Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Home School This Year

Days fly by pretty fast around here. With home school in full swing dinner often comes around with one of my kids asking what they can do to help get it started. Thank God for amazing kids like that.  I know that is their sweet way of reminding me that I do indeed have to cook dinner.
When I decided to start a week early part of the reason was to allow room to take a few days off when Nolan has his surgery.  What you don't know is that the main reason I had us start a week early was because  I was wondering how in the world I was going to get my act together with two new little ones underfoot, and I figured it would take a whole week just to fall into some manageable routine that resembled last year.
And yet God is so gracious and faithful.  
Here is what a normal home school day looks like.
By 6 am I can hear cereal being poured into bowls downstairs.  That is usually my alarm clock-- that or the  boys arguing. :)  I can hear Oliver stirring in his crib in the corner, but I let him be.  I wake up Dennis and Alex unless one of the girls beat me too it like Galina did this morning.  The boys clothes are already laid out in the hallway as to avoid waking Nolan, and after I cath Alex I leave them to be the big boys I know they can be.  "Boys, be down in ten minutes to eat breakfast."  It used to be wishful thinking on my part, but now do I rarely have to call up to them that I am setting the timer.  Yes, I set the timer.
All of the kids that go to school are gone by 7am except on Wednesdays when Caleb and Adam start an hour later.  Us home schoolers start around the same time.   And not because we are some super organized family-- it just happens to be the schedule that works for us.
Oliver eats breakfast and then sits in his highchair watching us while his food settles.  Since I mentioned his eating, I have to share a quick praise.  I have stopped all of Oliver's medications for his reflux to see if things could improve on their own.  Well they have!  Just like one of you said, as he has gotten stronger and learned to use all of his muscles and body functions, the reflux has improved so much!  Nowadays he spits up 75% less than he used too. 
Anyway, after that I move him to the living room where he sits on the floor with his toys.  At first he was offended when one of us set him down-- like how could we expect him to entertain himself.  But as we showed him how to play with his toys and he realized that Nolan is a pretty fun brother to play with, he has become very content doing this.  By 9am he is taking his morning nap.
The kids are doing quite well with home school.  I have always felt very inadequate about being the kids' teacher even though we have many teachers overlooking them.  Other than the highschoolers who have a set curriculum that is college-prep, non-college-prep, or remedial, I am the one that is ultimately responsible for choosing their curriculum.  I am the one who goes over what I think they should learn, and I am the one who needs to keep as close to the state standards while finding curriculum that fits their learning style and is easy enough for me to teach.  It is incredibly challenging for me to say the least.  So when we found out that the state test scores were in the mail for last year we were all under pressure.  How did we score?  Imagine all of our surprise when we found out that majority of all the scores went up from last year!
What a confidence booster for all of us!
So what exactly are the kids doing this year in terms of curriculum?
Here is a breakdown.
Sveta and Anastasia are doing exactly the same schoolwork this year.
For math they are doing Teaching Textbooks grade 4.  They are also finishing up Saxon 3rd grade from last year beginning at lesson 84.  We are doing one lesson a week of this.  Plus, they are doing worksheets reinforcing double digit multiplication and division.
For science they are doing Remedia Publications Reading for Details.  This is more of a language arts packet  which is what our main focus is but most of the stories are related to science.  Paul does this too.  Once they are done with that they will begin doing this.
For social studies they are doing this workbook by Frank Schaffer.  It covers a little of everything  and keeps things simple while challenging them to learn something new.
For language arts they are doing Daily Language Review grade 2., Spelling Workout C and Phonics C both by Modern Curriculum Press, Open Court Reading 3-1 book with Comprehension and Language Art workbook and Inquiry Journal.  Plus we are using a 3rd grade Writing Journal that gives lots of prompts to encourage creative writing.

Paul was supposed to do Teaching Textbooks 4 with the girls but he could not finish up TT 3 over the summer. Half way through it was very clear that he did not have a grasp on counting money so we stopped it and began working on learning how to count money.  He is doing quite well and will resume TT3 next month.  Since this particular math program is done on the computer and seems to be lacking is some areas, Paul is doing Saxon 2nd grade math too.  Though it is a grade lower, it lays a much better foundation for all future math concepts in my opinion and is actually harder for English Language learners.
For social studies Paul is doing Maps, Globes, and Graphs level A.  The work is pretty easy for him but not when he has to read the directions and figure them out all by himself.  :)  He will be done with this workbook on Friday and will begin level B next week.  As the work gets more challenging for him, we will slow down.
For language arts he is also doing the Daily Language Review and Open Court Reading 3-1 book with Comprehension and Language Art workbook and Inquiry Journal.   In addition to that he is doing Phonics B by Modern Curriculum Press, Draw Write Now Book 1, and Handwriting W/O Tears in cursive.  I must say that I am impressed with how far Paul has come in just two weeks.  At first he would hardly speak up when it was his turn to read and it took him nearly an hour to draw his first picture. He was afraid to take a chance and do any of his work unless I explained it in detail.   Every single time he finished one problem he would come up to me looking for praise.  Now he is reading with more confidence, does pages of work without me explaining a thing and comes to me looking for praise every other problem. :)

William and Anna are doing exactly the same curriculum.
For math they are doing Teaching Textbooks pre-algebra.
For social studies they are learning about important American Women through the years.  
They are currently doing  Life Science grade 7 by Prentice Hall, but I am unhappy with it.  I have since ordered two other science workbooks that will be supplemented with Discovery Ed online videos.
For Language Arts they are doing Spelling Workout G, Wordly Wise 6, a writing journal with prompts, Edcon Reading Comprehension level 9 , and Glencoe Reader's Choice Course 2.

Galina is doing the 2nd half of Saxon 8/7 for math.
She is doing the same social studies as William and Anna.
She is doing  Physical Science by Prentice Hall, but will also be changing to the new science workbooks that I just got.
She is doing Spelling Workout G, Wordly Wise 7, 8th gr. writing journal with prompts, Words on the Vine, and Glencoe Reader's Choice Course 2.

Since beginning homeschooling, I have come to enjoy looking at different curriculum.  When I take a few of the kids for their IEP services, I have three hours to kill looking through the warehouse stocked full of it.  It's such a wonderful feeling to find something that I know the kids will enjoy, and I can actually teach!
When the kids finish early which is before noon, I encourage insist they find an activity in one of these workbooks.  When they complete a page, I have them sign their name.  
Nolan has adjusted well to the new schedule.  He not only plays well by himself, but he plays well with Oliver too.  Here he is enjoying playing with the rice bowl.  It usually keeps him busy for 15 minutes to half hour.
Paul is also learning to tell time.  Here he is doing a time telling puzzle while listening to music.  He gave Nolan one of the earphones so that he could listen too.  Paul then told me that Nolan said he wants an MP3 player when he turns 9.
Anna working hard on her social studies.
Paul got this ping pong set for his birthday.  Who said we don't have a ping pong table?
Last night Debbie came over to visit.  She took me out to dinner.  I showed her my favorite Chinese food restaurant.  There were no greasy little hands rubbing my arms. . . no drinks of water to fetch. . . no mouths to feed other than myself.  It was a nice two hour break.  She even brought Russian chocolate.  We talked about things we don't post on our blogs.  Gosh it was nice. 


  1. How do you decide on which children to home school and which ones to send to public school?

  2. Loved hearing about all of the curriculums you are using. We use many of the same ones. :)

    It is soooo.... weird only having 4 kids left at home this year (down from 6 last year and 10 kids living at home just 4 years ago). I am looking forward to really having the time and energy to focus on these 4, after a few very tough years of crisis after crisis after crisis.

    So fun to have dinner out with a blog friend . . . I treasure those times.

    mama of 12

  3. How about Annalynn's curriculum? Or is she going to public school this year?

    Are Alex and Dennis in the same grade now?

  4. I'm so glad you are enjoying homeschooling. The test scores just prove that it's what you need to be doing. :)

    Have you thought about dying the rice with food coloring? I did that and my boys were thrilled! It's just a simple little thing that adds fun to the rice box. You can also dye pasta (food coloring + rubbing alcohol) and let the kids string it, sort it and mix it with the rice.

  5. Hi!I love homeschooling my children. I have an education evaluator who helps me with my children's educational needs when the needs arises.I have used Christian Light Education material for years.I like the vocational courses they offer for highschool students. Have a Blessed Year Learning with your children,Pat

  6. Homeschooling is really great and I'm sure the kids enjoy it as well. Educational kids toys is very helpful to teach new things to them especially Oliver. Pretend play is the best way his knowledge will grow. Keep up the great work christine. I really admire you.


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