Monday, May 25, 2015

A New Season - Summer Time!

School Is Out For Summer!
2014 to 2015 school year

Yes, it's official, we finished. With a bang.

Speed Racer was promoted to High School Level in Science and English. Although, he will have a blended review of each subject before starting the school year.

He's made improvements in his independent work and his overall attitude about school.

Tiger Lilly had great success ending her traditional high school subjects. Also, she completed 3 Community College courses and made straight B's in all of them.  In all her other courses she maintained a B or A. She successfully completed most courses but didn't turn in all of her Web Class projects due to a computer crash incident that set her behind.

Summer Plans, we started with a trip to Hawaii for 18 days! Then we will have a week break before Tiger Lilly heads to sleepaway camp with Landry (Game Programming Camp). Speed Racer will start at a local day camp, then both of them will go to River Valley Ranch camp for a week. When they return, they will both attend the local day camp. The first week of July they will attend sleepaway camp at Camp Wabanna, then Camp Highpoint in PA. The end of their summer will conclude with the local day camp in mid August.

So, the blog will be on a bit of a summer hiatus, with me posting in July our school year plans!

As for Mom and Dad...we are making plans for a hopeful move in 3 years to Hawaii (stay tuned).

Friday, May 8, 2015

My Kids Compare Homeschooling with Traditional School

My Kids Reflect on Traditional School vs Homeschool

As you may know, my kids were in public and private schools prior to us starting to homeschool.

Every year, I ask them if they want to go back. After two years, they confirm - 'No'. However, they did state what they wish they had with homeschooling that they had with traditional school.

Kids Loved Aftershool Care Programs

My kids stated that the #1 thing they missed about going to traditional school, wasn't really the school, but was the afterschool program they attended with the YMCA.

The great thing about these programs is - you don't have to be in a traditional school to attend them. I can sign up my son and daughter for these programs even though they are homeschooled, which would fulfill a desire in them to be with other kids and have fun.

However, when I told them I could sign them up for the program, both declined saying they still preferred just going to their specified sports programs and the other kid focused extra-curricular activities planned.

So, even though they missed it, they still preferred our lifestyle now.

Kids Missed Recess Play Time

I admit, I cut break time short. We don't go outside while working as much. The kids do have daily sports obligations and activities that take them out of the house daily (even though it wears me out). I just don't like them being stuck in the house all day so I make it a point to get us out of the house at least 2-3 hours a day (more so in the Fall and Spring seasons than Winter).

Kids Missed Being Able to Blend In

They told me they miss times when they could goof off and not be noticed. I get that. So, now I time them in doing their work, and leave the room. If it's not done, we move it to Saturday homework, or they select another subject to move to the weekend and finish that assignment with me in the room helping them.

They Missed Seeing Tons of Kids Their Age

Being in a classroom full of other kids their age is one of the things they really missed. I've addressed this by finding activities with kids mainly their age. I put them in recreational sports, STEM weekend camp specific to their age groups, educational enrichment activities offered by local organizations that support the public school (lots of these programs are free or reasonably priced and were distributed to the public schools. I go to the local public school weekly to get their flyers etc).
They Missed Field Trips with Friends

Having a field trip where they get to invite their best friends in their class was another area they missed. So to remedy this, we moved out field trips to the weekend. I just have them take or invite a friend from their recreational sports activity.

They Missed Changing Classrooms

Yeah, who would've thought this? So I have made 2 classrooms. A media center where the lap top stays upstairs, and their school area in the basement where their workbooks and DVD learning takes place.

This worked for awhile, then they decided they wanted to just do school upstairs in our dinning room where the portable media center is.

They Missed Having Time Outside The House

Being out of the house for most of the day was something the kids enjoyed when going to school. This is a challenge as both my husband and I work outside the home. Co ops and Tutorials are offered but neither allows us to leave the kids all day while we are at work. Not to mention, I really don't want my kid's learning being out of my control just now.

DO YOU SEE ANYTHING THAT YOUR KIDS MISS?

WEEKLY WRAP UP

Our 'last' week of full instruction.
We went on a FIELD TRIP to the NATIONAL ART MUSUEM.


Speed Racer, 6th grader

Since I claim this as our last official week of full instruction, I cut down some of the work Speed Racer had to complete.  This week he only had, Math with Teaching Textbooks and Language Practice and Fraction practice with (IXL). He still wanted me to sign him up for another session of Minecraft Homeschool, but I'm not since I want to save some of his 'fun' work for the school year to break the routine.
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Tiger Lilly, blended 9th grader
This is the week before final exams and projects are due for Tiger Lilly's Community College courses in Interpersonal Communication and Art Appreciation. May 13th is when everything has to be turned in. Her Art Appreciation course required us to do a Field Trip to the Art Musuem, where we took pictures, Tiger Lillly did some sketching and followed the guides.

She worked late into the night finishing up her projects in Web Design, Python (with Landry Academy which ended May 1st, but she got an extension on her project since our computer crashed) are being completed this coming weekend. Digipen-Animation with 3D Maya ended.  The Psychology class with Currclick on last class was Monday and she has to finish her 3 quizzes that she didn't finish over the weekend.

We put off her work with YouthDigital.com using Blender Animation til after all her other work is sent in on the above.

Studying for the US History to 1877 CLEP to take May 14th.  Pre-Calc is still going well with the integrated IXL for extra practice and took the Math College Accuplacer exam. She got placed in College Pre-Calculus.
WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. This week I used Rachel Ray's 5-Meals in a day cook book. So we had great dinners every day! Woot! 

Cleaning. We actually maintained the weekend cleanup. I still have the dog pooper scooper service. Our yard needed mowing and our lawn mower broke, so my neighbor helped my husband out.

Work & Life Balance. I start my new job on Monday! So excited. Then we leave for Hawaii. My oldest son, Razor Ray will stay and take care of our house and dog.

Lesson Planning. Working on course list for next school year.

Rest. I got some great rest and I feel totally revived this week. Since I don't have to rush home from work or get to work at 5:30am I get an extra hour of sleep.

Marriage Check Up. I signed Hubba up to guest star on a friend's radio show with me! It was so much fun giving a male perspective to our show.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Flexibility Planning For Homeschooling

BEING FLEXIBLE

This is the one thing about homeschooling I really love. As I start to plan for the next year, I realize that yet again - our schedule will change.

SLIDING SCHEDULE

As a working parent, I've had to be able to take a 'mental health' day, slide our schedule, shorten a day, do work on the evening and weekend. Also, taking work on the road trips or switching to a less demanding curriculum is a way to augmenting schedules when needed.

BLOCK SCHEDULE

This is a lifesaver. We put our more vigourous schedule of courses in the Fall when we are really motivated with the new year and it last 6 to 8 weeks, then we add a new set of classes. It's set up similar to a College Schedule of 5 weeks/ 8 weeks of specified course instruction. We make the schedule very light in the Spring Time and now plan to take the summers off.

EVENING, NIGHTS and WEEKEND SCHEDULE

With our working schedules, we sometimes have to move school days to the weekends. It gives us the flexibility to let the kids be involved in many extra-curricular activities that they loved when in traditional school. As well as it allows us to work our jobs and still be available for our kids to get work done.

ORGANIZATION OF WORK

Worboxes is a must for us. Keeps us organized and makes the kids more independent. Lesson Plans and weekly schedules help to keep us all on track. Curriculums that are well laid out and pre-planned has made organizing school easier. Location! Location! Location! is the key to getting kid motivated to do work. Find what works for your kid to 'spark them'.

PLAN but WILLINGNESS TO REDIRECT

Don't get attached, tied too, or grounded in a curriculum that isn't working for you or your family. Using a 'BLOCK' schedule or 'QUARTER' schedule allows you to figure out what's not working faster and to 'give yourself permission' to change things up often. Almost like a college schedule.


KEEP GOING TIL GOALS MET

If you don't meet your goals for your kids learning for the year, just keep on working through the summer. We do this around my kids activities.

OUR GOALS

My kids and I have set down after I finished up their report cards for this school year, and their 'Review Forms' that I submitted to our Umbrella group, to decide on the 'Way Forward'.

Tiger Lilly's Goal:
*Desires to be a Game Designer and Developer*

Focus on getting AA degree with High School Diploma (like her sister Rose did)
Build her Game Design Programming and Animation Portfolio
Find more STEM events that focus on Girls


Speed Racer's Goal:
*Still undecided about 'career' but likes to build Video Games and thinks being a Surgeon would be cool*

Build up Math Core skills (finish off Middle School Math)
Learn Game and Website programming languages
Do more fun hands on projects

Mom & Dad's Goal:

Gain better flexibility in Work Schedules
Support the kids with curriculums that are easy for us both to administer
Stick with DVD based, Computer based curriculums
Hire a weekly tutor for Speed Racer and Tiger Lilly as needed

Our last day of school will be May 15th, then we'll have Math daily when the kids aren't in camp or traveling.

WEEKLY WRAP UP

Sliding into the last week!


Speed Racer, 6th grader

This week we are winding down. Only doing, Math with Teaching Textbooks Math 6. Language Practice and Fraction practice with (IXL). Writing, Spelling, Reading, are all our Spectrum workbooks this week.
 
Seems we will only be doing 'Math' daily for the summer. At least for the weeks he isn't at sleep away camp.

Breakdancing competitions last week were SO FUN to watch! His Lacrosse team has had a losing streak. But Speed Racer doesn't care because his brother Razor Ray has been practicing with him one on one on Thursdays and allowing to hang out at the college with him.

Tiger Lilly, blended 9th grader
 
Tiger Lilly's finishing up some of her final projects in her Community College courses in Interpersonal Communication and Art Appreciation. May 10th is when everything has to be turned in.

Her final projects in Web Design with Currclick.com and Python (with Landry Academy) are being completed this coming weekend. This weekend is her last Digipen-Animation with 3D Maya class. She didn't work on her YouthDigital.com using Blender Animation at all this week. The Psychology class with Currclick on Monday is also closing next week with 3 quizzes she is finishing over the weekend. Can you tell she got a little behind?

Her scores in US History to 1877 using Instantcert are improving, now over 51% and shows she is ready for the test. So we may attempt to let her take the CLEP next week. Pre-Calc is still going well with the integrated IXL for extra practice.
WORKING PARENT's LOG

Meals. I nailed it this week! I think this is one of 7 weeks I had dinner on the table everyday without having to purchase a fast food meal for the week. Hubby helped me out this week which probably explains how I got this done. 

Cleaning. We did wash and fold clothes, kept the main floor clean and realized the basement and the floors need a really good do over.

Work & Life Balance. I am preparing to start a new job! This means that I will be working a total of 7 days before we leave for Hawaii. I was so greatful my new job allowed me to still go on vacation.

Lesson Planning. Starting to build list for what we are going to be purchasing for curriculum for next school year. Also, had to turn in final year in Review forms to my Umbrella (this was brutal! Took all week). I did the weekly lesson plans pretty fast though.

Rest. I actually made it a point to get more this week. I took a nap daily and got about 6 hours sleep through the night. It's easy since the kids really don't have a vigorous schedule.

Marriage Check Up. Hubba and I went to a business pitch get together. We both are into start up businesses (have one we are currently running together) and thought this would be a great way to meet new people and get re-motivated. We had a blast and did see some old friends since it was at the college we both attended.