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A Whole Bunch of Ordinary Homeschool Time – Homeschool and Life Happenings

The last few weeks have been filled with all sorts of ordinary (and more, of course – because LIFE). One of my favorite things lately is making a cinnamon maple latte of sorts – super strong coffee (I use the smallest cup our keurig makes), frothed milk, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 Tbsp of maple syrup. So very tasty. And often necessary in the morning. 

You know earlier this year how I mentioned our daily/weekly routine was feeling all out of whack because swim practices changed and work schedules and all. They changed again. I just have to laugh, because really, truly – what else can we do. My brain is still trying to adjust, but we’ll get there. 

The boys are plugging along with their various subjects. Kaleb has been learning how acids and compounds react, so we had a little fun with eggs (compound: calcium carbonate) in vinegar (acid). Unfortunately there was a wee crack in the shell, so a bit of the egg oozed out when the shell started softening. He got the point though. 

Kaleb has also worked through seven of the ten Lifepac geography units for the year, so we are slowing it down a bit and taking a pause as we are wrapping up our study of Africa with a little more in-depth look at Nelson Mandela. I picked up Who Was Nelson Mandela and we’ve been reading through that for a quick overview. 

Notice all the paint cans still in the corner of the room. Yeah. Still haven’t finished painting the stairwell. It’s a project that is “out of sight, out of mind” until we’re in the middle of school – and well, you know. 

Working weekends on things will be a little harder over the next few months because we are moving into competition season (states, regionals, etc…) for the boys swimming and almost every weekend we have some type of meet for one of them. 

McKenna has decided that she likes to sit on her bedroom floor and work on school there. I will say it has caused some amount of tension because she and her sister differ on what “clean” entails in a room. Having her books, clothes, and everything in between makes it a little harder to keep thing tidy (in one sister’s mind…and the mom’s as well). 

She and I are still working on catching up on a small bit of chemistry, but otherwise she has been doing a great job balancing work and school. This past week she ended up flat out sick (same cold I had), so both were a little more difficult, but she is finally feeling better. 

One of the things I didn’t realize was that Zachary had gotten a little behind on his math. I found out when Teaching Textbooks 3.0 online did an update that added a lovely little “C” for “completed” next to the finished lessons.

Someone didn’t have a super happy day when that showed up, but he can’t blame the math program for that! So…time to do some catching up!

Don’t let the table resting fool you – this boy loves diagramming. Even if he doesn’t always show it. :) 

He’s also been doing a fabulous job working through All About Reading 4 and he has been such a goof at the same time. It definitely is helping show where he needs to improve, and at the same time his reading confidence has shot up (I AM SO THRILLED ABOUT THIS!!). 

Rick and I went away for the weekend and while we were gone and having fun, both boys were home READING. ON PURPOSE! 

One of Kaleb’s friends let him borrow a book and in one day he managed to read it. Meanwhile Zachary cranked out another Harry Potter book. In full disclosure, I had told the boys that if they started reading in their free time (as in not what we are reading for school), they could earn some extra Fortnite time. Apparently that was a key component to reading. But I won’t complain.

Having Laurianna around more in the mornings has been nice in so many ways, especially since it’s her last semester in high school. Lately she’s been on a baking kick, and shockingly, no one is complaining about that. 

Our week ended up with me not at home quite as much as I had planned, especially after my grandmother ended up in the hospital for a few days and needed some help with things. She’s doing much better now, but it feels like much of the week has been spent in the van driving all over the place – and that’s okay!

This weekend, as Rick and Kaleb are away for a swim meet, I’m planning to curl up and spend some time reading, probably do some cleaning (it’s inevitable, always), and hang out with the kiddos staying home. I just finished reading The Road Back to You (all about enneagrams and completely not on my reading list for this month – I got distracted), and then Walking With Henry by Rachel Anne Ridge showed up on my doorstep, so THIS is my reading for the weekend! Henry is a real-life donkey-friend and the cutest thing!

Hope your week has been fun!

The Week with a LOT of Falling Asleep – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Last week we started a blue jay chalk pastel project and managed to wrap it. Kaleb and I tweaked ours a little from the tutorial we saw, since our woods are filled with evergreens. In the process we realized that some of the paper we have for chalk pastels has two different sides – something we hadn’t noticed before. The texture on Kaleb’s pastel was so different from mine and it wasn’t until the end that we realized the difference. 

Saturday at some point I managed to get hit with a head cold that just didn’t want to let go. Most of the weekend was spent curled up and hoping my head wouldn’t explode. I attempted to read It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst and did get through a bit of it over the weekend (loving it), but focusing was so hard. 

Unfortunately the cold just stuck around, much to my dismay, but also amusement. 

Monday morning my voice went along with it, with hilarious results. Siri wouldn’t recognize me when I tried talking to her and then when my father-in-law called, he thought he was talking to my husband. The flip side to my cold though has been falling asleep at the drop of a hat. Or the opening of a book. 

Kaleb especially has been having fun with this aspect. He takes an extra moment to cover me up with a cozy blanket, turn on the sound, and quietly tiptoe out of the room – and distract himself. :) 

The boys and I did manage to get pretty much all of their school work done, with the exception of our read-aloud since my voice has been completely shot. Or I start falling asleep when reading. 

Kaleb has been working through one lesson each day from All About Reading 4 and doing such a great job. I mentioned before that we are repeating this level (this time using the NEW color edition of the reading program that recently released). He has patiently been reviewing word cards with me and we are tackling a few problem areas (he sometimes wants to gloss over and rush through things), so this slowing down to review is great for him. It’s also been building his confidence when he sees what he CAN do and already knows/remembers. 

Laurianna and I have also been working on her Pre-Calc. Oy. She has been putting some of it off and my brain is flipping all over the place trying to remember key concepts and skip back and forth. What’s been so interesting about this process is realizing that sometimes my brain remembers how to solve an equation (or just does it) yet I can’t fully explain it. Trying to figure out how to backtrack it has been almost hilarious! Often what we are ending up doing is typing in the answer and then watching the solution walked out. (Gotta love it). 

Zachary has been working hard to get ahead in a few areas, especially his world geography. He has been reading like CRAZY, especially since he finished the last book in the Harry Potter series, starting with the first book in the series again and working his way through them.

He has been staying up late each night to read on his own and finished the first one and is reading the second one now. Seeing him get excited about reading and WANT to read has been such a huge encouragement! 

One new and fun thing that Kaleb and I worked on together this week was learning Scratch to create some animated graphics. It’s a part of his Wonder Crate box on Bill Gates and we’ll be sharing more on that soon! 

Not a lot of pictures this week (most of school took place on my bed this week), but the boys are gearing up for a swim meet this weekend as they move into state and regional competitions and try to make qualifying times for the last of their events. Kaleb is so close in a few events and Zachary is still trying to qualify in a few he hasn’t already. 

Tomorrow we’re going to catch up on a few things (Zachary is a bit behind in math and I didn’t realize that until the other day). He’s going to have to do two lessons each Friday and we’re going to add in some learning games for all of us as well (states and capitals and President Brain Box at the moment). 

That’s about it for us – how has your week been? 

 

The Week Seemed Almost Too Easy – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Aside from the general craziness of life, school itself seemed almost EASY this week. Either we’re getting into a groove much more quickly or I’m missing a huge chunk of something. (Let’s just hope it’s not the latter.) 

McKenna now has a set work schedule and she is blocking her days to work on subjects and get her schoolwork done, which is a huge relief to both of us. Initially she was getting a little stressed out (admittedly, her shifts were longer and now her job has adjusted their open/close hours which helps out a lot). 

She and I had a chance to work on her Chemistry labs as well. We’ve had to make some adjustments to the days we go over things together, but we’re getting it all worked out. 

I’ll be sharing a mid-year update on her 10th grade year next week – so stay tuned for that! 

One thing that has been so great to see is Zachary jumping into reading and WANTING to read. I will admit that we are rewarding him with some Fortnite time, BUT he spent most of his Sunday afternoon reading next to me. 

Tuesday we had Laurianna home with us most of the day (have I mentioned how nice it is to have her HOME this semester?). While we are still waiting to hear from Mercy Ships on what may happen this summer, we will soak up the time we do have with her. 

Zachary absolutely loves the Harry Potter series and has decided they are his favorite books – so he picked up another one and asked if he could read it, after finishing one on Sunday. Yes, please! There are one or two other books I would love to have him read this year, but for now we are going to run with his choice. Plenty of time before the school year ends.

Last week we started working through All About Reading Level 4 with the hopes of boosting Kaleb’s confidence in his reading. There are definitely some areas he can use improvement, but even starting the program again last week and testing what he was doing well, was a huge encouragement to him. Since then he hasn’t been hesitant to work on a lesson daily in addition to his general reading. 

In addition to All About Reading, he is reading Who Is Bill Gates, a book that goes along with a subscription box called Wonder Crate (we’ll be sharing more about this!). Next week we are planning to learn more about coding and scratch – he is really looking forward to it. 

As I’m going through the pictures from this week (all taken different days, mind you), I’m noticing a common thread – Kaleb is wearing the SAME SHIRT every day. I do promise the boy has showered, but apparently he likes his pajamas and puts them right back on. 

Kaleb is learning about chemical reactions in Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. I am so glad we are using the program (we used it previously with Zachary), but he really enjoys the lesson topics and hands-on activities that each lesson provides. 

One thing we FINALLY got around to doing was a chalk pastel art project. We were only able to get about a third of the way through it and will finish it soon (our walls need a little decorating), but chalk pastels are so forgiving and enjoyable to work with. :) And they may be a little relaxing for the mom too! 

 

That’s it for our week – how are you all doing? 

8th Grade Mid Year Homeschool Curriculum Review

This year had me a little anxious when it came to Zachary taking a few high school classes (truth be told). He and I had a few great conversations prior to (and during) this school year to make sure he was ready and prepared for a little more accountability and intensity (if you will) associated with taking a class for a credit. 

Here’s the thing: I am very much of the mindset that not all of my kids are on the same academic course. Do I want them to excel in their studies? Absolutely. Will they all put the same effort in? Likely no. Not all of our kids will be dual enrolled in the community college. And that is JUST FINE. Really – it’s fabulous.

That said, I’m really pleased with how Zachary has been doing and working so far this year. Granted there are days when he would prefer to put in the absolute minimal effort required to get an assignment completed, but we are finding a good groove, tailoring things to his interests and strengths, and moving from there. Ah, the joys of homeschooling! 

8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

Here’s the mid-year look at how each of these subject areas is progressing: 

Math: We are loving the online version of  Algebra 1 from Teaching Textbooks – not needing to worry about WHICH computer we log on to the program with (or where) has made things so much easier. There are a few things he keeps tripping up over, but fortunately each time he is figuring it out more quickly. 

Physical Science: One of the things I love most about our Physical Science from Exploration Education are the hands-on labs and building projects Zachary has to complete. There are times when he is learning that he can’t just throw something together and skip steps (shocking, I know), and fortunately for him (or much to his dismay) I have enough leftover pieces from prior lab kits with the girls that he is able to rework something he may have done incorrectly – and slow down to get it done right.

He’s had the most fun (and frustration) making the steamboat since it actually floated and worked. And also because it involved matches. 

Geography: I wasn’t quite sure how geography would go over with Zachary this year since it involved a whole lot more memorization and reading for him as well as sometimes having to dig for answers, but he has done great with North Star Geography. He is working through the program over two years, rather than one year like his sisters did and in some ways I like that option (although I do feel he could push himself a bit more as well). 

Prior to this year we haven’t done a lot of weekly quizzes or tests with him, it’s been more 1:1, but with this being a high school class I’m wanting more a paper trail (call me paranoid). But he has done SO WELL and been learning a lot. 

Language: We definitely could be doing a bit more with this program than we are, but with the shift in reading material (see below), Zachary has worked through the units for books he has completed and then we have skipped over some material that I felt he didn’t need to work on because it overlapped something we have already covered or he has already mastered that specific area – a bonus to homeschooling !

Poetry: We’ve finished up the bulk of  Grammar of Poetry, and one of the best parts of the class was participating in a poetry workshop at a nearby Shakespeare theatre. It was a full-day event and tied in so well with the program we were using. 

Reading: Zachary has read a few books that tie-in with the Learning Language Arts Through Literature (Gray) program, but in December I may have upped the ante for him a little bit. He is NOT a reader (not a fan of reading, rather). So we discussed various book series he might enjoy (because of course whatever I choose is never enjoyable – just insert me rolling my eyes here). 

He decided to read some of the Harry Potter books – and YOU ALL. The boy has been reading for school each day WITHOUT COMPLAINING and some nights staying up until late to read just a bit more in the book. He finished one this weekend and spent much of his Sunday afternoon with me and reading. It was so great to see. For his reading out of school time, I may have also thrown in some bonus Fortnite time to reward him – but he has now declared that it is his favorite series ever – so huge win.  

Writing: We are working through the second half of the WriteShop Basic Set 2 program. Zachary has been doing really well with this program as well and his writing has improved so much, other than typical grammatical errors and his usual here-and-there spelling mistakes because he doesn’t run spell check. 

Spelling: Confession: we’ve only done 2 lessons of All About Spelling Levels 6 . Yep. Need to step it up a little here. 

Art: Confession #2. Zero art with either of the boys. Big fat zero, nada, nothing. In my defense, they are very involved in swimming and Boy Scouts. If starting fires can count as art, Zachary is passing with flying colors. 

Bible Studies: I held off in this area until after Christmas break, so the boys and I will be starting the Do Right study this coming week, just after our halfway point.

Swim Team and Boy Scouts – Zachary has not only grown taller, but he’s gotten so much stronger this year. Just after Christmas, he was asked to join the Level 1 group of our swim team. He’s been dropping time like crazy in his events, qualified for the state swim meet, and is so close in several events to qualifying for nationals. 

Traveling to Pittsburg with our team was a big step for him this year and he’s really been pushing himself to both work hard and improve his stroke technique. The season hasn’t been without struggle though. We lost our primary coaches in October and were thrilled to have a new head coach join the team, but he was only able to stay a short time because of a health issue with a family member. Despite all of those changes though, it’s wonderful to see Zachary’s improvement. 

Boy Scouts continues to be one of Zachary’s priorities as well and he will be ranking up at the next Court of Honor (and thinking of Eagle Scout projects next!). They haven’t had the opportunity to camp as much lately since the weather has been crazy ridiculous with ice one weekend and rain/sleet/FRIGID temperatures another. While they have camped in snow before, the 20 degree temps weren’t something to get too excited about. 

That’s about it for our mid-year wrap up.

How are things going with your homeschool time? 

 

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

 

 

 

 

Back in the Swing of Things…Sort of – Homeschool and Life Happenings

Happy New Year (only 17 days late)!

We started back to school (eased in a bit if you will) on the 7th, so we’re wrapping up our second week back after Christmas break. 

You all, life feels like it’s been turned upside down. 

Just before Christmas break, McKenna started a new job working at a trampoline park. Guess what one of the perks is to being a homeschool student – the ability to work days

It’s here that I’ll insert she and I have had some great conversations (some more one-sided) about how specific questions should be asked and clarified when talking to an employer (grins). That said, the park shifted their hours and it has been great for her because she is learning even more how to manage her time and work on schoolwork during “out of the box” times. 

On top of that, the boys’ swim practice schedule has been completely changed around and we are still trying to figure out the balance in all of that. While the changes are great, adjusting to a new schedule when it finally feels like we were in a good groove can be hard. 

One great thing that has happened this semester is we are seeing so much more of Laurianna. Her classes on campus are on Monday and Wednesday mornings, so she has been home the rest of the week and it’s been so much fun to have her hanging out with us. ESPECIALLY SINCE IT’S HER SENIOR YEAR. 

(I’m not crying at all. Or feeling a bit nostalgic. Not me.)

All that said….here’s a peek at school. 

Life for the 6th Grader

Kaleb has been learning about division with fractions as well as addition and subtraction with fractions. Mixed numbers. Converting to fractions. Lord help me. He is *almost* there. So very, very close…

So we continue to work on the day-to-day things like handwriting (and Kaleb is REALLY loving his Teach Yourself Cursive book. Between that and working on Typesy for keyboarding every day, it’s a good chunk of independent schoolwork for him. 

One thing that we’ve added back into our days is All About Reading 4 (the brand-new color version is GORGEOUS!!). I shared a bit on Instagram as to the WHY behind our reviewing this level and will share more soon with you on our struggles and deep thoughts…. 

Kaleb is on track to finish his Lifepac History and Geography set quite a bit before the school year wraps up (YAY!!). We finished learning about South America and are now moving on to Africa. 

Life for the 8th Grader

Zachary is cracking me up immensely with Algebra. He has been working on order of operations and ALL THE PARENTHESES – sigh. Again with the *almost* there.

In physical science Zachary is moving into a chemistry and matter unit and working on building a balance scale. There was a wee bit of frustration during the building process (because someone didn’t want to read all the way through the directions). But – finally balanced. :) 

And geography – we’re moving on from learning about the layers of the earth to topography and continuing to learn about North America. Zachary is working through North Star Geography in two years rather than one, but is actually a little bit ahead of schedule (please don’t tell him). :)

And the Mom Stuff

So I have a new fun project this past week – making yogurt in my Instant Pot. You all – I AM LOVING IT! I have no idea why I was so scared to try yogurt (then again, why is it that fear holds us back in so many areas of life. Seriously. It’s a gallon of milk. Nothing to be scared of!).

I’ve made three batches so far and have learned some great stuff from friends through it all. The first batch I strained with coffee filters and a strainer. Worked – but took forever. Batch two we used nut milk bags and HALLELUJAH – they are amazing and exactly what you need to order yourself if you don’t already own some! 

As soon as the yogurt is ready to come out of the instant pot, I fill the bags with the yogurt, tie them to my cupboard handles, and they hang above a giant bowl to collect all the whey. It’s seriously PERFECT. I add a little vanilla and a small amount of sugar and we are ready to eat it! 

The kids decided they would like granola to go on top of the yogurt, so over the week I’ve been perfecting how we like it by messing with my homemade granola bar recipe and I think we’ve finally figured out one we like (I’ll have to share that soon – but we now have some with craisins and a batch with mini chocolate chips).  

In other mom news, I’m already working hard on my 2019 Reading List and have finished a few books on my list. I found an online book study of It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst that starts next week (you can join it here if you’re interested). I’m only a few chapters in but really enjoying it so far. 

We’re still anxiously waiting to hear regarding Laurianna’s application to Mercy Ships… with the Christmas break it will likely take a little bit longer, so maybe any day now (fingers crossed!). 

That’s all for our week(s). Would love to hear how you all are doing! :)

The Week of Finals, More Snow, and Cookies

We started off our week just perfectly – baking cookies. 

While the boys and McKenna kept up with the basics of their school (math and reading), we added in other fun: games and baking together. 

Over the weekend and into Monday we had a fairly decent snowfall for our area. FYI, for this girl who grew up in Maine, four inches isn’t really a huge snow, but in our area it’s more than enough to close schools for multiple days and shut down a whole bunch of things. 

One of our friends needed a place for his son to stay, so he came over to hang out with us, play games, and bake. 

Laurianna’s finals were supposed to start bright and early Monday morning, but the colleges in our area closed as well, so she had four bonus days to study for her exam and finish her last two papers that were due. She is wrapping up her four classes (ethics, sociology, English, and microbiology) and so far has a final grade in one class – although she is pretty sure her exams went great.

Cozy blankets came out and books were curled up with for reading.

Thursday morning, bright and early, Zachary boarded a bus for Pittsburg for a regional swim meet he will be swimming in five different events. He has really been looking forward to this meet and the opportunity. I know it’s maybe a bit silly, but watching him go off on the bus was a little bittersweet. He’s been to Scout camp and away for the week before, but

Rick and Kaleb headed up on Friday morning so they could watch Zachary swim on Saturday and Sunday. Rick is also using this weekend to have THE BIG TALK with Kaleb. (For the record, I had the sex talk with the girls and Rick was on deck for the boys). 

In case you’d like a few tips (and see what we used in talking to our kids), you can check out the post, When It’s Time to Have the Sex Talk. 

Overall a very low-key week. I hope you all are doing well and would love to hear about your homeschool time – feel free to leave a comment and let us know what you’ve been up to. 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings.