Friday, March 8, 2019

A Week's Progress - We Just Keep Going

WHEN WILL OUR SEMESTER END
My son asked


He is getting ready for a break. Literally, he starts to complain about doing school work every 8 to 10 weeks. It's been on schedule since he started college classes that run 8 weeks long. I still have him do homeschool focused classes on a 12 week schedule but he starts to get real irritable around 8 weeks.


He has ups and downs these few weeks.
He's at Microsoft Store Coding Event looking Unhappy.


His smile returned after I snapped the photo though. Mainly, he felt it was boring but liked being there with his friend. Lucky for him, next week is the last week of college classes. Heck, I may even take a break from the homeschooling ones since we are going on vacation.

KIDS PROGRESS

SPEED RACER has a mildly packed schedule

These few weeks he has had some days where he finished his work on time and before I got home. The motivator is that his friend lives walking distance from the house. Also, paddling season started. There were some weeks where the quality of work was subpar so I just worked with him through it.

I realized that I want his writing to be faster and plan to put him in some writing camps over the summer.

Homeschool Classes 
Bible Study (online) with discussion with mom or dad - He is almost finished the series! Thank goodness. I'd planned for this to be done in just four weeks and it has taken us about 12 weeks.

Pilot Training (online) mom reviews his test and quiz success and helps

Java Programming (online) this is going so slow. Partially, because CompuScholar doesn't auto check the work or have an emulator for the code so I have to review his work against the provided solutions. It's been a bit frustrating but we are getting through it.


College Classes online - All Finished.

C Programming
In week 8 of 8
-Weekly programming projects
-Weekly discussion post and replies
-A final paper and project

Information Technology Ethics
In week 8 of 8
-A group project
-Weekly discussion post and replies
-A detailed report, Ethical Policy Proposal

Foundations in Information Systems
In week 8 of 8
-Weekly group post and discussion
-Strategic Plan, Decision Paper and CIO Memo with Organization documentation

This is his last week of those classes and we are both tired. I spend tons of times reviewing his work before he turned it in. He had to use a tutor for programming class just to help him through the difficult labs, but he survived.


College Classes online - Not Finished. Plan to finish in 2 more weeks

Straighterline Courses that transfer to his online college
It's taken him about 4 weeks to complete these classes. He has is proctored online final in two next week.

English - still has to finish 4 papers (he's been working on this class for awhile, took a break, and starting again)
Western Civilization 2 - has to finish mid-term, two test and proctored final
Introduction to Business Management - has to finish mid-term, three test and proctored final


GAUGING HIS FOCUS PERIODS

He has moments of high focus and motivation, then he wants breaks so we do an ebb and flow schedule. When he is in a highly motivated mood, I can add more courses, then he relaxes and takes a break of a few months, then he is motivated again.

WORK and HOME BALANCE Working and Homeschooling 

MEAL PREP: We've been doing a decent job of this, but have fallen off the wagon a few times. It hurts our schedule when that happens. We also eat badly and spend way too much money on fast food.

HOUSE CLEANING: The house has been wrecked the last few weeks. I haven't had the energy to keep them on schedule since I've been working extra hours. I also let them slid on a few chores so they could play with their friends.

LESSON PLANNING: It's been better, although, I have started putting lessons on a dry erase board now. 

MARRIAGE CHECKUP: We have had a few date nights to comedy shows and it's been wonderful. There's nothing like laughing together.

SELF CARE: I went for a facial! My daughter and I did facials and it was wonderful. They were offering free ones at the mall. After that week, I did my own at home.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Homeschool and Working Parent's Schedule

THESE ARE THE SCHEDULES WE'VE HAD
for each phase of our homeschool

Working and homeschooling means being flexible, fluid and patient with your schedule. Here are some examples of the schedule we had.

Our Elementary School Schedule
This is one of our many schedules. As working and homeschooling parents, the schedule is every changing, but this is the typical one.

This is the schedule that is focused just on the kids and who they are interacting with at the time of day.


Tools: Workbox Method, Online Curriculum with Teachers or Interactive, use of a NANNY or TUTOR
9am-10am - Kids Do one Subject with Dad
10am-11am - Kids work with Tutor/Nanny
11am-12pm - Kids take break for lunch games, Talk to mom on phone
12pm - 1pm - Kids Do one/two Subject independent
1pm-1:30pm - Break for snack
1:30-2:30pm - Kids work with Tutor/Nanny
2:30pm-3pm - Kids clean up
3pm-4pm - Mom reviews work from the day
5-pm-6pm - Kids get ready for sport/recreation activity and eat
6pm-7:30pm - sport/recreation activity [OR] continue working through subjects
7:30pm-8pm - Dinner with Dad and Mom

DAYS of INSTRUCTION was Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday


Our Middle School Schedule
Middle school the kids had a more vigorous schedule and used DVD based learning, online learning and in some cases a private tutor for topics like Writing, Technology, and Math.



Tools: Workbox Method, Online Curriculum with Teachers or Interactive, BLOCK SCHEDULE
8am-9am - Kids Do WorkBook Drills Independent with Dad Available
9am-10am - Kids Do one Subject Independent with Dad Available
10am-11am - Kids work with Tutor/Nanny
11am-12pm - Kids take break for lunch games, Talk to mom on phone
12pm - 1pm - Kids Do one/two Subject Independently
1pm-1:30pm - Break for snack
1:30-2:30pm - Kids work with Tutor/Nanny 
2:30pm-3pm - Kids clean up
3pm-4pm - Mom reviews work from the day
5-pm-6pm - Kids get ready for sport/recreation activity and eat
6pm-7:30pm - sport/recreation activity [OR] continue working through subjects
7:30pm-8pm - Dinner with Dad and Mom
9pm-10pm - Kids Finish Up work planned with Mom's help

DAYS of INSTRUCTION was Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday

High School Schedule
High school the kids had have a very vigorous schedule and do most all work independently and only get tutoring on topics and areas they can't teach and reinforce with internet searches, reading, research or parents can't help with.



Tools: Online Curriculum with Teachers or Interactive, BLOCK SCHEDULE

10am-11am - Kids finish playing video games, or just wake up
11am-12pm - Kids get video call from mom check-in
12pm - 2:30pm - Kids Do one/two Subject Independently
2:30pm-3pm - Mom calls-Kids clean up
3pm-4pm - Mom reviews work from the day
5-pm-6pm - Kids get ready for sport/recreation activity and eat
6pm-7:30pm - sport/recreation activity [OR] continue working through subjects
7:30pm-8pm - Dinner with Dad and Mom
9pm-11pm - Kids Finish Up work planned Mom Reviews Task and Work Finished

DAYS of INSTRUCTION was Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday
Other days kids did their work completely independently with the deadline Friday

More details to come in New Book: Homeschooling While Working to Shape Amazing Learners by LM Preston

Friday, February 1, 2019

Accountability For Kids In School



EVERYONE NEEDS ACCOUNTABILITY
For Something - Even Adults - So Why Wouldn't Kids?


There are times, many times, since homeschooling that my kids worked independently. However, the quality of their work while done independent is debatable.

WHY KIDS NEED ACCOUNTABILITY

  • To show off their work
  • To make sure they are on task and not confused
  • To teach them to share their progress, understanding of a topic, or challenges
  • To teach them that no matter what work you do, recalling it is necessary, fun and useful for deepening the learning
HAVE THEM TRY TO FIGURE THE PROBLEMS OUT BY EXPLAINING WHAT THEY UNDERSTAND

Accountability isn't always about having your kid show you what they've learned, or making sure they did the work that they were supposed to. It's about teaching them a method about discussing what they don't understand, don't like to do, or love to do and how to explain that to another person without it being stressful.

CLEARLY EXPLAIN YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Before they start a lesson or assignments, explain what they will be accountable for, what the time frame is, and the consequences of not finishing. This doesn't have to be about punishment but about choices.

For example, "If you don't finish your math this week, that work will go to the weekend and you won't be able to do any extra-curricular activities until it's done. I'm excited to know what you think about this topic."

MAKE IT ABOUT THEM TEACHING YOU

My kids loved giving a weekly presentation on what they learned that week. We'd select a different topic each week and they would summarize it, break down the lesson and teach us. 

ACCOUNTABILITY isn't JUST FOR THE KIDS, but FOR OURSELVES to KEEP THE COMMUNICATION OPEN and teach our kids that learning at home is a partnership.

More details to come in New Book: Homeschooling While Working to Shape Amazing Learners by LM Preston




Friday, January 18, 2019

Classes and Debating

HIGH GEAR AND STEPPING OUT
of our comfort zone


Part of me wondered why I put my son in all these social justice and debating programs this year. It only makes his ability to 'debate' his point against what I want him to do much easier.

Hard to be the only kid homeschooling now, that's what my son complains about lately. He is looking forward to working this summer and hoping to keep doing so when the new school year starts. I am concerned about the distractions, but will let him try it this summer.

He misses the days he got to hang around with his sister who is now working. Now his schedule is to sleep all day, and work on stuff in the evening, then stay up all night playing video games.

Not Working, but fell asleep playing online Games
He was supposed to be doing Computer homework



KIDS PROGRESS

SPEED RACER has a mildly packed schedule

He literally hardly gets anything done while I am at work and his dad or sibling that works from home is there.

Basically, I get home, I tell him to get off the video games and lets get to work. We work for about 3 hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Monday and Wednesday only an hour or so. Most work is getting done on Sundays afternoons where it's our finish everything for the week. He will do the work, I check it, give it to him to revise, he fixes it, then turns it in.

Homeschool Classes 
Bible Study (online) with discussion with mom or dad
Pilot Training (online) mom reviews his test and quiz success and helps
Java Programming (online) sister reviews his projects and CompuScholar checks his test and quizzes


College Classes

C Programming
In week 1 of 8
-Finished Lab Project
-Finished 3 paragraph discussion
-Finished 1 page paper

Information Technology Ethics
In week 1 of 8
-Finished Ethical Analysis 5 page Paper
-Finished 3 paragraph discussion
-Finished Current Event Review paper

Foundations in Information Systems
In week 1 of 8
-Finished 3 paragraph discussion
-Finished 1 page paper

WORK and HOME BALANCE Working and Homeschooling 

MEAL PREP: This is on schedule. Thank goodness. My kids help with meal prep and planning for the week, then we do actual prep on Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This has been working well the last two weeks.

HOUSE CLEANING: Chore chart is being used for a reference and if they aren't done, they don't get to do their fun stuff...most times. I'm a softy so I have to work on this.

LESSON PLANNING: I now do it on google docs and share it with him. We get through it for the most part, now less then when both kids were homeschooling. 

MARRIAGE CHECKUP: We've been setting up a weekly game night with friends and family, not much alone time, but we are having some fun since the kids spend time playing with the other kids.

SELF CARE: My coworker bought her neck massager to work and gosh, I love it! Every morning I massage my neck for a good 10 minutes. Best way to start my day!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Planning The Next Semester


LESSON PLANNING IS NO FUN
But Someone's Got to Do it

We do lesson planning for the year, then a weekly plan, and a re-evaluation plan for the 2nd semester. It's usually when we clean out curriculum that isn't working, add curriculum we want to try or pause curriculum in place of adjustments to schedule or the child's progress.

Breaking down the school year into 4 quarters and 2 semesters has helped our family make adjustments as needed. Filling in educational gaps is something the shorter quarters or block times help us focus on. As working and homeschooling parents, it gives clear time frames for us to make adjustments and to deep dive into subjects.

TIME FOR CHANGE

It never fails, we always need to drop a curriculum item, condense something or elongate lessons. We've learned to expect it and not get too upset about it. Math and Writing are always an issue for our current student and we have had to prolong lessons in certain areas in order to strengthen and solidify understanding and skills in these cornerstone subjects.

THE QUICK AND DIRTY WAY

Creating a topic list with the subject, page/reading or videos to watch is a fast way to add a new subject or curriculum into the mix. Setting a weekly review of the student’s accomplishments of the list we do with the student’s weekly presentations to the family.

BREAKING IT DOWN

After taking note on how long it may take to finish a subject for the semester, we review areas that can be combined or removed in order to fit the shorter timeframe. We make sure to focus on the key points of the topic. Also, using visual aids and posters to show the information in a condensed manner. This is a great approach for Science, History, Language Arts, Grammar, Reading and Remediation of subjects.

PLAN IN BREAKS

Never forget to plan in for time off. Realistically planning for a four day week with one day of makeup work is doable for most working and homeschooling parents. However, we planned for a five day week with the kids having the weekend as their ‘homework’ period to finish any work they haven’t completed for the week or to review any work that they had problems with.

DON'T OVERBOOK ~ I MEAN IT ~ DON'T

This is one of the major mistakes we made early on in our homeschool and working adventures. Slowly, we learned what our challenge was and fixed the issue (mostly). Once we 'underbooked' it was easier to have time to focus on topics and skills that the students really needed the most help in.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Helping My Kids to Work Through A Gap

The Last Week Of Our Season But Work's Not Done

Tiger Lilly Working On a Chatbot 
Program for her Game Server and Friends

Speed Racer and Pops Paintballing

Preparing for the Holidays was harder this year.

We used to travel every holiday from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but now that we live here, traveling is very expensive and well, we love it here and aren't anxious to go. So we are struggling to redefine our traditions. We aren't big tree families, and so we are doing a Christmas Chair, and going to volunteer on Christmas day as we did on Thanksgiving day. Hopefully, this will spark a heart of giving in our kids. They have been less forthright in asking for presents and have instead told us to just pick another name off the angel tree at church.


Working Through Some Writing Gaps

Speed Racer can write well, however, he can't write fast. We discovered this during his pretty intense college Writing course this semester. Therefore, I had to actually work with him two nights a week to edit his work, give it back to him, and have him fix it to motivate him to write faster. The class is over and he passed with a good grade, however, this is something we need to triage. During the break, he will be doing some speed writing drills to prepare for the next class. He will also be finishing his homeschool Java class to prepare for his college Java class he is starting in March.

Working through learning or skill gaps is a good way to keep moving your child forward, despite their struggle.


KIDS PROGRESS

SPEED RACER's extra activities are slim this season. 

Since his classes were pretty challenging for him, we decided not to sign him up for any outside of his martial arts the last few months. He complained, but we all needed a break from ripping and running for sports. He now just has a Monday and Wednesday obligation until January when dance is thrown back in. April is when canoeing season starts and it's hectic again.

SPEED RACER desired more one on one time this semester.

This school year has been challenging for Speed Racer becuase his sister Tiger Lilly isn't home with him. He spends the day sleeping until noon, waits for me to get home at 2:30pm to actually start his work, and sometimes doesn't finish until 10:30pm since he is having to redo some work for improved quality.


College Online Courses:

Wrap up of Fall Semester Classes
Finished all with 'B' or better
8 week courses
UMUC.edu

Biol 101 and Biol 102 (lab) - 4 credits

Info Sys in Org - 3 credits

Research Writing - 3 credits

College Algebra -3 credits

Business Writing - 3 credits


Homeschool Classes:

Wrap up of Fall Semester Classes

Investing: The video course on Youtube was informative, we even purchased stock (that tanked) and played the investing game (which the kids hated by the way). The game was a bust, the kids found it frustrating and even I thought it was a bit depressing, so we shelved it.

Recreational Pilot License Training: Speed Racer is enjoying the self-directed, online course. He doesn't love it, says it has boring moments, but he desires to learn the information. He is about half done this course and will pick up on it in January.

Black History: We spent this semester watching movies, documentaries and having long discussions about them. We both learned from this class.

Astronomy: We failed to work this into the schedule this semester.

Bible Review: He is actually enjoying the TruthUnedited Bible videos, and we are almost finished them. We watch them together, and discuss the topics.

Cooking and Car Repair: He cooked dinner about two times a week and did great at it. The videos were a bust, because he said they were boring and he'd rather just fix a car. So he helped his dad change the oil and do some minor checks of our vehicles.

PE: Started with three sports and went down to one by October, we need to step back and focus, and mom needed to relax.

JavaScript and Unity 3D Programming: He finished the Saturday classes in November and started with CompuScholar (formerly Homeschool Java) in December and is getting through it pretty easily. This class is to prepare him for his college Java class starting in March. He's had to have some help from his sister in the Compuscholar course.



TIGER LILLY the Homeschool Graduate

BS Degree, now Working on MS Degree
17 years old

This is the last semester I'll be updating Tiger Lilly as she is officially working full time, found hobbies such as group meetups for Dungeons and Dragons, gym workouts 3 days a week, and completed two semesters of graduate school.

WORK and HOME BALANCE Working and Homeschooling 

MEAL PREP: These few weeks we've been just tossing something together. Eating out, and making sandwiches have been getting us by. 

HOUSE CLEANING: The chore chart only works when I go to it, point to it, and tell these older teens to do it or else.

LESSON PLANNING: I did more day to day lesson planning. I would send Speed Racer a 'what to do today' email, call and check on his progress from work, then call on my way home and tell him what better be done...or else, no video game or cellphone. That seemed to work since his sister is no longer home to make sure he stays on task.

MARRIAGE CHECKUP: Weekly date nights haven't happened in the last few weeks, but I purchased tickets to see Sheila E. and some comics my husband likes to get us back on track.

SELF CARE: I decided to take off several days from work to just relax, help my son catch up on his work and ...clean my house (but I didn't get around to doing that so...)

Monday, December 10, 2018

I'm Writing a Working and Homeschooling Book

Yes, It's True!
Since no one has written the book I desired on Working and Homeschooling, I'm just going to write it myself.



Putting everything and the kitchen sink in ...

This book has been on my heart for a long time. I'm an author as well as an engineer, working mom and wife. I know, that's a lot, but all of those roles I passionately love and give my all to them when I am able.

I've written many books and published in fiction. Those books have made it to various Best Seller lists. That's my other life. This blog was personal, a diary for my kids of the adventure we journeyed together.

They've asked me to write a book on how I accomplished this, walked a road with them that impacted their lives and yet juggled all the other parts of me.

I smiled and said, not until I'm finish raising you all and I know what I did actually worked.

I'm almost finished the first draft. Can't believe it.

If you want to peek at my other non-fiction book, hop over to my website www.empoweredsteps.com
but if you are on the adventurous side, and want to read some of my fiction books, visit www.lmpreston.com

Let me know in the comments any questions you'd like answered in my Working and Homeschooling book.

Thanks for visiting my blog, I'll be back to regularly scheduled programming in a few weeks when my son finishes this semester. We are struggling through this one.