Day 99

The kids are excited about cleaning up and decorating for their dad’s birthday today, so they were highly motivated to do their schoolwork.

N (age 11):

• Math: After the usual mental math and 28 fractions to simplify, N did her lesson on dividing mixed numbers.  She was feeling pretty good about it and kept skipping steps.  This led to incorrect answers and a bit of frustration on both of our parts.  But, eventually (and a bit huffily), N consented to doing all the steps of each problem and grasped the concept.  She had a 30-problem lesson review.
• Spelling: N had her assessment and got all the answers correct.
• Applied Grammar: Today was the final pre-writing class before paragraph construction will begin next week.  We discussed the purpose of a topic sentence and how it limits what is contained in the paragraph.  Then, we looked at examples of how paragraphs are arranged in a particular order to allow for the logical flow of information.
• Science: N and C researched Edward Maunder and James Croll online, then wrote a paragraph or two on each of their contributions to science.
• Geography: N filled out the seven countries we’ve studied so far on her Middle Eastern map.  Then, N and C learned about Saudi Arabia.  This led to a short discussion on women’s rights.
• Spanish: N was supposed to complete her workbook lesson today.  However, her workbook seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.  She’ll need to complete her workbook once she locates it.
• Music: The usual.

C (age 9):

• Math: After a review of the 9, 3, and 4 times tables, C completed a lesson on determining a function rule.  She’s a big fan of patterns and of solving “mysteries,” so she enjoyed the lesson and powered through it quickly.  She completed a division problem sheet and a lesson review sheet.
• Spelling: C practiced her “aw” sound words.  She got them all correct, but was a bit hesitant on a few of the words.  If she does well on Monday, she will probably have an assessment on Tuesday.
• Applied Grammar: C completed the last, four-sentence paragraph of her short story about the kitten who thinks it’s a duck.
• Science: Combined class, so refer to N.
• Geography: Combined class.  C did everything N did, and she also filled in South and Central American maps for review.
• Latin: C continued to review vocabulary.  It seems to be sticking now, but I want to be sure she has a firm grasp.  We’ll continue to review vocabulary before beginning any new Latin lessons.
• Typing: C continued her speed and accuracy drills.
• Music: The usual.

S (age 6):

• Reading: It seems as if Reading Eggs has outlived its usefulness.  So, I’ve returned to my old favorite, The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading.  I skipped all the lessons teaching the letter sounds, and began with the first actual reading lesson.  We reviewed the letters being used in the lesson with flashcards (A, D, M, N, and T), and then red two-letter words using those letter sounds. S seemed to enjoy reading actual words out of a book. She also enjoyed that the lesson was shorter than a typical Reading Eggs lesson.
• Math: More number recognition flashcard practice.
• Writing: I found a wonderful website (http://www.worksheetworks.com/english/writing/handwriting.html) that allowed me to print customized handwriting worksheets.  So, S practiced writing her full name and the words that she learned to read today in reading class. There was some mild resistance, but she ended up doing quite well.  And we absolutely need to work on handwriting!

Day 98

With this new schedule, Wednesdays have become predominantly independent work, leaving me to the role of “enforcer/supervisor” more than “educator.” It would have gone quicker if N and C had woken at the crack of dawn as is their wont.  For some reason, they slept until 10:00 this morning and didn’t end up starting school until 10:30.  LOOOOOONG day …

N (age 11):

• Math: After some mental math exercises and a problem sheet simplifying improper fractions, N went on to learn how to use prime factorization to reduce fractions. It built on previous so gently that the class didn’t take very long.  The 30-problem lesson review took a little bit longer, but it’s her least favorite part of the day and she tends to put it off until the very end.
• Spelling: N practiced words with hard and soft “c” and “g” sounds again.  She did perfectly and will have an assessment tomorrow.
• Applied Grammar: Pre-writing again, as we discussed which information to include and which information to leave out of a paragraph.
• Science: The kids copied definitions of words they learned during yesterday’s science class, including the Greek and/or Latin roots. They didn’t enjoy this and asked if they could be allowed to type the definitions (there were nine of them).  I made them write it out by hand, however, so that their physical movement would help them remember the definitions better than just reading them.
• History: The kids learned about Shamshi-Adad and the Assyrian Empire.  Then, I read the Epic of Gilgamesh trilogy (see my previous post) to them, as this story was often told in both the Assyrian and the Babylonian Empires. The girls located the ancient empires of Assyria and Babylonia on their maps. N did additional reading on the Assyrian Empire.
• Spanish: N completed her worksheets for the current Spanish lesson.
• Filmmaking: In the last lesson, N learned about typical shots used in a movie.  Today, we discussed special shots: tilts, pans, and masked shots.  She has a week to send me a short film using the aforementioned shots.
• Music: N practiced C and G Major scales five times each, and her lesson five times.

C (age 9):

• Math: C reviewed her 9 times tables and her 3 times tables, and she recited the perfect squares to 100.  Then, she identified parallel line segments in the classroom and in the uppercase alphabet. She finished off the class with a worksheet to review the lesson.
• Spelling: C was introduced to words with the “aw” sound using various spellings. She completed the exercises in her workbook.
• Applied Grammar: C wrote her third four-sentence paragraph for her short story about a kitten who thinks it’s a duck.
• Science: Combined class, same attitude as N.
• History: Combined class.  C did everything but the supplemental reading on the Assyrian Empire.
• Latin: More vocabulary review for C.
• Typing: C continued building her speed and accuracy.  She is still consistently typing at 10 wpm with 100% accuracy.
• Music: C practiced C and G Major scales five times each, and her lesson five times.

S (age 6):

• S did the same thing today as she did yesterday.

Curriculum Recommendation

It’s hard to find ancient literature written for kids. That’s one of the reasons I’m so thrilled with this trilogy by Ludmila Zeman on the Epic of Gilgamesh (Gilgamesh the King, The Revenge of Ishtar, and The Last Quest of Gilgamesh). The illustrations are wonderful, and the translation makes a difficult story more accessible and age-appropriate.

I like to have the kids read abridged versions of Great Books so that when they’re older, they’re less likely to be intimidated when they read the unabridged versions.

Day 97

Cold and rainy days do not do wonders for motivation.  However, we powered through it with many protests and dramatic flailings.

N (age 11):

• Math: She continued to build on her working knowledge of fractions by multiplying mixed numbers.  She also completed some mental math, a worksheet on reducing fractions, and lesson practice (30 questions).
• Spelling: She was pretty distracted during spelling, which caused some mistakes when reviewing words using hard and soft “c” and “g” sounds.  I’ll have her review again tomorrow.
• Reading: Another chapter of Little Women.  She’s almost done.
• Applied Grammar: More pre-writing.  We discussed breaking each category down into supporting sub-points.
• Science: We discussed how the climate works, how sunshine affects the climate, the seasons, and the arguments for and against man-made climate change. The girls recorded today’s high and low temperatures, barometric pressure, and atmospheric conditions.
• Geography: N filled in the six Middle Eastern countries she already knows on her map.  Then, she located Lebanon.  We looked at pictures of Lebanon and discussed its history.
• Social Studies: The girls told me the first two amendments from memory.  Then, we discussed what “quartering” means and why it would be protected by an amendment.
• Spanish: N read a short story in Spanish, translated it into English, and answered comprehension questions on it.  Then, we reviewed the vocabulary for the current lesson.
• Filmmaking: N completed her camera angles sequence.
• Music: N practiced the C and G Major scales five times each, and then practiced her lesson five times.

C (age 9):

• Math: C has used number lines to show positive and negative numbers.  Today, she was introduced to adding, subtracting, and multiplying using a number line. She picked it up quickly, and was anxious to finish the lesson and move on to something else. I had her recite the perfect squares to 100 several times as review.
• Spelling: C had an assessment today.  N gave her the words enthusiastically; so enthusiastically, in fact, that C was a bit distracted by the theatrics and spelled “noise” incorrectly.  I had her write “noise” five times correctly.
• Reading: Another chapter of Heidi (abridged).
• Applied Grammar: C continued practicing paragraph control.  She composed a second paragraph for her short story of the kitten who thinks it’s a duck.
• Science: Combined class, so refer to N’s description.
• Geography: Another combined class.  In addition to what is listed in N’s description, I had her fill out blank maps of South America and Central America for review.  She will continue to do this three times a week until she can fill them out without a mistake.  At that point, she will fill them out once a week, and eventually once a month.
• Social Studies:  Yet another combined class, so refer to N.
• Latin: She reviewed another vocabulary list.
• Typing: She continued her speed and accuracy lessons.
• Music: C practiced the C and G Major scales five times each, and then practiced her lesson five times.

S (age 6):

Flash card day!!!!

• Reading: S practiced all the letters she already learned for recognition and phonetics.  Ten letters to go and we are done the alphabet!
• Writing: S did some copy work and practiced writing her name.
• Math: S practiced number recognition through 11 and counted to 50 with me.

Day 96

I must say, things went pretty quickly and easily for a Monday.  Usually on Mondays, I am begged to give them another day off that they can make up on Saturday.  That arrangement gets more popular with me as summer vacation looms closer, but for now I still make them do class during the week for the most part.

N:

• Math: N took an assessment today.  Aside from three careless calculating mistakes, she did well.  She understands all the underlying concepts, so I feel good about moving ahead without any further review.  She also completed a worksheet with some simple multiplication and division problems.
• Spelling: She continues to practice words using soft and hard “c” and “g” sounds.  Her mistakes tend to be with word endings rather than with the “c” and “g” sounds.  We will continue to review the words.
• Applied Grammar: Today was a pre-writing day.  We discussed paragraph structure.  We also discussed breaking down a main idea into parts that can be used as sentences in the paragraph.
• Science: The kids looked up the high and low temperatures for today and located the barometric pressure.  They noted the atmospheric conditions, and we discussed how those conditions are affected by the barometric pressure. All of this information was charted
• History: The kids learned about Hammurabi of Babylonia and the significance of the Code of Hammurabi.  They read through some of the laws and opined on the fairness or lack thereof.  They located the ancient kingdom of Babylonia on a map and colored a picture of a ziggurat.  N did a crossword puzzle reviewing some of the information we’ve covered in history so far this semester.  Then, she did some supplemental reading from the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and took notes on her reading.
• Logic: N learned about the slippery slope fallacy.  She then identified the slippery slope fallacies in some hypothetical situations and in some actual quotes. She also identified examples of other fallacies she has learned.
• Spanish: N was introduced to the new lesson (“At the Roller Skating Rink”) and practiced the new vocabulary.  She followed along in her worksheet as the teacher on the DVD read two stories, and she answered comprehension questions.
• Music: N practiced the C Major and G Major scales five times each, and then practiced her new lesson five times.

C:

• Math: Feeling satisfied that C understands the concepts with which she had trouble in the last assessment, I moved her on to the next lesson. This lesson was dividing by 7, 5, and 2.  She picked it up quickly and completed her problem worksheet and her lesson review sheet in good time.
• Spelling: C practiced words with the “oy” and “ow” sounds, and I think she will be ready to take an assessment tomorrow and move on to the next lesson.
• Applied Grammar: C is continuing to practice paragraph control by writing a short story about a kitten who think it’s a duck.  There are four main ideas in the story, and C wrote four sentences in support of the first main idea today to create a paragraph.
• Science: C did the same thing as N in this combined class.
• History: This class is combined, so C participated in the lesson, the mapwork, and the coloring.  She didn’t do the supplemental work that I required N to do.
• Latin: I continued to quiz C on vocabulary.  I want to be sure that she has a good grasp of the vocabulary before moving on to the next lesson, because she was becoming increasingly frustrated with the translation exercises.
• Manga: Art can be difficult for C, who tends to be a bit of a perfectionist.  I remind her during every art class that she is only learning the concept, and that she can practice more on her own time.  I demonstrated drawing a 3/4 face, which was a bit of a difficult concept for her to perform.  She pushed through the lesson, however, and was satisfied at the end, declaring she will continue to practice it throughout the week.
• Typing:  C continues to build speed and accuracy.  She is currently typing 13 wpm with 100% accuracy. That’s her best time so far (she was previously typing at 10 wpm).
• Music: C practiced the C Major and G Major scales five times each, and then practiced her new lesson five times.

S:

• Reading: S used Reading Eggs rather reluctantly today, and was introduced to the “d” sound.  I added the Dd flashcard to her repertoire.
• Math: S’s lesson was naming a shape piece using three attributes (shape, color, and size), and identifying a missing piece in a matrix.  She also counted to 40 with me, and reviewed number recognition for numbers 0-11.
• Writing: S was introduced to “D” and “d,” and practiced both.  She continues to practice writing her name.

Day 95

“Fun Friday” became “Fun Saturday/Sunday” due to snow, which is so rare in our area that I couldn’t bring myself to force the kids to sit inside while it was on the ground.  So, here is Day 95 over the course of Saturday and Sunday.

N:

• Math: Math is not usually a part of “Fun Friday,” but N decided to put off doing her independent work on Thursday.  She did a problem sheet of multiplication and division, and she completed her lesson practice of 30 problems.
• Science: The kids and I talked about barometric pressure and how they can guess whether the pressure is higher or lower by observing the atmospheric conditions. The kids began to fill out charts that will track the daily high and low temperature, the barometric pressure, and the atmospheric conditions for 31 days.
• History: It’s been too cold to unveil the completed mummified chicken, so they watched “Joseph: Prince of Dreams” to reinforce their lesson about the Abrahamic roots of the nation of Israel.
• Geography: The weekly review consisted of the kids filling out maps of South America and Central America, and the six Middle Eastern countries they have studied so far.
• Art: The kids practiced intermediate dimension by drawing a set of steps and a record player in a box with an open lid.
• Music: N began lesson 19 of “Teaching Little Fingers to Play,” which introduced a song written in G Major with 3/4 time.

C:

• Science: This is a combined class, so see the description under N’s day.
• History: This is also a combined class.
• Geography: Another combined class.
• Art: You guessed it!  Combined class.
• Music: C began lesson 17 of “Teaching Little Fingers to Play,” which introduced a lower octave and was played in 2/4 time.

S:

• Reading: S practiced the letter sounds she already knows (“overteaching” is the key word with S), and the sight words “and” and “the.”
• Math: S practiced number recognition for numbers 0-11, and helped with recipes in the kitchen.
• Writing: S practiced writing all the letters she can read, and she practiced writing her name.

While I didn’t get the “attitude-free” day I was promised when I gave them Friday off (big shock – ha ha!), spreading out “Fun Friday” made things a bit more relaxed.

Schedules

The main goal of setting yearly, weekly, and daily schedules is finding what works for your family.

Yearly:

I’ve tried several yearly schedules over the course of this homeschooling journey. I started off following a “regular” school schedule.  But that didn’t allow for the kind of flexibility I was hoping homeschool would provide.

So, I moved on to a year-round schedule.  Between September and May, the kids had class four days a week, with the fifth day being free for appointments, field trips, or just hanging out at home.  Between June and August, they had class three days a week.  I liked the flexibility and the fact that the kids didn’t have three months to forget everything I worked so hard to teach them.  But, a couple of health issues, pregnancies, and surgeries threw a wrench into the works, and I ended up abandoning the year-round schedule after a couple of years.

Finally, I settled into our current yearly schedule: “Sabbath Schooling.”  Beginning on August 1, the kids have classes for six weeks (five days a week) and then have a week off.  They also have off for the month of December and for six weeks in the summer (the last two weeks of June and all of July).  There is also enough flexibility to have birthday “holidays.” I can schedule field trips or classes at the local state park on Saturdays to shorten the school year, and this year I taught a week in December so that the kids will have seven weeks of summer break instead of six.

Weekly:

Some homeschool parents fill their days with projects and hands-on learning.  I am not one of those parents.  I do think, however, that the kids need to be able to do projects and art and cooking and all those wonderful hands-on methods that stress me out more than anything else.  So, I incorporated a “Fun Friday” into the weekly schedule. The first four days of the week are spent doing “core” subjects, and the fifth day is reserved for projects and art and music. I print up weekly schedules and hang them on the wall, and the kids cross off each subject as they complete the work for that day.  Motivation!

The week is divided as follows:

For N,

• Mondays: Math, spelling, applied grammar, reading, history, science, logic, Spanish, and music practice
• Tuesdays: Math, spelling, applied grammar, reading, science, geography, social studies, Spanish, and music practice
• Wednesdays: Math, spelling, applied grammar, reading, history, science, Spanish, filmmaking, and music practice
• Thursdays: Math, spelling, applied grammar, reading, science, geography, Spanish, and music practice
• Fridays: Reading, science labs and activities, history projects, geography mapwork review, art, and music lesson

For C,

• Mondays: Math, spelling, applied grammar, reading, history, science, Manga, Latin, typing, and music practice
• Tuesdays: Math, spelling, applied grammar, reading, science, geography, social studies, typing, and music practice
• Wednesdays: Math, spelling, applied grammar, reading, history, science, Latin, typing, and music practice
• Thursdays: Math, spelling, applied grammar, reading, science, geography, typing, and music practice
• Fridays: Reading, science labs and activities, history projects, geography mapwork review, Latin, art, and music lesson

For S, Monday through Friday are the same: Reading, writing, and math.  She occasionally will sit in on some of the “Fun Friday” projects.

Daily:

Having two kids too young to homeschool, I started off separating the kids so that one of the older two was always available to keep an eye on the younger siblings.  So, I would homeschool C in the morning, N after lunch, and S whenever I could squeeze her in.  It worked well until the kids started getting older and their workloads started getting heavier.  It was getting to the point that I was spending 8+ hours a day teaching at the expense of housework, cooking, and quality time with family.

Over this past December, I did some thinking and decided to take a route similar to a fellow homeschooler and friend who has her homeschool set up like a one-room school house. Each morning, the girls get a list of independent work that they are expected to complete.  This includes things like assessments, worksheets, maps, reading, typing, music practice, educational videos, and the like.  While the girls are doing their independent work, I alternate between them, doing one-on-one teaching.  I combine their classes for history, science, social studies, geography, and art, with N (being older) doing some supplemental work on those subjects for her independent work time.

S can independently do her Reading Eggs lesson, read B.O.B. books to other people, and do her handwriting lesson.  I work one-on-one with her doing math and using flashcards for review either while the older two are doing their independent work or after they have finished for the day.

So far, this schedule is working well.  It requires a little more prep time from me in the evenings (writing up independent work lists, gathering and printing necessary materials, etc.), but the time I save by finishing school early is worth the extra prep time. And I like to see them learning to be independent in their studies.

The youngest three are confined to a certain area of the house where I can see and/or hear them while I’m teaching, so they get the supervision they need and I’m still able to teach.