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Everything posted by rutheart

  1. When we did allergy testing, we had to push for non-standard foods to be tested. My youngest had daily hives for many, many months as a baby. The allergist could not figure out the problem. Skin tests would not work because she was already covered head to toe in hives. At the beginning, I remember the doc saying she was too young to take daily allergy meds. We spent more time at the allergist than the pediatrician that year. Eventually she was able to take allergy medicine, but the cause of the allergy was still not discovered until my youngest started eating table food, and had a really bad reaction to oatmeal with cinnamon that we realized that was the issue. Then we had the allergist make a customized skin test for cinnamon, and we were finally able to confirm it. I had been breastfeeding and consuming cinnamon daily for my insulin resistance, and apparently enough of it was in the breastmilk to trigger the allergy. We had another child with an allergy to rice. That was much easier to pinpoint because when we changed our diet to see if it was wheat/gluten, the reaction got much, much worse. The doctors did not believe it could be a rice allergy, but we just eliminated rice from her diet, and she never had another reaction. My point is that not all allergies are due to common allergens, and allergists might not even have a test for the item that is causing the reaction. Unfortunately, it could take months of guesswork, with changing the diet over and over again. Ultimately, my husband and I figured out the food allergies before the allergist. The skin tests were still worth doing though, as they did find some minor environmental allergies. If I had another child now, I would absolutely do a skin test with them as soon as they were old enough for the result to be reliable.
  2. I just spent dinner time having a friendly argument about how to write 122 and 140 in Sumerian. Homeschooling in a nutshell...

  3. Pre-pandemic, my oldest was out of the door at 6:45am. Her bus ride was 45 minutes since we are only a couple blocks away from the district line. She would come in the door in the afternoon around 4pm. She's the kind of kid that only needs to be told something once to remember it, so brick and mortar school felt like a lot of busywork for her. She got most of her schoolwork done during school, so she rarely had homework, and the level of schoolwork, even at the honors level, was not challenging enough for her to need to study. Clubs met during the school day, and she didn't do sports. We did BSA that year, so on Tuesdays she only had an hour at home before we were eating dinner and then driving 30 minutes to get to the BSA meeting. By the time we got home, it was bedtime. Otherwise, her evenings/weekends were free. My oldest went from homeschooling to brick and mortar in 8th grade. I had also gone from homeschooling to public school in 8th grade, and I appreciated having the year to get used to the changes before grades went on my transcript. I'm an introvert, and this morning I just found an essay I'd written in high school that said I didn't talk to my classmates for the entire first semester I was in public school. I remember being shy, but specific memories have faded over the years. The first year of public school is hard, but also really rewarding. My daughter struggled with the early wakeup, having to work at a set pace, and the constant review. On the other hand, she enjoyed spending more time with peers, especially ones from different backgrounds. She also thanked me for the education I'd previously provided for her, as she was constantly appalled at all the things her classmates didn't already know. That year was the first time I'd been alone in a home. I grew up in a house of six people, so I never had the luxury of alone time. I didn't cry when my oldest left the first morning, but I did cry when my youngest got on the bus. I did a lot of baking, running errands, and volunteering that year while getting used to an empty house. We have food allergies in the family, so I had to pack lunches every day. I made a menu of 20 different lunches, and we'd rotate who got to pick the five different lunches off the menu for the week. I am not a morning person, so knowing what to prepare helped me get three lunches packed before 6:45am.
  4. I know a lot of these ideas are for elementary kids, but I thought if looking at words doesn't help her, some of these ideas for kinesthetic or oral practice might be more beneficial than a workbook, and maybe you could tweak them to be more age appropriate. http://www.momto2poshlildivas.com/2012/10/75-fun-ways-to-practice-and-learn.html Another thing I do is to tell a story in a couple sentences that relates the meaning of the word to the part of the spelling that the student struggles with. If she needs to spell "spinach", I might talk about chomping down on a bowl of spinach, and the teeth making a "ch ch" sound. My daughter then remembers my words, and when she has to spell spinach, she'll remember that there is a "ch" somewhere in the word. You could always customize a word list for her based on the ones she's currently misspelling the most frequently. I write spelling words on index cards and file them by how many days in a row my student has spelled them correctly (like a daily spelling test). Once words are spelled correctly three days in a row, I let my kid tear up the index card. If you try to keep the number of index cards to ten or less and only add new cards on Mondays, it seems to be more beneficial for long term retention of the spelling. That's the method I've used with my kid who I suspect has dyslexia/dysgraphia, and she has shown a lot of progress with it since I started using it three years ago. Once the student knows the ideas of how to practice the words (and you could print out a list of ways to practice for her to reference), it takes less than ten minutes a day with the teacher.
  5. Maybe call it Advanced Biology, with a deeper study of taxonomy (like a Bio 102 class in college). She could have a project to illustrate an example of each phylum. You could get a textbook for Veterinary Anatomy to study internal anatomy. If you live in an area with a lot of wildlife, you could call it a Field Study credit. She could research the species and write small reports each week. As a side note, if she is interested in scientific illustration, I think having more biological sciences makes sense on her transcript. In high school, I took Honors Biology, Honors Chemistry, AP Biology, Marine Biology, and Microbiology. I had no problems getting into college with a major in Biology.
  6. My husband and I had the J&J vaccine in the spring. He had the alpha strain over a year before, and he had zero side effects from the vaccine. I had never had Covid (no symptoms anyway and there were no tests available at the time he got sick to check if I was just asymptomatic). With the vaccine, I had a few days of fever, sore arm, and swelling at the injection site. FWIW, I have that reaction every time I get a tetanus shot as well. I am hoping J&J will be available for kids (12 and up) around February, so both my kids can get it. If the Lambda variant heads near our area before then, I will probably get them a RNA vaccine so they have some protection, but I prefer the J&J for the length of immunity it provides.
  7. I think it's a natural reaction to overpopulation, especially during a pandemic. Finding a place to get away from other humans is getting harder. It's not that people haven't lived densely before now, but even the suburbs are more dense, compared to a decade ago. The houses being built now around me (45 minutes from downtown) don't have lawns big enough to play in. Having a flower bed and a walking path around the new houses would be tight. A fire truck certainly couldn't get between the houses. My pandemic hobby has been to look at real estate listings with acreage. I've lived my whole life in cities or suburban subdivisions, but I've suddenly had the itch to go rural. With my husband working at home and kids schooling at home, and doing just weekly curbside pickup of groceries and everything else ordered online, I feel like I'm living the rural lifestyle without having the benefits of privacy or a walking trail.
  8. I bought Adventures in Fantasy about 5-6 years ago from Rainbow Resource. It looks like it's out of print now, but if you can get your hands on an unmarked used copy, it is worth having. If I were to lose my personal copy in a move, I would definitely pay up to $50 to get another copy. I will say though, that it took me awhile to come up with a year-long schedule for using it as a writing curriculum. Here is the schedule I used with my oldest: https://westwoodhomeschool.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/sixth-grade-writing/ For my current seventh grader, we've been alternating Adventures in Fantasy with Writing Strands, so she's on a two year schedule to finish her novel. As far as psychology goes, I couldn't find anything on my daughter's reading level, so I'm letting her read sections from Caring For Your Baby and Young Child. She is mostly interested in how babies learn and their brains develop, so I'm hoping that this book will be all she wants until she takes psychology in high school. The other recommendation I got from the forum was to try babysitting books. We are quarantining still, so that seemed like it would be torture to read when she wouldn't be able to do any babysitting.
  9. Last year, even in the clubs, interaction between students was discouraged. The whole school acted like they had recently been hit by a bullying lawsuit or something. Any time my daughter tried to engage with another student, the teacher would just disable the chat (and I'm talking about stuff as simple as "What video game are you into?", asked while waiting for the class to start, so it wasn't disruptive). They even removed all discussions from the class assignments. The lack of connection with other students made it feel even more like a factory. There were no in-person events (other than state testing) due to Covid, so meetups were impossible. The social isolation was worse because of the quarantine, and I'm still disappointed that the school didn't allow online interaction between students. Quarantine would have been a lot more endurable if she could have made some online friends. At her new school this year, they go out of their way to make student interaction happen, and she is already so much happier. For math, my daughter used Khan Academy whenever she didn't understand a lesson. If she still didn't get it, she went to the teacher's open office hours (3 or 4 times that year). They switched math texts twice during the year (they tried something new and then switched back because it was so awful), and that did not help anyone.
  10. In regards to working ahead, they mostly care about your percentage progress in the courses. If your student doesn't meet the expected percentage progress for a couple weeks, expect emails and/or a phone call. On the other hand, if they work too far ahead, assignments may be dropped or heavily altered, so going more than a week ahead could be a waste of time. Otherwise, they don't care how your student schedules their week, as long as they make the weekly progress and have live contact with each teacher at least every other week.
  11. My oldest attended a Connections Academy school last year for her sophomore year. She switched to a different online public school for this year. Connections Academy can work for a season, but I can't imagine a kid who could do it long-term and not lose their love of learning. It's heavily Pearson based, and it has a lot of the worst parts of the public school model. The high school teachers don't get to spend much time with individual students and frequently have too many students (my daughter was sometimes in classes with over 200 students, and those teachers had more than one class), so the grades are mostly quizzes and tests. Most lessons have a short 3-5 multiple choice question quiz, and those mini quizzes are weighted too heavily, IMHO. If you routinely miss a single question (like the analysis questions in literature, like there is only one "right" way to think about a piece of literature), it gets hard to keep an A in the class, regardless of how well you do on papers or tests. If they would have had time to grade a short answer quiz, you would be able to defend your answer, and the teacher would be able to give you credit. As it was, my kid walked away from the school with her first B in English, despite the teacher saying she was certain she would someday be reading my daughter's work in print. The student has to attend a one hour live class online for every subject. If you miss the live class, you can watch the recording (they frequently include assignment instructions, as well as discussing the week's topic). You have to have contact with a teacher at least every other week, so if you have a schedule conflict with a live class, expect to spend time at the teacher's online open office hours. My kid had two classes scheduled at the same time, so she did office hours with her marketing teacher to meet the contact requirements. If you want to do dual enrollment, the schedule is a little harder to work with, since most classes are year long (not sure if that varies state to state). One reason my daughter switched schools this year was to have semester-long classes, so she would have time for dual enrollment classes in the spring. If you're looking to avoid Covid, the school may still be required to have in-person standardized testing, depending on state laws. My daughter had to do 5 days of in-person testing in the spring. On the potentially positive side, the parent is a lot less involved. I read emails, checked to make sure my daughter actually did the work, and entered attendance. On a bad day, it maybe required an hour from me. So if you need a break from homeschooling, it can be a year of respite. They also have a lot of elective options, and my daughter said the business classes she took were really helpful (marketing, management, accounting). The PE was the best way I could imagine to do PE for a public school credit. She basically kept a log of physical activity, whatever she wanted to do, and took some knowledge tests about sports rules. I wish I had had that option when I went to high school.
  12. I have HBO Max free with my cell phone plan. We watch The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Doom Patrol, Key and Peele, Robot Chicken, etc. When the mood strikes, I rewatch Pride and Prejudice (the version with Colin Firth). When we run out of material to watch on Disney Plus, again (we had it when it first came out, for about 3 months, then ran out of things to watch, so we had cancelled the subscription until this month), our plan is to spend some of our streaming entertainment budget on Britbox. They have Red Dwarf and a lot of other comedy shows. In the category of what NOT to get, we've previously spent money on Crunchyroll (too many tech problems, the free version is actually better!) and Funimation (limited catalog, free Crunchyroll is better).
  13. The first few weeks of school always have longer days, as students get oriented with new materials and the expected standards of their increased age/grade. What are your tried and true meals that help you get everyone fed in a short amount of time, but also celebrate the start of the school year? I don't mean your very first day of school meal, but the ones that follow for the next couple weeks. You get bonus points if they don't involve cans of creamed soup (we have multiple food allergies and making alternates from scratch defeats any time savings). Our new favorite is frozen Belgian waffles, covered with fruit salad and whipped cream, and a protein on the side. It's indulgent, but very quick and comforting after a long day. We were eating 10 minutes after I pulled out my cutting board. I was just thinking it'd be nice to have a menu set for the first 2-4 weeks of school every year, so I'm not trying to recreate the wheel year after year.
  14. I would have loved a Rainbow Resource catalog. When I first decided to homeschool, it took me a couple months of research before I found their website. Even if it's just an older catalog you were about to recycle, it would let her know that the company exists, and how much variety is available now.
  15. I had three years of textbook-based Spanish in high school. My brother also took Spanish, and we used it as our secret language when we didn't want our parents to know what we were talking about. By the end of the three years, I was dreaming in Spanish. Having a conversation partner is very important for textbook-based foreign language to work. My husband and parents did not have this, and they never reached any level of fluency with their studied languages and never use them now. With whatever budget you have for this last minute subject, I would spend money first on a conversation partner, and if there is anything left, then buy a textbook.
  16. Our's started watching it in 6th grade, but we limited them to one episode per week during the school year (reward for getting all work done that week). That slowdown also keeps them from reaching the Spike episodes too early. I've found that watching Buffy together helps awkward conversations happen more naturally, and we ended up discussing a lot of things I might not have thought to discuss otherwise.
  17. Don't use Anime Studio (aka MOHO)! Even with tutorials, that killed my oldest's love of animation. Layering is a good intermediate digital art skill to work on. Anything that focuses on layering would be good. My oldest had previously made digital art in Scratch, Gimp, and Inkscape. She's currently using Clip Studio Paint (she wanted Adobe, but I won't pay for software subscriptions) with an XP-Pen drawing tablet. I haven't registered her for any classes, but Google shows that there are a lot available (free and paid). Even the official tutorials have a lot to work through and you can filter "for beginners": https://tips.clip-studio.com/en-us/official My daughter taught herself independently how to use the software. She said Google was her friend when she had specific issues. She wasn't taking an art course that semester, so she just made art for fun in her free time, learning new techniques as she needed them. If you're interested in doing an independent course, I would alternate tutorials with projects. You could have the student do a step-by-step tutorial with the tutorial's subject, then do a creative project using those same skills with the subject determined by personal interest (for my oldest, it would be dragons, avatars, and fan art). Digital art can suck up hours and hours of time, so it would not be hard to earn credit(s) even without a formal class. I just thought I would throw the idea out there in case you'd be willing to spend money on software rather than a teacher. FWIW, I think learning the software on her own was a good general learning experience for my oldest. Also, it's worth asking your child if she could come up with a syllabus. I have been pleasantly surprised by how much my daughter would plan out an elective when given the opportunity.
  18. I like Johns Hopkins: https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html If you click on the tab labeled admin1, you see state info. Admin2 shows county info. It's cumulative, but I just write the # positive and deaths in my planner to keep track of the delta.
  19. We do Vocab From Classical Roots. We also do Spanish, with occasional comparison between the Spanish, Latin, and English words, to show how the languages are related. When my oldest switched to public school, she said she could understand more complex words than the rest of her class. They had no idea how to decipher meaning from a word that was new to them. She'll be doing the ACT in a few months, and it will be interesting to see how she scores. If you're going to cover Latin anyway, you could probably just add in some of the Greek roots on your own.
  20. I read the document as saying it needs to be done by a professional testing service, with Sylvan being the only one listed. Then it separately lists standardized tests which can be done. It lists Seton and others as "ordering sites", not professional testing services. When I emailed all the people I listed above, I asked them specifically where the test could be done. I would have been fine taking my kid to the local brick and mortar school for the couple days of testing, paying for a proctor (like what Sylvan used to do), or doing it at home. I just wanted clarification, and over and over again, they all said Sylvan. Not once did anyone say I could have her take the test at my house. The people in my county said they have never had anyone do the alternate testing, so this is new territory for them. Still, I would think the state would be able to offer better guidance. Surely I am not the first person ever to make use of this law. I didn't use a cover school because I had been homeschooling for years before moving to TN, and I didn't see any benefit in a cover school. The independent requirements seemed straightforward at the time, and with Covid we were not going to meet up with anyone in person anyway. We have high academic ambitions and I keep detailed records, so I was not afraid of anyone poking their nose in. I just didn't anticipate outdated guidelines and an unwillingness to update them.
  21. The document that lists Sylvan as the professional testing service to use also lists the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills as one of the allowable tests. Since that test is no longer offered (Iowa realigned the testing to the new educational standards and Iowa Assessments Form E is the new test), the document clearly needs to be updated: https://www.livebinders.com/media/get/MjA4NzM4ODc= The homeschool coordinator for the state said that document came from "our testing department", but did not elaborate further. I think that when the Director of Schools contacts me, I will tell him that my daughter will take the Stanford 10 in my house, unless he can find a professional testing service that can proctor the test. Either way, I'll be satisfied. I'm just sad I haven't able to get the education department to find a global fix before it impacts everyone else needing to do the testing. You would think they'd be grateful someone brought this to their attention so far in advance of spring testing.
  22. In Tennessee, standardized testing is required at certain grade levels. This coming year will be my first time dealing with this. If you do not want to do the TN TCAP tests, the state legislature provides for alternate testing. From https://www.tn.gov/education/school-options/home-schooling-in-tn.html "Yes, there is an option outlined below in TCA § 49-6-3050 which would allow for a home school student to take a test other than the TCAP or End of Course Assessments. The law states: (5) (A) Administration by the commissioner of education, or the commissioner's designee, or by a professional testing service that is approved by the LEA, to home school students of the same state board approved secure standardized tests required of public school students in grades five (5), seven (7) and nine (9); (ii) Tests administered by a professional testing service shall be administered within thirty (30) days of the date of the statewide test. Tests administered by a professional testing service shall be administered at the expense of the parent-teacher; (iii) All test results from either administration by the commissioner or the commissioner's designee, or by a professional testing service, shall be provided to the parent-teacher, the director of schools and the state board of education; So the test would need to be standardized, administered by a professional testing service within 30 days of the statewide assessments, and the results provided to the LEA for review." I have been contacting people in the public educational system and the only place they have said alternate testing can be done is at Sylvan. Sylvan says they made a policy change nationwide this year to longer offer test proctoring. So far, I have emailed 1) the Homeschool Coordinator for my county, 2) the Homeschool Coordinator for the state, 3) the Testing Coordinator for my school, 4) the Director of Assessment Program Management for the state. All of them say to do the test at Sylvan, despite me telling them Sylvan says this is not an option. Sylvan specifically requested their business be removed from the TN education documents listing them as a testing proctor. They have been trying for months to be removed, but they can't seem to get anyone in the Department of Education to do so. Who should I contact next to get this sorted? State legislature? Governor's office? Someone further up the ladder at the Department of Education? I can't believe none of the state education people listed above tried to discuss the issue with their boss, since this will be impacting quite a few students in the spring. I'm also disappointed that they allowed a single business to be their only source for something that is required by the state.
  23. I have finalized my plans and here are my updates: Language Arts: We're going to alternate Writing Strands with fiction writing, maybe continuing Adventures In Fantasy, or maybe doing and using pieces of NANOWRIMO. She will also work through Vocabulary From Classical Roots books 6 and A, as well as Commas. Otherwise, grammar will be corrected on any completed schoolwork. In lieu of a spelling workbook, I will put any misspelled words into her Word Vault (she daily writes the words from the vault, and she gets to tear up the index card once she spells it correctly three days in a row). She will continue to work on handwriting, with an emphasis of writing smaller. Literature: We do secular homeschooling, so we will be starting the Bible as literature, covering Genesis-Psalms. She will also read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Macbeth. If she finishes that early, I will offer Sherlock Holmes. She absolutely loved the one episode of the BBC's Sherlock that we let her watch. Beyond that, I haven't decided. Maybe Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, Douglas Adams' books. If she plows through all of that, I'll let her loose on her sister's bookshelf and just make sure she's reading something every day. I also added some LOTR themed parties for the family at different milestones in the books. I think she is going to love it. Math: Start Saxon 8/7. I'm not sure yet how many lessons per week or if I'll add in something different for Fridays. In the fall she'll do 4 lessons per week, then around week 20 she'll only do 3 a week. I decided to give her a math-free day so she has more time on Fridays to finish up any other subjects. Science: We are doing biology, with Holt Life Science as the spine, but we'll take a detour with McHenry's Protozoa. Social Studies: For the first time since I started homeschooling, we are not going to use SOTW. Instead, I am creating a history of science/inventions course, emphasizing mealtime discussions of how innovation influenced politics. I will probably assign a research paper per semester. Spanish: She will finish Spanish 1 (an old textbook my high school teacher gave me) and the customized workbook. On Fridays, she'll use the British Mi Vida Loca website. Art: Seventh grade art is a year of choices. Every week, she'll get 2- 3 choices for ideas for her art journal, as well as 2- 3 choices for multimedia projects. She can choose to do one or more from each list, as well as anything else that tickles her fancy. We may work through a colored pencil book to work on shading, highlighting and blending. I decided to leave art as completely choice. If she wants practice with colored pencils, I have a book ready for her, but I won't push it. Logic: She'll do Logic Liftoff, Mindbenders 4, read Fallacy Detective, continue doing variety puzzles or crosswords. We'll be doing the spreadsheet section of EasyPeasy's Computer Level 8. The year before my kids turn 13, I have them do CommonSense Media's Digital Citizenship course, so they understand the potential consequences once they are finally able to have their own email address. She will also continue Python programming, maybe continuing with Minecraft, or maybe something else. My husband still hasn't decided what kind of programming he wants to do with her this year. I think he's trying to decide if she is ready for Unity. Life Skills: She will cook one dinner per week, gradually building up her cookbook binder with recipes that she wants to eat. She'll also work through Discover What You're Best At and research potential careers related to those results. Health/PE: She wants to learn about specific communicable diseases, so I'll make up a list for her to research one per week (done!). She and I both have health issues with our legs, so we'll continue with leg stretching exercises. We're also getting her into the habit of riding a recumbent bike when she watches tv (added distance goals). She enjoys archery, so I'll probably include some practice for that as well. Electives: She wants to study developmental psychology, but I am struggling to find an appropriate source for that (I ended up buying a book about baby/early childhood development designed for new mothers, so the reading level is fairly low). She also wants to learn how to play her father's trumpet. We'll see if he has time next year to give her weekly lessons. His workload has more than tripled this year and he's expected to head his own (brand new) department soon, so he is going to have to be less involved than previously planned. It has gotten to the point where I have to bring lunch, snack, and sometimes dinner to his computer. If he is able to hire enough people under him to reduce his workload, we'll reconsider trumpet. I have all the subject schedules printed and filed. She is going to keep the schedules in a binder divided by subject so she can refer to them each week when she fills out her planner. I also made photocopies of worksheets and project pages and filed those by week. I think I am all ready for the first day of school (14 days from today). Once she is used to this year's workload, she will be more independent and I intend to start writing fiction again. I haven't had time to satisfy my muse since having kids, and this feels like a good time to start indulging my own hobbies again.
  24. About a month ago, I smacked my eye with my own ponytail. It hurt at the time, and then I didn't think about it. Then my eye started hurting a couple evenings later. By the time I woke up the next day, my upper eyelid was visibly swollen and red. The eyeball itself was fine. I went to the eye doctor and it was infected, like pinkeye but only presenting on the eyelid. Some antibiotic eyedrops cleared it up. So even if it's just a swollen eyelid, it could still be infected. And yes, the eye doctor filed with the medical insurance, not the vision.
  25. The plain surge protector is what we use for small electronics, like cell phones or tablets. These can be bought just about anywhere (groceries, Target, etc). The surge protector shown has five items plugged in: three for cell phones and two for tablets. The battery backup is for computers and video game consoles. We also plug the televisions into these so we can save and exit a video game if the power abruptly cuts off while we're playing. Our whole family is into video games, so spending $70-80 on the battery backup is worth it to us to not lose hours of game progress. The battery backup shown is for my computer, so the two things plugged in are my desktop and monitor. The whole house surge protector takes up two slots on the electrical panel. It's the roughly square part with the bright green light. If your electrical panel is full, an electrician can create a subpanel and move some of the breakers over to the subpanel to make room for the surge protector on the main panel. If you do the subpanel and whole house surge protector at the same time, it's about $1,000.
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