Friday, January 28, 2011

Time4Learning: 2 Weeks

We have now used Time4Learning for a full two week period.  I am still in love with it. 

Yesterday, Haydn was using his "playground" time and called me to look at something.  The game involved picking out literary devices in poems.  The fact that he was willingly doing anything with poetry astounded me.  What he wanted me to see was that the poem was about an owl, the same owl poem on a canvas I have hanging on the wall (my friend, Mandy, painted it for me).  He was so excited.  I was excited to see him excited. It was a good moment.

I am mostly using T4L for his Math, Science and Social Studies.  He does some Language Arts on there, but I do a lot of that myself.  Being a writer and a reader, I love doing those activities with him.  But I also love knowing I can have him run through a lesson on there, if we have a packed day and I cannot stop to sit at the table with him as often.  I also love the student reports and lesson plans found on the Time4Learning website.  That allows me to see how he is doing, where he is struggling, etc...  

The parent forum on Time4Learning is wonderful.  I can ask questions and find people in my area who also use T4L.  Other parents share ideas for helping lessons really sink in and for how to organize your child's time doing the lessons.  It is a wonderful resource.

We have two more weeks of our free trial.  Then, I plan to pay for a membership for the rest of this semester. It is a great way to ease into homeschooling.  Also, looking at curriculum has shown me what a great deal the monthly T4L price is.  At $20 per month, that would be $180 for a 9-month semester (and they offer deals for paying in advance, so it really isn't even that much), it is cheaper than any of the curriculum sets I have looked at.  I would be paying that much for one or two subjects elsewhere.  

I will post about it again at the end of the trial month.

Friday Felicities - 1/28/11

Friday Felicities

Lots of birthday happies this week
Owls galore
Haydn getting excited over a POEM
Haydn knowing a word I taught him
The cats sitting with Haydn while he does schoolwork
David getting a card from his teacher
David's hugs
My son made me cupcakes and a card.
Knowing my XPS may be home soon
The youth singing me happy birthday
2 hours alone at a bookstore
Ordering my Kindle and a cover
Finding the perfect bday card for Ashley


Monday, January 24, 2011

I Cannot Do Any Of These Things

My friend, Aimee, gave me a great activity for helping Haydn with his reading comprehension.  Rather than wait to make copies of the papers she has, I wrote a few of my own and tried it out this morning.  He liked it.  I write a paragraph or a few paragraphs and put questions after.  Instead of just having him read and answer those questions, however, I have him read the questions first.  Then we read the story and highlight the answers we find.  When we have found all of the answers, we re-read the story all of the way through. Sometimes, I print two copies and we see if he can find the answers before me. The first paragraph I wrote was about a little boy watching a tornado, so that caught his attention instantly.

His energy level is through the roof today, but it is dreary outside and I am exhausted.  Not a good combination. Still, we persevere.  We read a chapter from a Wishbone book (Romeo & Juliet) and made a list in our journals (he likes lists). He did Math, Science and Social Studies on Time4Learning, and he is improving.  I set his grade level back to 2nd grade for math, for a while.  I think he needs to refresh some of his skills before moving on.  This is the beauty of Time4Learning.  I can change his grade level at any time.  There are no other students he needs to keep up with.  And, when I see what concepts he is struggling with, I can come up with activities to help him learn those lessons.

We did break for an episode of America's Funniest Home Videos.  He needed to laugh.  Getting him to laugh often releases some of the tension that builds up during the day.  He gets so frustrated with himself over every little mistake. While he did Time4Learning, I was able to do my reading for today (I'm in Genesis and Romans) and then he ate lunch.  Now he is playing outside for a while.  I hope he will be ready to settle down and read after noon.

It is my birth week.  I turn 29 on Thursday.  I feel like I just turned 16. LOL!  Hard to believe I am entering my last year as a twenty-something. Friends have given me owls and books and Amazon gift cards, and it is not even the 27th yet.  I am feeling very spoiled.  I love feeling very spoiled.

The readings in Romans this week have been good reminders.  I cannot do any of this.  God can.  The sooner I let Him have His way, the sooner things can start working as they should. I cannot fix the situation that keeps my husband from communicating with and spending time with his daughter.  I cannot change Haydn's attitude. I am not capable of controlling the depression that would like to rear its ugly head sometimes.  I can't make my friend's husband quit being the world's biggest jerk and see the beautiful treasure he has in her. I can't change the path of the tornado or make it disappear into thin air. I cannot do any of these things.  

But God can.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Be Afraid, But Do Not Be Afraid

Can you imagine
a tear in the sky -
ragged unsewn edges
of the blue
and the clouds?

I'm not telling you
to picture an open door,
like that dove was released -
tame -
from His cage.
There is no taming -
no training -
the Spirit.

I am asking you to picture
the shocking ripping shredding sound
when the very atmosphere that holds
our planet
is torn apart,
so that God can come down.

Be afraid,
but do not be afraid,
when it comes time to let your soul
be ripped open
like that sky.
Be afraid, because nothing
will ever EVER be the same,
but do not be afraid, because
nothing at all,
will ever EVER
be the same.


Friday, January 21, 2011

The Sky is Wrong

Homeschooling has renewed my passion for blogging.  I am overflowing with ideas and theories and I need somewhere to share them.  

The hardest part of teaching Haydn is this: Haydn already knows everything.  I know, I know.  Hard to believe, but at 8 years old, he knows every last thing in the world, and there is simply nothing else that could be worth his time.  I might be exaggerating just the tiniest bit. But, most days, I am not.  You see, Haydn latches onto a theory and decides it is fact.  Then, no matter what evidence to the contrary is presented, he will stick to his belief in that new "fact."  If he decides that jumping on one foot in the snow will cause the snow to stop falling, then it will.  And, if he goes outside, jumps on one foot in the snow, and the snow has the gall to continue falling from the sky, well, he is still not wrong.  The blasted SKY is wrong.  If you want a taste of homeschooling Haydn, invite in the next Jehovah's Witness who knocks on your door and actually talk to them.  Try to teach them about YOUR faith and see what happens.  The result: Homeschooling Haydn.

((I actually did this, last week, remind me to blog that conversation.  It was... interesting.))

(((Do not send me nasty emails. I have nothing against Jehovah's Witnesses.  My grandmother WAS a Jehovah's Witness.)))

It was a week of learning for both Haydn and me.  I learned that, no, I cannot trust him to do his Time4Learning without careful monitoring of each activity.  He was clicking through the lessons without reading and then failing the quizzes.  What he did not realize, was I have access to his work.  When he told me he had completed ALL of his lessons for the day, a mere 30 minutes after he began them, I was suspicious (understatement) and logged on to check.  I quickly figured it out and put him back to work.  He had to read an entire lesson out loud to me to prove he was reading it.  Now, I check on him frequently, and he knows I can see what he is up to, so it is going well again.

Today, I instituted Fun Friday.  I know, not very original, but we needed something to look forward to, and a little break in the daily routine.  Fridays will be less Time4Learning and no copy work, but we will still do our reading and journal writing.  Also, we will try to find a movie that fits something we are learning about (today, to go along with our Shakespeare unit, we watched Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss) and we will have art.  Some weeks, this will be a field trip day. 

So far, the most used and beneficial resources for our homeschool are:


Friday Felicities - 1/21/11

Friday Felicities

Schools are open today.
Corey had a night at home, last night.
The boys' new love of Cracker Jacks.
"How He Loves" at church, Sunday.
Reading with Haydn.
The Instagram app on my iPod.
Both boys registered for baseball.
Knowing I can sleep later than 6 tomorrow.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Time 4 Adjusting

Haydn is taking a break to watch America's Funniest Home Videos.  It is his newest obsession.  At least it puts him in a good mood.  One episode and then we have a chapter from The Silver Chair to read. We talked about the Bubonic Plague as we read about Shakespeare, this morning.  That was... fun?  He took a quiz on the first 3 chapters of The Silver Chair, and he aced it.

He did some geometry and also learned a lot about Vikings, doing his Time4Learning today.  I spent some time in the Parents' Forum reading some tips for making the most of their program.  I calculated how many lessons he will need to do to complete all of the 3rd grade activities.  I dropped him back to third grade until we get the hang of this.  However, having done half of a year already, in public school, I don't see that he will need to complete every 3rd grade lesson.  We shall see.  In the end, it really doesn't matter, because he can do third grade until he gets it.  No "being held back," like in public school.  I like that.  

He loves the "playground" on Time4Learning.  Right now, I have it set to 15 minutes of lesson time = 15 minutes on the playground.  Next week, I plan to change that to 20/15 and eventually work him up to 30/15.  But, for now, I am okay with whatever works. 

We did some handwriting practice on a small dry erase board.  He likes that much better, but I still need to work on his writing on actual paper.  Small steps.  Itty bitty baby steps, right Nattie-Pie?

No school yesterday.  Haydn and I went to the mall to replace his glasses.  He lost them at school.  Much less chance of that happening, now.  *wink*  However, I have got to keep him from randomly removing them and playing with them.  Another thing that is just going to take time, I suppose.  

While at the mall, I signed up for the educator's discount at B&N.  It was a 25% off day, so I picked up the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book to complete Haydn's collection and got David the first of the Warriors graphic novel series.  I have started allowing them to read in bed from 7:30 until 8 at night.  I am hoping this will make for an easier nighttime routine. We shall see. I also picked up a pretty neat art book we will use for art lessons during the week.

Well, the native is getting restless.  Time to read!

Monday, January 17, 2011

It's Time For Learning... at Home.

Friday was our first day using Time4Learning.  I love that Haydn worked on his science assignments, without complaint, and even took the quiz on his own and bragged about only missing one question.  This is, by the way, 4th grade curriculum.  I think we are finished with 3rd grade, though I may have to lower his grade level for math.  We'll see.  

I like that Time4Learning takes some of the tension out of our homeschool.  We are so new to this, and he is not used to learning from me all day anymore than I am used to being in charge of his education.  This program helps me feel confident that he is getting all of his core subjects covered, as we adapt to the new situation.  I believe it can be used alone, but I am doing my own lessons as well.

For instance, we are still studying Shakespeare, in preparation for going to see Gnomeo and Juliet. We are reading from The Silver Chair each day and taking quizzes on that. He is required to do 15 minutes of independent reading each day.  I will lengthen this once he gets used to doing it.  We are working on a cat lapbook, because I really want to strengthen his fine motor skills (cutting along the lines is helping with that).  He also writes definitions for two vocabulary words and does some other form of handwriting practice each day.  We will keep with this until I am satisfied that he CAN write well.  Then, I will introduce typing lessons.

I also plan to add a Bible curriculum.  We already read a devotion together in the mornings, along with his younger brother, but I want to teach him more.  One perk of homeschool is that I CAN use religion in my classroom.  *wink*

All in all, I think we are doing pretty well.  He even used a new word in conversation this week, and then he grinned at me and said, "I learned that word."  At that moment, I felt Christ's peace descend.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Felicities - 1/14/11

Friday Felicities

Haydn using new words, properly
Finding something Haydn LIKES to do, handwriting-wise
Library time
Spiritual symbolism in The Silver Chair
Ice cream pie
Corey liking the pizza soup I made this week
David excitedly writing words for his storyboard
Cuddle time with my boys during America's Funniest Home Videos


Thursday, January 13, 2011

What Does Snow Mean to You?

We are still looking for a curriculum that fits my needs and Haydn's.  Something that uses the computer a lot will be ideal, as he loves the computer and concentrates best when using it.  However, I need to really work on handwriting with him.  I don't expect perfection, but he does need to learn to put spaces between words and to keep the words within the lines of the paper.  So we are copying definitions a lot right now.  Mostly, he cries while writing.  Big fat tears.  And he repeats, "I hate my writing," over and over.  This is meant to get a reaction from me.  All it gets is this reply," I know you hate your writing. That is why we are working to make it better."  Eventually, he will get it, and we will pull out some of these old assignments and compare.  He will be very proud of himself. And, honestly, I will be very proud of myself too.  

We are still journaling each morning and reading a chapter from a biography.  Right now, we are on Shakespeare.  Haydn is reading a book about Jackie O for his independent reading time (at least 15 minutes per day).  He chose the book.  I am not sure what drew him to that lovely first lady, but he does have good taste. 

His journal topic this morning was snow. However, we have got to work on brainstorming and creative thinking.  Haydn's journal entries consist of only facts.  He told me that all he had to say about snow is. "It's white."  It is hard for me to grasp this type of logical/precise thinking.  For me, the word snow summons not facts, but images.  I see my sweet black kittens walking gingerly across the white powder.  I see David's red cheeks as he laughs and throws a snow ball.  I see the giant heart I made by walking through a clean patch in the backyard.  The word summons memories as well.  It snowed on my 5th birthday, when we lived in the trailer park in SC.  Bo and I tried to make a snowman out of the pitiful dirty ice-stuff.  It also snowed the week I turned 18.  I remember posing for pictures with Jenny and Joanne when I drove them home from school. 

Is it possible to trigger this kind of thought process in Haydn's brain?  Is this a hopeless lesson?

Well, I have a shelf to put together for the play room.  I also need to do some laundry and run the dishwasher.  I promised Haydn some time to play math games on my laptop, so I need to finish up on here so it is free for him.  He is reading about Jackie O, right now, but he will be finished soon.

Everyday is an adventure.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Poem: The African Mother

The African Mother
sings her song
over me.

The African Mother
sits in the desert
under her tree
and then she sings her song
over me.

The African Mother 
is God Herself,
and She waits underneath
that tree
to sing a blessing song
over you and
over me.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Friday (Saturday) Felicities

So, yea... it is Saturday.  With no school on Monday, yesterday felt like Thursday, and I forgot to post the Felicities.  So, a day late, here we go...

Friday Felicities

Haydn's room being clean
Reading a Narnia book with one of my boys
Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien
Watching Parenthood in bed
Butcher paper to make a timeline on my wall


Friday, January 7, 2011

1234, Get Your Blog On The Floor

1. I am wearing a Toy Story Bandaid on the middle finger of my left hand. Why? Because I slit the skin on that finger... opening a Diet Coke.  Actually, I regularly slit the skin on this finger from opening my Diet Cokes.  Sometimes, it is a bad enough cut that it is tender to the touch and requires a Bandaid until it heals (and I manage to slit it open again).  Does a Diet Coke injury qualify me for worker's comp?  I mean, doesn't Diet Coke count as one of the hazards of Motherhood?  Isn't it a given?

2. I name my gadgets.  I love gadgets.  I had to acknowledge that, this past year, when I began desperately wanting my own eReader, after months of explaining why I am a simple girl who just loves paper books.  Okay, so I do love paper books, but I am far from a simple girl, and I like gadgets too.  And I name the gadgets I own. My first iPod Touch was called Lil Ruby.  She wore a red glittery cover (gift from Mandykins).  The new iPod Touch is named Lolita (cause she's a sweet young thing). My first laptop was named Lappy.  This one is Della.  I named the church computer MacKenzie (it's a Mac and I had just read Outlander). I told Corey, if I had a GPS, I'd name her Amelia (Earhart).  Well, the Nook's name is Sophia Louise.  If I make the Kindle switch for my birthday, what should I name the Kindle? 

3. Yesterday was our first really hard homeschool day.  I blame part of this on my own hormones.  I was edgy all day long, even when Haydn was fine. It was also the first day I asked him to do written work.  We had been doing a lot of reading and talking and exploring subjects.  Yesterday, I had him do an assessment to see if he is proficient in reading and spelling words that do not follow the phonetic rules (rebel words).  He is.  He rocks at them.  But, it was a "test" of sorts, and he hates tests.  Also, I had him answer questions about Voyage of the Dawn Treader, since we saw that Sunday night. He was frustrated because I wanted him to write complete sentences instead of sentence fragments. Writing frustrates him.  He wants to be perfect, and that is impossible.  And when he is not perfect, he gets very angry.

4. I finished reading Wesley the Owl.  I am in love. I gleaned some wonderful information to help me finish my essay.  It is going in an entirely new direction, and I am excited.  Yes, excited. About an essay.  I am a geeky nerdy writer, and I am okay with that. Sort of makes me perfectly suited to homeschool my geeky nerdy son who is, just now, using magnetic train toys to do some "mythbusting."  He is experimenting with magnetism and gravity and force.  I love this kid.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The American Church has Asperger's Syndrome

An excerpt from Parenting Your Asperger Child by Sohn and Grayson:

He thinks that his opinion is as good as yours, so he chooses his. This represents his rigid thinking. He finds it difficult to be flexible and consider alternate views, especially if he has already reached a conclusion. New ideas can be difficult to accept ("I'd rather do it the way I've always done it"). Being forced to think differently can cause a lot of anxiety.

How many times, in the church world, have I heard the phrase, "But we've never done it that way before."

*bangs head into metaphorical wall*


Currently: January 2011

Current Books: I just finished Fireflies in December and am reading Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien.  I am in love. I hate closing the book to do anything else. For homeschool, Haydn and I are reading Who Was William Shakespeare and The Tempest out of Tales from Shakespeare. In the car, we are twelve chapters from finishing Eragon. During independent reading time, Haydn is reading Who Was Elvis Presley?

Current Playlist: I love that song, "Jar of Hearts" that Cheri introduced me too.  And "Genade" by Bruno Mars.  Also, I have taken guilty pleasure in "We Are Who We Are" by Kesha.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I believe I just confessed to liking a song by Kesha.  I think that counts as shame-inducing.

Current Colors: Any color that matches my owl hat, cause I pretty much wear it everyday.

Current Fetish: Owls.

Current Food: Anything I find on Pioneer Woman's blog.

Current Drink: Got my Diet Coke, and all is right with the world.

Current Favorite Favorite: All of the neat facts I am learning about barn owls.

Current Wishlist: Pioneer Woman's cookbook and lots of homeschool supplies. Oh, and a dining room table with drawers,

Current Needs: Not really a need, but I am enjoying teaching myself to cook, and there are plenty of kitchen gadgets, pots and pans that I would like to have. What I actually need is plenty of prayer and patience as we adjust to homeschool.

Current Triumph: Haydn is doing really well with homeschool.  No "meltdowns" or tantrums. At. All.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: My own resistance to making phone calls.  Why do I hate them so badly and how do I get past that?  Cause, let's be honest, life requires making phone calls.

Current Celebrity Crush: Ummm... can't think of one.

Current Indulgence: Probably switching from Nook to Kindle. This will be a birthday indulgence.

Current Mood:  Good.  A bit edgy, but we are adjusting to a whole new schedule and way of life, so I think that is to be expected.

Current #1 Blessing: The option and ability to homeschool.

Current Slang or Saying: ?????

Current Outfit: my Ann Taylor dark wash jeans, a green tee and a black sweater.  Also, my owl hat.  Of course.

Current Link: Haydn loves This Website.

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