Sunday, October 12, 2014

Time To Reevaluate

It has been about 3 weeks since we have done any formal learning.

That isn't to say that we haven't learned during this time because we have done plenty of things that have proven educational. It all boils down to the fact that G doesn't like the formality of having to sit for long periods of time. So with that being said, it is time to reevaluate our methods. 

I want to go more hands on. Possibly gravitate more towards unschooling.
I know many of you are thinking, now what is unschooling? To be honest, I don't even fully grasp the concept yet but from what I have gathered it is learning through life. Education without the formality. (I could be wrong of course.) If this isn't a proper way to describe unschooling then I need to find out what it is I am describing because that is the route I want to take. 

In everyday life and interactions there are so many opportunities to make a situation a learning/teaching experience and that is what I want to do. 

Do you understand which direction I am wanting to go? Do you have any resources I may find helpful?

I believe I have stated here before that we intend to homestead. 

In homesteading we are learning to be self sufficient and do things for ourselves. Yesterday we completed our pig pen and our piggies are now happy in their nice new home. Our next project will be our chicken coop. Soon enough we will get our greenhouse started so we can begin gardening. 

Once we are able to start these things, the learning experiences will be vast and I couldn't be more excited! 

I know that I don't need to stress school for G as he isn't 5 just yet, I just need to find a way to keep his curiosity alive while still being able to answer his questions in a way that will be informative but not needing to become a full blown lesson. 
*Most questions he asks are easy to answer, others require more in depth responses which is when I look to lessons. 

As seems the usual lately, this post is all over the place but I guess that is because my mind is all over the place. 

(Tomorrow will be art and science so I should have a new fun post to make finally!)

Friday, September 5, 2014

Our First Couple Weeks

We are in week 2 of Homeschooling.

Since I am the worlds biggest procrastinator, this post is going to be full of our activities over the last couple weeks. 

In week 1 we read The Three Billy Goats Gruff. 
One of the activities we had to go along with it was a puppet show. We have never done anything like this with G before so it was great to see how well he retained the story and was able to re-tell it using the puppets.

He made us do the puppet show multiple times. Sometimes he was the goats and I was the troll, other times I was the goats and he was the troll. His retention of the story honestly impressed me!

One of our science activities for week 1 was discussing what scientists do. We talked about the scientific method and then to better understand observation, we went outside and "observed". 

He took his magnifying glass as well as a back pack to store things we found in. First we listened to the noises around us. Being in a small town and farther out of town means nothing but nature sounds with the occasional car. Nothing we could have experienced at our old house in the middle of a city. 

We heard chickens, horses, birds, cicadas, and the wind through the trees. Using his magnifying glass he hunted down quite a few really neat rocks. He also collected 6 pine cones. Once we got back in the house we talked about what we had observed. He loved it!

He loved what came next even more though. Using the pine cones we'd collected, we made a bird feeder. 

Once it was complete he used the magnifying glass, which is slowly becoming his favorite tool, to see even closer into all the things we put on the feeder. 
 Then we put it in the front yard.

This week we talked about community. 
As our art project we made a helping hands wreath. We even got Baby K in on the fun and let me tell you tracing his hand was not the easiest task to achieve! He was happy to participate none the less though. 

Before gluing the hands to the base we discussed how we could lend a helping hand. We discussed what chores he does around the house to help us out and we discussed what he can do for his community to be a good helper. We talked about how he could keep the neighborhood and parks clean by picking up trash he sees as well as donating toys and clothes he no longer uses to those who are less fortunate than him. 

Then he set to gluing.

 He was so proud to have it hanging in the dining room and he had enjoyed doing it so much he asked to make another one! We will leave that for another day though.

To better explain measuring to G we had him help Momma make cookies. He was so excited to help. He got to help add the ingredients.

He then got to help mix the dough.
 Baby K wanted to help as well so we set him up with his own bowl (of water) and spoon. 

Since we had time while the cookies were baking, we introduced Baby K to his first sensory material. 

This has long been a favorite of G's but we weren't sure how Baby K would handle it. I was almost certain it would go straight in his mouth, but don't worry it's non-toxic!

Surprisingly enough he didn't once try and put it in his mouth until Momma mentioned eating in regards to the cookies!

 Baby K enjoyed every second of snow play. 

While G built a snow covered farm and discussed how many farm animals he wants us to have soon, Baby K just wanted to continuously drizzle the snow on his legs. 

He was even more excited when Momma started making it snow on his head!
Which of course meant G needed in on it as well!

 Then G made it snow for himself. 

 Look at that face! I think Baby K's first sensory experience was a success! He loved it. 

Do you use sensory materials in your homeschool? What are some of your favorite materials?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Those Age Old Questions...

Why are you going to homeschool?

Depending on how this question is asked you could receive a range of responses from me, along with a range of tones/attitudes. I am going to respond to this as if I were asked in a generally quizzical manner by someone who may want to give homeschooling a try themselves.

1. No one other than myself (my wife and the boys' dad too.) will have my child's best interests in mind.

2. Who better than myself to insure that my son is learning all he needs to learn at a pace that works for him?

3. I know he won't get lost or left behind OR on the opposite end, he won't be bored with what is being taught.

4. The student/teacher ratio is perfect. In a classroom of 20 some odd children (give or take) it can at times be difficult to give every child the attention he/she needs and deserves. I say this from my experiences in PS.

5. This one is a HUGE plus! We get to make our own schedule. If we want to sleep in one morning we can sleep in. If we want to "skip" school in order to go do something fun, we are able to without getting an attendance notice. If he wants to do extra-curricular activities that may only be offered in the middle of the day he can. Best of all, if my family wants to take a vacation for 3 weeks, we are free to do so and can still bring school with us. 

6. Probably one of the best reasons I can find off the top of my head is that we don't have rules as to how we have to do things. He won't have to sit in a classroom for 6 hours a day with about an hour of time away from his desk. We can school for an hour in the morning take a break for a few hours and come back to learning a little later in the day. If he is having an off or particularly moody day we can take a "mental health day" without any repercussions. 

7. I have a complete say in what he is learning and how he is learning it. I have realized that quite a few parents homeschool for religious reasons, which is fine. We are not a religious family but there are things that are left out of structured learning in PS that I may want him to learn about. If I choose to incorporate religious history into our lessons just for diversity and so he is able to hear multiple different belief systems, then I can do that. 

Those were a few of the not selfish reasons, now on to the selfish reasons. 

1. They are me babies and the thought of them being somewhere that I am not certain they are being cared for properly shoots my anxieties though the roof! Especially with the amount of school shootings you hear about. 

2. This may or may not be considered selfish I suppose it just depends on your viewpoint, I want him to stay little as long as possible. In PS that can't be guaranteed. They grow up too fast as it is. 

Don't you think you will get tired of them being home all the time?

First of all, NO! Secondly, for days where I feel I may need a bit of a break or some me time, they have grandparents who are MORE than happy to have them for a few hours and get in some much wanted snuggle time. Also for days where I may need a little space, they have their own bedrooms equipped with TV and a playroom full of toys to keep their little minds and bodies busy. 

Aren't you worried they will be "weird"? What about socialization? 
 (Insert blank, huh? stare here.)

I honestly don't even feel the need to respond to this one ever but I get asked quite frequently. If you so much as take your child to the grocery store they are getting socialized. If you take them to a public playground where other kids are playing, they are getting socialized. If you take them to a museum, a gallery, a sporting event, guess what? They get socialized. Even my terribly shy 5 year old eventually opens up to the kids around him and makes fast friends. Almost every town or city has a homeschool group that you can join to find others in your area who homeschool as well, this opens up a world of possibilities for group lessons and the like.  
So NO, I am not worried they will be "weird" and even if they are weird, so what?

Here is how I see it, who knows more than you what is best for you, your child(ren) and your family? No one. You do what you feel is best your family unit and don't let "mommy wars" or nay sayers stop you. It has taken me 20 of my 26 years on this Earth to realize that, one, I will never be able to make everyone happy and two, I honestly could not care less what others think about the decisions that I make in the best interests of my family. 

Did I miss any good reasons as to why to Homeschool? If you have a different reason(s) for doing it, let me know I'd love to hear! Also how do you deal with some of the negative, stereotypical questions/concerns when people hear you intend to or are homeschooling?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Our First Day Was...

...let's just say, less than perfect.

G woke up this morning in a great mood. He was so geared up for school that he kept asking me if it was time all through breakfast. It gave me such a positive outlook on the day ahead and I was excited to begin. 

Trouble struck as soon as we sat down in the classroom. He instantly didn't want to do anything. It was a fight to get him to do calendar time. He did however enjoy filling in our thermometer and asking me what the C and F stood for. Once the fight over calendar time was over it was time for warm ups. For warm up first he traces the alphabet mostly to insure that he remembers them all as well as their sounds. He also enjoys telling me a word that each letter starts. For C he told me Celsius and for F he told me Fahrenheit. Second he traces numbers 1-35. We had less of a struggle during warm ups thankfully. 

Since he has been so excited to learn to read recently I thought starting the morning with reading would be a good way to go. It wasn't. He raced through the 'AT' family words no issue but as we started to do our 'AP' words he decided it was time to zone out. Instead of attempting to sound out the words he guessed. 
I won't lie. I was frustrated. After arguing through the worksheets that went along with his lesson it was clear that we both needed a break. 
     G                                            Baby K

In order to keep us both from exploding we decided to head into to town to check out some thrift stores. It was definitely needed! 

After a few hours we returned home and he was more than ready for math! YAY! 

This boy gets his love of math from his Momma and Daddy because I sure am not a fan of math. English is my thing and I get a little upset by his love for math at times. But hey! A love of learning is a love of learning right? 

He raced through his math in no time and with a smile on his face the whole time! 

Once he finished his math I sat down at my Cricut and started to cut the decor for the walls of our classroom. He was so intrigued by the machine that he began asking if I would show him what buttons to push. How could I not? He was thrilled! During the period of time I was cutting out letters we experienced a flash flood in our area so we opened up the windows and both boys stood at the window with our window markers. 

G drew the weather:

In a very serious tone he told me: "Mommy, if I get X-RAY'd (electrocuted) I will go ZZZZZZZZZZ!" At first I had no idea what he meant. Then a bolt of lightning hit and he said, "See mommy! It will make me like an X-RAY!" This was definitely a highlight of our day for me. How awesome is it that he made the connection between lightning and electrocution like he did when we haven't ever discussed it! 

I will admit this morning I was near a break down. I honestly was thinking that maybe homeschooling just wasn't for us. I feel like there is a picture painted of homeschool parents and I have no idea where this picture comes from, but in my head when I hear of people homeschooling all I see is butterflies and sunshine and happiness. I learned first hand today that that is not the case! Being a homeschool mom is like taking being a stay at home mom, multiplying the number of kids you have by at least 2 and dividing yourself in quarters. (This is how I felt today!) I found a great support system via facebook full of homeschool parents who were more than happy to share with me that they all have days where they want to rip their hair out and on those days when it is more than they can handle they take a "mental health day". I was told to not give up and to keep moving forward and adapting to what works for my family. 

Let's just say that after today, I am ready for tomorrow! 

Do you have any homeschool horror stories? If so I'd love to hear about them as well as how YOU cope when things get out of hand. 

You can find us and follow our journey on:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Tomorrow is...

Tomorrow is G's first day of school! 

We have had a pretty hectic summer! We moved to a new house in a new town. We are no longer in the city and are looking forward to beginning our homesteading journey, but that's not why you are here! 
In this amazing new house of ours we are fortunate enough to have a HUGE playroom AND an extra bedroom which has been deemed our classroom. Most may not understand just how excited this makes me but let me tell you, I am more excited than baby K when he realizes we turned Frozen on for him! (That is pretty dang excited!)

Having a designated classroom will help G stay focused on the task at hand without the distraction of a T.V. or his brother playing/bothering him. 

This is what our classroom currently looks like but take into consideration that it is a work in progress!

This picture shows what will be his main learning area, with his desk and resources. On the wall under the window are our day starters. Each sleeve has a different activity that he will sit down and complete after Calendar Time.

On this side of the room is our Calendar area. I haven't completed it yet but I'm in the process of making letters to go above the calendar that say "Today is...". There is also a thermometer print out next to the calendar and I am getting an actual not digital (so analog?) thermometer that we will put outside. He will check what the one outside says and then fill in the one on the wall. I also intend to put up a complete "The weather outside is..." area on this wall which we will complete when we first walk through the door. 

On the bookshelves seen here, the one facing us has a bunch of sensory/science/art materials on it. The one that isn't facing us has binders full of worksheets and resources on it. 

On the wall which would be on your right facing like the photo above, is where our sensory table is but that can be pulled out to use this wall when we do things with our overhead projector. 

It is all about utilizing this small-ish space completely without seeming like we are cluttered or cramped. 

I have been asked a few times about what grade G is in. He is almost 5, this would put him in Pre-K due to the birthday cut off, however based on what he knows I put him between Pre-K and first grade. He knows quite a bit already that is taught in first grade. I have been "scolded" for "schooling" him before age 7 before but I can honestly say that I have not forced him to learn like we do. He constantly asks if we can learn to read, or if we can do math. The way I see it, why shouldn't I encourage and go with this attitude and love of learning something new! I feel like homeschooling allows us to do this in a relaxed setting where he won't be forced to learn more than he is ready to take in. If he wants to get started early well sure son we can get started early. 

Are you a homeschooler? What do you enjoy most about your kiddo's schooling, whether homeschooled or not? 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Trying Something New: Kids In The Kitchen

G has been showing a lot of interest in helping cook.

In an effort to further motivate him to learn the ways of the kitchen we have been making snacks that he can help with. This has prompted me to start a blog segment that I will call Kid's In The Kitchen. 

Since so many of my readers are mommy's I am sure you have seen the Disney Jr. segments That's Fresh. In the short they highlight an easy, delicious and (don't tell your kiddos) healthy snack/meal. Every time this segment comes on G tells me he wants to try it. So today's snack was one that we got from there. 

Here is a link to the video itself which will give you the recipe.
Here is what our's looked like.

Using a butter knife, G cut the watermelon into cubes.

He then added his greens.

His cheese.

Finally his watermelon and his dressing.

 It was so much better than I imagined it was going to be and probably the best part in my eyes is that it got G to eat leafy greens! Talk about a challenge but he looks to be enjoying it doesn't he?

Next week we start school and G can not wait! I am so happy that his want and love for learning is returning right in the nick of time. Summer is coming to an end and it is time to exercise the mind again.

Kids In The Kitchen is something I want to post about at least once a week. I will share the recipes we use or the idea behind what we decide to make each week. Mostly they will just be snacks but at times we will do meals. 

I love feedback. What are your thoughts on weekly installments of K.I.T.K? Do you have any recipes we may enjoy making together?