Saturday, August 14, 2010

The New School Year Begins

My boys do not enjoy taking the entire summer off. They get bored as most kids do. So, we do some school over the summer. As of yesterday, we had twenty-one days in for the new year. This is always nice because it gives us the freedom of flexibility and allows us to take extra time off at Christmas time or if something comes up and we need an extra day or so off throughout the rest of the year. It also enables us to end our school year early, which we like to do because we like to be finished by the time our annual homeschool convention is here.

We are off to a great start this year. We just finished reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. We had so much fun. I love reading aloud to the boys even though they are in junior and senior high school level and they enjoy it too because I use different voices for different characters. I love to use accents as well. I had so much fun talking as the pirate, Long John Silver.

Anthony is taking some great classes at co-op this year as well. He's taking Psychology (from a Christian perspective), Chemistry, Photography and Speech and Debate. He's excited about all but the Chemistry class:)

I'm nervous about the Speech and Debate class as I have volunteered to teach it because I saw a need for it in our area, but I know very little about teaching such a class. The intent is to have a Speech and Debate club and have a group of committed teens and parents who really commit to giving 100% to the class and to participate in local competitions. It's a great skill for our young people to develop for any career they may be considering as communication is key in all aspects of life.

I am also teaching the photography class, but that will be a breeze. I have been taking pictures for almost as long as I can remember. If anyone remembers those really old cameras that had the roll films (not 35mm), that was the first camera I took pictures with. It belonged to my grandma and she used to get me to take pictures for her because she always cut people's heads off in the photos she took:) Then I got a 11o cartridge camera. I won a Kodak disc camera when they were all the rage. I saved and purchased my own Chinon SLR 35 mm camera in the late 1980's, and about two years ago I purchased my current camera, a Canon SLR Rebel digital camera 35mm camera. My old film Chinon 35mm camera was completely manual and I had to set everything myself. Well, this new digital camera has so many automatic and manual options that I still don't know how to operate everything. That's because I really don't have much time to really just play with it or to try to memorize the manual that came with it.

I have lots of photography experience. As I said I've been taking photos for a very long time, but I have also done photos for several weddings. I have taken photos, for friends, of their children. I take photos of my own children annually (you know, like school photos). I taught a photography class for another co-op we were a part of two years ago, before I got my digital 35mm camera.

Nicholas is taking a writing class called "Imagination Island". His teacher sent a packet of things home before the end of last year's co-op for him to complete over the summer before the class begins. It requires him to read The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, so I have been reading that aloud to him. Wow, the chapters in that book are long! He and Anthony who often overhears my reading to Nicholas both get a kick out of my Gollum voice. They say I sound pretty close to the voice used by the Gollum character in the movies. I just love doing voices for characters as I read. It makes the stories more interesting in my opinion. I know it keeps the attention of my boys. He also has had things that he is to do to begin to create his own story, to get his imagination working. This will be a challenging class for him, but it will be good for him.

Nicholas is also going to be in the co-op choir and will also be taking World Geography and the volleyball class.

The little one will be taking a human body class, an art class, a music class and a gym class. He loves co-op! He also really likes the reading program that I got for him. It's called Rocket Phonics. It's a great program for active little boys. It includes hands-on activities. It includes games and scavenger hunts that enable them to move around a lot. It really is fun and he has already really started to pick up reading a lot of the words, and he has only done school for four days. If you want to know more about it, simply click on the highlighted words in this post or click on the link on my sidebar. I saw a presentation of it at our annual homeschool convention in May and was sold. I just knew my little guy would love it and I was right. I know we only had a week of school so far, but he looks forward to doing this curriculum every day! As a matter of fact, Thursday is my day to do grocery and run errands and because of that, I didn't have time to do school with him that day this week, and he was quite ornery that day, and I believe it was because he didn't get to do school because that was the only difference in his schedule that day.

I didn't have him start as early as the big boys. I didn't think he was ready. But, now that he has started, he really is enjoying it, even math, which was a point of contention last year. I decided to approach the whole math thing differently this year. I make him do math first to get the thing he likes least out of the way, and I do a variety of things to keep him interested. One day I use a set of math cards with colorful pictures on them to do math. The next day I use a musical math curriculum that I bought quite a while already and didn't really use with the other two boys. Then the next day I have him use food and plastic buttons to do math and if he cooperates, he can eat the food when we are done (things like m&m's or fruit loops cereal or sesame stix, just about any small finger food works). That's the rotation, and for the first week it has worked. Hopefully it will continue. We end with me reading him a book or two -- something for science or history, and I will occasionally throw in a good video for history or science. He will be six soon and this is his kindergarten year.

Last year I did preschool with him, and as he is still a foster child, we still have caseworkers involved (the only reason they allowed me to teach him last year was because he did not make the age cut-off for mandatory school attendance because of where his birthday falls), and the one caseworker who has been working one-on-one with him a lot recently has told me how impressed she is because some of the activities she did with him required writing and she thought she would have to do the writing for him, but she found that if she told him how to spell something, he could write it because he knows how to write all of his letters. She said he's already ahead of a lot of kindergarteners she has seen, and even some of the older children she has had to work with. However, bear in mind, that she works with foster children who have been neglected and that is the main reason most of them are not performing on their grade level.
Of course, we homeschoolers, don't worry much about our children performing at the same level as their peers because we just want our children to do the best that they can do at whatever level they can do it.

So, I suppose I will be reading the rest of the Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien this year with Nicholas. This was not in my plans, but since we are reading The Hobbit we may as well read the rest of the series. I'm sure Nicholas will enjoy it.

Anthony and I will be focusing on reading a lot of the classics.

I hope your homeschool year will be a good one as well.