Saturday, September 14, 2013

Homeschool Year Kick-Off 2013

The older three Brownies started school the day after Labor Day.  We were thrilled the week before when our Sonlight box arrived at our door!  We haven't celebrated a real Box Day in a couple of years; we haven't started a new core in a couple of years, so Box Day felt momentous.

This year, we are studying through Core F, which covers a study of the Eastern Hemisphere.  The first country we are studying is China, so we certainly kicked off with a bang!  It's been fun to study a "far-away" country we just happened to have visited for a month.  We are looking forward to the next 5 weeks exploring China!

TJ, labeling brain parts while Mater keeps him company.
A huge change this year has been how TJ does school.  About a year ago, I started to accept the fact that TJ had some challenges with writing.

This year, I've totally revamped how TJ does school and the results have brought me to grateful tears more than once.  TJ logs the majority of his schoolwork on the computer.  

I have to say that I haven't been surprised at TJ's success.  I knew he had the cognitive ability to do the work.  For example, the kids love Sequential Spelling.  They actually beg to do it. In the past, when TJ sat down to do a lesson with us, he would give up before he would finish numbering his page 1-25.  I would be so frustrated, thinking he was just lazy and mad about having to do the work.  Oh, how wrong I was!  Now, TJ zooms through the spelling lessons with no problem at all. He's good at spelling, which sometimes is not the case with kids with dyslexic dysgraphia.  His struggle seems to center in on just the physical act of writing from memory.  His typing speed has improved several words per minute just in the last week, so I can't wait to see what all he will accomplish this year.

All year, the kids will be adding to their Eastern Hemisphere notebooks, praying for these countries, and learning about the human body. Each is working through their level of Teaching Textbooks, a company and math curriculum we highly recommend.  And, of course, we will be reading lots and lots of really good books, which is one of my favorite parts of "doing school."

Here's to all of you homeschool warriors out there!  Have an excellent year!

Friday, September 13, 2013

School Year Kick-Off 2013

We kicked off our 2013-2014 school year by sending off the boys to TSD the last week of August.
Tian is now in pre-k and Travis has started Kindergarten!  They both have excellent teachers, so we couldn't be more pleased.

I have a bit of a learning curve to get through this year. I've never had a child in government-run grade school.  Now that Travis is in Kindergarten, he has homework he brings home every night. The idea of having him do assigned homework after he's been in school for seven hours goes totally against my personal teaching philosophy, so the second week of school, when the homework began, I struggled with my own attitude regarding his homework.

In the midst of my exasperating about it to Ken and silently to myself, I realized I wasn't being a good example to my kids.  How can I expect them to work diligently and with a good attitude, even when they don't like what I'm asking of them, if I don't model that myself?  So, I look at the homework as more "special time" with Travis.  Ken has been doing a lot of the homework with him, too, so that's precious time they have together.  Travis mostly does homework in the mornings.  When he gets home from 7 hours at school, I don't blame him for not wanting to do more school work. It usually only takes minutes and I've seen how he really needs to work on building up his attention span.  I don't expect too much of an attention span out of a 5 year-old boy, but this one won't even keep eye contact for 5 entire seconds most of the time!  Homework has now become a time to focus on learning how to pay attention.

What has been fun about his homework is to see how he does most of the assignments with ease.  Last night, he had to match capital letters with the lower case partner. He zoomed right through it.  Then he matched numbers with a picture and the word for that number.  Again, I was delighted at how quickly he could do it on his own.  He's come a long way in 2 years!

The attention-span problem creeps up when we read a book.  He wants to look at other things; look at one page, then move on. Tian on the other hand, asks if HE can do homework.  He would read books and answer questions for 20 minutes and still might ask for more.

They've both had a good start to the year!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


This blog post is written directly to my friends, family, and anyone who has commented on my blog or YouTube account this year.

I'm not ignoring you! 
*smiling and cringing in apology*  

Well, I haven't been ignoring you, but I have been putting off replying to many of you.  Whether I've gotten emails, facebook messages, or texts, I've just had a tough time replying in a timely manner.  This has been a challenging summer to say the least, but I would say my busy-ness started months before that.

I have several friends from my boys' classes with whom I've been talking about playdates for months, but they just aren't happening.  When I finally do get together with someone, it's because they were persistent in contacting me.  For you I'm grateful!  It's ironic, because in the past, I was told on several occasions that I was the friend always reaching out.  Years ago, I even remember having friends with kids about the same age as my older ones are now, who never seemed to say "yes" when we wanted to get together, but then they would say they really wanted to hang out.  Now the tables are turned.  With Ken working full-time on his/our business(es), the kids doing school all day, me teaching all day and working 20+ hours per week, we don't have much time left over.  Weekends are full with church and my working at the call center.   Weekdays, the boys are in school 7 hours while the older kids and I homeschool about 5 hours.  Add to that chores, mealtimes, playtime outside with neighborhood friends, bedtime routines, grocery shopping, and some downtime (yes, that actually happens!), and we don't have a lot of time left to block for other activities.  With my work schedule and the boys in school all day, I prefer to be home with them on the evenings I don't work.  Ken and I have been missing out on time with each other, so making time for others has taken a back-burner.   Our schedule is something we have put at the top of our to-do list, but it keeps getting bumped back for more "urgent" things.

What I can tell my friends and family is that this is a season.  It's a season that we've had to focus almost all of our non-working time inward on our household.  I have no shame nor apologies for that, but do miss time with friends and wanted any of you asking, "Is is just me?" to know that the answer is, "No!"  (That sounds like a bad breakup line: It's not you. It's me.) My own sister, with whom I speak on the phone for at least 3 times per week, recently posted, in jest, on my facebook that she wondered where I was and what happened to me.  We live 15 minutes from each other and have seen each other about 3 times since the beginning of summer.

This post has been in my drafts for months now. In line with this theme, I've been off social media since September 1st.  I logged in to facebook long enough to post this link, but will remain on break for now. My break from facebook and Instagram is open-ended, although I figure I'll jump back on the wagon within the next couple of weeks or so.  With the kids' school starting September 2nd, I needed to focus all my "free" time on either schooling them or preparing to do so.  I needed more time to be quiet in my own mind so I could seek and hear from God.

In the meantime, facebook friends can reach me via email or phone.  (I answer texts much more often than I answer the phone.)

See you soon!

(Next blog post will be about homeschool and how I'm  having to adjust to being a mom of a government-schooled kindergartener.)