Friday, August 31, 2007

Tweaking It?

Well, the first week is over, so, for a control freak like me, it's time to evaluate our curriculum choices (and second guess them all).

Reading: As I mentioned before it is WAY too easy. Even with the suggested modifications for "gifted" kids Curly Q. isn't really learning anything. I gave her a reading assessment and she is reading at a 2.6 grade level. So it's not surprising that a first grade language arts program isn't doing much for her. She isn't complaining about it so I think we will stick with it for a while longer.

Math: We are using Singapore Math 1A and it is a good fit. Since it has no drill work, I have been supplementing with some worksheets. I also bought a cd game of addition bingo which Curly Q. is really excited about using.

History: I can't really evaluate Story of the World yet because we just did the introduction this week. I do think that it will be Curly Q.'s favorite subject once we get into it.

Science: On Tuesday I tried to teach Curly Q. to use the library computer to find books about forests. The problem was that each search came up with tons of stuff that didn't apply to her. I ended up finding books for her and having her decide whether they would work for her lesson. The girls loved our field trip to the forest, and they are already begging to go back.

Bear: The Singapore earlybird math is a bit of a joke. Bear seems well past any of the activities presented s far. She did enjoy the montessori type activities I set up for her though. On the reading front I was happy that after only a tiny bit of work she finally calls S by its name instead of by its sound. Today she didn't really want to do calendar, but with a bit of coaxing she came and participated. She knows her months amazingly well.

So my verdict is that we should "Stay the Course" at least for the time being. Next week we will talk about apples during language arts. I also planned Bear's stuff around apples and the letter A. We will also start the first "real" chapter in history and do our first in depth animal study. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

So far so good....

Well, after two days of school things are going pretty good. I managed to keep Bear busy and happy while staying on track for Curly Q. work. I put out three "center" type activities for Bear and called it preschool. She took the bait and spent all morning on Monday doing the activities. Today after we did reading and math we went to the library. I began teaching Curly to use the computer to find books about a specific topic while Bear played. Curly Q. seemed a little distracted so I am worried about whether my plan to do school work at the library on Tuesdays is going to work. I am also considering changing from the first grade language arts lessons I am using to the second grade ones. Right now it is nice because Bear has been joining us, but today's lesson was about opposites and Curly Q. didn't learn anything new from it.

On a different subject, a friend of mine just sent her daughter to kindergarten. She was telling me about the weekly schedule, and I cannot believe that the kids have time to learn anything. Kindergartners go for just over 2 hours. On four days they go to a special class (gym, art or music) that lasts at least 45 minutes. They have 15 minutes of announcements, 15 minutes of clean-up at the end of class, and a 15 minute snack. That leaves a whopping 30 minutes to teach a class of 25+ five year olds. My guess is that they won't be learning much more than how to stand in line and play dodge ball.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Back to School Jitters

I remember as a kid, every August my whole being would start to tingle. While many kids were dreading going back to school I met the prospect with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. It always felt like a fresh start. Of course that is pretty funny since every year until high school I HATED school by September, but for that week before school actually started I would think, "This will be the year!"

When I became a teacher I continued to get those jitters in August. Luckily I enjoyed teaching so they didn't go away so quickly. Still, by Christmas break, the monotony had set in, and although I wasn't hating every second like I did as a student, I wasn't really savoring them either.

So once again I am feeling the jitters of a new school year, but now I feel wiser. I have to get it right this time. I want to find a way to collect that feeling and keep it alive for me and the kids for the whole year. I think that will be the true testament to how great homeschooling can be. If we can keep the spark of excitement going for the whole school year I'll mark it a success.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The longest week...

I had planned to try to blog every day, just to get in the habit, but then this week got out of hand. I knew it would, since my sister in law, nephews and niece were visiting, but I didn't realize how exhausting it would be.

Monday we had a Peter Pan themed birthday party. Originally Bear wanted to be Tinkerbelle, but the birthday girl was being that so I thought she should choose something else. Curly Q. wanted to be Tick Tock the crocodile, but I had no idea how to create a costume that wouldn't be too hot. So after careful deliberation (we actually just watched the movie for inspiration) Bear decided to be Tiger Lily and Curly Q. decided to be Mr Smee. When I figure out how to attach pictures I'll post them.

The bad part is that that was just the morning on Monday. I'll save you the details, but after that we met up with my Mom and sister in law for lunch. Then we went to Mom's house where the kids got to play with their cousins. It is so funny how differently they play. Both the girls did play power rangers, but Curly Q. is just not that suited to super hero play.

Tuesday was our day of rest. We did go to McDonald's with an old friend, but otherwise it was a calm day.

Wednesday was the day we have been looking forward to for the whole summer. Curly Q. and I went to the American Girl store. She had so much fun (although I do admit to being in consumer hell). We got to do the lunch which wasn't that over priced for the amount of food. We got a picture of her with her doll (which was overpriced and not that good). And of course we bought a few matching pieces of clothing. All in all we spent less than $200 for the whole day (including parking). Not a cheap day, but Curly Q. is still talking about it.

Thursday we relaxed until gymnastics time. It as the last lesson for this session, and I was amazed at how much they have improved during the summer. After that we went to dinner at Benihana's. My kids have been there many times, but my nephew and niece had never been there. It was fun to see their excitement over the onion volcano.

Friday we spent the whole day with Mom and the kids. It was fun, but by the end of the day we were all in need of some private time. Unfortunately we won't be getting much of it today because of the birthday party for my oldest nephew and niece. Tomorrow should be better, but Monday we are going to the zoo.

Have I mentioned I can't wait for school to start? We will be starting on Monday the 27th just like the public schools. It will be nice to get back to normal. The past couple weeks have been so hectic, and I know we all will benefit from a schedule. (Ok I will benefit from a schedule).

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I have a confession to make...

Until very recently I thought blogs were a waste of time. I mean seriously who really wants to read about everyone else's life. Shouldn't we all be busy with our own lives? My husband started a blog many years ago, and I teased him about it. Still when I started toying with the idea of homeschooling, it was blogs of other homeschoolers that made me feel that it was not only a normal choice, but a wise one too. For a long time all the homeschoolers I met were fundies who were scared their children might view evolution as fact if allowed in the public school system. Through blogs I began to see that homeschoolers are a diverse group. That I could be me and homeschool. I still think that reading blogs instills a sort of voyerism that seems a bit strange to me, but I suppose it is no more strange than watching tv dramas every night. So it is with some nervousness and a lot of excitment that I start this blog. Hopefully it will serve as a sounding board for ideas and a record of our homeschool (and life) journey.