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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Update #1- Homeschooling

apple alphabet

Things have been busy, but fun here at our household.  Lots of running around with four kids, but The King Fish is not traveling as much, and so things are much more manageable, and feel much less overwhelming.  Granted, this has not necessarily translated into a cleaner, neater house… since we LIVE in it daily…. but life is good! 

I thought about how to go about updating on all the things of our life in one post… and it’s just not do-able.  Too long!  So, I thought I’d take it in little sections.  I guess since it’s first and foremost on my mind, I’ll update on homeschooling.  I am loving homeschooling this year….. LOVING it!  And let me tell you as a mom who is on her 8th year of homeschooling, I have not been able to say that every year.  Some years yes it’s been such fun, and some years… well it has been a struggle and I am just happy to have made it through.  To people looking in, they may think it’s all blue skies and rainbows and happy days all year long for this homeschooling mom.  But sometimes it’s a battle, and sometimes it feels like drudgery, and yes sometimes there is even weeping and gnashing of teeth.  (By me ….)  <grin>

So, I have to tell you that this year we “I”, needed a good year.  I needed a year that was fun, and I needed to feel the joy of homeschooling again.  And so far it has been one of our best years.  Curriculum choices have been a big help, and our outside classes have definitely helped me to keep my own sanity.  Here’s a look at what we are doing this year.  And if you are not at all interested in hearing about homeschooling stuff, then you can just skip this post altogether… and move on in your blog reader.  :-)


We switched from Math U See to Teaching Textbooks this year, and that has made a huge difference in my boys learning.  The boys were frustrated by all the repetition in Math U See, and they weren’t understanding concepts in the higher grade levels.  Teaching Textbooks has made math fun for them again.  It is all on the computer, and they are understanding and better yet, enjoying math again.  The only drawback for me is that Teaching Textbooks is quite pricey, but the good thing is that I’ll have it for the younger kids for down the road.

Language Arts

We use two different things to teach Language Arts.  The first is a grammar curriculum called Easy Grammar.  My boys totally “get it” for their Grammar work.  And I mean “Get it”.  They can name pretty much every preposition and identify all the parts of a sentence.  While Easy Grammar does not diagram sentences, if the boys were shown how, because they can easily identify all the parts of speech, they could easily diagram it.  I can’t say enough good stuff about this curriculum!  It rocks, rocks rocks!  We also use Wordly WIse which is mainly for vocabulary, but we also use it for spelling.  This is just a good solid vocab curriculum, and also has the boys practicing their reading comprehension.  I found an awesome website called Quizlet that actually has the words to each vocab lesson already loaded into it.  My boys practice their vocab and spelling playing the games on this website.  It’s fun, and they love it!


I used to send the boys out for this, and I absolutely LOVE the teacher who teaches this class at the school I send them too.  She has taught both of my boys Creative Writing and Literature, and they have loved those classes and her.  We all miss seeing her on a weekly basis.  But this year I had to make a decision as we could only afford two outside classes.  While I would love the boys to take Literature, I knew that I NEEDED them to take classes that I struggle with teaching.  And one of my strengths is literature and writing.  So this year I am teaching this subject….. and having fun doing so!  We just finished reading Where the Red Fern Grows.  Oh my! What a great story, and what a tear jerker.  I bawled like a baby reading the end of that book.  The boys had a mid book quiz, and they have a poem to write and a lengthy final exam on the book.  At the end they get to write an acrostic poem about one character of the book.  I LOVE coming up with some creative things for them to do…. some of which I completely “stole” from our beloved Literature/Writing teacher.  :-)


And moving on to history…. well this is one of those areas I really struggle with.  It seems like history was always the subject that would start well, but fizzle out.  I’m not sure what the deal was… but it was the one subject that I would put on the back burner.  So, we were usually finishing that subject up over the summer.  This year I have the boys taking history as an outside class… (meaning outside the home).  They are doing a chronological journey around the world studying the ebb and flow of empires, cultures, Christianity, and world religions. The class will conclude with an examination of the trends of the emerging 21st century.   Does that sound interesting to you?  Well when I read it, I was immensely glad that I didn’t have to teach it!!  But I have to say it has been interesting, because I have been reading right along with the boys, and preparing them for their quizzes and tests.  The accountability to having history be an outside class has been awesome.  And the boys are enjoying learning all about history!  Which is awesome!


This is the third year the boys have taken Science outside of the home.  They are in middle school now, so I knew  they needed a good science program, and once again that is SO not my forte.  I have been pretty much hands off, except for helping them study for tests, and they have been doing well.  They are doing a life science study this year…. so it’s been interesting and fun. 


The boys are also studying Latin.  I know… so many people say… “Why?  It’s a dead language.”  But in response I have to say, there is so much we can learn from Latin.  It has been so helpful in my sons vocabulary and in finding English derivatives for the Latin words.  Plus the conjugation of Latin verbs alone is super helpful when you get to a foreign language.  I took Latin in middle school, and I think it helped me immensely when I took Spanish I in high school. 


Which leads me to our foreign language study.  I enjoy teaching Spanish so much!  This is one of the subjects that the boys and I crack up over all the time.  I took four years of Spanish in high school and 3 years in college.  The one regret that I have growing up is that I did not take a year off of school and do a study abroad program in a Spanish speaking country.  I tried out for a program my senior year of high school, but I was not accepted.  I guess it just never occurred to me to try again when I was in college.  I really was so close to being fluent in that language, and I know 6 months abroad would have done it for me.  So, now I teach my boys Spanish.  It is so much fun!  My vocabulary is very rusty, but we all have decent accents and roll our “r’s” well.  It’s funny there was a girl in high school who I’ll call M.V.  She  was in my Spanish class and had the most pronounced American accent when she spoke Spanish.  It was awful sounding.  I can hear it in my head now… she spoke the words with an American accent.  For instance the Spanish word Perro.  (roll those Rs on that word), would come out sounding Pair-Roe.  And it wasn’t a soft quiet voice, no it was pretty loud and almost had a hint of a southern accent, since her mom was from the south.  So anyway, when my kids say a word correctly, but with the wrong accent, I’ll break out into my worst M.V. accent ever.  They laugh and laugh, and can do it themselves now too.  So funny!  My apologies to this poor girl who probably will never speak a foreign language well, but who makes millions now as a cosmetic dentist. 


Arrggg!  This is the area I need to step it up in!  My little guy knows all his letters and points them all out on the Sunmaid Raisin box.  We need to work on his numbers and I need to break out my Kindergarten bin and pull out the curriculum for him to try.  I think Small Fry is ready to start reading, but I just have to find the time to teach him!  His fine motor skills have gotten sooo much better this year, and his memory for his Awana verses at church has also vastly improved over last year.  I have really noticed a change in him, and it encourages my heart!  I’ll have to post a preschool update when I do a Small Fry update, because it really deserves it’s own section. 

That’s pretty much the update on homeschooling.  It’s going really well this year, we are enjoying it, and we are staying on track.  I have planned out all our lesson plans through the December break, and that has helped tremendously!  I have even managed to find a grading Excel spreadsheet that has been on one of my favorite “go-to” websites for years.  I’m using this each week or so, updating the boys grades/attendance etc.  Which just goes to show, that you can teach an old dog new tricks




Troy and Rachel said...

I always love reading your homeschooling posts! I find it fascinating and you do soo much!! So glad you are enjoying this year! Looking forward to more updates!

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