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Woohoo, the first 3 days of school are finished!! We started on the 15th and it has been an interesting 3 days. Overall, it has been good getting back to a routine and officially kicking off Kindergarten. Of course, the last 3 days have also revealed some necessary tweaks to the schedule as mom was a bit ambitious with her schedule and didn’t account for the split pea fog that had settled into their brains. ๐Ÿ™‚

As for curriculum:

Math – Math-U-See finishing up Primer book
Language Arts – Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, McGuffey Eclectic Primer, copywork from these items and from History/Science
History/Science – Creation Unit Study, day 1 complete and prayerfully the weekend will allow me to post what we used/did

We read some fun books during our morning read-aloud:

1) Adele & Simon by Barbara McClintock

Adele &ย Simon

Brother and sister story of little brother losing items as they journey home.

2) The Beastly Feast by Bruce Goldstone

Beastlyย Feast

A delightful rhyming story with animals and foods, the kids loved it!!

Also, as a part of our unit study, we did do a volcano experiment today.

Here is our Starbuck’s volcano, named because that is my frappuccino bottle inside that paper and modeling clay. ๐Ÿ™‚

Starbuck's volcano

Here are your other supplies sans baking soda as it is already in the bottle.

other supplies

Yes, our grass is pretty dead, hubby rely’s on God’s sprinkler system and it hasn’t been working in our area this year. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Eruption

eruption

It’s over

it's over

Next week is a full week of class, so off to tweak the schedule, secure any additional library books and review what needs to return to the library. Enjoy the weekend!!

For those in Maryland/DC/VA or those that do not mind driving or taking the MARC train to Baltimore, the Maryland Science Center is now taking reservations (i.e., payment) for their homeschool events which are scheduled from September 5th through the 21st and here are links to the fall schedule, course descriptions, and pricing. Classes are selling out pretty quickly, so make your reservation today.

back to homeschool week

It is hard to believe we are at the end of the week already of Randi’s wonderful Back to Homeschool Week and Tiany’s Homeschool Open House. Please join me in giving these 2 ladies extraordinaire a virtual round of applause for their efforts in coordinating these wonderful events that have afforded many of us to share what we are doing, what we have learned, how we do it and to glean the same from others…..bravo, bravo, bravo!!!

Today is about curriculum….it’s a dirty word in some circles and it doesn’t work for everyone so like with anything else, find what works for you and your family. ๐Ÿ™‚ I shared more in my Day 2 post.

This year we will use Math-U-See for math as referenced here. This program works for my daughter and it works for me, so we are sticking to it.

Reading – The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading combined with the McGuffey Readers, Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists, and heavy use of the library. I also have some books from Reading A-Z books during their free teacher appreciation week. I also use many of these items for copywork/handwriting.

History/Geography and Science – Unit Studies

We utilize the library heavily and like to use different library reads to enhance our current course of study and I hope to start sharing some of those items here in the weeks ahead.

I want to share some goodies that I have found in my travels that may help others and like I said earlier, I would do the social network/bookmark thing but I am just not there yet, so click on the links below. ๐Ÿ™‚

Amy at Are we there yet? has a delightful idea of making a blog for her kids. I think this is just great and will have to implement this in a few years. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Learning Umbrella has a wonderful idea about School in a Box. Well worth a try, possibly modified, to fit your family’s needs.

Scribbit has a fun box top maze that will have you scavenging for boxes during trash day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Enjoy and if you have some goodies, feel free to share in the comments!

back to homeschool week

I am not a veteran homeschooler but I think that no matter what stage of homeschooling you find yourself at/in, there is something that you can share with someone else.

If I knew then:

1) My learning enviornment does not have to look like the government funded school systems. That is an eye-opener to many but especially to many in my extended family. Many are educators or former educators so they have a biased and often limited view of homeschooling.

2) Schedules are not masters but suggestions. In an ideal world, everything may flow via a schedule, but my world is not ideal and yours probably isn’t either (sorry to break that to you). Fact of the matter is that somedays thing need to be adjusted, enjoy your homeschooling freedom and just adjust, it will save you a lot of frustration and your kids will be happier because you aren’t in a constant state of being freaked out. ๐Ÿ˜€

3) The library is a treasure just waiting to be discovered. Even if you didn’t enjoy it as a child, it is a wonderful place, trust me, you will see. It if full of books for the young and the old and everyone in between.

4) If at all possible, review a curriculum before purchase and do not make impulse buys based on what such and such said. Such and such doesn’t live at your house and doesn’t have your kids. ๐Ÿ™‚ I really recommend, reviewing and reviewing, praying, listing it out and putting the list away for 2 weeks to make sure that you still feel the same way and think it is the best purchase for you and your children.

5) In the end, remember why you are doing this because you will need to call on that often when days and situations are not as ideal as you hoped they would be but please don’t give up, keep perservering, the rewards are so worth it!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Check out what others have to say:

back to homeschoolย week

How do we homeschool?

Such a loaded question that is…basically we homeschool like I cook – a little of this and a little of that. ๐Ÿ™‚ For the most part, we are following the broad outlinesof the classical model of homeschooling but willing to veer off course and hop down rabbit trails if our hearts desire.

I am the type of gal that needs some sort of structure or I will hop down too many trails so for scheduling we use Homeschool Tracker. I do use the Plus program but there are few software programs that you can purchase for $39 with free upgrades and able to be used on more than 1 computer in your home. I find it a great help and being that my state requires a review, the reporting feature allow me with a few clicks of the mouse to have a summary of everything. Of course, first the information has to get into the program which is what I spent a large chunk of today doing hence my late posting. ๐Ÿ™‚

Like I mentioned in the beginning, we are following the broad parameters of the classical method as outlined in the Well-Trained Mind (see sidebar). This year, I am going to do an overview of all 4 periods as exposure before delving deeper next year in the ancients. For this overview, I am developing my own unit studies that will cover history and science and I hope to share here in the near future.

For Math, we use Math-U-See. I absolutely love this program and so do my kids. A will be finishing up the Primer and starting Alpha come mid-September. We have both sets of blocks and they are in a fishing tackle box and they work well for my visual daughter and my tactile son. ๐Ÿ™‚

For Language Arts-Reading, I use the Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I did purchase the combo pack and the kids love the magnetic board and will often just want to sit and make words with it without any prodding by me, which is just wonderful. Another item that I use to supplement is the Reading Teacher’s Book of Lists. I picked this up at Barnes & Noble with my teacher’s discount and it is a must for every bookshelf. Being that my daughter is very image driven, I find that books without images or few images work best and unfortunately many of the learn-to-read books have a lot of images. I downloaded the FREE McGuffey Eclectic Primer from Project Guttenberg. They work lovely and they are great for copywork as well. For her afternoon reading, I use some Dr. Seuss and early reader books because it is fun to read with your mom on the couch.

My son, while 3 1/2, is involved in some aspects of our daily learning but there are times when he must go have some structured play so I use ziploc bags and fill them with different things for him to do like mazes, coloring sheets, scissor activities, etc. He likes this plus it helps his skill development.

I do use some DVD/VHS tapes like Magic School Bus for further understanding and to this day, a how our food grows video has been their favorite and they know all about farm equipment. These tools have their place but they are not the bulk of our learning as they pretty much only get 1/2 hour of tv/video a day.

I use the library as much as possible to fill in other items and I find that thrift stores are often a treasure trove for books that can be used in a homeschool environment. We do field trips especially to the Smithsonians and I love the fact that they are free. ๐Ÿ™‚

This year we are looking at a co-op for Fridays just because we are in the process of a church plant and our old church had a lot of activities for the kids and A is very social. I have not done our schedule justice but check out the archives for some other items and thoughts and check back in the future. ๐Ÿ™‚

The time is quickly approaching and while some are already ‘back to school’, others are preparing to go back to school. I am participating in 2 homeschool related weeks so I am combining them into 1 here.

i have to say is hosting Back to Homeschool Week and Less of Me~More of Him is hosting a Homeschool Open House for the 2nd year.

back to homeschoolย week

openย house

Both weeks referenced above have a set of questions to answer regarding the 5 w’s and h of homeschool. I will primarily follow the schedule below for Back to Homeschool Week in that it anwsers all of the questions of the Homeschool Open House. ๐Ÿ˜€

Monday, August 6—What led to your decision to homeschool?
Why do you do what you do? What brought you to homeschooling? What factors played a part in your decision?

I have answered most of these questions in a Homeschooling Meme.

If you homeschool, feel free to join both of these homeschool weeks and make sure to link back and spread the love by visiting as many sites as you can as there is encouragement and inspiration abounding. ๐Ÿ™‚

The schedule for the Back to Homeschool Week is as follows:

Tuesday, August 7—How do you homeschool?
Scheduling, classical education, unschooling, getting the kids to help with chores, how to be “mom” and “teacher” at the same time, special needs, teaching an advanced child, how to teach the tough subjects, teaching high school, teaching with babies and preschoolers in the house, budgeting for homeschool supplies, notebooking, etc., etc., etc…

Wednesday, August 8—Getting out there…
Extra-curricular activities, community involvement, volunteering, sports teams, music lessons, making sure your kids have opportunities to be social, co-ops, etc., etc., etc…

Thursday, August 9—If I had only known…
What have you learned on your homeschooling journey? What would you/did you change? This is an opportunity to encourage others who are just starting out or who are struggling with issues that seem unsolvable. It is also a perfect opportunity to tell us about one of those days made you want to throw in the towel. A funny story? Perfect!

Friday, August 10—Curriculum
What curriculum do you use? Where do you buy it? Have you found a “gem” that you must share with others? Was something in particular a complete failure for you and your kids?

Check out what others have to say:

Yesterday we received our paperwork back from the county indicating that A is officially recognized under the home instruction program. Woohoo!!!!!!

I am so excited and considering I had heard some not so encouraging stories about the staff at the home instruction office, they returned the paperwork within less than 2 weeks of my sending it in, I don’t think that is bad at all.

Of course, I am equally nervous and excited about our journey. Let’s face it, since our children were born all parents do some form of home instruction or at least I would like to think they do. ๐Ÿ™‚ It is just different now in that she is really ‘enrolled’ so to speak in what society marks as the beginning of education – Kindergarten.

I still have a few items left to tidy up in terms of a schedule which I need to keep myself on track but the intent is to really just continue our flow of some math, more reading, story time and a mild intro to history/science with a unit study approach. Also, art and music as those are definte areas of interest to my daughter and see if she still really wants to learn Spanish and sign language. When I type it out it seems like way more but really it isn’t that bad being that only Bible, Math and Reading are done daily.

I hope each of your plans are firming up as you like and if they aren’t they you are bending like a willow tree as you make adjustments. ๐Ÿ˜€

Last Friday we went to the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The pics have been up on my flickr page but I hadn’t posted about it because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. ๐Ÿ™‚

My parents accompanied the kids and I and we took the Metro which the kids love because that is how “daddy goes to work.” It was hot and humid, like it is now and usually is in DC in July, but I had never been to the National Zoo and was determined to go and not waste such a national treasure.

Here are the kids at the entrance:
At the entrance

The Giant Pandas are a huge zoo attraction and all 3 were sleeping when we came through, must have been the heat and having to wear a fur coat. Here is Papa Panda – Tian Tian, I haven’t uploaded momma and baby yet, so stay tuned. I must admit that Giant Pandas are proof that there is some good in stuff that is Made in China. ๐Ÿ™‚
Papa Panda - Tian Tian

I love this photo of the Komodo dragon.
You're still here

If you click on any of the photos, it will take you to my photostream with the other pics as I haven’t placed a flickr sidebar on this site just yet…tsk tsk I know but remember there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

What are your rights as a parent? I guess it really depends on who/what you ask. Here in the State of Maryland, I have recently learned that my rights can be summed up as follows:

“And although a parent does have a right to control the upbringing of a child, “that right is not absolute. It must bend to the State’s duty to educate its citizens,” the state board wrote.”

This quote is from our State Board of Education as it relates to a series of lawsuits in a neighboring county regarding their health plan that deals with homosexuality. More information can be found here at the Washington Post.

While on the topic of parents rights, I came across this little ditty from the Washington Times, it is from a recent Supreme Court decision.

“While parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they do not have a fundamental right generally to direct how a public school teaches their child.”

The article is an opinion piece by Michael Smith of Home School Legal Defense Fund and has many positives about homeschooling which if you live in Maryland may be a good idea considering your parental rights are absolute to an extent.

Article published Jul 9, 2007
Supreme Court levels playing field

July 9, 2007

Michael Smith – It is no secret that home-schooling is growing and gaining credibility as a viable educational alternative.

More and more colleges are actively recruiting home-schooled students, each year there are an estimated 50,000-plus home-school high school graduates who find work or go to college and thousands of new curriculum products have become available over the past five years. Meanwhile, the number of home-schoolers continues to grow by 7 percent to 15 percent each year, more states are reforming their laws to remove the burdens from parents who want to home educate, and home-schoolers continue to excel in national competitions as well as on standardized tests. In short, home-schooling is a major success story.

Now, for the first time, home-schooling has been recognized in an opinion by a U.S. Supreme Court justice as a viable educational alternative. Morse v. Frederick, which recently made national headlines, involves free speech and whether a public school can regulate what a student says. The 5-4 decision said that the school principal, Deborah Morse, did not violate the free speech rights of Joseph Frederick when she took down his pro-marijuana banner, which said “Bong Hits 4 Jesus.” The student had violated school policy and was advocating illegal drug use.

While the Home School Legal Defense Association agrees with the ruling in this specific case, it is a reminder to all families that when your child enters the public school, you have virtually ceded your parental rights to the public school.

The clearest explanation of this view was expressed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Fields v. Palmdale, when it said, “While parents may have a fundamental right to decide whether to send their child to a public school, they do not have a fundamental right generally to direct how a public school teaches their child.”

This is the reason many parents have chosen to home-school, especially those parents who have a religious worldview, because they know their children will be taught secular values by the public system.

In Morse v. Frederick, however, Justice Clarence Thomas said, “If parents do not like the rules imposed by those schools, they can seek redress in school boards or legislatures; they can send their children to private schools or home school them; or they can simply move.”

This is the first time the Supreme Court specifically has recognized home-schooling as a viable educational alternative. HSLDA has worked for 24 years to advance a parent’s right to home-school and to promote home-schooling to the general public.

After 24 years, it is gratifying to read the words of a Supreme Court justice who rightfully placed home-schooling on a level playing field with public and private schools. This kind of recognition is tremendously significant to the home-school community.

It’s another step on the long road to raise home-schooling to the point where, when the terms public, private or home-school are used in the same sentence, they all will be seen as mainstream educational alternatives.

Home-schooling is a modern education success story and HSLDA urges all parents to carefully consider their educational options. Home-schooling should be front and center because it is a viable alternative that has helped hundreds of thousands of children become mature, productive citizens.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at 540/338-5600; or send e-mail to media@hslda.org.

Our Scripture

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. ~Psalm 1:3

Something to think about…

"I never teach my pupils: I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn." ~ Albert Einstein
June 2017
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