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.