Celebrating Success

May
2015
01

posted by on Brag Post

Today is the first-ever blog hop at SecularHomeschool.com. We’ll be doing a blog hop celebrating our successes!  So without further ado — here is my post:

I absolutely cannot believe that my two little ones will be turning six this month!  Biggest accomplishment?  They are clearly reading!!

The other day I was getting dinner ready and I overheard the two littles discussing what was on the calendar.  See, I have this huge dry-erase calendar where I update it with events, field trips, co-op functions, etc.  And I had gone ahead and entered “zoo” with a question mark on a date.

The girls have been begging to visit the zoo.  They’ve gone Wild Kratts cah-razy and all they ever talk about is this animal and that animal and how they want to see REAL animals!  So, I decided to tentatively schedule a visit to the zoo weather-permitting.

Well, while prepping dinner, I hear the following conversation:

T.A.:  Look!

T.B.: It says ZOO!  Right?

T.A.: I think so.  Z. O. O. spells zoo!

T.B.:  No.  It’s zoo but there’s a question mark.

T.A.: So are we going to the zoo?

T.B.: I think so!  Maybe?

And I am trying so hard not to laugh while hearing this conversation.  Sure enough, I admitted that we were indeed planning on going.

Well, so much for surprises!  No more writing surprises on the calendar!

Pretty cool that they can read!  They have a ways to go but I feel so incredibly accomplished.  There are days when I feel like I am not doing enough, not doing good enough, just plain could be doing better.  And then there are days like this when I clearly see my little ones are capable of reading and I know it is because I sit with them and have been teaching them.

Makes me happy.  A definite win for this mom!

 

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Life & Death

Apr
2015
28

posted by on Family

Life is full of amazing learning experiences for kids.  It’s also full of sudden experiences that you might not feel well equipped to handle.

One such experience, for me, is death.

We received some grim news.  A very close family member has been diagnosed with cancer.  Not to go into too many details -it is not good.  Not good at all.  :(

We sat down and talked with my nearly twelve year old.  We told  her the truth.  We explained the situation and answered her questions as best we could.  Of course, she took it hard.  Very hard.  But she does understand that the only thing certain about life, is death.

She comes to me or to her father from time to time for a hug. For a reassurance that we’re still here.  Sometimes she asks us about death, about life, about our existence on this blue planet called Earth.  It’s these tough questions that we have to muddle through.  We don’t have definitive answers to what comes after death and that is hard.

We don’t use religion to find comfort, so it seems especially hard to answer her very difficult questions. A lot of the discussions are led with the following question to her, “What do you think happens after death?”

One thing my husband and I have been very clear about from the very beginning, was that we weren’t going to dictate what our children believe or disbelieve.  We will present them with the facts -the scientific facts as we know them.  We will learn and explore other cultures, other religions, other beliefs, etc.  But, in the end, it will come down to them making the decision on what they want to believe in.

I come from a religious background (I am currently a self-proclaimed agnostic with strong atheist tendencies -although, if I am being completely honest, I really dislike labels), so I recall the comfort one could find in religion.  Cold hard facts are not as comforting.  However, I do find comfort in knowing that our life is filled with wonderful memories, traditions, events, etc spent with said family member.  I will carry that in my heart always.  I need only think about someone who has passed, like my grandparents, and feel warm and fuzzy remembering them.

Still, I do understand the plight she must feel as she struggles to comprehend death, thereafter, and the purpose of ones existence.

It will be especially hard to sit down and explain death to the little ones when the time comes.  The little ones have no idea on what is happening.  They know the family member is sick and to be gentle when around them, but that is all.

To somewhat prepare them, I borrowed a book from the library called Gentle Willow.  I sat with them both and read it to them.  We talked about it.  They grasped the concept that the tree was dead/gone/is no more.  But I did not delve into it.  It was just like reading any other book.  It was read to them and that was it.  I didn’t want to call such great attention to this book.

When the time comes, my hope is that they will recall this story and hopefully be able to make the connection.  I am not certain this is the right way to go but for now, it will do.

It is definitely not a topic that should be avoided and it is definitely not a topic that should be ignored.  It is simply a topic that I am hoping to discuss with them when they are ready, when it actually occurs, when the time is right.  I will not skirt around it.  Of that I am certain.  But I won’t lie -it does intimidate me.

There is nothing worse for a mom then to see her children hurting.  And knowing I cannot take away the pain that is to come with the death of a family member… well, it’s hard.  Most incredibly hard.  A mother’s job is to protect, to shield, to love, to hug, to keep safe her children.  Although I will not avoid the topic of death, it is still a hard topic to deal with when it involves a very much loved family member.  I know my kids will hurt.  I know it will be painful.  I ache for them.  However, we will trek through this together -as a family- and we will be there for each other.

Part of life is death.  It cannot be avoided.  It is the only certain thing in life.  Hopefully they will also be certain of the love we have for each other and will know I’m there for them.  Not only is there life and death, but there is love there too.

Earth Science

Apr
2015
26

posted by on Schooling Resource

We are pretty close to wrapping up Elemental Science Logic Stage Biology!!

We’ll be getting together with three other families to do the dissection together with the kids.  Should be fun!  I’ll post pics when we do that.

But, what to do next!?  I’m not going to say Elemental Science was bad or hard or anything negative at all.  It really wasn’t.  We enjoyed it and worked through it and did almost every experiment.

However, I have learned quite a lot through the process of using Elemental Science.  It used the encyclopedia’s a lot as its main resource and it got me thinking -why then do I need to purchase a curriculum for science?  There are tons and tons of experiment ideas online, there are tons of videos, documentaries, etc etc.  And there are loads of awesome encyclopedia’s for science..  Yes, it is absolutely super simple to get a curriculum that walks you through what all you need, what to do next, etc.  I can definitely see why it would be helpful and easy and oh so simple.  However, it costs an arm and a leg.

I had actually considered ClassiQuest next.  I love how it looks so robust and offered a lot of hands on experiments.  However, I just don’t have the finances right now to purchase this curriculum.

Enter hours and hours of alternative ideas for  our next Science choice.

At first, I wanted to do Physics with the kid.  However, after several hours of researching this, I learned that it would be in my daughter’s best interest to hold off one more year before tackling that subject.  Having algebra under her belt will help tremendously so we’ve put that on the back burner for now.  We kinda already did Chemistry and I do plan on revisiting this subject more in depth, but again, not quite yet.  So, what’s left?  Earth Science and Astronomy.

I researched ideas just about everywhere online, message boards, reviews, homeschool blogs -you name it, I probably visited it!

I came across an awesome lab book for Earth Science that was actually used by college students.  Time and again, I ran across homeschool moms saying they were using it for grades 7th through 9th.  Hmmm  so I further investigated it and ‘lo and behold it looked perfect.  It’s called Applications and Investigations in Earth Science (7th Edition) by Edward J. Tarbuck.  I got it used for eight bucks!

I also got access to the teacher’s instruction via Pearson’s website for free (you just need to fill out a form requesting access), and I found some amazing resources available via that site, as well.  Mini flash movies, powerpoint presentations, etc. etc.

I will also be using DK’s Earthbook and some neat online links filled with extras:

http://www.thesciencequeen.net/7Units.htm

http://geology.com/teacher/

http://middleschoolscience.com/earth-science/

I have a box of minerals and rocks so we can test its hardness, luster, etc., I have this beautiful visual book for Astronomy, a telescope, and celestial body navigation pamphlet.

I think I can make this all work!

I’ve been sitting down with my book, links, and jotting down notes on how I want to proceed with this.  I am, essentially, making up my own curriculum for Earth Science.  Yes, it is quite time consuming!  So for those who need something that is already put together and organized, this method is not for you.  For those who don’t mind the prep work required, I say go for it!!  I already have a bunch of the materials and books on hand so I essentially only had to shell out money on a used copy of Tarbuck’s book.

I’ll let you know how it actually goes once we start.  I don’t foresee us beginning this until June.  Wish me luck!  :)

Update

Apr
2015
13

posted by on Schooling Resource, Update

It has indeed been a while since I last blogged.  I’ve actually come to accept that this is how it is for me.  Life has a way of getting in the way of little things like blogging ;)

Things have indeed gotten busy here.  But, honestly, isn’t it always busy?  I think it would be far more a surprise to suddenly have lots of time with nothing to do, eh?

We’ve received some seriously grave news and I might blog about that down the road.  Right now, I am still processing.

On the homeschool-front, we’re still trekking away!  My oldest is onto 6th-7th grade work right now and my two little ones who aren’t so little anymore are doing Kindergarten-1st grade work.

It does seem interesting to note that we’re apparently always teetering between two grade levels!  Which is totally fine!   Just found that interesting to note.

My oldest has added several subjects all on her own and I’ve added a few, as well.  Here’s a run-down on what all we’re doing at the moment:

6th-7th Grade:

  • ALEKS Math – Middle School Math Course 2 (which is 7th grade math)
  • Critical Thinking Company Understanding Algebra
  • Wordly Wise 3000 Online
  • Shakespeare’s Midsummer Nights Dream (we put Mosdos off to the side so we could work through this – she requested we do this book!) – using this book and I found some free teacher’s guide online to help with discussing the book’s story.
  • Duolingo for Spanish
  • Critical Thinking Company You Decide - and playing this game for FREE! (this is part of Logic curriculum)
  • Art of Argument (this is part of Logic curriculum)
  • Elemental Science Logic Stage Biology – we are almost done!
  • Writing with Skill Level 1 -halfway through the book!
  • American History – on book 5 of History of US
  • Will be starting to do Global History shortly (more on this later!)
  • Astrobiology – ordered this book (which she devoured!) and she’s doing a Coursera class on the subject
  • Economics – loving this book!  Not too in depth -we talk about it together and I read the book so I can get a refresher course on how best to explain things.  We have some good conversations on the topic!
  • Rummy Roots for Latin

At co-op we’re doing a math class, art history, and mythology.  Sadly, we only have two more classes for this school year.

I think overall, she’s doing well!  Her workload has gotten heavier and she is doing school most days for a lot longer than what she was used to.  We alternate some subjects and don’t do all of the above every single day -that would just be cah-razy!

As for the other little ones.  We’ve been working on our 3R’s – Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

One of them is struggling with pencil grip.  I have tried several pencil grip doodats to help with this, but have had no luck.  We are now trying the Ticonderoga Triangular pencils.  They are much thicker than the typical pencil so it appears to be helping somewhat.

I’ve also noticed that due to the pencil grip issue, it is taking her longer to practice her writing.  So that has led me to separate the twins and sit with each of them one-on-one so she doesn’t feel bad for taking longer.

With Twin A (who shall henceforth be known as T.A.) I am doing 100 Easy Lessons for reading.  With Twin B (who shall henceforth be known as T.B.) I am using All About Spelling since the 100 Easy Lessons was just not working for her.

For Math I am using Singapore Kindergarten Math and Math Mammoth 1st Grade -really loving Math Mammoth and once we’re done with the Singapore books I am switching totally to Math Mammoth as it appears to be working for both girls!

We’re using Handwriting Without Tears but I have printed a bunch of paper (with big squares on it) to just practice more.  Each one has letters they struggle with so we go over those letters each day and then move on in the book.

My girls also love Science so we pull out Science encyclopedia’s and all kinds of books and read a lot.  For this age, it’s mostly exploring their world around them and they seem to naturally soak stuff up!

We’re wrapping up co-op for them, as well.  They’ve been doing a science class, art history class, and a music & movement class.  Sad to see the school year ending but we’ll be continuing co-op next school year!

I think that all brings us up to current.  The days are truly zooming by and looking back to when we started the school year, I can honestly say that all three of my girls have learned and have grown a lot!