Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Back to (Home) School 2012 - Where We School

For the first couple of years of homeschooling it all happened at the kitchen table. Four years ago we moved out to the country. There was a small out building on the property. Immediately I said I wanted to convert it to a school house. Instead we converted it to a chicken coop. We ended up doing school work in one of the extra bedrooms which was my scrapbook room/school room. It was perfect with just having Nico. Then Luca came along. It was always very distracting for Nico to have Luca running around the house and me trying to keep track of him. I once again got the idea of a school house. We often drove the out building place and one day I saw the perfect building! I stopped, looked at, discussed, and found out it was a repo and I could have it at a great price! I jumped on it. We had it delivered and my wonderful husband helped me by running electric from the house to the building, insulating, drywalling, and painting it for/with me. We absolutely LOVE it! Last year was the first year using it and our days went so much eaiser. Also dad works night shift so he can get some sleep in the house where it is quite while we get our school work done without worrying about waking him up.

This is our school house. I could sit out here for hours on end. It is so peaceful and comforting out here. We love having the space to keep all of our things out and all in one place. Often we can be found working on our lessons outside too.
As a wedding gift we received a school bell. The kids race out there to see who can ring it first in the morning.
This is Luca's desk. As you can see it has his alphabet chart and a nice work table where I can sit next to him and work with him. I love IKEA. We don't have one close to our house, but my friend took me with her on a trip to Ohio and we went shopping! My desk is from IKEA. I also absolutely love the wires hanging across the top of the room. I bought 4 of them while I was there to have on hand. This one holds Luca's pipe cleaner letters he makes.
 It also holds our timeline. This is the reading corner with a comfy futon. One the right wall is the daily schedule board. On this board I write briefly what the lessons are for the day. Nico can quickly see what is expected. Usually I let him decide the order of the day.
This corner holds our bookshelf full of goodies. This has readers and lot of reference material. The roller cabinet on the left holds science goodies, math flash cards, etc. The red hanging files on the right is the assignments for the boys. If there is a worksheet that needs to be completed that day it is in the appropriate subject slot. Nico also turns in his papers in one of the pockets if I am busy and can't check it right away.
 This is Nico's desk and the other half of the school house. It is heated with portable heaters as can be seen on the far left. Also my 'twirling teacher helper' is on top of it. I love to store papers in there. I found Nico's desk on Craigslist. I love it because he can keep all his books, binders, and notebooks handy in his desk. Another IKEA addition (above both boys desks) is the bar with the hanging cups. Love these for pencils, glue, etc. All those little things that you tend to lose elsewhere. We also have our bulletin board with current subjects posters on it. Our world map and another desk and bookcase. I have a printer on the desk now to use as a copier. (It gets old when I have to keep running in the house to make copies)
Here is our room looking in from the front door. I love my big white board (shower board actually). I also strung another IKEA wire across the front. We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our space. It is only 100 feet from the house. The only thing missing is a bathroom but that's okay. It gives us a break to walk into the house. We usually grab a snack at that time.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our school space. Nico is working on making a sign for the front.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back To Homeschool 2012 -Planning Our Day

I totally enjoy planning our days. Sometimes they don't go quite as planned, but that is one of the joys of homeschooling, FLEXIBILITY.

I have always used a lesosn planner that you write in. Last year I tried an online planner. This year I am switching back to the pencil and paper planner. I enjoy it and for me, it is a lot easier to make changes. I also like to sit with all my materials and write up our days.

This year I am have a 5th/6th grader and a K. I am looking forward to a fun filled year! I am working on getting Nico to be more focused on working by himself once I get him going.

I am not a morning person (I work night shifts, Sat, Sun, Mon, and every other Tues 6pm-6am). I HATE alarm clocks, but this is the one time I will use it. Neither of my boys are morning people either. They will sleep until 9 if I let them. I like getting started by 9am as we like to be finished by 1pm! So it is get up at 7:30am for mom. This gives me time to drink my coffee and start breakfast. The boys get up at 8am. We then have an hour to eat, chat, and the boys can play a bit before starting school at 9am. My husband also works nights, so we catch the scoop on his work night too.

We have 8 subjects to cover this year. Nico's favorites are science and history. These classes tend to take a lot of time. In the past we find ourselves rushed to get them done, we skip parts of them, or push them back and back and back. This year I am going to an A/B schedule. We will be doing 4 lessons every other day. This is going to help so much with science and Luca's history. In the public school these classes count as 1.75 hours, so I will do the same. Nico will be able to work comfortably on his science experiments without me telling him, "Hurry, we need to move on!"

My biggest concern is the days we have school after I work. Last year Monday we had a Co-Op so that covered 2 hours. Every other week we would skip Tuesday. I was just too tired. I can't do that this year or we won't get our hours in to take off the summer. My 'plan' is to have Monday be review days and this year we have a fine arts Co-Op on Tuesday. I am super excited about this as Luca will have drama, music, and art. While he is in class I will work with Luca. Then Nico will have art and I can work with Luca.

So these best laid plans look great on paper don't they? Here's hoping they are great in real life!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Back to Homeschool 2012 - Curriculum

I have SO much fun looking at curriculums and trying to decide what would work for my kids. Nico is now 10 and Luca is starting K. I am using some of the same things I used with Nico for Luca, but also changing some up - not because I didn't like what I used, but because I found something new that looks really great. I know, I know...I just spent more money...but that's okay..it's my children's education here!

Nico 5th/6ht grade
Continuing with MUS (MathUSee)
Finishing up History Odyssey Modern Times
Real Science 4 Kids Biolgoy, then Beautiful Feet History of Science (using Literature and lots of experiments!)
A new writing/grammar program that is DVD, Essentials in Writing, based with someone else instructing and PDF files to print off. Plus adding sentence diagramming.
Handwriting/Typing/Spelling using Pentime/Type to Learn 4/All About Spelling
Geography using Winter Promise Children of the World - includes art and cooking
Reading will consist of Wordly Wise/Reading Comprehension/Critical Thinking
Health we are finishing up from last year WinterPromise Health and Forensics.

Luca  - Kindergarten
Reading - All About Reading and Explode the Code
Science - Core Knowledge K. I also have a Harcourt Science for K that I got for free I will use both of these probably parts from each
History - I am super excited about this one!!!  WinterPromise Hideaways in History (for Nico is strictly used Core Knowledge K for Kindergarten history, but I couldn't pass up the fun hideaways in this one and Nico can help too!)
Geography will be with Nico in Children Around the World
Language - Wordly Wise K
Handwriting - HWT

It looks like a crazy schedule but I am trying something new this year. Many public schools in our area use an A/B schedule, taking each class every other day. So instead of 8 subjects in one day they have 4 for longer time. I think this will work great for us. We like to finish our work up by 1pm. If I am crunching in 8 subjects each day we are flying through material to try to do this or we are there until 4pm--ick! Classes like history and science take longer for us as it is Nico's favorite. I want to let him have time to enjoy his experiments and projects and complete them. He will also have that extra day to complete things if he finishes other assignments early the next day.

I am also trying to get Nico to be more independent. In this way having just 4 subjects each day I am hoping it will not seem so overbearing to him and he will be more willing to work by himself. Geography will be completed together and Spanish is going to be a class taken by another instructor in her home. We all get to take Spanish. I am also trying to work it where I can 'teach' Nico and then he can complete his assignment while I work with Luca. Hopefully Luca will be able, as the year progresses, be able to focus and work on assignments by himself as well (as in completing a worksheet or project).

I am looking forward to making this a very fun year for the boys and building their love of learning. I am also hoping to squeeze in some mini trips to go along with our history. I always love a traveling lesson!

Looking foward to the hop and seeing other curriculums being used.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Back to HomeSchool - 2012

Welcome to My Angels Academy

From day 1 I knew what I was naming my homeschool. My 3 boys are definitely my angels. They are a true blessing for me...mom to 3 adoptive boys. Academy made it sound pretty high class.

My oldest son, Brian, is 20 and is out of school. I homeschooled him for a very short time. I wish I would have fought harder to pull him out but that's another story. He ended up finishing his schooling through an online school. He has many struggles as he has Congenital Myasthenia (which is a whole other blog). He is a fighter and always was. I just wish as an adult he would start fighting like he did when he was a child.
My second son, Nico, is 10. He is adopted from Guatemala. I adopted him as a single mom in 2003. He is such a charming young man. He is a major light in my world. He is loving, caring, funny, very type A personality, smart, and just a person everyone loves to be around. Nico is a right brained learner. I finally figured that out this year. After learning that and reading up on it the changes I made in our lessons made a major impact on him. He has always had a love of learning. From little on he watch Discovery and History Channel over cartoons. He still does! His future goal is to be a veterinarian. This summer he spent a week at camp that has a Jr. Vet program. He loved being with the animals! Nico loves hip hop dance and was on his first competitive team this year. Nico is doing 5th and 6th grade work this year.

Then there is Luca, the baby, at 5 years old. He is so different than Nico. Luca is also adopted from Guatemala. He came home in 2008 at 14 months old. He is a firecracker! He definitely keeps me on my toes. He has a super funny side and if he were in public school would be pegged the class clown and probably the trouble maker. To me he is all boy and I love it. He is very loving and adores his big brothers. He does not particulary like school but cooperates well. He seems to have some issues remembering things so we do a lot of repitition. He is starting in on K work this year. Luca also loves dance and soccer. He is trying a wrestling camp this week.

My goal this year is to really make school fun! Nico tells me alot that school should be more fun. This year Nico will be doing more independent work that involves more hands on activities. I am going to be striving for him to be more involved in his learning. I will have to be working more one on one with Luca as Luca cannot do many of his lessons all on his own as Nico can. Sometimes this causes issues as Nico feels he is being left out. I am going to do my best to make sure he realizes I am there for him and will help him, but he will need to do more on his own. I love reading the lesson chapters with him and then having him do the assignments or lab work. This year I am throwing in some DVD guided learning where he listens to someone else teach and then completes the lessons. Nico will also be helping in some of Luca's learning as I have a really fun History curriculum for Luca that Nico will love as well.

I will leave the curriculum discussion for the next postings. We will be starting school officially August 14 (although we have been doing math and reading 3 days a week all summer). I am looking forward to mixing things up! More to come.....

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dance Videos

I finally uploaded the boys dance videos to YouTube. Nico's video is taken from the recital put on at the end of the year. This is Nico's competitive team. Nico is 10. He is the little guy on the far right (usually found on his head :-)

Luca's video is from dress rehearsal. He did great at recital too. I think he is even cuter in the recital video. He loves being on stage! Luca is looking forward to competitive dance in a couple of years. Luca is 5.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Promise To Do Better

There, I said it! I promise to do better this year keeping up with my blog! The time just escapes me and the next thing I know it is the end of the month. Here we are half way through the year already. We are taking a break from school this summer---I should say 'formally taking a break' as there is never a break from learning. We are sticking with math worksheets, games, and reading each week but not on such a strict schedule.

Nico just had a great week at his first away from home summer camp. Oh my, was I one scared mama to walk away from the camp leaving my 10 year old with COMPLETE strangers and two hours and 10 minutes from home. I did survive the week, mainly because the camp, Bear River Ranch - Cub Creek Science Camp, posted pictures daily of the kids. Let me tell you, I was a photo stalker! Here are a couple.
Skit Night


There weren't as many photos posted as I would have taken, but anything was better than nothing. The whole camp is science based - oops, did I say we were taking a break - every day is a learning adventure even without camp. They have a Jr. Vet program, Adopt a Pet for the Week, and then many classes each day he was able to sign up for. He adopted an Artic Fox and got to spend time every day with her, feeding her, playing with her, and learning about her. There are over 100 domestic and exoctic animals at the camp which they were able to encounter during the week. It was a miserably hot week, up to 109F, one day, but those kids pushed on. They did have air conditioned cabins and eating hall. There was also a pool and lots of cold water to drink. The heat didn't seem to bother them at all. I am so glad Nico had this opportunity to go out and be a 10 year old. He is always such a 'daddy' to Luca that he needed this time to not worry about anything but himself. (I did bring my camera on pick up day and took photos as he showed us around the camp).

Now in another week he gets to go to Huntsville, AL with Mike over the weeekend for jet camp. Ooops, more learning,,,,darn, we must stop that :-)

Luca was able to get mom and dad's undivided attention while Nico was gone and he loved it! He missed his brother terribly, but we had some good fun and quality time together.

I have started planning out our school year, starting on August 14. I am excited about it, the classes and curriculums I found, and the new idea of a schedule change. (more on all that later!)

Other fun things happening this summer: a sleep over at the St. Louis Zoo, A keeper for a Day for Nico, wrestling camp (2 hours a night for a week) for Luca, and Luca will be in the play 101 Dalmations. This promises to continue to be a fun filled (learning) summer! sssshhhh, don't tell the boys ;-)