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Everything posted by Dramorellis

  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. 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.
  12. I actually think using Beast alongside PreA has been a good combination for us this year.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Once my children started picking up a pencil or crayon on their own and their scribbles started to include some actual letters. That is when I begin teaching them to write their own name and form letters and numbers properly. This has happened somewhere around 3-4 for my children. I don't do anything else until they are closer to 5 and then I include more consistent letter formation practice such as HWoT. Between 5-6 we begin copywork and some light dictation.
  16. My DH works from home so we have a similar setup. As the children get older though we are out of the house quite a bit. I sit down with them but I don't eat with them if that makes sense. Having to deal with little people while trying to eat my own meal feels like torture and zaps all the enjoyment out of it for me so I don't try. Quite often my Dh and I sit with them at the table but eat together after they are in bed. Once dinner is served, I am "off" as main parent. All the reading in the evening is done by DH. At the end of my day there is no way that I would be able to (or desire) read to them for that length of time so DH does it and they enjoy it. He picks things I wouldn't so it gives a nice change of pace and connection independent of me.
  17. We ended our school year last week and are taking a week off with nothing much planned before we begin our "summer session". During the summer we try to keep it light and I simply require that they read something, write something and do math daily. That's about 2 hours of our day. We either do it in the morning and go out in the afternoon or go out in the morning before it gets too hot and then do it in the afternoon. We also do theme days because I tried it one year, they loved it and look forward to it now. We do Math Games Monday, Tea-Time Tuesday, Wacky Science Wednesday, Reader's Theater Thursday and Field Trip Friday. It requires no real planning on my part but it still keeps us in a routine. We head to the library when it's really hot and we want to get out, the pool, hang out with friends etc. The break in summer is as much for me as it is for them so I try not to plan much at all. We don't watch TV or use media during the week so they figure stuff out or play outside.
  18. We do both. I fill a communal caddy with new pencils, markers, crayons, scissors etc. at the beginning of each new "school year". We have two art carts as well, one with nicer quality supplies and one with basic crayola stuff for the youngers. They also all get some nicer personal things and new pencils and erasers once a year. I was getting really frustrated with the missing supplies but now I know whose things went missing. The communal pencils are a different color and if you have misplaced your entire personal stash and have to take from the communal they have to pay me 5 cents per pencil. It just helps keep them more accountable with their own things. I do like the communal caddy for quick uses since it's all right there in the middle of the table. Sometimes the getting up repeatedly to get their own supplies takes an extra hour! Having some nice personal things like Prismacolor pencils that his little brother can't mess up motivates my 10 year old to put a bit more care into his work.
  19. All of my kids do this exactly. Usually it's in the context of using their stuffed animals or Lego. "Then he says this and jumps on him", they act it out and then dictate/narrate what should happen next. They fight over which way the character should go next. When they play with friends they all seem to fall into it as well but they can also switch back and forth to just doing the actual thing or saying the "line" instead of narrating it first. I never have thought about it as a problem. Unless someone is getting hurt or using language that is inappropriate I see no issue. I'm not going to micro manage how children play.
  20. The only breaks I plan are those longer than a day or two. We take two weeks at Christmas/New Years, a week in the Spring and then three weeks in August. I call sometime in June (usually when our co-op classes end) as the end of our "school year" and then we begin "Summer School". We keep doing anything that works on skill sets like math, spelling, grammar and we read daily. Everything else stops where it stopped and we pick it up again in a couple months. The last week of August is the start of our new school year and grade promotion. None of this really matters other than it keeps it organized in my head and it gives them something to look forward to. Last summer I did theme days and they really enjoyed it. For example Monday was Math Games Monday, Tuesday Tea-Time, Wacky Science Wednesday, Reader's Theater Thursday and field trip on Friday. By keeping it simple in the summer we still had lots of time to head to the pool or meet up with friends. I also like having that break in August because I can rearrange our books, clear out and bind work I would like to keep, put together our little year book and reflect on what actually worked.
  21. My son is currently in 5th and I can't say there has been a great change in his skill set. We have just done more of the same that we did last year but with greater understanding in discussions. I would say I have seen a move toward more independence ( not a lot) and looking at things more logically. The only big leaps we experienced this year was a more cohesive writing style, dropping of penmanship as a study and going deeper into our literature and latin.
  22. For my daughter who loves art and hands on activities: Math: Horizons Math 2, LOF and Math Club at Co-op LA: Sequential Spelling, Cahier D'ecriture (cursive), FLL 2 (already about halfway through it), lots of library books History: Mom-made American History and Geography Science: Marine Science class at Co-op (taught by me!), Unit studies with notebooking, Steve Spangler kits Writing: Daily journaling, written narration notebook Art: Watercolor class, knitting and Home Art Studio French: Skoldo and mom-made study Music: Piano with Dad Plus our Friday co-op, gymnastics and swimming
  23. For something like math or spelling I think the output is built in. For content subjects I do see a lot of value in discussion. For our home I see the most retention through the combination of discussion, narration and then original output. We don't use worksheets or "comprehension" questions but they do notebook. Notebooking for us is a blank "Waldorf" Lesson book and written narrations at their level. When they flip through it at the end of the year they are really proud of their own progress and they do remember things. We also play a game-show type discussion game we call History/Science showdown.
  24. We use MiF as our main spine, supplement with BA for challenge and LoF+ games for fun when we need a break. We've been doing this for about 2 years and I feel they mesh well together.
  25. This past week I read "How to make an Apple Pie and See the World" to my class. The class ages from 3-7 and they were all engaged. We talked about how maps and globes are used, took turns finding the continents we had "traveled to" in the book on our globe and then discussed how to use a compass. The activity was to make our own maps of the room we were in and to see if the kids could navigate the room based on someone else's map. It was fun for them and simple. As far as the "Waldorf style lesson books" it's very low key. For my 6 year old, she just does 2-3 sentences of her own narration and then draws a picture. So she narrates to me about the story, I write it down and then she copies it. My 10 year old writes his own narrations and it is obviously more detailed and longer. My 4 year old just draws a picture. It provides us with a nice collection of what we did when each book is full. We use the same method for History and Science.
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