Friday, April 13, 2012

Homeschool Follow up

I was asked to write about differentiating need of specific children. This is why I believe there is no perfect curriculum out there. As I mentioned before, I started with MoDG. It could have been tailored to the needs of one child. However, because of state law I didn't need to enroll and quite honestly couldn't afford to enroll. Therefore I didn't have the ability to look or ask about all the levels (I prefer that word to grades) and how to implement them for younger children. That is when I turned to the book Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum. It lays out a general idea for each grade level so that I could piece where each child was in each subject and decided what "grade" to use. I usually start the children at their age grade level and see how they do with it. So for Math, for example, it was obvious at the end of 1st grade that DG was way ahead of 1st grade math. So I asked a mom who used the same math book to see the 2nd grade one ( you can do this at homeschool conferences as well) and from there I decided to skip the 2nd grade book, but to add money to his next years work. I have used some online evaluation tools as well. I have no problem shelving books and trying new things at different intervals in the year.

I ask other homeschoolers for specific issues. When DG became an avid reader at 6 w/ a 4th grade reading level, I asked for book suggestions as I am not a boy and my husband didn't read a lot as a kid.

I should mention that I really didn't give much independent work until this year. I know what each kid is doing and how it is going for them. I don't let them check their own work. I do that so I can see issues.

I use white boards for the visual learners, mp3 players for the audio learners, and lap books, experiments and the like for the kinestetic learner. They all do these even if it isn't the best way for them to learn.

Some families do history, science... for all the levels on the same topic. that hasn't worked for us except with ccm and some lap books.

From a schedule perspective, some times they quiz each other or teach the younger ones a concept so I can help another one. Sometimes one is giving the baby a bottle or playing with a toddler which can extend the length of the school day but that is what a family does. Some times I have to give all my attention to one child for school that day and so the others do an abbreviated day.

I have started giving the readers a check list for their whole week. It tells them what they have to accomplish and what subjects they are required to do with me. This helps them feel less dependant on me and more independent. And yet I still keep tabs on things.

I think because most homeschooling parents attended "brick and mortar" schools they expect homeschools to be "brick and mortar" schools at home. That isn't really what I hear most homeschools look like (unless you do school in a box). They are fluid and meet the needs of the family.

How Do You Homeschool?

First I am back, almost a year to the day from my last post. A lot has happened since last year a new baby, LA, and still loving Colorado.

I wanted to write about what I do with homeschooling. So many people ask me so frequently, I thought it was time to put it down in cyberspace.

First some history, my oldest is almost 10 so this the end of my 5th year homeschooling. That isn't really a long time. However, I have learned a lot. We started by primarily using Mother of Divine Grace's Curriculum. I quickly realized that grade levels were not going to work for us. My advanced reader would not be stopped and his math skills were great too. In second grade, with a sixth grade reading level, when I asked him to spell "tiger", though, and he said, "T- how about 'cat'?" I knew we had issues. So I started looking more intently at Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum and realized, "Hey I can do this."

So what is this? We really buy into the fact that several subjects (math, science...) do not need to be covered like a lot of people cover them (daily, yearly...). They need to be mastered, practiced and remembered. I liked Abeka math and used it for a few years. However since the company has an anti-Catholic outlook, I no longer give them our money. Because my children see, to understand how math works, any program seems to work for them. I do not see the need to do pages of prob;ems. I make sure they understand the new concepts, test those every 5 lessons, review difficulties and drill a few times each week. I also use logic games, and math puzzles to keep them sharp.

Religion is still a growing subject. That having been said, having a theologian for a husband, we looked at several books. We love Seton's books. We supplement with several things. A dictated OT in kindergarten, King of the Golden City in 2nd grade, Saint biographies at every level, and especially

Poetry is a lost art. We use the Harp and Laurel Wreath to memorize good poetry at every level.

Science is all observable until about 8. Then we use CHC science.

History starts with personal history, a family tree with interviews about the childhoods of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents... And then we move to historical biographies (Childhood of Famous Americans). Then we start studying American History followed by civics.

Geography includes map skills, memorization of states and capitals (including study of certain states using the Gale Alphabet state books).

Latin we use Prima Latina and Latina Christiana.

Now all of this is supplemented with Classically Catholic Memory, which is absolutely amazing especially the timeline piece.

Spelling: I teach phonograms with handwriting. Use the clock and line method. For example c's start at 2:00 and end at 4:00. It is easy to correct sloppy handwriting this way. I like the idea that a phonogram makes several sounds as oppose to teaching short vowels and hard consonants and then going back and adding sounds. I have used Sound beginning with the spelling lists in Writing Road to Reading.

This brings me to writing. If I could sell nothing else PLEASE look at IEW Style and Structure saved our lives - schooling wise.

Art and music have developed over the years as well. There are to components appreciation and actual study. So for music appreciation we start by a flash card/internet name that instrument piece and move to the Anna Harwell Celenza books, then the music masters cd series... Actual music study has been remiss but this is where I would recommend a good choir, or instrument study. Art we have used Mommy it's Renoir (and supplemented with what I would call better pieces of art). then I recently found a book called How to teach art to children. It is great for the inartistic type and doesn't require supplies you won't have.

The only thing left is to talk about literature. Get a good book list from someone you trust. Micheal O'Brien's in A Landscape of Dragons is a good one. I love using For the love of Literature by Maureen Wittman. It has books arranged by subject and chronologically. It is amazing and helps so much for my voracious reader as does his kindle and the library. I love Five in a Row and more importantly the concept. It can really be pulled off with any good book.

Lastly we supplement with lap books and unit studies.

This looks like a lot but right now we are doing mornings 4 days a week. The kids are in scouts, one takes acting classes, another is going to start piano soon, and there is the YMCA, and field trips galore.

I love homeschooling.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 1: Chick Observation

Several months ago, a local homeschooler put out a feeler to see if anyone would be interested in watching new chicks grow for two weeks. We said, an exuberant, "Yes."

And so today 3 week old chicks arrived. The kids have named them. Joan (of Arc) she is a Cherry Egger, Bahkita she is a Black Australorp, and Henrietta who is a White Wyandotte.

As the woman who brought them to us let us know, they change rapidly. Their down changes to feathers in stages. 1st the wings. They came that way (to us). But in last several hours you can see the beginnings of tail feathers. Everyone here is super excited and even wants to hold them.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

RA's Birthday

Well it is time to blog again. I have missed KJ's 1st birthday, spring break, a trip to Denver aquarium (not tom mention Christmas)... Those blogs later.

For now it is RA's 7th Birthday. Yes, I wrote that right. Boy how time flies. Usually we have my family over and do a family party, however schedules didn't work that way this time, so...

The kids and Blake and I celebrated on her birthday at... wait for it... Chucky Cheese. But mid-week before 12 it was quiet. We all had fun. We finished the celebration by opening presents and eating her Madeline's Hat cake.

Next she got go to dinner and build a bear with Nanna and Blue Truck. Fun was had by all.

Today was the big day, 12 of her friends came over for a tea in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, one of her favorite saints.

The menu included:

Tepeyac Hill Spanish Rice

Crowned with Stars Candy

Supported by Angels Cookies

Tilma of Roses Ham and Tortilla Sandwiches

Praying Hands Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

Sombreros Cheese and Crackers

Clothed with the Sun Chips and Dip

Volcano Sacrifices Tea & Sugar cubes

Roses from Heaven Fruit Punch

And Chocolate Rose Lolly pops

Games included:

How high can you stack the sugar cubes?

Sugar cube and spoon relay

Teapot Bingo
The girls looked beautiful and were very well mannered.
It was a very nice party and the girls (even the big ones) seemed to have fun.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Recent Homeschool Events

Two of the bigger highlights from last month are: The SHARE Fair and the All Saints Day Party.
The Share Fair was really fun. SHARE stands for Science, History, Art, Rhythm, and Elocution. This year RA recited Windy Nights by Robert Louis Stevenson and entered a drawing in the Art category. DG recited The Flag Goes By by Henry Holcomb Bennet and entered his Courage Project that many of you may remember from last spring. It was entered in the History category. PG liked looking at all the Lego exhibits and the armor exhibit. My favorite was the teenager who taught himself to play the hammer dulcimer.
Daddy/photographer said he was so engrossed in listening to RA, he forgot to get a picture of her. Oops!

The All Saints Party was very fun. DG was St. George. PG was his dragon. RA was Our Lady of Guadeloupe. KJ was Blessed Kateri and Mommy was St. Gianna. Mommy and Daddy ran the Doctors of the Church Quiz booth.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dg's 8th Birthday

Somehow I missed posting about DG's birthday. For the kids birthdays' this year both sets of grandparents went into together and got them a backyard play set.

This year, just like last year, DG asked to go to the North Pole. Aunt Katie and Papa (my paternal grandpa) were here in early August so we all got to go. Unfortunately we had an afternoon rain storm and had to leave early. A word of advice, avoid the teacups with Blue Truck!!!!
On DG's actual birthday we had a small family celebration. My papa was still in town so he was here too. DG asked for a star wars cake. So with the aid of Twinkies and ice cream cones:

Thursday, September 23, 2010


DG is selling cub scout popcorn. I am not searching for more sales (although if you need any let us know). As a prize for the first week's top seller, he got a gift certificate to a local soda shop, Squeak. It was amazing. They had a wall of candy, 69 flavors of soda, ice cream, a wii, and plenty of board games to keep the kids happy. They would make your soda any color you wanted it. So DG got a red Grandma's Apple Pie soda, PG got a purple marshmallow soda, mommy got a pink pina colada soda, and RA got a cake batter ice cream cone.