Monday, April 28, 2014

Week in Review: Oak Meadow Kindergarten ~ Week 16/17

It was back to business as usual this week, meaning we did approximately two days of school here and there.  But still managed to fit in two week's worth of content so I'd say we broke even.

Thankfully the first "week" was a review of letters A-L.  Sister wrote them all in pencil first and only needed to erase and re-write a slightly confused J.

We read the story "The Golden Spider" to introduce number 8 and sister asked to find the combinations of 8 on our dominoes before directing another how-to video which I assume we will be doing from here to 10.

Our science lessons for both weeks included stories about growing plants which is fitting since we are seeing many things sprout in our garden and around the neighborhood.

We also celebrated Earth Day this week which sister and I commemorated with a wet and windy  walk.

It was her idea and I'm glad I accepted her invitation since that one-on-one time is hard to come by these days.  We also put together our (Melissa & Doug) world puzzle and sister drew her version of the world which is really far better than anything I likely could have produced at age 5.

Another thing sister picked up this week was what she calls weaving or needling.  Her dad bought her some yarn a couple weeks back and she's been using Popsicle sticks to keep her hands busy while on the move

or in moments of stillness.

I wish I had hand-working skills in order to nurture her interest and am trying to talk myself into diving in for her sake.  Any points in the direction of knitting or crocheting would be welcomed.

We rounded out the week with a review of numbers up to 8 which sister has learned how to make starting with an X

as well as letter M via one Miss Moppet (photos by sister)

We are getting closer to a decision about school next year, and though it may look differently than anything I imagined over the course of this year, I am feeling more at peace with it than I imagined I would be.  I hope to share more here soon.

Here's hoping all these April showers are good for something!  

May is on its way.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Week in Review: Oak Meadow Kindergarten ~ Week 14/15

For the first time in our near four months of homeschooling, we had school every day this week.  

Every day.

How, you ask?  Why?  I'm afraid I cannot answer that.  If sister didn't suggest it herself, she happily obliged when I did.  And it was a great, learning filled week.  

One of the focuses and much of the fun this week was exploring the number 7.  

We made houses built from just seven sticks 

and spent some time learning about the seven colors of the rainbow.  

Our dry erase colors were limited, but we made do and sister has been into indigo ever since.  

When I surveyed our surroundings and found some dominoes literally lying around the house, I decided to pull them into our seven work as well.  

We found the three combinations for making seven which sister displayed for a photo 

before requesting to film another how-to video assigning herself with the additional role of camera woman.  

This week we also discovered and captured on video her ability to belly roll.

Her talents abound.

Sister showed a lack of enthusiasm for drawing new letters K and L this week seen in her L drawing below:

This may have had something to do with the building anticipation of Easter day's celebrations.  Sister marked the upcoming occasion on the calendar with an egg more colorful than anything we produced when decorating the real deal.  This due to the fact that by the time we made it to the grocery store over the weekend, all the dye kits were sold out besides one (!) with an Iron Man theme.  

I mean, when I think Easter, I think Iron Man, don't you?

But hey- who's got time for buying dye kits when they're in school every day?

We didn't, and we didn't miss a thing.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Week in Review: Oak Meadow Kindergarten ~ Week 13

I donned my old professional hat for a few days this week so the kids got to spend lots of quality time with their grandparents and the sun came out which allowed us to rendezvous at the park one day for lunch.

Though far from the two week's worth we flew through last week, we did do some school work including an intrdocution to letter J:

It may not look like much at first glance, but it's actually a good representation of how far we have come in our homeschooling journey thus far.

As you can see on the right side of the paper, sister was working hard to glue down some yarn in the shape of a J as the curriculum suggested.  I gave it a try too but still no luck.  I've avoided wet glue in our lesson books so we problem solved out loud about how to approach what was proving to be a challenging task.  In the past, I think we would have both become frustrated pretty quickly, but I stayed calm and sister came up with a solution: tape the yarn to the paper.  She was further excited when discovering that you can color on top of tape.  

Small triumphs.

We also reviewed numbers 1-6, with the curriculum suggesting we match the numbers to a group of obejcts.  I divided a sheet of paper into six boxes for sister (though I realized I could and should have coached her on how to do it herself) and she wrote in one number per box. 

I gave her a handful of paper clips with each of the quantities linked together.  Counting was tricky and some of the links had to be switched around after recounting

but with brother lending a hand 

they were able to get the job done.

Sister couldn't resist the opportunity to up-cycle the paper clips by connecting them all together and adding a little bling to her outfit.

When soaking up the sunshine that stuck around through the end of the week, sister concocted a "potion" of various backyard items including recent addition: the bluebell.

She assured me that the chickens were appreciative.  I hope the neighbors were, too.

We did one day of Easy Peasy on the computer and sister continues to amaze me with how quickly her reading skills are progressing.

More than just ability, her confidence is blossoming.  After taking turns reading a page each in "Happy Birthday, Danny and the Dinosaur!" she offered to read the book by herself first to me and later to Daddy.    

Uncertain of what the future holds, I amstriving  to remain grateful for now.

Now is magic.  

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Week in Review: Oak Meadow Kindergarten ~ Week 11/12

No sooner had I written my latest post did I stumble across one written from a veteran homeschool mom advising those of us in a rut not to make any major changes, which is precisely what I intended to do.

It turns out that the homeschooling group we checked out last week was not a good match for our homeschooling vision or goals.  It was a bit defeating for my over zealous self, but as my husband consoled me, he applauded my efforts to find something that fits.  

And if nothing else, this defeat showed me that if anyone can create the type of experience I want for myself and my kiddos, I can.

My next attempt will come in the form of an informal meeting with fellow parents interested in forming and participating in a homeschooling coop.  Stay tuned...

In the meantime, I decided to follow the sage advice of making minor tweaks to our homeschooling.  First on the list: to cover two week's worth of content from the Oak Meadow curriculum per week.  I'd found sister getting tiresome when we worked on the same letter/number all week and thought this might help.  This would also give us a chance to wrap up before summer when we will want to take some time off along with our hard working school caledndar following Daddy.  

And what do you know, we ended up doing school 4 days of the week which was a first in recent memory!

Letter I was introduced via "White Snake"

followed by a review of letters A-I, front to back.

We finished up with number 5  

and moved onto number 6.

After sister took some time figuring out how to make a six sided star, she asked me to take a video of her explaining how she'd done it.  She was a total natural- I may have to get her own YouTube channel going!

The second change was supplementing our regular curriculum with the Easy Peasy All In One free homeschool online program.  

We started in the getting ready 1 portion where the McGuffey reader lessons begin (lesson 172).  Sister completed one or two lessons each day which included a review of sight words presented with audio and visuals, reading a short story from a book uploaded on the site, and playing an educational game from a link to Starfall or PBS kids.  I don't know if she was driven to the novelty or format of it, but it was a big motivation in getting her to do school this week.  I will be interested to see if her drive lasts and really appreciate having access to this free resource as we look to switch things up.

Our one take home from the homeschool group visit was an egg drop protector made from Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, and tissue.  

We found an especially small egg from a farm fresh batch we'd picked up and sister was excited when discovering it fit inside the plastic egg we'd used as a tester.  

We dropped it from the porch, first on the grassy side

then the rocky side.


There was a moment this week when I felt the wind had been knocked out of my sails.  But I was lucky to come across this quote from one of my favorites right when I needed it:

I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.  Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Goodbye & Hello

We got a head start on our week following spring break and found ourselves raring to go come Sunday as we prepared to say goodbye to one month and welcome another.  

Though we took the week off from doing school, I by no means took the week off from thinking about or planing school, which I'm sure my fellow home educators can relate to.

As I mentioned, I was invited to meet with the coordinator of a local homeschooling after missing their open house the previous week.  Talking one on one (while indulging in what's become a rare treat: a coffee house latte) was much better suited to my personality style when it comes to disseminating and discussing new-to-me information.  I was very grateful the coordinator went out of her way to offer her time and the gesture gave me hopeful feelings for the future.  

While I feel good about my decision to use Oak Meadow as a starting point for our homeschool journey, I have to say that I don't think it will be our chosen curriculum moving beyond this school year.  Funnily enough, when I told the program coordinator this, she said that it was the curriculum she initially wanted to use when she started out though she ultimately chose a different path and hadn't met  anyone using Oak Meadow: besides me.  

This may be part of my hesitancy about using it myself.  Though I consider myself fairly introverted, I do desire a certain level of interaction and shared experienced with others.  There are a couple of other local homeschooling groups in our area, with the intent of gathering for occasional field trips and curriculum sharing.  But I think sister and I would both appreciate the opportunity to have more routine meet-ups with other homeschooling kids and families who are exploring similar themes in their learning. 

When I read about this new program, I felt instantly relaxed by the amount of structure it offered, as paradoxical as that may seem to some.  

At the end of the week, sister and I were extended an invitation to join in on one of the group's weekly meetings and hopefully get a better idea of whether this would be a good fit for us come fall.    

Have you ended up somewhere differently than you envisioned or set out to be in terms of homeschooling?  
Please share your experiences in the comments.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Changing Seasons

In general, I am not a huge fan of change.  

But I do love the changing of seasons, transitioning from one stage to another each year.  Be it the first rainfall or the first outdoor picnic.  However it looks, it feels like a fresh start.  

I think I stared homeschooling during a difficult season.  Countless blog posts popped up recently about how these winter months following the new year can be especially challenging when it comes to parent and/or child motivation in terms of homeschooling.

Not only was I beginning a new chapter with homeschooling, but staying home was also novel to me, having always held a full time work or school schedule minus my two maternity leaves.  

I was talking with a dear, longtime friend about the shifts she has experienced since becoming a mother.  She possesses a driven personality and had previously directed her passion towards professional and personal pursuits.  She shared that it had been difficult for her to accept and embrace her new role as "simply" mother and homemaker.  I hadn't realized that I was having some of the same challenges until she verbalized them for me.  Since that conversation, I have been consciously working to adjust my mindset in order to give myself the credit that is due for taking on the job and great privilege of being home and being a parent day in and day out.

A change will occur this season as I no longer have any routine committments away from home.  I  feel that this will give me more time and space to pursue the things I want to achieve- both in a tangible and idealogical way.  I have already recognized there are things I need to adapt in both realms in order for this homeschool way of life to work for me and my family.  

And I am grateful knowing I have all the days of spring to prepare for the next season to come.  

Because as the season changes, so must I.  

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Week in Review: Oak Meadow Kindergarten ~ Week 10

When I brought up school at the beginning of the week, sister resisted.  So I eased off.

By Wednesday afternoon, I talked her into reading our story of the week in bed with me after she'd finished her rest time and we were waiting for brother to wake up. 

She happily drew a doll's house which correlates to "The Two Bad Mice" tale by Beatrix Potter (one we were familiar with with from sister's play) and incorporated our letter of the week- do you see it?

The next morning, I decided not to mention school as my last few attempts hadn't produced a positive response.  While doing some housework, we ended up singing a song from our music book and sister exclaimed "hey, let's do school! It's music day, right?".

"Yep!", I said.

It wasn't.

But I took that window of opportunity and opened it wide.  We caught up on our calendar- a whole week's worth, which made for some good counting as we had enough for not one but two new bundles of 5!  5 also happens to be our new number this week so we read a story about a "star child", made star shapes with our bodies, and practiced the ever frustrating but equally desirable skill of drawing stars.

Then, we reveled in our un-music day, full of song, dance, and merriment.

I was feeling extra merry, having just said no to a new, life-changing prospect.  Yes, I said "I said no"!  Though it was an enticing opportunity for me professionally, it was one that would take me away from my homeschooling path- if not immediately, before I am ready. 

Sister is not age eligible for public school Kindergarten until this fall, so we started this homeschool journey a bit early to see if it felt right to us moving forward.  It does, and it doesn't, and every day is different. There are times I am totally convicted and there are times I completely talk myself out of it, and I think that just goes with the territory.  But I am not willing to give up just yet.

Next week, we plan to take a break while Daddy is home from school along with his students.  And I have plans to meet with the coordinator of a local homeschool group at the beginning of the week to consider additional options for sister and I come fall.

Yes, I'm saying no.

But I'm not calling it quits.  

Not with all the possibilities in our sights.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Week in Review: Oak Meadow Kindergarten ~ Week 9

This week was comprised of a variety of homeschooling days- one day each of "typical" school, Daddy school, and night school.

I found myself experiencing some Mommy fatigue and asscoiated malaise early in the week and was thankful my husband was able to take a day home from work to spend with the kids while I rested.  

Daddy used one of his fancy speech therapy strategies to make a picture dictionary

to aid sister in writing about a self-selected topic.

I used my tired but dedicated homeschooling mama skills to read sister the tale of the Golden Goose which she drew a picture of 

along with another G word that she came up with: grandma.

Not wanting to run out of steam with a few days to go, I decided to try out a practice I had read about on the Simple Homeschool  site: "Yes" days.  My understanding is that on these days, one is more open to what one's children want to do and one says yes when one might normally say no.  This may seem counterintuitive when the goal is not to wear oneself out, but I have increasingly expeienced a greater ease and contentment when following my young and curious children's lead- so decided to give saying yes a try.  

In our case, saying yes meant taking a spontaneous walk after getting home one day and stopping to throw various items (rocks, pinecones) into an overflow puddle to see what would sink and what would float.

It meant sticking modeling clay to the windows in brother's room

then putting plastic toys on the clay to see if they would stick.

I didn't technically say yes to this (because I wasn't asked) but I watched it happen without saying no and admired the finished product without complaint- so I deserve at least partial credit.

It meant beginning and returning to dance classes though I could have done with at least a one week break from organized activities after just ending our months-long stint with play rehearsals and performances.  

But these faces make saying yes worth it, any day.

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