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  1. We have 3 small groups of tasks (2-3 things for each person) and do them right after meals. Dividing it up like that means that no one ends up feeling like we've had to work on the house for an hour every day, even though that's what it usually adds up to.
  2. I know what you mean about boys and being still! We start our morning with Bible reading right after breakfast, so that quiet time helps us stay quieter to start the day. We then move on to study latin for a short lesson, then on to morning time. Morning time here includes: 1. Memory work from all content areas, so this takes about 40 minutes between the week's new material and review material. Content areas include geography, Scripture memory, poetry memory, grammar, math facts, and sometimes material from history and science. 2. We take turns reading a poem or two from the book we are reading through at that time. 3. I read from a biography to them. 4. We have a mini-meeting about what that day will look like since each of our school days works differently due to my work schedule. We do NOT have a 2 hour morning time- ours is about 1 hour, and I heavily encourage movement during memory review and learning. They toss a ball back and forth while reciting math facts together, they jump in place, do jumping jacks while waiting their turn, etc. I do ask them to sit quietly as we read poetry and I read the biography and we have our mini-meeting. It takes about 20 minutes, and I think it's important to also learn to control their desire to move constantly for that one period of time. edited to add: I want to add Shakespeare and artist study to our morning time this coming year, but I'm still thinking about how that will look, as that would be adding even more "quiet sitting time" to that period.
  3. I was homeschooled on and off throughout my education for a total of 7 years. I went to a few different private schools for a total of 5 years, and public school 1 year. We moved around a lot. My husband went through a small town public school system for his entire education.
  4. We frequently use audio books in the car. We are fortunate to have an excellent library system with generous time on each item checked out, so most of our audio comes from the library. We do purchase some as well (usually through amazon) but most of our listening is from the library. As far as listening to longer books, we kind of just did it one day. I checked out an audio book that was a little longer, we tried it and it went over well. One particularly excellent audio book we listened to earlier in the year was Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne. I didn't know if my boys would like it or not, but they were begging to listen more.
  5. We school year round, but take more scheduled breaks/lighter days during the summer so we can do camp and swim lessons and other opportunities. Math and daily reading are the two non-negotiables.
  6. Can someone talk to me about a few writing programs? My oldest will officially start 3rd grade in July. He is an older kid for his grade with an October birthday. By end of May we will have finished FLL3, R&S English 2 (and started R&S English 3), R&S Spelling 2, and we've been working on writing using the WWE suggestions for narration, dictation and copywork through WWE 3. He has flown through all of this material this year without complication. Next year I plan to continue with R&S English 3 and start 4 when we get there, R&S Spelling 3, and FLL4 if there isn't much diagramming in R&S English 3 and 4 (I haven't gotten these books yet so I'm just not sure- if there is a good amount of diagramming we'll not do FLL4). I feel like we need a writing program next year as a guide as I teach him to write. I know how to write well as an adult, I'm just looking for a tool to use as I teach my son during the grammar and logic stages. 1. IEW- I'm having a hard time with the price tag on the DVDs to teach me how to teach my kid to write. Is it totally worth the price tag (especially since I have 2 more kids who would go through it?) 2. CAP's Writing and Rhetoric. I wish I could put my hands on a copy of this to see exactly how it would work in practice day to day. What I can see online looks really good. Anyone with personal experience that can talk to me about how exactly you use it in your daily work? 3. Continue with WWE 4 for 3rd grade and then move into a writing program 4. Other suggestions? I'm going to our local homeschool conference this weekend and hoping to talk with the IEW rep and hopefully put my hands on Writing and Rhetoric. Thank you in advance!
  7. I have been searching the forums and reading thread after thread over the last several days and I think I just need help with narrowing options for writing programs. My oldest will officially start 3rd grade in July and he is an older third grader (October birthday). He understands new concepts easily- we have not run into any serious problems with any new materials in anysubject, but he definitely has a step-by-step, engineering/math type mindset as he learns. He LOVES Saxon math if that helps you know what kind of learner he is. Since Kindergarten we have followed the WWE recommendations for narration, copywork and dictation using our science, history and literature readings as subject matter. At this point he easily "passes" the requirements for the end of level 3 WWE for these skills. He will also complete FLL 3 by May or so and we are orally working through the remainder of Rod and Staff English 2. We are using Rod and Staff Spelling 2 if that matters. For this year I want to focus on learning to write as we continue grammar and spelling, but this is where I'm stuck. What I'm looking for: 1. Something that lays out each writing tool or step one at a time. I don't feel like I need this as the teacher, but my son feels safe with materials like this. 2. Something that teaches style at some point in the series. Slow and/or incremental is totally fine as long as we get to style at some point. 3. Not creative writing. I'm not concerned with creative writing at all at this point. 4. I would prefer not to curriculum hop- so whatever we go with is what we are going with from now on unless it is vastly obvious that it is not working. 5. Something I can hopefully use with my 2 younger kids in the future, but this is not a sticking point unless the curriculum is particularly pricey. 6. Writing, reading and math are the three most important things in our homeschool for K-3rd grade. It is extremely important to me that my kids write well, but I also want to keep our learning sequence developmentally appropriate. Programs I'm looking at: IEW CAP's Writing and Rhetoric Introduction to composition - Memoria Press I've looked at MCT, but there are a lot of components to it and I don't really want to switch to their grammar and others when what we are already doing is working. I plan to finish R&S English 3 and then do at least part of 4 next year if not all of it, R&S spelling 3, and maybe FLL4 if R&S doesn't do very much diagramming- I'm able to look at copies of R&S English 3 and 4 this weekend to decide. Questions: 1. Is there a curriculum I'm missing that I should consider? 2. Will R&S English 3 and 4 provide enough writing and I'm going into overkill by adding an official writing program? We mostly work though R&S orally- he writes answers usually 1x per week and he writes the tests, and we'll still stay with oral work 2-3 days per week next year. 3. About IEW- I'm having a hard time with the price tag attached to the DVDs that will teach me to teach my son. I know how to write well as an adult, I'm just looking for a tool to use as I teach my son in grammar stage. Is the program really worth it especially if I'm going to have 3 kids going through it eventually? 4. Writing and Rhetoric looks really good- I just wish I could put my hands on a copy. Everyone local to me uses IEW. I'm hoping there is a copy in one of the booths at the homeschool conference this weekend. Thank you for your help!
  8. My income isn't "extra" but in addition to covering a few household payments, it is what pays for homeschooling related fees, sports fees, field trips, etc. That being said, we don't spend nearly the amount some do on curriculum and a consideration I make in purchasing materials is whether or not I can use them also with my younger children. I try to buy what can be passed on and also to buy used when I can to make our homeschooling dollars go farther. I buy our year's worth of school supplies when they are on huge sale in late July/early August.
  9. We do the rubbermaid tote thing too- each of my boys has their own box and they know that they have all month to make and keep every little scrap of paper they'd like. The last weekend of the month we go through their box and throw almost all of it away. I let them pick 5 to keep and if anything is special or representative of their art for that month I hole punch it and put it in that child's art binder. I take pictures of a few things, but we're in the phase of drawing the exact same thing 100 times in a row (I like to keep one of the early versions, one from the middle and one of the last) so throwing away 96 drawings of Superman once a month is pretty much the norm around here. Loose school papers are pretty much immediately hole punched and put in the correct binder. I really dislike feeling buried by paper so I make time to stay on top of this.
  10. Mine are 7.5, 6 and 1, so we're pretty close to your age range. I also work so we absolutely have to get our schooling done in the mornings 3 days a week before I start work. A few key things for us: 1. We school in an area the baby can also be in so that she doesn't feel separate from us all morning. I set up our school area with a small area for her to play in so that she can be right there with us. I sometimes put her at the table with us in her booster and she'll color with colored pencils or eat her snack or whatever. 2. I taught my boys (we just finished K and 1st) how to do a few things independently and that is what they work on when I can't help them individually. So while I'm working with my 6yo on phonics, my 7yo can be working on his handwriting/memory work/etc. While I'm working with my 7yo on a math lesson my 6yo can be working on Explode the Code/Daily Phonics/etc. If I need to absolutely be with the baby (or taking a work phone call or something) they know to continue checking items off of their "independent" list and if they run out of things to do they need to read until I'm able to get back with them. They mostly do well with this, but some days not so much. 3. The advantage to me working in the afternoons/evenings is that my boys also know that whatever we don't get done in the morning has to be done in the evening with their dad, which means that they don't get to wrestle/play outside/play xbox/all the other fun boy stuff they do when he cares for them while I work. They really don't want to have to give that time to school work and I can remind them of that in the mornings to help keep them motivated. 4. I purposely set up the play area for the baby to make it super easy to pick up even if she totally dumps everything- there's no real organization except that everything just goes in a basket and the baskets go back on the shelf. So if she makes a giant mess it's nothing I can't pick up in under 5 minutes. Nothing has to be sorted or put back in a special way. Easiness is essential for me because our school area is an area that my clients walk through to get to my studio so the whole school area has to be totally picked up before I work every day. So, our day usually starts with a morning meeting pretty promptly after breakfast since that is the time the baby is most cooperative about playing on her own. My boys and I do a "morning meeting" for about 15-20 minutes- we look over their school plan for the day, they ask questions, I give them any special instructions, we run through our memory work together and if the baby is being especially cooperative I go ahead and do 1 subject with my 6yo. At that point the baby usually needs me so I sit with her on the floor. I'm right there if the boys need me during their independent work and they take turns sitting on the floor with me and the baby to have their individual lessons (math and LA) then go back to their table to do their work. I play with the baby some, work with one of the boys, play with baby, work with one of the boys. We do history and our read aloud while the baby has her snack and in the 20 minutes or so after that (since she will usually play on her own again after she's full) and we do science and other "together" work (like art) during her naps on the 2 days a week that I don't work until 4.
  11. DH and I went to see it last night and won't be taking our 7yo and almost 6yo. Just for reference, we did take them to the Avengers movie after we'd seen it and we were comfortable with that level of superhero violence. I promise no spoilers here- The bad guys in Iron Man 3 would be too intense for my kids. If my 7yo was a few years older we'd let him go because he has a really firm grasp on reality vs. fantasy. Our younger one has a much harder time with that. We might let our older one see it when it comes out on DVD and he can watch it on the smaller screen, but we'll decide that when it's actually out.
  12. We also have a "no electronics" rule in the mornings. Like others noted, it's really hard to recover from that down time. If your son needs a little time to get himself moving in the morning, I would have him read or do quiet play (maybe legos?). T.v. is one of those things that we've tried to make the exception rather than the rule- we ask "have you finished school, is your room clean, have you read for 30 minutes, have you been outside, have you been creative?" If all of those things have been done in a day maybe we have time for some t.v., but usually at that point we find it's the end of the day. :) We have a "morning routine" that involves breakfast, getting dressed, making the bed and brushing teeth. That must all be done by 8:00 (we have to start school by 8:30 if we're going to finish by lunch so that I can work in the afternoons). If they get done early they are allowed to play quietly, read or get started on school early. I'm not a great morning person myself and I need our mornings to be peaceful and quiet early on if I'm going to be successful in the day. We school all morning, and part of what makes that easier is that my boys know they will have the afternoons free for projects and play and time outside. I had to be really strict about the new routine when we made this change in our family and stick to a "to-the-minute" timeline for about a month. After that we were able to relax, the kids know just what to do and what to expect, and it really has transformed our mornings into a more peaceful time for everyone.
  13. I start planning for handmade Christmas gifts around August and try to get started in September. My general rule is to plan twice as much time as it would usually take to make a particular item. That way I'm not often rushing around. :) I also don't want to start too early since a lot of my knitting is for my kids and nephews and I like the new knits to actually fit them when they're gifted. This year my handmades were all knitted: 3 hats, 2 pairs of kid-sized mittens, a cowl, 1 pair of Norwegian mittens, and a baby cardigan. Other years I've done other crafty things, but knitting is my go-to gift.
  14. On non- school days we often have outside things to do depending on the season- spring/summer/fall we have at least 1 soccer or baseball game to get to on Saturdays and church on Sundays. But a day like today- no school and nothing outside to get to, my day is structured around the baby. We do have a set lunch time, dinner time, and bedtime as a family, but otherwise the boys are essentially left to their own devises once they take care of their daily chores in the morning. DS2 paints and draws a lot, so he spends a lot of his free time in the studio. DS1 spends a bunch of time with legos on days like today. Depending on how much house stuff I have to catch up on I usually join DS2 in the studio while baby naps. Today is a little weird- DS2 has a sprained ankle so he's been playing xbox for way longer than we usually allow around here, but it's kept him off his ankle (which is ridiculously hard to do with a 5-year-old boy!).
  15. It's hard, but doable. It depends on a few factors I think- the hours you and your husband keep for work, his willingness to help with both housekeeping and homeschooling, etc. It works for us because my husband and I both work non-traditional hours and are willing to school on the weekends when I'm not working. My husband contributes just as much to housework as I do, and he helps with schooling as necessary. We have to keep a strict schedule to make it all work but it can be done. :)
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