Jan 142013

Hopefully that got your attention.

And maybe it was a bit strong, but I’ve learned something.

I’ve always been a big believer in choosing math curricula that focus on understanding rather than rote learning.

Here’s my post from last year’s Virtual Curriculum Fair:

Thinking Mathematically: How I Choose Math Curriculum

And while I don’t have big regrets about teaching my older 2 children in this way, I have gained a greater appreciation for the spiral approach to teaching mathematics.

After banging my head against the wall for several years, I have finally found a math program that is working for William, my middle son.

It’s Christian Light.

Every day there are an oral skip counting exercise, 2 sets of flashcards to review, and a speed drill. These are followed by the introduction of new material. Then the bulk of every lesson is the “We remember” section. So every single day William has to remember how to do addition with carrying and subtraction with borrowing. He frequently is asked to convert between inches and feet or gallons to quarts. There are word problems, and multiplication fact practice. Every single day.

I think he is finally going to remember how to do subtraction.

Is it fun?

No. But it doesn’t have to be. I firmly believe that everyone needs basic math skills. While I’ve heard many preach that making learning fun makes it easier, there comes a point where things have to be done. I need to make sure that he works up to his potential. That is not going to be calculus in his case and that’s fine. And learning to be diligent is a valuable trait.

Is it quick?

No. Due to his extremely distractible nature, it can take an hour or more for William to complete his daily math lesson.

But is my almost 11 year old finally remembering the mechanics of doing math?

YES! (Most of the time anyway.)

Here’s what I’ve learned so far in this journey.

1. Don’t assume that what works for one child will work for another (or that the way you learn is how your children do).

2. Don’t be afraid to try different things.

3. Don’t worry too much about grade level.

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair ButtonDon’t miss the other great math ideas at the Virtual Curriculum Fair!

Delight Directed Middle School Science? by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The Hardest Part of Math by Kristi @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

A Tour Through Our Math and Science Life by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

What Works for Us…Math by Piwi Mum @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way

Math Art – Geometry by Julie @ Highhill Education

It’s Math-magical by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Fun and Games with Math by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Discovering Patterns by Lisa @ The Golden Grasses

Math for the Natural by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Virtual Curriculum Fair~ Discovering Patterns by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Too Many Math Programs or Not by Linda B @ Homeschooling6

Virtual Curriculum Fair:  Math and More!  by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum

The post where I admit I was wrong by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset

High School Math – Beyond the Textbook by TechWife @ A Playground of Words

Discovering a World of Logic and Order by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair- Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road

The Plans of Mice and Math (My Math in Focus review) by Chelli @ The Planted Trees

Rightstart Math is right for us! by Leann  @ Montessori Tidbits

Our Favorite Homeschool Math Curriculums by Wendy @ Homeschooling Blessings

Jan 072013

Homeschooling Hearts & Minds Virtual Curriculum Fair ButtonI’m participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair at Homeschool Heart and Mind again this year because I can’t get enough curriculum talk!

This is our 10th year of homeschooling and during that time we’ve used a lot of different resources for language arts. Some I’ve used with more than one child, other things have been just what one particular child needed. I’ve linked to reviews of the products that I’ve written. Other links are to ChristianBook.com where you can see the price. (Those are affiliate links, so I will make a small amount of money if you make a purchase.)

Let’s start with Phonics!

With my oldest son David, we used  Alpha Phonics. He was ready to learn to read and this simple book was all he needed.

When my daughter Anna was ready to learn to read, I bought Phonics Pathways. Honestly there was no reason to switch from Alpha Phonics except that I like curriculum and Phonics Pathways was recommended (at that time) in The Well Trained Mind.

Both of these books are very similar with one major difference. Alpha Phonics teaches with word families cat, bat, fat, rat while Phonics Pathways starts at the beginning of the word and teaches starting syllables – ba, be, bi, bo, bu and then adds letter to the end making bat, bet, bit, and but.

Then came William. He has had a very difficult time learning to read. I tried both of the above resources with him with no success. I had some limited success with Happy Phonics, but what has been by far the single most helpful resource for his reading was All About Spelling. Yes,  I know it’s a spelling program, but it seemed like it was just the thing to help him to understand decoding words in reading.

With Lizzie I have been blessed. She has learned to read without me teaching her! Some of it was her older brother and sister working with her and some of it was working on various on-line programs like Starfall, Reading Kingdom, and Reading Eggs. But I think a lot of it was that she was ready to learn.

It’s still too early to predict anything about my just turned 2 year old. But if interest in letters and liking to be read to are any indications of ease in learning to read, he will be a cinch!


What about Grammar?

With my 2 older children I have used identical resources for grammar study. They both started out with First Language Lessons and followed that by several years worth of Rod & Staff English. They’re both finishing off their English grammar studies with Analytical Grammar. It’s a rigorous program, but I love the philosophy of the author. She contends that grammar is a content subject with a body of knowledge to learn. So rather than learning and relearning the same things every year, why not learn all the grammar and be done with it? It is very heavy on diagramming of sentences. I won’t lie and say that my children love this program. BUT they do love the fact that they don’t have to do daily grammar lessons all year long. They do their intensive lessons, occasional review, and they’re done.

With William I have been very slowly working through Rod & Staff. I can’t see him doing well with Analytical Grammar, so we will probably continue with Rod & Staff the whole way through. The repetition and review that made my older children long for Analytical Grammar will probably be a great help for him.

I have been working through First Language Lessons some with Lizzie this year, but I’m finding it a bit more repetitive than I remembered. We’re often going over 3 or 4 lessons in one sitting. One new resource that I’m really enjoying is StoryTime Treasures from Memoria Press. It is covering some grammar along with reading comprehension questions.

Don’t forget Latin!

We have been studying Latin for a long time in our homeschool. Maybe too long.

Do I regret starting early with my oldest?


Could he have learned as much starting later?


David used Classical Academic Press curriculum for Latin. He started with Latin for Children and completed A, B, and most of C. Then he moved on to Latin Alive. That didn’t go as well. He made it through book 1 and about half of book 2, but he really was struggling with the material. Part of it was my fault and not being more strict about drill. Part of it is his personality. He really is just not that interested in Latin. But this year I have found a course that he is enjoying much more: Visual Latin. We didn’t start all the way at the beginning, but we did back up a bit to insure that he got a good review.

With Anna, it has been completely different. She started in Latin for Children, but when I received Latina Christiana to review, I switched her to that. It turns out that she thrives in the drill-heavy Memoria Press programs. If you’re trying to decide on a Latin program, you might find this comparison helpful.

If you’ve made it through my lengthy post, congratulations! Don’t miss reading other tips for teaching language arts. Here’s a list!

Nurturing Novelists = Building Strong Writers by Susan Anadale @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Building Blocks of Education–Learning to Read  by Kristi Kerr @ The Potter’s Hand Academy

Finding Our Way Through Language Arts by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

How Does a Unit Study Teach Language Arts? by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Our Language Arts Adventure by Linda @ Homeschooling6

2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words: The Language Arts by Leah Courtney @ As We Walk Along the Road

Virtual Curriculum Fair-Playing with Words by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me

Virtual Curriculum Fair ~ Language Arts by Dawn @ Guiding Light Homeschool

Writing Help in a Critical Thinking book? by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings

Virtual Curriculum Fair: Foreign Language Immersion in the Homeschool by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch

Formula for Reading by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness

Words and Learning by Annette @ A Net In Time

A Custom Designed High School English Credit by Tech Wife @ A Playground of Words

Virtual Curriculum Fair 2013: Still Loving Language Arts by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Word Play by Lisa @ Golden Grasses

Learning Language Arts ~ 2012-2013 School Year by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Virtual Curriculum Fair – The Language Arts Department by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Playing with Words:  The Language Arts by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy: The Story of Our Life

Playing with Words:  Language Arts by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs and Curriculum

What Language Arts looks like in our house – Are we doing it right? by Hillary M @ Our Homeschool Studio

Getting lost and finding our way in Language Artsby Piwi Mum @ Learning and growing the Piwi Way


Aug 032012


Welcome back to the last day of the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop. Today we’re talking about co-ops. For more information about co-ops in general, see this post.

I live in a medium-sized city with a fairly large number of homeschoolers. As a result, there are a lot of co-ops in my area. There are several Classical Conversations groups, as well as several other groups that lean towards classical, but do not focus so much on the memorization required in Classical Conversations. There is another group that offers middle and high school courses with expert teachers.

And we’re not a member of any of them!


One big reason is that most of the co-ops that we have in this area include a lot of core subjects. And they dictate the curriculum for those studies. For history they use X, for science, they use Y, and for writing they use product Z. As an admitted curriculum junkie, I like to choose my own curriculum. I don’t like being tied to the group for my curriculum choices. I’m fiercely independent that way.

Another huge reason I’ve never joined any of these groups is their cost. These co-ops all pay their teachers. They usually cost $500/child/year or more. (Not including the curriculum.) That starts to add up really quickly!

In our area, those types of co-ops rule, and so many people are involved in them, that there aren’t many with time to have a co-op with just fun electives.

I was involved for 1 year in a co-op just for Tapestry of Grace. It was a small group of 5 families who were using the same year plan (Year 1) in Tapestry of Grace. We met together every 2 weeks to do many of the hands-on projects that go with Tapestry of Grace. Looking back, that was a good experience. At the time, it was very difficult. The 5 families (except the 2 that started the group) didn’t know each other before the co-op. There were some differences in expectations. As the year progressed, some families got behind schedule. Some weren’t as dedicated to being on time for meetings. So our group only lasted 1 year. But looking back on that year, I recognize that the accountability was very good for me to stay on schedule. It was also good for my older children to have assignments to complete for other teachers. And I liked having another peer group for my children that they got to know.

If you define a co-op more loosely as a group of families learning together, then we do have a small co-op of sorts that we’ve participated in for years. We call it Book Club. I think it’s mis-named though. It’s more of a Book Report Club. And over the years, we’ve expanded into presentations that aren’t about books, so it’s more of a Presentation Club. The way the club works is that we have a monthly topic that each student needs to read a book about and then present at the meeting.

We do things like read a biography and dress as the character for your presentation or read about a country and present on that. We’ve studied Christmas in other countries. The children memorize poetry.  I’ve blogged about our plans over the years, so if you’re interested in starting a similar club, you can check my lists for possible topics. I’m not sure what happened to last year’s plans! We were in book club, and we plan to continue with it this year.

2008/2009 Book Club Plans

2009/2010 Book Club Plans

2010/2011 Book Club Plans

Hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas about how a co-op experience can work for your family! Thanks for visiting. Please follow my blog and then go and visit some of the other great blogs participating in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!





Aug 022012


This year will be our 10th year homeschooling! During those 10 years, we have never had a dedicated homeschool classroom.

We use our dining room table, kitchen table, living room, and my daughter’s room as our main work spaces.

We started out using this storage system in the dining room. Just the bottom shelf and those 2 bins underneath housed homeschool materials.All the extras that we didn’t use everyday lived downstairs.

I described that system in one of my most popular posts – Organizing Homeschool Supplies.


But then there was more stuff (and more kids schooling). So I tried a modified workbox system using these file boxes with hanging folders. They lived in front of the book case in my bedroom. The bookcase is still there, but the file boxes did not work for numerous reasons. The biggest one being that the textbooks get a lot bigger as students get older. You can see more details on that system here.

Then last year I won this really awesome library cart!


That is still the basic storage plan for this year. EXCEPT that my daughter uses the desk in her room. (Yes, I know crazy huh?)

Here’s the desk when we first assembled it.

And here it is now. I think it needs a little cleaning before we can start school! We’re also planning a trip to my very favorite store, IKEA, to buy more of the shelves that go with the bookcase.

Thanks for visiting Sunrise to Sunset and taking a peek into our home! Please follow me, then visit some of the other great blogs participating in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop!


Jul 302012


Today is the kick-off for the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop. Today’s topic is Homeschool Methods.

This is our 10th year of “officially” homeschooling. By that, I mean my oldest started kindergarten 9 years ago. But we had made a decision to homeschool well before that. Always wanting to be prepared, I started researching homeschool methods when my oldest was about 2. And when I research things, I tend to get a little, um, obsessed.

So I had lots of ideas about how to homeschool and what curriculum to use well before I could actually use it. Unfortunately I have learned that it often isn’t beneficial to plan that far ahead. When you’ve never homeschooled, you can’t really know what you’re going to like until you’ve tried it. And you don’t know how your children are going to learn best either.

In those early years, I was leaning heavy towards a popular curriculum that focused on reading real books. Then I discovered classical education, and my husband and I were very drawn to the ideas and precepts behind that educational model.

Looking back on our early years and reflecting on where we are now, I can’t say that our school is really classical. Yes, we’ve taught Latin to our oldest children, but we didn’t do all the memorizing of facts in the early years that is important in the grammar stage*.

*It is important to recognize that the definition of classical education is different depending on whom you ask. I wrote this description of the different views of classical education several years ago.

With 5 children from 19 months to 14 years old, I have learned that I have to be flexible. I was privileged to interview Dr. Mary Hood on Relaxed Homeschooling, and I discovered that I was unknowingly incorporating many of the ideas of relaxed homeschooling into our home. We are definitely not completely relaxed because there are some subjects that I require and are scheduled. However, especially with the younger children, I’ve let some of the official teaching go and let learning occur more naturally.

So I call our homeschool relaxed classical. It’s not the classical part that’s relaxed (you can’t really learn Latin without dedicated study), but I do try to allow plenty of time for the children to explore their own interests. David, my oldest, has taught himself how to edit videos and create computer games. Anna, my oldest daughter, spends a lot of time on crafts. But she also reads a lot of historical fiction on her own time. William, my middle son, reads the Apologia Elementary Science books on his own. He also memorized the Presidents of the U.S. on his own.

Sometimes I start to feel guilty about all the things that I haven’t done. Then I’m reminded that the kids are learning all the time. Some of it is formal. Some is not. I’ve always wanted to go on intentional nature walks and keep journals. (I do have some Charlotte Mason tendencies). However this is not something I’ve successfully implemented. But we do study nature.

I was able to use all my acquired knowledge on homeschool methods a few years ago when I was asked to write several homeschool articles. This article gives a good overview of all the different types of homeschool methods.

So what about you? How do you describe your homeschool?

Thanks for visiting Sunrise to Sunset. While you’re here, please follow my blog. (I lost a lot of followers when Google Friend Connect was limited to Blogger blogs!) After that, please visit some of these other great blogs who are participating in the Back to Homeschool Blog Hop.

Jan 092012

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase through an affiliate link, I will receive a small percentage of the sales price.

As an elementary student I don’t remember being too fond of math. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t particularly like it either. I do remember shedding tears over division of fractions. I just didn’t understand WHY division was the same as multiplying by the reciprocal, and that really upset me. That and the fear that I might make a bad grade. But that’s a topic for another day.

Everything changed when I started Algebra. I was blessed with an excellent teacher. He had worked as an engineer, but for various reasons had decided to become a math teacher. (The reasons did not include not being a good engineer. He really knew his stuff.) It was in Algebra I that I learned to love word problems. Call me crazy, but I really like a good word problem.

I think largely due to that Algebra teacher’s influence, I ended up majoring in engineering. (I not only had him for Algebra I, but also for Algebra II, Algebra III, and Advanced Physics, in addition to being the coach of the math team. Yes, I was on the math team. Go ahead and snicker.)

And what does all this background have to do with my homeschool curriculum choices?

Quite a lot actually. The single most important objective I have for my children in their math education is that they understand math. I do still want them to know their math facts. But if I had to pick, I’d chose mathematical understanding and application over computational speed. No question. That definitely influences my curriculum choices.

My oldest son has always shown a high aptitude for math. When I started researching homeschooling curriculum (way earlier than I care to admit) I finally settled upon starting with a combination of Miquon and Singapore Math. I didn’t do anything fancy trying to coordinate the two curricula to mesh the topics together. He just worked through Miquon Orange, then Singapore 1A, back to Miquon for the Red book, then back to Singapore 1B. We kept alternating until we ran out of Miquon books. (There are 6). Then he continued using Singapore Math through Singapore 6A.

It was in Singapore 6A that he began to point out that there really wasn’t anything new he was learning. So I went to work looking for Pre-Algebra options. What I settled on for him is Life of Fred. Life of Fred is a series of math books in which all the math is taught in the form of a story. My son loves Life of Fred because of Fred’s crazy adventures. He likes the quirky sense of humor. I love to hear my son laughing doing his math. Life of Fred books go off on some wild tangents that have really gotten my son to think. He does a lot of thinking about mathematical patterns. He asks me theoretical questions that I cannot figure out. My son is midway through Advanced Algebra, and he is understanding math.

I’ve read many reviews of Life of Fred that say it’s a good curriculum for a more literary inclined student. Maybe that’s because it might catch the interest of a student who likes to read. But that makes it sound like it’s watered down math. I assure you, it is not. And my son is far from literary. He likes to read computer manuals and books of facts–not literature.

This sequence of curricula has worked great for my math minded son who needs very little practice to understand a concept. Who, in fact, detests anything that seems even remotely like “busy work”. I have a hard time getting him to write enough of the problem steps down.

I used to be under the crazy delusion that I could pick out curriculum once and just use the same thing for all my children. I have determined that I—-

  1. Like to research curriculum way too much to find one thing for the whole family to use forever, and
  2. Have 5 extremely different children.

Starting with Singapore and Miquon was also a good fit for my oldest daughter, but she has already told me she doesn’t think she could learn from Life of Fred. And my middle son has some learning issues that made Miquon and Singapore poor choices for him. Who knows what will be the best choice for my youngest 2 children?

The freedom to tailor the curriculum to meet the needs of each individual student is one of the reasons that homeschooling works so well. It’s a good thing I’m a curriculum junkie!

For more Virtual Curriculum Fair Posts visit these great blogs:

Math Lapbooks—Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 2 Angie Wright @ Petra School

Virtual Curriculum Fair Week Two: Discover Patterns, Mathematics, Logic and Some Science by Leah @ The Courtney Six Homeschool

Our Choices For Math by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool

A Magnificent Math Manipulative by Letha Paulk @ justpitchingmytent

Our Math Choices – Virtual Curriculum Fair by Tristan @ Our Busy Homeschool

Math Literature?!?! by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic

Learning Math at My House by Jessica @ Modest Mama

Math Using Hamburger Paper by Debbie @ Debbie’s Digest

Math Facts or Fun? Why Not Both! by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings

Heart of Dakota- The Fine Details- Part 2 Science by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles

Learning Math Block by Block by Laura O in AK @ Day by Day in Our World

Plugging Along with Math by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family

What’s Working and What’s Not: Math Edition by Leann @ Montessori Tidbits

Math Anyone? by Cindy @ For One Another

Ahh, Math. by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Flying Without a Parachute: Math with no Curriculum by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Math in Our Homeschool by Christine T @ Our Homeschool Reviews

Math, Math, and More Math by Dawn Chandler @ tractors & tire swings

Discovering Patterns: Math, Logic, and Some Science by Christa Darr @ Fairfield Corner Academy

The Science of Math by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning

“Mom, did we do math today?” by Chrissy at Learning is an Adventure

Math, Math, and More Math by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.



Sep 252011

My family loves games. We have acquired quite a large collection over the years. We used to have a family game night, but we have unfortunately let it disappear in the busyness of this season of our lives. We definitely need to try to add that back soon!


Loving games as I do, I was pleased to be selected to review Tri-Cross by Games for Competitors. I received two versions of the game to review: the standard edition and the eco-edition.

Tri-Cross is a game of strategy that is played with 2-4 people. The game consists of a board and tiles of 4 different colors. The tiles are marked with different numbers of +’s. There is a special Tri-Cross tile as well. The object of the game is to occupy the middle of the board for 4 turns, or to jump all of your opponents’ pieces and be the last player remaining. These videos explain the basics of game play and the more advanced levels.

The day we received our games, we opened them and starting reading the instructions. Or more accurately, I sent my 2 older children to read the instructions and try it out. They came back and said they thought they had played a game correctly, but they were a little unsure.

A 2-player game

I  read the instructions and kind of scratched my head. It is the kind of game that you just have to start playing while referring back to the instructions. Once we started playing, the game became more clear. We tried out the different variations and found that we prefer to play with 3-4 people and the pieces face down so your opponents don’t know your pieces until they challenge you. Actually, I found it challenging to remember my own pieces.

A 4-player game

The game is both simple and complex. The rules are simple, but the complexity comes in the strategy. I have just scratched the surface of figuring out a good strategy and recognizing the strategies of my opponents. It is not as complex as chess (which none of us are big fans of) and the games are typically shorter. We all appreciate that about Tri-Cross.

I mentioned that I received 2 versions of the game. The eco-version differs from the standard in both its packaging and game board.

As you can see, the eco (or travel) version is packaged in a small bag. I like the small package because it is much easier to store and take with you.

The eco-version game board is made of cloth, but uses the same tiles as the standard version.

I like that the fabric game board it is easy to fold and stores compactly in the bag. However, we didn’t like playing the game on the cloth board as well as we did on the standard board. We had trouble with the pieces wanting to slide around due to the creases in the fabric. The problem is lessened if you play with the fabric board on a hard surface. If I were going to own only one version of Tri-Cross, it would be the standard board. But, I do foresee us taking the eco-version along on our next camping trip. Because when we camp, space is very important! Plus, when we camp it always rains, and the eco-version wouldn’t be damaged by the damp weather.

Tri-Cross is available to purchase on the Games for Competitors website. The standard version is available for $24.95, and the eco-version is only $19.95. Thank you Games for Competitors for sending us this fun new game!

Disclosure: I received this product as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Sep 172011

Do you know that commercial with the guy sitting behind a desk saying,

“I can do that. I can do that….How am I going to that?”

That’s kind of how I felt at the beginning of this week.

The kids had 3 cross country meets.

I had 3 writing deadlines.

I had a consignment sale to prepare for and drop-off the clothes for.

My son had a 2 hour appointment for testing that was 35 minutes away.

My daughter started back to violin lessons, and we had a field trip that I had scheduled (and paid for) well in advance.

And there was school to do. And cooking. And laundry. Cleaning pretty much didn’t happen this week.

But I made it! In one piece. And I did everything that I had scheduled.

We had a nice time at Old Salem Homeschool Days with friends.

This lady happens to be our pastor’s mother and church pianist. But she also works as a guide at Old Salem.

We learned about pipe organs.

This is the joiner shop.

The potter.

Learning about levers.

And pumps.

Trying out a balance.

Making lye for soap.

The Viegler House.

It looks like I wasn’t the only one who had a long week!

Sep 032011

I am happy to say that we survived the first 2 weeks of school. It has been busy. It has been tiring. It hasn’t been all smiles, but we have made it.

What is going well:

I am very happy with my pre-planning of Tapestry of Grace. It has helped my 6th grade daughter tremendously. She doesn’t have to depend on me to tell her what to work on. She’s got her list for the week, and she decides what she’s going to read on what days. It’s going well for her. For my 8th grade son, it’s going better than nothing. He tries to figure out how to do exactly 1/5 of each of the reading assignments on each day. He will round to the nearest paragraph, which drives me nuts! I’m trying to be quiet about it after initially asking him why he would choose to do it that way. We haven’t mastered actually getting all the questions answered, but I’m ok with that. We’ll keep working on it.

Independent science for my oldest 2. My 8th grade son has completed Module 1 of Apologia’s Physical Science. He likes it OK. He doesn’t like to do experiments that he doesn’t think are interesting. Let me rephrase that. He doesn’t like to do ANYTHING that he doesn’t think is interesting. My 6th grade daughter is using Considering God’s Creation as her main text. We’re using it somewhat unconventionally though. She is reading the Teacher’s Guide herself and doing the corresponding notebook pages. She’s also going to be using several of the NaturExplorers units..

Reading for my 3rd grade son. I don’t know if things have just finally clicked, or if the Brain Therapy sessions are already helping, but his reading is showing real improvement. He’s finally able to read other things like directions in his workbooks and the chore chart. He does have an evaluation for his learning issues this week. Hopefully, that will provide some more answers.

What needs improvement:

My time management and focus: It’s just hard. I feel pulled in so many directions at once. I think I’m going to make a schedule to see if I can come up with what an “ideal” day would look like. At this point, I don’t even know.

Kindergarten with my daughter: I haven’t been spending enough time with my daughter. That’s not too much of a problem because she is pretty good at working independently. (It’s so funny how different my girls are from my boys…) But, I do need to make sure she’s going things correctly.

What else is keeping me busy:

The 2 older kids had their first cross country meet this week. My daughter actually placed 3rd overall!!! (This was against girls in 6th-12th grades from our homeschool team and 2 area private schools.) I was so proud over her. It was over 90 degrees and she ran a 5K in 26:28. My son is more affected by heat and he only beat her by 30 seconds. He better watch out if he doesn’t want his little sister beating him.

May 092011

God has created babies with an incredible ability to learn new things. Just think about it. Everything is new to a baby! They are exposed to new sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and textures daily. In the first years of life, children develop faster than at any other time. They learn to sit, crawl, and walk. They go from eating only milk to feeding themselves a variety of solid foods. They learn to talk. They learn to read.

What was that?

They learn to read?

MonkiSeeAccording to the Krista Guerrero, the Founder of MonkiSee, babies can learn to read. By repeated exposure to the shapes of the words in connection to concrete images of the word, babies and toddlers can learn to recognize words. And as they learn more words, they intuitively begin to understand basic phonetic rules. Like b says buh.

I received a DVD, Baby’s First Words Volume 1, and the book Know Your Monkey. Both the video and the book focus on body parts and several other familiar items to babies, like blanket, toys, and stroller.

I put the DVD in for my 4 month old to watch.

He was definitely interested!

The DVD is 30 minutes long and shows a word, like “head”, followed by various clips of children or puppets talking about or doing things related to “head“. It’s a cute show with lots of babies and children in it. The video quality is not fantastic, appearing slightly pixelated on our 32-inch high-definition television. Baby didn’t seem to care though.

So does it work? Well, I don’t know. I’m not sure exactly how you’re supposed to tell. My baby can’t talk or even point to his body parts yet, so he can’t show me that he can read the words. Though the DVD is recommended for 3 months-3 years, it would seem to be more effective at the upper part of the age range. I admittedly didn’t have him watch the video daily because I generally try to avoid early exposure to television. But as a busy homeschool mom, I do recognize that the television can help me to get a few extra minutes teaching another child. I would certainly feel much better about having my baby watch one of these MonkiSee DVD’s than Nick Jr.

Visit MonkiSee.com to see the complete product line including videos, flashcards, and books. The book, Know Your Monkey, is currently $9.95, and the First Words DVD is $19.95. A collection of all 3 DVDs is available for only $49.95.

Disclosure: I received this product to review as a member of the Homeschool Crew. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.