Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can't hold back!!!!

So F is done with her entire portion of language arts classes (language, phonics, reading) in 17 minutes. She looks at the chart for the special sound and listens to me tell her what makes is special, I flip the chart and she reads every word. I do this on three different sounds today. She goes to her language book and does the page in less than 5 minutes, goes to the phonics book and has it done in 3 minutes. I wonder if I should move along or take it as the lesson plan has it. Gee, I want her to feel accomplished and she does but really wonder if she should be given more and move along. THEN I remember that I am willing to take two years to do first grade if she needs it. So if she is done with all the lessons for the day in only one hour is that going to be enough? 
I need a consultant!  Not that she is a fast reader, she still goes very slow as she sounds out nearly every word.  I am conflicted.

Same goes for G in her 3rd grade language. I know it is review time but remember we skipped 2nd grade language study. She enjoyed the class very much but after reinforcement of instruction her workbook page was completed in 4 minutes. I wonder if she could do two lesson per day.  I know that when you home school then it is all up to you. Go as fast or as slow as you want to. But I wonder if I should speed it up.  K thinks I wait and see how the first couple of weeks go before even considering it.  She is the mom and I will do as she wishes. That does not stop me from wondering what is best for the girls. I want only the best or at least the best effort put toward them and from them.

IT was a great day in the second day of school.  K and I spent a few minutes in the room with the girls to play for a while and gathered our thoughts and steps for the first half.  When we opened the door and said "ding ding ding class in session"  there were two girls dressed up. One was Cinderella w/ a crown and the other was an Princess of India complete w/ a shear scarf across her face.  We eagerly said....come on in princesses we have a lot to do today.   hehehehe...little did I know that they would be done quickly. We began late again but were completed before lunch.

Overall a good day but as usual I wonder if I am doing my best for them.

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day of the 2011-2012 School Year

Have you seen those t-shirts that say things like "I survived the worlds largest roller coaster"?  I deserve one for today. This is the first time that we were coming back to our school. Last year it was met with lots of enthusiasm as it was new and exciting to NOT be in school. Apparently we did such a good job of it last year that the newness is gone. F was excited with each new first grade book but G was not phased by it.  Everything went smooth with the girls. It seems the tie up was two teachers who thought they were more prepared than they were. Too much looking into the lesson plan and delaying the flow of the day. So why do I get a shirt for something that went with so much ease?  Simple indeed: because I stressed myself so much that I created a huge climb to the top and a plummet downward with a hard twist in the middle.  Funny how a person can do that to themselves.

You see, G and F did not expect great things from K and myself.  They just expected it to begin, to flow, to learn and to end.  I had hoped to see jumpy girls that would need a calming voice to encourage a positive learning environment. Sure, they had a couple of moments that they got off track in a little conversation but not any huge distractions. It was funny as today I referred to K as the principal of Geralds Learning Academy and the girls giggled to hear that. It got us all off track as K explained that she was many jobs as a mother of home schooled children.  Do you find that it is easy to get off track too?

The poor little weather frog got some clothes on but not much. It was a hot day and F put on some sunblock in his hands.  We reviewed all the field trips that are planned so far and they wanted to know if that was all we are going to do this year. Their eyes lit up when the heard we would do the Magic House Home school Monday again and are looking forward to the Wolf Sanctuary.

What to do tomorrow is the next point to address. First, we will get to the room before the girls and review quickly together the intent of the lesson plans. F's plans are simple but G's become a bit integrated together as we advance her onto her level of ability. K did a great job at making lunch a joy for them as well by having them make their own little pizzas.  It makes a huge difference having the house organized before the lesson began as living in a home that is less cluttered just feels simpler to me.  I am proud at how well the girls addressed their first day of school as we actually did complete lessons today, unlike most first days in the brick and mortar school that has to first cover all the rules and orientation to a new room and teacher. 

I did spruce up the reading corner a bit but the wall decor remains the same as is the calendar wall and weather wall. These items are perfect for them still and no need to redo the entire thing. Other wall decor changes as the lessons and season change. The shelf above the reading corner has been filled with some items we use but the closet in room is a tiny step in with shelves all on one side that we can keep our items on and the clutter of it out of sight.  G liked the direction that the third grade language was going.

Oh yes, even with the teacher delays we were finished by 1258 with quality education and lunch.

Friday, August 26, 2011


I did not believe it would happen. We have completely organized our class area and ready to begin on time first thing Monday morning.
Finally packed up are samples of last year's work (just in case we find have to show proof) and the items we will use in about four years again when Owen is ready for school.  Walls are wiped and the new calendar is up and ready for discussion. The dress me for weather frog is eager to put some clothes on again. The classroom rabbit has been returned to the classroom area from the living room.  The desks are clean, the shelves are organized and we are ready for fun.

Last year I had a sign up to stop the whining and cries of "can't". It said --I Can, I Do, I Will... I Can do ANYTHING I JUST HAVE TO TRY------ This year I made a sign for the front of the classroom door that shows the girls making bread last year and two snapshots that we called their school photo.  It welcomes them back to Gerald's Learning Academy:  Where anything is possible and learning is fun.  I think I like that one best.

I did get all the new wires and cables that were bunny chewed and replaced all my dry erase markers.  I do not usually use chalk but the girls enjoy a chalkboard from time to time so I got some new chalk.  Last night I spent hours getting the "schedule" completed so that it was neat each time for break would match up. We will begin at 0900 and take a break around 1005. We will return and begin again by 1025 and  break for lunch about one hour later. Following lunch we will come back for our variable class which may take 20 minutes or 1 hour depending on the project we do. I expect school to be completed between 1235 and 1315.  We are very flexible overall but find that the girls need a bit of structure right now, including timeliness in completing the few responsible tasks in the home. 

I cannot believe my life has come to this. I am an educated woman and work in an ICU with critically ill clients every Saturday and Sunday but on weekdays I doodle on construction paper.  It is a blessing to have this opportunity to teach them again this year. Sure, this is not rocket science, but I may be making a scientist or a missionary or a nurse or doctor or a loving mother and someday grandmother by putting my foot forward and take this on with joy in my heart. I do take this calling very seriously.  I have met some wonderful parents and children who are certainly doing well because they are home educated. I have also met some that I quietly wonder about. 

I have found that G has hit that giggle point in her life and enjoys a good joke. I hope she can control it during lesson time because I find it so enjoyable that I am likely to get into trouble with the mom if I break out in a giggle too.

Now I can kick back and wait until Monday morning. (sort of as I do have to work this weekend)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More than what is learned in a classroom

This past week the television has not been on. We, as on extended family, have been getting the house in order. Not my house but the house that G and F live in. It took all of us but everything is in its place. Well almost everything, we have a clean learning area but the items in that area need to be arranged for the new year. I let G and F know right away that we needed and expected their help. I gave them the excuse that K is pregnant and I am getting too old to crawl along the floor picking up things but then I also told them that they really need to take on the accountability in the family to help "make it go".

They really seemed to take on the teachings this week and did not complain about what needed to be done. When we reached their toy area I sat back and gave direction on how to manage and clean the area. They need that right now, we all understand how it is when you look at a task and are not sure where to begin.  I hope that this is an ongoing thing. I believe that one other advantage to home education is that it is more about developing a complete independent effective adult. To do that you include them into the daily grind of homemaking, you take the extra minute it takes for them to help pay for an item at the store, you cover a grocery list and assess the needs of the household, you develop a menu together, you fold laundry and put the items where they belong.  This is an area that I know I failed as a mother. I went to work, gave them everything and expected nothing. WOW, let me tell you that it has shown in both of my adult children.

My own children learned much outside of their brick and mortar school as we were an active household. But it is only in the last two years that my 30 yr old son is taking full responsibility of his life. K, the mother to G and F is 24 yrs old and she is a great mom but it is only because she is now a SAHM that she is managing the homemaker skills. I just did not include them on a daily basis and so it was their disadvantage as an adult.

Last night my son took the time to teach G how to ride her bike without training wheels. She should have had them off before now but was too afraid. So, she did not ride her bike much as she did not find it a lot of  fun anymore. Of course, training wheels slow down a person of her age and size. Uncle D was wonderful, she was on her own in no time and then he taught her how to lean into a turn and get started on her own. She was so proud of herself, and told me that she did not know riding a bike could be so much fun.

Overall it has been a week of valuable lessons even though our structured lessons do not begin until next week.

OH, I almost forgot......... I got  the co-op email last night and they announce a group movie that include a 67 page lesson plan. It is a true story called DOLPHIN TALE.  We are looking forward to this. Even Grandpa wants to go.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gotta Get My Groove On

We are going to begin classtime on Monday but the classroom was very much abused during the summer break. I emtered the room to find wonderful artwork on the white boards and all the dry erase markers in need of replacement. Crates moved around, wall hangings dropped to the floor. You see, we teach in a room that does not flow into required living space but apparently living is managed to flow into it.

I can imagine them playing school when no one is around. I can imagine them in a good game of hide and seek and thus crates moved and little ones packed under them.

What I did not imagine was that it would take me days to get this room ready for school days.  K has been doing well and no more bedrest or light duty. Being the mother of K of course I refuse to permit her to do so much heavy work and wow her house really got out of cotrol with all the things that have been going on. So for the past two days we have all been doing deep, deep cleaning. Sure, it is not my house but K had so much time that she could not do much and I do not want her bending and lifting. That is where the girls come in. F and G are both small enough that bending down is not such a chore. We have the entire upstairs clean as a whistle except for the redecoration of the nursery as this time there will be a boy in the room.   Everything is in its place and it was nice to see it finished.

I began on the classroom downstairs and F's room is all in order but tomorrow we will all head down the stairs until it is finished or until 4pm which ever comes first. WHY am I helping?  Like I said, as mother I do not want K to overdo it as this is her last attempt for a third child. Additionally, I have to be there four days per week when we have class and it is so much nicer to begin the year with all in place.

Things I must do before I move on in the classroom:
1. wipe down walls
2. get new wall tacky to display items on the wall
3. clean the reading nook, seems they took some crackers to their nook to read with them
4. wash the dry art from the white board and pray for the best
5 replace light bulbs
6. pack away last years stuff and keep until this time next year
7.get the calendar up to date with seasons, month and schedule
8. get new printer cord as the bunny chewed this one
9. get printer ink
10. get printer paper
11. sharpen pencils
12 inventory colored pencils and crayons then decide if we need new items
13. new glue
14. wash desk-- I think each girl washes their own
15 clean carpet
16. get new curriculum out of boxes and into its place.

I had hoped to be at the Botanical Gardens again today but we have to get this done first.
Finally, G must learn to ride that bike without her training wheels. That is where Uncle D comes in. He is going to work with G tomorrow night for us. Parents can't do it, my health won't let me and Uncle D loves to make memories with G and F.

In the middle of this I must not neglect my own home. I have two bedrooms that I am going to redo. I have carpet pulled from one but more clutter built in it. I must clear out the other and pull carpet as well. I can go without these rooms as it is just Roger and myself but when the grands sleep over I want new rooms for them. I usually have these rooms closed off vents and closed doors otherwise. I want it done before the new baby as I always like having a baby bed up in my house so when a grand sleeps they are safe and comfy.

I also have to prepare for my Lyceum classes to teach as well so I must stop draggin' my feet.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Field Trips

So far we have twelve field trips on our school schedule. That is between yesterday and April 17, 2012.  Four of them will be participating in the Magic House Homeschool Monday program. It will cost $3/person and is only 2 hours long but is just enough. The girls also look forward to a totally unhealthy lunch of a footlong hot dog as the SONIC down the road on the way home. Two of them are to the Missouri Botanical Gardens with one of those under out belt so far. BUT...

I have not yet included any activities at the St.Louis Science Center or Legislative Day in Springfield, Illinois just to mention a few. I have not yet included the trip to Purina Farms or The St. Louis Art Museum

I am not sure how to fit in everything else with all of our plans. Lets hope that we all have the energy to endure this school year.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Not Back to School Field Trip

It seems that this week is the start of our local school districts. Several begin today for a part day while others had this day as their first full day of attendance.

K called me this morning and thought it was a great day for a spur of the moment field trip. Their friends in the community have headed back. they saw old co-op friends at the meeting last night and are beginning to feel the pressure is on to begin again.  I think K had a great idea!  All of the other children are attending school and the local centers will have a much smaller crowd. SO WHERE TO GO?

Missouri Botanical Gardens is what she tells me.  OK, I have not been for longer than I can remember.  She pick me up and off we go.  The girls had a wonderful time.  We only spent two hours there as it was getting rather humid and hot and we got a late start to the day. We wanted to be sure as well to get out of St. Louis and back to Illinois before the traffic crowds the bridge.  So many things have been added since I was last there and it was not just a walk through a garden.

We are going to be sure to include The Missouri Botanical Gardens into our curriculum plans.  I am probably going to join as a member like I did the zoo and have a huge savings over the course of the year.  We will begin sooner so we are not stuck in the heat, as K is really blooming with new baby growth she was feeling pretty darn hot and miserable at the end.  We were happy to discover that there is a water play area and the girls cooled off a bit while playing.

We are not going to begin our first structured learning class until August 29th but will consider this day into our school year and call it our Kick off of Not going Back to School. We will repeat it again on Tuesday next week as a Still Not Back to School  trip.  I will have them do the tree hunt next week that is taking place as part of the learning center's program. 

Here are a few pictures of our day:

F the youngest, K the mother, G the oldest

There are blown glass sculptures through the gardens. G loved it which is great as it is in the lesson plan this year.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I found out why and now I can move on

I CAN POST COMMENTS AGAIN.  Turns out that I click on the "remember me" button and it tends to block post ability.  NOW I can post about my G and F again.

I spent yesterday with a father who is considering home school for his daughter. -A- is a girl scout w/ G's troop and a beautiful child. So many changes in the cut backs of their small community school.  It is of course his decision but I hope they do make the home school choice. It would not effect my life but I know it will have a positive impact on -A-. 

I still await the Language Arts books for G, otherwise I would have all the lessons and days planned out until November 5th. 

We are looking into a trip to Purina Farms .  K remembers doing this as a girl scout and wants to take the girls.  We will be doing a field trip with the co-op in September.  That trip will be to the City Museum in St. Louis.  The girls love the city museum and the group rate is a huge savings, additionally, they will see familiar faces.

G is going to do a scrapbooking class during Master's Lyceum and we can use the pictures from these trips so she has a nice supply and choices.

Posting Comments

I am apparently not able to access my google account in order to make comments to friend bloggers.  I do not understand this.  I can follow by friends but cannot post to them.  It is frustrating.

I wanted to tell Kayla congrats on winning the curriculum!  I wanted to let her know that G got the postcard yesterday.

I wanted to tell Leslie so much about the blessings she has received. 

I want to share but it won't let me.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Co-op Meeting was so helpful

We joined up with the local co-op group when we began home school last year.  The group we joined is called the St. Clair County Christian Home Educators (SCCCHE). Apparently there is yet another increase in members this year. It seems there will be about 234 families this year. THAT is families, not children.  I like groups like this because there is a wealth of information and support from the veterans of the group.  As the group grows it is also amazing the additional other talents that come along and the advancement of the web page and enrollment via electronic media is wonderful.  We are on the furthest fringes of our county, which is geographically rather large. The leadership of the SCCCHE emphasizes to members that the center focus of our schools should remain in our homes and not on the group. They encourage participation but not to the extreme of doing it all. 

Last night we previewed a DVD called The Trojan Horse as well.  Our area does not offer public school at home like the video was talking about but I did hear a person discussing it in their district.  I continue to be blessed by living in Illinois. We are certainly free in regards to parent choices and education in our state. That is hard to believe as Illinois is otherwise a very controlling state with lots of government involvement.  For one long state we tend to be ignored in the South and many only think of Chicago and Cook County, I might add we do have corrupt politics in our state. Gosh, our last several governors are serving prison terms.  This year the co-op will have a contact person for matters with HSLDA which is only a stronger indicator that our state has the potential to see more bills introduced that will effect our home school freedoms.  Last April, 4000 homeschoolers appeared in Springfield when a bill was first introduced. It quickly died but now that they know we have a strong voice and will be a large presence I expect to see further matters to be more subtle when presented. 

Once again I rambled off subject. If you think I am bad at then when I type, you should try having a conversation with me. ;)

So we also have information about our enrichment program for the semester. WOW, I was so off on the anticipated start date when I did lesson plans until October 28th.  It will mean that I must reschedule two weeks worth of lessons and of course it rolls down hill.  Seems that my lesson plans will now be completed until November 3rd. 

It turns out that I will be teaching my class twice this semester. I had thought once was plenty but told the coordinator to use me where I am needed. So it was a surprise to find that I am needed during the last hour or there would not have been other choices for the younger kiddos.  It will be a long day. 

As it turns out, one of G's girl scout buddies is also to be home schooled this year. Her father will be the primary teacher. Their family joined the co-op last night. Their decision comes on the heels of a school closure. It seems there is this tiny community that has a small old building for their school. The district home is in another larger community and they closed this school and are bringing all the children to the main school building.  This makes a very long day in these rural communities of an hour or longer bus ride to school and back again, additionally, the community the live in is very different than the one they will travel to.  Although diversity and understanding are important, it is also important to surround your children with those who share your values and faith.  They are lost right now, much like me one year ago. I have so much to learn about home education but will share with them what I have found so far.

Well, once again I am off base of my original topic. What was my topic?  Oh well, I guess it is time to go outside and enjoy this cooler temperatures this morning.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Am Fired Up Now

We went to the materials display that A Beka Book had yesterday. We went through the third grade language arts material and compared it to the second grade material.  It will be a much better choice for G than the second grade material.  I know she must still work a lot on her language skills for good sentence structure which is part of the second grade material but the book overall was not going to be a challenge.  She is ready to move on otherwise.

Jeff Sullivan is the rep in Missouri and we hopped across to South County St. Louis so we could discuss it with him and look over the material.  The rep that serves Illinois is not nearly as knowledgeable or kind-hearted like Jeff.  We met him only once before and liked him right away but he remembered us and much about our needs. Still, we went to the local guy when it was time to make our purchase. Turns out that the South St. Louis location was an easier and equal drive for us. So for now on I do not want to make any purchases without Jeff getting the financial credit and reward for a job well done.

Back to subject matter:  Jeff really did a great job of showing us why we should go third grade for all the language art subjects if we felt the Language book was too simplified for G.  Oh yes, we really had to think on that one indeed.  Third grade spelling?  How can I do that when I failed so badly at conducting even first grade spelling?  I MUST add that after looking at the second grade spelling I am not worried about it at all, it was all so similar again.  So we developed a plan that would use the third grade language material for all of her Language Arts but will incorporate some of the second grade spelling into the lesson as a "review".  We had her read the middle of the first reader as well of third grade and it was a perfect fit.

K made a decision and  purchased the items needed.  Seeing that she had already purchased all she thought she would need it was an added and unplanned expense, so she bought the first two readers and get purchase the others in several months.  I am indeed feeling fired up today!  It excites me to see that although G and F's parents tend to want a set curriculum they are able to see that modifications must be made to meet the needs of the students. They knew that but as the other teacher in the room I was afraid that they would stick to the set program since it is so well put together for you.  Now I am going through and putting all the lesson plans into one fine tuned plan for each child to meet their needs.  The lesson plan books that are provided are guiding me every step of the way but lesson itself is specific to each child's needs. 

I know that Jeff's comfortable, gentle guidance helped K to feel comfortable about her choices.

THEN there is G!!!  So we get to the car and I tell her that I am just not sure what grade she is in anymore.  So we will call it second-third grade.  As we told her that her math would be second grade but her language would be third grade she seemed happy to hear it.  I loved the toothless smile (fronts are missing) as she heard that I know she wants to learn new things and be challenged rather than do the same old thing over and over.  She told me "as long as it is not too hard"  then giggled and said "every time I am afraid that it will be too hard I find out that it was not so hard but fun".  YES YES YES  I love to hear that she still finds learning FUN.  I think if K would not have made that choice we might have lost that. 

We plan to begin on August 29th this year.  We have the co-op field trips that we will participate in on the calendar and await the announcement of the co-op enrichment program called Master's Lyceum. Tonight is the first co-op gathering of the new "school year".  One of G's girl scout friends is apparently going to be home schooled this year too and the family will be attending the meeting. 

As it goes, I am off to complete the remainder of F's lesson plans for the first 8 weeks.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Surprise for ME

I have mentioned before that I work every Saturday and Sunday as a nurse.  I have mentioned that I have a physical ailment called Antiphospholipid Syndrome.  Have I mentioned that when it flares I cannot think, talk or walk straight? I know I have shared that it is an autoimmune state that causes my blood to develop blood clots spontaneously but some times the blood is just too thick and one person I know nick-named it Sludge Blood. So when it is no flowing like it should it impairs me greatly and usually symptoms that are neurological in nature. So I did not work this past weekend and have been a useless homemaker as well. I am grateful it is still summer break.

Since I learned about APS I got to know my case and my body and what worked well for me, but years ago I did get online and find others with APS. At first a support structure seemed like a good idea but it did not take me long to find that I also needed to connect with Christians who share my faith and my syndrome. I did not like the negativity that I often found and in the support group we were forbidden to pray for each other as it would offend others. I later found the person who headed up the group was Wiccan although raised Catholic.  The Lord was guiding me away from the group but it was clear that I had made a few friends there that share my life views not just my illness.  I have maintained those relationships and had met face to face those I am close to except for on person.  WELL, this morning I met her. She let me know yesterday that she was heading my way and it was a surprise indeed.  She was on her way to Chicago from Texas and she stopped and spent the day with me.  I feel so lifted inside to meet her face to face. There are three people I developed an ongoing friendship with.  Two years ago I traveled to PA to met one. About four years ago friend from Houston met me in St. Louis and we drove to Chicago to meet several others. The friend from Houston also took a trip to D.C. with me last fall. My friend in PA and I are very close and speak often on the telephone. We represent four different decades. 

Since I have been in a flare I was not much fun but we spent our time together in great quality. She understands what APS can do to a day in a moment without notice. She accepted me for exactly who I am, which as the moment is a very poor housekeeper and a fridge that needs to be filled along with piles of laundry that have had to go undone for nearly a week.  We spent the morning moving slow and then late morning in the pool before the sun hit it.  My mother dropped by and had one of my grandsons with her, K brought G and F by as well. 

I feel very blessed to have had this opportunity. I pray that the travel and stress of the trip do not interfere with her health.  She will not return to Texas until Tuesday next week so please keep her in your prayers as well. She is 29 yrs old and traveling alone with her very small dog. She reminds me very much of myself in my twenties. 

So here we are after a morning of pool time. Chissy and BethAnne

Friday, August 5, 2011

comments won't post

I am having a hard time posting comments to the blogs I follow. 
I have attempted to respond to Nikkie at the TN Rose blog and Kayla at arrowwood but it will not go

R U having issues?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Skipping 2nd grade language book?

I have gone all through every lesson for the second grade language arts. G will need to do the spelling but I have gone through the 2 grade phonics test book and she could test out on each one I am certain. I went through the lesson plan and cannot see why I would be reviewing vowel and consonant sounds with her still two weeks into school when she completed the entire curriculum last year and learned ALL the phonic sounds. Sure the last 10 maybe review but begin with a vowel?  NO WAY

Kelley agrees completely with me so she is going to have G read the last page of each reader in the program. If she can do it without stumbling and delayed sounding out of words then we MUST move on. The whole idea is to avoid a boring school but to challenge their bright little minds. I feel like I will be holding G back if I do this.  I might as well teach her w/ F and only teach one level at a time. HAHAHA -- poor G would be so upset to b held up by her baby sister.

ANYWAY WE are going to a material display next week and talk w/ the rep that covers Missouri. I do not like the attitude of the rep that covers Illinois. He does not come to this area enough anyway and the young helpful man who uses this material for his own children cut his own commission in telling us to wait for the sale that was coming up.  He knew we would go to the IL rep then.  

I see that lesson 146 has ABC order, my hubby says that I have to cover it.  I tell him that G can do ABC order already and even three letters into a word.  I went on to show him the lessons and he agrees as well to find what will challenge G.  The books will not go to waste as we still have F to go and then there is Baby O who is going to be born before the end of the year. 

I know, I am rambling but I feel that way in my head as well. IT was not a good day for me with my APS so my mind is scattered.  Just venting once again about this whole 2nd grade language thing. DONE  Good night!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Same stuff different year?

I just spent the evening going through the A Beka Lesson Plan books for second grade. I know that the year will begin with review but feel like I am not going to introduce much new at all to G this year. I am not the person to decide the curriculum as that is the job of her parents. I like the program the bought and it is laid out well for me to follow but it seems very a-climatic at this point. I am going to have to use my imagination to keep it fresh for her and I really think I will need to skip the stuff that makes her feel like she is in kindergarten again and purchase the 3rd grade Language curriculum.  I no longer worry about the parts we did not achieve in math during 1st grade either as it really is too basic and I may have to skip ahead by 59 lessons. 
I believe in review and reinforcement but not to the point that we are all bored.  There is another materials display in the area next week, I will have to attend this.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Boring compared to others

I have decided that we must be boring home school educators.  I read about how much effort that others are putting into their lesson plans and choosing the items for each subject.  They seem to be devoted indeed.

Then I look at us.  I have found that I justify our use of one curriculum. WHAT? That is just crazy I tell myself. We all have similar yet different reasons to homeschool and our children learn in many different ways. I find that one set program gives me direct guidance to assure that G and F are meeting certain outcomes. I also find that I supplement their lessons with other items as well to enhance and enrich the experience.

Their books and the lesson plans for this year have arrived but I did not dive into them yet as so many other things seem to be happening.  I am setting a more specific schedule and have determined out start date will be August 29th.  That will still be about a week after the traditional schools and end sooner. We have built into the schedule extra school days as we know that the baby coming will put an unexpected break into our pattern.  I have cautioned the girls that this year we are more prepared about what to expect and what we need to do better at teaching. This is only our second year to homeschool. 

First, I am going to begin sooner in the day rather than later. It seems once lunch break happens no one is as interested in learning and I know I was not as interested in teaching. SO we will begin on a traditional time schedule of 8:30 am.....ok maybe 9:00 (haha).  Each subject will have a reasonable lesson time and time to complete work. Work that is not completed will end up being evening homework for them.  Well, at least for G that will be the case as it is rather unfair to expect more from F than I did from G in the same class--and F is very young yet to push that.  F will need direct lesson time like I did last year for G.   I also know that some lessons were just to draggy and needed to move along more, with some lessons being combined to just one lesson.  G can take it, she does not like to be bored and I am afraid I did that as the year went on.  So this year I am going to be better at planning ahead and know when to combine several lessons into one.  Building onto knowledge is one thing but we must move on. It seems we have been teaching the same stuff for a long time at the end of the year.  I so expect to find that we begin the 3rd grade language before the end of the year. 

I know that I am going to expect more from G in her writing efforts and improvement in the neatness of her written work.

We will once again participate in the co-op's enrichment program they title Master's Lyceum.  One parent will be using the Magic Tree House books and G loves that series.  I bought her the whole set for her birthday but then halted her reading them so she could be part of this group.  I am not sure what F will be excited to participate in but I think she is ready to leave the Learning Centers program and move on to the FIAR series. 

F is beginning the first grade curriculum but will still need to master more skillful reading before I start the first grade books. She completed the K phonics and will go on in the 1st grade book there however. I hope to see a better flow of phonics blend rather than a breakdown of each word.  Her math will be all 1st grade. 

We will also seek a Daisy troop for her to join. She is young but she will be 5 by the end of October so I do not see why she should hold back there.

Finally, we will pray that my health keeps up and we can keep doing this. I want to get my grandchildren to college age via homeschool. I think F may want regular school at some point but I do not think that G will ever consider it again.

Well, those are my thoughts for today.  No exciting strategic moves in our class, just some real old fashion teaching and learning. Of course we will keep doing the programs at the zoo, the magic house and the science center as well.

Monday, August 1, 2011

We took a trip to Tennessee:

G finds fossils

A tiny, insignificant spot called McKinnon, Tennessee to be exact.  Located in McKinnon, or just above it on the ridge you will find 107 acres of heritage. My heritage to be exact, which passes onto my grandchildren G and F.  I am certain that I cannot find the words to tell this entire story but I will attempt it anyway.

We got on the road on Monday morning and met up with some cousins at a motel in Erin, TN.  By 3pm we were at the family cemetery. Wait a moment, I must back up first in order to better reveal why being at the cemetery was a moment worthy of memories.

We met with Lisa and her son Kade.  I met them two years ago for the first time. Lisa would be my second cousin, once removed and Kade her change of life child. They are from the Detroit area and as a child Lisa would travel to Clarksville, TN to visit the "other" side of the family. But she never came to the Mathis side. You see, her mother left the area after the death of  Rosa Mai. Rosa Mai was my grandfather's sister.  Without a lot of detail let me just say that this family lived life as hard as one could ever imagine. They were extreme in many ways and there are many family tragedy stories in their past.  So Lisa's mother, named Rose did not return to the Mathis homestead.   She was only 14 when she left and traveled to Detroit area.  It seems that many left the area and either went toward Detroit, MI or to Granite City, IL; both cities with iron or steel industry which had been a large part of the McKinnon, TN experience.

Back to the cemetery:   So there she was. Elderly, gray and unsteady on her feet making her way through the terrain and looking upon her grandparents headstone for the first time in her life.  Her memories a bit sketchy overall as she was raised in Clarksville and had only come once each year for a week when her father had vacation form work. She recalls a small cemetery but of course it only had a few graves present.  She had two Aunts and several babies there when she was a child. Since then it has of course filled more.  My grandparents rest there as well.  She had never thought this was something she would ever see.

From the cemetery we went down ridge/hill to the creek.  To reach the homestead you had to actually ford the creek. Once again with the assistance of  Lisa, Rose made her way to the creek. We placed a chair in the cold spring feed creek and Rose sat with joy as the cold water rushed across her feet and ankles. The water remains crystal clear as it flows across the red river rock, the "Dover limestone"  and the many fossils found as well.  Rose was very quiet about the experience but you could see in her aging blue eyes the moments of reflection into her past. She looked off into the far distance with a peace upon her face that can only be seen to understand. 

After hours of play in the creek we headed back to the motel. Rose was exhausted and Lisa and I were concerned that she had done too much. But Rose was a go-getter and kept telling us to stop worrying about her. This trip was important to Rose, he spouse of 66yrs has just passed and she wanted to get to Tennessee before she passes too. Funny thing about "old age", you have a direct, realistic view of life and how precious the moment is.

The next day we actually made it onto the homestead (living quarters) location. You can no longer ford the creek to get into it as a tornado came through years ago several very large trees now block that access. But there is an old wagon trail way that we called the back way in. You travel along the base of the ridge and cross one small stream from the many springs the feed the creek. We needed the four wheel truck for this. When we reached the clearing Rose could only see the space where it all once stood.  The original well is still there and the rubble from the chimney is all that remains.  I drove her to the spot that the old root cellar was at and parked there. When I told her we were right where the root cellar was she had some reference to it all.  So we took a chair to a location that would have been the porch and she looked upon the ridges. She recalled the barn that was there for a while when I was young and other structures that were never there when I was a child.  Once again she sat back in her chair with reflection of past in her eyes. She told me how they use to take the train from Clarksville and would be picked up by a mule and travel on the buckboard to Granny's place. They would ford the creek on the buckboard. She recalls the long narrow table in the screened  room and that others would stand behind them during the meal swinging sticks above them to keep the flies away. I do not recall any sheep on the farm but I was there after 1961 and she was there in 1930, she says they would slaughter a lamb for the occasion of a visit and have a wonderful feast.  This was the one week every year she looked forward to. He mother was a nurse and her father was a grocer.  My own mother recalls Rosa Mai coming to give the kids their shots each year.
We also spent the day at the creek the second day, my sister and her daughter joined us. My niece lives only about one hour away and my sister was taking holiday for the week at her home.  It ended up that my sister stayed one night with us and went to the 1850's farm located on the LBL area (land between the lakes). It was a hot day so a bit hard to enjoy since we got a late start of things but enjoyable anyway.  As a homeschooler you find that everything you do tends to have a lesson in it.  That was no different in this trip. There were lessons about family heritage, "pig iron" blast furnaces made of limestone and eventually, a farm of the 1850's.  They had already spent the day on our homestead so we could use our imagination and put this typical working farm in our holler and suddenly you have a realistic lesson.

We do  intend to return for a regular field trip in the fall. Kelley will not be able to participate but I am sure I can find other co-op friends who would take the trip. Also in that area is Fort Donnelson, where a grandparent lost his life in a Civil War battle.

On the last day of our trip we said out good-byes to Rose and family at the motel. We then went to the creek near the spring and played until it was time to hit the road and return home. It is only 232 miles away and an easy trip. If gas prices were not so high we could enjoy this more often. OH yes, the spring is a spot that comes from a rock under a large old tree. Many years ago my grandfather put a pipe in the crack of the rock and the water has been flowing every since then.  This was the only running water my mother ever knew for many years as well. They went to the spring to gather the water for the home then carried it back, UP HILL when the buckets were full.

So as a cute gesture G wanted to do the same She filled a 6 oz cup with spring water and walked all the way up the hill to the location of my mother's childhood home.
Here are some photos of our experience, including the walk up hill with a glass of water. LOL--
F plays with niece's dog

coming back downstream

f dresses a pioneer

g dresses a pioneer


kitchen as I recall it at my great grandmother's at Tennessee


G and F meet Rose

There is a spring at the bottom of this hill and the girls are carrying a glass of water up the hill like their Gram had to when she was little.  HAHA  next time they should try two full buckets.