Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I give up.

No, not on homeschooling.  We're in for the long haul.  I give up on scheduling.  Really.  I'm done.

I was looking at our planned schedule for starting kindergarten and the more I stared at it, the more I wondered... why?

Why wait until September? We've had newborns before.  During the day, the newborn stage is probably the easiest.  All they want to do is sleep and eat.  Having a toddler running around is much more difficult.

Why try to schedule set breaks?  This is our school.  We might want to take a random week off.  We might want to work on something the day after Christmas.  We might want to work for four months straight.

Why pace the lessons?  Isn't mastery a big part of homeschooling?  I can say we need to complete 3 lessons per week in math, but we're not moving ahead if understanding isn't there.  Conversely, if we breeze through those three lessons with no issues, should we just twiddle our thumbs until the next week?

So.  Once again.  New plan.

Our start date will be whenever we feel up to it after the baby arrives.

Our focus for kindergarten is going to be the basics and we'll work daily with a time limit instead of trying to get a planned amount done regardless of time.

Reading skills: 30 minutes per day, using The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading and  Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read First Grade

Writing skills: 10 minutes per day, using Zaner-Bloser Kindergarten

Mathematics: 30 minutes per day, using Saxon Math 1

70 minutes per day.  That leaves plenty of time for free reading, playing, and family time.  We'll do art as we like.  We'll keep listening to classical music throughout the day.  We'll explore science at will.

We may start "first grade" a lot sooner this way, and that's fine.  The Well Trained Mind recommends beginning spelling and grammar once you reach lesson 140 in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading.  When we get there, we'll add in Spelling Workout A for 10 minutes per day and First Language Lessons Level 1 for 20 minutes per day.

The other first grade subjects are science and history.  I finally figured out what we're going to do there, although the timing will be up to Henry's maturity and ability.

First, we're going to use Elemental Science.  It's a complete science curriculum created by a pair of homeschooling parents with a heavy science background.  It corresponds to the science cycle recommended in The Well-Trained Mind and looks great.  Here's the grammar stage biology description:
Biology for the Grammar Stage is a complete 36 week set of plans for biology. It is designed to be used with 1st and 2nd graders, but the plans include ideas to adjust the plans for use with your older students. The program lays out a 20 week study of animals using the Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals, a 10 week study of the human body using the DK First Human Body Encyclopedia and a 6 week study of plants using Plant Parts from the Life of Plants Series. The teacher’s guide includes a 2 day and 5 day schedule for reading assignments, vocabulary, experiments, narrations and ongoing projects. We have also created a student workbook to go along with the teacher’s guide. The workbook includes all the pages you need for the ongoing projects, narrations and experiments, plus over 100 pictures for you to use with those pages. With all these tools at your fingertips, you’re sure to have an enjoyable year learning about animals, the human body and plants.

Second, history.  Now, Story of the World sounds like a great program, but I had some serious reservations about how the Church would be presented during the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods.  Based on reviews, it didn't sound too great and I don't trust myself enough with Church history to pick up on and address any issues.  After a lot of researching, I found RC History's Connecting with History.  Yes, the "RC" stands for Roman Catholic.  Weight off my shoulders there!

It is "world History that is Catholic, classical, chronological, family-focused, and based on living books."  Once again, perfect.  It follows a four year cycle, just like Story of the World.  It's also non-consumable.  There are four volumes, one for each year, but they include everything for grammar, logic, and rhetoric.  Because all of the age levels are coordinated, I'll be able to easily incorporate the other kids into our history studies as they come of age.

The only question remaining is when to begin those subjects.  I'm just accepting that this is a question I cannot answer.  It's going to be up to Henry.  When he's ready, we'll start.  That's that.

We're homeschoolers, aren't we?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Pentecost: May 27 - June 2, 2012

Henry completed Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Kindergarten Level 2 today.  He was really, really excited to read the final book, "Big Bad Ben," and he did a great job decoding some unfamiliar words.  Now that he's finished with his preschool language arts, we'll focus on just reading until we get closer to his kindergarten start date.  We've got a complete set of BOB books on the shelf with which Henry has become more and more enamored.  He's also completely delighted with two sets of beginning reader books I picked up: Little Bear and Frog and Toad.  We're still reading through our collection of Andrew Lang Fairy books and I also downloaded an mp3 audiobook, Jim Weiss's Fairytale Favorites in Story and Song.  We listen to that sometimes while playing in the playroom.  I'm looking forward to collecting more of those albums.  Jim Weiss is a great storyteller and it's a wonderful way to get more language immersion in, something that benefits all of the kids.

I hit 37 weeks yesterday.  While I'm not ready to serve an eviction notice yet (we'd have childcare issues prior to the 2nd), I'll welcome any progress.  Our supplies are all in house, the tiny clothes have been washed and placed in the drawers, and the infant car seat is ready to be installed.  We visited some good friends last weekend and they sent us home with their almost new bassinet and bouncer, with a swing to follow.  We've put our set through some hard use over the last five years, so the hand-me-downs were much appreciated!  This weekend, I'll get my bag packed and then we'll just be waiting on nature to take its course.

What we're working on this week:

  • Saxon Math K - lesson 108 (Assessment #13 - Covering designs using tangrams), lesson 109 (Acting out some, some went away stories), and lesson 110 (Placing a tag on a pictograph)
  • OT and ST
  • Colors, letters, shapes, and numbers on Starfall.com
Pentecost is Sunday!  Easter 2012 is coming to a close. We'll make cupcakes to celebrate the Church's birthday and maybe throw in some of these crowns to wear around the table at dinner.  My crafting energy and enthusiasm have diminished as I approach my due date, so I'm not setting the bar too high.  Henry would be satisfied with eating raw cake batter, though, so anything more than that gets his "Best Mom Ever" award.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Seventh Week of Easter: May 20 - 26, 2012

My premonition of the weekend was correct.  The bug that Jane picked up?  She passed it on to me and Oliver.  Our symptoms showed up about 15 minutes apart, in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Mothers' Day was spent in a semi-comatose state, willing myself to keep water down and flinching when the fan moved the curtains and allowed light to enter the room.

Henry made me a lovely card, though.  At one point, he came in the room, cupped my cheek in his hand, shook his head, and solemnly said, "Poor mommy."  What a dear.  Poor Matt was left to keep us all alive.  This was probably the most non-restful leave he's ever taken, but thank goodness he took it.

We limped through the week, cramming most of our assignments into two days.  Henry wound up coming down with a much milder version of the bug on Thursday, but he was feeling fine by the end of the day.  Today is the first day that we've all felt pretty normal, so we're trying to get some things done in preparation for the baby.  Henry and I went through the bags of baby clothes from the shelves, pulling out the newborn and 0-3 month things to run through the wash.  I managed to run to the store yesterday afternoon to pick up a few random things like gas drops and bottle liners and so forth and also renewed our Amazon Subscribe and Save subscriptions for formula and diapers.

I'm getting there.

What we're working on this week:

  • Go For the Code - Finished!
  • Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Kindergarten Level 2 - lessons 14-17 (-eg, -ell, -ck and compound words) - This completes the book!
  • Saxon Math K - lesson 105 (Acting out "some" and "some more" stories), lesson 106 (Dividing a shape by half, ordering shapes by size), and lesson 107 (Comparing objects by weight)
  • OT (We missed the appointments last week due to all the sickness.)
  • Colors, letters, shapes, and numbers on Starfall.com
Our diocese celebrates the feast of the Ascension this Sunday.  I've seen some really neat crafts on Crafolic.com and CatholicIcing.com, but I think we're going to skip it this year.  It's going to take everything we've got to just get all the kids to Mass.  We're still doing on our Garden of the Good Shepherd book, though.  I am so glad we got it; it's really helped to make the whole Easter season special.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sixth Week of Easter: May 13 - 19, 2012

Oh, my.  What a week.  I usually don't post until Saturday or Sunday, but I get the feeling that if I don't do it now when I have a spare moment, it's not going to happen.

Let's see.

Oliver's Child Find screening went well.  Based on the questionnaires I submitted and the assessment that took place at the meeting, the representative is recommending that he receive a full screening through our school system.  The only thing is that we're at the end of the school year and the system may not keep their evaluators on over the summer.  He may not get the full evaluation until the new school year starts.  It's not the end of the world; we'll continue with our existing OT and ST through summer.

My OB visit was supposed to be a quick 15 minute check-up.  During vitals, I mentioned that I've been having dizzy spells, though.  My 15 minute appointment turned into 4 hours at the hospital for labwork, an EKG, and a non-stress test.  Fortunately, everything looked just fine for me and for Peter/Violet.  It's just one of those lovely aspects of being pregnant.

Jane's and Oliver's well-checks were great.  It was nice to go over everything with our pediatrician and we're finally moving forward with the applications to get Oliver set up for ABA therapy.  We should hear something in the next two to three weeks.

The latest ultrasound was slightly alarming.  At the last one, 5 weeks ago, Peter/Violet was tipping the scales at 4 pounds.  At my OB appointment, the midwife mentioned that I'd only gained three pounds since the last time she saw me.  I specifically remember thinking, "more like the baby gained three pounds."  Well, I was right.  The latest measurements put this kid at 6 pounds, 14 ounces.  I'm 35 weeks.  This is looking like another 10 pounder.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

To top off everything, Jane picked up some kind of bug, probably from the waiting room of the pediatric clinic.  She started throwing up last night around 2:30 and continued to do so every thirty minutes until mid-morning.  Poor thing is sleeping it off right now.  She's been able to keep a little down, so I hope it's already subsiding.

In the midst of all this chaos, school got shunted to the side.  Thankfully, Henry was patient enough to do three days worth of work this morning.  It certainly helped that the majority of math was playing dominoes!  Here's hoping that next week is a bit calmer.

What we're working on this week:

  • Go For the Code - We're finishing this week!  Our final lesson is a review of all three books.
  • Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Kindergarten Level 2 - lessons 11-12 (-ed, -en, and -et words)
  • Saxon Math K - lesson 102 (Covering designs with tangrams), lesson 103 (Assessment #12 - Copying geoboard designs), and lesson 104 (Ordering objects by size)
  • OT and ST
  • Colors, letters, shapes, and numbers on Starfall.com

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Fifth Week of Easter: May 6 - 12, 2012

Busy, busy, busy week.  Matt's actually taking leave so he can be here for all of the appointments we've got set up.  We've got Oliver's screening with Child Find.  Both Oliver and Jane have well-check appointments with our pediatrician.  I've got a regular OB visit, plus another level II ultrasound.  And Oliver is on a cancellation list for OT and ST this week.

I'm getting tired just looking at that paragraph.  We will soldier through.

What we're working on this week:

  • Go For the Code - letter x
  • Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read Kindergarten Level 2 - lessons 8-10 (-ut, -ub, and -up words)
  • Saxon Math K - lesson 99 (Paying for items using pennies, nickels, or dimes), lesson 100 (Identifying and matching equivalent sets, identifying doubles), and lesson 101 (Identifying and matching equivalent sets, identifying doubles - again)
  • Possibly OT and ST
  • Colors, letters, shapes, and numbers on Starfall.com
We started Oliver on the Wilbarger Brushing Protocol yesterday, per our OT's recommendation.  I'm doing it every two hours while he's awake.  So far, he seems to enjoy it.  I'll continue this schedule for the next two weeks, then discuss any changes we see with his OT and proceed from there.