Thursday, January 17, 2013


So the 13 yr old finished her 3 rd day of middle school today.  She came home very excited because  she got 100 % on a math quiz ( they are doing stuff she did ages ago) and 100 % on a science quiz.  She was so excited because I think she was never sure about the homeschool thing and wondered if she would do as well as the other kids, I think she thought she may not be because math didn't come as easy for her as it did for her siblings, plus she was always the guinea pig in this whole homeschooling experiment.  I'm glad she likes it, but I do wish it was a little more challenging.  We'll see it's just the first week.  Her favorite class by far is orchestra, she loves the sound of all the instruments playing together.  I'm really thankful we were able to afford lessons when we did and that  she is able to use my great grandfathr's violin.

The sixth grader has decided that she likes homeschool better, but she wants to finish out the year in public school.  She is really enjoying the games and competition.  They have a list of books that the kids are supposed to read and then they are divided into teams and answer questions about the books they've read sometime-- it's called Battle of the Books.  She loves to read and has surprised her classmates, teacher and the librarian at her pace.  They haven't gotten to go outside for recess except for 2 days because it has been so dang cold here or the air is bad or both, so they have free time in their classroom and she hates when the loud boys make the "yacker tracker" go off and everyone has to put their heads down on their desks.  She  is pretty far ahead in everything, but she likes the games and reward systems and I think she is learning a few things. They rotate every 3 weeks between computers, music, art and PE.  She can't wait to do art.

The 4th grader has loved school, it has been about 2 weeks now, math is easy, he's a good reader, but I was a little worried about writing.  He says he has done fine writing, but he doesn't know how to spell anything.  So I pulled out Spelling Power which I didn't have to use long for the girls after awhile, they were able to teach themselves spelling because they liked writing their own stories and children's books.  I also had them write book reports and history summaries.  We were just starting that sort of thing with the 4 th grader and I didn't realize how hard spelling is for him.  He came home a bit frustrated because he said he doesn't know how to spell blue and he misses his free time and he doesn't want to do piano or Greek and this is his first year playing basketball so he's not as good as the other kids, and he said he wants to go back to homeschooling.  That was the first day he ever said anything about it.  So we have started Spelling Power which I think is an excellent program and I'm confident that it won't take him long to be a decent speller and to feel better in that category.  He said he still likes school and math is way easy-- they are memorizing times tables and multiplying double digits.  He has learned some songs on the recorder and liked taking our piccolo and base recorders to school.  He has been earning turtle tickets and happily does his homework.  But he would like to stay home just one day.  Good thing Monday is a holiday.  I think it will do him good to stick it out and finish.  If I thought he was suffering and that it was too much for him, I wouldn't hesitate to take him out of school.  But if he wants to come home because it's hard and long, I want him to stick it out and feel that sense of accomplishment when it's over.  So the plan is to focus on spelling with him after school.  We are cutting back on piano and Greek until he is better at spelling.  I will also have him write in his journal.

I miss having my 3 oldest kids around, but I think their school experience will really benefit them and give them a better understanding of the world and the people in it.  The kids at the schools seem very nice, they have been welcoming and happy to show my kids around.  The teachers seem nice too.  I have to admit that besides making sure I have bread made for lunches, sending them to school is easier on me.  However, I miss the flexibility we used to have to be able to plan a field trip together or to take a full day to do science or to go to the park and play basketball during lunch.  We are not going to participate in choir this semester after all, because it just takes too much family time after having them gone all day.  We like being together and playing games, reading, watching TV, playing the ukuleles or whatever.  We really value our evenings together with everyone and we don't want to miss that although the choir turned out to be a really great thing.  I wish the kids could do it again, but there is always a trade- off.

The 2nd grader had a hard time being left by his older siblings.  He really wanted to go to school too, but he is feeling better about homeschool and he and the kindergartner and becoming better friends and getting along fine.  They do yoga and aerobics with me and I give them extra screen time for that.  We also got a new front loading washer because the old broke, so they learned how to do the laundry today and helped me fold and put away a ton of clothes.  They finished their regular work and we read some more of Pinocchio.  It's nice to have them to myself and they are able to ask questions and I can explain a lot to them.

The twins seemed to be getting over their illness, but then they caught something else- the flu I'm guessing- throwing up, fever, and they still haven't completely gotten over the lingerin cough from the other bug they had.  So far the baby seems fine- fingers crossed.  So we have not been able to have a regular schedule yet.  But we will get there.  I really look forward to not having sick kids.  It is so sad when they are sick.  We have watched a lot of Dora, Diego and GeoTrax.  Now they are starting to get into Blue's Clues.  Thank goodness for NetFlix!!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

First days at School

My 4th and 6th grader started elementary school on Thurs.  The 8th grader has to wait til the change of semesters and will start the 14th, but she has been practicing the violin, she auditions on Tues. for the orchestra.  The 4th and 6th graders are having a good time so far.  Their teachers both seem really nice, the school seems very nice too.  They each already knew about 3 kids in each of their classes and seem to be getting along nicely.  #3 came home with a Nintendo DS that someone gave him-- he has to give it back we told him.  He seems able to do the work just fine, he loved doing his homework of saying if the shapes are similar or congruent.  #2's class did a lock down drill and practiced hiding in the cloak closet. She was also a little frustrated with the loud boys in her class who got the whole class in trouble during recess so everybody had to put their heads down on their desk.  I guess the kids on the bus were really loud too and there was mud on the seats from kids standing up.  But they still like it, and I think it will be very good for them both.

I had a nice time with my 2nd grader and my kindergartner.  We missed co-op because the twins are still coughing a bit, but we did go to vision therapy and to the store where they got an extra treat-- I left the little ones home with their sister.  It will be nice to have some more time with these middle kids.  They always think they need to do whatever their older siblings are doing, so it will be nice to just do things for them.  We have a field trip scheduled to the Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point this month.   I think this is going to be a semester full of growth for everyone. 

I'm excited and relieved.  Change is good!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Going to Public School!!

I LOVE homeschooling!!  I enjoy having my children home during the day.  I enjoy watching them progress academically, I enjoy reading to them and watching them do science experiments.  I like seeing them play together and help each other and I love to see them learn and grow in all different aspects.  I love the flexibility that homeschooling has given us.  We can take it easy when we're sick, go longer when we don't want to stop and we can move at our own pace- fast or slow.  The kids have all done extremely well this past year.  They continue to work through their math, greek and latin books, as well as reading many other books for fun and for learning history and other things.  We are settled again and have just been following our regular routine, and everybody has been moving right along in all areas.  I have loved it!!

The downside-- we have found few homeschoolers- especially families with older kids wanting to focus on academics.  The majority of our homeschooling friends either just have younger kids, send their older kids to public or charter school, or their focus is on US History and the US Constitution and Religion, and thus have no time or interest to do other things like science olympiad or 4-H.  The other problem is that here in Utah being still a bit of Wild West, there are no cheap community classes or rec. centers.  Extra classes are pricey and the kids in them usually live far away from each other, so it hasn't been a great way for the kids to make friends. The city recreation programs have been great, but each sport is only offered once a year and if there is a conflict with the time- there is no alternative league to join.  The kids have made quite a few friends at church and in the neighborhood which here in Utah is practically the same thing.  They have enjoyed being just down the street from the church and able to walk to so many friends houses.  The girls have also participated in Janeen Brady's Children's Choir which was a fabulous experience, but too far away for them to be able to meet up with friends from there outside of choir.  So most of the kids' friends go to the local public school-- they ride the bus and we can see the bus stop right out of our back windows at the little park.  This has led my kids to feel extremely curious about what school may be like.  None of them have ever gone to school, so they have no idea how good they have it.  They also have no idea what school is like or how they would fit in or not fit in.

My oldest child who is a 13 yog was especially curious and so much so that it seemed to be holding her back from doing things because she just acted so unsure-- like she didnt' know how or where she would fit into society or anywhere.  We talked about it for awhile and while we were planning to have her go for the full year of 9th grade, our ward got split and she lost a bunch of her friends and got some other things happened, so it caused us to speed up that proposition to the second half of 8th grade.  She was so happy when we told her that we had decided to send her to school, her younger siblings said they wished they could go too.  So we decided to send #2, 6th grade girl, and #3, 4th grade boy.  #2 and #4 would probably be just fine never entering a public school in their lives, but #1 and #3 are much more socially aware and curious-- and would really feel slighted if they were never allowed to go to school especially here where it is fairly safe and most the kids are Mormons also.

We also feel like it will be a valuable experience for all 3 of them to understand what public school is like and how most kids spend their school hours.  It is actually part of their education to learn how people live and learn here in Utah.  #1 already seems calmer and happier and more confident.  The other kids' friends are really excited to have them come and be in school with them.  I think it will be really good for all of them.  #1 is right on grade level and maybe a little advanced because of Latin and all the music and reading she has been able to do over the years, so I think it will be good for her to see that she really is doing alright and that she is smart and not dumb or behind because of homeschooling.  #2 is very far ahead because she is just academically minded-- she has been working through algebra 1 and Latin 1 and is just an amazing memorizer and reader.  So I don't expect her to learn much at school except to gain an appreciation for what most people do for school.  #3 is ahead in math and knows how to read, but he is a stubborn little soul who does not like to do anything he's not good at-- which would be spelling and language arts-- so I think the discipline will be good for him and I expect that his language arts skills will improve from going to the public school.  We had him practice spelling his first and last name a few times.  I'm sure there will be things that they love about public school and there will be things they will miss about our homeschool.

My greatest fear is that they'll love public school so much and learn so much more and better than they have here at home with me.  Our homeschool can be extremely chaotic at times.  The ideal situation would be that they go to school and have a decent experience, learn some discipline and see that they have been learning what they need to at home and decide that they love homeschooling too and want to come back and learn at their own pace again.  We shall see!!  We've always taken it one step at a time.  Our goal as parents has always been to raise our kids to be happy, healthy, confident and independent individuals who are able to do whatever they choose in life with confidence and hope.  So this step of spreading their wings a bit and going to school on their own without me or their father is actually kind of exciting for them.

I will miss them terribly, but I am excited and happy for them.  It will be an adventure.  They will still have to keep up with piano, math and Greek or Latin after school.  And they will be home by 3 p.m. so I'll still see them a lot, but wow-- change is afoot.

I decided not to send the 2nd grader and kindergartner.  They need to work on being nicer to each other and mature a little bit more.  They still seem just too young to send off for 30 hours per week.  I think this will also be an opportunity for them to become better friends and to be more responsible as the oldest children at home.  This will also give me more time to spend with them and the almost 3 year old twins reading lots of books and singing and doing art like I did with the older kids.  I'm sad and happy at the same time!!