Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A few things I LEARNED at the homeschool conference?

Organization Skills:  I need to make a loose daily schedule for chores and assign (delegate) chores for each child.  Amazon sells a timer that has 6 alarms with verbal (recordable) prompts....this can be used for frequent reminders to help keep everyone on task. The kids and I had a planning meeting on this subject and have come up with a few ways to implement this on a daily basis.

Multi-Level Teaching: teaching everyone the same things (on their own levels) will make it easier to remember what we've covered and it will allow me to have more time to enjoy my kids. Letting the kids check each others work and practice skills together will encourage team work and reinforce what they are learning.

Notebooking: Creating a journal or notebook for any or all subjects is a fun and creative way to keep track of what the kids are learning, give them a way to display their work and encourage them to do their best.

Micro-Business: Creating multiple streams of income not only helps the kids to figure out what they want to do when they are grown, it also helps to provide them with spending money and would give us a cushion should we have any unexpected expenses.

Aquaponics: Year round gardening is possible using a green house and live fish to keep the plants healthy.  The fish can also be eaten.  I need to do more research on this one, but it definitely touched a nerve for me.

Physical Fitness: We are not martial arts type people, but EVERYONE loved learning about Krav Maga self defense. With very little equipment this is something that Hubby could do with all the kids as part of our PE time this year.

Survival Skills: This guy was very informative and covered quite a few things that Hubby and I hadn't considered. 
We both have military training, but have never made a disaster plan or even discussed survival skills with the kids.  As a direct result of attending the survival training sessions, we are discussing food storage, planning to take the kids hiking and planning a once per month "survival day".  On Survival day we will practice living without electricity, running water and electronics.  We also plan to teach them basic first aid skills.

Hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed the Home School Conference.  We are already making plans to attend again next year.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting closer to a PLAN

I collected every catalog I could get my hands on at the recent homeschool conference and I have been eagerly browsing them ever since.  I also really like Amazon and several other websites that pop up at the bottom of the Amazon pages whenever I search for a particular textbook or workbook.  There are simply too many options!

What I am finding is that I DON'T want a curriculum set and I DON'T want a program that tells me how they think I should present the material to my children.  Some of the programs have impressive claims, but as soon as they start talking about their step by step instructions, I am turned off. I like to do my own thing and I have found my kids learn the most when things are only loosely structured.

I am sure that I am over analyzing.  Most of the catalogs have the same exact books, some offer free shipping, some offer discounts, some have package deals.  There are certain books I MUST buy for courses the kids are taking at the co-op and there are other books that I just really like.  There is also the list of books that appeal to me, but I'm not sure are worth the money. Of course, I'm also looking at used books on Amazon and trying to decide if they would be "good enough" for what we need.

Math is figured out.  Morgan and Maggie will be using Saxon Algebra through the local co-op.  Marissa and Melanie will be doing Life of Fred and supplementing with a variety of math workbooks.

Science is figured out.  Morgan will be taking a dual enrollment Chemistry, Maggie will have Biology through the co-op, Marissa will be doing an eclectic general science and Melanie will be learning about flying animals at the co-op while also participating in Marissa's general science.

PE is figured out.  Our homeschool group has arranged a weekly time slot at the community center for a small fee.

English (language arts) I am still working on.  Morgan will be taking a dual enrollment English class, Maggie will have a writing class through the co-op and will be reading classics in the Fall, not sure about Spring for her yet.  Marissa will be starting novel studies and she will have an Institute for Excellence in Writing class at the co-op. I also want to find a spelling program for her and we will be working on cursive writing. Melanie is not yet reading independently, we will continue with reading eggs, we'll be working with all the phonics readers we've collected over the years and I'll be trying to find a way to make her WANT to read.  I also want to find a good beginning spelling book for her, she currently has more interest in writing than reading.  She will be in a Five in a Row class in Co-op.

History/Social Science is NOT figured out.  Morgan was going to be taking Econ/Government at the co-op, but between the cost for the books and his reluctance we are looking for another option.  Maggie will be in 9th grade and I'm not sure what she should even be studying in history this year.  We may continue Story of the World with Marissa, but we will need to do some extra supplementing because it is not interesting enough for her on its own. Melanie will be studying Native Americans at the co-op.

Art is figured out.  Our homeschool group has an arts and crafts day twice a month at the library for Marissa and Melanie.  Maggie sometimes participates.  Morgan has no interest in Art, other than anime.  He will probably take a dual-enrollment art appreciation course either in the Spring or next school year. We have tons of art materials at home that the kids use in whatever way interests them.

Music is figured out. Morgan and Maggie are members of our County Choral Society.  All 4 kids will be in the Wizard of Oz musical this Fall and other productions that will be put on by the new local Children's Community Theatre program the rest of the year.

Foreign Language is mostly figured out.  Morgan has completed 2 years of German.  Maggie will be learning French, I can not afford Rosetta Stone, or any of those types of programs.  We have French workbooks and will be using Duolingo, but I'm still looking for an affordable textbook.  Marissa and Melanie will be participating in a French Playgroup at the library.

We are going to have a very busy schedule in the Fall, I am hoping to get it finalized and everything purchased by mid-August.  Our target start date is August 20th.

Children's Community Theatre---The Wizard of Oz!

We received an exciting e-mail today! Our four youngest auditioned for the Wizard of Oz last week and the casting list has arrived.  Morgan will be the Tinman, Maggie will be the Wicked Witch of the West and the little girls will be Munchkins.  They all love to sing and everyone except Maggie also loves to dance.  This is a brand new program in our community and we can't wait to watch it blossom.

Here is the picture Maggie attached to her theatre resume for the audition.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Homeschool Conference was WONDERFUL!!!

I had been anticipating attending my first homeschool conference for MONTHS.  The first day finally arrived this past Thursday and I have to say it was even more amazing than I had dreamed. The exhibit hall had all the books I wanted to see, the sessions were presented by "famous" homeschool veterans whose writings I have long admired.  I was able to get all my nagging questions about our upcoming school year answered and to top it off, Hubby was able to get time off from work to attend with me.

There were so many great sessions that we had to play divide and conquer several times.  The Outdoor Adventure Tent ended up being our favorite.  We learned about self defense skills, survival skills, Revolutionary War Re-enactment, Project Appleseed and even aquaponics.  I definitely see greenhouse gardening in our near future.  I have a better idea of what our PE class will contain this year and I'm excited to start planning a once a month survival practice day for our family.

John Joslyn, one of the co-founders of the Titanic Museums gave a stunning presentation about the time he spent recovering artifacts in the North Atlantic Ocean.  Marissa and Melanie were as fascinated with the presentation as Hubby and I.



On top of everything else, we came home with tons of information about additional resources and of course lots and lots of secondhand books from the consignment sale.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Planning my days at the Home School Conference

The Appalachian Home Educators Conference begins in FIVE days!!! Today, I dropped off my consignment items.  I couldn't believe how easy it was to create an account, list the books online and then print and attach labels.  The drop off process was super easy too.  I've never sold anything in a consignment sale, mainly because I thought it would be difficult.  Now I have room on my shelves for new curriculum for the upcoming school year.

The next thing I need to do is figure out which sessions I most want to attend. Hubby is very excited about the Outdoor Adventure Tent, he will probably spend most of his time there with the kids.  I need to clone myself, there are so many things that I want to see and do.  I am going to TRY to plan out a schedule that allows me to hit the highlights.

We will have two high schoolers this year, so sessions on High School will be my top priority. I am also very interested in the sessions about starting a microbusiness and Encouraging Entrepreneurs. Of course, the organizational sessions need to fit in someplace too.

We are all excited to see John Joslyn and hear his Titanic Dive Presentation. We went to the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge last Fall, it is awesome! It is going to be an extremely busy 3 days and I can't wait.

If you haven't registered yet, you can still use my discount code: FULLNEST to save $5 on either an individual or a family registration. Click HERE to go to the registration page.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Home School Conference Facebook Party

Thursday night will be the 3rd Facebook party for the Appalachian Home Educators Conference. They always have GREAT door prizes and even a chance to win a Family admission to the conference. This conference will be held in beautiful and FUN Pigeon Forge Tennessee, June 26th thru 28th.

Use code: FULLNEST to save $5 off on an individual or family registration.

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Home School Curriculum Choices

We are considering an eclectic mix, here is what I've decided on so far:

Reading Eggs
Reading Express
Spelling City
Story of the World
Excellence in Writing
5 in a Row
Saxon Math
Apologia Science

I purchased the subscription to Reading Eggs/Express and we are very happy with it so far.  I am not sure if we will purchase a subscription to Spelling City, the free version seems to meet our needs at this point.  The little girls really like Story of the World and have requested that I buy the Kindle version so they don't have to keep track of the book.  We will be using Excellence in Writing, Apologia Science and Saxon Math through the co-op.

I will probably add more things as we get closer to the start of the new school year.  I also have a ton of supplemental workbooks for the younger girls.  I am tentatively planning to start August 20th.  Co-op starts on August 26th.

Melanie will be doing mostly 2nd grade
Marissa will be doing a mix of 3rd and 4th grade
Maggie is a high school Freshman
Morgan is a high school Junior