Snow Day Struggles

Today marks the first day of “normal” that I have had in two weeks because of an ugly four letter word – SNOW. Since I have one child that still attends public school, it has been a struggle to get Ella to work on her school work while he has been home for two weeks. Yes, you read that correctly – TWO LONG WEEKS!

We aren’t used to snow really in these parts. We got hit first with an ice storm, then snow/sleet, then another snow storm over the weekend, and then more last week. Enough that it kept schools closed for two weeks which hasn’t happened here since I was like in 6th grade. That means it hasn’t happened in a LONG time!

I tried all kinds of things with Ella to get her to work while her brother was home playing Mindcraft for 2 weeks. I think I got her to work maybe 2 days of the entire time. So, I’ve been really looking forward to today! I dropped my son off at public school right when the doors opened and now I can get Ella back on track!

The only bad thing about sending my son back to public school is that by being home for two weeks, he’s decided even more that he wants to be homeschooled like his sister. Though I am considering it for him for next year, I don’t think I can have them both home and get anything accomplished with school or work for that matter. The last two weeks showed me that! So, I’ll have to deal with his complaints for the rest of the year and hope that it gets less as he gets back in to the groove of going to school.

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Changing Things Up

One thing I have learned in the first few weeks or having Ella at home, is that I need to be flexible and when I find something that isn’t working – go find something that will! I also have attended a few homeschool group events and learned a lot from speaking with other Moms. I have gotten tips, tricks, and been reassured that things will run smoothly at some point.

We used Time4Learning.com for a little over two weeks and Ella got to where she didn’t like it and she wasn’t grasping how the material was being presented. I didn’t know what I was going to do for curriculum, but then after thinking on it for a few days and researching, I came up with some new ideas.

For science, I’m doing my own thing! I am using National Geographic Kids website as well as picking some animals and other topics that we will work on. We are taking a cruise in a month for Spring Break and will be taking some excursions to see Sharks in Key West, swim with Stingrays in Grand Cayman, and also swim with Dolphins in Cozumel. For the next few weeks Ella will be working through some lapbooks that I made on each of these so she will be ready to experience these animals and know more about them!

For history, I have decided to do some Geography study that I found that was free. We will be working through a lot of different countries and regions, including Mexico prior to our upcoming vacation. We will look at stories from the country, how children live in these countries, and also preparing food from an International Kids cookbook to try some new things!

English/Language Arts, I decided to pick up some curriculum from BJU. I know, I know, that is religious curriculum but from what I previewed, it seemed OK to me so I’m going to try it out. I also picked up some spelling, health, and math curriculum from Abeka that we are going to try. I like that the Abeka math has tests and drills and I do think those are important when used to gauge understanding.

Finally, for reading, I have decided to go with Reading Eggs. It’s not perfect, but Ella will sit and play on it for an hour or more and I also picked up some books for her that include a new Fairy series so she will have plenty of reading to do. The geography and animal lessons will also provide her some additional reading opportunities that will be fun!

So, I press onward the next few weeks and see how things will progress. I’m starting to look at options for next year so that I will be prepared and I’m also taking time to figure out Ella’s learning style and what will keep her engaged. Any suggestions or feedback are welcome!

Week 1 Complete

Week 1 of homeschooling is over and I have to say, it went much differently than I had anticipated. Ella started out the week with such enthusiasm for being home and her new way to learning. That went downhill quickly as we progressed through the week. I figured that this would happen, so it wasn’t a complete surprise, but it still threw me a little with keeping her on track.

Instead of just having her pick what she wanted to work on and for how long, I moved to a minimum time frame for each subject. I got her a little kitchen timer she can set at her desk and she has to complete the time on her schedule for each subject area, including reading. We will see how this goes this week as she fully implements it on Monday.

We discovered the reading program through Rosetta Stone was horrible so I requested a refund. For right now, we are using Reading Eggs which she really enjoys. She can compete against kids around the world in various reading games and earn cards and things. This is a great way to re-engage her in reading since she had really been fighting me on it before pulling her out of public school.

I was able to also register her in two art classes this coming week that are being hosted by a local homeschool group. I’m hoping that will provide us a way to get out and about and meet some people. Also a good way for Ella to work on her social skills while doing something that she truly enjoys. I also got us tickets for a performance the Symphony will be putting on the end of February for school age children. They have already sent us a curriculum and CD to prepare for the show and I can’t wait to take Ella to her first symphony performance.

I’m looking forward to Week 2 and to see what that will hold. I also know it might be more challenging than the first if Ella decides to be stubborn!

Element-ary, My Dear

Great ideas for Science!

A Homeschool Mom

” A lesson about every single element on the periodic table.”

– Periodic Videos Team, TED Ed

Resource-Review_logoFor the past several weeks we have been doing a little research. (Okay; okay… when are we not doing a little research; right?) What was the object of our scrutiny this time? Science!

Planning for high school, we are going to be covering several main areas of study during those four short years: Biology, Astronomy, Chemistry, and Physics. While all promise to bring hours of fun and exploration, we have recently come across a few incredible resources for Chemistry and couldn’t wait to pass them on.

Periodic Videos
If you have yet to discover this awesome resource from Ted Ed, you definitely want to click on the above link. Each periodic element has helpful videos to explain what the element is, does, and how it is used. Be ready for hours of learning!

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Day 1

We made it through the first day without any issues. The only distraction was a small dusting of snow which caused my son to be on a 2 hour delay for school. However, Ella got up and began her work and besides a break to play in the dusting of snow, she worked most of the morning on her lessons on the computer.

I finally got the login for the Rosetta Stone Lexia Reading course and I have to say i wasn’t impressed. Ella didn’t like it at all after trying out Reading Eggs, so I’m requesting a refund of Rosetta Stone and I will give Reading Eggs a try for the meantime. Our Spanish and Spelling curriculum will be here tomorrow, so I’m looking forward to taking a look at that and starting to use it.

I did get us signed up to attend a student performance of our local symphony later in February. This will go well with learning the orchestra in our music curriculum and be a fun outing for us to go on. I also have Ella signed up for 2 art classes next week with a homeschool group and a Valentine’s Day party the following week.

So far so good – we will see how the rest of the week goes. It is still a transition that is for sure and the snow kinda threw me off, but each day I’m sure will present new challenges and new successes. May need to tweek things a bit here and there.

Transition Week

The week is here where Ella will stop attending public school and she is not happy about having to attend today and possibly tomorrow. She worked all weekend on her curriculum and got up this morning and worked on English/Language Arts. She’s so ready to be home with me and doing her own learning.

It’s hard because I don’t want to get in trouble with the county by letting her stay home until her drop notice goes through, but that may be what I have to do tomorrow. It’s not worth the battle and I don’t want her to be disruptive in her classroom or uncooperative because she knows she’s not going to be there much longer.

I think it will all hit me that we are doing this when she comes home today with all her stuff from her desk and extra school supplies she hasn’t used up yet this year. I’m still very nervous about this whole homeschooling thing. But, I did sign her up for a Valentine Party with a local homeschool social group and have also signed her up for an art class next week with the same group so we can get to know some other homeschool families in the area.

I just want to make it to Wednesday and have all this behind us and then the battle will begin with my son who is staying in public school for now – him not wanting to go because his sister is at home. I’ll probably wind up pulling him after he finishes this year and will homeschool him starting in 2nd grade.

Overwhelmed with Curriculum

I have to say, the first few days of researching curriculum have been overwhelming to say the least! There are so many options out there that it is hard to know where to start. As I was searching through, I was keeping in mind what subjects I wanted to make sure Ella was learning. Those included the basics: English/Language Arts, Reading, Math, History, and Social Studies. I also decided I was going to add in Spanish, Art, Music, and Technology to her curriculum. She is a kid that has been on a Mac using it since she was 2 1/2 so I definitely want her to use technology for learning as well as learn as much as she can about technology.

To start off with, I know she will have to take the Tennessee Standardized Test (TCAP) when she is in 5th grade so I wanted to make sure the curriculum that I selected for those base subjects would stick to the state standards. After a short search, I decided to try out Time4Learning.com. What appealed to me about this curriculum is the learning is on the computer as well as activities and assessments. The lessons are in short time frames and Ella can pick what she wants to work on that day from a weekly Schedule that I have set up for her. She will use this for English/Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science.

For foreign language, I really think it is crucial for children to be bilingual as they are growing up. Learning a foreign language helps her brain develop as well as prepares her for the future. I chose Spanish so that she will be able to use it when we travel to Spain and to Mexico. Also, I think Spanish will be crucial as the Hispanic population continues to grow in our country. Being bilingual opens up a lot of doors career wise to Ella. After reviewing several Spanish curriculum options, I decided to go with Rosetta Stone so that we could all learn as a family. After we have used it for awhile, I will let you know how it’s going.

I also selected Rosetta Stone’s homeschool reading program for her to work on her reading and comprehension. She is on grade level but not where I would like her for reading so I again, found a way to appeal to her love of technology and hopefully get her interested again in reading. I’m also working through a Spelling program with her – All About Spelling.

For Art and Math we are using a curriculum that I found on another homeschool site of the Greatest Musical Composers and Greatest Artists. Ella also takes guitar lessons and art lessons so those will enhance her learning.

Finally, technology is part of her curriculum and one that we will hit heavily. She will be blogging about her adventures here and she will also be starting her own site at some point in the future. We will also be using lessons from the Hour of Code for her to learn coding as part of her curriculum.

Whew – it’s a lot of stuff to come up with a well rounded curriculum. Now to figure out how to schedule it all and also to see how to fit in Co op groups and field trip groups to our schedule. To say I’m overwhelmed is an understatement, but I know it will get better with time.