Saturday, September 7, 2013

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress."
-Frederick Douglass, "West India Emancipation," 1857

As I sat down to type out this post, wrapping up our first week of kindergarten homeschool, I couldn't think of anything positive to say.  I got through three paragraphs of drama, and decided to just delete it.  We have had a REALLY bad week.  There has been a lot of explaining "why" school is mandatory from k-12, a lot of fighting/arguing, a lot of tears (from both SC and I), and I am just drained, both emotionally and physically.  

We only made it through 1/3 of our schedule for the week, and that bothers me to no end.  However, I still have hope that things will get better.  Much of the arguing has given me some real insight into how SC's brain works (and why there have been such major bumps in this road), and though things might have to go on a bit differently than I had originally anticipated, I still have hope that this will work out.  I keep coming back to the fact that God has led AC and I to choose this as the best choice for her this year.  Cliche, I know, but as Jeremiah 29:11 states "For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."  There is a reason He has led us down this path for now.   

So, I really didn't want to look back on our first week a few months, or even years, from now and read how horrible it has all been, even if we eventually stop homeschooling.  I don't need to rehash the gory details (and they are, believe me).  I do want to remember it has been hard, but so is any major change.  And I want to publicly remind myself to be faithful to Him who knows the plan, and not lose hope.

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, 
so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"I have no notion of loving people by halves,
it is not my nature."

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. 
I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” 

― Jane AustenNorthanger Abbey

Just last night, AC and I were talking about how I seem to have more than one good friend whom I regularly spend time with.   I also have a few good friends who do not live nearby anymore, but I chat with on a regular basis.  This is an anomaly for me, as I am fairly introverted and don't deal well in most social situations.   In fact, typically having just one good friend is difficult, stressful and exhausting for me.  As well as being introverted, the Austen quote above is very true for me, and contributes to my difficulties with friendship.

This week, I am enormously thankful that God has placed this handful of women in my life, and that even through my awkwardness or sometimes inappropriate comments, they continue to be faithful.  I hope you all know who you are, and I love you.

What are you thankful for this week? Leave a comment below, and then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here:

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Monday, August 26, 2013

"There cannot be a crisis next week.
My schedule is already full."

"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full."
Henry Kissinger, quoted in The New York Times Magazine, June 1969

We are only one week away from our official first day of kindergarten, and I have been working on lesson plans and making sure I have a schedule that (1) will fit in everything comfortably, and (2) is doable.  A few weeks ago I thought I had the schedule down, but then SC met a new friend whom we really want to spend time with weekly, so I adjusted everything and was able to clear an entire afternoon.  

I am linking up this post for the final week with iHomeschool Network's "Not Back to School" Blog Hop, and while it is supposed to be a post that details a "day in the life" at our homeschool, since we won't actually be starting until next week, I will instead be focusing on what the ideal week would look like, based on my latest version of the schedule.  On this year's curriculum post, I mentioned the times I had planned, but did not go into any detail about what specifically we will be doing during those times.  So, here is what I hope things will look like during our upcoming days.

Monday, Wednesday and Fridays will look very similar in the mornings, as will Tuesdays and Thursdays.  SC will be going to a "bridge" kindergarten twice a week at the same church she has been at for the past few years for Mother's Day Out.  I just cannot compete with the monthly themed activities.  Every weekday SC will need to complete one activity from A Reason for Handwriting level A, as well as a few pages from Explode the Code for phonics reinforcement.  This will happen in the evenings, before free time is allowed.  


7:00-8:00am:  Wake up, walk the dog, eat breakfast

8:00-8:10am:  Warm-Up [either listening activity or short reading passage/questions]

8:10-8:40am:  Bible

8:40-9:00am:  All About Spelling OR All About Reading [I have two separate sessions set up each day for AAR/AAR, but I am going to try to do them simultaneously, so some days we may do two sessions of AAS (NOT two lessons, but I have planned for much reviewing), or two AAR, or one of each.]

9:00-9:30am:  Junior Great Books 
[language arts]

9:30-9:50am:  Grammar [Language Smarts B]

9:50-10:30am:  Math [Singapore]

10:30-11:10am:  History

11:10-11:30am:  All About Spelling OR All About Reading

11:30am-12:00pm:  Spanish

12:00-12:30pm:  LUNCH

Mondays, after lunch, we will be traveling to a friend's house, and be listening to an audiobook on the way.  We also have gymnastics in the evening.

Wednesdays we will use Draw.Write.Now for some art instruction, combined with writing instruction (that I create - not handwriting).  Then we will hopefully meet some of our homeschool group at the park before heading to a short 30 minute dance class.

Fridays we will do some brief logic work before heading to piano lessons, and then have the afternoon free for a possible field trip to the zoo, one of the local museums, or more time with friends.


7:00-8:00am:  Wake up, walk the dog, eat breakfast

8:00-8:10am:  Warm-Up [either listening activity or short reading passage/questions]

8:10-8:50am:  Jacob's Ladder [language arts]

9:30am-2:30pm: away from home kindergarten class

2:30-3:10pm: listen to audiobook in the car on the way to afternoon activities (T: swim, R: dance)

Tuesday evenings SC will also have soccer practice (and I will be coaching for the first time).

Finally, as mentioned on the curriculum post, we will be doing a few homeschool activities Saturday morning, so that we can keep our afternoons mostly free for friends, park days and field trips.  


7:00-9:00am:  Wake-up, walk the dog, eat breakfast (we won't have a hard wake-up time)

9:00-9:50am: Science

9:50-10:20am: Math [Life of Fred]

10:20-10:50am:  Grammar [Grammar-land and Primary Language Lessons]

10:50-11:50am: Teatime and classical music to relax from all our hard work!

Throughout the school-week, SC will have the opportunity to earn free time, which will include watching taped PBS shows, using the computer to play games (usually, playing on the iPad or other electronic devices, as well as just playing with the multitude of toys we have.  However, she will have a checklist that she needs to complete some of first, during that free time period.  Here is an example of the checklist I have made:

I am hoping that this will be a baby-step in teaching her to prioritize tasks and how to manage her time.  We shall see how it works.

So, that is an ideal "day in the life" at our homeschool.  Don't forget to check back at the end of the first week of September to see how things actually went.  

What do your school days look like?  Leave a comment below, then check out all the other bloggers' posts at the iHomeschool Network 5th annual "Not Back to School" Blog Hop.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday:
"The truth is rarely pure and never simple."

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple
Modern life would be very tedious if it were either, 
and modern literature a complete impossibility!"
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest, Act I

This week I am thankful that SC successfully completed our first-ever standardized test.  I wrote previously that we had her tested just before she turned five years old for IQ and achievement, but other than a new understanding that she is gifted, asynchronous, and really needs to work on listening skills, there wasn't much we could do with the results at this point.  

What I really wanted to know was whether or not I had missed anything in planning and teaching.  In the State of Texas, the Texas Education Agency publishes a set of standards called the TEKS, and while that is helpful in directing planning, it does not tell me now, before we start, what SC really already knows.  I went through the kindergarten TEKS standards last summer, and other than a few of the science and social studies parts, in my opinion, she had already mastered most of it because of the product she was generating when we did preschool and kindergarten level work at home.  

For starting this fall, I did the same thing, looking at the first grade level TEKS, but I was more unsure.  Again, we had not done much of the science or social studies items at home, though many were taken care of at the Mother's Day Out pre-k program she went to.  However, I am not that worried about missing information in these areas for the upcoming year.  It is the math, reading and language arts skills that I really wanted to know about, especially since she is working so far ahead: what has she already mastered, what is a struggle, what does she not know at all?

I chose to go with the ITBS Level 6, which is the level for students going into 1st grade (K.7-1.7).  I did not want the test to be so difficult that she was only getting a few questions correct (what I thought might happen if I had jumped two years and chose Level 7), but I hoped that she wouldn't just blow through this one, either, and have wasted my time giving a test that she scores 100% correct answers on.  

Level 6 was a perfect test, and though I do not know the "official" results yet, because I was the test administrator (ITBS allows this, as long as you get certified, which requires a bachelor's degree), I was able to see where, when and how she made mistakes.  Most of the mistakes were made with regard to listening comprehension.  Though we knew that she struggled in this area from the previous tests, it really helped to see her make the mistakes.  I was able to see that she does fine when there is one or two pieces of information, but if there was three or four, she tends to forget the first part of what I was saying.  This held true across all the categories, both in the actual "listening" section, but also in the math area when she had to listen to word problems that had more than two numbers to manipulate.

The other problems she got wrong (other than for listening reasons) were in the vocabulary section, and specifically had to do with categorization.  Some of the words she was asked to identify (by choosing the picture that best represented the word she heard me say) were things like thick/thin and skinny.  I realized that as a family we have purposely avoided these types of categorization words due to the fact that they can be applied to people, as well as the word "fat," which is the opposite of "skinny" in this context.  AC and I have not wanted to deal with SC pointing out these specific differences in people (because she does notice and point out in a childlike manner) in public because though her intent is not to offend, sometimes the words of a child can be taken as offensive, and people can still be hurt by them.  

 So, I would say that overall, this was a great testing experience.  AC and I both wanted SC to have some experience with taking a standardized test, and though the State of Texas does not require that we test or submit scores, we think the information we can learn from the testing (as long as it is analyzed in way that is not simply "did she score X" or "did she pass") will be a great help to us going forward.

Have you had experience with testing young elementary students at home?  What do you think about the ITBS test specifically?  Let me know, then check out some other Thankful Thursday posts here:

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday:
"Any glimpse into the life of an animal ..."

"Any glimpse into the life of an animal 
quickens our own and makes it 
so much the larger and better in every way."
-John Muir

A few weeks ago SC and I had the opportunity to tag along with AC on a trip to New York City, and one of the things we did was visit the Bronx Zoo.  As I was planning this zoo visit, I realized that in SC's five short years of life, we have visited quite a few zoos in the US already.  For this week's Top Ten Tuesday, I want to highlight the zoos we have been to, as well as a few we have yet to get to.

Zoos We Have ALREADY Visited:

*I think I would have loved The Bronx Zoo much more if we had not gone on "pay what you will" day.  There were so many people, including many large summer camp groups, that it was unmanageable for SC, and we didn't get to see even half the zoo before she insisted we leave and refused to look at any animals on our way out.

6. Point Defiance Zoo (Tacoma, WA)

Zoos We Have YET TO Visit:
7. Smithsonian's National Zoo (Washington, D.C.)

9. Woodland Park Zoo (Seattle, WA)

10. Audubon Zoo (New Orleans, LA)

PLUS, two foreign zoos I would love to visit:
Edinburgh Zoo

Toronto Zoo

What is your favorite zoo to visit?  Leave a comment below, then check out other Top Ten Tuesday posts here:

Many Little Blessings

Monday, August 19, 2013

"... and he only holds the key to his own secret."
[Not Quite] First Day of School Pictures 2013/2014

"It is not for you to choose what he shall know, what he shall do. 
It is chosen and foreordained, and he only holds the key to his own secret."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Education," Lectures and Biographical Sketches

Though we will not start homeschool until the first week of September, I managed to get SC bathed in the morning (rather than the evening) and her hair fixed, and the weather wasn't too hot, so we took some time to take a few commemorative photos for the start of her kindergarten year.  So, here are our [Not Quite] First Day of School Pictures for 2013/2014.

Have you taken your yearly "back to school" photos yet?  Let me know how it went below, and then check out some other 2013/2014 pictures at the 5th Annual "Not Back to School" Blog Hop:

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"The only tolerable state is having just written."
Happy 1st Blogiversary!

“It's hell writing and it's hell not writing. 
The only tolerable state is having just written.”
-Robert Hass

Today marks the first "blogiversary" of Proverbs 2 Pursuit :: Wisdom.  As I look back on the last year and some of the posts I have made, I realize that I have grown in ways I did not expect.  Initially, the goal of this blog was to focus on my breakdown and learning about education, specifically as it relates to SC, and to chronicle our baby steps into homeschooling.  However, though we have done some of this, it has also been a place to talk about struggles with SC, to share the blessings God has bestowed upon our family, and a place to hash out what being a parent to SC really should look like, considering the uniqueness God created within her.  

I love what the blog has become, and while when I first started I was consumed with posting regularly in blog hops and getting my voice out there, I am much less stressed if I miss an "appointment," because I just don't have anything of quality to contribute that day.  I am okay if I don't post for a week because we were busy, or on vacation, or if my post is mostly pictures, or a brief bit of thankfulness.  I think over the past year, the blog has become less about "having a blog" and more a representation of me and our life, which is exactly what I want it to be.

So, in looking back today (which is Top Ten Tuesday), I wanted to highlight ten of my most-read/commented-upon posts, and I hope you enjoy them.

2. Thankful Thursday: 
"How Not to Have to [Wash] the Dishes"

3. Top Ten Tuesday:
PBS Kids Shows

4. Top Ten Tuesday:
"Home is home, though it be never so homely."

5. Top Ten Tuesday:
"Books and movies are like apples and oranges."

6. 2013-2014: K5/1st Curriculum:
"Look what a lot of things there are to learn..."

7. What 2 Read Wednesday:
"She was expecting something empowering."
Book Review: What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
stories by Nathan Englander

8. What 2 Read Wednesday:
"is the fleeting jolt of meaning that art gives us valuable?"
Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Which of these posts was your favorite to read, or is it one that I have not listed?  Leave a comment below, then check out some other Top Ten Tuesday posts here:

Many Little Blessings

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Here is our poetry,
for we have pulled down the stars to our will."
New York City in Picture Books

And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? 
It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there.... 
Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. 
Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will. 
--Ezra Pound, "Patria Mia," New Age, September 18, 1912

When SC and I travelled to New York City, we prepared by gathering a stack of library books to read. There were a couple duds (which I have not included here), but I wanted to gather together a list for anyone who might be interested in learning about NYC through some good books.  Here is the list of those we read, grouped by category:
The Other Side of Town by Jon Agee

Another Night at the Museum by Milan Trenc

12 Days of New York by Tonya Bolden-Ford


New York, New York! The Big Apple from A to Z by Laura Krauss Melmed

Bea on Broadway: A Story About New York by Karen Latchana Kenney

America the Beautiful: New York City by Dan Liebman, Ed.


The New York Colony by Kevin Cunningham

Seeds of a Nation: New York by Stuart A. Kallen and P.M. Boekhoff

One Times Square by Joe McKendry

Joe and the Skyscraper by Dietrich Neumann, Trans. Anne Heritage

Empire State Building by Elizabeth Mann

We also read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg, together as a read-aloud.  Check out my review on What 2 Read Wednesday.  You can read more about what we did in New York City here.

Do you have a favorite New York City book, be it a picture book, children's book or otherwise?  Leave a comment below and let me know!

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement. 

"...And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started..."
Our School Room 2013

We shall not cease from exploration 
And the end of all our exploring 
Will be to arrive where we started 
And know the place for the first time. 

     T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding," Four Quartets

We are quickly approaching the start of our first "official" homeschool year, and that means we spent some time starting to get our school room organized.  However, we still have a lot to do (as you will see from the pictures).

We have an actual school room, which used to be the dining room we never dined in.  We converted it to an office a couple of years ago, and it has been a great space for us to do school in (albeit sporadically up to this point).  However, there are a few drawbacks to this room.  

First, one whole side is open to the entry way, which means there are only 3 walls of open space. Second, one of the other walls is mostly covered by the front window.

 So I have my desk up against part of this wall, and it sticks out over part of the window. We also have boxes of papers, a file box that I was using last year to keep SC's schoolwork in, and some other things that need to be gone through sitting in front of the window.  On the wall are my and AC's college diplomas, and that is pretty much all that fits in the little space on either side of the window.

The other drawbacks to this room are self-created, as I have covered the back wall and other side wall with bookshelves, which were mostly full before we moved school into the room, and are very full now.

We purchased a mobile stand-up whiteboard/bulletin board last year, and while expensive, it has been something we use daily for school.  Last year we had it as a separator between the room and the entry way, but it really was in the way of the front door, so I moved it in front of some of the bookshelves that are just holding all my old college books, and it is much more user friendly there.

SC has a little desk in the middle of the room, and we started using an exercise ball at the end of last spring, though right now the desk is covered with her summer art projects and supplies, and I have no idea where the ball went.

I have one bookshelf dedicated to the things we will be using this year, and it is mostly full, so I have no idea how I will organize for next year (because I tend to keep EVERYTHING).

I have a few shelves dedicated to art supplies, some of which are purposely out of SC's reach, and some that she has easy access to.  I also have some of last year's curriculum, my graduate work books, and all the books and notebooks from my one year of teaching mixed in.

Finally, I got some Command picture clips and turned our pantry doors into a calendar and artwork display area.  I started doing that last spring after I turned the whiteboard so the bulletin board side was not viewable 100% of the time, but I was using tape.  I got tired of going through so much tape, and honestly, I didn't want tape on some of SC's art that I want to save, so this is the solution I have come up with.

I really like these clips, and they are very easy to use.

So, I still have quite a bit of organizing to do; mostly just going through the things that have piled up, finding a place for them, cleaning off my desk and finding a place for all that stuff, but you should have seen it a few days ago.  The floor was littered with paper that SC had taken out and cut up, there were stacks of mail on her desk from when we were out of town that I had just dumped in a box to go through later.  I had MORE bags from Target/Hobby Lobby/Michaels/Mardel of supplies to start this year.  I had all of the curriculum I had purchased in a box on the floor in the living room.  I still have a few weeks before we start our year (the first week of September), so I am not worried!

Where do you do school (or homework) at your house?  Leave a comment, then check out other homeschool rooms at the 5th Annual "Not Back To School" Blog Hop.

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What 2 Read Wednesday:
"The eyes are the windows of the soul...."
Book Review: From the Mixed-Up Files of
Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
by E.L. Konigsburg

"The eyes are the windows of the soul.... 
If someone was to look into your eyes, 
what would you want them to see?"
E.L. Konigsburg, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

When I was much younger (probably late elementary, though I honestly don't remember), I read a fantastical book about a girl and her brother who ran away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and attempted to solve a mystery about whether or not Michelangelo created a specific angel statute.  It was a fabulous book, but in those days, I read so much, checking the maximum number of books from the library on a weekly basis, that eventually I forgot about it.  

However, as I have started reading more than just picture books to SC, I came across this book with a funny, long name called From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and everything came back to me.  I was so excited to share this book with SC, and was even more excited when we found out that SC and I could travel along with AC to New York City, and could visit the very museum that the main characters stayed it.

The 1968 Newbery Award winning novel From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler tells the story of 12 year old Claudia, who feels unappreciated as the oldest of four children, and decides that what she needs to do is run away.  However, instead of running away to just anywhere, she decides to run away in style, to "a large place, a comfortable place, an indoor place, and a beautiful place" (pg. 5): the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Being a planner, and understanding it might take some money to run away, she brings along her 9 year old brother Jaime, who has "saved almost every penny he got" (pg.6).

Upon arrival at the Met, Claudia and Jamie create a plan for how they will stay inside the building after closing, and scope out where they will sleep for the night.  The blend in with school groups because the tours are interesting, and to get free food in the cafeteria.  They hide in the bathrooms from the night guards, and sleep in a bed in the English Renaissance area that allegedly was the site of a grisly murder.  On the second day of their stay, they discover "The Angel," a marble statue the Museum acquired for only a few hundred dollars, that it has been speculated was carved by Michelangelo   Claudia decides that her and Jamie's purpose in running away has now become to discover whether or not Michelangelo was the artist, and to prove it to those running the Museum.  The rest of the novel follows their investigation and adventures, and it was thrilling to read, even all these years later.  SC loved it, as well.

I would recommend this novel as a read aloud for children who can sit for longer periods of time, or to be read alone by older elementary or middle school aged children.  However, I think that this story is fabulous for all ages and even adults can take something from it. 

Since we read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in preparation for heading to New York City, I wanted to highlight some of the picture books we also read before we headed out on this trip.  Our favorites were The Other Side of Town by Jon Agee and New York, New York! The Big Apple from A to Z by Laura Krauss Melmed, but we also checked out from the library and enjoyed all of those here.

**This post contains affiliate links.  Please read my disclosure statement.

Monday, August 5, 2013

2013-2014: K5/1st
"Look what a lot of things there are to learn..."

"You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn..."
T.H. White, The Once and Future King

So we really would fall into the "eclectic unschooler" category of homeschoolers going by how things have happened this past year for Pre-K/K4.  If you remember our great plans, I will tell you now we did not complete even half of them.  Some of this was due to SC racing past where the curriculum was in math, necessitating a change mid-year, and some of this was because some of the choices were just too much for her at four.  Also, I did not strictly enforce the routine I had set up at the beginning of the year and allowed lazy mornings that moved into chores, playtime and errands, and then forgotten lessons for weeks at a time.  We also did quite a bit of traveling, which I feel is hugely important at SC's age, but I think I could have handled it better rather than completely eschewing school.  On the bright side, SC hasn't suffered from a very relaxed Pre-K/K4 year and testing has shown she is still years ahead in both math and reading.  In fact, she seems to just absorb information as she goes along.

This year, though I love the lazy time we get to spend together, we have to step up the routine a little.  I honestly think SC would manage some of her meltdowns (one day I will post about these) a bit better if we had a more routine schedule, and I am really excited about doing kindergarten with her this year (though much of what we will be doing is solidly 1st grade).  She is very excited, too, and keeps eyeing the box (see picture above) I have keept everything corralled in as I work on the plans.  By the way, in case you think I am nuts, not everything in that box will be completed this year, but in some cases is was cheaper overall to buy a "package" than just what we might complete this year.

Also, SC will be continuing to attend the preschool she was at as they have added a twice-per-week "bridge" kindergarten class.  Though academically she will be past most of what they are learning, the experiences (like "book character day" and other themed days) cannot be replicated well in a one-child home (in my opinion), and there are some things that she will learn (like the Pledge of Allegiance) that I probably wouldn't think to teach if going at it solely on my own.  In the future I may have to get one of those books that lists out things like this.  So, that means, our homeschooling schedule for the fall currently looks like this:

M: 8am - 12pm
T: 8am-9am
W: 8am - 1pm (including lunch break)
R: 8am-8am
F: 8am - 12pm
Sa: 9am - 11am

I could probably cram everything into M/W/F but I wanted to leave time for us to go on field trips and have park days, so AC and I agreed Saturday morning would be an okay time to get some schooling in.  I have also purposely scheduled science for Saturday morning so AC can do it with us.  I have also added one language arts activity on T/R mornings before our out-of-the-home kindergarten class.

Finally, without further ado, here are our plans for K5/1st:


After a friend posted a link to Telling God's Story, I knew I had found the perfect study for our family.  From Olive Branch Books' website, the program is described as one that "treats the Bible as a unified, exciting, true story with Jesus as the most important character."  YES!  This is my problem with story-based or thematic studies, because I feel they minimize Jesus and what Jesus did.  They are important to the Bible, but only when the Bible is taken as a whole, with the climax of the story being Jesus.  If you are at all interested in this, author Peter Enns writes a Parents' Guide that is a quick, easy read that describes the program and how he will follow the classical education model in developing this twelve-year study.  The first year of the study, which is what we will be doing, is focused on "Meeting Jesus," and what a wonderful place to start when telling God's story.

Since this is a "real" school year (though still not actually required by the state of Texas), I wanted to find something more than just a mix of random handwriting and phonics programs with a few read-alouds thrown in.  Though math seems to really be SC's thing, mine is reading and literature.  I am really excited that I heard about the Junior Great Books  "Read-Aloud" curriculum.  Even thought it is typically used in a group setting (which may pose a problem if we stick with it in later years), I think it will be a good, easy introduction for SC into some great literature (short stories and poetry), as well as the process of discussing what is read.  We will spread out the lessons so that each story takes two weeks, and do the "Sailing Ship Series" during the fall and the "Dragon Series" next spring, and then move along to the other two "Read-Aloud" series next year.

To go along with this I have also found a program from the Center for Gifted Education called Jacob's Ladder, which (at this level) takes picture book stories and helps guide kids through "ladders" of reading comprehension.  I am sort-of doubling up between this and the Junior Great Books when it comes to reading, but each program has its own areas of strength, and the reading choices in Jacob's Ladder are such that as SC develops her reading skills she may be able to read the selections on her own and then work through the comprehension.

Finally, though SC has tested at the level of someone 6.8 years in reading, she still struggles when it comes to sounding out new words and will typically just shrug her shoulders in hopes that I or AC will just tell her the word, which she then commits to memory.  This year, in an attempt to give her the tools to boost her reading confidence, we are going to be trying All About Reading Level 1.  I am actually pretty excited about this program too, as I have heard great things about it.

We will supplement when we feel like it with Explode the Code because SC likes it, but it won't be something I schedule into our regular schedule.

To go along with All About Reading we will also be using All About Spelling Level 1, though I am still unsure how to schedule these together.  I have read that some people start AAR and then later start AAS, but others seem to do them simultaneously.

We are still working slowly on A Reason for Handwriting level A, though that is due more to the fact that it is something to be done five days per week and we have only been schooling three days (when we stick to a schedule at all) rather than SC not wanting to or lacking the fine motor skills.  In fact, she writes daily when she makes "cards" for AC and I, or doing other schoolwork.  We will continue level A this fall (and hope we can get it done daily) and then move on to level B when we get there.

Another thing we will add in is some time working on writing, and specifically creating a narrative.  I saw WriteShop Primary at the Homeschool Book Fair, but there was just so much extra stuff that wasn't really writing that I decided against it.  So, I am sort-of modifying the Draw-Write-Now program to take the pictures, allowing SC to draw them as part of her "publication" (as well as practice following precise instructions), but then using that picture to create a story.  We will start by just copying the "handwriting" portion, and then build on that, brainstorming characters, plot, and making sure there is a beginning, middle and end.  We did the first lesson this summer as a trial and SC kept asking to get back to "Happy Mrs. Chicken."

Finally, as SC has been manipulating words and loves that they have classifications, I have decided to add in some light grammar once a week.  We will be reading Grammar-Land, the first third of Primary Language Lessons, and using the Critical Thinking Company's Language Smarts level B as a supplement.  I don't expect 100% mastery in this area, but I think she will enjoy it.

For our current list of prospective read-aloud books, check out this late summer post.


We started using the History Odyssey "Ancients" Level 1 last fall and I absolutely loved it.  However, it was just too much work for SC, and I really wasn't prepared to do all the activities  (and how much time it was taking) last year.  This year, I have planned three forty-minute sessions during the week, which should be ample time to complete everything.  We will probably start back at the beginning, as we only made it to week three last fall before shelving it.


We started Singapore Primary Mathematics level 1A at the end of last spring when we realized Math-U-See was not a good fit, and my hope over the summer was that we would be ready to start 1B for this fall.  However, we have been having a fun summer, and though we have done some math, we are not ready for 1B yet.  So, we will finish 1A first and then start on 1B.  However, I must say that this program is working very well with us and where SC refused to use the manipulatives to do the work for Math-U-See, she loves the other ways that are taught in Singapore (like using a number line).  We have also purchased some magnetic foam counters to use on the whiteboard and she has to come up and move them around to "show" me what she has been learning.  They have been a wonderful purchase!

We will be doing more of the Challenging Word Problems book, which we have not really touched, along with Process Skills in Problem Solving level 1.  We will also be starting up Life of Fred Apples, reading one lesson per week for "fun."

We will continue to work on Lollipop Logic books, plus Connections: Activities for Deductive Thinking once per week.


Last year I bought Apologia's Exploring Creation with Astronomy to try, and it was just too demanding for SC, even using the Junior Notebooking Journal.  We shelved it before we even finished the first week (when it asked for her to create a mnemonic phrase to memorize the order of the planets).  I still think it will be a bit much for her this year, but I discovered a set of "change" themed units by the Center for Gifted Education that are K-1 level and look perfect.  There are three units of twelve lessons each, which will be perfect for our year.  First we will do Survive and Thrive, which covers life science; then we will do Water Works, which covers physical science; finally we will finish up with How the Sun Makes Our Day, the Earth science unit.  Hopefully this will be a good transition into the Apologia Astronomy next year.  Also, we did get a membership to the Perot Museum, and have many field trips planned for this year already, as well as to the nearby zoo.


I hope you aren't reading this and wondering what happened to our learning French last year.  Needless to say, I definitely over-scheduled what would work for a four-year-old.  We have decided to switch to Spanish, however, instead of just trying again with the French sitting on the shelf, because SC has really noticed that there are quite a few people in Texas who speak Spanish and wants to learn it.  At the Homeschool Book Fair I came across the SongSchool Spanish program and it looked like a fun introduction to the language.  Coupled with Muzzy DVDs from the library, some books of coloring pages and other printables, flashcards, Oh, Noah! and Salsa on the computer, hopefully we will be set for success.


SC started piano lessons last fall, but struggled with "waiting for the other kids to catch up" because she picked up what the instructor was teaching so quickly.  We tried moving to private lessons, but it was with a new instructor who just could not handle SC and her mobility.  After waiting all through the spring semester for the original instructor to still not have space, she recommended another teacher and this one is very good with SC.  We went for a few trial lessons over the summer and are now waiting expectantly for lessons to start back up at the end of August.

For physical education, SC will be attending gymnastics, swimming lessons (her favorite), and dance class twice per week.  I am also trying to institute a "walk-the-dog" ritual in the morning (more for my physical education than hers), but it won't happen until it is no longer over 100 degrees!

While we will not be doing formal "art" instruction this year, our Bible program includes many art history studies/projects, as does the History Odyssey program.  She will be creating art with the Draw.Write.Now books to accompany her writing, as well as at other random times throughout our weeks for her own personal reason (she likes to make cards for people).  Also, I have a number of Dover coloring books that cover the history of art and some of the "great" artists, and we will utilize these in conjunction with various other subjects and read-alouds.

I realize this seems like quite a bit, but it really does fit into the schedule outlined above (I will do a more thorough post in a couple of weeks as to what our days will actually look like).  The only thing I haven't included here are the audiobooks (read-alouds) that we will be doing thrice a week, but I have written a separate post about that.  We are also going to finish off our week on Saturday mornings by having a traditional British elevenses and listening to some classical music.

What does your new school year look like?  Have you used any of these programs, and did you love them/hate them?  Leave a comment and let me know!

I am also linking up with the 5th Annual "Not Back-to-School" Blog Hop from iHomeschool Network.

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