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Homeschooling: An Interview with My Kids

I was reading on our local ICAN forum board yesterday about what kids had to say about homeschooling, and it made me want to ask my kids what they really think about homeschooling. Haden seemed pretty intrigued with the idea of being interviewed for my blog, and even more amused that I typed as he spoke and wrote all of his words down. 🙂

Me: What is your favorite part about homeschooling? What do you like about it?

Haden: I love school. I like that we hang decorations. I like that I can give you letters and I get to wear my new clothes. I love playing outside, and pretending I’m going grocery shopping and being an explorer when it is a sunny day and not muddy. I like that I don’t have to go to public school.

Me: What don’t you like about the idea of public school?

Haden: That you have to stay there a looong time, and when you get home it is like dinner time.

Me: What is you least favorite part about homeschooling? What don’t you like?

Haden: I don’t like when I have to do a lot, and I didn’t like that game where I had to stop and go. (It was a game like Red Light, Green Light, but using it as a word game. He was not a fan. LOL)

Me: What is your favorite subject to do? Why?

Haden: I really like doing handwriting. Cause I just love writing. I like to write letters and I’m going be a letterman when I grow up. I will write letters to all the people I know – like Ashley, Tyler and Laura and Wendy and Dickie.

I had hoped to ask more questions, like “What has been your favorite project so far?” and “What would you like to learn more about?” Haden called our interview to an end though. He said the rain was getting to him and making him grumpy, and that he needed a break! 😛

I tried to get Addison involved in the conversation, so when I asked her what she liked about homeschooling, this is how the conversation went…

Addison: Uuuummm…. Gigi’s House!

Me: You don’t do school at Gigi’s house, but I guess you could. What else do you like?

Addison: Cinderella! Me watch Cinderella! Please!!!

Me: You want to watch Cinderella?

Addison: Yes!!!

So, there you have it! That is why my kids like homeschooling!

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A Peek at My Week: All That Jazz

I’m feeling terribly unmotivated to write this week’s post, but I’m gonna give it a go anyways. It isn’t that the week was bad, or that nothing interesting or fun happened. It is just that I am tired, and it was a very busy week that I don’t really feel even a little like laying all out there tonight. And you don’t feel like reading all of that, so it is a win for everyone involved. 😛

Haden celebrated his birthday with my family this weekend, even though his actual birthday isn’t until next weekend. He had a great time, but I don’t even have the pictures uploaded yet, so I have nothing to share on that end. I could go upload them… but I’m not gonna. See. I’m totally lacking in having my shit together tonight.

It was a great school week, but I apparently didn’t feel the need to photograph much of it, since when I went through my Instagram pictures this week, I had nada on there. Except for these from co-op classes on Wednesday. 🙂

Thursday, I had the following conversation with Haden…

Haden: Is today a school day?
Me: Yes.
Haden: Aww, man! When isn’t it going to be a school day??!!
Me: Sigh.
Five minutes later….
Me: You wanna take next week off from school?
Haden: Why? I love school!
Me: Are you serious? Sigh.
Two minutes later…
Me: Well, we are taking next week off.
Haden: Ok.

So, we decided to take the week off of school next week. Mostly. When I say “take the week off,” I always feeling like I’m almost lying. 😛 Honestly, I never feel like we aren’t doing “school.” Learning and livin’ – and all that jazz.

Some not to be missed footage of me chatting with my kids. 🙂

IMG 1409 from Mike Bowden on Vimeo.

In other news, I am 3 weeks away from being done with Human Biology and then I get a little mini-break! I’ve decided to register for Intro. to Sociology next, so I’m feeling optimistic that I will actually be taking a class I’ll enjoy. I also registered for this free course with Coursera – Introduction to Genetics and Evolution. I’m uber excited.

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A Peek at My Week: The First Week

Whew! It has surely been a busy week. I won’t bore you with every tiny detail. I’ll just bore you with some of them. 😛 Last weekend was spent with my family hanging at the lake for my birthday. After having an insanely crappy week, with insanely crappy weather, my birthday weekend really made up for it. The weather was gorgeous, and there is much to be said about drinking lime-a-ritas, playing board games, messy BBQ ribs, and flying at high speed across beautiful water for an adrenaline rush. Even if my whole body did hurt the next day. Hurt like I’d fallen down a flight of stairs kind of hurtin’. I’m just hardcore that way.

This week marked our official start for First Grade! I tried my best to make it feel special for the kids.  I do fondly remember first day of school excitement from my youth. We took the kids not-back-to-school shopping, so that they could pick out a first day outfit. They were uber excited to dress up nice for the first day, as opposed to their usual pajamas, or just running around in their underwear fashion they normally sport. 😛 I cooked them sausage pancake muffins for breakfast, which is something I rarely do. Have I mentioned that I am not a morning person? Plus, I surprised them with an awesome cake, which I very heavily relied on Michael’s assistance to actually make look good!

I wish I could say that our school week went off without a hitch, but that would just be a complete lie. We ran into a couple of problems with new curriculum this week, mostly easily rectified problems. One of them, however, has me a bit stressed out. That would be our math. My choice for math was a super easy decision for me, because we are just continuing on with our Time4Learning. We liked it for Kindergarten, so I saw no reason to switch it up, and I assumed it would be a smooth transition from Kindergarten to First Grade math. That isn’t exactly the case though. I won’t get into a long winded explanation on why we are having problems, but it looks like I am either going to have to pick something new or do some supplementation to start with and then use throughout the program. I’m leaning more towards the second choice. I’m hoping it will work itself out in the end.

Highlights from our homeschool!

This was out first week back at co-op classes too, which went really well. The kids had a lot of fun and being with a smaller group this year at a smaller location is going to do wonders for my stress levels. SO I am a happy mama.

We spent our weekend seriously kicking butt, getting some stuff done around the house! You can always tell when something big is coming up (Haden’s birthday party), because that tends to be the only time we get shit done around here. My upstairs bathroom went from being this insanely “blah” powder blue to a beautiful Bermuda blue! We had so much extra paint that we decided to spread the blue across the upstairs and did accent walls in the hall and both bedrooms. 🙂

And we made a firepit in the backyard! We have some backyard camping plans for the near future!

[box] Soooo, how was your week?[/box]

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Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief

 

I have been steadily working my way through the book, Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief, since it was recommended to me by a friend after my post To the Non-Religious: How do you talk about religion with your children? I have really been enjoying the book so far, and I was happy to find at the end of each chapter, lesson plans/activity ideas to do with your children, along with additional resources like books and websites. It has worked out rather nicely for me since I bought the eBook, I have printed out the ends of each chapter to use, so that I can start working them into our homeschool. The activities range in age appropriateness, but there is something for the littles and up.

My newest notebook is now separated into 9 different sections:

  • The Inquiring Mind
  • Ethics
  • The Religious World
  • The Physical Self
  • Positive Living
  • Celebrating Life
  • Life & Death
  • Creating Community
  • Recommended Films

 

I’m excited to get started! As we begin working them in, I will try to come back and blog about the ones that I liked the most. 🙂

 

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A Peek at My Week: The End of an Age

Oye! This has been an extremely disappointing week. I really tried to hold it together, since it was my birthday week and all. That just didn’t matter though; everything seemed to be conspiring against me. 😛 The gloomy ass weather, the little boy in our neighborhood that “supposedly” tried to get into our house while we weren’t home, and my car that broke down last night. Throw in the fact that my best friend is (almost) officially on her way to California now, and everything has me feeling a bit wrung out.

The high point was most definitely my birthday donut breakfast & coffee drank with Cassabee! The kids were thrilled to be having a “party,” especially one with donuts. 😛

Even my high point, had a low end though, because I had to say goodbye. It is hard, saying goodbye to someone you have been with for 13 years. Really hard.

School this week was… very light. No one in this house seemed very motivated, but we managed to do what we could, with plenty of crying and whining on all sides. 😛

Did I mention that Boobie took me to get Thai food for my birthday??!! He is so good to me, and it was so delicious. As usual. Spicy Veggie Tofu and Veggie Spring Rolls. Mmmm. It burned so good!

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A Day in the Life of this Homeschoolin’ Mom

My kids are almost 6 and 2 1/2. I really don’t know that we have a typical day, because we don’t follow any kind of real schedule for school, although I guess I do have some general goals for our day and timelines that I would like for them to happen in… so our typical day goes roughly like this…

Addison (2.5) wakes up around 7:00 most mornings. Sometimes earlier, sometimes later. This usually wakes Haden (6) up, but I try my best to stay in the bed, ignoring their pleas for me to get up, and  avoiding the inevitable for as long as I can! Which isn’t really that long in reality.

By 7:30 we are heading downstairs, so I can make my coffee and everyone eats breakfast. I drink my coffee and play on the computer, while the kids eat, play, or go outside. Just depends on what they feel like doing. Sometimes we might do some school work during this time, but it isn’t often because I’m mostly useless until I have had my whole cup of coffee and a shower.

Some mornings I work out and try to get started around 8:30, if I can pry myself off of the internet. At 9 I make my way upstairs, gather my clothes, give the kids my iPhone to watch TV on, and then go hop in the shower. I get ready, I tidy up the havoc that has been reeked upstairs, TV goes off, teeth get brushed, and usually we are headed back down by 10.

I generally start Haden on his Time4Learning lessons for the day if he has any, while I do some of my morning cleaning or I may let them play. The day to day of how our school vs. play flows really varies. It varies on how much we have to do, whether we are going out, the weather, everyone’s moods, etc.

We eat  lunch pretty early around here. Between 10:30 and 11. Then, more playing and/or school. Addison is ready for her nap by 12 or 12:30. While I lay down with her, Haden will either play, watch TV or “game.” By 1 I am back downstairs and we finish up school work while she is napping, and he has free time to do what he wants.

The rest of our day is pretty much free time. If the weather is nice I like to get them out of the house, so I can breathe! I start dinner at 4 (they usually watch a movie while I cook), so that we can eat at 5. By 6 the kids are headed upstairs for Daddy time, while I work on cleaning up the downstairs. Michael puts them in the bath around 7, they are usually done bathing and getting ready for bed by 7:30. We read until 8 or sometimes later if they are enjoying it, and not TOO tired. Then lights out, and they are asleep by 9.

Then, it is my ME time! Yeya!

That is usually how things go 3 days out of our week most times. Obviously with variations when shit happens.

I try to get us out 2 days out of the week. That is about all I manage without feeling overwhelmed. While our co-op is in we attend classes on Wednesday mornings. We will be out the door by 9:15, get to Brownwood Park by 9:45, and then classes start at 10:00. Classes end at 12:00 and we may have some free-play afterwards depending on how tired Addison is, then we have to get her home to nap.

Then usually one other day a week we may go on a field trip, park day, or have people over to our house. We usually set things up for 10-12 or 11-1, and always try to keep Addison awake until I can get her home for nap.

I look forward to the day when nap is no longer an issue for outings, but right now it is so necessary to our homeschooling day!

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Our Human Body Unit

Here is a peek at our unit on the Human Body!

Our Book List:

The Big Beginner Books About Me, by Dr. Seuss

My Five Senses, by Aliki

From Head to Toe, by Eric Carle

How Many Teeth?, by Paul Showers

My Hands, by Aliki

Magic School Bus: Inside the Human Body, by Joanna Cole

We worked on it over the course of 4 weeks, and Haden really enjoyed it. 🙂 We used the Me & My Body book from our Explore and Learn Series as our spine for the unit. Our lapbook from HomeschoolShare turned out to be our largest one yet! We had to use 3 file folders to put it together, and we didn’t even do all of the mini-books in the pdf.

Along with our reading & working on our lapbook, Haden worked on making a model of the human body, labeling major organs, body parts, creating some bones and blood vessels, and of course a happy face.

Somewhere along the way we made Apple Smiles as a snack, and watched this human body rap video. I thought about making this cake, but never got around to it. I might just make it for our Not-Back-to-School party next week! 🙂

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A Peek at My Week: Our Last Hurrah

This week was pretty typical for us, just busy doing what we do. We actually had a pretty good week here, managing to get through all our days fairly unscathed. Minimal fighting, which is always a good thing. We made Butterfinger Cake, which is really yum, but I suggest eating it within the first couple hours after you have made it. Once it sits for a while the cake gets mushy from the carmel and it just isn’t as good!

We spent a considerable amount of time away from the house, going swimming with friends, playing at the sprayground with our cooperative and visiting Fernbank Museum (just the 3 of us). It felt like our last hurrah at enjoying some summertime fun, since we are only a week away from starting our First Grade work, which means moving away from the lighter summer schedule.

 Two weeks ago, we finished our unit on The Human Body (Blog coming soon!), and since then we have been enjoying some nature study using the monthly nature grid challenges that get sent out in the newsletter from The Handbook of Nature Study Blog. <3 that blog. We glue the grids into our Science notebook, so we can mark them off as we go, and add pictures of the some of the ones we have accomplished. We went on a bug hunt! Put our feet in mud & danced in it! And we made sun tea.

We started our Draw. Write. Now. curriculum. Haden’s first assignment was drawing a hen, which turned out great! I was so proud of him, and he was pretty pleased too. I’m feeling really glad I made this particular purchase. He has been drawing hens all week, and his confidence in his drawing ability has made a serious jump. He actually drew me a lion and a duck, which are two things I did not work with him on at all. This from a kid who rarely tries to draw, because he gets so frustrated that his stuff never turns out the way he wants it.

I had the chance last week to buy the Elemental Science Kindergarten curriculum used, and decided to jump on it. Although, I pieced together our science for this upcoming year, I have been eyeballing and feeling pretty sure that I wanted to try Elemental Science for Second Grade. So, now having the Kindergarten version will give me a chance to test the waters with it this year and see if it will be a good fit for us, but I think it will. I spent the better part of the night reading through the lesson plans and I love the way it is set up.

It is a notebooking curriculum, uses the book Science Play as it’s spine, and is broken down into Nine 4-week units (the Kindergarten version). I think we will be working in the units on Plants, Chemistry, Motion, and Earth. I’ll let you know if I love it. 😉

Although, my week was pretty good, there are two sad notes to add. My best friend, Cassi, finally found a job in California, and will be moving at the end of next week. I am completely bummed, but in a way, I think I am in denial. I’ve been avoiding thinking about it, because then I can just pretend it isn’t happening… This next week will likely be a hard one for me.

Plus, my boy is sick! He seems to be on the mend though, so I’m hoping he feels better by tomorrow.

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Our Homeschool Space

There are days when I wish that I had a space in my home that could solely be used for a classroom. I regularly go back and forth with myself about it. There is something appealing about having everything related to school tucked away so that my entire house doesn’t feel like it is being swallowed alive by our schooling, but then I think about how terribly inconvenient it would be to have everything we need away from our actual living space. Our school day just seems to flow throughout our home naturally these days, with something happening at any given time, whether it be in the living room, the kitchen or out in the yard.

The majority of our school things live in our kitchen/dining room. I use 2 small bookshelves that hold misc. curriculum, activities, manipulatives, arts and craft supplies, and other frequently used items. My desk and computer live here and I pretty much use up any spare wall/door space I have for school related hangings.

Our living room is fairly saturated with kid items too. No one walking into my house would ever doubt that I have children. 😛 I have 2 tall bookshelves + a sofa table in the living room, that are used for organizing our things. We keep many of our recreational, educational & current library books in the living room. Toys that fall into the educational variety are kept downstairs like building toys, games and musical instruments.

I love my workboxes! They have become essential in keeping myself organized, and I have just recently had to change the way we are using them. Using them as a visual way of marking off what we have accomplished and seeing what we have left wasn’t really working for us. I was getting tired of reminding Haden EVERY SINGLE time, to move his drawer stickers over after he had completed his work. Maybe we will reach a point in time where doing them that way will work, but that time is not now. So, instead, I just made subject labels to organize what we need for each day. Anything we need for Language Arts will be put in it’s drawer tonight, etc. I’m not sure I love the new labels I made, but I guess they will work for now. Especially, since there is always the chance I will need to make another change on how we use our workboxes anyways.

Then, of course there is storage! I use a section of the closet in Michael’s office (right off of the kitchen) for homeschool storage. 🙂 Anything that I don’t need quite as handy goes here.

You can read about this year’s curriculum plans @ my blog, Next Homeschool Year: The Plan.

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Our Next School Year: The Plan

This past weekend was our local Homeschool Expo; I wrapped up the majority of my shopping for the upcoming school year while I was there! I still have a few miscellaneous books that I need to buy off of Amazon, but we are otherwise set for the year. I am pretty pleased with the way everything has come together, although there was a few moments there when I was planning and researching that my head was seriously hurting. 😛

We are doing year-round homeschooling, so although we have  taken a couple of short breaks this summer, we have not had an extended one that would clearly mark when we “go back to school.” I am going to consider the beginning of September as our new year, since Haden is two weeks away from being finished with this year’s Math, although he won’t finish his Language Arts until around October. But whatever.

So here it is! A summary of everything we will be using this year. 🙂

Language Arts & Math

We will still be using Time4Learning, because we love it so much! I really feel like it is the best fit for Haden (& me!), especially because he is a pre-reader, and the online lessons are a great way to introduce new concepts to him without me having to walk him through everything. Then, using the Teacher’s Guide for each unit, I plan activities to enforce the things he has been learning and to make sure that he isn’t confused about anything.  We use the recommended books list for each unit, and we have especially been enjoying some of the living math books.

Plus, I’ll be using the Cuisenaire Rods Alphabet Book: Problem Solving A to Z that I bought last year, since we never got around to really using it.

Literature

I’m moving AWAY from so much classical literature this year. This past year I used a book list of classical literature for his grade level and many of the ones we read, we just didn’t like all that much.We are going to continue pulling books from our Time4Learning lists, as well as other lists. Probably some of the ones I have pinned on Pintrest.

We did enjoy our Mr. Popper’s Penguins Literature Unit from Confessions of a Homeschooler, so I am planning to work in her units on Little House in the Big Woods, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Stuart Little.

Handwriting

We are picking up where co-op left off and doing Handwriting Without Tears at home this year. I actually sat in on their workshop at the Expo this past weekend (the only one I actually attended!), and listening to them talk more about the method behind the curriculum really solidified my choice for me. Their curriculum goes up through 5th grade and I highly doubt I will be using anything else. Along with the 1st Grade Teacher’s Guide & the My Printing Book, we will be using the Rock, Tap and Learn CD & the Slate Chalkboard during lessons. I also bought a big stack of their double lined paper for Haden to use on anything else that he does, so that he won’t have different paper line sizes confusing him and making writing harder.

If I had known that I might score freebies, I totally would have went to more workshops. 😛 I got some Pencils for Little Hands and a sample pack of FLIP crayons. Haden really loves the little pencils, they seem much easier to write with and hold.

Geography/History

I’m pretty excited about starting this one – Road Trip USA! Road Trip USA is a U.S. Geography/History notebooking curriculum, that uses National Geographic’s United States Atlas for Young Explorers as it’s core resource. The curriculum is broken down by state and includes state facts and history, famous people, fun projects that tie in, and cooking projects. I’ll keep you posted on this one! I really wanted to give it a try because it looked fun and it is very affordable, but I do expect to have to do some tweaking to it. I’m just hoping that it will be minimal. I plan to do this over a 2-year period. I bought a new wall map, a magnetic USA puzzle, Color and Learn: Colonial America & Wee Sing America to go along with it.

Science

I pieced together our science this year after deciding that we wanted to focus on Nature Study, Astronomy, and Plants/Gardening.

The Handbook of Nature Study Blog has a bunch of great curriculum and if you sign up for updates, you will get tons of ideas and freebie notebooking pages. We will be working through her Outdoor Challenges, using the Handbook of Nature Study, by Anne Botsford Comstock and a bunch of Peterson First Guides.

Along with utilizing internet resources, especially Pintrest, we will be using these books in Science …

Gardening with Children

The Kids of the Night Sky: Official Book on Skywatching

National Geographic: 13 Planets

We will also be doing more Animal Classification this year as a tie in with our Road Trip U.S.A. Each state has animal cards that will be classified and sorted onto our “Animal Wall.”

Physical Education

Even though we are breaking from our yoga at the moment, I suspect that we will be doing it off and on throughout the next year. I really don’t worry too much about my kids getting enough exercise, because they are so active anyways! I have started doing workout videos most mornings and the kids have been happy to join in with me, so we will continue to keep doing that. So far it seems to go a long way towards making me feel better, even if I can’t make it through a whole workout! Skinny does not = fit. Just so you know.

Also, I printed out these P.E. cards from Confessions of a Homeschooler, which seem like an easy way to throw in extra exercise.

Art/Cooking

Draw Write Now: Book One (On the Farm – Kids and Critters – Storybook Characters) – Haden really wants to be able to draw things, but gets frustrated that his pictures don’t turn out as he would like them. The Draw Write Now books break down how to draw things in such an easy and simple way! I’ll be learning how to draw chickens and whatnot with him. 😉 If he enjoys working through this book, I’ll likely continue buying more. There are 8 total in the series.

The Usborne Art Coloring Book – This book is full of pictures based on famous works of art that Haden can color. I thought this seems like an easy way to dip our toes into art appreciation without doing serious studies on it, because he just seems to young for it.

We will be doing cooking projects of some sort once a weekish. Some weeks I will be using Road Trip U.S.A. for this, but on the weeks that we don’t have one from our Geography, I will probably rely on finding something on Pintrest.

Tot School

Since Addison has been getting more involved in school, I decided to put together a little bit for her this year. Nothing extravagant, and mostly just to entertain and distract her. She has really enjoyed keeping her Yoga notebook, so when I recently stumbled upon these printouts for toddlers on the 1+1+1=1 blog, I thought making her a Tot Time Notebook would be fun! So I did. 😛

 

 

I’m also adding Do-a-Dot pages, which are so easy to find for free on the net. Addison loves do-a-dot pages. And FYI, you can save money and skip spending $12 on a pack of 6 Do-a-Dot markers and buy Bingo Markers at the Dollar Tree instead. At the expo I bought I Can Paste! and some new lacing cards for her, so I think her workboxes are pretty well set with things to occupy her when she needs it.

 

[box] So what are your plans for this year? I always love reading about what other people are doing![/box]

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