Friday, December 14, 2007

12 Blogs of Christmas

Homeschool eStore is having this fun contest over at their site. They chose 12 homeschool blogs to review curriculum and offer fun contests to the rest of us. To enter all you have to do is visit the 12 blogs and chose any two contests to enter. The prize is a $50 gift certificate to their store. How cool is that! What homeschool mom doesn't like to buy new curriculum? I'm hoping to win so I can pick up something fun for the kids. My daughter would love something to do with art or horses so I'm looking at the ABC's of Art or Drawing and Learning about Horses or a unit study on horses with horse notebooking pages. My son loves Spiderman above all else so many a lapbook on spiders would grab his attention. There are so many cool things there.

This is my entry for the contest over at TN Mom with Three Kids:

How many children do you have / homeschool?
I have two children who are about to turn 8 and 6 who are homeschooled and a 9 month old making it all very interesting and challenging.

How long have you been homeschooling?
Since the beginning. We started out just playing games with my eldest when she was a toddler not knowing we were going to homeschool. I started teaching her a bit more formally when she was 4 1/2 and wanted to learn to read.

Have they always been homeschooled, or did they ever go to public/private school?
My daughter has always homeschooled. My son went to public school for 2 1/2 years to participate in the special ed preschool program because he had severe learning delays. See here for the story.

Do you plan on homeschooling until graduation?

Do you belong to a co-op?
Not really. We've been involved with more of a social/support group in the past but this year the mix of kids (no girls, all older boys) there aren't a good fit for us. We also were involved with another social/support/field trip/class group until very recently but the owner's child terrifies my children so we've had to drop out of that one too. It's just not a good year for us.

Do you school all year long, or use some other schedule?
We usually take all or most of December off. During the summer, we are VERY active with all gazillions of fun, free activities in our town. We participate in the library's summer reading program which has lots of free events from puppet shows to singing shows. We also go to free concerts and movies in the park, play at the park, go swimming, and go camping. All this is educational in my opinion.

Do you use textbooks only, or do you like to supplement with other materials?
What's a textbook? LOL We are eclectic homeschoolers. This year we are using Spectrum workbooks, email writing, writing stories for fun, and writing blogs for Language Arts. My son is using Saxon for math and my daughter is changing to Math U See in January. For everything else, we follow Konos Unit Studies with lots of books thrown in. Sometimes I find other fun stuff to add like the Grinch Lapbook we are doing right now.

Are field trips included in your school plans, or are they just family time?
We LOVE field trips! I include field trips in our learning plan AND we make some of them into family time. This year we've gone to Fort Clatsop, Ecola State Park, Haystack Rock, Camlann Medieval Village, the Pacific Science Center, to see Sound of Music at a local playhouse, and to the Tacoma Symphony. Several of those included my husband.

Do you and your kids do crafty stuff together for school time?
Yes! So far this year we've crawled through a huge model of the ear, made a collage of tastes, created a salt dough map of the US, and tried weaving and coil basket making. This month we have been making paper snowflakes and completing a lapbook of the Grinch. We have tons more projects planned and will do as many as we can in the time we have available. (I don't expect projects to be completed: just attempted for the experience.)

Do you consider everyday household life stuff ‘home ec’?
My kids are expected to do regular chores, learn new chores, and help cook on occasion as a part of school.

Do you have any advice for new homeschoolers?
Don't make it harder or more expensive than it needs to be.
Ask questions of other homeschoolers.
Jump in without won't mess up your kids.
Be willing to change if something isn't working.

Do you have advice for homeschoolers with little ones under foot?
Every homeschooler I know has told me that you WILL get behind the year you have a baby and I have found this to be true (I have a 9 month old). Let it go and don't worry about it. Your kids will do great even if you don't finish everything by the end of the year.

For getting stuff done, we bring the baby to the table with us with some finger foods and/or toys. I also have a lot of toys in a big basket and will sometimes pull the whole thing out for him to get into. It keeps his attention for a while. The kids do a lot of their book work at the couch while I entertain the baby and my eldest (7) helps my younger (5). They are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to their three Rs work and only need a few questions answered now and then.

I can't wait to get the time to go through everyone's entries to see what great ideas I can glean from them!

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