26 September 2016

Day 1 / 106 - Cruisin'

Over the past three weeks, I've had every intention to sit down and begin documenting our eighth year of home education.  I already have many posts to share!  There have been multiple distractions, including days without power, internet connection, and water (water really shouldn't interfere with blogging, but I had to mention it)!  Our academic year is actually off to a fantastic start, and I'm looking forward to keeping you abreast of our journey.  We've made a few changes to our schedule and our curriculum.  So far, so good.

However, rather than ending our school year with a vacation, we opted to begin our year with a 5-day cruise to the Bahamas.  The last week of August was a perfect time to travel, and we all enjoyed ourselves immensely.  

We docked for a day in Nassau.  After spending the morning on a catamaran cruise that included snorkeling, we visited a few historical sites.  

Two memorable moments for our children.  First, our daughter was awarded a Carnival trophy for winning The Hunger Games trivia.  [Just so you know how difficult their trivia games are, we lost terribly in Harry Potter trivia (even though we're currently rereading the books), and during Friends trivia there were three questions I couldn't even answer!]  Secondly, our son left the ship with eight stitches in his left eyebrow due to a collision with another teen during one of their scheduled events.  On the plus side, Carnival's medical centers are top-notch!  

07 September 2016

Day 105 / 105 - Morning Time

As I look back over the past year (and as I prepare to launch straight ahead into a new one) I need to post about the most simple, joyful aspect that we intentionally implemented in 2016, Morning Time.

For homeschoolers, Morning Time has many different names, and many different blog posts, and many different podcasts on the topic. To provide a quick summary, Morning Time is the time of day (usually in the morning) where Mom gathers everyone in the home, so they can learn together while appreciating some of the finer elements of education.  Much can be done during this time; reading, praying, singing, memorizing, drawing, playing, learning, narrating, etc.  (If you are still completely unfamiliar with the concept, this is a helpful, descriptive post.)

This seems obvious, so one would not think that this would be such a novel concept requiring so much input.  However, over the past two years, I realized this concept was not a regular part of our school day.  When my children were younger, our entire day was one big Morning Time.  But, as they have aged, and as their course loads have increased, our days resemble; wake up, eat, quickly work on assignments, try to get everything finished before we leave for some sort of activity, mom unsuccessfully tries to limit stress because of all that still needs to be accomplished, end the day, wake up tomorrow, repeat.  Rushed and hectic days result in very little joy.

If you know me at all, you know that I want all homeschoolers (myself included) to experience simplicity and joy in their educational journey.

In January, I made some changes to our homeschool schedule/curriculum and that included the addition of a Morning Time.   I didn't set out with the expectation of scheduling a Morning Time.  Instead, I proposed to my children: Hey!  How about we start our day rereading the Harry Potter books rather than with a checklist of assignments??!!

Naturally, this was met with squeals of delight, even from my teenagers.  Children are never too old to be read to.

From there, it evolved.  We start with a chapter of Harry Potter.  Next, I read from a History book which includes a narration summary from my children.  Then, I read something a little more 'classical'.  Some days scripture.  Some days Shakespeare.  Some days poetry.  Since January, I've probably spent 60 - 90 minutes of each school day reading aloud to my children, and it has been joyful.  In fact, if you asked my children what their favorite part of each day is, I'd wager they'd answer with our morning reading time.

After we finish reading, we move to the table and regularly complete three different activities.

First, we'll unpackage, parse, and diagram a sentence.  Only one.  Some days the sentence comes from a Language Arts curriculum.  Some days we'll make one up.  Some days, we diagram Snape gave Harry a detention or another one straight from the book.  We'll identify all the parts of the sentence that we know, and then we'll move on.  This takes maybe 10 minutes, but the learning and comprehension that occurs during that 10 minutes is immeasurable. 

Next, we'll play a quick Math game.  Nothing that takes more than 5 - 10 minutes.  Playing Math games is the most enjoyable part of Math and should (in my opinion) be done first, before any Math work is assigned.  

Finally, we will attempt to solve one Math problem that is far outside our range of expertise, usually an advanced Algebra problem or a problem from an ACT/SAT study guide.  We can't always solve it, but we try to.  We start with what we know - vocabulary, formulas, patterns, anything that looks familiar. Sometimes, we'll look at the answer and try to work backwards.  Some days, we'll amaze ourselves.  Some days, we have to wait and see if Dad can help us when he arrives home.  Again, this takes maybe 10 minutes.

Then, we move on to our day's assignments.  The best part is, I'm far less stressed with all that needs to be completed because of all the enjoyment and learning that we began our day with.   Most importantly, I have loved implementing the Morning Time concept because I feel like I've turned our homeschool back into a one-room schoolhouse.  When I began this journey, our homeschool looked very much like a one-room schoolhouse.  But over the past two years, my children have needed to work independently of each other (because of all that was required of them) which has meant they needed about twice the amount of attention from me.  Switching up our curriculum has enabled me to work with both children simultaneously, accomplishing twice as much in half the amount of time.  This excites me for our educational journey.

This fall, I'm adding two more subjects to our Morning Time, which again will bring more simplicity to our journey.  Both my children will be actively participating in the same Latin curriculum, so we will be learning and reviewing Latin for about 20 minutes each morning.  We have spent much of our summer drawing Science concepts (more on that in a later post), and we'll continue this habit also.

We're looking forward to year number eight.  I'm trusting that it will be our most enjoyable one yet!  I'm praying for you this fall, that you will find much joy in your educational journey.

31 August 2016

Day 104 / 105 - Summer Learning With My Kids

For us, summer time doesn't look much different than the rest of the year.  We never really have a first day of school or a last day of school.  Learning just happens as we live.  Honestly, the only change for us throughout the summer months is that we are home more often because most extra-curriculars are on hiatus.  We are in the process of reorganizing ourselves at the moment, so that we can hit the ground running next week.

Before we move too far into our fall routine, I wanted to reflect on a few gems that we learned this summer.

Thanks to an early June Google Doodle we learned about the silhouette art of Lotte Reiniger.  She was already focused on the immense possibilities of animation in 1915!!  If you are unfamiliar with what she accomplished far before Disney produced Snow White, spend some time YouTubing her movies.  Spectacular.  

We appreciated June's 'Strawberry Moon' which appropriately fell on the summer solstice.  

My daughter saved her own money to purchase an aquarium and beta fish -- something she was quite eager for.  She did an extensive amount of research on the fish before her purchase.  

There is no better way to teach a 12-year-old girl percentages than to take her shopping with the 30% off coupon.  

We introduced our son to Dances With Wolves following his trip out west.  There is an incredible amount of North American history and geography to be learned from this movie.  If you haven't seen it since the early '90s, I'd invite you to view it again.

August is the month that William Wallace (Braveheart) was captured by the English near Glasgow and then transported to London for his execution in 1305.  It's also the month that Johannes Gutenberg completed the Gutenberg Bible in 1456.   [Seriously.  What would we all be doing today had Gutenberg never invented the printing press?]

Mark Twain sums up Gutenberg's press far better than I ever could:

What the world is today, good and bad, it owes to Gutenberg. Everything can be traced to this source, but we are bound to bring him homage … for the bad that his colossal invention has brought about is overshadowed a thousand times by the good with which mankind has been favored.

Finally, one of our finest parenting/educational moments came this summer.  My husband made a reference to Scrooge McDuck which confused our children because they thought he was referring to Ebeneezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol.  It is always a good day when our children default to Dickens before Disney.

I'm looking forward to many more insights learned as we embark on Homeschool Year Number 8!  Join in on the fun - #dailylearningwithmykids

22 August 2016

Day 103 / 105 - The Taming of the Shrew

Last night, we viewed Shakespeare Carolina's performance of The Taming of the Shrew.  The artists at Shakespeare Carolina do a fabulous job of reimagining the classical cannon.  Last summer, we witnessed The Merry Wives of Windsor from a trailer park.   This summer, we were entertained with professional wrestling as we heard the notable tale of Katherine and Bianca Minola.

I read The Taming of the Shrew comedy in April.  As a result, I really knew the story line, so my children and I mapped out some characters and key scenes (posted below).  This helped tremendously because as I sat through the play last night, I knew exactly what was happening.  This is the first time I can confidently say that about a Shakespeare play in its entirety.  My exposure to The Bard has been a good thing.

19 August 2016

Day 102 / 105 - Newsies The Musical

Last weekend my daughter and I enjoyed viewing the National Broadway tour of Newsies The Musical.  Newsies The Musical tells the story of the Newsboys Strike of 1899 in New York City.  My daughter has been eager to see this musical for sometime.

We loved the show, and I would highly recommend it to others.  The show has a predominantly male cast, so the dancing is highly entertaining and impressive.  We also admired the New York City set.  Naturally, the American history involved in the tale definitely makes the show worthwhile.

18 August 2016

Day 101 / 105 - Amphibious Duathalon

During the first weekend of August, my son (along with my husband) completed the U.S. National Whitewater Center's Amphibious Duathalon.  

The race was a 5K run/2K kayak paddle/5K run.  (After finishing several races at the Whitewater Center over the past year, we can confidently say that their courses are always much longer than stated as well as being some of the most challenging trails we've even been on!)  

Our son claimed the most difficult part of the race was trying to run uphill again after sitting in a kayak for 20+ minutes.  Even so, he wound up finishing 14th overall, and 4th in his age group (which was 30 and under!).  His father had a respectable finish also.

17 August 2016

Day 100 / 105 - Dancing Through The Years

My daughter collected a few photos in order to upload a video to her YouTube channel on National Dance Day.  This was a last minute idea, so she was working mostly with unorganized screen shots.  Had I known she was putting this together, I would have located some past photos that have yet to be archived.  Nevertheless, she still did a fantastic job, and I thought I'd again showcase her video making skills.  Enjoy.