Friday, October 30, 2015

Today's Ups and Downs and Some of Our Curriculum

First the ups:

Waking up this morning to such a large amount of incredibly beautiful and kind comments on my personal and How Bourgeois Facebook pages and on How Bourgeois itself and in my in-box! Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to send me such positivity, understanding and love. You really made a difference in my life!!! 

Receiving phone calls from wonderful friends and hearing voicemails with the nicest, most warm-hearted messages. Awwww. <3 p="">

Finding a gorgeous bouquet of flowers on my front doorstep and a note from a dear friend from school, just saying that they missed us and to hang in there. WOW! Right!? Cue the tears!!!

Through my last blog post, finding out that so many of my readers also homeschool or that they have in the past, and hearing their stories of success!

Having other parents with children with a very similar set of issues and needs, contacting me to say that we're not alone.

And guess what? Yesterday morning I felt very alone, but this morning..... NOT AT ALL.

So thank you from my heart. Thank you.

The Downs from Today:

We have yet to have a day since early September that hasn't been a battle to get Noah to focus and do his school work, at least part of the time. Each day is a struggle and it feels a bit exhausting at the moment. 

It's always been like this with homework, so I'm not surprised that our version of homeschool isn't the sweet, Little House on The Prairie version of homeschool that I've always pictured. Noah has never been one to want to do work. He's not self motivated unless it's something that he loves. 

Also, Noah is very sad right now. He's angry that his anxiety has kept him from being able to re-enter school and he's upset because he'd like to prove to school that he can successfully go to Middle School this year. It's all a jumble and complicated and he's very down on himself. Which, can't make for an easy time being positive or focused. I need to have empathy and understanding and I need to encourage Noah to strive to feel better and keep working. It's all a balance and I'm learning as I go. If you can believe it, I think I've only left the house five times this week. Can that be? What a strange, new world. 

Some of What We've Been Up To!

I've read soooooo many books, blogs and articles on different learning models and different homeschooling approaches, wondering which would be a best fit for Noah. From classical to unit studies to Waldorf, to unschooling and more.
My plan was to start with what I thought he would thrive with most and then adjust and try other methods until we find the right fit. We're still searching, but I think I'm getting close.

I began with what I thought would be a semi-familiar, calming approach. I did this by taking his school's schedule and almost re-creating the day subject by subject. I even purchased the same Singapore Math books that they use. Noah works well with routine and knowing what to expect. That's part of the reason we started this way. I also incorporated some Waldorf principles because I know that they are soothing to him, especially making the environment peaceful and calm. At the beginning of the morning we light some nice smelling candles, turn on our favorite harp music (listen to it, it's so pretty!), make a bit of caffeine-free tea and ring a little bell to usher in the day.

Another aspect that I'm striving for is to pull from a handful of curriculum and different media like books, online learning and also hands-on learning in hopes of keeping Noah interested. I looked at all-in-one complete curricula like Oak Meadow for example, but I feel like Noah would personally get more from having variety. Some online curricula look great but unfortunately, at this point in time, I don't think Noah is self-directed enough. 

I plan out each week ahead and then write it out in a planning book. Noah asked me to let him know what we will be studying at the beginning of the day and what he can expect. This has been very useful. I've asked Noah to make suggestions each week as to what he would love to learn about. What kind of science would you like to do? What historic figure would you like us to read about? Which country do you want to see more of? I have a set of objectives, for example, I know this year his school is studying anatomy, but on top of that, what other science related topics really grab his interest? This week for example, Noah wanted to learn more about the Big Bang Theory,  and the Medieval period and we're reading about Harry Houdini. I love interest-based learning!

One great resource is Clickschooling's free emails. They send you web based curriculum ideas six days a week. It's really neat and they always find the best learning resources on the web.

For grammar I purchased the book TIME for Kids Grammar Rules! I love it. This book for 8-12 year- olds goes step-by-step through every grammar topic you could thinking of. It uses colorful photos and drawings and humor. Lots of funny stuff in both the lessons and the workbook exercises. We are also using the online grammar learning program: Grammaropolis. It's wonderful. Learning through colorful animation, songs, games and quizzes. is another very nice online program that helps children learn reading comprehension, vocabulary, spelling and math.  Oh, and SpellingCity is a great site too!

We're doing a ton of reading, the latest has been Huckleberry Fin and Noah does his daily D.E.A.R = "Drop Everything And Read" as he's been working through the Percy Jackson series. 

For math, like I mentioned before, we are using Singapore Math, but also AdaptedMind's math section and Khan Academy  has great math learning resources! I also have a Pinterest board for hands-on math learning activities. You can see it HERE

I used a couple ideas from that board today for math, including making geometric shapes out of playdoh and skewers .......

And revisiting some fraction basics using Legos!

For science, there are so many fun things to do. You can find anatomy learning all over the web. Noah has been working his way through the Anatomy and Human Physiology course on Khan Academy. There are lectures, quizzes, articles and flash cards. All free!

In about a week we'll begin the 6-week online science course called "Einstein's Space" through GamED Academy. GamED Academy offers 6-week courses in history,  science and writing that combine online learning with....MINECRAFT!!! Kids get together on their private server to recreate historic buildings and preform science experiments in Minecraft. Cool right!? 

Noah will also be starting at the same time their "Castles and Cannons" course learning about life in the middle ages. He can't wait!

Speaking of Minecraft, Noah is going to be Steve! We found a great tutorial on making a Steve head. It was really easy.

Well, I need to get some shut-eye. Tomorrow is Halloween! It's funny because it hasn't rained for a couple of days and it's not supposed to rain EXCEPT tomorrow evening. Ugh. At least I hope it's better than last Halloween when it was sleeting. Ack!

Until Next time!


Anonymous said...

Hello fellow homeschooling silver sister! :) I wasted a lot of money on books in the beginning of our learning adventure. Now, it's all about "interest-based learning". What a difference! I've completely thrown out the typical homeschooling mentality (which is just "school at home") and my daughter is thriving. If you were to ask for my input, I would say to you that there's no rush. If you're open to whatever is best for him, then you will find what that is! Everything will be OK. One thing I've noticed is that there is always a detox period after a child leaves pubic/private school and learns at home (for the child AND the parent). Breathe! :) -Mae

Lauren said...

Thank you Mae! Thank you from my heart. It's AMAZING what is out there, just amazing!!! Thank you for your encouragement it means a lot to me. I will remember to breath!!! :) xoxoxox

Sylvie said...

Hi Lauren!

I read this post and I saw the words " Which country do you want to see more of? " and " Noah wanted to learn more about the Medieval Period".
As Mae wrote, the best part of this experience is that you are free... Free to not do "school at home". And you are happy to experience interest-based learning with Noah... So I came to this conclusion : what about build / plan / manage a field trip in ... France ? ;-)
If you stop in your little town Dourdan, you can discover a real Medieval Castle (Philippe Auguste, 12th century). Not far from Dourdan, there is the well-known cathedral of Chartres. Of course, there is Paris too... And there are a lot of things to discover in France... I could give you some advices...
(Moreover, this field trip sould be less expensive than a year tuition at this wonderfull school... If Noah plans to come back to school next year, you have to plan this this year! )
Please consider this comment as a real invitation.
Sorry, my English is become very low... ;-)

Lauren said...

Ah! Sylvie!!!! \(^-^)/ It's soooooooo nice to read your sweet comment!!! Thank you from my heart for your very kind and generous invitation. I think it would be AMAZING to come visit Dourdan and the Cathedral of Chartres and to visit with you! :)
I think your idea is wonderful and very true, there is lots of open time now! LOl. I will talk with Noah and Jon. It would be nice if we could travel. Thank you Sylvie for you caring words. xoxoxoxoxoxoxo