Monday, November 5, 2007

Homeschool Spotlight

Last week was my week in the spotlight, LOL. MDC does this every so often and last week was my week. So instead of retyping everything I did last week I figured I would just C&P it all here!

About us

I am a WAHM to two boys. Drake is 8 and Kyllian is 6. I do graphic design for small businesses and I am in the process of writing a book on lapbooking and hold lapbooking workshops every other month.

Our style of homeschooling is “whatever works”. We follow Classical Education for History and Science and Charlotte Mason for Language Arts, Literature, Art and Music.

We try to stay involved in our local homeschooling group and attend a co-op at least once a week.

We learn together as a group. I learn right along with them because I don’t remember much history or science from elementary school and never read any of the “classics” despite being in the gifted program in school.

We are very involved in archery. I am a Level 1 Instructor through NADA. For now we just practice the basics at an indoor range nearby but we are hoping to get involved in some competitions soon..

How we came to homeschooling

When the boys were very young I mentioned homeschooling to DH and he flat out said no. He was quite opposed to homeschooling and I didn’t push it.

DS1 started in PS for Kindergarten. There was a lot of confusion with changing teachers in Kindy but otherwise it was okay (except for the insane amount of homework).

First grade was not okay! DS1 is an advanced reader and the teacher could not keep up with him. As a solution, she paired him with the slowest reader in the class and gave DS1 the job of helping this child. DS1 takes things very seriously and became severely stressed over the situation. School in general was very stressful for him. He was a perfectionist and being marked incorrect for things was very troubling. We finally convinced them to test him for gifted. His 3 hour test was pushed through during the tester’s lunch hour and he didn’t score high enough.

DH and I had discussed it and agreed that if they didn’t do something to fix the problems that we would HS the rest of the year. DH was not thrilled with the idea but it was a much better option than treating a 6 year old for depression (We had a doctor’s appointment the next day to discuss depression meds!) When I talked to them about it they told me that it wouldn’t really matter what he scored because he wasn’t creative enough for the gifted program and he was not compliant enough. I withdrew him about 30 seconds later. The look on his teacher’s face was priceless!

DS2 spent 2 months in preschool and it was an utter disaster. I knew it would be but I was hopeful! After being sent home the second day I knew that public school would never work for him.

When it came time for the next school year to start I never enrolled the boys and DH didn’t say anything, neither did I!!!

The boys

DS1 is 8 years old. Right now he is into Harry Potter, Dragons, Cooking and Legos. He would be happy to spend all day on the computer!

DS2 is 6 years old. He has High Functioning Autism with SID and ODD tendencies. He loves Legos and could spend all day playing with the same 10 Lego blocks.

What we do

I consider us Structured Homeschoolers. However someone that does “school-at-home” would walk into our house and bet money that we Unschooled and Unschoolers would be horrified if they saw my planner.

Our week and month is divided into blocks. The first week of the month is used as a catch up week or time to do extra stuff that we didn’t have time for during the previous month.

We only work on one or two core subjects each day. Monday is Math and Logic, Tuesday and Wednesday are History, Thursday is Animal Study and Friday is Math and Florida Studies. The fewer transition periods we have the better.

We attend co-op on most Mondays and Thursdays and Archery practice is right after co-op.

We are avid lapbookers and I go on the theory that if it can’t be studied using a lapbook then there is no real reason to study it! LOL We complete 2 to 3 lapbooks a month usually. This year we are working on Animal Studies so we will be putting all of our mini books into a notebook instead of a traditional lapbook.

Where we are

We live in North Central Florida. We have to travel a bit for museums and such but it isn’t too bad. In the cooler weather we frequent the zoo. We also spend a great deal of time at the science center, although I have let my membership lapse. I need to take care of that. When the weather is nice we like to go hiking and we did some letterboxing last year. We will likely do some more this year.

Our school area

We learn everywhere but I am blessed with a space to house all of our homeschooling stuff. I am able to keep all of our science stuff, craft stuff, books, papers, etc. in one space. We also have a large work table but it is usually covered with stuff. The boys each have their own computer so they can work independently without arguing!!!

Here are some pics of our school room. I will admit to cleaning before taking them.

Here is an overall shot.

My insane collection of books!!
I just added two new bookcases so maybe now we will be able to find what we are looking for. Before everything was crammed on to two book cases.

Our work table that, despite having just been cleaned, already has a layer of "stuff" on it.

And the area right behind the table
where the more commonly used items are kept.


So early in the day and we have already had a change of plans, LOL.

DS2 woke up with a cough this morning so we did not go to co-op. As I suspected it was allergy related and has since disappeared.

The boys have been playing on RuneScape all morning and I have been learning how to make chain mail. The boys have decided that chain mail is far too much work and are very grateful they do not live in Medieval times.

I, on the other hand, think the chain mail is WICKED cool and am addicted to making it. Because I NEED ANOTHER hobby!

Off to make lunch and get stuff ready for our Animal Study this afternoon.

ETA: I just added "Chainmail 101" to my blog.

We are using Winter Promise Animals and Their Worlds.

We read the selection's from Week Two which included "grasslands", "ants" and "lions" from our Animal Encyclopedia. We use the Google e.encyclopedia instead of the DK Animal Encyclopedia that is recommended. I prefer the internet linked e.encyclopedia.

Then we read One Small Square African Savannah pages 3 to 11.

Next we read pages 8 and 9 in Easy to Create Wildlife Habitats. DS1 is just finished collecting things to make his "Sleuthing Kit" as recommended on page 9 and complaining about the fact that it is raining!

Now he is exploring the internet links in the e.encyclopedia.

When he is finished with that they will probably finish up with some sketches of Savannah animals using the Draw 50 book.

And I am off to work on one of the many crochet projects I have going on!


Today DS1 spent the morning writing things in Morse Code that he learned in the Dangerous Book for Boys. DS2 and I spent the morning working on chain mail and fitting over getting dressed.

This afternoon we did some shopping for our Halloween Party tomorrow and some other errands. DS1 was supposed to bring his book so he could finish his chapter in the car while we were driving but he conveniently forgot. He is reading Peter Pan, BTW.

Now we are home and they are both playing RuneScape on the computer. I will put a stop to that soon and usher them off to do some math and reading.

After that we will be doing some baking, dark chocolate brownie bites and soul cakes, for tomorrow. Maybe some Pumpkin Chocolate Cookies too if we have time or desire! We will also make our final shopping list so I can finish up shopping after I finish work tonight. (woohoo, midnight shopping trip to Walmart)


Today we have been getting ready for our Pumpkin Carving. We went grocery shopping and order food for the dog. When the butcher asked why we were getting such odd things in large quantity the boys proceeded to instruct the butcher on the benefits of Rawfeeding. (Those of you over on the pet forum would be proud!) We also talked about dry ice and why it smokes.

We came home and I tried to salvage the atrocious batch of homemade marshmallows I made while the boys picked up. Finally I just ditched them.

Then we had to go back out and get pumpkins because I have been putting it off. I asked them to finish cleaning up while I had my coffee (Because at 11am I had still not had it). I told them things would get ugly if I didn't have a cup soon and Drake proceeded to ask me to hurry up and drink it.

Of course we had trouble finding good pumpkins (still aren't positive if they are, guess we will find out soon!) because all the rain we have had in the last week has cause most pumpkin patches to mold and rot. That lead to a discussion on prime conditions for growing mold.

Now we are all set up for the party and waiting for the first guests to arrive.

Despite some rain we had a fun night.

Now I am off to prepare for co-op tomorrow!

Here are some pics!

A response to a question about our scheduling

I don't really classify what I do as teaching. But yes we spread everything out across the whole day. We will spend around 30 minutes reading whatever it is we need to in the late morning (10:30 ish) then the boys go off and do their project that relates to the reading. That can take anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours depending on the project and the boys level of interest. After lunch they do reading, handwriting, journal, etc. over the course of the next few hours. In between they play on the computer or with toys.

I think if I compressed the "formal" learning we did it would range between 1 and a half and 2 hours a day on average. That is for DS1. DS2 does much less. If he does his math and reads each day I am thrilled.

It looks like a whole lot more on paper since it is so spread out. I also schedule an activity from 2pm to 3pm but that doesn't mean we work on it for an hour. We just work on it during that hour. If handwriting takes 10 minutes then the remaining 50 minutes is their to do with as they please!

A response to a question about our co-op

Our co-op is on Thursdays every week and we have a rotating schedule as far as topics go. The first Thursday is Project WILD, second is Game Day, Third is Art and fourth is Potpourri. If there is a fifth Thursday then we do a community service project.


Today, being the first Thursday was Project WILD. I just went through the training class for this program and it is great!! It is an environmental conservation program for K-12.

Today we talked about what makes up a habitat, some of the ways animals use their colorings, what carrying capacity is and how habitat loss affects carrying capacity. We try to incorporate a lot of movement and activities to explain the concepts.

Today's activity was a musical chairs style activity with "shelters" disappearing each round to demonstrate habitat loss.

Each Project WILD class is supposed to end on a positive note. Today we ended by talking about how recycling programs and wildlife refuges help reduce habitat loss and how programs have helped bring back some animals from the brink of extinction.

After co-op we went to the archery range for about an hour.

The only other thing on the agenda for today is Gee Guides Art.


We were supposed to go to the Ren Fair today but we have decided against it because of the weather. So I am not sure what is going to happen today.

Right now the boys are playing on RuneScape and Kyllian is already sporting quite the sugar high since he hit the candy bowl before I got up!!! LOL

Drake started to do a Gee Guides lesson but I think their server is having problems so we will try that again later.

Bother of the boys have done a few Wrap-Ups (addition and subtraction for DS2 and addition, subtraction and multiplication for DS1)

DS1 read another chapter in Peter Pan and DS2 read a few more pages of Harold and the Purple Crayon

DS1 finished his art project for the upcoming art show.

DS1 is now off planning his go-cart he wants to build thanks to the Dangerous Book for Boys!

We don't have any science planned for this week because we were supposed to be at the Ren Fair today. If the boys want we may work on some a little later but that will be up to them.

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