17 September 2017

Year Nine, Week Three

This week, we started our homeschool classes at the YMCA.  Along with teaching seven different classes, I also help to facilitate and to lead the program.  It really is an impressive site.  For the fall ten-week session, we have over 400 students enrolled in 104 different classes or workshops.  My children are taking a couple of academic classes [Algebra, American Lit, Biology] and a couple of classes for fun [Photography, Psychology, P.E.].  More updates on their classes will come.

I posted about our YMCA Homeschool Program earlier this year.  You'll need to reference that post to see a small picture of the 22-acre facility where we hold the majority of our classes.  This week, over the three days that we held class, I logged 40,000 steps.

This was just Day 1!

Our program runs on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.  Because my responsibilities require me to be out of the home more than my children, I have equipped them with several ways to complete their work.

I joked on Instagram that this is the working mom's solution to a Morning Time Basket for independent-learning teens.  I made a Bingo card full of English/Language Arts activities and assignments for eight weeks.  I stapled a couple file-folders together in lapbook format, and inside I included copies of everything they need to complete the card.  The folder is portable.  A completed Bingo card by October 31st wins a prize.

Our son ended the week with a canoe/camping trip to Lake Jocassee, South Carolina.  We have heard Lake Jocassee called the Tahoe-of-the-East.  He confirmed that the place is beautiful, and that we need to make a trip soon.

10 September 2017

Year Nine, Week Two

This was our soft-opening week.  We organized ourselves to prepare for a full-start Tuesday morning.

Dance resumed for my daughter.  She truly loves life when dance classes are in session.  This year, she will be at the studio upwards of 20 hours a week.  Unbelievable.  Her studio is a place that teaches character development as much as dance technique, and for that I'm grateful.  The most exciting addition to her schedule this year is the Beginning Combination class where she is the Teacher's Assistant [pictured above].  We're so excited for this opportunity for her.

Our son took the ACT Saturday morning.  Saturday evening, he ran a 17:11 5K.  Again, unbelievable. It was his first race breaking into the 17-minute-mark.  At the finish he said, 'Had I known how close I was to breaking into the 16-minute-mark, I would have run 11 seconds faster.'

03 September 2017

Year Nine, Week One

My new plan for this blog is to post weekly summaries as I find the time.  Doing this will enable me to compile some sort of year-end portfolio.  Every now and then, if I discover or learn something worthwhile, I'll document it.   This blog has always been more for my children's memories than anything else, and I want to follow through with that until we've completed this journey.

This week was a slow start.  I've always believed in not overwhelming my children with all the subjects on Day One.  Usually we do a week or two of math.  Then we add in more structure and subjects as needed.  My children start their community classes at the Y next Tuesday.   To be honest, most of this week was helping my teenagers go to bed and wake up at a reasonable hour.

We do have this new addition to our home that is somewhat messing with our sleep schedules.

My son is taking the ACT on Saturday morning, so he has been spending his 'school hours' working through practice problems.  He is in the throws of cross-county and has been encouraged with his training.  He had two meets last week.  Finally, and most importantly, he advanced a rank in Boy Scouts and earned another necessary Eagle-required merit badge. 

My daughter has faithfully worked her way through Pre-Algebra this summer.  She will begin Saxon's Algebra I next Thursday.  I am super impressed with the math knowledge she has gained.  She is not as quick or as confident as her brother is with the subject, but I believe she has far more knowledge of math than he did before beginning Algebra.  

My latest advice to home educating parents of teens has been:  If you only have one hour a day to sit down one-on-one with your student, spend that hour learning math. By this stage in the game, home educated teens can teach themselves any other subject. 

Last week, I gave myself a sizable goal of organizing many of our Alaska pictures before the school year gets underway.  If you were unaware, we spent the last two weeks of June in Alaska [and other parts of the Pacific Northwest].  We all agreed it was the best vacation ever.  It was in celebration of my parent's 50th Anniversary, which happened to be yesterday.  We have over a thousand pictures from our trip.  I'm still not sure what we're planning on doing with all of these pictures, but at least now they are all in one place.

27 August 2017

Year Eight

I so long to still label myself as a blogger.  From Day One, I have enjoyed capturing the day-to-day moments of my children's life and learning.  I have had much fun walking this educational journey with them and sharing that journey with others.

Reality is, this year I ran out of time.

The photo above is a list I made on April 24th in hopes to 'catch up' on my blog.  I still have the first post from this list in draft form on my site.  All summer I have intended to organize and upload pictures with written summaries of our activities because we have done some pretty incredible things this year.  Plus, over the past year, I have learned much about homeschooling teens and the preparation for what comes next. I wanted to share that with others.

However, if you missed a post earlier in the year, I also started working.  My job has been what my family, and myself, have needed for some time.  It has been a huge blessing, a healthy transition, and it has provided us with many educational opportunities to post about.  But, as many of you know, during this season of life, one can only do so many things well.  I can work and homeschool teens.  I can blog and homeschool teens.  I cannot work, homeschool teens, and blog well.  Something was bound to give.

Four months have passed since I created the above list.  Because we are starting yet another academic year tomorrow-ish, I've decided that in order to homeschool, work, and blog well, I need to restructure how I maintain this blog.  I still want some sort of memoir for my children, and I still want to document our journey [even though North Carolina doesn't require it].  I still desire to encourage other homeschoolers with the discoveries we make along the way.

Three years ago, I wrote a post on some simple ways to maintain a homeschool portfolio throughout the year.  I have revisited that post myself for some new ideas and a fresh vision for documenting our journey.  My homeschooling has always reflected Socrates wise words: Better to do a little well, than a great deal badly.  Do less.  Do it well.  Keep it simple.  I need to implement that wisdom into my blog maintenance for the future.  Blogging will happen, just less of it.  That's ok.

And someday, when the time is right, I will return to 2017 and post all of the pictures and all of the stories I can remember.  It is the year we memorized Shakespeare, resided almost permanently in the Middle Ages, got a pet rabbit, visited Alaska, mastered mathematics, [so. much. math.], learned to take standardized tests, and opened checking accounts for our children [this has been a HUGE WIN, and I do need to share more about it].

Our son ran a 5-minute mile, spent two weeks at the Boy Scout Jamboree, and built two different award-winning Rube Goldberg devices for the Science Olympiad.

Our daughter taught herself sign-language, danced at UNC's School of the Arts, and memorized 18 different poems [including works from Carroll, Whitman, and Stevenson].

Both have logged countless hours volunteering for the YMCA of Greater Charlotte because it truly is a family affair.

And Friday afternoon, we picked up a seven-week old Weimaraner.  Eeeek

Year Nine is shaping up to be great.  I can't wait to keep you updated.

02 May 2017

Day 43 / 106 - The Book That Revolutionized My Homeschooling

Friends.  I finished reading a book this year that has completely changed how I approach homeschooling my children.  It was not the Bible, or a devotional, or a book about Jesus (although those are all worthwhile).  It was not a book about Latin, or the classics, or history (again, all worthwhile reads).  It was not a book about how to, or how to not, or why you should homeschool (but I have many favorites there).  Nothing on Classical Ed vs. Charlotte Mason vs. Unschooling.  This book falls into a completely different genre.  Upon finishing it, I have gained more confidence and more knowledge to homeschool my children.  I feel adequately equipped to educate them through high school.  I can't wait to share this book with you.

Wait for it .... 

That's right.  The book is the math textbook, Saxon 7/6.  Crazy, right?

This year, I committed about 45 - 60 minutes weekly to work through this book independently.  Usually, I would treat myself to a latte, and rather than opening a novel, I would crack open this math text.  If you are unfamiliar with Saxon, there are 120 lessons in the text.  Each lesson presents a New Concept, a Lesson Practice (with about 8 - 10 problems to solve stemming from the New Concept), and a Problem Set (with 30 problems that review all previous lessons).  In an hour's time, I would work through four or five lessons, solving all the problems in the Lesson Practice, along with working through one Problem Set.  I would check my work as I progressed through the text.

But, let me tell you how this has changed my life.  I now know math.  I now know it pretty well.  Just from this one middle school textbook.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that last month I posted a plethora of math problems.  I was able to solve those problems (even the SAT ones) because of the skills I learned (or relearned) from this book.  My son is finishing Algebra I.  His math skill-set has far surpassed mine.  Yet, anytime he has had difficulty solving a problem in Algebra, chances are he missed a step with a concept that came directly from this book.  He would ask for help, and I would (and could) help him.  I believe that this book has given me the confidence and the knowledge I need to tackle higher level mathematics with my children.  More importantly, I am joyful about math.  It is fun!

As homeschoolers, we generally spend the most amount of time educating our children in what interests and excites us.  Naturally, those subjects ebb and flow.  Over the last 18 months, I have made it a high priority to help my children master mathematics.  The more I understand math, the more excited I become to have my children experience it, learn it, and master it.  Math has become the defining concept of our homeschool this year, and I could not be more thrilled.  I attribute most of our math success directly to myself spending an hour a week re-educating myself in the subject.  When homeschooling mothers value and commit to their own learning, that will positively influence their homeschool.  Believe me!

My advice to you, if you are looking for a homeschooling book to read and/or discuss during the next 18 weeks before Labor Day, I highly recommend Saxon 7/6.  You will not be disappointed.

24 April 2017

Day 42 / 106 - Mount Mitchell

On December 29th, we journeyed to the dramatic summit of North Carolina's Mount Mitchell, the highest point east of the Mississippi.  At the summit, it was 28 degrees with a windchill dropping the temperature below zero.  We have clearly acclimated to living in the south because experiencing that level of cold was misery.

Day 41 / 106 - CCBC Holiday Performance

Last fall, I posted that my daughter is an Apprentice member of the Charlotte City Ballet Company.  Naturally, that company has a holiday performance.  However, their performance is a tad different from the usual Nutcracker.  We like to call their performance a 'Nutcracker Sampler' because it highlights some of the best pieces of the classical ballet.  This sampler is performed alongside several original pieces of choreography.  Because they've simplified the performance, the company is able to take the show on the road.  Literally.  They performed five different shows at five different venues in four weeks' time.

There are twenty ballerinas in the company, so there is much dancing [and costume changing] done by all in order to perform.  One of the goals of the company is to provide quality performance training and performance opportunities for aspiring dancers.  This is true.  I believe she danced more on stage in these five performances than in all her other recitals and Nutcracker performances combined.  

I'm definitely late to the party with this post because their spring performance is just two weeks away.