After five years in school, will homeschooling be a fit for our family? Walk with us as we try to find out!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: September 30, 2011

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers once again...

We are at the end of our first three full weeks of homeschool and we are all still happy and on speaking terms :)  In fact, this was my Facebook status on Thursday:
"I'm almost afraid to say this out loud. And if I believed in jinxing myself, I wouldn't. But I don't- believe in jinxing, that is. So I will- say it, that is. I like homeschooling!"
I am surprised at how much I am enjoying this journey so far.  Without realizing it, I think I was seeing our experiment as a sacrifice for the test subjects' sake.  I was not expecting to feel so fulfilled myself!  It's exciting to see the threads of what they are learning weave together into understanding.  

For example, we spent the summer learning about the History of the Ancient World.  We began our history study this fall learning about the events that led to the fall of Rome and have moved into study of the Middle Ages and the Byzantine Empire.  I asked TS 1 on Monday, what were the major causes of the fall of Rome and without missing a beat, he rattled them off!  

On Tuesday, we started our piano lessons.  Both TS 1 & 2 loved their lesson.  Tom and I were treated to lots of "music" in the evenings the rest of the week.  When we picked RA up from school in the afternoon, we also picked up one of TS 1's classmates from last year.  They had a great play date.  We are enjoying the ability to have more play dates due to our flexible schedule and zero homework load!

We worked the switched up schedule on Wednesday once more so I could attend my morning Bible study.  It went off without a hitch again and I am encouraged that I might actually be able to continue to attend this study throughout the year. 

Since Thursday was a Jewish holiday, our good friends from church whose children attend public school had the day off.  We decided to switch up the schedule once again so that we could spend time with them.  TS 1 & 2 worked for a few hours in the morning after dropping RA off at school.  Then we had the play date and finished up our work when we got home.  Honestly, Thursday's switch up did not go as smoothly as I had hoped.  Everyone was wiped out from all the fun, and it was almost dinner time when we got home.  I asked the boys to finish up their work as I made dinner.  I was asking too much of us all, though.  We got through it, but next time, I'll make sure our work is complete before we go out to play.

Friday was co-op day and we were blessed with beautiful weather again.  Since I am assisting in the PE classes, and the PE classes are outdoors, that's a big deal to me.  The boys are working on Medieval tapestries in Art.  TS 2 is studying bees in his Science class and they learned that bees hibernate in winter.  

 TS 1 is learning about Sir Issac Newton in his Science class and made a paddle boat this week.  He also got a cool dog tag as a memento.  The teacher is making one for each inventor they study!

On Friday night our super fabulous science teacher, aka Dad, taught the boys about the sun. Then TS 1 & 2 each wrote a short speech about why you should not look at the sun and presented it to me.  

We are looking forward to another week of learning together!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up

I'm joining Kris from Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers (how much do you love that title?!?) for the first time with a wrap up post about our week.

Monday began with TS 1 feeling under the weather.  At first, I thought it was allergies so after we dropped RA off at school we hit CVS for some Zyrtec.  When he felt worse and not better by lunch, I knew something else was brewing.  By the time we made it to the doctor after lunch, he had a fever.  Turns out it was an ear and throat infection.  Even though he went on an antibiotic right away, he still did not feel much better until Thursday afternoon.  Despite the illness, both TS 1 & 2 got all their school work done Monday.  We had our first Kindergarten Family Night scheduled Monday evening  at school, so RA, TS 2 and I went while TS 1 and dad stayed home and rested.

On Wednesday, we flipped our schedule around quite a bit.  We did a little school first thing in the morning after RA went off the Kindergarten.  Then our babysitter stayed with the boys for a few hours so I could attend the weekly Bible study I've been participating in for 9 years.  When I returned, we finished up our work.  I was not sure this switched up schedule would work but it seemed to work just fine.  I'm hoping to be able to continue!

As I think I've mentioned, our Lead Investigator, Tom, aka Dad is teaching science twice a week in the evenings.  This week, they finished up the introductory lesson in their Astronomy text and wrapped it up on Thursday night with a super cool model of the Solar System to teach the relative sizes of the planets.  They all loved it.

Friday is our homeschool co-op day.  TS 1 & 2 each take Art, PE and Science Enrichment classes with other local homeschoolers at co-op.  Last Friday was the first session and they loved it!  So, despite the dreary, rainy day, we set off right after RA's drop off.  It was a great day for the kids.  And me!  I loved being around other moms- I miss that.

TS 1 made a catapult in his science class and TS 2 made a model of a bee in his Honeybee class.  They each worked on their Byzantine Mosaics in Art.  PE was, well, PE- they love it!  Did I mention here that my assignment in co-op is assistant PE teacher?  Not exactly what I would have chosen for myself but I'm honestly having a great time so far :)

All in all, it was a great week.  Despite sickness, we got all our work done.  And they boys are having that free time I wanted for them to spread their wings and grow :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Unexpected Consequences

I am enjoying two consequences of homeschooling that I had not considered at all while we were deciding whether or not to begin Our Great Homeschool Experiment.  First, because I am so involved in what TS 1 & 2 are learning, we are having natural, everyday conversations that are extensions of our formal learning times.  As much as I wanted to do that while they were in school, the truth is, it is hard to keep up with all they are learning when you are not there.  But now, a simple dinner time discussion about bullies, for example, flows naturally into follow up discussion on the barbarians we are learning about in History, such as Attila the Hun.  It's been fun and fulfilling to help them make connections between book knowledge and real life application of knowledge.

The other, not quite so lofty or intellectual, benefit of homeschooling so far is that I think I am losing weight.  Who has time to eat???

Monday, September 19, 2011

Under Our Belts

Well, we did it!  We got our first full week of homeschooling under our belts.  TS 1 & 2 got their feet wet with all of the curricula this week.  The schedule I worked on for so long seems to be working very well, requiring only a few tweaks so far.  Both TS 1 and TS 2 have had good attitudes so far.  When a bad attitude has made a brief appearance, I've been able to curtail it with a reminder of how much more time was spent working at school and on homework as well as a reminder that any work that is not finished not will have to be finished later thereby delaying "media time" and/or the playground after school.

Since most of the work right now is review, we are finishing much more quickly than I anticipated.  The extra time we have is being dedicated to PE :) That is, running around outside, playing catch, going for walks. As the weather turns colder, we will use any extra time during the day for enrichment activities in art and music.

For those who are curious about the nitty gritty, here is sample of our days, Monday through Thursday.  The order of subjects does change from day to day and some subjects only happen twice a week so this is just a sample:

Spanish (twice a week)
History and Geography
Keyboarding TS 1 (twice a week)
Handwriting TS 2
Phonics TS 2
Science (in the evenings with dad twice a week)

Friday was our first co-op day and by then we were ALL looking forward to some time out of the house. The night before TS 2 was anxious about what it would be like and had trouble falling asleep.  The morning of was a bit stressful making sure all three kids had what they needed for the day and getting us all out the door on time.  You would think I've never gotten three kids off to school before!

Once we got there and the day started though, it was wonderful!  Every time I saw the boys in the halls, they had big smiles on their faces.  There were many familiar faces there from church.  We have also had two playdates with a local homeschooling family and they attend co-op as well.  That really helped the transition for both TS 1 & 2 as each had a friend to look forward to seeing at co-op.

We wrapped up the week with a playdate at a local park with a homeschooling group.  Most of these families do not attend co-op so it was new friends for us.  I look forward to getting to know these families better.

RA continues to love Kindergarten as I knew she would!  She has an incredible teacher, the same one TS 2 had when he was in Kindergarten and it is so much fun "redoing Kindergarten" with her :)  I am also grateful for the connection we are able to maintain with the school since RA is still a student.  We are looking forward to a family social event at the school next Friday!

How was your first full week of school/homeschool?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

It's Only Normal...Right???

"So, how's it going???"

It's the question I am getting from everyone.  From family.  From homeschooling friends.  From school friends.  From the other lead investigator, even.  And I don't mind the question at all either.  It's just that I'm trying to figure out the answer myself.

We are almost finished with our first full week of school and everything is going really well.  We are getting RA off to school on time.  TS 1 & 2 are ready to work as soon as we get home and we are plowing through all I had planned for this week...and then some.  The boys have plenty of time for fresh air and energy burning breaks.  Everyone has been in a good mood...or willing to turn a bad one around quickly at least.  The curricula I chose seems to be engaging and providing a solid review at this early part of the year for the boys.

The days have been very busy.  Busier than I anticipated, actually, but not stressful thus far.  I had a babysitter here yesterday and after TS1 & 2 finished most of their work, I slipped out to bring birthday cupcakes to RA's Kindergarten class- so fun!  Afterwards, I even got the chance to squeeze in a quick, last minute cup of coffee with a friend.  It was delightful :)

I could not have asked for a smoother transition to homeschooling, really.  I am very grateful.


If truth be told, I am also a little sad.  I miss the ritual of summer becoming fall as marked by a new school year with new teachers and reunions with old friends.  I miss back to school night.  I miss the excitement of upcoming events and extra-curricular activity choices.  I miss serving at the school.  I miss our school community.  I miss chatting in the hallways with my friends.

I'm reminding myself that this only normal.  We were a family at this school for FIVE years.  We all made wonderful friends.  We all got used to a routine and rhythm of life.  Just because I am missing those things does not mean I am not excited about this new adventure.  I know that soon enough we will have a new routine and rhythm here.  And we will participate in some events at the school as RA is still a student there.  We will maintain friendships and make new ones in the homeschooling community.  In the meantime, it feels a little bit like we are in limbo.  And that's only normal.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Ready, Set...


Today we sent RA off to Kindergarten.  How cute is she in her uniform???

It was a little crazy at drop off today and RA was subdued but content when we left her.  It was bittersweet leaving with the boys for home.  On the one hand, we are excited for our new adventure and on the other hand, we will miss so much about our school and school community.

Nevertheless, we arrived home in good spirits and ready to work.  But first, the Not Back to School Pictures:

Once that important business was done, we settled at the homeschool table to go over our daily schedule.  I gave each boy of a copy of their daily schedule and explained how we will meet each morning to fill out their daily assignment sheet.  We worked together to fill out Monday's assignment sheet so they could see for themselves how that process will work.  TS1 kept asking how long the homeschool day would be so I explained that it all depends on how focused and diligent he is in completing his work.

Then I described the curricula and materials for each subject.  I showed the boys where they could find their books and supplies.  I allowed them to leaf through their workbooks and binders to get a feel for each subject.

During snack time, we read the next chapter in Story of the World keeping us on track to finish our summer study of Ancient History by the time we dive into Medieval History on Monday with TOG.  Then each boy completed a reading assignment on their own.

I'm not sure why TS1 chose to do his reading on the stair.  We do have real furniture just a few steps away in the living room ;)

We spent the rest of the day, trying out our Spanish, Phonics and Keyboarding programs on the computer.  They loved that!

All in all, we had a peaceful and fun first day of homeschool!  1 down, 179 to go :)

Have your children started back to school or homeschool?  How was the first day of school for you and yours?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let There Be...


The finishing touch was installed last night by our Lead Investigator, Tom.  

I squeezed in my last planning day last week and feel as ready as I can be for our great experiment to begin.  

Tomorrow is RA's meet the teacher day at Kindergarten and she is so excited she might burst.  We picked out her clothes and accessories before bed and even got her uniform ready for Wednesday morning.

We are finishing up our summer study of Ancient History with Story of the World this week.  The boys started their summer reading for TOG this afternoon.  

And lest you think I am an evil, overachieving homeschool mama, we spent the 95% of the holiday today involved in fun activities such as shopping at the sporting goods store, playing catch at the park and enjoying our last BBQ of the season.  

I hope to be back in this space on Wednesday with Back to School and Not Back to School pictures :)

Wishing you all a wonderful school year!