Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Worthwhile Books to Read

In trying to put together a book list for my kids,
I realized that some of those book lists out there are full of junk.
So, in remembering that my mother-in-law gave me a list many years ago,
I rummaged through some old papers, and pulled these out.
I figure, she's someone I'd like to have a book list from, rather than guessing if it's good or not.

Click to enlarge:

I also enjoy these words of advice from the Thomas Jefferson Education book:
  • discussing goals on a monthly basis,
  • selecting curriculum which may be used by one child one day,
  • inspiring children to consider this or that,
  • setting up a rich, learning environment,
  • opening the world to them, and
  • reading and discussing classics with them,
  • mentoring them each step of the way.

Write your List of Classic Books You might find it useful to look at the Sonlight catalogue, the Veritas Press Catalogue, Greenleaf Press.... and also look at online booklists such as Ambleside Online , the 1000 Good Books List and otherliterature reading lists.

Loved this TJEd for Teens book list.  Click link.

I also enjoy these books that help in choosing books.

Honey for a Child's Heart
Honey for a Teen's Heart
Honey for a Mother's Heart

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Homeschooling Elementary While Pregnant

Recently some friend asked me to share with them tips on how to homeschool during pregnancy (especially when you have other small children in the home).  As we have been homsechooling seven years, and had three children during that time, I felt like I could give a few pointers.  This feels like an oxymoron right from the get go, but it is possible... as long as you remember a few tips:

•  Focus on the big goals —
       (4 R's—Reading, Writing, Arithmetic & Righteousness)
       (Do all those extra projects another year)
       •  Reading:  Sonlight, or Tapestry of Grace has great reading lists of books.  They also have a CORE curriculum outline that tells you what to do each day if you like something like that.)  I have also just used their reading suggestions for age level.
       •  Writing:  IEW (Institute of Excellence in Writing), Cozy Grammar, IEW Phonetic Zoo are good suggestions of curriculum to use.  Phonetic Zoo has hard words, so another curriculum may be good to have for easier words too.  DrawWriteNow is also a fun way to get kids to do handwriting.  Sometimes we would just watch the writing DVD's for fun, and not do the assignments.  We've watched them so many times, the kids are very familiar with them.
       •  Arithmetic:  You need to stay on top of this one.  Set up the schedule (at least 4x a week), and have Dad be the main person to oversee questions and lesson correction if needed.  Use a DVD to help teach lessons.  The goal is to finish the book.  I haven't always done this, but it is always the goal.
       •  Righteousness:  Building a child with good character is always important.  Giving yourself something to draw from each day is vital.  Do audio scriptures online.  Listen to living books on CD that teach good qualities.  (Little Britches, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, etc.)

•  School when others are available to help you
       * evenings & weekends—Dad
       * afternoons— teenage neighbors
       * on good days, try some yourself

•  Be willing to pay for services
       *cleaning— 3hrs. 1x a week works miracles
       *music— hire a teacher to come to your home
       *mommy helpers— hire someone to come and help you once a week so you can do the fun school
       *drop-off classes (like PE or a Science) which are 2-3 hours are worth the investment
       *Homeschool DVD's— like Cozy Grammar, IEW Writing Class, IEW Phonetic Zoo,
            Classical Conversations & Saxon help you feel like you're teaching when you can't do it all

•  Join a Homeschooling Group
       * to be built up by common minded individuals
       * to find friends for yourself as well as your kids
       * join someone's History or Science Co-Op that's already going and enjoy the ride

•  Exercise
       * to clear your mind
       * to feel strong
       * to feel like you can accept those compliments of "You're so cute pregnant!"

•  Remember this is a temporary phase of life
       * you will not ruin your kids if you watch documentaries and listen to audio classics for a few months   (itunes university has free audio downloads)
       * there's always the summer to make up whatever you feel like you didn't accomplish
       * even if you do just 15 min a day in the 4 R's, you're still making progress

The Extras that Make Homeschooling Fun
Remember, it's only fun if you're not killing yourself to accomplish it.

•  History & Science
       This is an area that you can do a little or a lot and be just fine. Have a rich learning environment for your kids and they'll do just fine while you're focusing on other things for a little while.

       * Story of the World audio CD's while you drive.
       * Classical Conversations Foundations history sentences & geography while you drive, or get the
             ipad ap ($7) and have them learn one week at a time for 20 min. a day.
       * Sonlight books- have them read books about these things.
       * Apologia's Young Explorers Science Books by Jeannie Fulbright are great.  They also have
             pre-assembled science lab kits that you can purchase so you don't have to rummage around.
       * Utilize your local science museum, zoo, or nature center for homeschooling classes or fieldtrips.
       * Utilize your Homeschooling Group– do they have 4H, or a fieldtrip group?

•  PE
      I love drop off programs for this one.  Does your local Homeschooling Group have any classes set up already?  We also found a Karate Dojo that teaches myself and 4 kids and lets the toddler wander around for one hour twice a week.  Everyone at the same time slot.  Wonderful!  They gave us a great discount because they really wanted students. We refer them to everyone we meet, because it has been such a good fit for our family.  Of course I didn't do the Karate class when I was expecting though.  :)  I did make sure I walked for 30 minutes at least 2 to 3x a week.

Art & Music
      Classical Conversations has a good program for this, but it would be just as easy to just take the kids to a class somewhere, or ask someone to come and teach your kids what they know about art or music for a few weeks.  In Classical Conversations, they focus on a topic for 6 weeks, and then switch.  (Art styles- 6 weeks, Tin Whistle 6 weeks, Composers 6 weeks, Famous Artists 6 weeks)
      Music, I love this area, and I think it's worth hiring someone to come to my house for.  It teaches such great things.  I had to hunt for a long time to find an affordable teacher, but I finally found one.  Be persistent, and you'll find what you're looking for.  We've been with her now for 2 years.  It always seemed that my toddlers needed to use the restroom during our 30 minute lesson slot when we would go somewhere else for the lesson.  Not so easy to hang out in the car when that happens constantly.  We've now got 3 kids doing lessons, and a 4th kid who's begging to do it.

•  Foreign Language
      I like to do this once a week while I'm making dinner.  We watch the Muzzy DVD's.  We listen to some of the audio files every morning while getting ready for the day when we're feeling diligent.  Classical Conversations also has little bits of Latin to learn each week for 24 week.  Latin for Children is also a fun program to use.

Guess that's about it.  Last thing to remember.  If you're trying all new things, you'll be overwhelmed and hard on yourself.  Recognize when it's too much, and pray for help.  You can raise a homeschooling family while expecting when you've got your eye on the target, and you're realistic about your goals.

I still remember right after my third child was born in February.  I had so much energy!  I think we did 5x the amount of homeschooling work we had done previously.  We went to a homeschooling Convention in May, and I was hooked on homeschooling.  I was ready to call it quits in January, but we made it.  On another pregnancy, I called the local public school, (also in January), and after a brief conversation, I realized their goals were not what mine were.  We held on for the ride, and we made it.  I'm so glad that I held on, because now that I look back on it, I don't think my kids missed out on anything.  We're still moving forward, one year at a time.

If you get inspiration that it's right to homeschool for the school year, and then you get a bump in the road, don't jump off the track.  Just be creative on accomplishing the task.  The way will be prepared for you, if you're diligent and prayerful.

Good luck!


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Reminder Computer Usage Poster

My kids are needing some reminders of computer and electronic usage, so I made this up to help us put things in perspective.  Hope someone else finds it useful also.

Click on image to enlarge, and then print on 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock paper.