Monday, August 23, 2010

Exploration Day

Today was Big J's "Exploration Day" in his curriculum.  Once each week he has a day to go outside and enjoy God's creation.

I believe this part of the curriculum is the most needed and the most misunderstood.  Alot of people look at me like I have 5 heads and they are all purple when I tell them about exploration day.  After all, their beautiful children are stuck in a school for 6-7 hours every day and barely get a 20-minute recess.  Why on earth does my child deserve an exploration day?

This beautiful day is all about enjoying being a kid, enjoying what God has created and learning a thing or two about science in our everyday lives.  Before we headed out, Big J made a Lake Model, we made clouds and rain and we made a rain gauge.  Boo also got in touch with her nature side since her task for today was to do leaf rubbings (which were great fun...not to brag or anything, but mine were pretty good!) and we took a peak at her pressed leaves as well.  So fun!

Since they have been outside they have played in both of our sandboxes (my kids are spoiled), played in the kiddie pool, chased butterflies, kept track of Little J (a daunting task), are torturing some ants right now and have just enjoyed this beautiful day.  Peppered throughout the day Mommy reminds them that God made all this wonderful stuff and about His Creation...they might pay attention, they might not.  The wondrous thing about it is just that they are able to enjoy it and that our beautiful world is good.  Thank you, God, for your creation and thank you for my beautiful, healthy, smart children!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Gotta admit...I'm feeling stressed.  The funny/sad part is I am not stressed about school.  Everything on that front is going pretty well right now.  I am stressed about the fun stuff!

I started evaluating all the things we have planned for the coming school year and I am wondering how I am going to get everything done.  Boo is taking a music class with KK on Thursday afternoons, the same time that Big J is taking piano lessons.  Boo is also joining American Heritage Girls at church on Thursdays.  Big J has Cub Scouts starting this weekend.  Both Big J and Boo are joining 4-H.  KK has preschool 3 days of the week.  I have my church's mommy group and my Bible study group.  Luckily some of these activities are only 1 or 2 times per month...but still!  Feeling overwhelmed and anxious!

Anyone have a suggestion for a good planner?!?!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

one room in the house...

Deciding where to do "school" was monumental.  We have a spare bedroom in the basement that would be excellent for school...but did we want to be stuck in the basement half the day?  Hanging out with the cobwebs and dreariness?  We also have a large playroom upstairs that used to be a family room.  But where would the other 2 play while we did school?  Was I ready to give up a playroom on the main floor of the house while the kids were still so young?

We decided to use our dining room for dual purpose.  Is this a royal pain in the rear?  Absolutely.  Would I do it any other way, right now?  Not on your life.  We have a pretty good system down now, and it works for us.  We get up, eat breakfast and "get ready" for the day and for school.  Everyone clears their bowls/plates from the table and we get down to it.  The night before, I usually pack their backpacks with the essentials so they just have to grab their backpacks off the bookshelf and we dive in. 

I have found that I need more "stuff" than should be necessary.  I like for my "stuff" to be fairly organized. 

I know this will evolve and change over time, but here are a few pics of our workspace.

My whiteboard and bulletin board...the bulletin board now has fun projects posted on it.

Our wall of work...there is now a bookshelf next to all of this...if I can figure out how to turn the pic and have it upload correctly I will post it also!
I know that eventually they will be able to take their schoolwork to their rooms and be more independent.  Until then, this works just fine.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Where do we go from here?

After we finally decided that we were going to homeschool, we had the daunting task of picking a curriculum that would be right for our family.  We have 4 young children (Big J is 6, Boo is 5, KK is 4 and Little J is 1) and we did not want a curriculum that would take the entire day to finish.  We wanted it to be active learning.  We wanted our kids to read great books.  We wanted them to learn about God and grow closer to Him and his Word. 

Would we ever find this curriculum?  We went to the Midwest Homeschool Convention with the sole intention of finding a curriculum that would fit our family.  I went to every seminar on choosing the right curriculum and J Sr. went to every one about everything.  I learned about Cathy Duffy and her book on how to pick a curriculum.  I learned about learning styles (my own and the kids') and personality styles.  I was overwhelmed!

That is when Joe and I decided to head to the Vendor Hall.  This place was insane.  Vendors everywhere trying to sell you their wares.  Wow...that is about all I can say.  The vendors would come out of their spaces just to pursue you because they "know" their product is the best and the best for your family.  Once again, I was overwhelmed!

Joe and I kept pushing on...not making eye contact and certainly not stopping.  I kept thinking "why are we even in here?  we are like lambs led to the slaughter".  That is when I saw it...unassuming, clean, no one coming out to attack me.  The name was a name I had read about previously.  Could this be it?  We tentatively walked up and a nice lady (I at first thought she was another shopper) was standing there and we started chatting.  We soon found out she was with the a mom who uses it!  She told us about all the wonderful things...we were able to view the entire package and I fell in love.  Is it possible to fall in love with a Teacher's Manual...yes!  Is it possible to fall in love with a fun curriculum that you know your kids will love...yes!

So, what was this curriculum that I fell in love with, you ask?  My Father's World for K and 1st Grade.  I really feel that God led me straight to that table.  J Sr. and I even looked around more.  We went to the typical homeschooler's curriculums, where no one approached us.  It was like we had been branded that our minds were made up and no pressure was necessary.  There are other great curriculums out there...but none of them would have fit our family so well.  My Father's World follows the Charlotte Mason philosophy pretty closely (short lessons, alot of time for nature, reading living books to your children, etc) with some unit studies and classical education thrown into the mix.

So far, so good!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Decisions, decisions

Last winter, I embarked on a journey like no other.  I had decided to "research" homeschooling my daughter who was set to start kindergarten this fall.  I had no idea where this research would take me.

A little background into my Boo...she is a young K-er.  She turned 5 this past April and is stubborn, hard-headed, manipulative, sweet, snuggly, and extremely cute.  After considering her in a traditional school I realized she might be graduating without knowing how to read, write or add simple numbers simply because she has a way of getting others to do everything for her.  She was also already behind many of her same-age peers since she never felt the need to learn her letters/sounds or how to count.  The K teachers would not be pleased!

After contemplating sending Big J to 1st grade and keeping Boo home I realized another important thing about my children.  Big J did not enjoy school.  We would drop him off at school and he'd be a happy, fun 6-year-old.  When he would get off the bus after K, he would cry often, be grumpy and just be in a sour mood.  That's when I made the big decision...if I was going to HS Boo, I was going to HS Big J also.  Wow...what was I getting myself into?!?!

Luckily, with our proximity to Cincinnati, there was a HUGE homeschooling convention this past April which really reinforced my need to homeschool my kids.  It is a great fit for us...J Sr. even went and is now a big proponent of homeschooling in general but especially for our family.  If I knew last September what I know now, I would have kept Big J home last year and started him off at home too.

Gotta go...Big J is done writing his Proverb for the day and we have to start on phonics!