Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Beginning our Sonlight Journey

On Monday of this week, I started using Sonlight Core B + C and Grade 3 Readers with Language Arts with my third grade son.  I made the switch over to Sonlight from Moving Beyond the Page because I realized that what I most enjoy and appreciate about homeschooling is being able to cozy up on the couch and read great books with my children.  Sonlight's program is designed to allow me to do just that!!  For science with my 3rd grader, I've added A Reason For Science Level C.  It has lots of hands-on experiments and a lab book.  I'm planning to use it in conjunction with other resources that I pull together for each "area" of science.

The first photo shows my son preparing our first experiment from A Reason For Science.  This experiment explores germination.  I've purchased the Usborne Science Encyclopedia to supplement our study of science.  What an amazing resource it is!!

One more change to our curriculum for the year, I've decided to ditch SpellWell ( I did NOT like it and neither did my son).  Instead, we are pulling out All About Spelling Level 2 again.  I don't know why I ever wanted to switch from this wonderful program.  The photo below shows my son writing dictated spelling words on a whiteboard.

With our Sonlight Core B + C World History study, I've decided to have my son do a history notebook page each day to reflect our reading for that day.  Below you can see the page he did for our first day of Sonlight.  I am excited that he will be writing and illustrating his own history book.  It will be a treasured keepsake for the future!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sonlight Box Day!!!

Last Friday was the day our big box of Sonlight curriculum arrived.  I was very excited to receive it and wanted to document the opening of the box so I would remember it!  This box contains Sonlight Core B + C:  World History One Year Condensed and Grade 3 readers with Language Arts.  I'll be using this with my third grader.

It's so awesome to have so many amazing books to explore this year!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Homeschool Bliss & News

I do truly intend to blog here on a regular basis.  I just need to get into my groove with it.  I'd so appreciate it if you keep stopping by.

I wanted to record a great moment that just happened in our home.  I went into my bedroom where my oldest son was lying on the quilt in the sunshine doing his daily 30 minutes of independent reading.  The cat was curled up by his side.  I ruffled his hair and said, "Good book, huh?"  He replied, "This book has a very engaging plot which makes you want to keep reading it.  You should read it sometime."  YES!!  This is my kid who is a die-hard non-fiction addict.  I've instituted the daily 30 minutes of independent reading to instill (hopefully) a love of fiction in him.  I'm so excited that he is loving his book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH.  He told me last night that he likes the book so much he sometimes wants to keep reading.  I quickly assured him that reading MORE than 30 minutes is completely acceptable!!

On another note, from my last post,  you may have surmised that I was considering making a curriculum change, at least for my youngest son.  I have ordered Sonlight Core B+C for him with the Grade 3 Readers/Language Arts program as well as A Reason For Science Level C since he'd been begging me to do science experiments.  I am planning to document our experiences with these new materials as soon as they arrive.  I've been stalking my email hoping to see that my Sonlight has shipped.  I think it will be a great fit since my favorite part of each day is that we start out with a read-aloud on the couch.  Now we'll just being doing that a lot more every day.  Can't wait!!  If you use Sonlight I'd love to hear from you.  Oh, and I'd love to hear from you even if you don't!  ha!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Something missing...........

We are into our third week of homeschooling and getting everything on our work plans checked off, but I feel like something is missing.  It's been bugging me a lot lately.  I think I've figured out that it has to do with the fact that we aren't doing as much "together" as last year.  Since I have a 6th grader and a 3rd grader, my two sons obviously have a lot of different needs academically.  They are in different levels of our Moving Beyond the Page curriculum.  Still, I'm thinking if we did more of our content area work "together" I would feel like we were having a richer experience.  Does that make sense?  I would love to hear from any of you about how you address this issue in your homeschool.  PLEASE comment!! 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Here's a little something........

My youngest son is a LEGO fanatic!!  He loves LEGO!!  He has a great space in his room to build with LEGO bricks and spends lots of time there.  Once in a while he takes my camera in there and takes photos of his scenes to make a stop-motion video.  He very much wanted me to share a video he made recently.  I am so proud of him.  He did ALL the photos and building himself.  He took 326 separate photos to make this video.  I only helped with uploading them to the computer and adjusting the timing, adding music, etc.  He did everything else.   He's eight years old.

I have tried multiple times over several days to upload the video here.  I did finally figure out how to upload it to YouTube, however, so if you CLICK HERE you can go to YouTube and watch.  He would LOVE to have feedback, so feel free to comment either on the YouTube page or on this post.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"Old and crappy" or "Old and crabby" decide!!

A funny story from today.........while driving my oldest son to middle school for his two classes that he takes there each day (an elective period and band) I was listening to an "oldies" station on the radio and singing along.  Thinking I was talking to him, my oldest son asked me what I had said.  I replied that I was singing along to a song from my youth, pointing out that although I am an "old crabby" mom now, I did at one point in time actually HAVE a youthful period.  ha!  He promptly assured me that I wasn't "crappy".  He said, "You might get old someday, but you'll never be crappy."  I realized at that point that he had misunderstood me the first time and thought I was calling myself "crappy" not "crabby".  What a hoot!!  I told him that I had actually said "crabby" and asked if he thought that moniker fit since he wasn't willing to describe me as "crappy."   Long pause...........crickets...........(he's an honest boy for the most part)..........  Finally, ""  I let him off the hook and told him I know that I can be crabby at times (can't we all?) and it's okay to actually admit it!  Just a funny little story that I wanted to share and remember. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Big Picture

As I type this I am halfway through the fourth day of my third year of homeschooling.  Do I sometimes question if I'm doing the right thing?  Yes!  Do I sometimes wish I were back in the workforce? Yes!  Do I sometimes miss interacting with other adults on a daily basis in a work setting?  Yes!  Do I plan to continue homeschooling anyway?  Yes!

When I talk about our decision to homeschool with others, I find myself often saying that it's not easy.  I don't say this to be negative about the experience.  I say it because when people find out I homeschool, they often say things like, "Oh, I could never do that" or "You have a teaching degree so I'm sure it's easy for you, but I wouldn't have a clue what to do" or similar expressions of amazement and awe.  Being a pretty humble person (I hope!), I tend to try to deflect comments towards myself that are complimentary.  I feel compelled to make sure that people know that homeschooling isn't easy, even for someone with a teaching degree and 20 years of "professional" teaching experience.  It isn't easy when your children balk at doing their work, distract each other, speak disrespectfully to you, or fight during their school day. And one or all of these things happens around here pretty much on a daily basis.  No, it certainly isn't easy.  Yet I will persist in doing it because when I stop to take a breath, even on the hardest days, I am reminded of the big picture.

The big picture could very well be different for each family.  For our family, the big picture is that we want to raise our sons to be kind, caring and compassionate adults.  We want them to have the self-confidence to stand behind their morals and beliefs in the face of challenge and adversity.  We want to nurture and develop their individual talents and interests, giving them lots of time to spend doing activities that they love.  Notice that I'm not mentioning having a certain GPA or getting into a certain college.  We definitely also want academic excellence for our sons, and we very much want them to attend college or other post-secondary education.  However,  what is most important to me as a mom is that my boys learn to care about the world and its people and that they have the desire to do good as adults.  I believe that I can best empower them by having them home during this season of life where we can talk freely about God (even questioning our beliefs and being okay with that), where they can develop a strong sense of self without worrying about what's "cool" or what others will think, and where we can focus on matters of the heart in a relaxed and loving setting. 

A while back, we started a new practice of beginning each school day with "sticks."  We have a can of colored craft sticks on which we have written the names of  people and issues to pray about.  Of course our sticks have the names of our family members, friends who may be struggling, our Compassion-sponsored children, etc.  We also make sticks for people who need prayers for healing or grief.  We have a "Boston" stick and a "Connecticut" stick to remember those communities and the tragedies they have recently experienced.  We have a stick for "military" and one for "government".  Each morning we begin by picking a stick and praying out loud for the person or entity represented.  When my children were both attending school outside our home, we would not have had time to do this in the morning rush.  I'm so thankful that we can do this simple thing together every school day.

Today, my oldest son and I had a good, but difficult conversation about what is currently happening in Syria and our country's possible involvement in the conflict.  Surprisingly, I found myself tearing up as we talked.  It was suddenly so hard for me to have to reveal to him the face of evil in the world.  For so many years of their young lives, we shelter our children from things that can be upsetting or frightening, like the fact that humans can do such evil to one another.  Now that my son is almost twelve, it is time for him to begin to have a more global perspective, even the bad stuff.  He's now studying World War I and will be studying World War II shortly.  I'm so thankful that I have him home for these subjects so we can talk about the role that our Christian and moral values have when reflecting upon past and current atrocities.

I don't think homeschooling is for everyone.  I believe people when they say, "I could never do that".  I believe them because I know that what they are really saying is "I would never WANT to do that."  And that's okay.  For now, homeschooling is just right for us as we keep in mind the big picture.

I'd love to have comments on this post.  What are your thoughts about homeschooling and the big picture?