29 December 2011

Christmas vacation

Merry Christmas!!  We're taking it easy this week, sleeping in, visiting with cousins, lots of family time.  The new math books came in the other day.  I had a chance to look through them.  Bob wanted to know who on earth would name math books "The Life of Fred."  It's actually quite the enjoyable series, a funny story of a 5 year old teaching at college and all his adventures.  The math comes in as it shows how math is used in his daily life.  Not sure how that's going to work out when we get to Calculus (I sure don't use calculus every day, do you?) but I guess we'll find out when we get there. 

I spent some time yesterday organizing a few things but still have more to do.  I got a new-to-me laptop and need to transfer over my school files and some other things to it, I need to get the girls agendas done for next week, and I need to spend some more time figuring out how to make school better.  It's pretty good but both girls are struggling with math right now so I think we need to refocus and spend more time on math and less on history (Sweet Pea) and science (Rosie Jane).  I think Saturday while the rest of the family is at the ski slopes I'm going to finish my organizing for the next few months, do at least enough to get us through to our February vacation.

17 December 2011

One more week

We just have one more week of school, and not even a full week at that, before we break for Christmas.  This is the first time I've taken things a bit easy in December.  We went on vacation to Disney in early November, then came home for a week or two, then was Thanksgiving and Sweet Pea's birthday.  We just haven't gotten back into our groove.  We took things easy this month but still got the most important things done.

Coming up this week is a trip to Williamsburg.  We're going to wander the colonial area for a bit before we meet a friend for lunch, then we're going to Busch Gardens for Christmas Towne, there will be some rides open, shows, Christmas fun.  Hopefully the girls will enjoy it; we've never been before so we're not quite sure what to expect.  We have been to Dutch Wonderland (Lancaster, PA) and Hershey Park (Hershey, PA) during their Christmas displays and have had fun there.  Then school on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  Hopefully we can take Friday off.  Both girls are at the point where I think they need the full week to complete a few things and get the chapter test done.  Hopefully we can squeeze it in!  Sweet Pea and I are also going to be heading to the ski slopes Wednesday and Thursday afternoons for her team practice.  Rosie Jane will go with her dad to her Girl Scout awards ceremony on Thursday night.  Busy week!! 

While we're taking our break, I'll be finding a bit of time to look over school stuff.  I need to get us back on track in January.  They have off from their French and German classes until Jan. 30 so they'll have one less thing to do for a while. Almost done with the first semester of high school and right now I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Merry Christmas to all!  See you in January.

13 December 2011

New books already

This afternoon I was supposed to be ordering some Christmas presents online. Instead I ordered some school books that we'll need soon. I really didn't think that I'd need to order school stuff until sometime in January. 

Both girls are using Life of Fred for math. Rosie Jane has already finished the Fractions book this year and is 8 lessons away from completing the Decimals and Percents book. I was hoping that she could finish it before Christmas break but now looking at the calendar I don't think she'll be able to. Either way, she'll need the next book pretty quickly in January so I ordered the next two books this afternoon.  Funny thing is that they're Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology and Pre-Algebra 2 with Economics. She asked if she had to do the biology and economics and when I told her yes, she asked why.  I think she was thinking she's going to get enough biology with the science she's doing this year and she doesn't want to do economics (although she probably doesn't know what it is), but it's all integrated so she's doing it.

Sweet Pea is using the Bible books from Sonlight's World History in Depth course. I ordered the first three books used, thinking it would (again) take her until mid- to late-January to finish them. Didn't quite turn out that way! She read the first book But Don't All Religions Lead to God and is working her way through the BBC workbook. The next book up was supposed to be How to Stay Christian in High School. The problem occurred when Bob started looking for something new to use in the senior high Sunday school class (he's one of the teachers). Some of the kids brought in some options and Sweet Pea took in that book. She hadn't started it yet, but thought it looked good and the other kids would like it. They did so they're using the book at church (and really enjoying it from what I hear). So that left her with nothing at home so I ordered the other two books this afternoon, Daring to Live on the Edge and Life Like a Jesus Freak. Can't wait to see how she likes these two since she really liked the others.

Hopefully these orders will hold us until the end of the school year. I've already got the next math book that Sweet Pea will need and they should be good with the rest of their things.

10 December 2011

The home stretch for this year

We're entering the home stretch for this year (the calendar year!).  I think we'll do some sort of school through Dec. 22 then take off until January.  We've been kind of taking it easy already this month, too many things to do but some school work keeps going on.  The girls are a little behind in a couple of things so we're working hard on those, math for Sweet Pea (and when I say "working hard" in this case I mean it, it's been hard!) and science as well; for Rosie Jane, it's been English, science, and math.  Sweet Pea has been catching up on some projects for history now that we've gotten a new black printer cartridge.  Printing out a bunch of pictures isn't going to work well without that color.

Both are keeping up with their foreign language.  This coming week is their last until the end of January.  I need to keep them reviewing next month so they don't forget everything before they meet again.  I will have Sweet Pea work on the French unit study in January before her class begins again.  Hopefully she'll know more about French geography, the people, and the country by the end.

I think we'll do some baking (easy math) next week, finish Christmas shopping, hit the slopes at least one day hopefully (p.e.), and just enjoy some time together. 

05 December 2011

I should have known

Grand ideas and all, but I should have known better.  While I like the idea of unit studies, they just don't really work for us, especially at this time of year.  There's too much going on between Sweet Pea's birthday, Thanksgiving (not necessarily in that order), shopping, baking, Christmas,  youth group stuff, and all sorts of other miscellaneous things.

I really liked the idea of the Christmas unit study that I got, but I think it's too much work for this time of year.  While it had movies and books, it was primarily a writing program from what I saw.  Maybe I'll save it for next year, take a closer look at it during the summer so we can work it in during December.  The good news is that I got it for free so I'm not feeling like I wasted money on it.

I do have higher hopes for the French unit study I got.  It's only a week long and looks like a lot of fun. I'll be taking a closer look at that one over Christmas break, maybe while the gang is off skiing.  I told Sweet Pea that we'd do it the first week back to school in January.  Should be a good time to review French for her, her last class is next Friday and they don't start again until Jan. 30.

28 November 2011


Shhhh.....we're semi playing hookey today.  I very rarely call a day off from school.  Even if I don't have their schedules done (like today) I can get them started on "the next thing" in several subjects and get their assignments written up pretty quickly.  After traveling and eating away the weekend, I just didn't feel like doing writing up assignments last night.  Today I have several things that have to get done, a few of which are out of the house.  Not really a big deal, but this teacher needed a teacher work day. 

The girls are doing their math ("the next lesson") and they're also doing their online class.  We're going to work on picking up some of the clutter so we can pull the Christmas decorations out and get started on making the house look festive and pretty.  A little bit of "life learning" today.  Maybe we'll even start the Christmas unit study by watching a movie.

17 November 2011

Unit studies

First a definition, unit studies are usually short studies on one topic.  They can encompass a range of academic subjects but stick to one topic.  For example, I've seen a unit study on chocolate.  With this one you would probably learn the history of chocolate, where it's grown (geography), learn how to use it and make one or more recipes with it (math and science).  Depending on the study, they'll use living books, maps, field trips, videos, and/or music.  In general, I don't use unit studies in my school but I have recently found two that I'm going to be making use of in the next couple of months.

The first is from Connect the Thoughts on Christmas.  It specifically says that it's a creative writing and history course.  I downloaded this one from CurrClick a month or so ago when it was free.  I'm just now taking a look at it since I want to start it the week after Thanksgiving.  At the beginning it's got a list of recommended books, movies, and music (some of my favorites are included).  The first lesson looks to be on the history of Christmas.  I can't wait to delve deeper and see what's in store!  I think it will be a fun study and maybe we can take a break from some of the other work we're doing.

The other one I got today from Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett.  I'm on her email list and got a notice this morning that they've come out with the newest in her Passport Geography series, France. Coming up soon is Germany, Italy, and Spain; Great Britain is also available.  This study is only a week long, but takes a look at the culture, language, food, and lots of other aspects of the country.  Granted, it's a brief look but looks to be a good introduction.  I thought I'd add this in for Sweet Pea in January as an addition to her French class that she's taking.  I think her teacher is giving them some insight into the culture of different French speaking countries, but this will give her a bit more depth into France.  When the Germany study comes out I'll probably get that for Rosie Jane to add to her German class.

13 November 2011

Back to it

We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation to Disney but now it's time to get back to it.  Sweet Pea studied hard yesterday for her French test, got it done today and I scanned and emailed it to her teacher.  Rosie Jane said she studied German and thought her test was due on Wednesday.  I asked the teacher when I sent Sweet Pea's test in to make sure.  If it's due tomorrow, I'll be printing and she'll be getting it done quick before class.

I spent the evening writing up assignments for the girls.  Not much fun today.  I had to figure out what was done and what wasn't before we went to Disney and try to remember where we were in different subjects.  I'm still not sure about a few things, but I'll get that all cleared up in the morning.  Sweet Pea has a neat history project to finish up and some cool stuff coming up in science.  Rosie Jane will be finishing The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this week and starting The Horse and His Boy.  I'm not sure this Narnia study was what she was expecting, but I think she's finally enjoying it; it just took us a while to get here.

Sweet Pea has Girl Scouts tomorrow.  It's been an interesting road with her and her troop.  At this point, it's her and two friends.  Small, but they all really want to be here and I think they all have the goal of earning their Gold Award.  Right now we're finishing up their Silver Award.  That's really been a learning experience!  They built the new website for our Service Unit and just have a couple of things left to finish it up.  They'll maintain it for the rest of the year then train another troop next fall to turn it over to.  They do enjoy getting together.

Rosie Jane hasn't be able to really get involved with her troop this year.  It's based at the local middle school and this year they're meeting after school.  Unfortunately it conflicts with her science labs.  The good news is that I can usually reschedule her labs if there's a meeting she really needs to go to.  I need to get her thinking about her Silver Award so she can start working on it.

11 November 2011


We've been on vacation, another trip to Disney, which means that school hasn't happened in a week.  The girls did manage to log into their French/German classes in the car on Friday last week.  Having a smart phone is a wonderful thing!  Sweet Pea told me that she wanted to use my phone and log in on Monday and Wednesday as well.  I was rather skeptical about it but if she wanted to, more power to her.  I asked on Monday but she said no; I don't remember what we were doing, but it wasn't really a good time.  On Wednesday, we had just finished lunch at noon so she logged in then was listening in as we were walking around Hollywood Studios.  Worked out ok.  Now they just need to catch up on their homework which they didn't do and study since they both have tests that are due on Monday.

31 October 2011

It's all about the geometry

Finally went out and got pumpkins.  We're right on top of Halloween.  Actually, it's not really a big deal here, but we do carve pumpkins and the girls trick-or-treat (at least for this year).  So today it was about the geometry of cutting eyes, noses, and mouths.

27 October 2011

February blues

I read a great blog post today over at Heart of the Matter about the February blahs.  Funny thing was, I had been thinking about February today.  The basic jist of the post is that come February, the excitement of the new school year, the new supplies and books, the joy of Thanksgiving and Christmas has all worn off and you're in for a long stretch of short days, few holidays, nothing to look forward to for a while.  February is usually the time lots of moms question homeschooling just because February and March are such a tough time to slog through.  I totally agree....to a point.

We really like February here.  True, the books are old, the subjects aren't exciting anymore, the school supplies are getting worn, the days are short, it's just the same thing day after day.  But...we love winter and snow here.  My girls don't usually get a snow day, a day totally off from school.  They sure get to enjoy the snow though.  They usually get up and are out the door first thing in the morning, sometimes before I'm even out of bed.  They play until they're cold, come in for breakfast and cocoa and some schoolwork, head back outside for more snow fun, then more cocoa and school.  Why take the whole day off when we can have the best of both worlds, snow and school? 

The other reason February isn't so bad is we have a vacation to look forward to.  For years, the girls and I have gone to NH to visit my wonderful sister-in-law, her hubby, and now there's a new bundle of joy to visit, little Z.  The girls and I have gone to play in the snow since they get lots more than we do, now they ski and snowboard and it's a chance to do that on much better (bigger) mountains.  We usually spend just less than a week there, visiting, playing, having fun.  The trip is always towards the end of the month so it does a nice job of breaking up the long winter.

I tend to get the winter blues after we get back.  The fun trip is over and all we have to look forward to is months of school.  I did find some good ideas over at Heart of the Matter, some good ways to break up the sameness of the days during this stretch.  I think we'll make time to take the dog over to a nearby park for a walk, maybe in the snow; we'll head over to the outdoor ice skating rink, maybe we'll pull out the pasta machine and make some homemade pasta or try cooking something more extravagant than we usually do.  Now the trick will be to remember all these ideas when we get to February.....

25 October 2011

Today's "Why I'm glad we homeschool" thoughts

I've had several random thoughts recently and realized that mostly they fall into the category of "Why I'm glad we homeschool."

The first is a bit old, but probably the most important (at least to me).  Rosie Jane is in a GS troop that she likes but isn't participating in much this year mainly due to scheduling.  They used to meet on Thursday nights but everyone else was too busy then so they moved it to right after school.  That time doesn't really work for us either, she's got science lab then with her best friend down the street.  The good thing is that occasionally if I need to I can have the girls get together at a different time to work on their labs.  We had to do that a couple of weeks ago; Rosie Jane really needed to go to her GS meeting to finish up a project they'd been working on for months.  It was interesting when she got to the school though.  She'd been there in the evenings before when it's quiet and there's very few people there.  That day, they got there just as the kids were being dismissed from school, so there was lots of noise, kids running even though the PA said not to, just general chaos.  She came home that day and said she was glad she was homeschooled.  Words to warm a mom's heart, especially from the girl who is was always asking to go to public school.

This morning I was thinking about how glad I was that Sweet Pea wasn't going to public school.  Around here it can be high stress, with everyone trying to take as many IB, AP, honors, and other advanced classes as they can; get in all the sports and clubs, etc.  Sweet Pea is very laid back and all the spoken and more importantly, unspoken pressure to do all this stuff would make her very stressed out.  As it is, she can take the classes that interest her, take her time in the ones that she needs to, either because they interest her and she wants to dig deeper or because she's having a hard time and needs to move slower to really get what's being taught to her. Plus she has plenty of time for fun stuff, like her horse, and working at the barn.

Today was also a chance for the girls to help out in a way they never could if they were going to school elsewhere.  Bob volunteers for the Community Business Partnership, an organization that helps small business get started.  Each year at the end of October they hold the Women Entrepreneurs Expo.  Bob has a table there promoting his business and last year Sweet Pea helped at his table during the Expo.  This year, both girls worked at the CBP this morning by helping stuff their goodie bags that are given out to attendees.  On Friday during the Expo, they'll both be handing out the goodie bags as people come in to register/check in.  Sometime after noon, when they're off duty from that they'll be helping Bob at his table.  They both will be gaining some great experience from this, how to behave in a business atmosphere, talking with others (adults), making introductions and small talk, sharing information.  Lots of great stuff.  Hopefully Sweet Pea will be attending one of the workshops.  She's a budding entrepreneur herself, soon to open an Etsy shop to sell the bracelets that she makes and one of the workshops would be helpful to her.

I think that's enough for today.  I know I'll have more "why I'm glad we homeschool" thoughts in a week or two!!

18 October 2011

Learning how to study

Just a quick check-in. The girls survived their first tests in French/German.  We need to work on study skills.  They did fine on the tests but we need to work on spelling in a foreign language.  They have a pop quiz almost every week, and they've been doing their homework but they need to study and review more.

I think study skills in general are something we need to work on.  Sweet Pea hasn't really had tests up until now so this is something new for her.  They both need to learn how to learn and study, not just for a test but to get it in their head long term.  I think with Sweet Pea, she's got the long term stuff but pulling out specific bits of information for a test is harder especially since it's something she hasn't really had to do before.  I also need to teach them that learning a foreign language and knowing it well enough for the test is different than studying for a science or English test.

12 October 2011

The true test....first tests coming up

So the girls have been doing really well and enjoying their language classes.  Sweet Pea said it's not as bad as she thought it was going to be; Rosie Jane loves her class.  The real test is coming up this week - they were assigned their first tests on Monday.  They have to print them, take them, and email them back to Mr. G before Friday's class.  The tough thing (at least for my girls) will be that spelling counts, including umlauts and accents.  They're both doing well with the speaking and reading as far as I can tell, but the spelling is a challenge.  I'll probably look over their tests before I scan them to email them back but it's not my job to grade them (yea!).

Funny story about German class...we were on the road this weekend.  Now we hardly ever take off Columbus Day, Bob works so we continue on with school, but this year we took it off to head to NH for our nephew's baptism.  Class did not take a break so Rosie Jane had German and Sweet Pea had French on Monday.  We figured we'd be all high-techy and use Bob's phone as a hot spot for his laptop and the girls could connect to class.  Worked great, Rosie Jane got into her class, was listening in, participating, everything was going great....until the computer died!  It was her turn to speak and just as she asked "can you hear me?" the computer went into hibernation!  Turns out it was a problem with the computer cord and we couldn't get it to charge.  Bummer.  Then Bob had a brilliant idea (of course, after her class was over) and asked if I could get in using my phone (we've got HTC EVOs).  So I went to the site, had to download a couple of things but got it all set up in time for Sweet Pea's French class.  The only downside was that she didn't have a mic so the class couldn't hear her, but she could type in the text message box and participate otherwise.  Worked great, if in a small version.  We'll have to remember that next month; we're heading to Disney for a few days and will be in the car on a class day.  I may be a mean mom and make them do school when they think they should be off, but not mean enough that I'll make them take time out between Space Mountain and Dumbo to learn German or French.  They can catch up when we get home.

The end to the funny German class story is that Rosie Jane went to listen to the recording of her class on Tuesday and it apparently caught more of her talking than she thought.  You could hear her ask "can you hear me?," then a loud "NOOOOOOO" and some other chatter before she's gone.  She said that she was really embarrassed listening to it.  She asked her friends today about it and they thought it was funny.  I'm sure Mr. G was glad she was back on her computer.

04 October 2011


Algebra has become a thorn in my side and the bane of Sweet Pea's existence.  Usually she does math first to get it over with.  These days, it's the last thing she wants to do and puts it off as long as she can.  Ugh.  Math is a major cause of meltdowns in our house.  Currently we're using Life of Fred Beginning Algebra but I think I may pull out the Teaching Textbooks Algebra again.  She was halfway through that when we decided to give Fred a spin.  It's mostly been going well, but we're hitting a block again.  I told her that she needed folders in her brain to keep math problems straight.  She said that she's got them for writing, history, and some other stuff but the math is all jumbled together and she can't pull out what she needs.  I'm also going to spend some more time looking over the Khan Academy to see if I can find anything helpful there.  I think the biggest problem is that history and writing/reading are her forte and numbers just aren't, which means that I'm not sure that either Life of Fred or Teaching Textbooks are necessarily a good fit for her.  I need to figure out what is so that she can move on.

01 October 2011

Field trip this week

Guess where we went this week!  Yep, Williamsburg.  It actually did tie in with studies, Sweet Pea had just learned (again) about the Gutenberg press so we went to the printing office.  It was actually kind of interesting since the printer that was there was talking politics (of the time) and that Thomas Paine was actually a professional rabble rouser (after he was done causing trouble in Virginia, he went to France to stir things up there).  Then apparently it was shift change time and the new printer was talking more to the young kids there about what he was doing - inking the things he uses to put the ink on the press, how the press works.  Then a large homeschool family came in and we didn't get to ask the (to me) burning question of the day, how much had the press changed since Gutenberg's time?  But the homeschool family had cool shirts on.  We mostly just wandered around and hit things we were interested in, Rosie Jane wanted to go to the Apothecary and the Goal (jail), we walked by the reconstruction of the blacksmith area, lunch at the Cheese Shop, we stopped by the farm on the way there.  It was a warm but finally sunny day and we enjoyed ourselves.

We did get a lot of regular schoolwork done.  I think we're starting to fall into this year's routine.  It's been a really different feeling with them taking the online classes.  It just gives a different rhythm to our days.  It's also nice that they're responsible to someone else for getting their work done.  I make sure they get their homework done (they've got something assigned every class) but Mr. G is giving them a grade, not me.  Looking forward to October.

23 September 2011

Another week done and in the books.  Nothing too exciting happened this week except I am loving the foreign language classes the girls are taking.  They both enjoy them and seem to have made some online friends, they are motivated to do their homework and get it done usually the day of their class so it's ready way ahead of time.  It really seems to be going well for them.

Rosie Jane finished the last few lessons of last year's language arts and has started the 7th grade book.  So far it's good, a review of what she just did which is something she really needs.  For some reason, grammar stuff just.is.not.sticking with her.  We go over it and over it, she seems to be getting it, but when it comes to doing the tests or even the daily worksheets, it's all gone.  Guess we'll be spending more time on grammar this year to make sure she gets it.  And I'm getting just a little tired of telling her to start her sentences with a capital letter and only use them at the beginning of sentences and for proper names and to end her sentences with some sort of punctuation.  I guess we'll get there some day.

Sweet Pea is really enjoying history.  Still moving along in the Middle Ages, getting to the black death.  She's also learning about the Aztecs and other South American civilizations.  Her big struggle is math right now.  Hopefully it'll make sense to her soon.  She's just about done with her science leftover from last year.  It all ties into this year's Earth Science so the work she's done since August will count in her Earth Science grade.  Finally she's really enjoying science.  Hopefully that enjoyment will continue as we move into the new books.

This weekend they're off to the Awakening Festival, a huge Christian concert/festival.  The nice thing is that it's being held this year at Camp Highroad which is where they go for summer camp.  They are going with a couple of youth from our church, and several kids from another local church.  Good news is that they are staying in one of the lodges since it's been raining since early this morning.  Hopefully they'll stay dry and have a ton of fun!

17 September 2011

Organized? I'm not quite there yet.

So we're a couple of weeks into school and I'm starting to realize that I'm not feeling terribly organized.  I've got all these books and a schedule to go with them but since I'm not using them as scheduled I need to come up with my own.  Actually I've got three schedules, none of which I'm using as written.  Bummer. 

Sweet Pea loves history and for her I'm combing world history (Sonlight cores G and H) and American history (Sonlight core 100).  Actually it's only the end of core G where I've started combining.  But the point is, I'm using 2.5 Sonlight cores, none really as written.  I'm using all their books, plus Mystery of History, and mushing them all together.  I'm using their questions but putting all these books into time order kind of going back and forth between world and American history.  It will be an interesting couple of years as I expect that we'll be working on this until the end of next year.  I do have the next several books scheduled and will pull out the information from the Sonlight schedules that we need.  This combining is actually more work than I realized but it will be so worth it in the end.

In most other areas I'm feeling good.  The language stuff is going well (Sweet Pea even said it wasn't as bad as she thought it was going to be), Rosie Jane is going to start science this week with her BFF now that their lab stuff has come in.  Rosie Jane is excited to start her new English grammar book, hopefully some of this stuff that we've been going over for years is going to finally start to stick.  Rosie Jane is almost done with her math book and will be moving on to the next one.  Then I have to figure out about pre-Algebra, does she do both the books or just one?  I'll probably have her do both since she'll need the practice, then she can move on to Algebra.

I'll be spending time tomorrow working on schedules for the week.  That's my Sunday afternoon gig - while they're all at youth group I do school stuff.  I may have to change that as I may join a Bible study that meets at the same time, I'll have to see.  If that happens I'll have to carve out my school planning time somewhere else in the weekend.  The week goes so much better if I'm organized on Sunday night.

It's going to be another crazy week this week.

16 September 2011

It's been a long week!

Wow!  I'm tired.  It's Friday afternoon and it's been a crazy week!  We had a ton of rain last week, which cancelled Rosie Jane's golf classes.  Good news was that they could reschedule them, bad news is that it was moved to this past Wednesday and next Wednesday.  It was crazy getting Rosie Jane to golf and dance and  Sweet Pea to work on Tuesday!  Both Wednesday and Thursday were just about as bad since I had meetings both nights.  Glad this week is over and we can enjoy the weekend since I'll have to do it all over again next week, except I only have a meeting on Tuesday.  Not sure that will be any better!

Well, we're now done two full weeks of school.  I'm pretty sure that we've got all the stuff we need to keep us going for quite a while.  One week of French and German classes are complete.  It's not nearly as bad as Sweet Pea thought it was going to be.  Both girls have had homework from their classes that they've needed to get done and both had pop quizzes today.  This could be interesting.  They have the same teacher so if Rosie Jane has a pop quiz in her class at 10, it's pretty sure that Sweet Pea will in her class as 12.  Guess it won't be a surprise to her!  I also think it's probably good that I remember bits and pieces of both languages so I can help them out (I took 3 years of French in high school and remember more of that than from the 2 semesters of German that I took in college).

Pretty much everything else is moving along well.  Sweet Pea is almost finished her leftover science and moving on to the new.  It'll all count in her earth science credit since that's pretty much what she's been working on.  Rosie Jane is having a love/hate relationship with her Narnia study.  Not really what she thought it was going to be (my guess is it's more work than she really wanted to do).

Glad the week is over, a great weekend is coming up.  Enjoy it!!

12 September 2011

That pesky foreign language credit

One of the more difficult parts of homeschooling, if you ask me, is the foreign language credit.  For any kid that wants to go to college you have to learn to parle francais or sprechen deutsch or some other language.  Science is hard to do at home, but a foreign language, unless it's your first or second language, is really hard.  There are options and I think I've finally found some good ones for us.  This year both girls are taking classes through CurrClick.  They offer a wide variety of ebooks, e-courses, and online classes.  Sweet Pea is taking French and Rosie Jane is taking German.  They're both taking classes with Mr. G.  Rosie Jane took some intro German classes with him last summer and enjoyed them and now it's time for the real deal.  Sweet Pea would much rather work on her own, but that doesn't really work for learning a new language.  Right now they're in the level 1 class; they'll take level 2 in the spring and it will be 1 credit of foreign language.  Most colleges are looking for a minimum of 2 credits, many want 3 (or maybe 2 of one language and 2 of a different one) or even 4.  I'll have to find out if Mr. G offers anything beyond the first year of a language.  If not, I'll have to look around for Sweet Pea for a couple more years of French.  I think I'm set for Rosie Jane.

Their first classes were today.  Rosie Jane didn't actually have her's.  Mr. G was having computer issues with the online classroom so her's is rescheduled for tomorrow.  He apparently figured them out or borrowed someone else's computer because Sweet Pea did have her French class today.  So far, so good, although today was mostly an introduction to Mr. G, how the class is going to work, a bit of geography (where French is spoken), and their first few words. Talk to me in a month to see how my reluctant French speaker is doing.

So some foreign language options:

take a class at the high school
use a textbook curriculum  downside being no one to talk to and practice with
find a local homeschool class  I'll be looking into CHESS for Sweet Pea  for next year if needed
take a distance learning class from a college  this is what Rosie Jane will be doing
take a class at a community college  if you're old enough, 16 here in VA
a computer learning course

05 September 2011

Back to school

So today is Labor Day, which around here means that summer is over and tomorrow is the first day of school.  In our house, technically we started school August 1 but the last couple of weeks have been rather hit or miss as we've finished up our summer fun.  This week we'll be getting into our regular routine for school work, then next week most of the outside activities start up again.  I still don't have all the school books we need, but I do have most everything we need right now.  I just ordered the German book Rosie Jane needs for her class which starts next week.  I made a big order with Sonlight for history books for Sweet Pea, her college and career planning course, and a few other things.  Hopefully it'll ship and get here this week. 

Although we're back to our regular schedule, it's still going to be a short school week for the girls.  They had today off and they'll be doing some light school on Friday.  Bob and I are headed out of town somewhere for our anniversary.  I guess we should have thought ahead when we got married and chosen a different date so we wouldn't be ditching the girls after their first week of school.  They're going to Grandma's for the weekend while we camp (hopefully) somewhere.  Don't know where we're going yet since the weather is being really fickle.  Lots of rain this week and maybe a hurricane this weekend, which of course would be just like any vacation we take. At least the girls will get in three good days.  I'll take some first day of school pictures tomorrow and post them.

27 August 2011

Time for planning

Since we're going to be getting lots of rain later today, thanks to Hurricane Irene, I'm going to make the time to do some planning and scheduling for school.  We'll really get underway on Monday, Aug. 29, and I've got some things to get scheduled and figured out. 

Things to do: 
  • finalize my Sonlight order and get that taken care of
  • finish figuring out grading policies for Sweet Pea's classes
  • scheduling out Rosie Jane's study of Narnia
  • see where I am in scheduling Sweet Pea's history (a huge project!)
  • clean up the school area so we're ready to go on Monday
 It doesn't sound or look too exciting but it's all stuff that's got to be done, and soon!  We also still need to get a new computer for the girls since Rosie Jane is taking an online German class and needs to have a computer that works better than the one we have right now for them.  Much to do!

25 August 2011


This is one time of year it's really hard to get school done; February is the other time.  It doesn't help that there was an earthquake yesterday and a hurricane (Irene) heading our way as well.  We're just trying to get in the last bits of summer fun around the rainy weather as well as get some school done so we can take some time off later in the fall when it's nice out.  I think next week we'll be able to get more work done and after that, when everyone is back in school we'll get on our roll and find our groove.  I can't wait until that happens!

24 August 2011

We had a great time at my brother's, enjoyed time in his pool, Sweet Pea rode bikes with her aunt and cousin, logging in a couple of long rides (PE hours!), I enjoyed visiting with my sister-in-law before we all get super busy with school and activities.  So now we're back home, there's been an earthquake and a hurricane is coming our way.

One good thing about these crazy happenings is that Sweet Pea has asked to do a unit study on both hurricanes and earthquakes.  Last year we did one on tornadoes.  She's been watching "Storm Chasers" and loves it; can't wait for the new season to begin.  Now with the strong earthquake (which we didn't feel, we were in the car on the way home) in the unusual place of middle Virginia, she wants to learn more about them.  The earthquake was centered in the town where my cousin and his family as well as my aunt and uncle live.  Fortunately the only damage it sounds like they had was falling pictures and books.  I'll take whatever it is that sparks an interest in something science related in Sweet Pea!  So when we start with the Earth Science class this year, I'll fit in something more in depth about earthquakes.  I'll also see if I can't find a place to add in hurricanes.  They have ruined more vacations for us!  But at least it gives us good stories to share and we've always made it out unscathed.

So here's to the earth and weather that makes great teaching moments!

22 August 2011


I'm kind of reluctantly bring up science.  It's a touchy subject if you homeschool and are Christian.  Most subjects are pretty straight forward, they are what they are.  Some companies teach all their subjects through a Christian lens, such as BJU and ABeka, but math is still math and English is still English.  The tricky part is science.  I won't bore you with all the details right now (but if you want more I can send you links for more information) but the basic gist of the issues with science has to do with the age of the earth.

The two primary Christian sides are young earth creationism (YEC) and old earth creationism (OEC).  Both believe that God created the earth, they just differ in when that happened and differ by millions of years.  The problem with science curriculum is that most books written for homeschoolers tend to be written from the YEC point of view.  This is a problem for us because this is not what we believe.  I've had a hard time trying to find high school level science books that are written to the student (like most homeschool books for high school students) and are high quality but come from a OEC viewpoint.  Frankly, I'm not sure it exists.  About the best I could do is to order from somewhere like Prentice Hall and get the books they use in the public schools.  Nothing wrong with that necessarily except that they cost a lot more and are not written for independent use.

In the end, I've had to compromise on what I want.  I've gone with Apologia science for this year and am creating an Earth Science class (probably the worst thing to do with their YEC slant).  It will give us plenty to talk about as we talk through what the text presents and what we believe.  Should be an interesting year in science class.

18 August 2011

The end of summer

So the end of summer is just about upon us.  The girls and I are headed to my brother's for some last fun in the sun before the serious work of school gets under way.  We've got a good three weeks of school under our belts, we'll get in a couple more days next week in between the trip to my brother's and a family camping trip, then it will be all school, all the time.  Well, not really, but Aug. 29 is going to be our first full day back to school and we'll be adding in all those subjects (except for foreign languages) that we haven't started yet.

I'm looking forward to this year and I think it will be a good one.  The girls can mostly work independently and I can be more of a tutor instead of teacher.  We'll still be doing music and Bible reading together but other than that they'll be working on their own.  Rosie Jane is excited about doing science with her BFF.  They'll be doing the reading on their own and meeting to do the labs once a week.  I still have a few things to order for Sweet Pea, some of her history books that she'll need in a couple of months, the College and Career Planning course from Sonlight and I just ordered a science book for her from CBD.  I think then we'll all be ready to go.

16 August 2011


We're starting year nine of homeschooling so I've got a pretty good feel for what works for us and what doesn't.  I still try new stuff on occasion but we pretty much stick to what we've always used.  One of the best things I did when I started homeschooling was to go to the library and read a ton of books.  After that I got Lisa Welchel's book, So You're Thinking About Homeschooling.  In this book she shows a "day in the life" of several different types of homeschooling families.  It really helped me to figure out what I wanted to use in the beginning.  I also found out that a friend was using what I thought I wanted to use so I went to visit her and look over her books.  Sealed the deal!

I'm so happy I found Sonlight from the beginning!  The main things that sold me on it were the books and the schedule...and the books.  Did I mention the schedule?  I love the schedule.  One thing I know about myself is that if I was going to homeschool I needed a schedule to keep me on track.  We still have days where things don't go as they should but at least I've got the schedule to get me back where we're supposed to be.

The main core of Sonlight is history, Bible, and language arts.  They also put together a great science package and sell most everything else you need to have a complete school year, math, art and other electives.  Sonlight for each level has a main spine book, for example for the Introduction to American History they use The Landmark History of the American People.  Using this, they schedule all sorts of great books to fill out the history, give it color and flavor.  A lot of the books they use are Caldecott Award winner books, which means that they were favorites of mine growing up.  My grandmother was a librarian and always gave us books for our birthdays and Christmas, always great books.  Sonlight is what is called a literature based curriculum, using real books to teach history and sometimes science.

In the lower levels, Sonlight schedules the history books and read alouds for the parents to read to their children as well as readers for the children to read to themselves.  At the high school level, Sonlight schedules all the reading to be done by the student with a discussion with the parents to deepen the learning.  When the girls were young, I had them working together for most everything except math.  I expected more from Sweet Pea in her written work since she's two grades ahead of Rosie Jane.  They both did math on their own levels.  As they got older, they did separate science since they became interested in different things.  Now that Sweet Pea is in high school, they're mostly working on their own.  We'll read the Bible together in the morning and we're also doing a history of classical music together this year; otherwise at this point they're working independently of each other.  It was great in the lower grades to have them working together.  I could read all their history, RAs, Bible, and science together, explain their language arts assignment then work with them individually on reading, spelling, and math.  Now that they're older they can do a lot of self teaching and I discuss with them what they've been reading.  School still takes a lot of my time, especially Rosie Jane, but it's definitely worth it.

I should see if I can find a picture of our school books.  When you school using literature, you end up with a LOT of books.  And books can be read over and over again, and can be reused by younger students.  That last is not much of an issue with us since until the last year or so they were working together but now that they're now, the books I buy for Sweet Pea will be used in a couple of years for Rosie Jane and I don't think I'll have to buy anything.

11 August 2011

A different perspective on high school

I've used Sonlight for years, love it, and I'll have more on it in a day or two.  For today, here's a blogpost from Sonlight's customer champion and homeschool mom about homeschooling high school.  I thought she outlined a great way to think about high school and this from a been there, done that homeschool mom who is about to take her second daughter to college.

More soon on my love for Sonlight.

10 August 2011

Curriculum - Choices, Choices, Choices

So what do you use to homeschool?  There are SO many choices out there for homeschoolers these days.  I'm sure when my cousins were homeschooled back in the day (1980s-1990s) that my aunt had to work pretty hard to find something to use or maybe she used a correspondence school.  If I remember right from a conversation I had with her several years ago, they did some textbook learning and some unschooling.  These days you can choose from school at home (textbooks) to literature based learning to unschooling/delight directed learning and anything and everything in between.  It can truly be overwhelming the choices that are available. 

If you don't know what to do, the best place to start to find curriculum is to talk to friends who homeschool or go to a convention where you can see curriculum in person.  If you've homechooled for a while you can keep going to the next level with what you're doing if it's working.  If it's not working it may be time for a change up.  This year I'm doing a bit of both, keeping the things that are working really well and changing up a few others.  I'm feeling more confident the longer I've homeschooled so this year I'm mixing and matching some things and making them "mine."  I'm also using some things right off the shelf as is.

My next few posts will be about what we're using this year.  Some things are an easy choice, some are much more difficult for us, trying to find the right thing that will work for Sweet Pea.  And what works for Sweet Pea isn't necessarily what's going to be best for Rosie Jane.  Just to keep life interesting!

06 August 2011

Writing course

I don't have anything brilliant to share today.  The only exciting thing (besides that it's my birthday) is that Sweet Pea's writing course came in the mail today.  She's going to be doing the One Year Adventure Novel writing course.  She has a passion for writing and hopefully this will help her to learn what's good story writing and how to fix her not so good stuff.  It's gotten really good reviews and I bought it through the Homeschool Buyers Co-op when they offered it last month so got it for a bit less.  I've read through the teacher guide, at least the parts I was supposed to have read in the first few weeks.  Well, I actually skimmed the second chapter, but I did read the first one.  It comes with dvd lessons, a textbook, and workbook. I can't wait to see what she what she's going to write!  Guess I'll have to wait until May to read the finished novel.

01 August 2011

First day of high school

We had our first day of school today which means that our first official day of high school is under our belts.  Not sure that it's really sunk in yet, that we've made it to high school, first day of school is no biggie.  We haven't started everything yet, just science, math, and history.  We'll start a couple of things in September.  I'm still waiting on a few things that I've ordered but we've got plenty to get started with for right now.  We also need to get a new computer for foreign languages - Sweet Pea is taking French and Rosie Jane is taking an online German class.  We still have some summer to enjoy yet but when they're asking for school...you gotta do what you gotta do.  Like I said in a previous post, we vacation in the fall so I like to start early and get a few weeks worth of work done to give us some time to play with later in the year.

29 July 2011

Williamsburg, yet again

Just had to write about Williamsburg yet again tonight.  Last night Bob was catching up on his reading and didn't like what I said about our favorite time of year to go there.  I told him that I had kept it simple.  Really, we love to go almost anytime.  The spring is very pretty with everything blooming.  There's lots of gardens with plenty of showy flowers.  The summer is ok, but it's usually crowded with visitors and it's also really hot and muggy.  If I want hot and muggy, I can get it at home but at least here I can stay in the a/c. 

The fall is also very pretty.  There's plenty of trees changing colors, the crowds are fewer.  This picture is from a few years ago but you can see how pretty it is there.  No, it's not Jan. 2004, the camera date wasn't set; it was the fall of 2007.

The winter is another of our favorite times to head to Williamsburg.  The houses are so pretty decorated in the Colonial fashion for Christmas, if you're lucky there's snow, and Bob's favorite thing about Williamsburg in the winter is getting hot apple cider.  He loves to go there, get some cider and a cookie and walk around looking at the decorations, taking pictures, doing some Christmas shopping, and having a fun time with family.  We usually try to get together down there with my family sometime in December but it's getting harder as the kids get older and busier.

One last thing about Williamsburg.  They usually have homeschool days planned twice a year.  We haven't actually been to them because we're there several times a year at other times.  The ones this fall are scheduled for Sept. 10-25.  The website does say that they have special activities planned for then so maybe we will go down.  If you want more information about the homeschool days, you can find it here.

27 July 2011

Scheduling - the Big Picture

We're getting ready to start school in a week or so.  Already?? you say.  Yes, already.  I know the public schools don't start again until after Labor Day in September, but I like to start the the first week of August.  One of the great things about homeschooling is going by your own schedule (both daily and school year).  I start early for a few reasons.  I like to get a jump on things just in case life happens.  It sure did last year and we felt it!  But because I had started in August we were able to have a cushion before life intervened.  I don't usually take off the days the public school kids are off, no teacher work days, no Monday holidays (hubby is always working then so we might as well be doing school), we don't even usually take a snow day off.  Also by starting in August, we can take our family vacation in the fall when the places we might want to go are less crowded.  Huge advantage!  We also take a week off in February every year to visit my sister-in-law in NH so we can play in the snow, go skiing/snowboarding, and have fun with them.  While we ski and play in the snow the public school kids here are still in school.  We take a longer break at Christmas, sometimes a few extra days at Thanksgiving, sometimes but not always we take a spring break.  As for snow days...no, I'm not a mean mom.  The girls usually get up, play in the snow first thing, come in to get warmed up, eat breakfast and do some school.  Then it's back outside.  They get plenty of time to play in the snow but they also still get their schoolwork done.

So for us, the big picture of our school year is this...we start the first week of August and basically work through until a few days before Christmas.  We'll take a week or so off sometime during the fall for vacation and Wednesday - Friday at Thanksgiving.  Then the first Monday in January, it's back to school, take off a week at the end of February, a week sometime in April (maybe), and we should be done by the end of May.  We do take the random day off here and there for a break, a fun field trip (Williamsburg often is the place), or sometimes just because.  Where we live there is no requirement for homeschoolers to track the number of school days, hours, or weeks.  We do shoot for and plan for 36 weeks of school and get at least that much in.  Around here learning continues all year round although studying the books may take a break here and there.

So figure out what your minimum number of school days or weeks are that you want to get in and plan your year around the fun and life that you want to have.

26 July 2011

Homeschool notification

Once again it's that time of year.  Time to turn in the paperwork to the county so we can homeschool for another year. I find that in our state it's pretty easy to homeschool.  I can teach the girls what I want then at the end of the year send in standardized test scores to the county to show that they're learning.  Here we have to notify the state that we're homeschooling, there's no approval necessary.  For some odd reason, there's two deadlines, by Aug. 1 we have to send in the test scores and by Aug. 15 we have to send in the notification for next year.  I don't understand why they're not the same date; sure seems like it would be easier.  Maybe I should have Sweet Pea write a letter to our representative about this, a good lesson in government.  I just send everything in together anyway to keep it simple (and so I don't forget something!).  So I've got my paperwork ready, we've prayed over the next year so I think we're good to go.  Just need to get it in the mail. If you're a local friend reading this, don't forget to get your paperwork turned in!!

23 July 2011

Personal Finance

Personal finance, or money, has been on my mind lately.  Bob and I are trying to work up a new budget to do a few things, like save some money for a dream that we have percolating on the back burner.  There's also some more immediate things we want to address as well, especially as the cost of food, gas, and just about everything else is going up these days.

So did your parents teach you about how to handle money as you were growing up?  I realized recently that mine didn't.  I watched my mom pay the bills and saw her ledger sheets.  I knew that you should save some, give some, spend some on yourself ("mad money"), as well as have enough to pay the bills.  But I was never really taught HOW to do that; how much goes to each part, how to budget so you have enough at the end of the month to pay the things you have to as well as hopefully some for the things you want.  I really want to be more intentional about teaching Sweet Pea and Rosie Jane these things.

I'm a member of the Homeschool Co-op that gets discounted deals for homeschool families, mostly on software products. One of their recent/current offerings is Dave Ramsey materials, including his high school program.  I'd really like to get this to use with the girls to teach them how to manage their money so they know what they're doing when they're on their own in a few years.  I know at least one of their friends has been through one of Dave Ramsey's classes, not sure if it was the high school one or another one, and thought it was really good.  I'm going to suggest to Bob that we offer a "Bible study" using the high school materials so we can teach the girls what they need to know to give them a good foundation for their future.

21 July 2011

My girls

My girls are at camp this week, hopefully having a good time even though it's boiling hot out there. I've been busy but am missing them a little bit so here's some about the joys of my life.

Sweet Pea is my freshman.  She's also the guinea pig in the family since she's the oldest.  Yes, you can feel sorry for her, I've learned a lot from teaching her and am hopefully doing better with her younger sister.  Maybe it's just that I'm doing it different for the younger.  Anyway, her main academic loves are history and writing.  She's written two pretty long stories and has plenty of others ready.  I think this year we're going to try the one year adventure novel writing class.  She's also taking world history, algebra, earth science, French, and Bible.  Outside of school, she likes riding her horse, snowboarding (she so can't wait for winter), riding her bike (she just finished biking the C&O Canal).  That pretty much keeps her busy!

Her main love is the snow and snowboarding.  Right now her goal is to be in the Olympics as a snowboarder and compete in boarder cross - four crazy people racing down the slope, first one down wins.  Beyond that I'm not sure she knows what she wants to do when she grows up.

This is Sweet Pea at one of the forts we visited in Florida last time we were down there.  We saw just about every fort between VA and Florida that trip. 

Rosie Jane is the younger sister.  As different as can be from her sister!  She loves science and math and wants to be a nurse when she grows up.  Actually she wants to be a pediatric or NICU nurse as she loves kids.  If she can't do that she's also been talking about being a dance teacher.  I think she'll do anything that involves kids. 

Rosie Jane will be in 7th grade this year.  She's going to be doing science with her bff this year, which should be a lot of fun.  They've talked about going to college together and being nurses.  She's also be taking English (not her strong suit!), math, German (through an online class), doing a study of the Narnia books which will cover some history, Bible, writing, and some other things. 

This is Rosie Jane getting ready for dance class right before the recital.  Dance is her passion.  She's taking five classes this fall and would like to be taking more if she could fit it in.  She also enjoys golf and is part of the First Tee program here.  She's hoping to move up to the next level this summer or fall.  Her goal in golf is to keep doing well and be invited to the First Tee tournament at Pebble Beach.  It's always good to have goals to shoot for in life.

So that's a quick snapshot of my girls.  They keep me busy but we enjoy life as a homeschooling family; it gives us so many opportunities that we wouldn't have otherwise.  I'll have more about Sweet Pea, Rosie Jane and our homeschooling adventure coming soon.

16 July 2011


PE, or physical education...do your kids need a high school credit (or two)?  Yes, they probably do.  Some colleges require it, I'd guess most expect to see it.  It's a required class here in the public schools for 9th and 10th graders.  So what exactly is PE?

A few days ago I read a really good post by Lee Binz, The HomeScholar about PE.  Of course, we all know about the physical part.  Participation in sports (soccer, football, baseball, dance) will cover that part of the class, but there's also the "education" part of PE.  What can you use there?  Lee suggests thinking outside the box here.  Things like nutrition, health, sex ed, how to play a sport, first aid classes all qualify as PE.  Around here, the kids get their classroom driver's ed as part of PE so you could count that as well.  Thinking outside the box again, any sort of exercise will count towards your PE credit - running or walking, hiking on a camping trip, skiing or snowboarding, participating in a charity run.  Just be sure to track what your kids are doing and when you get enough hours they can get a credit for it.  What's a credit? you ask.  Stay tuned!

If you want to find out more about what Lee has to say about PE, here's the link to her article about PE outside the box:  http://www.thehomescholar.com/physical-education-outside-the-box.php

08 July 2011

Applying to college and record keeping

Just a quick post on applying to college.  I'll be putting up lots more about applying to college in about three years but just a few more food for thought things that will help you in the later years.

As you start looking at college websites, many now have a page for homeschooler applicants that lists the requirements if you have been homeschooled.  Many times the requirements are pretty much the same as for any other applicant, sometimes they request/require something more.  Even though the homeschooling "movement" is growing larger each year there are still many colleges that don't have information on their website for homeschoolers or sometimes even know what to do when one applies.

Some basics to know now before you get too deep into high school...even though they may never ask for it, you should probably keep a list of all books read during high school.  I think we're going to have a pretty impressive list around here.  The other thing I think I'll do is have a box around and throw any writing, tests, lab books (at the end of the year) and any other important stuff into it.  I'll label it "9th grade" and stick it onto a shelf in our storage area.  I'll do the same for all four years of high school.  Chances are no college is ever going to want to look at this stuff but if for some reason they do (to substantiate a grade you gave maybe) you'll have it.  Or if your computer crashes and takes your grades with it, you've got the paperwork to go back and recreate it.  Or if for some reason your student decides to go to a private or public school you may need to show some of this stuff to get them into the appropriate grade/get credit for classes taken.  It won't take up much room and it's better to be safe than sorry.

Some good advice I got about high school - it's really just doing the next thing.  Make sure your student knows the current lesson well then move on to the next thing.  The biggest difference is keeping grades, you have to do that even if you haven't done it in the past (I really haven't, no need to).

That'll probably be it for college talk for now, back to high school planning.

07 July 2011

Planning high school classes

Maybe it's time to actually talk about school. Summer sure does seem to be winding down fast so it's time to get the plan finalized and books bought.  Some tips today on how to come up with a high school plan.  I take no credit for coming up with this idea, I got it from the Sonlight forums but it's really helped me focus and organize what Sweet Pea is going to be taking for her high school classes.

First thing you want to do is to take a look at the state graduation requirements.  Not that, as homeschoolers, we have to follow them but to give you a starting point of what you may want to include in your student's plan.  Also take a look at what colleges are looking for on a high school transcript.  To me this is much more important.  It doesn't matter is the kids in public school must take a semester of health.  While it's probably a good idea, if you teach that in daily living and a class in classical music is more important to getting into the college music program, teach the classical music.  So take a look at the entrance requirements of a few colleges your student is likely to think about going to.  You'll find that most colleges are pretty similar although there can be key differences.

Once you do that you can start with a basic plan for the next four years.  It'll probably look something like 4 years of English and math, 3 years of science and foreign language, 3 years of history/social studies, and a bunch of electives.  You may end up with more math, less history, and that's ok.  Just do this in pencil or on the computer so you can change it if you need to (hopefully before your student gets there!).

Having the general classes listed, you can then fill in the specific class.  For example, if you have 3 years of science, what science are you going to teach?  Are they going to be lab sciences?  Most colleges I've looked at are  wanting to see something like 3 years of science and 2 must be lab sciences.  Sweet Pea is going to do 4 years of science, earth science, biology, chemistry, and something else as yet to be decided.  Once you do that part, you can fill in what specific curriculum/books you're going to be using.  For earth science, we're going to be using parts of Apologia's General Science and Physical Science.

What I've done is make up a chart that lists in the first column the class (science), then the title (Earth Science) then in the last column what we're using.  For some, especially English or a foreign language, you may not have a specific title until you put it on the transcript. So my chart looks something like this:

9th grade
English                                 Sonlight LA
Science    earth science       Apologia Gen Sci/Physical Sci
French                                 Rosetta Stone French I
History     world history        Sonlight World History, Pt II
Bible                                    Sonlight Bible (core H)

I have done this for all four years, at least the first column.  Some of the older grades have specifics already penciled in, some don't.  All of it, except 9th grade is still subject to change.  Hopefully this will give you a good starting point to start thinking about what your student is going to be doing the next four years.

06 July 2011

Enjoying summer

OK, so we're totally enjoying summer here.  Spent the 4th at my brother's, enjoying his pool and the cousins.  Honestly, not much school is happening right now.  Both girls are working on math (Sweet Pea on Algebra I and Rosie Jane on Fractions and Decimals).  Sweet Pea is still reading her science so progress is being made.  I think they're both reading.  We're really in summer mode here.  They'll be off for a few weeks, Sweet Pea is going to bike the C&O Canal with her nana and cousin and Rosie Jane is going with me to see her new cousin.  The next week they're both going to an awesome camp, Camp Highroad.  After that we'll get back to school.  Hopefully the science will be finished by mid-August, the math will get done when it's done and they'll move on to the next thing.  I'll be doing more serious planning for the fall soon, finalizing what Sweet Pea's classes/credits are going to be for this year.  In the meantime, we're enjoying summer (have I already mentioned that?).

28 June 2011

Williamsburg, Part II

Yes, I have more to say about Williamsburg.  One thing I forgot to mention the first time is that some of the tours we've done are age restricted, mainly for younger kids. We did those when Sweet Pea was younger and she loved them.  Another fun thing I'd really encourage you to do is to take a carriage ride.  Yes, they cost extra, but are so fun!  You get to travel around Williamsburg like they did in the colonial days, bouncing around in a carriage being pulled by a matched pair of horses.  Now the horses may not look exactly the same, but they are matched to work together.  You get a different perspective from the high seats of the carriage and for once you get to be the ones looked upon as lucky and wave to the folks walking.

A really fun time to be in Williamsburg just happened this past weekend.  They have many revolutionary re-enactors come to town to show what it was like during Cornwallis' occupation of Williamsburg.  Not only are there Redcoats, there are Hessians, horses, colonists, and more craftsman than are usually in town.  There are demonstrations by different militia groups, some interesting craftsman (a baker using a beehive oven, one year a man who carved horns into different things), the militias drill marching around the green.  The Redcoats also take over the Capital building.  It's a fun outing and gives a good sense of how things happened.  It's always the last weekend of June so if you're looking for something fun next June, keep this in mind.

I think that's it for Williamsburg, although I make no promises!

27 June 2011

Summer school

OK, I'm ready to think about school again....sort of.  The girls are back at it today so I at least have it a bit on my mind.  Do you teach your kids anything during the summer?  Besides our vacations and other trips, we usually do some sort of school (book work) during the summer. 

Our school year usually starts at the beginning of August, goes through the end of May/first week of June, then we hit summer school.  Things start to fall apart around the second week of June for some reason, every year.  After the dance recital at the end of the month, we usually do some sort of school work 3 or 4 days a week when we can.  That means around things like camp, vacations, visits to family so not a lot of school really happens in the summer.  By the time we hit August, we're all ready to get back to the routine and there's only a visit to my brother's left to interrupt learning.  Starting early in August gives us the freedom to be able to take days off here and there when we want/need to during the rest of the year.

This year for summer school, Sweet Pea is working on finishing her science, Rosie Jane is finishing English and both are keeping up with their math as well as reading. It's not hard to get them to read.  They both have a few history books to read, plenty on their bookshelves and we hit the library as needed.

The work they do in the summer varies.  This year they both had things that needed to be finished up so they'll keep working on those.  They love the math program that they're using but I try to keep math going during the summer anyway so they don't forget how to add those fractions.  Sometimes we do fun stuff, but we always read.

Happy summer school!

24 June 2011

One favorite field trip

Since it is summer vacation, here's a field trip we enjoy.  One of our favorite places to go is Williamsburg, VA. Sweet Pea and Rosie Jane love walking down the streets of Williamsburg, it's like taking a trip back in time.  The best time to go is in the spring, when the flowers are blooming and the streets aren't crowded with the summer vacationers, although we love it any time of  the year.

Williamsburg has costumed re-enactors at the houses, shops, and restaurants as well as actors playing the parts of real people as part of it's "Revolutionary City."  The Revolutionary City recreates events leading up to the Revolutionary War.  You can buy a ticket to get into all the trades, some of the houses, the Governor's Palace and the Capital building.  One fun place to go with kids is the Benjamin Powell House.  This is at the far end of the town, behind the Capital building.  They have many colonial games for children and the interpreters there are really helpful in explaining how the children lived, learned, and played and they teach and play the games with your children.

Our family loves to go to Williamsburg for the day.  We'll head down, stop at The Cheese Shop for lunch (lots of different kinds of sandwiches, patio outside, located in Merchant's Square), we'll wander down "DoG" Street (Duke of Gloucester).  Since we have an annual pass and come down several times a year, we'll stop in the houses and trades that spark our interest that day, sometimes it's the blacksmith, sometimes one or another of the homes, often the brickyard.  Which reminds me of two more really fun things with kids at the 'Burg - the brickyard and the apprentice tours.  The brickyard is open from late spring through the summer.  There they mix the clay and shape bricks.  In the fall, the bricks are fired and used in construction projects around Colonial Williamsburg.  Sometimes the bricks are used in historic projects outside of the area as well.  The fun part about this is that they clay is mixed by stamping and stomping in a clay pit in your bare feet.  The workers there are more than happy to have guests join in!  Rosie Jane and Sweet Pea have certainly enjoyed stomping in the clay several times.  They do have a barrel of water to clean your feet when you're finished.  The other fun thing is the apprentice tour.  You have to buy a separate ticket for this but it's worth it.  The kids are taken around to three trades to experience what it was like to be an apprentice for them in the colonial days.  The girls have been to the aforementioned brickyard, the wigmaker, the blacksmith, the gunsmith, the apothecary, the bookbinder (yes, we've done it with them several times). At each stop they get to try their hand at some piece of the job and take away a souvenir, be it a clay curler or a book cover.

As you can see, we love going to Williamsburg and I think it's about time for another trip there.  If you're looking for more information to plan your own trip to Williamsburg their website is www.history.org.

23 June 2011

How did we get here?

I know it's only late June and most people are done thinking about school.  I sure am!  This week we're on vacation but as a homeschooling mom I think about school a lot, what's next, where are we headed, and good grief!!, how did I become the mom of a high schooler?  That's what I'm thinking about now, how did Sweet Pea grow up to be such a wonderful young woman headed into 9th grade this fall?

Homeschooling was easy when she was in first grade, read some great books, encourage her in her reading, learn how to add and subtract, take some cool field trips and get together with friends.  As the years went on, the math became harder, the books longer, and my time was split between Sweet Pea and Rosie Jane, but school was still fun and not too hard (at least for me) and we still did some cool field trips.  The best were when Dad could come along.  Now, though, we're starting down the high school years.  Sweet Pea is set on being homeschooled so we're heading down this new, uncharted road (at least for us).  High school seems scary but I know we can do it and I'll be sharing the journey along the way.