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  1. I just answer the question politely if I am in a hurry. If I feel like waiting, then I look at my children and prompt the little one to answer politely. Most people do not have an agenda and they are genuinely just making small talk. I don't even think they really care about the answer. It's the kid equivalent of talking about the weather. There really isn't much in the way of casual conversation that you can make with a child in a 2 minute interaction besides "How old are you?" and " What grade are you in?". I've never gotten any kind of rude response when I or one of my children replied that we homeschool. This is where I model how to interact out in the real world. No need to make it anything more than it is since we got the same questions when he was in school too.
  2. I love this tradition! I really try to make "Back to School" special and they look forward to it. The last time I did them I just bought things that they needed but a little more fun if that makes sense. Mostly supplies that we go through quickly. This year they are getting some books, gel pens, food shaped erasers, duck tape, book markers, water color pens, nice adult sized scissors and then the regular stuff like more pencils and notebooks.
  3. My children read a lot, play Lego, draw, play in the yard , build things and follow me around. They also play an elaborate Pokemon RPG game they created and spend hours on "Cutie Toy Squad" which involves battling factions of Beanie Boos. Their latest fixation is on racing teams of marbles. They do not have access to tv, video games, or devices M-F. It doesn't happen very often anymore but they know if they come to me with complaints then I will help them manage their time in a way they will be less than thrilled with. My perspective is that I am not a cruise director. They just need to figure it out (they usually do) and I tune out the complaining when they can't. Being bored is actually a perfectly fine thing to feel. I just don't want to listen to it.
  4. They can watch television beginning at 7am. There is no hard and fast rule as to when it goes off but it's usually about 3 hours. Now there are plenty of times when that doesn't happen because of life and so they may watch only an hour or none at all. Twice a month they are allowed to play a video game on the XBox or use the Kindle. One or the other, not both. Yesterday they opted for playing with Dad on the xbox. It's highly controlled and different than many of their friends but this is what keeps the peace. We have had to have lots of talks with them about the fact that you can have too much media. My 11 year old will voluntarily shut it off or walk away at times since now he can recognize when it's making him antsy or it's just been too much.
  5. For my kids there really is no middle ground. There is no media allowed Monday through Friday, period. Unless it is something we are doing specifically for school as in their Latin DVD or a Great Courses we are working through. We've tried other setups but eventually it turns into an issue with rushing though things, lack of focus, fighting and mood swings. We finally went cold turkey about a year and a half ago and it was the best decision for our family. Push back was brutal at first but now they can see the benefit themselves. Breakfast is at 7:30 and we are AT the table ready to go at 8:30. They have a morning checklist of things they need to get done prior to that. It's up to them on how to manage their time as long as they are ready to go at 8:30. I need my space organized with a "home" for everything. The day flows better if everything we need is ready to go and within reach. They have workboxes for their books and supplies and I have shelves for my things so no one has to dig around to find things. Also each day I write on the white board what they have to accomplish, any activities etc. and they are responsible for working through it. Aside from meals, I do not have a time based schedule but our days follow a definite routine. Everyone is happier knowing what to expect and what my expectations are for them. This allows them some control as well in how to manage their day.
  6. I don't grade their work. For me I see no point in that and it's meaningless to them. I do check their work/ go over answers as soon as they finish it. That way we can correct anything right away and work it together if needed. I hate for it to drag on and if I don't do it then, I won't do it. I would rather for math (or whatever) to be done, checked and corrected so it can be put away with nothing hanging over our heads. When my oldest was a bit younger though and now with my 8 and 5 year old, I sit right next to them as they are doing math. This way I can catch a mistake as it's being made. This way I can immediately see if there is a breakdown in understanding or just lack of focus. For me it is easier to catch it before it is made rather than undo a pattern.
  7. We school year round and I feel it helps us all with avoiding burn-out. If we take a random day or week here and there it really doesn't affect our long term goals. When they finish something we start on the next thing no matter what time of year. We take 3 weeks off in August and 2-3 in December. That's about as much as any of us can tolerate before the kids start getting antsy. Most of our outside activities follow the September to June model so that is why we follow it. Our schedule is much lighter in the summer though.
  8. We use it as a supplement in our home. For my DS (11) he used MiF and is now using AoPS Pre-Algebra as his main. We've also used Keys to Algebra as a supplement when he does BA. So it's usually main spine and then maybe twice a week he does BA. He now does it on his own with me helping when he asks and then we work the problem together. For my other two children we are doing it also as a supplement and I do it with them. Maybe the 8 year old will do a few problems independently but mostly I am there. The 5 year old does what he is able orally. They both use Horizons as their spine.
  9. They read whatever they want (as long as it is appropriate) for as long as they want all day long without interference from me. I don't feel it unreasonable to ask that they read from a book of my choosing each day as well. I have a book box of selections I would like for them to get through. They can pick what they want to read next for SSR time. Depending upon their age and length of chapters I have either assigned a chapter at a time or required reading for a set length of time. Right now my 11 year old has to read for 30 minutes daily and my almost 8 year old for 20 minutes. This is a part of their daily checklist that I write on the white board of what they need to accomplish that day. I choose books they may not pick on their own but that I think they will get something out of the experience.
  10. To me curriculum means our overarching plan of study. As long as our path is consistent or at least measured in the changes we make, then what "resources" I use to accomplish those goals is much less important. The math program is not teaching my child, I am. I try not to leap into something different without evaluating first why other resource wasn't working in the first place. Many times it has not been the book at all but the timing and development of the child. I consider it a strength that I can put a resource aside and try something different to adapt and meet our current need. One of the most obvious differences in a brick and mortar school is that the teacher has little to no input into a change in curricula nor do they have the ability to differentiate the materials to meet all the various needs of so many students. So if there is a change in curricula needed, they are probably not able to do so. Then the child moves to another class next year and whatever gap there is will probably get missed again. There is no gap at home because I'm "at elbow" every day with my children. In my home changing materials is a non-issue because the teacher and long range goals are consistent.
  11. No I didn't with my oldest and don't plan to going forward. As long as they have a strong conceptual understanding then when they have it committed to memory was unimportant to me. I realize that's not a popular route but it worked just fine for us. I printed out a table for him when he was 7 or 8 and had it laminated. He could use it as much as he wanted. Eventually he just didn't need to use it anymore. He is 11 now and would be 6th technically. He probably stopped using it 2 years ago. So he did in fact memorize the tables through repeated interaction with it but not because he did drills with intention on that specific topic. It didn't slow him down and I never made it an issue. I have a times tables chart on the wall now and my 7 and 5 year olds have memorized many of them simply by seeing them visually on a regular basis. They do repeat them but for "fun" not because I make them. Also I wanted to add that the most basic ones came through normal everyday interactions. I'm pretty sure a good deal of children have the 10s, 5s, 2s, 3s and 11s "memorized" or calculated quickly by 5 or 6. Not much left after that and they can fill in the blank for most of the rest by reversing.
  12. I will say that I am a better parent now than I was 5 years ago when we began and I consider homeschooling an extension of my parenting philosophy, so yes. Homeschooling handed me a mirror and a pumice stone and thus made me look very hard at myself and how I handle different situations. My growth has been painful at times but eventually to the benefit of the children and our days. I think I am better because I am more patient and have been doing it just long enough for me to believe that is okay to trust in the process. That means practically for me that as long as I am intentional and observant, we can figure out the next right step to take. I don't flail around screaming about the sky falling (as much) anymore just because this one thing isn't "working". Identify the issue, find the root and then put it aside. It may take a few weeks, months or a year even but it has so far worked itself out or the answer has made itself known eventually.
  13. I actually think using Beast alongside PreA has been a good combination for us this year.
  14. I've been merging my 5 and 7 year olds for the past two months and it has worked very well. I decided to take the path that I use for other content subjects and teach to the oldest child's level and modify it backwards for the younger. For math that means that we've been doing Beast Academy 2A, Kitchen Table Math 1 and 2, Life of Fred, Math and Magic in Wonderland and just playing around with money and manipulatives. The 5 year old catches what he catches. It's been great as I feel he is getting exposure to more math concepts than he would have if he was working solely on his level and she is getting more of me since I'm not rushing. We don't do it every day and she does write down her work and goes at a faster pace when he is not in the mood. I think it can work wonderfully for the younger range. If I had your age spread I would absolutely merge everyone 4 and under together. Teaching at the highest level and giving the others an opportunity to fill in as you see fit. In our co-op we have had two classes that were basically a math circle format with art and manipulatives for the 4-6 age range.
  15. It's doable for that age range. I will say that I am currently doing a class for 4-6 year old (Marine Science/Oceanography) and we painted on Friday and it was crazy. I will not do paint or any messy materials without AT LEAST one helper. I have a TA and we had to get an extra person to help us out while she mopped. I will do it again but come prepared with wipes, smocks etc. There is a watercolor class my daughter is in (7) and it is much calmer. I've done a Five in a Row type class and that went over well so I was asked to do it again.
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