Sunday, July 31, 2011

Our Curriculum choices for 2011/2012

Well, this is our first year of homeschooling and all of the curriculum has been purchased!  I started looking into curriculum last summer when I first made the decision to homeschool.  I think I made the final decision to go with Sonlight in the spring.  I was a little leery because it is literature based ... and my son is not a big reader.  But, I think that the subject matter is interesting enough that it may change his view on reading.  At least that is what I am praying will happen.  The idea of putting together my own curriculum terrified me so that was not an option!  We haven't started school yet (August 15th - yeah!!) but the Instructor's Guide seems easy to follow and very detailed.  Less work on my part!   So choosing Sonlight was pretty easy.  We are starting with their Core D+E (includes History, Geography, Bible, Readers and Read-Alouds) because B loves American history. And we also added Sonlights Science F - Health, Medicine and Human Anatomy (it looked really cool). 

Sonlight's Language Arts program coordinates with the reading in Core D+E so that was a no brainer.  We are also trying Sequential Spelling for ... you guessed it ... spelling curriculum.  For handwriting we are going to do Handwriting Without Tears.  No reason other than that is what they used in the public school.  I don't think it would be good to teach B a whole new way of writing cursive now!

Now the hard part ... it took me a long time to decide on math and art.  Ok, I haven't officially chosen the math curriculum yet.  I have two and I am going to try both.  My problem was one (Teachable Textbooks 5) seemed too easy.  He took the placement test and got all the problems right.  And the other curriculum (Singapore 5) seemed difficult.  We did a little bit of Singapore 4B this summer to prepare and he did well.  I am going to start with Singapore 5 and use the Teachable Textbooks as more of a review.  That is my thought right now?  It will probably change!  Love that about homeschooling!!  :-)

My hubby is going to help out and use the Money Matters for Teens Workbook with B.  No, he is not a teen yet, but it says it for ages 11-14 (and B is 10).  And my hubby is much better at the money stuff than I am.  I can hear it now ... B "How much money should you save?"  Me "As much as you can unless there is a really good sale at Ann Taylor Loft".  Yep, my hubby will be much better at the money matters workbook.

For Art we are doing the Worlds Greatest Artist's books with the great Unit Study that Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler put together.  If you're interested, I have the link on my curriculum tab.  It looks great!

P.E.  should be pretty easy.  B plays ice hockey (2 practices a week plus 1-2 games a weekend) ... Also, Sonlight's Science includes some health and nutrition as well.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I ordered some DVD's from Mike Huckabee's Learn Our History.  We start with one on 9/11 and then get another video each month.  Can't wait to check them out!!

So, that is pretty much how I came up with the curriculum for the year!  I have everything listed with links on my 2011/2012 curriculum tab.  Check it out!  Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Balloon Flip Flops

All summer we have seen girls at the pool and elsewhere with these cute flip flops.  My daughter, E, really wanted to make them.  We finally made it to JoAnns and found flip flops in her size on sale for $1!!  Add a bag of water balloons and you get these adorable summer shoes!  It was a little tough for my six year old to tie the knots really tight but she had a lot of fun ... and I helped her out.  I wish we would have done it earlier but she can still wear them for a month or two before it gets too cold.  Oh and notice the cute multi-colored toe nails.  E never wants the same color on her hands or feet.  We always use at least 5 different colors...  Happy summer!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Our Schoolroom - Not Back-to-School Blog Hop

This month I am participating in the Not Back-to-School Blog Hop over at Heart of the Matter.  This week the theme is school room.  I am so excited to take a peek into everyones schoolroom!!  I already posted about our schoolroom a couple of weeks ago.  It is our den/office that we converted into the schoolroom last spring.   So, here it is...

Here is the desk and computer for the kids.  There is a third desk to the left that I couldn't fit in the picture.  Right now it has a Cricut machine and laminator (love my laminator!!) on it but I will need to find other places for them by next year.  The rug is so cute but kind of a pain because it gets caught up in the chairs.  But it's too cute to remove, right!!  The map is a USA markable map that we got with our Sonlight curriculum.  It has a world map on the other side.  I like that we can use markers that came with it to draw on it throughout the year.  Everything (furniture and storage) is pretty much from IKEA.  I love IKEA!!!

This bookshelf has all of our books for the upcoming year.  Dry erase boards are to the right. And who doesn't want a Darth Vader cup to hold their pencils??  I am definitely going to need more storage next year (with all 3 kids) but this will do for now. 

The bean bag reading nook.  Our dog seems to think this is hers.  It is pretty funny to see a big long Bassett Hound laying on this bean bag.  She makes it work though! 

My desk.  Organized for now ... hopefully will stay that way.  Filing cabinets to keep all the paperwork.  There are two printers because one is the everyday printer and the other is a color/copier printer. 

There are still things that I need to get.  Mainly minor school supplies... pencils, composition books ... I am hoping that I will realize what I need concerning organization as the year goes on.  Less than three weeks until the first day!! :-)

** Update:  I think I have everything that I need to get started now.  Only one week away!!!

I am also linking up to HHH 300x300 Hip Homeschool Hop   8/9/11


Monday, July 25, 2011

When did childhood become a job?

When we were on our way back from a hockey tournament this weekend, my husband mentioned that some people take hockey (or any sport) too seriously.  It is like a job.  It got me thinking.  When did childhood become a job?  I remember being in elementary school.  It was fun.  We didn't have homework unless it was a special project (and the projects were usually interesting and fun).  We ran out the door right when we threw our backpacks down to play outside with friends.  We played on sport's teams... but they did not consume our whole life.  Are the children of today more educated than 30 years ago?  I don't think so.  Do more kids make it into professional sports than 30 years ago?  No.  Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves and our kids? 

Our kids play on a travel hockey team.  Does it take up free time?  Yes ... but we love it.  It doesn't matter what level team they play on.  They just want to play hockey (a game they love) with friends.  We don't want to move them from team to team based on which one will have the best record or highest level.  We just want them to have fun and make great childhood friends and memories. 

I am not saying that my kids don't work hard.  They work very hard at playing hockey but it is because they are passionate about it.  They love it.  That is what I pray will happen with homeschool.  It will take time but I pray that they will work hard at learning because they want to learn.  Not because it is a job and they have to do it.

By the way, the boys got second place at the tournament.  More importantly, they had a blast doing it.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Rare Moments

Not sure how this picture happened ... These two rarely get along, let alone get that close without fighting.  It only lasted for a short while (probably 30 seconds).  But, I have it!   Can't believe that I had the camera in hand when it happened!  This may never happen again!  Oh, happy day!!  :-)


Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's almost here!

I decided that we are going to start school on August 15th. Only one month away!!!  I am so excited I can hardly wait!  B on the other hand still thinks that school is a bad word.  If you mention it he runs and hides.  When I told him that we are going to start school two weeks before the public school ... he was a little apprehensive.  But after I explained the benefits of starting earlier he seemed to come around.  He said OK then ran and hid just in case I decided to start talking about school even more.   I don't know if his feelings about school will ever be excited, like mine.  But I know that they will get better.  Hopefully by the end of this year I will be able to mention school and not get the obligatory 'I hate school' response. 

However... me ... I am thrilled.  Sure I'm nervous about starting because it is new and unknown.  I know that it is going to difficult and there will be days I want to pull my hair out.  I know that there will be days when I wonder if I can really do this.  Nevertheless I know that it will all be SO worth it.   And that is why I am excited!! 


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reason #6 - Socialization

I know that it probably sounds odd to use socialization as a reason to homeschool.  Especially since it is the first thing that everyone is really worried about when you mention homeschooling.  But, give me a minute to explain... 

Socialization ... the first question ... the main concern of everyone ....  Are you worried that your kids won't have socialization???  How are they going to survive in the real world without the socialization of a school setting???  First of all, my son has been in public school for 5 years and is as shy as they come.  I can't imagine the comments that we would get if he had been homeschooled those 5 years!!  Some people are shy.  It is his personality.  And public school didn't change that. 

We live in a neighborhood with tons of kids.  Every day we have about 5 knocks on our door for the kids to go out and play.  The kids also have their hockey team and church activities.  They have plenty of social interaction with kids their age.  I want them to have social interaction with people of different ages and that can be done while homeschooled. 

There are also two different kinds of socialization - good and bad.  As the kids get older, the bad socialization gets stronger... and it seems to happen earlier and earlier.  No, I don't want to shelter my kids.  And this is not the main reason that we chose to homeschool.  But it is a definite benefit! And believe me they hear enough in the hockey locker room!!   

So, if you ask if I am concerned about my kids being socialized and I say no with a little *giggle*.  This is why.  I personally believe that they will be more well-rounded socially by being homeschooled.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Reason # 5 - Faith

Deuteronomy 6: 6-7  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

My children have worn crosses to school and talked about Christmas and God openly.  But, it seems that this is becoming a rarity.  The advantages of homeschooling in a Christian home are many.  We can have open discussions of any subject and not be afraid to include Christ.  We can learn ALL theories of how the world began and not just one.  We can learn about the faith of our forefathers and why they made decisions in history. 

I did not choose to homeschool my kids because I am a Christian and want to shelter them from any non-Christian influence.  But I don't like the idea of them being kept from any Christian influence for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week.  Just another benefit to homeschooling - freedom of religion!

Many blessings!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The newest family member!!  Our new guineau pig, Julee.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Reason # 4 - Freedom

Although this is not the main reason that we decided to homeschool it is definitely my favorite bonus - Freedom and flexibility. 

  • Freedom to go on vacations whenever we want. 
  • Freedom to choose our own curriculum and if we don't like it, change it. 
  • Freedom to go on field trips of our choosing (when, where and how many). 
  • Freedom of our own schedule. 
  • Freedom to go as fast or slow as we need.
I remember taking the kids out of school for educational trips.  We had to fill out the forms that say why the trip was educational.  And the forms had to be approved a month ahead of time.  Also, the trips would not be approved when the PSSA's were being given ...  Ah the freedom will be nice!

I took a lot of time researching curriculum over the past year.  I am really excited about everything that I chose.  I think that it will all be great but if it isn't ... I can change it.  Even if a teacher in traditional school doesn't  like a curriculum, it is not easily changed (if possible at all).  We will have the flexibility.

This is one of the many reasons that I  love the idea of homeschooling!!!

Many blessings!!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reason #3 - Academics

You can't get more individualized attention than in homeschool.  There are a lot of great teachers who care about their students.  But no one cares more for my children than I do.  Academically, traditional school was not working for B.  Sure, he got good grades...  always finished his homework on time... but it was a struggle.  It was a struggle to get the homework done in the short amount of time that we had after school before other activities.  It was a struggle to know if he was ready for a test the next day.  It was a struggle for me to help him with his homework (have you seen some of the crazy things they have kids do to solve math problems these days)!!

We started to do some light math over the summer.  I can tell you exactly what B knows.  I can look at a page and pick out the problems that he would get right and the problems that he would struggle with.  I know exactly when he gets something and we can move on.  I can tell when we need to spend more time on a subject.  We have the freedom to move at his pace. 

Just because B was doing well in school doesn't mean that it was working for him.  I want him to like learning.  I want him to know how to research a subject that interests him.  I want him to read something in a book ,realize that even textbooks where written by biased people, then look it up somewhere else to get more viewpoints and form his own opinion.  These are all things that I hope will come from homeschooling.  Thanks for listening!

Many blessings!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Reason #2 - Less Stress

I know what you're thinking.  How can being in charge of my kids education be less stress.  But I am talking about the family as a whole.  Rushing around frantically trying to get homework done before we have to run out the door was stressful ... for everyone.  I remember trying to figure out when we would have time to finish book reports (and we had weeks notice)!   

No I don't have an idealistic view of what homeschooling will be like.  I know that it will be hard.  I know that I am going to have a lot to do this year to make sure that B gets a great education.  But it's not stress.  It's exciting and I am looking forward to it! 

Many blessings!!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Reason #1 - Time

In no particular order ... One reason I choose to homeschool is time.   Long gone are the days of the Waltons and Little House on the Prairie!  Nowadays,  kids are in every activity possible by the age of 6.  The family dinner is practically obsolete and the only time spent with family is in the car.  We tried hard not to fall into the "my kid will only be successful as an adult if he/she does every sport & activity available at his/her age".  We stuck to one sport at a time which is still a lot when you have three kids.  But then came music lessons ... and even one sport has several practices a week plus games ... Then the boys (B and C) wanted to play travel hockey.  We can spend quality time together on the road, right?  We don't want to deny them the opportunity!   What if they could make the NHL like .000001% of the population??  Seriously though, travel hockey has been great and it has created a lot of family memories.  Especially the tournaments - hotel with an indoor pool and all your buddies - priceless!  We wouldn't change it.  And so far we have been able to have the boys on one team which helps immensely! 

But back to my reason ... I love the idea of fitting school into our day instead of fitting our day around school.  No more homework (well all the work is technically homework, but you know what I mean)!!  No more wasted time watching movies with substitutes, doing busywork before holidays, waiting for 24 kids to finish before you can move on, PSSA's, preparing for the PSSA's .... Just getting work done and then getting back to ... Life and family! :-)  They are here (in our house) for a short 18 years (ok, sometimes longer ...)and I love that I will get to spend most of that time with them. 

Many blessings!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

From the beginning ... How I made the decision to homeschool.

Whenever you do anything that is against the grain or not "normal", you are always going to be asked "why?".  I have been asked this question anytime that someone finds out that I am homeschooling.  I don't mind the question.  So far I haven't had any rude or mean comments (at least to my face).  ;-)  In fact, I love to talk about my reasons and what I am planning because I am really excited about it.  I thought that it would get old but it hasn't ... yet. 

My reasons start with my oldest, B, who really dislikes school.  He doesn't have any issues with bullies or friend.  In fact, his favorite part of school was recess and lunch because he was with his friends.  He just hates school.  And after the past two years of having to force him to do at least an hour of homework right when he gets off the bus ... we were both really frustrated! 

If you asked me 5 years ago about homeschooling I probably would have said that homeschoolers were weird unsocialized kids.  Then, a good friend of mine started homeschooling her kids.  I was really surprised because she wasn't weird at all!!!  :-)  When we were at their house I saw a story that her son had written on the fridge.  I couldn't believe that it was so neat and well written!

I started to think about homeschooling and talking to my husband about it.  Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband and he agreed that homeschooling could be great for our family.  We made the decision last summer but I needed a year to really prepare myself.  When we brought it up to B for the first time he was really excited.  That was the clincher! Now I am looking forward to having our own schedule.  There is something very freeing about not having to follow the traditional school schedule. 

I truly believe that God changed my heart about homeschooling 3 years ago.  Unfortunately, it took me a long time to listen... as usual! 

There are many more reasons why I am excited to homeschool.  Maybe I will write about them next time.  This is just the story of how I came to the not "normal" decision to homeschool....

Many blessings!!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Very new at this!

So, I had this brilliant idea that it would be fun to start a blog.  I am not a writer.  English has never been my strong subject and it has never been my dream to write ... So, here I am.  Good luck to me! 

This will be my first of hopefully many years of homeschooling my kids.  I am starting with my oldest, B, who will be in 5th grade.  My hope is to homeschool all three of my kids the next year (2012/2013).  I am looking forward to this new adventure and I hope to use this blog as a place to vent and to cheer! 

I am hoping that my posts will get longer and more interesting as I go along ... a girl can dream, right?

Many blessings!!