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

Friday, January 27, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: A Fool Insists on Quarreling

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers  once again...

Last week, I mentioned how I've been struggling with my patience of late.  I'm not the only one!  The kids have been short-tempered, slow to respond to instructions and argumentative, too.  After a phone call with a friend, who mentioned her own struggles with her child's attitude, I decided to get serious about addressing these issues in our family.  I did a quick search on this parenting website I trust, and found a brief article and a handout to use to begin a discussion with the kids on attitudes.  I also remembered this book I had purchased last year and never used.  It's divided into sections listing all the types of negative behaviors and sins we need to address at some point in our kids (and ourselves!)  We have been spending time each afternoon when RA gets home from school, discussing what the Bible has to say about good attitudes, bad attitudes, an argumentative versus a peaceful spirit, etc.  The discussions have been good and even funny.  I won't list all the verses we studied so far, but here are a few of the the ones we looked at this week.  The verse in bold has become our theme verse of sorts thus far, reminding us that it is honorable to be a peacemaker.  The last two, new to the kids, offered comic relief :)
Proverbs 29: 22  "An angry person starts fights; a hot-tempered one commits all kinds of sin."
Proverbs 15:18 "A hot-tempered person starts fights, a cool-tempered person stops them." 
Proverbs 18: 6 "Fool's words get them into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating."
Proverbs 20:3 "Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor, only fools insist on quarreling." 
Proverbs 21: 9 "It is better to live alone in the corner of  an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home."
Proverbs 21:19 "It is better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife."
Unfortunately, co-op was cancelled again for this Friday due to ongoing construction at the church where co-op takes place.  On the bright side, it offered us yet another week to stretch out our assignments over five days rather than four, making each day just a little bit easier.  

Wednesday marked the 90th day of school for us, the halfway mark in our year!  It was exciting to reflect on that.  As much as I always admired homeschooling, I never thought it would be a fit for our family yet here we are, halfway through our "experiment!"  I am thankful that we have had a fun and productive year so far, and look forward to the adventures God has in store for us for the rest of the year.  Monday is also a benchmark for us as it marks the end of our second quarter.  Once again, I was busy writing up our quarterly reports this week, and taking stock of what has been working and not working in our homeschool.   If you're interested in what we have read so far, check out my post from earlier in the week.  And please comment if you have some suggestions for books, we are always on the hunt for a good book :)

We are looking forward to a slow paced weekend, and hoping to finish up some projects around the house we have been working on recently.  We have a playdate this evening with some friends from church, the boys have baseball clinics this weekend and Sunday is church.  I wish you a wonderful weekend full of family, friends and love!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What We've Been Reading

I'm working on our Quarterly Reports for the school district this week, and spent some time reviewing the books that the test subjects have read so far this academic year.  Since I am always on the hunt for good books for my children (and myself), I thought you might be to?  In that spirit, I'm sharing here what we have read so far.  This list includes only the books we have read independently for pleasure and none of the (many) books we have read aloud together or the books read independently for content areas.  The books marked with an asterisk are the ones we are currently reading.

TS 1
On the Court with Kobe Bryant by Matt Christopher
Double Play at Short by Matt Christopher
Hard Drive at Short by Matt Christopher
The Life You Imagine by Derek Jeter
Swindle by Gordon Korman
Mariano Rivera (Baseball Superstars) by Judith Levin
Zoobreak by Gordon Korman
The First Christmas Stocking by Elizabeth Winthrop
Wright on Time, Book 1, Arizona by Lisa Cottrell-Bentley
M.V.P.: Magellan Voyage Project by Douglas Evans
Mickey Mantle (Baseball Superstars) by Ronald Reis
Albert Pujols (Baseball Superstars) by Dennis Abrams
Through My Eyes: A Quarterback's Journey (Student Edition) by Tim Tebow
Taken by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins*

Are you seeing a theme here?  Yes, my boy LOVES sports and prefers non-fiction books.  He did read a few novels sprinkled in there and we have some more on hold at the library.  Variety is the spice of life, right?

TS 2
Junie B. Jones and the Sneaky Peeky Spy ( I don't like this series, but allowed it since his sister was listening to it read aloud in Kindergarten at school)
Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting
Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
Hello, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
The First Christmas Stocking by Elizabeth Winthrop
The Big Buck Adventure by Shelley Gill
Squashed in the Middle by Elizabeth Winthrop
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel
Wright on Time, Book 1, Arizona by Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley (series about the adventures of a homeschooling family!)
Wright on Time, Book 2, Utah by Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley
Wright on Time, Book 3, Wyoming by Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley
Imagination Station: Attack at the Arena by Marianne Hering*

Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler
Choosing to See: A Journey of Struggle and Hope by Mary Beth Chapman
The Duggars: 20 and Counting by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
A Love That Multiplies by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar
Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo
The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People*

Unfortunately, I have not kept a list of the books that RA and I have read together this year.  Right now, though, we are working our way through this fabulous list I found on Pinterest.  Here's a link to my profile if you'd like to join me there!
We had already read some of the classics on this list and have recently read Corduroy by Dan Freeman, Madeline by Ludwig Bemelman, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virgina Lee Burton.  

If you have any recommendations for great books for a Kindergartener, second grader, fifth grader or Mom, please share in the comments!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The One in which my Patience Wore Thin

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers  once again...

I guess I'd better start by addressing that title up there :)  Yes, this was the week in which my patience wore thin.  It wasn't a particularly difficult week in terms of school work.  It was just a week in which I was tired and cranky, having slept too little and started a new weight loss plan.  Those things combined with the fact that I have not been getting up for my Quiet Time with the Lord, left me running on fumes with little patience to deal with typical parenting challenges.  I really don't want to be impatient and harsh with my children- that just teaches them that it is acceptable to behave that way when you are tired and stressed.  And I am trying to be objective and not blame it all on homeschooling, because the hard fact is this impatient behavior of mine is not new.  In light of all this, I got up early this morning, had my Quiet Time and determined to enjoy this day as a gift.  So far, so good!

Now, on to our homeschooling adventures from this week..

I wasn't sure we would, but we did wind up taking Monday off this week.  RA had the day off from school and my lovely sister invited all the kids for a sleepover Sunday night.  How could I pass up the chance to spend an evening at home alone with Tom and to sleep in a little bit the next morning?  We ordered wings and watched the football game!  It was glorious :)

It was back to business on Tuesday and I'm happy to report that TS 1 did very well on his grammar quiz!  He has returned to the curriculum and we are continuing to outline the information together.  We haven't added to the Mini Office this week but we will include some information about subject-verb agreement early next week.  I am also continuing to modify the Writing with Ease curriculum with TS 2, as I mentioned in this post.  Modifying the daily assignments has reduced his stress considerably, which I hope will result in his acquiring the skills we are working on more readily.  It's an experiment within an experiment!  (I'm sure there is a scientific term for that but hey, it's three o'clock on Friday afternoon, and I have no intentions of trying to figure it out.)

We finished up Unit One of TOG this week and both test subjects did very well on their Unit Exam.  We used our completed lapbooks to review the unit, which was very helpful in refreshing their memories on the people and events we studied.

In Math, TS 1 is about three weeks away from completing the Delta level of MUS.  He will jump right into Epsilon after that.  I think we are both looking forward to bidding farewell to multiple digit long division in the near future :)  TS 2 is doing great with the Beta level of MUS.  Since it is a 30 week program and we have planned on a longer school year than that, I will be slowing him down a bit by doing only one worksheet per day rather than the two he have been doing up to this point.  Since he was in a spiral math program before we began homeschooling this year, there are some concepts TS 2 has already learned that are not covered in the Beta course.  In an effort to keep those skills fresh, he also works a little bit each day in a 2nd grade Math workbook I picked up at the drugstore.  TS 2 also does drills for addition and subtraction facts each day.  About a month ago, we signed up for a free two month trial from ALEKS and now he does the drills online using their QuickTables program.  It is fantastic and I highly recommend it!  It keeps track of the facts he needs to work on and continues to rotate them through his daily drills until he has mastered them.  I have definitely seen a rapid improvement in his mastery of math facts since we began using this program.  

The highlight of our week was an impromptu "cooking class" with my mom, Abuelita, to the kids.  Together we made 70 empanadas, a Puerto Rican appetizer somewhat similar to Jamaican Beef Patties.  This has been a tradition for my mom and I for the past three years when we began making them together to bring to TS 1's class in celebration of Hispanic Heritage month.  Before Christmas, one of the fifth grade teachers mentioned that the kids were wondering if I would still bring them in for them to enjoy this year.  We set up a date for after their mid-term exams and we brought them in this afternoon.  We had a wonderful time with the fifth graders- I love those kids :)


Friday, January 13, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: January 13, 2012

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers  once again...

This was our first week back to a full schedule with all subjects since before Christmas break.  Since we have not yet returned to co-op though, it did not feel very different from the previous weeks.  

TS 1 and I finished our review of the work he has completed in grammar so far this week as I'd hoped.  I think we will review each lesson as he completes them from now on, adding notes to the notebook we started and information to the Mini Office.  He will have a quiz on Monday and then a Chapter Test the following week.  I'm hoping our review has helped him and that will be reflected on these assessments.

Last week, TS 1 completed his Bible curriculum, Starting Strong.  It was a great little book and I highly recommend it!  It required that he read passages from the Bible and answer a series of questions about the passage and how it applied to his life.  I wish the author had written more of these books.  Unfortunately, I could not find anything similar.  

My goals for Bible Time for both test subjects is to be exposed to God's Word, to learn how to read and understand it with increasing independence, and to think about how it applies to their lives.  I am not so concerned with their learning facts and Bible history at this point.  With all this in mind, I decided to have him start a curriculum I had purchased at a homeschool conference last year.  It is called Who is God? and is the first book in the Biblical Worldview series from Apologia.  We are not following the suggested lesson plan, as I think it would be too rigorous and wind up being a discouragement to TS 1.  We are taking a slower pace and we are both pleased with the book so far.

We should be finished with Unit 1 of TOG, Year Two by the middle of next week.  This is TS 2's lapbook so far.  

They work on their lapbooks every week and we plan on displaying the completed work at our Medieval Feast.  Speaking of which, we really need to set a date, work on invitations, a plan for the event and our castle model.  We may do that on Monday since RA is home from school and it is hard to get the test subjects to focus for a full day when they know the rest of the world is off for a holiday :)

We wrapped up Friday with our monthly ice skating meet up with other local homeschoolers.  Our weekend looks busy but fun- playdate tonight, homeschool gym day tomorrow morning and then dinner with friends and all our kids in the evening, and church and baseball clinics for the boys on Sunday.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The Party's Over

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers  once again...

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas and New Years!  We had a holiday that was filled with emotions that ran the gamut from deep sorrow to full joy and everywhere else in between.  If you have not yet seen my post from Wednesday, please go there now.  It's the most important message I could share here and I don't want you to miss it!  Thank you to all who prayed for my requests these past weeks.  If you are moved to leave a comment on that post, I know it would be a blessing to my cousins!

We started back to school on Monday, even though RA had the day off.  I figured since we do not have co-op for the next few Fridays, if we started school on Monday this week, we could enjoy a week of half days and it has worked out great!  Actually this week has been pretty similar to the week before the break in that we are still focusing mostly on Math, Grammar and History.

TS 1 and I have been plugging along in our review of the work he has completed in grammar so far.  He is taking notes and doing additional practice in a notebook we are creating.  We also added a few more items to the Mini-Office we are creating.  The goal is that he will use it as a reference tool when working on grammar once he returns to the curriculum.  I think we have about one more week of review and then I'd like to give him a test to see how much he has retained.  After that, I hope he can return to the curriculum.  (My Type A, check the box on the checklist and FOR GOODNESS SAKES! STAY ON SCHEDULE! personality can't handle much more delay!)

Math is going well for both test subjects so far.  They each took a Unit Test this week and did extremely well.  TS 1 is working on mastering multiple digit long division and it is tedious work.  I've spent a lot of time this week providing moral support for him as he plods through many long problems each day, but the end is in sight!  In the next six weeks or so, he will finish the Delta level of Math-U-See and begin work with fractions in the Epsilon level.  TS 2 learned how to write numbers in standard and expanded notation up to the hundred-thousands place this week.  I was impressed with how quickly he caught on to the concept. Impressed, and thankful, because I was not sure how else to explain it to him if he hadn't understood the lesson!

We are winding up our study of the Middle Ages with Tapestry of Grace.  We should finish the unit in the next two weeks or so.  We are planning a Medieval Feast as a unit celebration to showcase our work and newfound knowledge.  Up to this point, I have not been using the tests and quizzes that I purchased with TOG much.  I don't think, at this age, testing is a helpful evaluation tool in subjects such as history.  However, I do plan on giving TS 1 the Unit Exam and doing an oral review of the unit with TS 2 when we finish up.    At any rate, I know I have learned a ton :)

How were your holidays and your return to school or home school?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Story of Jayden

Thank you to all who prayed for my requests these past weeks.  Please continue to pray for Christina and Jason and their children Alex and Mya.  Here is the Story of Jayden, in their own words: