Monday, July 27, 2015

It's Box Day!


     What is Box Day, you ask?  Well, in the homeschool-sphere, it's the arrival of curriculum, supplements and all sorts of homeschooling goodies for the brand new school year.

     As listed in Our 2015-2016 Curriculum we're using My Father's World as our main curriculum.  Above is a picture of all the great books included in the set.  I chose My Father's World because it is God-centered, has a great collection of books/materials, I can teach both kids using it and I get to select my own Language Arts program, without having to stick to one we don't like.  Plus, there's a lot of different activities that will keep them engaged.  I can't wait.  My favorite part is the YWAM books at the very bottom of the picture.  I'm eager to read those aloud to my kids.

     We'll also be using All About Spelling.  Little Toughie will be using Level 1 because she's never had a formal spelling program, even though she's completed several Explode the Code books.  She'll get through this quickly, so we may end up getting Level 2 mid-year.  My son will be using WorldBuild, but that hasn't arrived just yet (because I haven't ordered it yet!)

     Did you know you can ask for a picture to be drawn on the box that your All About Learning Press supplies comes in?  I requested Alice In Wonderland for my daughter and this is what showed up:

She was so surprised!

     For Math we're using Singapore Math (my daughter has been using it) and Teaching Textbooks (my son got to try it out at a homeschool convention and loved it).  For Latin, we're using Prima Latina, which is also teaches English and Latin grammar concepts.

     I've organized all the MFW (My Father's World) student sheets, copywork and any other items they'll be using (aside from Math, Spelling and Latin) in a hanging file folder system, pictured below.  It's what I did when the kids were doing Classical Conversations, Foundations.  I figured I can use the same system for MFW once I saw how each week went.  Each week is numbered and there are also Monday-Friday folders so that the kids and I know what sheets are used on what day.  Also, there are two removable Post-It Tabs with their names so that they know which sheets belong to whom.  I'll move those, along with the daily folders, to the next week when the current week is finished.  This is especially helpful for The Principal who, on occasion, has to be The Substitute. 

     Each child has two binders, one prepared as directed by the MFW Teacher's Manual and the other for Bible, Spelling, Math and English.  The binders will hold their completed work.  A fellow homeschooling mom shared her idea of keeping the completed work in sheet protectors so that at the end of the year she can have them spiral bound, creating a keepsake (and record) of the year's hard work.  I think I'll do that at the end of our school year which means I'll be putting everything in sheet protectors (Costco to the rescue!)  This may also help the kids keep their work neat; knowing it will eventually be a book they can keep and share with others.

     While we use the library A LOT, I had the opportunity to host a Facebook Usborne Book Party with Brandy of Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood.  She did such a wonderful job and I was blessed to have met her and her family, and to have her as my party consultant.  From the book party, I was able to get several Usborne books from my wishlist.  Many of them we will use during this new school year.  We are stoked!  After I took this picture the kids grabbed a couple of books and settled in.

     Last, but not least, what good are all those books, files and sheets if we have nothing to write or color with?  I cleaned up my old Pampered Chef Turn-about (I had let my son use it, but he colored all over it) and gathered everything I think we may need.  It's a shame they no longer make it in white.  I'd like another one.  By the way, Goo Gone is what removed all the pen and marker scribbles that were all over this caddy.  I had used several different cleaners, but they only faded them a little.  Goo Gone removed every bit of it, no scrubbing needed!  (No, I'm not getting paid to say that.)

     Our first day of school is just a little over a week away.  I can't wait to start and share our explorations with you!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Farewell to Classical Conversations

     To CC or not to CC.  That is the question.

     The answer is not.

     We will not be returning to the Classical Conversations, Foundations Program.  This was not an easy decision to come to.  Even writing this post isn't easy.  Classical Conversations is what God used to open the door to homeschooling for us.  It opened our eyes to books like The Well-Trained Mind and The Core.  I met my best friend there.  I enjoyed tutoring this past year.  I agonized over this decision for a few months.  I prayed about it and it was clear that I wasn't suppose to tutor in the Fall, but the decision to completely stop going to CC wasn't so clear.

     Until now.

     I happened upon a few homeschool blogs, one of which was brought up as an actual CC resource during my tutor training last year, who started out in CC but then stopped going.  Their reasons resonated with me; I wasn't the only one who felt this way and it told me it was okay to walk away.  

     Don't get me wrong.  We love the friends we've made in our CC community and we like Classical Education, but Classical Conversations is no longer for us for many reasons.  These are my personal observations and opinions about CC.  It doesn't mean that CC isn't for you or that we won't go back to it.  It's just not for us this coming year and here's why:

      Expense.  We have financial goals and I couldn't justify the price.  Yes, it's still much less than private school, but at roughly $1000.00 for both my kids, not including any CC supplies or supplements they might need, it added up.  Moreover, while my kids did the memory work, notebooking pages, activities and readings tied to the the corresponding CC facts, they were bored.  Frankly, they enjoyed the Language Arts and Math programs (an additional expense) I purchased for them more than the CC stuff, silly songs aside.  What my kids liked about CC this year was that I was their tutor!  We all love the Timeline song and History sentence songs, but I don't need to take a day from our week to have them learn those things.  That's money that could be better spent elsewhere or, in our case, to help us reach our goals.  Toward the end,  I felt like I was paying for them to socialize.  Which brings me to my next reason.

     Socialization.  Our community is full but is still growing.  However, for both my sprouts, there weren't many kids to bond with.  Let me rephrase that...there weren't many girls my daughter's age that she could connect with.  Our community had A LOT of boys and while you may think that's great for my son, well, my son's syndrome and age made it difficult for him to connect with anyone as well.  This may be the case where ever we go because of his syndrome, but in this particular community there weren't many boys for him to model and look up to.  Some of the boys were just mean.  That's the only way I can say it; mean for no reason.  I know boys will be boys but it doesn't call for personal attacks, which I observed a few times over the course of our enrollment.  I know not every CC community is like that.  This just did not sit well with me.

     It's too fast.  As I mentioned before, Foundations meets once a week for 24 weeks and every week the kids are introduced to new facts, covering 6 subjects.  One week did not give my kids enough time to really dig deeper into that week's History (or Science) fact before learning the next fact the following week.  (The History sentences were what I built our curriculum on this year.)  Yes, there were still 12 more weeks (in our state) to research and read more, but by the end of the 24 CC weeks it didn't make sense for me to go back after we had already moved on.  Sure, I could have purchased a full curriculum like I did the first year I homeschooled my daughter and then just let the CC stuff somehow make its way into the curriculum or let it be something they did on the side, but then it would be an added expense.  Remember, we have financial goals!

     CC uses 3 Cycles.  If you've ever read The Well-Trained Mind (you should if you haven't, homeschooler or not) you'd know that she suggests that your curriculum be based on History/Geography which cycle every 4 years starting from Ancient History ending in Modern Times.  The fact that CC is 3 cycles drove me nuts which is why this year I decided to create my own curriculum.  The 3 cycles wouldn't line up with any of the great Classical Christian curriculum out there and if it did happen to line up, it wasn't age appropriate for my daughter.  Almost all the Christian curriculum out there run in 4 cycles.  It was maddening I tell ya.  Maddening!

     We lost a day.  While CC only meets one day a week for 3 hours, that wasn't necessarily the end of the day.  While we enjoyed hanging with our friends at the park after class, by the time we got home the day was pretty much over and there was no real school work done.  At this point, I'd rather lose a day of completed school work to a field trip or spontaneous play date (or a doctor's appointment which is common since my have special but different needs.)

     Above all this:

      My kids have special, but different needs.  Some of you reading this may or may not know this.  Very rarely do I share what is going on behind the scenes with the challenges both of my kids face, not because I'm embarrassed or ashamed, but because it doesn't matter.  It is what it is and homeschooling is a blessing that allows me to work together with them to address those issues.  I'll share if I've found something that made a significant difference in our homeschool, especially for my son, but otherwise I like to focus on the fun, learning stuff!  Now, back to those challenges behind the scenes...there are things that I have to address on a daily basis and attending our weekly CC meetings gets in the way of that.  'Nuff said.

     Finally, I can provide a Classical Christian Education for my children.  I am their teacher.  I am responsible for learning the techniques and tools to teach them classically and then do it.  Many have done it before and without Classical Conversations.  Does this mean we'll never go back?  No.  Things change, but for now, bidding farewell to CC is what is right for us.

     Our new school year is set and planned.  I'll share our "Box Day" post in a couple of weeks once everything comes in.

     For other perspectives on leaving CC (and what they're up to now) take a look at A Nurse's Wildflowers, Nurturing Learning and The Accidental Homeschooler.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Our Summer 2015 Reading List

Accidental Teacher:
     Can you believe I feel like there's a few books missing from this particular list?  I actually have an innumerable amount of books on my Kindle and book list, but these are the books I want completed before we start school again.  Also, just FYI, while I still like cracking open an actual book; the weight of it in my hands and the feeling of the pages I also like the convenience of the Kindle.  How else would I store over a 100 books?  Now to the kids:


Little Toughie:
     They will both read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle

     These are their assigned books.  I want to make sure they truly understand what they're reading but since my daughter can't write a book report and my son has difficulties with comprehension and putting his thoughts on paper, I'm going to give them different options to share with me what they've read.

     My daughter is great at narration (it's the actress in her) so I'm going to challenge her a bit and have her write a letter to one of the characters in the book and/or draw a comic strip representing her favorite part of the book.  My son, on the other hand, is neither a narrator or actor or reader, for that matter.  Honestly, I struggle with getting him to read, so I may have to read those books aloud to him, but even that can be difficult because he's not an auditory processor either.  This is where the book How Am I Smart will (hopefully) help me.  As you can tell by his code name, he loves airplanes and I've recently discovered that he likes books with pictures that have a lot of information accompanying them.  Much like the airline magazines he reads and this recent book on fire stations.  Not picture books for kids, but books like the Usborne Encyclopedias.  I may ask him to create a magazine telling me about his favorite part of the books or what he learned from them.

     Either way, I can't wait for us to dive in.  Oh, and to make things even more interesting for my kids I created Summer Reading Bingo cards.  When they black out all the spaces they get to select a book at Barnes & Noble to take home.

Do you have a summer reading list?

Please share it on our Facebook page.