Exciting and scary all at once

We’ve just kicked off our 11th year of homeschooling. Our oldest will be graduating high school this year. In fact, in 5 years all three will be high school graduates.

Let’s just all pause a moment, and take that in. In five years, our wonderful homeschool journey will be over. I will have three high school graduates.

Honestly, if I stop and really contemplate that idea, I get overwhelmed very quickly. I have to just pull back and focus on this year.

Tho, my oldest, is taking the Math-U-See’s Stewardship course, which looks to be a personal finance course with a Biblical slant. Most of his courses in Switched on Schoolhouse again.  Language and Government & Economics are in SOS, as are the two half-credit Networking courses. He’s decided he wants to get into the cyber security field, so he’s got more than a few electives in computing this year.  Hacker Highschool looks to be the best course so far, as it provides alot of hands-on work with both Windows and Linux operating systems.  He’s also taking control of his own education, by finding podcasts and websites devoted to cyber security, and learning everything he can about the field.

Diva is starting 9th grade this year.  Most of her classes are in Switched on Schoolhouse as well, which is helpful because we already have most of the disks, so it saves us some money.  English 9, Geography, New Testament Survey, and Health are all SOS course.  Math-U-See’s Pre-algebra, PE, and Apologia’s Physical Science round out her coursework. She’s also doing some amazing digital art work.

Lt, AKA Tiimmy, has skipped up to 8th grade.  This is on purpose, as 8th grade is available to get high school credit for up to three course in our state & with our umbrella program.  So by skipping him up to 8th grade, he can take Apologia’s Physical Science with his sister, and get high school credit for it.  This way, they can work together on experiments, and when Biology rolls around again next year, I only have to supervise on more frog dissection.  His other courses include MUS’s Pre-algebra, and using SOS for Language and History.  He’s also doing very well with his swimming, and has already passed the deep end swim test!

No More Elementary Kids Here!

2016 Teacher Manuals

2016 Teacher Manuals

It’s so hard to believe how quickly time flies. Seems like it was only yesterday we began our homeschooling journey with our oldest son. That five year old is now fifteen! He’s just started 11th grade, and is on track to graduate a year early with an Honors Diploma. This year his coursework includes MUS Algebra 2, SOS English 11, SOS American history, Apologia physics, TeenCoder computer programming, and more.

He’ll also be doing year two of Spanish, but it’s the Spanish 1 Abeka course. He did Switched on Schoolhouse’s Spanish 1 course last year, but none of us liked it. The SOS Spanish 1 class seemed to focus more on the cultures of the various Spanish-speaking countries rather than learning to actually speak Spanish. The Abeka course is all language-driven, and needs much more supervision than the SOS course. The Abeka course is the one I took when I was in high school. It did take some time to create a lesson plan to work with just one student, as it’s a classroom-based curriculum, but the end result will be so worth it.

My Diva is starting 7th grade, and my youngest son will be in 6th. That means we have officially left elementary school behind. It’s a big deal, because so many homeschoolers give up and send their kids to the local public/private schools for middle and high school. The plethora of resources available to a homeschooling momma with elementary kids begins to dwindle once you hit middle school.  So far, homeschooling through middle and high school has been easier in some ways, harder in others.  It’s easier because the kids can teach themselves.  They can read the curriculum, do their projects, and even most of their science experiments with only minimal help and input from me.  It’s harder because I really need to keep on top of the grades and paperwork, to make sure I’ve got a paper trail to back up the transcript I’ll have to write should any of them decide to go to a college.  Honestly though, the biggest reason it’s been so smooth is the confidence we’ve all gained in the process over the years.  The grandparents have seen them flourish, and no longer have any reservations. Dad has always had my back, reassuring me that this was possible.  He’s pitched in to help whenever we hit topics of his expertise, like Spanish.  As for me, I still struggle with doubt and questions, but I have so much more confidence now than I did ten

2016 SOS disks

2016 SOS disks

The younger two are both using Math U See Zeta, but for science, history, and English class they’ve made the jump into Switched On Schoolhouse. The 11 year old has also taken on the KidCoder computer programming course in an effort to step up his Minecraft coding game.

Speaking of, all three of the kids have learned so much about computers, programming, the internet, and even some business skills – just from playing Minecraft this summer.  They found a cool server to play on, and a guild of kids (mostly made up of a group of middle-schoolers from California), and started posting “Let’s Play” videos to YouTube. The youngest really latched on to this idea, and ran with it. The other two are now playing catch-up. They’ve learned how to record, edit and post their videos. We use OBS Studio for recording, and Sony Movie Studio 13 for editing.  So if you’ve got a Minecrafter in the house, check out LtVv111, Capt740, and OmegaVaporeon, aka my Diva, on YouTube.

So that’s how our year is shaping up.  What about you?  What’s your plan for the upcoming homeschool year?

2015-2016 School Year, Already in Full Swing!

So last year was our first year back in Maryland. It was much easier than I’d anticipated, mostly thanks to the wonderful folks over at Calvary Gospel Home Educators who made it a breeze.  The hardest part about the whole year was keeping up on the paperwork.  However, that same paperwork will make it extremely easy to create a transcript for my high schooler when the time comes. It also helped that my husband made an excel version of the grading report that does all of the weighted grading for me. Nice.

So this year, we actually started back on July 6.  I felt really strange, because for once I was fully prepared for the school year to start. I had almost everything planned, printed, and scheduled a few weeks before we actually started.  The younger two are both working on a 5th/6th grade level.  English is once again a mix of reading and Easy Grammar. Math-U-See Epsilon is proving challenging already for my Diva, while Lt continues to easily grasp the math concepts.  After going over several history options with them both this summer, they both decided they wanted to do Mystery of History. Apologia’s Exploring Anatomy rounds out the extent of my curriculum for the younger two.  They are constantly doing art, not just with pen and paper but also in their Minecraft builds, photo editing, digital drawing, and LEGO creations. I just periodically grab a few screen shots or copies for their portfolios.

My Diva is struggling some to grasp the math, but that’s normal for her. Once she gets these first few concepts under her belt, she will fly through the book.  Same goes for the language.  She is teaching herself history & science, only joining her younger brother & I for the experiments.  She likes to work at night after her brothers go to bed, because it cuts down on the noise and distraction.  She’s the biggest night owl in a family of night owls. She likes to do her school work, then often reads until 2 or 3 am.  Her current favorite are the Warrior Cats series. When she wakes up, her time is spent hanging out in the LEGO friends gallery, making edits, drawing animals, creating things with LEGO, blogging, and playing Minecraft.  She’s also the one behind the dog’s blog, Peanut’s Paws.

We’ve done a lot of work with Lt over the past school year. He was officially diagnosed with both dysgraphia and dyslexia last year. I also discovered his mild hearing difficulties, and synesthesia. Last year we used All About Spelling to jump start his reading, and work to train those pesky letters.  Just reinforcing letter sounds has made a huge difference.  His reading has taken off. He does still get tired after a while, and that when he struggles with reversals and missing or changed letters.  He’s been reading his school lessons to me whenever he can, as well as learning and researching new ways to code in Minecraft.  His downtime is often spent on Minecraft, playing with LEGOs, or on the Xbox.  He also blogs occasionally.

The oldest is in 10th grade this year.  I can not believe I’m old enough to have a 10th grader, even if he is working ahead of grade level.  He uses Switched On Schoolhouse for English II, Geography, Spanish I, and Old Testament Survey. Science is Apologia’s Biology course on CD.  We got the microscope kit and the dissection kit from Christian Book Distributors.  Math is Geometry by Math-U-See. Honestly, he’s almost completely self-taught at age 14. Every curriculum he’s using is either self-explanatory, or comes with a teacher on DVD.  He only ever comes to me when he needs help. Sure, he has times when he misinterprets the lesson and we have to go back over things, but overall, he’s doing really well.  I’m kind of in awe of how well he’s doing on his own at his age.

When he isn’t doing schoolwork, Capt740 can be found on Minecraft, in the middle of a pile of LEGOs, or reading anything he can get his hands on. He blogs on the rare occasion.

So that’s the beginning of our school year, even though we are already half way through the first quarter! I can’t believe how fast time is flying this year.

World War 1: a really brief overview

Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Hungry was killed, which ignited a world war on a scale that no one had ever seen before.  There is some neat actually video footage from the era over at Telegraph.co.uk.  The kids really liked this quick overview of the war:

Of course, we’ll get more in-depth coverage of World War 1 in the coming weeks, but for now, I wanted to post this video where LtVv111 can find it for his blog. Pop on over there and comment if you can, he loves getting comments.  Also, check out P1nky’s blog, and Capt740’s blog if you have the time.

Begining Secondary Education

Photo By: Chris

My oldest has started a few high school courses already. Not going to lie, the thought of homeschooling my kid through high school has me a bit nervous.  But it’s too late for nerves, my 7th grader (according to the state), has already started 9th grade English & a 10th grade history course!

I won’t lie, I’ve been in denial about this for too long.  Right up until about January of this year, I thought high school was a long way off.  Then my son finished his Mystery of History book, and I realized that he was too old to continue in the Mystery of History curriculum and be able to fulfill high school requirements.  Yikes!

Some fast research led me to the Switched on Schoolhouse program.  We had considered SOS back when we started this grand adventure.  Unfortunately for Capt740, SOS didn’t start until 3rd grade, and at that time he was in 1st.  While it is on the more expensive side, SOS  is all computer-based, which makes my son very happy.  I chose to start him with the 10th grade history course, World History, after about a week of pouring through research and required credit hours for a high school diploma.  Virginia only requires 3 credit hours of history.  We chose World History, US History, & Government. Switched on Schoolhouse’s high school history starts with Geography in 9th grade.  While Geography is a worthy subject, it can very easily be integrated into World History.  So Capt740 got to skip straight into 10th grade history.

As long as we were getting into SOS, I promoted him into 9th grade English I as well.  I had him using Easy Grammar’s 8th grade course, which seemed to me like it was supposed to be more of a grammar supplement to whatever else he was supposed to be doing in 8th grade.  I was utterly lost as to how to supplement or even what sort of activities I should be supplementing the course with.  I looked over the 9th grade SOS course, and it looks much more like an English course should, what with the literature & reports and such.

So far, Switched on Schoolhouse is a winner.  Capt740 loves it.  He also really likes his Apologia General Science course this year, and Math-U-See is still working for him.  After all my research, and much discussion with my husband & son, we came up with a course of study for the next few years for our high-schooler.

English:  Switched on Schoolhouse; English I, English II, English III, and English IV

Math:  Math-U-See; Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Stewardship (aka Personal Finance)

History: Switched on Schoolhouse; World History, American & Virginia History, and Government & Economics

Science: Apologia; Physical Science, Biology, and Physics

Foreign Language: Rosetta Stone; Spanish, 2 credit hours

We’re still looking at our options as far as electives, but we’ve got some great ideas.  I’m hoping to put together some kind of Lego Art class, as well as Life Skills (that’s a MUST for all our kids!), Bible, and maybe Photography, or something else.  We’ll see what happens.

Two Weeks In…

Here we are two weeks into our current school year, so what have I learned?

— My Diva wants to learn cursive.  This will be hard considering I HATE cursive and haven’t used it in years.  Guess I’d better remember quick. Good thing I’ve got the internet.  There are plenty of resources, freely available, including fonts.  The best resource, however, is likely Donna Young’s Cursive Handwriting.  Lots of worksheets, animations, and more.

— Diva hates our current history curriculum because there aren’t enough females taught about in the text.  So, Google to rescue again! I’ve been supplementing the book with research about females from the era.  Luckily we are headed into the Exploration/Frontier life era.  I just happen to own all the Little House on the Prairie books.  Thank you Laura Ingalls Wilder!

— After a week of spelling, I’ve learned that while my youngest boy is doing a decent job learning to read, his spelling is atrocious. Then I found (via a friend on facebook) this article about good readers who spell horribly, and realized…  I need to take my boy back to phonemes.  We need to try to intervene in these neural pathways and make sure they being formed properly.

— After the above breakthrough, I had another breakthrough with my youngest.  It seems that his vision is all sorts of wonky again.  He’s seeing everything, but it’s off to the right and down from where it’s actually printed. IE:

Vv111-vision

So apparently spelling is the least of his worries.  We’ve got to get those eyes back on track.  Sigh.  Guess it’s time to visit Dr. Wescott again.

— Capt 740 is doing well, and learning how to do all this stuff on his own.  It’s kind of a relief to finally have one old enough to work on his own primarily.

 

The Loom of Doom, & so much more.

So week 2 came and went.  Way too fast I’m thinking, especially since here it is, Monday morning of week 3, and I’m just now remember to post about last week!  So much went down… Lets see…

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Last weekend (Aug 21-22) I spent making a DIY loom for us to use with BigBoy & PinkDiva’s history lesson.  It turned out awesome!

The loom itself is made from a Cross Stitch Frame, the kind you can use to turn your fabric into a scroll.   The frame was too short to make an effective loom though, so we cut the bars in half and attached them to small pieces of scrap wood.  The rigid-ish, and I say “ish” because there is a lot of flex & bend, heddle is made of two pieces of plastic canvas, cut and stitched together.  The shuttle in the picture is made of cardboard, but DH has since made a nicer one out of thin wood for us to use.

Click to Embiggen

BigBoy was thrilled to give weaving a try.  ThePinkDiva had tried weaving in a class at the Cultural Arts Center last year, and fell in love with the art form.  BigBoy is still a bit young, and doesn’t quite get the hang of it…  but PinkDiva loves to weave.  This time we’re making a small green blanket.  But now that we have a loom, I see plenty of doll blankets in our future.  Pinkdiva is even talking about stitching a few pieces together to make a bigger blanket.  Should be fun.

Thursday, thePinkDiva began vision therapy.  I don’t think I’ve ever explained that one anywhere online, so it really needs it’s own blog post.  Soon.  I hope.

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Friday was spent at the Podiatrist’s office.  Because I messed up my foot. Everyone got their Math tests done, and that was it.  I was too worn out/in pain to do much else.

Then, on Saturday, Soccer Season officially kicked off.  One night a week for practice, and then games on Saturday.  Should be fun.  BigBoy is thrilled because this is the first year he’s actually part of a team, instead of the “Tots”.  Geekboy discovered at least 3 friends from last year’s team on his new team.  So even though he is the shortest guy on the team, and playing in the 10-12 division (he’s only 9, but they didn’t have enough 8-9 boys to make a team in that division), he’s looking forward to a great season.

One week down.

So, yea.  We officially started “school” last week.  Really, since the learning never ends here in Casa Del Yuriar, all it means is that we cracked open the math books again, and tried to get our “school” routine started again.  The first week or so is always a bit rough as we settle into a routine that works for us.  They may have argued and moaned, PinkDiva may have done her Poltergeist impression a few times (you know, head lifting up, spinning 360 before settling back down again), but in the end they loved it, and even learned something.


PinkDiva talks Photosynthesis.

Curriculum time is here again!

After spending the better part of the last month alternately researching curriculum ideas, and procrastinating, I’ve finally finalized… well, mostly finalized our school year.

Math is going to be Math U See for all three.  GeekBoy is starting in Delta, but he’s already whizzed through the first 3 chapters, and that only took him 5 minutes!  So I have Epsilon standing by, and fully expect to be using it by middle of the year.  As much as the Geek claims to hate math, he is a math whiz.  ThePinkDiva is starting Alpha this year, and BigBoy won’t be very far behind.  He still has a few chapters of Primer to finish before moving on to Alpha.  The little guy is hoping to catch up to his big sister.

For Language, GeekBoy is still working through the Easy Grammar 4/5 book we found halfway through last year.  Its been working well for us, so we will keep going.  Since discovering thePinkDiva’s vision difficulties, we will be ditching Hooked on Phonics this year.  I’ve decided to give Spell to Write and Read a try.  It’s supposed to be good for dyslexics, which she is, and BigBoy will be doing this also since he really wants to learn to write.  ThePinkDiva will also be continuing her work in Explode The Code online.  She’s been doing pretty well with it, and I’m considering getting a subscription for BigBoy as well.  Especially since I can get such an awesome deal on the program via Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op.

GeekBoy’s writing progressed quickly once we worked on correcting his posture and grip.  This year we will continue working on “Pull, not push” to get him forming letters from the top, as well as lowercase letters.

History will be different this year.  GeekBoy has informed me that he has trouble concentrating when thePinkDiva goes off on a word-association rabbit trail.  Since she does this a lot (it’s her way of processing information), GeekBoy will be having his own history lesson, using Mystery of History.  ThePinkDiva and BigBoy will be doing year 2 of the American Heritage Studies by BJU. I’m planning to do time lines with each “class”.

Science was a hard one.  As much as I love the Apologia books, they seem to be just above the understanding of my younger two, and there doesn’t seem much in the text that interests my oldest.  So this year we will do things a bit different.  I got a subscription to AHA Science via Homeschool Buyers Co-op.  The kids adored the sample lessons, and we are looking forward to accessing the games and seeing what else the program has to offer.  I’m also planning to pull random experiments out of this book Gramma gave us, 101 Cool Science Experiments.

For art, I have GeeArt.  We’ve had the program for some time now, but I’ve never managed to get it together enough to get the projects done.  I’m hoping to overcome my own fear of messiness and allow the munchkins to get messy, and maybe even get messy myself.  But the biggest thing they will learn in the category of “art” this year — how to clean up their supplies!

It should be a fun, busy year.
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