Monday, May 28, 2007

Convention is Over!

Convention is over and I am so excited about all the information I acquired! I feel so inspired and our decision to homeschool has been definitely been solidified by all that we learned! I am so glad that I decided to attend the sessions this year, as opposed to just going to the book fair. I would like to thank my wonderful husband for all the support he gives me everyday in this decision to teach our children at home (and for all the support I get from his wallet!).

It would be nearly impossible to write about how many of the topics at convention were done as if they were speaking directly to me. I found myself close to tears during a couple of the talks because I kept thinking, "That's me! That's what I feel and that's what I'm going through!" It was pretty amazing to look around the room and see so many women nodding in agreement. I know I'm not alone! Even better, I was able to get tips from parents who have been down this road. Parents who've been there and done that, and many who are still doing it. The great thing is that many of the topics pertained to new homeschoolers like me, as well as homeschoolers who have been doing this for years.

A nice plus was the book fair. I was able to browse through so many books that I would otherwise be buying blindly online. I found all the materials I wanted to add to our kindergarten year and I was also able to purchase and browse through our first grade curriculum plans. Now I feel like I am an armed consumer, ready to purchase a plethora of new books for my kids (and myself).

I must end in saying that I really did come away from convention with truly useful information. Everything from helping myself and my household; to being a better teacher, mother, and wife. I even came away with a new perspective on how my kids actually function and learn. Overall, I had a great time and I'm glad I was able to enjoy without having to drag the kids through the whole thing.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Getting Ready for Convention!

As convention day approaches, I find myself getting more and more excited about attending! This will be my first official year attending, since last year I only went to the book fair. I'm looking forward to all the speakers and, of course, purchasing new stuff for the remainder of the year and next year!

So far, our year has been going well with few bumps; but I am looking to change some things and add some new material. I have compiled a new list of things to add to our schedule and I'm so excited to be able to thumb through all the material at the book fair.

The first list is things I plan to incorporate to our current year (and if material spills into 1st grade, that's fine).

  • Choreganizers (or other chore program for kids)
  • Literature Pockets: Nursery Rhymes
  • Beginning Geography: How to Use a Map
  • Beginning Geography: Landforms & Bodies of Water
  • Drawing with Children (to replace Draw Write Now)
  • Daily Math Practice, Grade 1
  • Math Memory Songs
  • Wee Sing Bible Songs
  • First Favorites, Volume 1 (to begin at the end of our phonics and blend into 1st grade)

I already have many of the things we will be using for 1st grade. When I see something that I'll be using on sale, I usually just buy it. This includes Story of the World and First Language Lessons. I'm still compiling a list of what I'll be using next year, and since we tend to begin our year at an odd time (between January and March), I might just buy things at convention this year. I'll post my tentative 1st grade curriculum choices once I'm done researching and scavenging through my resources.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Seatwork With Two Young Kids.

I love reading about this subject on the WTM Boards! It's amazing how different people's opinions are! Currently, my thoughts on seat work are changing. I firmly believe that young children need to learn through playing, drawing, and letting them run around freely. But I also believe that once they get to a certain age, they need to learn to be able to sit down and pay attention.

I recently read a quote that I really liked and believe. It states that "absent discipline equals absent learning." Now what they want it to mean, I'm not sure. But for me, it does mean that if your child is used to being squirmish and non-attentive, then that's going to make it that much more difficult for you to teach them. Eventually, all children need to be able to sit down for a certain amount of time without being constantly distracted. Once they come to kindergarten age, children should really be able to sit down for at least 15-30 minutes. This means that you can read them a book for that long and they won't get up and run away or start doing something else.

Of course, all children are different and I'm sure that other parents' experiences differ. I've slowly worked my way up with Marco and now he can last about 45-60 minutes on certain things. Examples would include sitting at Mass on Sundays, going to a movie, and on the more academic side, being able to sit through a math lesson. If after 20 minutes there comes whining and complaining, then I'm the first to say "let's take a break." But if after only 5 or 10 minutes there's whining, then I don't bend so easily.

It also seems to set a great example for Isabella, who is constantly asking to do "school" with Marco. It's fun to include her, but she still has a problem with following directions. I can't tell her to do something and then have me leave. I have to stay with her to guide her and direct her...which is a given, since she is only 3 years old. But I have always seen a big difference between her and Marco at this age. Maybe it's her personality or maybe it's that she's a girl, but is so more willing to please and listen.

Anyways, as the summer months approach, I will be making sure that Isabella gets some good seatwork along with big brother. I'm aiming to start with 1 hour total in 10-15 minute increments. I'm sure that by the end of the summer she'll be ready to jump into her own little "school" schedule and I know that she will be all the happier for it!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Our First History Project.

It's been fun as we've journeyed through the meaning of history with Marco. We just introduced the concept and we are working on the history of his life. Currently, we are working on a time line and have just chosen the pictures to depict the events that have been important (like birth, baptism, walking, etc.) and those events that he remembers (getting a certain toy for Christmas, sitting on Santa's lap, Easter, etc.). Children really are visual learners and this project is helping him grasp the concept of time.

Once we are done with our time line, we will move on to a larger time frame to really use as a comparison of how long he's live compared to other things. Hopefully he'll have as much fun doing that as he is with this! So far we've compiled some great things to put on our history poster board and we should be done with it within the next couple of weeks. Beginning with his life, we have made a map of places he's lived; a family tree along with a picture he drew of his family; a copy of his birth footprints compared to his current footprints; and of course, our time line.

I am not such a good planner for unit studies and happen to be one of those persons who has to have everything planned out, broken down into a schedule, and then I can do it. It takes me a while to get it all organized! But we are using History Links and it's giving me some great ideas and so far I am enjoying the program! I already started planning our prehistory unit and although the actual unit study does not include the study of dinosaurs, I'm going to incorporate them in a 2 week study. I'm excited about all the great stuff I'll be adding and I know that both Marco and Isabella are going to enjoy it!

Cheers to Being Back!

It's been quite some time since I updated this little part of the blogosphere.  New adventures, new trials, and new seasons in life.  I&...