Friday, September 26, 2014

Educating Our Children

This school year has had a little different look for us. As you know if you read my blog at all - we are in the middle of building a house and are currently living in our garage so life just isn't normal right now. Any school year for us finds us doing a lot of reading aloud together and then fun learning from life but when the school year hits we do also tend to pull out some textbooks and work a little harder at learning in that way. This year that isn't happening as much but we do still find a lot of learning going on.

  Here is some of what we have been doing lately....
Megan and Aaron examining the basement as it is being made.

We have been learning about construction. Some of it is simply learning from watching but much of it has been hands on too as we built our garage and outhouse this summer and are preparing to build the chicken coop and garden shed and as we help some on the house. We are seeing a lot of interesting things that we never have seen before. A lot of learning is going on and it is happening in areas that I can really see my children (especially my sons) using in the future.
The boys gathering rocks at my parents place.
 We are learning about rocks. My brother-in-law is making a fireplace for us out of stone and so the kids and I gathered up lots and lots of rocks for that purpose. As we gathered them it was so fun to look and see all the various kinds and admire them and wonder about them. So we found our rock book and we added that to our afternoon reading schedule and we are working to learn about rocks.
A friends wedding where Mara and I did the flowers.
The kids, especially Mara at this time, have been continuing to learn and help with my wedding flower business. Earlier this month when we were doing flowers for a friends wedding Mara made all the bridesmaids bouquets plus some of the boutonnieres and corsages. This skill could be very useful for her in the future.

 We have had fun watching and learning more about farming. When we were gathering much of our rocks we went and got them from piles by a friends' field. While we were there we saw various parts of harvesting wheat and hay and soybeans. The kids were fascinated to watch the baler and the whole system for getting the hay/straw up and out of the field. This is an area that the boys are very interested in and so getting to let them be up close and near the action was very fun.

   We had the privilege of going to see and listen to KrisAnne Hall a passionate speaker about the Constitution and its history. Her 2 hour lecture was very interesting and informative and I was thankful our whole family could go and hear her. Now we have books and DVDs by her that we hope to look at soon.

  The kids have been learning a little more about care-giving. A friend of ours broke her ankle and so we have been blessed to be able to help her out a little during this time. Mara has gone over to her place several times to help with cooking, laundry, cleaning, etc and Jonathan went one day this week as well. The younger two have enjoyed helping when they can as well. It is a blessing for them to be able to learn to help out others when they need it.

   The boys have been having fun learning about machinery. There has been quite a lot of types of machinery in here and they love watching it and trying to figure out how things work. This week after watching a bobcat for quite some time Jonathan came in and announced he was going to make one. So he pulled out a bunch of old motors (from copiers, drills and things like that) and some tin and wheels and various other things. His creation didn't quite turn into a bobcat but he did get a little vehicle going that could run by the power of a motor. He had Aaron help him in his project and it was fun to see the two of them work together on it. Jonathan just loves that sort of thing and his time on a robotics team last year helped him to learn a lot. He speaks a language which is rather foreign to me (concerning motors and servos and such like) but I find it pretty cool. It is something that he loves and I love to see him learning on his own.

  Our church was given a bunch of Creation Science materials and so not only have we enjoyed watching some of the DVD's together at Sunday evening services but Mara has been reading the books (that look a little thick and dare I say look dry) every chance she gets when we have been spending extra time at the church building- which has been a lot lately since I am teaching music lessons and we also take showers there fairly often. I love to see her interest in this area. It just is cool to me how since she was little she tends to pick up (and then practically memorize) books about science - ones that I am not naturally drawn too but she really enjoys. I love to that she will then share things that she learned with me.

   Yesterday we went over to my parents and the boys and I helped with chicken butchering. Though it isn't the most fun activity ever it is part of life that if you are going to eat meat somebody needs to do some butchering and we prefer to have home raised wholesome meat when possible. This activity is educational not only in that they learn how to do something useful for living but also in learning more about the parts of a chicken body and how things work together. Science class for sure.

   This fall we have also started our weekly volunteer shift at our local Republican office. This is a time when we are exposed to various materials about our candidates and other political discussions and materials which tends to prompt discussions among our family. Our children knowing how our country works is important to us and this helps with that.

  We have also have various educational things that we try to do year round (though this summer at times we got to busy to keep up with everything but we are back at it again this fall). Some of those things are:

  • Bible reading- we read a chapter from the New Testament after breakfast and one from the Old Testament after lunch.
  • Bible memorizing - We are working on learning Colossians for the first time and also throughout the month we review the other books, chapters and shorter passages that we have learned in the past.
  • Additional Bible learning - we are currently reading aloud through Halley's Bible Handbook.
  • History - we are reading through the Story of the World again and we also like to read a lot of other historical books (biographies and such).
  • Science - this is another time when we read aloud from various books. Currently our reading is from "Be Your Own Doctor" and a rock book.
  • Our Fun reading which is still often educational. Our most recent book was "Rescue the Captors 2" in which we learned about mission work and other things in Colombia while just enjoying the book. We are planning on starting "Life on the Family Farm" today and are looking forward to that.
  • Singing and other music- we try to sing a round together (acappella) and also sing some choruses with instruments each morning. We also practice and have a presentation at the nursing home each month.
  • Art - creative arts are simply a normal part of our life. Drawing, making things and such are something that we need in our life.
This week we finally got started on some additional "school work" which is still a little bit more laid back that normal but it is helping us to sharpen our brains and learn some too. This is what we are doing:
  • We are going through "Simply Grammar" by Karen Andreola. This is a neat book that explains things very nicely and has mostly oral exercises to go through. We are able to do this as a group which works really nicely for us.
  • Math. Normally for Math we have used Saxon Math books. This year I knew some adjustments were needed especially for Jonathan. The way we had gone through the Math books had put the kids ahead of where they were supposed to be for their age level (Jonathan did Algebra 1/2 last year at 12 years old) and that ended up being pretty challenging for Jonathan and Megan was experiencing a few troubles as well. This year I knew that I wanted both of them to just really get very fast at the basics so with flashcards, computer games (at and such we are working on that. We also plan on using Kahn Academy to advance farther in our math too. Mara finished up Algebra 2 last year and so for the first thing this year we are having her review that quickly and then she will take a CLEP test to get college credits for that work. After that we will probably have her work on some Calculus and also some consumer math. Aaron was doing fine in math but he decided that he would also enjoy a year or review and work at getting faster instead of going on in Saxon. We will take up with Saxon again next year. 
  • We are having the kids to copy work. This helps them to work on their handwriting while also learning about spelling and punctuation.
  • The kids are narrating the books that I read aloud to them. A Charlotte Mason method of checking to see what they have learned while helping them to remember better in the future as telling will help with memory.
  • The kids are writing in a journal.
  • Our homeschool co-op got started again for the school year in September and we are focusing on fine arts for that this year.
We also have various other things going on but this is our main schedule. It has been going very easily and everybody is pretty happy with our school plan for this year. We will also be adding and changing things as we go along but it is nice to at least be started. The kids also do a lot of reading on their own and Mara is still working on writing a book with "The One Year Adventure Novel".

How is your school year going? I would love to hear about the way your family does school!
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Sheila said...

Wow - you guys are busy! I would love to see more pictures of the house construction. It's fun to watch the progress. Are you doing geometry? We are not homeschoolers, but my kids (1 in private, 1 in public) have both done geometry between algebras 1 and 2. The reason I ask is more than just idle curiosity. :) My older daughter moved on to physics and precalc after that. I wouldn't say she loved her match classes, but she LOVED physics and is now thinking she wants to base a career on that and possibly be a radiologist. Mara sounds like she is doing really well in math and it made me wonder if she might like some of the same things my daughter does. I just wouldn't have even encouraged my daughter to take physics, but she just decided she would rather take physics than chemistry and a possible career was born. :) She is hoping to find something where she can help people while still earning an income. I am hoping that she can find something along the same lines, but also would include the option to work less than full-time, or even not work after having kids and then go back later if she wants to.

Abbi said...

Thanks so much for the additional ideas for Mara for math. We had talked about Geometry but then I kind of forgot about it. Physics sounds very interesting too. So many options!!! It is neat to hear how things went for your daughter.

Nancy W said...

I sure miss the days of homeschooling, our children are all grown and out of the house now! Sounds like you are keeping busy in your family! Loved reading your post, thanks for sharing on the HomeAcre Hop! Hope to see you again tomorrow. - Nancy
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