Summer School

 

We have just finished our first week back to school for the summer. I have planned for 8 weeks before taking a short break, and then we will be back for our Fall/Spring schedule. We have started back with a positive attitude – I think the break did us both good. Kyri has been in a great mood about lessons, and eager to do both her Math and Language Arts

1. Math – This is a continuation of what we have been covering. I posted in detail about our Math curriculum for this school year over at Kyriandra’s Big Day if you want to read more.

I decided to start the summer in the new Grade 1 Flash Kids Workbook. It started off with basic topics – counting, skip counting, greater than/less than, and place value. Because Kyri had gotten burned out on her Math this Spring, I figured it would do her good to go back a few steps, review and regain her confidence on easier material. This approach has really been working – she has been enthusiastic and wanting to work ahead

We will be continue to work through our Kumon Addition and Subtraction workbooks, as well as our Flash Kids Time and Money, and Place Value workbooks. I will wait a week or two until we work up to these topics again in our new Grade 1 workbook.

We started using Aha Math , an online math site, at the end of Spring and Kyri has really enjoyed it! It goes a litte more in depth (as well as higher in grade level) than Starfall Math, so she will be using both online resources for supplemental Math activities.

2. Language Arts – Like Math, this is just a contination of what we have been doing. We are working on Phonics, Spelling, and handwriting. We will work to finish our Spectrum Phonics Grade 1 and Harcourt Spelling Grade 1 workbooks, continue with copywork and journaling, and  read, read, read! Kyri also loves to write her own stories. While I never correct her spelling in her stories, she does ask me how to spell words while she is writing, so this has been really good for reinforcing her spelling skills. I continue to encourage her to write slowly and clearly enough so that others will be able to read and enjoy her stories.

3. Five in a Row – We have really enjoyed this curriculum. While we do not use it to the full extent that other homeschoolers do (and who are using it as their core curriculum) I think its a wonderful resource and we will be continuing. We have two more books to read for Volume 1. We wil continue on to Volume 2 as part of our Fall school schedule.

4. Unit Studies – We are using our Intellego Unit Studies this summer. I discussed previously how the online approach was not working so well for us when we started these unit studies this past fall. But I really want to cover the topics. So we are following the topics in each unit study, and reading books each week. Three unit studies seems to make for a full summer schedule (at least an 8 week session) so we are focusing more on reading and being exposed to the material rather than going too in depth each week with computer activities and crafts. Kyri is really in a reading phase right now, so this is really working out best for her. I may recycle these throughout the year to go more in depth – I haven’t decided yet.

Civics:Symbols – (Intellego Civics:Symbols K-2 Unit Study) We are reading about the American flag, patriotic music, national monuments and important documents.

Geography – (Intellego Geography: Maps K-2 Unit Study) We are learning about different types of maps and the information they provide, cardinal directions and the compass rose, hemispheres, the poles, the continents and oceans.

Astronomy – (Intellego Astronomy K-2 Unit Study) We are learning about our Solar System, the Milky Way and other types of galaxies, our Sun, our Moon, and the planets. We will also be reading about comets, asteroids, and meteors.

5. Spanish – We will be starting something more formal in the Fall but I wanted to spend the summer review Kyri’s numbers and colors (she learned a few things in her preschool two years ago), and also start learning basic vocab. We will also learn a few basic phrases. This should get her confident for starting more in depth language studies in the fall.

6. Bible Study – I wanted to start working through a weekly children’s devotional with Kyri. Each week introduces a Bible story and Bible verse and prompts for discussions. There are optional activities that we may or may not do. I mainly want to introduce more Bible stories and Character studies. We will be working on Character and Virtues this fall, so I though this would be a good place to start.

7. Nature Studies – I really want us to spend a little time each week outside, with Kyri taking the lead in terms of what we explore. Its already pretty brutal even the mornings around here, though, so this may be very limited. We may have to wait for Fall to really enjoy any nature walks.

I am pretty excited for our Summer. We have lots of fun things planned – field trips with our Growing Up Wild co-op, field trips to local museums, and just plenty of good times with friends. Our school schedule is intensive enough to keep us learning over the summer but light enough to leave plenty of time for playing. I’ll be keeping up with our weekly progress with our Week End 10 posts at Kyriandra’s Big Day if you want to keep up with our summer studies.

 

Finding a Homeschool Community

We have just wrapped up our first year as homeschoolers.Our daughter had been in daycare and preschool since she was 6 months old. When we relocated last Spring and we made the decision for me to stay home to homeschool Kyri and take care of our now year old son, I knew I wanted to get involved with other homeschoolers in the area and participate in homeschool groups. Because Kyri had always been in a classroom setting, I felt that it was important for her to have frequent interactions with other children. I also knew that, even though I consider myself a smart person and have taught college-age people, educating a young person and my own child at that, was going to be a new (and perhaps a little daunting) experience.

I immediate got involved in a wonderful homeschool group in the area, and from this early involvement I have become involved in both the small weekly Science and Social Studies co-op we participated in during the school year (and will continue in the fall), as well as the monthly Growing Up Wild co-op that we are involved in. 

We are also involved in a second local homeschool group and have gotten to know several other homeschoolers in our area.

We participate frequently in both homeschool groups weekly park days. The socialization and friendships are important to Kyri as well as Mom.

Just this week I spent the day with several moms from one of the homeschool groups. One mom hosted a wonderful Curriculum Chat at her house and we had a chance to showcase curriculum choices we were using and liked, check out what others were using and that we might be curious about, and honestly just chat about being homeschoolers. The kids had a wonderful time playing together and the moms had a recharge – social time and brainstorming about what works for others and themselves in homeschooling. It was great!There was a range of experience – a couple moms were just starting this summer or about to start in the fall, a couple like myself who had just finished the first year, and one who had a couple years under her belt. We all came with different teaching styles and homeschool experiences and it was great to share what our experience has been. I left feeling more confident in my abilities and my role as a homeschooler. Sometimes it just takes sharing your story to feel like, Hey maybe I am getting the hang of this thing!

We choose to participate in inclusive homeschool groups, because even though we are Christians, we are secular homeschoolers and choose not to use religous-based curriculum. We participate with plenty of Christian homeschoolers – some who use religious-based curriculum and some who do not – but I prefer being in homeschool groups that do not require a statement of faith. I know that in some smaller communities this might not be available for secular homeschoolers or those looking for a more inclusive group, but in a larger city like San Antonio, we are lucky to have so many groups to choose to participate in.

I’ve been thinking about the importance of being involved in the local homeschooling community, either through a homeschool co-op or homeschool group that has regular social get-togethers. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Kids and parents need to socialize. I know “socialization” leaves a bad taste in the mouth of homeschoolers because often people with poor opinions of homeschooling trying to pull the socialization card, but I do think its important for us as adults and for our kids to have peers. It doesn’t have to be a homeschool group – it can be our church community, neighbors, etc. – but we still are social beings and need to have friends to interact with. A homeschooling group is a great place to meet other parents, and kids in similar age groups as our kids.

2. I’m not an expert and neither are other homeschoolers. We know what works well for our family. What works (or doesn’t work) for us may not be the same for another family. But it sure helps to bounce ideas off of fellow homeschoolers, commiserate if we are going through a rough patch in our homeschool, and celebrate each others’ successes.

3. Being active in a local homeschool group is great for keeping up with learning opportunities in the community. Museum homeschool days, summer reading clubs, co-ops that are available, educator discounts, etc. It can be tough to keep up with everything that is going on in our community, so getting together regularly with fellow homeschoolers is an excellent way to be aware of what opportunities are available to us.

4. Sometimes its helpful to see other families who are homeschooling and how they have up days and down days just like us. We don’t even have to discuss it, just seeing a normal homeschooling family being, well…. normal, is encouraging enough. I’m not the only momma who needs to call a “Home Ec” day when things get a little behind at home. I’m not the only momma who spins her wheels for a week when the 5 year old sprouts a ‘tude. Seeing other families in the trenches reassures me that we are doing just fine, even on our worst days!

Are you active in a local homeschool group? What do you get out of it (or put in)?

End of Year Awards and Homeschool Party

Last week we finished up the traditional school year with an end of year party with our local homeschool group. Parents had the opportunity to recognize their children and give awards for academic achievements.

Even though we will be schooling over the summer, I like the idea of having an “end of year” recognition, as well as taking a short break before starting our summer school. I hadn’t really thought of when our next school year would “officially begin” since we are schooling year round, but Kyri seemed excited when I told her that she was officially done Kindergarten and was now a first grader.

We are officially on our three week break starting today. And it is definitely needed! We will be having our end of year party for our co-op this week, which will be loads of fun! Time to recharge before jumping into our summer schedule.

I’ve got most of our summer planned out and will post about what we are studying. I need this time off to plan out the details and start requesting library books.

Here is Kyri and I after she got her awards. I presented her with her Kindergarten Diploma, and awards in Math and Reading. Even though we have struggled to figure out a teaching style in Math that she doesn’t get frustrated with, she gets the material. And I wanted her to have her progress recognized. For her Reading award, I recognized her developing into an Independent Reader. She has progressed so rapidly with her reading, it still amazes me to hear her read aloud. I’m very proud of all her accomplishments this year and look forward to continuing!

And in case you are curious, I decided on a name for our homeschool. I know lots of homeschoolers choose a name, and they can range from the simple (using just their name like Such-and-such Homeschool) to very complicated. I decided on Ad Astra Academy – it sounds ambitious and reflects where I visualize our schooling taking us.