Friday, September 7, 2012

This year's HS plan

The theme for this year is "Keep it Simple".

We'll be getting back to basics.  Reading, writing and arithmetic are the main focus.  History, science and health ed will round out our lessons.

Here is what we are using this year;

Math U See
All About Spelling
Spectrum Language Arts workbooks
Paths of Exploration (Part 2)
Apologia Science and Anatomy
General research skills
and lots and lots of writing...

More details to follow ----

Reviewing last year

We made it!  We survived another year of homeschooling, enjoyed our summer, and are beginning a new homeschool year!

So what worked and what didn't work last year?

MathUSee worked wonderfully as always.  It is looking like we will eventually wind our way through the entire MUS curriculum since it really works well for us.  It has been the easiest subject to deal with and succeed in by far.  I really can't say enough about it.

Paths of Exploration worked in some ways, but did not work in others.  As far as a history curriculum, it worked, but I definitely would not say it adequately covered ALL subjects.  We started out really enjoying the lessons.  We happily worked through the Columbus unit, and did get a lot out of it.  The kids enjoyed it, and I was pleased with the flow of the lessons.  The kids' knowledge in history, science, and geography was greatly improved.  We continued with the second unit - Jamestown - but didn't feel the same enthusiasm as we did in unit 1.  The lessons didn't feel like they had as much meat to them.  The kids still felt connected to the historical characters and enjoyed the stories, but the lessons weren't as engaging.  It just didn't feel as planned out as unit 1 felt.  We pushed through and finished unit 2.  The real difficulty came when we got to unit 3 - Pilgrims.  Now the lessons felt more like a bunch of busy work.  The information seemed repetitive and didn't tie together very well.  Everything felt disjointed and without value or purpose.  We barely made it through the lessons.  We finished reading, but did not complete all the written lessons.  Unit 3 became drudgery in the end.  We decided that Part Two would wait till next Fall with the knowledge that it would not be considered a "complete" curriculum.  We will definitely be supplementing with other materials, especially in Spelling and Language Arts.

Overall, I will continue using Paths of Exploration (part 2) just because we have it, but it will be considered a HISTORY curriculum only.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A new HSing year

We are entering week 5 of our 2011-2012 HS year, and I couldn't be happier.  Things have gone smoothly and the kids are generally enthusiastic about our new curriculum.  Here is what we are using this year;

Paths Of Exploration
Math U See


History has never ever been my strong subject.  The thought of trying to put something together on my own was intimidating to say the least, but the reality is closer to impossible.  There is simply too much out there to sift through.  When I saw "Paths Of Exploration" last year at the UHEA Convention, I knew it was the answer to our History dilemma and so it came home with me.  Yes, it took a while for me to actually start using it, but now that we have started, I am SO HAPPY!  Everything is planned out and presented so clearly.  I really don't have to plan much at all.  I simply open the book, make sure we have the necessary supplies, and begin.  It has been a Godsend.  All subjects except math are covered and all relate to the topic of the day.  We are nearing the end of the Christopher Columbus unit, and next will be Jamestown.  All of it a great refresher for me.

Next is our old friend Math U See.  We have been using it from the beginning.  The kids' progress through Math has been impressive.  They are both understanding and progressing rapidly, with each of them working at Grade 5 level.  And the beauty of it is that it too is completely planned out for you.  We are finishing up the last of "Delta" (multi digit division) and will continue with "Epsilon" (fractions).

I must say that the biggest and best part of this year is that we have finally found peace in our household.  A lot of changes have taken place this past summer, and although difficult, they have been for the better.  We are all breathing easier, and are at long last finding joy and comfort in our home and in each other's company.

School is good... Life is good.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Got Bees?

It has been a VERY busy month!  Not so much in our school life, but life in general.  We have once again put our home up for sale.  This means cleaning, de-cluttering, cleaning some more, and then leaving the house whenever someone wants to snoop take a look at it.  It does tend to make life a little more hectic than usual.

In all the chaos, I thought it wise to cancel the honeybees I had on order (placed in December).  It really didn't make sense to acquire bees when I knew the possibility of moving was in our not-so-distant future.  We were sad, but accepted the reality of our circumstances.

We did decide though that we would take a field trip to at least see other people getting their bees.  Wow - what a sight!  Hundreds of thousands of bees, all packaged in neat wooden containers with screened sides. At least 4-6 pallets stacked full of bee boxes.  Escaped bees confused and aimlessly buzzing around, people coming and going, some with pick-up trucks for larger orders, most simply putting the bees in the trunk of their cars, but all of them with a nervous smile plastered on their face.  If only I would have remembered my camera!

We enjoyed meeting beekeepers and connecting with the local beekeeping clubs, seeing the bees, and wishing we would have kept our order in place.  Then the strangest thing happened...  In speaking with the organizer of the entire sales event, knowing that all the bee packages were spoken for, we were offered a package of bees!  In my weakness, I eagerly accepted the treasure box presented to me.  We rushed to the car with the same nervous smile as everyone else, put the buzzing bounty in the trunk and headed home.  About half way home I really began questioning my sanity, but kept going until we stopped in our garage.  We opened the trunk and gazed in amazement.  Now What???

to be continued.....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

MathUSee Gamma - COMPLETE!

WOW - we are soooo excited!  The kids have finished MUSee Gamma!  They are now proficient in multiplication!

I'm not really sure if I can say that multiplication itself was a challenge, but actually getting through the lessons was the challenge.  The kids, especially H, really started to slow down as the problems got larger.  Not because they couldn't do them, but because they "didn't want to" do them.  Oh the drudgery....

But with some arm twisting, and some cheer leading, and maybe even a little bribery, all lessons have been completed successfully.  What a relief!  

I will be waiting a few weeks before diving into the next level (division) so that the kids can decompress a bit.  I've decided a nice change of pace is what they really need, so the next month or so will be primarily focused on science, maybe some history, more reading and writing.  

This is what I love about HSing.  The flexibility to make changes as we go.  It makes learning so much more fun when you aren't chained to a desk, enduring the same monotony day after day - and it makes teaching so much more satisfying as well.  Oh, and best of all - I get to spend time with my kids.  ;-)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

2011 - Already?!

Another turn of the year has come and gone.  We are already 1/2 way through January!  I find myself amazed at the accelerating rate of the passage of time.  No matter how hard I try to slow life down, it keeps going - faster and faster.  I suppose I will just have to accept the fact that time really does fly.
So where have I been the past 4 months?  Home.  Trying my best to bring harmony to our household.  And although challenging, I have had some success.  Here is an update on the happenings of late;

We are still homeschooling, and doing MUCH better than we did last year.  December was tough to keep momentum going, but that is par for the course with the holidays.  I am not going to beat myself up about taking a few weeks off for the holidays.  I am overjoyed to say that we are almost finished with MathUSee Gamma!  We started over with it in September and have made steady and swift progress.  Both kids are reaching mastery of multi-digit multiplication.  We are on course to move into division in the next month or so!  I am so very pleased and am breathing with relief at their progress.   The Spectrum writing workbooks have proven to be a tremendous help as well.  I have seen great progress in both of their writing and spelling abilities even though it doesn't feel like we have been making any extraordinary effort.  I think the variety of the lessons as well as more consistency has been the key to improvement.  Reading has really taken off this year too, especially for H.  It is a joy to come home from the library with armloads of books and actually see that my son is reading them.  I thought it would never happen, but patience has paid off.  Overall, I am feeling the best I have thus far with our HSing.  I think I have finally reached a true knowing that the kids will be fine, even if we don't do it like they do at PS.  It is a blessing to have them learning at home.  My son is still very enthusiastic about cooking, and is looking forward to some serious science projects.  Both kids also want to learn to sew and knit, so there are lots of fun things on the horizon for us.

As for myself, I have been challenged to the extreme over the past few months in several aspects, but I feel like the sun may finally be breaking through if at least a little at a time.  My primary concern at the moment is my struggle with severe anemia.  The past three months I have been struggling with it, but have just come to discover that it has gotten worse.  I am now engaging in overdrive iron supplementation and hope it will make a difference.  Another month will tell.  My financial picture is slowly taking shape with the recent purchase of a duplex, but I still am looking for a way to further supplement my personal income.  I am seriously considering starting up my spinning business again.  Which reminds me - I have actually made some time to sit down with my wheels again!  It feels so good to create once again.  It has been long overdue... 

My goals for this year are pretty basic - to keep up our HS momentum, to improve my (and our) health, and to continue to improve my financial outlook.  And finally to bring back joy and peace to my household. 

OH!  I almost forgot!  We got another doggie! She is a young Australian Cattle Dog (aka; blue heeler).  I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I would ever own more than one dog at a time, but much to my enjoyment, we now have two!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Boy Scouts

My son has finally found a cub scout den to join!  We have certainly had a tough time finding boys his age in the immediate area to play with, so this is the perfect answer.  He is thrilled!  I'm even having a tough time keeping him out of his scout uniform (Aren't they funny).  Our first meeting went wonderfully.  He knows a few of the boys from the short stint of PS so he doesn't feel like an outsider.  Also, it is a small enough group that he isn't overwhelmed.  Neither of my kids are large group types.  They definitely thrive in one-to-one or small group environments.  H is now on a mission to earn his patches.  He already earned a zoo patch at the pack meeting, and likely will earn another for his efforts in karate (need to update the karate situation in a later post).  Little L now wants to find a girl scout troop to join, so the search is on.

On a side note,  I have never heard of this before - the boy scouts sell popcorn for fundraising.  I know all about girl scout cookies, but not boy scout popcorn.  I don't know how I made it this far in life without ever hearing of it.  Oh well... The boys set up a popcorn table at the grocery store on Saturday and sales were fairly good.  I was actually surprised at how supportive people were of the scouts.  A very senior and enthusiastic former Eagle Scout even drilled the boys on their motto and promise.  He told us of all the fond memories he has of scouts, even after all these years. It was quite charming.  I got to sample some of the caramel popcorn... mmmmmm.  Yummy stuff.  Pricey but good.  I bought a bag on the spot (must have been hungry) with plans of more.  As you can guess, H is now selling popcorn to raise funds for the boy scouts.  Would you like to order some?  Here is H's link to the online ordering site.  He would be very thankful for your support.
Now I'm hungry.... sigh.  And not one popcorn kernel in the house....