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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.
  16. One thing we did differently last year: I read Homeschooling and Loving It! and tried some of those suggestions. I partnered with my dd to set her course. Some things we landed on were Very Good. She hated BJU Math and had hit a brick wall with it. I showed her a myriad of other maths (TT included), and she chose Horizons. She still hates math and hates Horizons - but she likes Horizons better than anything else out there and can live with it. I suspect that dd is highly auditory, as well. One problem we have with math is that I like to pull out manipulatives or show things on paper. I'm always saying "Look! Look!" but I struggle to get her eyes on what I'm doing. I think she's focusing on hearing, not seeing. So with Horizons, it works better for me to explain in words what the lesson is about. The lessons are short and to-the-point, so I really just say what it means, and she takes off with doing it. Or, I watch her do some, or have her explain the next step. IOW, we use it very auditorily. My suggestion for math is to show your 11yo TT, Horizons, and maybe CLE (all spiral programs) and see which one she prefers. She might not love it, but at least she feels like she chose the lessor of the evils:)
  17. Warning: I'm going to ramble...and my <enter> button doesn't work on the forums (Windows 8?). So bear with me. Maybe I'll just do a few posts, so it looks less obnoxious. Anyhow, my dd12 has always been my challenging personality. I was a big "love of learning" type of person (housework went to pot, because I'm busy in a book!) so naturally, my dc would be, right? She's resisted me at every turn. One of my biggest teaching strategies was to immerse my dc in things that are lovely, like classical music, or read enriching literature, or have interesting discussions. She's always shot this down, complaining loudly, moaning about her headache caused by the music I'm playing...whatever. Fine. No love of learning, here. One thing in our favor, however, is that my dh loves to work, and frequently sends us all outside to chop and stack wood. He's the natural organizer and work ethic manager, so we're good there. She doesn't like it, but dh is tough, so we do it and feel good about it afterwards:) The work ethic thing doesn't apply to schoolwork, most of the time. I've realized as dd has grown that she really needs a real life purpose for doing things. She can do a good job on something if she has a purpose. I signed her up for art classes last year, and she spent a good deal of time on her projects. This was good! It meant she was capable of putting time and effort into something, and she was also able to meet deadlines (most of the class slacked off on deadlines, so I'm proud of what we accomplished here). Does she meet my deadlines? No. And as the loving, sympathetic mom that justifies everything, would rather dive into a topic of interest, and who is struggling to put a load of dishes in the dishwasher, I'm not so good at enforcing deadlines within my home, lol.
  18. once I knew my dd had a firm grasp of phonics, we ditched formal phonics instruction and used the method and booklists from Teach a Child to Read with Childrens Books. The picture books were not phonetic, but started off very repetitious (ex: brown bear, what do you see?). This did it for dd, who knew her phonics sounds but couldn't put it all together for fluid, fluent reading. She needed a practical, real life way to read real books. We gradually worked up to less repetitious pic books, and eventually short chapter books. (Garfield comics may or may not have helped here, lol)
  19. Yes, it worked well for *this* child:) I will probably do something similar for 6th, but with a little more of my direction. My mistake was in just saying "pick a book and read it", lol. She raced thru and finished school in 2hrs each day. I had trouble making her do more for "school" though, because then she'd read an Usborne history book at bedtime "for fun". (Note: my 1st child is NOT like this, so don't think I did something miraculous, here). Next year, I'll plan ahead more and I'll actually assign pages to be read - thereby stretching her school day and attention span. Also, I'm enrolling her in a Classical Conversation campus, which will do more for her writing (IEW) then my methods. Currently, I tell her to write 2-3 paragraphs for her essays, but she tends to just ramble on without organizing her topics and does not put them into paragraphs. Between her sensitivities and trying to balance my time with 2 other kids, I do not instruct writing as well as I should. I'm hoping to do more over the summer with her writing. If it doesnt happen, though, I know that CC will help give her some writing structure. BTW, I did the same thing with my learning-resistant 12yo this year. It had some benefits (she didnt totally hate everything, as she was picking her own books). I think she may have (secretly) liked some of the things she was learning. But with the 12yo, I learned that she must not pick her own literature from a list (I need to pick it for her from now on), and I need to assign actual pages. Also, I've learned that "I'll just read it at bedtime" is NOT acceptable and needs to be read during the school day. I'm hoping to enroll this child in Classical Conversations' Challenge program because I really think this child needs more structure. It was an experiment this year and I learned a lot about the needs of two totally different kids.
  20. I let dd pick most of her school materials for 5th this year: Math: Horizons finished gr 4 and started gr 5 Grammar: Easy Grammar 5 Spelling: used Spellingcity.com making my own lists from Sequential Spelling adult and Natural Speller gr 5 Lit: she chose poetic version of the Odyssey (slow going but she enjoys it) Science: her choice from the library (animals, dinosaurs, and now inventions) History: SOTW 1 and self interest library books Writing: weekly essays from science and history reading memory work: Classical Conversations cycle 1 at home
  21. We have been using the Classical Conversations timeline cards, and I love them! Picture and title on the front, a few paragraphs about the event on the back. My nonhistory dd (12yo) seems to be getting the big picture in a way that textbooks and SOTW couldn't provide for her. I think she was overwhelmed by the hugeness of history before - she's a very straightforward, black or white kind of learner. We memorize the titles and read about 7 history events per week. Following cc's scope, we'll be covering the same events every year, so she can see all of history in one year. The cards are expensive: $22 per pack, 4 packs in all = $88. I'm not usually so frivolous with our education budget, but this time, it's been worth it.
  22. Thanks all for the replies! After reading replies, I remembered that she had willingly picked up Heidi and also the Secret Garden about 2 years ago, so she's not hopeless! lol. She's just a very different personality from mine, and I really struggle with this. I really struggle with knowing where she fits, because she doesn't seem to fit into the world I strove to create. I've participated in a classic lit book club, and read portions of the lit aloud to my kids, and explained the themes. We've had Jane Austen movie watching marathons. We've tied famous Greek stories into Percy Jackson (my 10yo is reading through The Odyssey, because PJ inspired her). I've loved the writing style of HP (yeah, I'll vote for that one becoming a "classic" someday), and pull that into discussion, too. I just really struggle to get my 12yo interested and engaged, beyond her small selection of books (getting her to like a new book is hard). She hates discussion (see my sig, "yes or no, spare me the details" sums it up). I've never really figured out if it's just a personality thing, a learning thing, or a rebel-against-mom thing. We do yearly testing (not mandatory) - she's a fall birthday, and placement gives me fits, too. I test her in the upper grade level each year, and she gets mostly "average" for her scores (itbs). She'd probably score above average if I tested her one grade level below. I may try a different test this year. For now, I've assigned The Railway Children and then will probably assign from VP's list. I'll also try reading some of the tougher books aloud or get some audio books (just need to get the 3yo to cooperate...).
  23. This will seem like a dumb question, but I could use some direction. If your child is a strong reader, but has pleasure-read most of her life, how do you make the transition to older, more difficult literature? My 12yo began as a struggling reader, and it has always been challenging to find her interests. As a desperate mom, I pulled in anything I could to get her (and keep her) reading. Garfield, Rainbow Magic Fairies, you name it. Around age 9, she really took off with books like Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, etc. She loves the Inkheart series, and books like Ella Enchanted; you know, fun, engaging, *modern language* stories. She read The Hobbit and loved it, but now is really struggling with Lord of the Rings. It's boring. She's reading the words mindlessly, without paying attention to what it said. Eventually she just stopped reading it altogether (it's her school assignment, that she hand picked). Narnia books have gotten the same reaction. Soon, we'll have to start into Great Books, but not sure how to get there, when we can't seem to get our feet wet with Good Books. I need a lesson on How to Read, lol. How do I help her?
  24. Yup. 12yo and 10yo girls, here. Many arguments, hurt feelings, outbursts, and school days screeching to a halt. God bless us parents, lol!
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