world through entirely different lenses. Immediately recognized myself as not a "reactionary" but as a "preventer". Just because something was satisfactory for others, didn't necessarily mean that it was gonna fly with us in the raising of our children. This evidenced itself early, as I made the decision to exclusively breastfeed in a "land" where babies are given gravy on their first day home from the hospital. :)

As Kindergarten age approached for our oldest child, we began making plans to move back to FL, and already had her enrolled at the Christian Academy. Then my husband's transfer fell through. The move never materialized, and I began to panic about education. There are a couple of local private schools in our area. I scheduled meetings with the Principals of both, just weeks before fall classes were to begin. Immediately checked one off, mostly due to that "gut instinct" or perhaps gift of discernment, that manifested itself. The other one seemed to be acceptable, so we enrolled Lauren in K there. Overall, it was a good year. She enjoyed going to school, and was not a complainer. But this was K, and they were still doing half-days then, which was crucial to my own sanity. I had NEVER been away from my kids all day, and it was hard enough to give her up just till lunch time! The cost of a private school is high financially, however, and therefore I think it is incumbent upon them to provide a high standard of excellence. This was definitely lacking, and it was apparent to me almost non-stop. I began having an unrelenting stomach-ache as the year came to a close and I knew a decision needed to be made about first grade. I was tormented by the decision day and night. While my husband was sympathetic to my concerns, and understood many of them, it did not mess with his emotional well-being like it did mine. I could not get peace about which direction to go. A couple of people suggested homeschooling and I would sense a recoiling at the word. Finally, though, I took the challenge seriously to see what homeschooling would look like for us. My mission was simple: find something or someone to convince me to do this. I was ready and open to the suggestion now, but I wanted a positive look at the topic. I checked out many books, and was sorely disappointed in most of them. I did not like the attitude displayed by some authors. Almost an anti-school, and REALLY anti-teacher mentality. I had always been taught to respect teachers, so this was a hard thing to take. I sensed in others such a haughtiness or high-horse display, and I was afraid of ever becoming like that! Finally, though, I read two books that calmed me down, got me thinking about the POSITIVE aspects of this decision and not the negative ones. First one was "The Homeschool Journey" by Michael Card and his wife, whose name I can't recall right now! The other was "The Well-Trained Mind" by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer, which I found to be terribly inspiring and overwhelming all at once. I LOVED the system that was laid out there, and the respectful adult tones of the book. But I didn't have near the confidence or trust in myself to move forward with the book. But I never forgot the book, and recommended it to others many times! Then I heard of a program called K12, really almost by accident from a friend who had heard about it from a friend who had a friend who was actually using it. :) I called the K12 number and talked with a rep, found out more about the program, which coincidentally used the authors of the WTM book I just mentioned as advisers in their history program. It was a very structured program, which is offered as a charter school in some states free of charge. Very rich in classic literature, history, narration method, and language arts. We took the plunge and placed our order to use the program independently. For the first time in WEEKS, I had complete peace of mind and heart about the road we had chosen.

From this point on, I'll tell the story a little more quickly. Basically we used the program for two years, for Lauren's 1st and 2nd grade years, and for our son Cameron's K year. It was a little rigorous and many days some things went undone. Especially when I found myself in an unexpected and high-risk pregnancy the last year. Often just didn't have the necessary energy to do the program justice. My children never complained about "doing school" though; K12 made learning fun and interesting. Goals were clear and easy to achieve. I would sometimes hear or read the horror stories about homeschooling moms who just couldn't get their kids motivated to learn and whose kids cried all the time when they had to do the work. That was foreign in our house. I didn't know if my kids were exceptional, or what. Or maybe the program was just that good. Little did I know that I was about to find out.

As is wont to happen at the end of pregnancies.....babies are born! And our little surprise blessing made his appearance last Valentine's Day. I knew the demands of having a nursing newborn, as well as a preschooler and 2 elementary grade students would make schooling very demanding for us all; especially me. So I persuaded my family to attend a Materials Display of the Abeka DVD series. Granted, my kids were a little wary of this new kid on the block way to do school, but they agreed to try it. We placed that order, and I thought my problems were solved. I envisioned my happy children with their little DVD players learning all the concepts necessary to complete grade level, with happy smiles on the faces, inter-acting with the students on the screen, and easy-to-follow grading patterns for me. Speaking of me, I envisioned myself sitting in the rocking chair nursing the baby and reading to my four year old and birds chirping outside while God was in His heaven and all was right with the world. Okay, that's definitely overkill. I'm never that cheery about anything! LOL! But I think you get the picture. I never expected what happened. My kids HATED the DVD's. They hated everything about them. They hated their teachers. (Which of course, I frowned upon and never let them express any disrespect even if the teachers didn't know it. The principle was the same. Cameron felt insulted by his teacher's tone; thought she talked to him like a baby. And he already knew the stuff anyway. Lauren groaned and complained about school nearly every day after the first week. It was not good. Now I knew how all those poor shlumps were feeling!

I finally sent back the DVD's and began teaching the kids the material myself. That helped somewhat. I have to admit that it made me feel really good that first day when I sat down with them, and they beamed at me, "Mommy, I'm so glad that YOU'RE our teacher again!!" Vain, I know. But it was sweet, nonetheless.

This brings us almost current. The last few weeks have been spent doing some serious thinking and praying about the education of our children. I've had a lot of things going on in my mind about the topic.....what do I really desire MOST in the education of my children? what is truly IMPORTANT in the shaping of their lives? how crucial is College and College Preparation? And all sorts of other things. For at least the third time in the last several years, I again went and checked out The Well-Trained Mind from the library. By this point, I might still be inadequate in many ways, but I'm no longer a novice. This time as I read, I'm feeling just as inspired as ever, only this time I'm thinking, "you know what? I think I can DO THIS!" And the best part of it all was that this time, I asked Derek to at least just read the first two chapters. That's all, just two chapters. Read them, tell me what you think, tell me if you don't see our kids absolutely thriving in that kind of educational environment. He read it. He's hooked. Totally on board with this now. So on Saturday, we went to our local Christian bookstore, and Homeschool Headquarters, and we purchased most of the material necessary to embark on the journey of classical education. Since we've already invested in the Abeka materials, we're finishing out the year with some of them. (A note on expenses: people sometimes get caught up on the thought of the cost of homeschooling. And money is ALWAYS an issue in this house. But this is one area where perspective is everything for us. Since we don't even consider public education as a viable option in the least, we are left with two options. Private school or homeschooling. Hands down, you can provide your kids with a quality homeschool education for the fraction of private school cost. So I just always keep that perspective in mind. One perk about the Classical approach, we are finding it to be the least costly of all, since you can often make use of your local library. And the resources we do need are offered to us at a really good discount at our local Christian bookstore, due to Derek's position as Music and Youth Pastor. ) Anyway, I am really excited to feel that we are now doing this thing as a whole family, and sometimes you may even find Derek as the one posting reports and updates here.

I look forward to using this forum as a way to keep record of all the great things we're studying and learning. Yes, we're Classically Challenged, but we intend to spend the days and weeks ahead rising to meet that challenge!