Saturday, July 30, 2016

Wrapping My head Around the Coming Year...

It's hitting me that July is almost over, that we only have a month or so of summer weather left. I went out to the garden this afternoon and despite my dismal efforts we have vegetables growing all over the place. It's been a very busy season, summer means hours at the park and pool and any moment I'm home is either me crashing in exhaustion or rushing trying to clean up from the kids that have trashed the house while I was resting from the hours of carrying/chasing/watching busy baby in the summer heat.

A Mermaid Castle the kids built in a creek.

It's been a really fun summer though...We've squeezed in a beach trip, fire works watching, many picnics, and tons of pool time. We also spent a lot of time at the library. Everyone took part in our local Summer Reading Program and the ones that could take part logged well over 2,000 minutes reading. I'm especially blown away by Roo, she logged so many books and reading time, all the prizes she won got to be a little obnoxious.

But August is around the corner, Friendly turns seven in 9 days. We're starting to make Birthday plans. And with that my mind starts to turn to our school  year and wondering if I'm covering all the things well enough.


Core Spine: Build Your Library: The Medieval World technically this is "Grade 2" I think it will be a perfect middle ground for Friendly who falls some where between 1st and 2nd grade and Roo who falls some where between 2nd and 3rd. 

What we will be covering (and some of the books we will use):
Story of the World Volume 2

Language Arts will be intertwined with history, we'll be reading about Medieval times and The Middle Ages from the Build Your Library Book Store (and supplementing whenever possible with Library Audio options, When researching for the year I was excited to find that our local Library has several of the required books available as Audio Books- less reading aloud for me.)

We'll be using BYOL's Science doing Earth Science and a Study of Space
I'm feeling a little ridiculously excited to get started. Last year when  we did the Ancient Civilizations the Science study was Nature studies (and nature notebooking) I wanted to study it so badly. I did some of the activities myself because I felt like making the observations, some times the kids would join me but generally it was a "oh That's nice, Mom.". Roo wanted to study Physiology and Anatomy, good stuff We used Apologia's program and Jr. Notebooking Journal  which is fantastic. But I don't know, maybe because it wasn't technically in the Teacher's Guide or maybe I just found it hard to squeeze in because there was so much to it, but I had a hard time consistently offering opportunities to work on it- or knowing how much to do. It was fine, the kids enjoyed it we got a few chapters of the book done and will pick it back up as interest dictates.

Okay so Science is covered.

Grammar and Spelling
The BYOL also offers opportunities to do dictation (so technically grammar, spelling, and handwriting if you want it to be). This format (using dictation from language arts that day) hasn't worked well with Roo. I think it feels too vague and unofficial for her. So we were using Spelling You See Jack & Jill I'm unsure whether she is ready to move on to the next level. Her reading comprehension and skills have jumped several grade levels in the last 3 months alone. When we started Jack and Jill last school year it was a bit too much for her. Now the spelling words are beyond easy for her, but it gives lots of practice in grammar as well as some handwriting practice. We've been skipping and doing a 5 or 6 grammar exercises in one day and 1 spelling practice and then moving on. We jumped ahead at least 10 levels in 2 weeks that way...We could quickly finish up and move on I suppose. I'm just unsure if that would be the best use of the curriculum? We can erase and use it again for Friendly, perhaps.
Which leads me to Friendly, I'm not sure if Spelling You See is the best fit for Friendly though. Due to her Auditory Processing challenges she gets really frustrated and turned around when she has to spell words from hearing me say them. She does better with concrete pictures and building the word visually. I thought about maybe going back to Explode the Code with her (we used it briefly with Roo in pre-K age, haven't used it with Roo). But I feel so in over my head in where to place her. I think we will be leaving spelling alone for now and using the Brain Integration Therapy exercises and phonic sounds flash cards to unlock her blocked learning gates and then re-evaluate at mid-year.

We've really been enjoying and learning a lot from Life of Fred  And the kids have picked up a ton of math from it! I think we're going to stick with that until we get through Edgewood and then see where the kids land. I have been really leaning towards wanting to do Teaching Textbooks with Roo, but I think I'd rather save the money and reconsider at mid-year as well. I go back and forth on this. The only thing I don't like about Life of Fred is that it's more reading out loud. It's not that I dislike reading out loud, but when you have little ones reading out loud means interruptions, constant interruptions. And that's part of life and it's part of homeschooling and it's part of reality but it annoys the heck out of me. :D I have been trying to work through scheduling stuff to reduce interruptions, but infants are infants, preschoolers are preschoolers and they are to interruption what bees are to nectar. I did begin recording myself reading chapters aloud on a private youtube channel so I can set kids up with a chapter on the ipad....

So Did I cover every thing?

Oh Bible. 

I will be doing Heart of Dakota Little Hearts for His Glory again (did it with Roo in 2013) with Pip, that has daily Bible stories and Memory verses. I think we will also be using Our 24 Family Ways every morning, or some mornings at least.

Sheesh when I type it all out I feel super overwhelmed! But then I remember, It's not all these things every day (except for Brain Integration Therapy, that's 15minutes daily). We're definitely going to have to think through a morning flow that works better than what we currently have. One that doesn't make homeschooling feel like a chain weighting down the relaxed days we want to have. But some thing that insures we're getting things done and every thing feels like they have enough structure to thrive and accomplish what they want to.

There's the rub.

More on that next time.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Tiptoeing Back in...

I pulled my blogs off the internet a few months ago. I decided I didn't want the internet at large to have access to family life and I just simply do not have time for much of any thing let alone blogging. Child #4 has killed all time for me. Oh yeah, we had another baby! Ziggy Joy arrived September 2015 and life has been a bit crazy every since! Every moment I might have been able to get away is full of shoulds and needs and keeping my head above water. But I'm also losing myself in there.  I enjoy writing. I think I have gotten a little tired of blogs though, they are just a tiny snippet and I feel like they are either too feely, mushy and frankly, silly. Or too perfect. Life is messy.

I want to continue to blog about gentle parenting, school, I think that is grounding and helpful to me. Not because I do it right. Not because I have some picture perfect or even interesting story to share, but because I need it in my life.

So I'm here.

A little update on us...

Roo is eight and a half and heading into third grade. Last school year was full of incredible changes and growth for Roo. She went from (still at age 8) sounding out words like "was" and "and" in January to reading fluently in March! She was still barely (with much anguish on her part, I never pushed it, but she was clearly frustrated) able to get through the Biscuit books to reading 6th grade reading level books by May. She's currently reading Poppy and Rye and I couldn't be more proud at the strides she is making. She loves reading! It happened just like when she learned to crawl or walk: frustration and struggle. And just like the older homeschool Mom's said would happen, CLICK!!
I think what really helped was enjoying books together. As well as the Reading Rainbow Skybrary App, she would curl up for hours reading book after book with the app (it narrates) and she fell in love with the solitary and relaxing activity that reading can be.

It is so validating to have a reader, it was a scary process but I'm glad we're here.

Friendly will be SEVEN in two weeks. I can't believe that she will be heading into second grade. Friendly is still struggling with some sensory processing things, she's always been my MORE kid and nothing has changed. We will be doing Brain Integration Therapy this school year to address some of her auditory processing issues, hopefully reducing her over all life frustrations as the pathways between hemispheres of her brain heals. I am really hopeful.  She is beginning to read, a completely different process from Roo. She is reading early readers and hungry for information and knowledge. She enjoys playing with numbers and seems to be very interested in math concepts, we will be encouraging that this school year.

The older two have told me they want to study The Middle Ages (we just finished up Ancient Civilizations), and are very interested in diving into our studies of space and earth science. :) We will be using Build Your Own Library again, I really really enjoyed our Ancient Civilizations and World Tour Last school year, we will be combining the girls into one grade and adding and subtracting as they need- it's so versatile and inexpensive enough where I don't feel pressure if we skip things that aren't working for us (no guilt at money wasted). It didn't feel like it at the time, we're so scattered and laid back, but when I pulled together all the things from the school year and wrote our subject summary for the school district: WOW! We learned and did so many things together last school year, it was a lot of fun!

Pip is four and a half and she is a pip and a half for sure. Four. Oh my goodness I don't know how I'm going to survive it again, it is grueling. Some thing about "Four"  in our kids- especially for our more easy going personalities- means they took all that they didn't dish out at two and three and saved it to unleash tenfold at four. It is beyond exhausting. I need a vacation. That said, she loves to have jobs, she can unload the dishwasher and fold a load of towels like a little machine and she loves to "babysit" Ziggy (she plays with him and bosses him around :D ). She is bright and inquisitive and full of ideas and wants to learn to read and do school this year. 

Ziggy. Oh my goodness this bub is amazing. I can't believe we didn't know we needed him in our family. He is just amazing. So far I haven't noticed any real difference in having a boy, except I use on average 2-3 more wipes per diaper changes, it's not as straghtforward cleaning all the things down there. :D He's crawling, cruising, pulling up on every thing. He has 6+ teeth and loves to play "so big". He's really really good at throwing, he loves to play "catch" and to throw any thing he can get his hands on, the older kids get a kick out of it. He is the sweetest little squish.

And that's about that. I hope to start blogging weekly about our school year and life again, I need the outlet.