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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Frozen

Praise the Lord that the Navy is moving us!  Even with a company coming to actually pack/load/transport all of our stuff, it still has been a little overwhelming getting everything ready.  There have been moments that I just feel frozen.  Like this moment:


I literally sat in the middle of this pile of laundry that needed to be folded for 30 minutes, half in pj's, half in church clothes.  Should I get in cleaning clothes and scrub the shower or should I take some time to just rest or should I fold this laundry and work on packing suitcases?  Instead of all those things, I put on jeans and we went for a family walk.


I ran to Target this week to get some moving supplies (aka a bunch of completely random things, ranging from triangle crayons to yogurts to a giant container of clorox wipes) and snacks for the packers.  P.S. I am terrible at buying snacks for people I've never met.  I thought it would be a great time for a little date with my littlest...and every.single.time he falls asleep.


Today, I worked on packing clothes.  5 suitcases!!!  Halfway through, the frozen bug came and I just stood in the middle of our room.  Alison asked why I was just standing there and I realized that all of us were just standing in my room, trying to figure out what to do.

The kids have been so sweet and have offered over and over to help.  It's hard for me to find jobs that are actually helpful, but I appreciate their heart.  I told them today to go through their room and pick out a few toys that they wanted to take in the car with them.  Alison filled the largest bag she could find with stuff and Eli brought in these 2 lego sets...and Colin brought nothing.  I have no idea how we are going to transport Lego sets across the country, but I feel so bad not including the one thing Eli wants with him.


As for as school, I stopped teaching last week, but didn't tell the kids we were done.  hee, hee.  I knew once I told them we were on a break, they would go veg crazy and the less veg crazy time we have, the better.  So, last week I wrote in their calendars 3 things they could do independently for school each day.  This week, I wrote nothing, but they have continued to do school on their own.  I am so thankful that I set them up on these online tools!  It completely saved me today!  They were learning and I was working and it was beautiful.


Blessing in the frozen stage:


We had some friends over for dinner.  The kids went upstairs to play and when we called them down for dinner, Eli said that they were playing school.  Later that night, I went up to the schoolroom and found this paper.  My first thought was Alison must have been playing with them, but Eli later told me that it was him who wrote this.  I have never seen him write this well...okay, the 4 is backwards...but it made me tear up.  It was so amazing to see him blossom when we weren't "in session".

Thursday, February 11, 2016

8,000 things

I don't even have time to blog, but I've started about 8,000 different posts in my head over the last week, so I thought I'd jot down the condensed version.

I started working on getting school portable for the big move.  As with all projects I've started lately, it became much bigger than I anticipated.  I started with making each kid a binder with all of their subjects in it.  With this, I can have all of school in 1 backpack and simply hand each kid their binder and guide them through each section.  However, compiling all of our curriculum into small binders was...well, hard and it opened several unexpected school doors.  As I worked on condensing each subject, I realized that grammar and science were just not working for us.  I was trying hard to make it work, but was putting A LOT of work into modifying it.  So, I said, "Thank you for your service" to it and put it in a box to resale later.  Thanks to Amazon, I ordered some new, simpler/smaller books.  Both Alison and Eli have finished their math curriculum, so I made a section of review pages and signed them up for Kahn Academy, an online homeschool site.  I also signed the boys up for ABCMouse, a preschool/kindergarten learning site.  While this paper work and computer learning is not how I prefer our learning/teaching, it is a season and I need to know that we can do school in a hotel room or empty house...hopefully these tools enable us to do that.

New books and binder, ready for our geography unit study and "transition school"


We worked on getting in the grove of this more independent learning.  It took some time to get the kids rolling on both learning sites, but they were all very excited about this new venue.  I have been extremely happy with both sites and it's actually very challenging, yet rewarding for Alison.  When she's done with math, she can explore other subjects offered and has chosen topics I would never have thought about adding to our curriculum.  It's fun to see where her curiosity takes her.



I also bought Gus Spanish, for us all to learn together.  We've had fun playing over lunch.


 The kids have enjoyed these new programs so much that they've asked to do them for their electronic time...that's a win in my books.

Alison and Eli learning Spanish together

 The other school door that this all opened was the great handwriting debate.  Ben has encouraged me to think of the next month as a review period.  So, look at what each kid needs to work on and only work on those things.  For example, in Alison's history section of her binder, I just put all of her past chapter narrations so she can read over them.  When it came to Eli, his handwriting is the worst.  I started doing a little research, not knowing if it's just being a 5 year old boy, or if it's something to be concerned about and what is the best way to help.  After 2 different writing curriculums, I needed a new strategy.  Article #1 said that poor pencil holding and writing can be a sign of dyslexia.  Okay, I kinda panicked.  The more I read, the more I realized that both boys show several early signs of dyslexia.  My husband struggled with it as a kid and it is hereditary.  I believe it's too early to really know if they are truly dyslexic and the signs could be simply that they are little boys, but it made me even more passionate about switching things up and finding a learning medium that works for them.

All these things may seem little, but my brain has been consumed.  I feel a huge weight and concern that the kids don't lose any education because of this move.  I have been stressed trying to actually continue school now and work on "transition school" and clean the house to move out and keep up on regular chores.

Normal site these days...

A couple of loads of laundry that need to be folded, a pile to be packed for the trip and blinds hanging to dry.  Oh that's right, we have to clean all the blinds and windows and we have 24 giant windows in this house.  My love for natural light is kicking me in the booty.  Every cleaning project I've started has also been more consuming than I anticipated.  It's also VERY humbling...I thought I cleaned the house well, but was apparently very wrong.  I will be scheduling deep cleaning into my routine when we move!


The stress of taking time off led me to analyze our calendar and I realized how much time we already have taken off this year.  With Ben coming home from deployment and taking a few trips and family visiting and the Holiday's, January is the only month that we've done school all 4 weeks!  And looking ahead to future school, we will be moving from Arizona in 2 years in September, which means we won't be able to actually start school until October.  It hit me this week that our life pretty much demands year-round school.  It sounds horrible, right?  But as we talked it over, we realized that it actually has a lot of benefits.

1.  Taking time off is not stressful anymore...we can do school when it's 112 degrees outside in July.
2. Eliminates burnout and back to school horribleness.  Take a break when you need it, but not so long that it's hard to jump back in.
3.  It gives me time to work on curriculum without trying to teach while doing it.
4. Prepares the kids for real life.  Unless they all become public school teachers, long summer breaks won't exist in their adult life.
5.  Sets an "always learning" tone to life.  Our goal is even when we are taking breaks that they are using that time to review and read and explore.


And finally, as I researched year-round schooling, I discovered that I'm supposed to be documenting our school days and have to make sure we're "in session" 180 days of the year.  In the 13 months I've been homeschooling and all the laws I've researched and information I've read, this is the first time I've come across this.  Yikes.  Thankfully I only have 13 months to catch up on, but you would think this information would be more in bold.  Maybe it gets brushed under the carpet with this big "unschooling" movement...


In moving news, the packers come in 14 days!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

school right now

It was just too nice to stay inside yesterday, so we took school outside.  Besides being distracted by the neighbor kids playing (public school was out for the day), the kids did remarkably well on school...maybe we should do school outside more often.

 

I've been working on making each of the kids a notebook for school, so everything is all together when we're traveling and ready to work on when we have time.  I'm also doing it for this:


Every night Alison asks Ben to ask her school questions and then I try to fill him in really quick on what she learned that day.  Now, she can just hand him her notebook and he can see what questions to ask her.  I'm also hoping this is a useful tool for reviewing and mastering things she's learned throughout the year.


This week, I learned the power of a map.


We have a world map and a US map hanging in our schoolroom.  We've only done a few lessons on geography when we drove to Michigan, but use the map a lot to talk about where we've been or where our family lives.  This week, we put stickies on the map where Alison has been and the states we'll drive through to move to Arizona.  I plan on making a geography unit study for our move, but was shocked yesterday when I realized how much the kids already know just from looking at this map.  They are sponges!  A friend gave us this puzzle a few days ago and both Alison and Eli put it together all by themselves.  Then, Ben asked Alison if she knew some state capitals, and she actually did!


Visual aids have more impact than I realized.  Now I'm wondering what else I should hang up in our school room.