Thursday, August 29, 2013

Reflecting on the First Few Weeks of School

I broke up the first five days of school into two weeks.  I wanted to give myself plenty of time to work out the kinks of teaching.

 It's a good thing I did, it took so much pressure off, when I was fumbling around trying to find things or Isla was melting down during a lesson or Ford was putting gum on Kane's shirt, I would take a deep breath and tell myself, "Stay calm, we've got plenty of time to get through the material!"

We haven't worked out everything yet but I'm learning how best to organize materials the day before, how to manage the kids and how to plan out the order of the lessons.  Some people, might actually put together a schedule, my brain doesn't work that way, schedules stress me out, man.   

So our days usually go something like this,

While the kids eat breakfast and I wait for my coffee, we do Bible.  Reading a portion of scripture and sometimes there's devotional to go with it.  We read over the memory verses together and pray for our day. 

Then we dive into the kids least favorite subject, history.  Which is a bummer because I love history.  Hopefully that will change as they get older.  Right now we're going through a book that introduces us to the way different people live around the world. 

At this point Evan and Seth usually do something they can do independent of me, like math, reading, spelling or handwriting.   I sit down with my coffee and go over emails, facebook and the news, answering questions as needed. Kane, Ford and Isla play happily because of course I'm not busy so they don't need me. :) 

The boys are speeding through math.  Evan makes a few silly mistakes here and there but grasps concepts easily.  Seth is doing well, however the curriculum I chose for the boys doesn't match his learning style (part of the learning process for me, next year we'll do something different for him!) so I'm having to supplement for him.  

Spelling is a breeze.  The boys are picking up the phonics principles presented with each word group, easily.  

Reading has been amazing!  Evan is a fairly fluent reader and it's fun to discuss what he's reading with him.  Like many boys, Seth has struggled to pick up reading.  This summer we struggled through every. single. word. in the beginning readers books.  It would end in tears and frustration so I set it aside and focused on enjoying summer and reading to him.  As we've gotten into daily reading, we've had some bad days and it certainly isn't his favorite thing to do but today we got through an entire sentence without having to sound out a single word! It was awesome and just he boost in confidence he needed.  Kane is picking up letter sounds quickly, he's mastered, "F", "B", "M" and "T".  

10am is snack and a short break for the boys.  I go over the work they did independently.   

After break we finish up independent work.  Once they're done with their work, they're free!  

Isla goes down for a nap, we have lunch, the little boys go down for a nap and the big boys and I work on anything that requires peace and quiet.  Then it's quiet play for the big boys.  

After nap 3 days a week we do Science. I think I'm enjoying it more than the boys!  I never like Astronomy in school but now that I'm teaching it, I'm discovering interesting things on every page.  Although they groan when I get our books out, today Seth told me today that he wants to go to outer space when he's older so he can visit Pluto himself and decide if it's a planet or not.  He's convinced the International Astronomical Union made a mistake, surprisingly  he's not alone

  Throw in breaks to take care of the dogs, the lizards and the ducks (update on that later) and the fact that the "schedule" can go right out the window at any moment and that's what it's looked like around here lately!      

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wilber, I mean, Wilma the Duck

On Sunday one of the female ducks hatched her latest brood. 

 One of which had deformed eyes and was clearly struggling to keep up with it's family.  

My heart broke for it but I forced myself to accept that nature would take its course and let the family go on it's way.  I assumed the duckling would quickly become a hawk or gator's lunch. 

Through out the day I watched as several of the adults in the flock tried to kill the duckling.  

(play pen)
Finally, in the evening I went with Seth to check on mom and babies who were hanging out in the canal.  The blind duckling was missing.  

(Home for now)
As we were going back in the house we heard the duckling chirping.  It was trapped in weeds in one of the canal tunnels.  Much to my children's delight, I couldn't leave it there to die alone.  

(she waits in a coffee can while we change her bedding)
We fished it out and decided to raise it as best as we can raise a blind duck (Along with the 3 lizards the boys have caught or hatched from eggs).  It wouldn't eat at first so I thought it was going to be a short lived venture but that changed once things settled down.  

We happen to be reading Charlotte's Web so in the spirit of the book, I suggested we name the duck Wilber.  Then while doing some research on how to care for ducks I found that you could "sex" a duck quite easily.  Turns out Wilber is actually a Wilma. Oops. 

So now Wilma lives on our porch, in a bin during most of the day (except when she's helping me home school).  And sleeps in the dining room under a heating lamp at night.  

I think the video speaks to how she's fitting in around here! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Ch, Ch,Ch, Changes

This past April, Jed and I made the decision to home school!  

It was a tough decision, the school Evan and Seth were attending is amazing and in many ways had become like family.  

In the end it came down to how God was leading our family. 

Then came another hard decision, what curriculum to use?!  

The selections are, seemingly, endless. I'm not an organized person so that helped eliminate some of the more hodgepodged options.  

At first I thought I would teach one of the boys with a computer based curriculum and the other with a more traditional curriculum.  

The more I researched computer based curriculum, the less impressed I was by them. At the same time, I found myself drawn to the Sonlight curriculum.  

As I did more research I realized that it was a great fit for our family.  I could teach all three older boys, History, Science and Bible together while addressing their individual Language Arts and Math needs!    

Sonlight has several different options for each subject (except LA) so here's what I've chosen. 

History: Core B
Bible: Core B
Reading: Core B/readers at each of the boy's level
Language Arts:  Sonlights Program at each boy's level
Math: Singapore Math at each boy's level
Handwriting: Getty-Dubay at each boy's level

So just before I purchased the curriculum, I changed my mind on Science.  I fell in love with Apologia and the boys were excited about Astronomy so we opted out of Sonlight's Science!  I love flexibility! 

Our Science experiment materials arrived first! The boys met the UPS driver at the road after I told them that he had arrived with our school stuff!  Excited!  

Then the textbooks and journals!

Finally the bulk of our curriculum! I've only been a part of the Sonlight culture for a couple weeks now but I gather that they call this "Box Day"!  

The box emptied onto our home schooling hutch. Much of it is in the bottom cabinet. 

The 36 week instructors guide for LA, History, Bible, Reading and Spelling! 

And so, today begins my career as a teacher and our families adventure learning together!  Hopefully we'll all survive and I can post about our first day later!