Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review of the Week #16 -- Science and History and Laundry!

This has been a great week. We actually got around to doing science, history and catching up on the laundry all in one week!! We didn't get the floors mopped though. Oh well, can't do it all!!

Anyway, #2 passed her math test with an 87% on Monday and both girls are working through Singapore Math 6B now-- their very last book before Algebra!! So far it has been fun and easy-- adding more fractions, working on order of operations and drawing and finding the circumference of a circle. It's nice to have them working on the same thing. It really saves me a lot of time. They are also working much more independently on their Greek. I am glad they are learning, but I am sad too, because I am being left behind. That is good, but I wish I knew Greek and I have some catching up to do- memorizing all the new vocabulary they have been learning.

Their other subjects are going well too. Everything seems to be running fairly smoothly. They know what they need to do and they do it. I've got to be better at fitting piano lessons in. But I make them practice anyway-- #1 alm,ost doesn't need me much anymore- she knows as much as I do and is constantly making up new pieces. I do need to go through a piano composing course with her though. That will be our focus this week. We also need to get our music theory program up on the computers. The girls also completed some activities for science on light and shadows. The boys watched, but don't have to fill out the books yet. They also wrote fairly good reports after a few corrections on the history books they are reading. #1 is reading about the Puritans and #2 is reading about the New World discovery. I am so proud of them and very relieved that their workload seems to be about the right amount for them. I was worried I was expecting too much of them, but they have filled my expectations beautifully and will be ready for more work and leaning in the coming years.

The boys are so easy now that I have been through this with the girls. I sit with them and make sure they get the right answers in their various workbooks. #3 has done very well multiplying larger numbers and using long division this week. #4 whizzed through the fractions section in his workbook and learned to tell time this week. #3 also finished his first treehouse book completely on his own this week and seemed to enjoy it. He is also doing well practicing the piano on his own. #3 completes his tasks easily and well also. It only takes them about and hour and most of the time less than that to complete their checklists for the day. They will definitely be ready for Greek in the fall.

We had 3 good story times this week. We learned about the Phoenicians and reviewed the things we learned through the whole chapter. They really liked making up sentences with the chapter vocabulary words. We've been reading poems by emily Dickinson, and we played music rhythym bingo. We continue to practice yoga in the mornings, read the scriptures and memorize them. We started memorizing D&C 82:3.

Life is good, everybody pretty much finished on schedule and it seems like they have more time to spend doing things they really want to do instead of spending hours being inefficient at their schoolwork. It has been nice. Each week seems to get a little easier. I do want to do better at consistent piano lessons and improve the quality of our singing time and languages time in the mornings, but as far as the basics go, I think we are doing well. We've just got to keep it up. Work is a good thing and I think everybody is learning to enjoy work.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Review of the Week #15 -- Successes

This turned out to be a great week overall. We of course didn't accomplish everything I had planned, but we came close. The greatest success of the week was that all the kids finished their school work everyday when they were supposed to without a battle. I think they are enjoying it although they won't admit it yet. I'm relieved to see them enjoy academic work and also to expect to do it and their chores too. It's part of life, and it's looking like I haven't spoiled them for life after all.

The girls finally took their 6A math test. They have to get 80% to pass-- the older one got 82% and complained a whole bunch during the test, but was so happy to pass on the first time-- yay!! The younger one got 77% so she has to take it again- very disappointed, and she hardly complained at all. We went over the problems they missed and they know what they did. Only one book left in Singapore math for them. When they finish, we will have them take all the tests all over again-- I think they should get 90% to pass this time though-- and then we will have a little celebration!! It is going to be great!!

The girls are moving right along in their language workbooks, their Greek workbooks and through their required readings. We finally did some science too and will work through that program as well now that we are past thinking that school is soooooo difficult. They had a good time making grammar worksheets on the computer for their weekly composition.

The boys finished their stuff as scheduled. #3 pretty much knows all his times tables now. He is doing great with long division and has figured out some pretty tough 2 part story problems. #4 has been adding and subtracting money problems and will start fractions for the first time on Monday. #3 is doing great with piano now too after the drama of losing wii privileges last Friday. What a difference. They are both reading pretty well and especially love to read verses out loud to everybody from the scriptures. I'm so proud of them.

#5 officially started school this week. I figured I'd better start him while he's interested, and he is ready. He started his preschool Singapore Math book and is learning to write his numbers. He knows how to count and he knows what they look like so now it's time to write. He is also learning to write his name in print and cursive. He likes school and he likes telling everybody he was the first one done because he's a little copycat and hears that a lot.

The babies are cute as can be and follow each other around and make lots and lots of messes.

We had a lot of fun this week too which is why we only had one science experiment (evaporation) and 2 storytime sessions although we had 4 group times. We read about Babylon and Assyria, and about McCormick and the invention of the reaper. We are still reading Little Women and Pilgrim's Progress and The Lost Prince at night. We've also read a bunch of picture books. Reading aloud is my favorite time with the kids. We have also resumed Spanish and French lessons in the morning which I think is fun, but I'm not sure how effective it is. We had also been doing well memorizing snippets of instrumental music and the composers, but one of the babies lost the cd, so I've got to find it. That was really fun.

The girls got to see part of Ballet West's performance of Sleeping Beauty. I got to experience how it could be to send them off to school and just have little ones at home. It was really nice outside so I took the babies for a walk in the stroller up and down the street so I wouldn't have to wait for the boys to keep up with me. They rode bikes and scooters and then went to play in the neighbor's yard across the street at the stream. I got to do some yard cleanup and it felt like spring and was sooooo very nice. Then we had our math group at library and got a bunch more books. We also went to the gym and got together with some old friends this week. It was busy, but very refreshing. I was surprised the kids were still able to finish their work because we did the fun things in the afternoon. We missed story time though. It was nice to have Friday open. Plus, the boys invited their friends over to play the wii so we got the house all picked up. It was awesome. We need to have people over a lot!

We've had lots of success this week. The areas for improvement this week are music theory-- we have some great games for this and dinner chores. I have not been enforcing dinner helpers or table cleaners or dish washers and I need help and they need to learn. I've been inspired this week by a couple blogs so I'm going to try rotating the chores weekly instead of daily. The zone thing is working well- now we can add in weekly kitchen jobs. What fun to find ways to improve- figure it out, tweak it and reap the benefit. Laundry will be next!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Checklists and Deadlines

Checklists have been very helpful for kids to see what they need to do and what they have left. It's much easier to keep going when they can see that it will end and they know exactly what is expected of them. A new rule we have now for the 4th and 6th grader is that math and Greek have to be done before lunch or they don't get to eat. Those are the hardest subjects and they need to do them when their brains are most ready. Everything else they can pretty much do on their own and just take time. The boys also have to have everything they can do on their own finished before lunch also and usually they are done with the things I have to help them with-- reading, math and phonics.

Here is the girls checklist without the table and boxes to check for each day, the numbers are how many times each week they need to do the item-- so they can work ahead if they want-- which hasn't happened yet. I have also included brushing and flossing teeth because they would often forget. Here it is:

Clean room
brush and floss teeth
Scripture 4x
Journal 4x
Read scriptures 7x
Read history 4x
History report 1x
Required reading 4x
Piano 7x
Violin 7x
Grammar practice 4x
Word study 4x
Sentences to Paragraphs 4x
Math 5x
Greek 5x
Science 2x
Composition 1x
Art 4x

They did a great job yesterday and had fun with Valentines. I think their expectations have been reset after the drama of last Thursday night and they know we are serious. We also had a great lesson in Relief Society on Work and how important it is. I really needed that to reinforce my feeling that we need to do more and it's O.K. I can see the value of children needing free time to explore and play, but I can also see how they can play and do fun things too much. It's all about balance and we are course correcting and learning about work was very nice and helpful for me to see that it's good to stretch these little ones to do more than they would on their own. Through work they will gain Victory!!

On to more work-- I fell asleep before I could clean the kitchen and that's why I'm up so early now- because I know what a nightmare it will be if it's not clean by the time the kids get up!! Work is good-- I am also listening to a teaching company course on Byzantinium times while I clean-- that is very fun and interesting.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review of the Week #14 -- Expectations

This week started out pretty normal. We stuck with our schedule pretty well and the kids were getting their assignments finished. Instead of going to the library on Tuesday, we decided to just sit and read all the books we hadn't gotten too yet. There were a couple from Bill Peet that we all really enjoyed. Then Wednesday we went to an indoor gym I had never been to before-- it was so nice. I loved being warm while the kids played. The people there were great too. I have hope for the future of homeschooling in Utah after doing a few things with this group. It was so refreshing. Then we had Girl's Club and we had a pretty good turnout, so everybody was happy. Thursday though we took a turn for the worse. I really wanted the girls to finish most of their work on Thurs. because we didn't have any appointments or interruptions, but one of them was in a really bad mood and the other one was really distracted and played most the day.

By the time it was time to get ready to go the Blue and Gold banquet for our cub scout, the girls had not finished near the amount of work I expected them to finish. They made cookies for the banquet and we went and had a great time, but when we got home, I was very upset that we hadn't finished what we needed to because we had a field trip scheduled for the following day. I had hoped we would only have a couple things left before the field trip so that we could enjoy it and be done for the week. My husband said that we should not go to the field trip, especially since we still had not been able to fit science into the schedule thus far. The girls cried and cried. It was quite dramatic, but we stuck with the consequence and we did not go on the field trip. My husband comforted me by telling me we'd only have to do this once so they would see we are serious.

I am afraid that I have spoiled my children a bit. I know that if they went to school, they would finish their assignments in a timely manner. I have been a big pushover my entire homeschooling experience and have often wondered if I am expecting too much of them. Now they are older,and even though some of their work seems to take them a onger time than I would expect, they need to be able to do it. So it is looking like my girls are going to have homework for the next little while because they work so slowly in the workbooks. Although it is rather interesting that #1 was able to finish an entire chapter of her Greek workbook in 30 min. and #2 was able to her chapter in 1 hour. So I don't think I am expecting too much of them.

They worked really well on Friday. They got up, cleaned their rooms, ate breakfast and got dressed and ready for the day and started immediately on their schoolwork. It was so nice. They worked hard 'til about 2 p.m. and then I let them have a 2 hour break. Then #1 finally took her science test-- which I am actually a little afraid to check and finished about 6 p.m. #2 finished at about 7 p.m, but she did play with our neighbor for her break so I don't feel too sorry for her. We are all so glad that they actually finished though. We have had a nice relaxing day today. The house wasn't too dirty so Saturday jobs didn't take too long and then we went to see the eagles on their migratory flight. There is a resting area they use about 15 min. from our house. We didn't see very many ourselves but they said they had counted 150 that day. It was nice. then I dropped the kids off at a friend's house while I got my errands for the week done.

It went fairly smooth except my super curious one year old knocked over a cookie display while I had him in the backpack while I was waiting in line. Fortunately no harm done-- he is a very curious little fellow. My twins are way cute. I just like looking at them. They are getting easier-- only nursing twice a day. That's why my house is somewhat cleaned up. Things are getting easier for me and I am also expecting more of my students since I can keep better tabs on them now. It is hard to grow up. But they did it. They are developing the skills they will need throughout their lives. I think they feel good about it too. Life is good.

#3 also had a similar problem with his piano lesson and not wanting to listen and follow my instructions. I told him he would lose his turn on the wii if he didn't listen. He threw a fit and lost his turn. He finished his lesson with me and earned the privilege of watching other people play that day, but he didn't get to play. I think he will do better next time. Being a parent and following through can be hard to do. I don't like to see my children suffer, but better now than in college. they will thank me later-- I hope!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Great Geography Game!

We had some friends over and they brought this game:

It's called 10 Days in Europe. We liked it so much that we bought all the others too -- Asia, Africa, Americas, and United States. Basically the players have to get their country and travel cards in order to travel through the continent in 10 days. Each country card also lists the capital and the population number. We usually play an older game and a younger game with the cards facing up and just matching cards to the map so we can learn where all the places are. Very Fun!! Highly recommended.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review of the Week #13 -- Much Better!

This week went much better than last week. We accomplished a lot although we didn't get to everything -- but that's life. It makes such a difference to get a full night's sleep and be able to get up early and get the kids up early too. The oldest 2 have their checklists, and they just work through it until they're done.

We had a birthday party for the now 4 yr old born on Groundhog Day. We rode FrontRunner into Salt Lake where we took Trax and saw the stained glass in the Assembly Hall and peeked in the Tabernacle and then caught Trax back to the FrontRunner station and back to our station. All the kids thought it was great fun. The Birthday Boy especially liked it as he loves trains and wanted to ride one for his birthday. Success!

Also this week, we went to our new Math Study Group which was a success. #1 taught everybody how to simplify fractions and did a great job. Math has not been her favorite subject, but she really liked teaching. It seemed new for a couple of the kids in the group and review for others, but overall it was good. I hope everybody comes back. We'll find out in 2 weeks. Everybody got to play with friends this week and have late-overs so that helped too. We need fun to look forward to so we can get through our work.

So on to the review of the school week - We had group time 4 days this week and story time only once. We started the 13th article of faith, so I need to make a list of new scriptures for the upcoming weeks. I extended group time to one hour to include a bunch of memorization, scriptures, music, exercise and languages. We do about 10 minutes/ subject. It's not long, but it keeps it interesting and keeps everybody's attention.

The girls both finished their Singapore Math 6A workbooks. #1 was upset when her sister caught up to her, but she's O.K. now. I wnated to be sure they will both pass the test on the first try so I decided to have them do some review first. They'll take the test sometime this week. The percentage problems are really, really hard.

Here is an example of the type of problem they have to solve:

There are 50 men and 40 women at a party. How many percent more men than women are there? The answer is 25%.

So we need to make sure that's solid. The rest of the test is a bit of algebraic notation, speed, and ratios which I think they know, but we'll do some review problems just to be sure. I love those story problems-- the girls are really learning to think.

#3 learned long division and can do it pretty well. #4 is working on money. #3 is finally reading pretty well and is actually enjoying the treehouse books on his own --yay!! The phonics workbooks are going well for the boys too. #5 has a good time in "preschool" which has turned into time with someone assigned to play with him and make him happy. He has to start doing his chores more regularly because he's 4 now. He would tell us that he was too little to do his jobs "because I'm 3".

Anyway, it was a good week. I've got to make checklists for the boys this week because I just remembered a couple things we forgot- piano and reading to me. For next week- we need to add in science, make sure we have little kids story time daily and big kids storytime 3 times a week. It should happen this week because we'll hold school Mon- Thursday and go on a field trip on Friday. I'm excited. Homeschooling is fun when things run smoothly and everybody's happy. I'll need to get up soon and start cleaning, but I have to admit I like sleeping in and staying in bed as long as possible. Once I get up, I have to start feeding and cleaning!!