Throwback Thursday

I thought I’d dish up a little post and throw it back to October when I last posted– in the middle of the 30 Days blogging challenge I didn’t finish. Oops.

I attended a homeschool conference (BY. MYSELF. GLORY.) in mid-October and it was exactly the encouragement and push I needed. I had been schooling Ladybug and Stinkbug for a few months at that point and it still felt like a crazy juggling game to jump from Kindergarten reading to Second Grade math and back and forth and leap frog all over the curriculum map. I was exhausted and felt like I had no idea what I was doing. (So much for that $26,000 degree in Elementary Ed, I guess!)

I really needed to hear those speakers tell me to major on the majors and minor in the minors. Get the reading and the math done and it’s OK if that’s all we get to in a day. Relax and enjoy these moments with my little ones. I am thankful for that week, I came back with fresh perspective in my heart and Jenga in my bag for the kids. 🙂

Every year I feel like I’m on a roller coaster in October– click, click, clicking to the top and then WOOOOOOOOSH it’s holidays and busy times and visitors and cold weather and before I know it, I’m packing Christmas ornaments between layers of paper towels to be stacked in our tiny little apartment closet.

Even now, I think I forgot to get off the ride because HOW IN THE WORLD IS IT APRIL 9TH?!

Our attentions have been pretty adoption focused so far in 2015, as we glimpsed a new sweet face on our agency’s waiting child list in December and we were unofficially matched with a sweet little girl in eastern Europe! We’ve updated our homestudy and our USCIS clearance and waiting, waiting, waiting to hear that we are finally able to go and meet her! On February 4 we hit four years since we said yes in our hearts to this journey, so it feels amazing (and also agonizing!) to feel like the end is coming.

Well, that’s about it for life from October until now– home school, holidays, adoption, cooking food for my kids to complain about, and always… mountains of laundry.

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How’s Homeschool?

We are in the midst of our sixth week of first grade at home for Ladybug. I definitely have photo (42)moments of both What the heck are we doing? and This is amazing, I’m so glad we are doing this! 

One thing I have appreciated so much about home school is the flexibility. Last week I had a couple of funky days and a few things didn’t get done, but it was no problem to draw a little arrow on my calendar and get them done this week instead. This past Tuesday (the first day of public school for first graders here), we took off for the beach for the day and it was awesome to have the place to ourselves since everyone else was in school. One day a few weeks ago we packed up our school books and did our work at Starbucks– so we are definitely enjoying (and taking advantage of!) the flexibility!

photo (40)We started out with some poor attitude and eye-rolling from Ladybug, but we have worked through that (I hope…) and have pretty much established a good now-I-am-the-teacher and now-I-am-the-mom routine.

It has hit me more than once, that as soon as Stinkbug starts Kindergarten at home next year things will be much different than they are now with just one at home. It’s kinda like that panic you have when you’re pregnant with your second child and realize you have NO CLUE what to do with two kids at the same time. We’ll figure it out, but I am soaking in the calm before the multiple-kids-in-home-school storm.

The boys are attending a local preschool three mornings a week, so that is when the bulk of our home schooling takes place. On Monday mornings, Hubby hangs out with the boys while we do school. We are aiming for four days of home school a week, and the fifth day has been for any “spill over” work that we didn’t get to finish. I really like having this buffer day to finish things up.

Ladybug is taking private Turkish lessons once a week, and she will begin ballet (also once a week) in October. She would like to play soccer on a team, but we are still looking into photo (43)the possibility of this.

I have been pleased with all our curriculum choices so far this year. RightStart Math is very non-traditional, using manipulatives and games to teach and review concepts. I really like it and so does Ladybug. Our science choice, R.E.A.L Science Odyssey has also been very hands-on, and I am a fan. The boys usually do science with us, and they have also joined in for some of the history from Story of the World.

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I cannot say enough good things about Explode the Code, which I wasn’t sure about and bought on a whim. It has really strengthened Lady in phonics and carefully reading whole words (she was a big word-guesser before). It really shows the importance of every letter– stall and small are very different words with only one little difference! Our spelling curriculum, All About Spelling is also really helping her grow and I have been amazed at how involved it is. I just realized they also have a reading program, and I am planning to order it for after Christmas (when we should be done with Explode the Code and Beyond the Code.)

I see a definite interest forming in reading– it’s not as much of a chore anymore. She is really enjoying Cam Jansen books and we have family members on the hunt for them at secondhand book stores!

One of my favorite parts of our home school day is the time set aside for Bible reading andphoto (44) prayer at the beginning of the day. Ladybug is reading Jesus Calling for Kids (I read it to her usually, and then she looks up the verses in the Bible, journals, and prays for the people she has listed on prayer cards.) It is just sweet to see her finding things in the Bible, asking questions about what words and verses mean. Truly, it has been a blessing to start each school day with the emphasis in the right place.

Overall, our first grade home school experience is going really well. I am pleased with Ladybug’s progress and we are actually having a lot of fun together!

If you’re a home schooling mom in need of encouragement, check out my friend Jess’ post Letter to a Homeschool Mom.

2013-2014 ::First Grade Curriculum::

Welp, it’s that time of the year again– the school supply sections at Target and Walmart are being un-stocked as quickly as the staff can restock the crayons, paper, notebooks, and glue sticks.

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In our neck of the woods, public school doesn’t start until September, but we have already begun our home school year because honestly I’d rather start in August and be done in May than have the school year drag into June, or goodness no, July!

This is our first full year homeschooling since last year Ladybug had an array of different schooling situations as we navigated a combination of home school and public school here, and then did a semester of public school while we were in the States. Whew, it makes me tired just thinking of all that. Needless to say, I am happy we are simplifying down to one school option for her this year, although we do plan to enroll her in dance in the fall, and she will most likely also take private Turkish lessons with a tutor.

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For our curriculum, I am mostly pulling resources from The Well-Trained Mind. I have been impressed with them so far, and find myself agreeing with their methods and timing of things. One thing I really like about The Well-Trained Mind is that they outline what they suggest you teach when and then offer a myriad of suggested curriculum, so you can piece together your own classical curriculum from their recommendations. (Did you follow all of that?)

I have also been enjoying Educating the Whole-Hearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson, and want to work diligently with my husband to ensure we are educating our children fully– carefully teaching and instructing their mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual spheres.

So, without further ado, for first grade, these are the books/resources we are using:

Language Arts

  • Explode the Code and Beyond the Code (Ladybug is not as strong in phonics as I would like, so we are beginning here to build her up in this area… I don’t think it’s a WTM suggestion though.)
  • Books to Remember reading series
  • First Language Lessons
  • Writing with Ease
  • Five in a Row Volumes 1 & 2 (I love FIAR for read aloud– they are great, classic books! The boys usually listen in to the stories before naptime.)
  • All About Spelling Levels A & B

Math

  • Right Start Levels A & B (We are restarting Level A since we didn’t get through it all last fall– Right Start is not a traditional Western math curriculum, but I really like it’s approach with manipulatives and games instead of worksheets.)

Social Studies/Science/Art

  • Story of the World Volume 1 + various extra books recommended in Story of the World
  • REAL Science Odyssey Level 1
  • Drawing with Children
  • Masterpieces: A Fact-Filled Coloring Book

The boys will start attending a local preschool next week and will go three mornings a week. We are shooting for a four day home school week, so I will only have one morning a week to juggle the boys alongside our schoolwork. I plan to keep them busy on that morning with 1. special time with Daddy if he’s available, 2. puzzles, 3. pattern blocks, 4. preschool apps on the iPad, or 5. any other trick I can find up my sleeve.

(I purchased all of my curriculum from Amazon and the Rainbow Resource Center.)

Look Out Kindergarten! Here We Come!

I blinked and my baby girl is starting Kindergarten tomorrow.

It’s so true that the days of the preschool chapter of motherhood feel l o n g, but my do the years fly by! As I count out the candles for each birthday, I shake my head in disbelief that another year has passed by at break-neck speed. New mommies– hold that baby a little longer. Drink in her milky scent. Watch her as she sleeps. Soak. It. All. In. Today.

Now, it’s time for us to start something new. More intentional teaching and preparing… more pencil and paper time… more discussions about how things work and why… more careful practice of letter formation… more fitting letters together and creating words, sentences, paragraphs, stories… more shapes, numbers, tally marks, calendar time…

The teacher inside of my is over the moon with making sight words cards and a daily journal, organizing our readers, buying new school supplies.

The mom inside me is torn, cautiously excited. I miss my baby, sure, but I am loving watching the girl she is becoming.

(Yes, we may be homeschooling, but there will be First Day pictures tomorrow!)