Saturday, October 10, 2009

Educating Ourselves

The other day while at the library I ran into another homeschooling Mother. Our kids were in a science class last year at the community center and we have run into each other a few times at the park. We started talking about homeschooling and how we go about it. She is part of a charter school in the area and receives funds from the state because she is a member of this charter school. I asked her what being a member of the charter school entails. She explained that her kids have to take a standardized test at the end of the year and that she has a teacher/mentor that comes once a month or so to check on things and make sure they cover all the required subjects. She explained that the mentor doesn't really do a whole lot with her. Mostly just looks at the children's work and tells her that she is doing a good job.

I have often been tempted to join this same charter school so I too can receive a little extra money to pay for classes and activities for the kids. This mother explained that she uses her charter school money to pay for gymnastics and karate classes for her kids as well as the science club classes that we had originally met at. I am tempted by the money but then hate the idea of loosing some of my homeschooling freedom. I really like being in charge of choosing the subjects and they way those subjects are taught. I like the freedom of setting my own schedule and moving at the speed of my child rather than what someone else thinks my kids should be able to do. So for now I continue to fill out my private school affidavit and forgo the dangling carrot of money from the state. It has been really tempting lately because of the state of the economy and what it has meant to our family. We have decided it is better to tighten our belts rather than give up some of liberty.

That being said.... what have we been doing for school lately?

Sophie finished her Singapore Math 3A book recently and was so excited to start the next book that she did the first exercise the same day as doing the last review in the old one.
Ian has been doing a few file folder Math games rather than his Singapore Math book. Thanks Cellista for the links to the file folder games. I also had a file folder games book sitting on my shelf that I broke out and finally made the games. The kids sure have enjoyed them.

In our history studies, we have recently traveled to Canada with Henry Hudson and then visited so Samurai in Japan and this week celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the pilgrims at Plymouth. Story of the World is still our guide and we have enjoyed a few read alongs each week and a lot of coloring pages. Henry and Ian have even started to really enjoy coloring and actually finished the entire dover coloring book "The story of the Pilgrims" this week. One Story of the World chapter a week seems to be working out quite well so far. And we enjoy jumping around from country to country each week.

Science has been interesting. We have been reading a few different biographies of Marie Curie and Sophie even wrote a short report on her. The Mike Venezia biography has even been part of Sophie's night time reading of late. She loves this particular biography series.
We have also been trying to do experiments as much as we can. We have made chocolate dipped pretzels and discussed the states of matter and how heat and cold can alter the state of chocolates matter (a very fun experiment, one we all enjoyed and the kids have asked for us to do it again.) We have also made oceans in a bottle to see how oil and water do not make a solution.
Sophie has also decided she wants to have an animal of the month for us to study. She has always been an animal lover and even if we do other science she still wants to learn all she can about certain animals. She choose dolphins for October and we have been reading a number of books about dolphins and have started a dolphin lapbook to guide our studies and collect our findings.

Ian has been doing his explode the code rather reluctantly recently. He finished ETC book 1 and has started Book 1 1/2. It is a bit more difficult than the first book and he has to do more reading and thinking than before and it is stretching him a bit. But he is learning and reading more and more all the time. He has also been reading a few beginning readers to me as well.

Sophie hasn't been doing any formal grammar studies. I do feel sort of guilty about this. But she is writing reports in her other subjects so she is at least writing things. And she does practice her penmanship by copying some of her favorite poems. In our Latin lessons there is also some grammar covered as well. Learning how latin works is also helping us figure out how English works. Before we learn a new concept in Latin there is often a lesson in English grammar to show us how it works in English. So Latin is doing a lot of good for us.

We have been listening to Ginger Pye and reading the American Girl Rebecca books in the afternoons.

We have been spending time outside walking/riding around the block or playing at the park a lot. It has been nice fall weather and we have tried to enjoy it at much as we can.

The kids each have their activities and classes too. Sophie has really enjoyed her cooking class. They have made their own noodles and sauce, Pizza, a thai food dish and some different dips so far. She looks forward to it each week. Ian has had a month of Karate and has been showing off his new kicks and punches. Henry usually goes to "watch" since he isn't old enough for the class yet. He and Ian practice their moves on each other a bit too often however. Henry loves having soccer practice and this time Ian usually goes to "watch" and often partners up with Henry to practice kicking the ball to each other.
Sophie also has started her weekly activity days with church and has brought home a number of cute projects.

So we are very busy and tired by the end of each day. My husband and I usually end up falling asleep if we turn on a movie at night and often don't even bother to try. We just read a little and go to bed early so we can get up and do it all over again. It sure feels nice to know that we have been blessed so abundantly to have the opportunity to have these 4 beautiful children and the means in order to provide for their needs and education.


Jen said...

Interesting opportunity. The charter school in my area is a brick & mortar school, with similar hours to the public schools.

Bibliophile said...

It sounds like the children are getting interested in all sorts of things. The library must be a really good source for all the books they read. Good going!

Michal said...

we did join our charter school this year to try it out. so far, the only liberty that i've sacrificed is that they set the calendar-- but we only have to do one subject a day on the days they call school days, so that hasn't been hard even on days that we would normally take off. they have let me choose all my own curriculum and if it's not on their approved list (like prima latina) then i just buy it but it still "counts" as school. we are doing a wonderful legos engineering class that was prohibitively expensive otherwise and are about to start gymnastics. but i so understand wanting your freedom and autonomy--i value that immensely.

we are also leaning on latin to help our grammar along. between a writing curriculum, latin, and reading good literature, i am hoping that our grammar will be okay:)