Category Archives: School
Working through math problems in the sunshine.
Finishing up a test.
Spontaneous exploration of patterns.
Feasting on books.
Surrounded by love.
Oh Adelaide, my fickle little princess.
I think she is finally starting to settle down after all of the changes we threw at her. (Move, baby brother, potty training…) We were afraid that she had turned feral for awhile there, but it turns out there is quite a bit of sweetness under all that sass.
She is constantly busying herself with different activities throughout the house. To find her, I just follow the mess. Her favorite activities right now are reading books, playing babies, building forts with Henry, and drawing pictures.
A few weeks ago at church, Ben drew her a little kitty and then she drew her own kitty with whiskers and everything.
A few days ago, she drew a self-portrait and then asked me to add the shirt, skirt, and limbs. She was adamant about me adding fingers and then she was so proud that she had added a neck all by herself.
And just look at these Hs! She did this whole page all by herself. I can tell she must be watching Henry doing his schoolwork. I decided that I’d better show her how to do an A for Adelaide, but she decided it would be more fun to try and make other letters. (She strongly dislikes anything that is my idea.) So now she will carefully draw different shapes and ask me what letters they are. I think by next year she will definitely be ready to do some school activities with the big kids.
Our Molly is so full of life and energy and drama! She put on clothes of mourning today to express her distress at finding that some of her favorite clothes were ruined when a ball point pen went through the wash.
She is a master of costumes and makeup right now. Today she used glitter to add fairy freckles that turned into fairy pimples and then fairy measles. This was followed by purple eye shadow, a black beauty mark, sunglasses and tons of jewelry.
I can’t talk about Molly without mentioning her love of reading. This is her stack from our visit to the library tonight. It’s supposed to last her a week though she is worried that she didn’t pick up enough.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we’ve made the decision to send Molly to public school next year. It’s been a tough road to this decision and one that all of us (Ben, Molly and me) have given a lot of thought. She’s excited and we’re excited for her too. I think she is going to have a lot of fun. I’m glad that we’ve homeschooled her these last two years. She’s caught up in math and we’ve had a lot of fun. However Molly is ready to venture out and try some new things. She’ll be in 6th grade next year and she’s wanting to have more peer interaction than our homeschooling has provided. She has a friend right across the street who is in the same grade which will be nice.
I hope that things go beautifully for Molly next year. She still gets one more year of elementary school before she has to deal with junior high. If she wants she can always give homeschooling another shot.
I’m still planning on homeschooling William and Henry. They are doing well and having fun. I’m going to look for a co-op to join next year to add some variety to our schedule which should be fun. It will be nice to try something new. Next year I’m going to start some little lessons with Adelaide as well. She is more than eager to be included with the big kids during school time.
Our yard came equipped with a myriad of bird paraphernalia. There are bird houses and feeders galore. William has been begging me to buy some seed for the feeders and yesterday the stars aligned and not only did I find myself next to a pet store, but I actually remembered to buy the promised bird seed. We loaded up two of the feeders that sit just outside our school room window in hopes of luring in a few birds. This morning the kids squealed with joy when they saw that the birds had discovered the seeds.
William, Henry and Adelaide watched the birds coming and going for quite some time. We used our bird books to identify as many of them as we could. It was so much fun and we were lucky because within a few short hours we were hit with snow, thunder, lightening and hail. Welcome back spring. Jeesh.
(Can you tell who the sponsor of William’s baseball team is?)
Chances are, if I’ve had a conversation with you face-to-face sometime in the last few weeks, you’ve heard me complain about homeschooling. Homeschooling is awesome, except for when it’s not. I don’t know if we’ve hit a bit of a spring burn-out or if it’s still the adjustment of having a new baby or whatever, but it’s been a bit of a rough go.
Usually when people find out that I homeschool they say something along the lines of “I don’t know how you do it!” and usually I just shrug and point out that it’s really not all that scary. Lately my reply has been more along the lines of, “I DON’T KNOW.” We had a particularly low day last week that had me threatening to throw everyone into the car and drive over to the elementary school to drop the offending student off. (Adelaide was super disappointed that we ended up staying home.)
However, before I throw in the towel and ship everyone off to school, I’m trying to make a few changes. We’ve changed things up a bit and I’m trying to cut out unnecessary work. Soccer and baseball are starting soon which will help and there is also a local co-op that I want to check out.
I feel confident with the progress that my kids are making academically. I think they have strong skills in the core subjects and have a lot of cool extras (like Latin and French and typing) too. I feel like the house is running smoothly for the most part and is staying relatively clean. We’re eating home-cooked meals and entertaining friends more often than we ever have before.
There is only one thing I want to change: I want to stop being the bad guy. If someone doesn’t like their writing assignment or doesn’t understand a new math concept or has to interrupt Lego play for school, guess who feels the wrath? Me. It’s wearing me down. I have a few ideas up my sleeve and a few parenting books on my reading list in hopes of making a break through.
And if not?
There may be one or more children attending the local elementary school next year.
I’ve been a little lax on including art in our homeschool curriculum this year, but I’ve decided that it’s okay because we do art all the time. The kids make each other homemade gifts for all holidays and birthdays and we always have art supplies out and at the ready. But today? Today we did art. We painted black trees (with acrylic paint) onto the watercolor backgrounds we had made a few weeks ago. We had painted the backgrounds and then sprinkled them with salt to create a snowy effect. Coarse salt is a must if you want to give it a shot.
The kids have to memorize little poems throughout the year as a part of their grammar lessons. William is learning about direct quotations right now and this is the poem that he is memorizing to go along with the lesson.
The Little Bird
Mother Goose rhyme
Once I saw a little bird
Come hop, hop, hop;
So I cried, “Little bird,
Will you stop, stop, stop?”
And was going to the window
To say, “How do you do?”
But he shook his little tail,
And far away he flew.
It’s a short little poem that he was able to memorize quickly. The catch is that he is supposed to work on using expression when he recites the poem, specifically using a slightly different voice for the direct quotations. I explained that you just need to use a little emphasize and that it doesn’t need to be anything major.
However every time he recites the poem he busts out an English accent for the quotations. What? Maybe because we are studying Feudalism and the first English Kings in History? I don’t know that he’s ever even heard an English accent. Surely, that’s not how I sound…
I know I should probably correct him, but it is hilarious.
We’ve hit the school books hard this week and it’s been great. It’s nice to get back to a good solid routine after months of pregnancy, baby birthing, house buying and holiday enjoying. We’ve been doing a bit of catch up to get us back on schedule.
We made some fun viking boats to go with our history lesson this week. I love our history books!
I can’t remember if I’ve posted this before, but this is how I keep track of the work we do each week. I note the chapter, pages, activities for each subject as we move through the day and any work gets put into a folder for each child. At the end of the week I staple the summary sheet to all the completed work for the week and file it away. I used Excel to make the weekly summary sheet.
In addition, about half way through last year I realized that I wanted some sort of planner for the year as a whole. Using Excel again, I made another summary sheet. This one lists all the curriculum choices we are using and breaks down the chapters over the 9 months of the school year. I went lighter in November and December, knowing that they would be big months for us and then balanced everything out so we’d be done in June. At the end of each month I mark whether we have met the goal and what page/chapter we actually finished on. Then I highlight in yellow any subjects that we are behind in. Highlighting doesn’t necessarily indicate an area for concern, it’s just a way for me to make sure that no subjects get neglected over the course of a year. Sometimes we end up finishing a subject way early (like handwriting which we just finished today) and others may carry over into next year. In either case, I’ve found this yearly planner to be very helpful.
Homeschooling during this last stretch of pregnancy has been a lot easier than I’d expected. It’s true that we’ve started school a little later than usual (about 9:30am most mornings) and that I have to make time in our schedule for my now-weekly doctor appointments, but I think it’s been a lot easier than having to load the kids in the car every day for twice-a-day public school drop-off/pick-ups.
While I may dread any sort of movement whatsoever, it turns out that I’m quite capable of sitting on my tush and teaching lessons. I like doing it, it keeps the kids entertained and occupied, and it keeps me from constantly obsessing over the number of days until my due date. (Current count is 24 in case you are curious.)
We have had to lay off of science and art just a little bit, but I plan on picking up the slack in those two subjects once the baby comes. We may do a whole week of art projects during the holidays while I take time off from the other subjects, or maybe we’ll do a science week with an experiment every day. It’s nice to mix things up every once in awhile.
I must admit for the sake of honesty, that although homeschooling is going great, there are other areas in our family life that are definitely suffering in this last bit of my pregnancy. My house is a mess. The laundry is slow to make it through the cycle. The quality of our meals has gone down substantially. Molly has told me that she can’t trust me because every time we run an errand, we end up at McDonalds. Adelaide has regressed a bit with potty-training. The kids are surprised when I put on make-up. I cry at the most mundane things.
Now hurry up and get here baby.
This morning I took the kids to the salmon hatchery in Issaquah. There is a salmon festival every year during the first weekend of October but we decided to avoid the crowds and go a few days early. I’ve been to the festival before and although it’s fun it gets crazy with so many people trying to look at the same things. The hatchery has a lesson plan on their website that teachers can print out and use before visiting which I found very helpful. Before we left this morning, we read through the parts about the life cycle of the salmon. I think it made our visit a lot more fun.
Everyone loved looking at the huge fish though William was a little disappointed that he couldn’t touch one. If he had his way, he would have probably brought one home to eat.