Oct 262013

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October is almost over! I can not believe it. This 1st quarter + has just flown by. But I’ve made it through the extra busy beginning of the school year. So now it’s time to look at how things have been going and make necessary changes.

1. I am very pleased with the outside classes that David and Anna are taking.

Yes, we homeschool, but I really wanted them to have some classroom experience. These are extremely small classes, but still it’s a different instructor, there are assignments with due dates, and someone else to be accountable to. I have been pleasantly surprised to see how conscientious David is. And he doesn’t wait until the last minute to do his homework! Anna is also conscientious, but that wasn’t a surprise.

2. We had a fantastic Cross Country Season.

Both of our boys and girls homeschool teams won the North Carolina State Homeschool Championships. My kids both finished in the top 5.

David and his teammate in a race to finish in 4th place.

David and his teammate in a race to finish in 4th place.

I’m really proud of their hard work and dedication.


Anna all alone finishing in 3rd.

I  wasn’t the coach, but I did all the administrative stuff for the team. I was happy to help, but I’m also happy to be finished for a while!

3. It has been hard for David to keep up with his film class through Compass Cinema.

He did finally get some time to work on finishing up filming his latest assignment last week. I dropped him off at a park and left him there for 4 hours!

For the next few weeks he has a very special opportunity to help on a a movie that is being filmed locally and is directed by a friend of ours. Flexibility is a wonderful thing about homeschooling. David was able to spend all day on the set Thursday and Friday.

4. The older 4 children entered a variety of projects in our regional fair.

Every year I wonder why we go through the hassle, and then every year when they get ribbons, I’m glad we did. But this year, we’re going to get some of the projects done early. (I can dream, right?)

Lizzie's 2nd place brownies.

Lizzie’s 2nd place brownies.

5. I definitely still think that Christian Light Math is the best choice for William.

However, I have to look at ways to help him finish his lessons faster. Reading Detective has not been what I hoped. I was looking for independent practice, but his comprehension is so poor, that it’s not productive.

6. We’re not impressed with Teaching Textbooks for Pre-Calculus.

It wouldn’t have been my choice based on various reviews that I’ve read on Teaching Textbooks, but since that’s the text the class is using we had no choice. Still happy with the choice to take the class (see #1), but we’re going to be supplementing some with more challenging problems. I know a lot of people love Teaching Textbooks, but I would not recommend it for an advanced math student or one that wants to understand math, rather than learn methods.

7. Anna’s “block scheduling” plan worked great for the first 4 weeks of school.

The next five weeks, she was supposed to replace Science and Analytical Grammar with Geography and Home Economics. Partly due to the ramp up in the busyness factor and partly due to the assignments being more flexible, she didn’t get much done in her 2nd block. She didn’t start on the sewing unit she was planning, not that she didn’t do lots of other things that would qualify as home ec (like her baking and crafts for the fair!) We’re not ready to abandon the plan totally though. Still thinking about how to improve it.

8. I really like the school desk that we bought for William to use in his room.

But, it’s hard for me to make sure he is staying on task up there. I have tried giving him a time to come back and report. That has worked sometimes, but not always. Sometimes he reports and shows me that he hasn’t much to show for his time. I think I’m going to have to go with a more rigid schedule with him where we switch to the next subject whether math is finished or not. That way we’ll actually get to some of his other subjects. Having to do his math in his free time, may encourage him to work harder in his allotted math time. I’m not sure though because he isn’t getting distracted intentionally. We’ll just have to see if facing the natural consequences are an adequate incentive. I am going to have to more seriously research dietary changes for him.

9. I made generic assignment lists for William and Lizzie at the beginning of the year.

I still think they could be helpful, but they need more reminders to use them. I kind of dropped the ball on building that habit. Will give it another shot second quarter. I also need to print copies a week (or more) in advance. I do not do well having to make a copy at the last minute.

10. My crazy Andrew keeps us all laughing.

He is so funny. But he is a distraction. Still working on what to do with him during school time. I also have to get more serious (but not more uptight) about potty training him. Maybe he’ll get it by his 3rd birthday. We’ll see.



Sep 042010

OK, I know it is ridiculous to be so tired so early into the school year, but this week really wore me out! Part of it is because I think I may have overscheduled myself. (OK, I know I have.) You remember that old commercial where the guy is at his desk saying, “I can do that. I can do that. I can do that. How am I going to do this????” That’s a little how I’ve been feeling. Thankfully a few of the things are short term commitments.

The biggest difficulty has been my son and his cross country practices. He has practices on both Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 am. (Not to mention 6 pm on Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays and 9 am on Saturdays! He doesn’t have to attend all of them, but needs to run if he doesn’t.) Thankfully my husband drops him off in the morning, but I have to get the other kids ready to pick him up by 8! So 2 mornings this week have started by my frantically yanking children out of bed, having them throw clothes on, choke down a bite of breakfast, then run to the van to pick up their brother. Unfortunately, the practices have run late! So then I’ve ended up sitting in the van with tired, hungry, irritable kids waiting…. I did find out that I can be there at 8:15 from  now on. Those 15 minutes may make a big difference in my morning.

The good news is, we started back with Tapestry of Grace Year 2 this week. We’re picking up where we left off, so we’re starting Unit 3 which begins with Jamestown. I’ve been reading the Dialectic history selections (from This Country of Ours) aloud in the mornings for all the kids. Then I’ve been reading the Dialectic literature selection, Almost Home, aloud at lunch. We’re on track with This Country of Ours, but a bit behind on Almost Home. I don’t necessarily plan on doing all the reading aloud for the whole unit. (Actually, I know I can’t possibly do that.) But this time I liked the literature selection for Dialectic level better than the Upper Grammar one, so I decided to have both the older kids do the same literature.

We did one fun (and yummy) project this week.

Cookie dough maps! Because I am a martyr like to cook from scratch, I made homemade sugar cookie dough. (It would work just as well with store bought.) There are maps taped to the table under the parchment paper. Then the kids spread the dough to cover the maps. We decorated with chocolate chips for the mountain ranges and green sugar.

Then we baked the maps on the parchment paper on a cookie sheet. I think this is after we baked it. My daughter added blue sugar for the Great Lakes.

This is my older son’s map after baking. He thought the others used too many chocolate chips (like there could be such a thing!) for the mountains. He also was NOT interested in having his picture made with a cookie!

All the other subjects are going well for the older two children. Teaching my younger son anything is like pulling teeth. I’m really struggling with him. It is very difficult to get his attention.

My older son has almost finished Module 1 of Apologia General Science. I expect an “interesting” discussion when I explain to him that he needs to study for a test! My plan is to also add some science in for the middle kids this week. We’ll see. Thankfully I’ve got Monday off!