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Everything posted by coastalfam

  1. I've never seen that product before. It looks like a spiral bind spend, which I like much better than comb. Do pages get caught up on the "seam"? (It looks as though it would have a seam where it snaps together.) Thanks.
  2. I have been using AAR. It definitely requires a good amount of uninterrupted time to accomplish for us. For one, the fluency sheet is SO overwhelming that I have to write each word onto the white board. The font in the books (and fluency sheet) is too small, in my opinion, for an emerging reader--I have to enlarge them on a copier for my son who has Down syndrome, but my six year old benefits, too. I have had RLTL in download form on my desktop for a while, and on Mother's day I received an iPad, so I transferred it. I have been using RLTL now for a couple weeks instead of AAR. Since it is on the iPad, I just swipe through the phonograms (kids love that), and then we use the spelling lists. I am a big, big fan of sounding out words to spell them to support reading growth, because it is working for my son who has Down syndrome to teach the skill of sounding out, and chunking words. I have HLTL as well, and we use the printing sheets to support our phonics learning. We had to go back to the beginning to teach all the sounds, as AAR only teaches one sound initially, but you are not far in the program, so this will not be a big issue. Now, this is what I will say about RLTL: There are certainly no bells and whistles (I happen to like that), and my sons seem to enjoy it better than white board, tiles, fluency sheets, and the silly little games. I think this is because they feel more successful. Reading the Elson Readers does not happen until much later in the program, but one can easily write some silly little stories or use BOB books or other incrementally leveled readers in the mean time, if the child is dying to read (BOB books are my favorite for this--appropriate font size, the stories are silly, the kids like them). My kids found the AAR stories overwhelming. I thought it was too much too soon. The other thing I think about RLTL is, it is absolutely something that can happen while sitting on the couch with a nursing baby. I don't have that situation, but what I am liking about this program right now is, I can grab my iPad, grab their spelling journal and HLTL page (which I was just thinking might live very happily in a binder together), and head to the couch with my child. We go through the phonograms on the iPad, introduce new ones, do the HLTL sheet, read through the spelling words, then sound out 5 more together, and we are done. It takes 10 minutes. Then I let the kids go play Starfall or other computer reading game, so I can do the same routine with the next brother. It gets done, it is painless, there are VERY few moving parts, and the kids are less frustrated. I've decided to stick with it, rather than go on to level 2 of AAR.
  3. I'm still trying to work it all out, because I just desperately need a REAL summer break, but what I think is going to work best, given my oldest son's needs to keep going year round, and his thriving with a regular schedule, is to just keep our morning routine going as usual on the weekdays: breakfast, get dressed and ready, start school. I plan to do a math and language arts lesson or review with him each day, and my other two kiddos will do review type worksheets or games that they can accomplish without my help. I hope this lasts about 60 minutes max, and we can be in summer mode by 9:30am every day. I do have a list of read alouds and audiobooks I want us to do (which inevitably leads to geography study), and some hands on nature study/science, only because it's summer and it will be enjoyable to be outdoors, but I don't count that as school. We all WANT to do that stuff. :)
  4. Well, my son with Down syndrome is 11, and just this year stopped needing pull-ups at night. I still have to take him/tell him to use the bathroom at intervals during the day, because he cannot tell when he has to go. Luckily he has a bladder of steal, so doesn't wet himself unless I forget. And I am SO hyper aware of his poop signals, that I can just tell when it's time to run to the bathroom. Potty training him, and actually my "typical" 6 year old son as well, has been a journey, and I like to tell people my favorite technique has been putting on the pull-ups and taking a break for our mutual sanity. So, my vote is pop those pull-ups on for the summer, and regroup. It's amazing what a little time and physical maturity will do. And the public school thing. Man, I am so over special education. There are some GOOD people in special education, but dealing with a district is so beyond frustrating. I decided the stress that comes with homeschooling my son is a much healthier kind of stress than the stress that comes with fighting the district. And it is ALWAYS a fight. I'm glad you will be able to get ABA involved. Having behavior therapy and joining a homeschool social group has been an amazing fit for my son with Down syndrome. Also, I never thought to get him regular old counseling with a psychologist, but after his public school experience, he was clearly traumatized, so I found a psychologist who is experienced working with children with disabilities, and who uses therapy animals in her practice, and WOW! What a difference. I actually count it as one of my son's extracurriculars because he is learning to ride a horse, but so much more is happening that has been amazing for him skill building wise, and emotional regulation wise. And it is helpful to me in learning different ways to support my son. I definitely would recommend seeing what is available to you in this area as well.
  5. Story of the World. One chapter a week, either read aloud or audiobook. The kids color, if we have time we do the map activity, if not we do the discussion questions (orally). We read story books, read alouds, or just play with toys related to the things we learn. So super simple. We do it once a week.
  6. Most of what is offered is not really interesting to me, but the Charlotte Mason bundle... wow! All three terms of Wayfarers Medieval, Quark Anatomy, and Mystery of History is a big deal. Then to compliment it, nature study notebook, composers, copywork books. I am just finishing up the year of Wayfarers Medieval, and I own Quark, and it was an amazing year of study. I would definitely recommend that one to someone interested in Wayfarers' Charlotte Mason/Classical hybrid education. I am also excited about all the Ellen McHenry offerings. Fell in love her curriculum this year.
  7. A white board and different colors of markers would work fine, IMO. I read on the website a tile app is in the works.
  8. Oh my goodness! Well, as others have said, California is a wonderful place for a myriad of nature study. I am among those unfamiliar with the book you mentioned, but just a pick a micro-climate, check up of available local resources, grab a sketch book, and go for it! I picked up a California Foraging book at Costco the other day, and we are going to take some time to learn about edible native plants in the various areas we find ourselves this summer. There are so many wonderful options and ways to study nature in Northern California. We live on the coast in temperate rainforest, and as others have said, amazingly different environments are just a few hours drive away--all stunningly beautiful. :)
  9. What I am doing is planning one semester long science program (we use Quark chronicles) for the entire year to allow plenty of side trails into interests that pop up. Then, as the kids ask to study something, I throw together a unit study using books from our library, worksheets and activities from the Teachers Pay Teachers website, freebies from the Ellen McHenry website, and whatever else seems fun (like a field trip or project we make up). So far we haven't had an interest led subject last more than 2 weeks, so we jump back into our regular science curriculum at that point.
  10. I'm trying to decide. We have to summer school my oldest son pretty intensively because of retention issues, but I still want it to feel like... Summer time. My plan right now is to do math Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and a language arts lesson Tuesday and Thursday--for my oldest that will be new sight word introduction, practicing his word bank and phonics sounds, etc. For my youngest it is just going to be reading an extra story, and for my middle son, we will work on spelling mainly. I will have them read everyday, and then we have a bit of science and history to finish up, but we will just do that on poor weather days, or as the kids ask for it. I know History and Science will happen one way or another as the kids lead (they love it), but the other subjects I plan to do right after breakfast and just get it done, 1 hour (okay, probably 90 minutes) maximum. I also plan on letting them each play one educational app or computer game each weekday. We will keep up our read alouds at bedtime and/or lunchtime. I also plan to teach them a chore I've put off for too long. Their own laundry! Now THAT will be and education!
  11. When I think of teaching how to be organized, I automatically thing iPhone. It think it is best to use whatever modality is going to be the path of least resistance. Kids don't want to loose their phone, they don't want to leave it at home, it's a fantastic tool. I personally won't be getting all my kids phones when they are teens--probably just one to share, but you can accomplish the same tasks with an iPod or a tablet of some kind. Another fantastic tool, which is of course accessible from an iPhone, etc., but also on the computer if you don't want to go to personal electronic devices yet is using Google Calendar. My husband works at a State University, and that is the tool used for scheduling even at that level. These are all tools he will have in college. ETA: I don't have teens yet, but we are working on this with my 11 year old who has Down syndrome. An iPhone is a vital tool he will always have with him as an adult.
  12. No big family here. Sorry. We have 3 kids and all are in the grammar stage. We used Wayfarers Medieval this year, and we all enjoyed it a lot! I had it in print, and decided it is really best as a pdf on a tablet so you can enjoy the beautiful painting and photographs included in the weekly discussions, as well as the lively daily schedule. I am not going to use it next year for the very simple reason that we only have grammar stage kids (one is advancing into Logic, but it makes sense to keep him on the same level for our History and Science spines, and advance him for his literature and language arts assignments as appropriate). I felt like the rhythm and flow of Wayfarers helped me immensely to see how to undertake planning my own program for next year, so I am going to give it a go and plan SOTW and Quark Chronicles as our spines. I will pick Wayfarers up again when our age span makes it too tricky to coordinate myself. Currently we have a funny schedule with a charter we go to two afternoons a week, so I ended up using Wayfarers like a weekly menu, instead of a daily checklist, and I added all that I wanted to do and used my own daily teachers schedule to plan. I have an art program we like better than what is recommended in Wayfarers, so I do make substitutions as well. I think the most value is to be found in the coordination os history, science, and geography. I am a very big fan of Barefoot Meandering Curricula as a whole. We use ELTL, RLTL, HLTL, Wayfarers, Quark Chronicles, and I love the little science unit studies available on Lulu.com as well. We are also going to do "50 States and Where to Find Them" next year, and I am using one of the free downloads from the BRC's site to do my lesson planning for SOTW. I feel like the program is more than fairly priced for all you get, even if one were only to use it as a menu and guide for developing a unique family program for the year.
  13. Congratulations! I started homeschooling a 2nd grader when we first started! For that year I purchased a full Sonlight grade package. I just had no idea where to start, plus Sonlight does such a wonderful job putting together a program that kids love. My 2nd grader really enjoyed it. I honestly thought we would stick with Sonlight, but as the year went on and I figured out what our weak points are (my son's and my own), and what our styles for learning (and teaching) are, and also as I planned to add two more of my children to our homeschool (my second grader was a very gracious guinea pig!), I started to research other curriculums, and finding my groove as to what is going to work for our family. All these curriculum companies stay in business for a reason... because different things work for different homeschools! :) Anyway, an "all in one" homeschool package is one awesome way to jump in. Sonlight is great if you would like a Christian curriculum that is easy to use. Bookshark is a secular version of Sonlight. Another wonderful tool is the book, "The Well Trained Mind". It walks you through a developmental approach to homeschooling, as well as ways to implement a homeschool curriculum that is very high quality. I am using this book as a planning guide for my homeschool next year. Another route is to get Cathy Duffy's book full of reviews of quality companies, and use that as a starting point. And then, just allow the first couple of years to include some curriculum changes as you settle in. We are wrapping up our second year of homeschooling, and I feel like I am finally beginning to "think like a homeschooler", and it is so fun to read through curricula and find things that resonate with me. I could only have found those things by jumping in and giving it a go! I hope you really enjoy yourselves next year. It is a lot of hard work, but it is so rewarding!
  14. Maybe it would be less frustrating if you do an audio book? That helps me to use that as an option sometimes. I have 11, 9, and 6 year old boys. The 6 yo pops his thumb in his mouth, and listens very quietly. The 11 and 9 year old would be summersaulting, jumping, spinning, you name it, if I let them. Super distracting. Coloring pages help, whether they are related to the book or not. I have a basket of "fidget toys" for them to use, and that is a hit as long as I rotate the items so they don't get bored (it has a Rubix cube, Jacob's latter, Koosh ball, spinner... that kind of stuff). A bin of legos keeps them quietly occupied. Another thing that helps is varying the time of day I read. Sometimes I save a read-aloud for while they are eating lunch, or for a bedtime story when they are cuddled up in their beds. All those things have helped our read aloud time feel a little more sane for me. :)
  15. I have anxiety, too, and I feel like I'm raising a couple carbon copies of myself. <3
  16. I have a son like that. He is now six. Just for reference, we had him in a wonderful University run preschool with a very experience teacher, and before she knew our intention to homeschool him starting in Kindergarten, she suggested to me that he skip Kindergarten in lieu of another year in preschool... he is just so, SO sensitive. When I read your description of your son, a couple things stood out to me. I would wonder if he has sensory integration issues. That is something that is sometimes very difficult to have assessed depending on your area, but I would start with your pediatrician. Another idea that we are kicking around for my son is getting him into some kind of play therapy with a psychologist. You kind of see the writing on the wall at some point, and know that it would be really good for your child to have a comfortable, on going relationship with mental health professionals. At least that is what I am feeling for my son. Also, we just never pushed it. If he needs to be in my bed, we let him, if he needs to be in my arms, that's okay, if he is too overwhelmed to tell me his feelings, we just comfort him without pushing it. He is 6 now, and some of these things are improving on their own. Others are not. He really shuts down if he ever gets in trouble from anyone other than my husband or I. He avoids things he's afraid to fail at. He's fearful of new foods often times. Is taking a long time to be independent with toileting. Anyway, I don't know how helpful this is, just that I have had similar issues with my youngest, and like you, I believe it is anxiety, or just extreme sensitivity. I do have an older child who is diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but his is expressed so differently, and he is older and has Down syndrome, but I think my youngest probably has the same. I wouldn't think of medicating him just yet, though.
  17. I schedule 3 math related activities per child per day. We use MUS as our main lesson, and we do that 4 to 5 days a week. They each to a computer based math game for about 10 minutes each day (buys me time with their brothers), and then one additional activity. I just schedule those additional activities as need for reinforcing concepts arise. Sometimes that is a Right Start game, sometimes it's a MUS activity we need to re-review, sometimes its a Math Perplexor, or just reading math literature or comic books, or... whatever.
  18. I tried TOG for one semester when I realized Sonlight was about to become impractical with a Kindergartener coming on board (at the time I had an 8 year old, and a 10 year old with special needs). O my goodness, I've never been so bogged down in paperwork, choices, and scheduling fatigue. I think that program is probably for moms who are at a level of busy I haven't reached yet. For me, with 3 kids close in age/stage, it was more planning work than was necessary. We used Wayfarers this year, and for me, it really inspired me that with a good grid, I might be able to plan something perfectly tailored for us for the next two years until my middle son is in the Logic stage and needs different history and science spines. We really enjoyed Wayfarers, and I would totally recommend it, but I think my frustrations with Wayfarers are similar to yours in that I wanted a little more in the way of discussion, and a little less in the way of pre-filled out language arts and math. I wonder if I would have appreciated it more if I had children in more than just the Grammar stage. I've always been curious about Biblioplan. Looking forward to hear some comparisons.
  19. Thank you for all these ideas and suggestions. I am going to look into each one mentioned. Very much appreciated. AttachedMama, doing grammar during the summer... genius! I'm so glad you mentioned that idea. We have to summer school so my oldest son doesn't loose skills, so we all do a little bit with him in solidarity. Might as well make grammar a summer thing with a touch of review here and there.
  20. I want to start my 4th grader with Latin in September, but that means I need either his grammar program or his spelling program to be a little more independent so we can fit this new subject in our crazy morning schedule. We are using ELTL for grammar. I am going to drop that program next year (I was never taught grammar, and need a program that helps me a bit more at this level), and haven't decided on FLL plus WWE, or IEW and Fix It Grammar, or some other combination. We are using AAS, currently on level 3. AAS is working well for him. I have considered Spelling Zoo by IEW. What else is out there? And, can I expect him to be a bit more independent/self guided with these or other options so I can use some of our current face to face time to get him started on Latin?
  21. I'm glad you posted this. I was thinking of doing a year of anatomy next year, but the kids are begging for chemistry. I love to indulge their passions when it comes to science, but it means I'm always a little behind and trying to scrape things together. A couple posters mentioned Ellen McHenry, and I am so glad they did. We really enjoy what she offers for science. I'm going to check that out. I second someone who mentioned Basher. Basher science also has a new chemistry related card game and collectible cards and little figures that could be fun to add to the school year for rewards/tokens. Now I'm off to check out the stuff that was mentioned that I am as yet unaware of! :)
  22. We use it as a stand alone supplement. I still think it is worth it. You get a lot of games for the money, where if you bought that many individual games it would be a lot! You can often find it on eBay, and also you can certainly resell it there once you are finished with it.
  23. What works great for us is to read literature books from specific geographical areas/countries, and then we coordinate that with readings in geography encyclopedias like you have, and other activities, like your cook book. The kids have really taken to it. Check out the Sonlight or Bookshark catalogues for the P4/5 program, and also level A for some books to go along with your program that are appropriate age level for your kiddos if this sounds like a fun way. Another way to do it would be supplement with picture books from the library, or get ideas from Five in a Row. Lots of fun ways to approach it. And a Great Big wall map that you can mark up with what you are learning year to year. :) I love geography.
  24. I was just thinking this exact thing as I have a 3rd grader, and we use MUS, but I really, really like the way RS teaches. I originally shied away from it because of time commitment. I have another son in Kindergarten, and one with very significant disabilities, so while I the RightStart's theory and approach really resonates with me, I know I'm not going to have the time to implement RS with two students at different levels, and keep on track with all I have to do for my son with Down syndrome. I decided, I am actually satisfied with my own math capability. I didn't really grasp what I was doing when I was learning it in the standard way growing up attending public school, but as I matured I was able to figure out on my own the relationships between numbers. I fell in love with statistics in college--Mrs. Evans, my 3rd grade teacher, would have been shocked. My husband uses algebra and trig all the time in his occupation as an electrician, and he learned in the standard way and is very adept at number sense and relationships of numbers and geometry. We did not have the RS advantage. Anyway, that thought, and the fact we just don't have the time, helped me to decide to stick with what is working, because MUS really is working very well, and I do think it also provides a good deal of understanding appropriate to developmental age and stage. I have the RightStart game pack, and we use those all the time to reinforce our knowledge and take it deeper. That is the route I've settled on for next year for our particular homeschool. :)
  25. What about just a contemporary style book study you can do together. Or maybe following a podcast together, like Rob Bell, The Deconstructionists, or Science Mike? Science Mike is great, actually. I think you would want to preview a few episodes--I don't have a 12 year old yet, so I'm hazy on what is appropriate or will "sink in". Also, a book like Rob Bell has coming out called "What is the Bible" that discusses how to approach the Bible, and you could talk about it with him critically, whether it is completely in line with you beliefs or not, he is nearing the age that it might be good to include that kind of critique? Again, I'm not totally sure because I'm not there yet. We are also "progressive" in our faith and beliefs. We started "Telling God's Story" by Peter Enns (he has a podcast now, too, actually, called The Bible for Normal People, or something similar to that), and I like it a lot. I also like a book we are going through that might be a little too youngish for your son, called "God's Names" by Sally Michael. I also think reading mythology and creation stories of other cultures has helped my kiddos gain a better understanding regarding why the creation story in our Bible is significant. Lots of good discussion.
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