Friday, December 30, 2016

Homeschool Goals for 2017

Homeschooling is pretty much my life right now. I have five kids ranging from 9th grade down to Preschool. I feel like my mind is running on "homeschool mode" constantly! It's a wonderful life to have, though. Here are my goals for the 2017 Homeschool Year.

  • Finish Bob Jones University with Mikaela and Eli. This curriculum has proven to be a challenge for them and for me! We have until the end of 2017 to finish the 9th and 7th grade courses, and there is no question in my mind that we will complete it. Before I ordered it, I made a promise to my husband that I would not switch or quit using it!
  • Teach Silas to read. Silas is 6 and 1/2, and he is still not reading. Sure, he can sound out some CVC words and recognize some sight words, but he cannot pick up a book and read yet. He has some speech issues which could be a hindrance.  I am not pressuring him, and we have been working steadily through the R.E.A.D. Curriculum. I am seeing some progress, but have decided to try Progressive Phonics with him. I've read so many great reviews about this FREE curriculum, so I printed off the first book for him to use. If he is reading by this time next year, I will be so happy.
  • Have a dedicated "Preschool Hour" each day. I plan to start having time with Titus each day one-on-one. An hour would be the perfect amount of time for us! I plan to read books to him, work on his school, and play games without any interruptions.
  • Have all of my kids on the same school year. I would love to have all of my children on the same "school year". We used to be, but lately things have gotten a little mixed up. I started Mikaela and Eli on their new school year the end of November. Mercie is almost finished with 3rd grade. I really feel she could move right into 4th grade curriculum with no problem, as it will begin with review and 3rd grade ends with review. If she could be finished with 4th grade by this time next year, when Mikaela and Eli are finishing. Silas is moving into mostly 1st grade work, and Titus has been doing preschool for a while now. Hopefully, the beginning of 2018, Mikaela will be in 10th, Eli in 8th, Mercie in 5th, Silas in 2nd and Titus in Kindergarten.
  • Read more. We get so busy sometimes that I don't read aloud to my kids like I used to. Sure, we read the Bible and I read to the little ones, but I miss taking the time to read a chapter book to everyone! If I could read 4 books to the kids by this time next year, I will have met my goal in my eyes.
  • Give each child a "Focus Day" each week. I have five kids and there are five days in a week. Perfect! Each child will have one day that is their "Focus Day". I will review their work with them, work on any problems, help with a project, and just devote most of my "homeschool mom" attention to them that day. Not that I will ignore the other kids, but I think it will help each one to know they have a special day where mom gives them more attention during school hours. The "Focus Day" will only be for school work and extra-curricular activities such as piano or karate.
What are your Homeschool Goals for 2017?

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The End of 2016

As this year draws to a close, I cannot help but marvel at how quickly it has gone by. So many things have happened and so many changes have been made this year!

I was on the Homeschool Review Crew this year, and it was such a blessing to our family. Together, my children and I tried lots of new curriculum, games, books and movies. We had fun experimenting with things we normally wouldn't have tried {like the Logic of English}, and I was happy to use some things I had been wanting to try {like Math U See}. I decided not to reapply for 2017 for several reasons, but I did get a spot on the Singles Review Crew. The Singles Review Crew differs from the Homeschool Review Crew in several ways - I don't have to post the review on my blog, for instance, and I can do as little or as many reviews as I want to. This will be a good balance for me.

My children, bless their hearts, have been such good sports as we have flip-flopped from one curriculum to the next. As Mikaela and Eli are getting older, though, I feel the need to have them stick with one curriculum. After many hours researching and reading review after review, I decided to order Bob Jones University Distance Learning for them. We are using the complete curriculum with the DVDs. Mikaela is in 9th grade, and Eli is in 7th grade. It has proven to be a challenge, but as we continue to use it, the kids are getting used to the workload, and I am seeing a real learning leap in both of them.

Mercie is in third grade, and she is doing great. She has been using Math for a Living Education and is halfway through with her book. We are working on multiplication, fractions, and telling time and temperature. She is also using Learning Language Arts Through Literature and is nearly finished with the book. I will be ordering the next level in this series, the orange book, soon. She is also working through Language Smarts, level E, which was a review item. We work several pages a week, and it gives her a variety of language arts skills to review and practice. She is using Abeka's science and history textbooks for third grade. We read a little in them each day, and she creates a Notebooking page or we do some other activity. She is working on her cursive and getting better each day. She loves to read, especially books by Beverly Cleary.

Silas is in kindergarten/first grade. He is still not reading on his own, but he can sound out CVC words and knows close to 20 sight words. We have been using R.E.A.D. by the Kindergarten Mom, but I think he is ready for a bit more reading practice. I printed out the first book by Progressive Phonics, along with the flashcards and activity pages. We will start this next week. He is also using Math Lessons for a Living Education, but I also got him The Complete Book of Math for Grades 1-2. He wants more math that MLFLE is giving him, so I'll let him work a page or two in this book each day along with his regular math. He works on handwriting daily, and we have been using Elemental Science's Intro to Science a few times a week.

Titus is my preschooler. We will be starting the Alphabetti books by Progressive Phonics next week, along with handwriting practice. He will have a hands-on math activity at least three times a week, as well as at least one math worksheet to complete.

We had a great holiday season, from Thanksgiving until now, almost New Year's. We took off two weeks of school for Christmas. My sister, Melissa, is home from London, where she is attending med school. My sister, Ashlie, is home from Florida, where her husband is working and they are living for now. We have had lots of good visits and have enjoyed each other's company!

Mikaela, Eli, Bryton, Mercie, Sawyer, Silas, Laylah, Titus and Liam
I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions, but I do think they are a good idea! Last year, I made the "goal" of reading my Bible every single day of 2016. I am happy to say that I only missed about 3 or 4 days - not bad out of 365! Here are my "goals" for 2017:
  • read my Bible every single day
  • spend at least 20 minutes a day praying for others
  • cook and eat healthier for my family
  • get more exercise as a family
  • spend less money
  • memorize large chunks of scripture
My goals are mostly spiritual, but spiritual growth is a priority in my life. Cooking and eating healthier should always be priority but it gets pushed to the back burner too often.
What are your New Year's Goals?

Friday, December 16, 2016

First Thoughts on Bob Jones Distance Learning

My oldest two children, Mikaela {14} and Eli {11} have been using Bob Jones distance learning {using DVDs} for several weeks now. Mikaela is in 9th grade, and Eli is 7th grade. They have completed 18 days using this curriculum. This is in no way a review of BJ; these are just my first thoughts on this curriculum for anyone interested!

My very first thought was "Oh my goodness, what have I done?", when the UPS man brought me four gigantic boxes of curriculum. I have never received so much curriculum at one time for two children. I was so overwhelmed, I didn't open the boxes for a few days!

Once I did unpack the boxes, I was very impressed, and still a little overwhelmed. The textbooks are so beautiful, colorful and thick. I enjoyed flipping through them, looking at the pictures and reading some of the information. For each subject, there is a textbook, a teacher's guide, a test booklet, and a tests answer booklet. Some subjects also have an activity book and teacher's guide. There were also the DVD's, which are packed in their own cases - some have nearly 20 DVD's per subject! I didn't know where on earth to put all of this stuff in our smallish house. We don't have a school room, and I didn't expect there to be so much!

I had to go to the store and buy 12 binders for the teacher's guides, which come 3-hole punched, loose in shrink wrap. I didn't like this part, and don't know why they don't bind them like they do the textbooks. Some binders had to be 2 and 1/2 inches for the papers to fit! So, on top of all the money I spent on this curriculum {nearly $2000}, I had to buy binders.

Once I got all of the papers and books organized, I was starting to feel a little better. It's still a lot of stuff, and my kids were very overwhelmed at first. We spent an entire day watching "orientation" videos, which helped us figure some things out, but took hours.

So far, there are things I really like about this curriculum, and there are things I'm not so sure about.

  • beautiful, colorful textbooks
  • interesting and engaging teachers
  • the DVD's are fun to watch {for the most part}
  • peace of mind for me - I don't have to worry about writing lesson plans or meeting grade level requirements
  • there are quizzes almost daily - this is a pro and a con - a pro because I like to see how much information the kids are retaining and they don't take long to do {except math}
  • the curriculum is very biblical based and the science is a young-earth mindset
  • the kids have to write essays and biographies
  • there are tons of fun projects to do in Eli's Life Science {making an insect collection, making a living organism scrapbook, etc}
  • long days - nearly 6 hours for each of them
  • the math is hard, very advanced, and there's a lot of math each day {it takes them over an hour to do math each day}
  • lots of writing and busy-work in some subjects {it can be overkill}
  • some teachers get long-winded {like Mr. Harmon!}
  • I have a lot of parent responsibility - grading quizzes, tests, and daily work and recording them
  • Mikaela's physical science has labs - this wouldn't be bad, but the equipment for the labs can get expensive! We are choosing to do half the labs and just watch the other half.
I am glad we are using Bob Jones, because I feel like it has been good for my kids so far. They are being challenged more than they ever have. The days are long, and a few days, I have let them split the day in half. They would complete 2-3 subjects on Monday, the other 2-3 subjects on Tuesday {completing one "day" in two}. The only bad thing about this is that we have a year to return the DVD's, so I want to complete the 180 days by next December.

These are my thoughts so far. I plan to do a detailed review of each subject for each grade after the new year, one a week. Have you used Bob Jones before? What are your thoughts?