Friday, October 29, 2010

Why I love GCA and why we aren't using it next year

As many of you know, Andrew's Kindergarten this year is GCA - Georgia Cyber Academy. It is using the nationally renowned home school curriculum, K12 but it is administered by a state charter school, GCA. Reasons for picking it in the first place are 1) It's free. They send me all the materials and it uses a curriculum that we have a high opinion of. Buying K12 privately would cost $238 a subject so about $1200 a year for all and 2) I wanted to have structure my first year to get the hang of it. I homeschooled pre-K but it was just a one or two days a week when I felt like it thing and I was all over the place with curriculum since I didn't have a formal curriculum for any of it. It felt very disorganized and I thought that if I didn't do GCA then I would never get organized and I would hardly ever do school.

So I am not doing GCA next year and people assume that means that I don't like it. Not true. I like it a lot. I don't like it enough to give my control to be able to do my own thing though. It is time consuming and comprehensive. To do GCA correctly and well, I have had to give up on a lot of my own things that I wish I could be doing right now. But for the most part, I don't mind doing GCA. And Andrew really enjoys it too. I even had hesitations about switching because Andrew likes it so much that I thought that choosing something else would be less fun and I still want Andrew to have fun. I will be more than happy to talk to anyone that is interested in GCA about it. Even if you don't have a school age child yet, catch me this year and I can show you the curriculum and sample lessons.

But here's how I finally was able to sum it up. GCA is a provider of high quality educational information. I didn't feel like I could define my child's educational goals with it because I was going to blindly accept their curriculum each year sight unseen. I can tweak a little..skip lessons here and there, go to the library for extra materials, look on the internet for extra projects. But for the most part, I don't need nor have the time to do these things. So even though it's great, I want to be able to do my own thing.

My own thing does involve someone else's curriculum though. We are going to follow the model of the Well Trained Mind. It's a 4 year rotation of time periods. In 1st grade, we are doing the Ancients. This will come into play again in 5th grade. They have a lot of different recommended books for the different subjects. We will use some of them and not use some of them. A lot of relies heavily on getting additional material from the library which I love. They have some real dud non-fiction books on their shelves but for the most part, I love library supplements. Regarding the fun stuff, I am going to miss the aspect of some lessons being online. I like online stuff and Andrew does too so I will probably supplement with educational computer games. But I did find out that I will have plenty of projects to do with History and Science and that is the kind of stuff that Andrew adores so as long as projects are involved, I don't think he will care what curriculum it is.

More on the specifics of what we are doing 1st Grade soon. We are starting to order from Amazon and it is hard when things arrive to not go ahead and start doing them. Must-finish-Kindergarten-GCA. Repeat..

The Grouchy Ladybug lapbook

Today we did not other school work but to make a lapbook for The Grouchy Ladybug. Lately I have been a justifiable slacker. I have a back condition and am waiting patiently for 2 weeks to fly by so I can have back surgery. I have learned a couple of things during this time. 1) My over ambition school schedule is not going to work right now and 2) any ambition at all is being squashed out by the effects of pain medicine. So I have had to come up with plan B. So plan B has been to do as much as I can and not fall behind (in the school's mind) on subjects.

Today I did something completely unprecedented...I skipped all my GCA work and did something completely different. And it was FUN and Andrew loved it. I was over at (one of my faves) and noticed that they had a lapbook study on The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle. We happen to have the book from the library and I happened to be up way earlier than the kids so I went to work on cutting. Lapbooks at his age involve a whole lot of cutting for the parent because even if I gave him a little bit, there is no way that he could do it. Lapbooks at his age can also be very busy workish. But it was educational too. Example of what a lapbook looks like.

So here are the contents of our lapbook. It didn't really have any creative elements of my own. I pretty much just printed and cut out most of the ideas found here.

Outside flaps - I had him copy The Grouchy Ladybug in his best HWT effort. He did good. He also colored a picture of a lady bug. He wanted to color it half red/half orange.

Left flap - Counting with the Grouchy Lady Bug. I see no where in the book where it counts at all but ours has this accordion style number thing that counts by 5 which is something Andrew did in Math last week. It also had the suggested Bible verse of Ephesians 4:32 - Be kind to one another - since the premise of the book is a grouchy lady bug who won't share and goes to pick a fight with everyone.

Center section - A turn wheel for L is for..ladybug, lemon, leaf, lion. This was fun busy work. Andrew likes things that turns with brads. I had him paste the pictures of the item next to the word. The bottom half had the most time consuming thing ever. It was a flap book that goes from 6 AM to 6 PM just like the actual book and Andrew had to draw the time on the clock, paste the animal of the story on the right time, then paste the name of the animal on. It was good for Time (current Math subject) and animal identification. And good for general fun as Andrew had fun reviewing the book and then pasting all day long. Nothing is more fun than an all day glue stick.

Right flap - Parts of a ladybug - matchbox thing where Andrew pasted the parts of a ladybug onto a picture of a ladybug. More busy work. We can't find it but we also did a little book called Follow Directions and it gave instructions on adding details onto 4 ladybugs and then writing totals for all of them. Useful multiplication intro. 4 lady bugs, 3 spots on each, 12 spots total. Woo.

This took all day. I was completely unstressed by the fact that we didn't do any "real" school. Andrew had a blast and would lapbook every day if I let him. I am thinking maybe a lapbook a week spread across the days probably wouldn't interfere with our actual school work too much so we will work that out in the future. Today felt like Kindergarten. Easy, laid back, just went with the flow...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tag. I'm it.

So I have been meaning to post about my first couple of weeks with GCA but I haven't been able to because I have been so busy doing GCA. Plus I have to get pics off my camera So that post is coming..I promise.

So my friend Jamie at See Jamie Blog posted a Tag You're It thing and she didn't actually tag me (and why would she? I am a horrible blogger updater) but I am going to play anyway for fun...

1) What is your biggest spending/buying weakness? (Trips to Starbucks, a shoe sale, etc?)

Oh my how I seem to rack up the dollars at Walmart. It's like I can't go by a section and not buy at least one thing and don't even get me started on the school supply section. My favorite section in the whole store. I better stay clear of Office Depot altogether.

2) What is something BIG in your life you never imagined but God made happen?
Wow..I can't think of one BIG thing. I feel like God makes everything happen in my life. There are days when I feel like getting out of bed is a God sized task. Homeschooling has definitely been a BIG part of my life right now and I have needed God every step of the way especially for patience!

3) What is your favorite book of all time? (Or one of them.)
I love all things Francine Rivers. My favorite of hers is the Mark of the Lion series.

4) If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Boys are not important.

5) What is your footwear of choice?
Sandals. I am really sad when sandal season is over. I hate wearing closed toe shoes.

6) If you had to name your home-decorating style, what would it be?
Where it falls is where it stays.. Trendy designs by a Three Year Old.

7) Tea or Coffee? (If neither, what the heck do you drink?)
I drink Diet Coke. I managed to go off of it earlier this summer but I was sooo tired that I decided to go back on it. I like Diet Coke. It likes me. I also like coffee but normally made by others like Startbucks or DD so it's a special treat.

I didn't tag any one but if you want to play, leave me a comment letting me know!

1. When you have an hour of free time, what do you do?
2. What have you learned in the last 5 years of your life that you want to teach your children?
3. What is one extracurricular activity that you didn't do in high school/childhood that you wish you had done?
4. What is the most beautiful place you have ever visited?
5. What is your favorite song?
6. Where is one place you want to take your kids on vacation before they graduate?
7. Name one thing that you like to do in the months of January - March.
8. What time of day do you like the most?

Thanks for playing!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Andrew's 1st day of Kindergarten

Andrew is enrolled in a school this year called Georgia Cyber Academy (will be referred to as GCA from here on out). It is a virtual Georgia public school that is using a well renowned national home school curriculum. I have to adhere to all sorts of public school rules like school calendar, attendance, CRCT, even stuff like immunization forms. So I am technically not a home schooler. But I am schooling my child at home. I have a teacher who is over me for advisement and in the GCA world, I am called a "Learning Coach" which is a term I hate. But it is what it is. The perks of GCA is that I get to use the curriculum for free and they send me all the books and supplies for free and I send them back at the end of the year. And for this reason, I am going to put up with all the government stuff.

We decided to have our first day of school at the same time as Cobb County so we started on August 5th. I only have a few lessons loaded into my GCA online program so there was not much I could start with but since I homeschooled last year, it was not hard for me to come up with my own stuff. I plunged right in to the core academic subjects. Decided to skip meet the teacher, orientation, classroom rules. I even skipped recess if recess is defined as playing outside in the blazing heat. Since we only school for 4 hours, he had plenty of free time which is good because I use him as the primary entertainment for my 2 year old and 1 year old.

I read to a book to Peter about a little boy going to school and I wondered if my school day was too academic but that's one of the fun things about home schooling is that I am able to do a whole lot of academics without it being a drag because I drag it out over a 14 hour period. Many homeschoolers I know have a set school time usually 9 - 2 but I like to do one subject or even half a subject and then let Andrew go and play for awhile.

So for our 1st week of school..
Math - worksheets, reviewed addition math facts, math games on computer
Phonics - continued in Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (not excited about switching to Phonics Works and don't know where to begin there either)
Science - solar system puzzle, painted our solar system model
Reading - Andrew is reading a variety of I can Read books. In the evening, we read aloud Swiss Family Robinson. Andrew usually participates in the hour of reading I do for Peter. My throat is getting sore though so sometimes I make Andrew read to Peter and that is working out well.
Handwriting - numbers; letters he gets but he is struggling with writing numbers
History - They have History lessons loaded into online GCA so we have been able to do those. I wanted to do them every day but Chris talked me into slowing down because they are scheduled for once a week so he thought it might not be wise to finish the semester in the 2nd week of school. So I am restraining and supplementing with my own stuff. We said the Pledge, learned about the flag. Since I know my next lesson is about the White House, I got books from the library on Presidents. Andrew's favorite President fun fact is that Andrew Jackson had a bullet in his chest for 40 years. He is also impressed in how big the White House is. We watched a cute video at
Extra stuff included drawing for "art" class and we found a cool website for beginner music theory. We still need to work in P.E. somehow but we might start tennis lessons at the Y this Saturday so that will be something but doesn't get us to close to the required 2 hours a week. Will have to think on that.

So everyone posted their pictures of their kids getting on the school bus. Here is Andrew on the 1st day of school. His favorite days in the whole world are the days where he gets to stay in his PJs. On this day, he was wearing winter PJs so he kept getting hot and taking off his shirt and then he would get cold and put it back on but most of the day, he looked like this...

We had a great 1st "week" - all two days of it. We officially start GCA tomorrow. We have a bunch of online orientation classes and Andrew has to take Introduction to Online Learning courses. And then after all that, GCA will load our core classes into their program. Yea!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Summer Day vacation - Callaway Gardens

One of my most favorite places in Georgia is Callaway Gardens. I didn't even know this place existed until college and that's when I fell in love with the Fantasy of Lights (which I haven't seen since but maybe this year). Since then, Chris and I have gone several times by ourselves and have taken the kids on a couple of trips. We have an annual tradition (well this year will be the 2nd time) of going to the Sky High hot air balloon festival over Labor Day weekend.

Before summer ended, my mother in law decided that she wanted a couple of days down there as a mini vacation and she invited Andrew and my sister in law Catherine along with her. I can't think of ANY reason why she didn't also want the 2 year old and the 1 year old. :)

If you ever go to Callaway and like turtles or if you take your kids (because all kids like turtles, right?), there is a little less popular trail next to the Whipporwill Lake (or something like that) and if you go down to the pavilion, there are turtles as far as the eye can see. You can see them swimming across the lake with their little heads poking out. Of course, you get more of them if you feed them. If you can't make it that far, there are also a lot near the Discovery Center and you can pay a quarter to get fish food. Feeding the fish was Josh's favorite part.

Peter in particular was completely enamored with the turtles.

I have also been wanting for years to go to the FSU circus that is there each summer. Andrew was very worried that it would be too loud since it is a "circus". I think he was pleasantly surprised that it was just acrobats. My favorite part was the human jump rope which we didn't get a picture of but I found it on youtube.

I did some pre-show entertainment with some hair styling.

Andrew was mesmerized with the trapeze stuff.

It was a great day and well worth the long drive there and back. Although it was a bit hot (100 degrees or so), I think we still had fun. Andrew enjoyed spending the two days with Granny and Catherine. If how much he talked about something is an indication of his favorite things, then he really liked eating Wally Waffles at the Huddle House and going letterboxing with Catherine.

Stay tuned for more Callaway stuff after Labor Day when we go to the Sky High festival again and also get to go camping with our 7 most favorite-st people in the world.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Camping - Vogel State Park - May 7 - 9

Camping - Vogel State Park - May 7 - 9

In addition to homeschooling stuff, I am also going to use this as a journal for my camping trips. I am using copy image location from Chris' flickr site and I don't like the image size so I am going to have to have plan B for future posts. I might even bother to fix this post if it bugs me enough. All photographs were taken by Chris and more photos from this trip can be seen on his flickr site.

On May 7 - 9. 2010, we went to Vogel State Park. We invited along the Remingtons and the Heilmans who are friends dating back to college that we continue to be friends with as adults. Both live near us. The Rems have 3 boys as well aged 4,2 and 6 mos.

We chose Vogel State Park because with all those boys, you really need a stream. Peter really liked the stream the best. Josh would walk in it and then immediately walk back out. I am guessing that he didn't like how cold it was.

We have been to Vogel twice before. Once when Andrew was almost 2 and we stayed in the walk in campground (those days are over). And over Christmas, we stayed in a cottage which was very quaint minus the dead mouse. It was freezing and if we go next year, we are going to bring an area rug. But I digress. This was the first time we had stayed in Vogel campgrounds and it was very nice. It was shaded and the sites were huge. We went back to the tent and pop up only section and I liked it even more and whereas all the big sites were completely full, the tent/pop up section was nearly empty.

E totally made fun at me at camp because I brought toys. I always bring toys. There is only so much throwing gravel that I find entertaining. My boys like the woods but I must say that the Rems did a much better job in finding entertainment in the outdoor world. It took them about 10 minutes before they discovered the creek behind the campsite and immediately got wet. But all that to say that even though we had the evil toys from Mattel present, Andrew's favorite part was definitely climbing trees. He only fell out of it once.

Josh enjoyed climbing a ladder at the playground that is much too high for him. He also is a huge fan of toasted marshmallows. Not just marshmallows but toasted ones to make the most gooey mess as he possibly can. He was very cute wandering around the camp fire to be next to which ever person had the marshmallow bag.

We had a great time. I really enjoyed camping with both the Rems and Heilmans and hope that we can coordinate future trips with them. Our next trip is on May 29th, we leave for Hunting Island, SC for our camping on the beach trip.

Last but not least..a very fitting family photo for us. I think it should be our Christmas card. :)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

What I have learned about reading so far

My path to reading. My dos and don'ts and my resources that I have used.

Step 1: So when should you start to teach your child how to read? The day that your child is born is the day that you start but you might not even realize it. Luckily, I have a mom that drilled in my to your baby even though you sound retarded. Tell him everything you do. Now we're going to change your diaper. Now let's eat your peas. Yep. When I had just one kid, I felt stupid a lot of the time. I filled in the gaps singing made up songs by my mom. It helped. Now I have a 5 year old that does all the talking for me. Isn't that teaching your kid how to talk? Yes. It is but it is also the foundation of reading and vocabulary..provided that you are using real words and not goo goo gah gah (which incidentally also makes one look silly). So talking is step 1 towards reading.

Step 2 is actually reading books to your child. This can start as early as you want to but by age 1, be bringing out those books. Short board books at that age. Things to touch and feel are good. I didn't do a stellar job of this with Andrew. When he turned 3, we read a lot. When he was 2, I think it was more hit or miss. Peter is 2 and we read all the books that I can possibly stand in a day. Hey, I'm not perfect. I still need to work with Joshua more. We have a lot of board books that I need to pull out. Books are lying around our house but I need to make a conscious effort of actually reading them. I also have Andrew read to Peter which is fun.

Step 3 - Teach your child to read. You can start teaching your kids to read as early as 3 or 4. Basic letter sounds and recognition and then working on phonics. I think that taught Andrew most of his letters and phonics. I am doing that already with Peter but when he turns 3, we are going to start on the letter of the week concept. I am reading a book by William Bennett called The Educated Child and it says that most Kindergarten teachers do not expect their entering students to know the alphabet. And they expect to have to teach them how to read. That's up to you if you decide to go that route but as the parent who knows your child best, you can foster that individualized reading attention before they go to school and while they are in school and give them a love for reading that they will have for life.

The Dos and Don'ts I have learned

1. Both quality and quantity matter and patience is required. Schedule reading time during a non rushed time. I had to learn a lot of patience during this process that I did not start with. Andrew would be reading a book and he would want to comment about everything and I felt like he was so not on track and not focused. Wake up call! This is a 5 year old. He is curious and imaginative and wants to make the story his own. I didn't get that at first. It seemed like a chore and sometimes both of us struggled through it. Now I like to read a lot. I do Peter first thing in the morning and I grab about 10 books. Sometimes that is not enough. Sometimes I have to read them twice. Sometimes he gets on a kick for one book and know that I will have to read it several times in a day. After all preschoolers like repetition. Andrew is usually in the evening after the others go to bed so I have the one on one time with him. This may result in a later bedtime but I am okay with that. I try to get 15-20 minutes with Peter each day and Andrew is anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour but not all at one time. Average is 20 min to 30 on one book.

2. About quality - Not all books were created equal. I am reading a great book right now called The Read Aloud Handbook. Got it at the library. I skipped to the back to check out his collection of read aloud books that he suggests. It's a great collection of books that I know but many we don't have. I need to buy the book so I can use it as a reference book to guide me in my selections.

3. Don't read books that are boring. Not when they are little. There are too many great books to waste your time on a book that doesn't interest you or your child. Andrew is obsessed with space and as a family, we try to go camping so I try to get books on his level that are about these things. I also can tell fairly quickly if Andrew is disinterested in a book either because it is boring or because it is above his current level if after reading two pages, he asks if this could be his last page. We have moved on to Frog and Toad books and he loves them and will read 15-20 pages at a time. That is much different than 2.

4. Just because the book is easy enough for Andrew to read doesn't mean that he should have to read it. A recent book was a little hard for him. I could tell he wasn't into it so after he wanted to be done, I told him that I was going to keep reading the book to Peter and we finished off the book. We finished which is sometimes important to Andrew and I didn't have to make him do it the next day. If we are on good books, he will ask to read. If we are on bad books, he will never ask and will complain when I suggest it. But I can always read it to him and he is usually content with that.

5. Andrew likes to be read to. A new concept that I learned. I had been focusing all my time on him reading aloud to me. He enjoys reading himself but sometimes he just wants to curl in my lap and hear a story. I recently checked out a chapter book that he could almost read but not quite. Chris didn't want me to frustrate him by even trying so I made it our read aloud book. We read a chapter a night and I designate a word for him to read so when I get to that word, I point to it and he reads it. He loves this and will point out if we accidentally say his word. Reading aloud also helps with teaching reading comprehension. At the end of the read aloud, I am much more likely to get responses about what actually happened in the story. We are working on that when he reads but that's a harder process. I am really excited about getting some more chapter books to read to him. He likes mysteries but I am thinking I want some action packed boy themed book. I wonder if he would be too young for Treasure Island? It's been a long time since I have read that one so I don't remember.

6. Acting out stories. I can't say that we have acted out any of the stories from Frog and Toad but Andrew got a real kick out of it the day that we read his Bible story and then did a play of David and Goliath. We got costumes and I numbered each one of Andrew's lines (he was David of course) and I called out the number when it was his turn to say it. Reading aloud and then also a lesson in inflection and learning how to say things with drama. Reading aloud also stimulates the knowledge of how to say things when there is a question mark or exclamation mark.

7. Turn off the TV...Okay this is really just a joke between me and my husband that I will share. I told him that whenever I start to read one of these crazy educational books, ALL of them in the first chapter say to turn off the TV...exactly what are they trying to say here? I don't get it. Ok yeah yeah yeah..I get it but I don't do it. We already don't have TV with like stations and stuff but I let my kids watch videos from the library and Hulu. Good thing about the videos from the library is that they are "educational". Hee hee. Hey, there could be worse things. But since I have a whole post about reading, I had to include that because apparently you can't talk about reading without mentioning getting rid of the idiot tube.

What I did that I would do again in starting the process....

I started with phonics a week before Andrew turned 5. I had several different phonics programs that people recommended. I decided to go with Hooked On Phonics. Remember the 80s commercial - Hooked on Phonics worked for me! Well it's still around and it's pretty good. I also had Teach your child to read in 100 easy lessons and Explore the Code. 100 easy lessons was too boring for me. All text. No color. No fun. Explore the Code had too much writing for me. I wanted to concentrate on reading first and writing later. Hooked on Phonics was the best for me. I think if we get into GCA, we might be doing Phonics Pathways. I never looked at that one.

We then moved to sight words. Chris found them on Word document and I cut them out and drilled Andrew. We did a little at a time and he didn't mind them. I never could get to 100% and I eventually gave up. It was then that I realized that he knew all the sight words but just flipping through note cards, he would miss one or two each time. But in the context of a book, he would read "there" and "could" right every time. So I know my little brother in school had to have them memorized and he would be quizzed on them for speed. I realized that that was a school "box" and I didn't need to have Andrew do that. The more we practice reading, the more those words will come naturally to him and he will learn them. It's much more interesting to practice reading then it is to drill flash cards. Trying to use that principle with math too so we play games like math bingo and he has a addition puzzle he does.

One of the speed bumps I ran into was with phonics curriculum. I liked Hooked on Phonics so I moved to 1st Grade and it was on consonant beginnings like scr, th, sp, ch. Well he has all those down. He could read his entire HOP work book and all the practice books. What I really need right now is a phonics curriculum that teaches more of the rules. We know the silent e on the end rule. And we know that when two vowels go a walking the first one does the talking. But we learned those both from videos that we got from the library. There are others that I need to teach but I don't really know them off the top of my head. So for right now, I have just hung up the phonics hat and I am trying to just teach rules as I go. But I know that he is learning a lot of whole words and we try to sound them out phonetically but I wish I could tell him more times why it sounds like that. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's not. But I still maintain that a lot of practice will help with that. And I am re-checking out those videos from the library too.

Resources I have used

1. Library - I bring a couple of bags and we fill them up each week. I get read alouds, books he can read and then we go over to non fiction and get books on topics like countries, space, airplanes, the food pyramid, animals..whatever we want. One time Andrew wanted to read an Eyewitness book called Oil. It was one of the most boring books I have ever read but he seemed to like it and had I kept going and not returned it (shhh!), he probably could tell you a thing or two about oil.

2. Five in a Row (FIAR) - $5 work book I got off Ebay. The concept is that you take one of their books they have listed and you read it five days in a row. The workbook outlines different things you can talk about on each of the days. Among the topics are social studies, art, geography, math, history, literature devices. If you google the book and FIAR, you also get a slew of blogs and web pages about additional projects and lapbooks that you can do for your week. I probably will blog about a couple of them. But for example, when we read Madeline, we talked about France and colored the flag and did a coloring sheet of the eiffel tower. We watched a You Tube video with the fireworks at the Eiffel. We did a human body project and did human body worksheets. We talked about symmetry. Lots of art with Paris scenes to talk about. Vocab words like solemn...You catch my drift. It's a fun way to expand the story.

3. I already mentioned the Read Aloud Handbook. Going to use that a reference tool. I also got some ideas from the Well Trained Mind. I also googled "I can read books" and then went to Amazon and used their Click Inside feature. By reading the first couple of pages, I could tell whether it was too young, just right or too old for Andrew. I then made a list for my trip to the library and discovered it was much easier to find books when you knew what you were going for and had written down the call number.

I don't think blog posts are supposed to be this long. :) Apparently I am on a roll with what I have to say.

Homeschooling - 1st post of many

I am going to use this blog to talk about my homeschooling tales along with posting general pictures and posts about the kids and whatever else I think of. One of the reasons is so that I can look back on it and see what I had to say later. I do have 2 kids coming up behind Andrew after all.

The other reason is because I have friends that have kids right behind me in age and maybe I will say something that sparks an interest in them. You can drown yourself in homeschooling blogs and ideas and crafts so I try to be very diligent on only reading ones that are good. I love reading my friend Jamie's blog because I know her so it seems more real to me. Her kids are older than mine so only a bit can apply to my current level. I also get a lot of my friend Tina's blog because she does a lot with her preschooler. Victoria's blog inspires me for oh so many craft ideas with my kids. Super crafty. (I feel like I am doing the thank yous for an academy award :)) All of these ladies are Christian ladies who I admire and learn a lot from. I read a lot of personal blogs for ideas. I like a lot of other blogs too for ideas and one day I will probably post my favorites. Okay that was a bit of a tangent...all that to say that I know I have some friends that read my blog and my hope is that my experiences - both positive and negative - will encourage you in your journey whether you are homeschooling or not. Because all of us parents are teachers after all.

A little about where I am right now. Andrew is 5 1/2. He will turn 6 in November. When he turned 5, I already knew that I was going to homeschool so I went ahead and tried to do as much Kindergarten things that I could. I have applied to a online virtual school called Georgia Cyber Academy for Kindergarten that begins in the fall. I will know next week whether or not he got in. According to the state, he will be considered a public school student. They will send me all the curriculum, books and manipulatives for free for use during the year. We will keep up with our assignments online and I will mark the time that he completes. He has to complete 4 hours a day. How I am going to get 4 hours a day in with my other kids, doctor appointments and work? I don't really know but I will work it out. I see night school and Saturday school in my future. Choosing GCA is a bit of a concern for me because Andrew is reading very well right now and his math isn't too shabby either. We have a virtual teacher assigned over us so I will have to ask her about it but I think that we can take assessment tests until we get to where we are. If I don't get into GCA, I will be starting a 1st grade reading and math program with him.

There will be a whole other post about reading and what I learned about that so far. Several things I would have done much different. Some I would have kept the same.

My friend, Melanie, loaned me a book called The Well Trained Mind. I checked out a copy of the library so that Chris could read it as the same time as me. It has eliminated so many of my fears and really answered my year long question of "Sooo how DOES one home school?" I signed up with GCA to ease some of these fears because they will lay it out for me. But after starting to read this book, I am also completely prepared to go solo with the task and have most of my curriculum planned out for next year. I might even be disappointed if I don't get to use it. :)

There are a lot of questions that people like to ask homeschooling parents. The popular ones being Why are you going to home school? and What about socializaion? (which can have a vague meaning on what the person is actually asking..I always assume they mean "social life") For the most part, I have not had a lot of people ask me questions. For starters, homeschooling is more popular than it used to be. I am reading one book from the 80s that lists advocacy groups you can call if you have to have a legal battle. It's still illegal in many other countries but it is more and more accepted here. Especially where I live, I am not made out to be some freak because my kids aren't in school. But if you don't me well and are wondering the they are.

I am homeschooling because I feel like God has called me to do this for my family and I enjoy it which is a bonus. Homeschooling is not for everyone. If it's not right for you, don't feel bad. Don't be defensive. Do what's best for your family and don't worry about what others are doing with theirs. This is true for me too. It doesn't affect me at all and I don't judge you if you put your kids in school. There is nothing wrong with putting your kids in school. I just don't want to put my kids in school and God has blessed me with the means and ability to teach my children at home. I treasure teaching my children. I love watching them learn. If you put your kids in school, you get to treasure teaching them and watching them learn too. It's just in a different way than me.

What about socialization? The answer that people want to hear is that homeschoolers have many opportunities for socialization through hybrid schools, extracurricular activities, church, homeschool groups, etc. I might give you that answer but to be honest, I don't care about socialization. My kids will get all the above things. I believe they will turn out just fine. I feel like children their age for the most part actually provide negative socialization. I would much rather my children learn how to be a functioning member of society through older peers and adults. My mentor once said the only thing that a 10 year old can learn about other 10 year olds is foolishness. And I believe this to be true. I can list out more negative experiences from my childhood than I can positive - the teasing, the ridicule, the low self esteem, the bullys, the body image issues, how bout the pot and porn in the 8th grade locker room at my prestigious private school. Is it really such a bad thing that I want don't want my kids exposed to this. I think that I am going to shelter them too much. Overprotect maybe? Nahhh, I don't think so. They will know that sex, drugs and rock n roll exist. I really don't think they are going to go off to college and jump into all these things because I didn't expose them to it in high school or middle school or heck these days, it's elementary school. I knew several home schooled kids in college and for the most part, they were actually much more mature than others their age. This is the inspiration that I have for kids. My mission for my family is that we will all know, love and serve Jesus Christ and I am confident in this for my family. Sure there will be ups and downs whether my kids are homeschooled or school schooled. But God will direct my paths and the paths of my kids and I trust Him completely.

Fun with Snacks

This was on my other blog but I like it so much that I am putting it over here too. :)

So Andrew and I are at the dentist today reading a High Five magazine. Well, we were there for a cleaning but of course, we had the pre-show entertain yourself time. And we came across a fun snack idea for kids. They are called "Apple Smiles". They seemed simple enough. Cut an apple into slices. Oh wait..forgot step 1..wash hands. Heh..we forgot that step when making them too..oops! And then spread a layer of cream cheese on a side of each in such a way that the red is facing out. Place mini marshmallows (I'm sure the dentist would be oh so proud) between the cream cheese for the teeth. Place apple in mouth. Take photo. Okay, it didn't say to take photo but when you do fun crafty things as infrequently as I do with the kids, you have to take photos for posterity's sake.

So here's the rub. We had apples. They were even red. But we only had large marshmallows so we had to cut them. And Andrew doesn't like cream cheese so we used peanut butter. So without further ado, I present you both Exhibit A and Exhibit B of what I affectionately call my

Tobacco spittin redneck apple smiles...

I am thinking about a weekly blog post with fun kids snacks ideas gone wrong. But I can't imagine them looking as utterly ridiculous of sticking peanut butter apples with malformed marshmallows into your mouth. You should try it. Fun for all ages!

P.S. Here's the "recipe" and what they are actually supposed to look like!

Welcome to my new blog

Welcome to my new blog. I had an old blog but I didn't like it. I rambled a whole bunch on it. I might still go over to it and ramble on it but this is just going to be a diary of life events for myself and my kiddos. I am married to an awesome man named Christopher. He is a wonderful husband, father and leader of our home. I admire his devotion to Christ and his commitment to glorifying Him. I love his devotion that he has for our family to be the loving husband and father and the leader and provider. He does a wonderful job and I have learned so much about life from him.

I have three boys - Andrew is 5 1/2 as he will tell you proudly, Peter is 2 1/2 and Joshua is 1 1/2. They are my crazy boys. Crazy boys rule! I love my family immensely and have so much fun with them. Two big things in our life are camping and homeschooling so you probably will hear about a little about both here. Well probably more homeschooling than camping. Not much to say about camping but I do hope to summarize each excursion we go on. I am also insanely organizationally challenged so you will also hear me ramble about some awesome organizational tool/trick that is going to completely revolutionize my household and way of living but I will note that I will only follow said great idea for about a week maybe two..hence the organizationally challenged part.

Well that's all for now. Thanks for stopping by.