Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Homeschooling 2011

I wrote earlier this summer about my dreams and plans for our homeschool room. Unless you have large enough quarters in your home to dedicate an entire room to schooling, one usually is left to transform part or parts of rooms as needed.

Someone told me once to write down every year what curriculum we use, if we like it or not, and plans for the upcoming year.

*Before chalkboard paint*

*After chalk paint*
I love it! I debated way too many hours between buying a big chalkboard or a dry erase board. John likes the texture of chalk and wanted to be able to practice handwriting and other eye exercises with chalk so I opted for this.

I use the small side for the different poems we learn or other tidbits of memory work we go over each week.

We all LOVE the maps. I got them at Barnes and Noble for $7.99 each and then had them laminated for half of our mortgage each, BUT I love it! John bought wood trim from Lowe's and cut and framed each map. I think the wood was around $30.00.

The alphabet letters. LOVE. I found these at Hobby Lobby or as Zellie calls it "Kenny Chesney." I don't know why? Hobby Lobby -v- Kenny Chesney. I see why now. They were regularly $3.99 but I waited for the 50% off sale so each letter was $1.99. I wanted something that looked nice, but portable in case we ever moved. I am not a big fan of primary colors and I didn't want a poster. It took me about 57 hours to hang them in a row and straight. Yikes!

*Before Picture Wall
*After picture wall with our Memory Work

*close up of our weekly Latin board
I purchased 8 blank frames and framed 12x12 scrapbook paper that looked like old cursive handwriting. I wanted the wall to look somewhat nice when the boards weren't written on. Did you know you can write on glass with dry erase markers? Awesome.

I have wanted this forever, but couldn't find it anywhere on the www. I went to our little homeschool book sale and a lady was selling it for $5.00. I hugged her, promised to leave her my pet chinchilla, and bought it. The pictures are beautiful. We usually talk about a different picture during lunch.

For the past couple years, we have been using Math-U-See. I love it. John loves it. The kids love it. My favorite thing about this program is that it teaches them the "WHY" of math. We build it, we write it, and we say it. I have learned so much. I am kind of embarrassed at what I didn't know. Why do we carry numbers to the next column anyway? Place value. What does that mean? My teachers in grade school and high school were all amazing, I just don't think I ever understood the why of math.

What can I say about this amazing, awesome, and brilliant program??? It is our first year doing Classical Conversations (CC). It is the first year Lincoln has offered the program also. I can hardly believe the brilliance of the program, but mostly we are so grateful for this opportunity. If you feel God is calling you to homeschool, please look into this program and see if your city has a community near you. It is such a gift to homeschoolers. Why? It is all laid out for you no matter what life situations you are currently in. Morning sickness, new baby, sick kids. We know what we need to go over and can go over it anywhere, anytime.

It is a program designed after the Classical model of Education. It was founded by a woman named Leigh Bortins. She and her husband were both rocket scientists. They homeschooled their kids and created this system. She truly thought of everything regarding the logistics of the program from time management, to childcare during lessons, to the tutors, to community life, and resources available to make it family friendly.

We go every Friday to meet with our community. It is not a drop off. The parents are required to stay. The kids are broken up into their classrooms, but all our kids are learning the same material. There are trained tutors who present the information each week and we then go home and teach it to our children. Our kids are required to present a 2-3 minute presentation (topic given to you) each week in front of their class. It has been adorable.

We cover history, science, Latin, math, English grammar, states and capitals, 166 points on the timeline starting with Creation, art, all the Presidents, and they do a science project every week. Like all classical models of education, the program rotates through a 3 cycle period. We are in Cycle 3 this year so next year we won't be learning states and capitals, but European countries.

My favorite thing about the whole program is the community. We have met so many great people and great children. Our director is an amazing woman of God. She cares so much and works very hard to make sure everyone is doing good. The tutors are mothers themselves who have sacrificed their time to teach. They have been trained very well and we are so grateful for all their efforts. After class is over, we eat lunch as a community.

*Even if you don't have a community in your area, you can still use the program at home. I have a friend who has been using it for 3 years just by herself with her littles and loves it.

*I would highly recommend attending the 3 day parent practicum they offer to further educate you. It really helped clear up any questions John and I had regarding the program.
*Below is the memory work we go over every day, several times a day.
Align Center
Dominic stays for the afternoon session called Essentials. The morning session is called Foundations. Once they reach 4th grade, we add on the Essentials program. John attends class with him. In the afternoon, he studies and learns Andrew Pudewa's Excellence in Writing, math drills, and more history and English grammar. It is very challenging and he works hard, but he will be well prepared for college. He writes a paper every week. The magnets and rings are helpful to keep track of everything we must do each day and week. If I have it in front of me, I will do it and go over it with them. When they get older, they will move onto the Challenge A & B programs which are very intense, but will continue to prepare them well for life and college. They will study logic and philosophy.

I have enjoyed using Handwriting without Tears program. It does a good job correcting a lot of the common problems regarding handwriting i.e. letter reversals, too large, too small letter formation. We usually introduce the letter, write it on the chalkboard or in a sand box, make the letter out of the wood pieces, and then work in our books.

This year in CC we are studying the United States so I go over with each child everyday the US map. It is laminated and we touch each capital and trace each state with a dry erase marker while saying the name. Zellie is hysterical especially when you hear her little gerbil voice say "Annapolis, Maryland."

We have always used "How to Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" for reading. With the CC program, Essentials covers everything regarding English Grammar, but you are responsible for a reading and English program before then. We go over English definitions, but we are still responsible for teaching them HOW to read, vocabulary, and spelling. To be honest, I've not quite found anything that I'm terribly fond of for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders. Still looking.
As for the actual reading and writing, the kids each have assigned reading books and books they have chosen to read. During nap time, Dominic and Lillie do 20 minutes of copy work and then read quietly for 30 minutes. I've created sheets to keep track of the books read by each child and once it is filled we go on a date of their choice. It really seems to motivate them.

Last year, we used All About Spelling. It was good, but this year I am going to try Spelling Power.

John takes care of the textual part of this department. He goes over a variety of topics with them each night be it catechism, commandments, faith and life, virtues, and morals. We don't use a specific text. Each of the kids received a Child's Bible this year to mark the beginning of the school year. We will read from this as a family. I love the pictures. Rose and Zellie attend Catechesis of the Good Shepherd once a week.

Dominic and Lillie attend art class once a week at the amazing Mrs. Hotovy's. They also attend a Geology class at the Montessori school once a week. Dominic, Lillie and Rose participated in STAGE this year which stands for Student Theatre and Godly Evangelization. The play was about Fatima. Dominic was Francisco and the girls were angels. Precious. Rose and Zellie attend Montessori school three days a week. I love the formation of Montessori for the soul. It is such a humanitarian way of looking at each child and their different interests. The three oldest take piano lessons from Mrs. Flamminio on Wednesday mornings in our home which works out great. She does a perfect job!

Monday, September 19, 2011

a few Thank You's

Thank you, Hilary! They say the best gift to your child is siblings. I've always agreed, but today the words rang very loud in my heart and ears. You call and ask to come over. Bounce into our house full of love and laughter, bring Halloween Oreo's for the kids, bring MY husband chicken you grilled for him so he will have healthy food to eat for lunch, clean and pick up the house, and then take all six children to the park for two hours commanding me to rest or enjoy the silence. You played tag with them, pushed people on swings, took little people up and down slides and afterwards take everybody to the gas station for Gatorade. Such a treat. You are a dear and I couldn't be more glad you have moved back. Thank you for being so wonderful. I love that the kids still wait by the window when they know you are coming over and shriek with excitement every time they see you. Thank you for helping. Thank you for loving my kids. You are a gift.

Thank you, Kristin for not only listening and caring, but so willingly watch our children whenever I ask so I can do whatever it is that I need to do. I am well aware you have your own children and family, but you are so wonderful to always act like it is no big deal. You know how much my children love you and have fun with Ehva, Chip, and Baldy. I know you have your own schedules and your people take naps, but you always act like it is no big deal. Thank you. Thank you. I will always help you in return. Just ask.

To my dear Johnny. Really. Where do I begin to thank you for your heroic and saintly efforts the past month. Although, last night takes the cake. I only write it as to remember and so our children can read how wonderful you are. The comedian Brian Regan does a hysterical act on going to the Emergency Room. One of our favorite lines is when the nurse asks him "What seems to be the problem?" He states, "It seems that everything on my inside wants to be on my outside." As you know, that has been my motto these days. You never complain. Ever. Your work load has tripled and you do it as if nothing is a big deal.
Well, last night we were sitting on the couch together and about 12:30 AM we hear someone vomiting in the hallway. We turn the corner to see Zellie covered and still projecting. You grabbed her and I run into her room to see where the damage is. Bad move. The smell and the site make me throw up everywhere. I then turn to run into our bathroom and don't make it and throw up everywhere in our bathroom also. I had to shut our bedroom door because the smell was overwhelming. You were left to clean up Zellie, her bed, the carpet, everything. You then slept on her floor so she wouldn't wake me up in the middle of the night. In the morning, I apologized to you and you said, "Lindsay, I wouldn't have let you help me. It was no big deal." I really am sorry to leave you with such mess. I came out this morning and still smelled remnants of last night so I threw up again. You are always so kind and compassionate. I appreciate you calling everytime you drive home to see what I need or what you can pick up. I really do notice all those things.

Thank you for all you are and do. I hope you know how grateful I am for such blessings in my life. I hope to return the favors to all you whenever I can. I love you.