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Wee Pip

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  1. We are in Essentials this year, at a brand new campus. Like pp said, you will be watching the long TWSS DVD to understand how to teach the writing portion of it, and you might re-watch sections of it again further into the year. Also, the Grammar section - you'll be copying the charts just like the students have to do so that you can understand each chart and teach it from memory. You'll also be planning a math game for the kids to play during each Essentials session. I don't tutor Essentials, but I tutor Foundations, and I sit beside my child during Essentials class. I really like having someone else present the IEW and grammar lessons. I like being a student alongside my dd. I like having someone else hold my dd accountable to write well (I just know I wouldn't enforce it as well as someone else - I understand my natural weaknesses, and have found that Essentials helps me with that).
  2. We did not use MUS until now. Dd is 13 and really struggled with Horizons Pre-Algebra. We hit lesson 70 and I said enough. I could either sit and cry alongside her for every lesson, or we could switch to something else. So we went to MUS Algebra I. It has been perfect. I really worried about making the switch because of all the "it's not enough" reviews. I finally decided not to worry about that. She's grasping the math and can do 90% of it independently. I have her do the Honors lessons, too. If she really seems to be lacking word problems, I can add in Singapore Challenging Word Problems from the elementary years and see if she can solve them using algebra instead of bar graphs:) Or, there are a thousand other options for filling in gaps later down the road (Khan Academy, etc.) So, I'm not worried. Do what works! Sidenote: I've talked to enough mathy and science-y moms IRL that use MUS all the way through high school, and are not concerned about its scope. Their students seem to do fine in college level math.
  3. I regret worrying (and yet, I still worry...) I worried when my 5yo wasn't reading well, even though she started off great at the age of 4. I worried when she wasn't writing. I worried that we weren't doing enough. I worry that I can't get my kids sitting at a desk for 5 hours of schoolwork. Now, I worry about entering the high school years, and meeting these lofty goals we set when she was 5, but we seem so far away from achieving! Every child has their limitations in what they can do. I have my own limitations. We work within them, stretch them as far as we can without snapping, and we always arrive where we need to be...eventually. I regret that I didn't worry less, and enjoy this more. How did I correct this? Well...it's an ongoing battle! One way, I find those things that trigger my worry, and step away from those things until I'm in a better place to handle them. I began this year putting some big limits on my time here on these forums - and it's paid off. I no longer check in daily, but check in maybe once every 1-2 weeks. I avoid a lot of threads that I know will cause me to worry. This is an awesome place and has been a wonderful inspiration to me over the years, but when it starts to put a knot in my stomach, and I compare my style to your style, my kids to your kids, then it's time to click the big red x in the upper right corner:) I've tried to stop comparing (this is so hard to do). I've also noticed that some of those super amazing moms that seem to do it all actually have help in some way, shape, or form. They hire someone out to do some job that they lack the skill to do. I've been amazed to discover that, this year. The moms don't hide this information, it is just a matter of fact part of their lives that I never noticed before, because I was too busy gaping at their awesomeness and feeling ashamed of my own lackluster abilities:) I step back and look at what we CAN do. The once 5yo is now 13; she reads well, writes well, and can do her math work (the math work took a little bit of experimentation this year, but I think we've found the right book/method/pace for this year, and yeah, that was worry inducing, too). She always ends up where she needs to, in her own time. I started seeing the natural rhythm of things and accepting it, rather than fighting it. The oldest goes slow as a turtle, appears to fall behind, and then boom! flies ahead. The 11yo is in her 11yo funk this year, but I've seen this before, and I know next year will be better. She's still learning (she's learning a ton!), but I know the attitude and attention span will come at a later time. We stop where we need to stop, and carry on where we need to carry on - worrying about it won't get us any further ahead.
  4. Last year, I really dropped back on my expectations - let my kids have a 2-3 hr school day, and pick easy fun library books that were waaay below grade level for science and history. I had them write a few paragraphs each week on their library reading - and some weeks we werent very consistent on this. I made sure we did math. I let them pleasure read novels (rather than enforcing a booklist). It was a GREAT year, except the stress of worrying that it wasnt enough nearly killed me. I let the guilt of not being very classical or structured, of not getting my oldest to do rigorous school or have a 5-6 hr school day zap all joy out our homeschooling. Truth is - some very positive things happened last year because I took this approach. My highly resistant, head-butting dd developed a love of reading novels and now I'm busy keeping her supplied:) Dd's low iowa test scores sky rocketed above average last year, and so I think all the below level reading material helped her really learn, instead of just check sci and history off of my grand To-Do list. This year, I determined to do classical ed and signed the youngest 2 up for Classical Conversations. I love it and I love tutoring it, but it has its trade offs, too (like now my oldest is left alone down the hallway for her school day and she is NOT accomplishing much). Dh decided that travel sports were a priority, so we are never home. The kids didnt want to give up their fav activities for all the torturous things their parents want them to do (cc + travel sports + an outside writing class for my deprived oldest dd), so add that to the stack. It's complete overkill and I think I might die, lol! You sound like you might be in the same place - overcommitted and burning out fast! Anyhow, I started off with a description of our non rigorous homeschooling last year because maybe it would help you - or at least put your mind at ease. I wish I hadnt been so stressed, guilted, and worried about it, and I wish I had enjoyed it more. I feel pretty stuck in this busy year, but I'm hoping the end of Fall sports will relieve some of my burden. And I think I will guard my time more next year - allowing for far more "home" days, where we can relax and actually have a school day. We just arent doing much school with so much going on outside the home.
  5. The timeline song is just the list of events - which would be the title or front of each acts and facts history timeline card - or these events are listed in groups of 7 by week in the Foundations Guide. If you already have an audio of the song, but want the cards to use with your studies, it should be enough (timeline only - all other subjects you'd need the Foundations Guide).
  6. Mine is Teach A Fish Lately, my posts have a lot to do with an annoying peahen (aka female peacock) that showed up at our home and began living here, uninvited. We do a mish-mash of parent-directed, and interest-led learning. Part of that process has included a bright, but completely learning-resistant dd, who has bucked academics since the beginning. We are beginning now (finally!) to turn some sort of corner where she is finding some things she likes to learn about (but don't *ever* say she likes school, ok?) Next year, I'll have a young 8th grader, young 6th grader (two fall birthdays, but our state has a late cut-off date), and a 4-yo-prek'er.
  7. I own Fallacy Detective already (bought used and very cheap), but which do you prefer, and why? Also, I see that Thinking Toolbox is a follow up to Fallacy Detective; do these 2 titles together equal the same content as Art of Argument? Would Art of Argument or a combo of Fallacy Detective/Thinking Toolbox count as Logic for the year? I'm planning out my upcoming 12-turning-13yo's 8th grade year. BTW, she loves to argue, and drives us all crazy with arguing:)
  8. agreeing with Karen, as this is somewhat like our days. Math and LA is mandatory, first. We do weekly library trips and kids pick a science and a history (often eyewitness books for sci). Oldest dd isn't esp enthused by anything, so I sorta help pick her self-interest topic, lol. I typically grab books that are short, easy, and attn grabbing. Kids have summaries to write about sci and/or history topics. That's pretty much it. I don't tie in projects or experiments, since the amt of thrill and learning did not equal the amt of pain, agony, and mess that it inflicted. Guilt free. If we want to visit a museum or airport or whatever, we do - but I dont tie it in to anything. I had tried that in the past and it was a surefire way to kill learning and cause me burnout:) No electronics until the hrs btween 3-5, when I need some downtime or have to accomplish something without kids.
  9. Blogger is a good, middle of the road, easy enough to use blog. My oldest started a blog there at the age of 10 and had fun playing with the different options. Another one is weebly.com - weebly is much more drag-and-drop, vs. click-and-configure like blogger.
  10. We've been going thru the same debate for dd (12-will be 13 in Oct). I think we've finally settled on A. B isnt is as easy to find, class sizes are smaller when I find them, and I worry that B would be too much for our 1st yr in cc.
  11. OP, did you change something between this test and last that made the difference? Why do you think he made such a big improvement? We've had our share of good and bad test scores. We're getting ready to take the itbs this year. btw, congrats on the good scores:)
  12. I can relate, and that's what led me to read the book. No, some dc aren't going to looove school just because you read the book and implemented some of the ideas:p Some kids are just wired to hate academics. I've been experimenting on my 1st dd (lol) and feeding her a lot of easy to read books (waaay below her reading/ability level) on various subjects, and I think this is helping her form that background knowledge. She doesn't love this, but she admits that if she has to read anything, she'd rather read these sorts of books for school. If I can hear an occasional "hmmm, that's interesting," than I feel like I did a job well done, lol! So, you could interpret what I'm doing as hitting her learning style (boldly visual books with little word blurbs to match her cut-and-dry style of learning), or you could say that I'm giving her background knowledge by simple, easy to understand books. Either way, I think it's helping, and I wish I'd done this sooner rather than fighting with her to do more on-grade level reading. (note: I still struggle with this, though, feeling like I'm not doing enough to make her do harder, more grade level stuff, so right now I'm pressing her through an Abeka science textbook). Also, I noticed when I switched up history to these easy books, plus CC memory work with the history flashcards, she is getting a better history education now than when she was forced through SOTW or any other wordier book (my 2nd dd loves SOTW, so to each his own). Again, you could call it learning styles, or you could call it background info, given on an easy level that she can understand and relate to. Will she ever hug me and say "I love school, mom"? No, but I do think these kids find more "joy" (can I use that strong of a word?) when they encounter info in the real world that they are already familiar with (like going to a museum after studying the topic, and the dc can say "hey, I read about that!"). I think that is, ultimately, what we are after - those pegs in the memory on which to hang more info and the ability to say, "I've heard of that before!" So I guess that is my interpretation of the book, but I think I need to re-read it.
  13. I needed this discussion 2 yrs ago when I read the book;) I loved the book and really wanted to delve into the question "ok, now how do we apply this to homeschooling?" - so this thread is excellent! The book actually led me toward Classical Conversations memory work, because unlike the CC family mentioned, I was all "concept" driven, with no memory work. I really think a family needs both, and CC Foundations guide helped me with what to memorize. I love the suggestion in a pp about history - reading through world and American each year (repetition), but choosing 3 time periods to explore deeper each year. One thing the author mentions at the beginning of the book, and it gets sort of lost in the intro (if I'm remembering it right) is the ultimate answer is reading a lot. I think he mentioned reading magazines and books to give that background knowledge. I'm seeing this with my 2 children: the 1st dd hates academics and shuns reading anything except the same 5 books repeatedly, the 2nd dd loves to read a myriad of different things and takes Usborne books to bed with her. The 2nd dd performs better on standardized tests, and I think it is directly related to all the reading she does.
  14. Soooo...anyone keep a messy, disorganized house? What does your curriculum look like? LOL! I'm a distracted person that does things when the mood strikes (i.e., just noticed laundry hasn't been done, so in a fit of passion, I'll crank out several loads until I get distracted by something else...) I'm not an "upkeep" person, which meant when we were house hunting, we passed up all the nicely manicured lawns and intricate landscaping. What Hunter said makes sense. I think I'm always caught between these realities: the person I really want to be (incredibly organized, on-task), vs. the chaotic, distracted person I truly am. Do the next thing works well for me, with a simple checklist that I make up weekly. I have to keep it simple. Handing SOTW over to my 10yo and saying "read the next chapter" is about as complex as it gets. I simply cannot keep up with coordinating the activity guide and extra library reading. I'd love to, I really would! But I simply cannot. When I learn, I like to grab 10 books on the same topic and delve in (and I get completely immersed in it). This makes me a good teacher when I can pull from that knowledge on the fly and share it with my kids. They aren't always willing listeners, though. And I cannot expect that they will tackle subjects the same way (10 books and complete immersion). So for us, having a simple daily checklist and 1 simple do-the-next-thing for each subject, works. I could not keep grades and administer tests (upkeep). Likewise, I could not go the completely creative route, either (too much clutter, too much to have to save and continue for days on end). But I try to sit with my kids while doing math and grammar, so I can see that they actually understand the topic and are learning. If I hang posters up on the wall, I'm sure to not notice them within a day (I kept a print off of 12 Months for about 5 years inside my pantry door. It just became an accepted part of the pantry, lol). I.e., any decorations I hang in my home will become dusty and cluttered in a short amt of time, so it is just better if I don't decorate at all:) I really like clear floors and clear countertops - I feel so happy when this is accomplished. I'm striving to keep our main living areas clutter-free, and I'd like to bring the rest of the house into order. But organization is not something that comes easily for me, and I get lost with "how do I even start this project?" when I set out to tackle a room. I think I get that same overwhelming feeling when I look at a scheduled 180 lesson math book + teacher's guide, along with 180 lessons of grammar/writing, history, science, you-name-it. I used boxed (BJU) for Math & LA for a few years, but I really was overwhelmed by the sheer amount of stuff, the bite-sized step by step processes in each lesson (I wanted the big picture and a reason for learning it!), and the expectation that I could get it all done in 36 weeks of schooling.
  15. For writing, I did allow some creative story writing. Once I saw her interests peter out a bit, we switched back into essay writing. So, she spent about 3 months typing a novel. After that, we picked science and history books from the library, and I assigned a 5 paragraph essay on her reading. She hates history and science, so she picked the easiest possible library books, lol! But she actually found her too-easy history and science books quite engaging. Some of her essays weren't bad. If you visit my blog and scroll through, you might find some samples. She'd mention some odd fact she found in the (too-easy) books. Next year, I should become more involved, and see if we can shape her writing a bit. I'd also like to stretch her and get her writing longer, or at least more frequently. It would be nice if I could find an avenue for her writing - a way she could share her writing, so that there is a purpose for her. Like I said in another post, if she has a purpose, she does better. So, maybe it would help you, too, if you could find a purpose for her, an outside writing class that she needs to step up to the plate and perform for. It's difficult to do well on a paper when there is no real reason for writing it (other than ol' mom reading it). It might help with the independence, too, if she has an outside class to work for. Currclick has online writing classes. I may have dd take an online class or two, just so she has some purpose next year. Or, I might find a writing class she can do locally. One of the struggles I have with this child (see my 1st post) is discussion. Unfortunately, a lot of good solid learning takes discussion. Writing is the same way. Good writing instruction starts with discussion, and if she is shooting me down or tuning me out (i.e., not a contributing member of the discussion), then what have we actually accomplished here? An angry, frustrated mom and an angry, frustrated dd who believe the other person is speaking a foreign language. So, I've realized that I can idealize homeschooling and what we want to accomplish, but in the end, it's not going to happen, so I might as well get real. She's getting older and I've tried everything under the sun curriculum-wise; it's time to address our problems and find real solutions to them, so that learning can happen. It doesn't matter how great I am as a teacher; if the student isn't learning and has built a brick wall between us, nothing is getting through.
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