Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Labs and Projects

He has, generally, C's and D's on most of his schoolwork that involve worksheets, workbook pages and tests. But, he has straight A's on projects and labs.

Remember this, Nicole!

Remember this when you are teaching him next year. Turn his learning around by doing it in the way he excels. Get his mind and hands moving!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Sporadic

There's not much left to do right now. Later in the summer we will be gathering the remainder of our supplies, setting up the classroom upstairs and getting the books requested from the library. But for now, we are just going to concentrate on ending this current school year strong.

My posts will be extremely limited on this particular blog, until we pick back up in our preparations. See you soon!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Organized and Ready


A project I have been needing to tackle for the past 2 1/2 years finally came to a head this weekend. With schooling Dawson at home next year, I needed to get our office supply closet organized!

I had craft supplies and office supplies and scrapbooking supplies just piled in boxes and bags and sitting loosely on the shelves. I also had a three-drawer craft cabinet in the garage full of odds and ends.

I bought several shoe box plastic tubs and labeled them. Then I took to moving all of my scrapbook stuff to the left side of the closet and organizing my supplies in the tubs and stacking them neatly on the right side of the closet, including all of the things in the craft cabinet.

Now it's all neatly organized and in one place in our house!

Ahhh!!!

We are one step closer!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Dawson's Worst Nightmare Has Arrived!


I got my Saxon Algebra 1/2 curriculum in the mail this week. I love Saxon math! And I love how it has a teacher's manual with the answers in it. And I love how it came with the test masters with problem solutions included. And I love that I got it all for $30 when it costs well over $100 for all three books new. (The used ones I bought off of ebay are in perfect condition!)

Actually, I think Dawson will like going back to Saxon math. There's one lesson per day and it's easy to find examples if you're stuck. It's very predictable and builds on previous lessons, so lots of variety in the daily problems.

I also found a really cool thing called Life of Fred that could make Algebra, Geometry and Trig, dare we say it, FUN! If we can get ourselves all caught back up with our Saxon Pre-Algebra this year, we might just give that one a try for 9th grade.

Also, thank you to those of you who have sent me e-mails and text messages with homeschooling information and resources. I really appreciate it! Keep 'em coming!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cost of Curriculum

Being a frugal mom-type, and not wanting to pay full price for curriculum that I know nothing about, I set out to searching the internet for used curriculum.

I was blessed to find A World of Adventure, used but in excellent condition, and purchased it for $61.00 (including shipping). I think the curriculum costs around $100 new.

Then I ordered Saxon Algebra 1/2 (Pre Algebra) with the student text, teacher book and worksheets used off ebay for $34.00 (with shipping). I think all three texts cost considerably more.

Everything else I plan to use will be from free websites.

Then I'll just have the basic school supply costs, and extras for projects, etc. But that will all be spread out.

Dawson and I mapped out how we will set up his classroom upstairs in a corner of our playroom. We have all of the furniture already (his computer desk, a desk for me, some shelves and an old-time school desk). We are going to purchase a bulletin board for scheduling, notes, unit decorations, etc. We're going to hang a white board for visual instruction. And I've found a large world map on ebay for about $20.00 to hang on the wall. We're also going to hang up a "clothesline" on the wall for him to clip his artwork and such to.

For classroom setup we will be out of pocket approximately $50.

So, all total, other than regular supplies, the cost of Dawson's schooling will be right at $150. I am not naive to think that we won't have constant costs for supplies, projects, etc. But, knowing what our units will be affords me the opportunity to look for cheap and/or free things to go with our units. For example, yesterday I DVR'd two specials on History International: one was about Egyptian Warfare and the other was about the Greek Empire. I missed the one on the Roman Empire.

There are so many possibilities to what we can do! And a lot of it doesn't have to cost a thing!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

As if I needed more confirmation, I have some ...

On Friday I picked Dawson up from school a couple of minutes early so that he could help me take all of the puppies to the vet.

The school counselor was in the office and was the person who actually called Dawson in his classroom to leave for the day.

She didn't acknowledge me at all.

No big deal, you say?

Well, about a month and a half ago I made a specific appointment with this counselor about the problems Dawson was having at school. I asked her to take an interest in Dawson and start having weekly meetings with him to discuss his progress and to show him that someone at the school cared about his progress. I cried in her office.

For several weeks in a row I asked him how his meetings were going with the counselor and he would say, "Fine. She asks me how I am doing and shows me my grades." I thought, "I do that."

I don't know how long it's been since he's actually met with her.

She apparently isn't meeting with him, and doesn't care. Because, I would assume that anyone regularly meeting with my son would acknowledge me in a room and maybe even speak to me about him. I would expect her to say something like, "I see Dawson's grades are better this semester. Do you feel he's doing better? Would you like to meet again to discuss his progress?"

Honestly, I don't think she even knew who I was, or who he is.

I walked out with further confirmation that this public school is not for him. He is invisible.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Network

I have searched high and low for other homeschooling bloggers out there who are using/have used A World of Adventure. I haven't been able to find any, or at least any who blog about it regularly.

So, maybe I'll be the first.

I would love to have a network of other moms using the curriculum so we could bounce ideas off each other. But, so far, I haven't found anyone.

When school starts in August, I plan to post very regularly about what we are doing specifically in hopes that other moms might find the information useful.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Conversation with Dawson's Kindergarten Teacher

{A little history here. Nine years ago when we moved to Oklahoma, we lived in the same neighborhood with one of the kindergarten teachers at our school. Her daughter would babysit Kyndal and Dawson for us. Two years later, Dawson had her for kindergarten. We loved her. They moved out of our neighborhood a few years later, but we still ran into her. Funny enough, we ended up building our house one street over from her. And when our new elementary school was built last year, she became one of the 1st grade teachers. It is likely she will be Eli's (my 6 year old's) 1st grade teacher next year. She knows our family well.}

I was talking with her on Thursday about homeschooling Dawson, and our reasons for it. When I was describing Dawson's personality to her, she teared up. She said, "That's not the Dawson I had in kindergarten." You see, Dawson was very outgoing and made friends very easily! He was very social and happy. When I explained to her his extreme apprehensions in groups and new settings, she was shocked. She was sad.

She agreed with me that the public school system, as it is, has failed Dawson and all of the many, many kids just like him.

She told me that she was very happy for Dawson and me and that she felt that I was definitely doing the right thing and that it was great that I was able to recognize that Dawson has gifts and talents that aren't being utilized and to actually do something about it.

She told me that if I ever needed any help with anything, to give her a call.

I felt a great deal of encouragement after talking with her.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What We'll Be Reading

The other night I poured over our new curriculum A World of Adventure. I got on our local public library website and inputted the names of all of the books and videos we will be using this year. What a blessing to find that not only are all of the books available through our public library system, but that some of those books are also offered in an audio form. That way if we wanted to listen to a particular book, so that we could both work on a project at the same time, we could do that. Dawson doesn't like to sit for long periods of time. He needs to be doing something. So, maybe we could even get a large puzzle having to do with what we are reading about and do the puzzle while we're listening to the book. Or, we could build something or draw or do another art project. There are so many possibilities!

Here is a a list of the books we will be reading:

The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Aesop's Fables
Classic Myths to Read Aloud, by William F. Russell, Ed.D.
The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare
Adam of the Road, by Elizabeth Janet Gray
The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli
Two biographies of his choice from the Renaissance and Reformation Period (like Martin Luther and Johann Gutenberg)
The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann David Wyss (what a great way to end the year ... he'll love it! And, it will be Spring so we can get outside and do some exploring ourselves!)
The Holy Bible

I am very excited to read these books! And, I know that these are all things that will interest Dawson. And then there are dozens and dozens of other suggested books, both fiction and non-fiction, for him to read during his personal reading time that correspond with the topics in the main book we are reading.

The crazy thing is that spelling, vocabulary, social studies, science lessons and art projects all correspond with the topics we are reading in the books. It's incredibly well-prepared!

I have only found a couple of minor things in the curriculum that wouldn't interest Dawson at all (or me for that matter.) But that's where our creativity can come in. We can replace those Fine Arts activities with other things.

Other than that, the curriculum is so well laid out and organized that planning will be so much easier!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Smile

This morning while Dawson was waiting for the bus, I took the opportunity to share with him what I am proposing for his school day schedule for next year. I also told him about some of the books that we will be reading, and how I will be handling some of his assignments and testing. We talked about possible field trips we might take.

He smiled.

He looked at me and said, "This is going to be cool."

He smiled.

For the first time in a long time, I saw a sparkle in his eye when it came to the topic of education and learning.

I think it's a good idea to have an overall goal in this journey. I had been working on the development of that goal and had come up with, what I believed, to be my real motivation behind homeschooling Dawson. I want Dawson to develop a love for learning, so that when his time with me is done that he will at least consider the idea of continued and higher education.

In that one smile, I almost felt as if that goal was already being met.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Curriculum


I received the curriculum today that I ordered for Dawson's schooling next year. I have been so excited to receive it, and am even more excited now that I have it in my hands! Wow! Talk about comprehensive! Talk about extensive! Talk about creative!

It's called A World of Adventure by Dorian Holt, a homeschooling mom, former teacher and Christian. It is a unit study that relies heavily on a piece of literature from a certain time period in history, and then the science, social studies, language arts, fine arts and Bible are all based on that piece of literature. It's amazing!

The units we will be covering next year are Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, The Renaissance and Restoration Age and The Age of Exploration.

Dawson will love it and I can't wait to learn right along with him.

The only thing I need to supplement it with is math, typing and handwriting. I plan to order Saxon Pre-Algebra, use Type to Learn on the computer and continue to work with him on handwriting. I'm still looking for some good material for that. There is also a possibility that I will join our local homeschool coop so that he can attend a class a week with other kids in the coop. I am undecided about that. We might have our hands full with what we already have.

Why did I choose this study?

I had heard of Prairie Primer which is a unit study based on Little House on the Prairie and the time in history when those books were written. It looked like so much fun! But, having a teenage boy presented a problem with that curriculum. I started looking for something similar and came upon the Learning Adventure series. I read tons of reviews and absolutely could not find anything negative written about it! Best of all, it mostly uses books and resources from the local library, so free!

I can't wait to start looking at it more closely and actually starting my weekly lesson plans, which I know will take between now and summer to complete. The curriculum will get us through his entire 8th grade year. Then there are two more unit study books that continue on from here. If we like this series, we may order the next one for 9th grade. We'll see how this works.

Very excited here! I can't wait to share with you what we learn!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Strategic

God has been very strategic with me lately. On two very specific occasions He has placed someone directly in my path who has provided me with encouragement and information in homeschooling.

The first was a couple of weeks ago, before I actually made the decision to homeschool. I went to a birthday party for one of my daughter's friends. I ran into Shelley, a sweet friend I knew from our old church. She and I sat together at the party and were discussing our sons, mine 13 and hers 8, and our thoughts about possibly homeschooling each of them. At that point it was in the possible planning stages for both of us.

We made plans to meet for lunch, and did that last week. In the meantime, each of us had made the final decision to homeschool our boys next fall. It was so nice to talk to someone else (who feels she is completely unqualified to do it) about the things we are looking forward to and the fears we have. Our biggest fears are in those areas where we feel we are weak. Of course we both know that this is when our dependence on the Lord will come. We decided to put each other on speed dial so we can immediately call each other in times of frustration. I know that I will have a prayer partner in this endeavor!

The second strategic encounter came while volunteering at the Extraordinary Women conference this weekend. I was working at Lysa TerKeurst's product table. On the second day a lady, Tracy, was reassigned to our table. She is a sweet Christian woman with five daughters (God bless her!) and she has homeschooled all of them. Her older two daughters now go to a Christian private school, but she still homeschools her three younger daughters. She and I talked about homeschooling, and many other topics, most of the day. We even skipped listening to speakers so we could talk. She had many words of wisdom and encouragement and gave me some websites to look at for some help and direction.

I just know God is all over this thing!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Discipline versus Grace

An area of worry that I have in this homeschooling journey is that I will become easily frustrated if Dawson doesn't "get into it" the way I am planning to "get into it".

But isn't that why I am frustrated at the public school system?

The answer to that is a resounding, "Yes!"

Dawson will have his own level of involvement and level of interest and level of excitement. And it will likely not line up with mine. His and my personalities are completely opposite. This will be an area where I need to adapt more than him.

In my daily devotional from Proverbs 31, these words were spoken by Lysa TerKeurst:

But they weren't acting the way I wanted them to. I wanted them sitting up straight, drinking in the message, and taking notes.

Suddenly, an annoying little thought started to tug at the corners of my mind. "You want your children to act perfectly because it makes you look good. Let that go. They don't need to be sitting up straight furiously taking notes to hear God's message. This is a beautiful time for grace."

This spoke to my heart. This reminded me that I will need to administer an equal dose of grace with the discipline. And, that it's not about me .. it's about him. He can learn without doing it the way I would do it, and learn it well and enjoy it at the same time.

You can go here to read her full devotional on this topic.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Clearing a Major Hurdle


Dawson's father and I divorced when he was two years old. His dad moved to another state shortly after that, so I have been primarily responsible for him and his sister from that time on. His dad has been more active in his life in the past few years. But, mostly, I make the major decisions regarding them because, quite frankly, I'm the one who has been raising them.

But, this schooling issue is a big issue! Although whatever decision made ultimately doesn't affect his dad, it's still one he has the right to know about and understand. And Dawson and I were really hoping that he would be supportive of it. Honestly, though, I didn't expect his support.

Homeschooling is a strange concept to someone who doesn't know anything about it. It's been a strange concept for me, too. Every argument I knew he would have against it was an argument I have already had with myself. And, his mother and sister are teachers, so public school teaching is important to them.

I expected a fight. I wasn't planning on letting his protests keep me from doing what I know in my heart to be the right decision for Dawson. But, I expected a fight anyway. I wasn't looking forward to it. Dawson wasn't looking forward to it.

I gave his dad all of the information yesterday. I heard through my daughter that he was furious about it. I braced myself for "the phone call". I had my arguments all ready. And then I got an e-mail from him telling me that he didn't know what was best for Dawson, that he wanted what was best for him, and that his biggest concern was the stigma attached to homeschooled kids and how it would affect him when applying for colleges and jobs in the future. And that was it. To me, that was support, or as much support as I was going to get.

I was shocked, but so happy that he didn't tear into me, especially since I don't think he really knows enough about what's going on to do that.

Going forward with this decision is so much nicer knowing that I don't have anyone to fight about it with.

For that I am grateful!

Yesterday I ordered the general curriculum I will use next year. I am excited to receive it and will post about it later.