Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Homeschool Planning Chat...

I'm excited to announce that I'll be joining Mystie Winckler, among others in an upcoming Homeschool Planning Chat next Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. Pacific (3:00 p.m. Central, which is my time).  We will be discussing how to communicate your homeschool plan to your children as well as how to flex pre-made plans when the going gets tough.  Please join Mystie Winckler of Simply Convivial, Kortney Garrison, Dawn Garrett, Virginia Lee Rogers, and I for an afternoon of encouragement.

Click here to register.....and no worries, if you're unavailable at that time.  Once registered, you will be sent a replay link at the end of the webinar.  So join our free upcoming chat about homeschool planning, expectations, and living out those plans:

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Weekly Reflection - Week Three...

At Home

Our third week of school brought the start of a few more extra-curricular activities.  RileyAnn started Fall Ball last Sunday.  Also, Riley and Ruben both kicked off the first semester of choir.  It was great to see friends and get back into the swing of things.

Academics went a bit smoother this week. The kids are starting to get into a routine.  Ruben was excited about starting choir and seeing friends so he worked extra hard to complete his studies.  Their student planners are helping them stay on task.

Wow, did we ever have rain this week!  Wednesday night local rainfall ranged from 5-11 inches in a few short hours.  Several roads, culverts, and bridges were washed out including a road running parallel to our property.  Thursday morning, we found ourselves in a traffic jam while enroute to choir.  A four-lane state highway was reduced to one lane with several inches of water running across.  We were delayed by twenty-five minutes waiting in the two mile back-up to get through.  Thankfully, the predicted rain since has held off giving the initial blast a chance to subside.

Around the Web

Early in the week, I listened to Homeschool Snapshots Podcast 34 with Pam Barnhill and Missy Andrews.  The first half gave much needed encouragement and inspiration.  The second half reinforced teaching from good literature.  It was a great pick-me-up and just the boost I needed to jump start Monday morning.

I actually don't think I've listened to a podcast all summer so I'm a bit behind, but it's OK because WI winters are really long!  Wednesday morning, I went back and listened to BiblioFiles Episode #2, The Great Conversation, in which the Andrews family discussed the meaning of the Great Conversation.  There was also a bit of a squabble as to whether or not modern movies and lit can or will become part of that conversation.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Feel free to leave a comment below after listening to the discussion.

I also read Assigned reading, free reading, and raising readers by Mystie Winckler and Old Enough to Bless Others by Brandy Vencel.  Last year, I assigned Riley and Ruben to read to Levi daily, which was great for all involved.  Riley and Ruben got practice reading aloud and Levi benefited from being read to.  It was a win/win!  Unfortunately, it ended with the academic year and I failed to schedule it this year.  I'm still thinking on this one, whether or not to schedule.  I'd like to see it become a habit, not a chore.  The Farmer and I are both readers so hopefully our modeling excites and ignites that fire for our children.

Teacher Training

Our CM study group met last night to discuss Chapter One of Consider This, Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass.  It was great to be back together!  The camaraderie was fabulous and we had some new moms, bringing our total to nine.  I do intend to blog through the book as I did with Charlotte Mason's A Philosophy of Education so stay tuned for future posts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Habit of Orderliness, Helping Students Stay Organized....

In an effort to help my kiddos stay organized, for the past few years, I've created student planners.  You may remember from Planning Your Homeschool Year that I am primarily a paper/pencil planner. I've tried digital planning unsuccessfully...mostly because our computer crashed that year.  I've since created my master plans in Word, but print hard copies to work off of throughout the year.  

RileyAnn has always been fascinated by my lesson plans. Back in 4th grade, she wanted a system to keep track of her own assignments.  She's very motivated and has been striving for independence in her academics for some time.  You may also remember the paper/pencil Term Checklists I posted back then.  Riley is my lover of box checking so she loves the checklist system.  
The habit of regularity is as attractive to older children as to the infant.  The days when the usual programme falls through are, we know, the days when the children are apt to be naughty.  Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 p. 132
This year, I thought about doing away with the checklists because I wanted to try a new system as I felt Riley was ready for the entire lesson plan.  However, Riley begged for them and we compromised.  I gave her the desired check boxes as well as the lesson plans.  It was a win, win all the way around.  

Below you will see Riley's Term 1 Daily Checklists.  This year, I've scheduled all subjects in a four day week, leaving the fifth day open.  In the past, I've scheduled a lighter fifth day, but never left it completely open.  I wasn't sure it would work and was open to the idea of carry over if four days got to be too much.  However so far, it's been wonderful!  

This week we do start choir, which requires travel time and usually errands when we head to the city.  It's also typically a day to have lunch, shop, or play at the park with friends.  The kids now have the option to complete their school work on that day after arriving home or saving it for the fifth open day.  My goal was to create more time for leisure and contemplation.  Over the past couple of weeks on their fifth free day, the kids have done such things as helping me work our thrift sale, an art tour, baking, building, free reading, spending time out of doors, etc.  So far, it certainly hasn't been a wasted day.  Each of them now has built in time to cultivate other interests and hobbies.  

Following the Term Checklist is Riley's At-A-Glance Term Lesson Plan Chart.  I've modeled this after the Ambleside Online Printable Charts.  When it says Jungle Pilot on Day 1 of her Checklist, Riley can go to the Term Lesson Plan and see that she's supposed to read Ch 1-2 that day.  When it says Natural History on Day 4, she can cross reference to see that she is to read Ch 1 of Keeping a Nature Journal.  These two types of charts have not changed over the past couple of years.  Riley liked this system so we will continue.  I've decided if it's not broke, don't fix it!

The change I did make to Riley's student planner this year was due to her request for more independence.  I actually handed over the entire lesson plan to her.  For example, I made a copy of the AO Year 6 Old Testament Bible reading plan, the Beautiful Feet Ancient History pages with the lessons on them, a plan for mapping her geography, science lesson plan, and a sample of what her rhetoric assignment should look like in her notebook.  I then used my ProClick Binder to bind it all in one as you can see below.  You may want to check out Riley's 2016-2017, Homeschool Plan for 7th Grade for a better understanding of her schedule and assignments.  

Next there's Ruben, who hated the checklist system and was confused by all the boxes.  As an alternative, last year I created a table with a list of daily expectations.  I then printed it and placed it in a sheet protector which he added to his 3-ring binder.  Rather than ask me what he needed to do each day, he simply took out his list and was able to see for himself.  It looked like this....

Ruben Daily Schedule Year 5 2015-2016
Nature Study
Church History
Church History
Daniel Boone
Free Reading
BF History
BF Science
BF History
BF Science
BF History
Oliver Twist
Scrub Floor
Incredible Journey


Read to Levi
Read to Levi
Read to Levi
Read to Levi

Ruben liked this daily expectation chart, but because it was simply a printed table, it wasn't fluid to changing assignments.  It didn't allow me a written way to assign page numbers or chapters to be read.  This year I really wanted something with more detail to promote independence for him. Yet, it needed to be simple, straight forward, one page, with little on the page.  Last year, I also tried giving Ruben a Term Lesson Plan like Riley's shown above, but it was confusing for him.  I knew the checklists didn't work and I knew he would be overwhelmed by the entire lesson plan.  

Then I remembered reading How I'm Using Spiral Notebooks to Simplify Homeschooling by Sarah Mackenzie and wondered if a spiral notebook system would work for Ruben.  About the second day of school, I decided to try it.  I picked a plain old 19-cent spiral bound notebook...in his favorite color, of course. 

Because we chose Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ this year for Ruben, there was not a lot of lesson planning involved on my part.  Each day has a two-page spread in the teacher's manual showing that day's lessons. 

However, because I subbed out some books and chose our own language arts and math, the plan doesn't list those items.  This is where Ruben's student notebook comes in.  Every evening, I look over the next day's HOD plan.  From there, I make a total list of assignments in Ruben's spiral notebook.  Again, looking at Ruben's 2016-2017 Homeschool Plan for 6th Grade will give you a better understanding of his assignment schedule. 

In the morning, Ruben can work through the list and know what's expected of him. As Charlotte Mason said, children desire regularity. They thrive when adhering to a schedule or routine.  Ruben loves knowing what he has to do before starting his day and now that we're in our third week of school, I like that he can check his list each morning, pick out some independent assignments and begin working.  

There are a few books that he still prefers me to read aloud to him, but I do see him slowly gaining confidence, which is creating more independence in his studies.  For example, this morning I left the "school room" to put a beef roast in the crock pot for supper.  Upon my return, Ruben was lying on the couch reading his science text.  It was a beautiful sight! 

Overall, our new student planners are working great!  Riley and Ruben are both happy, as am I.  The new system is helping each of them to stay organized. We have found a routine and are building the habit of orderliness. 
Let all things be done decently and in order. - 1 Corinthians 14:40
Do you use student planners?  I'd love to hear about what works for your family.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Weekly Reflection - Week Two

I have this cute little boy who loves all things "school".  I also have a handsome big boy who despises all things "school".  The irony is the one who doesn't need formal lessons wants them and the one who needs, wants nothing to do with it.  This is the conundrum week two of our 2016-2017 school  year brought me.

Early on in the week The Farmer and I divided and conquered...well, sort of, divided yes, conquered, we're still working on that.  Monday, he worked with Ruben and I with Riley.  This gave him some perspective on the programs we're using and Ruben's progress.  From there, I made a few more modifications to Ruben's curricula and am in the process of re-thinking his plan.  After reading Back at the Beginning Again, I'm trying to decide what does Ruben need most and what is frosting for me...ahem.

Ruben and I finished Dinosaurs of Eden by Ken Ham, to both of our delight.  Some of the content was good, but overall, the book was preachy with too many bible verses shoved in between.  Not to mention, neither one of us is really interested in dinosaurs.  In its place, we started The Golden Bull by Marjorie Cowley.  I've decided to switch things up a bit and moved Ruben's read aloud to bedtime.  He really liked this and as long as he got to bed at a decent time, like before I was falling asleep and feeling the book hit my face, I enjoyed it as well.  Ruben is reading the DK Illustrated Family Bible on his own and listening to the audio CD What in the World? Ancient Civilizations and the World by Diana Waring independently.  This is going great!  As a result he's been able to narrate and have meaningful discussion.

RileyAnn started an online math class this week using Lial's Basic College Mathematics.  Since she's never done an online class, I sat with her for the first class and just may continue in the future so we can stay on the same page.  The class is weekly and you pay by the month, which I love for a couple of reasons.  One, the student is not tied to the computer daily.  Two, paying monthly is more financially feasible than a lump sum.  Also, you are free to cancel or stop anytime if it doesn't work.  But, I must say, so far, Mrs. Perkins is fabulous!  And, I really like having that extra support for middle school math.

Because our week was a little busier with appointments and because of some issues with Ruben, Levi didn't participate much this week.  He did do some coloring and I introduced the Play-Doh, which was a huge hit.  Something I'm disappointed in is the fact that I didn't read to him as much as I wanted to this week.  We literally have shelves of fabulous picture books, but I need to come up with a way to pull out a few and have them on hand in a pinch.  It's an organizational issue more than anything.  I added it to the list of things to do.

Lastly, the kids started back to youth group at church this week.  Levi has not traditionally participated as we felt he was too young.  However, we're trying it this year on a week by week basis.  He had a bit of a behavior issue so we've decided to take a week off and see how it goes.  Riley bumped up a level this year so her program lasts 30 minutes longer than the boys.  This creates a lag time with not much for them to do.  It lasts until 8:00 p.m., which pushes bedtime later.  This is a challenge in and of itself.

Around the Web

Today, I listened to Schole Sisters podcast #10, Which Comes First? The Principles or the Practical.  Pam Barnhill's narration example made sense and helped me to see the point.  I had been practicing Charlotte Mason's method haphazardly for years, but after finishing our study of A Philosophy of Education, I was convicted by her principles to carry on more wholeheartedly with the practices.

I also read Mystie's post on How to lesson plan so you're never behind.  It sounds wonderful in theory, but since I'm a paper/pencil planner, I wonder about organizing the lists.  I did link this post in my OneNote for future reference.

Schole Sisters Update and Charlotte Mason Book Club Announcement

After finishing Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, my Schole Sisters group decided to continue by reading The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck.  I am nearly two-thirds of the way through.  It was a book I read in high school as assigned reading for 10th or 11th grade English.  It's interesting to re-read through an adult lens.  I'll be sure to post in the future when I've finished.

After taking the summer off of academic/teacher-training reading, I can't wait to get back with my Charlotte Mason Study Group.  We have decided to read Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass.  We meet next Friday to discuss Chapter One and I'm really looking forward to it.  It looks like we will have a couple of new members.  We will all be about 3-5 weeks into the new academic year and I'm sure there will be much discussion on what's working and what's not.  I love having these like minded women to bounce ideas with.

If you haven't already, I highly encourage you to find your sisters.  Having homeschool support friends is a must!  ...and, if you're looking for great books, either for yourself or your student(s), be sure to check out our Updated Book Lists with Index!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Updated Book Sale Lists with Index....

I've been frantically updating book lists, adding new books and deleting sold books, hopefully, just in time for the new academic year. There's tons of great new living books available, including selections from Ambleside Online, Beautiful Feet, Sonlight, TruthQuest History, Veritas Press, and Visual American History Timeline of Books.   Below, I've created an index by subject of the most current lists of books we have for sale.  Please feel free to ask questions or send requests via the contact form on the right.  I accept PayPal and ship media mail within the U.S.

Thanks so much for your consideration,

Friday, September 9, 2016

Weekly Reflection - Week One...

We kicked off the 2016-2017 academic year this week.  Overall, things went well, but I have decided to make a few changes which I've noted below...

RileyAnn - Year 7

Rather than having Riley draw the same map four days in a row for two weeks, I am opting to have her draw one day, label the next, draw one day, label the next, so on and so forth.  Drawing and labeling every day was just too much.  Because we based our geography schedule off the Classical Conversations schedule, which is only a 30 week school year and ours is 36 weeks, I added an extra week to most continents.  In the end, this will give her more drawing and labeling time so I feel the every other day schedule is sufficient.

I've decided against Latin for Children and will be returning it to CAP.  We really didn't even try it so I can't give an adequate review.  Something in my gut just told me it wasn't right.  We will try something else for Latin, I'm just not quite sure what yet.

So far, Riley is loving her studies, particularly history and science.  Her online math class doesn't start until next week so I'm having her do some review from prior years and fact practice in the mean time.  The first day was a bit rough, but by the end of the week, she was actually smiling and said math got better as the week went on.  I just hope her experience and attitude continues to be positive throughout the year.

Ruben - Year 6

Ruben started strong, but did wear a bit thin by the third day.  He's just not big on academics regardless of what we use/do.  He likes most of the books we're reading, but the writing assignments are taxing him so I'm modifying them.  I allowed him to orally dictate his written narration to me while I typed it.  He then pasted it into his history notebook.  I'd like him to learn to type this year so he can type his own narrations since the physical act of writing is difficult for him.  I'm adding typing to our list of work.

Levi - Preschool

This little pumpkin was such a trooper.  The first day, he refused to leave the school area and really wanted to participate with everything the big kids did.  He loves his new books and supplies.  However, rather than wanting to read the Before Five in a Row story again each day, he opted for a different book each day, which was fine.  I want his academic experience to be very low key at this point and time.

We all loved having Friday off!  RileyAnn turned 13 years old today, which is so hard to believe. Another mother/friend, her daughter, Riley, and I had a girl day.  We went on a local art tour.  We made 14 stops and viewed the craft of over 30 artists, ranging from pottery, stained glass, mosaics, fiber art, metal art, drawing, painting, jewelry making, etc. It was fabulous!

Around the web, recently Mystie Winckler from Simply Convivial kicked off a new audio blog podcast series.  I did get a chance to listen to the first episode this week and it was wonderful.  It was very well timed for our first week of school. Quality over quantity is a principle I'm hoping to put into action this year.

Have you kicked off your 2016-2017 academic year?  If so, I'd love to hear how it's going.  Feel free to share in the comments below.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

2016-2017 Homeschool Plan, Preschool....

Our baby turned four years old this summer.  He will not be attending 4K.  I am not a huge fan of preschool.  I'm of the mind that young children need to romp and roam.  They need to be read great books.  They need time in the out of doors nurturing their imagination.
“In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother’s first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air”. - Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1, p. 43
These are the days I am so thankful for homeschooling.  I can allow our children "quiet growing time" as Charlotte says.  Only because Levi has been asking to "do school" like Riley and Ruben did I pick up a few things of an educational nature, particularly to fill time on those long cold Wisconsin winter days.

Before Five in a Row - I wish I would have used the Five in a Row program with Riley and Ruben.  Now, I finally get my chance.  I'm so excited about the books.  Levi loves to be read to and I believe FIAR offers some of the best children's literature.  I'm not sure how many of the activities we'll do, but we will definitely be snuggled up reading.

Levi loves to cut paper so I was very excited when Timberdoodle sent us Faber-Castell My First Scissors and Kumon More Let's Cut Paper in exchange for a blog review.  He's used to a regular scissors so I'll be curious to see how he does with the ergonomic design.  I'll let you know how it goes.

I also purchased We Live on a Farm coloring book and About Three, both from Rod & Staff.  Again, because these are activities Levi enjoys.  He's already asking to color in his new coloring book.

Lastly, I plan to create activity boxes so he has something to do while I'm working with Riley and Ruben.  I found two large Ziploc bags of Play-Doh toys at a thrift sale.  I plan to buy or make some new Play-Doh and put it with the toys in one activity box.  I also found a Lakeshore Learning caddy with child size crafting scissors, which I will pair with scrap paper and glue in another box.  I'd like to make four boxes total, one for each day of our school week.  Let me know if you have ideas for other quiet activity boxes.