Saturday, July 28, 2012

Reed Family curriculum pick for 2012-2013 school year Part 2

Hello and welcome to part 2 of our Reed family curriculum pick this year.  To give you a short recap. I'll begin with telling you that we are taking a very eclectic approach to our school year this year. Money is tight for us and we're going to make due with what we have at the moment and go from there.   Most years I pick with one whole curriculum and stick with it because I like the all in one approach really , you just open and go. I do like to add to things when I can with things like: Lapbooking and notebooking. 
I'm hoping this year I will have the time to do this and we won't be needing to make any more trips to Cincinnati for at least another year with Maggie. We can hope and dream, can't we? 

So I will continue on with Hannah. Hannah is our 9 yr old. She is the third child and is very smart. She is quiet and cunning and soaks up everything around her. I'm convinced Hannah has no fear and she is my cuddle bug that's for sure. This year I'm hoping to get her through two grades 3rd and 4th because technically she should be in 4th grade.  The year they went to private school the school thought it was a good idea to keep her back in 1st, even though she finished first grade at home and did well. She was just a few words off from their list they used to test for reading skills and it really wasn't anything they couldn't have sent home or had Hannah work on more in school. Needless to say they kept her back in 1st and it was the most total waste of her time that year. It truly did a disservice to her and it was just a breeze through , blow through year for her.  Hannah's teacher even thought she had some learning disabilities. Which again, was proven through testing that Hannah didn't. The test they used she scored a 93/100. So, um,, no. Just because she has speech issues doesn't mean she has learning issues. Needless to say I think Hannah can do it and she is a very hard worker and loves to please her mommy. 

For Language Arts : We will continue on with Christian Light and let her finish the 200 level.  We were working on it last summer and it will give her some time to ease back into her homeschooling by starting off a little easy. If its too easy we'll just move onto the 300 level and go from there. 

Reading:  Once again Christian Light wins out with Hannah. She is a very independent soul and she likes to learn and do things really on her own.  Hannah likes minimal help from people so an independent curriculum is what I really need to stick with when it comes to teaching Hannah.   So we'll be finishing up the 200 level reading we have because I'd like to see where she is at in her reading, and if we blow through it, fine. We'll go right into the 300 and then 400 since those levels only have 5 Light Units per level.  I'm most sure I'll get Hannah to where she should be this school year even if it means we work through it all next summer.  I will say I'm not one to be stuck on grade levels because that's not what homeschooling is to me ( that will be another post sometime) but its about getting Hannah to where she really should be academically because that first year in school was just a total waste of precious learning time she could have had. 

Writing: We'll be giving Writing Tales a try for extra writing practice. I'm not sure as of yet where Hannah is with her writing, but I think this will be a good start. Marilyn and Katie really enjoyed Writing Tales a lot and I think Hannah will too. 

Spelling:  I will be combining both Hannah and Maggie with All About Spelling. This has got to be my most favorite spelling program right now. We'll be finishing up the level 1 , we're almost done with it , and going right into level 2. I believe that Hannah will finish up more than this but she'll work alongside Maggie in this level and then she can work as fast or slow as she needs to. 

  I wished it had been around when I first started homeschooling because I know Marilyn could have greatly benefited from it. She still could but I feel like teaching her the rules at this point maybe mute and she won't take the time to do it. But I will say if Sequential spelling doesn't help with her spelling she maybe joining her two younger sisters with this as All About Spelling now has all 7 of their levels out.  

Math: CLE math. Hannah is almost done with the 200 level and as soon as she is she will start right into the 300 level math. Hannah really likes the Christian Light math and she does really well with it so I'm not going to rock the boat with her and we'll just stick with what works. 

History:  Hannah will join right along with Katie in the Mystery of History. The nice thing about this program is its set up for all age levels. I wish I could have Marilyn using it too because it would be nice to have everyone at least doing one thing together at the same time.

Science: Again, I'll be combining the younger three and they will be doing the Apologia science. I will say a long time ago when we started this there used to be free notebooking pages online that we were able to use. 

Electives: Hannah will learn along side her sisters with the Home Ec course as I think she'll do great with it. Hannah is my one that wants to get right in there and learn something new. She's my child that loves to help me prepare things and even was my only one to learn how to take care of Maggie with her new medical equipment. I can seriously see Hannah either being a nurse or a spy someday. He, he. 

Last but definitely not least is Maggie. Maggie will be 6yrs old on August 8th. Maggie will be my 1st grader and she's smart as a whip. Maggie has picked up everything from her sisters that's for certain. Though we will have to maybe accomidate the amount of writing she does due to the fact she has a hypoplastic left thumb on the hand she writes with. I think Maggie will do spectacular this year.  

Reading: We'll be finishing up Learning to read and hopefully get right into the I Wonder series with Christian Light. The reading has been super easy for Maggie but the writing work in this level has been perfect for her so far since Maggie's attention span is that of a squirrel right now. I'm hoping with time that will change and she can concentrate more but I'm going to start her off easy and simple. We had a tough summer and we need to ease into it all.  

Writing:  Copy work. Just as much as she can handle. Like I said Maggie's hands tend to be a little weaker due to the defects in them. Thankfully she is a  lefty and not a righty ( she has a missing thumb on her right) so it helps that she has a good grasp with a pencil. Just her hand tires out fast.  We'll just work more on handwriting than anything this year and I'm not sure what to get her. I might start off  Abeka cursive but that will be after we get finished with the Learn to Read because it has enough handwriting in it right now. 

Spelling: All About Spelling.  We're almost done with level 1 and she'll be working with Hannah in level 2 already. Maggie loves her All About Spelling. Its her favorite subject of the day because its so hands on. 

Math:  Last year we worked with the CLE math. I've got mixed feelings about how its going to work with Maggie. I'd like to stick with it because it is a good math program. It really is.  So we'll see.  We just worked on the first two Light Units in the 100 level so we'll continue on with it and see where she ends up. 

Science and History. She can listen in on the Mystery of History and Science and do some projects with us if she wishes. I don't really stress History and Science to , to much at this stage because the subjects above are what I like to focus on first in the beginning. If we get this in with Maggie we do. I won't stress if we won't. 

So there you go. Our crazy eclectic mix of school books for this year. I hope this crazy plan works and we'll be happy with it and won't have to do to much changing this year with curriculum.  I do envy those who pick out one curriculum and just stick with it for all subjects.  I think its great that there are families that can do that.  For us we'll try this and see how it all goes. I hope I don't mess the girls up to much this year

Monday, July 23, 2012

Our Curriculum picks for 2012-2013 Part 1

There is something to be said when having to buy curriculum for the new school year. Do you buy it new , do you buy it used?  Do you go with an all in one curriculum, or do you mix and match what you need for each individual child?
I can say its just never as easy as looking in one catalog and pressing the click button when it comes to selecting and buying since there is so much available today then any other time in homeschooling history.

I remember when Marilyn, my oldest, was 4.5 yrs old. The internet was just starting to make its presence in the lives of families everywhere.  I remember when you used to have to pay for spending a certain amount of time on the computer, and the only internet service that was available was AOL when you had to go to the store and buy a disk just to download it onto your computer. If you didn't have that disk , your computer was a useless mess that doomed you forever to just play games on it. Even though AOL and Yahoo are still in existence you are now free to roam the internet for as long as you like and the sky is the limit to those who homeschool. You can find many different types of support groups. Ranging from unschoolers , classical homeschoolers, those who are ecclectic , and those who use cyberschooling. Its almost literally impossible to not be able to homeschool in the year 2012. There are online classes, free virtual schooling, DVD programs and my favorite , free YouTube website, Khan Academy to help on those days when Algebra seems like a foreign language. 

Even Rainbow resource , is the size of a New York phone book just chuck full of homeschooling curriculum, and supplies that can leave you reading it for months.  I remember when all there was to see on the internet for curriculum was Calvert, Bob Jones, and some other scattered curriculum like 100 EZ lessons and Abeka.  I remember when Moving with Math was actually the popular math program, not Singapore or Life of Fred like today.
Just going through these catalogs leaves you scratching your head as where to start even.
Granted this year I believe I have narrowed things down a bit and we will be doing a pretty scattered selection this year as our funds have been very limited due to Maggie's surgery trip this year.  I will say with what I did pick for the girls , I am happy with.

I'll start with Marilyn. Marilyn is my colorful kid. The more bells and whistles we have, the better for her. Marilyn is 14yrs old this year and really wants to vamp up her studies a bit .

 Math:  Marilyn will be finishing up her Horizons Pre Algebra book. We sadly didn't get to much into it since it was almost the end of the year before we found the right math program for her, and I wasn't home to help when she really needed it.  Once we get a little more into it I do plan on trying out Life of Fred with her as right now she loves to read and LOF contains lots of reading. I think it will be a good supplement for her since she says Math is still her favorite subject.

LA- I decided to stick with the Ace School of Tomorrow with her for Grammar. This seems to be the only Grammar that helps her focus a little at a time on the topics. She just really needs it, not to mention at her age there isn't to many 'colorful' English programs out on the market.

Spelling- yes, she maybe an upcoming 8th grader but spelling is where she is totally lacking. I've tried several spelling programs with Marilyn will minimal to not so great success so I'm going to give this one last possible try and try out Sequential spelling out with her. If this doesn't work , I'm not sure what else really will.  It seems simple enough, start with a small work like at , and build on that word with the sounds you already know.

Writing: We bought Writing Strands 3 last year and Marilyn will be finishing up this book and going into Writing Strands 4. I wasn't sure about this program since most homeschoolers  rave about The Institutes for Excellence in Writing (otherwise known as IEW in the homeschool world). We weren't able to afford IEW , and even so we had a brief stint with the program,  and the girls just didn't enjoy it to much when we did have it.  So I searched for a writing program that could take them step by step in the writing process , give me a little hand holding, and be something we could afford.  So Writing Strands seemed to fit the bill for what I was looking for in a writing program , and  even better Marilyn instantly fell in love with it. So much so she even thanked me for buying it for her. Just her thanking me gave me a good enough reason to continue on with the program.

Reading:  We'll be trying out a reading program that was loaned to us by our evaluator just recently from Abeka. I usually at this point like for them to read great Literature, but we'll see how it goes using a reading program. I'm not sure how I feel about the program quite yet since I've never used Abeka's reading program. I've used some of their books off and on for the girls to read for fun when we've come across them. So I'm hoping we'll like it as a reading program.

Science:  This year Marilyn decided that she was done with general and physical science and wants to dig deeper into science. So she chose Apologia's Biology. She really enjoyed the Apologia Elementary Science  when we used it a few years ago. So we'll be coming back to it again but with a little more gusto. I'm hoping this won't be to much for her to handle but I really think she could do it if she really puts her mind to it.  If its to much we'll put it aside and try it next year.

History:  This year we'll be trying Abeka's 8th grade history. Our evaluator has loaned it to us so we're going to give it a try and hopefully this year will be the year where we actually finish American History. We always start with the explorers and have yet to make it past that. I'm also hoping she'll enjoy it , at least a little bit. I also may think I might pass this subject off to dad to teach because he's very good with history. I slept through most of history class growing up, but not dad. He's the human encyclopedia when it comes to history.  I'll admit I was hoping to get a Catholic history book this year , but with our finances being tight I was more than willing to accept something that would help save us a little money. So we'll see how this goes.  I'll have to go through the book a bit to make sure it doesn't conflict to much with our Catholic faith.

Elective:   Last but not least we decided to take Alpha Omega up on their 20% off sale with free shipping today and finally came up with Familiy and  Consumer Science, or otherwise known as Home Ec.  Marilyn did want to chose and Art program but in the end this won out due to the fact she really wants to make her family a tasty meal one night , is really wanting to get out there and babysit, and learn to sew since I finally after 14yrs have gotten our sewing machine fixed.  I plan on adapting this in some way to use with all of the girls because they all want to know how to do these things , not just Marilyn,
If we end up having some time doing all of that I might have her finish up her Switched on School House State History that we started before we left for Cincinnati.

Katie, age 12  is the next of the Reed bunch. The past two years Katie has been on hiatus in private school, but this year she is done with all of that and so ready to be homeschooled once again. I think giving Katie that time in brick and mortar school really did give her an appreciation for being homeschooled. Though I think out of all of my children Katie has appreciated it all along. She has always been my most hard working child out of the bunch. She has to work a bit harder due to some learning disabilities, but she never complains and always  gets her school work done without me ever having to ask her to do it.

Math: Our Math pick for Katie is Christian Light. She will be working on the 400 level and hopefully it will be worked on quickly so she can move on. Math is a very tough subject for her and I want her to work where she is comfortable. I really don't want her struggling like she was last year at the school. To me building up her confidence is more important right now than having her tackling a level she is not ready for right now.  I want to hear her say " I love math" once again.

LA : For Grammar we will be using Christian Light. Katie will be finishing up the 300 level of the LA. Both Katie and Marilyn have never really taken well to Grammar. I'm not sure why but maybe it has had to do with finding what would work for them in the first place. Christian Light's Grammar is pretty advanced anyways so I"m not to worried that she is in this level at the moment. We will at some point work through a summer to catch her up a little more but she is definitely getting more Grammar through this program than most anyways. We'll skip the spelling part as Katie is definitely ahead of the curve when it comes to spelling.

Spelling: My spelling pic for Katie is Sequential Spelling , just like for Marilyn. In my effort to save money I've decided to combine some of the subjects and try to use what I can with all of the girls when I can. Since the spelling in the CLE 300 level in the LA will be to easy for Katie I decided to use this with her too.
I went ahead and chose Sequential Spelling with the two older girls because, well one, they are to established at this point to use something like All About Spelling ( my favorite spelling program). They really need the work with easy words but in the same breath challenging ones at the same time. It takes 7 levels to get to that point with All About Spelling and I don't have that long with Marilyn and Katie like I do with Hannah and Maggie to work with spelling skills.   So we'll see how this goes.

Writing: Again another combo subject. Katie can definitely easily start into Writing Strands 3 just like Marilyn. This is the perfect book for her to start with at her age. The girls can take turns using the book and I know Marilyn will be done with Writing Strands 3 before Katie so she'll soon have the book to herself.

Reading: Katie will be finishing up the 500 level reading. She did start it during the summer for something to do and once she does that either we'll do the 600 or find something else. She wasn't to crazy about CLE's reading but Katie's a good sport and I told her once we have the money to get something else, I will.  Thankfully reading is her favorite subject. Though I do need something more structured for her in this area to keep her on track. She does love to read for fun too, but I do need a reading program for her.

Science: Staying with Apologia for science, I decided to stick with the tried and true and go with the Elementary series since I already have it. We have all but two , the Land Animals and the newer Human Anatomy books. So I figured while I want to save up the money for those two books we can start with the ones I do have. I plan on combing actually, Katie, Hannah and Maggie for science time.

History: Now since Katie actually did do American History this year I felt like I didn't want to bore her with another year of American History. Though it would have been great to find something to combine all 4 of the girls with, but with Marilyn being an 8th grader I figured it would be a very tall order to fill especially when my youngest will be 6 on August 8th. I could however find a World History program to fit this and I plan on combining Katie, Hannah and Maggie all at the same time with this program.  I've heard good thing about it, and want to give Mystery of History a try myself.

 Elective: Will be the Consumer Science. I do find that I need to focus a bit more on Life Skills with Katie. She really struggles with school work and I feel this would give her a real confidence boost by learning things too that will help her in life too.  She struggles with following instructions and common sense can sometimes go out the window in her own life skills. So we will work more on this and I think it really will help Katie. I just won't have her doing any of the question and answers in the book, but more of the activities that will follow it. We will use this course more as a guide for her and her younger sisters.

Well there you have it. That concludes the school pickings of this year for both Marilyn and Katie. This is a bit more eclectic  than I am used to that's for certain. I really like getting from one publisher and sticking with it but this year, more than past years have been tough for us economically. So we'll be thankful with what the Lord has provided and use what we have.

Stay tuned for Part 2,.. curriculum selections for Hannah and Maggie 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wow, its really been a while

Wow, it really  has been quite a while since I've last posted here on our Homeschooling blog. We've had quite the busy summer. Our summer vacation really started on May 15th when we left for Cincinnati, Ohio with our youngest daughter Maggie. It truly was quite a journey we went on when we decided to go ahead with major surgery that she really needed to have done.  
I'm not sorry we went on this journey. It definitely needed to be done to improve the quality of Maggie's life and we met such wonderful families at the Ronald McDonald House that they will always be part of our family forever. Even if we don't ever really see them again. 
                                                            Maggie and her monkey
                                                          Cori, Maggie and Schwan
The Ronald McDonald House of Cincinnati will always hold a piece of our heart forever. It definitely is one of the wonders of the world. Not all Ronald McDonald Houses are the same, this one is definitely extra special that's for sure.  We were never board that's for sure. There was something almost everyday that made each day special. Whether it was businesses or churches coming in to make breakfast, lunch or dinner , to Girl Scout Groups that would come in for ice cream socials. There were also people who would come in and play musical instruments. To the big guy himself, Ronald McDonald that came in and did a magic show for the kids.  The best thing there was visiting with all of the families.  We met families from all over the USA, and even families from all over the world. They came as far as the Ukraine, Saudi Arabia, Romania , Macedonia to Italy. You name it, people come to Cincinnati Children's from all over for their specialties.  The friendships we made there were priceless and we miss them so now that we are home. 

Speaking of being home, now that we are home its been one quite of a transition. Things have changed and we all feel it. Tim, Maggie and I have our ups and downs, our highs and lows. We are trying to find our new normal and its not been easy at all. The hard part is that its already close to August and I'm finding I have to switch from being mom the nurse, that I've been for 2 months , to mom the teacher and its been hard.  Especially when I still have to be mom the nurse, in the transition to being mom the teacher for the new school year. 

Thankfully this year all four of the girls will be home and we will keep it that way from now on. We have learned that homeschooling is what fits us as a family. Not that the school the girls were going to was bad. Not at all it was a very good school, but just that homeschooling fits us and it makes us who we are as a family.  I'm both excited and overwhelmed all at the same time.  I think I have an idea of what we want to use this year but at the same time hoping we can afford what we want to use since our Cincinnati trip was very expensive. Not to mention we have to travel back to Cincinnati next month for a follow up appointment with Maggie.  
I know God will provide, the hard part is the wanting to know how He will provide especially since money is going to be very tight for us. 

I think though the best thing I ever made this year that has been the most cost effective was our wall dry erase board.  If anything , we have this and my girls love it. It cost us  less than $20 all together to get it up on our wall, and of course I had gotten the idea of my most favorite website Pinterest. 
All we used was a $10 drip pan from an auto store , and some of those Command strips. Put them all the way around the back and stuck it to the wall. Its been the best thing we've ever made,  and my girls play with it all of the time. 

I think I will stick with the Christian Light for my younger three girls, and add Apologia science and I'm not sure what for math , maybe Alpha Omega.

 As much as I love the Christian Light . I just couldn't make it work for my oldest daughter. She just is extremely visual and needs color to concentrate.  We'll stick with her Horizon's math because we never got to finish her PreAlgebra with me being so far away and her not being very independent like I wanted her to be. Ace for her Language Arts , Apologia for her Science and I haven't decided on history for her yet as she didn't like the Ace for either Science or History and still add in a spelling program for her because she's the worst speller on the planet. 
 What I do know is I want to stick with more independent curriculum this year so I can work with Hannah and Maggie more , and so that I won't go crazy juggling being mommy teacher and mommy nurse until life gets back to being semi normal once again.