Monthly Archives: December 2007

Week Two Report

Our second successful week of homeschooling! I call it successful because we managed to accomplish everything I wanted to and Madison was quite good.

Here is our week in pictures (I am going to have to start trying to take more pictures!)

On Sunday, we made gingerbread cookies and went to the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Downtown OKC. Church was canceled because of a major ice storm in Oklahoma, but the botanical gardens is close enough to our house to walk (plus it’s free on Sunday nights in December). It was really cold, but worth it I think.

On Monday, we started back up with homeschool. For Bible Study, we did 5 more lessons from the Bible Study Guide for All Ages. We did an extra one on Sunday since church was canceled.

For Reading, we did the letter B in our Explode the Code workbook and made banana bread from the Alpha Bakery Cookbook. We also read our library books and practiced reading with Bob books. She can read the first two on her own now. I have given up on 100 EZ Lessons and have decided for now that we will just do ETC and read lots and lots of books. I checked out Phonics Pathways and the Ordinary Parents Guide from the library as well, so over the Christmas holiday I am going to look through those books and see if I think either one will work for us.

I ordered her a LeapPad for Christmas, so that will be something she can do for fun that will hopefully reinforce reading skills. I was also able to check out the Talking Words DVD from the library, so we watched that as well as Letter Factory again.

For Math, we did four more lessons in Horizons K. We only do math on Tuesday and Thursday right now, so she is averaging about 2 lessons each day and she really likes it. Most of it right now is kind of like review for her because she already knows these numbers. We also play a lot of math games – we played Numbers Bingo and a time game this week, plus one with flash cards that I made up.

We also did an activity from Mudpies to Magnets for science, a violin lesson, and lots and lots of art. Art is her favorite thing to do.

Some other fun things we did this week: We went on a free canal ride in downtown OKC and on a ride called “Adventures in Santaland.” The canal ride was fun but really, really cold, and the other ride was extremely lame, but Madison loved it.

On Friday, Nana came down and picked Madison for the next week. My parents live about two hours away now and Madison has been begging to spend “one whole week” with Nana. Since we will be driving up there this Friday for Christmas, it was a great week for her to get some Nana time – which means we won’t be having homeschool this week.

Instead, I am hoping to get quite a few other things accomplished this week. First, when I was in college, I made copies of file folder games to use in my classroom one day but never finished them. I am hoping to finish those these week so that Madison will have them to play with in the afternoon. I am also planning to do quite a bit of holiday baking. I wish Madison was here to help with that, but I probably will get more done without her here. I may also try to make Christmas cards – it looks like they will be New Year’s cards this year ūüôā And finally, I am planning to make up my list of books for the 888 Reading Challenge.

So I won’t have a weekly report next week or the week after – we will be taking a two week break, then starting up again.

Our Homeschool “Room”

Since we are living in a 2 bedroom apartment for the next six months (without any of our own furniture), I have had to make some concessions to my ideal homeschool “room.”¬† Hopefully, when we get to Japan, we will be able to have a dedicated homeschool room, but for now, this is what I am making work.

My bookshelf:

On top of the bookshelf, the basket is for supplies and papers I don’t want Madison to touch, plus a little globe and her counting beads.¬†

On the first shelf, I have all of the workbooks, teacher guides, etc. and in the basket are the supplies we use every day, like glue, scissors, pencils, etc. 

On the second shelf, I have mostly supplies – blank notebooks, paper, pencils, glue, etc. This is also where I keep our library books and math games.

On the bottom shelf, I have a random assortment of books that I brough to OKC but don’t have a shelf for.¬† They are not necessarily for homeschooling.¬† In the basket are all the math manipulatives I bought.

Our books:

These are some of the library books we checked out for Week 1.

Our kitchen table:

This is where we do most of our homeschooling work Рit is just our (temporary) kitchen table.

The Art Center:

I borrowed this table from my mom –¬†it was mine when I was little – and set up all her art supplies on it:¬† crayons, colored pencils, markers, stamps, scissors, punches, glue sticks and glitter glue, clay, coloring books, and her scrap box (all different kinds and sizes of paper).¬† On the floor underneath the table is a vinyl tablecloth I found on clearance at Walmart for $1.¬† This way, I don’t have to worry about the carpet in the apartment while she does art.¬†

First day of school present:

This is not really part of our room, but this is the present I gave her the first day we started homeschool.  I thought some fun new supplies would get her excited about doing school, and it worked.  She especially liked the glittery colored pencils and the little markers.

We also have a bible timeline up on the wall underneath our bar, and I put up a number line and alphabet chart.¬† I don’t really love having them on the wall in my living/dining room, but space is at a premium in this apartment, and I think it helps Madison to look at those things all the time.

So, for now, this is our homeschooling space.  If you have pictures of your homeschooling space, leave me a link in the comments so I can check it out! 

Our first week ever!

If you read my last post, then you know that my husband and I have decided to homeschool my daughter, age 4.  When we made that decision, we were living in Florida and I was working full time, however, we knew that we would be moving to Oklahoma in November.  So, I spent the last several months reading everything I could find about homeschooling, trying to make some curriculum decisions, and really looking forward to starting homeschool.

Now that we are settled in our new home in Oklahoma, I am excited to start being¬†a stay at home, homeschooling mom.¬† Since Madison is only 4, I am trying really hard not to overwhelm her. She has been in preschool for the last year, so she has some expectations of what “school” should be like, but mostly, I am just trying to make it fun.¬† I am planning to do some school with her on Monday through Thursday, then on¬†Friday we will go to¬†storytime at the¬†library and do other errands (grocery shopping, drycleaning, etc.)¬† So here is what we are doing –

First thing each morning, we start with a prayer and a Bible lesson.¬† I ordered the “Bible Study Guide for All Ages”, from¬†¬†The program seeks to lay a strong foundation in¬†biblical knowledge, and is available¬†for three different age levels.¬† We are using the beginner level, which is for 3-K.¬† So far, it is fun for her and she seems to be retaining what she has learned. There are built in review questions, so I am hoping that will keep her retention level high.¬† We are doing a lesson each morning (4 per week).¬† This week¬†(and the next two weeks) we are studying Joseph.¬† Today, there were ice storms in Oklahoma and church was cancelled, so Madison asked if we could do one of her bible lessons even though it wasn’t a homeschool day ūüôā¬† So she likes it, I like it, Bible studies are going very well for us…

Another I try to do every day is read at least 5 picture books per day and 1 chapter book per week.¬† She loves to be read to and doesn’t think of this as school.¬† The only problem I foresee with this is a lack of books.¬† Since we are in transition right now (we are only living in Oklahoma for 6 months before moving to Japan, so we don’t really have any of our own stuff right now), we don’t have a whole lot of books(which is sad, since I have over 800 in storage ūüė¶ ).¬† We are going to the library each week, but the library has a 30 book limit for checkout, and I really can’t carry more than that anyway.¬† We went Friday and checked out 30 books, however, we have not had a real school day since then and we have already read over half of them.¬† My solution?¬† I will have to make 2 trips to the library each week.¬† This may work out better actually, because I can make I trip by myself and pick out more specific books to fit with our weekly theme (I eventually hope to have a weekly theme), plus I can find books for myself to read and not have to worry so much about whether the time on my parking meter is about to expire.

For reading lessons, I started with “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.”¬† Madison wants to learn to read, and¬†I bought this book a few months ago before we moved.¬† We did a couple of lessons there, which went pretty well – it wasn’t her favorite, but¬†there is a writing section that we do on a little white board that she really likes.¬† However, this week, trying to do reading was a huge struggle.¬† She HATES this book.¬† I don’t want to push her because one, she is only four and two,¬†I really want her to enjoy school, but I do want to do some sort of reading with her.¬† So I have come to the conclusion that I will have to try a new reading program with her.¬† I am going to take the next few weeks to do some research about different reading programs, then start a new one with her in January. (If any of you have a reccommendation, I would love to hear it!)

Another thing we are doing right now is the “Letter of the Week.”¬†¬† This week was the letter F, and each day we do a different activity with the letter F.¬† The first day, we watch videos about the letter from United Streaming.¬† There is one about an animal that starts with each letter, and another about the letter that shows how to draw it, tells a story about it, etc.¬† The second day, she watches the video for the letter¬†at, plus any more that she wants to.¬† The¬†third day, we¬†make a quilt block with the letter on it (eventually we will put them all together to make a real quilt) and the fourth day, we cook something that starts with the letter.¬† I found a cookbook called the¬†Alpha Bakery¬†Cookbook, which you can request for¬†free¬†at¬†(all you pay is about $4 shipping), and it¬†has a recipe for each letter of the alphabet.¬† This week, we made fudge brownies.¬†¬† Also, I ordered the Explode the Code books A, B, and C.¬† They have several pages of activities for each letter, which so far, Madison really likes.¬† Also, we watch one of the leapfrog videos about letters/reading each week.¬† That is the only TV I let her watch (except for “Friday Night Family Movie Night”).

Each of those things, we do every school day (4 days a week).¬† Then on Monday, we do art using the book “Scribble Art,” by Mary Ann Kohl.¬† On Tuesday, we do one of the activities from the book¬†“Mudpies to Magnets.” On Wednesday and Thursday, we do Violin Lessons using – right¬†now I am teaching her,¬†but¬†as she gets more advanced I will put her back in¬†lessons. On Wednesday, we do a game from¬†Level 0 and on Thursday, we do a¬†lesson from Book 1.¬†

On Tuesday and Thursday, we also do math.  Initially, I was not planning to do math with her until later, but I ordered Horizons K for later.  She saw the book and has been begging to do it.  The first day, she wanted to keep going and going Рwe did five lessons before she was ready to take a break.  On Thursday, we did 3 more lessons.  She said math is her favorite part of doing school, which is surprising to me, but I am going to go with it.  As long as she wants to do it, I will keep teaching it.

After Christmas, I am planning to also start Japanese with her using the Rosetta Stone software.  My husband can access it free through work, and since we are moving to Japan in April, I think it is important for both of us to start learning the language.

Overall, I think our first week went much better than I had hoped.  I know this sounds like a lot for her to do, but in actuality, we did school for less than 2 hours each day Рand she asked to do more school on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so it must be fun for her Рwhich makes me really happy. 

Some other fun things we did this week Рon Friday, we went to storytime at the library.  On Saturday, we went to the Oklahoma City Civic Center to see The Nutcracker, then went ice skating, and tonight we went to see the christmas lights at the Myriad Botanical Gardens.  All of these things were in walking distance from our new apartment, which is really nice.  I am loving living downtown in Oklahoma City so far. 

Finally, I was hoping to add a slide¬†show with¬†pictures¬†our first week – I probably should have put it at the top, because I doubt many people read this far ūüôā¬†– but I can’t get to work for me right now, so I might add it in later.¬† Also later this week, I am going to try to post pictures of the homeschooling space I have set up and post about the “Treat Jar” system I am trying to do with Madison to encourage good behavior.

EDITED to add our slide show from Week 1:

Until then, have a great week!!

Why we homeschool…

A few months ago, I was watching some show on HGTV.¬† I have no idea what it was, but the homeowner was proudly showcasing her homeschool room and I thought “Wow, that’s really cool.”¬†

Now one thing you have to understand about me is that I had never¬†considered homeschooling up to this point.¬† I have a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Educational Technology.¬† I have worked in public schools and am very pro public schools.¬† But later that night, I jokingly asked my husband what he thought about homeschooling.¬† To my great surprise, he said “I think it’s a great idea.¬† Let’s do it.”

At this point, I freaked out a little. I was just kidding, but seeing his response to the idea, I decided to look into it.  At the time, I worked full time as an Assistant Library Director, which gave me access to just about every homeschooling book ever written, which I then proceded to read.  The more I read, the more I thought this could really work for us, for several reasons.

First, my husband is in the military.¬† We have one daughter, Madison, who just turned 4.¬† Before her fifth birthday, we will have moved 5 times.¬† I think homeschooling is a great way that we can provide consistancy for her.¬† I won’t need to worry about what the school system is like where we move and¬†I won’t have to worry about whether she is above or below the grade level at her new school.

Second, I like the idea of getting to choose what she studies.  As a former teacher, there are so many things I looked forward to doing in my classroom, but what greater place to use them than with my own kids?  I love the idea that I can teach all my favorite books, my favorite subjects, and hopefully give my daughter the same passion for learning that I have.

Third, I think it is a parents job to instill morals and values in their children and by educating my daughter at home, I have that opportunity.¬† While religion is not the main reason we chose to homeschool, I am infintely glad to have the opportunity to teach God’s word everyday, and show my daughter how to apply it to her life.¬†

I realize that there is a lot of opposition to homeschooling and as our homeschooling journey continues, I’m sure I will have the opportunity to blog about that as well.¬† I am looking forward to chronicling our homeschooling journal through this blog, for however long it lasts (and for those of you who know me, it may not last more than a year, but for now I am giving it my best effort).¬† I don’t expect that my blog will generate a lot of traffic, rather, I look at is as a way to first, keep me accountable by recording what Madison and I do each week, and second, to record my thoughts and think out loud.¬† So for whoever is out there reading this (and I imagine it will pretty much just be the grandparents), I look forward to starting this journey with you…