Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘structure’

A Living Creature

fluid-drop

Image courtesy of namakuki at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the bigger ideas of homeschool that I have been wrestling with over the last 2 years (yes, it takes me a while), is that learning is fluid.

 

My experiences in education have not always lent themselves to being fluid.  In a classroom, we did as much fluidity as we could muster.  We pushed back assignments until understanding was there, or mostly there.  We shifted to a fun unit about a topic we had just discovered in another class.  However, the fluid motion of education was very limited. In a sense, I liked this.  It gave me a false sense of control.  I knew where the lessons were going.  I knew how to grade for mastery.  I knew what would be next and the rough timeframe in which it would happen.  Boy, there were a lot of “I’s” in those statements.  Sadly to say, what was taught in the classroom was a large percentage of what was controlled by me and the school district.  And, dare I say, there was much comfort in that.  It felt so good to check off the items accomplished and move on. 

Fast forward to our little home school.  Oh-my-word.  Learning is so very fluid.  In this one year alone we have changed the “structure” of our learning at least 3 times if not 4.  Curriculum has shifted, time frames have shifted, subjects have shifted.  What I thought this year was going to look like, um, yeah, not so much.  But it is beautiful.  It is beautiful to find the right fit for my kids.  To tailor to each what they need, not only in style of learning, but in content as well.  Princess is half way through her “kindergarten” year and I am growing with her, learning the similarities and differences of how she learns compared to her brother.  Being so young, they are both exploring whatever comes to mind, naturally beginning to find interests in life.

We started out the year with a full on-slaught of subjects, until I realized it was really my need of a structured checklist of learning, not what they were interested in learning.  Some of that has stayed, because they need to learn it.  A lot of it has gone on standby because they just aren’t interested or ready yet.  At the moment, each day Princess and Builder have a Math Work focus, a Word Work focus, and a “something extra” focus.  Princess’s extra is Continents and Oceans.  Builder’s extra is working on a family tree.

This is where we are right now.  We throw in some fun science experiments in the afternoon here-and-there, and we are reading through a book at lunchtime about what it would be like to grow up in Jesus’ day.  So, I suppose we are doing more, even if it is not during our “learning time”.  And of course, we are always learning through life.  As I said…fluid.

Your Turn ~ What challenges/adjustments have you run into while homeschooling?

Organization: Routine

We are full into our second six week session.  Life has been going strong and seemingly non-stop.  I am getting tired, but onward!

The last of this organization series deals with our daily routine.  I must confess, this is the least favorite and weakest link of all of ours here at the house.  However, I have learned enough about each one of us to know that if we have no routine at least set in place, nothing gets accomplished…at all.

In the beginning of our journey, we tried having absolutely no schedule.  Didn’t work for us.  Then we moved on to scheduling using specific times such as 10:00 math, etc.  Didn’t work for us.  Next was having a routine and specific minute/hour allotments, such as 20 min for spelling.  Yeah, you can see the flaw in that.  Then we moved to a routine that has a specific order through the day, but no times confining us one way or the other.

Photo Aug 08, 9 10 35 AM

Bingo!  This was it.  It works for us.  Not perfectly everyday, by any means of the imagination, but it does work.  It keeps us on track and we try to follow the best we can.  Also, since there are no specific times, if we need to fit in errands between Lesson time #1 and Lesson time #2, we can sub errands for Break.  If doctors appointments, or my Ladies group take up the morning, we can simply start with Bible time in the afternoon.  A routine is very flexible in this way.

We usually get started each day between 9:00 – 9:30.  This provides a nice amount of time before lunch which ranges between 12:00 – 12:30.  So, there are some natural times built in without being locked into a specific set of times.

As is the game, things are always changing and evolving.  Knowing that we have a starting place from which to adapt, helps me a lot.

Your turn to play ~ How do you structure your days?

Organization

It has become blatantly obvious to me that I need to make a conscious effort in the area of organization.  We are 5 months into our learning at home journey and I can begin to feel a shift from “something we are trying out” to “let’s do this thing”!

Our learning year is from June to June, and I can feel that when Mason turns 5 years old (in June) that we will begin to move things to a new/next level.  A few more structured activities, a few more activities during the week, as well as a few more activities that Mason does more independently.  All of these things are wonderful and I am whole-heartedly looking forward to them.  What I am seeing now is the need to find our path of organization.

To be honest, it’s a little overwhelming.

When teaching public school, I had a whole classroom in which to organize work, manipulatives, supplies, etc.  Granted, I had many more students, but still.  We do not have any extra rooms, or much extra space in our home to use as a “school room”, not that I would be likely to do that anyway.  I know it will work.  I know there is a way.  I need to remember that I am creative, and that this can be done.  I also want to do this without spending an outrageous amount of funding on organizational items.  I will keep you posted (quite literally!) on how we obtain our organizational haven.

If you have walked this path and have ideas to offer – please feel free to comment below!

Week-in-Review

Math:

Lego Take Away

  • Several weeks ago, the concept of “take away” was introduced through Freddy the Front Loader, a learning activity found in the Lego Pack from walkingbytheway.com.  This introduced the concept of subtraction, so this week I decided to move into connecting the symbolic numbers with the concept.
  • I wrote a subtraction problem and we did the first two or three together.  Toward the end, Mason starting making his own problems.  This, as it always does, leads to the discussion of what happens when a larger number is taken away from a smaller number.
  • I refuse to tell students “this can’t be done”.  We had a conversation that if we take a larger number from a smaller number we don’t have enough!  In the coming years, this gives a foundation on which to build the concept of negative numbers.

Lego Take Away copy

Graphing:

  • While sitting at my desk, Mason found one of the die from the Fourth of July pack at 3 Dinosaurs.  He asked if he could do it.  I didn’t feel like finding it on my computer, printing it out, etc.  So, I quickly sketched pictures at the bottom to match the pics on the die and Mason set to rolling and graphing.  Gotta’ love the impromptu practice!

impromptu graph copy

Science:

Season Characteristics – Fall – Informal Assessment

  • Page 9, in the All About Fall pack from servingjoyfully.com, is a cut-and-paste Fall tree.  My plan was to use this activity as an informal assessment on what Mason knew about the Fall season characteristics.  While he was creating his tree, I asked him what he knew about the season of Fall.  I made sure to not give him any prompts besides, “What else?”.  I wanted to know what he had truly internalized about Autumn, not what I could trigger in his memory.

Fall Tree copy

  • After creating the tree, we used Page 10 in the pack to graph the different color of leaves that had fallen from the tree.  A great activity to blend science, informal assessment, math, arts-and-crafts, and cut-and-paste for fine motor skills.  Another big thumbs up on this 20 minute activity!

Extras:

Canvas Painting

  • We did a little acrylic paints on canvas boards and threw in some extra tools such as forks to experiment with texture.  Mason put tape on his canvas before painting so that it would create a fun design after the paint dried and we peeled off the tape.  Madison was simply more interested in getting as much color on her canvas as possible.  She also decided that playing with the bottles of paint was just as fun!

Canvas painting copy

Under Construction


under construction

Warning: Under Construction

As I sit to write this post, life is swirling around me.  After all, life happens doesn’t it.  I have many pictures in my head of what things should look like and how they should all shake out.  Then, at the end of the day or week, I look back and it’s just not what I thought it would be.  Sometimes this is fine, after awhile I start to wonder…is there something I need to change?

In regards to the past two weeks, I look back and reflect on activities I have done with Mason and wonder…have I done enough?  I don’t want to cheat him.  I don’t want to overwork him.  I don’t want to get caught up in the striving of planning four lessons a day, making sure to cover all standards for the week, etc.  I came from there, I don’t want to go back.

I have wondered this past week, if I should begin to get a lesson planner and go to setting plans down for the week.  After all, I am familiar with this, maybe it would work?  Then, I think to myself…Mason is four.  I’m really not ready to push the whole, let’s do a pre-scheduled school week structure.

Life is swirling.

I do have a feeling that there will come a day when I am more planned out in a process and procedure for learning.  I know the Lord will lead us into that which is right for us.  However, right now, I just don’t know what that looks like.  I don’t want to neglect, and I don’t want to push.  I want to foster Mason’s natural love for learning and foster new experiences.  There are times I am overwhelmed and wonder just what have I gotten myself into!  I know this is the path for us, and the path I desire to take.  I must also say that at times, I feel completely ill equipped for the journey that is ahead.  Yet I know, all is not lost and we are doing ok.  I think.

Week-in-Review

Handwriting:

Fall Tracing Sheet

all about fall image

Numbers

  • I noticed this week that Mason was having some trouble writing numbers, which he had been doing well with.  So, we used a writing workbook from the store that has pages to trace and write numbers.

Reading: 

Fall Word Search

  • Again we used the All About Fall pack mentioned above.  We used page 15, which is a fall word search.  I wasn’t exactly sure how he would do with this, since it was a little more involved than other word searches we have done.  He did great, and we were able to talk about each word and how it pertained to Autumn.  Score!

Science:

Season Characteristics – Fall Trees

  • Page 8, in the All About Fall pack, is a tree color-by-number sheet.  I was doing this more as an arts-and-crafts type project, but while coloring we ended up talking about two types of trees – those that lose their leaves and evergreens that  stay green through the winter.  A wonderful blend of art and science!

Image courtesy of Feelart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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