Friday, October 7, 2011

School Update

I posted our homeschool plan awhile ago, here is an update on how things are going and how I like the curriculum! (original text is in black, my comments are in red! Obviously :)

Our homeschool co-0p is actually a "school" that is open 2 days a week with an a la carte menu. The teachers are paid and although it is spendy, we feel that it is worth it for the boys to have exposure to different teachers, other students and a different environment for that one morning a week. Also, once my volunteer hours are over, I will have time to grocery shop :)

Volunteer hours are now over. Last week I got my workout in (at a nearby YMCA), grocery shopping and an additional walk with just Berean. After we picked up Linc, we had an hour before the other boys were done which gave us enough time to pick up some shampoo etc that we didn't buy at the grocery store. I could get used to this.

Deacon is going to be in 2nd grade, Roman in 1st and Lincoln in preschool. Lincoln will go to preschool once a week at the public school for speech, and once a week at the co-op. He will also have private speech therapy 1-2 times a week.

Lincoln is enjoying his two preschools. Private therapy is not as exciting for him, although he seems to enjoy it once he is there. I am really looking forward to it being over, though, and am hopeful that by the new year we won't be doing private speech any longer.

Here is our plan for this year:

PE: (this is my favorite subject to plan for :) D and R are both going to take Taekwando at our local homeschool "school". They are also going to do a 2 day a week "gym and swim"kind of thing at our YMCA. In the winter they will play Upward basketball at church. We may sign them up for swimming/flag football etc during the year.

D really likes Taekwando, and R tolerates it. R is not really into exerting himself. The 2 day a week Gym and Swim got cancelled, so they are now doing a gym class and swim lessons on the same day at another Y. It actually works out pretty well, and it is a really good class for them.

ART: The boys will have art once a week at our homeschool co-op and then will also have some projects on "Grandma" day once a week. In addition, I signed D and R up for a nature photography class for fall at a park nearby (living in a big city has advantages!).

The boys liked their photography class, although they were heard to say "what do we need a class for? You just push the button and take the picture!" Of course Grandma has done projects with them as well.

MUSIC: Deacon will sing in Kid's choir again at church. I will give them a basic review of music and we will listen to some different kinds of music during the year. We may or may not eventually do music lessons for our kids. I would like to say we would, but they are quite expensive, and with 5 kids it may happen only for the kids who care. At this point I can't see paying for something only to have them whine and complain about it.

Deacon's choir will be involved in the production "GT and the Halo Express: Ticket to Christmas" this year! Yeah!

BIBLE: The kids will be working through their Awana books again this year, and I am planning to use a "walk through the Old Testament" book that I have to offer a Biblical Framework. We also will probably build off of the Jelly Telly "What's In the Bible with Buck Denver" DVD series.

The boys are flying through their AWANA books this year, and are very motivated to learn their verses. We aren't doing other Bible like I was planning, because our Mystery of History and other subjects are incorporating Bible stories and Bible themes.

MATH: Roman will be starting Singapore Math 1a, Lincoln will be doing Singapore Kindergarten and Deacon will be using Math Expressions 2nd grade curriculum. Deacon's curriculum comes free from our school district (I know, it is a big MACHE no-no, but seriously??! The curriculum is free and I like it. I pay taxes too, you know). I do like Singapore math, but I don't live or die by it.

Math is going ok. I am trying to really get them to know their math facts quickly. They don't like math very much, but they are plugging along, and are on track with the timetable I have in my mind.

SCIENCE: This year we are going to use Alpha Omega LIFEPACs for science- 1st grade for Roman and 2nd grade for Deacon. Let me start off by saying that this was a difficult decision. I feel that these LIFEPACs are incredibly easy and simplistic (although I could be proved wrong as we get into it) but what I like about them is that they are intended for the kids to be able to read and they have to write in the book! My boys need as much reading and writing practice as they can get, and I like how LIFEPAC sneaks it into their subjects. This material is also grade level appropriate and I can clearly see that it will easily cover what they need to know for the standardized test that they need to take in the Spring.

I like the LIFE PAC science a lot more than I thought I would. Roman's is really simplistic, but he can read the stuff, take the tests and is learning something- I think. Deacon's units so far have been on plants and incorporate quizzes, reading, writing and experiments. It is a "learn by mastery" kind of thing, and I like the repetition, the self tests and then the whole unit tests. The tests aren't difficult, because the material is covered thouroughly. I think what he is learning will stick.

However, I could not let it end there. D and R will be doing earth science one day a week at our co-0p, and so as a family we are going to supplement our science by using Apologia's Astronomy textbook. I LOVE THIS SERIES! It is intended to last a 1/2 year to a year and you hit the subject super hard and in depth, instead of moving around from topic to topic. here is the link in case you are interested in looking at this text.

I really, really love this Astronomy curriculum. We have learned so much (me included!) and the activities, projects and workbook activities are interesting and informative.

HISTORY/GEOGRAPHY: This is by far my favorite subject and has been the biggest disappointment to me as a homeschool parent. I feel that it is very difficult to find good hardcore history curriculum for the younger grades. Then I realized that no one seems to teach it in the younger grades. They discuss communities, flags, famous buildings and other super-basic knowledge. This annoys me.

We are going to useLIFE PAC (this link brings you to the 5 subject set- we only bought 3 of the subjects) for grade level expectation history learning. The kids will learn that they are special and about communities. It makes me gag, but it incorporates a lot of reading and writing and it will teach to the standardized test and make sure I am not missing anything vital (such as what a community in Japan looks like).

I like this Life Pac more than I thought I would too. It is a lot of reading for the child, writing and incorporates Biblical themes as well.

To supplement we will use two more texts,Mystery of History and Exploring American History. The former will give us a summary of history from Creation to the Resurrection (I am very excited about this book!) and the later will go through basic American History and highlight the presidents. We will also work on cementing our knowledge of continents, oceans, states, big countries and memorizing our Presidents. We will do these two texts 2-3 days a week and it will be mostly me just reading to them- no real projects or tests or anything. My boys (especially Deacon) learn really well by listening.

I love the "Mystery of History". It gives a nice framework of history and I like the activities that go along with it. I haven't gotten our time line going, but plan to soon. Our American History text is interesting, and we are taking it slowly. We don't do anything with it but read the text.

LANGUAGE ARTS: I left this for last because this is the subject that I like the absolute least. If I could pick one subject to leave for someone else to teach the boys, this would be it. The boys will be taking a writing class at co-op and we will be using the LIFE PAC grade 1 and 2 language arts curriculum, a phonics book and 2nd grade reading books obtained through our school district. Deacon is not a strong reader yet, so I will be pushing him as I also teach Roman and Lincoln. This will be a subject that we work on as a group and separately.

The lifepac language arts are a lot of work for my writing-hating boys. It is good for them though, even though I am not sure we will get through all 10 units by the end of the year. Deacon is doing much better on his reading, and Roman is too.

Well, that is my plan. I know that it is pretty intense, but we won't do everything every day. My goal is to be a fun and engaging teacher so that they catch my enthusiasm. That, of course, will be difficult on the days that my house is a mess, Berean is needy and I just want to take a nap- but I will do my best! In a couple months I will update you on what is working,and what has been thrown to the wayside!

Lincoln is gone for a couple hours 2 mornings a week, and we can get a lot done during those times. Berean is a big distraction and takes it upon herself to get into trouble during school. I have learned to hold off her breakfast until school starts- then she can sit in her booster and eat and watch the activity. I am hopeful that things with her will get better, not worse.

Well, that is it! I am off to get some sleep!


The Three 22nds said...

Arrgh...Blogger is not letting me post this in two colors. I am too tired to try to figure out the problem...

Karla said...

well I figured it out... sorry that I couldn't talk to you yesterday. Maybe you should get online sometime to chat?!?