Monday, October 21, 2013

Week 8/Yr 2: Homeschooling is panic alternating with peace

Every so often, I start the "Homeschooling Mom Panic" phase. This usually happens when I'm lesson planning, like I did during my teacher "break" last week. I look at all the curriculum I am using, try to figure out how to get all the necessary content done by the end of the school year PLUS mix in all the field trips and extras that make homeschooling fun. Finally, I try to make sure we are covering all the materials that are included in "common core" so they will be able to transition back into public school when - or if - it becomes time.

I get performance anxiety because I feel so underqualified. Then, I get hit by another health problem - this time a terrible head cold - and I'm not able to "teach". And panic sets in. How can I teach my children when I can't even open my eyes for more than 10 minutes or read a book to them? And since I have chronic health conditions, I know this will happen regularly for the rest of my life - and the rest of their schooling.

I do have a small place of calm deep inside because I know things would be harder if they were in public school. I could NEVER get them dressed and ready for school on time in my condition AND I could never handle the absurd homework/project/extracurricular work they would bring home either. So - I know this is better and I move to thinking how I can do it.

Most importantly, I know my boys know how to do their work independently by now. I didn't have the energy to stock the workboxes, so I started with the basic Three R's on the white board, then I added instrument practice, glider exercise time and ended with a great Science Inventions kit I had stored for a rainy day. 

For Math, they do their regular Teaching Textbooks on CD, which they love. Boom, one R is done. 

For Language Arts, I am REALLY starting to love the Time 4 Learning website program for Language Arts. They do lessons in Language Arts (today was synonyms for Ben and pronoun nominatives for Danny) and Language Arts Extension (reading comprehension) with great videos and they seem very comprehensive. For the long reading comprehension paragraphs, I even found a wonderful FREE download for web and document audio reading called Natural Reader which will translate any text into audio so Ben can hear the paragraphs while he reads along, since he isn't 100% proficient on reading comprension yet. Second R down.

For reading, Mom can't read today, so we won't be beginning our new Newbery Honor book about a boy during the Civil War called Across Five Aprils, but we have time to start that tomorrow. I checked to see if there was an audio version at the library, but no luck :( However, the boys need to finish their self-reader, By The Great Horn Spoon, about a boy and his butler (!) during the Gold Rush, so they'll be reading to each other today while I listen. Last R completed and we could stop here and I'd still feel good, because the Reading portion also fulfills our History and Geography lessons as well (thank you, Sonlight!).

But...I did add instrument practice and glider exercise time, because we need to get used to doing those daily. And for future reference, please remind me NOT to practice my flute with the boys when I have a head cold!! Ouch in the ears...seriously...

Well, gotta go get another hot drink of something for the throat and a little something to eat, but I just wanted to stop by and note briefly that even sick in bed, homeschooling rocks. *sniff* *sniff* *gurgle* :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Week 7/Yr 2: Blink And You'll Miss It...

How can it possibly by Week 7 already?!? Where has the year gone? Really?! I do think it is a good thing that I haven't felt the need to stop and document every week of our second year, because it means I have  more of a "feel" for things this year and it's becoming more organic for me to do. 

Even though this is technically Week 7 of our second year, it is really a "planning week" for Mom (me). Daddy was out of work during the government shutdown for 16 days, so this week, he wrangled the boys to field trips while I did alot of lesson planning. Actually, we also did do some "catch-up" things like completing assembly of our solar system mobile, finishing a Sonlight novel called "The Candymaker" that we started over the summer and were reading for fun, finishing a Math quiz and having Homeschool Band with Encore Academy today. This band is great - after watching the boys the first week (and seeing another mom learning the flute), I decided to join the fun and re-start learning the flute again after quitting in the fourth grade - and we are all having a blast!

I can't figure out why it takes almost a week to plan every six week cycle, but it does! I think this is the only way that public school teachers have it easier than homeschool moms...they usually have to figure out lessons plans for one age of child each year. And many years, they repeat the lessons from the previous year! Each year, I have to advance each child a grade AND create a new lesson plan for both of them. Yes, some of the materials for my older son I can repeat for my younger, but for our history, we are using the Sonlight curriculum, so it's the same for both and advances each year. Yes, thank God for Sonlight curriculum! However...I do have to modify it for my boys abilities and speed. Some things we have to skip and some we have to supplement. 

This year, I took this time to review how the first six weeks had gone. Before school started, I had planned a six week "goal sheet" to help me figure out where I hoped to be by the end of this stretch, basically to make sure I don't get too far behind and have to cram everything in at the end of the year like I did last year! So far, we aren't too bad. I found out that we really are only doing full days four days a week, and doing catch-up and field trip adventures on Friday, so I have to adjust my next six weeks for four "real" days of work a week. 

I have managed to work art, PE and music into their schedules pretty well, but haven't found a way to work our Spanish and Programming lessons into the week as well. I know they aren't necessary, but they are the fun stuff, so I'll just have to figure out time!

We completed our first section of the second year of American History and are finishing with the Gold Rush this week. Coincidentally, the Discovery Channel is airing a new, fantastic series on Gold Fever each week and we are loving it! It shows places and events from our Sonlight novel "By the Great Horn Spoon!" and really helps when they can see the landscape of places we have read about all fall.

Our next six weeks is pure Civil War history. I'm feeling overwhelmed. It's a huge amount of very important material to cover and I want to do it justice. We have so many great places nearby to visit while we study this - we even were in Gettysburg last week for a relative's wedding! Unfortunately, I was a late bloomer American History buff, so I'm learning alot about this part with the boys, but I want to make sure I do it right. I know we can always revisit it later, but I know this is a special time with my guys and I just want to be there when they see it the first time :)

Well, I think that catches me up for now. I'm sitting on my bed surrounded by texts, curricula and spreadsheets and it's after 9pm, so I think it's time to hit the hay. One more day of "planning week", then we are off at full speed again on Monday. You may not hear from my again until after the holidays, the way things are going. Wish me luck!