Thursday, November 27, 2008


So, at the beginning of the year I created a lovely daily schedule for us to follow:

Wake up and get dressed. Everyone should be downstairs by...
9 AM - breakfast
9:30 AM - morning chore (rotates daily)
10:00 AM - morning board
10:30 AM - snack/Read Aloud Time
- Literature and Activity (from FIAR)
11:30ish - Handwriting then Free time
12:30 - Lunch and PM chore
1:30 - Quiet Play
2:30 - Math and Phonics

Really, it looked so good on paper. But it has never worked out. Everything was going great initially except that Handwriting was moved to the afternoon with Math and Phonics.

Then the chores got to difficult to do with a toddler at my feet. They include bathroom cleaning upstairs on M, T, and R. It was never getting done.

Then bible study began on Tuesday AM's and Classical Conversations began on Wednesday AM's. That totally screwed up the morning because we had to be out of the house. Our Morning Board wasn't getting done on those days and neither were the chores.

I decided on Wednesdays we wouldn't do anything in the afternoon. CC was enough. You'd think I could get a chore done, but found myself napping from the busy day and then playing with the kids.

Then I realized that I have three children. The oldest one is 6. Not much about my days are predictable.

Quiet play time has never worked out too well.

Then I got pregnant. And TIRED. So everything fell apart. I have been consistent with math, phonics, and handwriting. I consider these the essentials of kindergarten. We backed off so much other "stuff" as we just enjoyed literature and some basic interacting with it.

Quiet time in the afternoon has turned into 1 hour of a TV show while mommy sleeps, crashed out on the sofa. (Did I mention this pregnancy has me tired?)

I guess I still like the schedule and hope to go back to it. I have NO goals of returning in 2008. I am going to take the holiday season easy as we do our Jesse Tree and study Advent. But I would like to kick off January with a return to scheduling.

Now, anyone have any good suggestions on how this works with little ones in your house? Especially the chores. I'd like to see them more involved, but it is tough to juggle!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Quarter Update Fall 2008

So it appears to be that time of year for parent teacher conferences. I summed up the academic thoughts from my conference. You know, with myself...

Hymns - We learned about 4 of our hymns so far. The girls are familiar with "Holy, Holy, Holy", "A mighty Fortress is our God", "This is my Father's World", and "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing". We learned at least the first verse of all of them. "This is my Father's World" lent itself nicely to sign language, so the girls learned how to sign the first verse. I have to admit that "A mighty Fortress" is a tough hymn in terms of vocabulary and understanding. The devotionals helped out, but boy is a tough one! We'll continue learning, "Oh for a thousand tongues to sing" this month.

Memory Work - We completed A-G in our, "ABC bible verses" book. The girls also memorized The Lord's Prayer and John 1:1-7. We are working on 4 verses for the season of Advent and taking a break from the ABC bible verses. K has memorized the books of the Old Testament for her bible class.

Devotionals - We continue to work through, "Leading Little Ones to God" at dinnertime. We'll probably repeat it again next year.

K has continued to work through Book 1, of Shiller Math. I love this curriculum, though it is not traditional at all. The short lessons work well for her at this age. We have worked on the basic math symbols as well as greater than or equal to and less than or equal to symbols. We have started some basic addition, even doing 4 digits without regrouping. She is on lesson 182(ish) and will finish Book One by Christmas.

K continues to work through the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading. She took off reading so quickly, so the lessons feel "below" her skill level, but I have no doubt that reviewing phonics rules will benefit her in the future. I can already see improvement.

We finished Explode the Code book 1 and are about halfway through Book 2.

We have taken a break from OPG and ETC twice to complete units in Modern Curriculum Press Plaid Phonics Program, Level B. She has started Unit 2 and we will finish it in December.

K is almost finished the Handwriting Without Tears - Letters and Numbers for Me. I see a huge improvement in her use of lower case as well as her letter formation. We still have a few to drill into her head, such as the letter "O" which she wants to begin at the bottom instead of the top and a few numbers she continues to write backwards. BUT this is all typical for Kindergarten, so I have no concerns.

We'll go ahead and move on to "My Printing Power" (level 1st grade) after the holidays to continue to reinforce manuscript.

We have completed several literature studies from Five in a Row, as well as several from Homeschool Share. We took a 2 week break to study Autumn and a 2 week break to study Thanksgiving using various literature sources. Our 2 weeks of poetry were a favorite of mine, so I hope to do more.

Map - K (age 6) has memorized all 50 states and capitals. She is currently working on mountain ranges through the US. While the physical features will be added bonuses as she learns them at CC, I plan to keep reviewing the states and capitals next quarter to make sure she knows the locations.

Events - The girls memorized 12 history sentences describing key events from 1492 (Columbus) to 1865 (end of the Civil War). They are all part of our CC Memory Work, and thankfully they are songs!

We completed unit studies on Johnny Appleseed, Columbus, and are currently studying the Pilgrims.

Our first 6 weeks at CC incorporated Science Experiments about Anatomy and the workings of our bodies. During our second 6 weeks, the girls built models of their bodies using the book, My Body. They really enjoyed this!

We have done various studies during our literature studies as well, everything from bouancy to Mallard Ducks. One of the most yummy studies was our study of the phases of the moon during our poetry unit. We used oreos to create the moon phases! (see picture)

The girls also learned a memory sentence each week in the topic of anatomy. I can't say we focused on mastery of these sentences, but certainly gained familiarity.

Other Memory Work
I have come up with some memory work that I think is important for kindergarteners, which we do instead of the Latin and English at CC. This quarter we have memorized our address, phone number, mom's cell, dad's cell, and the days of the week. We are currently working on dad's work number and the months of the year.

We spent 6 weeks on Drawing at CC. The girls do various crafts and activities at home, but we really haven't followed a good program for this. We pull a lot of the FIAR art activities in our unit studies. I think this is adequate for kindergarten. A favorite was creating the same scene twice, one time we used warm colors so it looked like daytime. The second time we used cool colors to make it appear to be evening. (Cranberry Thanksgiving activity)

The girls completed 6 weeks of music theory at CC. I hope to follow up on this after the holidays.

We learned about the food pyramid, following the goals for the local public school kindergarteners.

Physical Education
This summer K (age 6) learned to ride her bike without training wheels. We used to take a 1 mile walk to the village center and back weekly. Now that it is winter, we aren't doing that. They girls have been in ballet since September and love it!

That about sums it up. Somedays it feels like we get so little accomplished, but when you look back it is so nice to see how much you have done!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When You Rise Up: A book review

I borrowed this book, "When you Rise Up," by R.C. Sproul Jr. (RC) from a friend who recommended it highly! I immediately recognized the title from a fellow blogger's reading list and was looking forward to reading it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It challenged my thinking about homeschooling on so many levels. Now I find that several days later, I am still processing through some of the author's thoughts. There is no way I could cover every thing that is on my mind from this book! There is TOO MUCH good stuff!

Oh how I enjoy a book that challenges me to THINK! Clearly, I highly recommend this book if you are homeschooling or considering homeschooling. It will really help guide your purposes as you lay them out before God.

I will say that R.C. Sproul Jr. is extremely passionate about the responsibility of Christian parents to homeschool their covenant children. He doesn't sugar coat it and doesn't mince words. As a result, he did help me feel more secure and firm about my decision to homeschool. I may not agree with every conclusion he has drawn, but his book gave me a lot to think about.

In no particular order, here are some of the thoughts that I have been processing due to this book:

1. Psalm 78: 1-8. This passage was referred to throughout the book. What struck me from the passage was, "...Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God..."

I had never really thought about the fact that I am training my children to tell their children about God. I guess I know that, but never really pondered it deeply. I want to train my children, give them such a secure theological foundation and a biblical worldview that they can communicate and teach their own children. It is one thing to know something, yet another thing to be able to communicate it.

2. Curriculum. R.C. Sproul emphasizes that the Bible is our central curriculum. It isn't just a subject we sprinkle into the day. It isn't something we do for 10-15 minutes in the morning and check it off our list.

Once again, this is something I know, but don't always act upon. It is new to me to think of education in a biblical worldview. He emphasizes the the entire goal of academia is to glorify God and come to know Him better. I admit that I never looked at it that way in my own studies. I just did math, science, or history without seeing it as it relates to God.

I want to change this for my kids. I want them to see God more clearly as a result of their academic studies. As we study math (my personal favorite), I want them to recognize that math belongs to God. He invented math and rules over it. It is always objective and speaks truth because God is truth. Our academic studies should draw us closer to God and bring glory to Him.

In all honesty, I have a lot of praying and studying to do in this area. It was never part of my view of academics and I am not sure how to communicate it to my kids effectively, but that doesn't mean I won't pray for the wisdom to do so. This thought drives me to my knees in prayer...that my children might see God's hand in all of their studies and that I will be equip to guide them in this journey.

This is a great reason to have my children home with me and I have decided to focus on it. The local public school, while excellent in academics, can NOT give my children this sort of worldview.

3. How I measure up. R.C. Sproul challenged Christian parents to STOP measuring their children by the world's standards! He challenged homeschooling parents to stop defending homeschooling by the world's standards. It should not surprise us that homeschoolers are successful academically, but we should not feel the need to defend our choice by quoting the SAT scores of homeschoolers.

We don't homeschool because "my kids can be better than your kids, by your standards" because we aren't called to live by the world's standards. God calls me to raise Godly children who may or may not excel in the eyes of the world, but I am more interested in Godly children than smart children.

Granted, my children might be called to be brilliant doctors, Harvard Graduates, or even president one day. And I fully intend to prepare them to the best of my ability for any door God opens in their lives. I hope that by homeschooling I can better prepare them for the paths God has laid out for them.

But Harvard Graduates, brilliant doctors, and presidents are not my goal. Only God will direct those final outcomes as I prepare their hearts to follow Him completely and I educate them to walk through the doors He opens in their lives.

My goal is children who love the Lord and know the the secret to the good life is only found in following Him. In this house, we will celebrate the 6 year old who spends her own birthday money to get herself AND her little sister magnet dolls rather then getting herself two gifts. We'll rejoice in the sister who comforts and loves her brother when he falls down. And we'll encourage the child who takes compassion on those around her rather then trampling them on the way to the top. We will celebrate these moments above high reading levels and glowing math scores.

I am more convince after reading this book that having my children at home will give me an advantage in helping me equip my kids to celebrate their success in the eyes of God rather than the eyes of the world.

4. I am fully equipped! The bible declares that I am fully equipped for every good work that God has planned for me. It is my responsiblity to raise my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Therefore, since I feel a strong call from the Lord to homeschool my children in order to raise them in the nuture and admonition of the Lord, I can rest assured that I am fully equipped to do so.

I will NOT allow myself to believe the lies that sometimes creep into my head. I will NOT believe that the local school system can do a better job educating my child. I am fully committed to following God's calling in this area and He will equip me to do the the job my children need me to do!

I will NOT believe that some aspect of the very child God has given me is better suited for school rather than home. Too often comments I hear plant thoughts in my mind that if I have a certain type of child, they'd be better off in a school environment. I am not going to buy into it! My children are going to be successful at home with me whether they are shy, outgoing, introverted, extroverted, athletic, musical or rambuncious! God will help me to provide what they need for their individual personalities in a way that guides them to His calling on their lives.

Clearly, the book has also driven me to my knees for continual guidance while educating my children. Because the calling can be completely overwhelming as any parent can relate to.

I am going to stop there. I will add that there was SO MUCH MORE in this book but I'll never get my thoughts published at this rate! I think I will read it again over the summer to give me focus before the next year of homeschooling.