Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Current LDS homeschooling Trends

I'm saddened and concerned by the current LDS homeschooling trends I've observed the last couple of years. I think it started with TJED and the idea that they are raising the leaders of the future. Now I'm seeing families declutter their houses to the point that they hardly have anything left for their children to do besides read old classic books. I'm not against decluttering, but I think they are taking it too far. Also, they focus on classic literature and don't seem to be encouraging and helping their children to excel in other subjects such as math. I think math is a hard one to catch up on. I'm afraid these children will not be well prepared for adulthood and this will put a bad light on homeschooling.

People don't seem to know how far to go or when to stop. Like I said before, decluttering is not a bad thing, but throwing everything out is. The public schools definitely have problems, but that doesn't mean that everything they do is evil. What I'm seeing with this group of homeschoolers is that in an effort to push away the bad they see with public school, they are trying to do the exact opposite. For example, some of them blog about how their house looks like a home and not a school. That's fine, but is it such a bad thing to have an area where your kids can really study? Maybe they would like a desk to spread out their books and to be able to write and work out problems. Does that look too much like a school?

The public schools definitely have problems, but they do have their good points. As homeschoolers and especially as LDS homeschoolers I would like to see us take the good things done in public school and incorporate it. I would like to see us take education to a higher standard and excel in all the subjects-- not just classic literature. We definitely need logic skills, critical thinking skills, math skills, computer skills, reading skills, writing skills and a good solid foundation of history as well as of religion.

Anyway, I'm disappointed that so many have enough courage to take their children out of school, but then really don't teach them even what they would have learned in school. Out homeschooled children need to know what they teach in school -minus the social agendas and missocialization- plus way more. Homeschooling is a great opportunity to give our children a really strong foundation and a great education. They should definitely learn Latin and formal Logic and Calculus.

I like the path we are on. It hasn't been proven because my kids just aren't old enough, but we are beginning to see the happy results. It is a lot of work, but so worth the effort! I don't think everybody should do what I'm doing and use the same curriculum I use, but I do wish there were more LDS homeschoolers concerned about the best way to teach math or science rather than writing super long posts on how their kids' friends are so inferior because they play video games and read Harry Potter.

My take on video games and Harry Potter is that it is O.K. in moderation. It can be overdone and like everything we need to find a healthy balance. The healthy balance for us to only play video games on Friday and Saturday with minutes they have earned throughout the week. The healthy balance to Harry Potter is to read lots of books, then the kids will discover the difference between entertainment and a great book. Entertainment is not bad in and of itself, just when it is out of balance. Same with deep study and reflection- it is good, but we can't do it all the time-- we need to unwind. Balance-- it's all about balance!!

Our "Break"

I'm not sure how we fit homeschool in at all with our busy schedule of living with 5 kids and baby twins. I guess it is because the kids are really responsible for completing their tasks and I nurse the babies or feed them while I answer questions. I guess I feel more accomplished when we do school, because doing fun extra projects with baby twins in tow is just about an impossible task. I did get to play with them more than usual today and they finally got baths which they loved, but I didn't get the Christmas cards out or their stockings sewn. We did finish up our Christmas shopping and I got some parts for my antique sewing machines, but there is just so much I want to do and so many more ideas I have of things that would be fun to do with the kids. Anyway we rearranged the furniture in our house yesterday and now we have a nice computer table area where we can hook up 3 computers so the kids will be able to be on them at the same time instead of watching each other while they wait for their own turn.

The kids looked at google earth for a long time today. I think it's pretty educational. I also had them do their chores and they got to watch a little T.V. I think they are enjoying their break. I hope I'll be able to read with them extra tomorrow. We got to play some of our instruments this evening. I played the guitar, #2 played the piano and #1 played the violin. We are all beginners on these instruments, but we had fun nevertheless. We still have to have structure. I am just as busy not homeschooing as I am when I'm homeschooling, so I guess I'm not really getting a break. I guess mothers of small children and especially twins, really don't get a break. I just have to focus on the basics. My goal for the break is to get our homeschool plans for the upcoming semester in order and printed for the various students, and to get in the habit of starting dinner by 4 so that we can eat no later than six-- I'm sorry to admit that it takes that long sometimes with the myriad of interruptions and the dinner helpers I have.

Just 3 more days til Christmas!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review of the Week #8

Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday went smoothly. #2 didn't need much help with math or Greek so that freed me up a bit. The preschooler was busy all week playing with our geotrax set and the girls were tired of being preschool teachers, so that gave them a little bit extra time to finish their stuff. The boys got all their stuff done early. I worked with them first and had the girls do the stuff they don't need my help with. It was a pretty good week. We went to a fun center Wednesday afternoon with some friends and had a great time. I pushed the twins around the skating rink in their stroller; it was really fun for me. We will definitely be doing that again these cold wintery months. We took Thursday off for an eye appointment and some errands. #4 is doing really well with that and making great progress. I took some time to sew which I just have to do sometimes and the kids watched T.V. It was hard to get back into our routine on Friday, but everybody managed to get their chores and their schoolwork finished before we went to a good-bye party for our good friends. Kinda sad, but the kids had fun sledding at their house which we will also miss.

So we are now at the end of the semester and really looking forward to our 2 week break. I want to use the time to get Christmas cards and gifts finished up, organize and sort through our massive collection of children's books and get the laundry under control. The laundry is amazingly out of control. The kids just want to play. It should be fun!!

I think we are going to do a Bethlehem dinner on Christmas Eve. I read about it on lovetolearn.net . Life is good. We are happy and I'm glad we homeschool and I'm glad for a break!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review of the Week #7

The only part of group time we did this week was scripture study and singing Christmas songs. I organized our one on one time better to make sure everybody got the time with me they needed to get their work done. Everybody did great getting their main subjects and workbooks finished. I want us to get more used to this method before I reintroduce structured group time. I also had a few places in the house that needed organizing and decluttering. I got to do that this week and I feel soooooo much better. Assigning cleaning zones has worked great. This Saturday our Saturday jobs only took about 1 1/2 hours and the kitchen and dining room floors are mopped and the whole house was vacuumed and picked up. I feel so good with a clean house. There are a couple more places I need to declutter and organize, but we are making really great progress. It does help that the babies are getting older.

Number #4 passed his math test on the first try and started 2B. #3 is reading well and finally reading a lot of things on his own. #2 is making great progress in her Greek workbook. She is really getting it and understanding all the rules and functions of the language. She is also focusing better and getting her work done in a timely matter instead of dragging it out and getting very distracted. #1 continues to do well, she's just very good and mature and a joy to work with.

There is as always plenty of room for improvement. But improvements can't be made until these first steps are mastered. I think this new format of working with each child individually and assigning them to keep the 3 yob busy is a winning solution for us right now. The trick with homeschooling is that this format may stop working, but we'll keep it up until then. Then we'll do something else. the curriculum and the stuff we're learning are constant, but the way we do it may change.

Anyway, some changes I foresee is that we will need to get started earlier. That really can't happen until both babies sleep through the night consistently, but they are getting there. Another change is that I am going to have to add piano lessons in more consistently as well. We will also need to add in science experiments and lessons. Some of this will be covered in group time, some of it will just need to be added to the schedule.

Overall a good week. We accomplished a lot. It feels so good to work hard and play hard. We spent a lot of time on the wii this weekend and playing with friends, but it was well-deserved and I'm sure we'll be ready to go again on Monday after our day of rest tomorrow!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Burn-Out and friends moving

I'm getting a little burnt-out with school. So I've taken a break on group time. When it stops being fun, I just have to take a break!! We'll pick up Spanish and French again as well as science, but for now we are just covering the basics. I love doing all the enrichment activities, but I think Christmas is our enrichment for the month. Breaks are a wonderful thing!!

Our 2 best friend homeschooling families are both moving. One family is moving to Maine and the other to Wyoming. We are so sad. It feels like we have to start all over. We do a have a nice group that meets at the park once a week and I'm sure we'll make new friends and other people will move in, but we will sure miss these friends. We've had such a great time over the past couple years doing activities together.

I wish I was moving too. Oh well-- no such luck!!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Review of the Week #6

This was a pretty good week overall. We only got 2 group times in, but we are switching things around again. Read my previous post to hear how the new preschool works. We started that this week, because the 2 oldest just need one on one time with me for Greek and Math. It can be very taxing on me, but I'm figuring out how to manage it. The past 2 years most of my energy has been mainly focused on my baby twins- the pregnancy and nursing. The kids still did their workbooks and plowed through stuff, but we would spend a lot of time going back and filling in holes. It was not the most efficient way to learn, but we that's all I could do. It has been nice to get back into it and now I'm figuring out how to make the whole process efficient.

A couple weeks ago I adopted Diane Hopkins method from www.lovetolearn.net for getting everybody ready on time except we're using marbles instead of dimes. They can keep the marbles or trade them in for minutes on the wii. Each kid gets a marble when they are dressed and ready to go at 9:30. They have a zone of the house to clean and their rooms have to be done too as well as their breakfast dishes rinsed and teeth brushed in order to earn the marble. Then we have a short group time singing a couple songs, have a prayer review our scripture of the week and do some yoga/ stretching. Then I set the timer and I take one girl to work with one on one while the others do preschool with the other girl as the teacher. It was so nice this week!! The other change I implemented was to keep the time the girls work on math to an hour a day even if they don't finish their alloted pages so that they are not overwhelmed. This is especially important for the older girl because there are some math concepts that take her a while to sink in. In the past we would spend a couple hours trying to get the concept down and it was frustrating for me and for her, so now once the timer goes off we stop. I think it helps her to focus better during that short time knowing it will end and it saves my sanity because I just don't have time to spend any more than that.

We didn't do Spanish or French this week. I did find my mp3 player though. wE only did history and science once, but that's how it goes. The boys got to do preschool, we read a bunch of books from the library, we went to a reenactment of the journey to Bethlehem which was great. And everybody has kept up with what they were supposed to. Good overall, always room for improvement. I'm excited to try some new things this coming week!

Preschool taught by Older Kids

One new thing we did this week was to have the 2 older girls switch off teaching "preschool" to the younger boys. The little boys loved it- even the 8 yob except for one little session, but it's not mandatory so he looked at books during that time. The girls prepared their lessons and activities and everybody had a great a time. The reason for this new format was to keep the 3 yob entertained and busy while I teach a girl one on one. Monday was a very difficult day- he took a lot of my time and I had very little uninterrupted time to help the other kids. This was heavenly. The "teachers" enjoyed it and so did the students and so did I. I still had the babies to take care of-- but they will be quiet eating bananas and if not, they take a nap. So this was very good..

They made Christmas chains and Christmas trees. They went on a nature walk and played the bells and learned the months of the year and the days of week and played games. The girls were the leaders and got to pick the activities. The first day we did it for 45 min. each girl, then the second day we tried an hour each because 45 min. just wasn't long enough. Then the 3rd day we switched off every half hour. We did 1/2 hour for math and 1/2 hour for Greek because I needed a break to a different kid. I think this coming week, I'll add in some individual time for the boys.

Things just constantly change, I'm always finding new ways to do things!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review of the Week #5

We just had a 2 day week this week for Thanksgiving. It seemed very long for all of us. I am really glad for a break. I've gotten some organizing and cleaning done today and it has been sooo nice. There just isn't time on school days and it doesn't take long for messes to increase. The kids have been sledding, playing in the snow and reading today.

We did have a good 2 days of school. Group time went well both days. #2 passed her Singapore math 5B test-- yay!! I will be working with her one on one for Greek, she need to learn to focus and concentrate. I went through it with #1, I just have to sit with her and keep her on track and moving through. I have to remember to alternate my teaching time between the boys and the girls. I get tempted to just get the boys (younger ages) stuff out of the way, but sometimes it takes a really long time and I just don't have the fortitude to do anything else after sitting through addition, subtraction, multiplication, and easy reading books to be happy about group time or helping the girls with more advanced subjects. But when I do a half hour with a boy and then a half hour with a girl, it mixes things up a bit so I'm not so bored and tired. It keeps it a little more interesting for me and whoever is not being helped can work on things they don't need me to help them with or they can take a break or do art if they only have things left I need to do with them.

It is a good feeling to have worked so hard to feel the joy of this break. I'm sure we'll be ready to go again on Monday. It really is fun-- just challenging but rewarding and not always easy!!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Latter-day Homeschooling blog

One good resource for homeschoolers is the www.latter-dayhomeschooling.com blog. I have been following them ever since they started and have enjoyed their articles and lists of resources. They have some really great ideas and contributors and lots of great links. Go check it out!

Elementary Academics -- what has worked for us

Elementary Academics

Philosophy of Education-- My overall philosophy of education is that children need to learn and do stuff. How they do it is less important than what they do. So the most important thing for the parent to figure out is what they think their child needs to learn. The end goal will help you get them there.

So for me in the area of academics my husband and I have mapped out where we would like our children to be with each subject. These are some of the things we want them to know, master and be familiar with:

For Mathematics -- Calculus.
For Logic and Grammar -- Latin
For History -- A good working and in depth knowledge
For Music -- Play an instrument and understand music theory
For Art-- Know the great artists and be able to draw well
For Science -- Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy
For Economics -- Markets, Business, Government
Literature and Philosophy -- Great Books of the Western World
Home Skills, Cooking, Gardening, Life Skills
Love of Learning and Reading
Religion -- Know our Faith and Scriptures and love and obey God

Your list may be very similar or different or both.

So now that I’ve established where I want to go I can figure out how to get there.

First Skills -- They must be able to read and write and do arithmetic.

So we start as soon as the kids are ready usually around age 4 especially for the younger ones who are watching the older ones.

For Reading I like to use several resources.

First to learn the letters I recommend “The Letter Factory” by Leap Frog. Now they know the letters and their sounds.

The next step is to start putting the sounds together to make new sounds and then words. So to do this, practice saying words slow and then fast and letting the new reader guess which word it is. Then they are ready to start ready easy books like Bob books or other reading curriculums. My favorite is the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading by Jessie Wise. My first daughter learned to read on McGuffy and Bob Books. The second daughter memorized those easy words quickly and never learned to sound them out so That book solved that issue. I also love Diane Hopkins “Phonics Games” from www.ldfr.com . That really helped her learn all the different phonetic combinations, and my boys have enjoyed it also. It just takes practice, practice, practice. If it is too hard or frustrating, find something easier for them to read, and pretty soon they will take off. The boys have taken longer to read chapter books on their own so they are also doing the Explode the Code workbooks. I think it is also helping with spelling and penmanship.

For writing I like to teach my kids cursive first because it teaches them that there are spaces between the words and they can’t write it backwards. I print off the scripture of the week in grey or another light color and school script dashed font because it’s free and they trace as much as I tell them given their ability. Eventually they are able to copy and write on their own. I have also been using a writing workbook I found at Sam's Club.

For Math-- I love Singapore Math. I like their approach and their format and I like that they have the results to match-- #1 in math in the world. The kindergarten books get them so ready for level 1 and they are fun and colorful and make sense. When we need extra help, then we go to the textbook but otherwise we just work through the workbooks. Keep up on checking to make sure they are doing it right, and again go back to easier problems if they get too frustrated so they get the concept and then they will be able to continue on through their book. I also supplememt with extra multiplication, addition and subtraction problems from www.themathworksheetsite.com

If they keep up with Singapore Math they will be ready for Algebra in 6th or 7th grade which will get them to calculus their sophomore or junior year.

Then to get them used to beautiful language and language usage and to love learning and books, we have story time. We have little kids story time first with the picture books and nursery rhymes and scripture stories. Then we move on to reading directly from the scriptures to other stories and longer poems turning it into big kids story time which consists of an interesting chapter book, a longer poem, a history chapter, a Greek lesson and memory verses ending with Science. I love the stories and resources at www.mainlesson.com . We love story time. The older girls color, draw or crochet while I read to the younger kids, and the younger kids play with toys while I am doing the older kids stuff. If they get too fussy then we eat lunch and put them down for a nap.

For music I like to play a lot of classical music. It seems to make the house calmer and happier and it really helps them with music later because they are familiar with so many tunes even if they don’t know the names. We also like to sing together. We sing all sorts of songs and make sure to include lots of fun little kids ones like popcorn, wheels on the bus, Fun To Do, pioneer songs, etc.

For religion we read scripture stories during story time and memorize a scripture a week and a religious song. Obviously, we try to be good examples and attend our church meetings.

So that for me covers the basic foundational skills that will be needed for the younger children. So far this is what has worked . On to the next level:

After the Basics

Once they are able to read and write fairly well, they can start Greek. Our goal is to get good at Latin and Greek is a good fun stepping stone in that direction. Greek has 4 declensions instead of 5 and they can learn all the grammar and concepts with the easier Greek and then Latin will be a little less challenging. Plus I love the Greek curriculum we are using. It is found at www.opentexture.com and is called Elementary Greek. Our pick for Latin is to start them around age 11or 12 on Henle Latin. So they should have very good mastery of the subject and be able to read many of the Great Books in the original Latin by high school age.

For writing and English Studies I like Singapore’s program Sentences to Paragraphs and Word Study. They are workbooks that are fun to fill in and cover things that the kids pick up just from reading but may not realize there are rules governing punctuation, capitalization, grammar, etc.

Also for writing, I require some sort of journaling whether a traditional journal or a story journal, it is up to the child. Out of there I find spelling words for them to practice writing. I also have some writing cards which I got at one of these conferences that give some fun ideas to write about. I also have them write up a summary of something they’ve read for me once a week. I also ask them about what we’ve read after we read and have them summarize the story for me during story time.

But the main focus in these elementary years is for them to be able to write well and quickly and to be able write down what they are thinking in their head. Then when they are age 10-11 they can learn to outline and other rules of good writing, and then to be able to express themselves fully with reports and journals and other compositions. Maybe they’ll write short stories or novels or screenplays. Once they can read and write and think, they can grab a book and figure it out.

For Science I again really like Sinagapore‘s program, My Pals are Here Science. They were ranked #2 in the world in science, and we love the pictures, the explanations and the activities.

For History we like the series written for different age groups about different times and area of the world found at www.yesterdaysclassics.com. Also anything published before 1950 is probably good. The older kids are required to 15 min. a day 4 times per week or 1 hour per week of an approved history book we have for them. We also read many historical stories during story time and movies can be a valuable resource.

For piano, I like Music masters and Edna Mae Burnam piano course as well as music theory books. My kids have also had fun playing the recorders from West Music.

We continue with the stuff mentioned above as needed for the older children and add things like reading time on their own and reading the scriptures on their own always with the end goals in mind.

Schedules-- Now that we know what we want to do, how are we going to do it?

Organize and schedule

1-- Your house needs to be orderly and dinner needs to be planned

www.flylady.net has worked wonders for me to run my household smoothly and efficiently-- follow her plan to the letter, there are letters from other home schooling moms that are very helpful. Babysteps- alittle at a time

will help your children pace themselves and be ready to go in the morning.

We have to start by 9 a.m. or we will not accomplish our tasks for the day. Clean up after yourself and require the children to help clean and pick up after themselves including meals!!

2-- Make a school schedule that your kids can mark off and so that they know exactly what is required of them. My kids also like to use timers to see how long it takes. Figure out how to make this worthwhile for them-- a trip to the park or library when they’re done, a special treat, free time, etc.

Other considerations

Co-Op -- Think about what you would like for your family and then figure out how to get it. We organized a girls club when my girls were younger and this past year we joined a larger co-op. This coming year we’re organizing a Greek club and doing some smaller co-ops. Just be specific and find or make something that will work for you and your kids.

Enjoy your kids-- Do School when it’s time to do school and be home and enjoy your sweet family the rest of the time. If it gets to be too much, take a break and then start over. Keep up with Math and Piano as those are skills that are harder to make up later. Don’t push too hard while they are little. Enjoy your freer time as things seem to get more time consuming and demanding the older they get. Just love them and encourage and require and they will do their best.

Health -- Take care of yourself, exercise, eat dark green leafy salads and raw foods. Soaked almonds are great. Cut back on meat and dairy products and all processed foods. You will feel better and be able to accomplish and enjoy more.

Review of the Week #4

This was a pretty good week. #1 is moving through Greek pretty well and has finished lesson 5 of 30 and is understanding it all pretty well so we are on a good track for Latin. She has been doing all her individual workbooks pretty well this week and hasn't needed much help. She needs to do better with poem memorization. I also need to check and read her reports and compositions.

#2 took the 5B math test twice this week and got 79% both times. Math has come so easily to her that she hasn't had to really apply herself so it's good that she is finally being challenged, but she now has to learn how to focus, concentrate and work through difficult problems. She finally got into the groove a bit after 2 hours on the first test, but she didn't pass. She went faster the second time, but just wrote answers she remembered from reviewing the mistakes she made so she'll take it again on Monday. She doesn't seem to focus very well and rolls around a lot, but somehow she manages to get her work done and does a great job memorizing. Also with her, I need to make sure I read her compositions because I don't think she's been doing them.

#3 passed his 2B math test with an 84 %. He does not know how to tell time and is a bit of a perfectionist so he doesn't like to take risks and fail. Anyway, he's moving right along pretty well- he started the 3rd McGuffey reader and the next Explode the code workbook. We need to continue working on times tables and penmanship. I also need to make sure we get in a few science experiments. He loves those.

#4 made great progress with his eye exercises this week. Both eyes are equally strong and he gets to start exercises that encourage them to start working together. As far as school goes -- he would only be in kindergarten this year, so I don't want to push him, but he is moving along great. He's reading pretty well-- still not on his I think mainly due to his eyes and he will be taking the math 2A test in the next week or 2. He loves art.

#5 really wants to start reading and writing. He has some workbooks, butI don't want to do much with him until #3 is more independent. He says some really cute things. This morning he got up and we told him to go back to bed and he said, but it's morning in my window.

Babies-- are growing and fun. They are eating a lot and getting into things. Very sweet and very cute. I am blessed.

Group time-- we only did it twice this week. I was a little burned out. I'm just going to have to be more disciplined even though Christmas is coming!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Review of the Week #3

This has been a busy and productive week. We only held group time twice this week, but we did make it to the library for the first time in a very long time. That means I have read a bunch more children's books to my little ones than usual, so we are definitely going to schedule in the library and have it replace group time that day. We will have group time 3 times a week instead of 4 and I think that will be acceptable. The 2 group times we had were very efficient and worthwhile and fun. I enjoyed them and the kids enjoyed them.

We started a new book for history mainly for the younger kids, but the older kids like to listen as they draw-- Glimpses into the Long Ago

We finished our science book, but didn't pass the little quiz at the end, so I'm not sure how much we learned, haven't decided whether we'll go on and count it as good exposure or go back and make sure we learned some things. We'll probably go back and do some projects to help us remember better.

We have memorized the first 8 articles of faith. We worked on a Greek scripture. We are reading the New Testament and Little Women. We learned about the spinning Jenny and how people used to make thread, yarn and clothing. We read lots of picture books. Berenstein Bears is very popular.

The kids watched the Incredibles in French while I went to the store and were very proud of understanding some words especially "My name is IncrediBoy". We're actually making progress in both Spanish and French. We've got The Incredibles in several other languages as well.

The boys finished all their work for the week. I have to be unbending in the requirements even when they throw fits, because once they decide they will do it, then they do great, but it is hard and they have to concentrate. We are working on times tables, review of 2B for math for the 8 yr. old, he needs to take the test this coming week. The younger boy is on 2 A and doing at least 4 pages a day. He slowed down a little when it got hard but it's easy again especially since we are working on times tables. The 8 yr. old is finally starting to read on his own for pleasure and not just when I make him.

The girls finished everything on their lists except for reports, memorizing a poem and writing a composition. The oldest passed 5B and started 6A. She is doing great. She also finished lesson 3 in the Greek book. It has taken a lot of extra one on one time to get her ready for and to pass the test and start Greek. Those are ou7r main focuses though so it's O.K. Iwill be working more with the next daughter this coming week. She will be taking her 5B test and starting the 3rd year Greek book.

To do this week: I need to print off more efficient lists for the girls
Finish downloading music and audio books for my mp3 player

Scheduling appointments and shopping

This has been a busy week. One thing that was good about this week is that I combined all my necessary trips into 2 days. One day is huge-- we drive about 45 min. each way for vision therapy for my son, then do all our grocery shopping for the week, then go to the park with other homeschooled friends. There aren't many girls at the park, so we may start an arts and crafts club to meet after the park for my daughters. That is a long day, but then I don't have to load up the twins any extra time and we don't get interrupted in our school days.

One other day of the week my daughter has a violin lesson right after lunch for a half hour, then we go the library right after, because the twins are already in the car to take her to violin, so we just stop at home and grab the other kids and go. This is a little disruptive to our at home schedule, but the kids love the library and we had stop going otherwise because I just couldn't take everybody and we had way to many fines because of it. This way we have a weekly appointment so we shouldn't incur so many fines and the kids really learn a lot from their books. They get to check out 4 books of whatever they want and 2 books on something they are interested in learning about. The library took over group time this week. So we may just have group time 3 times a week instead of 4. I'm O.K. with that. That will give me a bit of a break too. I kept having the thought "it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength" (Mosiah 4:27
) run through my mind this week. There are so many things I want to help my children accomplish and so many fun and important things to do, that it can feel overwhelming. That thought helped me destress and keep perspective, that it will be O.K. if we don't do it all. But scheduling is going to help us get some order so we can accomplish a lot.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

We're on our way to learning Latin

There is a National Latin Exam. They have an exam for six different years or levels. My husband was fortunate enough to take the first year exam while in high school, because his was one of the few high schools offering Latin. He attributes much of his ability to think critically and learn easily to his study of Latin. Students of Latin generally score higher on standardized tests than those taking other foreign languages. Memoria Press has some great articles on the value of learning Latin if you'd like to learn more check out their newsletter. Here is a link to one of their articles.

In order to be eligible to take the first year exam, the student must be enrolled in a Latin I course without having taken other Latin courses. We of course want our children to do well on that test and we want them to learn Latin well enough that they will be able to read some of the great books in the original Latin. In order to take all six national tests, they need to start Latin I no later than 7th grade. Henle Latin is our curriculum of choice. We have books for all 7 of our children. My husband bought them so that we'll for sure have them. He bought them for the the twins as soon as we found out we were having twins. So in order to learn grammar before we start first year Latin, we are having our children study Greek.

The curriculum we love is called Elementary Greek from www.opentexture.com My oldest is now on the 3rd year book. We are really focusing on the Greek now and moving through the 3rd year much more quickly than we did the first 2, so that she will be ready to start Latin I in September. My second child is finished with her workbook of year 2 but I don't think she is quite ready to move on. She is very bright though, so I think if I work with her enough she may also be ready to start Latin in the Fall also. We'll see, if not she'll certainly be ready to start the following year. I may push her hard this year because it will be easier to teach the 2 girls together. Time will tell.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Interesting articles about Singapore Math


Singapore Math story problems are awesome. They are hard, but the kids learn to do them from the beginning. They then practice the basic math skills by practicing story problems. Very good stuff. There are more links at the bottom of that page to other articles written by him.

Singapore Math-- should we switchover from Saxon?

This is a copy of a post from my other blog:

We love Singapore math. I started my first on Saxon and we both hated it for the constant repetition and it's sooooo dry. The Singapore books are like you're playing. If you did have your kids go back, they'd probably actually enjoy it it because there are so many codes and mazes and things to , so if they already know the concepts it would be a fun review and practice but you can have them take the placement tests on the Singapore site to see where they are.

I have posted a couple posts on our math experience on my blog if you want to read about it. My first daughter had a bit of a hard time transitioning and we took a loooong time on levels 1 and 2, finally by level 3 I decided we needed to really focus on math and get her caught up. Level 4 was tough, but now she's onto level 5 and whizzing through. I'll find out tomorrow how well when she takes her test which is the placement test on their site. I'm hoping she'll start Algebra by the end of this year, she'll be 6th grade age.

It was a tough transition I think mostly because she got a sour taste for math from the boring Saxon books, and she's more of an artsy imaginative kid not real math minded. The other kids who started with Singapore have just whizzed through with no problem. They slow down when we get to a harder section, but once they get it, they're off. They should be fully prepared to start Algebra when they finish level 6, and the story problems are amazing. I'm learning how to solve them without Algebra. Then we plan to use the Algebra and Geometry books from McDougall Littell. We haven't picked the Trig or Calculus books yet.

Also the US edition Singapore math books are the ones they were using in their schools when they were ranked #1 in the world for math. Tried and tested with excellent results. Love it!!! Good luck on your decision.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review of the Week

I've already detailed Monday and Tuesday of this week. Wednesday was good too. Rotating my time every 30 min. seems to help everybody stay focused 'cause they know we really will stop when the time is up. It took more sessions to get all work done on Wed. than it did on Tues., but that's O.K. The kids got most of their lists finished. The girls have to do some math, Greek, required reading and instrument practice today. The boys finished their work today. We did no school work on Thurs. That is our new shopping/ appt./ park day. We did no school work on Friday because we had to get the house ready for a detective birthday party for my now 10 yr. old. It turned out to be quite fun. The kids were a little stumped on some of the clues but they eventually found the hidden jewels and captured the thief. Very fun. The cake was yummy too. I'll be posting the recipe at www.greattimetolive.com . It was lemon cake with frosting which I have not made for years.

So lots of fun this week. We are making up for some of the fun today. The kids aren't happy about that, but they will be grateful when they're older and getting great scholarships!

Spanish and French were so so this week. We got a whole bunch of "The Incredibles" the movie in many different languages so the kids can exposure to a variety of languages. I don't expect they will learn any of them very well, but at least they will have exposure. It's kind of fun. We memorized the 7th article of faith and continue to read the same books, we are almost done with our science book.

To do list:

find a poem to memorize this week
put some more songs on the mp3 player for music time
rip some cds for music time
add music theory game to kids lists
print new lists for the week

I am looking forward to a nice uninterupted week this coming week!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Bad Day and a Good Day

Yesterday was a bad day. I didn't get up early enough to exercise before the kids got up and I had to decide whether to start school or exercise. I hadn't exercised for 2 weeks because I was sick and I cut my hand real bad Sunday night washing a glass cup that broke and slipped into my hand plus I hate Mondays. Then instead of letting my girls off the hook after an hour of math work, I made them finish their pages cause I didn't think they were concentrating well enough which took another 1 1/2 hours-- so that was 2 1/2 hours of math. The boys were good just playing around and pulling out every game in the cupboard and I felt bad that I didn't get to their work earlier and then I really regretted it that afternoon around 5 p.m. when I was trying to get them to practice their times tables and finish their other stuff and not making dinner. Also, we had a very short group time, we had to skip yoga and music we didn't do any Greek, and we spent a lot of time talking about how we need to act better. Then my mom came over to visit and I started to get a headache-- for good reason. Not my best day. So I sat in the tub and fortunately the headache did go away. My husband put the babies to bed and everybody else too which was nice and I got to rest. I went to bed early and got some decent sleep. soooooo.....

Today was a really good day. I loved it. I thought about how to make things run smoother and it worked pretty well even with violin lessons in the middle of it all. So this is what we did: I got up before the kids and exercised. I always feel so much better when I exercise. It's the one thing I do for myself. I love it. I just handle life so much better when I exercise. When I was done I started making breakfast and cleaning the kitchen and the kids started getting up. I told the kids to eat and do their chores and start school as soon as possible so that we wouldn't have a repeat of yesterday. They did very well so when it was time for school we had nice clean areas to do it in. I love that. Then I set the timer for 30 min. increments. I told the kids they had to work hard during that time with me helping them, then the boys could have a break while I helped the girls and the girls could do their piano practice or reading while I worked with the boys. I set the timer and didn't add minutes for the time it took for kids to find their books. When the timer beeped we were done.

So I started with boys- we worked on multiplication tables and they did well knowing we would stop when the timer beeped-- the girls did some of the things they can do on their own-- then I did 30 min. of Greek with the girls and the boys continued on with their work that they can do on their own surprisingly because I told them they could take a break. Anyway, when we finished Greek, the girls started math, but they were not allowed to ask me for any help because I was helping the boys finish up their reading, phonics and math workbooks, they were to skip the stuff they needed help with and when the timer went off I would help them. We were done at about 12:45 p.m. It was so awesome. The boys were all done and the girls were done with the hard parts. YAY!!

Then we started some birthday invitations, I nursed the babies, got lunch on the table and we got off to violin lessons. I needed a break after that so we all took one and then resumed school with yoga and music time outside. It was beautiful outside. We came in for Spanish, French, Scriptures, stories and -- oh I guess we forgot science today-- oh well. The rest of group time went rather well. The kids listened and payed attention fairly well. Then the boys went to their friend's house, the girls finished up stuff and I started dinner and then went to vote. My 11 yr.old then baked her 1st loaf of bread all by herself. It took her a while but it turned out pretty good.

Good day-- I guess I'd better go to bed so we can have a repeat of today!!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Review of the Week

Group Time--- We did this for about 2 hours on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, then Friday for an hour as we did not do any languages --

Yoga and stretching is definitely a good way to get everybody together and start group time. It feels great to stretch too. We are getting more flexible. I need to make sure the kids have plenty of opportunity to run also. We may need to start running laps around the block, or at least walk the dog daily.

Music time-- Very much for the little kids. We need to start learning a Spanish Christmas song and a French one and both of them in sign language. I need to download more songs onto my mp3 player to keep us on course.

Spanish-- We review the alphabet, numbers, days of the week, months of the year, and how to ask things like what is your name, how are you, how old are you, and what color is ...? We learned some more question words, singular and plural, and listened to people asking where they are from and what languages they speak. We will continue with this and incorporate a Spanish movie to watch weekly.

French-- We only got in 2 good days of French. We follow our workbook which is great, but the kids were a bit bored with it, so we've started to also incorporate an audio program I've been listening to, that was more fun.

Greek- we didn't do any review of Greek this week which is a shame-- so hard to fit everything in!!

Scriptures- We read a chapter of the Golden Book of Bible Stories or Old Testament stories, memorize a scripture a week which was the 6th Article of Faith, and now we read a couple of verses straight out of the New Testament and talk about what it means and what the individual words mean.

I read at least a chapter of American History Stories, Great Inventorss and their Inventions, and Little Women, we also read Beauty and the Beast this week

Little Kids Story time- the older kids have to work on their stuff during this time unless they can finish without it, we only got 2 good days of this in this week so I'll have to be sure to read extra to the little ones today and tomorrow

We read Aesop's fables, some fun science books, Mother Goose, and lots of picture books

child #1-- sick on Tuesday so has to make up end of year 2 Greek test and Systems thematic review test today. She finished her list of requirements for the week-- I think Next week she needs to finish her math review and pass the 5B test. She's doing well but we need to stay on track, she has a lot of workbooks to finish up this year before 7th grade.

child #2-- Needs to focus better especially in math. She also needs to finish up corrections in Greek and be ready to take the final test next week.

child #3-- Learning times tables. Did pretty well finishing tasks and is finally starting to read for fun.

child #4 -- very bright following along with #3 quite well

Plans and changes for next week-- Change appt.and errands for Thursdays and Fridays so we'll have 3 full days with no outside appointments -Thursday will be off and Friday will half day- that will help immensely-- get my mp3 player set up for music time, set time aside daily for folding clothes

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Our Homeschool Philosophy and Intro to this Blog

When you start researching homeschooling you will come across all sorts of educational philosophies. There are the unschoolers, the Charlotte Mason followers, the Well-Trained Mind, the Montesorri, etc. etc. etc. I think there is value in reading what these people have to say and good insights and ideas can be gained from all of them. However, what you ultimately teach your children will be far more useful and important than how you taught it to them. However they learned to read and solve math problem really doesn't matter as long as they can sound out new words and solve math problems. Some kids learn kinesthetically -- others are visual or auditory learners. Figure out what your child needs to know and then figure out how to get them there. Maybe this will require a tutor at some point. Maybe it will require an awesome curriculum and extra time set aside. Maybe you'll need to play a bunch of games or buy an extra workbook. Whatever it is figure it out and do it. We are looking at the end result and finding a way to accomplish that result. More later on what we want our children to learn and how to get there. These are the basic subjects:

Religion-- LDS
Foreign Language

Over time I will post on each of these subjects and discuss which curriculum works the best for us and how our children have done with it. I will also post weekly reviews of what is working and what is not and what we are actually doing. Feel free to ask questions!!