Friday, December 12, 2014

Outsmart The Game Industry and Teach Kids how to Budget


IS YOUR KID A GAMER?

Well all but one of my kids are. My husband is a gamer also. Therefore, this holiday, one of the major gifts requested are either a game systems (PS4 - which I'm not going to get) and video games for our varous game systems: PS3, WiiU and PSP systems
 
THE PROBLEM WITH GAME SYSTEMS all parents must be aware

Credit Card Charges requested for added game features

Access to Porn through the web access features

Introduction to New and Not So Nice People through Online Gaming


HOW TO COMBAT THESE PROBLEMS

Credit Card Charges

- Purchase a RECHARGEABLE VISA or MASTERCARD gift card for your kid
  - Have them decide how much of their allowance to put on their 'game credit card'
  - Have them hand you the cash they are placing on the card
  - Have them protect and track spending on the card with a weekly budget sheet of purchases

Access to Naughty Sites

- Stay in the room with your kid while they play
- Disconnect access to internet or purchase games where this feature isn't needed
- Purchase software that monitors use at the server level

Introduction to New and Not So Nice People

- Do not allow kids to hook up microphone devices
- Be present while they are gaming as sometime they can text others during the game

WEEKLY WRAP UP

New Initiative for the kids

Allowance! Yep, now they get a weekly allowance $2 a day provided they finish their chores.
They can put it in their piggy banks
Update their weekly spending budgets
Put it on their Credit Card for gaming or online purchases

Field Trip! at Bounce place. The kids met with other homeschoolers who loved the bounce center that was filled with inflatables.

Only problem was there weren't many kids there that was 13ys or 11yrs like my kiddos. So they didn't meet a new friend but just played in the space filled with other kids playing. They said they had fun, but that they didn't want to redo this trip.

This Friday, we are getting together with other homeschoolers to sing carols at the Senior Center. Then attend the after party. This Saturday, includes a laser tag birthday party, a Teen meetup for Tiger Lilly and Ice skating on Sunday.

Work this week.

Speed Racer, 6th grader

Loved his Minecraft Homeschool Viking class. Only problem was his access to Minecraft was stunted due to our LapTop mishap. So he finished up all his quizzes but didn't get to build his last 2 projects.

We had a light week since we didn't do Mango Languagues (Spanish) this week. However, he did finish all his work without a hitch or complaint.

He also finished up some of his 1st semester classes. I reviewed our new products for the coming semester (1) CleverDragons.com (2) Wordsmart (3) Simply Music, with him and he is really excited to try them out.

Tiger Lilly, blended 9th grader

She finished up quite a few courses this half of the school year.

She finished up these semester 1 classes: Economics, American Government, Logic (with Currclick), Python Programming Part 1, Sociology with Udemy and Youth Digital Mod Design was yesterday.

I also reviewed several classes for her for next year: (1) Python Part 2 with Landry (2) Money Doesn't Grow On trees class with Currclick.com for only $15 for 10 online classes (3) Psychology with Currclick

She is getting more independent and requires less oversight now since I require to see her class notes and homework prior to her moving onto her next set of subjects.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. I did a lot of quick prep meals this week. A trip to Costco and BJs Wholesalers gave me access to some already prepared meals. Also, I stopped at Let's Dish (a place where you prepare your own freezer meals) and picked up some already prepped meals. Yeah, it was a crazy week for meals and these options were more expensive but I had to do it.

Cleaning. I did some decluttering in my living room. To my Hubba's dismay, I cleaned out a huge box he had there that he moved from his previous job. He stated he would do it, but it's been 6 months and I couldn't take it anymore. So, after his gentle scholding, he asked me to show him where I placed the stuff in the box. The clothes are piling up again and I hope to wash them this weekend so we can pack for our Holiday Trip and Cruise.

Work & Life Balance. This was good this week. I was even able to squeeze in several lunch dates with co-workers during the week. I did have to sacrifice earning extra hours for my vacation later in the month, but it was worth it. Usually, I'm worried about layoffs at my job this time of month, but the assignment I'm on is pretty stable until next summer. Therefore, I wanted to make the time to celebrate.

Lesson Planning. Lesson Plans are finished through Jan 9th. I'm waiting til that week is over to see if I have to augment the schedule a bit. I've already had to change the first week of January because my Tiger Lilly wanted me to 'Add Back A Class'?! Yes, add one. People think I give her too much but the child is a machine! So, I added back Adventure Novel.

Rest. This week I got plenty which was so great! 6 hours a night rest actually made me accomplish more this week.

Marriage Check Up. Date Night is planned. Seems like Friday evenings work best for us and our 'sitter'. So once we finish up with the kiddos activities tonight at 8pm, Hubba and I are going to another Comedy Show. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Getting It All Done

The Secrets To Accomplishing Our Goals

I find that in life we tell others great ways to make their dreams come true ~ but we never do it for ourselves.

I've always dreamed big. Even though I began from very humble and trying beginnings as a child of a teenaged mom and single mother.

However, I NEVER heard my mom complain about taking care of us. Not one time. She worked 2 or 3 jobs at a time to do it.

Watching her, I realized, I could do anything I wanted ~ I just had to toss aside negative thoughts.

Daily Goal and To Do List

I make a goal list for the day. (1) Of things I need and want to accomplish (2) Of things my kids want to accomplish [I ask them]

All of those goals line up with our family goals in which my husband and I work on together throughout the year.

Teaching Kids to set Goals

I make it a point to help my kids to set goals. To teach them to navigate beyond their personal roadblocks to make their lives as fullfilling as they desire it to be.

Ways to Get Kids involved.

1) Have them help with the weekly lesson plan.
2) Have them name 3 things for the week they'd like to accomplish for themselves
3) Place their goal list and lesson plan where they can see and check off.

WEEKLY WRAP UP
We drove to DISNEYWORLD...on the Tue before Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Dinner ~ was at the Golden Corral restaurant. The food was great and the place was packed in Orlando, FL. We were able to bless our waitress with double our tip. I really wanted to considering the people next to us stiffed her on her tip. It was the best feeling in the world as she was ever grateful.

O_o and returned on Monday Morning at 3am ~ and YES I dragged myself to work by 7:45am.

And didn't spend 1 cent on Disney tickets. Cheap man's trip.
(1) Visit all the Resort Decorations
(2) Go to Celebration for Tree Lighting Ceremony and free activities
(3) Visit Campfire at Wilderness Resort with Chip N Dale - taking our own marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers for the campfire songs
(4) Downtown Disney where free entertainment abounds. ~ Now, to drive home. To the cold ~ but happy.

Kids Dancing The Night Away at DownTown Disney


 
Making Our Own Gingerbread Houses at the Resort

 
Board Game Mania Late Night

 
Crafts at the resort



Disney Resort Christmas Decoration Self Tour




Work this week.
One of our LapTops bit the dust! Eeek! and it really set us back a bit. Thankfully, my oldest daughter, Rose, was able to take it to her college for a 'free' repair. But it was wasted. The laptop was dead. Luckily, Walmart had a sale and the kids and I put our funds together to purchase a replacement for $299.

Field Trip! BUST! We planned to go to the Imagination Station for a viewing of 101 Dalmations!
BUT, I overslept a bit, and the weather was so bad that we wouldn't have made it to the show in time.

So....we all went back to bed.

It was planned to be a special treat since we have our very own Dalmation.


The kids had a light day of work that day, but we still accomplished over half of our work which was great.

Speed Racer has been working very well independently but due to the lack of his own laptop, he had to do his computer work with me on my computer which made our nights longer.


Tiger Lilly is in the home stretch for her 1st of 3 block schedules for this school year.  She'll be finalizing some of her courses. Now she is packed with subjects til our vacation in 3 weeks. After that she'll start her Winter College Course, a Landry course and a Currclick class for the Spring.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. Another bad week of planning since we didn't get home til early Monday morning and I had to run in to work with just 3.5 hrs sleep. However, I did get to the store that evening and got some meat with some quick marinades to make the week of cooking easier. The rest of the week we had a great homecook dinner that my Tiger Lilly prepared.

Cleaning. Didn't happen. The house is a mess. We plan to tidy up this weekend since my son Razor Ray will be painting my living room.

Work & Life Balance. This week was rather light. I only worked 9 hours on Monday and Tuesday was off work for our family field trip. And work was not very challenging since I had mostly yearly training to finish. I flexed my hours the remainder of the week which ended up pretty good.

Lesson Planning. I finished our lesson plans all the way through January 8th. We'll be taking off from schooling from Dec 22nd to Jan 3rd so that made it easy. Also I did a template for our 'light' January schedule and our Spring schedule.

Rest. Failed at this on Monday since returning from Disneyworld at 3 am and barely sleeping. Thankfully, Tuesday I was off work and able to sleep in a few extra hours. I stayed up late with my hubby watching movies on Wednesday (he suckered me into it.) Everything was back on track for me by Thursday and I was getting a comfortable 6-7 hour night sleep. Whoopi!
 
Weekend Plans. Date Night with hubby Friday! Kwanza celebration after my Tiger Lilly takes the SAT on Saturday, ending with taking my dog to the vet on Sunday.
 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thankful Thanksgiving!

What are you Thankful for?


This year as I reflect on all the things I'm thankful for
I've run out of words
God has Blessed me in bigger ways
Larger
Infinite
Ways than I could've dreamt up myself
 
The family I have today is one I'd daydreamed of
Longed for but was afraid to believe it could come true
And still I pinch myself
unbelieving that I'm worthy of such a great gift
 
Am I afraid that it won't last?
No
Not One Bit
 
Because every second, moment, place in time
that I can enjoy this
will be forever woven into my heart
 
God's Love
His Abundant presence
in my meager existence here on Earth
is still the greatest
gift of all

~ L.M. Preston

Friday, November 21, 2014

Homeschooling Nights and Weekends as a Working Parent


Yes, this is the FREEDOM of homeschooling as a WORKING PARENT.

You have permission to break all rules and do Homeschool during the NIGHTs and WEEKENDS

THINGS YOU MAY HAVE TO GIVE UP

Tons of sports and extra-curricular activities.

A formal curriculum that is to rigid for you to augment around your varied schedule.

Your perseption that school can only be done during the day and the weekday.

CRAZY TURNS OUR SCHEDULE HAS TAKEN

We virtually homeschool year around.

The core of our curriculum is taught from Mid-July to the 1st week of April.

Why? So my kids can take advantage of all the Spring Break weekly camps offered in our area and get the opportunity to play with their traditional schooled friends.

We don't finish homeschooling work til 10:30pm! Yep, you heard me - 10:30pm.

We homeschool every other Sunday or Saturday (I alternate which allows both my husband and I who work outside the home to make up work hours without sacrificing school work).

We do a 'Block' school schedule similar to a college schedule where the kids learn or focus on certain subjects every 8-9 weeks, then a new subject is introduced. Math, Science and English is consistent though.

MUST HAVEs for NIGHT and WEEKEND SCHOOL

Let your kids sleep in late. And stay up late.

A schedule and/or Lesson Planned out. We do sports every season, I make sure the sport only takes up 3-4 days out of our week. Those days we have a condensed schedule of rotating subjects.

An open mind.

Car schooling ability. Make your curriculum and homeschool work - mobile - so you can take it on the go! Therefore if you have a kid in a sport, your other kid can be working with you.

A curriculum that pretty much teaches most of the information independently. That allows your kid to do some on their own.

Workbox system has helped us immensly!

WEEKLY WRAP UP

Great weekend recap!

Tiger Lilly's cheer team won 1st place and Grand Champion - ending her Fall cheer season. What a way to end the year!

Speed racer had a blast at his cousins ALL BOY birthday party at Skate Zone then back at his house for a nerf gun battle. Twenty boys - one large basement - my little guy had a ball.

Work this week.

Speed Racer is doing so well with getting his independent online work done in the afternoons before I start working with hime. He finishes: Xtramath, Mango Languages, IXL, Music Learning online, Tynker, Minecraft Homeschool (his new favorite class) all before 2pm. Then I checked his work to find he is doing well on each independent topic.

Monday was a bad day for him considering he only got 7 hours of sleep. But he turned his day around (after a quick review of his Calm Down List).

He likes to work on his Saxon math independenly, and he and I only do the Mental Math portion together. He reads the lesson, does his drill, then his 25 questions. After we did some corrections to wrong answers, we move on. Then him and I tackle his Speed Reading, Spelling You See. He does the online/computer daily test for Sequential Spelling. My husband (Poppa Bear or Hubba) worked with him in the evening doing Abeka DVDs that instruct him in Math, Bible, Reading, Penmanship, Language, Science and History (We only review the Abeka Spelling words daily but it's no longer our core Spelling program).

Tiger Lilly has been studying for her CLEP and Accuplacer test. [GAME CHANGER ALERT] As with everything in homeschooling - I have to be flexible. So we made a change to our study plan - again (only the 2nd time this school year!) We had planned on doing all these back to back CLEP test and both her and I think it's making things way too hectic. She told me she doesn't want to go about it this way any longer. Instead, she just wants to take the classes for some of the subjects. We are adding 2 college courses for her Winter Semester and 2 for her Spring Semesters in subjects she enjoys. She can take them at the local Community College online. Therefore, she only plans on taking 1 CLEP this school year.

Since Cheerleading is over, she has time to catch up on some of the subjects she only worked on 2 times a week. We added them to her daily schedule now. (Econ, Physics, American Gov't). Her independent courses were on hold this week til Wednesday while she studied (Java Programming, Python (through Landry), Logic (through Currclick), 3D Animation (through Youth Digital), French (through Middlebury Interactive) and Teaching Textbook Algebra.

She worked through her other Abeka subjects via her DVD school and talked to her tutor on Algebra 2, Chemistry, and US History.

I was so proud of how much more independant the kiddos are getting. However, they still need A LOT of accountiblity.

Days we schooled? All week long in the evening til 11pm on Wed and 10:30pm the other nights, and there will be a Sunday school day of 2 hours for make up work or working with a tutor on subjects where help is needed.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. Didn't plan this week. So Tuesday I stopped at the store and picked up already seasoned meat (Chicken, Fish, Beef). Viola! One less thing for me to do. Frozen veggies (don't judge) with more of that yummy Goya rice, fried potatoes, macoroni and cheese complements of Velveta.

Cleaning. My homehelper, daughter Rose, did the folding for me. She felt bad for me since I was planning on staying up late Sunday night to get them finished. The rest of the house is in need of a deep cleaning. Still haven't found a cleaning lady. But the deep cleaning is scheduled for...before we leave for vacation in December (that's my hope!).

Work & Life Balance. Yeah, and I volunteered to run a homeschool event that oh, only 3 kids showed up for. I believe that will be my last coordination for awhile. I find just inviting my kids friends from recreational sports activities tends to be more of a benefit of my time. However, I do this so my kids can build friendships. It's hit or miss.

This week didn't go as planned. I ended up working less hours than I wanted but thank goodness for paid vacation. My side business had some needs crop up and I worked on those while my kids were homeschooling in the evening with my husband.

Lesson Planning. I actually finished planning for next week early (so what if we are only doing school for 2 days). Thanksgiving break we have off from the 26th to 29th. Then back on the wagon. So I hope to get all of December (only 2 weeks of plans) done by the end of the weekend.

Rest. Failed at this on Monday. Even though the kids were finished I stayed up working on my part-time business stuff. I regret doing it, lol! Tuesday through Friday I still got up at 4 am, but made sure I took my power nap on Wed and Thu 30 minutes each day. Thank goodness I get to sleep in on Saturday!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Alternative Sports My Kids Love!

Lots of people ask me what do you do with your kids as far as 'socialization' and sports if they are homeschooled?





See that kid up there? That's my Speed Racer. The high energy -Generation X- newbie xgamer kid who loves being active, is brave and doesn't mind mom signing him up 'just to try something new out'.


My Speed Racer is competing in a Break Dance Competition. He's only been doing this for 1 year. But if he wasn't homeschooled, it's something I don't think we ever would've considered due to lack of time.

Now that he and Tiger Lilly are homeschooling, I am hard pressed to find a sport they love and can do well into their teens.

My young lady that was never much of a sports addict, now loves cheering, martial arts, and lacrosse. Coming up on her high school years, we are exploring some of the other sports below and even an All Star Cheer team that isn't associated with a school.


THE LINE UP OF SPORTS I HAVE PLANNED FOR MY ADVENTURERS TO EXPLORE

These are non-traditional sports that aren't limited to a local school system. But they can be fun, earn scholarships and give your kid some awesome things to do with friends.


Archery
Bowling
BMX Racing
Snowboarding
Tennis
Fencing
Martial Arts
Swimming
Boating
Racing
Dogdeball
Jump Roping

WEEKLY WRAP UP

The routine keeps changing! Gosh, maybe because mom keeps tweaking things. This week went rather smooth.

Tiger Lilly has taken it upon herself to spend extra time drawing.

My lady little artist drew this on our computer with just her keyboard. So I ordered her a computer drawing pad to make her creation of art easier.

Her other subjects are well under way and she did 3 - one day courses on Currclick that she really enjoyed. American Indians, Colonial Times and Redcoats. It made for a busy week but she said she loved it. However, with Algebra 2 it's been a tug of war. She does good in Abeka quizzes but is failing the Teaching Textbook quizzes. Therefore, the tutor with Abeka is working with her this coming week as well as her sister Rose to keep her on track.

Speed Racer is doing well with his new math Saxon Math and Word Up! Also, I've been doing some 'speed reading' drills with him this week. He likes it and we decided to keep it up. This week for him had some really high points with him enjoying his tennis lessons, pushing several days work to 'homework' on the weekends, and him acing his math test with both Saxon and Abeka.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. Let's see, I did manage to get a home cooked meal on the table three times this week. Tuesday was a take off day since I was off work and slept way too late to do anything. I couldn't have pulled this off without my George Foreman grill, pre-made marinade and Goya rice.

Cleaning. Eh? I've finally wrestled the clothes washing issue  -except for folding the pile of clothes on my basement couch (I'm tackling that this Saturday - I promise). The rest of the house is in serious need of dusting and moping. The cleaning lady I've been looking for hasn't showed up yet. Just can't find anyone in my price range or area yet.

Work & Life Balance. It's working out great since this week I had Tuesday off! The job I have now is very flexible and allows me to work all my hours anyway I want during the week as long as I get in the alloted hours by the end of the month. It's been working out well for my family. Although next summer this may change since I have to find another contract position then.

Lesson Planning. I was able to get it out on Sunday and am late working on next week's schedule. The kids had some subject changes since we are doing a block schedule.

Rest. I have been on schedule with it this week. However, on Tuesday I slept til noon (which is unheard of for me). I must've needed it. Then I went out to lunch with a work buddy. After that, it was to work with the kids and a late night since I was over-rested. Wednesday, I was dog tired and had to take a power nap to get back on track. By Thursday I was back on schedule and getting 6 hours sleep a night.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Balance Check Up - Working and Homeschooling


Sometimes I don't know how I do this.

HOMESCHOOL
 
WORK FULL TIME OUTSIDE THE HOME
 
RUN A SIDE BUSINESS
 
BE A WIFE, MOTHER, TAXI DRIVER...the list goes on.


My Motto?
 
'CAN'T means WON'T'


One thing my humble and challenging upbringing has taught me was ... there are ways to get it all done - if you are creative.

Finding the Right JOB

This is the area where most parents have a major challenge. Finding a job that allows the flexibility of home teaching. My husband and I have played with all types of combinations so that one of us could be available and home most times with out kids. He worked night jobs as a Security Guard, Help Desk Technician, Real Estate Broker, Call Center Manager and on. I've worked in the Information Technology field most of my life. I actually changed careers because I loved technology but also loved the flexibility my techie friends had.

With the challenge of finding this balance, I've even helped my older daughter groom her career to have a wide variety of opportunities that afford her the ability to have a flexible work schedule.

The cost of flexibility is usually hit in the (1) Income (2) Location (3) Job Advancement areas. But it's not a trade off you can't recoup later.

Having A Spouse That Helps

This is where I am blessed. My husband has played the role as 'work from home' dad. Where he cared for the kids in the early morning until he left to meet his clients when we had an at home business.

We share in the schooling. He takes early morning and late evening. I take the midday afternoon and do the coordination.

Curriculum that's Easy And Teaches for you

I have to find a curriculum that keeps us both coordinated and does most all of the teaching for us. This has really helped both of us find success without stress in homeschooling.

We'd love to do some really fun stuff, but the truth is, to keep the homeschool train running nicely, having a box curriculum where I can have my kid call a free tutor, have the curriculum all laid out, have everything I basically need to teach my kid makes life easier.

I do add on 'supplements' but I make sure they are also, little maintence, on the parental part.

Using Outside Childcare or Tutors

There were times where my husband and I had overlap on our workdays. When our older kids weren't able to be home with the younger two, we hired a 'Home Helper'.

Having the 'Home Helper' has been GREAT! She administers the kids schooling for that day, makes their lunch, tidy up the main level, and puts our crock pot dinner on so when I get home - dinner's done.

Work Outside the Home OR Inside the Home

We've done both. Working inside the home has been much more challenging for both my husband and I - especially when the kids were younger.

Working From Home - leaves very little space or lines in the sand for 'work-time/home-time'. We ended up still needed to flop our schedules and it seemed the kids never understood the 'working from home' idea.

Working Outside the Home - this works well for us. It's a clear division of home vs work. Also, it allows us to network with other people in our fields. We also, even get out for lunch breaks with each other, or our co-worker friends. In most cases - the pay has been better when we've worked outside the home.

Stay Organized!

This is a BIG deal. Whenever we don't do this, life is chaos.

Things that must be done to keep things rolling.

Make a Daily To Do List, checking off every item as you go.

Do this on Sunday's or set aside a 'Planning' day for the below:

- Workbox System in place (Sue Patrick's Workbox System)
- Meal Planning and Prepping for the week
- Lesson Plans - Weekly Schedules posted and given to the kids and all the 'teachers'
- Schedule in 'sleep' time
- Use electronic calenders like google or gmail calender to remind all parties of schedule

DO YOU WORK AND HOMESCHOOL? WANT TO? HOW DO YOU?

WEEKLY WRAPUP
 
Tiger Lilly schedule has changed. Her Writing courses ended last week. WriteGuide and Time4Writing were great courses. In place of them she is starting Sociology and Psychology which are on her CLEP test list for next Spring.  Finally, she's finishing up her Youth Digital, MOD Design course and hope to start on her 3D animation course with them over the weekend. 
 
We are really trying to get her ready for the Analyzing Literature CLEP and she is struggling with it (but we just started). I realized she needs more time so I moved the test date another week out.
 
Speed Racer is loving his new class, Minecraft Homeschool 'Vikings'.  He's all set up, finished his initial quiz and orientation and loves it! We also started WORD UP! with Compass Classroom to get him up to par on root word association since we aren't doing Latin. His other courses are going rather well. Overall, he's calming down and becoming a more focused student! Whew! His big sister Rose who administers school for me a few days of the week said he's on track.
 
He's getting ready for a big Breakdancing battle this weekend. Also, he loves Tennis (we just started it last week - he complained initially) and is getting close to being rewarded a strip in martial arts.
 
WORKING PARENT
 
Nothing this week went as planned. It was a complete chaotic week since I didn't do any meal planning on Sunday and barely got lesson plans done.

Work balance has been off since I started a new project at work, but I did get to go out with work friends for 1 hour in which I sacrificed homeschool work that evening to do.

However, because of the dissaray of our schedules, I started working on next week's schedule so this won't happen again :-D
 



Friday, October 31, 2014

Spelling Success by Using 2 Curriculums

SPELLING CAN BE A PAIN
I know it because I am using 3 spelling programs to help my struggling speeller.
After doing Abeka Spelling for 1.5 years I realized my little guy hadn't mastered 'phonics' or sound recognition. I had to do a 'triage' of sorts. I wanted a fast and effective way to teach him to spell or decode words - but I loved the long and challenging spelling list used with Abeka.
The trick: How do I do both?
Teach decoding of words to a kid that has weak phonics skills.
Give that kid challenging word list to keep him interested?
Also - have him LEARN SPELLING IN DIFFERENT WAYS SO HE DOESN'T REALIZE he is taking the same subject 3 times a day?
THE LINE UP?
  
Number 1
SPELLING YOU SEE

This program using 'chunking'. We liked that there is (1) no testing (2) no wordlist to remember (3) just read and copy. First you read the passage to your kid. Then they highlight the vowel chunks, constantant chunks etc, then they write it. This runs for 4 days, no test, and on day for it's read, highlight chunks and then full dictation where you count the number of words written correctly. After 3 weeks of this my little guy was getting all the words correct by day 4!
Number 2
SEQUENTIAL SPELLING



This is another 'chunking' program. This comes with our without a DVD/CD for you to put in the computer. I used the DVD/CD so Speed Racer could do this independently. This method is (1) a different word list daily that build on the lesson before (2) no studying (3) a 'test' daily on words the kid doesn't know (4) after writing the word 'incorrectly' the child crosses it out and re-writes it the correct way. Then viola' you are done after about 5-10 minutes.

Number 3
ABEKA SPELLING 6th GRADE



Traditional Spelling program with huge (did I say huge?) wordlist to memorize. I had him copy these words 1 time a day. Initially, in 4th grade he would write them 2 times a day, then put them in spellingcity.com, create flashcards and try to memorize the words. He failed most of his spelling test. So I had cut his list in half. It didn't really help though. So.... after using the Number 1 and Number 2 programs, I decided to just have him copy his list from Abeka 1 time a day. After 2 weeks. Did you hear me just 2 weeks! I gave him a test in Abeka after he'd been doing the 'chunking' spelling programs above. Without studying the kid got 80% or higher on his Abeka test!

SUCCESS! Using 3 Spelling programs.

but I LOVE

MEMBEAN.COM  - tackles spelling and vocabulary


BLENDING CURRICULUM can create the PERFECT one for your kid.
WEEKLY WRAP UP
 This week we've been busy! Of course we always seem so.

Overall we had shortened work days since my older son who goes to College nearby was suffering from the flu. So, my husband and I went to check on him and give him meds for 2 days. It put an axe in our homeschool day since we homeschool mostly in the evenings when we are home from work.

I was off work on Friday so had to work a longer day earlier in the week to compensate since I'm a full-time worker, but have the flexibility to work my hours how I need to.

Tiger Lilly took her Composition CLEP test. She got registered at Community College (Yippee!) while we were there testing and I had her take the Accuplacer Test (college placement test) because it was free. She scored on College Level in both Math and English. Therefore, she can start both her English and Math tracks without any remedial courses! Woot! Yay homeschooling!

Other than her week of testing, she did squeeze in some work. She finished her last Time4Writing.com course and WriteGuide.com American Literature course. This will spurn her focused studies in hopes of passing the Humanities and American Literature CLEPs in December and January. Also, she touched on her Abeka subjects (Algebra 2, Chemistry, Physics, US History) but skipped (Econ, American Gov't this week).

She also had a cheer competition this Sunday past. They won the competition at 1st place! Now we'll be preparing for another competition at a local amusement park.

Speed Racer is on track and constantly asking for more material to challenge him. However, he tends to rush through things when he gets bored. He finished his online writing course with Sandiego Scribblers. I'm working on inserting a Latin Based Vocabulary program called Word Up! by Compass Classroom this coming week.

He and his new buddy he met from a homeschool event I coordinated through our local homeschool group, went to TigerCon this weekend. We followed up with a visit to a Comic Book Store's Halloween celebration giveaway and my son was on cloud 9.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. This week I planned meals pretty well. I only need four for the week since Friday is our pizza night. Saturday is Chinese. Only one crockpot meal was planned.

Cleaning. Eh? The basement where the kids do their work is probably the cleanest place in my house. Clothes washing (mine specifically is way behind) is piling up. The kids clean the kitchen nightly. Decluttering of the main floor is needed. I'd like to paint my living room but I think my husband would have a fit if I asked him at this time. However, I'm planning on treating myself to a new room color with the new year.

Work & Life Balance. Work has been great. I'm working on a new challenging project and was able to put in extra hours on Monday (thanks to my homehelper Rose) so I could be off work this Friday. I did treat myself to a lunch out with former co-workers which was nice. This is one of the benefits of working outside the home - I get outside the home to chat with other adults, lol!

Lesson Planning. This is ever changing but my system is slipping. I didn't get around to this until Sunday which is way too late. I had to make some adjustments as I just realized that the kids online English classes were ending.

Rest. Well...I got off to a bad start. I only got 4 hours sleep on Monday and Tuesday nights because I went to drop of cold medicine to my older kids who are in college. Wednesday I grabbed a power nap and dove in bed at 10pm (thanks to hubby taking over evening homeschooling). The rest of the week I got back into my rythm and since I had Friday off I got to sleep in til 9am, a lot later than my 4am wake up time.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Method To Madness-Teaching Textbooks, Abeka and Saxon

Three Maths - One Challenge
My son started the school year doing a combination of Abeka (Core Curriculum) and Teaching Textbooks.
Here's My Challenges With Both
Then the curve ball with another - SAXON Math

Speed Racer's Starting Point:
*Triage and Sharpening in the below skills are needed*
Multiplication and Division Quick Recall
Fractions (Adding or Subtracting Mixed Numbers, Multiplying, Dividing)
Decimals (Multiplying and Dividing).

ABEKA MATH 6
Speed Racer uses this as his core Math Curriculum.



He watches the video instructor (this is his favorite class to watch) and does workbook 'seat work' with the class. Then every other day he has either a Speed Drill of old facts and 5-10 'homework' problems and homework. Truth be told I should've gotten him Math 5 since he isn't really ready for 6th grade math.

We are 50 days into these lessons and for Abeka Academy.

Findings:
- He can't 'cheat' the system
- What he doesn't know is easily revealed in (1) the speed drills (2) the homework (3) the hand written quizzes and test
- He can call the video teacher or speak to a tutor provided by Abeka Academy when he gets stuck

TEACHING TEXTBOOK 6
Speed Racer uses this as his supplemental Math Curriculum.





This he does completely independent.

I check his scores everyday when I get home. He's been scoring 70s and 80s.

We are 86 days into this curriculum as he was doing it for summer.


Findings:
- My kid found a way to'cheat' the system
- What he doesn't know is  not easily revealed unless I (1) disable the calculator function on the computer (2) keep a watchful eye on his scoring - which questions he got wrong or right

I'm putting this curriculum aside for Summer Learning since he isn't retaining his math facts from it. It's too easy for him to 'cheat' the program and neither one of us likes their book that much. It's not helping him to master some core concepts.


SAXON MATH 6/5
This will be Speed Racers NEW Core Math...

Saxon! Boy have I heard mixed reviews on this one. However, after realizing my Speed Racer had problems with his core math facts - memorization or knowing the answers cold, I thumbed through a friend's copy of this Math curriculum she swears by. We are using Math 6/5 which means it's for an average 6th grader and an advanced 5th grader. We got the paperback bound books so my kid who hates writing can write directly on the page the answers to the problems.

He does bulk at the number of problems he has to do:

(1) Math Drills (50 to 100 problems) timed - takes him about 5 to 10 min.
(2) Mental Math Practice - another 5-10 problems - takes about 5 min with me.
(3) New Lesson Practice where he and I read the lesson direction and he does problems in the lesson review: 25-30 problems - takes another 30 min.

It is recommended that the child complete ALL problems for the best success. This though may be the reason lots of parents and kids 'hate' it. However, this was the way I learned math when I was a kid and it worked wonders for me. Not only that, it solidifies his learning.

There is a test every 10 lessons.

We are 15 days into this curriculum and - HE IS MASTERING HIS FACTS. A great improvement. Whew!

Findings:
- My kid can't cheat this system.
- He finishes it and with each lesson I see him doing it faster (although he complains) so I time him.
- I do make him finish all the questions - but we break it up during the day. He does the Drills and mental math sections in the morning, then after snack/lunch he finishes the new lesson after his favorite class - reading.

OVERALL MATH with HIGH SCHOOL
and ELEMENTARY

SAXON gets it done and goes all the way up to CALCULUS

ABEKA is very RIGOROUS and triage is difficult for younger grades. The upper grades in HIGH SCHOOL Algebra is VERY challenging, but on par with SAXON.

TEACHING TEXTBOOKS is a 'light' math curriculum, good as a supplement if you have plans for your kid to enter engineering or science fields - try one of the above maths (SAXON or ABEKA). The Algebra 1 and 2 is 'very' light compared to the other two curriculums.

CTCMath.com is a REALLY good option to TEACHING TEXTBOOKS as it offers SPEED DRILLS, ALL GRADES up to CALCULUS and is online with parental controls.
 

BENEFITS TO USING 2 TYPES OF MATH CURRICULUMs?
Or Even Changing Them.

It's easy to find places where your child is having the most challenges.

There is no 'perfect' one fits all Math Program out there. So build one of your own.

Using both has shown me the 'strength of each'.

We still use supplements like XtraMath.com and flashcards just to mix things up.


WEEKLY WRAP UP

Tiger Lilly is really cramming for her CLEP test in English COMPOSITION. I really hope she passes it. So I've been timing her on essay writing, having her take sample test, and reviewing her flashcard memorization progress.

Her other classes we cut back on since we are using a 'block schedule' it works well with moving around stuff.

Speed Racer had a mini-tantrum (pouting & tossing himself around - at 11 yrs old - really! Sigh.) while working with his sister Rose. So, he had to recite the CALM DOWN list 2 times that day and spend some time doing jumping jacks while reflecting. After that, he was back on track. His scheduled subjects have had a bit of a change around, but he adjusted fine.

Report Cards were given to the kids. Overall both are doing well, but there are areas of needed improvement (mainly for me to find what works best for them). I asked them to advise mom/dad (teachers) on how we can make them successful in some of their more challenging subjects. Speed Racer needed better direction in (Math & Spelling). Tiger Lilly wanted a more interactive Language program and wanted out of Abeka Spanish because she doesn't have a 'passion' for that language. So we updated her Japanese and added French.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. Didn't do grocery shopping on Sunday or meal planning. So...did some of it on Monday while my home helper (sister Rose) ran the kiddos to their sports.Then I sent hubba to the store on Tuesday to get the things I forgot (he was happy since I took over his evening of schooling to send him on the errand). I planned plain ole meat with veggie meals for the week. One crockpot dish and rice as a side.

Cleaning. Still haven't had a chance to wash my clothes. However, the kids close are somewhat caught up (still have 4 loads). I did wash clothes during 'schooling hours' and put on the 'baby monitor' that lets me make sure the kids are still on task when I cleaned the upstairs bathrooms.
Work & Life Balance. A bit off kilter since I am working extra hours to be off early next week. So getting up at the ungodly hour of 3:45am to work a few extra hours for the week while getting off work by 2pm to start school is madness.

Lesson Planning. Had to rework courses on my excel spreadsheet for them, but that went well. I only did a week in advance though since I will be rolling off some of the online courses for the kids that end soon.

Rest. So, this I'm doing better now since my Hubba is taking his night shift with the kids back over. I get to bed at 10pm (as long as I don't get side-tracked working on my side-business). Except on Tuesday. A bedtime at 6 hours a night has been doing wonders for my complextion and disposition. Also, I do sneak in a 30 min. power nap 3 days a week while the kids are at their sports. Even so, I must not be getting all the sleep I need since I am sleeping in until 11am on Saturdays. But hey, I'm not complaining.



Friday, October 17, 2014

Homeschooler Taking PSAT at Public High School


See this cute little 13 year old 9th grade homeschooling student? Well she visited our local Public High School today.

BENEFITS of Homeschoolers taking PSAT

Well I've had 2 kids go straight through high school in Public School. Taking the PSAT opened them up to the possibilities of scholarships.

Also, introduced them to colleges.

Lastly, it's great practice for the SATs.

And it's FREE (when taken through the public school system).

Things Never Go As Planned



BLUNDERS WE MADE THIS WEEK with PSAT Testing. Poor Tiger Lilly!

My Tiger Lilly. First of all, I waited to the last minute to confirm through our homeschool board. I thought I was on the list but the coordinator considered my daughter too young and didn't add her to the list. Luckily, they accomadated us at the last minute.

I also forgot to give my daughter her ID. Thankfully, they didn't call me for it and let her take the test since she was on their roster for Homeschoolers testing that day.

Lastly, didn't realize the test was so EARLY! Wow, public school starts at 7:10am in our area and the PSAT test was at 7:17am PROMPLY.

My late sleeper was totally put off by waking up so early to take a long test.

Not to mention - there was a Calculator hiccup. The new T-184 I purchased didn't come with batteries. So at 6:40 am I ran to the gas station to get AAA batteries for it. And...she didn't even get the chance to 'try it out' before the test.

Oh, and what else went wrong? I didn't have time to prepare breakfast, so the poor girl gobbled down a 'Lunchables' for breakfast with a big bottle of water.

Speed Racer...Math isn't going well for him. We are working on a Math Triage plan to get this boy to 'master' Long Division, Decimals and Fractions. You'd think with 2 curriculums it's covered - but I've uncovered the fact the my Speed Racer just writes down 'guestamits' for answers. He doesn't remember his multiplication or division facts cold (which is really needed in order to be succesful in Abeka Math or you will drown). 2 months of math wasted. Ugh. More on that plan for triage later.

THE REST OF OUR CRAZY WEEK

I don't know but there must have been a full moon or something. Nothing went as planned. We didn't finish all of our work scheduled - so we'll just move it to the weekend 'homework' category.

This week was almost a wash.

Monday, on Columbus Day, myself and Hubba went out on a date. Then we carted Tiger Lilly to cheerleading and Speed Racer to dance.

Let's just say - we got through most of the planned Abeka curriculum, but hardly much else. And even the Abeka curriculum suffered since we had some 'just do the work' days without watching the instructional videos. Unfortunately, this always comes back to bite the kids at test and quiz time.

It was really a scheduling problem. I didn't realize that Tiger Lilly taking the PSAT and me being off from work would initiate my kiddos not being motivated to do their daily routine of work.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

FYI: My hubba does the evening shift of instruction and his day starts later (around 7:30pm - 10:30pm where he does sports pickups and Abeka DVD box curriculum facilitation) He's the unsung hero in the house since he doesn't do blog or social media.

Lesson Planning. For the coming week I managed to plan out the lessons. Easy since I just moved 2 days of planned work to the coming week's schedule. I made some days lighter since Tiger Lilly is focusing on CLEP studying.

Meal Planning. Went well. I cheated a bit and purchased pre-made sauces for my crockpot planned dishes this week. Also did some frozen side items so I could just microwave things.

Cleaning. We did it! 1.5 of the bathrooms were cleaned. The main floor cleaned and the kids bedrooms. I have to admit, I didn't do any of that - Hubba managed the task on Saturday past. Me and the kids just maintained. I did start to wash clothes but the clean ones are piled up on the couch in our basement since I haven't been able to get too them. My kids this week seemed to be more playful so I sat between them and did some work.

Work and Life Balance. This is going well. Although my day job got more challenging, the hours aren't creeping into overtime. So I'm able to keep my schedule and flex my time. My part-time business is starting to require more of my time,but the good thing is I can do that while the kids are schooling with me and I am cooking dinner.

Sleep. Got tons more than I have before. Why? Well we had Monday off from work (both Hubba and I). Then Saturday - I declared it mom's sleep in day, and took the kids out of one of their martial arts classes that start at 9am (they didn't complain and I saved some $). I made it a point to take a 30 min power nap each day. Also, I was off on Wed (got to sleep til 6am when I'm usually up by 4am) - and yes, I took my 30 minute nap that day also. This week was great for me getting rest. I made myself do it.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sleeping In - A HomeSchooling Working Momma's Advantage


See this little guy? Speed Racer? Yeah  - him. He is an insomniac that truly requires 10-12 hours sleep.

SLEEP!

When people ask me about homeschooling my kids - and pulling it off while working - they assume I wake these kiddos up early to get school done.

They sleep in.

Hubba sleeps in.

Although, that wasn't the plan originally. Hubba was supposed to wake the kids up at 7:30am, get them fed and start instruction at 8am. Didn't happen.

Why? Well because my Hubba is a night owl. Always has been. He would stay up until 4am-5am in the morning, watching TV or playing video games for as long as I've known him (and I've known him since he was 15yrs old). His family even told stories of how he would stay up until the TV went off with his grandfather.

MORE SLEEP!

So why would I think my kids would be different? So...Speed Racer's sleeping patterns is a most like his father's.

Tiger Lilly is my earlier riser, she typically goes to bed around 1-2am and wakes up at 10am (she sets her clock so she can eat and get started on her work in peace before Speed Racer gets up."

WAKE UP TIME

For Speed Racer, his sister Tiger Lilly wakes him up at 12pm. Yep, you heard me correctly - 12pm in the afternoon.

BENEFITS OF SLEEPING IN

This ability to go to bed at a natural time and wake up at a later time has been a MAJOR slice of improvement in Speed Racer's general mood and behavior.

It wasn't until I'd actually compared his current behavior with his grumpiness when he was in traditional school that I noticed the change.

Now don't get me wrong, he's still a typical Tween with challenges we have to work on, but his general mood about and response is more positive because - he gets proper sleep now.

WEEKLY WRAP UP

Report Card time! Yep, I create report cards for the kids at the end of each quarter so that they know how they faired. AND the tell me - momma and hubba what we need to do to improve their learning in their hardest subjects.

This week was a breeze! Why?

Hubba is back teaching evenings! Woot! That means that I am getting to bed by 10pm each night and a lot more is getting done.

Older sister Rose administered school one day this week which helped me to catch up on rest.

Speed Racer 6th Grader

He is really loving Spelling You See and Sequential Spelling as his new core spelling program. We are still going over and typing the Abeka spelling words into SpellingCity for fun but I am not testing him on the words yet.

SandiegoScribblers: It's turning out to be too much for Speed Racer. We are falling behind in this class and having to do it on the weekends. He is requiring a lot of help with this one.

Spanish we are using Mango Languages and learning words & phrases.

The Arts, we are still reading through our book A Child's Introduction to Art: The World's Greatest Paintings and Sculptures and using ArtTango.com for free drawing.

Math Lab we had to take a step back in Teaching Textbooks and are reviewing Fractions since Speed Racer isn't doing well with it. We are using IXL.com for extra practice.

Technology is going great. Tynker.com has proven to be a full program for Speed Racer and he still is working on it (he started mid summer). However, he has his eye on YouthDigital.com Mod design.

TypingWeb.com - is really improving his typing skills. He does 10 min of this a day and doesn't complain too much about it.

All other classes (Bible, Reading, Language, Penmanship, History and Science) he's doing with Abeka DVD and getting A's and B's - Woot!


Tiger Lilly Blended High Schooler

PSAT test planned for next week Wed (10/15) at the local high school. She will not be studying for this. I am hoping that all her CLEP prep and math + logic skills will help her.

CLEP review for English COMPOSITION CLEP is going well. She is reviewing the InstantCert flashcards, using IXL.com for grammar drills, and taking sample test with Peterson and REA. Her test scores this week were: 21 (REA) Day 1, 32 (Peterson) Day 3, and 42 (Peterson) Day 5.  The goal is to get to 55% or higher by her test date 10/27.

Japanese: She is going over the curriculum I created for her last year that is composed of Youtube Videos, Writing 1 time a week in the notebook the letter of the week I give her. Also using Mango Languages for voice play practice.

Python and Java Programming: She works on both daily but loves her Landry Academy class and uses CodeAcademy.com daily for practice. She got a A on 2 of her programming projects with Landry in Python. Also, she's finishing up YouthDigital.com Mod Design in a few weeks and I'll start her on Ktbyte.com

Critical Thinking & Logic: with Currclick is also one of her favorite classes. She creates these little movie like clips for her homework and works with other kids in the class. She's at a high B in this class.

Algebra 2 - Problems! with Factoring. She forgot what she learned in Algebra 1. So to Youtube we went. Found a great video that broke down factoring of squares. She failed her Algebra 2 test with Abeka and we called the teacher who walked her through her notes and worked out a problem with her. I let her retake the test and she scored a 90%

Physics and Chemistry - She is doing well in both of these and likes the Abeka DVD experiments the most. She walked me through some of the easy ones to explain her labs.

Humanities - She's just watching the Education-Portal videos on this. She's enjoying them for a soft prep.

American Gov't, US History and Economics - are all going well. She's liking taking them together and seeing the full perspective on history. However, when we get to 1877 in US History we will stop and focus on studying for the CLEP for US History 1 and switch from Abeka to Education-Portal.

WriteGuide.com and Time4Writing.com - She works on these combined about 3 days a week. She likes them both but for different reasons. The WriteGuide is for her Analysis of Literature to prepare her for that Clep and the Time4Writing is more grammar mechanics based so to her it's a full class. Both of these end at the end of October and she will be starting another writing program.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. Totally behind the 8-ball this week since we traveled over the weekend. So Monday we had a microwave heat up meal that wasn't too popular. Tuesday I dashed out to the grocery store and we had great meals on Tue-Thu and Friday is Chinese.

Cleaning. We are saving all cleaning for everyone except the kitchen for Saturday. Hubba is feeling better and can help out now.

Work & Life Balance. This went well this week. The day gig is very flexible (except Monday I had to work late which is why Rose helping out was great). However, my side business had a deadline due that kept me up some nights working on. But it's a good diversion from homeschooling.

Lesson Planning. Again this week I only got 1 week of lesson plans done - BUT, the day gig gives me holiday's off so I hope to catch up next Monday. The block schedule is working out great though!

Rest. Back on schedule and I got 6 hours sleep on Mon night (also a quick nap that day since I had my home helper over). Tue I snuck in a 30 min power nap, then got 6 hours sleep that night. Wed and Thursday were great! Friday I wanted to crash. Even though the kids have activities on Saturday morning, I have cancelled them to allow myself and them Saturday mornings to sleep in.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Qualities of an Innovator a Hero?


Did you know that I write? Novels about heroes. And I realized that with the talk of 'over active, non-controlled kids' we may be actually suppressing our future heroes and innovators. Or just those kids like mine  - the hyper, overactive thinkers that like to take risk.

I know that may seem far fetched, but as an Engineer by day, I'm telling you I work with some amazing people. People that today, would've been unacceptable to our 'modern school system'.

PEOPLE WHO ARE OR SEEM FEARLESS

Think back, research, really take a deep look a history. Those men that did the impulsive became great - even if it was for GOOD or otherwise.

King David - a boy, a tiny boy, who impulsively and fearlessly knocked out a giant that those before him couldn't.

Or those extreme sports athletes like Tony Hawk and others, let's be honest, an ordinary kid would NEVER attempt to jump those heights on a skateboard, or do flips and tricks on a snowboard.

Impulsiveness = Adventurous

So when you are working with your son or daughter that seem a bit out of control, bold, impulsive, does things that you just can't fathom - realize that you may very well be raising the next HERO.

This I'm writing for my little Speed Racer. You and my Razor Ray are my 'adventurous spirits' and I'm so happy to be your mom. You keep my mind sharp, my heart full, and my imagination constantly working.

MY WEEKLY WRAPUP for Homeschooling

This week nothing went as planned. That really bugs me because I am an obsessive organizer and planner. After a few deep breaths I figured it out.

WEEKLY WRAP UP

A SNAG.

Speed Racer, due to horsing around in his dance class, was asked to postpone his time on his 'dance crew'. (I know when he gets older he will cringe that I'm writing this but I figure other parents have the same challenges).

He took it hard, the first day, then we talked to him. He still is going to the dance lessons, but I've filled his 'social' time with a new sport - Tennis.

It was a bummer that this happened his birthday weekend. He tried to act like nothing happened with him and the other boy (the kids all tease each other, he participated also, but he's the noobie and has some rather quick witted words). Nonetheless, we think him sticking with breakdancing for fun and not competition fits him best. He needs to be occupied the entire time.

New curriculum we are trying.
Speed Racer's all to help his Spelling issue.

Spelling You See  - we started it this week and he really likes it. Surprise!
Sequential Spelling  - yes we are still doing this too, but he likes it because he doesn't have to study.
Abeka Spelling - only doing word introduction.

For Tiger Lilly she hates Spanish :-(  so Abeka Spanish is a gone. Replaced by:

Manga Languages - it was love at first sight - and FREE from our Library!
Japanese (remember this? She loves this language).
French (she has to learn some before her Mission Trip with Landry)

Tiger Lilly, is 'cramming' for her Composition CLEP. We are crossing our fingers since she will be taking this in 3 weeks.

She is using (1) IXL to practice her grammar (2) Instantcert & SpeedyPrep (3) REA & Peterson Test
When she can do a 56% or better on consecutive test then I'll know she's ready.

Unfortunately, due to her habit of drawing during her video lessons lately, her test and quiz grades dropped.

Now she has to get her 'class notes' for each day, signed off by me before she can move on to her next class. Not to mention, I will be sitting in the teacher chair to keep control of the (see below)


More Horsing Around!

I've had to move back to my 'teacher' chair smack in the middle of Tiger Lilly and Speed Racer in order to get our work done on time.

Note Taking is a must! So I had to put a RULE up on the wall to remind Tiger Lilly and Speed Racer.

Lately, they've been making jokes, throwing their stress balls (that I removed) and taking forever to get their work done.

Field Trip!

New York City here we go baby. Not! Had to cancel since Hubba is still recovering. So we gave out timeshare stay in Manhattan to my brother in law who lives in NY but is having home renevations.

Instead we are visiting friends in New Jersey for a sleep over where Speed Racer can play with my friend's 3 boys (a rough and tumble weekend). I am really happy I have friends with boys that my son can be rough with.

Since Hubba isn't feeling up to all the walking, we just relaxed and shopped at a few shops.

WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. Yay me! I'm on a slow roll. Had to leave work early on Monday to go grocery shopping. We celebrated Speed Racer's birthday and went to dinner and a movie on Sunday - my food shopping day. Never fear! I still had some seasoned turkey and a few cans of cream of mushroom soup to make our crockpot dinner on Monday. The rest of the week went by (I only do dinner Mon-Thu since Friday is pizza day.)

Cleaning. Did not happen, but I did get some clothes cleaned. They are piled up on the couch waiting to be folded and put away. It will happen before Sunday. I promise.

Work & Life Balance. This is going okay. I did manage to get a lot of sleep over the weekend. Therefore, Monday and Tuesday were a breeze. However, fatigue caught up to me on Wed. since I gave Hubba the week off from evening schooling that he 'manages' uh, teaches. I love my field of work though and the job is working out well with my homeschooling schedule.

Lesson Planning. Still barely doing it on time. I tried to do 3 weeks in one sitting but that didn't happen. So, I will try again next week to do 2 weeks in 1 sitting. It takes 2 hours for each week of planning. Where am I going to find that?

Rest. Not too good. Taking over my husband's late shift for teaching meant only getting 4 hrs sleep a night. Yikes! On Wed. I didn't even get a quick nap in since I had a business meeting for a side endeavor.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tiny Town - Our Homeschool Space & Get Fun In





 You don't need a huge schoolroom for Learning

After perusing the internet searching on homeschool curriculum (yes, I am a curriculum junkie - I admit it and my kids don't mind). I noticed all the elaborate homeschool rooms. Well we don't have that much space.

Each of my kids have their own desk in opposite corners of our basement.

Bookshelves are a must.

Workboxes that are (1) Numbered (2) Labeled with the subject and topped with (3) Weekly Lesson Schedule with box #, Subject, Test/Quiz and homework is in a notebook on the top.



Walls that teach have,
Calender
Personal Cork Boards and Dry Erase Board allow me to note homework, projects, special notes
Spanish Speaking Posters
Logic and Fallacy Map
History TimeLine

Weekly Wrapup

We had mostly good days.

This week nothing went as planned. That really bugs me because I am an obsessive organizer and planner. After a few deep breaths I figured it out.

Hubba had knee surgery and was home from work for the week. Hubba actually enjoyed Speed Racer sitting in bed with him to do school work. Otherwise, he said he'd been bored. My older son took him to the hospital for the surgery and my oldest daughter Rose came over to look after him so Mommy (me) was able to go to work since I'm saving my vacation leave for a few vacations we are going on later this year.

Ended up moving Thursday's homeschooling day to Friday and doing school on Saturday.

Fun Diversions:

Hanging out in bed with dad while his leg was elevated to watch magic shows on Youtube, selected and picked by Speed Racer (showing off part of his Science Project below).


Changes! Yep, I'm always searching for a better way to teach my kiddos so...

New Courses added to block schedule

IXL.com - 10 minutes a day is added for Language Arts Drills
Spelling You See - 10 minutes a day to help Speed Racer with Spelling replaces Abeka Spelling
ArtTango.com - Art Class instruction for Speed Racer - he wants to learn how to draw
Mark Kistler's Virtual Classroom - Tiger Lilly loves Virtual Classes and Art. So picked this up for her. Yes, that lady wanted to start it this 'semester' (we break her schedule up like a college semester system).
3D Animation - YouthDigital.com (Tiger Lilly loves their products) and wants to do Animation
DigiPen 3D Animation Virtual Workshop - Tiger Lilly won't start this until January and it's on Saturday's from 1-3pm


Why adding more courses?

Goal: Cutting Time Sucking Computer Game Time
Some of our other classes are winding down. Also, I'm finding time to keep the kids active in fun ways to keep them from wanting to play video games all the time.

Socialization...
2-3 hours of their sports
2 hours of gaming time or playing outside with friends daily.

Recreation Cheerleading

I help coordinate Tween and Teen nights a few area Co-Ops so my kiddos meet kids that are homeschooled AND kids who aren't homeschooled in order to give them a well-rounded group of friends.


Big Plans for 2015:
I start planning our trips and schooling for the next year over a year early.

Good thing I do because I found this wonderful opportunity from Landry Academy.

Mission's Trip to France! Yippee! I can start paying on it now for next summer.

*Both Tiger Lilly and her older sister Rose will be going on a France Mission Trip, sponsored by Landry Academy*


Working Parents Reflection:

Meal Planning: I slipped up with the prep this week. So it was a 'fast food' stop and go eat week. Bad for my Hubba and me. The kids enjoyed it though.

House Cleaning: The house is a wreck. Didn't get to do Saturday cleanup because Hubba was in bed and we had a cheer-game, martial arts class, church, and hair appointments.

Lesson Planning: I was hoping to get done 2 weeks of lesson planning out of the way - wrong! It didn't happen. So I will try again this weekend.

Yard work: The kids cleaned the yard on Sunday, just in time for the trash to go out.

Rest: I did it! I got 6.5 hours sleep 4 days this week.Now my husband is a self-proclaimed night-owl so I make him hang out with me for the weekends by going to a movie or out to dinner in order to make up for our hang out town we get during the summer when we aren't homeschooling.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Learning to Prioritize-Shortening Homeschool Days

I have been conditioned. Yep, used to a long Traditional School day of 8 hrs of school + transportation time. In addition to 2 hours of After-schooling with homework.

SHORT HOMESCHOOL DAY


So being fairly new to the homeschooling arena, I was in disbelief when parents complained about how long it took them to teach their kids in a day.

I mean I considered 4-5 hours for an Elementary / Middle Schooler to be a breeze. Even with both my husband and I being working parents we could easily pull that off.

In addition, my kids considered the day short and more directed. Even enjoyable compared to the alternative of traditional school.

However, my homeschooling peers were balking at me when I told them that my kids were spending upwards to 5 hours 'doing school' and sometimes 7 hours if I added in their chosen extra curricular subjects.

IS PROPER INSTRUCTION BEING DONE?


What it boils down to is not the TIME but the instruction. Every parent schools differently and if they can merge play and learning - then great. That means 'formal' instruction isn't being done, but the child is still learning the tools needed to be educated.

My approach was to keep my kids in line with traditional school routines, structured studies with a flexible schedule that is allowed us by homeshooling. Therefore if my kids had to make a transition back to traditional school, they would be conditioned to do so. Not only that, but I like the order and format of a structured day.

ANYTHING CAN BE ACCOMPLISHED IF DONE SO CREATIVELY

I've considered ways to get learning in during the summer, and in doing so, I stripped their curriculum down to the bare bones. Math, Writing and Science. If a parent makes those three subjects their main focus and add in other subjects in a semester, quarterly year or block schedule, condensing school down to 2-3 hours is doable as long as the core subjects are maintained. I selected Math, Writing and Science because those are subjects that need constant care and feeding and to neglect those would show some degradation of learning.

My Weekly Wrapup:

This week had some highs and lows but it all met up in the end.

Speed Racer has been sneaking downstairs and watching TV until 4am in the morning. Yep, he was busted two times. Even with the reprimand - TV wins.

The effects? Well he was cranky when it was time to start school work and highly unmotivated.

He is one of those kids that loves to stay up late but hates waking up. This was a major problem when he went to traditional school because it put him in a bad disposition.

He doesn't have TV or video game access in his bedroom so he waits until we are all sleep and sneaks down to the living room to watch til he falls out.

I'm considering putting a TV in his room just to appease this issue, but I don't think it would be productive.

Mom is still trying to figure out a way to circumvent this behaviour - so stay tuned.

Instruction Completed.

Speed Racer's Mid-Morning Work
He attacked his Teaching Textbooks (supplemental Math), Xtramath.org, ArtTango.com, Tynker.com and IXL (Language) in the mornings with his home helper watching.

Afternoon with Mom and Evening Studies with Dad
When I got home we did Art History (a book we are reading), DiscoveryK12.com (their language program), Sequential Spelling, MangoLanguages.com (Spanish), and his Abeka DVD subjects he does with his Dad are (Bible (only 2 days), Math6, Reading, Writing, Language Arts, History, and Science). School ended around 9:30pm but one night at 10:30pm when Speed Racer decided to make paper planes during math (side effect of lack of sleep from late night watching TV)

Tiger Lilly has been rockin' it out this week. Even though last week I noticed there were some quizzes she didn't finish. So guess what she was doing for 'homework' over the weekend? Yep, makeup Quizzes. Oh, and she decided to skip all the word problems in Teaching Textbooks for the last 10 lessons - so those 10 problems will be part of her 'homework' this weekend.

Tiger Lilly's Mid-Morning Work
She finished her Teaching Textooks (supplemental Math practice for Alg 2), Landry Programming course (Wed only w/ homework done on weekend), Critical Thinking Course with Currclick.com (Thu only with homework done on weekend), Youthdigital.com MOD Design (Java), Writeguide (8 week course done every other day) and Time4Writing.com (Grammar - done daily for 8 weeks).

Afternoon with Mom and Evenings with Dad
She's studying for her Composition and Analyzing Literature CLEPs so she's doing the InstantCert Flashcards review and a sample exam weekly. After she completes that she does her Abeka DVD courses (daily courses: Algebra 2, US History, Spanish, Chemistry), these are done 2 times a week (Physics, American Gov't, Economics) and on Friday's we do Art (See the Light DVDs).

Working Parent's Recap

Home Helper is now working with kids two times a week. It's working out and giving us an earlier time of work completion. So on 2 days the kids are finished school work by 4pm. They don't like the fact they have to wake up earlier on those days.

Lawn Care. I ended up not having to hire anyone. Once my husband and son realized I was firing them from the job, they jumped in and did the lawn. Hummm.

Meal Planning. Since I prepped everything this past Sunday, dinners were ready and on the table every night.

Cleaning. Still can't find a cleaning lady, so Saturday we all did a deep cleaning and tidy up. During the week I washed clothes while doing school with the kids. So the house stayed tidy. Speed Racer does the dishes and Tiger Lilly cleans the bathrooms.

Rest. I had an average of 5.5hrs sleep nightly. Mainly because I have been staying up to watch television, read or be time-sucked into Facebook. I will try to do better. I am also working on a business and my writing gig where I have some deadlines to finish, so that's also kept me up later. But I will do better next week!