Archives for posts with tag: homeschool

So sometimes juggling a lot of demands and responsibilities can be hard and, at other times, it can be effortless. I found myself somewhere smack dab in the middle of that statement last semester. I knew it was going to take some work to make juggling my college commitments with homeschooling a bright (read: needing to be continually challenged) fifth grader work. But of course, life doesn’t exist in a vacuum of school. There’s the house, obviously (and my tendency to need to frequently (read: daily and thoroughly) clean. And we can’t ever, never, ever forget The Mister. Just because my hands are full doesn’t mean he gets relegated to the wayside. I’m a big believer in continuing to date your spouse after The Big Day. And granted, we don’t always get away on our own, but dating can mean making all those little mundane moments at home seem magical; it’s flirting, it’s finding ways to compliment him (read: not hard at all), it’s spending time with him one on one, listening to him, meeting his needs. And of COURSE, that also means that just because I spend so much time with Little B teaching him (and goodness, he’s home with me all day) that I haven’t spent time with him engaging in the things that matter to him. That’s huge too! It’s finding time to do art with him, it’s getting on the ground (why is it always the ground?!) to play endless rounds of Yu-Gi-Oh (which between you and I dear friends, I find incredibly confusing and which I am learning to love just because he loves it so), it’s taking him outside to work on his basketball, and baking with him, or running around the house like nuts, nerf guns at the ready, while my thighs scream in agony from ducking around in bizarre positions in the hope that although I can’t see him he can’t see any little bit of my body to shoot at (what can I say… I like to win). We can’t even forget the dogs! Those things, er… animals, are like CHILDREN! They need attention, and love, and help with hygiene. And they are both very distinct (pet owners get me here while the rest of you think we pet owners are a bit bizarre). Sweet Nya needs TONS of affection (I swear she lacks a healthy self esteem). She needs to be kissed and hugged and petted and a soft place needs to always be available for her to lay upon. Marley loves hugs and kisses. He has no clue he’s so big and will jump up for hugs at the most inopportune times, nearly toppling me over. He LOVES to play hide and seek, which, let’s admit, is too much fun not to play with him. He loves to be chased when he’s playing with his toys and he will cry if you aren’t so inclined.

So I was doing pretty great all semester keeping all those needs and things running smoothly. I was feeling pretty good about myself but I quickly found that keeping all those things in line began to mean that anything EXTRA thrown my way was quickly set aside to be dealt with in…. wait for it… DECEMBER! I just didn’t have any extra time because any extra time was time set aside for myself (because that is huge too). The dryer that began making weird noise? December. The CLEP test I need to graduate on time? December. Medical appointments for myself? December. So as I sit here, a few days away from an even tougher semester I am resolute in not putting things off. In reviewing the last few months, even though I was great about setting time aside for myself, I wasn’t doing great in taking care of myself (other than resting so as to be kind to my ol’ little heart). I need to be okay with scheduling in appointments for myself instead of seeing those things as inconvenient or unimportant. The dryer that went wacky? I waited all this time for the Sears man to tell me that the part is almost as expensive as getting a new one and with an eleven year old dryer he just worried something else would go wrong. In other words, I could have been drying my clothes at home weeks ago! You have to laugh at things like that. Because it’s truly funny.

So changes. I’m a bit of a scheduler. If it’s not on the schedule I tend to forget it. And B, my sweet little B is not so little anymore. When we moved here I transitioned from calling him Baby Brooks to LIttle Brooks because his new friends, unaccustomed to the name as his old friends were, looked shocked when I called him that (as they should have been, he was nine when we moved here). He’s growing like a weed lately. And he’s sleeping in, a lot. One of the blessings of homschooling is that we are able to adjust to life circumstances to his schooling. When Brooks was deployed and came home on leave we were able to stop schooling to spend time with him. When his schedule was insane at work we would take off when he was off. So now, as the boy begins sleeping in later in the morning I’ve adjusted our day to officially start later to allow him to sleep longer and wake slowly (he’s a slow waker). I really detest starting the day later than we have traditionally but it’s not really about me. And I think, in a lot of ways, I’ll find the extra time in the morning conducive to exercising (which I am in dire need of) and completing my own schoolwork. It’ll be an adjustment for me and a blessing for B. He’s already quite pleased with our new schedule and quite grateful for the ability to rest a bit longer in the morning.

So with all that being said, Christmas was pretty fantabulous. We were able to spend a good deal of time with Brooks’s family, and though I became ill towards the mid point and our car got smashed in the fender (not our fault, it was just parked there, minding its own business) it was pretty great. Traditions are so great and I really really embrace them. I have no idea what things B will carry with him into adulthood but I hope and pray it was a childhood of play and “magic” and excitement. And I hope that he’ll remember our traditions fondly and find comfort in them. This year we stuck to some oldie but goodies: making Santa his mouse cookies, making gingerbread houses, tons of crafts leading up to the big day, and of course, a relatively new one, the annual Christmas play with the cousins. I’m not sure if we’ll be here next Christmas. And that surely sucks but I can’t allow those what-ifs to mar our today. That’s just crazy talk! There were other beloved traditions that we partook in but I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Enjoy! It was definitely one to remember!

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Uncle Brooks and Baby Ty. I truly love this picture for so many reasons. We are so grateful to be here while he’s been growing like a little weed and changing daily.

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Although B is making the craziest face I love how sweet the girls look in this picture! I love the way these three love each other. I pray and hope that as time and distance takes us away from these sweet girls that these three will keep in touch and love each other fiercely as only cousins can do.

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Singing karaoke for the packed “house” ie. mommas and poppas and loved ones.

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Waiting her turn patiently.

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Oh my gosh, these two! Love it!

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Beautiful Tali was rocking it out! This little girl FEELS the music when she is dancing. She radiates joy!

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still rocking!

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Baby Ty got in on the action too!

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Blurry photo, I know! But I love B’s face in this picture because he is radiating such joy at spending time with Ty. Too precious for words!

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More singing!

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Be still my heart!

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Making gingerbread houses with Addison who is pretty adept at baking and using her little rolling pin. I really loved making these with her.

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There she goes!

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An invitation to play: Gingerbread house making. And look at Tali’s face when she saw the set up! Priceless! I used melted sugar to hold the houses together instead of icing and although it worked FABULOUSLY my finger suffered a bad burn from trying to assemble them too quickly. Note to self: next year… take your time! ūüôā

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Love that everyone packed in here to watch the kiddos!

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More sugar! ūüėČImage

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Look at that smile!

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Silly…. willy.

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Jess’s family portrait for the set. Love it!

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Sweet Addie peering around the side of the set.

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Playing with a polymer (which happened by happenstance when Addie and I were attempting to make white dough ornaments). When life gives you messed up ornament making dough, make a polymer!

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I hope she always find joy in play dough!

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Checking out the lights at some park somewhere in York County… I truly forget the name. Maybe Rocky Ridge?

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Reindeer games!

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Reading the kiddos The Night Before Christmas by the tree Christmas Eve. We read this one every year. Right before I tuck B in bed, reminding him to fall asleep quickly, we pull out the Bible and read the Christmas story together. I love doing that while he’s all snuggled in, visions of Christmas morning dancing in his head, a very timely reminder of why we celebrate this very special day. I truly love how traditions mark our passage through time.

Some photos of Christmas morning:

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And with this last picture I truly hope the Christmas season found you and yours making new memories to be treasured always.

Life remains truly sweet.

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It’s been a whirlwind of activity since September kicked off. I am grateful for all the things we’re involved in that make Brooks’s day to day more rich and full, and yet, sometimes, between balancing my schoolwork, his, and spending time together as a family there isn’t much time left for much else. At the very least, we spend our time where it’s most important, knowing full well that our time with LB is limited, in a very real sense.

Either way, six weeks into school and I’m quite thankful that I’ve worked out any kinks in the schedule and we are following a good pace that keeps B challenged and excited but not overwhelmed or exhausted. Balance is always good and I always try to keep that at the forefront of all we do. I don’t always succeed (last year’s overscheduled schedule accounts for that) but I do try.

Tuesdays are mirror images of Friday in that the schedule is very similar, in the same way that Monday mirrors Thursdays. Wednesdays are in a whole league of their own since we have roller hockey, lunch with friends, and then typically meet at a park with B’s friends for play and fellowship.

Tuesdays and Fridays contain all the same subjects as Mondays and Thursdays except for a few exceptions. Computer Programming happens these days, though typically B is working on his own projects throughout the week. We tend to use Scratch for this although we have added Alice and Code Academy.

B is pretty passionate about becoming a video game programmer someday and to that end he is quite diligent about learning as much as he can about the field and coding in general. He’s also began working on animations and has become quite adept at pulling together funny and short skits. Some he shares on Scratch others he continues to tweak until some point that he decides it can no longer be perfected.

Other notable differences include Penmenship (Cursive), Poetry/Memory Work, our Intro to Logic class, Greek Mythology, and Computer Science. We include as many living books as we can, and also cover current events with various websites, most notably Dogo News, Izzit.org, and our Scholastic Readers. I love using Brainpop as well wherever I can.

Penmenship: I thought about purchasing a curriculum to teach B cursive but I ran across Donna Young’s website that includes some great, and free, worksheets and tutorials (animations) for cursive.

Poetry/Memory Work: In my pursuit to lean towards a more classical education with B we’ve included Poetry this year, as well as requiring B to memorize portions of poetry each week. B is actually enjoying this class. I was worried I’d have some resistance but he actually enjoys learning new poems, analyzing them, and learning about their structure. We use Memoria Press’s Poetry curriculum and I’m quite pleased with it.

Intro to Logic: We began this last year but weren’t able to finish it before we finished for the school year. I love this course and B’s ability to not only memorize the informal fallacies but to pick them out in real life and in written work is pretty impressive. We subscribe to Schoolhouseteachers.com and LOVE the ability to pick different units to study. Right now we are using their Computer Science unit, their Geography unit (which B loves as it entails not only learning geography and all its terminology and history, but creating his very own atlas to keep), and their Into to Logic Unit. We’ll soon finish up this unit and have to supplement with something else and I’m really leaning towards their Social Justice unit.

Greek Mythology: We have yet to study ancient history other than through mini units in the course of reading different things or running across articles or videos which then peaked B’s curiosity and caused us to dig further (a bit of unschooling there, in that philosophy I suppose). I was intrigued by including a real thorough study of Greek myths, while learning about Greek culture and history. We are using Memoria Press’s Greek Mythology and love it. B would have us read the book in a sitting but the curriculum allows you to dig a bit further, thereby causing you to really learn the myths and various deities and heroes.¬†

The only other differences are an omission of a whole subject (which I will flipflop with another for next semester) and the addition of a companion study to our Vocabulary class. We opted to drop Music and Music Appreciation for Art four days a week as we are both truly enjoying that curriculum.

And I’ve added a vocabulary builder to B’s already stellar vocabulary program: Wordly Wise. We are utilizing Success with Words which I’m thoroughly pleased with. It’s really aimed more towards high school students hoping to improve their SAT and ACT scores so we are working our way slowly through it, aiming for retention and real understanding.

September has slowly added activities to our schedule. Roller hockey and flag football began. Next week B’s Discovery Imagination team starts. Royal Rangers started up and B is going to be attending that as well. Lastly, our friends put together a Co-Op that begins in another week or so.¬†

I’m so grateful for each moment I get to school My Boy. I’m grateful for friends, for cars that work (and friends who know how to fix them), for the ability to travel and experience new things. Six weeks into our new school year and I’m feeling as excited and gung ho as day one, and I’m grateful for that too.

Life is truly sweet.

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I’ve always been an eclectic homeschooler, though I wasn’t always aware of the title. Over the years as I’ve learned from others, researched, and tried out new methods/curriculum we finally find ourselves at a place where I absolutely love everything we are doing, reading, using, etc. Obviously, my Little Guy is just as enthused, or I probably wouldn’t be.¬†

In previous years I allowed all the wrong things to guide me in our homeschool curriculum choices. Until very recently (half way through third grade, to be exact) the thought in our household was that B would attend public school at some point, with private school being a possibility if we could find a good school that we could afford. As a youth, homeschooling was foreign to me. The thought never crossed my mind that BB would be home educated, in fact, dreams of his first day of school would flood my thoughts from time to time, and it wasn’t wholly pleasant at all.

So now, without having to plan to educate Brooks around what the public schools are covering, I find myself using all sorts of things and covering all sorts of topics that perhaps I would not have before. It’s freeing in so many ways. It’s incredibly exciting. And three weeks into our new fifth grade schedule, it’s eye opening.

The amount of “stuff” B is learning is insane. We both find ourselves excited to open up certain text books, or to read certain books. More often than not LB will plead that we keep going, or cover something else. When the situation arises that he has a question about something we can forgo what’s “scheduled” to explore deeper, investigate, ponder his questions, his curiosity.

For example, this week, while learning more deeply about the Henry Ford and the Wright brothers we deviated to learning about President Teddy Roosevelt. We use a lot of narration in schooling this year and Brooks had eloquently shared information on this beloved president. The breadth of his knowledge surprised me since we’d only covered him in passing in years past. It was really an aside, as I shared that President Roosevelt had been the first president to both ride in an automobile and fly in an airplane. We perused websites, pulled up videos, looked at books. And then, because we’d learned that he’d been the first president to travel to a foreign country (Panama) we learned about that country, the ins and outs of the Panama Canal, why the project had previously floundered, etc etc.

This is why I love homeschooling so much!

Among so many other reasons.

The freedom to really learn about something, thoroughly, to enjoy the learning of it, to experience the excitement of how all these things are tied together.

When I look at Brooks and I see him truly enjoying all his subjects that excites me. When he gets excited over assignments, when he pores his heart into what he’s doing… it accentuates how blessed we are to have homeschooled thus far. Of course, homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but for this military family the time together has been a blessing, a true gift, and one we don’t take lightly.

So this year one of my biggest deviations comes from the fact that we don’t cover every single subject every day. Some we do. Some we only cover 3 times a week, or twice a week, and even once a week.

Before this would have caused me concern because somehow I equated the amount of days we covered a subject to how important it was, and shouldn’t they all be equally important?

Well yes. And… no.

Scheduling the “smaller” subjects less days actually, surprisingly, allows us to cover them more extensively. So my fear that some subjects would result from neglect, that somehow the richness of learning would escape us during those times has not happened.

Three weeks in and I’m breathing easy and loving the freedom and flexibility of the schedule. Our days don’t feel rushed, even on days that we find ourselves meeting others for activities or heading out for an appointment.

The three biggest things I am focusing on as we move through the year are the following (though of course, lots of other learning is occuring, I’m just keeping these in the forefront so they become a central part of our homeschool “skeleton,” if you will:

narration, reading (classics, current events, living books, etc etc etc), and community opportunities (such as field trips, learning opportunities, etc).

We have four full days of school with one half day throw in due to sports/activities that take up the majority of our day. Wednesdays have been dubbed our “Park Days” since those days entail roller hockey with friends, lunch with friends, and an activity with friends (typically a park/playground). Fellowship with friends is so vitally important that I can’t imagine our schedule without this beloved and special day. We both really look forward to it.
 

And, it’s a great break in our day.

Mondays:

Every homeschool day begins with “Independent Work.” On Mondays that entails typing, logic exercises (either analogies, a Perplexus Puzzle, or activities from another book called Logic Liftoff), and independent reading (either an article I give him or a selection from our McGraw Hill reading book for fifth grade).

The logic exercises are B’s favorite from these three. He LOVES pulling out the workbooks during the day just to work on them. He loves figuring out the puzzles or whatever it is the book has next for him.

Next we tackle Math (and I’ll say now that after Math the rest of the subjects though listed in order are not always tackled that way). We love our Saxon math, having always used it. B excels at math and enjoys the subject. I enjoy the repetitive nature of Saxon as B is really mastering the subject.

History has always been Bob Jones. We tend to use the text as a skeleton of sorts. I plan ahead, pulling books from the library to complement whatever it is we are learning. I peruse the internet for activities, videos, visuals, etc. We both love history and a lot of narration and discussion occurs during this class.

For our Bible study/ Christian study we have used Memoria Press’s Christian Studies but this year we are beginning with Apologia’s,¬† Who is God? I’m loving how Brooks’s faith shines through during this class.

Spelling. Brooks is not the best speller. I don’t see any Spelling Bee’s in our immediate future though I’d love him to compete one day just because I see how much he’s improved and I know it would tickle him pink to hold his own, at least for a while ūüôā We continue working our way through Wise Guide for Spelling. B’s spelling has improved by leaps and bounds while using this book which focuses on the phonemes and rules of our language. I keep it simple. We don’t over-drill, because then he’d hate it. We tackle one lesson a week, covering 10 words one day and 10 the next. I don’t make him write the words over and over. The other three days I pick three activities from the text, focusing on words he needs to master from the original list. On Friday we tackle the test, and sometimes I make it fun. I may not make him write out the words, instead opting for a spelling bee type quiz. We may throw a ball or do some silly something, anything to keep it light and focused on mastery, not drill and kill.

For writing we are loving IEW. Enough said!

Science this year consists of Apologia’s Astronomy for the elementary grades. I tackle this book much like history, planning ahead, researching, pulling more resources to cover the subject extensively. At the end of the chapter B uses his notebook to annotate what he’s learned, drawing and diagramming as he sees fit. Then, and he loves this part, he narrates and presents his presentation, showcasing all he’s learned over the course of that particular chapter.

Grammar consists of three things: Daily Grams, Easy Grammar, and vocabulary through the use of Wordly Wise. I’m incredibly impressed with B’s mastery of grammar with these texts. Not only is My Boy learning, he enjoys the subject. Sweet!

Literature… oh my heart be still! How we love, love, love reading in this house! We are almost done with our first literature study, The Animal Farm. B LOVES this book. We are concurrently learning about the Russian Revolution, thoroughly, so we are going through the book much slower than we’d want, but we are enjoying it and it’s almost like a treat, waiting to read the next chapter. We are using McGraw Hill’s literature studies for this, and pulled it right off the internet, for free, to boot.

Health. B loves health. We tend to use a public school book for this but this year we started with “sex ed.” Say what?! Yup! Sex ed. Keeping in line with our desire to teach Brooks to court, not date, we have always been open and honest, age appropriately of course, about God’s desires for him in this regard. I had to have The Talk all by myself with That Boy during one deployment. It sucked and it didn’t. He had so many questions and wasn’t even embarrassed, which is great, I know, but I didn’t have all the answers because, well, I’m a girl. We are using Facing the Facts, The Truth About Sex and You, which is biblical in nature to teach over some things we’ve already covered and then some. It’d be silly to pretend his body isn’t rapidly changing and addressing these things at home, and in a Biblical manner is huge for us.

Geography. I am loving The Old Schoolhouse’s take on Middle School geography. It’s very thorough and fun. We subscribe and are able to download the lessons we need for each week.

Spanish this year is focusing on grammar and trying to get this bilingual momma to remember to speak in Spanish. This is much harder than I care to admit because I instantly revert to English and have to remind myself to speak to B in spanish. Spanish studies are great though because it emphasizes how much B has learned and how proficient he is. I suppose those moments of clarity where I remember have stuck with him and I’m grateful. This is one of B’s favorite classes. He loves speaking in Spanish (finally). He used to moan and bemoan that he didn’t see the point because so few people he knew spoke it. I would insist that it’s a part of his culture, his identity, who he is, and we’d move on. This year he is treasuring the sounds and lessons and richness of the history etc, etc.

Art. We have a set curriculum for art but this month, being August, and more relaxed than the three that are about to follow, we have been doing art as we see fit. I’ll find stuff on the internet or just pull out supplies and let him explore. We LOVE art, and my walls are quickly filling with his pieces.

Nature Study. We are using the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock. LOVE!!! Our nature studies are open ended, we use the book as a guide and also incorporate other stuff. This is one of the best ways to end the day, and usually does. As part of our first week’s focus (mosquitoes) we also read a book, Fever, 1796,¬†about the yellow fever epidemic in Philly, as well as read a few books on epidemics in general, yellow fever, etc. I love reading books related to our subject at hand, and historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.

Lastly, current events are huge here. I order several magazines from Scholastic, from current events (the weekly reader) to other magazines they print. Sometimes we pick an article, simply, from one of these sources. But more often than not we also pull off article from dogonews.com, or izzit, which is quickly becoming my favorite as it includes questions for discussion (so I don’t have to think so hard of them on my own, major plus).

I would love to start up a month current events online video chat group for my boy and some of his peers so that they discussion can occur amongst themselves. It’s still on my heart and mind and hopefully I can make that a reality this year.

The suggestions and advice from other homeschooling momma’s has been invaluable as we’ve pulled new materials into our schedule that we had not previously been exposed to. As always, I’m loving this homeschooling journey and our Monday’s are such a great way to start off¬† our week.

 

 

ImageThe Boy had a pretty incredible summer. The Summer 2013 Bucket List kept us busy. I’m grateful for the preplanning, as there were days we both woke up, bleary eyed and still tired from the previous days activities. We were able to visit with family, quite often, and B took his first solo trip cross country to visit his beloved Titi Brenda. That trip was the highlight of his summer, for sure.

As summer wound down we became hibernating bears, per se. We could see on the calendar the first day of school quickly approaching, the bucket list was pretty empty of promises of full days of fun stuff, and, let’s be honest, we just wanted to veg. We’d tumble out of bed, all kinds of late, snuggle on the coach and discuss the day ahead. More often than not we’d opt for a movie, or video games, or endless nerf wars that found me the loser more often than the victor. We played board games, and card games, and we’d toss the ball around outside, all with lots of quiet time thrown in for good measure.

As much as I’ve loved the freedom of summer, the not-scheduled-amazingness-of-it-all, I was looking forward to the rhythm of the school year. Through the haze of my hibernating phase, as I’d peek out of the covers and lament it was time to prepare dinner, or as we’d collapse after a long bout of nerf wars and I couldn’t bring myself to clean up, let alone tell the The Boy to, I was thinking ahead to the way my days would just fall into place on The Schedule. Plus, I had some pretty neat new curriculum choices we’re both pretty excited about.

So yesterday we found ourselves facing our first day. B was super excited because he knew I had some pretty special things planned. I like to make a big commotion of certain things, and the first day of school is high on that list.

Homeschooling never crossed my mind when I was younger. Thinking back to my own experiences with the first day of school the things I looked forward to the most were the new clothes, shoes, and school supplies. But that doesn’t apply so neatly to B’s experience with school. We purchase new clothes and shoes as needed (and The Boy’s feet change size so rarely that we don’t find ourselves purchasing new ones that often). We have so many school supplies that year to year I rarely purchase new ones, unless you count new notebooks and reams of lined paper. So The Boy doesn’t get excited if I ever go “back to school” shopping. It’s just another errand Mom has to run, in his eyes.

So what’s a homeschooler to do, when new clothes and shoes and supplies don’t hold the promise and excitement they do for kids who attend “traditional” school? I make that first day of school a wee bit more exciting and special than all the other days. And a wee bit more laid back.

There’s no homework the first week of school (yup, The Boy has school work he manages on his own time, outside of our scheduled meet up time). We may not cover every subject fully, aiming more for a relaxed approach as we ease back into schedule.

But more than that, there are some special things we do.

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I decorate the house the night before or the morning of. I put up streamers, make a big banner, and otherwise make the house look festive. B loves coming down the stairs to discover what I’ve done to the place.

 

ImageThis year I brought out the tablecloth, set the table with our nicer plates, and even brought out Brooks’s sister’s glasses she gifted us a few years back she made. I’m always leery of using them because I’m afraid we’ll break them.

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We always have a special breakfast: this year, by B’s request, crepes with homemade whipped cream. Over breakfast, The Boy opened up a small present from us ( two packs of cards he collects, a notebook for him to write down ideas for games he wants to develop, etc). Nothing big or fancy or expensive, plus, with saving money on school shopping it didn’t seem like too much of splurge, though for him it was as he’s only used to getting stuff on a few occasions throughout the year.¬†

ImageAfter breakfast, and a quick-ish cleanup after we doused The Boy with silly string

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Imagewe began our school day.

I am so grateful for B’s diligence during the school day. He really loves learning, he loves discussing new subjects or topics, and is typically eager to go beyond what I ask him. He’s a hard worker for sure.

ImagePart of our first day yearly traditions is working on our time capsule for the school year. And we always kick that off with a questionnaire that I print out for The Boy to fill out. So that’s it not an assignment, per se, I always read him the questions and type out his responses. At the end of the school year I ask him the same questions again and it’s always fun to see how his answers differ or stay the same. We also note his height and weight, as well as likes and dislikes, but some questions are more in depth, and those are the ones I really like hearing his responses to.

I always try to include something fun, as well. We began our nature study yesterday, which The Boy really loved. I also included something fun just for the sake of fun: a scavenger hunt, with clues made by yours truly. Each clue brought him to a new clue and at each clue he picked up three cards from the same pack of cards I had bought for his small present (the tin I bought had several cards in them, so I split them up).

This was one of the highlights for B, for sure. He was so excited to discover each new clue and would race around trying to figure out riddle and the new location. I’m really glad I took the time to put this together because he was totally into this.

ImageImageImageFinally, after an almost full day of school (we skimped on very little, as he was really motivated to get stuff done), we ended the day with a card game with D.Brooks, dinner while we played, and a Surprise Ride.

I found the idea of a surprise ride on the internet, somewhere, I can’t remember where. But the premise is that you yell Surprise Ride! and everyone has a minute to get to the car for the Surprise Ride. B was so excited to find out where we were going. As was D.Brooks, since I didn’t share it with him.

We ended the night with ice cream treats from The DQ (the location of our surprise ride), and this momma ended the night tired, but content, that our first day was such a rousing success!

I’m so grateful for new beginnings, for firsts, for new memories made, and the ability to enjoy them fully.

Yay for fifth grade!

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b did his reading here for some reason today. that book he’s holding is one of my fave for his independent reading during our homeschool day: mcgraw hill’s fifth grade reading book. love the short stories and the activities included, as well as reading comprehension questions. (i’m a most eclectic homeschooler ūüėČ

 

Homeschool Tuesday:

busy, full, and very much in need of careful planning, execution, AND organization.

Tuesdays are The Day in our homeschool week as of late. With the end of both of B’s basketball leagues I was able to spend a little bit more time at home and a lot less time on the road. We have been going full speed through January and February and the break was quite nice, but it still left us with Tuesdays.

Tuesday is the Athenian Academy and B’s weapon’s history class.

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weapon’s class catapault fun

Every other Tuesday is 4H.

And because we are already in Richmond-ish then it makes perfect sense to make Tuesdays our museum day. But I hate to miss out on a day of homeschooling so we do that too. Before we head out. Which is where the organization falls into place because we need to leave here at 9:45 sharp to get to his class on time.

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If we start school at 7am that leaves us with 2 and a half hours of schooling. That’s enough for a full half day of intensive study of the two core subjects of language arts and math. Our Tuesdays are what our Language Arts program is to our homeschooling day… busy, full, and carefully organized. It takes up the largest chunk of our day. Reading, reading comprehension, classic literature studies (these are separate things in my curriculum planning), writing, spelling, vocabulary, and grammer. Math is far easier only because The Boy has always naturally taken to numbers and is able to manipulate them internally. Between those two subjects and current events it usually takes the bulk of the slotted time for our official half days of homeschooling. If I’m lucky I can squeeze in geography, intro to logic, typing practice, and health.¬†

I was lucky this Tuesday. We didn’t even rush through everything, it just all kind of fell into place and clicked. We did a short biology lesson intro and I knew that hitting the Science Museum for some expansion on highlighted points was going to be the icing on the cake.

It was.

And it ended up being a busy, but amazing day. Which leaves me feeling extra thankful…

 

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I spend a little bit of time each day perusing posts from other homeschooling parents via several Facebook groups that I belong to. Most of what I see is not relevant to our homeschooling journey, however, some of things mentioned, posted, shared, etc. surely is. And that’s how we came across Scratch: http://scratch.mit.edu/

Scratch is a free downloadable program which allows kids to use programming language to create animations, games, art, etc. It’s incredibly easy to use (and has a handy dandy booklet you can download and print that walks you through the various ins and outs of the program) and is loads of fun.

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B is fascinated by anything related to computers, gaming, animation, robotics, etc etc. Of course I knew as soon as I heard about this that it would be something he’d enjoy, and quite frankly, that I would too. Plus, on the upside, I consider it part of our homeschooling curriculum now so when I need a 15 or 20 minutes to do something inadvertently in the middle of our day I ask B to work on his Scratch projects and he’s more than happy to comply.¬†

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It’s what I like to call a win-win.

The radio station/TV tower

Wednesdays always go by in a blur. It’s that midpoint of the week thing, I suppose, and with Brooks coming home any day now, I’m glad for the busyness and the opportunities for distractions from the time.

The beginning of the tour

After our regular morning routine and homeschool we headed to the Central Texas Campus for a field trip with fellow homeschoolers. One of the ladies had organized a trip to the radio station/PBS station. I’m big on field trips and exposing Brooks to as many new experiences as possible. I’ve always said that if we’re going to homeschool we’re going to take advantage of the fact that B is home by going on excursions, field trips, and doing lots of hands on learning. We’ve been here so long that we really have done a lot and even then there’s always something new to do. That’s exciting.

At the radio station recording room

The field trip was loads of fun. Brooks was able to play with other kiddos before the start. The tour itself was incredibly detailed. I was surprised at how much info the guy gave the kiddos and how well he kept everyone’s attention. The kiddos were taken into the room that the radio programs are recorded live from, the studio where live taped segments are recorded, another room where the technicians control the teleprompter and other techy things, and even another room where another guy sits and makes sure that the audio, picture, and other details on the screen are perfect.

The TV studio

Afterwards Brooks was able to play a little bit more with his friends. His friends invited him to come over and play and since I still had crazy studying to do and a trip to the grocery store (that The Boy¬†abhors) I said yes. Plus, Brooksy really enjoys these boys and I know with my crazy schedule lately he hasn’t been able to play with his friends the way he’d like, so I was super grateful for the invite.

The room where the guy gets to watch TV all day :)

By the time I picked B up the boys weren’t ready to say goodbye and B asked if they could spend the night. It’s a Wednesday, and this is why I love homeschooling so much. I’m not beholden to anyone’s schedule but my own. With Little B busy tonight with his friends I’ll get loads done, but more so, I’m grateful for the distraction for him because he’s been so anxious for his Daddy coming home. He wakes up each morning wanting to know if I’ve heard anything or if I’ve gotten a hard date yet.

I really forget the technical name of this room, it's kind of like the brain room of the whole place though, if I'm right.

So, I’m thankful for our busy, fun filled, new friends sleeping over Wednesday. I’m thankful for another day closer to getting Brooks home. I’m thankful for a semester almost over.

And a group shot

PS. Our advent tree activity for today was to work on B’s secret Santa. He chose a friend to make a gift for. Other than me buying the necessary ingredients we never got around to it. I say we enjoy double the advent activity tree tomorrow!

The longer I live in Central Texas the more I fall in love with it. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love experiencing all four seasons for all they’re worth. I love playing in the snow as much as any eight year old. The colors of fall are magnificent in the Northeast, and should¬†definitely¬†be seen for oneself. I absolutely love Portland, OR and don’t think anything comes close to Washington D.C. Then again, I haven’t lived everywhere yet (thanks Army stabilization).

There is something beautiful about Central Texas though. And the longer I live here the less I am able to withstand the cold weather. Seriously, I thought the few days of frigid weather were a bit much, and they weren’t much to write home about. And for the first time, I’ll admit it… I reconsidered the whole wearing sandals in the snow. Central Texas is making me soft.

But I love all that this little piece of our country has to offer. I love the landscape and the weather. I love the city of Austin and all the quirkiness that makes it unique. I love the proximity to San Antonio and Dallas and Houston and all the points in between. With all the exploring and hiking and camping and museum hopping we’ve done since arriving here we’ve yet to do everything. And with all the festivals, special events, plays, symphonies, etc we never run out of fun stuff to see and do. Really, I just love it here.

So obviously with all the amazingness (I know that’s not a word) of Central Texas our calendar is usually pretty full. And I’m usually hearing of new stuff, which then either is added to the calendar or then again it’s not. My mom used to take us on weekends to check out new spots, little adventures or day trips to different places nearby. And when we got older she got us a family membership to the zoo so we could go whenever we liked. I loved that. And I think that whole philosophy has stuck with me because I get so excited about new places, events, etc. Seriously, I’m usually the one in the crowd with the permagrin.

Which brings me back to my calendar. This morning as I opened up my email I was¬†inundated¬†with all these announcements from fellow homeschoolers about places to visits, events to attend, reminders about field trips, etc. And I so desperately wanted to go to all of them, but my calendar won’t allow it. Not because it won’t all fit. I say where there is a will there is a way. More because I choose to live my life in moderation, without excess of anything but love, well… love and coca-cola.

Last deployment I was a volunteer, student, and mother to a homeschooler (ie. an instructor). My calendar was insane. I was constantly running around and answering phone calls, emails, etc. And as much as I loved it, and I truly did, it just felt wrong to me. It felt wrong for me, for my family, and for my sanity. Overextension is just not pretty any way you chalk it up. And in a deployment situation taking care of yourself is so important, because so many depend on you.

So, today as much I didn’t want to, I had to take some things off of my calendar to make room for other things that we deemed more important. Life is truly about balance. I may not like it sometimes, but it surely holds true.

For those wondering our day was busy but wonderful. We spent a few hours on homeschool this morning and then headed to our local homeschool co-op. Little Brooks chose to take an outdoor games class, and then signed up for two back to back cooking classes. He enjoys the classes and I enjoy hearing about the things he’s learned that someone else has taught him. Afterwards we went to a wonderful friends house for dinner. She made us a wonderful dish she found on the food blog, The Smitten Kitchen; seconds were a must! I love spending time with friends… I think I’ve been a mom to a kid for so long that I seriously found myself¬†referring to tonight’s dinner as my “playdate.” ¬†It’s not as¬†embarrassing¬†as trying to get my husband to drink out of a baby bottle (though I chalk that up to sleep deprivation) but it’s close enough. After a relaxing dinner we headed to BB’s basketball practice where our hard work in the evenings is paying off as he’s looking sharper out there.

The only glitch in the whole day was forgetting my phone at my friends’ house. That’s a huge infraction during a deployment. Thankfully Brooks has been calling every day closer to noon so I’m pretty sure I won’t miss his call. We’ll keep our fingers crossed over here!