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

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year in Review

I'm not sure why exactly, but I've been a little quiet and even melancholy as of late.  I'm sure that comes across in my last two blog posts.  I never intended to become so sporadic with my posting in this space.  I truly enjoy writing and I love how this blog has become a scrapbook of sorts of our experiment.   Browsing some blogs over the weekend, I noticed a theme in some posts reflecting on 2012 and I thought that might be just the way to remind myself of my many blessings and break out of this funk in which I find myself.  Won't you join me on a stroll down 2012 lane here at the lab?

It is interesting to me to see that I wrote this post back in January of 2012 since just this morning at church, I was gleaning wisdom about parenting from a friend.  Have we embraced the truth that A Fool Insists on Quarreling and turned from it since last year?  Well, not completely, of course, but this study we did last year is one I still reference with the kids from time to time.  This study, coupled with clear and consistent consequences, has helped us navigate poor attitudes and sibling fighting in more godly ways.

In February, we went on the Best Field Trip Ever and pulled off a performance in a Surprise Assembly.  I also took the time to re-examine our homeschool mission, which is always an encouraging thing to do for me!

In March, I wrote about our Medieval Feast Unit Celebration, which was a 2012 highlight for sure!  I'm looking forward to planning a Colonial Times Unit Celebration to mark the end of our study in this era soon.

In April, TS 1 allowed me to share his autobiographical essay God on the Diamond as a testimony to how God is working in the hearts of our children, even as we fumble along on the parenting journey.

In May, I attended my first large homeschool convention with a dear friend who was trying to decide whether to take the plunge and homeschool her three children.  (She did and we love seeing them at co-op, field trips and other homeschool events!)  I offered this post, Convention Recap and Tips, after I returned.  After attending a celebration in honor of another dear friend's achievement of Doctor of Philosophy, I wrote this post On Pursuing One's Passion.

In June, I wrote the Top 10 Reasons We Love Homeschooling and the Top 10 Reasons for our Classical Christian/Charlotte Mason Approach.  It was good for me to reflect on these thoughts at this time!

TOG for Dummies, I Mean Minimalists was a fun post to write in July.  As I re-read it, I realize we are doing things a bit differently this year.  Perhaps another TOG post is in order?

My one post in August re-capped our Whirlwind of a summer.

September's highlights included Two Baptisms and a Birthday and Getting Our (Homeschool) Groove Back).

In October, I detailed what our TS 3 has been up to in Homeschool Kindergarten and what TS 2 has been up to in Third Grade.

November brought TS 1's turn in the spotlight.

And that brings us back to December, and my reflections entitled How I Saw Eternity in 124 Days and A Chasing After the Wind.

On this New Year's Eve friends, I pray you find a moment to reflect on your own blessings.  Perhaps you might find a quiet moment, also, to wonder about your struggles and what God might be working in and through them.  I pray you have the opportunity to ring in the New Year with loved ones, and that your celebration is filled with hope.  May your New Year be filled with the peace and love of Jesus!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

How I Saw Eternity in 124 Days

*Posted in remembrance of my sweet "nephew" Jayden on the one year anniversary of his passing into the arms of Jesus.*

I hope you have seen the video my cousins made in celebration of their sweet baby Jayden, who went home to be with the Lord after 124 days of life here on this earth.  If you have not, please watch it first here before reading this post.

As I mentioned in that post, there are so many things I want to say about the experience of loving and losing Jayden.  God gave him to our family for a short time, but for a great purpose.  Part of Jayden's purpose was surely to change me.  In honor of him, I want to share with you how God used this precious baby to do that.

Before Jayden was even born, he began to change me.  During Christina's pregnancy, we were made aware of some concerns the doctors had about how Jayden was developing in utero.  Each time a concern was raised, we prayed and God removed the issue.  At the next sonogram, the concern would be gone!  Through Jayden, I learned how to really pray- fervent, unceasing, faith filled and unselfish prayers.  And because of him, I learned that God does still heal!  I saw Him miraculously heal JJ not once but twice. 

When Jayden was born and all seemed well, I was overjoyed!  When I saw his precious face in photos for the first time, the tears of thankfulness flowed.  Even now, as I look back, I thank God my cousins had a month of typical life with a newborn.  I pray that God has engraved the sweetness of that time on their hearts forever.

One afternoon, when JJ was about a month old, I got a phone call from Christina to let me know they were on their way to the hospital and to ask for prayer for Jayden.  Once again, it was time to persevere in prayer.  Through the ups and downs and the lack of answers from the doctors, Jayden taught me how to press on in prayer and to trust God with the result.  His life forced me to put my faith in action.  Do I really believe that with God all things are possible?  Do I really believe that God’s plan is perfect?

When God made a way for my cousins to bring Jayden home and I was able to meet him, I felt such great thankfulness for the opportunity.  Holding him for those brief moments were a gift I will never forget nor take for granted.  I will never forget his beautiful eyes, his round cheeks, his sweet smile and of course how he looked just like his daddy. 

During my visit, my cousins held a beautiful prayer service for Jayden.  I will never forget how they purposed to keep the mood light yet prayerful and reverent.  Their grace and peace spoke volumes to those of us looking on- both believers and non-believers.  As a believer, I was encouraged to see that God does indeed give special grace in our time of need.  And those who don’t believe saw a faith that was real, and how God could be loved, honored and glorified even as one walks through pain and fear.

When I got the phone call I had been praying against for so long, my heart broke.  But Jayden’s life and my cousins' response to his life and his death, once again taught me.  I learned, really learned, that life is a vapor.  This is not just head knowledge for me anymore.  Instead I feel that truth now with an ache in my heart.  My eyes have been opened to see that not one of us is promised tomorrow.  I have had to experience what that feels like and to watch my loved ones suffer because of it.  I have been forced to acknowledge how I have taken the precious gift of life for granted.  I have been inspired to change that- to become one who appreciates each moment of life- my own and my loved ones- as a gift. 

My cousins' determination to honor God by celebrating Jayden’s life despite their pain was beautiful!  Once again, I saw Him give them the special grace to do just that at JJ's Celebration of Life service.  From the music they chose, to the words of the pastor, to the incredible video, to Christina’s unscripted appeal onstage to all to come to know God, to the release of 124 balloons in celebration of his 124 days of life, they set the tone of celebration and faith in the midst of suffering and sorrow.  They lifted God and His goodness above all else and, in doing so, set an example for all of us who believe and planted a seed in the hearts of those who do not.

The truth is, I wish with everything in me, that Jayden was still with us.  That our prayers had been answered differently and I could have rejoiced to watch him toddling through my cousins' yard as we enjoyed our annual week together in the summer.  I mourn with them.  I weep with them.  But praise God that we do not grieve like those who have no hope!  We know where JJ is- in the arms of our Jesus.  And we know that he is healed and whole.  We know that we will see him again- and this time it will not be for a vapor but for eternity.

I don’t know how to do this.  How to grieve a sweet little cousin.  How to love my cousins well.  How to minister at this time.  I only know this.  That I love my cousins and their family so very much.  And that He loves them exceedingly and abundantly more than I ever could.  So I simply trust that they will come through this stronger and more equipped to do His will.  And I ask Him to give me what I need to be there for them.  

Thank you, Christina and Jason, for sharing Jayden with me.  I am forever changed because of him!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Chasing After the Wind

As I listen to the news, scroll through my News Feed on Facebook and navigate blogs following the inconceivable evil wrought on Friday morning in Newtown, CT, this is what keeps rising up in my mind:  
"I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  What is twisted cannot be straightened, what is lacking cannot be counted."  Ecclesiastes 1: 14-15
Twenty fresh-faced, rosy-cheeked lives were snuffed out in an act of carnage so repugnant, one cannot bear to think on it too long without a visceral response.  Six brave, selfless women- mothers, daughter, aunts, sisters, wives, friends- were prematurely ripped from this earth.  Countless family members, friends and survivors have been forever marred by staggering trauma and loss.  

We cry out about gun control and mental illness and prescription drugs.  Politicians make impassioned promises to right all that is wrong with this world with their policies and laws.  But the hard truth is this: what is twisted cannot be straightened, what is lacking cannot be counted.  

No amount of dialogue or legislation or research or best practices can restrain the evil that can be borne out of the human heart.  We are a twisted people living in a fallen world.  

Our ONLY hope is not found in anything we can do to save us from ourselves.  Our futile attempts to do so are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

No, our ONLY hope is found in the God of the Bible.  Our ONLY hope is found in the Father who loved us so much that He sent His only Son to take the penalty for our sin.  Our ONLY hope is found in the Holy Spirit who gives us power to live a godly life.  Our ONLY hope is in the ONLY One who can straighten our twisted hearts and make our lives count despite all we lack in our own strength.  

Today, we weep with those who weep.  We pray and cry out to the God of all comfort to heal the broken-hearted and to be close to those who are crushed in spirit.  We share God's love whenever and however we can.  It's the only appropriate response in this hour.

Soon, yes, there will be honest dialogue about gun control, mental illness, and prescription drugs.  And spirit-filled believers must enter in to these dialogues, using the principles from God's Word and the wisdom He gives us to make a difference in this world.  However, we must never be blinded to the truth in this process.  The truth that only God can bring the full restoration our hearts long for and we must never waver in this message.  

"Now all has been heard;   here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every deed into judgment,  including every hidden thing,whether it is good or evil."  Ecclesiastes 12:13-14  
There is a day, and it's coming soon, when He will right every wrong and wipe every tear from our eyes.   

"And in despair, I bowed my head.  There is no peace on earth, I said.  For hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.  Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead nor doth He sleep.  The wrong shall fail, the right prevail.  With peace on earth, good will to men."  from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Friday, November 9, 2012

What TS 1 Has Been Up To

As you may have read, I'm sharing about what each of our test subjects have been up to so far this year.  You can read all about TS 2's year so far here and TS 3's here.  This week is is TS 1's turn in the spotlight.  TS 1 is in sixth grade, and we are using the following curricula as part of our Classical Christian/Charlotte Mason style homeschool.

Humanities Core:
Includes History, Geography, Church History, Music and Art Appreciation

Language Arts


Foreign Language:

Typing Instructor for Kids

Art/Music/PE/Sci, SS or Lit Enrichment:
Activities within Tapestry of Grace
Weekly Piano Lessons
Weekly Homeschool Co-op (PE, Art and U.S. Government and Elections Class)
Community Sports (Baseball and Basketball)

This year, I decided to try TS 1 in the Dialectic level of TOG.  He is a sixth grader this year, which is the first year that TOG recommends trying the Dialectic Level of the curriculum.  Since TS 1 enjoys history and is a fairly quick reader, I thought he might be able to handle this level.  The difference between the Dialectic level and the level he was on last year (Upper Grammar) is that in addition to learning important facts about people and events, the student is also challenged to make and articulate connections across events, people and countries.  Moving up to the Dialectic level has turned out to be the right decision for TS 1.  He is enjoying history more than ever before!  The amount of reading has not been overwhelming and he is so curious and interested in the content.  We are having a discussion of the content and the connections across the different readings and events at the end of each week plan.  We both really enjoy these discussions, but we have had to spread them out over two days because they are quite lengthy.  I can't really express in words just how delighted I am to see TS 1 enjoying history, to see it coming alive for him.  This was one of the subjects that had been so dry and lifeless for him in school, so to see this change makes my homeschooling mama heart happy :)

(What?  Doesn't everybody do their math hanging off the couch???)

TS 1  finished his MUS Epsilon book a few weeks ago- hurray!!!  He started right away on the Zeta level, and is moving quickly through the introductory lessons.  I seriously considered switching to a new math program for TS 1, as I am not sure MUS is the right fit for him.  However, since I had purchased the next level already, and he was not opposed to moving forward with it, we decided to bite the bullet.  Before we came to this conclusion, I researched Teaching Texbooks (looks great!) and even had him take a couple of the assessments to determine the level he would enter if we switched.  I also looked into Life with Fred (so fun!), but decided I would need to do too much supplementing with it to feel he had covered all he needed to for a full year's study.  In the end, I decided that it didn't make sense to switch now, when he is only one level away from Pre-Algebra.  If we still feel a change is in order, I think it makes more sense to do it at the end of this level than now.  Since he had already changed from a spiral math program at school to MUS, I was worried than another change now plus the change to Pre-Algebra next year just left too much opportunity for gaps in his learning.  I'm still not sure if we made the right decision, but a decision had to be made nonetheless!

Spelling Power has turned out to be a truly painless way to work on spelling a little every day.  Growing with Grammar works the same for us for grammar.  This year I added a handwriting component for TS 2 because his handwriting is quite poor.  He learned beautiful d'nealian print and manuscript in school, but he usually rushes when writing and produces sloppy work.  He is capable of much more in this area, so we are working on that this year.  He works on handwriting three times a week, and keyboarding once a week. 

(What?  Doesn't everybody do writing on their knees leaning on the chair???)

For composition, TS 1 has been working through IEW's Following Narnia curriculum.  The program is a combination of review of what he learned last year and assignments that build upon and expand the skills he already learned.  He is doing well with the curriculum and works independently on it for the most part.  If he had not completed the Student Writing Intensive last year, Following Narnia would have been much more challenging for him and labor intensive for me.  I would not recommend that one start with this curriculum if you are new to IEW unless the teacher had time to prepare for and directly teach each lesson. 

TS 2 continues to work through the first book in Apologia's worldview series, Who is GodI am pleased with how the curriculum teaches biblical concepts plainly and clearly and then links them to real-life situations through stories and probing questions.  We use the accompanying notebook, although it is not a necessary component of the program.  It simply enhances it and makes it easier for me to be sure he is understanding and applying what he has read. 

Tom is doing science with the test subjects again this year, and they seem to be enjoying the Human Anatomy study.  They recently completed the lesson on muscles and are on to the Digestive system this week.  I have been finding you tube videos to reinforce what they are learning this year, as the content is much more detailed than last year's Astronomy study. 

TS 2 is continuing through the first level of Rosetta Stone's Latin American Spanish course.  I believe he is almost through with Level 1.  To be honest, since this is not a required elective and won't be for some years now in our state, my goals for Spanish right now are just to provide exposure to the langauge.  As a result, I haven't been as diligent as I would like in keeping tabs on his progress up to this point.  I'm working on that :)

As for all the extras, co-op  is in full swing and TS 1 is really enjoying his classes.  He is taking U.S. Government and Elections, Physical Education and Art.  Piano lessons are also going well and he performed Bizet's Habanera from Carmen a few weeks ago at co-op assembly.  He was also invited to play on the sixth grade basketball team at the school he attended through fourth grade.  Practices have already started and games begin sometime around Thanksgiving.  He is enjoying it so far!  TS 1 also participates in a weekly baseball clinic, and has learned a lot of new skills so far.

Homegrown Learners

Friday, October 19, 2012

Co-op Assembly

Each week at our homeschool co-op, a different family takes a turn performing during the morning assembly time.  This week it was our turn.  The test subjects decided to recite a Bible verse together and then the boys each played a piece on the piano.  They were followed by TS 3, who sang a song and did the sign language to go along with it.  It was very cute and since I am wiped out this afternoon, this little video will have to serve as my weekly post :)

Friday, October 12, 2012

What TS 3 Has Been Up To

When my IRL life friend, Vanessa, commented on my post last week to say that she was looking forward to reading about what TS 3 was up to in our homeschool, I got right to work on this post.  I have a saying, "what Vanessa wants, Vanessa gets."  This old adage is true for a myriad of reasons.  First of all, Vanessa and I have similar roots, and roots like these must be respected ;)  We both grew up in New York City and both of us are Puerto Rican- these two things might not seem like much, but when you are raising your family in suburbia, these commonalities provide for lots of laughter between us.  Secondly, we have very a similar sense of humor.  I know I can say something outlandish, and without missing a beat, she will respond with something even more hilarious.  Thirdly, she is my sister in Christ, an encourager and a prayer warrior on whom one can depend.  And if all that isn't enough, get this: the girl brought me a Pumpkin Spice Latte to our last field trip!  It was an outdoor hike at a nature preserve and she knows how too much nature gets this city girl all worked up.  Love you, V!

So, without further ado, here is what TS 3 has been up to so far this year.  TS 3 is in Kindergarten, and we are using the following curricula as part of our Classical Christian/Charlotte Mason style homeschool.

Humanities Core:
Includes History, Geography, Church History, Music and Art Appreciation
TS 3- Story of the World, Sections selected to correspond with Tapestry of Grace readings for TS 1 & 2 as well as selected Lower Grammar picture books from Tapestry of Grace

Language Arts
TS 3-  Institute for Excellence in Writing Primary Arts of Language (Reading, Writing, Spelling and Handwriting)


TS 3-  Human Body Study using a variety of workbooks and books from the library

Art/Music/PE/Sci, SS or Lit Enrichment:
Activities within Tapestry of Grace
Weekly Homeschool Co-op (Three Group Classes including PE, Music and Literature Enrichment on Fridays with Other Local Homeschoolers)
Weekly Dance and Gymnastics Classes

If you've been hanging around our lab for long, you might have noticed that TS 3 was a Kindergartner last year, too.  She went to Kindergarten at the school that all the test subjects attended before this experiment began.  Going in last year, we knew she was on the young side for Kindergarten and anticipated some challenges for her in the very academic program she entered.  She held her own, though, with the encouragement and support of her wonderful teacher.  Once we decided to bring her home for this school year, though, it was an easy decision (relatively) to have a Kindergarten do-over.  She simply needs more time and practice to nail down the fundamentals before the pace and workload of a first grade curriculum begins.  With this in mind, our focus with TS 3 is simple: building up her reading, writing and math skills.

When she and I meet first thing every morning, we begin with a lesson in her Bible study book.  It is a very sweet curriculum and consists of a short Bible story, some questions to check her comprehension of the story, a song and a prayer.  

After Bible time, we spend a few minutes working with the calendar using a small magnetic calendar and this calendar journal I found on Pinterest.  We end Calendar Time with a journal entry  each day.  

After Calendar Time, we begin our reading and writing lessons for the day.  This time usually includes some combination of the following: reading and summarizing a story orally, learning how to print new letters and learning new phonogram sounds, reviewing phonograms that were learned in previous lessons (or from last year) and/or reviewing printed letters that were previously learned.   Now that I've said all this, I should mention that I am going to be changing the way we do reading together soon.  The PAL program I mentioned above seems to be moving too fast for TS 3, and there have been several instances recently when she seemed more confused and taxed than I think she should be so early in the year.  After talking with my trusty, experienced homeschool mom friends, I am going to pare down our reading time to include working through words lists, phonogram cards, sight words and phonetic readers until TS 3's fluency is more solid.  

My morning meeting time with TS 3 lasts about 60 to 90 minutes, and then she is off on her own for about an hour.  During that independent work time, she listens to an audiobook in her room and then has a Center Time.  

Center Time changes every day and every week for variety.  The centers that she rotates through include:

  • Mondays- Writing, Stickers or Stamping
  • Tuesdays- Puzzles, Coloring or Blocks
  • Wednesdays- Scissors, Playdough or Painting
  • Thursdays- Arts and Crafts, Games or Dance

After Audiobook Time and Center Time, it is Snack Time for everyone.  This is when I do the history related read aloud for all three test subjects.  After snack, the boys go off for a break, while TS 3 and I work on her math lesson.  In addition to her Math-U-See lesson each day, she either plays a math game on the iPad or completes a page in her Math Made Easy workbook.  After Math time, she has a break to play while I catch up with the boys.

Next up for TS 3 is Reading Eggs, an online reading program she has been using since late last year.  She completes a lesson a day on Reading Eggs.  She is usually able to complete this lesson independently, although she does need my help from time to time.  We may put Reading Eggs on hold as well soon, and switch to Explode the Code online for some additional lower level reading practice.  

After Reading Eggs comes lunch and a break for all of us.  TS 3 does another Center Time in the afternoon with one of her brothers using the file folder games I created from the PAL reading curriculum which reinforce what she is learning.  At some point in the afternoon, I sit down with her again to read aloud one of the Lower Grammar books from TOG for history or a few pages from the science books we are studying about the human body.
She's doing the skeleton dance from this video at the end of our science lesson on bones this week.

TS 3 uses this schedule chart to work through her day.  It helps her "see" where she is in her day, and it helps me, at a quick glance, to make sure she is on track even when I am not working with her.

All things considered, I think TS 3 is doing well so far this year.  Once we implement the tweaks I mentioned here, I hope she will feel more confident in reading and make steadier progress in this area.

Are you home schooling a Kindergartener?  I'd love to hear all about.  Leave a comment or a link to your blog, please!

Homegrown Learners

Friday, October 5, 2012

What TS 2 Has Been Up To

I thought I'd mix it up a bit this week and write about how TS 2 is doing so far this year.  (I'll write separate posts about what TS 1 and TS 3 are up to in the coming weeks.)  TS 2 is in third grade, and we are using the following curricula as part of our Classical Christian/Charlotte Mason style homeschool.

Humanities Core:
Includes History, Geography, Church History, Music and Art Appreciation
Language Arts
TS2- Christian Light Publishing Reading, Grade 3 (Reading Comprehension)

TS2- A Reason for Handwriting, Book T (Cursive Handwriting)

TS2- First Language Lessons, Level 3 (Grammar)
TS 2- Spelling Power




Foreign Language:

Art/Music/PE/Sci, SS or Lit Enrichment:
Weekly Piano Lessons
Weekly Homeschool Co-op (PE, U.S. Government and Elections and Art)
Community Sports

In an earlier post, I wrote about how I decided to try TS 2 in the Upper Grammar level of TOG this year.  As it turns out, we have moved back down to the Lower Grammar level for now.   The history readings were too detailed and he was feeling lost and confused.  He seemed to be holding his own with the literature readings, but was a bit overwhelmed with the jump in the amount of reading each week.  It was not an easy decision for me, even though he is on the young side for Upper Grammar level.   In the end, I realized that my goal for history at the grammar level is to expose the kids to the big picture of the people and events of a given time period in an engaging and interesting way.  The best way to provide that experience for TS 2 right now is to stay in the Lower Grammar level.

TS 2 is flying through his MUS Gamma book.  At this point, he has learned his 0, 1, 2 and 10 times tables.  He seems to be understanding the concept of multiplication as well and is applying it successfully to simple word problems.

Spelling Power has turned out to be a truly painless way to work on spelling a little every day.

He is doing well with IEW as well.  I did not realize that the Student Writing Intensive was actually geared to 4-6 grade when I decided on it for TS 2's third grade year.  We are taking it slow and he is doing very well so far.  

We still love First Language Lessons and he has memorized Robert Louis Stevenson's poem, The Land of Nod, already.  Christian Light's Grade 3 Reader and workbook are providing a good foundation for our reading comprehension work this year.  While we read a lot in our homeschool, I still felt TS 2 needed a reading comprehension program that covered all the bases.  Using it, I feel more confident that he is working on these skills more explicitly, more completely and more often than if we just discussed his history readings each week.

TS 2 just finished his Studying God's Word book from last year for Bible.  It was a study of the doctrines of the Christian faith.  Part of his work in this book was to learn the answers to a series of 60 questions about the faith.  I am so proud of all he learned!  I'm working on a video to share.  He just started the Bible study listed above for his daily bible time, and it seems to be just right for him.

Tom is doing science with the test subjects again this year, although we have gotten off to a slow start so far.  They seem to be enjoying the Human Anatomy study and wrapped up lesson by making and eating an edible cell.  Throughout the first lesson, they loved these two videos about cells, and the information they learned in the reading was reinforced through them.  TS 2 especially seems to learn quickly when information is put to music or rhythm.

As for all the extras, co-op started a few weeks ago and TS 2 is really enjoying his classes.  Piano lessons are also going well and he will be performing a piece at co-op assembly in a few weeks.  He was invited to play on the third grade team at the school he attended for pre-k, kindergarten and first grade.  Practices start next week and games start around Thanksgiving.  He is very excited about it!

Homegrown Learners

Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The One in which We Got Our Groove Back

This first (almost) month of school has been a whirlwind!  While homeschooling three has turned out to be quite a feat (for me, at least), I think I can finally say that we have found our groove.  We tried several different schedules before I felt we fell into a workable one.  

First, we tried a "little ones first" schedule, which equated to me spending about 90 minutes with my daughter for kindergarten followed by 30-45 minutes with my third grader.  This left my oldest waiting until after lunch for any focused time with me, which was just not working out for us.

Then we tried a modified "little ones first" schedule, which meant I still met with TS 3 first, but for a shorter time.  Then I met with TS 2 for about 45 minutes for Language Arts, and tried to squeeze in a little time in with TS 1 before lunch.  This schedule just left all of us feeling rushed all day long.

Our current schedule, which seems to be flowing more smoothly, looks something like this:
8:30-9:30       Meet with TS 3
9:30-10          Meet with TS 2
10:00-10:30  Meet with TS 1
10:30-11       Snack/Read Aloud
11-11:30       Meet with TS 3 while TS 1 & 2 take a short break
11:30-12       Meet with TS 2  while TS 3 takes her break
12-12:30       Meet with TS 1
12:30-1         Lunch
1-1:30           Meet with TS 3 while TS 1 & 2 have recess
1:30-2           Meet as needed (Recess for TS 3)
2-3                Meet as needed

While I am still bouncing from one test subject to the other all day, there is less waiting time for any one child for my help.  I was reluctant to separate the kids for their breaks, but I was noticing that TS 3 was choosing to do her own thing anyway during break time while the boys played baseball outside.  If she starts to feel lonely and wants to play with them during breaks, I will have to rethink this.  For now, though, we are all enjoying our homeschool groove :)

Everyone seems to be far enough into their studies at this point to know what to expect in a typical day in each subject.  This is probably also helping us to feel like we are in a groove with school.  

In other news, we had a great first week at co-op last Friday!  My first experience teaching at co-op went really well. I am teaching two U.S. Government and Election classes to two age groups, 1-3 grade and 4-6 grade.  I am so glad I did most of the planning and preparation over the summer!  I cannot imagine if I had to plan and prepare two group lessons every week.  Since most of the work is done already, I simply have to review my lessons beforehand and perhaps prepare a chart or two for visuals.

The weather was so beautiful after co-op on Friday that we wound up staying afterwards for almost three hours!  The kids had a blast playing outside together and the moms had the chance to catch up from the long summer break.

We went apple and pumpkin picking last Saturday.  

TS 3 and I have been reading lots of great picture books about apples these past few weeks, so it was a fun experience to tie into our reading.  She and I have been baking with apples all week.  We made apple muffins on Sunday.  

On Wednesday afternoon, we made an apple crisp to share with our home Bible study group.  We are thinking about making applesauce over the weekend.  

We have our homeschool group's kick off meeting this Saturday, which should make for a fun afternoon.  If we have another "groovy" week here at the lab, perhaps I'll have some time to share about what each test subject is working on in their various subjects :)

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Homegrown Learners