Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Home Economics

I admit - the idea of doing home economics when you're a homeschooler sounds, to me, a bit funny. Don't we live home economics? One might think so, but as I reflect upon what I wish to impart to my children I realize that I don't often teach them as much as I'd like in this area. My girls do all do their own laundry, and they do know how to cook or bake a few things (some better than others).  I sew and as such I've taught them the very basics of using a sewing machine, etc.  But in reality, it's usually easier for me to plan and make meals, do the bulk of the cleaning (though they definitely have chores!), make shopping lists, etc.  I think writing down some goals for the year will be helpful in ensuring that I do teach them what it takes to run a household because as we all know, there is far more to it than making brownies (I'm not saying brownies aren't important).  There is such a steep learning curve when you become the adult and the one (or one of two) responsible for "getting it all done."  I'd like to help my girls feel more prepared when they get there.  

Here is my preliminary list - I will be adding to it over the next few weeks and I cherish input!  And if you "do" home economics I would love to hear about how you organize the subject.  Once I figure out what my goals are, I'm going to break it down into a weekly checklist and further subdivide by age as my youngest and oldest have different ability levels.  I know myself, and if I don't have a checklist it probably won't get done!
  • Learn to devise daily/weekly cleaning schedule and plans for household cleanliness
  • Learn to really clean showers, tile, sinks, etc. (as opposed to their current "wipe it with a cloth" approach)
  • Learn meal-planning
  • Create grocery lists based on meal plans
  • Cook an entire meal, all courses
  • Understand basic clothing repair & demonstrate knowledge
  • Follow a simple pattern (clothing) and sew article with little help
  • Begin to learn household budgeting 
  • Learn about seasonal cleaning and help create a schedule
  • Learn about the importance of keeping clutter to a minimum - not just the stuff in plain sight but hidden clutter as well (closets, basements, garage, etc)
Oh - and if you have any great books, articles, etc., that you've used - either as part of homeschooling or just in general to run a household - I'd love to hear about them. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thoughts on Planning

Now that we've had a few weeks off, I've reached a point where I'm willing to think about planning for next year.  We used MBtP for the past two years, and while I am happy with it I'm not sure that I want to use it again next year.  I may just be a person that needs change every few years. Or it may be that new things come along and catch my eye. Or a combination of both.  I'm not sure why, but I feel ready for a change.  At least for my oldest daughter. 

I started searching online and have seen some interesting things, but nothing that grabs me and shouts, "This is it!! Use me! Use me!"  What I should do is start reading planning threads (I have read a few) ... but typically this overwhelms me until I'm ready to spend several hours pouring over websites, etc.  I'll get there. 

At least I no longer carry that feeling of trying to find "the best" way to do things. When I first started out I was convinced that there had to be a "best" way to approach homeschooling, and, of course, depending on who you talk to you get a different "best."  Talk to unschoolers, and unschooling is the best way to homeschool. Talk to Classical homeschoolers, and that is the only way to educate your child. Talk to Charlotte Mason followers, and ditto. I always found talking to relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers left me feeling more calm and at ease than before the conversation, so I believed that to be my style (though I would say that I love the Classical idea of chronological history).  It probably is in that I've used an eclectic mix, although "relaxed" is a word that I'm not sure applies to how I approach anything - I am more of a "do or die" sort.  Though I am relaxed in the sense that I don't worry about covering everything (this is impossible), I'll use what is a good fit and/or free/cheap (this is smart), and I don't get stressed (anymore) over the idea of homeschooling and making choices (though actually creating my annual plan does create some level of stress). 

So while I'm not sure what next year will bring, I feel relatively calm as I think about the planning process. I'm excited about many of the extracurricular opportunities my kids will have, both new activities and tried-and-true oldies.  I'm certain the year will fall into place and that no matter the approach or materials, they will learn and grow. 

Kinda takes a load off! 

Still, I do love to look at everything that's out there... and I know I will plan out the entire year before the start of school once I figure out what we're using.  Here are some of the things I've looked at so far...
  • Calvert (too much $$)
  • Oak Meadow (I really love the look of this)
  • Complete Curriculum (the price is right but we've never, ever used textbooks)
  • Homeschool Programming (giving this a go for computer science)
  • History Odyssey (looks kinda dry)
  • Michael Clay Thompson (interesting)
  • Brave Writer (interesting)
  • JASON Science (looks good, but looks to be a lot of work)
  • Growing With Grammar (looks good)
  • K12 (not for me)
  • The Well-Trained Mind (not speaking my language this year, for whatever reason)
  • Sonlight (yes, this is Christian but I looked anyway as I know have heard of secular users)
  • PLATO science (interesting)
  • CK-12 (haven't done more than bookmark it)
  • Intellego (interesting)
..... the list actually goes on and on, so much so that I can't write it here, so maybe I've done more than I thought.  Though I haven't done much more than bookmark items and start looking over this and that.  Most likely I'll do what I did before we tried MBtP and go back to my eclectic ways.  I'll post our final choices when I make them ... probably sometime right before the start of the school year! =)

Monday, June 25, 2012


I have never used Complete Curriculum, nor am I affiliated with it in any way. I just thought I post about it as the savings until June 30 are amazing (over 90% off) and I figured a post like this might be beneficial to someone.

I learned about Complete Curriculum over at Secular Homeschool. I had never heard of it, and because of the price I decided to investigate. Based on the name & website, I expected to find it boring and incomplete. I was pleasantly surprised instead as the program looks pretty good - good enough to be a "spine" if someone is looking for a planned program. And for $5 you don't have much to lose. For that price, you will get a 12-month subscription and the ability to choose 10 "textbooks" from the K-12 grade levels in either Language Arts, Science, Social Studies and/or Math.  You do have to print everything out yourself, but the program allows you to add content to any lesson you'd like. For example, if the lesson is on poetry you could add a YouTube video of a relevant poem or two. Or if it is a science lesson on atoms, you could add videos, PDFs, etc., to that lesson.  When I looked at the samples on the website I thought the program looked boring, but once I was able to look through the entire year I changed my mind. There are a variety of activities - writing, drawing, labs, oral presentations, computer work, etc. 

If you have used this program, or plan to use it, let me know what you think!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Blogging for Homeschooled Kids....

If your son or daughter loves to read blogs, have him or her check out the 28th Homeschool Kids Blog Carnival! And if he or she is a blogger, there is a form to fill out for the next Carnival.  If you're like me, you might feel a little hesitant letting your child set up a blog. But if you set up some ground rules at the beginning and stay apprised, it can be a rewarding endeavor. All four of my girls have blogs, although my oldest (almost 12) is the only one that consistently posts. The others are hit or miss. However, having the blog enables them to express themselves in a different way and to get feedback (via comments) from friends and other homeschoolers at those times when they do feel like posting. And as they get older, I feel that it will be something they may do more often.


From the Bookshelves.... Part One

Wow - we are reading so much lately that I'm not even sure where to begin.  I will keep our list to the last two weeks, and for the sake of time I am going to have to break this down into two posts.

Family Read-Aloud
As is typical of late, our family "read-aloud" is another audiobook - Pollyana by Eleanor H. Porter (free on LibriVox). The girls were not excited at first because the reader is rather slow, but eventually the story grabbed them and now they are hooked. The best (funniest?) part is that I keep overhearing them talk about how glad they are when different things happen.

Dad's Books
My husband has been listening to several audiobooks, but offhand I do not know the titles nor his opinion of them. I will have to include them in Part Two. :)  I can also add that he is still reading book four of Harry Potter. I believe when he finishes we will need to have a celebratory glass of champagne. This could quite possibly happen sometime in the fall ... possibly 2013. It is not because he reads slowly, but rather because he has no time in which to read.

Mom's Reading List
As for me, I have read several books from the YA re-made fairy tale genre.  First, Sweetly by Jackson Pearce - a book I genuinely enjoyed. No, I don't believe it to be great literature, but, yes, it was fun and different. Pearce takes the story of Hansel and Gretel and turns it into a modern-day story about brother and sister Ansel and Gretchen, but with some major changes and a serious twist.  I can absolutely see high school kids digging this book. It's fast moving, fun, scary (but not too scary), and there's a little romance, too. 

Second in the YA grouping was Beastly by Alex Flinn. In this tale based on Beauty and the Beast, an obnoxious high school boy is cursed by a witch in order to learn that it's what's inside that counts. Personally, I did not love this book. It was, for lack of a better word, "okay."  Maybe it's just me, but I had a hard time with the story as the characters were too unbelievable. I know, I know, this should be somewhat expected in a fairy tale remake. But I don't mean the magic and premise of the story (I've read many magic-based books and have had no problem with the characters).  I can't put my finger on it exactly, but if I had to sum it up in a few words, I would say the characters are a bit too flat. And I think the language is somewhat unbelievable. However, the book is easy to read (i.e., good plot and interesting story line), and I'm sure kids would enjoy the modern-day take. I would put this at ages 14 and up.

And last in the group, I read Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier. Interesting book. I have not read any of Marillier's other novels, but I believe I will. While I understand why this book is categorized as YA (main characters are all teens), I believe that the language would make this a difficult read for your average teen in that it is a "slow-to-warm" book and moves rather slowly at times.  Set in Transylvania, this story takes The Twelve Dancing Princesses and some of The Frog Prince (and potentially a few other stories!) and changes things up in big ways.  I started out not liking the book, but by the end I was hustling along to see how things would end.  What I really enjoyed is how different this book was from most other YA books I've read. However, apparently (according to other Marillier fans), it is not so different from other Marillier books. But I, being new to the author, did not know that and I enjoyed the story despite some of the slow and heavy plot. I would recommend this for adults that enjoy fantasy/fairy tale and older teens (16 and up) who like to read and don't need a "quick book."

Lest you think I only read YA books, I have also read some plain old adult fiction.  First on the list is State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (author of Bel Canto).  I know that people love this story, but I am not one of them. I was bored from page one and stayed bored through the end.  Enough said.

Next, I read House Rules by Jodi Picoult.  Picoult is an author I enjoy from time to time, but her since her books all tend to follow a similar pattern (formulaic) I can't read them often or I want to scream. Once a year or so?  I can enjoy them. A bit. I feel somewhat lukewarm about House Rules. It was interesting and I think Picoult did a good job of portraying different aspects of autism and Asperger's. However, it felt forced at times compared to some of her other novels.  It did keep me interested 'til the end and I actually learned several things about forensics about which I had no idea (probably because I don't watch CSI or any of the other crime shows).  I walked away from this book thinking, "I am so lucky."  I recommend it if for no reason other than appreciating what you have.

Phew! This is getting long. I will end with the three books I'm currently reading: Push by Sapphire (turned into the movie Precious), Mudbound by Hilary Jordan, and The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaajte.  All three books are good so far, and all could not be more different.  The first two I picked up on my own, and The Cat's Table is for a book discussion - not a book I would have ever started reading if not for the group, however it is beginning to grow on me. Ondaajte has an interesting way with words and absolutely stunning imagery.  You can actually see the story as you read.

Part Two of this post will cover what the girls are reading. I sometimes wonder if I should leave out what my husband and I are reading, but then I think, "Nah." 

Happy Reading!