Archive for the ‘homeschooling’ Category

3
Feb

reading. and the guilty conscience.

   Posted by: liz

I have always read to the boys. From the time they were infants sitting in my lap or toddling around the local library, and during preschoolers library story hour. When their kindergarten curriculum didn’t include “book time,” I added it to our daily routine.

So when I hear a parent say, “We have instilled a deep love of reading in our child” and see their child with a book in their hand, or sitting in a corner with their nose in the book, I ask them, “How did you do it?

Every parent’s answer has been the same: “I have always read to them, even when they were a baby.” “We spent so much time at the library when they were toddlers,” “I model reading for pleasure all the time. ”  “I’m always looking for books that I know will interest them, and they devour everything I find for them!”

I have done all the same things since the time our boys were newborns. And all three of my boys hate to read. They would rather wash dishes than read. Clean the toilet than read. Go to church over the library.

I love to read. My husband does not. And if you look at our professional record, he is much more successful than I am. So I shouldn’t worry about the fact that even though my boys can all read, they just don’t like to do it.

But deep down, I fear their brains aren’t being stretched and challenged, their hearts aren’t learning to love fictional characters and worlds created by all the great writers. I am saddened that they don’t find (any!) joy in going to the library with me. I try very hard not to play the comparison games with other kids whose moms (dare I say) brag about how much their kids have read and are reading, and how they “instilled a love of reading in them!”

Because it’s all bollocks. I am convinced that we do nothing to influence our children in their love or hatred of reading. It would be like me saying, “I have instilled a love of minecraft in all three of my boys: isn’t it wonderful?”

One of these days, moms everywhere will learn that what our kids love has more to do with them and less to do with us. I am learning this. Ever so slowly.

 

 

6
Sep

friday stream of conscience…

   Posted by: liz

we’ve been going at full speed all week long. i feel a bit like a drill sergeant at times keeping the boys just one little step ahead of our full schedule this year.

i need someone to keep me ahead of the schedule too, but nobody applied for the job, so i’m on my own.

this morning is friday, and i’m dragging. i’m feeling the need for a recharge of my batteries. i snapped at the boys because they can’t keep their room clean and they keep dragging dirt in from the outside (ha!). really, i was snapping at them because there is camping gear in every room in the house that needs to be put away, costumes from our summer show that need to be put into storage, and i swear there is a dining room table in our dining room under that mound of junk.

after a week of go-go-go making meals, doing laundry and schooling three boys, i’m hitting a wall. so we take this friday morning slowly. after two subjects (math and writing), the boys head out to the swings. i notice that there is a chair on the deck in full sun, so i go to sit on it. the sun feels so good….15 minutes later, i wake up.

i’m still crabby. there’s still a cluttered house and it’s nearly lunchtime. that means the natives will be hungry. that means I’LL be hungry.

i never understood those who said, “i just forgot to eat today” because that never happens to me. until this year. there is so much going on, so much to juggle, that i haven’t been taking care of myself as much. i haven’t been crabby like this all summer, even though the weather was cool and barely pool-worthy.

IMG_1151the boys are still on the swings. 25 minutes later and they’ve got some game going on. i enjoy the few more quiet moments i have until they come screaming in at full speed yelling something about being starving and i yell something back about not knowing what it’s like to actually be starving. (please tell me i’m not the only one who uses this line on their “starving” kids?)

and then i’m thankful for that. thankful that they don’t know hunger. thankful that we can feed them. thankful then, that we can feed them knowledge and habits, value time and family. thankful for everything that i can feed them in a day’s time because they are here with me all day long.

maybe it was the nap in the sunshine for 15 minutes. maybe it was 15 minutes to myself for the first time this week…maybe it was a whisper, a reminder, that this life we’ve chosen, that we’ve been given, is one pretty spectacular gift.

so i better not blow it.

 

 

29
Aug

beautiful numbers

   Posted by: liz

We checked this book out of the library this week based on some research I’ve been doing since being introduced to the idea that math is cool.

I never thought I’d actually think that, let alone write about math and numbers on my personal blog where I usually talk about meal planning, love of theatre and literature, homeschooling, and sheep.

But last month, we traveled to the east of Pennsylvania (a lovely, gorgeous drive on the PA turnpike. If you’ve never driven as far as Harrisburg on the PA turnpike, you are missing some spectacular skies, mountains, valleys, and views) where Kenny and the boys spent time with his parents and I attended training for the co-op that I’ll be tutoring this year. The parent part of the training focused on and encouraged the teaching of math, specifically teaching math at the high school level, even when you feel incompetent to do so. It’s brilliant marketing for the organization since a lot of homeschooling families bow out from schooling-at-home at the high school level because of things like high school level science and math. This organization is a co-operative through high school, so it behooves them to encourage parents to continue homeschooling through the high school years. But it’s also very encouraging to those of us who just want to read literature to their kids all day long and skip math because really, what high-level algebra do I use on a daily basis? I was encouraged that even I can continue homeschooling through high school. Even math!

I really appreciated the discussions we had in our training sessions. The Fibonacci Sequence was mentioned in passing, so I wanted to dig a little deeper. What’s so cool about “1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34…” any way?  We found the above book at the Pittsburgh library and today, after the third, “I’m bored, mommy!” I sat them all down and we read it together.

The illustrations are beautiful and incorporate the Fibonacci spiral throughout. The writing was funny enough to keep the boys interested, but the numbers, the sequence, and how they worked and showed up in nature was what spurred two of the boys to figure it out on their own. So they took to the kitchen chalkboard and drew out the squares (1+1, etc…) and tried to fit the spiral into that.

We watched this lovely short video

and then they started drawing pictures with spirals.

Adam tried to make some new ways that numbers worked: “10+2 is actually 102!  get it?” Well, it’s a start. Playing with numbers and failing and trying again, but mostly seeing how they are actually poetic, rhythmic, beautiful, and everywhere.

 

 

 

19
Aug

Smithically Schooling: Year 6

   Posted by: liz

This is the year when homeschooling starts to get more difficult. But I also know that things are about to get even better.

No longer are we all in the lower-elementary years of lots of crafts, cutting, coloring, and pasting, filling in the blanks, and learning to read. Math will be getting trickier (but I’m totally ready for it!), writing assignments and research will be part of our curriculum, and school will definitely not be done by lunchtime on most days.

I do have a 1st/2nd, 3rd-grader, and 4th grader, so it seems we should be in the “lower” elementary grades. But our curriculums have been kicked up a notch. And I’m quite excited.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Grammar

Essentials of the English Language. Formally, this is Rowan’s curriculum. But naturally, Sawyer and Adam will soak up some of it. If they only soak it up by listening in, they’ll still be advanced in their grammar as this program is intense. Lots to learn, digest and diagram…

Writing
Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).  Rowan will be the main student taking IEW writing with me this year. I’m teaching this in the co-op class for 9-12 year olds. I’ve been preparing for an entire month already – there is SO MUCH to this curriculum. It’s a great way to introduce young students to the way of writing. It feels a little constraining to me as I’ve loved writing for years, but I can see how it’s going to be a good program for beginning writers. I’m excited to see how this plays out this year.

Medieval Based Writing Lessons - We will use medieval history for all of our writing assignments. Fortunately, this curriculum does all the grunt-work in finding writing assignments for us, based on our current study of history.

Sawyer and Adam will do writing exercises with me from the Writing with Ease curriculum and we’ll probably be using history or short fiction pieces form the books that they’re reading at the time.

Spelling
Spell to Write and Read for Sawyer and Adam.

Rowan will be leaving SWR for the first time and doing spelling in his Classical Conversations Essentials Class. I’m almost considering doing the spelling lists from this curriculum with Sawyer in preparation of next year. That might happen mid-way through first semester.

History
Story of the World Volume 2: The Middle Ages

We loved Volume 1: Ancient Times last year. We loved the activity book, and adored listening to Jim Weiss narrate each chapter. We’re excited to dive into the Middle Ages this year.

We’ll re-learn the Veritas Press History Timeline and watch as many times as possible the History Teachers videos on Youtube. Because I love them.

Geography
Our history curriculum covers lots and lots of maps, but I’m using Ann Voskamp’s A Child’s Geography to do some overall geography.  We also use Kathy Troxel’s Geography Songs (horrible web site, but fun music!) when we get to a country or continent elsewhere in our studies.

Science
We will continue to memorize theories, formulas, and lists (we are still thick in the grammar stage of science) and do science experiments at least once every two weeks. We use Janice Van Cleave’s 201 Awesome, Magical, Bizarre and Incredible Experiments and surprisingly, Pinterest has some great mini-experiments that are fun to do.

Fortunately, classical education is like that of the Charlotte Mason theory: Don’t do formal science until their mind is ready to ask the “why’s” of science. Fill them with awe and wonder for as long as possible and when they reach that wonderful dialectic age, then you can introduce formal science.

Arithmetic
Rowan is starting with Teaching Textbooks 5 this year. I’m excited because his lesson is done all on the laptop while I can be free to teach Adam and Sawyer. Instead of teaching three different math lessons a day, I only have to teach two levels, and Rowan will learn on his own. I am still able to follow his progress and make sure he understands all new concepts, but the bulk of his lessons are now online. He and I are both excited about this.

Sawyer and Adam will continue their levels in Right Start Mathematics, which has been a fantastic math program over the years (and if I’m honest, I’m hoping Teaching Textbooks can live up to the hype because I think Right Start is nearly perfect. It’s just very time-consuming).

We all take some time off every now and then to watch some Khan Academy videos.

Art and Music
We listen to various classical music artists during our art sessions, and this year we’ll do some brief studies of some of the major classical musicians and time periods. Classical Music for Dummies is our main resource, but really there is a lot of information on classical music available.

We love art projects (especially Adam) and love to learn new methods of “making art.”   Discovering Great Artists and Drawing with Children have been recommended via Classical Conversations. I also use Pinterest to find some interesting art projects and techniques for painting.

We are also going to be learning, memorizing, and discussing ancient hymns. I feel we are doing a disservice to the boys by not introducing them to reading music, singing parts, and learning deeper theological truths found in the ancient hymn.

Extracurriculars:
Weekly Homeschool Gym Class – once a week, totally organized, many sports are covered.
Soccer (Rowan and Sawyer) – this is their 6th year of soccer!  they still love it so much.
Dance (Adam) – Adam wants to take a eyar off from gymnastics and try some dance classes.
TheaterShrek and A Christmas Carol. Two totally different theatrical experiences.
Boys Book Club – we read five books throughout the year with other boys and meet once every two months to discuss the book. Our first book, which we’ve been reading together, is the classic Western, Shane.
Piano Lessons – a brand new teacher. We’re trying for at least 3 months.
Monthly Roller Blading – the boys look forward to this every month. they’re excellent skaters now, and get totally worn out skating for two hours.
Spanish (Sawyer and Adam)

Mom’s Book Shelf 
I spend all summer reading novels that I’ve wanted to read for a while, or that catch my interest. Since signing up with Goodreads in March of this year, my to-read list has gotten even longer!  But during the school year, I try to stick with non-fiction to keep my brain firing on all four cylinders. Here is what I intend to read this school year:

Beauty for Truth’s Sake by Stratford Caldecott
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes by E. Randolph Richards
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen
The Writing Life by Annie Dillard
The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
At Home by Bill Bryson
Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey (releases in November)

What challenging books have you read recently, that you’d like to recommend?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pennsylvania has some of the strictest rules for homeschoolers in the country. On August 1st, all homeschoolers in PA had to have a notarized affidavit and letter of intent filed with their school district. We were out of town on the first of August, so I did this first thing in the morning on August 5th. Last year, the school district notarized the documents for me, but this year, they told me they discontinued that service. They told me to go to the magistrate’s office of our little town.  The magistrate was a middle aged, stern-looking man who resembled Mr. Clean. I was intimidated, but he was very encouraging about our homeschooling, told me about his grown children and how he wished they would have homeschooled, and as we were leaving gave the boys their choice of Skittles or large KitKat bars. They all chose the Skittles. They take after their mama.

Here’s to a great school year for all of us!

 

*photo courtesy of Ruth E Hendrick’s Photography and antiqueplazamesa.com

16
Aug

this has been a pseudo-summer

   Posted by: liz

autumn is slowly closing in on us. this summer has been cool and wet. it’s as though spring has overstayed its welcome and summer decided to take a year off.  if you’ve been reading smithical for a while, you know how much i love summer. i love the heat, the humidity, the natural vitamin D, the long days. at least the sun is keep up its end of the bargain this season! the heat, however, is nowhere to be found.

i’m working on being okay with this. autumn was my favorite season for the longest time. these days, it’s a close second to summer (winter is way in last place and probably won’t leave that prestigious slot anytime soon). these past few weeks of cooler-than-normal weather smell like fall. i want to change up my meal planning from grilling and salads to stews and roasted root vegetables. i want the boys to wake up to hot breakfasts instead of cereal on the deck. i’m almost ready to close the pool.

i have a lot to prepare for this coming school year. it’s our sixth year homeschooling, and rowan is entering 4th grade, sawyer 3rd, and adam is dangling between 1st and 2nd (because he’s ahead in some subjects, and on par in others. i won’t know when to label his grade until next year, at least). i took a training class last month for the co-op class that i’ll be tutoring this year at our Classical Conversations campus. i’m tutoring the “Essentials” class, which a mixture of students leaving the grammar stage of the Classical Model of Education, and entering the dialectic/logic stage of the model. this means, i’ll be tutoring in a one-room schoolhouse style, kids from 9-12 years old. We learn English grammar, writing techniques, and drill math facts: thus the title, “Essentials.”  the theory is that these three areas of learning will strengthen students’ learning as they enter the Rhetoric stage of learning. it’s a beautiful thing.

we took last year off of Classical Conversations for several reasons. but i’m glad we’re back to the scheduled weekly co-op with other families doing classical education at home. it’s such a great source of support and so good to get the boys to see that other kids have to do the same torture schoolwork that i make them do.

our school officially starts in two weeks, but i’m ready now. it’s autumn weather, so i’m ready for classes, books, schedules, practicing, and lots of reading. i’m working on s separate blog post with our curriculum choices this year. look for it soon.

it’s going to be a great year!

*photo credit: beckyhiggins.com

2
Jun

blogging

   Posted by: liz

it’s been so long since last i blogged that i actually forgot my login password. january was my last post, and it’s been the longest time between posts, ever. i’m always thinking of blog posts, always churning ideas around in my head, but never sitting down to write.

this was a particularly long and tiring winter. this spring has been unusually wet and cold. memorial day weekend marked the beginning of the longest stretch of warm weather, and it started out with a cold frost. i guess i could fill you in on the last 3 months, but i don’t want to bog you down with a depressing post. instead, i’ll give you a highlight reel of current things in our family:

- i continue to be so amazed at how the boys and i grow in our relationships with each other. we are together all day long, every single day. there are DEFINITELY some tense and frustrating moments in that. we get on each other’s nerves. we need our space from each other. but for the most part, our conversations and our time spent WITH each other are rewarding, fun, and always growing. even though they are around their mom every single day of their lives, the older two boys are beginning to spread their wings and be more independent. i’m all for this, and i’m glad it’s happening, slowly, but surely. i don’t know what this would look like had we chosen traditional schooling – would they have been much more independent by now? probably. i’m okay with it taking it’s time. i’m REALLY okay that they’re still young boys who are innocent in so much. there is still so much time for them to grow up. slowly.

- that said, there are some stretches of exhausting times when we are together as a family all the time. the bickering and the whining about school work and farm chores and…the list goes on. i get tired of being their teacher and their mother every single day of their lives. it’s hard. it’s hard having them with me on all my weekly errands. it’s hard not having time to myself until evenings (although our evenings are all full these days). it’s just plain hard.
but we did end our school year two weeks ago and have been enjoying the warming weather, and hanging out with friends. both rowan and sawyer had evaluations this year and both of them “passed” with rave reviews from their evaluator. during that time, i realized that adam was reading a book that sawyer was reading previously. sawyer is reading so well these days, but adam has taken off with his reading. he doesn’t sound out words any more, he reads for comprehension, which is earlier than the other two boys ever did. for all the struggles of teaching your kids that you may encounter, there are some pretty great discoveries along the way!

- so i’m running again. i really need to not take the winters off (but how i HATE indoor running, and it’s harder and not at all comfortable to run outside in the winter). i’m signed up for my first 5K of the season. i’m ready! because once i start to run, i can take on the world and all it throws at us again.

- this past week, kenny was rockstar dad and husband again as i took three days in a row to teach a geography and art camp for the co-op that we are a part of. i was out the door well before the boys woke up, and he tended to them and their needs while i taught forty-one 6 to 8 year-olds for three solid days. i came home to dinner already cooked before turning around and heading back out to rehearsal the first two nights, and on the last night, i came home to a beach chair sitting next to the pool, a bottle of my favorite chardonnay already uncorked, and a lovely grilled tilapia, chicken, green beans, and coconut rice dinner, al fresco (with friends joining us at table!). a great way to end those crazy exhausting three days.

- we are three weeks away from opening night of our second production, The Tempest. the rehearsals have been going so well, the cast is amazing and the sets and costumes are going to be stunning on that stage. i can’t wait for Butler to see that Shakespeare is interesting and fun and not stuffy and boring. we’ve been really busy every single evening and weekend putting this show together. some moments are tense and overwhelming, but for the most part, i’ve really loved the creative process in this production. from the conversations with the actors about their characters, to the evenings i spend at the sewing machine while kenny composes music for the show, it’s been a fun and exciting production.

- our farm is on hold for the moment. at least the sheep, their guard donkey, and our two chickens are happy and healthy. we just haven’t added to to our flock this year, and our honeybees did not make it through the winter. we’ve also decided to container garden on our deck instead of plant our massive yard garden again this year. i’m okay with this. sometimes you just need to take a year off of the hobbies that may consume you.

- we are so blessed. there is nothing hard about our life. we are a healthy, busy, a bit nutty family who has absolutely nothing to complain about.
except the winter weather.

6
Sep

the interview

   Posted by: liz

the reporter and i: we sat on the deck and chatted for about 45 minutes before the photographer showed up.

the boys had been in the pool when the reporter arrived, so i suggested we talk on the deck so i could still keep an eye on the boys swimming. because even though they’re great swimmers, i still need to keep an eye close by, or my ears open for all three of their voices while they swim.

it was a gorgeous afternoon – sunny and high 80s, no humidity (i could go for some humidity, though). the reporter was incredibly gracious, and while i answered her questions she took notes the old fashioned way – pen and notebook. i appreciated that so much. i’m still a pencil-and-paper girl myself. i’m sure she might have even used some shorthand while i yammered on and on about curriculum and learning styles and grade levels.

when the photographer showed up, he said, “school must be out for the day?” since the boys were in the pool. i said yes, it was, and joked about the boys being in gym class now. so he started taking pictures of them in the pool after asking if we used the pool for gym. of course!  we used the pool,  the yard, the YMCA – anything for gym class!

she asked about our story: my story with kenny. our history with a way-back beginning. i told her that we didn’t start our family with homeschooling in mind. but homeschooling became more and more enticing as we kept meeting homeschooling families that we greatly admired. i then told her about the ease of personalizing the curriculum to fit the learning style of each of our kids, and how they can practice what they’ve learned by teaching each other, and how their friendships as brothers were strengthened by being together all day long, learning together, being creative together in their playtime…..  and then a huge fight broke out in the pool between rowan and adam.

sigh. we’re not perfect.

i wonder how this will all go down in 10 years. are we all going to be so sick and tired of each other after spending EVERY day together?  i hope not. i pray against it. this past labor day, we were having a difficult parenting day with the boys. kenny and i wanted to do some painting and Lowe’s shopping for my homeschool office and the boys weren’t getting along, and couldn’t entertain themselves to save their life. it was a very frustrating day, and i couldn’t help but wonder…are we already sick of each other? is this homeschool thing really going to work out in the end?

and then tuesday morning happened: back to our educating routine and adam wanted to do every single history enrichment listed in my activity book. and sawyer began reading a bit faster without sounding out so many words. and rowan perfectly dictated back to me a passage that i had just read aloud. and then we ran around that afternoon for soccer, swimming, and gymnastics. and then we all came home and the boys entertained themselves while kenny and i conversed while we grilled for dinner.

we all have bad days. homeschoolers, public and private schoolers. kids or no kids. we all have bad days, weeks, years. we are not priviliged to know the future.  i have no idea what our family will be like in 10 years. but what we’re doing now feels like home. it’s family and learning and for us, it’s perfect.

so we’ll stick with this imperfectly perfect life together for a while.

here’s something noteworthy: not once did the reporter ask me what we do to socialize the boys!  :)

5
Sep

interview

   Posted by: liz

the local newspaper is coming to my house tomorrow with a photographer to interview me about homeschooling.

i’m a bit of a nervous wreck: the house is in shambles because the homeschool room is under construction. what if i say something totally stupid that doesn’t reflect our heart for homeschooling?  what if the boys say their teacher is mean and there’s way too much homework?

i haven’t given much thought to what i’m going to say because unlike big politicians or celebrities, i don’t have an advanced copy of the questions the reporter will be asking me. it’s going to be spontaneous.

and i was never the spontaneous type.

if the article is good (and the photographs flattering, of course), i’ll post an online link to the story when it’s available. in the meantime, wish us luck!

 

4
Sep

first week of school, 2012

   Posted by: liz

we started a week early with lots of review, and playing games that reminded them of what they learned last year. i was pleased to see that the didn’t need much refresher. we’ve been going out for lunch on the first day of school for as long as i can remember. this picture is from this year’s first day lunch outing.

but last monday, august 27th was our official first day of school!  i have two boys now, that i’m responsible for reporting to the local school district and i wanted to make sure that our work was well organized for each of them so that come time to put their portfolios together, it would be easy.  so i bought each boy (even adam, because he has to do everything his brothers do!) a thick three-ring binder and we spent one day last week decorating their page dividers, inserting the tabs for each subject and personalizing each binder. the boys still love doing this kind of stuff, and i enjoy watching them add their personal touches to their drawings (rowan still includes sonic the hedgehog, sawyer is still a star wars fan, and adam drew a scene from his new favorite video game, minecraft).

on monday this week, we opened the school year with history – the very beginning, the ancient stuff that i’ve been so excited to learn and teach this year. we’ve done american history the past two years, and i’m so excited to dive into the ancients. after our introductory chapter, i had three archaeologists out in the yard digging for bones or pottery. susan wise bauer’s story of the world, year 1 is our text for the year, and we’re having fun doing some extra activities each week to make concrete the concepts that we’re learning.

this is our typical weekly schedule, although i divert from it from time to time. it’s a way for me to make sure all subjects are covered each week, yet it doesn’t bog me down to a strict schedule.

mondays and wednesdays are history, writing, math, and spelling. the boys have to read every day (even weekends!).
tuesdays and thursdays are geography, cursive/handwriting, latin, and math.
fridays are saved for history activities, science experiments, library visits, and math.

week ONE highlights
a “back-to-homeschool” picnic!


creating and then showing salt dough “ancient tablets” from a Pinterest idea

next week, all of our extracurricular activities begin: soccer, swimming, gymnastics, and musical rehearsal. we haven’t heard yet when cub scouts will start, but i think this will keep us busy enough!

it’s the beginning of the school year (hooray!) and i am finding myself asked this question quite a bit at this time of year: it’s a great question, and i remember asking it myself before we embarked on this wonderful ride that homeschooling is.

How do you know what to use to teach your children?  Does the school send you their textbooks?

one of the most daunting tasks of a first-time homeschooler is choosing curriculum for your child. the public school does not give out their grade text books and lesson planning to homeschool families. many school districts have  a cyber charter school (public school curriculum taken on the computer, at home) where the curriculum is chosen for you. but if you don’t go with the Cyber Charter school, you are completely on your own in finding a guide to teach your children. i find this very freeing and allows for tailoring to each of your children’s needs. after four years of teaching our boys at home, i’m finally understanding how each of them learn, and each of them learn very differently.

but the first year we started with kindergarten, i had no idea what would work, and what wouldn’t. kenny and i attended our first Homeschool Covention where we found ourselves introduced to and overwhelmed by hundreds of curriculum vendors (some great, some not so great). i had been doing some minor research on my own at home and had talked to a few other homeschool moms, so i had a very bare bones idea of what to look for. but being at the convention really helped me see the curriculums hands-on, and this helped a lot. we decided on a pacckge curriculum that covered kindergarten basics.  we used a christian curriculum from My Father’s World which focused on world life. the boys cut, colored, pasted and sang their way through a sweet little kindergarten curriculum learning their letter sounds and doing some simple science experiments. it took less than an hour a day to acoomplish and we were done by march of that year. since the compulsory age in PA in 8, the boys weren’t registered with the school district yet (they were 4- and 5- years old at the time), so i didn’t have to clock the 180 required days of teaching.

by the end of their kindergarten year, i felt that they were still on the same level of overall learning, but knew that sawyer, being 14 months younger than rowan at the time, was just a bit behind rowan in his fine motor skills and ability to sound out basic words.  this is important: get to know your child’s learning abilities!  at this point in our homeschooling, i began talking to lots of other homeschoolers and researching methods of teaching, reading articles about “how boys learn,” and scouring curriculum catalogs for the perfect match of curriculum for the boys. i love to do research, so i spent hours reading and searching and came up with a tailored curriculum for their first grade / second year of schooling year. having other homeschool parents to talk to about curriculum styles and choices is extremely helpful. we love to talk about homeschooling so don’t be afraid to ask a homeschooling parent any question at all!

i suppose a homeschool program can just use educational books found at Walmart to cover their basic skills, but i find them to be dry and not very creative, and i don’t recommend it. this is purely my opinion, and if your homeschool is thriving on workbooks, great!  we homeschool in order to provide a rich and diverse learning experience. i’d much rather the boys love to learn about the world in a creative atmosphere and workbooks and worksheets aren’t our style.

it does take time and effort to search out the best curriculum for your family, but it’s time well spent. if you’ve decided to take charge of the education of your children, then it’s vital to do the research. you owe this to your children and their education.

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Helpful Links/Resources:
http://www.rainbowresource.com/ (the most extensive curriculum catalog out there!)
http://www.welltrainedmind.com/ (classical education, forums and curriculum)
http://www.homeschoolingonthecheap.com/cheapchickblog/ (we love cheap!)
http://www.associatesdegree.com/2010/01/24/100-inspirational-blog-posts-for-homeschoolers/ (inspiring)