Tag Archive: Homeschooling


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.

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All About Reading Success! AAR has help Pynni tremendously.

All About Reading Success! AAR has help Pynni tremendously.

I’ve documented the struggles I’ve had with Pynni in both math and mainly reading here on my blog, and those struggles have put her even further behind than she should be as she starts her 3rd grade year. On a much more positive note, she is flourishing and reading better and better and with more and more confidence. I can see, now that Pieces is reading, where the confidence deficit has really hurt her because she doesn’t try and read every word she comes across. Pieces tries to read every word he sees. He isn’t more advanced in his reading level, yet but, he is way more adventurous and less worried about getting a word wrong. Still, without Pieces as a gauge, she is doing much, much better. I’m so proud of her extra hard work and perseverance.

With that said, I still worry about her. When she writes, she still gets letters mixed up and backward. When she reads, it’s slow and painful. She often complains of her eyes hurting and headaches and being sick to her stomach. The complaining can seem, at times, to be a ploy to get to stop reading. It’s not a ploy and fall into, but I have been trying to teach her to take small breaks to give her eyes a rest. It doesn’t seem to help, but I think it makes her feel better that I’m listening to her problems and taking them seriously.

She is so smiley and happy and wonderful and then she has to read or write and she becomes something else. Not my Pie. She gets frustrated easily and will completely lose her shit during class. So I’ve been addressing that and trying my hardest not to get frustrated with her. I’m trying to teach her ways to help deal with debilitating frustration. I’ve given her leave to take mental health breaks. If she gets frustrated, or preferably, feels herself getting frustrated, then she can get up from the table and get a drink, take deep breaths, move on to something else for a bit, go upstairs to the quiet of her room and cry if she needs to. Of course, part of learning to deal with frustration is also to learn when the breaks need to be over and what sorts of things are acceptable during school to alleviate frustration. Hint: Getting online to play a game or chat with your friends are not acceptable.

But all of this seems to be dealing with symptoms only. It’s reactionary and I like to be proactive so I’ve done some reading; research, if you will. I’m going to have her assessed for dyslexia or some other reading/writing delay (dysgraphia?). I HOPE that an answer will be found here. I don’t WANT her to be dyslexic, but I do want strategies to deal with her difficulties. I DO want to help make her learning experience less frustrating. She may not ever LOVE reading, and as an avid reader I really struggle with that, but I would love to make school less odious for her.

Then this happened:

My kids read independently for a set period of time every day. Chi will read for pleasure outside of this set time period, but the two littles haven’t found that love for reading, yet. I decided to take them to the library. I’m not sure why it’s always the last thing I think of when talking and thinking about reading, but there you are. So, I took them to the library. Chi has a ton of books at home that he’s working through (have I mentioned I’m an avid reader?) and rarely wants to go to the library. Pieces and Pynni LOVE the library. I told them to get 7 books in their reading level. They ended up get 8 or 9 a piece and they were SOOPER excited to get home and start reading.

I would find both Pieces and Pynni reading outside the allotted time for the next week or so. It made me smile. Pynni told me she didn’t like reading unless it was a book she picked out. This was after asking the week before if she could just skip learning to read altogether. So progress, I think.

Anyway, I’m still having her tested. The issues she has are too consistent and too pervasive to ignore. I’ll keep you posted.

Things. Stuff.

Things. Stuff.

That’s all I’m going to say right now. Stuff and Things have happened; have been going on. I’m hoping to turn stuff and things into some posts. There are updates needed, I know.

Onward!

While we officially started our new school year in mid June, we didn’t really kick it into high gear until last week. This is our third year of school here at Lamp Post Academy. Chi is moving into the 6th grade, Pynni is starting on 3rd grade and Pieces is charging through 1st grade.

**Side Rant**

As a homeschooler, I really dislike this need for every kid to fit into a specific grade category. I get why it’s a thing for kids in public school, but here at home? We do whatever level we need to be doing. If Chi is struggling with a math concept, we will back up and take a harder look at it. If that doesn’t help, I will find a different resource to help explain the concept to him in a different manner. We will work on it as long as we need to. If a reading curriculum isn’t working for Pynni, I can switch it, but that generally means backing up to learn how that curriculum introduces concepts or explains them. What terminology they use for concepts.

So we end up, with Chi for example, being in early 5th grade in math, but 8th grade in grammar, and 11th grade in vocabulary and reading comprehension. He couldn’t write his way out of a cardboard box, but he can verbally address many subjects quite eloquently and with a vocabulary that will stun you. So you see? What grade is that really? Well, I guess we’ll just stick with the conventional “this is where you’d be if you were in public school” levels and continue on with our regularly scheduled programming.

**End Rant**

Chi age 11.75 beginning 6th grade; Pieces age 6.25 beginning 1st grade; and Pynni age 8.25 beginning 3rd grade.

Chi age 11.75 beginning 6th grade; Pieces age 6.25 beginning 1st grade; and Pynni age 8.25 beginning 3rd grade.

When we started with our homeschool adventure, I backed up with Chi and Pynni, and started behind where they were in public school. I did this for several reasons, but the two main ones were to get a good feel for their knowledge level without starting out ahead of where they ended their public school education (All curricula are different and teach things in differing orders and ways. It’s easy to start out and quickly come across a concept the curriculum has covered in previous books, but not one your child has ever seen.) and to start a few things from the beginning that, Chi especially, hated in school like writing and Pynni was shutting down doing like reading. In the end my strategy worked amazingly well, and I accomplished all the objectives I was working to meet, but it also set the kids up to be behind in all their subjects as pertains to grade level.

So now that I feel like I have a real handle on the homeschool thing and that I’ve sussed out all the correct curricula and that we’ve got a schooling system and organization that works great for us, I feel the need to press ahead. We, with the exception of Pieces, are behind our public school counterparts in some areas and I think we need to remedy that. Because it’s just the three of us, we can move exactly as fast as necessary moving forward in this school year without leaving anyone behind.

Last year we just sort of mosey’d along with our school days while I worked to figure out what was best for Pynni and Pieces; what worked for them. This year, we can really buckle down and get some learning done. Last year was figuring out how to integrate Pieces into our school days. Last year was meeting with a bunch of homeschool groups and doing a bunch of socializing to figure out what we like best. Last year was making friends and switching curricula whenever we needed to do so.

This year, we have it down. This year we are going to finish at grade level or above. Now, of course, I am aware that “things happen”. Yes. I do know that. So if it takes two school years to be all caught up or more then it takes that long.

Our goal, for this year however, is to be grade level in as many subjects as possible. I’ll keep you posted.

All About Reading Success!

All About Reading Success!

Sometimes, I feel that I jump around too much. Change my mind too much about what the right curriculum is for, well, Pynni mostly. Then, I started using Workboxes to organize our school day and help my kids be a little more independent in their learning and eventually take ownership of their learning. The workboxes work great because you can learn new things and review previous things all in one school day. They are also great because I don’t have to spend all day teaching each child individually, and instead, we can all have school simultaneously.

But filling those boxes takes some creativity, and I’ve been perfecting the right combination of topics all year. I’m feeling pretty confident with where we are at this current moment.

Firstly, I’ve decided to stick with All About Learning Press’s All About Reading. It has really helped Pynni work to build her confidence and overcome her block where reading is concerned. Pieces is really flying with it, also. I think those two things are worth the expense. AAR teaches the rules to reading so there is little memorization of sight words. Be still my heart.

So I’m using the Phonics stuff as a supplement until the kids finish it. I will continue to use Explode the Code because the curriculum is all workbook pages and the kids enjoy working on them. That along with AAR gives us plenty of  activities to fill in any empty spots in our workboxes. For Chi I use Critical Thinking Co’s, Reading Detective. It teaches how to read critically while teaching the various parts of stories both fiction and non-fiction. I also use Guiness Book of World Records Reading for reading comprehension with Chi. He reads a lot, but I like to keep an eye on it to make sure he is still progressing.

As for math, I switched Chi to and started Pieces on Math-U-See. We are all really liking it. I switched Pynni from Life of Fred to Singapore Math this year. It was okay. Pynni liked it a lot, but it was a lot of extra work for me and I do a lot of prep for school as it is. I felt that it wasn’t helping me teach her in a manner she was grasping. She would do the work, but I don’t think she was understanding why she was doing things the way the curriculum asked.

When we reached the end of the book it was a no brainer to switch. So I ordered her the correct level of Math-U-See instead of the next level of Singapore Math. I think it will be less stress for me and more straight forward for her. We start that this week.

I’ve been supplementing math with apps on the iPad. I use Splash Math by Study Pad for the various grade levels to great effect. It is a really great resource for practicing concepts in a non-traditional manner. I’ve also been using Study Pad’s Time app and Splash Money app to reinforce counting money and telling time with the two Littles. I’ve also incorporated Critical Thinking Co’s Mathematical Reasoning at the appropriate knowledge levels for each kid. It is another supplement that can be a stand alone curriculum. I’m all about the reinforcement.

I’m still using All About Learning Press’s All About Spelling for spelling. Pieces recently started that because I think it helps with being a better reader. I love this curriculum because it teaches spelling in a way that explains the rules and exceptions in a logical, progressive manner.

I use Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing with Ease for both Chi and Pynni. Pieces will start next school year. It teaches writing in a non-threatening way. I can not express enough how amazing this curriculum has been for Chi. I know there are many other factors at work here with the ease in his being and manner these days, but I can hold this particular curriculum up as a huge factor in that. Chi was almost completely against any form of writing. He hated it. He just flat wouldn’t do it, and Writing with Ease completely set all the stuff I knew about learning to write on its ear. Chi will write now, without any complaining. It’s still not his favorite, but he will do what is required when asked. It makes me so happy!

For grammar I use First Language Lessons. All three of the kids use the curriculum. I really like it. It’s very scripted, but it teaches in little bits that grow and repeat until the child gets it. All three of my kids are really thriving grammatically speaking.

For vocabulary, I use WordlyWise. I’ve tried doing other things for vocal, but this seems to be the best. It’s a little advanced for Pynni’s reading level so I haven’t started using it for her. Chi hates it, so we do it in small bites and I’ve added Spellingcity.com as a supplement to help reinforce the words he’s learning and to break up the amount of workbook work he has to do day after day.

I have all of the kids doing some logic type stuff; problem solving and the like. They all do Critical Thinking Co’s Building Thinking Skillsword ladders, and logic links.

For history, I use Susan Wise Bauer’s A Story of the World, and Joy Hakim’s A History of US  (world and US history respectively). Iuse Highlights Top Secret Adventures and Which Way USA for geography and social studies. I use SuperCharged Science for science along with Usborne Books about science.

For piano I use Piano Adventures by Nancy and Randall Faber both primer level and level 1. For foreign language I use Rosetta Stone: Spanish. For typing, I use Type to Learn 4. For handwriting, I use Handwriting Without Tears which teaches print and cursive. For computer science, I use Scratch by MIT and Lego Mindstorms NXT 2.0.

That’s pretty much it.

note: I do not work for any of the above mentioned companies and no one from any of the above mentioned companies as given me anything for mentioning them. Everything is my own opinion based upon experience with curricula I have purchased with my own money after my own research.

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.

**Update** Please see comments where I talk about my experience with this curricula.

Original Post, April 2, 2012:

I’m preparing to teach a Kindergartener. I was completely freaked about it. Teach my kids about molecules? No problem. I’d rather dive headfirst into teaching them Calculus than be responsible for teaching them the foundation on which all their subsequent learning will be based. YIKES!

So like any good completely freaked out nerd, I did research. I bought books and read stuff on the internet and I went to my local homeschool store and talked to the professionals (Have I mentioned that I LOVE that place? The Homeschool Gathering Place is the best. They sell new and used (on consignment) curricula and the people who work there are knowledgable homeschoolers or previous homeschoolers. I LOVE THEM!). *ahem* Through various tips and suggestions, I decided to try out a new spelling curriculum, a new reading curriculum, and a new math curriculum. I’m sticking with the grammar, handwriting, history, and science curricula that I’m already using with the older kids.

Beginning with Reading/Spelling (I’ll talk about the new math curriculum another time)–

While the two are not the same, they are related. As you probably are already aware, reading has been something of a problem with Pynni since Kindergarten and we had to backtrack and start all the way over earlier in the year. It has taken me a while to get passed her aversion to even try to read and get her on to the learning part. I don’t want to unintentionally visit any of those issues on Pieces, so I decided that I needed a more comprehensive solution to teaching reading/spelling than what I’ve been doing with Pynni (and, yes, I’m going to use the new curriculum with her).

All About Spelling

Meet All About Learning Press. They make All About Spelling and All About Reading. Their motto is “programs that teach thoroughly so your child can succeed amazingly”. It is a lightly scripted curriculum, which we’ve had success with so far in our schooling endeavors, and is intended to be used in 15 minute increments in the beginning so that the child does not lose focus or get frustrated. It uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching in order to teach children the way they learn most naturally: using sight, sound, and touch. The program uses memorization and repetition in an engaging way in order to permanently create those pathways in the brain that will help your child be a lifelong reader and an excellent speller.

I decided to use the All About Spelling with Chi. He’s a very advanced reader, but spelling is not one of his strong suits. So I’m starting him at the beginning, and since this curriculum is designed to be taught in whatever size chunks your child needs, Chi will speed through the early stuff while still learning the things he needs to know in the more advanced levels. Chi was insulted when we started the first lesson and it was just flashcards and phonograms, but he didn’t know all the sounds vowels can make and learned something new. Pynni was, also, insulted with the content of the first lessons (she’s doing both reading and spelling) and that made her mulish. We persevered, but the fact that she didn’t know all of the phonograms was hard to take. I told her that Chi missed the same ones she did and that it wasn’t bad to not know something because that gives us new things to learn, and learn them we shall. She perked up at that. Pieces took to the lessons right away and enjoyed himself.

Huh, I guess I started teaching Kindergarten today. Not so scary after all.

That’s right, I mean YOU, Lowe’s.

I was on a quest. I needed a meter stick. You failed me on many levels, not the least of which was NOT KNOWING WHAT A METER STICK WAS. Yeah, failure should be your middle name.

I am not crazy (okay, maybe a little). I bought a meter stick from Amazon. (Thank you, Amazon!) So I did, in fact, know what I was talking about.

It’s THIS much longer.

See? A meter stick is a little longer than a yard.

This child moves a lot.

See also, that my five year old son is small. Cute, too. Oh, and the picture? It’s blurry because when standing still Pieces flashes fakey smiles.

For your information:

A meter is 100 centimeters. An inch is 2.54 centimeters. There are twelve inches in a foot and three feet in a yard.

3 ft*12 inches= 36 inches

36 inches*2.54 = 91.44 cm

100 cm-91.44cm = 8.56 cm

8.56 cm/2.54 = 3.370 inches

THAT is how much longer.