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

Friday, March 30, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The One with the Renovations

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized HomeschoolersHomegrown Learners and The Homeschool Chick...

It's been an eventful week here at the lab!  We are having major renovations done on our property, and the test subjects have gotten some impromptu lessons in excavation, dismantling a (beloved) swing set, laying pavers and stones, laying sod and mulch and laying blacktop on a driveway.  None of it was on my lesson plans, but we couldn't help but pass some time at the window watching the work.  TS 1 can now describe the steps to leveling a plot of land, preparing the soil and laying sod- that's got to count for something, right?

Some before pictures:

Some after pictures- more to come next week:

Despite all the excitement around here, we did get plenty of work done this week.  Monday morning was a typical homeschool morning.  Once again, at noon, we headed to TS 1's writing class offered through our homeschool group.  He brought with him the rough draft of the assignment he is working on for the class: a five paragraph essay on an autobiographical incident.  He chose, not surprisingly, to write about the first time he hit a homerun.  Its working title is "God on the Baseball Diamond."  Intrigued?  Perhaps he will give me his permission to post it here when it is finished.

TS 2 and I finished up his school work during the class, and then headed outside to shoot some hoops on the grounds.  We had a blast, but whenever I do that I am reminded just how out of shape I really am.  

Tuesday brought piano lessons and playdates, after we were done with school, of course.  We have been having a weekly playdate with our friends from church who live nearby and recently (as in January) decided to pull their children from the local public school and homeschool them.  Because our yard is under construction, the big boys decided to have an indoor Nerf gun war.  

Wednesday was the most exciting construction day here.  It is typically our lightest homeschool day, since I use the afternoon to run errands alone while our babysitter is here. The test subjects had plenty of time to gaze out at the work and the transformation of the yard.

One of my errands on Wednesday afternoon was to go to the local craft store to put together a sample centerpiece for the tables at my dear friend's upcoming doctoral graduation party.  While I was wandering the aisles, the designer offered to help.  It was a divine appointment, as we have a small budget for the centerpieces and I had not realized that I missed a huge section of the floral department that had flowers priced much lower AND were on sale for 50% off.  The designer helped me put together a beautiful arrangement at a great price.  It's not the best photo, but this gives you an idea of what she created.

We had a low key, productive day at home on Thursday.  The test subjects are really interested in astronomy, the focus of their Science curriculum this year.  I found TS 2 exploring the night sky with Google Earth in his free time on Thursday evening.

Friday is our last co-op until April 20th as we have a two week hiatus for Spring Break.  

It was also Picture Day at school for RA.  She looked so precious that I just had to share :)

Friday also marks the end of the third quarter of Our Great Homeschool Experiment!  I can hardly believe we are really in the home stretch of the school year.  I've been praying, thinking, planning and dreaming about next year already.  A friend and I will be traveling to a large homeschool convention in May.  I hope that the workshops and curriculum fair will help with the curriculum decisions for next year as well as provide encouragement for the journey.

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The One without a Witty Title

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized HomeschoolersHomegrown Learners and The Homeschool Chick...

Well, I wish I could say that things have improved on the bickering front, but alas they have not.  The only difference I can see from last week to this is that they have decided to throw a measure of complaining into the mix this week.  So, we have spent plenty of time on character development (mine and theirs!) again this week.  And I am trying not to grow weary in this.
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."  Galatians 6:9
Monday morning was a typical homeschool morning.  At noon, we packed a lunch and ate in the car on the way to a writing class offered through our homeschool group for TS 1.  He literally just completed his writing curriculum for this year last week when I noticed that there were still openings in the class.  The teacher is a college senior, who was also homeschooled, and has a passion for writing.  TS1 loved the class and is looking forward to the next ten weeks!  The class is held on the beautiful grounds of an economic "think tank."  TS 2 and I sat outside and finished up his afternoon work during the class.  It was lovely.

Papa arrived on our doorstep Tuesday morning to stay with TS 2 for an hour while I took TS 1 to a dentist appointment.  He had to have one of his baby teeth pulled.  While I know TS 1 was nervous (and so was I, honestly), it turned out to be a low stress/low pain experience.  Neither of us even knew when the tooth came out, actually!  I love our dentist- he is just so fantastic with kids.

On Tuesday evening, I went to our homeschool group's monthly mother's meeting.  This month's meeting was actually a homeschool information night aimed at prospective homeschoolers.  I brought a close friend who is considering homeschooling next year.  Although we are almost three-quarters through our first year of homeschooling, I still learned a lot at the meeting and was excited to encourage prospective homeschoolers.  If I can homeschool, anyone who wants to do it, can!  

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE our homeschool group?  I am convinced that our group and its associated activities, classes, field trips and co-op have been instrumental in our experiment's success.  Through the group, I have learned so much about homeschooling, state requirements, curriculum, etc.  The test subjects have been able to have frequent outings with other children.  They have been exposed to fun and enriching instruction I would not have covered at home this year.  If you are not already a part of a homeschooling group in your area, I highly recommend finding one!

The weather has been gorgeous most of the week- unseasonably warm and sunny!  We spent three hours outside on Thursday getting our school work done and enjoying the warmth and fresh air.  

Friday brought co-op and I am ever so happy it did!  We wrapped up our Friday with our weekly playdate with friends from church.  

Our third quarter ends next week and I can hardly believe it!  We are really in the homestretch now.  

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Monday, March 19, 2012

Homeschool Showcase

I'm so excited!  Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers featured my post about our Medieval Feast on her Homeschool Showcase post today.

Please check out her post and all the other wonderful resources she highlighted this week!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The One with the Bickering

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized HomeschoolersHomegrown Learners and The Homeschool Chick...

I'm not quite sure why exactly, but we have had a bit of a rough week here at the lab.  The sun has been shining.  We have enjoyed seasonably warm weather and many hours of time outside for most of the week.  By all appearances, I should be raving about what a fantastic time we have had this week.  Instead I'm here to tell you about how I was this close to sending the test subjects back to school on more than one occasion this week.  It wasn't anything homeschool related technically that caused me to feel this way.  That part of our day has been going swimmingly.  As you may have guessed from the title of this post, it had everything to do with the incessant bickering the boys took up this week.   

Now, I know that all children bicker and I don't expect that to disappear completely in our family life.  However, when I see my children purposely antagonizing one another, driving one another to whining or tears, I have seen enough.  When it happens on a daily basis, I start to get a little whiny and irrational myself.  

I don't really want to send the test subjects back to school yet.  Please don't misunderstand me when I say that.  As I have mentioned here on numerous occasions, I love our school and I would not be surprised if our children returned to school at some point in their academic careers.  It's just that I do not believe that that time has come yet.  I am enjoying the way the boys are blossoming at home.  Our experiment, so far, has been a wonderful success.  On Wednesday, TS 1 asked if he could do a report on Jupiter combining what he is learning in Science with what he is learning in Writing.  DId you catch that?  He asked me if he could do a research report!  

Thursday afternoon we had a serious talk about treating others as we would like to be treated.  While I don't expect all sibling conflict to end, I was clear in communicating that the constant bickering, purposeful antagonizing, whining and tattling was not acceptable.  We talked about how those behaviors are not pleasing to God and discussed how He would want us to handle conflict and moodiness.  I also let them know that if I see that they are consistently unwilling to work on these weaknesses, they should expect unpleasant consequences.  

In a much needed change of routine and environment, we went on a fascinating field trip on Thursday afternoon at a local college's art gallery.  The workshop was entitled Drawing and Neuroscience.  The children were given a guided tour of a small exhibit on this topic and then engaged in various activities to experience some of the ideas hands on.  It was after school hours this time so RA was able to join us :)

Today is a big day for our family.  It's this little man's eighth birthday today! 

Sandwiched right in the middle of a big brother and little sister, this guy is the quintessential middle child: easy going, witty and carefree.  We love him to pieces and look forward to celebrating him this weekend!

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The One with All the School Fun

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers  and Homegrown Learners once again...

One of the great things about still being part of our school community through RA is the opportunity to join in on some of the fun.  This week was Lutheran School's Week at school and each day was marked by a different theme.  Monday was Pajama Day and Pancake Lunch.  We sent RA off to school in her cozy, pink, fleece PJs while the test subjects remained in their PJs all day at home.  They enjoyed their own pancake lunch, prepared by TS 1, while their sister had a yummy one at school :)

Tuesday was Rainbow Day, and the students were challenged to wear every color of the rainbow.  

We also squeezed in the dentist on Tuesday, which has nothing to do with our homeschool week but I mention only as a shameless excuse to post these funny pictures.

Wednesday was School Spirit day.  While RA dressed in the school colors of red, black and white, the test subjects wore red, white and blue, which are apparently our homeschool colors.  Who knew?!? 

Thursday was Career Day.  We sent an adorable future mommy off to school with all her paraphernalia.  If you've been around here long, I'm sure you can guess what the test subjects dressed as for Career Day.

Thursday evening we joined some school friends for dinner in town at a local restaurant that donated 20% of the sales to the school.  It's an event we all look forward to each year!

School was closed on Friday, so RA joined us at co-op again.  We love having her with us!

We have had a great week!  I think it was the perfect diversion as we are hunkered down working through the thick of our winter lessons and yearning for spring.  

In addition to themed fun we had this week, we had time for two playdates during the week- one of the many things we are loving about homeschooling- TIME.  Time to play, time to get bored and be creative in response, time to be together as a family and time to spend with friends!

Speaking of time, another reason we had so much of it this week was that a media ban was in effect here at the lab from Sunday morning to Friday evening.  While the test subjects are not keen on doing this every week, they did agree that abstaining from TV, iPods, computer and Wii did make for a peaceful week.  It also freed up lots of time for family fun and creativity.  TS 1 even took the opportunity to get a head start on his school work each morning!

An appliance box was converted into a store to sell picture books created by TS 2 and Flip Notes created by TS 1.  Working on their wares provided hours of entertainment this week.  Selling them to friends and family was even more fun!

What are some fun ways you break up the monotony of a long winter at home?

Friday, March 2, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: The One with the Medieval Feast

Joining the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers  and Homegrown Learners once again...

We have had a wonderful return to school after a week long Winter Recess.  We are back into the swing of a full schedule again and yet it does not seem burdensome.  You know things are going well when even the test subjects are remarking that it's been a stress free week!

Though it technically took place last week, our Medieval Feast last Friday evening occurred too late to include in last week's Weekly Wrap.  On Friday evening, our home was turned into a Medieval kingdom in celebration of the completion of our history unit on the Middle Ages.

Our honored guests were treated to an evening filled with food, entertainment, art, music, sword fighting exhibitions and clinics, and hands on art projects, all while learning about the life and times of the Medieval period in history.  The evening's agenda began with introductions by our King of his subjects, which included his daughter the Princess, one of his Noblemen, one of his Knights and of course a peasant living in his Kingdom.  

After introductions were made, Lord TS 1 gave a brief summary of the Feudal system of government, why it emerged during the Middle Ages and how it functioned.  

Sir TS 2 then described what entertainment was like in the Medieval Times and treated us to a recitation of a poem he has been working on.  Lord TS 1 played a few pieces on the piano.  Not to be outdone by her big brothers, Princess RA dazzled the crowd with her dance moves.  Her cousin Princess O. joined in the fun :)

After a messy, eat with your hands dinner, Sir TS 2 explained the history of Art in the Middle Ages.  His brief talk was followed by a guided tour of the art the test subjects had created at co-op over the course of this year so far.  (A huge thank you to our wonderful art teacher at co-op, Miss J!!!)  Our guests were able to see examples of mosaics, frescos, tapestries, illuminated manuscripts, books of days, and watercolor paintings.  Later on, they were given the opportunity to create their own watercolor painting.

We wrapped up the night with Lord TS 1's brief history of Knights.  Then he and Sir TS 2 gave a sword fighting demonstration and clinic.  It seems Abuelita is a master sword fighter!  Who could have known?

We had a wonderful night, and we hope our guests did as well.  We are already talking about planning a Renaissance Fair for our end of the year celebration!

Have you ever planned an executed a Medieval Feast or another unit celebration?  I'd love to hear about it.  Feel free to link to a post about it in the comments :)