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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

New House New School year

The last few months have been a crazy busy. We bought a new house in a wonderful area and much closer to hubby's work. Instead of an hour drive each way he now only has about 20 min drive. Can you say big time savings in gas and much more family time, Yay! So the new house also has two extra rooms one we turned into our homeschool room and the other we turned into a library. Yes, I said a library,lol. We are finally settled in and will be starting the new school year next Tuesday. I like to start our year in July because here in Georgia July is extremely hot and going outside can get a bit uncomfortable. This way we can take off during Sept. when it is still warm enough to go swimming but not so hot that you feel like your melting. I think the kids are ready to start back up as well seeing they have both asked for some work to do. So Who wants to see the new homeschool room? Bye Bye working out of the living room and kitchen and hello to a room set up just for our homeschooling journey.

I added an old desk to the end of our kitchen table to be used for my desk.

My whiteboard wall. My whiteboard is the one item I personal just can't do without. I think we use it more than we even use the computers.

The house came with some selves and we added a few more to fit all of our stiff. Plus there is plenty of room for both of the kid's desk.

 Last but not lest the library. We purchased the shelves that can hold up to 3,000 lbs spaced them out to make a walk way between each one. Then I put all the books by subject. Around the room is a built in shelf too. We have tons of space and everything seems way more organized.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

What I love and Hate About Homeschooling

I guess I should clarify it isn't homeschooling it is more the styles/methods most use. Let me go ahead and lay it on out there that my opinion is that following one method can be a life saver at first. However over the years I bet you will not only find yourself straying from it but you will find you have a crazy happy mix of many styles.  You might be saying umm I don't know what styles/methods there really are. So I will do my best to explain them , or at least the major ones. I will also explain why I personally see it as a downfall to be religiously one style/method all together.

Traditional- Well traditional is short is very much like school at home. You have a textbook and workbook for each and every subject. You may even have a very beautiful school room too. You pretty much cover every subject everyday. You may even stick to the use of public school materials and schedule. I think this is where you normally find two types of homeschooling families ( the Newbies and the My Kids Must Go to College). There is a few things I hate about this style. First well it is school at home. Then it doesn't leave a lot of room for personal interest. But, most of all it is the feel of control like I am controlling every aspect of my child's life right down to their trip to college. I guess I should say I am in the group with those who feel if college is a means to a personal career goal then great go if not there really are many other options out there. Moving on!!

Classical- Classical education depends on a three-part process of training the mind. The early years of school are spent in absorbing facts, systematically laying the foundations for advanced study. In the middle grades, students learn to think through arguments. In the high school years, they learn to express themselves. This classical pattern is called the trivium.A classical education, then, has two important aspects. It is language-focused. And it follows a specific three-part pattern: the mind must be first supplied with facts and images, then given the logical tools for organization of facts, and finally equipped to express conclusions.these are the years in which the building blocks for all other learning are laid, just as grammar is the foundation for language. Even though I tend to agree that a good foundation is great what I don't like is the lack of what I call being a child. There is no self discovery or self expression in the early years and I definitely see that as a downfall. However let me say I agree with most of the rest of this style/method and it is in my opinion a better method in the later years than in the early years.

Unschooling- also know by it's fractions as interest led, Child led, or even radical unschooling. Unschooling basically goes with the interests of the child. There is no set curriculum. That is not to say they never use a curriculum if the child request one then the parents will happily get that for them. Pretty much what every the child is interested in learning is all the child is asked to learn. Really I wouldn't even use the word asked more like that is all the do. This is where you will find the really brave parents who trust and believe that each child is an individual and has their own individual path in life. They don't feel a need to force feed facts or information. The trust in the knowledge/mind of the child to blossom naturally right along with their spirit. I like to call these hippie homeschoolers. They are all about personal freedoms and in some cause like those of radical unschoolers that carries over into all aspects of life. I have a lot of admiration for these homeschoolers because they are brave to step way outside the box and in how much trust they have in the child. What I can't seem to get on board with is the lack of in many cases the foundation. I also can't get on board with it carrying completely over in to aspects of the families life. Let me explain. Their are some for ex. that do not make their children brush their teeth because it is not what the child desires to do. They do not make them go to bed. They do not make them eat a well balanced diet. This is not to say that these kids will not at some point choose on their own to do these things  but it is not something that is normally made to do.

Unit Studies- Unit studies take a theme or topic and incorporate all the school subjects (language arts, history, science, music, art, etc.) into that topic. This form can be fun and rewarding but can tend to become very time consuming. However I have found that instead of incorporating say every subject maybe try to just include say history, science, geography keeps it a bit easier time wise for everyone. I think this style/method also tends to become the most expensive. For me this form is best used here and there when you find the year dragging and the excitement fading put aside the normal materials for a month and dive into a unit study can really bring your school days back to life. My biggest issue here really is the time and money it takes on the parents part.

Charlotte Mason-This styles of homeschooling uses rich literature and “living books” rather than textbooks.  It emphasized respecting each child as a person and giving him a broad education.They works with the way children naturally learn and presents a generous curriculum, including  nature studies,  art and  music appreciation, and  handcrafts, as well as the usual academic subjects. It seeks to “spread a feast” before the child and let him digest what is appropriate for him at the time. And it uses methods that will nurture a love for learning and reinforce  life long habits, not just present a body of information. The style seems to be very much geared toward Christians and are very morally correct material. Most all will have a bible study area involved. This could be a plus or minus depending on who you are and where your beliefs may lay. However I find it very easy to eliminate those aspects if they do not fit your family. Most parents build their own curriculum with the use of living books so that is easy. This can be both a very cheap method and a very expensive method. If you are ok with reading online rather than from a book there are completely free options to use CM method at little to no cost. If you prefer a book in hand well then it can get a bit costly. I am personally mostly a CM homeschooling momma but I do not follow any of the planned material. What I do is build my subject contents with living books of my choice. CM also does not teach grammar until around the 4th grade I personally start earlier so CM Lang. Arts materials tend to not be a good fit for my family. Charlotte Mason emphasizes real not imaginary and that two is one of my issues and is an area I stray from the CM method. My following on Waldorf method will explain why. I am also not a Christian so to much religious talk tends to put me off however some is ok. I do expose my children to Christianity I just don't want to use materials that give the impression it is the only path to God.

Waldorf- Waldorf Education is based upon the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, who developed a philosophy called Anthroposophy. It is based on the developmental stages of the child’s awakening consciousness, with a heavy emphasis on the role of the teacher to nurture and guide the children. Steiner believed all children pass through the same three developmental stages at about the same time.. The first stage begins at birth and continues losing of the baby teeth, and education at this stage focuses on fairy tales and archetypal stories, carefully chosen to teach moral principles and are used to introduce alphabet and number concepts. The second stage begins at the eruption of permanent teeth and continues through the onset of puberty, and the focus is on the child’s emotional nature. The third stage, adolescence, is when reasoning predominates, and the child develops his independence and own personal way of interacting with the world around him. In these aspects I feel it is very similar to classical educational stages. Waldorf education was the first method I feel in love with but I also found areas that it just didn't fit us. What I loved about Waldorf was that it's use of fairy-tales , play ,  heavy arts, and no textbooks. What didn't fit was the delay of reading, grammar, and how they are so against technology. I think any family that is not completely Christian but do have a sort of spiritual side would fit well using a Waldorf inspired curriculum. You don't see as many homeschoolers using Waldorf materials but there are many private Waldorf schools. For me it just was to hard to try and wrap my mind around the areas of form drawing, movement, and no technology for the most part. Maybe had I some formal training in those areas it would have been easier. What I did take from Waldorf was what they call their main lesson books. The children make beautiful handmade books that contain what they learned over the course of a school year. These may include short summarized facts, verses, writings, drawings, ect. They truly are beautiful works of art and if you have never seen some examples please take the time to google Waldorf Main lesson books. What is most special about them is your child made them and you the parent will spend many years looking over these books with that bitter sweet feeling.

 Montessori- Montesori is very much like unschooling in the fact it is interest/or child led.. Where it differs is in the use of materials. Montessori is heavy on materials and these materials are not cheap( they are usually very well made and will last yrs).It is a view of the child as one who is naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating learning in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared learning environment. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child—physical, social, emotional, cognitive.Personally I feel Montessori is the very best method in early childhood, Montessori students learn through sensory-motor activities, working with materials that develop their cognitive powers through direct experience: seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching, and movement. If you want a strong foundation without it feeling extremely school like Montessori inspired is the way to go. The issue with this method is to really implement you the parent will need to do a lot of reading on how the materials are introduced. However there are some amazing youtube videos that will show you and they do not have textbooks or even curriculum what they have is teacher keys for each subject. These are like guidebooks for you to cover every subject but not by grade. Montessori uses a multi age range grouping. So you will have infant (ages 0 to 3), preschool (ages 3 to 6), lower and upper elementary (ages 6 to 9 and 9 to 12), and middle school (ages 12 to 14). Montessori never went as far as high school materials herself but there are some that have continued on through high school using this method. The real draw back here is time to wrap your mind around how to implement this method and the cost of the materials. One simple multiplication board can run you $35 plus dollars so you can see to have all the materials you are looking at thousands. I will say some parents will make many them self to save money. My favorite two subjects to use the Montessori method in are math and grammar.

Now what I have found is you have those homeschooling families like mind who may have started out with one method tried a few others here and there but in the end the became a happy mix or elective homeschoolers. What I hate though and what brought me to write this post is those other families, you know those that are so religious one method that they come off as either snarky or know it all. Making you feel unwelcoming  or less than in the process. Most of us have been there we ask questions on a forum or a facebook group geared toward a certain style and it wasn't worded the way they would like or it didn't fit that style/method to a T so they attacked. . Serious though it really boils down to attempting to find what fit's your family and yes that is through trial and error. Yet, one day we will look back on this journey and we will have mastered the teaching profession in our own little way. We will have so many fond memories with our children. We will also have many not so fond memories of days we almost through in the towel. We will have become older, wiser, and hopefully an all around better person for having made the journey. We will miss the days were educational books and materials completely took over our homes. We may even hold on to a few in the hope we can either use them with our grandchildren or pass them on to our own children should they choose to also homeschool their children. I think the number one thing I hate is the fact that one day this journey will end.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Curriculum Plan with a U.S. History Spine

This is the curriculum plan for my 1st grade son and 6th grade daughter for next year. Most of the plan is built around U.S. History. Feel free to use any of the suggestions. All the videos can be found on youtube and I will even post a link to my playlist.

2015-2016 Curriculum Plan
Grammar- Growing with Grammar- level 1- Maverick , Level 6- Alyssa

Writing- Winning With Writing- Vol 4- Alyssa, Handwriting practice- Maverick, copywork- both

Spelling- Sequential Spelling- both

Vocabulary – Wordly Wise – Vol. 2&5

Phonics- Sound City Reading- Free

Literature- Numerous living books( Mostly Audio) 
Free online books Baldwin Online

Geography- Child’s Geography of the World Vol 1 from Knowledge Quest

Spiritual/ Cultural- Buddha at Bedtime, Stories in Our World- from library of amazon
for free lessons click here   free religious studies click here or here

Science- Mr. Q’s Life Science- free course

Science Living Books- Can be found at your library or purchased of sites like amazon( you can find some of these also on The Baldwin Online site posted above
1. Jack’s Insects
2. Burgess Animal Book
3. Burgess Seashore Book
4. Storybook of Science

History- A Living History of our World Vol. 1& 2,  What really Happened Colonial Times, The New Land Stories of American History, First Book In American History You can find free American History books on Baldwin Online site posted above

History Living Books- can be found at your library or can be purchased off sites like amazon
1. Sam The Minuteman
2.George the Drummer Boy
3.The Boston Coffee Party
4.Children of the Longhouse
5.In Their own Words Lewis and Clark
6.Landmark Books Ben Franklin
7. Dear America- The Winter of Red Snow
8. Landmark Books The American Revolution
9.Landmark Books The Witcraft Of Salem Village
10.Dear America Five Smooth Stones
11. Dear America Standing in the Light
12.The True Story of Pocahontas
14.The Very First Americans
15. The Long Way Westward
16.My America A Perfect Place
17.The Civil War An Interactive History Adventure
18. The California Gold Rush An Interactive History Adventure
19. In Their Own Words Abraham Lincoln
20.Soft Rain A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears
21.Sarah Plain and Tall
22.Magic Tree House American Revolution
23. George Washington Soldier, Hero, President
24.The Trail of Tears
25.The Lewis and Clark Expedition
26. True Book The Oregon Trail
27.True Book The Transcontinental Railroad
28. True Book Westward Expansion
29. True Book Colonial Life
30. True Book The Declaration of Independence
31.Wagon Wheels
32.Lewis and Clark A Prairie Dog for the President

History Videos-all on youtube
1. Salem Witch Trial - Full Documentary - The Geographic Channel
2. The Revolution - Episode 1 - Boston Bloody Boston
3. The Revolution - Episode 2 - Rebellion to Revolution
4. The Revolution - Episode 3 - Declaring Independence
5. The Revolution - Episode 4 - American Crisis
6. The Revolution - Episode 5 - Path to World War
7. The Revolution - Episode 6 - Forging an Army
8. The Revolution - Episode 7 - Treason and Betrayal
9. The Revolution - Episode 8 - The War Heads South
10. The Revolution - Episode 9 - Hornet's Nest
11. The Revolution - Episode 10 - The End Game
12. The Revolution - Episode 11 - Becoming a Nation
13. The Revolution - Episode 12 - Road to the Presidency
14. The Revolution - Episode 13 (Finale) - A President and His Revolution
15. Lewis & Clark- Great Journey West National Geographic HD
16. The War of 1812 - History – Documentary
17. Jedediah Smith - Story of Us
18. Into the West - Part 1 (Wheel to the Stars)
19. Into the West - Part 2 (Manifest Destiny)
20. Into the West - Part 3 (Dreams and Schemes)
21. Into the West - Part 4 (Hell on Wheels)
22. Into the West - Part 5 (Casualties of War)
23. Into the West - Part 6 (Ghost Dance)
25. History The Gold Rush Documentary
26. The History of Slavery In America (FULL)
27. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
28. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 1 - The Cause (1861) | Ken Burns Documentary
29. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 2 - A Very Bloody Affair (1862) | Ken Burns
30. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 3 - Forever Free (1862) | Ken Burn
31. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 4 - Simply Murder (1863) | Ken Burns
32. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 6 - Valley of the Shadow of Death (1864) | Ken Burns
33. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 7 - Most Hallowed Ground (1864) | Ken Burns
34. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 8 - War Is All Hell (1865) | Ken Burns
35. Ken Burns - The Civil War: Episode 9 - The Better Angels of Our Nature (1865) |Ken Burns

Typing- Dance Mat Typing
Piano- Hoffman Academy