Monday, June 4, 2012

For now

This blog needs a facelift, and I need to find consistency.
There is a lot to talk about.

I'll be back.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Our Second Year: An Update

Oh my goodness, it's been almost a YEAR since I updated this blog!  Well, it wasn't for lack of material- just a difficulty nailing down uninterrupted quiet time to string all of my thoughts together and record them.  Moms, you know how it is.

I am actually finishing the end of my second year of homeschooling (woohoo!), which I can confidently say has gone a lot smoother than last year.  However, while Bella is slowly becoming a more independent learner in third grade, I have attempted to also include Brody, my four-year-old, on the two days he isn't enrolled in a part-time private preschool.  In addition to juggling two very different stages of learning, I have my little toddler, Boone, providing background noises and many reasons to divert our attention from schoolwork.

It's a good thing women are generally good multi-taskers.  Really.  Or maybe I've acquired that skill out of necessity.

We have to choose our subjects on a day-to-day basis, depending on how happy the baby is, or when the preschooler is not sharing his repertoire of sound effects.  We have at least two read-alouds assigned every day, but we rarely get to both.  Thankfully, I believe that Bella is getting so much more detailed history with our curriculum (Sonlight) than she would be getting at public school anyway.  So even though, we're behind on the given schedule in those, I don't feel very guilty.  Plus, it gives us plenty of summer reading to do!

Since we have about 30 days left of the school year, and I am suffering from a major case of spring fever, I have set strict goals for us to complete each week.  I want us to finish WELL.

As we enter the homestretch, I'm encouraged to see what we have accomplished this year- starting with the books we've read (and we're not finished yet!):

A Lion to Guard Us
Pedro's Journal
Walk the World's Rim
North American Indians
Pocahontas and the Strangers
The Sign of the Beaver
Incans, Aztecs, & Mayans
Squanto, Friend of the Pilgrims
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
The Thanksgiving Story
The Courage of Sarah Noble
The Matchlock Gun
The Skippack School
Meet George Washington
Phoebe the Spy
The Cabin Faced West

Obviously, our history lessons and readers are all inter-connected, so Bella is getting well-rounded idea of the time periods and subjects.  She loves to read!  And I learn while we discuss these books, as well.

Now, happy reading, ya'll.  Only six more weeks until summer (We got this)!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

What happens at home

When you go to school at home:
  • You wake up after the school bus picks the neighborhood kids up and eat an unrushed breakfast.
  • You may get dressed for the day or stay in your pajamas- it kind of depends on whether or not you're going to see anybody.
  • You spend a couple of hours learning new spelling words, reading, answering questions, writing, practicing math skills, hearing history stories, and performing science experiments.
  • You may or not have to run errands with mom or tag along to doctor appointments.
  • You eat lunch with the family- sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes on the back porch, sometimes at a friend's house, sometimes at a restaurant, and sometimes at the park- then take another hour to rest.
  • You visit Mom's friends sometimes and make ones of your own.
  • You take mini-vacations when family comes into town.
  • You wait for your neighborhood friends to come home from school.
  • You play, and sometimes argue- with your brother.
  • You play games on the computer.
  • You sit with your brother at the library story time, and play along too.
  • You clean your room, pick up the playroom, feed the dog, and fetch diapers.
  • You wait for Mom to feed the baby, change the baby, wash the dishes, do the laundry, talk on the phone, pack the car, and fix the lunch.
  • You daydream and draw pictures and make up stories.
  • You have been dubbed the assistant mommy, because you help Mom with almost everything.
We don't do a lot of sitting.  We do a lot of life.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dueling poems

Bella and I read poems about insects today: caterpillars, bees, wasps...

Then we completed an activity where we're given the first line of a poem and must come up with the second.  We both tried it and shared our results with each other.  Bella's rhymes were an attempt to be funny, of course :-)

Here are our insect poems:

Beetles like to munch and munch.
They even like Captain Crunch.

Beetles like to munch and munch.
...The leaves of roses they eat for lunch.


Ants work hard all through the day.
They even like to lay on the bay.

Ants work hard all through the day.
...For their play is work and work is play.

Crickets chirp in the dark of the night.
They might even fight at the same old night.

Crickets chirp in the dark of the night.
...Music sounds sweeter in the moonlight.

Grasshopper up in the air so high!
I will miss you my little guy.

Grasshopper up in the air so high!
...Down again, then up.  Jump, then fly.

If this was a contest for the silliest poet, the second grader certainly wins the prize!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Art History

I don't know if I've shared this before, but our favorite subject right now is History.  We recently finished with the ancient Roman Empire and are onto the Byzantine.  When you were in 2nd grade, did you go there?  My daughter is learning about religions, art, and world events through this current curriculum.  While I am still thinking about switching after this year, we will miss this subject.  I'll have to make up for it somehow.
For example, Bella learned about the Hagia Sophia and the beautiful mosaics that decorate it's interior walls.  So we decided to make our own mosaics after we finished this lesson.  The kids loved it!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Burning Energy to Gain Focus

I've been slowly reading through this book.  In doing so, I've discovered a common cure for the "crazies" when it comes to achieving better focus on tasks- exercise.  This may not come as a surprise for many, but my daughter isn't like a lot of girls who could sit at home all day and paint.  A sports activity each week may not be enough for her.  She's jumping off couches and stairs, cartwheeling in the middle of the family room, and expressively waving her arms in conversation at the dinner table.  

In other words, she has a LOT of energy to burn!

Since we try to do the most of our schooling in the mornings, I've been working on a plan to get her in a happy place before she hits the frustration point and quits.  Yoga and karate have been two methods I've heard that help kids with extra energy or attention deficits.  So I went to the library this week and picked up some children's dvds.

Both Bella & Brody got so into it!

We'll see if my experiment works in the weeks ahead...

The Learning Curve

As with most new ventures, there's a period of time that it takes for us to figure things out and adjust.  So it's been over these past four months with homeschooling.  Some days I feel so certain of what I'm accomplishing, and yet there are a lot of moments in between when I second-guess my decisions, the curriculum, our schedule, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

For now, I'm hanging in there.  I'm trying out new methods to keep us on task and to keep Bella's attention.

One of the more interesting, difficult, and rewarding aspect of homeschooling has been what I'm learning about my daughter.  I can see the conversations and struggles directing her to a more mature role in her education.

Bella works best when there are absolutely no distractions, but she's having to learn that that isn't always possible.  It's ideal.  However, there are doorbells, little brothers, and her own daydreaming. I've been pushing her to get as many lessons done in the morning to give her momentum.  By lunchtime, she's spacing out, so I call it a day. 

The hard thing for me, is that I also have to stick to this routine.  With doctor's appointments, phone calls, housework, and the like, it's so easy for me to get distracted and blow off a lesson.  But I'm also learning here.  It's imperative that I stick to it!  We're so much happier when we can see all we've completed that day!

In addition, I'm still figuring out what motivates Bella.  What incentives work for her?  This week, we decided to do 15 lessons, so she can get a pedicure with Mommy.  So far, it's working!  Ten lessons down, and we have two more days to complete them.  But I can't do this every week.  I'll have to think about some less pricey rewards for her putting her nose to the grindstone :-)  She is really into girl time lately, so it shouldn't be too hard.  Maybe a trip to get frozen yogurt or pick out a new book at Barnes & Noble?