Tag Archive: Home School


Curriculum Round-up 2016/2017

So we’ve started our 6th year here at Lamp Post Academy. We still use the Workboxing System and have streamlined it since implementing it 4 years ago. Our school room is now the dining room, which happened a couple of years ago. It keeps my whole downstairs from being consumed by school stuff. I’ve implemented what I call “Boardwork.”

Boardwork is a series of index cards taped to my white board  that stipulate certain activities. The kids place a magnet with their initials on it on the card they’ve completed. These are mostly supplemental type activities and they are all to be done on their own time. Things like reading practice (read for an hour if  you’re Chi and 30 minutes if you’re Pieces and Pynni), math worksheets, various apps that supplement math and language arts, typing, free writing, copywork, etc. These are things they have to complete every day before they can hang out with their friends. I’m hoping it fosters personal responsibility that they don’t get from having to turn in homework.

Pieces has caught up with Pynni and we’ve been doing “class” together when we do “Work With Mom”s (WWM). They really like this and make a game of spelling and reading. All of the work we’ve been doing with Pynni has really been paying off big time. While she’s still behind grade level by quite a lot, she has less issues with doing the work and moving onward. Pieces was recently assessed for ADD/ADHD and we’ve started a low dose of Ritalin to see if we can help him organize himself a little better and focus better. This is new, and I can’t really tell yet if it’s having a positive affect.

Chi started 9th grade. Let that sink in for a minute. Chi is now in high school and everything he does here on out is to go on his high school transcript. I considered enrolling him in a virtual charter school but I didn’t like the idea of being beholden to someone else’s schedule and Chi was hard against it. I’ve been sort of panicked trying to decide what the right thing to do was and what direction we should take and then finding all the resources I needed to make this high school thing happen. I have been trying to decide if I feel like I can adequately teach high school English, Social Studies and Science. I’ve looked every place I can think of for information and suggestions. What you’ll see here is the culmination of months of researching, planning, scrapping, etc until I felt I had something both comprehensive and affordable.

So what follows, as far as the curriculum round-up is concerned will be first, what I’m doing with Pynni and Pieces followed by the course plan for Chi for this, his freshman year of high school.

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Pynni and Pieces (4th Grade)

Language Arts: spelling, reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary

Mathematics and Critical Thinking 

Extras: 

  • Handwriting Without Tears: all three kids with Pynni and Chi learning cursive
  • A History of US by Joy Hakim: all three kids
  • R.E.A.L Science Odyssey by Pandia Press: all three kids
  • Science Detective by Critical Thinking Co.: all three kids
  • Young Scientists Cluball three kids. This is a lab mailed to your house once or twice a month.
  • Which Way USA? and Top Secret Adventures by Highlights: all three kids (this helps cover basic geography on top of what they learn in their history curriculum)
  • Piano Adventures by Faber
  • Rosetta Stone: Spanish Level 1 and 2
  • Keyboarding Without Tears by Handwriting Without Tears: Pynni and Pieces
  • Study Island: I’m using this in lieu of other supplements and review curricula I’ve done in the past.

Joint Reading:

  • FINSIHED Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (We’ve been reading through the Harry Potter series. I thought I’d start including our group read-aloud books here, as well.)
  • FINISHED The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (We finished the Harry Potter Series and started with the Maze Runner series. The books aren’t nearly the tomes of Harry Potter and makes for fast reading.)
  • FINISHED Savvy by Ingrid Law
  • FINISHED The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee (This is just with Pieces right now. It’s for The Arrow. We take turns reading out loud. Chi will read this on his own and then he will read the passages used in the curriculum out loud to me. He’s read this book before about 4 years ago.)
  • FINISHED Scumble by Ingrid Law
  • FINISHED The Death Cure by James Dashner
  • Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Chi (9th grade)

English 1 credit

  • Brave Writer: Help 4 High School (writing papers)
  • Brave Writer: Arrow/Boomerang (literature)
  • Editor-in-Chief by Critical Thinking Co. (grammar)
  • Vocabulit by Perfection Learning (vocab)
  • All About Spelling by All About Learning Press (spelling)

Foreign Language 1 credit

  • Rosetta Stone Level 2

Math 1 credit

  • Math U See Pre-Algebra by Demme Learning
  • Math U See Geometry

Science

  • With us. I create a lesson plan, lessons, and use labs to teach various topics in Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. He won’t get a credit for this, but UNC requires only 3 science credits. He will start earning credits in science next year.

Social Studies 1 credit

Electives 2 credits

Supplementals

  • Study Island
  • Spider Island Logic
  • Spider Island Riddles
  • Reflex Math

The plan is for Chi to finish out any of his current supplementals. He has puzzle books that I won’t be buying more of, but I want him to finish them. Study Island covers language arts, math, science, and social studies for K-12.

He will also finish the Handwriting Without Tears book he is on and that will complete that, and he will finish out the All About Spelling level he’s on and that will finish that.

The thing about homeschooling is there are so MANY choices. I could choose to go any direction in any subject I want. I new from the beginning that Unschooling would not work for us. It is too unstructured. I seek structure and life with Chi requires structure. I, originally, wanted to do Classical Education with my kids and read the book The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer and Jessie Bauer. It was very informative and helpful in choosing what curricula I started out using with my kids.

Well, as it turns out, Classical Education is FINE in THEORY, but not so much in implementation in my household. Memorizing everything under the sun works for Chi and Pieces (Pieces is practically a memorization prodigy, and I thought Chi was amazing at memorization), but Pynni HATE-HATE-HATE-HATES it. So it’s not working for her. As you know, if you’ve read anything of my blog in the past, not much I started out using worked for Pynni at all. I’ve changed things around for Chi, too, but not as much as I have for Pynni.

Now we’d started out using Saxon Math, Pynni and I. It is very dense, very comprehensive, very expensive, VERY BORING. At least if one is Pynni Pi, which she is. I realized a few months in to school last year, that even I dreaded the opening of that tome of mathematics. So I went to the Homeschool Gathering Place to research and ask questions. I came away with Life of Fred: Apples. I was excited. Literary math! Who knew?

Pynni has loved it. Me? Not so much. I remain unconvinced that she is getting everything out of the reading that is expected of her. There are many large concepts she just isn’t getting. I keep having to break out other mathematics resources to fill in, what feels like, giant gaps in her knowledge and understanding. That isn’t working for me. If we switch away from Fred, Pynni will be very upset with me.

For now, I’m working with Critical Thinking math workbooks and using the Math-U-See curriculum (which is what I’m using with the boys) to fill in the blanks, but it feels like a lot of extra work, when just switching to Math-U-See would work just as well all on it’s own. Or maybe I should switch to a whole other math curriculum? Singapore Math has all the pictures and color that Pynni could want, like the Critical Thinking books, but it comes with instructional material. ugh.

So the evolution of my homeschool continues.

I’ve occasionally looked around to find a “schooling” philosophy to follow, but I’ve decided to have my own philosophy and teach my kids the way that works. I’ve met many families who homeschool through various functions and get-togethers and I’ve discovered that really, no two home schools are alike. Which is fitting, really, when you consider how different each individual child is and how amazing home school can be at catering to the individual. I know it’s why we chose to homeschool, and why we will continue to do so.

It’s the little things.

Chi was totally unable to self regulate and had regular meltdowns and constant stimming when he was at public school, but since we started homeschooling, not only has the stimming diminished, but the melt downs are almost COMPLETELY nonexistent.

And he has started self regulating.

I took him to Target (which has always been a top way to bring on the meltdowns (the lights are so bright AND LOUD, there are some many people and things AND THEY ARE LOUD, AHHHHHHH!) and events transpired in such a way that the kids were unable to get the items we had gone to the store to get (read: earned prizes for excellent, consistent behavior). Instead of melting down, as he would normally do, over unexpected happenings, I watched him walk very stiffly with a look of intense concentration on his face. When I asked what was going on, he said, “I can feel my body want to stop and my mouth want to squeak, but I’m making it not do that.” I was amazed.

When he meltsdown? My Chi isn’t there anymore. The Monster has taken his place and the Monster does not communicate or hear me or anything. Chi was beating that Monster. Now, MAYBE this is because he’s getting older (almost 11) but I really think the difference is that at homeschool, he isn’t staying overstimulated a majority of his time awake. As such, he is better able to read what his body is doing and learn to stop or cope with what ever reaction he is having.

See? I CAN enjoy the unexpected, and this is one of my favorites.

Even cousins and neighborhood friends joined in.

This has been the summer of science. Summer is now done and we didn’t get to do nearly as much as I’d wanted. That’s mostly due to me. My back. Hi, Internet, have you met my back? It is the ruiner of fun, the pooper of the party.

I take copious notes for each lab. I know how to take notes because I had Mrs. Loyless in 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grades.

I’ve been laid up with back suckage most of the summer, but the few days that I’ve been able to DO things, we’ve done science labs. These labs have been ROCKIN’! I signed up for this deal for a summer science camp from Supercharged Science for an e-class type summer camp. It’s run by me and I’ve probably spent more time getting ready for the classes than the website suggests that I do, but I like to be prepared.

We learned about air pressure. We learned about Bernoulli’s Law. We learned about flight. We did experiments dealing with air pressure using water. We made a Cartesian Diver which demonstrates air pressure. We explored Bernoulli’s Law by playing around with a windbag made from Diaper Genie bags. We built a variety of paper airplanes and birch wood airplanes. Mainly, we had fun while the kids (and the adults, too) learned new things. (I failed to document these experiments photographically)

Using a battery pack, alligator clip wire leads, and LED’s, we learned about the flow of electricity and that diodes are “one way streets” for electricity.

We did get to go to my parents’ house toward the end of summer to see DJ and Mae and their dad. Abshie and Timmus came with us. I brought along the necessary lab supplies.

The first thing we did was learn about molecules and their parts. We learned about electrons and ions and electricity. We learned some basics through some static electricity experiments, during which we made our hair stand on end with a balloon, picked up styrofoam peanuts and bits of confetti, spun a meter stick around as it balanced on a spoon, and bent a stream of water. All with a balloon!

Motor and a rheostat

Then we broke out the electrical components and built simple circuits. First we lit up LED’s. We learned about making a series with the LED’s. Then we learned about conductivity. I gave the kids a list of things and asked them if they thought those things would conduct electricity. We tested their answers with our simple circuits. We learned about amps vs volts to find out why our little circuits weren’t a danger to us.

Simple switches made with index cards, brass fasteners, and paperclips.

We modified this simple circuit in a few ways. First we put buzzers in place of the LED’s. Then we added a push-button type switch so we could control the buzzer sound. Then we learned the concept of the switch by making one out of an index card, brass fasteners and paperclips. We learned that switches are like stoplights for electrons.

Adding switches.

We added motors that turn clockwise or counterclockwise based on the polarity. I couldn’t find propellers that fit these motors anywhere so we improvised with tags made of duct tape (this was the kids’ favorite part, I think). This helped to reinforce the idea of positive and negative. We replaced the switches with rheostats and potentiometers. We learned that these devices can control the speed of the motors by limiting the electrical current passing through them. We learned that rheostats were the best at motor speed control as they seemed to be more sensitive and able to run the motor at very low speeds.

DPDT switch made from an index card, brass fasteners and paper clips.

Then we upped the difficulty level and made double pole double throw (DPDT) switches. It’s a concept used in “4-way” switches which allow you to turn one light off and on from multiple locations.

Motor and potentiometer

We took these circuits and applied them to “robots” a few days later. But that’s a whole other post.

Some more pics from our circuits lab.

We almost couldn’t move on from this because they liked it SO much!

****NOTE***** “Droppin’ Science Like Galileo Dropped the Orange” is original to the Beastie Boys. It is from the song Sounds of Science from their Paul’s Boutique album.

Even The Littles got in on the circuit action.

Everyone was very proud of the circuits they made that worked.

School Table Before Workboxes (and that’s the part I’m willing to show in public)

We’ve been homeschooling for entire calendar year. Wednesday (22nd of Aug) is our official anniversary.

One of the things I’ve been struggling with the most, outside of my back, is getting anything else done at all besides school. When I’m down with my back the number of things besides school getting accomplished falls to zero. Times like now, when I’m sort of up, but waiting on the referral for physical therapy, and trying to accomplish things without rehurting (yes, that is a word! I have LIVED it.) myself, I get very little done outside of school. Dinner gets made. The occasional load of laundry gets done. A few things get picked up here and there. Some cat hair gets swept. I may take a shower. The kids appoints are met. That’s about it.

I, mostly, “do school” and plan to “do school”. (Again, this is a legitimate action verb and direct object, just ask Chi.) Those things listed above fill in the spaces along with back icing and laying (I am the most productive person EVER). Even though I spend most of my time on school or preparing for school, we rarely get through every subject every day. If I work with each kid for three hours, I’m teaching for 9 hours and that does not account for preparation. Three hours of school for a kid is GREAT! But 9 hours of school for me isn’t so much. I don’t mind, really, but I wish we were more organized, more efficient.

Enter Workboxes. Workboxing is a system designed by homeschooling mom, Sue Patrick. It is brilliant. If you google “workbox system” you will find all kinds of people who have adapted this to their homeschooling. There are photos and ideas. It’s excellent.

Took a while, but finally all parts are together and put where they go. Ready for school!

Chi’s workboxes.

The idea of the workbox system is to divide your child’s school day up into twelve, easy to swallow, portions that include new material and review. The boxes should be diverse in nature so that your child does not get bored with some easy tasks and a few challenging ones. There should be many tasks that require your child to work alone and a few that require work with Mom (or Dad, you know, whoever is doing the teaching). Thus, teaching your homeschooled children independence in their school work, which is something that can be difficult to do when the one on one time can be pretty constant.

The over all concept is a little more complicated than that, but you get the idea.

Here is our school table after the workboxes are filled. There’s room to work!

We took the week off school so that I could get this thing implemented. The work up front is pretty intensive, and on the whole, won’t really cut down my school prep time, but the actual school time will be slashed dramatically. Also, this system will keep us better organized and on task. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going and what my thoughts are as we go along.

With all the “back to school” things everywhere, it’s funny how implementing this workboxing thing is like the mark of a new school year for us.

edit: I’ve found in the few days since implementing the workbox system that if I plan ahead, the daily prep takes about twenty minutes. MUCH better than before. A surprising, but welcome, development. And with all three breaks, the kids take about three and a half hours to get through all their subjects. In September we will start rotating history and science with the social studies we’re doing now. Pynni wasn’t too thrilled with the length of time working at first, but she’s come around now that she doesn’t have me looking over her shoulder for her entire school day. Chi took a day or so to acclimate and really struggled with the change, initially, but I expected that to be the case, even considering all the prep work I did with him. Pieces is Pieces and school is his mission while he’s doing it, whatever form that takes.

I need a meter stick. I do. I keep coming back to that and forget about it for a while until I come back around to needing one again. It’s mainly for school purposes. Sometimes I’ll be out running errands and I’ll remember and I’ll look and I’ll not find a meter stick. Then I forget again. And on it goes.

I finally put that meter stick on my LIST. I NEED it for science and we’re going all out with science this summer. So on to find a meter stick.

I looked at Target. No meter stick.

I looked at a Super Target. No meter stick.

I looked at Michaels. No meter stick.

I looked at Office Max. No meter stick.

I looked at Staples. No meter stick.

Then I have the best idea since starting this quest. Lowe’s Home Improvement! Solved!

Uh, right.

I go in the store and look in all the obvious places (by the tape measures? No.). No meter stick. So I look in all the obscure places (by the toilets? No.). So I decide to ask someone. I’ve been in the store for about twenty minutes at this point, getting the rest of what I needed and searching for the elusive meter sticks. The employee I ask, is a nice enough young man, but our conversation? Well, you can’t make this stuff up.

Me: “Excuse me. Hi. I need a meter stick. Where would I find one?”

Him: *confused* “What’s a meter stick?”

Me: “It’s like a yard stick. Only longer.”

Him: “How much longer?”

Me: “A few inches.”

Him: “Oh, you mean like a tape measure?”

Me: “No. A meter stick.”

Him: *wanders off to ask someone else*

I follow.

Him: “She’s looking for  a meter stick. Do you know where to find one?” *with a note of disbelief that such a thing exists*

Her: “What’s a meter stick?” *looks at me*

Me: “It’s like a yard stick. Only longer.”

Her: “How much longer?”

Me: “Uh, a few inches.”

Her: “OH! You mean a tape measure!” *excited that the mystery is solved!*

Me: “No. It’s a meter stick. Like a yard stick. Only it’s a meter long.”

Her: “Measured in meters?”

Me: “Centimeters. Used to, you could buy the wooden ones that were millimeters and centimeters on one side and inches on the other.”

Her: *picks up the phone*

New sales associate: “Can I help you?”

me: “I need a meter stick.”

NSA: “What’s a meter stick?”

me: “It’s like a yard stick. Only longer.” *struggling here to not be rude and either yell or laugh. Also, beginning to wonder if I know what the heck I’m talking about.*

NSA: “How much longer.”

One whole other person had this almost EXACT conversation with me before a still clueless assistant manager pointed me to the tape measures.

True Story.

I’m not sure why it mattered how much longer a meter stick is from a yard stick. I’m not sure why these people acted like they had no clue what a meter was. All I know is, Lowe’s does not have meter sticks, but the internet does!

And also? I’m glad I’m homeschooling.

 

We’re coming on fast to the end of our first school year as Lamp Post Academy. It has been an exceedingly interesting and rewarding year. We’ve learned a lot, but I think I may have learned more than anyone.

What I learned (in no particular order):

  • I am strong. I can be brought low with depression but I will still do what I have to for my kids. My kids are my saving grace.
  • I am changeable. There are things I have always enjoyed changing, but none of them are related to my schedule or my plans for the future, however mundane. With homeschooling, changeability equals strength. If something isn’t working for one of my kids, I CAN CHANGE IT. I don’t have to try and cram their pretty, smooth edges into a tiny square hole. No sanding necessary. That “something” doesn’t even have to be curricula based, but it can simply be the order in which we do things or the length of time spent doing one particular thing.
  • I can be patient. Patience is not a virtue that inhabits my person. I do not exude patience. I am not the person you would expect to be this patient paragon of a parent. Mainly because I’m not. I have learned through parenting that I CAN be patient, but I’ve learned through teaching that patience reaps high rewards and is, of itself, one of the best tools I have at my disposal. Sure, it’s a tool that I had to dig out of the back of the garage underneath the unused bicycles and the empty snake terrarium, but I did find it. And, I’m putting it to good use, honing it to a fine edge.
  • Pynni was very broken. Her self-esteem and confidence were destroyed after Kindergarten. I helped rebuild that, but mostly she had to do the work herself. I encouraged, and practiced my patience while she learned to trust me and trust herself.
  • It took a fabulous teacher over half a school year to put Chi back on track after 2nd grade, but even with that he flapped and squeaked and beat on things. He slammed himself around until you’d think he’d be covered in bruises. He will never be neuro-typical, thank God, but he is himself. He is not ruled by his Asperger’s anymore. He makes better decisions about how he acts, and they are actually becoming his own decisions and not a reaction he can’t control. Sure, he has his moments. Sure, he melts down occasionally, but he is so present and a part of what’s going on around him, I will not ever doubt my decision to teach him myself. Best. Decision. Ever.

Homeschooling has brought many things forward that I may not ever have known I was missing. My favorites are (in no particular order):

  • We learn in which ever way we want. We do math practice on iPad apps, or on the white board, or on paper, or on computer programs, or on little chalk boards, or writing in sand. WHATEVER. We read and read and read and it’s not a chore. We learn about spelling and tornadoes and bees and molecules and ancient Egypt ALL AT THE SAME TIME. The kids have started asking questions about the things around them and we look those things up. We watch documentaries and youtube videos and search the library and even wikipedia.
  • We don’t get bored. Done doing one type of thing? Let’s do something else, then.
  • The kids are growing closer. Yes, that’s right. They are bonding tighter and loving being together. They get along great. It is so awesome to see Chi, who’s five and half years older, and Pieces really get to know one another. I love seeing them spend so much time together. Pieces is learning from Chi and Chi is loving that.
  • I LOVE having my kids home. I thought I’d struggle with getting tired of them and irritated. I thought I’d crave alone time and quiet. While I still value quiet (no cable helps with that A LOT), I can not get enough of being with my kids. We talk more than we ever did and we interact in ways we never have. I look forward to the day with them. It has surprised me that I don’t look forward to bedtime every evening. Most days bedtime is suddenly upon us and I wonder how that happened.

So yeah. School at home has been fun. Yes, it’s challenging. Yes, I wonder how we are going to keep it up, but then Pynni asks if we can learn about butterflies and Chi wants to know more about computers and off we go.

Speaking of. I’m gonna go microwave some soap!

I’m not real big into the whole “New Year’s” thing. I don’t, on the whole, look back at my year with grateful fondness, or wistful nostalgia, or even apathy. It was a time period. It passed. What’s coming up this afternoon? Tomorrow? Next weekend?

In the same vein, I do not look forward with gleeful hopes of major lifestyle changes. I don’t plan lists of resolutions that will get dumped and/or forgotten in the first few days of the year. Sure, I have things I’d like to change about myself: lose weight, eat better, get more exercise, be more patient, smile more, laugh more, etc. But this dreamer is a realist and I know that making a giant list of “THIS IS WHAT I’M GOING TO DO, DAMMIT” is just setting myself up to fail which injures a self-esteem that wobbles from assured and confident to shattered and bewildered and back again.

Those things I’ve listed? I like to think I work on them always. I’m far from perfect and I’m a professional rebel. I question all authority, even that which I have over myself. “Self,” I say, “Self, sodas are bad for you. They rot your teeth and they are addictive and they make you fat(ter).” Self gives me the finger and has soda. So I have to play mind games with Self and trick it (me). (I AM NOT CRAZY!)

So, anyway. What I thought I wanted to say, was that with all the above mentioned things in mind (that’s YOU keeping those things in mind since I already know them), I was thinking about this year passed. It was a year like any other, I guess. It had bad, dark moments, months even, but then the light always broke through and things got better.

There were things like:

My back. It was awful at the beginning of the year. I was heading into month four and I was still almost completely stuck lying flat, no sitting or standing. Very little vertical allowed or even possible. The pain was awful. I saw my chiropractor two times a week until March or so and then I saw him every week until August when I was finally able to start physical therapy. Now I go once a month and physical therapy is over. And you know what? I’m better. I’m still at risk for surgery, but I have tools to help myself, now. Yoga for one and Tai Chi for another. Pain is minimal and sometimes gone altogether which is a revelation!

Chi. His third grade year was so much better than his second grade year thanks almost entirely to Miz Eff, his third grade teacher. We fretted and worried and planned and prepared and still I just knew that Chi was going to bomb that End of Grade test, but when we got his scores, he was among the top 5% in his grade. And all with no drama. He just let that test roll right off him as if it was nothing. I’m still not sure if it was nothing because we prepared so much, or because Chi was just inexplicably unaffected. Then we started homeschool in the fall and that has exceeded my wildest imaginings for what it would do for him. He is wholly himself. He hops around on his exercise ball and answers questions. He will even write a few sentences with no complaints. He loves school. He is more calm and collected than ever and seems so at ease in his own skin. A first.

Pynni. The start of 2011 began the odyssey that pushed me over the edge and made the decision to homeschool. It has been a hard row to hoe with her, but we seem to have hit our stride. I can only guess that most of our issues stem from how her Kindergarten experience damaged her self-esteem. It took four long months but she is reading. The light returned to her eyes when she was reading a short book to me and as she struggled through and sounded out all the words without any help from me, I touched her cheek to get her attention and said, “Pynni. You’re reading. Do you realize that? You. Are. Reading.” A grin that became a full on smile that lit the room (I swear) dawned across her face. Every so often, now, she’ll be reading quietly to herself and turn suddenly and say to me, “I really love to read!” All of that has made school with her easier, quicker and more enjoyable for the both of us.

Pieces. My fabulous, jolly little man is in preschool again and again it is all business. He loves it, but he is very serious about school. And it turns out, he may be my smartest child. He knows all of everything he is supposed to know for Kindergarten already. I’m going to start teaching him to read.

Doodle. He lived with us for most of 2011. Things got strained at the end. Things that are too personal, and still yet, painful to put down here. He moved out and then promptly got a new job and moved away. I will not be seeing him much anymore, although we talk on the phone. We have a very special relationship, my brother and me, and distance has never interfered, but I miss his presence. With his move comes the reality that his kids won’t be here much anymore, but we will get them here for a week or so every summer. I can be happy with that. Content? No, but happy and grateful for any amount of time for sure.

Grandad. My maternal grandfather was hospitalized after Thanksgiving. He’s had bypass surgery before and due to his age and heart issues, he is no longer a candidate for bypass surgery. Things were very sketchy for him there for a bit. He is very at peace with where he is in life and what his life has represented. He is a Godly man who has spent much of his adult life ministering to those in need, and I don’t mean preaching. His life is such a great example of what being Christian means. I can look at his example and be less jaded. Still, I am not ready to say good-bye and I am very grateful that he pulled through and is at home recovering.

Yeah, 2011 was mostly good. I’m sure I could month by month it and list all the things, good and bad. But I won’t. 2011 ended and I’m moving onward, but resolutions? Nah. I’m constantly working on bettering myself. One thing, though. I’m making my cousin a scarf or something, even though she hasn’t blogged SINCE JUNE!

Cheeeeese!

Teaching Pynni has been hard. She balks, fights, pouts, whines, sulks, mumbles, cries. In essence, she acts completely unlike her usual, giggly, smiling, easy-going, happy self. It has been baffling and frustrating and stressful to say the very least. I’ve wondered if I’ve done the right thing for her. Kindergarten may have been its own special kind of hell and may have damaged her self-esteem, but at least she was happy (except for that pesky crying during homework, OH, and when she begged to stay home because school made her cry).

Right, so I would get to a point during school days that I would begin rethinking this homeschooling thing for her, but then I would begin the litany of reasons that I started homeschooling. That very list of reasons that pushed me into the deep end of childhood education in the first place. Then, I would see that I just had to figure out what is up with her attitude about school.

Reading was difficult, and can still be so. I’d decided that her issue was either physiological or sensory in nature relating to her vision and have set the wheels in motion to get her tested or assessed or whatever is needed.

Then in a flash of brilliance I realized something. I, the teacher, was struggling teaching her the math curriculum we’ve been plodding through. I chose Saxon Math, and it is wonderful. For Chi. Mister Cut-and-Dried, Mister Point-a-to-Point-b, Mister Get-in, Get-done and Get-out. Why did I think Pynni was doing fine with this boring, dry curriculum when I was dreading teaching her math every day? And why did I think that she would be looking forward to much of anything when that core subject, that makes up half of her school time, was so stinking boring?

Pynni is NOTHING like her brother. Pynni needs colors and pictures and glitter! Pynni needs arts and crafts and projects! Pynni needs stories and crayons and PAINTS!

So I returned to the Homeschool store and asked those wonderfully informative, approachable people if there were some workbooks I could use to supplement Saxon Math 1. It was very pricey and I’m not willing to dump it until after the school year. HA! RIGHT!

“Of course, there are workbooks!” they said. “BUT, you should look at this,” handing me The Life of Fred. “And maybe you should look at this,” handing me Mathematical Reasoning. Mathematical Reasoning is a full curriculum in and of itself, but it is presented in bold, colorful, and fun workbook pages. “This,” I thought to myself, “screams Pynni.” But it’s a $40 book and I’ve already spent so much on the Saxon Math course.

Fred

So I check out The Life of Fred. It, too, is a complete curriculum, but it’s sub $20 for one year of study. It is, now see if you can wrap your brain around this, literary math. It takes a literary approach to teaching math. It tells the story of Fred, a five year old college calculus professor. He encounters math in everyday life.

The author, Dr. Stanley F. Schmidt, writes, “When I taught at the high school and college levels, the most frequent question that other math teachers and I got was, “Why are we studying this stuff?” In this series, every piece of mathematics first happens in Fred’s everyday life, he needs it, and then we do it. Everything is motivated–everything from introducing the number zero in this book (as the number of elephants that Fred owns) to hyperbolic trigonometric functions were we find three uses for them on page 250 of Life of Fred: Calculus when Fred and the 8’2″ lion enter an all-you-can-eat buffet.”

The first lesson, in this book they are called chapters, introduces you to Fred, his home (his office at his place of employment), and his best friend (a “happy meal” toy named Kingie). He wakes up at 5am and wants to go for a run but it’s too dark, and in February it won’t get light until 7am. TWO WHOLE HOURS! He proceeds to have a conversation about this fact with his friend and through this teaches the first lesson in addition (5+2=7). The chapter ends in a “Now it’s your turn” sort of way and asks 4 questions that require Pynni to think about that equation in a few different ways and then to notice that both 5+2 and 2+5 are equal to 7.

Pynni and Fred: Fast Friends

It was brilliant. It is funny, concise, and entertaining. Pynni laughed all the way through and answered all the questions. The following day we did the Mathematical reasoning pages that most resembled this lesson. She did all her work in marker and used a separate marker for each different worksheet. She completed 8 of them. She spent over half an hour doing math, two days in a row, and complained not one single time. She was smiling when it was done and completed the rest of her school day in record time with minimal whining about reading (although still periodically complaining about her eyes).

I feel like I’ve won something HUGE with this change-up. I can’t stop smiling about it. I’m excited for school on Monday with Pynni!

Anybody want to buy Saxon Math 1 plus manipulatives? I know where you can get one for cheap.

Lamp Post Academy

Lamp Post Academy.  Here is our homeschool blog. It’s pretty bare right now, but I wanted a place where I could put all of the homeschool things. There will be links to resources we like and a compilation of our current, and eventually past, curriculum. There will be postings about projects and trips and daily doings. Eventually the kids will be writing little essays to post there. At first they will dictate and eventually they will do the writing.

The Lamp Post Academy blog will not be syndicated on my Facebook page. It will be up to you to make with the clickies and check it out for yourself. You will, however, be able to subscribe to the blog if you wish.

Make no mistake, the LPA blog will not be replacing this one. I still have all kinds of things to say, but I hope you’ll visit our little space on the web. I’m hoping it becomes a good starter place for other parents who are thinking about homeschooling.