Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pumpkins and Homeschooling

Oliver and Nolan are fascinated with our pumpkin. We grew it in our garden. Actually, we had a few more but they were target practice for the middle boys. William headed up the team of archers with their handmade bows and arrows and had a field day with the pumpkins.  And he thought I wouldn't notice.  Anyway, I am sure glad that he had enough sense not to ruin this beautiful gem of a pumpkin.

Our friend Amanda had a baby-- a huge baby!  Eleven pounds if you can imagine that.  We made her and her family a nice dinner so she could rest up and not have to worry about cooking dinner for her family.  When I had Caleb, a few families brought us dinner and it was such a kind gesture that I can't help but desire to bless another new mom the same way.  I am so glad that my kids got to be a part of the blessing too.
Oliver saw Andrew playing with this ball.  Of course Oliver wanted to play with it too.  He is more and more interested in doing what the other kids are doing.
Now that he has said his first word "book", I am sure he will learn the word ball very soon.
We are into our seventh week of homeschool.
While I have my act together this year more than I ever have prior years, much of the time I am feeling overwhelmed just because homeschool is my life during the week.  I'm just being honest.  I struggle to find time to grocery shop, birthday present shop, go to IEPs, and take kids to the doctors because I feel it takes away from the homeschooling.  I am learning to juggle it all, and the kids are pretty helpful in making sure things run smooth, but still.  It is something I will probably never master.  But oh well I guess.  I am trying my best.
Here is a run down of things.
Andrew is in the sixth grade.  He is a motivated, self starter and needs little redirecting.  His enthusiasm at the beginning of the year was so refreshing.  As time goes on, he is less gung-ho about school, but I never have to worry about him not getting his work done.
He is doing
Math- Prentice Hall 6th grade
Social Studies- Story of the World volume 1 with workbook and test packet
Language Arts- Glencoe Reader 6th grade, Spelling Workout F, Read Naturally 5.8/6.0, Daily Language Review by Evan Moor 6th grade, Zaner Bloser Handwriting 5, Wordly Wise 6 + test booklet, and a writing journal three times a week.
Science- Prentice Hall
Art- for fun
Since I want him to stay on top of his essay writing, he takes an online class through the charter school every Monday for an hour and a half.
Paul who is in seventh, Anastasia who is in eighth, and Sveta who is in tenth have all the same work.  They are hard workers, but I have to spend at least three hours a day with them making sure they understand what they are learning.
Since they are still playing catch up, I have them doing two full math curriculums this year.  They do Teaching Textbooks 5 all by themselves on the computer and Excel Math 5 with me.  It works great and I can see them slowly filling in the gaps. 
They do Story of the World with the other kids for social studies.
In Language Arts I feel like I hit the jackpot with them this year.  In addition to doing handwriting, journal writing, Read Naturally, Grammar, and Spelling, I am doing SRA Reading Mastery and Skill Application with them this year.  I can't say enough great things about this particular curriculum.  It teaches geography, science, reading, comprehension, vocabulary, problem solving, and order of events-- all rolled up into one curriculum.  I love it!  As English Language Learners, it challenges them in the right way rather than frustrating them.
I still get frustrated sometimes teaching it to them, but it is so much better than last year.
They are doing Houghton-Mifflin Science with a supplement of Discovery Education videos to help reinforce what they learned in the text.  They too, do art for fun.  Actually, I have made them draw every year that they have been homeschooled because I see such a difference in their schoolwork.  Most of the drawing is from a book where they have to follow many steps to complete their picture.  It may sound strange, but I believe that the drawing has helped them to be better problem solvers and has helped them overall with all of their studies.  It certainly doesn't hurt them.
Anna and William are in the eighth grade.  They are pretty good about getting their work done, but sometimes it carries over to the weekend. 
They are doing Algebra in Teaching Textbooks.  This year's math seems to be going much better for them than last year which I am pleased to see.
They have everything that Andrew has for Language Arts in their own grade with an additional curriculum that covers grammar and writing.  Since they aren't taking an online writing class, I am having them do Saxon writing-- a new thing this year.  It is great except that Anna and William don't like writing essays every single week.  Thankfully, John has been working with William on the weekends to help lighten my load.
They too are doing Story of the World.  Next week we are supposed to build a volcano-- one of those that actually erupts.  Plaster of Paris anyone?  Normally one volume covers one year, but since I am using this curriculum for many grades we are going to try and go through 3 volumes this year so they each cover what they are supposed to.  Wish me luck.
They have Science and Art, and I have given them all an incentive to work through Compass Learning Odyssey at their grade level this year.  It is an online supplement for Language Arts, Social Studies, and Math that the school offers.  I figure that since the school offers it for free, we should try and take advantage of it.
As for the highschoolers-- Galina, Julia, Annalyn, and Rachel-- they have their own teachers for their core classes.  Most of the girls take college prep classes that are over my head so I am thankful that I don't have to teach or grade those assignments.  Right now, a few of the girls are doing MacBeth, something I have no desire to help them interpret.  Still, I look over their work to see that they are doing it and I help plan their assignments for their electives like Geography, Criminal Law, and Career Choice.
And they do art too.  This in one thing that all of the kids minus Rachel can do together once or twice a month, so I encourage it.  So far art time is pretty chaotic, but I think cooperation and patience is important for the kids to learn.  I sure hope our next little art project goes smoother than our last. :)
The charter school informed us that Annalyn and Julia would have to take their college prep Chemistry class at a local community college.  My hope is that they can take this in January.  Julia will get her license in February so she can drive them so I won't have to be away from the other kids.
I'm sure it is no surprise to you when I say that I am looking forward to Thanksgiving break.
  P.S.  We have to fit P.E. in there somewhere so we have started going on two mile walks/jogs every Monday just to stay consistent.


  1. My first word was book too!
    That Oliver is a smart kid!

  2. You almost make me want to homeschool. Sounds like you have a good system in place. I love the pumpkin photos of Nolan and Oliver, too cute:-)

  3. I have to say I am amazed and in awe of you Christine! How you do all that you do is amazing (I seem to be stuck on amazed and amazing, but you are!) Your kids all so lucky to have you for their Mum :-) And of course it is a two way street - your work and devotion has created a wonderful bunch of kids.

    Marilyn from Canada

  4. That pumpkin is gorgeous! We've never had any luck with pumpkins or watermelons in our little garden.

    No wonder you feel a little overwhelmed with homeschooling. That's a lot of different subjects/books for all the kids. I'm sure the lesson planning is a nightmare! It sounds like things are going well!

  5. You are doing a WONDERFUL job with all of them! Keep up the good work!!!

    Laurel :)

  6. You guys have so much fun.
    I love reading about your family

  7. You pay taxes, what not send your children to public school?
    Then you wouldn't have to moan about homeschooling, and have time to spend with your special needs under school age adoptees?

  8. Hey Christine, if the girls have trouble with Macbeth, there's a book called "No Fear Shakespeare". It gives you the original with a translation that is easier to understand! It's pretty helpful!

  9. Fun times! What a great pumpkin! And the little pumpkin sitting by the pumpkin is a sweet heart. :)

  10. O. looks so cute with the pumpkin. I bet you were not thrilled about the target practice.

    I can imagine it's difficult to keep track of all the different classes and homework.

  11. Love the pumpkin. We didn't try pumpkins this year, but we did have moderate success with other squash. You are definitely busy homeschooling. Keep your chin up, gal! You're doing great!

  12. You need to get everyone studying the same time period and use BiblioPlan. You can STILL do Story of the World but BiblioPlan provides the Christian aspect - we have Companion textbooks for the older ones and it provides literature guides, art, Bible, geography, writing etc. Julia Nalle

  13. Good grief, anon. I do not hear Christine 'moaning' about homeschooling. I have homeschooled, and would again in a heartbeat, if we were living in the U.S. right now. I hear you, Christine - no, I don't have the same situation as you; not even half the number of children, and not the same level of special needs to deal with, but hear your love and devotion for your family in your postings!

  14. I'm glad I'm not alone in trying to find a way to do all the "extra" stuff like grocery shop! I'm with ya!

    Curious, where did you find the SRA program? I looked online but can't seem to find it. I have some ELL kiddos that use something like this!


  15. Great job entire Reed family for doing your best and holding things tight with home schooling! Didn't someone get a bow and arrows for their birthday? At the time I thought oh no! The lone pumpkin is lovely! Praying for everyone, you are am amazing large family!

  16. I thought I remembered someone getting a Bow and Arrows for a birthday.....the lone pumpkin is lovely and boys will be boys! Good for you for being on top of home schooling, I know it takes a great deal of effort and cooperation on everyone's part. Kudos!

  17. Just curious - do Paul and Anastasia still speak Russian?

  18. I'm really surprised that none of the kids are wearing helmets on those bikes! O.o

  19. Great post ! You are doing a great job Christine :)
    I was just wondering... I remember reading at the end of last year's school year that Anastasia was going to high school, does she have changed ? :)
    Hope you have a great wekk !

  20. Hi! I took my children to the pumpkin farm again. They had a blast going down the big slide. My older daughter carved the pumpkin we won last week. She carved the pumpkin with very big teeth. Pat

  21. Hi Christine! I'm so glad you updated us on how homeschooling is going. I'm homeschooling two of my four adopted kids, and I have no idea how you keep up with so many!

    I hope you don't mind me asking, but how are Paul and Anastasia's reading and writing coming along? And which level of SRA Reading Mastery and Skill Application are you using with them? My oldest son is 12 and has been home from Russia for nearly three years, but he's still barely reading. We're planning to have him tested for a learning disability, but I really have nothing to compare him to, as my other children are much younger.

    Thank you! Your blog and your family are a great inspiration for us.


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