Sunday, February 22, 2015

Two steps forward, one step back

Schooling at home has (for the most part) been fantastic.  The kids are able to do an entire day of school in a few short hours every day.  Our mornings generally consist of math, science (chemistry right now), spelling, and social studies.  Caden has been doing the Life of Fred which is fantastic.  So fantastic in fact, that I ordered the entire series Friday.  Keali will start at the beginning (Apples) only because she will love the stories and it will concrete her current knowledge.  Caden is a few lessons from starting the Fractions book, but I feel confident he will want to go back to the Apples.  I am guessing he will be through the 6-7 books in a week or two.  The course is really incredible.  It has laid a foundation of knowledge both in math, and outside of math.  I suspect we might even try it for Chemistry and some of the other courses when the kids are a bit older.  In the mean time, Keali has learned basic fractions and is now doing long division with remainders (in second grade).  I never would have guessed when she was in public school that she was capable of moving forward in the math progression so quickly.

For science, we have been using Pandia Press: Chemistry.  It has been really wild to see them grasp concepts and knowledge.  They can explain the various parts of the periodic table, tell you number of protons, neutrons, and electrons in each atom, draw electron dot diagrams, etc.  Our last lesson put us into molecules, and they built molecules with gummy bears and toothpics.  I have loved the curriculum and the labs that are already created.  The lab sheets are one more way to ensure they are getting the information.

As happy as I am with our math and science, one of my favorite things EVER is the spelling program we have landed on.  We just bumped up to level 3 of All About Spelling.  The program is great, because instead of having the kids memorize a list of 10-15 words every week, each day they learn a new spelling rule.  For example, we have learned that the "c" makes an /s/ sound when followed by i, e, or y.  Why didn't anyone ever tell me this when I was growing up?!  As a function of how the spelling is taught, they use a whiteboard every day to write loads of words, phrases and sentences that pertain to the given rule of that day.  They don't realize that they are doing "writing" and "grammar" as well.  We talk about capitals, punctuation, and sentence structure just as side effect.  Win.  They both hate "writing" but don't complain a bit about the spelling.

For social studies, we may do anything from learning about a new country on the globe, to watch a series called "How the States Got Their Shapes".  It has revealed some holes in their knowledge.  One of the last things Keali did in public school was an extensive study of Texas.  Yet, she had no idea that Texas was once Mexico until she watched the show.  When their little light bulbs shine after learning something new, it is fun to see.

Of course we supplement everything we do with trips to the museum for classes (dissections, cave critters, history of espionage, density classes, etc).  They also both attend piano lessons once per week.  Both are also taking weekly ice skating lessons, but Keali is interested in skating much more frequently, so it looks like we will be at the skating rink 4-5 times per week.  We are able to often meet other homeschooling families at these events, as well as the volunteering events they do a couple of times per month at the food bank.  We also have met some other kids online.  One of Caden's favorite people is a boy in Alberta, Canada who he Skypes with on the iPad, while playing  Minecraft on the PC.  Caden has informed us that we will be visiting Canada soon.  (-:

The kids generally love homeschooling.  Of course, every kid has his day.  Those are the days that I want to crawl under a rock, or perhaps send them to some far away boarding school.  The day after a "bad day" is usually fantastic.  Perhaps they are feeling guilty?  Ha.  Of course not.  The good news is that I have found countless groups of secular homeschoolers that I can use as resources, for venting, or generally for bouncing ideas or curricula off of.   I rarely feel alone in this venture.  We are so fortunate to have this opportunity, to be able to learn according their interests and capabilities, to be able to travel for learning opportunities, to be able to encourage their individuality.  I hope we are able to do it until they are ready for college classes.  I get that not everyone wants to homeschool, not everyone thinks they can or are able to homeschool.  I used to be that person.  But for our little family of four, it has been a game changer.