Saturday, July 23, 2011

Homeschool Journal: Week 2

In my life this week..
a whole lot of nothingness. The girls are staying with Nana and Granddaddy (my parents) in Virginia for 2 weeks. This is the longest they have been away from home. We have 5 more days until we go to Va to meet them...I'm counting down! Let me just say I am BORED!! What did I do with myself prior to having children??

In our homeschool this week..
again, nothing. No little ones at home means no homeschooling taking place. This is the beauty of home education. The girls get the opportunity to spend two weeks with their grandparents..they take it. They are learning/experiencing more there than I could teach in a month. We will just add in a couple extra days here and there to make up the time.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share...
as I mentioned previously, learning happens in all sorts of ways. We need to get away from the thinking that schooling only happens during our scheduled homeschooling hours.

Things I'm working on..
I've started making the girls some fall pillowcase dresses. This is the latest. It's a thin corduroy material. I plan to match it with brown leggings and a white shirt underneath.

I'm grateful for...
the fact that my children have grandparents who are so involved in their lives.

I'm praying for...
a speedy, healthy delivery for one of my very best friends. Baby Davis you are loved so much already and need to come on out and meet everyone!

A photo/video/quote to share...
"We destroy the love of learning in children, which is so strong when they are small, by encouraging and compelling them to work for petty rewards–gold stars, or papers marked 100 and tacked to the wall, or A’s on report cards, or honor rolls, or dean’s lists or Phi Beta Kappa keys–in short, for the ignoble satisfaction of feeling that they are better than someone else."-John Holt

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Homeschool Journal- Week 1

I really love this idea for doing weekly updates. I sporadically used it last year, but plan on keeping with it this year. In my life this week...
I've been really focusing on starting this homeschool year off right. As I've blogged in previous posts, I have been getting up before the girls and having my quiet time. This really improves my day.

In our homeschool this week...
First grade is officially under way! This week has been a lot of review, especially in Math and Phonics. We've started spelling this year and had our first spelling test yesterday. I'm so impressed at how well the girls' handwriting has improved since mid-kindergarten. In science we've begun learning about the scientific method and did our first experiment. Will popping corn and feed corn both pop when heated? The conclusion- popping corn will pop but feed corn will not pop when heated. The girls enjoyed the project and we only overheated one microwave in the process. ;) In Social Studies we've begun our year-long unit on the study of people/countries/cultures/religions. We started out by learning the 7 continents (see video below) and then jumped straight into our first country: the U.S.A. We've had a lot of fun and are so excited about this year!

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
This week we made a trip to Myrtle Beach for family photos on the beach. They turned out awesome! We also found out yesterday that my mom and grandmother will be coming down today to spend a few days with us! Surprises are so much fun! My favorite thing this week was...
Getting back into the swing of school! I love love love teaching my children at home. It fills me with so much joy!

I'm reading...
Dancing with My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy by Sally Clarkson

I'm grateful for...
a brief reprieve from the heat wave that we've been having. Thank you God for mid-eighties and low humidity.

I'm praying for...
for my fellow homeschool families who have started back to school this week. May we all open our eyes and hearts to the paths God has chosen for us.

A photo/video/link to share...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Noticing Change...already??

It's only our third day of our second year of homeschooling and it's probably too soon to make any real observations, but can I just say that I can already see some of the changes I've been praying about taking place.

I know what you're thinking. It's only the third day, just wait until the novelty wears off, then she'll be singing a different tune. And maybe you're right, but for right now I'm going to soak it all in.

What kind of changes am I noticing? Most of them involve me. First of all, once again I'm up before the children. (No, I can't say that about yesterday. But hey- 2 out 3 isn't bad!). Getting out of bed when the alarm goes off at 0630 is oh. so. hard. But I love the quiet time in the morning.
Second-the light bulb has come on in respect to our daily schedule. Guess what the solution was? Throw it out the window. I'm not talking about our weekly schedule. We have to school 4 days a week in order to meet our yearly requirements. I'm talking about a daily schedule...start school precisely at 0800, Math until 0900, Phonics until 1000, Lunch at 1200, finish school day at 1400. get the idea. That stuff is for the birds! Now if you follow a schedule like that and it works for you and your family then by all means keep doing it. But for us it was more than a hinderance. We begin school when the girls are up, fed and clothed. We start with a subject of their choosing and continue until we're finished or until they need a break. Some days take longer than others and that's okay. This is a BIG change for us. Our first year of homeschooling, I tried so desperately to stick to a schedule and most of the time it didn't work out and I ended up frustrated.
The third change I've noticed is my willingness to discontinue a curriculum that is not working for us. Wait a minute- it's only day 3. How do you know it's not working? Mother's intuition? I don't know. What I do know is that my children are not ready for the Language Arts curriculum I bought. The very first lesson was asking them to copy a sentence and fix the capitalization errors. The problem is the sentences were way above their reading level. If they can't read what they're writing, what is the point? I have no doubt they will be ready for it by Christmas, so we'll just pick it back up then. Besides their phonics and reading curriculum covers the same information at a level they can understand. But you see last year I *never* would've humbled myself enough to abruptly stop a curriculum, even if it wasn't working. I had the I paid for it, we're going to use it and like it mindset. I'm so surprised we've even made it to a second year! That's living proof of God's grace!

What's brought about these changes? Is it because I have one year under my belt and I feel more confident? Is it because I'm adopting more of a homeschooling spirit? Or is it my prayers that God would open my eyes and my heart to do things differently this year? I like to think it's a combination of all three.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Time 4 Learning *review*

We were recently fortunate enough to receive a one-month free trial of Time4Learning. If you are unfamiliar with Time4Learning, I suggest you visit their website here.

This is my review:

This program is not just for homeschoolers. It is a great supplement for any student grades pre-K through 8th grade. I came across T4L while I was researching curriculum for our first grade year. I read mixed reviews of whether or not it could be used as a complete homeschool curriculum. After our trial, I can see how some would use it as a complete curriculum, but for us I do not feel that it was comprehensive enough. I am partial to a pencil/paper curriculum. I do feel like T4L is a great resource to solidify their learning. The program is set up where the child completes lessons for 15 minutes and then is allowed to play on the virtual playground for 15 minutes. After their 15 minutes of play is over, they must do another 15 minutes of lessons before being allowed on the playground again. My children loved this!! 15 minutes was the perfect length of time. The subjects covered are Math, Language Arts/Phonics, and Science. My only complaint about that is the child gets to choose the subject. My children love math and science, but see phonics as boring, so they never wanted to choose phonics. I wish the program automatically selected the subject for them for each lesson.

There are so many awesome features to T4L. 30 days was not nearly a long enough period for us to explore the program in it's entirety. There are parents features where you can track your child's progress, print progress reports, view lesson plans, and see suggested outside material. There is also a parents forum where you can connect with other parents whose children are using T4L. I will be completely honest in telling you that I didn't access nearly enough of these features. The hectic schedule of summer caught up with me and now that the trial is over I wish I would've looked around a bit more.

If your children enjoy playing on the computer and you are looking for something to supplement their education, I highly recommend Time 4 Learning! They are having a great special this month (July) of $4.99 per child with no limit of the number of children. Try it out! You can cancel at any time, but if you're like my family at the end of the month you're going to keep right on going!

Monday, July 11, 2011

First Day

Our first day of first grade is complete!!

My day started bright and early at 6:30 a.m.- Yes, 6:30 is very early for me. I really wanted to make it a point to wake up before the girls this year. Having a little bit of quiet time; reading my daily devotion/Bible, drinking my coffee in peace,and a little bit of computer time always leads to a better day for me.

By the time the girls woke up, I was refreshed and energized for the day. I even had apple cinnamon mini-muffins baking. Both girls woke up in a good moods and the day started very pleasantly. They were so ready to start back to school.

We were working on school work by 0830. I didn't take the advice of many veteran homeschoolers and slowly work our way into the year. We jumped in with both feet and yes, I'll admit, we really had to struggle to stay on task at times. 7 subjects on the first day back from a lengthy break is r.o.u.g.h. But we survived. For the most part everyone enjoyed themselves. Shaylie became pretty bored with phonics because it was very basic to her. Both of them noticed some big differences from Kindergarten. Nevaeh noticed the day was significantly longer. We were typically done with a Kindergarten day in an hour. Today took us three hours. Shaylie noticed the work was a little more difficult than K; especially Language Arts. We jumped right into capitalization- no review at all. I was impressed though. They both did remarkably well.

So, day one is finished. No tears (from students or teachers), no loss of patience, only a few "pay attention please"s, and one burned up microwave (popcorn/field corn science experiement)..I would say makes for a pretty good day!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Prayer For First Grade

Heavenly Father,

Today I come to you as we are preparing to begin our second year of homeschooling with a grateful heart. Thank you so much for these sweet little girls you've given to me. Thank you for their precious hearts and their eager minds. Please give me the wisdom and patience to constantly feed their enthusiasm and spirits.

Lord I thank you for the opportunity to educate our children in the comfort of our own home. Thank you for this land that gives us the freedom to be the parents You have called us to be.

I pray that each moment in our home will bring glory to You. I pray that you will direct our lessons and my teaching to fit Your will. I pray that you will open my eyes and my heart to know when to step away from the lesson plans and educate the girls in informal ways. Please help me to remember that learning happens every minute of every day, not just while we are "doing school".

God I pray that our first grade year will be filled with learning, fun times, and love. I pray that Shaylie and Nevaeh will not only learn about phonics, math, science and history...but that they will learn to be the wonderful little girls You have created them to be.

I pray that each day I will rely on your strength, and that when tough days arise that I will know that Your mercies are renewed every morning. I pray that I will always remember that educating my awesome little people is what You have created me to do, and that I will live each day with a smile on my face because of the joy in my heart.

In the incredible name of Jesus I pray,


Thursday, July 7, 2011

End of "summer break"

The past week has been spent enjoying our last week on "summer break", even though we school year-round, we've were still able to take a few weeks off.

To recap the past week-

Last Thursday and Friday we spent at Myrtle Beach, enjoying the sun, sand, waves and of course a trip to Margaritaville (we LOVE that place and rarely make a trip to MB without eating there!) The girls also received money in the mail from Nana and Granddaddy and were able to make their own teddy bears at Build-A-Bear workshop!

I was on call Saturday-Monday, but we were still able to have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend! We attended our town's annual Independence Day celebration and saw an awesome fireworks show on Saturday evening.

Sunday kicked off Superheroes unit for our kids program at church and the all the kids dressed up like superheroes. Adorable. Shaylie and Nevaeh designed their own costumes and with the help of their Great Grandma Jean, the designs came to life! Super Shaylie and Super Nevaeh were on patrol.

Monday was spent at my in-laws house for a cook-out. Ate way toooo much food..but enjoyed every single bite of it! :)

Bright and early Tuesday morning we left for a mini-vacation to Water Country USA and Busch Gardens. We met up with some friends from Greenville at Water Country and had a great time. Shaylie and Nevaeh love playing with Annagrace, Madalyn and Layla. We definitely need to make plans to hang out more often.
Nevaeh, Shaylie and Madalyn

Being silly with Daddy!

Nevaeh is our little daredevil. She loves rides. The faster the better. Shaylie not so much. We went to a water park at Myrtle Beach about a month ago and the child did not ride ANYTHING. She wouldn't even ride the carousel at Broadway at the Beach, so we didn't have high expectations for this trip. As usual though, children are unpredictable. She rode almost every ride she was tall enough to ride at Water Country...and guess what?! She loved it. We were in shock. Busch Gardens was a little bit of a different story. She rode the kiddie rides, but wouldn't brave the Grover roller coaster (also a child's ride). But hey- we were happy just to have her ride anything! We convinced her to ride Escape from Pompeii, not the best idea. She hated it and even asked me to "throw her out of the boat" at one point. LOL. When the ride ended, she made me promise her that she would never have go on that ride again.

We've had an awesome week and are now gearing up for first grade which starts next Monday. I'm not sure who is more excited the girls or me!