Jan 312011
 

Sheesh, to say that making these decisions was a hard thing is an understatement.  I started looking at options for next year back in October….Yes, I really like to plan ahead so I just have to tweak things as I go.  And I guess I’m what could be called a curriculum junkie.  I love getting curriculum catalogs in the mail and reading them from cover to cover for hours on end.  Yes, I really do that, just ask my husband 🙂

Anyway, after much research, deliberation and prayer on the matter, I believe I have finally put together what we will use next year.  Yes, this is a change in curriculum from what we are currently using.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Sonlight, and I love my consultant (Hi Heidi!), but for what the Bugs is doing academically I would have to tweak Core 1 too much for it to be cost effective (this is after skipping Core K and she isn’t emotionally ready for Core 2). After adding up what I wanted to do with it and what I would have to supplement it with, the total about made my eyes pop out of my head.  When I broached the cost with my husband, he couldn’t believe it either and told me to find a cheaper option.  Bugs isn’t your normal four-year-old.  She thinks and processes like a lot of the seven and eight-year-olds at church do. Most of her friends at church are older than she is because that is where she is operating at mentally.  Yes, it is scary from a parents’ perspective.  Also, with Sonlight, there were a few books in the Core 1 package that I really didn’t want. Not to get into a discussion of what I think is appropriate at the moment, but some just don’t quite fit into what I would deem necessary for a first grade level homeschool child.  We may return to Sonlight in a few years, but then we may not.  That is one of the glorious things I love about homeschooling.  We can tweak what we have to use it better for us, and change totally if the need arises.

Now, on to the decisions of what we are planning for next year….(like you were all holding your breath in anticipation for this…)

Again, as with the post about what we decided on for the Beans, I’ve just linked to the website product description that had the best picture and description of the item.  I am not affiliated with any of these sites so clicking on the hyper links won’t benefit me in any way (now, if you feel like you wish to send money for our curriculum fund, I sure won’t turn you down 😉 )

I had a hard time deciding on what I wanted for Bible.  It seems like a lot of the stuff out there is fluff for the low elementary and younger crowd. I don’t want repeated rehashings of Bible stories.  So, it was with great joy and excitement that I found Who is God and Can I Really Know Him? from Apologia Press. I’ve linked to CBD’s website for it because for some reason I can’t get a good view of Apologia’s website with my browser.  I really also want to get Leading Little Ones To God, The Jesus Storybook Bible and Mighty Acts of God.  I’ve also recently been given a head’s up on Herein Is Love and it looks really good too, and I wouldn’t mind owning it also…

For Language Arts, I’ve settled on Language Lessons.  I’m still trying to decide if I want Language Lessons for Little Ones 3 or Language Lessons for the Very Young 1.  Part of it will depend on where we are at in our phonics lessons around May. I plan on continuing with The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. We love it!  And for handwriting, I’ve chosen A Reason for Writing K. It teaches writing with the copying of Bible verses.  I really like that! And it is very economical too.

For history, I had to think, debate, decide, change my mind, change my mind again, again and again back and forth between two different products.  I settled on Mystery of History and the activity guide.  It is a providential view of world history that starts with creation and moves forward in history chronologically.  I really like that a lot.  It goes with the Classical Education I am wanting to give the girls.  You go through world history in four years with the Classical model and repeat it again twice, each time going more in depth.  I’m looking forward to it, but then I am kind of a history geek. I will be getting as many books to supplement MOH from the library.  I’ll be working on the book lists over the summer. And to go along with history, I figured that  we should add some geography and I found these two items: Beginning Geography and the Beginner’s World Atlas.  Geography isn’t a daily subject, and I’ll throw a lesson in once every week or two. But we may as well start on it.

For science, we’ve settled on using Apologia’s Exploring Creation with Astronomy.  Bugs has been begging for months and months to learn about the sun and the stars and the moon.  I’ve heard nothing but good about this program. I also will be getting the notebook to go along with it.  It looks like it sure will be a lot of fun.  Now, if someone has a telescope I could borrow or buy cheaply, let me know (or, you know, it would make a great birthday present for the Bugs for her birthday in September, or for both the girls for Christmas, hint, hint.)

Math is a fun subject (ok, not for me. I hated math in school. I much preferred language arts and I adored history). I think I want to use Horizons Math K. It looks like I can teach it, and it doesn’t require the use of video tapes (I have a math program, but it uses VHS tapes which we can’t use due to our lack of a VCR.  And for various reasons, we don’t want to invest in a VCR). And this program looks like it will fit the Bugs better anyway.

And finally Home Ec.  Yes, I plan on starting early on Home Ec with the girls. I want to use Little Keepers at Home to start. It looks pretty good and I like how it is separated into small projects.  Training to be future homemakers should start early in my opinion.

So, there you go. That’s what I’ve pretty much decided on for next year. If we do find something isn’t working for us, we will change and find something that does. If you have any suggestions on curriculum, feel free to share.  Or just tell us what you are planning in the comments or link to a blog post you’ve written..

I Think I’ve Finally Decided…

 Beans, Bible, curriculum, homeschooling  Comments Off on I Think I’ve Finally Decided…
Jan 272011
 

On what we want to do next year for homeschooling for the Beans.  Yes, I realize she turns three next month, but she’s showing signs of starting to be ready for a few things, and she is picking up a lot while sitting in on the Bug’s phonics lessons.  I mean A LOT!!!

This year has been fun with the Bugs as pretty much the primary student.  Beans has listened in and has picked up quite a bit, more than I thought she would, so next year she is getting some school of her own.  She doesn’t know it yet though 🙂  It has taken me quite a long while to decide what it is we are wanting to do, and I’ve been wavering on several things the last few months.  Things that I like, but question if it is truly the best choice for next year. So, since I’m still debating and comparing a few things, I’m just going to list what I’ve chosen for the Beans. Hopefully I will have solidified my history and Bible choices for the Bugs by next week.

For the Beans, I have chosen [I decided the easiest way to show what I’ve chosen is to hyperlink to a product description.  For ease of linking, I just used Timberdoodle‘s website.  They are a great resource and you can get 5% back on your order, so if they are bit higher priced, take into consideration their shipping is super cheap (4.95 for any sized order) and you’ll earn 5% back to spend on future purchases which would help even that out a bit.] I am not an affiliate so clicking or buying through these links won’t get me any income.

Mathematical Reasoning PK

Building Thinking Skills Beginning Both children will benefit from this (and it looks like fun!)

Language Lessons for Little Ones 1

and

I Can Trace Big Skills for Little Hands We used this book with the Bugs and we all loved it.

I also wanted Mind Blowing Science, and my wonderful MIL already bought it for us.  Doesn’t it look like a blast?

I want to get the Owl Puzzle and the Bug Puzzle, but we won’t be getting these unless we have the extra money.  Don’t they look like a hoot?  Ok, so I just realized the pun there in regards to a hoot and the owl puzzle.  Not intentional, but I’m not changing it.  I guess I’m just a punny person.

Beans can tag along with the Bugs for our history choices and phonics lessons and Bible curriculum.  She seems to be absorbing a lot from just hanging out with us while we do school, and they are close enough in age that we can incorporate quite a bit of things.  I’m just planning on getting the above items just for her.  She’s been jealous of school time with the Bugs recently to the point where it has been nearly impossible some days to conduct school with her trying to crawl into my lap between me, the Bugs and the books (yes, I tried spending time with her before school, after school, diverting her with another project, all to no avail.  I think she felt left out and wanted included with her sister.  After doing a few things with her, I think her comprehension is close to where her sister’s is, so I figure why not do as much together as we can. Hopefully they’ll get along, they’ll both enjoy it and I won’t lose any more of my depleted sanity level).

I am comparison shopping so if I can find any of these items at an incredible deal, you had better believe that’s where I will be getting them (if it is cheaper with shipping and the five percent back).  We will also be reading lots and lots and lots.  No, I don’t have a book list at the moment, but that is something I plan on working on probably after Easter and my crazy insane need to reorganize my house is over (and simplification of said house).

If you are looking for ideas, hope this helps you a bit..

Jan 202011
 

Wow, two weeks down of school basically this year. I can’t believe it.

Last wee, we were working on our memory verse, and Bugs insisted it was Aversions 6:2.  We were working on Ephesians 6:2….It took three days to get it straight finally. But man, it sure was funny!

The public school children had two snow days the start of last week. As homeschoolers, we didn’t take the snow days.  Even though on the second public school snow day (taken because it was so cold, not because the snow was blowing) I gave the Bugs the option of skipping school for the day and she insisted on doing it anyway. No big deal. She loves doing school.

So far, we are ahead in the main things. We are doing the Developing the Early Learner workbook series.  Over our Christmas break, we misplaced book 2 somehow…..So, since we were nearly done with it anyway, we went ahead and started book 3. We were scheduled in our curriculum to start it on Friday the 14th but went ahead and started the Monday before so she could do some workbook.  As of this writing, we are close to a fourth of the way through this 60 page workbook….Once the Bugs starts on a few pages, she insists on doing more. And more. And more. We are a bit ahead on phonics instruction too.  Though we’ve had a few days when we just couldn’t remember the sounds we knew the day before. On Friday of last week, Bugs came in and woke us parents up and we quizzed her on some sounds that words start with and what letter makes that sound and she got the letter C and it’s sound correct.  Later during school, she is shown the C flashcard and looks at me and pulls whatever sounds she wants to say and then informs me that since she told me and Hubbs this morning she didn’t need to do it again. We had quite the talk about doing our work, even if it is boring or seems strange to keep answering the same thing again and again (I could just imagine that one in a public school classroom.  The letters and phone calls I would be getting…)

Since we are doing Sonlight’s P 4/5 this year, the read alouds are pretty much on target.  For this core, the read alouds consist pretty much of different short stories, Mother Goose rhymes and things like that. Honestly, not a big deal if we end up having to skip a day or so and we can’t catch it back up.

Today I re-introduced handwriting.  My desire was to teach cursive first.  I have taught in schools before (private Christian schools) and the first one I taught at, we introduced cursive writing in kindergarten.  Those children had the most beautiful penmanship, and I agree with the cursive first philosophy.  The second school didn’t teach cursive until second grade, and since I taught a combined first and second classroom, I went ahead and let the first graders learn it too.  The first graders had better handwriting in cursive than my second graders did. I had tried a bit of cursive with the Bugs, but her fine motor skills, while still in the normal range, are on the slower end of normal.  Not a big deal since she spent her early developmental time working on her brains (believe me, this child is smart). So after failing before Christmas to try cursive with her, I went ahead and tried some print.  It was a good decision.  Today we did the capital A. After showing her three times, she started on her own, and let me tell you, she did beautifully! I was so surprised. She then went a bit A crazy and wrote A anywhere she could.  Even on some unlined paper and those were nicely done too. I guess that she was ready, and print is the way to go with this child.  I don’t know what we’ll be doing with the Beans yet though.  Guess it is too early to tell.  Though, she was sitting with us for handwriting time and decided she needed to try it too.  So I got her out some paper and showed her how to make her A. She made a few fairly nice Hs and then turned them into people. Then insisted I needed to draw dresses and shoes on them….Yeah, I can’t draw. She loved the pitiful result though.

This week we are also working on a review item for the TOS Crew.  Be looking for that review February 11th. I have another review item I’m needing to get downloaded but that has to wait until my husband is home from work so he can install it on the main CPU.  It runs Windows still and the laptop no longer does.  And for some strange reason, very few things are installable on a Linux based device like schooling helps.  It is rather annoying because we would love to give up using Windows totally but can’t because of a few things that aren’t compatible that we use. Oh well, in a perfect world…

Right now, the Beans is having massive jealousy issues with me and the Bugs and school.  I try and do something with her before we start school and she’ll have nothing to do with it.  So, then I start school and she’s trying to crawl into my lap between me, her sister and whatever book we are reading and will grab my face and try blocking my view of the book. If we are at the table working on handwriting or something, she’ll come in and try to stop me and force me to pay total attention to her.  I’ve tried diverting her attention elsewhere, tried spending time with just her before we start school, tried doing something for just us after school,tried giving her her own “school”  but nothing seems to be working.  Bugs works best in the morning not too long after breakfast, we’ve tried doing school after lunch while sister is having her “nap” time (she’s been starting to give up her nap recently) and that doesn’t work.  Bugs is wearing down a bit by then and her attention isn’t there anymore (have to admit, by that time in the day, I’m not wanting to do much either).  Do you deal with this too?  Please share what you do to curb the attention hogging behavior of your littles while trying to do school with the bigger ones.

So, that’s where we are at the moment.  Plugging along and doing quite well. How are you going? Feel free to share.  Or even tell of something really great you’ve found.  I’m still looking for options for next year! (but then, I love looking through curriculum, I’m kind of crazy like that…).

Dec 312010
 

Wow, this year has flown by for us!  Seems like yesterday we were celebrating New Years 2010.

Do you make resolutions? I didn’t last year. Or the year before.  I hated not being able to achieve them or being unrealistic. However, this year I have decided to make a few goals if you will. Goals sound so much better than resolutions, don’t you think?  Resolution can have such a negative feel to it, and always be about things you don’t want.  Like I resolve to not eat as much chocolate.  Sounds like a bummer, doesn’t it?  However, setting up goals to eat healthier sounds and feels like much more of an achievement.  Like in January, we will make the switch to home cooked breakfasts, and only have cold cereal as a special treat.  February we will…..  See, doesn’t that sound much more manageable and nice?

So, here are the goals for 2011.  Of course, I reserve the right to change and modify these goals as I see fit…..

1. I will actively seek a healthier lifestyle for me and my family.  To do this, I will change the ways we eat to healthier options, make even more food from scratch and slowly weed out the processed snacks, cold cereals and such.  I personally will strive to do some sort of exercise four or more times a week. (hopefully I can afford that exercise video I’m really wanting soon)

2. I will work on simplifying our life. To do this I will sort through our belongings and get rid of clutter, maintaining a better cleaning schedule, and putting together and using a homemaking/keeping binder. (if you use a binder system, what do you use? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? I’m starting one from scratch). We will work on having carved out family times to bond as a family. Also in the vein of simplification, we will work on getting totally out of debt this year except for our mortgage (which is very possible). We have a few payments left on the car and my student loans need finished (which should be taken care of most if not all with the tax return). Then, we shall begin saving for a larger vehicle to pay cash for and for home repairs that will be needed in the near future.

3. Homeschooling will be a bit more structured this semester.  Last semester ended up a bit more spontaneous than I like to be. A lot of learning did take place, but not the way I would have preferred…..I also will not plan a whole semester of lesson plans in one sitting.  I learned not to do that one last semester. I will take the time to plan every week or two so I can adapt to the changes in schedule I know will take place. I also will be more intentional with schooling the Beans.  She’s been picking up a lot on the fly, especially with phonics while I’m teaching the Bugs and she would probably benefit from the extra time and attention.

So, there are three goals for me.  Some easier to implement than others. And it will take time. I don’t expect to wake up in the morning and be fifty pounds thinner, all the cold cereal purged from our house (well, we aren’t even there at the moment) and have perfectly schooled children and a house totally in order. Changes like these come in baby steps. A little bit of progress and success at a time.  With diligence and prayer this is all attainable.

I want to say thank you to my readers for sticking with and reading this past year. I really appreciate it..

My Children are So Precious!

 Beans, Bugs, homeschooling  Comments Off on My Children are So Precious!
Nov 192010
 

No, I’m not biased now, am I?

The girls are in their room playing right now as I’m sitting here working on Lappy on the couch.  Bugs just told Beans, “Did you know that God made you?”  I’m beyond overjoyed to hear the Bugs teaching her little sister the way of faith as she knows it.  Beans did answer yes.  I guess they are listening when they are being taught!

Speaking of teaching, Bugs read the word “Spot” and the word “pop” with very little help in sounding them out this past week.  We’ve been using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but gave that up a month or so ago.  Bugs was horribly bored with it, and they have lines, dots, and then the symbols for the sounds each letter makes over the vowels, and when we would go and sound out the same word in a “real book” that was in the text, Bugs couldn’t do it.  Even after she had just done it in her text book.  It took me a week to realize that the reason she was having that kind of trouble was because in the “real books” the words didn’t have the symbols and stuff surrounding them. So, we’ve been just sounding out various words while we read and she seems to be progressing much faster and it seems a lot more natural.  I do have another phonics program picked out that we may be getting, I’m not sure yet (our finances don’t have any wiggle room for extras at the moment). We’ll see.  Maybe I’ll get it for her for Christmas.  Ha ha, somehow I don’t think she would like that very much.

Beans is coming along in her speech.  She is a lot clearer than she was, which is a relief. When she is tired or in a hurry you have the most trouble understanding her now.  She can say her sister’s name very clearly and yells for her to come here, I want to show you something, and loves to tell strangers at the store that she is two.  However, she is very advanced physically.  This child is a natural at judo. She’s been tagging along in the school lessons for the Bugs, so I know she is picking stuff up, but how much, I’m not totally sure.  Now to just get completely potty trained and I will consider her graduated from toddler-hood into preschool-hood.

The girls are great friends and typically play very well together.  They make up stories and act them out, they look out for each other and of course, they do have moments when I think they would like to strangle each other.  Bugs figured out how to tattle tale and Beans is already learning to do the same.  I’ve tried every tactic I can think of when the Bugs comes and tattles on her sister, from totally ignoring it, to just saying thank you and repeatedly explaining to her that the only time I want her to come and tell me what her sister is doing is when she is going to get hurt or is hurting someone else.  (yes, I’ve explained time and again what tattling is to her, but her response is always, “I was just telling you.”)  If you have any suggestions on how to deal with this, I would appreciate it. Or stories of how you survived this stage….

Homeschooling has taken more of the unschooling approach this fall.  We do the Developing the Early Learner workbooks when we feel like it, and then it is at least twenty pages straight (yes, Bugs gets on a kick and then we have to do it for at least an hour or so)  We got half-way through book two in two days. They are a great book series on helping develop visual perception, listening skills and early writing skills, I highly recommend them.  I have seen them at many great retailers online, so do some searching to find the best price.  We’ve been reading a lot, which is always a good thing, isn’t it?  We make a trip to the library at least once a week and we fill a huge bag full of books.  In fact, I was using a medium sized bag, but after the fourth week in a row trying to juggle it, the girls and the minimum of five books that didn’t fit in it, I upgraded to a larger bag.  We still have the overflow problems….I think I see the bag and in my mind it is like, oh, we have so much more room and then I over compensate. My husband just rolls his eyes at us with how it seems every time we end up with more books than I can comfortably carry in the bag.  Oh well, at least I have a terrific chiropractor!

I have a ton of writing to get done and scheduled, so this post must come to an end.  I’m trying to schedule posts to make it easier on myself.  It is either that or do housework this afternoon.  I think I would much rather write 🙂.