19 June 2012


We're moving into summertime. This week it's going to be HOT and humid, typical for our area. Because of the weather, we tend to keep schooling a bit in the summer. When it gets too hot to head outside they can still get school done. We do lighten things up during the summer. This year, they're both taking a language review class so they don't forget the French and German that they've learned and Sweet Pea is taking an intro to Russian class. They're doing math to keep up their skills and this morning Sweet Pea told me that she's much more focused during the summer than she is during the school year, may have to investigate that a bit more and figure out what's going on. Sweet Pea is doing history so she can finish up world history before moving on to American history in the fall. Rosie Jane is doing some writing this summer, crazy journaling type stuff, nothing serious. An hour or so of school in the morning isn't going to kill them and will help them in the long run.

I still have a few things I need to iron out for the fall, a few last minute changes and new ideas that I've come across. I also need to read some books the girls will be reading this fall so I know what they're reading. Organizing our school bookshelves is on the list as well, I need to make more room for school books there. I'm also still trying to finalize their online classes, waiting to see if Russian I will be offered in the fall (looks like it will be) and I also found a really interesting history class but I still need to see if it works in the schedule.

The girls will still get plenty of summer fun - summer camp is coming up in a couple of weeks, our big family vacation is after that, hopefully a trip out to visit the cousins in August, then it's back to school for 8th and 10th grades. In between, they'll get to the water park, the pool with their friends and cousins, golfing, riding, hopefully some camping.

11 June 2012

Convention, Part II

I had a few more convention related thoughts. One reason I enjoy going to the convention is so that I can see some of my friends. I have a few that have moved out of the area, but still live in the state so the only time I really get to see them is at the convention. Oh, we "connect" over facebook during the year, but it's nice to actually see their faces and talk with them. There's another friend who I met through Sonlight's forums, she lives local but our paths don't cross in our everyday lives and I usually get to see her at the convention as well. I didn't this year although I know she was there. And this year, I got to meet someone I've "talked" to on the Sonlight forums who lives in another part of the state. It was nice meeting her and putting a name to a face. I think my girls were kind of shocked at me, that I actually went up to someone who I didn't know and introduced myself. Yes, it's rather out of the box for me, but I did know her, sort of. Anyway, we had a nice chat and now if we head to her neck of the woods we can have a meet up and I'll know who I'm looking for.

So now the school planning is done, most of the school books are bought, and the real work begins. Since Sweet Pea is doing US history again this year, I need to figure out field trips (not hard here) and see what else we're going to be adding. I'm also adding an anthology book to Rosie Jane's world history and need to schedule that now to make things easier this fall.

10 June 2012

Convention Time

My state's large homeschool convention was this past Thursday - Saturday. I went down on both Friday and Saturday, which made for a long few days since it was 1.5 hours away. One of the speakers I heard said that we've got one of the best conventions he's been to, we've got a huge vendor hall, a large used curriculum sale (UCS), and all sorts of workshops on things ranging from homeschooling, raising a family, how to save money, and all sorts of other things.

I went down early on Friday morning. There was a speaker workshop I wanted to hear that started at 9, so I left the house early so I could check-in and if there was time drop off my used books. There was no traffic on the way down and no line to check in so I had plenty of time to walk down the really long hallway to the UCS and drop off my books. The first workshop I went to was given by Carol Reynolds about incorporating the fine arts (art, architecture, and mostly music) into teaching history. She was a really dynamic speaker, very interesting, and I gleaned some good ideas from her. I had a hard time finding her booth, but later met her and had a very nice chat with her.

I spent the rest of the morning and a good part of the afternoon walking around the vendor hall. First I walked through to see who was there and what they had, basically just scoped out the scene. I went back through more methodically and made my purchases - bought a couple new t-shirts for the girls, got a few books from YWAM, bought some actual school stuff.

Later I went to two workshops by Debra Bell - study skills and teaching teens. I've heard her speak before at the convention and enjoy her. Gained some new insights and some ways to help the girls learn to study. We don't have many tests at our house so they really need to learn how to study and get things into their long term memory so they'll succeed at college.

I was going to go to one more workshop on Friday night, but I was pretty tired from my early morning and wanted to get home. I think I made a wise decision, especially since the speaker I skipped had handouts so I've got those. Got home and slept in on Saturday morning!

Since I'd finished all my shopping on Friday, I didn't need to rush back down to the convention on Saturday; I was just heading down for a couple more workshops and to pick up any books I wanted back from the UCS that didn't sell.

I heard Carol Reynolds speak again about the top 5 skills needed to succeed academically. Some of it common sense, some not so much, but she's very funny so it was quite enjoyable. I really hope they invite her back next year. I'm friends with the person in charge of getting the speakers for the convention so I put in a big plug for her.

I had thought of going to another workshop but ended up talking with a good friend for too long. It was really time well spent though. We had a good conversation about some stuff that's going on with one of her kids academically and it was helpful to me. We also talked a bit about next year, although I totally forgot to confirm with her that our daughters are going to be doing science together again next year. I'm sure it's not an issue!

The last speaker I heard was Andrew Pudewa. I've heard lots about his Institute for Excellence in Writing but have never heard him speak before, although he's been to our convention in the past. He was really funny! I did learn some really good things from him that I'm going to be putting into place almost right away. I had thought of using IEW next year, heard some things that led me to think maybe not, but now I may have to rethink again.

It's been at least two years since I went to any workshops at the convention. The last two I've gone down to do my shopping (most vendors offer free shipping if you order at the convention), some things I can only get there and I like to look around, especially if I'm going to be changing something up. I always get some "just for fun" stuff as well as school books. This year I saw a few that caught my eye as interesting and it was definitely worth it to attend them. The convention is over for this year, most of my books for the fall are bought, I just have a bit of organization to do, gather the last few books, and we'll be set for a new school year.

05 June 2012

Year end meetings

Our school year is pretty well wrapped up. We'll keep doing a couple of subjects through the summer when we can and do have one or two things that need to get finished up this month, but otherwise we're done. One thing I do at the end of the school year, now that the girls are older, is have a year end meeting with each of them. They can pick somewhere to go out, usually for a snack type treat where we can talk. Sweet Pea and I got together a few weeks ago at Starbucks and I hope to take Rosie Jane out tomorrow to Tropical Smoothie.

When we get together, we talk about how the past year went - what did they like and not like and why, what went well, where can we improve things. Usually, most of this I know. I have a pretty good idea of how things are going, they're both pretty vocal about something if they don't like it. Sometimes I can change it, sometimes I can't and they just have to work on it anyway.

We also talk about the upcoming year. I enjoy this part more, I think. I share with them what I have planned, I get their input, and hopefully what I have planned and what they want mesh together. I also ask if there's something they want to study the next year and we see if we can fit it in. One thing Sweet Pea is very excited about is the possibility of learning Russian this fall. Hopefully the class she wants will come together. The other thing she wanted to do is an art history class. I think it's a great idea but hadn't thought of it myself for her.

When I got together with Sweet Pea, we talked about next year specifically and the last two years of high school in pretty general terms. She's shared what her current career ideas are and I've worked a high school plan taking that into consideration. I told her some of the "why's" of the classes I was picking for her so she would understand why she'll be taking a lot of math and science, even though her favorite subject is history. She also shared some ideas of history classes that she'd like to get in sometime during high school. I think we can get in everything she wants to do. One of the great things about homeschooling is being able to really tailor classes to your student's wants and needs.

When I get together with Rosie Jane, we'll mostly talk about next year, 8th grade and I'll share my initial plans for her high school years. She still doesn't really have any idea what she wants to do so there's only a few things that have been written in pen for her plan. We've already talked a little bit because the convention is coming up this weekend and I needed to get some input from her about a few things. Hopefully tomorrow we'll get into more detail about next year so I can finalize some ideas I have for her.