Monday, January 27, 2014

Year-Round Homeschooling

For the past few years, we've dumped our old summers-off school schedule for year-round schooling. At first, I was a little worried about the change. I have wonderful memories from childhood of lazy summer days spent reading and goofing off, and I wanted my children to also experience those long, lovely months of freedom. But as a homeschool teacher I dreaded each year having to spend most of the first month of school reviewing what the kids had forgotten over the summer. Math, in particular, was jettisoned from their minds at an alarming rate. I'd get a lot of blank looks and huh?s at the beginning of September. Then we'd have to spend a whole lot of time relearning the material. Public schools have the same problem. If you've ever used a math program which is also used in schools, you know that usually the first 20 or so lessons are review.
With summers off, we also had the problem of getting into the routine of school. Our good study habits vanished when we had too much down time. When we're in a constant routine with a week off here and there, my kids seem to have fewer problems concentrating on our lessons.
So, year-round schooling it is for us, and we like it much better. Every month, we get a week off and 3 weeks off in August. We plan for 189 days of school so we have those extra 9 days for sick days. We take the weeks of Halloween and Thanksgiving off, and two weeks for Christmas and New Years.
I don't get burnout as much as I used to. That one week each month is great for school planning, organizing the house, reading, playing games, watching movies, and relaxing. I have time to get the house really clean and organized which makes it easier to keep up with the housework during school weeks.
At the end of our vacation weeks I feel recharged and ready to get back to school. And when the kids know they have mini-vacations planned year round, school doesn't seem like such a burden.

I use DonnaYoung for our school calendar. That site is a treasure trove of helpful, free resources for just about anything you would need to organize and plan your homeschool.

I use a highlighter to mark our vacation so the kids don't have to ask when the next one is. They can just look at the calendar. Since our state requires us to keep track of school days, I use the calendar to mark off time in school. It's really simplified my record keeping.
So there you have it. Our school schedule in a nutshell.

Until next time!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

This Week

We've spent the last few days dealing with This. We live near the path of the chemical plume, and so our water was affected. We've had to use bottled water for everything. All our washing, cooking, and drinking water had to be bought. We haven't been able to wash clothes or take much of a bath.We should be free to use our taps by tonight, and I am looking forward to a hot shower. One positive to come from all this is we've essentially been doing a dry run of our emergency plan, and I realize we've way underestimated how much water we need to store. So we'll have to reevaluate what we have on hand for disasters.

This Week

I am grateful: for clean water.

We are reading: Stories from Nature

I am reading: The Illustrated Man

We are cooking: Comfort food!  Veg News Vegan Macaroni and Cheese(so good!) and Chloe's Vegan Spiced Applesauce Cake(Wonderful!)

 Creating and Organizing: My kids bought me a Taste Book a couple of birthdays ago and after  trying in vain to find my favorite soup recipe, digging through the messy drawer I keep my recipes in, I thought it was time to put my gift to use. So hopefully I'll soon have all my recipes organized, and I can find another purpose for the hell drawer.

In our homeschool: We've been reading Pasteur's Fight Against Microbes and working on bacteria and fungi experiments. It's part of Noeo Biology I. Right now we have two experiments in progress. 1: We collected bacteria from a doorknob and spread it in an agar filled petri dish, and on one half spread anti-bacterial cream. 2: We took saliva samples from our dog and our baby, Rose, and spread each on a half of an agar filled petri dish. Bess had to write out hypotheses for what would happen in each experiment, and then keep notes on the growth of the bacterial colonies. So far, the dog spit has more bacterial growth.
Bess and Bacteria

So that's it for our rather slow, shower-free week. I wish you a great week, and clean water!
Until next time!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

What We're Reading This Week

With the snowstorm and record low temperatures on the way, we made a trip to the library today to stock up on the essentials. No bread and milk run for us. We get the important stuff first! So here's what we'll be reading this week as Mother Nature tries to freeze us.

For Bess and Max:
Surprise Island(Boxcar Children #2)

For me:
Momo(a favorite book from my childhood)


And there you have it, our plan to beat cabin fever. I hope to finally finish the scarf I've been knitting since god knows when, play some board games, and make vegan cinnamon rolls.

I wish you warmth and time with family. Until next time!