Monday, October 30, 2006

Flipping for History

One of Bethany's Texas History assignments is to find and photograph the variety of places where the distinctive "shape" of the state of Texas is found. It's amazing how it is found everywhere- on billboards, highway pillars, paving stones, bricks, signs, and fence work. She's had her eye out, and has taken dozens of pictures. Our whole family has caught ourselves noticing "Texas" everywhere!

Sunday morning she saw "Texas" in a new place- on the griddle!
Luke was making us pancakes Sunday morning when he decided to try his hand, er, ladle at fashioning our great state. Of course, it was picture-worthy. And big! The kids decided to share it. When I asked Bethany how I should divide it, she said, "I'm only hungry enough to eat the Coastal Plains."

Friday, October 27, 2006

Re"vamping"

It is SO great to co-op with a good friend! I just spent the afternoon with my dear friend, whose daughter co-ops with my daughter for four subjects: science, writing, Texas History, and literature. We have had a wonderful start to our year so far, meeting one day each week, but the science the girls have been doing has been all-consuming.

I have to admit, I didn't think BJU Life Science was going to be that hard. I am quite impressed with how thorough and detailed it is! The chapters are very information-rich, and the activities in the activity manual are quite good. But it is... alot. For us. (We've been doing it all.) The girls have been such troopers so far, but the curriculum was beginning to overtake some other areas, so we took some time today to rethink how we're teaching it, and to streamline the curriculum a bit so that it won't take so much time away from other core subjects. This is one of the benefits of homeschooling, in my opinion. As the teacher, I can look at the whole picture, not just a certain subject area. And as the parent, I can consider the whole child.

So... don't be afraid to revamp things a bit when curriculum starts to suck the life right out of you!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Mom-schooling

Guess what? I've gone back to school this year! No, not graduate school (although I've been known to order university catalogs and peruse them, just for fun). Not seminary (though we were on a seminary campus not long ago and I got tingles just thinking about how great it would be to be a student there). Actually, it's the same school my kids attend, just "down the hall," so to speak. I've begun my own coursework this year, and I love it.

I have always learned so much right alongside my kids as I homeschool them. In our cycles through world history I have caught so much that I missed the "first time around" in my own schooling. I have fallen in love with books and authors, both familiar and well-loved from my own childhood as well as those which are new to me. That's why the subtitle to this blog is the familiar-to-educators quote, "To teach is to learn twice." A resounding theme among my fellow homeschooling colleagues is how much we ourselves are being educated as we facilitate the education of our children.

My kids are increasingly independent, and there are books/ subject areas of interest to me, but for which they either aren't ready, or there currently isn't room in their schedules. I have always kept a Bible study going, whether it was BSF, Precepts, Beth Moore, or my own study (using the techniques taught in those studies.) Even when my kids were babies and young children, I carved out and vigorously guarded my time for Bible study. It's been a lifeline to me! Over the years I have also tried to set aside time each day (even if it was only 5 minutes) to read books about parenting, education, child development, or other areas which I consider to be "continuing education" for me in my "chosen field" as a parent and home educator. One of those books, which I read back in 2003, was The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. I was inspired at the time to pursue the "classical education I never had," but it just wasn't the season in my life to add to what I was already tackling, so I put it back on the shelf and waited. This year as I was praying through our school year, I felt God nudging me to think about adding some material just for "me." Time to kick it up a notch!

The first thing I added was Greek. I have chosen the curriculum Elementary Greek by Christine Gatchell. I love it because it is exactly that- elementary! The first week I learned how to write the Greek alphabet (way harder than the capital Greek letters I learned during my sorority days!) as well as learn what sound each letter makes. I have begun learning to read words and memorize scripture. I have loved carrying my flashcards in my purse to look over while I wait outside the kids’ activities, and I put the audio on my iPod which has really helped with the memory work. This weekend our family heard a pastor quote John 1:1, and I was able to say it to myself in Koine Greek. Too cool!


I have also begun systematically reading through classic literature, using the aforementioned book, The Well-Educated Mind as my guide. I’m not following her sequence exactly, but pretty closely. I actually started using it last year and only got through part of Don Quixote and Pride and Prejudice. This year I have been reading The Pilgrim’s Progress, which I started while Kyle was reading Dangerous Journey. Yes, Pilgrim’s Progress was written in the mid-1600’s, and yes it is hard for me! But I’m finding it interesting, and it really is considered a pivotal book in Christian/church history.

Additionally, a friend approached me a couple of weeks ago at a homeschool association meeting and asked me if I would be interested in joining our community band. She herself has recently joined and is really enjoying it! She asked me what I had played in school, and when I told her it was the French horn, she said they really need some. SO… last week I polished up my horn and began playing again. My face feels as if it might fall off, but I actually sound pretty good! So, I start band practice next week. Just in time to prepare for Christmas concerts. Ho Ho Ho!

So my class “schedule” for this year looks like this:

Bible
Education/ Child Development
Greek
Classic Literature
Band

I work through my Bible study in the mornings after my quiet time. I have time set aside 2-3 days a week to work on my "school." I also take my books along as I wait while during the kids' respective activities. I have no preconceived notion of how quickly I’ll work through any of my books, because… it doesn’t matter! That’s what’s so great! Also, as the kids' subjects get harder for them, it's been good for them to see me work on something that's hard for me. I showed Bethany my Greek workbook the other day with my carefully-copied words and letters and she congratulated me on my hard work. While Kyle is working his way through a challenging book, he can see me doing the same.

I want to close by saying that if you’re reading this and feel in the least bit pressured because you aren’t learning Greek, reading classics, or playing an instrument… STOP. Order the book Lies Homeschooling Moms Believe by Todd Wilson, immediately! Let that be your book study for this year. As homeschoolers we are already tackling something enormous by educating our children at home. The thing we don’t need some days is to read or hear about how a fellow homeschooler: is making or saving thousands of dollars each year/scrapbooks everything her family does/ grows all of her own food/cooks everything from scratch/ lost 25 pounds/ redecorated her entire house/ keeps her husband happy/ is finishing all of their curriculum/ plans fabulous field trips for her children/ is learning Greek. No matter what we read about how others run their homeschools, we tend to compare their (perceived) best with our own (known) worst. But, we must not do that! There are many days and weeks when homeschooling my children pushes me to my cerebral limit. But, my two (only two) children are older and more independent now. I’ve had the desire to take classes for awhile, and this is the way that works best for me. I hope if you’re thinking it would be fun to do something similar, this has given you some ideas on how to get started.

Happy learning!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fall Fun

Quick! Before it's been a month since my last post, I'd better write something!

Yes, we had a lovely "fall break" the week of my last post in September, but since then we've been hitting the books. I wish I stopped more to snap pictures along the way, but here are some shots of a few of the things we've been up to:

A pirate map Kyle made (soaked in tea leaves) to go along with his Blackthorn Winter literature unit

a fun Atelier Art lesson on mixing color shades and drawing clowns

Oh, the fun you can have with a big bag of cups from Sam's!

Bethany teaching a weekly tots gymnastics class (if you listen closely you can almost hear them saying "Ribbit!!!")


Kyle and his buddies doing an "excavation" at their small science co-op. (Notice they've gridded off their space, are using brushes, and are labeling their specimens. Very official.)


Bethany and her best friend at the laser tag field trip. They got to play laser tag and also had a class about lasers. Fun!

At our state fair, in the Food and Fiber building, making sculptures out of food. Kyle's "punk potato."

After they made their "food people" they added them to a display of many others that were made that day. They turned out cute!

Yes, we've had our noses in our books, but as you can see we're having a "fair" amount of fun along the way as well. I hope you are, too!

Happy Fall, y'all!

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