Tuesday, August 28, 2012

First Week of (Home) School

Hey!  Look who's blogging!
I'm getting the hang of being the primary president and we're adjusting to life with all the neighbor kids back in school.  Last week was the first week of a new school year.  Yes, I'm blogging about it late.  So there you are.
About a month ago I got an email that we were chosen from the wait list of a charter school that works with homeschoolers called HarmonyEd.  They have various programs and we picked one called Options Day.  So now Jack gets to go to school once a week and take fun classes and the other 4 he's home with me.  I have had quite a few neighbors talking with me about homeschooling their kids for various reasons, so I wanted to write a little more about that.
During the summer he does whatever math he needs to polish (e.g. mental math and multiplication tables), reading, and we just watch Bill Nye, Magic School Bus, and play geography games for the rest.  So starting back up with our all day schedule was hard for Jack.  He had a meltdown the very first day when he had to write out numbers like "fifty-three thousand nine hundred seventy-five."  Not my favorite thing either, but it took him a whole hour to do FIVE of those.  If it weren't for writing, homeschool would be a dream.
The next day we decided to visit the dinosaur museum.  I like to do at least one field trip the first week of school.  I was surprised at how busy it was!  Poor munchkin obsesses over loves dinosaurs, but gets very overwhelmed by crowds and noise, so we had to skip all the hands on exhibits, but we had fun anyway.  Wednesday, Jack went to school and I ran errands with the girls.
I want to make Wednesdays fun for us and not just a day to get stuff done since I have one less kid with me.  So I need to change that.
Jack gets to take some really fun classes!  This semester he has karate, sewing, nature studies, mixed media art, a writing class where he writes a story and gets to have it printed, and greek history.  He was so excited he woke up at 5 am and ended falling asleep in his classes. He got pretty homesick too and anxious with some of his classes, but liked it overall.  He also managed to bring home some pretty severe allergies.  Poor kids eyes were practically swollen shut yesterday morning!  I took him to the doctor for an infected toe blister thingy and walked out with $100 in allergy prescriptions.  But they work!!!  So it's worth every cent!
Back to school stuff though:
Here's the breakdown this year of my curriculum that I'm doing at home:

  • Singapore Math (4th grade!! Yes, I do feel a bit braggy about that)  We're also using the Life of Fred books, which are AMAZING, and a book called Spatial Reasoning once or twice a month.
  • I'm using the Well-Trained Mind curriculum for grammar and writing.  He still detests writing so I'm limiting it to this for now.  He's using Handwriting Without Tears for cursive.  I love this curriculum.  His handwriting improved so much last year and the lessons were short enough we didn't have battles.  Well Trained Mind is pushing it with him this year since I added the writing on top of the grammar.  But he needs it.  He'll also be doing a typing program, Spelling City (dot com), and Latin.  
  • For science I got an inventing book and we'll be focusing on simple machines this year.  I also plan to get a K'nex or Engino set to go with it and maybe an electronic circuitry board.
  • History isn't too exciting.  I have the Kingfisher Atlas of World History and we just finished the Dark Ages and Africa/Asia in July.  This year will be Renaissance and Exploration (1450-1800).  He reads a page/topic twice a week, summarizes it to me, and has projects and readings to go along with it.  Next year we get to do Utah history and that means LOTS of field trips.  That'll be more fun!
Munchkin is slowly coming along with reading, not nearly as fast as Jack, but that's because she prefers to draw and color instead.  I get comments from people all the time about her coloring ability and I wish I knew how to help her with it.  She gets as much paper and crayons as she likes, but is still to young for formal instruction.  When we do practice reading she prefers to make up her own story instead of reading the words.  It's awesome.  She'll be starting UPSTART in a few days.  It's a fantastic preschool program that her brother used.  We were on the waitlist for that as well and found out today 600 families didn't get to do it so I'm feeling REALLY lucky. 
Tumbleweed is toying with the idea of potty training but isn't quite there yet.  Maybe another 2 months.  Her talking has exploded and she's at the age where she says awesomely funny things.  We're finding that she has a very serious side and she is often chiding us for laughing at jokes and being too silly.

I'm trying really hard to stick to a cleaning/home maintenance schedule, but most days my mind is up in the mountains wishing I were camping.  We've taken some fun camping trips this year and hope to squeeze in a few more before the snow comes.
I'm also trying to get things ready for the Primary Sacrament program in October.  Which means my stress level is terrorist red right now, but somehow it seems manageable.  Weird.  I say weird because I had a lot less to do as cubmaster, but couldn't manage the stress at all.  I think I'm still just grateful to be out of that calling. :)
The yard has fallen by the wayside this summer.  I just wasn't able to keep up with it.  So now the weeds have taken over again and the grass is half dead.  But the chickens are all doing well (still no eggs from the newbies!), and I have tomatoes and zucchini so I can't complain, right?

I want to try to do weekly updates, maybe even with pictures, but who knows.  Need to go to sleep now.