Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review of the Week #12 -- Disappointments

This week was the opposite of last week. Last week started out rough and ended up great, but this week started out good and ended up rough. Monday was pretty good. We got all the important things done and had a homeschool friend over so it was easy to get the kids to clean and then they were happy, so I kept on going. The house looked great and I felt pretty good about that. Story time was shortened that day, but hey-- it was Monday - right? Then Tuesday the kids were really looking forward to a homeschool skate day. They worked hard and got all their stuff done, but it started snowing. I knew we would get stuck in our neighborhood in our big huge van so we sadly didn't go, but in an attempt to soften blow I let the kids watch a movie instead and we didn't make it to our weekly library appointment. Oh well, I think I did read to them a little. Wednesday was a pretty good day. We got everything in pretty well. Thursday was disappointing because some of our friends were sick and not at the park. We missed them and then to top it off, girls' club was a flop too. I didn't make sure everybody knew about it. So especially my oldest was disappointed. So much so that Friday was downright depressing for her and she was unable to focus on her studies.

We feel like we just moved to a new place. Our favorite homeschool friends have moved or will be soon and we have not participated in any activities outside of that once great group since I got pregnant with the twins and now this whole year. So anyway, it's time to get out of our comfort zone, reconnect with old friends and make new ones. We've got some activities coming up that will be good, but it just takes time to network and find new friends. And the interim can be a bit rough.

So back to the school stuff-- the boys did great finishing all their stuff. #3 learned how to do long division and they are both doing great on their times tables. #4 gets to take a break from vision therapy for awhile which will be nice for us all. #5 was sick this week and is finally back to his old self and has a birthday coming up. The girls didn't focus at all on Friday and had quite a few things to finish up because of stalling and being sad about friends. So anyway, one of their friends from church invited them over to play American Girl dolls, and I let them go even though they were no where near being finished. Then that evening I took them to see Tangled which we enjoyed very much and then to the store just because. My husband said he would take over on Saturday and make sure they got their school work done.

I was exhausted from the emotional energy required to motivate young people who are having a hard time focusing. Daddy came to the rescue, let us have a girls' night out and then took over the overseeing on Saturday. I just don't have it in me to do school on Saturday, but we both really wanted them to finish their assignments. I was so tired, I stayed in bed as long as I could which wasn't real long, but I haven't cleaned much today. But I do feel better now. I helped the girls clean out their closets and rooms and under the bed-- what a job that was!!

Anyway, they both finished all their assignments today!! They feel good about finishing although it was not real fun, they are both glad they did it. I am glad that my husband had the fortitude to keep them going. I love all my kids, but I can tell this teenage thing is going to be pretty different. Babies are easy now-- I know what to do-- teenagers-- I know nothing. Any advice? My oldest will be 12 in April.

So that was the week in a nutshell-- glad that's over. I'm ready for a new week and new activities!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Our Ideal Schedule -- 7 kids

It is very important to have a good schedule and system in place when homeschooling many children. Otherwise, the kids will play away the day and we will not accomplish what we need to. The kids have checlists for each week. Sometimes they will do extra one day to have a "free day". They just need to check off everything for the week.

Here is our ideal schedule. We seldom do it this way exactly, but this is what we are aiming for, and we come very close each day. The key is for everybody to get to bed early and get up early. The day really starts the evening before. We do this 4 days a week. Saturday is for cleaning, and one day during the week is for field trips and extra projects. This schedule is for the regular days which are my favorite and we try to have 3 days of this:

The evening before school ideally around 7:

Children clean their zones and take baths or showers
Mom finishes kitchen
We read scriptures and pray together
Then I read a chapter book
Then the kids brush their teeth go to bed around 8:30
They can read in bed until 9:15, then it's lights out
Mom to bed ideally at 11 p.m.

6 a.m. Mom up to read and nurse babies, change diapers
7 a.m. Make 2 green smoothie for dad before work and start
oatmeal or quinoa for breakfast for the kids
7:45 Mom exercise, kids get up and clean their rooms, get ready for the day
8:15 Kids eat breakfast, rinse dishes, brush teeth
Mom gets ready for the day and starts daily chores
9:00 Older kids start working on things they don't need help with such as
instrument practicing, and required reading

10:00 Group Time -- We exercise and stretch for about 10 min., then sing for 10
min., then pray, then have scripture study about 10 min, practice poems
and Greek scripture, then end with a little Spanish and French and a
snack of fruit, babies to bed!

11:00 Each of the 4 older kids get my undivided attention for 30 min. each,
alternating between older and younger. The other kids take turns being
in charge of the preschoolers and continue to work on the things they
need to do on their own. We set the timer for this and the kids are
required to give me their best effort and focus so we can be efficient.
I usually help them with math, reading and Greek during this time and
make sure they are doing it correctly.
1:30 Lunch/ Break We usually have leftovers from dinner the night before -- I try
to make extra dinner all the time so we usually have plenty of

3:00 Storytime/ Activity I read our history books, science books, and literature
books during this time. The kids draw, color, or play a quiet game.
Often we do something that goes along with what we're reading and I try
to do a science experiment at least once a week during this time. We
finish with little kids picture books and the older kids finish up their
schoolwork. Or we go to the park or library. This is he fun part of

5:00 I start dinner with the dinner helper. Everybody finishes up whatever they
have left.

6:30 Dinner when Daddy gets home

7:00 Play and start getting ready for a new day

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Review of the Week #11

We took Monday off for Martin Luther King day. I don't really like short weeks. They mess me up. We went to the aquarium which was really great, but we got home kind of late. That lateness carried over into Tues. morning, plus some of the kids were a little sick. How much of that was really being sick and how much was just not wanting to do school work-- we'll never know!!

Because we had such a hard time getting back into the swing of things, we had to do school on our normally free day. We also didn't start very early any of the days this week, so it drug out into he evening. that is such a bummer. I told the girls they have to be done with math and Greek by 3 p.m. daily. It is so frustrating to try to take of babies, make dinner and teach a math concept at the same time. I need those girls to help me either make dinner or play with the babies or at least let me do it while they do their own thing that they don't need my help with!!! We were pretty much back to normal on Thursday and Friday, so I feel better about he week. They really are trying. We just have to be organized or we miss out on the fun stuff. We didn't do any science experiments this week. Although we did get to play a fun geography game and the kids colored and drew some this week. We started Spanish again. We all love story time it is our favorite. We are enjoying Little Women and Pilgrim's Progress. We learned about Elias Howe and the sewing machine. We read some interesting stories about the American Revolution. We got some fun Magic Schoolbus books from the library.

The boys get all their stuff done quite easily. #3 is finally reading for enjoyment on his own. The girls will probably finish Math 6A this week and take the test next week. #1 is right on schedule for finishing the 3rd year Greek book this year and doing amazingly well with the translations. It was a good week overall. There just are not enough hours in the day or the week. I still have a mountain of laundry and I didn't get all my cleaning done today. But oh well. We've had some fun with the twins and each other. I got to go the temple this week. We had a good time at the park. We participated in a very fun new book club. We played with friends and played on the wii and watched Toy Story 3. Life is good!!

The new thing to focus on this week will be bathing and cleaning our zones before bed so that we can just get up, clean our rooms and eat breakfast and then get started on school right away so we can finish early. That is what we are working towards. I think that now that the babies are pretty much sleeping through the night, it will happen!! I'm also trying to get dinner on the table earlier so I can have more help cleaning the kitchen when it's over. Baby Steps!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Math Study Group

The following is an email I sent out to some homeschool yahoo groups I am a part of. I think it will be really great if it works out. I hope!!

I am starting a math study group for pre-algebra and algebra. I would expect that most of the kids in the club have already learned the concepts we'll go over, but it's not completely necessary. It will be more of a review/ practice session to make the math fun and keep it fresh in their minds. This is for boys and girls, ages probably about 10-14. (See below for topic list)

I propose that each kid will take a turn presenting the concept for the week-- teaching the other kids the concept and demonstrating how to solve problems to illustrate the skill. This should take from 10- 20 min. Then the group would do some practice problems and maybe even play a game that will help solidify the concept for another 15 min. Then we would finish up by assigning random problems to individuals or groups to solve. We may even try finding as many different ways to solve the problems as we can. I anticipate the total time to be from 45 min. to an hour.

We learn things better when we have to teach them to someone else and I don't think you can have too much review for math, so I think this will be a very beneficial group.

I will schedule the local library when we figure out a time as we can reserve either the small study rooms or the bigger auditorium and the younger siblings can look at books while the older ones are participating in the math club.

To make this successful we need at least 3 kids and probably no more than 8. So let me know if this interests you and what your availability is. I will post the meeting times and subjects for each group in the calendar section of the UTacademicHS yahoo group once we get it set up so that people can just come for a specific topic if they want.

The following is a list of what we'll start with- meeting 2x per month:

Simplifying Fractions

Adding and Subtracting Fractions

Multiplying Fractions

Converting between Fractions and Decimals


Ratios and Proportions

Probability and Chance

Order of Operations

Area of a Quadrangle

Angles and Types of Triangles

Area of a Triangle

Radius, Diameter, and Circumference

Pi and the Area of a Circle

Bar Charts

Pie Charts


Line Graphs

Volume of a Cube


Equations and Solving for Variables

Exponents and Powers

Number Line and Positive\Negative Numbers

Coordinates and Lines

Slope of a Line


Writing Linear Equations with two points

Exponential Growth


Graphing Quadratic Equations

Solving Quadratic Equations

Adding and Subtracting Polynomials

Multiplying Polynomials

Factoring Polynomials

Pythagorean Theorem

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review of the Week # 10

Things went pretty smoothly this week. I would say that the past couple months of tweaking things each week until we've found a system that works was worth it. There's really nothing I feel like we need to change from how we were set up this week. The girls went ahead and got started as soon as they finished breakfast and morning chores instead of waiting for me to be done caring for the babies which almost never happens-- they always need something. There was a kid always in charge of the 3 yob so that I can work uninterrupted with the older kids. One day I didn't even have to help #4 because #2 read with him and helped him with his math. That was a happy surprise for me. Friday moved very smoothly because #1 has made it to the review section in math and didn't need my undivided attention in explaining new concepts. That was nice. I tried to clean out a particularly messy drawer instead during that time. That almost never happens. I even folded some clothes this week although I have plenty more to fold today!!

One thing that I need to continue that was good this week is to make sure we have something fun to look forward to when we are finished with the individual basics (math, greek, reading and writing). The ideal is for each child to be finished with their individual requirements/checklists for the day by lunchtime. After lunch it seems almost impossible to get them to focus. Then after lunch, cleanup and maybe a bit of a break, we can do a fun science experiment which is what the boys love- my girls just loved stories, painting and coloring at that age, but the boys are loving the science stuff. So this week we looked at a science experiment book and picked out some experiments dealing with water. I found old dropper bottles and jars for our experiments and all the kids had a ball mixing food coloring and water in different containers when we were done with the experiments. So while they busily experimented I told them "no talking, only listening" while I read to them the "big kids stories" which have very few if any pictures-- (history and literature). Once that's over I read the picture books, and then it's usually about time to make dinner and for the older kids to finish up whatever reading or practicing they didn't get to earlier.

I have a "dinner helper" assigned each day, but I didn't enforce it this week, because I thought they had too many other things to do. They were surprisingly a bit disappointed about that though, so I will enforce the dinner helper this coming week-- it doesn't take that long and living skills are important too!!

The twins turned 1 yesterday and we had a fun little party. we made it through the first year!!

So this was just a nice boring week. We are almost done with our Saturday jobs and we are free for the day. I'm looking forward to a nice restful Sabbath!!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review of the Week # 9

This was a very good week. The twins turn 1 in a week so they are getting a little easier. It is actually easier to hold school and keep to our routines than it is to not hold school. Over the break I did a lot of organizing and moving furniture around and hangin' out. All the kids do better with a schedule and it is easy to teach school while I hold a baby which is all one of the babies wants me to do. He just likes being held all the time. I can manage that during school and it is nice. This is making it less stressful to teach school and I enjoyed it more this week than I have other weeks.

I made sure the kids felt good about what they were doing by encouraging them a lot and telling them how well they were doing. They thrived with this. I have to admit that I am not by nature real patient and calm, but I am now. Teaching kids teaches patience. It's really not that hard to be patient, but it is so important when teaching children. It can be so hard to wait especially when there are so many other things I have to do and I just wish this child would figure out the problem quickly so I can go change that diaper or wash those dishes or whatever. Setting the timer has really alleviated this for me.

Each child gets 30 min. of my undivided attention. We know the time is limited so I think the child works more efficiently because I am right there making sure they are and they know it won't last forever. I think everybody is making better progress this way because I can explain and go over the difficult parts and then I'm still around for quick questions afterward, but anything involved-- they will have to wait their turn. Assigning children to keep the younger ones busy while I teach the older ones has also been very helpful. The older ones are learning to serve and to enjoy the younger ones and I get uninterrupted time with whoever I'm working with and the younger ones love the extra attention from their older siblings. It is win win win!!

So this week the girls have been working on percents. I had to go over the textbook a few times to remember how to understand what exactly they are asking. It's all in the wording. The story problems have been very tricky, but it is so rewarding to watch the girls figure them out. #2 has almost caught up to #1. #1 was stuck for a while and experience has taught me that she can only do so much in a day, so we just go however we can. But I have added an extra hour of math to her week. She's not behind, she's probably a little ahead, but I want her to start Algebra as soon as possible-- I want her to be way ahead. Once she finishes calculus, she won't have to do any more math the rest of her life if she doesn't want to, and the sooner she finishes the more time she'll have to develop her other skills and talents.

#1 finished chapter 10 of her 3rd Greek book. She made a review game that I plan to use for all the kids in the future. I read about it here on familyfun I think it will help her really get all the vocabulary words down and the declensions and other concepts she needs. She only has 20 chapters left and I told her she doesn't have to do any more Greek ever if she doesn't want to and she will be plenty ready for Latin in September. Very exciting!!

#2 just started the 3rd year book. We are hoping she can start Latin with her sister in the fall so she has some extra work to do. It comes pretty easy to her so I think she'll be fine although she hasn't really been challenged before and she doesn't really like it. It is character building.

The girls finished all their workbooks, journaling, reading and practicing. We forgot about reports and compositions this week. I need to get our checklists printed-- my computer died so that slowed us down a bit-- should be back on track this coming week. We've also got to add in science. We have taken periods of time to focus on math, then we focused on Greek and now I think it is time to focus on Science. I'm excited. I think we will actually be able to fit everything in!!

The boys are doing very well. They are working on multiplication tables and on Friday I let them play the games on I told #3 that he has to read on his own 15 min. a day in addition to reading with me. He is reading in the 3rd McGuffey primer and does very well, but has yet to make the leap to reading for enjoyment. Next time I go to the library I'm going to look for the Wimpy Kid Diaries. I think he needs something to really grab his attention. He read for 7 min. on his own on Friday and we will increase that time each day until we reach 15 and then I think he'll realized that he can read and understand and that the Treehouse books are awesome. He will start Greek in the fall and #4 probably will too. It has worked out well to have the 2 girls work together, then the 2 boys. I also started #3 on piano again. but this time I plan to sit with him 15 min. per day and listen to him practice otherwise I think it is a waste.

#4 is doing great. He is amazingly ahead- he would ordinarily be in kindergarten this year and he just started Singapore Math 2B and is learning his times tables. he will probably start to catch up to his brother here before too long-- although I think the older brother may make sure that doesn't happen. Also he is doing great with vision therapy and his eyes stay straight now even when he takes off his glasses. He is using his eyes together close up and he is well passed where he would have been had he gotten the eye surgery. The doctor said that he will give us exercises to work on at home after January and we can take a 3 month break from our weekly visits!! I am so happy about this-- it will essentially give us back a whole day for our school week. I think his reading is improving too because he is seeing better. I think he would have been reading much better before this had he not had the vision problems. But we are making it work!! Very happy about that.

#5 is learning to do chores without complaining and loves the extra attention he gets in "preschool" and he know about 3 articles of faith.

The twins are growing. They are eating a lot of regular food now which takes a long time to feed to them and also means a lot of dirty diapers to change. #6 is finally starting to crawl on his knees instead of his army crawl so then I'll work with him on walking. #7 is the busiest little guy ever. He occasionally crawls all the way into the basement. He has been crawling on his knees since he was 6 mos. old so he is very fast and good at it and hasn't wanted to walk. But he can stand for a long time and has started pushing his little car around so maybe he'll be walking here before too long.

I've broken up group time into 2 parts. The first group time is before I start my individual time with everybody. We stretch and do yoga poses. Then we sing a few songs. We are learning "My Eternal Family" and "Hold to the Rod" and then we sing fun little kids songs. Then we read a few verses out of the New Testament and talk about what they mean and what the words mean and usually have some sort of discussion where I explain things about the world and life that the children are wondering about. Then we read a section out of Bible stories for children and practice our article of faith. We finished #10 this week and all 5 kids know it rather well. This first group time takes about 45 min. The scriptures and the gospel are the most important things I want my children to know and have in their life so that's why we do it first. Then if we've started early enough we can be done with the main subjects before lunch -- that only happened once this week-- but that is the goal. then after lunch we can do something fun and finish group time which is basically big kids story time and a little bit of language exposure. I would like to continue our French and Spanish study, but I'm not sure it's the best use of our time. Our time is so limited we have to be choosey.

We only had the second part of group time once this week because we missed Monday since we took it off, we go to the library on Tues., we take off Thurs. for vision therapy and Friday we went to a support group to make some new homeschool friends. But Wednesday was very fun. We played with Snap circuits for awhile. Then we read our inventions book, our history book, Pilrim's Progress and Little Women and a whole bunch of little kids books. Those are my favorite days. I'm going to try to schedule 3 of those a week-- so we just have activities 2 days a week, a full home day 3 days a week and Saturday for cleaning and soccer in the future and Sunday for church and rest.

It is so busy. We work really hard, but it is so worth it and I know I'm going to miss these days because I have everybody around me all the time. I know where they are, what they're doing and how it's going. I know it won't last that much longer. My oldest is almost 12. I'm going to savor each day, each week and each month. These are good times. I'm not sure what I'll do when I have time to clean the house and there aren't a bunch of bottles, lids and silverware all over the floor!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to School!!!!

We start tomorrow. We were a little disappointed not to have started today, but my husband had today off for New Year's so we hung out again. I was hoping to get the house all clean, but I have been staying up way too late and am now sleep deprived. My goal is to get to sleep by 11. 10 would be awesome, but I know it won't happen so 11 will be a great step for me. I've got my menu plans ready. I've got school plans ready. The new thing this week will be to have the girls practice their instruments before school. So I got everybody to bed early today and we should get up fairly early tomorrow. The house is a bit of a mess, but not too bad. Everybody has their zones and their rooms to clean daily and that has helped a ton. I'm the one with the problem getting my zones done. Anyway, we organized and rearranged a couple rooms. We have a larger school room area and computer station and we have a little toy area, so I'm excited to see how it goes. Our dining area is much smaller now, but that's O.K. we just really needed a change so I'm excited to see how it goes!!

Wish me luck!! I'm off to clean the kitchen and get to bed!!