Monday, February 1, 2016

Never Ever Ever Bind Anything at Staples!!!!!

I managed to complete the most wonderful, annoying project this month! It's wonderful because I love it, it was annoying because "professionals" were involved who botched it up so it was a headache to get it finished properly.

I sorted and organized all of our keepsake school papers so I could bind them into books, one book per school year per kid. Nice idea right? Well, it would have been if Staples wasn't involved. I prefer to do my own binding with the Pro-Click, but unfortunately spines are only available up to 5/8" (110 page capacity). I needed about a 2" spine, so I had to have Staples do it for me. Sadly for me they did exactly what I feared, which was to botch my order! They mis-cut pages, had a few of them hanging outside the spine and even left a page out of the middle of my book! Check out their "professional" binding job...

(the pages aren't even IN the binding!)

They also used spines that were entirely too small...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Our Plan for Third Grade + Kindergarten

We've been working to finish this school year in March, so we can have a nice break when baby #4 comes the beginning of April. So far we're on track. I've also been working on getting my plan and supplies ready for next school year  so I can just pick it up and go with it next summer/fall. So, even though it's 7-9 months early, here's my plan for next school year! 

Family Study...

Bible Reading:

We'll stay on pace with their bible class lessons, which is usually reading about a chapter a day. My third grader is also stick figuring through the bible to make his first bible timeline as we go. My kindergartener will begin his timeline when we cycle back to Genesis again.

For My Third Grader...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Pre-School and Kindergarten: Too Much Too Soon

School has changed a lot since we were kids. The early years have been transformed from a time of hands-on discovery to overly academic pursuits, and  children have paid the price for it. 

According to the study "Is Kindergarten the New First Grade?" kindergarteners spend considerably more time with formal instruction, academics and testing than they used to. This has taken the place of art, music, science, and child-directed activities. Even though you can read an abundance of studies referencing the vital role of "play" in early childhood development and education, modern classrooms no longer give it the time of day. Children are too busy with workbooks and test prep to mess with such things. 

The problem doesn't start in kindergarten. I recently read the article  "The New Preschool is Crushing Kids." For all the academics and pre-academics we're forcing on children at younger and younger ages, many teachers agree that children are "less inquisitive and less engaged than children of earlier generations." And for all this extra school work they're doing, "young children are gaining fewer skills, not more." In fact, by second grade, children who attended preschool perform "worse on tests measuring literacy, language, and math skills" than children who didn't attend preschool

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tracy's Treasury of Sturdy Books for Babies & Toddlers

Today I'm sharing a book list that I've thought about posting for the last few years. It's been tested in our home and only the best-of-the best remain! Whether you're building your own family library or gift giving, these are our tried-and-true, absolute favorite book choices for the littlest readers. (Remember to grab a couple for baby shower gifts!) They all fit the following criteria:
  • They're sturdy (no paper pages) to better stand up to the rough handling from the littlest hands.
  • They're enjoyable. (That's important!) Some children's books are awkward to read or are... well... annoying. Those books don't stay on our shelf! If I'm going to read it 100 times, it's got to be enjoyable. Also, I'm pretty picky about quality children's books, and these make the cut. 
  • They've been absolutely loved by our three babies. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Classic Education... the Charlotte Mason way

Classical Education is the age-old method that produced many educational "giants"  like Aristotle, Newton, C.S. Lewis, and Thomas Jefferson, among others. You can't pin one precise recipe for Classical Education, since of course the Greeks and Romans didn't all do the exact same thing, or even label their educational method as "Classical," for that matter. But they did have a common goal. It was not the mere development of the intellect, but also that of producing virtue in their pupils and influencing their conduct. Students were taught to think for themselves and become life-long learners. 

Classical Education involves teaching children is based on their stage of cognitive development: Grammar, Dialectic, then Rhetoric. Most educators today would define those stages as something like this: 
  1. Grammar - Grade school students absorb lots of facts, laying the foundation for future study
  2. Dialectic - Middle school students begin questioning and evaluating the facts, and learn to think through arguments
  3. Rhetoric - High school students apply what they've learned by making arguments themselves through speech, writing, etc.
Interestingly enough, what we call "Classical Education" today isn't necessarily so. I recently read a great book showing the connection between Classical Education and the Charlotte Mason approach. I came to realize upon reading it that today's version of Classical Education (whether in schools or home schools) may be an attempt to replicate doing what classical educators did rather than getting to the heart of why they did it. This actually matters a great deal, as it can result in the modern version no longer remaining true to the original purpose. 

Let me explain. 

Classic Education began with Rich Literature, Not Rote Memorization

Monday, December 14, 2015

Why Homeschooling Rocks For Our Family

There have been so many times over the past few years that I've been thankful we homeschool our children. Today I thought I'd share a few of the reasons that homeschooling ROCKS for our family. 

We declare our own holidays.
Making our own schedule is one of my favorite things about home schooling. We generally start our school year during the heat of summer so we can enjoy plenty of time off in the spring and fall. That's also when we take our family vacations so the weather's great and we don't have to deal with lines or crowds. 

Our field trips rock!
While other kids were cooped up in school, we have climbed a mountain, competed in homeschool olympic days, taken water survival lessons, visited the zoo, a horse ranch, an alpaca ranch, the lake, museums, parks, and pumpkin patches, ridden trains, toured the fire station and Auntie Ann's Pretzels, dug for crystals, gone fishing, hunted crawdads and caught butterflies. Sometimes we join other home schoolers for field trips, sometimes we go as a family, and sometimes it's just me and the kids. One time we took a three-family vacation with a couple of our favorite homeschooling friends at the start of the school year and our kids had the run of an entire huge castle all to ourselves. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Two Months TSW

Since my last TSW update, my son's symptoms peaked and then have shown improvement! 

Week 5 TSW...
Sunday was pretty rough... His face and neck were visibly broken out with red splotches and he was super itchy. It was a struggle to make it through worship services and we decided he had reached the point of needing to stay home in the future. Monday night he had a terrible time sleeping and was thrashing all over the place, flailing about and whimpering. He was absolutely miserable and incredibly itchy. It was a long, rough night.