Friday, February 8, 2013

February is decluttering month!

Each year during tax season I try to set aside some time for decluttering. The first year I did a 40 boxes in 40 days challenge. I ended up getting rid of way more than 40 boxes of stuff, and the house could finally breathe. It is still way better just from that initial decluttering, but I have found that we continue to accumulate through out the year. Also our needs change, something that was essential 2 years ago is superfluous now.

For this year I choose the month of February and set a goal of 20 boxes. This is my box:

It is an orange box, and you may note that I occasionally use the top as "the box as well, since it is the same size.

On a calendar I assigned specific areas to each day, except Sundays. The goal is to declutter the entire area, but even if I get something done each day it helps. I give myself several days for large areas. And I try to assign small areas or the beginning of a large area to days when I know I will be busy.

In the first week I have already found 6 boxes of stuff to get rid of:

From the girls'/guest bathroom

From the coat closet

From our 2 small linen/storage closets

I always think there won't be much to get rid of, then I find a lot of stuff. For example I love Trivial Pursuit. I am really good at it. But most of my friends and family are not. And I am not much fun to play with since I usually win. We haven't opened it in years. We have many other fun games that are mentally challenging and enjoyed by all. I have kept it for sentimental reasons. I still remember how excited I was getting it for Christmas as a kid. (Yes I am geeky that way). But now I want to let it go, because I don't use it, and I can still remember how much I liked it years ago, without having the actual box.

Today I start tackling "the office". Which is code name for the room with the printer and router in it where I put everything that doesn't have a home. It is our disaster area, the room where the door is shut when people are visiting. It is probably worthy of some before and after pictures....we shall see.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fear and Love

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
1 John 4:18

At my moms group today we had an opportunity to have an extended quiet time. I chose to look at the passage ( 1 John 4) we have been studying in Sunday school. I learned so much. And, although I have so many thoughts and thoughts behind thoughts, this is what I wrote just before my time ended.

I fear loving others because people will be disappointed by my imperfection.

But can the love I show still be worth the disappointment?

Can my imperfection teach them about love as well?

My imperfections are not a reflection of my intentions.

They are not the true measure of my love.

Only God's love is perfect. Yet it is so perfect that it often does not live up to our imperfect expectations.

We fear the perfection of God's love.
I fear the imperfection of my ability to love.

May God teach me:
"There is no fear in love."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Curriculum 2012 - 2013

I have researched homeschooling styles and curriculum for more than a year. There is so much out there. The temptation is to really go crazy. But I realized just like every other area of my life the best way is to keep it simple. I try to avoid clutter, and I want that philosophy to carry over to my homeschooling. So I developed some criteria.

1) In my research I have been drawn to both classical education and delight directed learning. I wanted curriculum I use to mesh well with these styles.
2) My focus is developing basic skills in math, reading, and writing letters and numbers.
3) I want to spend less on curriculum than I would on public school. (Public school is not free here. It would cost at minimum $100 for registration and book fees, not including school supplies.)

Math: Horizons K, duplos and buttons for manipulatives.
Reading: I have the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading, but currently I am trying "Blend Phonics", instructions are free online. We will also be reading books, and playing with magnetic letters and letter puzzles.
Writing: Handwriting Without Tears, Getty-Dubay
Social Studies & Science: Library books, answering questions, covering the points on our local school district's curriculum targets list.

Preschool age 3:
Join in on phonics lessons, social studies, and science. (She will insist on participating, this won't be required.)
PreK math workbook
Letter tracing

You'll notice I have 2 handwriting programs. Holly has taught herself to write most letters, but struggles with some. I have Getty-Dubay to develop better form with letters she is comfortable with. I also picked up a 2nd hand copy of handwriting without tears to teach her how to write the letters and numbers she struggles with.

We have actually already started with all of this curriculum. We "had school" several times a week when the girls asked to. Our first "official" day of kindergarten is today! The goal is to do math, reading, and writing at least 4 days a week; and social studies and science weekly.

Linked with Not Back to School Bloghop

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rainbows and Watermelons, Collage Friday

We still continue with informal school as desired. The girls ask for school most days.

1. Holly's big accomplishment was writing all her numbers. She has continued to practice this week, although her preferred form of practice is to write the numbers as answers to equations. She definitely loves math.

2. I couldn't resist and added a phonics app to my iPad. The girls have both been enjoying playing with it. It includes both letter formation and phonics. I am hoping it will help our more formal lessons go more smoothly. I am also hoping it doesn't spoil them for book work.

3. As a general rule I am not into messy crafty stuff. But we have so many crayons. I decided to be a fun mom and we made muffin tin crayons. The girls really enjoyed peeling the papers, sorting, and seeing them melt. It wasn't all that messy either.

We have spent a lot of time at the farm garden this week. The severe drought means our vegetables require frequent watering. Sadly our pumpkins have all died, and the zucchini is almost all withered away. The other fall plants aren't looking great. The green beans look nice but aren't producing well. It has just been too hot. But:

1. The watermelons are doing remarkably well.

2. The tomatoes are producing, much to Holly's delight.

3. It is fun to play in the water spraying out of the little hole in the hose.

4. We didn't get much rain, but we did get a beautiful rainbow. This was hard. That storm behind the rainbow looked like it was coming toward us, but it went south. I almost wanted to cry as I watched the rain bypass our parched crops. But God did send us this beautiful rainbow, and the girls started shouting "God promised never to flood the whole earth again!". I was reminded that God promises to care for us. Even if we don't get rain God will provide in his plan.

Thanks to Homegrown Learners for hosting collage Friday.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Letters & numbers, and learning about learning

Today Holly wanted to "do school". I suggested she practice writing "3's". She tried, became frustrated after her first attempt, and decided to show me how she could write her name in lower case. She has avoided writing lower case letters for some time, so when she wrote a perfect little "h". I was surprised and delighted. I quelled my desire to focus on the fact that names start with capital letters. Instead I focused on how lovely her little h was, and showed her that if she can write a little "h", then she could write an "n" and "m". Then she ran and grabbed her Getty-Dubay handwriting book (which she has adamantly protested in the past) and did the "h" page. She became frustrated with the "m" & "n" pages and decided she wanted to do something else. I decided that mastery of one lowercase letter was good for 1 day. Especially a Saturday.

However, somehow the conversation returned to writing numbers. Holly said she could write some of her numbers, so I asked her to show me. With a little verbal guidance and encouragement she wrote all the numbers 1 through 13! This is the first time she has written all of the numbers correctly.
I thought we were done with school. Holly decided to play with our letter puzzles, Since Heather was still sleeping, she wanted me to play with her. So as she found the letters and built the words I started talking about phonics with her - blends, silent vowels, the "sh" sound, etc...

Now Heather is up and they are "reading" their library books to each other, actually they are narrating to each other. So, it is now 10am on a Saturday morning. If we had followed my plan Holly would have written some "3's". But since I was willing to drop my plan we have started on lower case letters, we have covered some phonics and reading comprehension, and Holly wrote every number, including "3"!

I am learning so much about learning through observing my girls. Handwriting curricula never starts with lower case h. Phonics curricula doesn't teach "sh" before you master cvc words. But this is how Holly is learning. And how I am learning that curriculum needs to be a tool not a taskmaster, and that my plan for teaching needs to adjust as interests are expressed. The fabulous thing is that we still get there. We still got a beautiful "3", but we also got so much more!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Collage Friday with Homegrownlearners, RAIN

There is a homeschool blog I really like - Homegrown Learners. In fact I enjoyed it so much, I read the entire blog like a book. The author is in her 3rd year of homeschooling and follows a interest-led/classical approach. Just the type of style I have envisioned after all my research. They even used Horizons math!

Homegrown Learners hosts collage Friday, an opportunity to document your week with photo collages. This is my first week to participate. I had fun making collages with my new iPad.  So here is my first installment:

  • It is summer and we haven't officially started school.  But Holly asks to do school several days a week.  She was working on writing letters and alphabetical order.  I think she is finally getting the idea that "elemeno" is not a word in the alphabet song.  she still occasionally gets stuck on "L, M, N, O," though. 
  •  Holly was very proud after she practiced writing her 2's.  She preferred to write them as the answer to an equation though. May have to try that for other numbers. She would like to move on in math, her favorite subject, but it is hard when the only number you can write is "1". 
  • On Tuesday the girls went to 4H with us.  They impromptu posed on a rock outside the community building.  We are still deciding what to do about 4H next year.  Holly will be old enough for cloverbuds.  We need to decide if we will change to a club closer to home, or continue in the one hubby grew up in.

  • RAIN!!!!! Thank you God!!!
  • We had rain on Saturday. A half inch!!  Really except for helping our garden it doesn't make a dent in our severe drought.  But it was so wonderful to have rain. It was also very special as Holly prayed Friday night for God to send rain so we could have tomatoes. 
  • The girls danced in the rain.  I ran around filling buckets from the downspouts putting extra water on the garden. (We ate our first tomato yesterday!) We were soaked!

You can check out other bloggers collages for this week here.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Debbie's preschool homeschool day in the life (with a 2 and 4 year old)

Monday 1/30/12

6:10 am - I open my eyes, very groggy - During tax season I get up sometime between 5:30 and 6ish. We're a little later than usual this morning. I help my taxman get out the door and then go through my mental morning checklist - make bed, feed cats, read bible, plan day.  I am not a morning person, so this keeps me on track.  I sit down with some breakfast to read my Bible and write down a rough outline of what I need/want/plan to do today.

7:15 - Holly (4) comes down, cuddles up in my lap. I think how nice it will be to be able to keep up our morning cuddling if we homeschool for K. She soon decides she wants to eat - we have a cutting lesson as she help slice an apple. I go to move the laundry I started last night.  Holly practices matching socks and helps fold napkins. After getting herself a yogurt she tells me she wants to do school. I get a workbook.  I check the email as she does some pages matching letter sounds. She starts some tracing pages and I correct her pencil grip.  She isn't pleased. We change to different pages.  I don't want to push her writing at 4.  But I'd rather she have good habits.  She is happy again.  I am impressed when she reads the words fox, dog, log, and even frog (once I tell her the blend sound). 

8ish - Heather (2) comes down. She cuddles in my lap as she eats the apple slices Holly left for her.  The girls decide they want to paint.  We break out a Dora paint book. They finish painting sometime while I dust, vacuum, and put laundry away, then they go play.  Holly just kind of sits at the table for a while, strange. 

10 - The girls get to watch TV: Sid the Science Kid, Word World, and Caillou. Sid is talking about how we get water into our homes.  (Caillou is not my favorite, but not a hill to die on either)
11:30 - Heather comes to the kitchen ready for lunch. Funny Holly didn't come up. She is lying on the couch and says she is tired.  Turns out she has a slight fever. 

12:00 - After lunch Holly curls up on the couch.  I decide to do rest time early. But first we talk about what she learned on Sid.  We discuss how we get our water from the water tower, one grandma and grandpa have a well, and the other grandma and grandpa get their water pumped from a water plant.  I pop in a DVD and go clean the kitchen.  Holly falls asleep and I tell Heather to go play when the movie is done.

1:30 - Heather decides she wants to get dressed and picks out her clothes.  (Yes we were still in our jammies.)

2 - Holly wakes up.  We do a reading lesson.  The girls play with their doll house.  Holly says she wants to do more school. She does a math page, Heather plays with stickers and "draws"

3- Holly perks up and the girls go play. I do laundry, computer stuff, and get dinner going.  The girls show me the "forest" they built with pillows and blankets. I explain the difference between the words "forest" and "fort".  I remember we never did the girls calendar.  We go over the days of the week and the # 30. We check the weather and decide it is sunny today.  I think "school" is done for the day.

4 - The girls are playing with duplo blocks. Holly wants to do more "school" with them. They start sorting by color and shape.  We all work on counting. Holly wants to try some skip counting, we do 2's and 10's. School seems to be done. Except Holly breaks out the Winnie the Pooh duplos and follows the directions step by step to build Pooh's house.

We eat dinner around 6:30.  The girls stay up until about 9 during tax season so they get to spend some time with daddy when he comes home late.  We read some books before bed.  After they get to bed I do my evening mental checklist so the house is basically tidy in the morning.

I thought Monday would be the best example of a typical day this week.  Turns out no day is typical I guess.  But still even though Holly was a bit under the weather, we were learning all day.  Writing it all down was a enlightening for me.  At minimum we covered reading, writing, math, home ec, social studies, science, and art.  Wow.  I love watching my kids want to learn.  It is amazing how much learning can occur by using teachable moments, and providing resources and a few intentional activities.

Linked up at Simple Homeschool