Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Growing Independence in My 7th Grader

Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break
Middle School Mon - er - TUESday
I missed getting this up yesterday but wanted to share how I'm helping my 7th grader work more independently. I have to start by saying this child of mine is pretty independent in the first place. She's been known to get up at 6a to get all her work done so she could play with a friend in the afternoon.

The first thing I did was give her a voice into her curriculum and I chose curriculum that she didn't need a teacher for as much as possible. I don't do a lot of planning; mostly we just do the next chapter of whatever book. I do lay out our subjects:

I put our subject into Google Calendar with red. I look over each day in the morning before my girls get up and make any necessary tweaks or notes. Any changes I bring to my 7th grader's attention. We do God Time together and then she runs her day. She adds completed subjects in pink. So you can see our partial week above to get an idea how this looks for us.
She is subscribed to the green, pink and red calendars. Any changes made show up automatically which is wonderful. [Everyone except the 10YO is responsible for regularly checking Google Calendar so they know what's going on. Any "When is ______?" I don't answer and tell the child to check the calendar.] I group subjects together, but she tends to do computer work all together in a lump. So she does Duolingo, spellingcity, sumdog and passive spanish listening together in a block.

This year, she is doing her history narrations in Google Docs and then she sends me her initial draft. I get an email from Kat Nat like seen below:
The email has a link to the doc. I go into it read and edit. Some times I ask for more detail and some times I just fix grammar. She makes changes and then prints it out for her history binder.
She does handwrite for her writing and grammar curriculums, so I was willing to compromise on history and let her type it.

We're not very far into our school year [we started October 1], but so far she is liking the increased independence and it's working well. She's asking questions as necessary which is a HUGE part of being a responsible independent learner in my book.
  Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Gratituesday - October 21

Heavenly Homemakers Post
I keep thinking that having my two weekly posts on Thursday and Friday is not the best for me, so I am going to try shifting my thankful post.

I am thankful my 10YO put a great deal of effort into her history writing [even if it took her 6 hours to finish it]. I am thankful The boy is going to visit his grandparents for a few days. I am thankful my "cousin" safely delivered her first baby - welcome Ronan! I am thankful for timers which keep us on track with our days. I am thankful for the food I prepared today and the energy to prepare it. I am thankful for my DVR so I can watch football when I have time and not when it's broadcast. I am thankful for our library and how close we live to it. I am thankful for friends who make me laugh and encourage me to overcome my introvertness. I am thankful for a friend who is married to an ISTJ and so gets me [as I am one, too] as few other people do.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thankful Thursday - October 16

This has been a rough week emotionally. The boy is making his father and me CR@ZY!!!  There has been a nonnegotiable line laid down that we are praying he doesn't cross. And if he does, we'll just plain be praying an awful lot. So this week, my list is about those peaceful things I've tracked down in my life:

quiet afternoons of homeschooling
restful nights of sleep
strong faith talks with all 3 girls
new pumpkin bread recipe tried and loved
friends who check up on me
peppers still growing in my garden
3/4 garden boxes ready for winter
a chair that works for me at my computer desk
more schoolwork accomplished
a helpful physical therapy appointment
no appointments except on Tuesday

Saturday, October 11, 2014

My Homeschool Mother's Journal - October 11

Weekly Wrap-Up

Collage Friday link here
Girlies up a tree! ODD is a little harder to spot, but she's in each picture.
In my life this week…It's been a pretty amazing week for me.  I had my 2nd physical therapy appointment on Tuesday and she was able to trigger the deep, sharp pain I've been experiencing. This is exciting because it means the pain is muscular and won't need surgery. Then on Friday I saw my gastroenterologist and she proposed going off a medication she prescribed for me to see if I need to stay on it. YAY! In the last 13 days, I have only taken a pain pill once [yesterday] which is so completely awesome. My stamina is still not where I want it, but my R.N. husband says that's to be expected given my last 8 months. I am so thankful for the good news and progress of this week.

Grad School... My husband is about halfway through his first Master's level class, and is getting a 99.8% so far. And he's bitter about the 2 points he's lost while I am just trying not to kick him. :)
We've moved our grad school student into our bedroom so he can close the door while he's studying. Having him in the middle of our living space was not working for him. Thankfully now he's got a good study space.
In our homeschool this week… because of ODD being sick, this was our first week of full time schooling and it didn't go very good. Most of the week, ODD only got about half her work done. I sat down and talked with her about it, and she said it was hard to go from very light summer schooling to our fulltime groove. I thought this was legitimate and I will keep it in mind in the future. YDD and I have started a new study for our God time from Firmly Planted. It's The Gospels Part One and here's Cathy Duffy's Review.

Our week: 1 - YDD being a floppy eared bunny. 2 - YDD was cold, so she gathered half the blankets in the house and made a nest on our bed. 3 - ODD eating Irish soda bread with our local group last week. 4 - ODD working on her history on the porch. 5 & 6 - YDD chopping and helping with dinner. 7 - YDD is my little clone right down to the knots she gets in her shoulders. 
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…I build slop into our yearly schedule so I won't stress about weeks like this last one we lived through. Kids get sick, life happens and you have to factor that into your planning.

Favorite resource this week . . .still loving Duolingo for both girls' foreign languages [Spanish and German].

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… last Saturday we journeyed up to Portland to watch cousins play in a couple soccer games:
1 - L [with the asterisk] in the first game. 2 - O drinking smoothie. 3 - L after her game; she is in Kindergarten this year. 4 - DS and ODD chatting; that's my Dad with the camera. 5 - Now it's Z drinking smoothie; he's 2nd grade now.
1 - Z after his game. 2 - My Mom and cousins waiting for lunch. 3 - Z playing goalie. 4 - More Z playing goalie. 5 - ODD and O. 6 - ODD with L & O.
October 10 found us at a local pumpkin patch [Bauman Farms] with our homeschool group. 1 & 2 - YDD & ODD petting bunnies; YDD is wavering between a bunny or guinea pig for a pet. 3 - ODD & Kemmy and JQ. 4 - My girls drinking fresh squeezed apple cider. 5 - Heading to the store to buy apple cider to take home.
Things I’m working on…today I got a ton of kitchen work done which hasn't hasn't in a while so it was very satisfying. I baked 2 loaves of zucchini bread sharing with my family a childhood memory because I used my grandparents' recipe. I baked 4 loaves of bread, made 4 quarts of chicken stock, made pumpkin spice creamer to go in my coffee [I tweaked this recipe], pureed/froze peppers for use in enchilada sauce, roasted a pumpkin and 2 ginormous sweet potatoes.

My favorite thing this week . . .hanging at the pumpkin patch with my girls and our homeschool group which was also the girls' favorite.

I’m thankful for…friends for me and my girls. I am thankful for babysteps in getting up earlier and God time for me. I am thankful for time for long talks with my girls especially my 12YO. I am thankful our house is laid out so DH can have a private study space. I am thankful the next week has fewer outside commitments for me. I am thankful for progress made with counseling. I am thankful we've eaten through the first batch pumpkin puree already.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday - October 9

I am thankful that the physical therapy that I [and my doctor] did not think would help is in fact helping!! I haven't take a pain pill in 10 days - and I am thankful for that, too! I am thankful I am having an easier time driving. I am thankful for all the harvest stashed in my freezers. I am thankful for a good local homeschool group. Related to that, I am thankful all 3 of my girls still enjoy a trip to the pumpkin patch! I am thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling even though it's making me a bit nuts this week. I am thankful my youngest is making progress towards being an independent learner. I am thankful there's football to watch tonight.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Middle School Monday - The very first one

Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break
Because of the weather where we live, I choose to run our school year October 1 - June 30. Our first day of the new school year was last Wednesday and it happened to also be the day my middle schooler [ODD] came down with a cold. So we adjusted and I learned ODD is fascinated with World War I and II. This summer, I had recorded The History Channel's series The World Wars and just kept it on our DVR. With a sick girl, we watched all 3 episodes in 2 days, and that's how I discovered her interest. I had previously asked both my girls if there was anything they wanted to learn about this year and both had little response.  However watching this series brought to light a topic ODD is very interested in. How am I fostering her interest? She and I went through the next week's of programming on The History Channel and picked more shows to record. We also got a couple books from the library:

Maus by Art Spiegelman is a graphic novel showing the Jews as mice and the Nazis as cats. ODD is rereading it this week. The author is the son of a survivor and he tells his father's story.
World War I for Kids by R. Kent Rasmussen was a fortuitous find as it's new to our library system. So it was sitting on the top of the New Books shelf like God had put it there for us. I love moments like that. I'll share what we think about this book after the girls dive into it.
This year, my middle schooler is in 7th grade. She is studying Spanish, Story of the World volume 3, Life of Fred math, writing, spelling and science. I share about our curriculum here. We are pushing her art horizons by enrolling her in a new art class with The Master School of Art. So far she's been frustrated with the homework of blind contours, but enjoys the class time. She's also deviated from my plan with her God time studies because her best friend is hosting a Bible study at her home that ODD is participating in:

She has enjoyed the discussions this book has started.
Hopefully this coming week we will get a full week of school in since she's feeling a lot better, but this is how our start has gone.

Finishing Strong Link-up

Friday, October 3, 2014

My Homeschool Mother's Journal - October 3

Weekly Wrap-Up

The One with Our First Day of School!

Collage Friday link here
In my life this week…a new Sunday school class started up at my church and I love it! It's a good mix of moving through the material and discussion; I've been missing this kind of discussion. On the health front, I saw a physical therapist on Tuesday and she said my hips are out of alignment and that might be causing my pain. It would be fabulous if this is the total answer, but it's too early to tell for sure. Right now I have weekly appointments with my physical therapist.

In our homeschool this week… we started our new school year on Wednesday, October 1.
First day of school pictures of my crazy girls! ODD is wearing the fingerless gloves for her Hawkeye costume that I share about below.
The day started out well: ODD went to art class and YDD completed the tasks I left for her to do while we were gone. We hit God time an hour late, but by the end of that, it was clear ODD wasn't feeling. I went to Walmart for some decongestant and we watched the first episode of The History Channel's The World Wars. Our second day wasn't much better because I ended up going back to bed for a nap and ODD still wasn't feeling great, but we did watch the remaining episodes of The World Wars. Our start back to full-time schooling has not gone as planned, but I'm getting better at going with the flow.

The boy has started studying for his first CLEP and Kemmy is close to finishing a math class. My older students are pretty independent, so I just touch base with them about progress and remind them to ask for help if they need it.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… I try to always have some educational shows held in reserve for sick days. This totally helps my mindset and accommodates my sick students. Some times I have things recorded on our DVR and other times it's something in the queue on Netflix. I love having them ready and waiting for whenever the need arises so I don't have to scramble on the sick day to find something.

This week's art . . .
ODD created this one; makes me smile. 
A chibi Captain America ODD created for a friend. Kat Nat is her online and art nickname. 
YDD drew this dragon and was sad she did it on scratch paper because it turned out so well.
What we are reading . . .I read a little bit more of Believing God by Beth Moore: I am moving through it slowly partially be design and partially because I haven't felt up to reading lately. ODD is still working through book 2 in the Ranger's Apprentice series.
These are all YDD's reads for this week; she's in the midst of all except 3 which she finished. 1 - Omen of the Stars Warriors: The Fourth Apprentice by Erin Hunter 2 - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente 3 - Pixar The Company and its Founders by A.M. Buckley she really liked this one. 4 - She's rereading Seekers The Quest Begins by Erin Hunter.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…both older girls missed their Bible studies this week. YDD finished swim lessons for this session; she moved up a level and has to complete 2 more levels before she can quit swim lessons. She's definitely taking this next session off, and is thinking about when she wants to pick it back up. I think it's really important to give my kids a voice into their education. She knows my expectations and is pondering how to meet those. ODD thankfully made it to art class before succumbing to sick.

Things we're working on…
Work has begun on ODD's Hawkeye costume. 1 - DH made a template for the fingerless gloves using newspaper and duct tape. 2 - He traced the template onto 3 - a leather coat we bought at a thrift store. 4 - He gave himself plenty of room for the seams. 
1 - ODD painted toy guns black for her friend who is going as Black Widow. 2 - YDD working on her own project; she was inspired by Dad and Sister being crafty. 3 - DH checking to make sure the cut piece will work. 4 - The start of the shirt for ODD. 
My favorite thing this week . . . the Packers' win over their hated rivals the Chicago Bears last Sunday followed closely by the Packers stomping of the Vikings last night.

My kids' favorite things this week . . .Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. being back!

I’m cooking… enchilada casserole. Everyone loves my enchiladas, but they are rather labor intensive. This week I layered the enchilada ingredients like a lasagna and it worked great!

I’m thankful for…the freedom and opportunity to homeschool my children. I am thankful my girls can still learn even when sick - unlike when they attended public school. I am thankful for a close relationship with my girls. I am thankful my girls are close to each other. These are all blessings of homeschool.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share (silly, serious or both!)…
1 - YDD working on her craft project. She wanted me to take a picture of how she was holding her thread. 2 - Piled in with blankets and bears reading. 3 - YDD has spent hours reading this Ripley's Believe It or Not book. She returns to it a few times a year and always has some crazy facts to share.