Sunday, August 24, 2008

Start of a New Year!!!

Everytime school starts, I think of it as new year. It's the start of a new level and planning how else can I possibly help my children embrace the love for learning. For the last 2 years that we have been homeschooling, Math and Reading have always been my priorities in my school. My son, Jhoshua who is 8 yrs. old is doing Teaching Textbook 6 this year. So far, I like the way that this math curriculum is laid out for us. The cds are a blessing for me. It elliminates frustrations in my part when repetitive explanations is needed. Teaching to an 8 yr old seems easy but I think when you're an adult and a topic seems easy for you, it doesn't always mean that your children can see it the way you see it. It's hard to go to their level somedays that somehow you can't figure out the best way to explain things. That is how I came to like Teaching Textbook very much. It's like having a tutor in your house anytime. My son doesn't like math very much. He is smart and math gifted though but doesn't like doing it. You can show him how to do it and picks up easily but doesn't like doing the drills. I needed something that will give him his independence and as well as for me to be able to check his work. TT had done those things for us. This is the second math curriculum we have used so far. We've always done Horizon Math and personally I love it. My son won't admit that it made him a better math student but I think Horizon is really a good and solid math curriculum there is out there for elementary.
So far, I haven't heard any complaints about Teaching Textbook. That's GOOD!!! I never have to force him to do it. And the BEST part of it. He does it on his own and does it before anything else.I only have to ask him about the lesson each time he finished it, to check if he really understood and that's all I do. He won't tell me that he loves it but if he's advancing and can actually do it on his own (without me saying.."pls. do it now") then I know I've hit a jackpot with this one. I am glad I tried this program. And looking through it, I see that it is well laid out, not too much exercises just enough for a student not to get bogged down. It also has reviews for the past lessons so they don't forget what they have learned. The explanation/ lecture per lesson is very clear, I think if you let them watch the cd and follow up on it it will serve your child really well.
The only downside I see with most families that uses it is that they leave their children by themselves and rely on the cd on its own and expect the child to get all of it. Remember that it is a well explained lecture but a child can not ask a question to the cd so you do have to watch the lesson yourself in case he has some questions about it. We are slowly teaching our children to teach themselves but math I think is a very different subject. It always needs more time and more guidance and more patience.
Well, I just want to share our experience with Teaching Textbook. I hope that the coming level of this program will run as smoothly as it is right now.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Teaching Writing: Structure and Style...More than just a Seminar

I got my IEW:TWSS last week and I was able to watch disc 1 & 2 twice now and I want to share you my experience watching the video. First, I would like to tell Mr. Andrew Puweda , a warm thank you from the bottom of my heart. This video seminar so far accomplished 2 wonderful things for me. One, being just one of the best teaching writing curriculum I have seen so far. The seminar walks you step by step in learning how to write. You don't need to think about what to write, you can use any stories and start from there. The curriculum is GREAT but it did more than teach me on how to teach writing to my children but it taught me to be more compassionate and patient in teaching my children. I saw a mistake I thought was just normal and just part of teaching and learning process. While doing the exercises in the video, at first, it gave me a hard time doing it not because I don't know how to do it but because it was all new to me and Mr. Puweda said that that is normal because it is a new skill to learn, a different way, a new process. And he gives you advice how to handle or teach a student without breaking their will to learn how to write. And I saw my fault watching that video, now I understand , that everything that I am teaching my children are new to them. Not because it looks easy for me, it will be easy for them too. Sometimes, I get upset and say something I should not. I am lucky and blessed to have this chance to have seen these videos. This curricum have made me realize mistakes and lead me to the path of correcting my way of teaching. I need to be more patient with my kids. I need to slow down when they are having a hard time , I need to encourage them more and tell them more how wonderful they are doing. I need to focus and let them know the great improvements they have accomplished. I need to use more encouraging words in correcting their works. I don't want to kill the fire in their hearts to learn. I don't want them to stop asking questions that make them think and analyze and wonder. IEW have made me a better teacher and a better mom. Sometimes, you learn a lesson in life in weird circumstances. And this is one lesson in life, I will always be thankful for. Not only for the impressive curriculum but the way it made me realize to have more patience and lots of understanding teaching my children.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A New Plan

I knew that I would change my mind and I did. Regarding our writing program. This summer we will be finishing Classical Writing Aesop A and I think that will be the last one for us for that particular program. It seems like too much busy work for my son. He has been advance in all his subjects especially Language Arts and if we want to continue using CW, I have to let go of our Grammar program which is Rod and Staff. But my son told me that, he likes to learn grammar because of R&S. And he wants to continue using it because he enjoys it. So I started looking for another writing program. And with all the searching and reading reviews, I finally settled with Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). I bought the TWSS and will probably get it next week. It's a pretty pricey curriculum but you can use it in any grade level so I think it's worth it. They have a lot of supplemental materials to go with it so that is also a plus. I just have to watch the dvds and I hope I will be able to do that this summer.
Another curriculum that we are changing is our Science program. For the last 2 years, we had been using Elementary Apologia, my son loves them, but he got bored and wants to try something new. He wants something with Life, Earth and Physical Science in a year. This is my problem now. I couldn't find something. We used BJU Science before but we didn't like the format. I was leaning now to God Design Series. I was thinking of choosing their Animal Kingdom for Life Science, Our Planet Earth for Earth Science and I will use Living Learning Science Chemistry, which I bought last year that we didn't use. So far, that's the new plan and changes for us this year. If I can just stop tweaking and doubting my choices. I pray that this will be the last changes I will be making for this year.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trip to Lake Elizabeth Park

We went to the park yesterday after going to the doctor. Jhoshua fell from his bike and broke his arm 6 weeks ago. And finally after 6 weeks, Jhoshua's cast is gone. It was very hard for him wearing a cast. He missed most of his baseball games. And it was also hard for him writing. So the remaining 5 weeks of our school was mostly done with narrations. He's probably very happy about that.
It was a beautiful day outside. We were at the park around 10am stayed there till 1pm. I took lunch with us and we had a picnic by the lake. Usually I bring them here only to play in the play area. We never really explore the place. But we had time yesterday and they actually agreed to walk around the lake. We really had a nice time.
It was also very nice for me. Now that school is over and I should be relaxing and enjoying my free time instead I busy myself thinking and planning about the next school year. And going out yesterday and spending time outside our house gave me a break of my worries. It made me realized that I should do this more often with my kids now that its summer and the weather permits. There are so many things we can do in this park. We found out yesterday that they have a boat ride during the weekends, so we'll probably check that out too.
I also started checking out places around here in Fremont,Ca. We moved here 6 mos ago and wilth all the stuff I have to do and do school at the same time, we didn't really have much time taking fieldtrips. But now that we are settled and I have ordered everything we need and planned everything for this school year. All I am planning doing is read my books and take my children to places and have lots of fun.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Curriculum Choice for School Year 2008-09

Well I have been planning our school this year for both my sons, Grade 4 and Pre k. So far this is what I came up for this year:

Grade 4

Math : Teaching Textbook 6 plus Singapore's Word Challenging Problems 4

Science: Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany
God's Design for Chemistry

History: Story of the World 2
Our Island Story

Language Arts:

Grammar: Rod and Staff 4
Writing: Classical Writing Aesop A
Spelling: Spelling Power
Handwriting: Copywork from Ambleside Online

Poetry: Poetry for Young People
* Emily Dickinson
* Robert Frost
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Foreign Language: Spanish: Rosetta Stone Explorer

Latin: Prima Latina

Elective: Typing: Mavis Beacon Deluxe

Pre K

Math: Singapore Early Bird Kindergarten 1A/1B

Reading: Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
Literature: Before Five in a Row

and lots and lots of play....

Well that is my curriculum choice for this school year. I don't think I will change my mind anymore because I already bought everything and I don't want to spend anymore money. And I promise myself this year that whatever curriculum I decided to buy, I will use and try my best to make it work and not just give up easily. I have 2 months to read them and plan how to use them this year so that I will do. I just hope that with all our plans for summer, I will still have ample time to read and plan.

Friday, May 23, 2008

School is OVER!!!

We are finally done in our school this year. I am so happy. This was our second year of homeschooling and I am so glad it's over. Everyday I question myself if I will be able to do this or if I am doing a great job. And this year was a good year for us. We finish our Math program early and I was happy about that. Though we are still waiting for the SAT result for this year. I don't have a doubt that he'll do good but of course my husband wants a proof that everything in our school is doing great.
Next school year, I will have my 4 year old son joining us for his Preschool. I am so excited about that. I already bought him school books and he is so excited about them. I just can't figure out yet the schedule for my 2 kids. Jhosh will be in Grade 4 and Alden is in Preschool. But I guess, I will just continue reading to Alden and teaching him his alphabets for the summer. I never really do it as a "school" type anyway. I want him to enjoy so learning comes easy.
But I plan on taking 2 weeks break and then Jhosh will do Math 3 times a week this summer so he won't forget his math skills. We will also do Classical Writing Aesop A this summer. We don't do formal writing lessons during school days only narrations and I wait until summer till we do the formal lessons. So that's what is in our plate this summer.
Curriculum wise, I already bought everything for this year. So every night I try to read the books so I won't be cramming this year. I know it's a lot of work but I know I need to do it.
Well, I am just happy this school year is over. I get to rest for a little bit before we do it all over again.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Finally, I was able to find time to post in my blog. The blog has been sitting here for a while now and I just couldn't find the time to write. I have 3 kids who love to run around the house and make a lot of mess. So being a homeschooler and a stay home mom, running a blog is very difficult to keep up. I love to read other blogs and I envy them for being able to write all the time. I wish I had the time. But maybe I just don't know how to manage time. Because in our house, time just fly so fast.
But I am very happy that I was able to sit today and start writing. I love writing. And I love the idea of sharing experiences about life's journey... our journey in our homeschooling. It has been a blessing traveling in this road, experiencing the love of learning and seeing it through my children's eyes. It is hard sometimes, for there are so many choices to make but the fruit of labor is always so wonderful and inspiring.
I am so thankful that my husband brought me in this path. I wouldn't even think of doing it or trying it if it wasn't for him. Of course I was scared that I won't be able to do a good job teaching my children and I didn't want them to fail. But after almost 2 years of doing it. This has been the most rewarding experience so far. The beauty of homeschooling is that teaching always comes from the heart, the willingness to teach is by instinct and the intention is always pure... it's always for the good of the children.