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!!