Sunday, August 31, 2008

2008-2009 Homeschool Toolbox

First let us start with what we are using this year and why.

Main Curriculum (Language Arts, Music, Art and Science)
This year we are using Five in A Row (FIAR) and Five in a Row Christian Character Bible Study Supplement as our major Homeschool curriculum. FIAR is a unit-study approach to early education based on outstanding children's literature. We chose this program because our auditory and kinesthetic learner will all benefit from Five in a Row's variety of lessons and activities.

Handwriting Curriculum
We are sticking with Handwriting Without Tears (HWOT). It worked really well last year with the preschool module called “Get Set For School”. TS was getting frustrated just writing letters because he can read so I ordered both Kindergarten and First Grade for this fall. That way we can start working on the letter then the First Grade book and work on associated words.

Music and Art Curriculum
We are scheduled to take an Art class at the local fine arts Homeschool academy and we are looking for a drum class. To supplement that I am using “What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know: Preparing Your Child for a Lifetime of Learning” by E.D. Jr Hirsch which has a good section on both music and art. This book is a nice resource to a unit study but I would not use it as the “be all, end all” of what your kindergartner needs to know.

The local symphony has monthly educational concerts and locally we have kid friendly music venues, which we will take advantage of with our Homeschool co-op.

We were scheduled to us Horizons Math, however after the first week this workbook method is not working for us. Math-U-See was soundly rejected..”Ughh Mom”. So, I right now I am looking for a free online kindergarten math program. If I cannot find a one I will order Progress in Mathematics, which was recommended by an education specialist.

Reading Comprehension
TS, much like his father and I, is a natural reader. I have never used a flash card, phonics program or computer program. I did his evaluation and he reads on a third grade level but comprehension on first grade level. We are going to focus on comprehension and phonic rules.

We will use Nanci Bell’s Visualizing and Verbalizing For Language Comprehension and Thinking
® Program and for phonics review.

Physical Education
We are enrolled in a Superfriends Homeschool P.E. class and the YMCA offers a Homeschool PE for Kindy on Fridays.


  • Monthly Orators Club and Playgroup
  • Weekly Readers Club and Park Day
  • Weekly Boys Playgroup/Social Group
  • Monthly Boys Nature Club

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Customer Service Homeschool Style

Part of my homeschooling planning was to ask TS what he wanted to learn this year. We did this last year and at the end of the year, we manage to cover both his and our goals.

I have his learning style, the curriculum and basic plan but to make it more meaningful I try to individualize the experience base on his input.

This is what TS wants to learn in 2008:

  • Learn to play the drums
  • Learn to use the Camcorder to make movies
  • Learn more about how race cars work
  • Understand what astronauts do
  • Want to learn how to build with rocks
  • Learn about track and field and play track and field with friend
  • Learn how to swim
  • Use Lego’s to build cars and things
  • To play on a boys soccer team
  • Have an Olympic playdate with all my friends
  • Learn martial arts

Our Mission Statement

We did not want to get overly analytical (hey, we are two engineers it can happen.) so we drafted a simple, livable mission statement.

Homeschool Mission Statement

  • To protect, nourish, and encourage our child's curiosity, imagination, and love of learning.
  • To create and continually improve the learning environment to suit our child's interest and changing needs.
  • To remember that learning is facilitated, not forced, and that education is about the journey, not just the destination.
  • With the Lord's blessing, we will raise our child to be morally and spiritually wise, to realize his gifts, to serve the needs of others, and to grow in ways that glorify God.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our First Day of School

Our first day of school was actually last Monday. It was a rainy morning but we all awoke early ready to start the new school year. The entire family packed up for a trip to Whole Foods for a “Back to School Brunch”. Our family loves Whole Foods! Whatever towns we travel to we have to fine a Whole Foods or Trader Joes. The colors, the smells and just the energy of the place energize us. My hubby refers to it as Whole Wallet, because it is pricey but we were celebrating.

We arrive with notebook, shopping list and empty tummies. I forgot my camera so I had to go to local blogs for images. (You wouldn't believe how many local folks take pictures of our Whole Foods.)

TS informed the produce guy that today was the first day of his Homeschool, to which he replied have a great year.

We love their produce section and TS wanted to “eat the alphabet”. Therefore, we set out to find foods from A to Z.

Somehow, we ended up in the handmade chocolate bar. The lady there was supper nice and gave us a demonstration on how this beautiful fountain works.

She also explained how chocolates were made and what countries they came from for what kind of taste. Hubby was in heaven; he is the only chocolate lover in the house.

We spent about two hours roaming the store talking to the “Foodies” about where food came from, taste and listening to some great classical rock. We left under budget with full tummies, a lot of knowledge and great memories. So we loaded and setttled down for the long drive home.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Girl where have you been?

I have been virtually hiding out to pray about life. Specifically to strength my mind, body and soul after a long two weeks of attacks from family, friends, financial obligations and that little negative voice inside us all. My grandmother once told me “You know you are following the will of God when the enemy attacks everyday, all day long.” I know we are on the right path because I see the results in my child.

I will not give power to the negatives by repeating the comments and actions. I have a mission, an adventure to begin and enjoy.

However let me share just this piece of advice for those who are considering or are in the mist homeschooling, know your own heart and follow it. After one year of homeschooling we have figured out everyone will have an “ode to a school bus days”, especially this time of year when the “Back to School” hype is in full gear. It is a time of great anxiety for many homeschoolers, both parent and child. Again words from my grandmother, “If you prayed about it, then leave it alone. God get’s a little teed off if you clutter up HIS way.”

Let the adventure begin....

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Super Student’s first Lapbook

After the conference, I asked the TS what did he want to do that week. The expression on his face was comical because normally I have our week planned out and present it calendar form after Monday breakfast. (I know…I know anal but I am a recovering engineering manager.) He recovered quickly to list all of his favorite things:

“After breakfast let’s do Slip N Slide, then the park and lunch date. Ohhhh call SK( aka Sidekick who is TS’s brother from another mother) so we can go to Pump N Jump, then The Big Park, then Putt Putt Golf, then a playdate with all my forever friends (I will explain his hierarchy later.), the library music show, pick up my summer reading prize with my friends and then the have my friends over for Slip N Slide. Hey, Mommmie can I please learn about Pandas? I know Kung Fu Panda’s not real but I want know about real Pandas.”

Okay first I was tired just mapping out his week of activities, not to mention getting queasy at the thought of gas prices. Then I was a little embarrassed because he has been asking about Pandas since seeing KFP but I brushed it off as movie related commercialism.

Bad Mommie. We negotiated on some of the activities and hit the Slip N Slide. Okay why do adults stop playing these games? Can you say easy fun?

So while we ate lunch I did a little Google research and found a free Panda Lapbook at Homeschool Share. I had planned to introduce the concept of lapbooking and notebooking in the Fall, but here it was free and in his interest area. We watched the video on lapbooking and he was so excited to start. So, we headed to the library for what he was calling Pandamania.

We found the book they recommended along with four other Panda related titles and spent the week learning about Pandas. We had a blast! He said he like the lapbook because all his things was in one place and he could touch what he learned and share it.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Fun Fine Motor Skills

One of our summer projects was to work on TS’s fine motor skills. He does not like to color and has some difficulty cutting. This all can be traced back to an over critical and zealous Montessori teacher. Most of last year I incorporated clay, finger-paints, clothes pins and tweezers into our weekly schedule. This summer the goal was to focus on these skills daily. However, after attending the HOTM conference session entitled Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather be Making Forts All Day by Andrew Pudewa, those plans have been put on the shelf.

I learned that:
  • Typical boys develop fine motor skills later than girls do. Most of the experienced homeschoolers in that session shared stories of young boys who were seven, eight and even nine before their fine motor skills matched that of girls their same age.If a boy is criticized about these skills, it takes years to build that confidence back.
  • The only way to build that skill is to make it fun and not focus on the outcome but on the adventure of the process.
  • As a homeschooler of a tactile learner, I need to embrace TS’s need for movement while learning. I have always fought this because I thought, “He needs to learn how to sit still, because all children sit still in school.” Yet again, I was reminded he is not “in school” and we have the freedom to educate him our way. Sure, he has limits but if he needs a break every 15 minutes to move, we break. If he needs to do math using a Twister mat, we use a Twister mat.

To that end, we have learned so much in the last ten days.

We found these great bumpy seat cushions at IKEA. He uses it at the dinner table and says it makes him feel "planted".

Then he learned how to snap his fingers. We are so excited because that is a fine motor skill and motor planning milestone for a six year old. He was so happy he snapped his way to his first blister on his thumb.

In honor of the Olympics and his love of everything Kung Fu Panda, we learned how to eat with chopsticks. YEAH! We got this little starter kit from a local Chinese restaurant and he has eaten almost all of his meals as well as snacks with chopsticks.

Nothing says "Yum-Oh" like cranraisins, pretzels and grapes.

Oh, we also made our first lapbook. Yippy! I will have to share that later I have to run and finish organizing our office for homeschooling fun.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


The conference last weekend was powerful and life altering. There were too many “Ahh” moments to put in one post. I cannot thank the team from Heart of the Matter enough for their time, incredible talents and openness during this conference. The speakers were AWESOME. Here were experienced homeschooling parents who have followed their callings while educating their children. They spoke as both parents and professionals answering questions and even supplied their email for follow-up questions. The recurring theme was You are not alone in this adventure. We are more than capable of educating our children. Homeschooling is a great adventure, relax and enjoy the adventure with your children. And remember to be Flexible.”

To that vain I have been reading suggested material, praying, planning and enjoying my child. I will post more later this week as when I complete my 2008 planning.

I leave you with this new fixture in my son’s room.

I am Loved.

I am wonderfully creative

I am safe

I learn and discover new things every day

I love to learn new things!

I am powerful

I have a place of stillness within me

I am whole and perfect just the way I am

“God within me is my power.” We are always loved and safe if we

only turn our awareness to the Almighty in prayer.

I am willing to forgive

God is always with us, surrounding us.

I am living a life of beauty, purpose and promise.

I am made in the image of the Most High

I Believe in Me