Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Our homeschool "trial run"

After a very long weekend of Julia being sick, we decided to keep her home Monday.  She still was weak, but feeling much better.  So what better time to try homeschooling!?  We will be perfecting our schedule and using different materials in the fall, but wanted to get a general idea of how things would go.

We started our day off the traditional way, breakfast and morning chores, then she wanted to do the "if you're happy and you know it song".  I knew Chelsey, my younger daughter, liked this song, but it was a hoot watching them both sing and dance to it!  I decided to work on Calendar because it seems like that has been lacking at her actual school, and then we did the "Days of the week" song.  They both loved it as well (sung to the Addams family theme song you can find it here).

I wrote a little guide of what subjects to do on our whiteboard, and did a variety, even though we will do less per day in the fall I was surprised how much we were able to get done!  Even with an extra long math session (we watched a video by mathtacular for about 45 minutes because she was really enjoying it) we finished "school" by 1:30, including lunch.  Here is a brief description of what we did:

Literature:  I read to her from a book called "Be a friend to trees", which actually lead into our science.  It was a very descriptive book and she enjoyed it.
Writing/Spelling:  Julia copied a paragraph from the book, and I verbally asked her to spell words.
Art: used finger paints to paint a picture about something from the book (she drew an orange tree)
Science/Nature:  we went outside and followed an ant.  The ant was carrying another bug, and we followed it "home" to its ant hill.  Julia enjoyed watching the ants try to find the hole on the ant hill. 
Gym:  played outside on the slide, counted how many jump ropes she could do, kicked the ball up and down the hill.
Math:  watched the mathtacular video, did a worksheet on addition
Geography: used her Tag reader and map of the US to locate the states and find out information on them.

It was a fun day, and it gave me the "I can do it" feeling that I needed.  We are both excited to start in the fall and use the curriculum I have planned out.  It was nice to be able to include Chelsey, but also a challenge.  I'll definitely have to have little activities set up for her to do when I need one-to-one time with Julia.  For now it worked well just letting her do a mini version of what we were doing.  (pencil and paper during writing/spelling, letting her finger paint, etc.)  We also did the math and geography during nap time which worked out nicely. 

Overall it was a great day!  Today she is home again, I just don't think her immune system is ready.  She will probably go back to school tomorrow, and I will miss her :)  We used today, and I wasn't really impressed.  It has been suggested to me several times by other homeschooling moms, but it is not quite up to par with what I want to teach.  It also doesn't remember what you were doing if you happen to x-out the screen.  When you go back all the subjects are listed again, which frustrated Julia because she thought she had to do them all over again.  It also listed subjects several times in one day.  It's a free online curriculum, so I suppose you get what you pay for.  :)  We will stick to the Charlotte Mason method and maybe use Head of the Class for those crazy busy days. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The homeschool leap

Being a product of public school myself, I never dreamed of sending my child to a private school, and homeschooling?  Riiiight...  So what am I doing reading everything I can get my eyes on regarding homeschool? 

A few months ago, we found out my daughter (currently in public kindergarten) was having some problems in computer class.  It wasn't that she couldn't do it, she has been reading, writing, etc for quite some time.  She was bored.  The repetition of the state computer program made her so frustrated that she would be in tears.  One day, we got a note saying that the teacher was concerned about her frustration in computer lab.  I called, and found out she had been criying every single Tuesday (computer day) and this most recent lab, had been sent to the hall to sit, alone.  She cried so hard, she became physically ill, throwing up. 

I was shocked and had no idea this was going on!  When she would come home from school, she would never tell me this, she always told me she had a good day.  So we worked on it, and worked on it for months.  I went into lab with her, showing her it was okay.  I talked with the teacher, I'd go in after school and do lab with her.  Still, every Monday night, she would worry so much about Tuesday that she wouldn't sleep.  She'd cry during lab.  We tried bribing her, reasoning with her, getting mad at her.  We didn't know what to do, and neither did her teacher.  She would start dreading Tuesday on Friday!  I felt so bad for her, but didn't know how to help her. 

She has always been an emotional kid, I was when I was little and I still am.  But never quite to this extent.  So my husband and I started looking at our options.  We could either keep her in a school that doesn't understand her, and doesn't have time to deal with her the way she needs, or we could try something different.  Private school and homeschooling became our options.  Leaning towards a local Private School, we went as far as enrolling her for next year, but I still didn't feel comfortable. 

I read everything I could about homeschooling, but hadn't quite convinced hubby.  Finally, I talked him into going to the Midwest Homeschool Convention.  One class, and I could tell he was sold, even if he didn't admit it.  We were there for 2 days, taking all the classes we could fit in, browsing the vendor hall, talking to other homeschoolers.  When he finally decided it was a good idea, he told me what sold him on it. 

"I looked around at all the kids that were here.  They were sitting quietly, listening, obeying their parents.  They were respectful, dressed modestly, and well behaved.  That is what sold me."  For the rest of our time at the convention, we paid close attention to the kids attending.  He was right!  These kids were the most well behaved group of kids we'd ever seen!  Thousands of families were there, and not once did we hear a child disrespect their parents, run away from them, or say rude things.  They sat quietly during the lectures, paying attention, or at least quietly sitting with an activity.  We were impressed.

We went with intentions of using the curriculum in the Ohio Virtual Academy, and came out deciding to take the whole thing on ourselves.  Now leaning towards the Charlotte Mason method as well as Classical method.  (Another post!) 

It is May, and I'm counting the days (25!) left of public school so we can begin our journey.  Maybe it will work, maybe it won't.  But this is where our hearts have led us, so we can't deny our calling.