Tuesday, August 14, 2012


    School is starting the last week of August for us. I'm sort of excited and fearful all at once. Our 7th was born on November and school went well last year till the second semester. I think I got a little side track after a month and a half break and it was hard for me to get back on track.  Overall, we finished but not without feeling very overwhelmed.

   Necessity is the mother of inventions. All through our homeschooling adventure we have adjusted according to our needs and every child that we have been blessed with. This year it was no different. When we used Weaver it came with a planner, but there was a lot that I didn't write down. Three or 4 years age,when we switched to mostly Rod and Staff, I started using a daily school planner from Rod and Staff and it has become vital to our homeschooling. We include every subject, lesson, week #, date, etc... It may not make sense to others but it keeps the program going.  I have planned up to 9 weeks in advance until this year.  This year I planned everything for K, 1st, 4th, 6th,  and 8th for the first semester! This is a major accomplishment for me!
I really want things to go better this year.
    I also planned out our school day for everyone. A few years ago I bought a book called Managers of Their Homes by Terri Maxwell. I spent a week working on a master schedule and finished it this week. (except for the baby's column) I still need to work on that.  Here's a few pictures but they are not very good.
And a snippet from my planner...

  So what are we doing this year?

Everyone is doing Rod and Staff Math, English, Social Studies, and Science. Spelling for 4th will be Rod and Staff's, but for 6th and 8th we will be doing something like Spelling Power's spelling list and plugging it in to AAASpell.com.  For 8th grade we will be using Apologia's General Science. Kindergarten is using Christian Light's Kindergarten program with a dose of Hooked on Phonics. And 1st grade we will be using Christian Light's LA and Learning to Read with a heavier dose of Hooked on Phonics. We will also be using 4th and 6th grade Christian Light's Reading. And finally, I will be using Lessons from History Creation to 100 BC for  K, 1st,  and 4th grade This is my attempt to bring in the younger children in and make our science and social studies more real to them. My 8th grader will be taking an outside Speech/Debate class as well as a History/Lit class about early Christendom and we are all doing co-op on Tuesdays.Our outside extras also include Piano/Choir on Wednesdays afternoons. Sounds complex? I think so sometimes. This is why I really needed a schedule on paper. I can't hold it in my head anymore.

Homeschooling has taught me several things. Some of them being that we have to adjust to changes. Another being that I need to plan. What works for others may not work for us and vise-versa. We have grown from the days of just a few children to a family with many others to accommodate  I'm preparing to have a good year. And this year, I needed a better prepared plan.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


     I love to learn! I love to learn and I wasn't homeschooled! I had those rigorous textbooks that reviewed some of the same things every year. The ones I can't hardly remember anything from except the basics I now take for granted. Yet I got excited every year when it was time to get new school supplies. I loved to have new books, new subjects, a new grade, and sometimes a new teacher. I still love all those things. (except it seems I'm always the teacher. :O)

child reading to an ele Pictures, Images and Photos   So what does that have to do with excellence? Because people who love to learn wouldn't except anything less. That is of course my opinion. But why would I go away from the table hungry or empty handed? Why would I except half- hearted work if that is not the best the child can do. (and maybe truly not even average work they could do) What if Einstein, Edison or Newton or Pasteur would have quit learning because it wasn't fun anymore? No, they pressed for excellence. There was more to be learned once that topic was conquered. More ...But how do you get more sitting there amusing yourself all the time? Did it take work to do physics, biology, music, medicine...

  There is an underline thought within homeschoolers that to love to learn it must always be fun. There is a place and time for fun. It would be a shame for the younger years to be zapped away without introducing all the wonderful things that can be taught at this age thru hands on activities. This should be fun and educational. But when do parents move on from just fun educational to teaching them how to "fish" for themselves? Is that not one of the goals- to teach them to love to learn? When do we as parents stop spoon feeding them so they can reach out with their own hands and be able to dive into the world of knowledge? And how do we do that transition? I think this is where we as parents get confused.

 " So how do you do that?" you might ask. You do it by doing the work involved in learning the subject. Not you but the person who is learning it. Now you as the teacher have a great task in picking out the material that will facilitate the child to work more productively because lets face it, not every book matches all people. But you do have the opportunity to select from what's out there to fit your child and implement it into his learning plan for the year. Then you have another great task ahead - To enforce that plan and encourage him or her to keep at it. 

Excellence! Do you strive for it? Do you expect it? Should you? I love learning and can't imagine not pressing toward it. -Not if you truly love to learn.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Our lesson on Ezra...

We had Bible lesson the other day and the topic was Ezra. I've never really paid much attention to Ezra. Perhaps it had never come to life for me. But it did this time.
Ezra was an Israelite of the captivity from Babylon. The temple had already been rebuilt 60 years previously and 80 years had passed since their slow return to Jerusalem.The reigns of  Nebuchanezzar, Cyrus, Darius, Ahasuerus, and now Artaxerxes had come to pass. We have now read about Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esther, and now Ezra. He was to go to Jerusalem to teach the people. Getting permission to go, he finally gets there and there is so much joy at seeing his people and his land. The punishment for sin had brought them into slavery and now they could begin anew. But then the princes come to Ezra with distressing news. The people had married foreign men and women.

Wasn't it the foreign women who deceived Solomon's heart and drew him away? This may not seem so distressing, I mean Israel was led captive and not many were left. Most left had gone to Egypt. But it was. They disobeyed God's command. Took in what seemed harmless with a twist of deceit to the heart. What harm would a goodly woman or man be though they be foreign?

The New Testament warns us about such things.  II Corinthians 6:11-18 tells us about such separation. A separation much more than mere physical.

"....Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? ....v.17..Wherefore, come out from among them, and be separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,....."

At the evening sacrifice, Ezra fell on his knees raised his hands up to the Lord. They had sinned and Ezra thought all was well. That they were off to a good start. His heart could make no excuses but only plead for mercy. All he could do was beseech the Lord for the people in humility. 

This is the heart God is looking for. The godly sorrow that it takes to reach God's heart. Our churches are full of goodly piety. Some even preach against sin.But they have or are in the process of joining themselves to foreign wives and husbands- the world. They have accepted the world and what is seen as normal. Deceived themselves into thinking they could espouse a little of what is foreign to God and that God would overlook it. That a little compromise with the world isn't so bad. Bigger churches are pleasing to God, so they think, because living out the blessings of God with no Uriah spirit is showing how good God has been instead avoiding the very appearance of evil. All a form but no heart in the matter. Or a little heart with a little form but not a complete surrender.

Oh, how Ezra must have felt! He cried ,"We are before you in our sins. We cannot stand before you because of this."  

Let us remember Ezra and reach God's heart. God is not mocked even when we allow ourselves to accept sin, harmless as it seems. He sees within us and our affections. He knows whether we are following others or following God. These are sober thoughts but we are not playing games. Heaven is not make believe and hell is real separation from a loving God. "Depart from Me, for I never knew you..." are real words that I don't want to hear said to me or my loved ones. So Ezra must be taught and will be taught from here on out. Maybe we won't forget his cries and will avoid the sin of marrying the world.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Few Thoughts on Being Set Free

I've been thinking about the song He Set Free.  One of the stanzas goes something like this-

                 Once like a bird in prison I dwelt
                 No Freedom from my Sorrows I Felt
                 But Jesus came and listened to me
                 Glory to God, He Set Me Free....

There was a thought I heard that has been profound to me. I can't quote it word by word but it has gone through my mind over and over with its message. Since I came to Jesus and made Him Lord of my heart, I can't tell you how many times I've heard this song. And I would in my heart and mind sing the praises of being set free from the sin that had me bound. Yet in  the last decade or so I've seen a freedom that comes in Christ manifest itself overtime. It falls in line with the thought that manifested its truth to me.  Here it is:

Free to serve the Saviour because I want to.
Free to do right not because I have to.
Free to choose Jesus and all of His loves.
Free to go to Him with no fear or qualm
Free from the task master, the Law.
Who led me to the Saviour to serve Him with Love.
Free to Obey His Spirit who is writing His ways in my heart.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Reading....for the love of learning

I've taught 3 children to read already. When I first started homeschooling it was a daunting task for me. Why I couldn't even remember how I learned to read. Did they teach me phonics or whole language? My first language is Spanish, but I had to learn English sometime around 8 yrs.. old. Most children in 3rd grade have already learned to read by then, so I'm not sure how they taught me since I was placed in a 3rd grade class as soon as school began the year we arrived to America.

Children are all different. My first son took off after the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy lessons. We briefly went over the Hooked on Phonics stuff and moved right into spelling rules because he has been reading  and progressing on ever since. He reads at the speed of light and keeps me hopping as I try to keep up with the young adult section of the library.  My second son was a different story. He couldn't take all the sounds that TYCTR offered. We had to go straight to Hooked on Phonics and slowly learn the short sounds, then the long sounds, then the diagraphs, dipthongs...etc I still monitor his oral reading to check to see where his vocabulary is going and how much he is retaining when he reads. My third child was average, not to slow and not to fast. She was right where she was suppose to be and moving on at the expected pace. But the fourth, well let's just say she is a combination of the second and her very own.

So what have I learned about teaching children to read?
1. They need to be exposed to a lot of phonetic awareness activities, like listening to rhymes and then having them fill in the end of the well reviewed rhyme. Ex.
Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great ____

This is the first step in their brain making a connection with sounds.

2. Reading is not a race that we should start as soon as we our child is 3 or 4. Some children are not ready at 4 or 5, but how long do we wait till we teach them to read? The question lies in the child and his abilities.  In homeschooling there is a great advantage to waiting but also to starting. YOU must spoon feed the child history, science, etc until he can proficiently read for himself. Why? Because if not they will be delayed in everything else. I say this because I am not a believer in letting children choose when it is time to learn to read. Reading takes a bit of work for some children. Their abilities may well be able to start reading but not their will to work at it. The advantage to delay is that the child may need a little more time to mature, to develop motor skills, to grow mentally. This is not an option in public school, where children get left behind because they didn't grasp something as quickly as others. So you must observe the child and his phonetic awareness, his ability to recognize letters, and whether he can retain information well or not.

3. Once we teach them to read, we must listen to them read orally for the next couple years. Listening to them read orally is important because you can catch reading problems this way. You can tell whether a child is having trouble pronouncing words and which sounds specifically he is having trouble with. You can tell whether they know how to divide syllables this way. You can tell if they are smart enough to retrieve the information from what they are able to read by context clues  and or because they substituted words they could not sound out. And you can help them by making them face the word. By having them read each syllable and reminding them why it makes that certain sound. They will learn when to pause, when to stress words, etc...

There's probably more that I could say but everyone is waiting for me so we can go to the library at this very moment.

Friday, September 2, 2011

2011-2012 school year under way (long and windy)Be warned!

    Well, next week we start our 6th week of school. We have done one week on and one week off since the end of July to make up time for when the baby gets here. Overall, we had a good summer but my little breaks are over. We are doing 7th, 5th, 3rd, and Kindergarten. (plus a little Preschool with Noah, which I have yet to decide whether to do everyday or every other day).

    Our school this year has a new addition since Chloe started Kindergarten . The boys and Annabelle still get up at 6:30am and Jesse gets math(Saxon 87) done while Grant and Annie do Bible with me. This year we're covering from Saul's reign thru the minor prophets with Rod and Staff's Bible reading program.(most of it is oral because we are using it mostly for our Bible)

      At about 7:30 am Annie and I do math(R & S 3rd grade math) while Grant does his Saxon 65.
During this time, Jesse works on finishing math, doing Spelling or Bible. (also Rod and Staff) and we break for breakfast. After breakfast,  everyone gets dressed, beds made, teeth brushed, etc.

      Around 9:30 Jesse practices piano. This year we are using Bastien(the older edition). He has two hymn books, the classics book, his lesson book, a technique book and his theory book. This is different from our previous years where he has focused on the Suzuki method and used the Hal Leonard books for lessons. But I'm pretty pleased with it so far, and so is he. He really likes the Bastien books. This year I've taken Annie and Grant under my wing sort of speak and I've been teaching them lessons with the Bastien books also. I can probably do this until they get to book 2 or so and then we will have to try to get them in with a teacher.

   Soon after our morning chores, I do English (R & S) with Annie, send her on her way to get it done, along with Spelling and Handwriting, and begin school with Chloe. This was the first year I have ever attended a homeschool conference, and there I decided to purchase Christian Light's new Kindergarten curriculum. We do about 3 worksheets a day that entail learning letters and their sounds, numbers, prereading skills, handwriting etc. Except on Friday, which I save for some kind of Educational game and an extra project or so. I've also started using Teach Your Child How to Read in 100 in Easy Lessons with her because she is definitely not ready for Hooked on Phonics yet. We're also going to start using Happy Phonics next week. For her other subjects, we are using Learning at Home with Ann Ward Pre./K. and this leads us to storytime. We have a great library and depending on the subject that she is learning about, I tailor her storybooks to go along with that. We check out non-fiction, fiction, craftbooks, etc around the subject she is learning about.

     We are usually done with storytime at about lunch time(12-12:30) so we take a good break. (I really need it by then) Sometimes I wonder how this all can be done, but it does. Jesse is about done with everything, except English and any checkups that I may need to get with him on.(The check ups would be our discussion time for Science or History plus checking work in those areas. We usually do those once or twice a week.) Grant is also done with his Math, Spelling, Social studies, or Science( depending on the day) and Handwriting. After lunch and our break, it is about 1:30 or 2pm. (How time flies!) I then tie things off by getting English done with the boys, and science or S.S/history with Annie.

    So after telling you all this dear blog, all I have to say is that God is very good to me to allow me to keep my head straight with a good planner that helps me hang all this information and make it work!