Saturday, August 28, 2010

The 2010-2011 school year is underway!

After a busy summer that did not go according to plan in the slightest, we started a fresh school year this past Monday. I'd had high hopes of doing school a few days/week through most of the summer, to keep the kids fresh and in somewhat of a routine, but for a variety of reasons that just didn't happen.

August was a busy month, prior to the start of school. The kids and I spent the first week at Girl Scout Community Day Camp, which all three of us love. This was our second year, and I've volunteered each year. Sons of volunteers get to go to camp and be in the Boys Unit, participating in all the same activities as the girls, but mostly just hanging with the guys. Last year I taught Map & Compass to all the campers (K-6th grade). This year I was the Program Director, writing lesson plans for the station leaders to follow, and generally making sure that Program runs as intended, with volunteers getting the support they need to be successful. I also got to work with the teens more than I was expecting, and I found that to be eye-opening and rewarding - in the way a scientist observing a hive of bees would find that eye-opening. LOL - only joking... a little.

At the end of the next week that followed, the whole family went camping with friends down at Seaquest State Park, near Mt. St. Helens. We had a group campsite with four other homeschooling families, and it was a LOT of fun. We made some pretty exciting meals with dutch and box ovens, did some biking, frisbee throwing, beer and wine drinking, and went to the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center. It was really relaxing, and a nice way to get to know our friends even better.

After camping, Hubby had to drive back north for work, and the kids and I drove to southern Oregon to visit with my MIL. It's always fun to go visit Grandma on her ranch, and spend a week playing in the creek and having adventures. By the end of our 10 days away from home, we were ready to return home and get back to some nice, quiet, normalcy.

The kids have started back up with great attitudes, and it has made this week a lot of fun. Big Sister must be going through a developmental shift because she is so much more engaged and interested, asking lots of thoughtful questions, and making connections between various things we've read, and time periods we've studied in the past. I absolutely love it. Little Brother is pretty motivated to learn to read more fluently, so has been much more willing to sit down and read to me. Need to find him some better stories - A Friend for Little Bear is right at his level, but he finds it pretty boring. When Big Sister was a struggling reader (older than he is) I was able to find stories she was interested in, but he's really not into ponies, LOL! I'm sure I'll come up with something.

We've become much more "schooly" than in past years, spending a few hours/day (give or take, and depends on the kid) on school stuff. Focusing on Sister's writing this year. Brother is younger and not doing as much book work as Sister, which really bugs her, but she's being a little more mature about it this year. They're doing history together - Age of Exploration. We're finally breaking out of Ancients and Middle Ages - time periods we've exhausted in the past few years. We haven't done ANY American History, which I want to work towards. I'm using our Encyclopedia of World History as our spine, with the kids putting together their own timelines as we go, and getting books from the library for all the jumping off points, and more in-depth info. This week we're reading A World Made New, which is a great look book at what was happening in the New and Old Worlds just prior to contact, really stressing the fact that there was indeed an advanced civilization in place over here in the Americas prior to European arrival. It also stresses how important religion was to the Europeans, and how they really felt stongly that sharing Christianity with the world was their duty.

Also trying, yet again, to really be consistent in my use of Homeschool Tracker Plus. I've owned it for four years, and never managed to utilize it for more than a couple weeks in a row. My follow-through? Not so good at times. I think I've finally figured out how to make it work with our style of schooling, which is definitely NOT to make a plan and adhere to it. I've been entering the kids' work after they complete it, and that's finally working fairly well (lol - one week in. I'll have to get back to you later...).

Classes start up again shortly! A vocals class, and Homeschool PE for Sister, Aikido, Homeschool PE, and music at the elementary school for Brother. Plus Girl Scouts for Sister. Need to work swimming back in, as it's the one thing Sister really, really begs to do, but our local pool shut down and I'm having trouble finding a suitable, affordable replacement. Busy, busy around here!