How We’re Doing It: Favorite Summer Learning Activities

My children are young enough that they’re still very much at an age where almost everything is a learning activity, so our summer plans are mostly of a “more of the same!” nature.

IMCPL Summer Reading 2015This is our first year where we’re really doing the library summer reading program. Last year I was too pregnant to want to hassle with it. And yes, it seemed like a hassle. This year it’s fun, and the kids love going to the library and picking out their own books. Lately it seems like most of the books I check out are for them.

Beyond their picks, I also choose books for them – there are so many great books I’m thrilled to read with them and introduce them to some of my favorite characters from when I was a child. (Coming up next: The Mouse and the MotorcycleThe Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary – I loved this book as a kid, and I’m sure my son will love it too.)

I’m also working off of a giant list I’ve compiled over the years of hundreds of potential titles to read to them and with them. More than enough books for our family reading time!

(Anyone interested in me sharing that list? I’ve been debating sharing it here, but that’s a lot of typing and reformatting if no one cares.)

With all summer birthdays here, it also gives us a chance to get new games and activities as birthday gifts. My daughter just got a couple of books from us, and my son is getting books as well. Earlier this week I asked him what he wanted for his birthday and he actually requested books – books for him to read and me to read to him. Talk about the way to his mom’s heart – he just guaranteed himself a big stack of new reading material. πŸ™‚

I’ve said before that I think developing a love of reading is my biggest focus at this age, and I believe that the best thing I can do for them is to read aloud, provide access to books, and help them develop reading routines. That’s my focus this summer as we work around all the other activities we have these months.

This post is shared as part of Sonlight’s monthly blog linkup this year, in honor of their 25th anniversary. June’s topic was to share your favorite summer reading and learning activities.

I’m also linking this post up with the National PTA’s Family Reading Challenge Blog Party, which is launching the Family Reading Challenge in July. A challenge promoting family reading? That’s my kind of challenge, because #FamiliesRead.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: Page Additions for Improved Organization

Homeschooling Update: Page Additions for Improved OrganizationNo real update post today, but some blog updates. I’ve created some pages in order to have a central area to collect all of my posts related to homeschooling in hopes of improving the blog’s organization and usability. As I continue to write them, I’ll add links to those pages. Searching by categories works, but sometimes it’s easier to have things arranged more intentionally than just the chronological order the category provides. And while I’m working on cleaning up my tags, that project still isn’t finished so it’s not a fool-proof solution.

So, I have an overall “Homeschooling” page, which also includes links to the other new pages (PreK, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade). The Homeschooling page as well as the grade level pages all have links to individual posts.

Hopefully this is helpful!

Homeschooling Update: Core A Progress and Getting Ready for Summer

Homeschooling Update Core A Progress May 2015We’re now roughly through week six of our plans for First Grade, using Sonlight Core A. Here were some of the highlights from the past month:

History & Geography

Ongoing reads:

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaMy son says the Children’s Encyclopedia is his favorite. He wants to read from it every day (and every day doesn’t have something scheduled, so he’s extra happy when it is an encyclopedia day.) Fortunately it’s also used in Science A, and between the History and Science readings I can make it so most days get an encyclopedia entry. πŸ™‚

Living Long Ago is still popular (and he’s definitely learning from it). On the other hand, I’ve officially given up on I Heard Good News Today. I may try it again next year, or with another core even, but for now I’m substituting something else for it.

New this month

The Story of ExplorationAnd that something else is The Story of Exploration. I went through and scheduled out this book in place of IHGNT, and we’ve read two sections of it. My son loves it, I love it, it’s a much better fit for us. It’s a great book with lots of fascinating information (including some details that I never knew about the Vikings!)

Read Alouds

Ongoing reads:

The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseLast month I wasn’t sure how they felt about the poetry selections The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes and The Llama Who Had No Pajama but there’s no doubt now – they really like them. We’re likely to finish both of these super early, and end up rereading them at least once. After seeming fairly indifferent towards them last month, now my son is enthusiastic about them, and requests many pages each reading session.

New this month

HeidiIt’s not scheduled in the core, but we read HeidiHeidi (Great Illustrated Classics) by Johanna Spyri, abridged by Deidre S. Laiken this month. My kids were not all that impressed with it, and my daughter barely listened to it. I think they were just a bit too young to appreciate it. I thought they’d enjoy this abbreviated version that’s loaded with illustrations, but it wasn’t to be. And actually, I wasn’t all that impressed with the abridgment, or the illustrations. I tried playing the audio book for them, but that did not go over well – I’d like to keep trying that with him, to see if I can find some he’ll like. Clearly Heidi was not it!

Dolphin AdventureI already shared how we finished Dolphin Adventure, and my son really liked it. He’s excited to read the sequel.

We’ve also just started My Father’s DragonMy Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and James Herriot’s Treasury for ChildrenJames Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales by the Author of All Creatures Great and Small, illustrated by Ruth Brown and Peter Barrett. So far I’m not sure how successful My Father’s Dragon will be for them (maybe they need another couple of chapters to get into the story?), but they’ve liked the James Herriot book. I love the illustrations in Herriot’s book – they add a lot to very familiar stories, and they’re simply beautiful. It’d make for a fabulous gift book!

Bible

The Story for ChildrenMy son really disliked the assigned Egermeier’s Bible Story BookEgermeier's Bible Story Book and I feel like we gave it a good try. Instead, I’m substituting The Story for ChildrenThe Story for Children, a Storybook Bible, which we already owned. The illustrations are fabulous, and he likes listening to it (and he follows along with what I’m reading much better than he did with Egermeier’s.) Plus I like reading this one more too.

Math

Math Mammoth 1A We’re still working in Math Mammoth 1A, and we’re right in the middle of Chapter 2, on subtraction. I’m not sure he really gets subtraction yet – somedays he seems to, and once in awhile it’s like he’s never heard of it, and has no idea what I’m talking about. We use the abacus and Legos a lot at those times. πŸ™‚

Science

WeatherWe finished reading WeatherWeather (Usborne Beginners, Level 2) in about two days, because my son wanted to read more and more and more of it. He loves those books! These are easy enough where he can read much of it himself, and we often took turns reading the page.

We are quite behind on the experiments, and even on watching the DVD of the experiments. Hopefully daddy can get things set up so we can watch it soon on the TV (we’ve got a weird setup and I have passed on learning how to do it myself.)

Language Arts

ShipwreckLast month, I said my son had just reached the halfway point of All About Reading Level 3. Well, he then went on a tear and finished the final 18 lessons in a week and a half – he was super motivated! We’ve just received Level 4 and started it this week. I cannot say enough how much we love this program. Full post about Level 3 coming eventually. πŸ™‚

Since he was doing so much phonics work ever day with reading, I didn’t start spelling like I’d originally planned. We’ll start that next week.

Handwriting is the big thing that I’m struggling with. How picky should I be as far as his letter formation? Am I expecting too much from him? Am I not expecting enough?

PE

He received his senior orange belt in taekwondo last month, and he might even be ready to test for his green belt next month.

The baseball season is about halfway over, and is having lots of fun playing. And lots of fun getting snacks after every game and then playing on the playground next to the ball fields. His sister is enjoying getting to play on the playground during his games, so it’s been a success for everyone. πŸ™‚

Swimming lessons have begun again – they’re both scheduled for about 10 weeks of instruction. I’m hoping they can get to be semi-independent to independent swimmers by the end of that. Wishful thinking? Perhaps; I have no real idea what is reasonable to expect at those ages, with once a week lessons.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1 We’re still doing Harmony Arts Grade 1 plan – and I still really like it. I’m not exactly consistent on doing it every week, but I’m doing more than I did last year when I had no plan.

I especially like that it’s easy to include his sister with it as well. She adores art and is a much more enthusiastic participant in this program than he is! So far everything we’ve done has been easy enough to adapt to whatever level of skill or interest fits. I’ve even joined in with them occasionally – those art supplies are lots of fun to use!

Extras

Our homeschool group has wrapped up for the summer, and I’m still thinking about what I want to do for next fall. Part of me wants to just do my own thing, or try to coordinate some easy things with some of my homeschooling friends, but then I wonder how complicated that would be, and do I have the time/energy to try and do that? Maybe I should first gauge interest in it.

Looking Ahead

I have wanted to slow down our progress through Core A, but so far I’m not being all that successful at it. G really loves it and generally wants more in a day, not less. This summer may make it easier to take our time, as we’ll have lots of extra things going on and taking up our usual school hours. Taekwondo camp, VBS, and a planned visit from Grandma will all be weeks when I’m not planning on doing any school. Add in lots of time playing outside with the neighbors (hopefully) and we may have other shorter school days ahead.

Next month’s update should be the real test: do I have much to report? Have we done anything? Have we done lots, proving that this core just will not be slowed down, despite my initial plans?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Top 10 Tips for Homeschool Conventions

Sonlight is having a monthly blog linkup this year, in honor of their 25th anniversary. May’s topic is to share your best homeschool convention tips and experiences.

Top 10 Tips for attending a homeschool conventionLet’s first get the disclaimer out of the way: I’ve never been to a homeschool convention. So why on earth do I think I have anything to say about attending one then? Because I’ve been to a lot of library conventions, and I think there’s enough overlap that some general points will apply to homeschool ones as well. And I also ran this post past a friend who has been to some homeschool conventions to see if I was completely off-base with my tips. She didn’t think so, so here are my top 10 tips for going to conventions, homeschool or otherwise. πŸ™‚

  1. Go for comfort, especially with your shoes.
    Seems obvious, right? Big convention, large exhibit hall, presentations taking place all over the place – there can be a lot of walking. Every year I’d see people collapsed on a chair, rubbing their feet as they bemoaned their choice of footwear. Also, be aware that temperatures can vary – the middle of summer might still have an overly air-conditioned hall, or you might be in stuffy rooms, so wear layers.
  2. Know the rules.
    Are rolling bags allowed on the exhibit floor? They’re super handy, but not all conventions allow them. Same goes for strollers – sometimes they’re allowed, sometimes they’re not. You’ll want to know before you show up expecting to use one. Check the convention website – that’ll usually let you know what is and is not permitted.
  3. Carry some cash.
    Even if you don’t usually use it, you may need to now. Parking fees, vending machines – they may take cards, but they may not.
  4. Pack a snack and a drink.
    I always like having a granola bar or some almonds. Food options vary, and you may never need it, but having something small and not needing it is much nicer than desperately wishing you had something … anything … to quell the hunger pains. (But remember to make sure you’re following point #2 – some places don’t allow outside food or drink.)
  5. Figure out your goals.
    Which presentations will best meet your needs? Which vendors do you most want to see? Set priorities as to how you’re going to use your time, and have back up plans in case certain presentations are full or even cancelled.
  6. Divide and conquer.
    If you’re attending with a friend, can you split up and cover more ground? Especially if two presentations you’re interested in are taking place at the same time, see if you can each attend one and then swap notes later. If you’re on your own, find out if audio will be available after the convention. Maybe you don’t need to go to some of the presentations, if you can download the talk later. Remember though, if there’s one where you want to ask a question, go in person to that!
  7. Have space in your bag.
    I always left with tons of literature, and needed to plan ahead and have space in my luggage.
  8. Think ahead for what you might want to buy.
    Are any publishers running convention specials? Are they good enough to be worth buying on site? And compare online prices – is that special convention price really special?
  9. Bring address labels.
    Library convention exhibit halls had tons of giveaways, and they usually involved dropping a business card in a container, or filling out a entry slip. Leaving a card was much quicker, and saved writing my info multiple times. I saw others slapping address labels on those slips, so even without a business card they still avoided having to write their info again and again.
  10. For all the introverts out there – plan some downtime.
    It helps to not be overwhelmed by everything and ALL THE PEOPLE.

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All About Spelling Level 1 Review

All About Spelling Level 1I promised this review ages ago, and kept letting it get pushed off in favor of other posts. So hopefully no one was waiting too anxiously for it!

We finished up All About Spelling (AAS) Level 1 just as we finished Core P 4/5. And despite being a couple of months into the next set of material we’re using for our framework, Core A, we still haven’t gotten back to spelling by continuing with Level 2. That is in no way a reflection of any dislike for the program! I wanted us to get into a good routine with Core A, and then my son was so focused on finishing Level 3 of the All About Reading (AAR) program, that I figured that was enough phonics work, and holding off on continuing spelling was ok.

Because we will be continuing with spelling using AAS – it’s fantastic!

If you’ve been using AAR, AAS seems less hands-on. It’s still got the letter tiles and word cards, but there aren’t all the activities like there are in AAR. That’s not a criticism, just a comment and comparison. I love the letter tiles, and my son does as well – he’s not fond of writing, and they keep him from being held back by his writing. Building words via tiles is much simpler, and lets him focus on the letters, not how they’re formed.

I love how the phonics rules are reinforced with AAS. Every one taught in Level 1 was one he knew already through AAR, but the change in focus from decoding to encoding helped him learn them in a different way. Spelling was always my worst subject in school, and my lack of phonics instruction really hampered me. I learned some things from Level 1 (the rules anyway, not so much the application at that level), and I’m kind of excited to see what else I’ll learn from the additional levels.

Each day’s lesson is quick – maybe 15 minutes tops – but that’s enough to make steady progress through the book. Everything is really easy for me to follow as well. It’s slightly scripted, and even with my non-phonics background it’s simple for me to use and teach.

Highly, highly recommended. I love this program. My son loves this program. It’s wonderful. It might seem a little bit pricey, but it’s completely reusable for my younger two. The only consumables in this program are the stickers – even the progress chart, phonogram chart, and certificate of completion can be downloaded for free from their website to use with additional students. Love that!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post, and I didn’t receive this program for free – I paid for it myself – I just LOVE this program. So much so that I am an affiliate for it, which means that if you buy the program using my link I may receive a percentage of the cost at no additional cost to you. And then I use any money I make to buy more books and homeschooling supplies which I talk about here. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Homeschooling Update: Finished Our Awana Year

Sparks HangGlider HandbookLast week we wrapped up our Awana year, and unlike last year when I was kind of sad to see it end this year I am so ready for the break. It was much harder this year with three kids, and the late bedtime that those evenings always brought.

That said, it was a good year – G loved being a Spark, and loved memorizing his verses. He flew through his book and was thrilled to earn all of his “gems.” He already is looking forward to next year’s book. I was really impressed with how hard he worked at it, and how much he took ownership of learning his verses. Every day I might have to remind him to work on them, but that was it – he’d grab his book and go. (Well, once his reading got to the point where he could do that. Initially I had to read the verse to him the first time, and occasionally throughout the year there might be a word or two he’d need help with initially.)

Cubbies HoneyComb HandbookH didn’t like being a Cubbie as much, and I’m reminding myself that G didn’t always enjoy his first year either. However, there was one week where G wasn’t going, and I gave her the option of going or staying home and she was insistent that she wanted to go. So it must not have been that bad for her, even if she did have some issues some weeks.

I’m still not sure what we’ll do next year. We could return to the same place, or I could look for another Awana program. I think H might do better somewhere else (because of those unspecified issues mentioned above), but G really likes where he is. I would kind of like to move to a Sunday night program, instead of the Wednesday night one we’re on, so that would be a reason to switch programs. Decisions, decisions.

All in all though, I’m really happy that we’ve found Awana, and am glad my kids participate in it. It’s been a great program for them, and a nice supplement to our homeschooling year!

A Day in the (Homeschool) Life

Linking up with Sonlight’s monthly blog. April’s prompt: Share a day in the life of your family. What does your family’s homeschool schedule look like?

Witching Hour7:30 My son brings me the baby. This is one of his favorite things to do, so if she’s not crying, I often will leave her in her crib for him to wake up and get her out. She gets fed while I talk with her brother and wait for her sister to wake up.

8:00 Downstairs, to fix breakfast for everyone. First up is tea for me. The kids watch a 30 minute show until I finish drinking a second cup, then we all go back upstairs to get dressed for the day. Upstairs chores as well – make beds, start a load of laundry.

Reading9:00 Downstairs to get started on the day for real this time. Into the playroom to do school. We’ll start with our Bible reading, and then we’ll alternate picks. I pick Sonlight books, and check things off in our IG as I finish them. We do not ever follow it exactly. πŸ™‚ I also move the laundry over when I hear it buzz that the wash cycle has finished.

10:00 We’ve moved on to game time – my son alternates reading a section of his AAR lesson with playing a game. Once he finishes the AAR lesson, he’ll do his math the same way. A page of math, another game, then another page of math. The baby has also gone down for a nap, although it’s always questionable if she’ll sleep or not.

Math11:00 Wrapping up the last game now, and it’s time to go get the baby and get her changed and all of us ready to leave for my daughter’s taekwondo class. They used to both be in the same class, but my son aged out of it and is now in the “regular” classes, instead of the tot classes. It’s better for him, but a lot more time spent by me waiting and watching.

12:00 Class just ended, and now it’s our usual Monday routine – picking up lunch somewhere and bringing it home! Today is my son’s turn to pick, and he wants Arby’s.

Waiting at TKD1:00 Finishing up lunch cleanup, and then I get help folding laundry and putting it away. I’m trying to stretch things out with everyone so quiet time starts when the baby is ready to go down for her nap. That helps guarantee a real break for me. πŸ™‚

2:00 Quiet time for the big kids, naptime for the baby. It was my daughter’s turn to pick which room she wanted to be in for quiet time, and she picked the play room. My son then chose to be in the TV room (the TV isn’t on, but that’s still their name for the room). He’s got a Lego set in there with him which should keep him busy, or else he’ll work his way through a stack of puzzles.

Reading Lesson3:00 Snack time! They both know how to read the clock to tell if it’s snack time. This helps prevent every-five-minute queries of “can I have a snack?” I dole out some snacks and send them outside to play.

4:00 Still outside, although they’re in and out frequently. The baby is up and we’re watching them from the front room until it’s time to get ready to go to my son’s taekwondo class. He’s responsible for making sure he has everything he needs for class – gear and uniform. He does a great job at it, and has never forgotten anything.

H playing with her friends5:00 G’s taekwondo class has just begun, and he’s thrilled that today I chose to drop him off (“like a big kid!”) and take the girls to the store around the corner. His class is 45 minutes, and if I hustle I can pick up enough to get us through the week. And if the checkout lines are long, well, there’s another class right after his and they don’t mind if he watches it for a few minutes until I get there to pick him up.

6:00 We’ve just arrived home and it’s time to unload the groceries and get dinner going. Right now I’m really wishing I’d put something in the crock pot this morning. Instead we’re having green chili enchiladas with black beans and rice. The kids both want to play a game on the computer and since it keeps them out of the way while I cook, I’m all for it. They’re alternating between a geography game, building a mummy, playing Barbie dress-up, and a race game. The first two are courtesy the links that come along with the Encyclopedia we’re reading as part of Core A.

Dinner7:00 Almost ready to eat. It got much easier to finish dinner once daddy got home at 6:30 and could take over with the baby. The kids are all back outside playing while daddy watches/joins in. Dinner won’t thrill them, and while in theory I’d have them try everything I already know this meal is too spicy for them. Instead they get leftovers and anything else I can easily scrounge together.

8:00 Wrapping up dinner clean up and setting up the dishwasher to run overnight. Then it’s time to get the baby ready for bed – she’s tired and getting cranky. The older two start their bedtime routine at 8:30, but daddy takes care of all of that.

Playing Games9:00 Kids are showered and pj’d. Now they’re playing a bit until it’s time to get in bed and turn out the lights. Time for me to get ready for bed.

10:00 This is my prime reading time, after the kids are all asleep. I just have to choose carefully lest I get sucked into a story and lose track of time!

11:00 Lights out, crossing my fingers that the baby sleeps through the night, and if she doesn’t that she’s quick to go back to sleep after eating!

Full disclosure: The pictures are pulled from several different days, as I’m not on the ball enough to get a full day’s worth taken in one day. They’re not staged at all (except for me arranging the books to show all the titles), and do represent what our days look like.

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Homeschooling Update: Beginning Core A

We’ve finished our first two weeks of Sonlight Core A (more or less). Here were some of the highlights from the past month:

History & Geography

Usborne Children's EncyclopediaMy son LOVES the Children’s Encyclopedia. LOVES it. I catch him flipping through it on his own, and asking when we’re going to read certain pages.

One of his favorite things is the internet links included – I’ve bookmarked the encyclopedia on the computer, and he knows how to get to it and explore the links. So far his favorite things have been putting the continents/countries/cities on the globe, and playing a game where he makes a mummy.

Living Long AgoLiving Long Ago he likes, but not as much as the encyclopedia. So far there have been some fairly easy hands-on activities mentioned in LLA, but we’ve not actually owned the items we’d need to do those activities. I need to look ahead and see if I can get them, because I think they’d both like to do them.

I Heard Good News TodayI Heard Good News Today has not been a hit. I’m putting it aside to try again in a few months.

Read Alouds

(And a clarification: We don’t necessarily read all of the books in the official order given in the Core. They’re not tied into history at all, and so I will move them around and add in other books as we like. So seeing a book from the Core mentioned here doesn’t mean it’s scheduled that way.)

The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThey like The Arnold Lobel Book of Mother GooseThe Arnold Lobel Book of Mother Goose: A Treasury of More Than 300 Classic Nursery Rhymes, but I’m a bit burned out on Mother Goose (plus I preferred the illustrations in last year’s A Treasury of Mother GooseA Treasury of Mother Goose). I’m reading what’s scheduled, but no extra. The rhymes are making an impact on my daughter at least: she spent several days reciting Humpty Dumpty after I read it one afternoon.

The Llama Who Had No PajamaI want to hold off on a verdict for The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite PoemsThe Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems by Mary Ann Hoberman, illustrated by Betty Fraser – we’ve read so little of it. So far the kids seem to like it, but they’re not desperate for more.

We’d already read The Boxcar Children, so I added the sequel, Surprise Island. We also read Winnie-the-Pooh, and we just started The Yellow House Mystery (The Boxcar Children, No. 3)The Yellow House Mystery (The Boxcar Children, No. 3) by Gertrude Chandler Warner (book #3 in the Boxcar Children series)

The Story about PingWe finished The Story about PingThe Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack. I loved it and both kids really liked it – enough so that we read it a couple of times, and then read a couple more Flack books. My son especially liked The Boats on the RiverThe Boats on the River by Marjorie Flack, illustrated by Jay Hyde Barnum. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve read it now, and I still don’t mind reading it again – always the sign of a good book.

The Complete Adventures of Curious GeorgeWe also finished The Complete Adventures of Curious GeorgeThe Complete Adventures of Curious George: 70th Anniversary Edition by Margret and H. A. Rey in one day because the kids loved it so much. Every time I finished a chapter they begged for more, and were sad when we reached the end.

Bible

Egermeier's Bible Story BookWe’re working through the Egermeier’s Bible Story BookEgermeier's Bible Story Book. The amount of reading seems fairly inconsistent on the schedule, but I’ve changed it to just read a section every day. It works. I like it more than the 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible101 Favorite Stories from the Bible in P 4/5, but not as much as the The Jesus Storybook BibleThe Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name.

Math

Math Mammoth 1AWe’re moving along in Math Mammoth 1A, and just finished through page 50 (practicing adding three numbers). G also decided that he wanted a break from it and spent a few days working in his Mathematical Reasoning B book instead. I let him pick each day which one he uses.

Science

Tadpoles and FrogsWe’re doing Core A science, and have done the readings through all of week one, and half of week two. We have not watched the DVD, or done the experiments. The worksheets we’re doing orally. We’re in the midst of reading Tadpoles and Frogs, and surprisingly for an Usborne book, this one doesn’t have my son begging to finish it in one day. That’s a sign of how high my expectations are for those books that I’m shocked he just likes it and isn’t obsessively crazy over it. πŸ™‚

Language Arts

Chasing HenryWhile I have Sonlight’s LA1, we haven’t done any of it so far. He’s still doing All About Reading 3 (just reached the halfway point of it and finished the first reader, Chasing Henry), and will be starting All About Spelling 2 soon (I was getting us settled into the new Core first). He’s got a handwriting book too.

The Sonlight LA seems pretty redundant from the other materials, and I’m not sure how I want to use it. At some point I’ll have him read the readers at least (maybe maybe interspersed with AAR 3 & 4?), and I’m considering going back to the LAK sheets and going over the writing assignments from it. We were inconsistent with doing them, and they seem like they’d be a good fit for him now.

PE

G had a taekwondo tournament, and finished 3rd in forms and 5th in sparring. He’s belt testing this weekend, and will hopefully pass and get his senior orange belt.

He’s also started baseball, and is right in the middle of practicing. Later this month he starts playing real games, and he can’t wait.

Art & Music

Harmony Fine Arts Grade 1I purchased Harmony Arts Grade 1 plan – it’s designed as an overview year, and is supposed to be good for those new to art and music appreciation. That would be me/us. So far we’ve done the first week of it, and I like it. It’s very doable by me, and it’s fun for the kids. It’s also inexpensive enough that I didn’t feel like I was risking a lot by trying it out.

(and a heads-up if this looks interesting to you: it’s 40% off through the end of April using the code SPRINGTHING40. That’s making me seriously consider buying next year’s program already.)

Extras

Create-a-CalendarI’m a bit disappointed in the calendar Sonlight includes – it’s a blank calendar, and the kids are supposed to add their own dates and stickers and all that. Except it’s got the months listed, and it begins in September. While that might be a typical start date in North America, I’d really have preferred the blank calendar to be completely blank, so whenever we started the Core, we could decide how we wanted to use the calendar.

Sonlight Timeline BookThe timeline though, is a HUGE hit. G wants to add figures to it every day, and we’ve only added about one a week, much to his disappointment.

We’re all taking a field trip today and touring a local ice cream place, to see how they make it. I haven’t told them what we’re doing and they are going to be so excited. I can’t wait to see their reaction. And when they find out that they’re going to get to TRY the ice cream? They are going to be ecstatic.

He’s still doing lots of Legos and puzzles. He’s already planning which Lego set he wants for his birthday, and for finishing Level 3 in reading. Until my Kindle Fire died, he was playing lots of Presidents vs. Aliens and Stack the States on it while waiting for his sister to finish her taekwondo class. I’m wondering how long I’ll be able to hold off on replacing it with another tablet – there are definitely times when it’s handy. And I was surprised at how much he picked up regarding US Geography and Presidential history from playing those games!

Beginning Core A Update 1

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Why I Homeschool

Because I was asked about this in a message recently, here are the main reasons why I homeschool:

  1. To encourage more family togetherness
    I want my kids to be best friends, not be pulled apart by grade-level differences. I also like spending time with them, and don’t want to miss out on the best part of the day by sending them off.

    Not long after this, all the links ended up on the floor and they got to play a pick up game. πŸ™‚ #latergram

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  2. To provide the best education possible by tailoring it specifically to them and their needs and interests.
    I can spend more time on some subjects, less on others, and teach to whatever level my children are on at the time, instead of whatever grade they are chronologically, across all subjects. They can move ahead quickly in one subject, while taking time with another one. I can find curriculum that matches their learning styles, and develop their particular talents. I want things to be challenging, but not overwhelming.

    Reading away

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  3. To have time for other things, because school isn’t everything.
    Homeschooling is so efficient, time-wise, that it allows lots of free time to spend on other things. I want them to learn plenty of life skills. If they show particular talents in some areas (music, art, athletics) they’ll have time to pursue that. I also want them to have down time, to play and explore and just be children.

    What could possibly go wrong?

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  4. To have additional flexibility and freedom.
    We’re not tied to a school calendar or schedule. We can travel when we want, and pursue side areas of interest. We can do things off season, and we can sleep in. If there is an especially beautiful day, we can take advantage of it and spend extra time outside. We can take breaks whenever family visits without worrying about what everyone else is doing.

    Starting our new art program today. #homeschool #homeschooling #allaboutlearning

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  5. To develop their independence and self-assurance, and so they see a connection between how hard they work, and the benefits they receive.
    My son has a weekly checklist, and a daily one. When he finishes his work for the day, that’s all he has to do. But if he wants to work ahead, he can – and that can mean more free time at the end of the week to do his own thing (right now it’s Legos.) By working hard and being efficient, he can have more free time.

    It’s already working with Awana – I don’t really do anything with him as far as his memory verses. I may remind him to work on his verses (and read any words he can’t manage the first time), but he does it all himself after that. It’s kind of stunning to me how independent he is with it. This year he finished his book with about 6 weeks still left in the Awana year – he was so motivated to get it done!

    It may look like he's just playing with Legos, but he's also doing his spelling lesson.

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My Best Homeschooling Advice

My Best Homeschool AdviceSonlight is having a monthly blog linkup this year, in honor of their 25th anniversary. March’s topic is to share the best homeschooling advice you have been given. What would you advise new homeschoolers?

I’m still so new to homeschooling I hesitate to give much in the way of advice, but I did already share about my current favorite book. I definitely think anyone planning to homeschool should read Cathy Duffy’s Curriculum book (whether the latest, or one of the earlier versions) because the introductory material about types of homeschool students and how various curricula work for the types is so helpful.

As far as advice I’ve received, most of my advice has come from blog reading and forum stalking, rather than in-person conversations. The best distilled tip I’ve gotten from all of that reading is to do what works for us, instead of worrying about what others are doing. A co-op may be a fantastic fit for another family, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for us. A math program may be perfect for someone else’s child, but it may not be right for mine (or it may not be right for me as the teacher). One of the very best parts about homeschooling is the ability to personalize everything, and I need to remember that.

And am I the only homeschooler who has to keep reminding herself of this? I keep looking around and seeing what others do that looks fun, or interesting, or worthwhile, and I have to talk myself down from ditching what is working well, or well enough, instead of endlessly chasing after better or the ever-elusive “perfect” curriculum.

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