Friday, August 30, 2013

Homeschooling | Our First Two Weeks

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Two weeks into the school year and we are still happy about school!

As I have mentioned before we are following The Well Trained Mind method of homeschooling. I knew that the traditional schooling method was not working for us last year. There were days of crying, frustration, and wanting to just give up.... and sometimes my kindergartener had a rough time, too!

I began looking into different methods and curriculums and stumbled upon Classical Conversations. The curriculum follows the trivium of learning and just made sense to me (I like things that make sense). I looked at the price and felt that, for the time being, it was too much for us.

So I continued my search.

As I was listening to the Simple Mom podcast one day, she and her guest were speaking about the curriculums they use to homeschool. The show's guest mentioned that they use Classical Conversations, and the show's host said something like, "Aw! We wish we could do that. We are doing The Well Trained Mind which is basically the cheaper version of Classical Conversations."

Light bulb! (said with the accent of Gru from Despicable Me)

I love having my children around, but that day I could not wait for naptime. As soon as they went down, I got on the computer and began researching, comparison pricing, searching EBay and Amazon for books, and ordered the curriculum guide- The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (Third Edition) .

After two weeks of school I can say with full confidence that, by the grace of God, we have finally found the perfect method for our daughter!

School begins for us after everyone is dressed, hair is combed, and dishes are washed- anywhere between 8:15-9:00 (every day is so different).

School is only done in the office. We have a sofa(bed) where we sit (or the kids lie... or roll on.... or drape themselves over....) for most of our work and a pint sized table and chair for Addie to sit at for her writing assignments.... but sometimes the floor works just as well.

None of our work ever leaves the office (except for spelling homework that Daddy does with Addie on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday). I want "school" to be contained in one area of the house for a feeling of freedom and relaxation throughout the rest of the day.

We review our Sunday school lesson or work on our AWANA lesson first. For us, it is a simple way of reminding our children to put God first. One morning I went right into our lessons and Addie accused me of forgetting to put God first in the day.

Next we read a fun book for Ian's sake. Right now our book is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Addie has it re-memorized at this point (she memorized it when she was 3), and now "reads" it to Ian throughout the day. Ian chimes in with the "Boom Boom" part.

I give Ian a page to color, and then Addie and I work on her reading, language lessons, and writing. While she is doing her written work, I get on the floor with Bud and we work on letters, colors, and numbers.

Once Addie is done with her writing work, we move on to Spelling and Math and Ian watches LeapFrog: Letter Factory.

Next we read part of the section for the week in The Story of the World and Addie orally answers questions about the section, which I copy down for her notebook. We alternate days with the text book, supplemental library books and worksheet activities.

After history, we have science. We use the The Kingfisher First Animal Encyclopedia (Kingfisher First Reference) as our starting point and them depending on which animal we are studying, we supplement with library books. (I have only had one bad experience where a book on lions showed them attacking a hippo and a zebra. Ian promptly said, "I scare!" So was I, Buddy!)

As I put papers in our binder/portfolio, put books away, and write down the names of all of the books we read that day, Addie goes to the piano and practices her songs from our piano lessons.

Our school day is then officially over. The door to the office is closed and we live in the rest of the house for the rest of the day.

It takes us pretty much two hours to do our work. Although that may seem like such a minimal amount of time, I cannot get over how much she retains from our lessons. It also only takes us 2 hours because I am currently teaching one child (in a classroom setting a full 6 hours is definitely needed for the ONE teacher to attend to all 25-30 students in her class).

Ian is learning, too, but his learning time is very informal and involves a lot of play and coloring. He is never excluded. He is welcomed to join us at any point in our lessons, but he really only likes to stick around for science when we read our library book about animals. However, he has begun making the associations between letters and their sounds, knows the colors blue, green, and yellow, and can name a host of animals and make their sounds. Little smarty pants!

This year, we are only having class time at home 4 times a week. The Well Trained Mind Curriculum is designed for a four day week so the 5th day can be spent at the library or doing other types of hands on/ related projects to reinforce what has been learned. We will be using our non-schooling day at Co-op, where Addie will participate in 3 hours worth of classes with other homeschooled children.

You know you have made the right choice in your child's education when they ask daily if you can "have school time," and on Saturday night they act like the world is falling apart because you "forgot" to have school time that day.

Yeah, Lord willing, it is going to be a great school year!


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