Thursday, April 17, 2008

I am reading Ruth Beechick's You Can Teach Your Child Successfully. I found it again while looking for her guides to teaching younger children, I was successful in finding the language and math volumes,but I am still on the hunt for A Home Start in Reading which I wanted to reference in my teaching of my 4 year old.
I am regretful that I did not take the time to read You Can Teach Your Child Successfully when I received it 3 or 4 years ago. It is geared to the teaching of children in the upper Grammar and Logic stages, grades 4-8, and is filled with practical advice on whole learning. It is geared to help parents become well-informed teachers of their children. I am only 20 pages in and she has already touched on stages of reading, what we can learn from standardized tests, how to decode school/teacher vocabulary and now I am reading about different types of reading.
In skimming it this morning, I found some writing lessons and we started one of them today based on a copywork/dictation passage.
I am finally taking the time to educate myself about education rather than trying to rely upon curriculum and assignments to cover things. I have always been so eager to jump into stuff that I don't take the time to really learn and plan. I guess late is better than never.

Go check out my friend Lori's blog to glean some great insights into writing. I find her writings so inspirational, I always want to aspire to better things after I visit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Today was our end of the year facilitator visit. Since we have been with the Wisdom school board, these visits go swimmingly. He is wonderfully encouraging and seems genuinely interested in my children and who they are. And that they are succeeding in their endeavors. We had a terrific chat about Classical education and I feel even more that I am heading in the right direction now. The paperwork seems unimportant compared to my children's character.
I think I will call the board and register B. in one of their Socratic dialogue classes. They are doing one about the Second World War next year that I am sure he will love.
I am still not sure if I will buy a packaged curriculum for next year, like Tapestry of Grace or Sonlight, or if I will just take some reading lists and use the Classical methods to cover our history etc. I love the idea of the curriculum, because it is already laid out for me. But I am worried about feeling bogged down by it and letting curriculum run our schooling rather doing what I think is working or going where I think we are being led naturally.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Week's end.

A very successful week here in the Mighty home school. R and I did math together all week and it went swimmingly. 20 minutes per lesson tops, it is a record for sure!

Surprisingly to me, the kids are loving the Latin. Of course, they do love to learn new things and this is still new and fresh. R seems to have a real talent for picking up the pronunciations, he is already correcting the rest of us. I need to work on my Latin this weekend or the boys will be ahead of me by next week.

I am wondering if I should take a break from the French for a couple of months so as to not confuse them as we get used to the Latin. Plus, my computer where the student database is stored has crashed so all our records are gone. This means the kids have to start over at lesson 1! That sucks for all of us. My dad is going to help me recover some of the data on that computer so I am hoping to salvage their records.

I am so pleased with myself this week, I think I succeeded in starting some new, healthy habits for all of us. Now to keep up the commitment on my part and help the boys make lifelong habits of working hard, doing their best and learning to be self-motivated, but accountable.

I am also pleased with the kids, no fighting about school for a whole week. Today at lunch, I told the kids to get their shoes on, I was taking them for a treat and then to a friend's to play. B wasn't done his math yet and I yelled out the back door for him to grab his books to take. He already had them and was waiting outside with them. Woohoo! That is an absolute first. He took responsibility for his own education. That is what I am reaching for!

I am so looking forward to this weekend. We will take it off and for once I feel that it is well deserved.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Midweek checkup
Our first week of back to academics and Mama totally engaging with the boys and their school. Unfortunately over the last couple of years I have gotten into the habit of giving them assignments and then waiting for them to finish them. This has been increasingly frustrating as they weren't all that motivated to actually finish their assignments.

God has really been speaking to me about this. I had been seeking his path as to how to school the high school years with B. I spent last week during spring break, reading the Well Trained Mind. Wow, I felt God speaking to me about my role in their education and realized all the gaps I have left. I felt totally energized, inspired, and convicted. I feel that I have some direction for the next few years and am working at putting it into action.

I have some much needed supplies on my list of things to buy, but for now we are working with what we have.

This week
R.: We have been just doing a simple workbook this year, but he has some glaring gaps, so today we started Saxon 6/5. This curriculum has been rather painful for us in the past, but that is what we have so that is what we are doing for now. I am on the search for another program though.
To ease the pain, I went through the entire lesson with him, we did most of the practice questions aloud and made sure he understood. Then he did just over half of the lesson practice with me sitting beside him and doing the last six questions independently. This worked perfectly. 15 minutes and we were done. Much less painful than him sitting for hours staring into space.
B did his seventh investigation, and again, I went over trouble spots with him and he did well. Once we both figured out what the reciprocal coefficient of x was.

Language arts/Latin:
I finally got around to starting the Latin Road to English grammar last weekend, so this week we have done the first 3 lessons. Today we got to practice the Lord's Prayer in Latin. The kids were totally geeked up about it.
In spelling, though we have been using Spelling Power, both boys had to study spelling lists today. R needed review and B was doing the postal abbreviations for the States and Provinces. Yeah, he had no idea about most of them. I always forget that they need to know the American stuff as well as the Canadian.

B is almost done level G in spelling and R is in the middle of level C, he has had a rough time with spelling until this year, but it seems to be getting better now.

Dictation is something I have decided to start again, what better way to become a great writer than to copy great writers?! B did a passage from King Solomon's Mines and R did one from On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Writing has been blogging so far this week, but we will soon be starting a formal composition curriculum. We are also doing a mini-report for Bible study this week. We are using the NIV Children's Bible Handbook and are working in the New Testament section.
The boys are both reading what they like and we are going through Mark in our daily Bible reading

Social Studies: We are working through Geography Province by Province by Donna Ward and will soon be starting Conquerers and Conquests by the same Author as well as dozens of supplementary books and historical fiction to go with it. This week we learned about Forestry as well as people and places in BC and will learn about the symbols and economy of AB. We map as well as plot figures and events on our timeline.

French: still plodding through Rosetta Stone, I would like to find a written French program as a supplement though.

Science: Hasn't happened yet this week, hopefully tomorrow afternoon we can continue with our program.

J(4) and I worked on some phonics exercises today, til he got bored and then he did some reading. With A (2.5) we played Discovery Toys match game and they played with alphabet blocks and cars for hours. We also read dozens of books.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

We are starting to ease into some new scheduling and a more rigorous academic education for the boys. The first day went typically. R spent the entire day, hours and hours staring at his page of math, doing entirely nothing. I went over how to do the questions with him to no avail. I did do his spelling with him and he worked on his geography.
B did a bit better, he got off to a slow start, but he managed to finish his math, geography, dictation, spelling, and.
J, 4, is such a keener, he is aching to learn. We spent a good half hour yesterday writing out rhyming words. He came up with a word, such as can or cat and we looked through the alphabet trying out new letters at the beginning to make rhyming words. He sounded them all out to see if they worked. Afterwards he wanted to read a book, so we took the first couple phonetic readers out and we sounded them out together. He is still missing a few sounds and doesn't always grasp the sounding out concept. He is really good at looking for picture clues. One of the stories said something about 'sat on a hat' and the picture showed the character sitting on a bench, so I kept trying to get him to sound out hat with me, but he kept wanting to say bench or seat. He did figure it out though, it was really fun to watch him discover and learn.
While waiting for dinner, he had gotten out a printing book and he must have worked in it for half an hour at least, completely self-directed. He hates to hold the pencil properly, but we are working on it.
Today we are going to set up some new binders with dividers, especially for the Latin Road to English Grammar which we will start today. Should be interesting.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Home Education Week

    Scroll down for my posts for the week.

    Found this list over on Tons of Sons
    of things to think and write about during this week, Home Education Week at Principled Discovery.

    Looking Back
    Sunday, March 30
    Share your personal history…before you were a home educator. What was life like? Think about things you miss and things you and your family have gained.
    Profiling Home Educators Monday, March 31
    Describe yourself, your family or one of your children. What is it like to be home educated in your family? What is “normal” for you?
    April Fool’s! Tuesday, April 1
    And we have likely all felt the fool in one way or another. Share your greatest challenge. Or one of those terrible, horrible no good, very bad days where the only thing there is to do seems to involve moving to Australia.
    Recipe for Success Wednesday, April 2
    It is also National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! So share a recipe…figuratively, as in two parts love, one part creativity, or literally, as in a super quick, nutritious meal your kids scarf up. Think about what you do in the day, what helps keep it organized and you sane (or how you got past that need for organization and saneness!), and curriculum materials you find effective.
    Show and Tell Thursday, April 3
    Show off those talents. Share a story, a special moment, a piece of artwork. Any accomplishment, great or small, is fair game.
    In Their Own Words Friday, April 4
    Share your children’s home education experience in their own words. What have they said about their education? What are their likes and dislikes? Share some stories, some quotes, or turn your blog over to your children for the day.
    Looking Forward Saturday, April 5
    What are your goals for home education? What do you hope to instill in your children? Are you planning any changes to how you educate your children?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Show and Tell

    Show and Tell Thursday, April 3
    Show off those talents. Share a story, a special moment, a piece of artwork. Any accomplishment, great or small, is fair game.

Getting my boys to enjoy writing has been a goal of mine since we started. My second son absolutely hated to write and it was pure torture to even get 5 sentences out of him last year in grade 4. My elder son thought writing was okay, but not his fave thing to do. They both have these amazing imaginations and it seemed like such a waste to me that we wouldn't have many records of all that goes on in their brains.
In the fall I had them each start a blog. Well, it wasn't long til they begged to write in their blogs every day. I finally saw the lightbulbs go off in their heads. Writing didn't have to be a chore. It was a way of recording what was in their hearts and minds. It could be fun!
They thought it was so fun, that when I decided to do NaNoWriMo in November and write a novel, they decided to join me. They both wrote more than they had ever done in their entire lives. And they were so proud of their accomplishments and so am I.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Recipe for Success

    Recipe for Success Wednesday, April 2
    It is also National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day! So share a recipe…figuratively, as in two parts love, one part creativity, or literally, as in a super quick, nutritious meal your kids scarf up. Think about what you do in the day, what helps keep it organized and you sane (or how you got past that need for organization and saneness!), and curriculum materials you find effective.

I don't think I really have found my recipe for success yet, as I shared in yesterday's post. So today I will share a recipe or 2. One thing that really works for me, when I actually get around to it, is meal planning. I have some wonderful cookbooks with meal plans and shopping lists already set out week by week. LOVE! The series is called Cooking for the Rushed and the recipes are easy, coded by speed of prep and cooking, and delicious. Even my pickiest eater has eaten everything I have made from them.

One of my favourite, stand-by recipes, not from these cookbooks, is Cajun Chicken Fettuccine. My mom makes it fairly often and it is quick and easy. I don't actually have a recipe that I follow, I kind of make it up as I go along, but I will try my best to write it out for you.
Cajun Chicken Fettuccine

4 to 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cups of mushrooms
half an onion
half a bulb of garlic
Cajun seasoning to taste
1 box of fettuccine pasta
couple of tbsp. of butter
2 to 4 tbsp. flour
2 to 3 cups of milk
1 cup of chicken broth
1/3 c. parmesan cheese

1. Warm some olive oil in a deep frying pan and add 3 cloves of crushed garlic and chopped onion.
2. Slice up the chicken and add to the pan, brown it.
3. Wash and slice the mushrooms, add to pan while chicken finishes cooking, sprinkle everything with desired amount of Cajun seasoning.
4. Put pot of water on to boil for your pasta.
5. When chicken is cooked, remove to bowl and set aside.
6. Cook pasta
7. Add butter to pan, melt (I always add a couple more cloves of crushed garlic here) and then add flour to make roux. Add milk and chicken broth, bit by bit to roux, whisking it in as you go to thicken sauce. Cook until desired consistency.
8. At this point you can add more Cajun seasoning if you like, and then put the chicken and mushrooms back in the sauce to warm. Add Parmesan cheese and stir til melted through.
9. Add sauce to drained pasta and mix through. Serve with salad for a complete meal.
This is delicious and quick and all my kids eat it!

My recipe amounts are all approximations, if you have any questions, please email me. mightymorphinmama [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

April Fool's

    April Fool’s! Tuesday, April 1
    And we have likely all felt the fool in one way or another. Share your greatest challenge. Or one of those terrible, horrible no good, very bad days where the only thing there is to do seems to involve moving to Australia.

Well I think I feel the fool more often than not, especially in regards to home educating. I remember the first year we tried it. I kept telling my facilitator that I had no idea what I was doing, where do I start? She just kind of laughed and told me that I was their mother, I was intelligent and I would do just fine.
I am not sure if she was misguided or not. I often feel like I am without a rudder in this ocean and I allow myself to be blown about by circumstance and things that seem like a great idea, far too often. I have wonderful plans and ideas, but life keeps getting in the way. Babies and toddlers and sports and chores and things I want to do for me. Never mind the discouragement of non-compliant children and my own emotional ups and downs.
I think, for me, one of my biggest challenges is staying plugged-in and engaged in my kid's education. I get discouraged when they won't sit and work on what I have assigned them. I sometimes feel as though I spend my days yelling and begging them to just finish their math! Sometimes I just retreat to my room for a afternoon, or a day or 2 and read my books or my blogs and I feel like curling up in my bed and giving up. For good.
I am at a crossroads right now. Things have got to change. I am either going to completely plug into a classical education program for the boys, which is my dream and my preference. Or I am going to hand off their education, either to a correspondence or computer type curriculum, self teaching and marking; or put them into school.
I just can't continue floating about, without oars or rudder, hoping everything will work out. I need direction, as do the children and I would really like to teach them lifelong skills like thinking! My goal is to raise God-serving, intelligent, thinking, children who are pursuing their dreams, so I need to find the best path to get there.