Tuesday, August 28, 2018

First Day of School

We are definitely late starting to school this year, but I decided to wait for Therese and Nicholas to start dual credit at Lone Star before I started any of the kids on any school. It just seemed easier for everyone to officially start together. So today is our first day back. Therese has four dual credit classes on Tuesday/Thursday and Nicholas has two, so we are at the school from 9-5 twice a week. That's a long day! On the plus side, I should rarely have to open my computer at home any more! With so many dedicated hours to just sitting and working, my Crew stuff, my Russ stuff, and any other stuff should get done on Tuesday and Thursday. That's a good feeling.

In other news, being in a school-ish environment makes me miss school so much! I don't even like political science at all, but that's what my PhD is in. I love history, English, and theology and I wonder to this day why I chose poli sci. Well, I know why. I was incredibly inspired by a professor I had at UST - a Catholic political theorist. He's not the same man he was when I knew him, but he definitely made me want to be an academic just like him. Grad school killed that dream. In any case, I actually always said that I wanted to teach Community College because the people who were there really wanted an education. I wonder if I still feel that way. Ah - enough musing/complaining from me. Here are the kids' first day pictures.

Michael is 13 and in 8th grade. Nicholas is 15 and in 10th grade. Mary-Catherine is 13 and in 8th grade. Therese is 17 and in 12th grade (sob!).

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A New School Year

If you're anything like me, your Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of back-to-school pictures and posts. Just because we homeschool does not mean that we don't have a fair amount of this "back-to-schoolism" ourselves. Next week, Therese (17) and Nicholas (15) will be starting dual credit classes at Lone Star (community college). Therese is taking 12 hours and Nicky (I think he's going to go by Nick) is taking 6. If he handles that well, I'll bump him up next semester. I feel very good about him doing Lone Star. Therese has already applied to several colleges, and she is applying for every scholarship in sight. I can't believe she'll be gone next year!

As for the twins, I'm having that, "But I haven't really taught you anything!" crisis of confidence that I think we all go through. They are in 8th grade and my time is running out. They are the ones who constantly reassure me that they have learned plenty over the years. Intellectually, I know this to be true, but I can't stop beating myself up with the notion that I could have done so much better. If I could start over homeschooling today, I would do so much better! Of course, I have ten years experience under my belt now...

If you're just starting out homeschooling, I have a few tips for you:

  • At the beginning of the year, unless it's a total disaster, pick a curriculum (or your lesson plan) and stick with it. Jumping around rarely suits anyone, apart from the ADHD curriculum mother.
  • Realize that your kids are learning all the time. Many homes other than homeschooling ones foster a constant culture of learning. I grew up in one. I would say that the vast majority of homeschooling homes fall into this category. My kids are always watching something scientific or historical on TV, they watch brain stuff on YouTube, and they play learning apps. Obviously, we talk about everything all the time, too. Just because they are not learning it at the schoolroom table does not mean that learning isn't happening.
  • Don't let some subjects slide. Voracious readers will learn reading, writing, and spelling without even being aware of it, but math is usually something that has to be taught and drilled. Once behind, it's very hard to catch up.
  • You don't have to homeschool like anyone else. Do co-op or don't. Do formal field trips or don't. Make changing a light bulb a science lesson or just change the dang thing. Find your own path.
  • Don't waste too much time on regrets. If you come to a point where you realize something wasn't working or it was a dead end, change it up, but don't beat yourself up about it. 
Ask me how I learned all of the above...and have a great year.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Therese's Birthday

Here are pics of Therese at 12, 14, 16, and nearly 17. Only a few people know how much she has gone through in the last five years. As she enters her senior year of high school, I am so proud of all that she has accomplished - not academically because that's kind of a given, but personally as she has faced so many challenges. Happy birthday, Ham!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Review of Homeschool in the Woods Timeline

If you like hands-on history products, you already love Home School in the Woods. We have been using their products since 2007 when I began homeschooling, and they are still a perennial favorite in my house. For this review, we got to assemble one of the A La Carte Timelines, America's Progress into the 20th Century Timeline. I was *thrilled* when Home School in the Woods introduced its A La Carte projects a couple of years ago. They give you so much more flexibility and choice - you actually end up being able to use more HSitW products since you can pick and choose projects to correspond exactly with what you are currently studying. If you have a hands-on kid, you need to check out everything Home School in the Woods has to offer.

This is kind of a transitional time for us in homeschooling, so I loved being able to choose something for Mary-Catherine (13) to enjoy assembling. My two oldest children are starting dual credit classes next month, and, although it actually makes me feel like crying to say this, I think their days of traditional homeschooling are at an end. That leaves me with two very different twins (13) to homeschool, but even they are needing me less and less now. Long story short, Mary-Catherine has been doing 20th century history largely by herself this summer. Like any good classical, Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, my kids have had ancient history until it's coming out of their ears. We have also made a pass through American history, but did not treat it nearly as thoroughly as ancient. As Mary-Catherine works through her American history curriculum, she is enjoying learning about things more immediately relevant to her world. And as with any history curriculum, a timeline really helps bring everything you're learning into focus. As soon as she figured out the best way to assemble this particular timeline (using file folders, as opposed to the colored card stock shown below), she immediately jumped in!

This timeline covers the Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression. As lovers of the Gilded Age, both Mary-Catherine and I have loved all the timeline figures that accompany this timeline (all 136!). Oh, and if you, like me, own the HSitW timeline figures set, get excited: there are 30 brand new figures included in this timeline that you can't find in your master set! Also, if you're worried about how and where to place the figures, don't be. The $8.45 download includes a master timeline. If you have the kind of kid for whom you'd like to have a timeline, but who you know would be averse to assembling her own, this download is still well-worth it, as you get a timeline already done for you as well as a build-your-own. As usual, Home School in the Woods has thought of everything.

I'm sure there are a million ways to use this timeline, such as studying a particular event and then placing the figure, but Mary-Catherine just began at the beginning and placed the figures on the timeline. Every so often I would hear, "Hey! I just read about this!" The fact that she already knew approximately where on the timeline a figure should go just proves that using a timeline is great reinforcement, even if you already know the subject matter pretty well!

Speaking of knowing your subject matter, if there is one thing my kids should know by now, it's Ancient Rome. If you're studying, have studied, or plan to study Ancient Rome, you'll be delighted to find out that the Ancient Rome Pack is HSitW newest product! Unlike the A La Carte projects where you pick and choose, this project pack has EVERYTHING you will need in your study of Ancient Rome.

As always, Home School in the Woods was very generous with the Crew, so to see a huge variety of projects, click the beautiful graphic below!

Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}