Friday, February 15, 2013

Week 21: A great week - what a surprise!

It's 1:30am on Friday night/Saturday morning and I'm still awake. But it's a good awake :) All week we've all been in bed by a decent hour (for us - I'm just happy if they're asleep so I can watch The Daily Show at 11pm lol), up by 9am and starting school by 10-10:30. We had a couple rough mornings when Danny was tired, but he would pull it together after the first class or two and we had a GREAT week!

This week, we had an unexpected day off on Tuesday when Grandpa Bill delivered the girls' old bunk beds to us for the boys. He was sweet enough to set it up for us right away in Danny's room and the boys love it. Unfortunately, they didn't feel comfortable enough sleeping in it the first night, but they've adapted and now Ben sleeps in there every other night with Danny. 

I realized how much it helps our school days when the sun actually SHINES! On dark, cold winter days, we get very little actually done, even though we trudge through the material. When the sun is out, our dining room/classroom is wonderfully sunny and we just have so much more fun, even with the dull material!

The boys seem to have recovered from the holiday schoolwork setbacks. They are back to doing "A" work in math, although I have discovered the trick to this. Each DVD lesson shows new material which the boys learn very well and are able to do in their followup lessons. Where they - usually Danny - blow their grading curve is on the multiplication problems that recur in every problem set. They are so handicapped by not knowing their math facts. Ben has problems with subtraction and regrouping and Danny freaks out with multiplying by more than a 1 digit number. So we are sort of doing a double track math class. We work on math facts and also do the daily lesson. Ben is chugging right along and may actually finish most of his math lessons by the end of the year, but Danny will be lucky to get half of lessons done - although by doing it this way, we have speeded up our progress quite a bit and I do have hope.

We have started making progress on our Science classes as well. I'm only doing one lab every other chapter or so because they seemed to be sort of redundant and not that interesting - although we did love growing the herb seeds in different environments. Very cool! We started these classes late in the year since we switched Science programs and after talking to Amy, who does more of her science in the summer, I think that's a great idea. We'll do fun experiments this summer and finish our classes later than the rest.

I'm also realizing that our Spelling program in not working very well with our class schedule. It's  not bad - the boys are actually getting alot of good handwriting practice out of it and we are learning some spelling rules, but it doesn't seem relevant to our other lessons and we have to spell 25 words a day - with which my boys and their goofing off takes 30 minutes some days, which we just can't spare on a spelling class. So I'll search for something that works better.

So...reading, writing and 'rithmetic has been  my internal mantra chant lately. If I get concerned I'm missing something each day, I just make sure we do these three things and I feel like I'm doing what's important. Danny actually used a writing organizer to write a rough draft and did a good job. Of course, we have major revisions and editing to do, but the important thing is HE DID IT! He used our new Essentials in Writing DVD lessons to walk him through the steps and I'm more optimistic every day that he can do this. Of course, his writing will be very "Him" and will not be what a "regular" school would probably like, but if he's writing correct content and can learn to edit his own writing for grammar, punctuation and spelling, then THAT is what matters. 

And Ben is beginning to learn how to read on his own without me over his shoulder. In fact, I think he reads better when I'm not around. This time when we started our newest readers on George Washington, I left all the reading entirely up to the boys themselves. I also had the boys write a sentence about each chapter after they read it, and when they are done I'm going to have them write a full report using their notes. And I've looked at their notes and they're doing a great job!

Along with our fun spur-of-the-moment trip to Benjamin Banneker's home on Thursday and an end-of-the-schoolday trip to the library for a Lego Build day on Friday, we covered all our subjects and all of our objectives except for daily spelling. A spectacular success of a week that I wish I could duplicate every day. Ah, I could only hope :) But for now, I will revel in the glow of success, of the feeling of a job well done, of a week of well-rested and happy children - and a quiet but sweet Valentine's Day in the middle of it all.

Homeschool is wonderful. I can't imagine my life without it again :) 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Week 20: Halfway there!

Well, we are officially in our 20th week of homeschool, which means we are halfway through our first school year! Although we've been slogging at this for 20 weeks, we're only at around day 70 of actually book time, because we work on a four-day school week and we've had a few breaks. Which is actually what I'm ready for right now - a break.

I know we've only been schooling since the holidays for five weeks, but it feels like forever. I'm so exhausted - my health is just in the pits again right now and by 5pm tonight, I was in bed again. We are doing well on schoolwork and I'm actually feeling good about the progress we're making, but still tweaking how to do it - especially when my health isn't cooperating. Today we had "sofa school" - with me reading and working with the boys on math, writing and history while resting in my recliner. It wasn't the best, but it was okay. It sure made me realize that poor Benjamin doesn't really know what a verb is! How did he get through  2nd grade and half of this 3rd grade year without getting that?! Here's where I bring things to a screeching halt, find what my baby needs and work on this now.

I'm finding we're not going to finish all the curricula by the end of the year. I'm going to have to say "tough noogies", because that's what it takes. The boys know their multiplication tables better now than ever, but still not all of it. Ben doesn't know what a verb is and Danny still writes from the bottom and right. But we ARE ahead of where we started in September - and our family is happier and stronger than ever. 

Halfway there ain't halfway bad :)