Thursday, 25 October 2007

SOTW Vol 1

DD1 (4 yo)DS1(5 yo)

Finally I have ink for my scanner. It may not be the flashest or fastest but it will do me fine for the timebeing. I'm just glad I can start displaying some of the kids work at long last. Taking photos is all very well and good, but capturing their art or writing proves pointless with a camera [in our circumstances at least]. Perhaps I need lessons in using a camera, do you think!! You're probably right.

So neat, here we are starting with Story of the World Volume 1. Although we started SOTW back in February/March, we've decided to start again. No particular reason other than we left History for a bit and mum feels we all need to start afresh.

I'm sure lots of families will recognise this page from the Activity Book. Both DS1 and DD1 spent time this morning colouring in their pages. DS1 added a picture of himself wearing a stripped shirt if you're wondering what the figure represents to the right.

The weather has been so beautiful today, the children have spent most of it outdoors. The latest thrill is riding their bikes down the 'dirt hill'. Even DS2 starts halfway up and with a gleeful squeal rides down like a champion. Nothing beats seeing the grin on their faces. The thrill of racing down the hill. Gorgeous!

Considering we had a full-on afternoon with MUS yesterday, it was nice to have a day of PE with a dash of History thrown in. We also get to watch the neighbours house being rebuilt. The large transport truck left our backyard today and the men placed some of the roofing back on. The children's father gets to replace the whole roof and do the plumbing, so the kids will have lots of weekend lessons ahead of them. Now, what subject(s) will that come under? lol

I'm still working on a "timetable" for our lessons. Whatever I think I have planned soon changes. I guess that's the beauty of home schooling, things are allowed to be flexible. I tell you what though, I have really enjoyed using MUS this week. I'm not having to come up with lessons myself. It has me teetering on the fence again about whether to try a boxed curriculum or not for the other subjects. As much as I don't need to be in a hurry about these things, I feel compelled that it is worth a try just to save my sanity. Let's face it, baby no. 5 is due early December and my hands are already tied when it comes to schooling DS1 and DD1, but then I have to watch our beautiful DS2 "minding" his little sister as she embarks on her next milestone of trying to stand etc. DS2 is quick to grab things out of her hand because he thinks they're too dangerous, or the way he 'demands' to feed her with a bottle because he thinks she needs to drink it! With all that going on, I'm doubting my abilities to think of what to do; school-wise that is. Hmm, well I'm just thinking out loud at this stage but for myself, anything to make life easier is my motto.

Thanks for dropping by
Ka kite ano

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

MUS has arrived

I can remember a few months ago when my girlfriend rang to share her excitement on receiving their Sonlight box and then to open the box to find their new books.

Well, here I found myself this morning feeling very excited when the children called out to me that the "mail carrier" (too much American television influence! ... I don't mind, I kinda like it to our "postie" reference) was coming down to the house. Oooh the excitement. I could hardly wait to open it up. The funny thing being that my dislike/fear of Maths was put aside at this moment simply because I believe this program will work for us.

Suddenly I felt as though the MUS program confirmed we're truly homeschooling! Boy, does that give you a fright. Then again, it gives you that excited feeling of "yes, I'm glad I chose to homeschool".

Now, okay, I realise I'm bound to spend money on something that won't work for us, and perhaps this won't ... but consider this ... Daddy spent 10-15 minutes with the kids this evening while I put DD2 to bed. When I came into their room I heard our 4 year old DD correctly answer her father. Daddy was quick to announce that DD2 had really grasped it. Then I heard DS1 correctly answer his question and I immediately felt happy with the purchase.

How do I know it's a good thing?
  1. As the children help their father put everything away, I could tell Daddy was pleased with the purchase because he tells the kids ... "I'll make sure I get home as early as I can tomorrow so we can do some more, okay?"
  2. DS1 tells me "I think I'll use them (the manipulatives) with my math tomorrow, mum!" "Yes," I said "that would be a great idea!"
  3. DD1 didn't want to go to sleep ... she wanted to keep learning.
So, what's mum doing this evening? Trying to get her head around the Teacher Manual so she can give it a good shot with the kids in the morning!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Monday, 15 October 2007

Waiting for MUS

I mentioned in my last post that I had ordered Math-U-See. Primer and Alpha to begin with - and manipulatives of course. A few weeks back I ordered the free DVD from LearnEx. The weekend before last I managed to get Dad to sit down and watch it with me. I consider myself hopeless at Math and if there's one subject I wish the children to do well in, it's Math. Although Math is Dad's strong point, it is by far my weakest.

Yes, it's early days with DS1 so at the moment we cover the basics of addition and subtraction with a dash of multiplication and division thrown in. Rather than wait any longer I feel the need to introduce our first real textbook. The sooner we try it, the better the chances it will gel with him ... and DD1 ... and possibly most importantly, it may gel with me! If I can discover a way to improve my own Math understanding then whether the program works for DS1 or not, at least I may have educated myself.

How did one fund this purchase? Thanks to my efforts of selling books on Trade Me is how. Because I'm not likely to receive my first homeschool funding till mid-2008 there was little chance I would wait that long to buy something. Granted it was slightly premature when I did purchase because I hadn't really paid enough on my Mastercard, but I've still got a few books to sell so I calculate it was best to purchase now as opposed to wait 6 weeks when school would just about be finished for the year when I'm likely to have saved up enough.

The decision to purchase a Math program was already in my mind because I knew I would require something to assist my teaching as well as a program that I felt would actually 'teach' me. As I sat viewing the DVD I thought MUS could actually do the latter. I continued to watch, and waited for Dad to share his thoughts.

Let's just cut to the chase - Dad felt it would benefit the kids. So basically, on his decision, I placed the order last Monday. I'm looking forward to receiving it and hopefully I'll place a posting at some stage to say "yah, it was the right choice". Sure hope so. I'm used to reading varying opinions of so many programs and although many people highly recommend it, there's equally as many who say it was a waste of money and their kids didn't like it one bit. For me, all I can do is cross my fingers and hope it gets the thumbs up.

Other than that, I'm truly buzzing over DS1's reading. He's really excelled by his own efforts with reading. I doubt he considers it as part of schoolwork really because we can read at all sorts of times during the day and night.

His handwriting/copywork is fine, improving all the time.

The plan for this week is to get into SOTW1 more and First Language Lessons. The latter starts off with discussing nouns. What did Maree choose to discuss the other day? Verbs! Oh well, it's all grammar huh?! It's pretty neat to ask "what kind of word is (running)?" for example. To hear your child say, "it's a verb ... a doing word", that's pretty awesome indeed! Isn't homeschooling fun?!

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Friday, 12 October 2007

Generating conversation within Catholic group

Well, it's not been easy, but I'm trying to generate movement within our group. I threw a website across for daily saints names but that wasn't much of a hit. Then I tried asking if anyone had specific morning prayers they use before school. As I expected, it was Turina who gave me a good link and I found the following prayer. It immediately took me back to my school days. I can remember saying this one at Sacred Heart College, Lower Hutt amongst other schools so it I figured we could start using it.


O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you all my prayers, works,
and suffering of this day:
for all the intentions of your Sacred heart,
in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for all my sins,
for the intentions of all our associates,
and in particular,
for the intention of our Holy Father,

I may not have generated much conversation, but thanks anyway Turina. At least I have a good website to use.

Well, I'll just have to put my thinking cap on to encourage the group to discuss and share whatever they like. It just baffles me though. I'm on other lists and these shorts of things get thrown out there and everyone participates. I try it with our group and it falls like a lead balloon. Oh well, c'est la vie. I'll keep thinking of things and give them a try eh!?

Considering Lorna put the question to the group whether to continue or not, those that did respond said they still want it to continue. Kinda strange when nobody really wants to "utilise" the group. Me, I'd love to know their thoughts of Math-U-See because I just ordered it for the kids. I'd like to ask what handwriting programs they use, if any. How do most members structure their day? I mean, these are common questions on all the other Yahoo groups but I'd like to know what our Kiwi women do.

Never mind, I am determined to figure out a timetable for DS1 and hope it works. Plus, I've GOT to get organised and start drafting the exemption. Before I know it, February 08 will be here and I'll be left panicking.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Socialisation, male figures and the dilemma of figuring out our curriculum

Having the neighbours so "close" has good and bad moments. We won't focus on the bad, but rather let's think about the good shall we?

One of the great things about having closer neighbours is the fact that the children have more adults to converse with. Not only that but they are exposed to other children; for example their grand-nieces and nephews this weekend. Plus, just watching the excavations and building work going on as we watch the development of T&A's property. The children grew up with Daddy building so it's nothing too new, but at least it's in our own back yard to watch the development.
I particularly enjoyed when DS1 had some paper, pencil, hard hat, tape measure etc and "drew the plans" for their own "house". Having watched Daddy on numerous occasions working on other people's house or shed plans, it's amazing what important details he has picked up.

DS1 and DD1 really show their care of others and are a privilege to watch with the other kids. They really know how to share and encourage the visitors to play with what they have, never grumbling that "so-and-so won't get off my such-and-sucha".

Today Daddy brought out the go-kart (much to my grumbling because I knew it would wake the baby ... and sure enough, mother is right!) Our children encouraged the others to have a try and one by one the other children had a try and although our children haven't been on their go-kart in months, they were quite happy to let the others play and enjoy watching.

DS2 was thrilled because Daddy took the trainer wheels off his wee bike. As one would expect he had a number of tumbles, but considering he doesn't turn three till the end of November, he's made a brave accomplishment. Over the past week/fortnight, I have noticed an improvement both in his speed and ability on his bike, so I suggested we give him a go without the trainers. (Naturally, mother volunteers father to do this! I just sit back acting as cheerleader and photographer.)

DS2 gets plenty of tool training with Daddy and his Uncle. He's definitely our hands-on, outside boy. DS1 is the academic while DS2 is the tinker-kid. Although this photo doesn't show it ---> DS2 was in there with the tools the bulk of the time. It was only when his Uncle started explaining a few things he lost interest and disappeared from the shot!

Since Daddy ceased self-employment and returned to his trade, we have all grown accustomed to him being home for the weekend. The past fortnight reminded us just how much we value the fact he no longer works for himself ... while his boss has enjoyed a 10 day break in Australia, Daddy has had to do call-outs. Today is the last day he has to be on-call, and I do SOOOO hope he doesn't get any phone calls!!!! Nobody could appreciate more than myself having him home on a weekend, especially as baby no. 5 approaches. It is nice having him available to do some school work on the weekends I have to admit.

Catholic Yahoo Group
Our Catholic group has finally started to generate some conversation which is great. There's been a number of books mentioned in the latest conversation which I now find I'm interested in ... they'll just have to get thrown onto the Wishlist at this stage, but gosh, I'm glad to have the Kiwi groups. It's nice having information and ideas from the (mainly) USA Yahoo groups I'm on, but it's much nicer reading discussions relevant to New Zealand. Considering it was stagnant for a long time and the question was thrown out there to the group whether to continue or not, I'm very pleased it's still going!

Considering we're into the final term for the year, one of my main priorities will have to be drafting the exemption at some stage. In order to start with that we first need to figure out what programs we intend using for certain subjects. Let's see, for History we'll probably continue to use Story of the World, Geography we use everything around us ... maps of the world, maps of Rotorua, daily weather reports, that sort of thing. Reading is anything from the library and whatever tickles my fancy on the internet. Handwriting we haven't followed anything at all, we simply practice writing fullstop. For maths I chose to take the easy way out and basically leave that up to Daddy. That was kinda okay to do it that way, but I am about to commit myself to a math program. Which one, I don't know. I sent away for the Math-U-See DVD from LearnEx and while we had a little break today I had Daddy watch as much of it as possible (ie time and children permitting). Math and I don't get along, so I don't want to purchase something if Daddy thinks it was a waste of money. No matter what group you belong to, everyone has such a varying opinion of any program, so one must always make the best decision possible at the time, knowing in the back of your mind it may or may not work with your child/ren. The scary thing about purchasing any program is the fear you're wasting money! That's where the likes of TradeMe is fantastic.

I think the kids are fortunate to know about this method of trade. I've spoken about bartering before, but TradeMe really is the ticket to comprehending transactions. For homeschooling items, Harvest is just as efficient.

Over the past fortnight I've managed to sell a few things, enough to catch up on my visa anyway. So if I play my cards right, I should be able to gather up enough to purchase a program or two (fingers crossed).

Today's been a beautiful day and it's now 5.30pm. We've been lucky enough that Daddy didn't get called out to any jobs so it's been a wonderful, family day.

To finish my post off, I'm really glad the momentum has returned for homeschooling. I just hope I manage to keep it going to the end of term and finally feel like I'm achieving something instead of feeling around in the dark which is how the year has been for me.

Thanks for dropping by
ka kite ano