Anxiously awaiting!

Tomorrow our main box of homeschool books should arrive! I’m excited. I keep checking the tracking, even though it’s not going to arrive early or anything. At least FedEx usually delivers in the afternoon and not at night like UPS.

I spent a few hours this evening doing some more research into math curriculums. I didn’t get one yet because I hadn’t made a final decision. I initially leaned towards Saxon Math, but a lot of reviews say that it’s a lot of work, it’s hard, and can be a bit dull, especially in the early years. It looks like it’s highly rated in the later years, so I was browsing to see what other options there might be. I looked at A Beka, Horizons, Singapore, Math-U-See, Bob Jones, and a few others. So far I’m leaning towards Horizons. Math-U-See and Singapore are both highly rated, but they use the mastery system (in which you stick with one skill and you advance in that skill before adding any others–you spend an entire year on addition, then one on subtraction, then multiplication, etc.). I’m not so concerned with “getting behind” with that system, because I think that it evens out. My main worry, however, is forgetting things. I think I prefer the idea of learning cyclically, so that you constantly return to and review the concepts you’ve learned, advancing in them each time. I also prefer the idea of learning multiple concepts in relation to each other… addition and subtraction interrelate with each other and with multiplication and division, and fractions, etc… Also, Beth gets bored easily and likes a lot of variety in what we do, so I think staying too long on one subject would be a problem for her.

One of the difficulties in choosing a math curriculum is that there isn’t one perfect curriculum, but different curriculums are better for different needs. Horizons is more bright and colorful, but can be distracting to some kids. Also, some programs are better for visual learners, others for audio, and yet others for kinesthetic. Horizons doesn’t seem as strongly in any one of those, it seems to be a little bit more in-between, which I think might be better. But it does seem like, from what I’ve read, that math is a subject in which you just need to keep an eye on how your child is doing, and if they’re struggling, try to figure out what their difficulty is and consider looking for another math curriculum that might be better. It seems common for parents to switch every few years, or to have one student use one program and one student use another. I’d like to be able to use the same one with each kid, but especially since a lot of the expense in the math curriculum is the workbooks, which are a consumable, it might not be that big a deal. Of course, so far I don’t really know what kind of learner Beth is. I think it will become more apparent as we go along.

I organized the books I have so far on top of the piano. I used two boxes turned sideways with the flaps tucked in to make shelves. The first shelf is for P3/4 material and previously purchased things like workbooks and such. That’s the shelf I want to be working with now. The second shelf is for P4/5 material and for newer items that I either want to hold off on or introduce gradually. More advanced, in other words.

I think I really need to work with Beth on number recognition. I think she’s maybe a bit behind where she should be in math, and it’s at least partly because of that. So I’m going to concentrate on the math workbooks for a while and maybe make some flash cards. I might combine them with some M&Ms or pennies to make it a little more interesting. I also have a “Comprehensive Curriculum of Basic Skills” that I’d like to do some more in.

Fortunately, if I don’t finish the workbooks and want to move on, there aren’t really many workbooks in the Sonlight P4/5 (the ones I have were purchased separately). So it shouldn’t be overkill to do some amidst the rest of the books we’ll be doing.

We’ve been really enjoying “101 Favorite Stories From the Bible.” It’s a good storybook, with very details stories and nice, vivid pictures. It also has good questions for every story that help me think of ways to discuss the story with Beth. Even the pictures contribute. For instance, yesterday we read about Cain and Abel, and the picture showed Abel and Cain each preparing his sacrifice, and Cain looking at Abel with hatred in his eyes. Then there was the story of Noah, which showed Noah’s family making a sacrifice of thanks to God, with the ark and animals in the background. She wanted to know what the altar and sacrifices were, so we talked a little while about how people used to sacrifice. I was then able to explain about how we don’t do such things any more, because Jesus sacrificed His life for us, He was the sacrificial sheep. And because His sacrifice was the perfect one, we don’t need to keep doing it. We’ve already done it once, and His sacrifice now stands for all eternity. I think that she actually sort of understood a bit. And it helped her understand the story we read today about Abram’s readiness to sacrifice Isaac.

I do need to work out a little better how I want to organize our homeschool. So far, we’ve been doing it in the afternoon once the little ones go down for their nap. I’d been thinking about moving some school to the morning as well, partly to give us more time and partly so that Josie can join in a little. The problem is that mornings are also the only real time when we can go out. We don’t go out every day, but when we do go out, it will throw off our morning homeschool schedule. And yet eventually as they’re older we’ll need to do mornings. So I’m trying to figure out the way to do it. I think that my inclination so far is to do mornings when we’ll be home in the mornings, so maybe a few days a week, and then continue to do afternoons daily (and I do mean daily–Beth doesn’t understand the concept of weekends yet and wants to do school every day). I’d like for all the kids to be able to do some preschool playgroup-esque activities in the mornings, and of course I do have to do things like grocery shop, and there are library trips… so we might have to do a schedule like this for some time. I don’t know how much of a disruption it would be to an 8-year-old Beth’s routine for us to go to a morning playgroup for Cecy when she’s 4.

I’ve also been contemplating how I want to set up the house for homeschooling in the future. We’ll be spending much of the day in the house, instead of the kids going off to school, so we need to have a comfortable work area and keep all our things reasonably well-organized. I’d really like to have an area, if not a room, where everything is close together. Perhaps in the playroom we’d have a bookshelf with all the books, a table or desks, beanbag chairs or a comfortable couch with room for everybody, etc. I’d really like to have room to have everybody close together so that I can supervise all the kids at once, rather than having one kid sitting at the dining room table doing math, another sitting on the living room couch reading, and a third on the floor working with manipulatives. That’s not to say that somebody who needs it quieter to read can’t go into the bedroom, but I’d like the option of having everybody nearby since I’ll need to bounce from kid to kid. I’m not sure if having the playroom be used for this purpose, so that younger kids can play in the same room, is a good idea or not. On one hand, they can see their siblings doing school and learn some things themselves, and they would also be supervised. On the other hand, they might be noisy and disruptive, but not have anywhere else to go if we’re using the playroom as a schoolroom. Plus it would be nice to have a separation that says, “Now it’s time for us to work,” by having a separate schoolroom. I guess it would be ideal if we had two rooms, or perhaps one room and a finished basement, so that we could bring the younger kids in with toys if we wanted, but they’d also have another place to play if we needed quiet. I guess those are things to keep in mind for when we start looking for our next place after this one. By the time we make that move, Beth will be 6 and Josie will be 4, so they’ll both be doing school. Cecy, at 2 1/2, might even be ready to try some of the motor skills workbooks (gluing, cutting, coloring) and to start on some of the P3/4 books, especially as I’d like to have Josie and her both doing the same core work.

The house is still a mess, although I’ve made some improvement today. I managed to clean the kitchen and scrub the floor (yes, I literally got down on my hands and knees to do it). Scrubbing this floor is so disheartening. Not only do I need to really *scrub* because stuff sticks to it like you wouldn’t believe, and my kids can’t seem to eat a goldfish cracker without leaving crushed, moist bits to glue themselves to the floor, but the vinyl is the worst ever. It’s in horrid shape, scratched and stained, such that even when it’s freshly cleaned it doesn’t really *look* clean. So I don’t get that nice feeling of a truly clean, beautiful floor. Also, there’s a massive gap between the edge of the vinyl and the cabinets and wall. Stuff gets into this gap and will not come out. Dirt fills the gap. The gap is horribly stained. It’s just really ugly. I hate that floor.

I’m also coming to not like this house. The electrical work is horrible (I can’t believe that our landlord, who is an electrician, hasn’t felt the need to fix things–I know my husband would!). And everything is just stained/worn/scratched to the point where, like the vinyl floor, it never quite comes clean. It makes it really hard to motivate myself to clean when you can’t really see the results.

Tomorrow, I really need to get on top of laundry. I have laundry baskets full of clean clothes all over the living room, just waiting to be folded. I also need to round up the last few bits of miscellaneous stuff from the clothing bins and get them sorted and the bins back in the attic. I did at least finish my major sort-through of the children’s clothing bins. Next I need to do the toys. I’m not sure how that will go, as I’m sure they will want all the toys to play with as soon as I see them. But the toys are definitely all over the place, organization-wise, so it needs to be done. I might also see if I can organize it so that I can pack some toys in boxes that will be ready to move, and then not have to deal with packing those toys later.

And that’s about all for now, as I should get to bed! I keep staying up way too late for no reason, a bad habit I need to break!

2 thoughts on “Anxiously awaiting!

  1. We’re still on the fence about homeschooling, but reading this made me all excited about it again. I’m taking notes.

    As a kid, I’m pretty sure we used the mastery method in my elementary school. And I was BOOOOOORED. That pace sucked all of the enjoyment out of math for me. We didn’t learn multiplication and division until something like fourth grade. My mom had taught it to me in first. I think cyclical learning sounds much better. But, of course, as you mentioned, different kids, different styles of learning. So, who knows?

    I’ve read that it can be hard to focus if the play area and the sleep area and the work area are mixed up. I learned this in high school sometime, moved my homework sessions from my bed to the study, and what do you know? It worked! I never had great focus, ever, but the move definitely helped. However, I do know that space is an issue. I know that if we’re still in this apartment when our girls are to that age, we won’t be able to carve out a separate room just for school, so who knows?

  2. I was bored in, well, basically everything. I did have one year (6th grade) in which I seriously struggled in math. But other than that, school was a breeze until well into high school, and boring as all get out. Sonlight’s tag line is something like, “The way you wish you’d been taught,” and it sure is!

    I know that I remember much more of the historical time periods that I read fictional novels about than ones that I just read informational books about. And often, reading fictional accounts spurred me to want to look at informational books as well because I was curious. So I love that Sonlight combines fiction with nonfiction in the different time periods and cultures.

    You made a good point about it being easier to focus if the play area and the sleep area and the work area are separate. I know that I’ve heard it’s better for your sleep to have a bedroom that is *just* for sleeping.

    Right now we’re in a small-ish (900 sq. ft.) house with three bedrooms. The master bedroom is for my husband and I, and the baby takes naps either in the pack ‘n’ play or usually (bad mommy) in the swing in there during the day.

    The middle bedroom, which also has the back door, is the playroom. It’s the smallest room, maybe 10 x 10? I’m not great at estimating. Not a whole lot of floor space. All the toys are stored in that room, and it’s the “quiet time room” for Beth in the afternoons. At night, I move the pack ‘n’ play into that room and Cecy sleeps there overnight.

    The third bedroom is the kids’ bedroom, and it has a bunkbed (Beth on top, Josie on the bottom) and a crib (for Cecy in a few months. It also has their dressers with clothes and one bookshelf for bedtime books.

    Ideally, I’d love to have a 4th bedroom. I really dislike having to move the pack ‘n’ play back and forth every day. It’s hard on the pack ‘n’ play, which is starting to not lock into place as well. And it’s a pain for me! So I need to start a major campaign for “this is not the place to save money, we’ll all be home all day and need room to work!” for getting a 4-bedroom next time. 🙂 I’m not sure what would happen with a 4th kid, though, especially if we have a boy. We haven’t decided yet about whether we want to try for another one, but we’ll probably need to figure that out in about six months months or so (all our kids are 21 months apart).

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