Thursday, October 21, 2010

A New Year and A New Direction

It has been a while since I posted. I have had a few life distractions. You know how it goes. Adjustments and flexibility have dominated my life lately.
I recently took on a job that I am loving. I work from home and juggle it all now. Sometimes school hapens later in the day. Sometimes it happens on the weekends. We juggle life.

This year my focus with school is creativity. I want to teach my children to creatively express and apply what they are learning. I want to build a deeper independence. Indepence is a necessary skill my children need at the moment. I need them to be confident and self-motivated, focused and excited about the topics and themes they are studying. Excitement makes you want to dig deeper. Creativity makes you want to look at every angle and examine the subject more intently.
I think creative outlets are a fantastic way to build confidence and free thinking.
So . . .we read. A lot.
This year I am not following one particular curriculum. We aren't over-thinking it. We are just doing it.
Fridays are the most anticipated day of the week for my kids.
On Fridays we do narration activities through art. We review what we have read and studied and each child makes 4 artist trading cards to convey a detail of our reading. Maybe they will draw a character from their reading book. Maybe an animal from their science book. Maybe they will create a card about a historic time or an important historic figure. Once my children even created math atcs by writing one number in four different languages on their card.
If you aren't familiar with artist trading cards you can learn more here.
We joined some trading groups on yahoo, but weren't really happy with our returns. Now we are exclusively active on My kids have traded with several states as well as Canada, England, Finland, and New Zealand.
We keep a map that we color in once we have traded with that state or country. This is teaching them geography in a non- threatening way.
They have learned to apply math skills to determine how many stamps their envelopes require to cover postage and which stamps are best to use to save $ (44cent, 10 cent, etc.)
We have even been lucky enough to sneak in some geology when their return cards from Finland where delayed after being re-routed around the volcano in iceland. We snuck in some current events recently when I had a return trade from Chile that arrived the week that the miners were freed.
The blessing of mother culture has been wonderful for me as well. I needed an outlet and atcs have been wonderful tools for me to create as well.

My son is really struggling with writing lately. He has sensory processing disorder and possible disgraphia. The act of writing is discouraging to him and he quickly feels defeated. It has become conterproductive to his learning, so I'm not forcing it --right now. There is a season for everything right? For now, we are using the computer to meet his "writing" needs. He is learning to type.

As part of his typing asssignments he is blogging about our art study lessons. My daughter is also helping out. We started a blog called ART-ucation for this project.

My daughter doesn't get hives at the thought of writing. She is working on Learning to Spell Through Copywork A and Language Lessons for the Elementary Child (Volume 1). She is also looking forward to November when she'll start her first year of NanoWriMo.

That leaves math, science, history and reading.

For Math:
We are glued to Math Mammoth. I love this curriculum and swear by it. I won't use anything else for my children.
We have also been casually reading Number Stories of Long Ago to help establish the origins of math and tie it in to our history studies.

For Science:
Apologia rocks! My kids are loving Exploring Creation With Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day. We are also utilizing the online bonus materials, the lapbook and notebooking that coordinate with the book. They are all wondeful!

For History:
A Child's History of the World, and Learning Through History Magazine Unit Studies to expand on the material and a handy-dandy Book of Centuries time-line from Simply Charlotte Mason.

For Reading:
For read- alouds we are doing A Bear Called Paddington(for my little ones, the older two are the readers), The Peterkin Papers,The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet), Homer Priceand Heidi.

They are also required to complete 30 minutes of independent reading daily. Even my younger two have "quiet book time". My oldest has read through eight Junie B Jones Books so far. My son has developed a love for Louisa May Alcott (not sure how that happened) and is currently enjoying Jo's Boys. I am very please with the amount of reading that occurs and definately surprised by their choices for independent reading.

For Bible:
We are doing devotions, character study and reading a ywam biography of Ida Scudder. Currently, we are participating in Sonlight's Mission to India. It is excellent! I hope they do more of these for other countries in the future. My kids are loving learning about India and have already collected a bunch of money toward the mission.

For Life Studies:
My oldest is learning to sew and has also joined me in the kitchen. My son has helped daddy on building projects and household chores.

So . . . lots of adjustments. That's kind of how homeschooling works though. It bends to life and fits us in every season (not like my skinny jeans that cut off circulation this time of the month). Homeschooling always fits. I'm so blessed to have the freedom and ability to school my children at home.

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