Monday, August 27, 2018

Menu Monday for 8/27/18

Sorry I didn't post a menu plan last week. I was actually traveling. I don't ever post that on my blog, but I do usually post a menu plan anyway to suggest that I am home, for home security and that sort of thing. Anyway... This week's menu plan:

Saturday: Arrived home from airport having picked up a pizza on the way. Ate at about 8:00 -- way late for us.

Sunday: Our neighbor blessed us, knowing we had no food in the house, and gave us dinner -- Chinese food of duck, noodles, and vegetables. Very yummy!

Monday: Pork chops, buttered noodles, steamed green beans (right out of our garden!)

Tuesday: Salad plate with romaine, tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, tuna fish salad, hard boiled eggs and chunks of cheddar cheese

Wednesday: Lentil soup, salad, rolls

Thursday: Lasagne roll-ups, salad, garlic knots

Friday: Date night - dinner out!

What's for dinner at your house this week?

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Homeschool High School - Fitting it All In

I've come a long way since my first student was in high school. First time through high school, I was just trying to figure out how to complete the "required" high school courses. (The state of Maryland has required courses for public school students. I wanted to follow these guidelines in case my students wanted to go to college.)

My oldest graduated in 2004. My student was part of a co-op for History and Literature. I got her into outside classes (usually that means I paid someone else to teach her) for Algebra I, Geometry, Biology, Anatomy, Chemistry, Latin and flute. I created a chart of the requirements and turned it into a transcript, filling information in as she completed courses. She started some of her high school work in 7th and 8th grade, which gave her extra time in later grades to work part time and pursue many outside interests. 

She was passionate about violin, and joined the local Montgomery County Symphony Orchestra, which met once a week in the evening.

Getting her violin restrung, she was offered a part-time job at the violin shop and developed skills as a luthier. 

She was very active in 4-H, and loved baking, candy-making, and did a significant amount of sewing, crochet, and knitting.

Eventually she was crowned 4-H Queen of the Montgomery County Fair.

How did we do it? That is the question.

In 8th grade #1 began high school coursework through a co-op (Tapestry of Grace) in English Composition and Literature, Latin and History. #2 had co-op classes as well, which I helped run. She also took flute lessons. There was no child #3, and I announced my pregnancy in May.

In 9th grade, #1 continued in co-op, but I think we gave up the co-op for the younger group. #1 was also taking Latin at the same location, and taking Biology and flute lessons at locations near home. We may have been working on Algebra 1 at home, or she may have taken it at someone's home, I can;t remember.  #3 was born in November, days after we had a unit celebration of a Medieval Feast.
For awhile after the birth friends helped me out transporting #1 to classes. I did my best keeping #2 on track at home. Eventually I was able to get back to actively transporting her to activities again.

In 10th grade #1 continued on in the co-op, taking Latin 2, Anatomy, and flute as outside classes. Can you see a theme here? For most of high school I was a taxi. Since the classes she took were co-op, that meant I taught a class about every six weeks in rotation with other parents. She began working at the violin shop this year.

In 11th grade #1 took her fourth co-op year of high school level English Composition/Literature, her fourth year of high school level History/Government, and continued flute. She took Driver's Education and got her license. She took Chemistry outside the home as well.

In 12th grade #1 was done with most of her classes. She spent more time reading, playing violin, and working at the violin shop. It was 15 years ago, so I may have gotten some of the order wrong - she may have taken one of the earlier-mentioned math or science courses this year. She graduated with a group of home schoolers from our church's home school group.

As I think back on those years, I have glossed over the struggles we experienced, the tears, the stress, etc. I don't mean to white-wash things. It was a very difficult time for our family, and the stress on our first-born was huge, and she suffered as a result of it. We did the best we could. For us, getting it all done, fitting it all in involved a lot of outside classes. I know that doesn't work for everyone.

What is working in your homeschool high school?

Other members of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew are also blogging the 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement. To read more posts, please click the button below.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Can we talk about Field Trips?

Hands-on learning is the very best kind of learning, and field trips can be a very good idea to support hands-on learning.

As I consider beginning a discussion of field trips, issues that come to mind are:
  • financial considerations;
  • location;
  • age and mobility/obedience of the kids
Financial considerations
Field trips can cost money, so if there is no money to spend you need to understand that field trips do not need to cost money! Or they cost they might cost as little as the gas to drive your car. Ways to make a field trip free include:
  • packing a lunch;
  • everyone taking a water bottle;
  • taking a gallon of extra water (or more) if appropriate and necessary.
Or none of the above if it is a short field trip! Examples of free field trips I have taken my children on include:
  • visiting a local nature center;
  • visiting a local farm to see baby goats;
  • visiting another neighbor to see their chickens;
  • taking a nature walk at a local park;
  • visiting the local air port to watch planes land and take off;
  • visiting the fire station when they hold an open house;
  • visiting free museums and free zoo in the Washington, DC area (where I live);
  • visiting local courtroom and sitting through a trial;
  • visiting city council meeting;
  • visiting train station and watching for trains.
 Moderate expense field trips would include things like:
  • take the kids ice skating;
  • go to a movie matinee;
  • go bowling;
  • take a ride on the local subway (just to ride the train!);
  • take trips to historical sites that have small fee
 More expensive trips might be:
  • Go to a glass blowing factory tour; make a glass ornament;
  • visit museums that charge a fee, like a Children's Museum, Building Museum, Aquarium or Zoo;
  • Go to a ceramics shop where you can make a ceramic item;
  • Go on a "date" to a local coffee shop or restaurant
We've gone on many field trips through the years. Sometimes the parent (me) can get exasperated when the focus of the field trip (light house and marine museum) are not what the child is interested in (wading in local flooding).

In the early years, I was always looking for learning opportunities. Visiting Nana and Pop Pop in Florida, we visited Ft. Christmas. I was intrigued. My girls were bored to tears.

 We visited a Cabbage Patch Doll Factory.
 Two of my kids went to Space Camp
But some of our best field trips, I did not attend. My girls participated in a co-op, and the group visited Harper's Ferry, West Virginia (which I did attend)

New York City

and even Europe. Talk about expensive! The kidlet had to work to pay for that one!

But some of the best field trips were just plain free. When your kid just needs a break, sometimes it is just more productive to get out of the house and experience nature.

So look at your year. Maybe plan one Friday a month to set aside as a field trip day. Adjust this idea as you need to for your budget and for what is available in your area, but consider a schedule like this:
  • September: zoo
  • October: orchard/farm to pick apples and/or pumpkins
  • November: Visit an area of early American interest (thinking of Thanksgiving). I might go to my local Sandy Spring Museum, Sandy Spring, MD
  • December: attend a showing of The Nutcracker, or visit a living nativity or some special activity that has been scheduled for Christmas;
  • January: Go ice skating;
  • February: go to the local natural history museum or building museum;
  • March: go on a nature walk and look for signs of spring;
  • April: visit a location where you can observe cherry blossoms
  • May: Go to nature center and take a hike. Observe three new bird species and learn about them.
  • June: Go to a local park with a lake. Consider renting a canoe or paying for a ride on a pontoon boat.
  • July: pick strawberries (June?) or blueberries at local farm. 
  • August: go to county fair
Other members of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew are also participating in the 5-Days of Homeschool Encouragement blog hop. To read more posts, please click on the link below.

Monday, August 20, 2018

A Letter to the Struggling Homeschool Mom

Dear Home School Mom,

Get a cup of coffee and settle in for a Mom to Mom chat.


So I hear you are feeling overwhelmed. It is almost time for your school year to start, and you aren't ready. You have children you need to teach, but you have a baby in the house. 

You feel like you should already have a 36-week-lesson plan figured out for all your subjects, and right now you are just wondering if there are enough clean clothes for everyone and what you will serve for dinner tonight.

Well, let's start by breaking this down piece by piece.
  • Laundry: Okay, so someone might have to wear something that's not exactly clean today. That is the beauty of home schooling. You aren't going anywhere (school), and this isn't a beauty contest. If Child #1 needs to loan a shirt to Child #2, or Child #3 needs to wear yesterday's outfit, life will go on. Get the kids each to grab an armful of dirty laundry and meet you at the washing machine. Put the baby in a bouncer seat on top of the dryer and start a load of darks in cold water. Now the only important thing you need to remember is to come back in about an hour and move the laundry to the dryer. Set a timer on your cell phone.
  • Dinner: Take stock of your freezer and your fridge and see if you can pull something together. If not, call your husband and tell him the situation. Ask him if he 1) wants to get some stuff at the store on his way home from work; 2) wants to get something like pizza; or 3) wants cereal or pancakes or something like that for dinner tonight.
 Next, let's talk about planning. You might not have thought of it this way, but there are actually two options for filling out a "Planner" -- in advance, or after the fact. When you can't plan in advance, you write things down as they get done. It isn't perfect, but it doesn't have to be. So here's your basic plan, and you write it down as they do it:
  • Math: Most of us purchase some sort of Math textbook. If you have a text book, it probably has about 140 lessons in it (more for higher grades). Public schools consider it "good enough" if they get through at least 75% of the textbook. There are 180 school days in a 36-week school year, so there is a lot of lee-way, even if you don't do a lesson on days when you give a test. Aim for a lesson a day 5 days per week, and when you do less, you record that you did less. That's all. No guilt.
  • Science: Textbook or non-fiction library books, projects or interest driven, just try to record something "Science-y" in your "Planner" each day. It might be a weather record for the full year (which also covers "Math" by doing a calendar) with Cloudy or Sun, Rain or Snow, temperature, windy, etc. Consider reading books about clouds and what the different types of clouds mean (stratus, cumulo nimbus, etc.), books about what conditions cause snow, sleet, what causes dew. Take one "nature" walk per week and find one thing to focus on for the day, and come home and learn about it, whether an oak tree, a dandelion, a butterfly, a squirrel. Take a photo if you can. At home, everyone draw a picture of it in a nature journal (art).
  • Reading: Right now might not be time to stress about Phonics, unless you are able to use an on-line program. Otherwise, consider some lovely books to read aloud to everyone. That still counts as "reading" -- it doesn't have to be that the child read to herself. Some of my early favorites were: Heidi, Black Beauty, PinocchioMary Poppins, The Saturdays, Winnie the Pooh, and A Child's Garden of Verse. Visit the library frequently; keep costs down.
  • Social Studies: This can mean history, geography, and that type of thing. You don't need to do this every day of the week, but you can. You can cover material by time period/topic, or can cover material by more specific interest, like studying mummies and learning a little about Egypt as a result. You can keep it light and think of ways to make it fun. You can weave many subjects together, like read Little House on the Prairie (reading/literature), locate where they are on the globe (geography), follow an item mentioned in the book, like what is a prairie hen, and look it up (science), do something mentioned in the book like make a corn cob doll (art)... Just write it all down in the appropriate categories. It looks real impressive! 
  • Phys. Ed. - most active play is Phys. Ed., whether it is riding the tricycle in the living room or chasing the dog in the back yard.
  • Art: Pull out scrap paper and crayons at least once a week. Add more structure as you are able. Some glue and torn construction paper makes a nice layered picture. Add scissors and you can make paper chains. Get a craft book out at the library.
  • Music: Play classical music in the background at various times during the day, like while everyone is eating lunch.
  • Health: this doesn't need structure. We are teaching health every day at home. Just periodically note in your planner things like "Health: discussed the importance of washing hands with soap regularly to prevent the spread of viruses like colds."
In our early years, each day at the end of the day I would make entries in my "Planner" of what we had done. Example:
Bible: Read Psalm 17 and Eph. 3
Math: Made cookies. Worked with units of measure (teaspoons, cups) and fractions (1/2 cup)
English/lit: Discussed that sentences have a subject (or thing) and a verb (or action). Read Chapter 11 of Pinocchio
Social Studies: Discussed time (1800's) and place (Italy) of Pinocchio, when there was no electricity and heat was in fire place. Located Italy on globe.

Science: Studied square foot of ground in woods. Picked a fern. Brought it home and read about ferns.

Art: Drew and labeled a picture of a fern.
 "Health" - ate three well-balanced meals; discussed types of fruits and vegetables
Phys. Ed.: Walked around the block. 

On really rough days, have older kids read to, play with and take care of littles while you take care of the baby. Reading is still reading. Play and care of younger kids was part of a high school course when I was in school. What could be better than taking care of your own siblings.

For longer term survival, I recommend you plan a menu for next week, creating a shopping list at the same time. Ask your husband to help you by shopping for you on Saturday. Have your older kids help you work on dinner during the week days, allowing plenty of time. This is part of their education, too. An 8-year-old can learn how to scramble eggs, make a grilled cheese sandwich, or mix up a box of macaroni and cheese. A 12-year-old who has been taught can usually make an entire (easy) dinner, like baked chicken, rice, and steamed broccoli.

Hang in there. One day your newborn will be graduating, and all these days will be memories. Do what you need to do to make them fond memories for everyone!

Other members of the Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew are also participating in the 5 Days of Homeschool Encouragement. To see more posts please click the button below.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Week in Review - 8-17-18

Nearing the end of summer, and it was a busy week at Homeschool Review.

To start with, our County Fair is in full swing.

At tne end of last week I entered some items in the Fair. I have some antiques I like to enter in the Old Timers' Building (not a competition) and entered some sewing items in the Home Arts Building. A child's pair of slacks got a red 2nd place ribbon, as did a gray pair of maternity slacks I made for my daughter.
 My quilt that I entered (my 3rd quilt ever) got a blue ribbon!
My son was able to enter a whip in a category for woven fabric, narrow bands. He got a first place! Sorry, I don't have a photo.

Sunday afternoon my husband and I volunteered for almost 5 hours at The Big Cheese, where grilled cheese sandwiches are sold to fair goers, along with cheese selections, nachos, pretzels, sodas, etc. We walked around afterwards, and that's when I learned about our placing on our entries.

Tuesday my husband and I had a Civil Air Patrol meeting for the Senior Squadron we are a part of. Thursday my daughter, son-in-law and I attended the fair together. Afterwards my husband and I attended my son's Civil Air Patrol meeting to participate in his promotion to Cadet Sr. Master Sgt.
He is working hard to rank up to Lieutenant while he is a cadet. He wants to earn the Billy Mitchell Award, which is received when a cadet completes the requirements for 2nd. Lt.

Soon he will be leaving home to attend college out of state. He plans to continue participating in Civil Air Patrol at a squadron near the college. While in college he will be participating in Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps). He'd like to be an Air Force pilot one day and hopes to fly A-10's.

And today I played "catch up", getting some much needed things done. So how was your week? Let me know. Drop me a comment.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

God Schooling - A TOS Homeschool Crew Review

In July I received a book by Julie Polanco to read and review.

Julie Polanco Books

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {THE GUIDE for HOMESCHOOL PARENTS} is a relatively small book - about 5" x 8" x 1/2", and 160 pages plus a bibliography.

God Schooling is broken down into two sections: (1) Dispelling Myths (two chapters) and (2) Practice (eight chapters).

God Schooling is an easy read, yet I found it very challenging. One must think constantly while reading this book. Any home schooling parent reading this book will either agree, disagree, or be constantly evaluating the content. I fell into the latter category.

The title of the book, God Schooling, is a twist on the "Unschooling" movement. Ms. Polanco promotes the concept of unschooling following God's leading, thus "God Schooling". (Aren't we all trying to follow God's leading?) 

So, there were many things discussed in each chapter. In Chapter 3, "Thoughts on Teaching Children Under Age Eight", the author recommends immersing the child in hands-on learning opportunity while resisting what is known as "Formal Education". I had been exposed to this type of thinking long ago, being familiar with writings by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, pioneers in promoting late formal education over early formal instruction.

When I began home schooling, the year was 1992. I firmly embraced the Moore's philosophy, while nevertheless planting myself with one foot firmly on both sides of the fence. (Don't bother pointing out that I am contradicting myself. I realize that.)

In 1992, 98% of the population had not even heard of home schooling. We tried to stay out of sight during "school" hours. Otherwise it confused my kids to be asked, "No school today?" While I firmly believed in the philosophies the Moores promoted, I was also faced with proving to my husband, my in-laws, my parents, and my neighbors that my children were, in fact, getting an education.

We were largely "God Schooling" in Science and History, but there was extreme pressure in Math, Reading and Grammar to be able to demonstrate an education commiserate with the child's age and grade. My oldest made me look like an amazing teacher with her reading abilities, and usually adequately held her own in her Math lessons. Then along came child #2, and I was humbled.

At that time we also left Colorado, and their easy home schooling regulations. We moved to Maryland, where we were no longer required to submit to standardized testing on odd grades 3, 5, etc. (which we had never done, not yet being to grade 3). Now we were required to demonstrate regular and diligent instruction each year in Math, Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, Art, Music, Physical Education and Health (even though the younger grades of public school did not cover all eight each year). We were subject to one to three reviews of our home school program each year, which our children were not required to attend (but they were usually there, because who could find a babysitter in the middle of the day?).

The pressure was intense to conform, or to be able to demonstrate effort to conform even if the student was not learning well (child #2). In addition, we were expected to teach what the child would learn at that grade level if they were in public school, but we were not told what they would be studying if they were in public school. (This was before the Internet.) We were invited to visit the county and photocopy pages and pages of curriculum at a high cost. Instead we often purchased a grade-appropriate textbook and satisfied ourselves that we were covering the appropriate material.

All this, even though Maryland has a very strong unschooling movement. I didn't have the confidence to completely walk our own walk, knowing I would be reviewed either by the county representative or by a private "umbrella" group. The alternative would be to join the unschooling umbrella group, but we found their fees prohibitive.

I could go on defending myself, but I won't. My main point in my personal rabbit trail was to assure you that you are not home schooling in the 1990's and God Schooling is attainable for you. If you are at all intrigued, you are going to want to purchase God Schooling to learn more. (And, by the way, the ebook version is currently on sale until 8/22!)

The biggest advice I will give you upfront is two-fold:
  • Make sure you know what your state regulations are, and comply with them to the best of your ability as you pursue your child's education, and
  • Journal, journal, journal everything your child is doing that you are counting as education, taking lots of photos. I wish I had taken more.
That said, can you imagine an education where your child's education was hands-on and could stick in their memory forever? My children did get a lot of this, like I mentioned. My son knows what it is to chase butterflies!

My girls know that baby bunnies will die if they are born outside when the weather is too hot and that llamas spit tobacco-juice grass-stain fluids!

My middle knows what it is to get grand champion in a dog show

And my oldest became quite the violinist! Homeschooling gave my children time to excel where their interests led them. 

My oldest pursued ballet, then gymnastics, then violin. She was very active in 4-H, doing community service, and learning sewing, knitting and crochet as well as baking and candy making. She was 4-H Queen of our county fair in 2005.

My middle child was also active in 4-H all her years. She played soccer, studied flute, and also learned the home arts of sewing, knitting and crochet as well as baking cakes and cookies. She developed a love of dog-training and showing, as shown above. Both girls regularly visited the local nursing home to visit the elderly residents.

My youngest had time to pursue his own interests as well, while we did guide him away from some things and toward other interests. He became an Eagle Scout, and is active in Civil Air Patrol. He plans to go through Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) and go into the Air Force after college.

God Schooling in your home schooling can give your children time to find interests and excel at them in ways difficult for children with a vigorous academic planner. This does not mean the "God Schooled" child is not educated; it means they are less stressed. They don't have to put down their art project because their Math isn't done yet, or forget about baking the cookies because there is a composition that needs to be written.

Julie Polanco has written a gem here, and whether you completely agree with her perspectives or not it is still worth your while to read through God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn. It will challenge your thinking and give you plenty more to think about.

I received a copy of God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn in exchange for my honest review. To read more reviews of God Schooling please click the link below.

God Schooling: How God Intended Children to Learn {Julie Polanco Reviews}