Saturday, September 11, 2010

This year's curriculum

This will be the last homeschooling post for a while, I promise. For those of you who were wondering what materials we use, you can look at our weekly chart below. If you click on it, it pulls the screen shot up in large. If you click on that again, it zooms in even more. Solomon is green, Isaac orange, John yellow, and Miriam pink. The white areas are those covered by all children in those columns (Miriam is included in the social studies and activities, too, but has additional subjects she covers that go along with her curriculum).

Basically, the oldest three do math and English (which includes reading, penmanship, spelling, and grammar) at their grade levels. For math, they all use Harcourt Math. For grammar and spelling, Isaac and John use LFBC, and misc. materials I already had on hand for penmanship and reading.

I am using the K4 curriculum from LFBC for Miriam, although I did not buy the student kit for her. I still have the teacher handbook from when I used it with Solomon years ago, and we have plenty of pre-K workbooks around the house that offer the same type of worksheets that originally came with the curriculum. With her, I only work at the table for about 20 minutes per day, and then she loses all interest. I have found that giving her lots of hands-on activities is a lot more appealing, so we do a lot of stuff like that here and there throughout the day (i.e. having her count ingredients as she sits at the counter watching me cook, etc.).

The two oldest also read the Bible on their own. Solomon is currently in the Old Testament, which he will be done with at the end of the year, completing his first time reading through the Bible completely on his own. Family bible time or listening to it on CDs does not count toward that. Isaac is reading a daily portion from the New Testament, as well as Psalms and Proverbs twice during that same year. I still have to sit and listen to him read it out loud to help him if he gets stuck on a name or something.

To help the three boys work more independently, I put a printout of the above weekly plan in the front of each of their binders. I also made them each a printout of the general guidelines of how much they are supposed to do in each subject every day. That way, they can follow the below daily charts each day, checking them off as they go with a dry-erase marker, but also compare it to the weekly chart at the end of each week to make sure that they really did get all the pages done that they were supposed to. This system worked pretty well with them for this being our first week.

(There is a typo in this. Isaac is supposed to do 2 pages of handwriting per day, which is why it does not line up with the weekly chart. It's since been fixed.)

My husband teaches the kids from 8 to 8:30 every day (8 to 9 when he takes them to the park by our house for P.E. twice a week). In addition to the P.E., he is responsible for teaching them their foreign languages, and music. Solomon also has weekly piano lessons with a very sweet lady who teaches him one-on-one.

In the afternoons, when the girls are napping after lunch, the boys and I work together on social studies (history, geography, science, etc.). This is everyone's favorite part of school work. They also read the books relating to the week's subject silently on their own while I take a nap or do chores around the house. Activities, like making a related craft or cooking a meal from the country we are learning about, are done after the girls wake up once or twice a week.

You may have read on the above sheets that the boys are supposed to pick a couple of chores to do each morning before starting their school work. As these change every day, and rigid day-by-day schedules for chores have never worked for our family, I made the following list of things that may or may not need to be done on any given day that the boys can do on their own without any help or supervision. It hangs on the side of our fridge, and they are supposed to find one that they feel like doing and that has not yet been done. No, we do not go through the whole list every day! Just those things on there that need doing, or need it the most.

Finally, to remind us all of what manners we should use around the house, I made the following list. With seven people living together under one roof all the time, things can become tense if we all pull in different directions, which is a tendency since we all have very different personalities. It is a constant struggle to try to keep everyone harmoniously working toward the same ultimate goal: serving God with our lives. So while we all fail at many of the things on here daily, it's still a nice reminder of what our ideals are.

The kids earn checkmarks on a dry-erase chart I keep by this list on the fridge if I observe them making a particular effort to follow these guidelines. For example, if one of the older ones is very kind and patient in helping one of the younger ones without me having to remind them of it, they earn a checkmark. But if I catch them running through the house like a monkey, or if they come tattling, etc. they lose one. For 20 checkmarks they can pick a small favor, such as going along shopping with me by themselves, getting a small treat, or something of the sort. It takes them a good week to earn that many checkmarks.

This first week went well. All the kids got their assignments done, and life was as "normal" as it could have been all things considered.

The bad news this week was that the motor on our pool filter, as well as the water pump on our dishwasher, broke. Hence, our pool is now turning green, and I have to wash dishes by hand until my husband replaces the dishwasher. He already replaced the pool filter motor, but the one we bought (used on craigslist) turned out to also be broken so we wasted the money on that, as well as three hours of his time. The guy we bought it from, who sells refurbished motors, gave us a different one instead of the broken one he sold us, but my husband has not yet had time to put that in so we don't know if that one works or not.

My main problem with washing dishes by hand is that my pregnant stomach is seriously in the way. Our kitchen sink is kind of large, so if I stand straight in front of it, my belly sticks out so much that my hands can hardly reach the faucet (I wash the dishes in running water, rather than filling the sink - yuck!). So I either have to stand in front of the sink sideways, or else hunch forward over my belly. Neither is very comfortable. :)

Then yesterday, the home computer was seriously smelling like electrical burn. It was very strong, I could smell it all the way from the office to the kitchen. I checked all the other computer equipment (printer, router, etc.) but the smell was clearly coming from the actual computer tower. I turned it off, and the smell went away. Not sure if it will turn on now or not, but I don't want to try it. I am using my laptop to go online for now.

I was wondering if maybe Solomon's hamster, who somehow escaped his closed cage last week in the middle of the night and whom we have not been able to find/trap (humanely and alive) since then, had managed to get inside the computer and start chewing wires, but looking at it I don't think that would have been possible, nor do I think it chewed any of the exposed wires.

My guess is that the hamster found a hole somewhere and left the house, as we have seen no trace of him anywhere. He was kept in the office, which is adjacent to the laundry room, so maybe he went out where the dryer vent attaches to the outside? I even sprinkled flour in various rooms at night, with a yummy treat like peanut butter or cheese in the middle of it, to see if it walked over and ate of it, but to no avail. I think if he could get out through a closed cage, he could get out anywhere. There were holes in the roof of the cage to attach plastic tubes for it to crawl through, but there were no tubes attached. How on earth he could climb out of a hole far out of his reach, straight up above his head, is beyond me. I mean, he never had in the past.

Anyway, this turned out longer than I had intended it to. No more homeschooling posts for a while!


  1. We prefer rats to hamsters. It says on the cage at PetSmart that hamsters are for ages 9 and up, but on the rats it says 5 and up. Translation: 3 and up. Hamsters are more likely to bite and smaller and easier to lose. Also, rats are cheaper and way more tame. I have had one before that actually came when called. Although rats are also considered nocturnal, they are more than willing to adapt to your schedule and play a lot during the day. If a rat does escape in the first few days before it is tame enough to seek you out, it is easy to coax it out of its hiding place with food. The best place to get one is at a small private pet store that stocks them as feeders for reptiles or from a breeder on craigslist. Ideally, you should try to get one that is around 5 or 6 weeks old. If you have to get an adult, a female will be more tame. We are planning a litter for around December, but you'd have to come pick one up. Haha.

  2. This post is great. I LOVE reading about your plans for homeschooling and seeing how you manage it. My son is only 14 months old but already I am looking forward to homeschooling. You write with such joy and preparation, I know that your children are getting a wonderful education. Please keep posting about your homeschooling efforts. I love all the charts and stuff and I hope to keep reading them for future inspiration for my own homeschooling efforts!

  3. What do you think about Abeka homeschool books and why do you like the Harcourt math(I don't know anyone who uses it.)? Do you know who Kent Hovind is and what do you think of that?

  4. I had a hamster when I was a teen. It got out once and was missing for almost 2 months. Then one day it showed up in the basment and was fine. It lived for 2 years after that! I don't know how it survived but it did! I think all they try to do is eacape. All of mine could pop off the plastic top to it's tower on the cage.

  5. This is my first time homeschooling so thanks for the ideas .

  6. I am glad you psted this. I have been trying to schedule instead f our face each day as it comes lifestyle. This has worked while the children were yunger, but now we are needing a schedule. I keep trying, but get overwhelmed. In addition to schooling there are so many chores to get done daily. Just laundry is huge with the ten of us. How do you do laundry???? D you have differnt sorters. In our home I have three who are ld enough to put away their laundry and 5 who are unable too do that yet.
    Also, how do yu keep a schedule going while nursing an infant?

  7. Great post! I don't know your skill level with computers but if you are comfortable with opening it up, you should check the fan that keeps it cool. If it is still running, just take a moment to use and air can and blow out any dust anywhere you can see some. If the fan is not working, I would not use it until you can replace it. Most of them are not that difficult to replace.

  8. I am curious about what your views of science are. You listed science as a subcategory of social studies, which I never would have considered. How does this translate to how you teach the subject? Do you address the scientific method, scientific reasoning skills, etc?

  9. how do I subscribe to your blog? I don't see an option to subscribe... :(


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