Thursday, June 30, 2011

Part 4 of The Human Odyssey

13yo and I have read the first three parts of The Human Odyssey, Volume 1 covering pre-history through the fall of Rome.  I spent yesterday evening dividing the chapters of part four (A.D. 500 - 1400) into reasonable daily chunks.  It was slow going, but it was also exciting to see the topics that we'll be covering.  The first chapters will be especially fascinating (the Byzantine Empire and the rise and spread of Islam).  It's so tempting to start right now!  But, July is going to be super busy.  Patience, I must have patience.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Combining R&S English 4/5

My 13yo has a hard time wrapping her head around grammar (just like her mom).  We have started/stopped/started it many times.  My latest "stab" at it has been to combine two levels of Rod & Staff English.  We do a lesson in level four and then a corresponding lesson in level five.  It isn't a perfect system, but it seems to help when we cover the same concept at a easier level before jumping into the level five textbook.  This can be a planning headache as the books don't match up exactly.  Yesterday I matched up lessons for the two books along with their workbook pages and it took me hours (weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth).  I'm glad it is done, as it will make using two textbooks easier in the long run.

(I took down the document because of possible copyright infringement)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Saving the Desk Apprentice

Small house.  No home for the lovely Desk Apprentice.  It has been living on my bedroom floor in front of the closet.  I was going to give it away when a thought came to me.  If I moved the rocking chair out of the corner of my bedroom and put a 2 drawer file cabinet there instead, I could set the Desk Apprentice on top of it.   Well, it didn't quite turn out that way.

I went shopping for a 2 drawer but they were all too deep.  I didn't want a deep file cabinet in my bedroom.  The only thing the store had that was 18" deep was a three drawer.  It isn't as sturdy as I had originally wanted, but...we now own a three drawer.  It feels a bit flimsy, so I'm not sure we'll be able to keep the heavy Desk Apprentice on top.  Hmm...wasn't that the point?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Another one bites the dust!

13yo and I finished up R&S's grade six science text yesterday.  I liked it and she did well though she moaned and groaned about it every time we cracked open the book.  I'm not sure what we'll do for science next year.  We own the grade seven book, but I think it is choppier. I'm considering CPO's Life Science.

 9yo is on lesson 75 of 100 EZ Lessons and we finished reviewing unit 1 of R&S's BNRS (Bible Nurture and Reading Series) grade 1.  So far it has been smooth sailing.  She is flying through the BNRS unit 1 sight word and phrase flashcards.  The first 13/30 lessons in unit two should be review also.

9yo is exceeding my expectations with R&S English Grade 2.  This kiddo is not gifted in language, so I've been pleased and relieved with how well she has been doing.  I was prepared to bang my head up against the wall.  My only problem is forgetting to do English with her.  We need to make it a daily habit.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Human Odyssey

Good sigh.  13yo and I finished history yesterday.  I'm sorry that it is over until the fall because K12's The Human Odyssey vol.1 has been a wonderful book.  We stopped at the fall of Rome, so we'll restart with "The Medieval World."  I have enjoyed this book so much that I've already ordered volume two.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Decluttering Pain

My girls (9yo and 13yo) want their room back...especially the 13yo.  Their room is so full of books and textbooks that they don't have room for their own things.  Their stuff ends up in the floor.  It gets to the point where you can barely walk into their room.  I'm trying REALLY HARD to dejunk and I just keep walking from room to room unable to let go.

Okay, back into the battle......

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Five in a Row

That was really hard :( 

I just gathered up my FIAR homeschool manuals to donate to the Book Samaritan.  I realized that my youngest has passed the age to use them.  Sadly, I never did FIAR.  I tried.  I just couldn't get the flow.   My kids have a special attachment to many of the picture books.  Those we will keep.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hours of Instruction

Rabbit trail - It has been a beautiful summer day today.  Sunny warm days are a treat here in the PNW.  This spring has been a long one with lots of gray wet days. 

The sunshine has prompted me to rethink the amount of hours I'm willing to keep my kids indoors.  When there are only a few good months out of the year it seems ridiculous to keep them inside for several hours of school.  I started to wonder how many hours of school we need?  This sent me on a rabbit trail trying to find out how many hours of instructional time are required in various public schools and home schools.  It varies widely.  Thailand reports 1200 hours per year while some states require approximately 775 hours.  Many states don't require homeschoolers to track days or hours (our state falls in this category).

While searching for this type of information I actually came across a homeschool book, Homeschool Odyssey, where the dad reports that they only required an hour a day with arithmetic, grammar, and spelling.  What?!  An hour?  Honestly, I believe my kids need more than that.  I've skimmed the first third of the book and it seems like their children attended public/private school here and there.

Then, there are the Swann's.  Their kids homeschooled year around from 8:30-11:30am.  None of my kids are independent, so I don't think that would work here.  It would be great, but...

I guess I feel pressured to spend more time on academics because my younger two are already "behind" their age mates (the youngest significantly so).  I hate playing catchup.

I've spent the afternoon trying to whittle down 13yo's subjects into a reasonable amount of time for the summer.  She needs the daily review, but she also needs to hang with her neighborhood friends...I think.   Shall we say 1 1/2 - 2 hours of school a day?

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Summer isn't officially here and I am admitting defeat already.  Wah!  I don't want to do school.  Wanting to be outdoors in the sunshine is not my problem.  I simply don't want to do school every day all summer long.  I don't want my days to be one check-list after another and that is basically what it is feeling like right now.  

But, but, youngest two need the consistency of daily review or by autumn it will seem like we are reinventing the wheel.  

Suck it up!  Put on your big girl panties.  You can do this!

Deep breath.  How am I going to survive the summer without feeling like a martyr?  15yo - Recordkeeping.  13yo - drop History and Science?  Stick with the three basics of arithmetic, Latin, and writing.  9yo - daily math, reading, and maybe her grammar book done during several short periods during the day.

I think I might survive...maybe.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Two Down, Two to Go

Our high school age child attends an early morning (6:30am) religion class which follows the public school calendar.  Tomorrow she will finish her second year.  Two years down, two more to go.  Goodbye 5:30am wake up time.  I'll see you in September. : )

This child has been the hardest to nail down with academics.  I'm a procrastinator. She's passive aggressive.  We've spent the past three years battling her depression, anxiety, and sleep problems .  Lots of issues have combined to make it easy to put academics on the back burner.  Major guilt!  Thankfully we've had one thing going for us ... early morning seminary.

As good as that has been for us both, I feel like she needs something more on her records than attending four years of religion class and earning a 99 in cooking and fire making on Runescape (I love Runescape too : ).  I wanted something she could use.  As I was perusing the Rod & Staff Publishers catalog, I spied their recordkeeping course again.  Being a practical person (or so I think I am), I decided that this would benefit her as she becomes an adult and will hopefully give her a few job skills.  She has now finished her first week of the three part course (personal recordkeeping, business recordkeeping, and business accounting).  She has studied diligently which I so appreciate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rod & Staff English 2

My youngest is nine years old.  My guess is she is academically 2-3 years behind other children who are finishing 3rd grade.  When I compare her to children her age I feel discouraged.  You may have heard the saying "comparison is the death of contentment."  But, when I think about how much she has improved over the past few years, I'm motivated to keep pressing forward.

It is the desire to help her move forward that convinced me to try Rod and Staff's Grade 2 English textbook with her.  This kiddo is not gifted in language, so I approached the first lesson with fear and trepidation.  What was I going to do if she couldn't grasp the difference between a phrase and a sentence?  She did well.  Phew!

Of course, that was only the first lesson.  The real test will be if we last another three months. ; )

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Summer's Stumbling Block

The first stumbling block of "summer school lite" has arrived....private school is out.  That's the negative perspective.

Let's rethink this.  My two younger girls are going to be motivated to get their school work done early so they can play with their friends every day during the summer.   Yeah, that sounds better. : ) 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Tiny Change

Routine is good for me.  It ensures that what needs to get done happens.  Since I am naturally a procrastinator, it is vitally important for me try and establish routines.  (My husband would laugh if he read this.  Her?  Have routines? LOL!)  I'll admit that I struggle with actually sticking with them even though I know they are good for me.

At the same time, you can become so dependent upon routine that you get stuck in a rut.  For example, 13yo does not like math.  As part of our routine homeschool day, we do math first to get it out of the way and over with.  But, it was causing a problem.  It made our day start with a feeling of already being stuck in the mire.  The day seemed to drag on.  Plus, I never felt like I had enough time with the other girls once the 13yo and I finished her school work (no, my kids aren't independent).

Today we tried something different.  Mom picked out the order of subjects and left Math for last.  We were playing a mental game, but I believe it worked.  By about 10am we had covered most of what we needed to do together.  She did have work to finish (kind of like seat work/homework) to do, but it freed me up to work with someone else.  It told my mind that we were finished.  Usually we plod into the afternoon which leads to discouragement and mentally slowing down even more.

Usual sequence:
  • Math
  • Grammar
  • Latin
  • History/Science
  • Grammar
  • Latin
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Math 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Say-It-Again Series

My 9yo is a struggling reader.  She is at that stage where she can read a wee bit but not enough to take on your average book.  While looking through the Rod & Staff catalog I came across a series of books that I thought might be on her level.  I decided to take a chance and order them even though I had never actually looked through them.  Our Rod & Staff order came today and I am so pleased.  These are exactly right for her.  I had to help her with a few words, but she was able to read most of it without help. 

Say-It-Again Series
These storybooks have short sentences and much repetition. Large, easy-to-read type and simple, basic words help children to grasp the facts and to begin reading for themselves. These make interesting storybooks for any young child. Many large illustrations. (from the Rod and Staff Books website)