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

Friday, December 23, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: Two for One Special

The Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers are already on Christmas break but I'm still cracking the whip over here...

You may have noticed that there was no Weekly Wrap Up post from last week.  As I mentioned the week before, I spent the weekend out of town visiting family who are going through a very difficult time.  It was a wonderful weekend and I am so thankful I had the opportunity to go.  At the same time, there were some hard moments both during the weekend and after I returned home.  We had a full week of school and it went well, but I simply did not have the emotional energy to blog about it.  Once again, without putting the details of their situation out here, I simply ask that you pray for my loved ones as they walk through this time.  Thank you!!!

Last week was a typical week here in our homeschool.  The big news from last week is that I decided to slow down and modify parts of both test subjects' language arts curricula.  TS 1 is using Growing with Grammar, Level 5.  He has been doing fine with it up to this point.  However, we hit a wall once we reached the lesson on Predicate Nouns.  (I mean, who wouldn't?)  I realized, in trying to explain this concept to him, that although he did fine on the tests and worksheets from the previous lessons, he had not completely mastered some of the earlier concepts he studied.  As hard as it was for me to do this, knowing that he might not finish the grammar book by the end of the year (gasp!), I decided to put the brakes on this curriculum for awhile.  We  have gone back to the beginning and are reviewing each lesson by writing notes in a notebook.  We are also working on putting the main points of our review together in a Mini-Office that he can reference when working on grammar once we return to the curriculum.  

TS 2 has been working through Writing with Ease, Level 2 (WWE), and it has been a challenge for him from the beginning.  I love the curriculum for so many reasons that I believe it is worth working through the frustration. If you are not familiar with it, WWE is a four day a week composition/reading comprehension program.  Each week the student learns the skills of narration, copywork and dictation through the exploration of passages from fantastic works of children's literature.  WWE has spurred TS 2's interest in reading for pleasure tremendously.  He has asked for and read several challenging chapter books such as books from the Doctor Dolittle and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series as a result of being exposed to them in WWE.  

Last week, however, the frustration was building to the point of him crying during the lessons.  It broke my heart!  I still wasn't sure how to handle it, though.  If I modify the curriculum, will he still be learning all that he needs to learn?  (I know- duh!- but in the moment I was worried.)  So I did what I hope every confused homeschool mom has the option of doing, I called my dear friend turned homeschooling mentor to ask for advice.  She reminded me that learning cannot take place when the frustration level is too high, and that I need to find the point between challenging TS 2 and frustrating him.  Of course, this will require modifying the curriculum to bring the lessons to the point at which he will be learning new skills AND achieving success.  This week, I did that and he did really well.  He was still challenged to comprehend, discuss and retell the passages but in smaller, more manageable segments.  He was challenged but not frustrated, and not a tear was shed!  

The highlight of last week was our Co-Op Christmas Party.  It began with a sweet play performed by the children that told the Christmas story.  

Then the children rotated through three activities with their similar aged peers: Gospel Presentation/Christmas Craft, Cookie Decorating and Games.  I led TS 1's Craft class and we made cards to send to children with life threatening illnesses.

The party was great fun for the kids, while maintaining the focus on the true meaning of Christmas: God with us!  After the party, we met up with other local homeschoolers for the monthly ice skating play date.

This week has been a different week for the test subjects.  I took some time over the weekend to look at the overall picture of the school year and their progress.  It seems we are ahead of schedule in many subjects areas (LA, Science, Spanish and Keyboarding), right on target in Math and Bible and a smidgen behind in History.  Since we are about to start our Christmas vacation anyway, I thought it would make sense to treat this week as a lighter week in the areas in which we are ahead, which gave us time to do more History and to slow down and review in Language Arts.  It's worked out well and we've all enjoyed a slower pace going into Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours from the Research Team at Our Great Homeschool Experiment!  See you in 2012!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

All Dressed Up for Christmas

Welcome to our home!  Come on in and have a look around...

Merry Christmas to you and yours from the research team at Our Great Homeschool Experiment!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: December 9, 2011

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers once again...

Once again, we had an abbreviated week at home so that we could enjoy an outstanding field trip on Thursday.  Monday through Wednesday were productive, focused days at home and both test subjects got a week's worth of school work done in three days again.  

On Thursday, we set out early for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a morning spent visiting the Arms and Armor Galleries.  It was another opportunity for an up close and personal reinforcement of our TOG study of knights and the feudal system of the Middle Ages.  After the Arms and Armor Galleries, we browsed the other Medieval Art galleries in the museum and were amazed to see works of Medieval Art dating as far back as the early 300s!  We saw illuminated manuscripts, tapestries, reliquary, mosaics and more.  It was fascinating to see examples of all the artwork the boys have learned about and created replicas of in co-op art class this semester.  

We had originally intended to head to the Cloisters after the Met to see a rare exhibit of Medieval Chessmen from Scotland.  However, were all tired after the morning of exploring and decided to save it for another time instead.  A certain someone spent 45 minutes on the couch, eyes shut and brain turned off after we got home.  Highly recommended post field trip activity!

Early Friday morning, I head out to visit my extended family.  (Thank you for your prayers last week!)  The test subjects will skip co-op today and spend the day with our babysitter, who switched her day this week so I could head out early on Friday.  I've left each of the boys a few fun assignments they can complete independently to keep them busy, but they have really already completed their week's work.

I know I promised to post pictures of our home dressed up for Christmas, and I did take them.  I just haven't had a moment to upload them.  I'll try to post them early next week.  For now, I'll leave you with this picture of the newest member of our research team to hold you over:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Weekly Wrap Up: The One with All the Fun!

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers once again...

Since I'm including TS 1's participation on a 5th grade basketball team as part of his physical education curriculum this year, I thought I'd start out this week's wrap up with a brief recap of Saturday's game.  It was our second game of the season but our "home opener" as TS 1 called it.  We got our first win and TS 1 made his first basket of the season.  We left the gym all smiles!

Tom and TS 1 spent part of the weekend putting the finishing touches on his Rube Goldberg Machine.  When the machine was finally complete, we videotaped it and breathed a huge sigh of relief.  (Or maybe that was just me.  I'm not the biggest fan of convoluted projects that topple over when you look at them sideways requiring you to set them all up again so that you can knock them all down once more.  Can you relate?)  

On Monday, TS 1 and I sat down to edit the video together and post it on YouTube, when much to our dismay, we discovered that it had been deleted from the camera.  Turns out TS 2 had mistakenly deleted it when he used the camera to take pictures of a masterpiece he had made in the playroom!  

The next few minutes were not pretty.  There was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  And TS 1 was pretty upset, too.  Eventually, all was forgiven, the machine was rebuilt, videotaped, edited and posted on YouTube.  Without further ado:

Inspired by his big brother's diligence, TS 2 built his very own rendition of a Rube Goldberg Machine.  For your viewing pleasure:

Now, I have a favor to beg of you, dear reader.  Would you be so kind as to take a moment to like each of these videos on YouTube?  You'd be blessing the socks off of two test subjects I know and love!  Thanks in advance :)

Monday through Wednesday were productive, focused days at home.  Both test subjects got a week's worth of school work done in three days because we had an exciting field trip planned for Thursday.  We went to a Medieval Times Feast and Tournament!  It was super educational and extraordinarily fun.  The production wove educational information about feudalism in general, and knights and chivalry specifically, together with a riveting story of good versus evil, in which good dramatically triumphed in the end.  

On Friday we went to co-op.  It was col.  I froze to death.  Blah, blah, blah.

Since Advent officially began this Sunday, we began to get our hearts and home ready for Christmas this week, too.  We started decorating by putting up the Christmas Village, decorating the mantle and the top of the piano.  We hope to finish up by early next week and I'll be sure to share some pictures on Friday's Wrap Up post.

We also dusted off the Advent Wreath and began our Christmas Devotional this week.  We are using the free Jesse Tree devotional from the grace-filled Ann Voskamp of A Holy Experience.  (If you've never read Ann's beautiful and captivating prose, please click over now and be blessed- I'll wait here for you!)  The devotional is lovely.  We are reading under dimmed lights by the flickering light of the first Advent candle.  It is telling the story of Christmas right from the very beginning, right from where every one of our own stories begin:  Genesis Chapter One.  

I'll sign off this week with a humble request for your prayers.  Our family has received some devastating news about one very dear to us.  While I am not free to share names or details here, God knows, and I covet your prayers for mercy, strength and the peace that passes understanding for our loved ones.  

Thank you and God bless you and yours!