Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Freedom to Change Boats if You Need To .... While Homeschooling

When I started homeschooling, we used whatever workbooks that we could find at the stores, and made up games and songs and activities.  Story thrived.

Story reached Kindergarten at age 4.  She had covered everything PreK and K that I could find, and even had covered a great number of 1st grade workbooks.  I did some intelligence tests with her and she repeatedly tested just below Mensa level.  Scary stuff.  So we plowed right into Alpha Omega Kindergarten.  She loved it and hated it. ...  She loved learning new things ... she hated the writing and repeating.

But things really weren't so bad.  We still had plenty of time for other fun things like cooking and reading and watching Nutcracker videos over and over.  Story dreams of going to see that in "real person" someday.

Life got more difficult as the Ref's job of many years decided to basically fold the business - and run it from their home.  He got another job, we packed the  house, moved.  And no sooner had I unpacked the last box, then he finds out that they are letting hundreds of people go, as they need to downsize.  And we were living in one very expensive area.

We finally accepted "defeat" at finding a new job in the area - and moved home.  Both of our families are from the same town.  Story had just turned 6, and Song was 3 1/2.   Moving in with Grandma and Grandpa was suppose to be temporary.  But the months dragged  - and turned into years.   We were schooling in a half cocked restless manner.   Some days we were with one set of grandparents, and some days with the others.

Song wasn't as enthusiastic about school as Story had been.  And as the girls began to struggle, I began to experiment.  We read more from the library.  I did workbooks that I picked up from Sams and Walmart.  We just Did whatever we felt like doing - and more or less pushed our way through the curriculum that I had purchased.

We tried a computer curriculum - switched on schoolhouse.  And it worked fine, until Song got to it, and there was never enough time for all 3 of us on the one computer.   We dropped a few of the computer courses - like Math and English - so that we had time to get everyone's work done without being awake half of the night.

We were finally able to get our own  house again thanks to many generous relatives - Story was almost 9, and Song was 6.  We had spent nearly 3 years living with the grandparents.

As our home life settled down to a routine, I tripped on Rod and Staff - we loved the simple way it presented things.  And we loved the depth of the material.  And since it was a text book, instead of a workbook - I didn't feel as bad assigning 10 problems instead of all 30 of them.  Story was in her element, and the less I worried about grading her work, the more she seemed to learn.  Here was a kid that would grade her own work, and if she made a mistake, she would hunt it down until she felt comfortable with why the answer was wrong.  By the time she was 13, I was mostly hands off with her.

We also discovered Polished Cornerstones, and Pearables, and changed the way we did our Bible classes.  My teaching style was changing fast - I put Story through a therapy class for dyslexia - and suddenly her reading and penmanship jumped 3 or 4 grade levels.  We never quite got around to doing this with Song.  It's never too late though.

Scholar arrived just before Song's 8th birthday.  Life with a baby in the house changed a lot of things.  He was a really easy baby.  But there were still diapers to wash, and the house was even more crowded than before.

With the Ref being layed off again 4 years ago as the local economy started to sour, the death of my mother, the addition of a niece to our household, and the arrival of Sunshine all within a year, life was thrown into chaos.   I schooled Scholar.  Song and Story were given their assignments and they just did them.  Story graded most of Song's work as my eyes refused to focus on their answer keys (why do the print the answers so tiny?)

The kids are now 17, 15, 7, and almost 3.    We've been living in chaos since the girls were 5 and not quite 3.   Nearly every day, I wonder where the time has flown off.  I look around expecting my tiny girls, and these big girls are there instead.  Scholar climbs on my lap, and he is heavy, and doesn't quite fit comfortably anymore......

And now there is THIS YEAR.

I don't know if we'll be purchasing the tiny bit of curriculum I had planned, but as this summer has dragged and our to do list has become longer and longer, and funds shorter and shorter.  I took a really hard look at what we've been doing and who my children are and what they need ....   I think we do too much or try to do too much, and stress out over what never gets done.  We are all bone tired.   So .... we're going to change boats ... at least for this year.  We are going to go more "unschooling" and even less formal.  We're going to focus on character and getting our home in order and ready for our new family member in October (not a baby - and we aren't adopting).   This should be a very good change in our life - and my local sisters and our families.

So .... what are we planning?

Bible - Character Development using Polished Cornerstones for the girls, and Plants Grown  Up for Scholar.   All of the memory work will be required for the older girls, but I'll let them pick and choose the activities that they want to do.  They will include Sunshine whenever they can.   Scholar will do the memory work on the shorter verses, and I'll let him help choose activities from his list.

We'll probably continue to watch the numerous Christian Bible songs and stories Videos that my parents owned - we always are careful to watch a new video with the kids, so if there are any errors, we can point them out and show them in scripture - like David was an older teen when he fought Goliath - not a little boy.  Remember, right after the battle, he married the king's daughter.  Do you really think a 10 year old boy was married off to the king's daughter?

English - Story has very little of her English book to finish, she'll be doing whatever she wants of each lesson.  Since she wants to be a great author, she is quite serious about learning proper grammar.  She will do book reviews, and edit her books for practice, as well as blogging.

Song meanwhile, is not so gung ho about English.  She's in the 7th grade Rod and Staff book - and she merely has to take the tests to prove she studied the lessons.   On top of that, she will blog, write stories, and do a research paper in any field that interests her.  Probably something to do with using animals as a therapy method with special needs children.   For Spelling, she will play the "I love/hate spelling game."   And she will continue reading the Rod and Staff Readers without the workbooks.

Scholar -  Read good books, read the readers at his level.   Let Song continue to work with him from the Spaulding Phonics.  And Song will also do the dylexia therapy with him.  I would still like to purchase the Phonics workbooks to go with his readers - but I'm ok with not picking them up.

Sunshine will do her preschool book - which will feel like fun and games.  I'm sure Scholar will enjoy helping her with her art projects.

Math -  Story is working her way through Kahns Acadamy.  She is also learning some business and accounting skills, and hopes to get her craft and book businesses off the ground.   I'm encouraging her to help us set up some ebay and Amazon sales to help liquidate some of the extra stuff around here and bring in some money.

Song is working with SOS Algebra 1, and Kahns at the same time.  It seams to be working for her, so I'll let her keep at it.

Scholar will be doing a lot of hands on math work - building and measuring, pattern work, and lots of computer Math games.   He is already ready for his 3rd grade Math book - but he needs to get the facts down more solidly.  Games will be good for that.

Sunshine will do her Preschool counting.  We'll do a lot of Montessori math activities as well.

United States Study and Geography -  Both of the girls are working through a set of workbooks - I told them to just go as fast as they wanted to through the books - they both grinned.

Scholar will return where we left off last year on his trip through the states.  I'm sure his enthusiasm will include Sunshine.  We'll again be asking for post cards and fun things from our friends - he got some amazing packages last year - and sampled many fun foods from all over the country.

History -  The girls are working their way through All Through The Ages, reading books.  All of the other books are also available for them to skim and read.   The love reading "living books" and are thrilled to be able to go as fast or as slow as they wish.   Their kindle and MP3 players will be a huge asset to both of them.   Story also has some Government books on her list of books to read.

I plan to do Unit studies - sort of - with Scholar and Sunshine.  We'll read library books, find videos to watch on YouTube, and look for more information online.  We'll be mixing the history and science up - picking and choosing topics of interest.

Science - We have most of the high school level Apologia Text Books.   The girls will continue to read them, use the extra materials, and do experiments and activities as they come to them - including the two younger ones as much as is possible.

We will also be doing sewing, cooking, cleaning, organizing, gardening, and much more.   We are going to relax, or at least try to relax.   I'm not even going to write up a new lesson plan .... maybe.  Maybe I will.  More likely, I'll get some Assignment books and write down daily what we did - even if it reads ... "canned 16 quarts of peaches, 12 quarts of tomatoes, and 7 pts of applesauce."  or maybe it will say, "Read Charles Dicken's book Great Expectations"   or maybe  "spent 8 hours working at WR with the horses".   You get the picture.   Maybe I'll post what they do?    Would that inspire my readers?   Curious?   ....   We will post quite a bit of what the two little ones do for sure.

So pray for us.  We NEED this vacation from our normal routine.   We're going to climb a mountain this year ... yeah, in our new boat.  Mixing my metaphors.   Guess we're going to cross the lake or take a cruise.   Come, join our adventure!

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