Thursday, May 26, 2005

Wrapping it up

Another week gone by with not as much accomplished as I wanted, but still enough to call it a good week. We are done with spelling after today's test and are about done with lang arts. I think it is time to call it a year since we are leaving today for a wedding and Superboy will be spending the entire next week with family. It would be unrealistic to expect him to jump back into school at that time, I think. Plus, he deserves a break. He has had such a great attitude. I think we will continue math through most of the summer. Just some easy review stuff to keep him sharp for next year. He has made such progress since coming home for school that I would hate to see him lose it. Perhaps we will continue the writing project he has started and seems to be enjoying. If we do, it will be ina relaxed way. Otherwise just reading some really good books. He has really gotten into the Redwall books and the Narnia Chronicles. I am thrilled, of course, cause those are quality reads. He sure does love to read. Coming home has given him that. That in itself makes the homeschooling worth it.
As for me...continuing to plan for next year...I am really looking forward to it...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Friday is homeschool group day

This group has been such a blessing. I am very pleased so far at how the group is going. The kids are ecstatic, which is priority #1. But I am happy, too. It is nice to sit and chat with a group of women knowing that even though we may not agree on some things, we agree on alot. I was a little nervous because we ended up having a discussion about evolution. Anyone who homeschools knows that this is one HOT topic. It is a discussion I dread because it can make or break a group for me. Well...we did not all agree. We found we had evolutionists, creationists, young-earthers, old-earthers, and undecideds. Recipe for disaster, right there. But the nice thing was we didn't really care. That's what's great about being Catholic! As long as we believe God did it (creation, that is) it doesn't matter what we believe about when or how He did it! And since everyone in our group is well-informed about church teachings, we all knew it was OK for us to agree to disagree. How refreshing!
Another thing about homeschool group. I started feeling a little bit guilty about blowing off schoolwork for an entire day every week for group. But then I realized that if Superboy were in public school, he would over the course of a week spend at least a day's worth in wasted or free time. He'd be doing things like waiting in line, waiting for the class to get quiet, waiting for teacher to answer a question (his or someone else's), going to and from art and PE and music and library, cleaning up, having recess. So-NO MORE GUILT. This is something Superboy and JBug need and enjoy. Not to mention it gives mom a much needed break and a little adult conversation to preserve mental health. So, why shouldn't we spend a day on it?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

May the force be with you...

So, today is dedicated to the pursuit of seeing Star Wars III. Got up late, had breakfast and out the door. Mission accomplished! Got into the noon show no problemo. Gotta love that homeschooling flexibility!
BTW the movie was totally awesome.
Afterward we stopped by the craft store to pick up a pile of stuff to keep JBug busy while Superboy does his learnin'. Foam shapes, play-doh, beads, etc. I think we got enough to last awhile. I am getting into making file folder games and stuff for her. I'm also sorting activities into gallon ziplocks. Puzzles, scissor activities, etc. She is getting to the point of being ready for some learnin' herself, so I feel the need to prepare. Also, she is driving Superboy and I nuts...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What's most important, or "My Educational Philosophy"

(This is to be kept distinct from "my parenting philosophy" which is basically: try to raise them honest, kind, loving, independant and headed toward heaven...)

What's most important educationally
For the middle school years:
1. Love of learning. That is by far the number one reason I am homeschooling. If I fail in that then I might as well put him back in public school.
2. Skills for gaining knowledge about ANY subject. Basically research skills. If he doesn't know something, that's OK, but he needs to know how and where to find out on his own.
3. Communication skills. Both written and oral. He needs to be able to communicate all those thoughts in his head or else what good are they? This includes written composition with proper grammar and spelling, and speaking skills.
4. A Wide Range of Experiences. He needs to be exposed to alot of different cultures, people, places (social studies), times (history), ideas (literature, science), and processes (all of the previous). This exposure can be through direct experience when possible, or through books, video, etc. The important thing here is the exposure, not the expectation that he memorize a bunch of facts. He just needs a good, solid idea of how the world works, both natural and manmade, and an appreciation for it all.
5. Problem solving skills. Math, yes, but other problems as well. To be able to look at a problem and see the end and how to get there.

What have I forgotten?
So, now that you know "what is most important," please feel free to remind me of what is important if (and when) I forget and start straying... (like if I ever buy a textbook other than math).

not going as planned

So today is not going as planned at all. I am feeling like a truck ran me over so I decided to hold off on the schedule change and let Superboy do his math, Lang arts, etc first since he is more independant with those. Mainly cause i desperately need a shower... Anyway, unfortunately today is a major "off day." He is majorly spacing and it took him close to an hour to do his Lang arts (should be 15 mins tops) and is now working at the same breathtaking pace in math. Less than 1 page done and it is 12:30. Ugh! We will be lucky to get anything else done today. well, that's what is so nice about homeschooling. We can cut our losses, take a break, get some exercise and some lunch, and try again later this afternoon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Flash of insight

I was thinking about my laziness factor and how we always get math, Lang arts, and spelling done because we do it first, then we tend to kinda peter out in the afternoon and half the time forget about writing and lots of time forget about science just because I am busy and I let Superboy get away with it. Here is what I thought of...
WHAT IF we did science and writing first thing? we would be sure to get them done and then as we get lazier in the afternoon and have our tendencies to not do stuff, we have math and Lang arts. I would be much less likely to just blow those off (esp math) and plus Superboy works much more independantly in those subjects. It makes sense to do the more mom-intensive subjects in the morning when I am more able to be intense... it just might work! So what do you think? Should I risk it?

The plan so far...

After using the remainder of the school year to "test pilot" some different materials and approaches, here is what I'm thinking for next year for Superboy.
Tried and like:
Catholic Heritage curriculum: Language of God series and My Catholic Speller. I like the Lang of God books and will definitely keep that for next year. I like the speller, too, but I am not sure about doing spelling next year. He is so good at it already and it kind of seems a waste of time. But it isn't MUCH time, just 15 mins or so (when Superboy doesn't space out too much), so maybe I'll keep it one year. I do like all the nice Catholic references in it. Superboy does, too.
In sixth grade we will most likely move up to Lingua Mater.
DK Math made Easy, supplemented by Developmental Math and our fun Marcy Cook Math activities. I think I've hit on a winning combo, here. The DK is a more complete curriculum and the Developmental math is focused on a specific topic in depth. Marcy Cook keeps math fun and is good for thinking skills and math vocabulary. Seems to be working brilliantly and so far Superboy is making progress and not complaining.
180 Days Around the World: This is the real Gem of the lot. Superboy LOVES this, and I must admit I love it too. We do this together and it is just fun. Combined with CHC's Map Skills workbooks and some good websites it makes a pretty good geography curriculum.

Tried and not so sure:
CHC's Stories with a View. I think this will go better once we have a more solid writing program down.
Great Science Adventures: Earth's Landforms and Surface Features. I SO wanted to like this one, and we did for a while. But it just wasn't long before we got a bit tired of the same old thing over and over with the little books. I like the idea of lap books, though, and maybe I can learn more about them and do our own so it won't be so much the same. Superboy likes the crafty stuff, but he needs variety. Also, he really likes learning science from library books and videos and from hands-on. I need to remember that when I get tempted to try another science curriculum. Just say no. Remember, Theresa, you are not filling a bucket, here.

Have not tried yet, but will be using:
Story of the World Vol I. on CD. I am confident this will fly. The idea of listening to history stories on CD is very appealing. Superboy loves radio. The additional activities look fun. I will supplement with Kingfisher History of the World, MaCauley books that I bought (Pyramid, City, Castle, Mosque, Ship, Mill, etc...) as well as D'Aulaires Greek myths, Tales of Ancient Egypt, and Encyc. of Mythology. I also bought this absolutely beautiful timeline book from Homeschool in the Woods. Superboy has been drooling over it since we got it and can't wait to start filling it up. Hmm.. history sounds fun!
Prima Latina. May go ahead and start this summer. Can't wait!

Still Need:
A good writing program. I am convined that writing well is vital and we need to spend some major time on it because Superboy struggles with it bigtime. I am looking at the Institute for Excellence in Writing stuff. I need to do the teacher seminar and then let Superboy do the Student seminar. Then we shall see how it goes from there. I think we should be able to write from the content areas once we have the methods down.
Discipline. Not for Superboy, for me! Sometimes I just need to get of my own lazy butt and do more hands-on stuff with Superboy. I think that will happen once we start next year in earnest.

Is that it? I think so. I think I will wait on Spanish until we get a year of Latin in. Don't want to confuse us too much. Plus, I hear it is easier to learn Spanish after Latin.
Sorry so long and boring, but it helps to get it all down so I can focus. Next I have to plan for Modgirl. Yikes...

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Hmmm...just how does this work?

I'm giving this a shot in hopes that it will help me keep better track of what we are doing in our little corner of the homeschool world. Perhaps a little external accounability can be a good thing?
We shall see...