Saturday, July 30, 2016

And then I realized...

So we have been schooling at home for 8 weeks now.  I spend a lot of time on Pinterest.  Not while schooling but just in general.  When I search for homeschool on there I see pins called And then I realized I was doing it all wrong, One change that transformed our homeschool year, and Secrets of a successful homeschool mom.  I looked over them to try and avoid making the same mistakes that other homeschool moms have made.  It made sense to me that if they had already made the mistakes that I could learn from them.  Well the only way to learn is to make your own mistakes!  

I purchased my curriculum (which you can read about in this post) and we set to work back in week one.  Most of our classes have been going smoothly.  However, we have had one of those And then I realized moments!  

Kiera absolutely hated her Science book!  She hated the days we had to do Science.  By the third week, she was starting to hate the whole homeschool idea.  And I was getting more and more frustrated because of it.  Something had to change.

So I began obsessively searching the internet and Pinterest for a new Science curriculum that wouldn't put me out a bunch of money.  I found nothing.  

I started thinking about the kinds of things that a third grader should be learning in their Science class.  I started with three categories: animals, earth, and space.  Then I just started pinning, downloading, and printing different topics under each category.  I decided that we would start with the animals unit.  The first bit is on Habitats.  I have tried to make all the lessons more hands-on... more interactive.  For habitats, she is making a flipbook for each of the different ones.  Each book has a world map on the cover that she colors in, there is a page about the climate, a page with facts about four animals that live in the habitat, and a food chain specific to that habitat.  When the book is done, I three hole punch it and it goes into her science notebook.

Also in our animals unit will be adaptations and an animal study that will include a trip to the zoo.  

She is loving her new Science class...

I want to help other homeschool teachers who may be struggling with finding Science curriculum for third grade.  As we go, I'm going to list all my resources for each unit that we do as we do them.  

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week two

This week is going much smoother.  

Monday: 

We didn't get work done until 9pm.  This sounds bad but we slept in.  We went to get breakfast at almost lunchtime.  We spent three and a half hours at the public pool.  This is the kind of freedom that I was looking for with homeschooling.  I wish that I didn't have to work three days a week, but since I do, class has to be at my office and has to be just a bit less hands on.  Mondays and Fridays though are all about our schedule... or lack of one.  

She got 100% on each of her assignments.

Tuesday:  

We actually got done with all the assignments before lunchtime!  Well, my work day lunchtime, which is actually more like 2 in the afternoon.  And all 100%s again today.  

We started multiplication today.  With the difficulty we had last week with our review of addition/subtraction, I was concerned that starting multiplication was going to be very rough.  She seems to grasp the concept pretty well.  We have already gone over the 0s, 1s, 10s, and started on the 2s.  Only time will tell of course. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Day Three... or goals and socialization

I have noticed that when you tell people that you are starting to homeschool your child that there are mostly negative reactions.  There is scoffing.  There is the sarcastic way that they tell other people that you are going to homeschool.  There is simple ignoring of what you said.  I had that one last night actually.  I'm not going to say names or relationships but one person told another person that I was homeschooling my daughter and the second person said to me "Oh, so you are getting her ready for next year?" Ya.  Sure.  That's what I'm doing.  Why is it so hard to believe that I am going to teach my child?  It's just third grade.  I don't think for a second that I could teach her high school.  Not even going to try.  I just want to try to give her an advantage for future years.  My goals for homeschooling are:

  • standard education comparable to the public education system in our area
  • education above the public education system
  • gain life experience
  • learn to work independently
  • limit distractions so she can concentrate on learning... not boys or clothes and makeup
  • gain life skills (home ec skills like sewing and cooking)
I know from what I have read online that one of the most common misconstructions about homeschooled children is socialization.  My child is by no means un-socialized.  On days that I work, she attends classes at my office.  She attends church and Awanas on Sundays with her grandparents.  She attends gymnastics (for fun only) once a week.  She will be doing Kiwanis Kids Day Cheerleading in August.  She orders her own food if we go out to eat (both fast food and sit down restaurants)... I know a 19 year old who still doesn't like to do that!  She has two weeks of summer camp and a week of church camp this summer.  She will be on a cruise for her birthday this year and will attend the day camp on ship.  She has friends in our apartment complex.  She has friends in her grandparent's neighborhood.  No one can tell me that my child is not social!  In fact, after having written down all the social interactions that she will be receiving as a homeschooled student, I now realize that I was the unsocialized child that attended public school.  I feel sorry for the next person to ask me if I am worried about her being socialized!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Second day of Third Grade

Don't worry.  I'm not going to do this everyday.

11 am:  This morning has solidified my decision to homeschool my daughter.  In math class this week we are doing a review of addition and subtraction.  She has only been out of second grade for a week, so she should not have lost anything of great importance in that time.  Today's worksheets include addition and subtraction of two digit numbers with carrying and borrowing.  It is still pretty basic.  She stressed out because of this.
Let me give you some background here:  About a month before second grade was done, her class had the MAP test.  Her teacher sent home a practice worksheet for the kids to warm up before the math section the next day.  My husband and I were up until 10 pm trying to teach her how to do the math problems.  (They were the same kind of problems that she is doing today.)  She kept trying to start the problem from the left side and had no concept of borrowing or carrying.  This is how she had been taught in class.  We couldn't even begin to figure out why they were being taught this way.  Common Core (through clenched teeth).  She was finally able to understand what it was that we were teaching her and did well on the test the next day.
She stresses so easily.  She is so smart (and I'm not just being biased) but she panics when she doesn't immediately know or if she is afraid of getting the answer wrong.  Calming her down so that she can realize that she actually does know how to do the work is the hardest part.  For her and for me because I get frustrated at her because she doesn't want to listen until she has calmed down about it.  Sometimes this ends in both of us crying and me feeling very guilty.
Back to why my decision has solidified.  She has completed second grade with almost no ability to add and subtract.  But she is in the top 10% of the second graders at her public school in math scores.  That is insanely frightening.  She is on track.  She is doing great.  These are frightening statements from her teacher last year.  How can a student who is doing that well in the class have so little knowledge about how to actually do the work?  They cannot.  What is worse is what is coming up with third grade in the public school system.  I downloaded the public school curriculum from the school district website.  For the first 9 weeks of third grade in math, they are teaching multiplication AND division.  Then starting the second 9 weeks they move on to something else.  9 weeks is not enough time to teach both multiplication and division.  Especially when the students barely have an understanding of how to add and subtract.  I don't believe that the students in the public schools are going to be ready to move on to that at all.  Let alone get through it at such an accelerated pace!  I really feel sorry for those children.  Of course, only time will tell.

3:30 pm:  Good news everybody!  We finished with school earlier than we did yesterday.  Considering we start our school about 9:30 instead of 8, I would say that we are doing pretty good with the timing.

Monday, June 6, 2016

First day of third grade

2 pm:  Today is the first day of the experiment that is homeschooling third grade.  The first half of the day went well.  We started easy and stayed on task.  There was a break after 3rd period and we have taken a long time getting back into 4th period.  4th is Science.  Each day in Science Kiera must define her new terms, read the passage, and answer the questions about what she read.  This should be easy, but we are having a disagreement about how much she should have to write down.  I have tried to explain to her that third grade marks a new way of schooling.  That there is more serious work even in the public school system.  She doesn't believe me though, and that is part of the problem.  After arguing for nearly an hour with her and trying to explain all this, and when I got to the point that I wanted to cry and rip her book in half at the same time, she finally agreed to write down her definitions.  This however, has taken about 45 minutes for her to write down four words and their meaning.  She is so easily distracted and it is very frustrating.  I don't want to spend all day yelling at her to stay on task, but I'm not sure how to keep her on task.

4 pm:  I am going to lose my mind!  What was I thinking?  She doesn't take me seriously as a teacher.  I don't want to have to yell at her, but keeping her on task is going to give me even more gray hair than I am already getting.  But I won't give up.  Not on the first day.  I think that it will probably take at least two weeks to fall into a routine with the classroom.  
I do worry that I'm going to fail to actually teach her.  How did any of us actually learn in the classroom?  I personally don't remember much of anything that I learned in school.  Oh sure the basics are there but I couldn't tell you what a participle is.  I can't list the U.S. Presidents in order.  I can't tell you all the state capitals.  So how do we learn? And what do we need to learn?  And how bad am I going to screw this up?

Friday, June 3, 2016

My Teacher's Notebook

It has been a long painstaking process getting ready to homeschool Kiera.  After I finally picked out the subjects, curriculum, and books (post to come soon) that I wanted to use, I had such a mental block about how to proceed.  How should I organize everything?  Should I spend money on a teacher's lesson planner?  What should I keep track of?  How do I even do a lesson plan?  

It got so bad that I thought about saying forget the whole thing.

Then I was desperately searching the internet for a cheap homeschool lesson planner when I came upon a review online and followed the links to a website that had a preview of the important pages in the planner that was for sale.  (I would link to the website... but I didn't write it down and now I don't remember what it was)  I copied the pages down on paper and then modified them to meet the needs of my one student and myself.  

I bought this Mead Five Star 5-subject notebook at Walmart.  I really liked this notebook because of several features.  The covers are plastic so they won't start to come apart like a composition notebook would or bend and tear like a regular spiral notebook.  The outside of the spiral is covered with a nylon protector to keep the wires from snagging.  The page dividers are moveable!  You can just pop them right out of the spiral and move them anywhere you need them so you don't have to have to rip out and waste the paper if you don't need it in that section.  It even has a handy pen holder for my red teacher's pen.


I am only using four sections currently.  

The very first page (which isn't pictured) is simply the student's name, grade, first day of school, and last day of school.

The second section is my teacher's section.  It includes a curriculum tracker where I have written down the name of  the book we are using for each subject and how much I paid for it.  I also have a list of any extra supplements that I have purchased (in this case all from Dollar Tree) and Additional Resources.  I found some websites that we are using and I am keeping track of the user names and passwords in the Additional Resources section.

  
The next page is her class schedule.  I have color coded each class to make it easier to track and because it just looks pretty.  


Next is the Attendance tracker.  I printed out each month and taped them in.  I have two semesters and each semester has it's own attendance tracker.


I also have a grading chart that isn't pictured to easily figure out her grade percentage.  It might be cheating, but I don't care.  I left extra pages in my teacher section in case I find something else to add later.

The third section is progress reports and report card information.  The progress reports are done by week for each class and will be an average of the weeks grades.  The report card will then be an average of each week per semester.  All color coded, of course.


The final section is the lesson plan.  This was a lot of work.  I made a rough draft on a computer printout version of my final design of my lesson plan book.  I quickly realized that it would have been so much more simple to just make the spreadsheets on the computer, print them out, three hole punch them, and fill them in.  But alas, I had already committed to the notebook.  Next year, I will know better.  


The worst part of this section was actually drawing the grids for the planner.  Each week is a two page spread and is color coded to match the rest of the book.  There is a printed calendar with the current week highlighted.  There is a planner to make sure we don't miss any extracurricular activities during the week and a place to write in upcoming events.  

I am tracking the grades that she gets on each assignment right in the lesson plan.  At the end of the week, these are the grades that will be averaged out and carried to the progress reports.

Now that I have it all together, it is working out pretty well.  Feel free to copy any of the pages that I have made for your own purposes.  Good luck if you are undertaking this type of project and if I have caught you in time... do it on the computer!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Let's try this instead

Those who are familiar with me know that I cannot diet.  My weight has been climbing steadily, albeit slowly, for the last 10 years.  Every year about March I get bit with the diet bug.  Over the last few years I have tried many things which you can read more about in this post.  Since I made that post back in February I have lost 13.4 pounds.  This is the biggest loss that I have had from all my dieting experiments.  This year I didn't try any gimmicks.  I simply changed what I was eating, and started paying more attention.  That evolved into not drinking soda (often, cause lets face it, I love the stuff!) and eventually drinking mostly water.  My water is mostly in the form of ice and I will eat two or three of the 44oz cups of ice a day. 
I have now started a plan.  It is put out by BeachBody and is called the 21 Day Fix.  You have probably seen infomercials for it or seen it online.  I do not have a strong support system.  I am basically the girl who cried wolf when it comes to certain situations... including my eating habits... so some people just don't take me seriously anymore... if they ever did (but that is a different conversation altogether).  When I stated that I had ordered this program, I was surrounded by skeptics.  I don't think that some of my coworkers believed that I would actually be able to stick with the program, or that it would even be a good program... just another gimmick.  Well I am here to say:  I don't know yet. 
There are two parts to the program... eating and exercising.  Guess which one I am having trouble with!  I have officially been on the eating plan for 4 whole days now and have yet to start the workouts.  The eating plan though!  Officially I have cut out going out to eat until my first round is over (which if I don't get started on my workouts will never officially begin).  My first whole day on the eating plan was last Friday.  I wasn't really prepared for the amount of prep work I would be doing for each day.  By Saturday afternoon, I was telling my husband that I was tired of cooking!  And I was too!  The most cooking that I had done in months involved the microwave and not much else... mostly we just went out.  Not anymore!  Everyone in my household is now eating the same things that I am... whether they like it or not. 
And I tell you what!  That first day of eating... when I ate every two hours: three meals and two snacks... I felt like all I did that day was eat.  I have since reworked my schedule and moved my morning snack to after dinner because my breakfast is plenty big to get me through to lunchtime. 
The way the program works is that you get these containers and basically you can eat what you can fit.  You have certain containers for certain foods and you do have an approved foods list, but it is all completely doable.  We aren't talking fish and kale here for every meal.  Nothing strange if you don't want.  I made up a weekly menu and it is all foods that we would normally eat, I just have a limit on my portion sizes... which is the point of the containers.  There is some headache involved in the menu planning, but then you know what you are eating everyday and you don't have to worry about it.  The prep work however!  I cannot stress enough:  PREP YOUR VEGGIES IN ADVANCE!  I didn't think that I was going to need to do this... Wrongo!  That is part of the reason that I was so tired of cooking.  I will post my full weekly menu here soon.
But I have to start the workouts.  There are seven different workouts that are 30 minutes each.  One for each day.  I just don't have... and have never really... had any exercise routines.  I've got to get that started.
I will try to update with my progress, but at this point I cannot promise anything. 
Here are a few photos of meals that I have had the last few days:





SNACK #2: Greek yogurt,
blueberries, granola, and
honey


LUNCH:  Taco Salad:  lettuce, fresh
salsa, ground turkey, corn, black
beans, and cilantro lime dressing
"DINNER: Chipotle" bowl:  chicken,
lettuce, black beans, corn, tomatoes,
brown rice, and cilantro lime
dressing