Small People

Small People

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Do I Understand?

U is for Understanding

While it's important that the small people understand what I'm trying to teach, it's far more important that I understand my children. I have 5 children, which equals 5 different learning styles and needs. In order for us to have a successful day/year, it is vitally important that I understand what each of them needs.

I have 2 who are extremely independent perfectionists. They do not like to be wrong, but they also don't want to be taught. They like to figure things out on their own. Unfortunately, sometimes when you're trying to learn something new, you're going to make mistakes. I've had to learn how to encourage them to be independent, allowing them to learn from their mistakes while balancing their perfectionism. (I'm going to be honest and tell you that I'm still trying to figure out how to balance this.)

I have 1 who loves to read and hates to write. The loving to read is extremely helpful; she reads science and history books for fun and absorbs facts like a sponge. We discovered a few weeks ago that her eyesight is not the same for both eyes, and writing causes her to have headaches, especially if she's trying to copy from one place to another. I'm hoping that once we go to the eye doctor next week, this situation will have a remedy. Until then, I'm content to allow her to do more drawing than writing for her notebooking activities, and I happily take dictation for her during writing activities.

I have 1 who is struggling to read. Any reading activity for her requires the rest of the house to be silent - not an easy task when there are 6 people in the house during school. Understanding what she needs means that I have to try to provide the very best atmosphere for her by scheduling her reading time while the others are working quietly.

I have 1 who wants my (or someone's) attention all the time. She was so excited to start school this year. Somehow, though, she got the idea that her starting school meant that ALL of my day would be spent working with her, and the others would just have to do their own thing. Now that we've established that I will spend time with her, but that I also need to teach the others, I've had to find ways to include her in the rest of the day when I'm not working with her one-on-one. I do this by scheduling time for the oldest three to work with her using her activity bags. When she isn't working with them, she is learning to sit beside me working on puzzles, coloring, or doing a quiet activity. This helps her with her desire to be near me, while allowing me to be able to still teach the others.

Because I teach them at home, I can use my understanding of their personalities to teach them in a way that will best allow them to learn. I've had 11, 8, 6, and almost 4 years of getting to know them to help me understand what they need. This gives me an advantage over a classroom teacher who might have only met them 2 weeks ago if they went to one of our local schools.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Family Movie Night

I missed seeing A Walk in My Shoes when it first aired in December. I'm excited that I will get a chance to see it this weekend. This Family Movie Night movie will air again on Saturday evening at 8/7c on NBC.
Ever judge someone just by looking at them? Of course, we’ve all made snap judgments about people. But what if we really got to know them? How would our opinions change? And what if we were forced to become them…how would the shoes fit then? Stressed-out high school teacher Trish Fahey can’t understand her students’ lack of effort and why their parents don’t seem to care.
This is especially true of Justin Kremer, a popular, skateboard-loving, basketball star who is underperforming in her class. Trish has him suspended from the team and quickly chalks up the situation as a case of bad parenting. This perspective dramatically changes when Trish meets Molly, a mysterious stranger intent on helping her see things differently. When Trish wrecks her car, Molly is there as Trish wakes to find herself living the life of Cindy Kremer, the woman she has personally judged and criticized. Trish discovers that there is often more to the story and learns a powerful lesson that affects everyone she interacts with. Her husband, her daughter, the ex-Marine next door… No one is left unchanged.

The small people and I have really been enjoying these Family Movie Night movies, and I'm sure this one will be good as well.

For more information about A Walk in My Shoes, you can check out:

Week in Review - Week 1

Our first day of school was August 15th. I'm not sure why I didn't get my week in review post done earlier, but that's okay. I'm doing it now.

History We're studying My Father's World Rome to the Reformation this year. Last week we began studying Roman life. We learned about Hannibal's march to Rome and mapped his route.
We are also learning Latin roots for vocabulary. Here The Boy was writing sentences using words that came from the Latin word duo, meaning two.

1st Grade Little Red started with a review of letters and their sounds.

Preschool Sassy was very excited to start school with us this year. Unfortunately, she thought that I would be spending the entire day teaching her. She wasn't pleased that I had to teach the older kids as well. She worked on putting the number puzzles together and placing them in the correct order.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

It's a Matter of Time

In our homeschool, I am very much outnumbered. There are 5 small people who need my help, my attention, and my time, and there is only 1 me. In order for everyone to get what they need educationally and emotionally from me, I have to have a plan for our school day.

T is for Time

About a week before we started school, I started working on our daily schedule. After hours of sitting at the computer working over the schedule, I finally settled on one that would work.

Here are my keys to successfully scheduling our time:

Combine, combine, combine. There is absolutely NO way I could have everyone doing their own thing for every subject. There are just too many of them and too few of me. All of the small people are together for Bible and History. The girls are together for Science and Calendar Math.

Utilize technology. This year I've added some classes via internet or DVD for The Boy and the twins. For the past couple of years, The Boy has done Spanish on the computer using Rosetta Stone; this year the twins are also doing Spanish. The Boy is using Chalkdust for Pre-Algebra, so one day he watches the DVD and the next day he does the assignment in the book. He is also using Apologia General Science. A friend of mine found a free on-line class for this (Thanks Audra!), and he watches the class and does the assignments during the time I'm teaching science to the girls.

Independent work. Realistically, a good bit of their school work can be done independently. Allowing the older ones to work independently as much as possible frees me to work with the younger ones more, in addition to fostering responsibility in the older ones. We have a variation on workboxes that we use. Each child has a set of folders numbered from 1 to 12/15, depending on how many things they have to do independently. Each day, I put an assignment in each folder for each child, either written on an index card or a worksheet. Folders include activities such as:
  • Morning chore list
  • Devotions
  • Vocabulary pages (using Wordly Wise)
  • Spanish assignment
  • Journal writing
  • Math fact practice
  • 30 minutes of Wii or computer time
  • 15 minutes of soccer drills or dance practice
  • Do an activity with Sassy
  • Practice guitar (flute and piano to be added this year for the twins)
  • Handwriting practice
Activities for Sassy. Left to her own devices, this girl can get into some trouble. In a 3 day span, she 1) thought my Bath & Body Works body spray was hair spray and heavily spritzed her hair with it (boy, did she smell good!), 2) got into my lipstick and proceeded to paint her entire face, and 3) painted the bathroom floor with fingernail polish. To keep my house in one piece and my sanity intact, I have activity bags for her to do, while she is sitting next to me on the floor. If you have a busy toddler or preschool child, I highly recommend Preschool Activity bags; if you have enough people interested in making them, you can organize a swap where each person makes a set number of 1 type of bag and then everyone gets a variety of bags. (If you are interested in doing this, leave a comment and I can coordinate one. We would need at least 10-12 people for a good swap.)

Structure. Some people can have a successful homeschool day without a schedule, just working on whatever they decide at that moment. I am NOT one of those people. I need my day planned out. I can be flexible within that structure, but I need structure. To Robb's chagrin, I've conditioned my children to be this way also. They like having a schedule and knowing what comes next. There is a downside to that, though; they aren't very flexible with it. If the schedule says snack time is at 3, they will be in the kitchen AT 3 to have their snack. I've also shared how I create our schedule and why having a schedule is so important.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Grace Card - movie review and giveaway

I'm always looking for good, Christian-based entertainment for our family, so The Grace Card was definitely a movie I wanted to see.
 Everything can change in an instant … and take a lifetime to unravel. When Mac McDonald loses his son in an accident, the ensuing 17 years of bitterness and pain erodes his love for his family and leaves him angry with God … and just about everyone else. Mac’s rage stonewalls his career in the police department and makes for a combustible situation when he’s partnered with Sam Wright, a rising star on the force—who happens to be a part-time pastor and a loving family man.

Can they somehow join forces to help one another when it’s impossible for either of them to look past their differences—especially the most obvious one? Every day, we have the opportunity to rebuild relationships and heal deep wounds by extending and receiving God’s grace. Offer THE GRACE CARD … and never underestimate the power of God’s love.
I thoroughly enjoyed this DVD. The struggle of emotions for both Mac and Sam as they try to build a relationship through the pain of the past and Mac's journey toward a relationship with God drew me rapidly into the story.

For more information about The Grace Card, you can check out
I would highly recommend buying The Grace Card DVD. But for one of my lucky readers, you won't have to buy it. In addition to the DVD I received to review, I've been given the opportunity to offer one to you as a giveaway!

All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment telling me that you would like to win this DVD. Please make sure you leave your contact information with your comment.

For additional entries:
  1. Become a follower of this blog. (Leave a comment for 1 entry.)
  2. Share this giveaway on Facebook, Twitter, or your own blog post. (Leave a comment to let me know how you shared it for up to 3 entries.)
The giveaway will be open until August 24th, and I will post the winner on August 25th (my birthday!!)

“Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our version of a Physical Education

"How do you teach PE?" This question was asked of me by someone who had just learned that I homeschool. Truthfully, I don't. That isn't to say that my children don't get some sort of physical education. It actually brings me to our next letter in the ABC's of Homeschooling.

S is for Sports

First, we have soccer. Anyone who knows my family knows that if you can't find us at home, we're probably at the soccer fields. The Boy is a soccer addict. He plays on one of the travel teams, watches soccer in his free time, participates in pick-up games as often as possible, knows the stats for more players than I can name, etc. Soccer Girl isn't quite as addicted, but she's getting there. She also plays on a travel team. Between the amount of time they practice and play with their teams and the time they spend at home getting touch on the ball, they get plenty of physical activity.
Those in my house who do not play soccer, dance. Yes, we consider dance a sport at our house. Our dancers put forth just as much physical effort as our soccer players. Ballerina LOVES dancing and at one point said she wants to be a ballet teacher when she grows up. (She might still want to, but at this age, her life goals change daily.) Little Red enjoys ballet, not as much as Ballerina, but she still has fun dancing. I love watching her on stage because she always has a smile on her face. Sassy will be joining the other 2 girls at the dance studio this year, which will be interesting.
Like I said, I don't teach them physical education, but I do have them in activities where they learn the importance of being physically active. My soccer players are learning good sportsmanship and how to win and lose gracefully. My dancers are learning to conduct themselves like ladies (I absolutely adore their teacher and love how she puts an emphasis on this). These lessons will help them, not just in the here and now, but for life.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ready (or Not), Here It Comes

Can you believe it's already August?! I can't. It seems like just yesterday we were finishing up our school year. Our summer has flown by much too quickly. All of the small people were busy with summer camps, but that is a post for another day.

I had planned to begin school on August 1st; however, that didn't work out. Soccer Girl has had morning soccer practices for the past 4 weeks, ending this week. Ballerina had morning dance classes last week. There is no way that I could start school while having our mornings interrupted with activities. So we put off the beginning of school until next week.

R is for Ready (or Not)

You would think that, since I was planning on starting school last week, I would be ready. I don't feel like I am, though. Our school table still looks like a bomb exploded, with papers everywhere from me trying to get ready.

Here is what is ready:
  • School books for this year are sorted and placed on the appropriate shelves.
  • Most lessons have been put into Homeschool Tracker. I'm a little befuddled as to how to schedule and plan out The Boy's math and science this year. He's moving into jr high subjects, and it's a little more difficult for me to plan out. I know that as we begin the year and I see how he's doing, it will be easier to plan the rest of the year.
  • Most of the school supplies have been purchased and are sitting in my bedroom closet. (No, they won't stay there.)
  • The daily schedule has been planned. It took much thought this year (and stress), trying to figure out how to make sure I can teach everyone everything they need, but it did get done.
Here is what is left to do:
  • Clean off the school table. 
  • Put away the rest of the books from last year. I have a few that I don't think we'll use again so I don't want to pack them away but I don't want them cluttering up my school room either.
  • Purchase a couple more items for the kids for the first day of school. 
  • Get the kids' bedrooms organized. Even though they don't do school in their rooms, I really would like them to have a nice, organized place to go when they aren't having school time.
  • Watch a couple of the dvd's we'll be using for school this year (IEW and Pre-Algebra) so that I can have a clue as to what I'm doing.
Regardless of whether or not I am ready, we will be starting school on Monday. So, are YOU ready for school to start? I hope so because ready or not, here it comes.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Quiet Time

    Last week, I wrote about the importance of prayer in my homeschool. This week, I would like to share with you how important having a quiet time is for me.

    Q is for Quiet Time

    Some people call it devotions, others call it Bible study time; I call it Quiet Time. With 5 children, time to myself is hard to find while the small people are awake. For a long time, I let this hinder me. I didn't spend any time in God's Word because I couldn't "find" the time during the day. Unfortunately my life suffered from it. I've learned that when I'm not in His Word, things don't go as well as they do when I'm reading my Bible.

    After struggling with lack of quiet time and lack of peace in my life, I came to the realization that if I wait for a time during my day to just appear, then I will never have a quiet time. I needed to create that quiet time. I've made the decision that I need to get up early, before the small people rise, in order to have time to spend with the Lord. I won't say that it's easy. There are many days that I want to stay in my bed and get some more sleep, but the days that I do don't go nearly as smoothly as the days that I've spent reading my Bible.

    My husband has a saying: "People will find the time to do the things they want to do." He was right; when I decided that having a quiet time was a priority, I found the time to have one.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    2011-2012 Curriculum

    Here's what we'll be using this year:
    Bible - Bible Study Guide for All Ages Unit 1 We used this several years ago, and I loved it. Then I did what I usually do, and switched to something else to see if that was better. It wasn't. So now, I'm going back to this. I love that we can all do Bible study together, but that it also offers the applications for the various levels in my house. It incorporates map and timeline skills, plus Bible memory work. Memory work isn't just limited to learning Bible verses, although they do that also, but includes learning the divisions of the Old and New Testaments, the books of the Bible and their authors, Jesus' apostles, etc.
    History - My Father's World Rome to Reformation We made the switch to My Father's World last year, and it was a great move. I'm looking forward to this year's study.
    Science - Apologia Anatomy and Astronomy The girls will be doing these together. We'll do Anatomy for the 1st half of the year, and then finish the year with Astronomy.
    Spelling - Spelling Power
    Foreign Language - Rosetta Stone Spanish
    Vocabulary - English from the Roots Up
    Reading - Progeny Press Study Guides

    6th Grade:
    Science - Apologia General Science
    Math - ChalkDust Pre-Algebra
    English - Rod and Staff 6th Grade English
    Vocabulary - Wordly Wise 3000 Book 6

    3rd Grade:
    Math - Saxon 3
    English - First Language Lessons Level 3
    Vocabulary - Wordly Wise 3000 Book 3

    1st Grade:
    Math - Saxon 2
    English - First Language Lessons Level 1
    Phonics - My Father's World 1st Grade, Explode the Code Books 3 and 4

    My Father's World Preschool

    Here's what we've used in other years:
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