Our Homeschool Adventure Blog

Chronicling our adventures as a small homeschool family with mom and dad both as teachers

Archive for the category “About our homeschool”

What about Saturday?

I hope you’ll forgive me for stepping away from homeschooling for just a minute before I jump into that update, but today has me thinking about faith. (Not too long of a side trip, I promise!)

Yesterday was Good Friday and tomorrow is Easter. This time of year we hear a lot about these two days. But I’ve been thinking; what about Saturday? We rarely hear anything about the Saturday between. Different denominations and faith traditions refer to this Saturday in a variety of ways-Holy Saturday, Silent Saturday, Easter Eve. But about the only thing that can be said about this day is that we really don’t know for sure what Jesus was doing on this day. Scripture doesn’t tell us exactly. The only thing we do know is that the followers of Jesus were afraid, worried, sad. Can you imagine what they were thinking, especially the 12 disciples? They had walked away from their lives to follow Christ for the previous three years. They had spent every moment with him, watching him, learning from him. And now he was gone. He was dead. The horrors of Good Friday were over but Easter wasn’t there yet, and they probably had some doubts that it would come. I bet that confusion, questions, and a sense of not knowing what to do next were all common among Christ’s followers on that day.

How many times do we feel that way? We’ve been following Christ. Watching him, learning from his life. Reading his word. We think we know what’s going on, how we’re supposed to be living our lives as his follower. And then Saturday comes. Christ seems very far away, and, suddenly, nothing seems clear anymore.

Maybe you’re feeling that way right now. I certainly know that I’ve been there before. Many times. Maybe you’re trying to decide what to do in a relationship. Maybe a job has just ended unexpectedly. Maybe you sense that God is calling you to do something different, but you just can’t figure out what. Maybe you’re saddened and confused over something that didn’t go the way you thought it would. I just want you to know that Jesus is still at work. Even when it doesn’t look the way we think it should, or when he seems far, he is still working in our lives. I’ve heard the saying about Good Friday “Friday’s here, but Sunday’s coming!” That’s certainly true; when things seem the most desperate, the darkest, there is still hope. But you know what, even during the “Saturdays” of our lives-when we might feel stuck, unsure, in between seasons in life-Sunday’s coming too! No matter which day we might find ourselves living through, Christ is still at work and, as Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, he has a plan for us, and it’s a great one!

Okay, now on to a school update! NDEW is definitely still enjoying his usual weekly work in math, history, literature, science, writing, and religion.  Now that the science fair is over (picture below!) NDEW and hubby have started working in depth with the Raspberry Pi he got from his Aunt Tye and Uncle Tim for Christmas.  NDEW already has big plans for this and seems to be learning quite a lot about computers in the process.  He’s also getting ready for his music recital coming up in May and planning to play Let It Go from Frozen as a solo on the recorder.  He went out and found the music himself, crazy kid. 🙂  He’s also getting really excited about the upcoming Aladdin auditions with Beanstalk Community Theatre.  He continues to study the brain and nervous system in science and even had the cool opportunity to see an actual brain cell under a microscope at the recent Science Festival at ASU.  I think he even impressed the college students there with what he knew about the brain and nerve structure.  (Always good to know that what he’s learning is sticking!)  We continue to enjoy using the big wide world as our favorite classroom and hope you enjoy some memories below from the past month or so. They include the science fair, participating in some community events, fun games, lots of reading, a trip to the NC Zoo, an ASU baseball game, and an impromptu amphibian lesson…Some of which even occurred outside of school hours! (Shocking, I know!)

Science Fair Zoo 1 Zoo 2 Reading NDEW and KD Lady Bug Amphibian Baseball Games

PS: Before you go, I invite you to head over to Managing Your Blessings and read my latest blog post over there, “The Dreaded “S” Word! Thanks and enjoy!

 

Advertisements

Science, Literature, Snow, Blogging….whew!

Happy Valentine’s day everyone!  I can’t believe February is half over!  I just wanted to share a quick update.  (Who am I kidding, I don’t usually write quick posts!)

Valentine

(I recently took a personality quiz that said I was a reliable realist that was faithful, consistent, well-balanced and sensible but that had little time for extravagances and flightiness.   It also said that I tend to show my closeness to people who are important to me by deeds, and that my partner “should rather not expect romantic declarations of love.”  So, in light of that, I thought this Valentine was appropriate!)

Okay, back to school stuff:  NDEW’s been working really hard with his school work.  (Although he was super excited that I had scheduled a “day off” for today!  I guess every kid likes a break from school every now and then!)  In addition to math and grammar/writing (the two subjects that we take a more structured approach to), he’s been doing lots of cool science and literature work.  We take an almost unschooling approach to these topics and NDEW really guides a lot of what we do by his interests.  For literature he’s reading myths and legends from lots of different time periods and cultures and is really enjoying these rich stories.  I’m not surprised that he likes these stories though with as much as he loves Star Wars (movies, books, games, TV shows, etc. etc. etc. etc.), the Warrior book series, and the Redwall book series.  They definitely all have some similar themes.

In science NDEW is still learning lots about weather and meteorology. I had no idea that this would become such a science focus for this year!  He just keeps finding more and more that he’s interested in learning about it.  He’s currently going through the lessons included in the National Weather Service’s JetStream Online School for Weather and is getting a lot out of the content.  It’s fun to watch him apply it to what he experiences in real life.  I honestly think that part of why he likes learning about weather so much is that it gives him a sense of control.  Even though he knows he can’t control the weather, if he understands more about it, severe weather isn’t quite so scary.

We’re also learning more about electronics by working through the experiments that came with the Snap Circuits Kit he received for Christmas.  It is really, really fun (even for me and hubby!) and he’s learning lots of great principles through it.  On the life sciences front, NDEW has been learning about cells and their structure and then is starting to learn some human anatomy, starting with the brain and nervous system.  He said that he wants to learn about this body system first because he wants to know more about how his brain functions and how it relates to his prosopagnosia.  NDEW has really struggled with anxiety at points and we have definitely found that gaining knowledge is a way that he deals with his anxiety.  That’s why just learning about his prosopagnosia was such a big deal.  Being diagnosed didn’t cure him or really change anything at all in terms of his experience, but just knowing and understanding what was going on made a huge difference in the anxiety that he was experiencing.  I do think that some of his interests start with trying to cope with something that worries him, but then they blossom into a genuine interest as he learns about these subjects at deeper and deeper levels. Isn’t that just like God to take something that we fear or worry about and turn it into something positive!

In addition to these science and literature topics, NDEW’s still learning music and painting and you know there’s some history and social studies being thrown in there with hubby’s love for it!  NDEW’s also continuing his theology/Bible lessons and it’s leading to some awesome conversations around some really deep topics.  Love seeing him maturing and growing in his faith.  So all in all, lots of great learning going on!  Each day looks a little different but each day truly is awesome.  We’re committed to continuing to find and take advantage of the incredible learning opportunities that everyday life presents us.  If you were to walk into our house on any given day, you would definitely see something different than what you might see the day before or the day after.  We never know what awesome things each day might bring us!

Take yesterday for example:  We woke up to almost nine inches of snow-by far the most snow NDEW has ever seen.  He was so excited.  Luckily, it wasn’t terribly cold so we could get out and enjoy it a little.  There was lots of sledding, visiting with neighbors, learning about snow structure and how it forms (There’s that weather thing again!), even saving a little mole we found on our walk around the neighborhood!  Yes, we have set lessons and curriculum we work through, but the world is definitely our biggest and favorite classroom!

photo

photo (2)

In addition to all this great learnin’ going on, we’ve also seen some wonderful strides in NDEW in “growing up” type stuff and we’re super proud of him.  NDEW has always matured in spurts rather than in any continuous, smooth fashion.  Just when we think he’ll never “get it” it’s like someone flips a switch and he grows up overnight.  We’re so proud of him for taking the steps and facing the fears he has faced lately!

One last exciting update (I know, I know…this has been super long!  Thanks for hanging in there with me!); I shared in my last post that I was going to start writing for a wonderful homeschooling site called So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler?  Well, since then, this site has merged with another site, Managing Your Blessings.  Both sites were founded and managed by an incredible woman, Carlie Kercheval, and she had the vision to combine the sites for a variety of reasons.  I’m so excited to now be a part of the Managing Your Blessings writing team.  What an amazing group of ladies, from a variety of backgrounds, coming together to share their hearts and their faith!  My first post with MYB is up and I’d love for you to take a look at it.  You can find it here: Managing Your Blessings:  Yes, He is our only child.

That’s all from our world.  I’d love to hear what everyone else is up to.  Have you seen any big strides in your child’s development lately or come across a great resource?  I’d love to celebrate those with you and hear all about them!

How Technology is Changing How We Homeschool: Revisted

Back at the end of October I wrote about how we were starting to use some technology tools in our homeschool plan.  I thought I would revisit this topic and give you an update.

First, before I get into that though, I wanted to share some exciting news with you.  Starting in February, I will be a contributing writer over at the site So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler.  I’m so excited to be joining this great group as we travel our homeschool journey together and to have the opportunity to write about homeschooling an only child.  I’ll be sure to let you know when my first post is up over there, but head on over now to check out all the awesome stuff that’s already there!

Now, back to an update on our use of technology in NDEW’s homeschool experience.

First, we still LOVE his Kindle.  Like love it so much that he uses it at least a little every day.  It was so worth the money we spent on it.  Some of our favorite school apps right now are:

  • (Still) 5th grade learning games
  • (Still) Stack the States
  • (Still) Rhythm Cat
  • Jog Nog
  • Grammar Up
  • Arithmemouse
  • All the (free!) classic myths and legends books from around the world (I know it’s not an app, but we still use these a lot!)
  • Notebooks

I have to say a little more about Notebooks:  With this app you create virtual notebooks and can then write information in them.  You can make as many notebooks as you like, for as many subjects as you like.  You can write in each notebook as well as attach things like pictures and drawings.  Here’s the really cool part to me.  You can export the content of each notebook as a pdf (including attached drawings and pictures) and then save it or print it out.  NDEW has five notebooks currently.  They are Khan Science, Khan History, Myths and Legends, Electronics, and Weather.  After he works in one of these subjects he does a brief entry in his notebook describing what he did and what he learned-like a learning journal.  Then, at the end of the year, we’re going to keep the pdf of each as a part of our records for the year.  It’s a great little tool!

Back in October I also mentioned that we were beginning to use Asana as a record keeping and planning tool.  This is working out so well.  Every Sunday night I go into Asana and enter NDEW’s tasks for the upcoming week.  The tasks are organized by “project”.  For us, a project might be a subject or a source of material that NDEW uses.  Some of our projects include (not a full list):

  • Khan Academy Math, Science and History
  • Literature
  • Other Reading
  • Kindle Extras (like the apps I mentioned above)
  • Non-Kindle Extras (like music and karate practice, doing the Wii Fit, even, sometimes cleaning his bathroom!)
  • Other Science
  • Grammar
  • E-Learning for Kids (more about this in a minute)

I set all the due dates in Asana to the Friday of the week and then, each morning NDEW and hubby go online to Asana and select which of the tasks NDEW will do for the day.  At the end of the day, they go in and check of the completed tasks and I get an email showing me what he checked off for the day.  Getting this email helps so much with the “What did you do for school today?” question when I get home.  Even homeschool kids like to give the “some stuff” or “not much” type answers!  Now, I get home and I can say, “So I see you read __________ myth today.  Tell me what happened in the story?”  or “I saw you finished that project today.  Awesome job!  Show it to me!”  As I said before, I use Asana at work but I am SO glad we started using it for homeschooling too!  It’s made planning a lot easier for me!

Lastly, I wanted to share about an online e-learning source we’ve started using.  The website is E-Learning For Kids.  Their content is divided by subject matter and grade level and it’s very well done.  NDEW really enjoys it and it provides great review of concepts for him.  He works on it three times a week.  Best of all it’s FREE!  Yes, that’s right, free.  I seriously kept looking all over the site for some kind of hidden cost, and I haven’t found one yet.  They do ask for donations, but it’s definitely not required.  If you have a kid in preschool-middle school and are at all interested in some online learning content, go over and check it out.

IMG_6194

I would love to hear of any online or technology resources you use in your homeschooling plan, in a classroom, or with your kids.  What are your favorite resources?  Please share!

What a year!

What a year!

Yes, yes…I know.  I’m a little late to the “Year in Review” thing, but before checking in on what we’re up to now, I didn’t want to dismiss what a crazy, awesome year 2013 was for our family.  Sure, there were things that were challenges or struggles, but overall, as we have looked back through 2013, we are overwhelmed by the ways our family has been blessed.  2013 did not look how any of us thought it would, but what an incredible year it was!  Some highlights for our family this year, in no particular order:

  • Starting our family’s homeschooling journey.
  • NDEW participating in the enrichment classes offered by our local homeschool association, meeting some new friends, and finding new interests in music, art, and karate.
  • Our family traveling to Orlando for an amazing conference for my job, a trip which included getting to spend time with some friends and family we don’t see often, getting to serve together, and getting to participate in some incredible worship experiences (Can you picture over 2500 people, representing over 100 nations, worshiping together in one room in 5 different languages?  It was AWESOME!)
  • NDEW receiving 100s of postcards from friends and family (and some strangers!) from all over the US and learning some great US geography along the way.
  • My sister and brother-in-law’s wedding!  Yay Mr. and Mrs. Johel!!! (AKA T-Tye and Tim!)
  • The incredible kindness and love shown to us by friends and family as I recovered from pretty extensive sinus surgery (and how much better I feel after said sinus surgery!)
  • Meeting Dr. Ronald Franklin, finally getting some long-sought answers for NDEW, and learning about his prosopagnosia.
  • Hubby and I having the opportunity to serve at two One Day with God camps through Forgiven Ministries at Avery Mitchell Correctional and Northeast Correctional and being able to serve Christmas dinner with folks from multiple local congregations at Avery Mitchell.
  • NDEW becoming involved with Beanstalk Community Theatre, being a part of his first production, The One and Only Santa Claus, and finding a new passion for acting.
  • Hubby’s surprise 40th birthday party and the opportunity it gave us to spend time with some of our very best friends and our family.
  • NDEW getting baptized!
  • NDEW’s 11th birthday fishing-themed party, during which the girls out-fished the boys.

As you think back through your 2013 I hope you feel all the blessings in your life, even those blessings hidden in the struggles.  Our family wishes you the most wonderful New Year you can imagine, and then even more!  We worship and serve a Heavenly Father that’s all about “even more”!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

Happy New Year!!

(PS  Check out my next post with an update on some of our newest technology favorites! Oh, and enjoy some pictures from our 2013!)

IMG_3425 IMG_4484 IMG_4073 IMG_3953 IMG_4637 IMG_4090 IMG_3367 IMG_3865 IMG_3846 IMG_4547 IMG_5671 IMG_5777 IMG_6186 NDEW Play 3 NDEW Play 11 IMG_5430 IMG_5255 IMG_5207 IMG_5146 IMG_4778 IMG_3745 IMG_4841 IMG_4839

Getting Back to School

Welcome back to school everyone! We hope you all had a wonderful summer. Ours was very low-key, (as you can tell by the fact that I didn’t post even once on this blog!); It was SO nice. NDEW especially welcomed the downtime after a school year that had been really challenging at times and full of changes. He continued his recorder/music lessons, but other than that, just enjoyed spending time playing Mindcraft, reading lots of books, hanging out, seeing family, etc. We had tons of rain this summer so the outdoor activities were kind of limited unfortunately.

We started our school year two weeks ago and we have definitely decided to make some changes for this year based on what we learned during our first ½ year of homeschooling (January-June 2013).  For one, we are rearranging our school day schedule a little.  We found out last year that Hubby was often interrupted during their morning “classroom time” with work needs.  (Hubby works full-time from home while also homeschooling NDEW.  Isn’t he awesome?!?!)  It seemed that he was most needed to respond to work needs in the morning and he came to realize that he was also more efficient at handling work responsibilities in the mornings.  On the other hand, NDEW is not at his best in the morning, never has been, so we found that he was best able to concentrate on new material in the afternoon.  We moved the activities that NDEW would work on independently to the morning and put the learning of new material that he and Hubby would do together in the afternoon.  The kinds of activities that NDEW does in the morning tend to be review of previously covered material or activities that he easily engages with without much prompting like reading and computer work.

We also discovered last year that NDEW and Hubby like to really dig into their topics.  When we were trying to do several topics a day they always felt like they had just gotten started when it was time to switch to another topic.  Toward the end of last year, they tried out a rotation schedule of subjects where they only covered one subject a day but really got to explore it at depth.  It worked really well so we’re basing their “classroom time” on that schedule this year.  The two exceptions are math and grammar.  I firmly believe that these two subjects require intentional daily practice of skills, so NDEW and Hubby do a little math and a little grammar almost every day.

One of the things that I love most about homeschooling is our ability to tailor NDEW’s instruction not only to provide him support in the areas where he struggles and challenge in the areas where he needs it, but also to arrange a schedule that works best for all involved.  When we first started homeschooling I had in my mind that we really needed to transplant a typical, public school day schedule into our home.  Thank you so much to those who helped us see that that was not the case and who encouraged us to explore what worked best for our family and to think outside the box!

In addition to our regular at-home learning, NDEW is participating in a few outside activities this fall and is really excited about them. First, he is taking a karate class and a painting class through our local homeschool group. The first day of class was last week and he had a blast. The same group is also scheduling monthly activities/outings and NDEW is very excited about taking part in some of those too. We are so blessed to have a group like this to be a part of here! I’m not sure how many families participate in this group, but just to give you an idea of the popularity of homeschooling in our area, there are more than 280 homeschools registered in our county; our county has a population close to 52,000.

NDEW is still also taking music/recorder lessons and is really getting good at reading music and playing his recorder. I don’t dread it when he takes it out to practice any more. His teacher is interested in having him start learning the alto recorder soon so that should be fun too! (How many of you knew there was more than one type of recorder?) He is also interested in learning a new instrument so that might become a spring 2014 project. I won’t give away what he wants to learn, but let’s just say that it relates to his Wallace heritage. 😉

Last but not least, NDEW is trying out for the play being produced by the local children’s theater this winter. His tryouts are on September 22 so send some good vibes his way! We missed auditions for the summer production of Night at the Wax Museum, but NDEW served as an usher and greeter for the three performances (complete with ancient soldier costume) and really enjoyed himself. He’s been in a couple of other productions in the past (not with this theater group) and has had such a great time. He’s never met an audience he doesn’t like. LOL We’re very hopeful that this will be a part of our fall/winter activities too!
IMG_4735

Speaking of fall-just a few leaves have started to turn here in the NC High Country and we’re having some cooler temps in the morning. Are you starting to see signs of fall where you live? I, for one, am looking forward to the new season and we’re all super excited about this new school year. Thanks for continuing on with us on this journey!

A (half) Year in Review and Looking Forward

Today was the last day of 4th grade at the Wallace Academy of Learning. We celebrated with a math scavenger hunt review game and a silly, slightly gross science lab! What an interesting, enjoyable, six months we’ve had. I cannot believe we’ve finished our first half school year as a homeschooling family. Craziness.

As we’ve been wrapping up this week I took a look back to see what all we’ve covered. I was amazed at how much we’ve done in these 103 days of school!
Math:
•Fractions
•Decimals
•Percent
•Area
•Perimeter
•Measurement
•2 and 3-digit multiplication
•Division, including long division
•Some fun math “extras” through the G is for Googol book
•Lots of everyday, real-life math
Science:
•The Universe
•Planets
•Space exploration with lots on different types of rockets, vehicles, etc.
•Meteorology, especially extreme weather
•Geology, especially types and formation of rocks, structure of the earth and earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides
•Magnets
•Types of energy
•Electricity-especially using our “Electricity Playground” kit which was a huge hit and will be used well into the summer
•Reptiles, especially snakes
History:
•Jamestown Colony
•The French and Indian War
•The Great Awakening
•Biographies of the founding fathers
•The Constitution
•The Declaration of Independence
•The American Revolution
Geography
•Overall globe geography (hemispheres, lines of latitude and longitude, navigation, etc.)
•Categories of landforms
•The 50 states including capitals, natural resources, major landforms, etc.
•Lots of map practice

Add to these lots of reading, music class, PE class, many small “off topic” extra activities, lots of online games, and lots of TV documentaries, and we’ve covered a huge variety of topics.
Of course, we’ve also gained so much insight into how NDEW learns and how he interacts with the world that has been invaluable as well. In many ways, those are the biggest lessons learned in our family this spring!

Looking ahead…
We have decided to continue our homeschool adventure into 5th grade and are very much looking forward to having a full school year to work together. We have also decided to use a little more set curriculum. We will be using the Core Knowledge series. Many people know them by their What Your —– Grader Needs to Know books. We will be using their 5th grade materials and supplementing with materials from Kids Discover magazine, Intellego Unit Studies, Daily Grams Grammar Practice, and the Thames and Kosmos Physics Workshop. We chose these resources because we felt they gave us a backbone structure to work from and lots of great resources but also allowed us the flexibility in schedule and activities that we’ve loved this year.

Some of the topics on tap for us next year include:
World History:
•Inca, Aztec, and Maya Civilizations
•Feudal Japan
•Russian History
•The Renaissance
American History:
•Causes that led to the Civil War
•The Civil War
•Reconstruction
•Western Expansion
Science:
•Classification of living things
•Cells
•Human Anatomy
•Physics: Simple Machines
Math:
•Lots of Geometry

NDEW will continue taking a music class with our local homeschool group as well as start a weekly karate class with them. He will also be working with his counselor twice a month on facial recognition practice activities. We are looking toward lots of local “field trips” and planning a big trip to Washington, DC in the spring of 2014. I looks like it’s going to be an awesome 5th grade year! We plan to start 5th grade during the 3rd week of August. We figured that, even with holiday breaks thrown in, we’ll still end before Memorial Day next May.

Before we look too far forward into 5th grade though, we have 10 weeks of summer ahead of us. Woohoo!!! NDEW and hubby have some really fun stuff planned for this summer, in addition to hanging out and relaxing a lot. First, NDEW will continue his music class this summer and there is a homeschool group that will be having a weekly park day to get together and play. NDEW and hubby also plan to build their own light sabers, build some kind of outdoor tree house or play structure and plant a small garden. I’m sure there will be lots of library trips, bike rides, creek tubing, mountain exploring, movies, and computer games to go along with those projects as well.

We hope each of you have a wonderful, relaxing summer and we thank you for journeying along with us on our homeschool adventure!

Quote of the Year, from NDEW: “Not only am I the valedictorian of the Wallace Academy of Learning, but I was also voted best looking.”
(This kid certainly doesn’t have a lack of confidence! Oh my word….)

January 14: What are we learning this week? (With links to some of our resources!)

This week hubby and NDEW are studying:

 Math: Hundreds board-NDEW and hubby are going to fill in a hundreds board over the course of the week to review factors and learn about prime numbers, squares, and divisibility rules.

Spelling/Vocab: Definition, part of speech, spelling and use of the word in a sentence:  This week’s words are arid, arrogant, barren, blunder, and boisterous.

Science: We are starting our first lapbook, so we’ll see how that goes!  This lapbook will cover things like galaxies, astronomy vocabulary, famous astronomers, black holes, comets and asteroids.  We’re not going to attack our first one from scratch so we’re using a template that I found at www.homeschoolshare.com

History: Learning about the Jamestown Colony and more details about the 13 colonies. NDEW will be playing a Jamestown settlement game online (found here:  http://www.historyglobe.com/jamestown/ ) and completing a project that shares information about each of the 13 colonies such as leaders from each colony, the economy in each, why the colony was founded and what the predominate religion was in each colony.

Geography: We discovered www.seterra.net and it looks awesome!  NDEW will be doing some activities on that and making a US landforms informational mini-booklet.

Reading:  Who knows!  NDEW and hubby are going to go to the ASU library this week and get their library card (a great benefit for those of us who aren’t affiliated with the university but who live in the community!) I’m sure they’ll find some great books to explore!  NDEW was very excited when we searched their online catalog and they had over 2700 books just on astronomy.  He’s never been to an academic library before…I think we may have to drag him out of there!  The ASU library also has a great children’s section because of their strong education department.  I have a feeling that hubby and NDEW are going to become regulars there!

Writing: More journal writing and keyboarding practice, as well as an activity on literary devices (like idioms, personification, etc.)  In this activity NDEW will put a card that defines each device and gives an example into his writing journal.  He’ll then write two examples of his own for each device.  I found the cards at http://msjensenclass-teacherresources.wikispaces.com/Classroom+Posters They are designed to print as full pages-like to put up in a classroom-but I printed them four-per-page and they were great cards!  There some other great resources on that page that I think we’ll be using in the future!

 

Other Projects:

1.  Create the Jamestown colony/settlement in Minecraft.-So NDEW absolutely loves Minecraft and we definitely see him using his creativity and problem solving skills when he plays it during his free time.  It’s almost like virtual Legos.  So we thought it would be fun to bring Minecraft into his homeschooling every now and then.  We’re studying colonial America so NDEW will be creating the Jamestown settlement in Minecraft.  He has information including some maps/drawings to go by.  Depending on how detailed he gets with this and how much time he spends on it this week, this may turn into a multi-week project.  I think the eventual plan is for him to record a tour of his created settlement and then to post it to YouTube to share with others.

2.  Finish the planets PowerPoint started last week.

3.  Start on a PowerPoint for the 13 Colonies.

4.  A few other quick math and art activities.

  

Away from Home:  Trip to the ASU library, homeschool music/recorder class, trip to the ASU Dark Sky Observatory (on Saturday evening), lots of errands to run with dad (Get ready to use those real-world money skills NDEW!)

Our Homeschool Space

When we decided to start homeschooling NDEW I went online and started looking at all the beautiful pictures of amazing homeschool rooms.  Then I looked around at our house and thought “Yea, right!”  As I mentioned in the “About Our Family” section, we live in a cute little house in the mountains of NC.  It’s the perfect house for us.  Not a lot of extra room to fill up with stuff (or to have to clean!).  It’s two bedrooms and two baths, with a living/dining/kitchen combo room and it’s right around 1100 square feet.  The rooms are good sized with some nice closets, but there definitely isn’t a lot of extra space.  This definitely meant that we did not have a whole room to dedicate to NDEW’s homeschooling.  Hubby works from home and doesn’t even have a separate room for his office, so we definitely don’t have an extra room for homeschooling.

As we thought further about our homeschool space needs we came to the following conclusions:

1.  For the sanity of all involved, having hubby’s primary work space and NDEW’s primary school space both at the dining room (the only) table, was not a good idea.  Plus, there isn’t much storage in that area and we actually like to eat dinner as a family at that same table at least every now and then.

2.  NDEW would need to do school, for the most part, in a place where there weren’t a lot of toys around visually as a distraction.

3.  We would need to have some easily accessible storage for school materials.

4.  NDEW would need some room to move around as he worked.

5.  We wanted NDEW’s school space to have some good natural light.  My kid definitely needs to see the sun as often as possible.

6.  We didn’t have a bunch of money to spend on new “stuff”.

From this, we developed our plan.  We decided that NDEW’s primary school space would be in his room, although he will certainly be working in other areas as well.  For example, we have one primary family computer (separate from the laptops that hubby and I use for work) and it’s located in the living room.  Also, any especially messy art, science, or cooking projects will not take place in NDEW’s room.  After all, we rent and might like to get a deposit back one day.

The second step of the process was a good clean out of NDEW’s room.  It really needed to be done anyway and this gave us a great excuse to purge the toys.  Four bags of stuff for Goodwill!   Where does all this stuff come from?!?!?  As I mentioned, we are blessed with great closets in this house.  NDEW doesn’t have tons of clothes so we had lots of extra room in his closet.  The majority of the toys that remained after the purge went into the closet.  Out of sight, out of mind…hopefully-at least during “school” times!

Then came the organizing of the school stuff.  We decided for the time being to use an old library desk that we already had as NDEW’s school desk.  We placed it by a big window that gives great natural light and put some shelves beside it to house educational games, puzzles, some Legos, and NDEW’s microscope that he got for Christmas from his Meemaw.

We are also lucky in that NDEW’s bed has built in storage-four small drawers at the end of the bed and two large drawers on the side.  Into these drawers went math materials, science materials, office supplies, paper and notebooks, and art supplies.  Thankfully, we didn’t have to buy any of this stuff as I already had some things from my days in the classroom.  I know we’ll add materials as we go on, but we definitely feel like we had enough to start off on a great foot.  NDEW also already had a large bookshelf in his room, so we organized the books a little better and have a great start to our homeschool library.

Last but on least, we put a few things up on the walls including some reminders and some pictures NDEW had made that he liked, and we were all done!

photo

Soon-to-be-purchased future additions include a larger, wall-hung dry erase board and a bird feeder right outside the window, but we all definitely felt that it was a great little space to get started on this journey together!

Our plan….for now!

One thing we’ve realized from the start is that it would take some time for all of us, the least of which being NDEW, to make the transition from an away-from-home education to an at-home education.  For many, many years, our school life has focused on the schedules and requirements of someone else teaching NDEW.  This doesn’t even get into the fact that hubby and I both attended public school from kindergarten to 12th grade so we don’t know anything else either!

When we started planning this transition it was really, really tempting to just transplant NDEW’s school schedule to home.  Times, subjects, and all.  As a former public school teacher, my first inclination was to break out all of those planning resources and use them to educate my kid.  Luckily, we kept reading and realized that, if we did that, we would not only miss the opportunity to offer NDEW what we feel he really needs but we would also miss the beautiful freedom that homeschooling gives us to allow NDEW to direct a good portion of his education.  As we were reading we came across a great article that said what has become our (at least for right now) homeschooling motto.

It’s not about what we can teach NDEW, it’s about what he can learn.
and
It’s not about what information NDEW can retain it’s about whether or not he’s learning to learn.

So with that as our background, we started reconsidering our plan.  Now, I fully expect that this plan will change again, possibly even by the end of the week!  What’s that saying…”No plan survives first contact, in tact.”?  But here’s our plan as we get started:

  1.  NDEW will be participating in a music class and a PE class with other local homeschool kids.  This is in addition to other evening activities that we already do, like church.  We fully plan to plug in to other local homeschool co-ops and activities as time goes on and as we settle on a more set schedule and curriculum.
  2. We will start each day with a “100 minute homeschool”.  Hubby and NDEW will do four, 25-minute lessons at the beginning of each day.  Each day will always include math and writing.  The other two lessons for each day will rotate through history, science, geography, reading, and spelling/vocabulary.  These lessons will be a combination of lessons that hubby leads NDEW through and independent work for NDEW.
  3. Wednesdays will look a little different than other days.  Hubby has a lot of conference calls on Wednesdays so NDEW will do quite a bit of online skill practice on Wednesdays.
  4. Each day will include an 1.5 to 2 hour “time out” period.  The point of this time is for computers, TVs, phones, etc. to be off (unless the computer is needed for research) and for hubby and NDEW to do something very hands-on together.  NDEW will actually take the lead in planning this time at the beginning of each week.  I have made up a list of suggestions for this time, but just to get the creative juices flowing.  We really want NDEW to take direction of this time, including planning what they will do and what materials they’ll need to do it.  We realize it might take a while to fully get to this point.   We’re thinking this time will include building stuff, reading, making things, cooking, science experiments, etc.
  5. Each day also has an afternoon activity time that’s designed to get hubby and NDEW out of the house.  This time could include running errands (How about a budgeting and math lesson at the grocery store? ) but also could include going to the library, volunteering at the humane society, going for a hike, going swimming, etc.  We do know that it won’t be possible for them to get out every day based on weather or hubby’s work schedule, and we have some options for that as well.

So that’s our plan right now!  For all you veteran homeschool parents out there who may read this, please don’t laugh.  Remember we’re new at this!  I’m sure we’ll look back at this plan in a few months and laugh at it too!  This is going to be a learning experience for all of us!

What Makes Us Different

Our family rarely does things the typical way.  It certainly makes for some interesting adventures!  Of course, homeschooling is no different!  Three things make our homeschooling adventure a little different than the typical.  I’m not saying that we’re completely different from all other homeschooling families but, from what I’ve seen as we’ve done research preparing for this transition, we definitely aren’t the “norm”.  Here are the three:

  1.  We are just now beginning to homeschool our son, at 10 years old and after four and a half years in public school and many years before that in outside-the-home daycare and preschool.  I do realize that many parents start homeschooling their children later in their education, so this isn’t maybe as unique as the other two ways that we are different.  On the other hand, as we’ve done research we’ve found a lot more resources geared toward younger students, or at least toward starting homeschooling with younger students.
  2. We will be homeschooling an only child.  Again, I know there are other families that homeschool only children, but the “typical” does seem to be at least two children.  In some respects, the fact that NDEW is an only child is probably one of the reasons that we haven’t homeschooled before now.  As we really started reading and learning about homeschooling, and especially about the resources available in our area, we decided that this fact shouldn’t hold us back and that NDEW will have plenty of opportunities to be with other children.  It might even turn out that he actually has more opportunities to get to know other kids at a deeper level.
  3. Lastly is the thing that, at least as far as I can tell, is least “typical” in our homeschool situation-my husband will be the primary educator for our son.  I will be doing a lot of the planning for them, but in the day-to-day learning environment of our home, dear hubby will be the one hitting the books.  Again, I do realize that there are other dads that are the primary homeschool instructor, but let’s be honest, most of the resources, especially those available online, are geared toward moms.  As we have been preparing for this transition I have been looking for articles to pass on to hubby about supporting kids transitioning from public to homeschool, and, overwhelmingly, they were addressed to “homeschool moms”.  One great article we read was even from a blog called “Homeschooling in High Heels”.  Hubby and I both decided that it was a really good thing that high heels weren’t mandatory for homeschooling.  As hubby said “I would make a really ugly woman!”  When I searched specifically for articles for homeschool dads, they almost all talked about “supporting your wife” in her homeschooling of the children and in making sure you stay involved in your children’s educations during the evenings and on weekends.  Again, I know there are other dads that act as the primary instructor, but they aren’t highlighted much out there.  Maybe that’s another thing we can do with this blog-show an example of what it looks like when dad’s your teacher!

Post Navigation