Friday, August 1, 2014

Homeschool Room - Redone

Reading Corner
Time For a Change

Now that I'm homeschooling middle and high school girls, it was time to change up the school room and make it a cool hangout for tween and teen gals (plus a 30-somthing mama).  I spent a good part of two weeks cleaning out, rearranging, decluttering, and decorating.  Here's the (almost) finished product.  I'm still working on organizing the kids' desks as well as wall art, but so far it is a much-improved room.  I'm actually looking forward to starting the year off in this space!  The best part for me is a new (to me) desk repurposed from one of my girls rooms - it closes (to hide my clutter) and has an attached bookcase for storing my supplies and books.  Love it.

Every year I try to create dedicated spaces for different things.  This year I revamped the "art corner" (mostly because our art supplies are so numerous that they do not fit into this corner and have been almost completely removed from the school room) and turned it into a reading corner.  This is my favorite space in the room (aside from my new desk), and if I could I'd spend a large part of every day snuggled up reading there. 
The "Before" - in the midst of sorting

The "After" (well, almost ... still finishing up here and there)

Bench covers to match the curtains.
The History Corner

Two of my daughters' desks - still working on this area... The upper bookcase holds the art books and a few art supplies that we use on a regular basis.  The drawers are great for storing paper, cardboard, and misc. craft items.

Another daughter's desk - plus the bookcases which house science, lit, poetry, geography, & math plus serve as "cubbies" for the girls texts, books, binders, etc.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

9 months - Time Flies

It's been over nine months since I've written a blog post ...
People have babies in that amount of time. 

My best friend and I were discussing our (very under-posted upon)  blogs, and as such I've decided to write a post.

So much has happened since my last post, dated October 1, 2013.  And that post wasn't a "real" post - it was a link to a fabulous giveaway.  I digress.  In October, I was chin-deep in my graduate studies, trying to balance a full class schedule, homeschooling four girls, working part time, and all of the other household/mom/wife/volunteer duties that we all have.  Flash forward to July -- I've withdrawn from my graduate program, my youngest daughter started at a small, private, "special" school in March, and I'm still trying to get a grasp on the other household/mom/wife/volunteer/work duties. 

Facing me now is the prospect that my oldest daughter is officially starting (homeschool) high school this fall.  Pressure!!  I know logically that I should not be stressed about it as much as I am.  But it feels so "real" compared to all of the previous years.  I just don't want to make a mistake and jeopardize her ability to get into college and feel secure in her learning.  She's requested some distance classes so I've enrolled her in a few at Williamsburg Academy and an AP class at Mizzou online high school.  I will absolutely post reviews as we go along, especially since I had desperately searched for reviews during my decision-making process.  My next two daughters are entering 6th and 7th grade.  We used Oak Meadow last year, but while I love many parts of Oak Meadow I feel that these daughters need more in the way of writing instruction.  My third daughter, in particular, struggles with basic writing assignments, so we will be utilizing some aspects of Calvert and an eclectic mix of other curricula, including a Leadership course through Williamsburg Intermediate

Additionally, I'm redoing our homeschool room for the umpteenth time.  Every year I hope to avoid the re-do, and every year I'm sorely disappointed.  At least until after I'm done cleaning and clearing out.  Then I'm ecstatic with the change.  So I'm hoping for the same jubilant reaction this year, although right now I'm fairly disgusted with how much trash we manage to generate and the need for rearranging the furniture.  Again.  However, having one daughter enrolled full time in school has freed up a desk space and shifted who-sits-where in the school room.  I've been moved from the largest table to the smallest desk, which works for me since with more space I tend to accumulate more paperwork and trash. 

Here's to summer and new school years! 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Another amazing Giveaway at Secular Homeschool!


Enter to win one full Calvert Classic Curriculum (grades K-8). Calvert Education Services provides a complete, classic, accredited homeschool curriculum that will inspire your child.

Easy to Use

Spend your time teaching, not planning. A Calvert course includes everything you need:
  • online instruction and games that promote creative thinking
  • additional, easy-to-use manuals with daily lesson plans included
  • materials for hands-on exploration

FREE Expert Support Included

Calvert’s Education Counselors are on call, ready to provide FREE support. Whether you have questions on the best placement for your child, want advice on how to teach a new concept, or just need general homeschooling support, you don't have to go it alone with Calvert.

A Program that will Challenge your Child
At Calvert, we believe that students will rise to the challenge. Our comprehensive, rigorous Pre K–8 program focuses on the fundamentals, assuring that there are no gaps in your child’s education.

Calvert has allowed me to challenge my children at his or her level with a well-researched curriculum and a thoroughly engaging and motivating program. You have given me the tools I needed to mold my children into confident, articulate, educated children who, no doubt, will go far in life." Elizabeth W.

Having multiple children, there are times when I have told one of my sons to call and ask a counselor for help on a concept, a problem, or even just a bit of clarification. The boys have spent as little as two minutes and as long as an hour. The counselors have always been encouraging to the boys, clear in their teaching, patient, and extremely helpful. In fact, I would say they have played an integral role in our sons' education." Maria



Giveaway winner will receive one full grade level of Calvert Classic Curriculum (grade K-8). Enrollment in Calvert's Advisory Teaching Service is available at an additional cost.To ensure proper placement, we recommend Calvert's no-cost, no-obligation placement testing. Or call one of Calvert's Placement Counselors at (888) 328-8285 for a free consultation.

Friday, September 27, 2013


Check out the amazing giveaway at Secular Homeschool!

Have you heard the good news? added high school level courses to their curriculum as of August 2013! Time4Learning high school offers an online, interactive curriculum for ninth through twelfth grade that correlates to state standards. Time4Learning high school is organized into courses that cover the core subjects of language arts, math, social studies and science plus two electives. Courses are parent-supervised, student-paced, and can be used for homeschool, afterschool and summer skill building.

One lucky member will win a one-year subscription to Time4Learning High School, including access to four different subjects of choice!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sailing School

Our summer usually ends with sailing school, and this year was no exception.  And after three years of sail camp, the girls are ready to join in the fall racing clinics so that next summer they can participate in the sailing regattas which take place all around the Chesapeake Bay.  Go girls! 

Sailing is fun, but there are also valuable lessons which apply to life.  For example, the kids learn to pay attention to the details around them.  Little changes in the wind or on the surface of the water can have big repercussions.  They also learn that you must watch out for yourself and others.  Being careless can result in capsizing or injury.  Additionally, they learn that they can't control everything - the wind blows the way it wants.  Instead, they learn to adapt and make changes along the way so they can still arrive at their destination. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Organizing - ahead of schedule!

Not that I expect anyone to remember my posts from years past, but if you have a photographic memory you might recall that I usually spend two solid weeks in August organizing the upcoming homeschool year and redoing the "school" room (I put quotes around that because it's really an all-purpose kids' room - for example, today my 9- and 10-year-old daughters held a make-up studio in there).  Every year I am determined to deal with the school room immediately after we finish for the year, and every year I shut the door and stay out until August.  Until yesterday!  I managed to get into the room a few days early. 

It's not complete, but I made a HUGE dent.  I went through countless papers and cut the fat on curricula.  Last year I did a major purge and got rid of years worth of stuff - things given to me, things purchased but never used or outgrown or whatever-the-case-may-be.  This year's purge was less dramatic, consisting mostly of recycle art raw materials that I have been holding onto for ages.  Shoe boxes, empty toilet paper rolls, bottle caps, empty containers, etc., etc., etc.  I decided to keep only a few things and get rid of recycle the rest.  I also did a MUCH better job this year of creating portfolios for school work as we went along and tossing the rest.  Best thing ever - I used artist sketchbooks as portfolios.  Love it!  Even so, there were still piles of papers to go through and (mostly) toss. 

I also hit the worst offender in the room - my desk.  Or should we call it a pile station?  Piles of everything known to man were on that desk.  Books, trash, art, messages, jewelry, markers, old photos - including one of my best friend from her 21st birthday - which was only a few years ago, but still. =)  And I moved all unsorted books out of the room and into the hallway.  A year (or was it two?) ago, I redid all of our books.  All subjects have a dedicated spot, and novels are organized by author's last name.  At least in theory.  It's been about 50% successful: the successful aspect is that I can locate books much faster.  The unsuccessful aspect is that my oldest daughter and I are the only ones that actually puts books back.  That means that 3/5 of the people using books just put them on my desk.... So this year I moved all the subject matter books to a new location, got rid of two small bookcases, and put two armchairs in their place.  I'm also instigating a new rule that if you don't put your book away there will be a very serious consequence.  =)  Well, there actually probably won't be much of a consequence other than me asking the offender to put the book away in the proper place.  Hopefully I'll remember to keep up with the nagging.

I'm probably about 75% done in the room! I'll have to post pictures when we're finished.  I'd like to add window treatments and new slipcovers for the chairs, but that may have to wait...

But the best news - I'm ahead of schedule!  Hurray me! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Review: Time4Writing

My daughter successfully completed her course at Time4Writing - Elementary Paragraphs.  She absolutely LOVED this course.  She looked forward to the individual feedback provided by the instructor, and she has told me that when she write other things she often thinks about what she has learned in the class.  The online course is easy to use and straightforward.  There are instructional videos, writing activities, and quizzes.  The class progresses over eight weeks from the understanding how a paragraph begins (topic sentence) through writing an entire narrative paragraph.  While the assignments are not overly difficult, my daughter was encouraged to think critically about creating topic sentences, which types of details to include, etc. 
Time4Writing is not only for homeschoolers, but I do believe that for those children looking for a "school" experience, it provides the outside feedback and interaction.  My daughter looked forwarding to receiving grades (something we don't really do at home) and enjoyed reading the comments the teacher wrote.  She worked hard to improve when she made mistakes - something that doesn't always happen as readily when it is Mom providing that feedback!  It is not an inexpensive class, but the staff and teacher are very communicative and want your child to have a positive experience providing help when needed, responding to questions, etc.  It is not a the same as buying software - you really do get a personal aspect with the course.  That being said, one thing which I think would have improved the experience is the inclusion of a "conference" area for students so that they could interact with each other.  For example, each week the teacher could pose a question and each student could answer, commenting on the other responses as well.  
Overall, I recommend Time4Writing to anyone looking to improve writing skills and provide an interactive experience with outside feedback for their children. Please feel free to comment or email me with specific questions!