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Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Nathan, making colored milk for a friend.  He gets a smirk on his face, grabs the whipped cream out of the fridge, nods at his friends and exclaims: "Dude, let's get this party started!"
Yep, when you are 9, whipped cream is a party...

How Homeschooling Works in our House

We've found our rhythm for us that works most days.  I say that because there are days where, let me tell you Joe, it ain't working.  But for the most part, this is our deal.

I wake up the kids around 7am.  Lately more like 7:30am.  Ideally they'd get dressed, brush their teeth and come downstairs singing songs of happiness.  That ain't my house....  I have to drag Abby out of bed.  That girl does not want to wake up.  And her sisters whom I want to sleep?  They won't stay down.  So the littles are up and get dressed with my help and then Abby will meander out into the bathroom while complaining that she is sooooo hungry and getting dressed should just wait.  I'm cruel that way.  Because it is the same way every morning.  Why is this a discussion?  I guess because I let it be.

Nathan's gets to sleep until 7:30am because he's fast.  I do usually have to remind him to get dressed but the threat of not getting breakfast does the trick for him.

It's cereal these days at my house.  It's fast.  It doesn't take a lot of effort. It's all I got right now.  Isabelle eats yogurt or Dave's Killer Bread in the morning.  The others are happy with cereal.
They get ready and I help here and there and try to empty the morning dishwasher and load again with breakfast dishes.  Hopefully by 8:30am everyone is fed, has fresh clothes on, has their hair done and teeth brushed.  They should have had breakfast.  Lately this is more like 9am.

And this is where we start our school day with bible time.  We just worked through "Leading Little Ones to God" by Marian Scholland.  My brilliant friend Beth (let's face it, I'd be lost without her and not homeschooling - You rock!), recommended this years ago and we finally walked all the way through it.  We just started our first bible study.  It is "My Brother's Keeper: Learning to love your siblings God's Way" by Kim Sorgius.  This year has been marked by Nathan and Abigail (and Isabelle) to figure out how to make it work.  As my very smart sister-in-law pointed out the other day, we have to "first-borns" in our house.  I always called them two alphas in a wolf-pack.  And you know what alphas do?  They fight until one of them is not there anymore to establish dominance.  My hope is that this bible study will make them understand how much God intends for them to love one another.  It has been very good so far (3 days in) but I wish we had gotten the older version.  My kids were right on the brink of the age recommendation and I didn't realize it had mostly to do with writing ability.  In the junior version they color more.  Oh well.  What they learn is still importnat.
Next I want to start Kay Arthur's inductive bible study for kids for Revelation.  Some of the reasoning is because of all that is going on in the world.
We do bible study most mornings but I have to admit, if we are starting late and are pressed for time, other than art, it's the first thing to go.  That needs to change.  It also needs to flow over into the weekend.

Next is usually Math.  We do Primary Mathematics and the program is really nice.  It works in small chunks that repeat over and over, building little by little.  It also gets kids thinking about mathematics in different angles, as in "this problem can be solved with method 1, method 2, method 3."  Surely there are technical terms for this, but they are not familiar to the author.  Usually we work through 2-4 pages, depending on how much material is covered.  We also use Khan Academy for further clarification and various other internet sites.  We use a Math Shark for drills.  Other aides are Cuisinaire Rods, Power Solids and math linking cubes.
This program was also a great recommendation by my friends Beth and Ann.  Abby is in full swing with this program.  Nathan is still struggling a bit with me as a teacher as I find my way.  The program has an excellent Home Educator Guide and I've just failed to use it to the fullest extend.  No more!  The poor boy loves math.  We want him to succeed.

Writing is the second big block in the morning.  Our program is amazing!  My kids love writing!  We use IEW's Student Writing Intensive.  That program was recommended in unisom by all of my homeschooling friends.  It just had to be good.  Both my kids are writing fantastic pieces, being given a structure to guide them and dress-ups to make it sound good.  It is fantastic for both Nathan, who doesn't like to say much and Abby, who wants to write on and on.  Both love it and are experiences general satisfaction from their work.

After writing, it's on to Daily Reading Comprehension by Evan Moor, All About Spelling, Daily Handwriting by Evan Moor for Abby, and The Nose Tree Grammar.  Love all of those and they all go fairly quickly, which is why they are lumped together.  The grammar program in particular is very smart.  It works through a story and builds daily to reinforce, with new additions every week.  As each new addition is repeated over and over, the kids become masters at identifying different parts of speech.  All About Spelling is another program that is very neat.  Again, repetition in a fun way is helping solidify spelling.  Asking kids why something is spelled a certain way is helping them to think for themselves.

After this section of the morning is over, they get to read for 30 minutes while I prepare lunches.  Abby sometimes has a hard time focusing but I let her doodle off sometimes as she reads non-stop anyway.  She'll get her 30 minutes in easy.  Nathan has made himself a nice cozy reading "cave" by going under a table covered by a table cloth.  He takes his blanket and a pillow underneath there and is happy as a clam.  On the days I remember to do so, Isabelle helps me to make lunches.  Hanny can help too.  We then break for lunch and try to get back to school by 12:30pm but no later than 1pm.

The afternoon starts with history.  Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer is fantastic!  I read about it on a blog of my friend Kendra.  I'm so glad she mentioned it.  She spoke of it highly and we borrowed it from the local library and listened to different volumes for years while driving to and from our old school.  It was a natural for Social Studies.  The kids love this program.  One day a week at least we listen to Jim Weiss narrate.  One time Abigail reads and Nathan colors, the next time we listen they switch.  That way they both get to read the words that they may not know how to spell.  Lately I've been having them map places they are listening about. We also always reference our world map and go over the questions in the Test volume.  I'm not much fun with the projects in the activity guide but must do more with that in the future.

Last but not least is Science.  We are doing REAL Science Odyssey for Kids: Space and Earth.  We use Apologia's Exploring Creation through Astrology with it.  The REAL curriculum is really nice because they are short units with hands-on, simple projects.  It makes it more fun and not stressful for me.  The Apologia is the nice more in-depth addition.  Both are really nice.  Since the kids have already done a lot in school about space, we are moving on to the chemistry unit on both soon.

This is our backbone every day.  Then we have additional subjects as we can fit it in: Art on Monday, Coding for Nathan on Tuesday, Typing on Wednesday.  We usually take Fridays off unless we have to catch up on something.  When it is in session, we go to Friday school (for the kids to socialize and to have fun subjects, like PE, cooking, games).  We have also just received Rosetta Stone German from my mom.  Abby is doing her lessons randomly and is already on unit 3 while Nathan hasn't started yet.

Abby also takes ballet and is learning the piano.  Nathan wrestles and plays baseball, so that takes care of the PE requirements.

I'd love to get more music and art appreciation in, but at this stage, it is all we can do.