Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Question. (and yaay! organizing!)

Several people have asked me lately, "So how is homeschooling going? Are you totally stressed? Are you getting out enough? How are you holding up!?" and other questions along those lines.  My answer shocks most people -- I actually am more relaxed and happy than I have been in years.  After getting stumped the first time someone responded with, "How!??! Why!?!?", I gave it some thought.  It's a valid question. I have my kids home all!day! every day.  I rarely have time completely to myself.  I have added a lot of work & pressure to my life by taking on this whole homeschool thing.  Shouldn't this all translate to being a kazillion and three times more stressed than I was last year at this time???

After pondering it for awhile, I realized that the answer has two parts ---

1. Homeschooling has slowed our lives down. We have opted out of the kiddy rat race that school can become.  And for us, we knew there were holes in Bug's education, so we also were supplementing when we could.  I never felt like we were doing enough to fill in those gaps, and that was super-stressful for me.  We have a lovely routine to our days now, and I am loving it.  Also, it's not like during the summer, where everyone is crazypants by the end. That was a concern of mine at the beginning of August.  Everyone was yelling at each other and all the fun summertime relaxation that seemed wonderful in June was just making everyone crabby.  While this was happening and I was putting together lesson plans, I kept thinking "OMG you are insane, woman!! Get them out of the house and take a BREAK!"  But the whole vibe changed once we started our school routine. (Whew!) And as far as "me time", the girls have quiet time in their room every afternoon for an hour or two.  During that time, I *make* myself rest, either with a book or catching up on TV. I relax. Sometimes I even close my eyes for a few moments. :)  I do the same in the evenings after everyone is in bed. And bedtime during the school week is nice and early, at 7:30.  So I get a couple of hours to myself each night.

2. It's such a relief to finally be homeschooling.  I have felt the pull to do this since Bug was a wee one, probably about 2 or 3?  For whatever reason, I really feel in my bones that this is right for us. That is a more nebulous answer than #1, but there you have it.  To finally be diving in and doing it feels SO right to me.  It's a relief to not fight it or worry about it, and just do it.  A huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.


As you can probably tell from my posts, homeschool is working for us, so this is not going to be a temporary situation.  And, as most of you also know, I love a good organizing/decorating project!! :) So I am working to create a more permanent school room.  Right now we have a nice set up, but it's in our dining room with things piled into every nook & cranny I could find out there.  I'm really excited to get a HUGE dry erase board, a school table, and get all my school stuff organized in a more functional way. It will also be nice to get it tucked away into its own space.  This will happen during the week of Thanksgiving, which is our first big break this year.  So, be warned, there will be lots of pictures and posts about the new schoolroom!! :)

I hope everyone is enjoying all the holiday activities this weekend! Happy Fall! :)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Catching Up

I was reminded last week that I haven't been blogging very much.  Oops! :) I'll try to update more.

So, we have finished seven weeks of homeschooling, and I'm ready to call this as one of the best decisions I have ever made. Seriously.  I have had so many moments where I want to freeze time and savor whatever is happening. Some examples: the light bulb going on over Bug's head during a math lesson and the excitement in her eyes, and how she wants to do "just one more!" problem to practice her new skill; when I get to witness my girls laying the foundation for a lifelong friendship; Bug teaching Lulu after she finishes her work; and just those times when I think "Wow, this is amazing that we can do this!"  Those times are quite frequent. The flexibility we have, the latitude to study what we find interesting -- I have not yet come across a downside on this journey.

Last week we wrapped up a few things, and we are about to start some new material.

  • We have finished Alice in Wonderland. The lapbook and book report are completed, and we are ready to start Black Beauty this week.  As you can imagine, Buggy is much more excited about this book. :)  
  • We completed our unit on Picasso and are ready to start Van Gogh.  It's so cool that Bug now knows famous Picasso paintings and can talk about the style of painting he used and what influenced his different painting periods. (Add that to the list of "happy moments" above!)  
  • We are about to start Chapter 3 in our Math in Focus book.  We are *loving* this book. It's very user-friendly for both mom and child.  So far, we have reviewed adding and carrying numbers to add up to 1,000, and then we did subtracting with borrowing (although Bug pointed out that it should be called "stealing" because the tens or ones columns do not give the 1 back...) and subtracting "across zeroes".
  • We are done learning about the Southwestern and Western regions of the US.  Right now, we are reviewing both regions, making sure all the capitals, landmarks, and land forms are memorized before we move on to the Midwest.
  • We are *almost* done with Bach --- we did the different orchestral music periods and types of instruments, and now are listening to various Bach pieces and discussing what we hear.  Handel is next.

  • Science -- I've talked a bit about this in previous posts, but we learned about atoms & matter, and we just finished up a unit on the Animal Kingdoms. This week we will start a month-long unit on rocks & minerals.
  • Spelling - we are going to switch gears on this one after Thanksgiving.  I am not pleased with just memorizing 16 words each week.  I don't feel like Bug is "getting" the rules of spelling or retaining the spelling words beyond the weekly tests.  So I am researching spelling curriculum to find something that would give more information and help Bug in this area.  In the meantime, I'm not going to waste our time with the "old way", and are tabling spelling lessons until December or maybe January.
  • Grammar - chugging along, we do a lesson each morning -- I started her on Level 1 because I thought there may be some gaps, and we are approaching those gaps in the coming weeks. (Singular and Plural Nouns, Verbs, Adverbs, etc.)
  • Reading/Writing - we are talking about the parts of a story, and Bug is working on writing a book.  We are plotting out the conflicts and resolutions, and she is making notes a few times a week about characters and ideas she has.  This should be completed by the end of October.

That about covers what we have been doing! :) Every Tuesday Bug does a PE class with our homeschool group, and then we hang at the park with everyone for an hour or so.  Each week there is a different activity - Lego club, Show & Tell, Cycling Group, etc.  We are all making new friends and feeling pretty at home with this group.

Alright, time to get back to planning and organizing!! I will work on posting more often so it's not such a novella each time.