Saturday, September 17, 2011

Week 1 in Review

We are off to a pretty good start to our homeschooling journey. I feel a lot more comfortable with the idea now that I taught a few days & Capt. N is enjoying it & learning. It made me happy last night at cub scouts when I mentioned the word weather & Capt. N chimed in saying he's learning a lot about the weather in homeschool. Earlier in the day we had gone to a plant sale & while we were waiting in line I had him add up how much our bill would be. He used multiplication & addition. The lady in front of us was paying attention a bit & Capt. N told her he was homeschooled. She was so nice & told him he's doing a good job. I'm so proud of Capt. N for wanting to share his experience & not be ashamed even though it's different than what his friends are doing. And I'm very grateful to that woman for keeping it positive for him.

A few things I've learned this week.
  1. It takes longer than I expected to teach any one subject.
  2. It's taking more time out of my day than I expected. I didn't take into account all the after school hours I would be spending on preparing, especially when I went into this week feeling very prepared. But I didn't think about changes in the schedule, interuptions, etc. We have a 1.5 - 2 hour break in the middle of our school day. I thought I'd get a few minutes of down time during that break. Ha! Some days we spend an hour of that time going to pick up Mr. T from school. (I could cut that time down to a half an hour if I had him take the bus, but that's a whole 'nother conversation.) I've gotta get the kids & myself lunch. I've go to tend to whatever it is the other two kids needed while I was teaching Capt. N. I try to do the dishes & check email. I check over his worksheets so we can go over any missed problems in the afternoon. I've got to get the stuff ready for our afternoon school subjects. (I'm hoping this time goes down as I learn the ropes.) All these things take up the entire break & then some. Then we do the schooling & when that's done I try to get everything together for the next day. Then in the evening it's sports & activities & dinner & laundry & on & on & on. Each night I've gone to bed exhausted.
  3. I'm enjoying teaching Capt. N. It's been good for me & good for him. He's a very easy going student.
  4. I'm feeling guilty about not spending as much time with my younger two kids. We're home, but I feel like I have to tell them I can't help them right now because I'm teaching Capt. N. It's a hard place. Capt. N gets distracted very easily, so every time they come in he loses his school mo-jo. I really need them not to interrupt. But, it's also not good to make them feel I think teaching Capt. N is more important than anything it is that they need. We will definitely need to learn as we go with this to figure out a happy medium. It broke my heart last night when Mr. T told me that we really needed to go on a date. (Occasionally I take the kids out alone & I call them dates.) It's a new experience for him to be in school half the day, then the other half of the day I'm busy with Capt. N. I miss him too. One good thing is that on most Tuesday's & Thursday's I will get to spend an hour alone with Princess K, then an hour alone with Mr. T. There is a lot of running around, but I'm happy it works out that they can each get at least a little one on one time. On those days, I take Mr. T to school then a little over an hour later Princess K starts school. So Princess K & I have an hour alone before she goes to school. Then I drop her off & I get an hour to myself - which will usually be spent running errands. Then it's time to pick up Mr. T. We have an hour until Princess K gets out of school. This past Thursday we went to a nearby park & had lunch. He loved it! Then we pick up Princess K & go home. My hubby works from home on those days so Capt. N does independent work in the morning & I teach in the afternoon.
  5. We use dry erase markers a lot.
  6. Capt. N's favorite times have been when we are doing science experiments & he has been loving adding new info to his weather lapbook. He is also ambitious about math. He writes very slowly, even if it's copy work. One day in his journal he was to write a story about a very rainy day. He had great ideas that he expressed out loud to me, but it took him forever to write just a fraction of it down. This may have to do with his eye problems.
  7. I have no idea how in the world I would have time to homeschool all 3 of my children. Just the one is taking up all the time I've got. I'm sure it's possible, but right now that seems like a major feat.
   8. I still feel like the best decision was to homeschool him this year. Although, it does sound like he would have had a great public school teacher. I think he would have still struggled in school because his problem is not something the school was addressing. They would have continued doing what they do with all the other kids, and even though it wasn't working for him keep continuing to do it. My goal in homeschooling him this year was to figure out his reading problem & try to fix it. There may be multiple issues, but we have figured out one problem so far & can start working on that. I'm happy the homeschooling gives us the freedom to really focus on that.

Various pics from this week:

Spelling ~
Capt. N is not a terrific speller. I was hoping if we approached spelling in a little different way then he would retain the words better. He did spelling worksheets and some fun activities to reinforce the words. But, he only got 8 out of 12 correct on his spelling test on Friday. So, we'll have to switch it up a bit. Maybe he will need to take a pretest on Wednesday or Thursday? Maybe I could make it some sort of a game?

Splitting the double consonant words into syllables.

Fast pick up game. Each spelling word is written on a card, once in all caps, once in lowercase letters. His goal is to pick up the matching cards as fast as he can. To be honest, he didn't love this as much as I thought he would.

Using bananagram letters, he was to make a little puzzle with all his spelling words. He did this during his independent work time on Thursday, so I asked him to take a pic so I could see it. He did a good job, but I notice he spelled ribbon wrong & he has the word shallow in there backwards.

~ Fluency ~
I think we are really going to enjoy this book. We had fun with it our first time using it. Before reading the poem we talked about rainy days & cause & effect. Then, I read the poem saying "blank" whenever their was a blank. Then the second time I read it line by line, and he filled in the blanks with any word he chose. As it turned out, he chose the same words that were in the author's version of the poem. Then he got to highlight all the rhyming words at the end of stanza. Of course, he loved this because he got to use a highlighter. Then we read the author's version of the poem together. Next, he circled the cause & highlighted all the effects. I wasn't sure he was grasping it completely so I asked him to write on a piece of paper. He listed the cause, then made a list of all the effects. This last part I had him do seemed to take an extremely long time even thought the answers were right there for him. He had already circled & highlighted them, he just had to copy them onto the paper.

~ Science ~
We will be working on weather related activities off and on from now until Christmas break. I want to throw in as many experiments & hands on activities as possible. Capt. N enjoys it & in return better remembers the information. Our first activity was a flop, which was a homemade anemometer. We just couldn't get it to work. But, we have a real weather station at home, so we will just use that instead. He will be graphing the max wind speeds at our house. I love that we can tie math in with much of our science stuff since he enjoys math. If it wasn't for science, he probably wouldn't ever read in his free time. He pretty much only reads science books, particularly he's interested in animal books.
Experiment showing how warm air rises. The white cup is filled with blue dyed hot water, and covered with plastic wrap. That cup is set into a larger container (in our case, the coffee pot). The coffee pot is filled with cool water. Capt. N cut a slit in the plastic wrap and the warm, blue water went streaming to the top. He loved it. We had to do it again using a different color of dye.

Tornado in a bottle. This worked, but it wasn't very exciting & it was hard to see. I followed the instructions from one book saying to fill a bottle with water, add a drop of blue dye, 2 drops of liquid dish soap & glitter, then spin the bottle & you should see a tornado in the bottle. We could see a tornado, but barely. I have another version from a different book we will have to try next week.

We went outside looking for seeds that travel by wind. Ha! This is a good time of year for that. Our entire property is covered in dandelions & thistles that have gone to seed.

He also found a tiny seed from this pink flowering weed. But, we determined it didn't travel by wind.

Alder seeds

More wind traveling seeds. He loved this activity, of course. It was a great day to be outside & I'm glad we could enjoy it & do school work at the same time. We were keeping track of which seeds traveled by wind & how far they flew. Later he will make a graph with the results.

I'm relieved the first week is over & that it was successful. Hopefully, the whole year goes as well.

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