Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This Crazy World

No news is good news, right?  It's been pretty much business as usual here at the Giblet Factory.  We are into a really good groove with homeschool, and other than the occassional meltdown when math gets frustrating we are getting through our lessons quickly and easily, while learning at the same time.  Hurray!  I think that's the point of this whole exercise!  We even took a field trip to the aquarium last week which was a blast.

So here's my conundrum... Every week we get an email newsletter from the online school just updating us as to events and reminders.  And every week there is a reminder on there for students to complete their Study Island work - a weekly test to prove what they learned in math and reading that week, and to kind of keep them up to date on the lessons.  Makes perfect sense, right?  And it literally takes about 10 minutes to do them.  Yet every week they are reminding people and telling us, "There are still students not getting this work done."  From what I understand, this is one of the few things the teachers use to maintain grades on the kids too, so they are definitely important.

Then we had an assembly on Monday, where the teachers present on a topic for the learning coach (that's me).  Guess what one of the main ideas they talked about was at the assembly?  Students not completing Study Island.

This blows my mind.  I've taken your kids' education into your own hands, and you're not taking it seriously enough to finish stuff?  It's easy.  There isn't even that much to do on a daily basis - we have to do study island just to get our hours up for the daily/weekly requirements.  What in the heck are people doing??  They also said in the assembly that people aren't putting in any school hours or completing lessons in the daily plan since the weather got a little warmer.

It just blows my mind.  I understand wanting to be lazy.  I understand that drive.  But when we are lazy, we start school at 10 instead of 9.  Not skip it entirely.  It's just so important, I can't believe parents would blow it off.  My husband tells me that proves that I'm a good mom, and doing my best for the kids since I'm willing to at least do the bare minimum, haha.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Crazy Week

I have been quiet for the last week or so for two reasons.  The first of which was that last week we had some crazy weather, ice storms closing everything up, lost power for 12 hours, and the online school was all messed up from it.  So we had a weird school week where we kind of muddled through the offline stuff on our own. (Actually pretty fun - lots of literature and arts.)

The second reason is that I feel too darn complainy.  I don't want this blog to shed a negative light on our homeschooling experience, and I don't want to turn to it every time I just need to get something off my chest.

That said, I also am not going to lie and say everything is coming up roses.

This week has been really good.  We had Monday off for President's Day, and that made me worry about Tuesday, but we had a great day and got our work done really quickly. Then yesterday was, for whatever reason, totally difficult and it took us forever to get through our work.  Today everything went smoothly, we had fun, and we even took a break to do some pictures of the kids when the light was just oh-so-perfect.  Go figure!  There seems to be little rhyme or reason to K's moods and my own.  I have to say, I definitely prefer these fun days (obviously har har).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Another One Bites the Dust

I can not believe it's been another week.  I knew signing up for homeschool that my days would be busier...I mean, that just makes sense, right??  But since we did the online school, I definitely underestimated how much busier I would be.  My poor house has been in shambles.  But learning is progressing, and we are definitely adjusting and figuring out to overcome our teaching/learning hurdles.

The school space is up and running, although still far from fully functional, and farther still from Pinterest-worthy, haha.  But K loves having an area to herself to work, and she works 1912048 billion times better away from the TV.  I know, shocking right??

Man, I just realized exactly how ghetto we look with that busted lamp.  Listen, since the move we can't find the shade, ok?  Stop judging me.

The hub had to refurb that computer, and it is hilarious to me that we have a working desktop again.  Hello early-2000's.  But, again, it's important to have a computer that K always knows she can to to and work at.  And since the hub's laptop died and we only had mine to use, I was just waiting for the death knell of this poor old laptop now that we were 100% dependent on it for school.  A back-up computer, no matter how old, is much appreciated.

Regarding our overcome hurdles: This week in math we moved on from comparing numbers using >, <, and = and in to telling time on an analog clock.  K has a basic knowledge of this, so I thought it would be a breeze.  It was not.  Things were not clicking for her the first day, and we both got upset.  So we worked on it, and then stopped.  No need to freak out.  We're doing this so we can go by our own pace, right?  The next day it was like she always understood it.  It just worked itself into her mind overnight.  And I've noticed that with other things.  If she doesn't get it right away, some time away from it to let it soak in really seems to help.

That and Brain Pop, Jr. videos. Man!  How did people teach before technology!?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Unplanned Events

Boy, does life keep trying to teach me to roll with the punches.

I had envisioned a super cute post for you guys yesterday or today where I could put up pictures of the adorable, Pinterest-worthy space I created for K's school...  Well, then our desk arrived and the desktop piece was split right down the middle.  Unexpected.  I also did not expect the company's website to not work, and to have to sit on hold (with the worst hold music ever) for FORTY MINUTES.  FORTY.  FOUR-TEE.  SO many minutes.  Just to get a new desktop ordered.  Luckily I got the email that they shipped it today, so within the week we can hopefully have a more functional school space than our breakfast table pushed up against a wall, and the curriculum in the cardboard boxes it came in.

It has also been unexpected how much actual work this whole thing has been.  I know...what was I thinking??  I knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park.  I guess I always figured since I have done so much passive teaching in my daily life with the kids that it would just be a slightly more organized version of that.  Instead it's me sitting at K's side on the computer for the majority of the hours of my day.  Chores have gone by the wayside.  I haven't been able to run to the store as I thought I'd suddenly feel free to do, let alone having the ability to go do fun things like the aquarium or parks.  I have faith that those things will come.  Sooner or later I'll be in the groove with this, and we'll finish quicker, have fewer hiccups, and feel freer to work school into the time frame we need.  For now I'm just unexpectedly tied down.

The good news is that we are having fun, we are learning.  The kids are getting along great, and AB couldn't be happier to have sissy around to play with more often.

The even better news?  Tomorrow is Friday.  Phew.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Herding Cats

Today has been hectic to say the least.

It's one of the first days where we had actual lessons that we could complete all day, instead of being held up by "how to" lessons or the lack of materials.  And it has been frustrating.

Math was great and I really felt like I was teaching K something, because at the beginning she didn't have a good grasp on writing numbers past 100, and after she wrote 100-120 perfectly.  I described the ones-tens-and hundreds places, and it made sense to her. Success!

Then we had English.  We don't have the literature stuff yet, so I doubled up on phonics.  And she ended up in tears.  She does just fine when I am sitting right next to her at the computer, even though she tells me this totally annoys her and her teachers didn't sit next to her all day at her other school.  But the minute I walk away I feel like she stops caring about what she's doing.  I stepped off to mind the littles and I hear her clicking through phonics words so quick that it wasn't even saying the word before she had moved on.  I got perturbed to say the least.  I returned to her side and explained that she can't just click like crazy all over the computer, and she got frustrated because she doesn't want to work on things she already knows.  I get it.  Letter sounds seems pretty boring to me too.  I explained the idea of review, and that she has to prove to me that she knows this easy stuff before she can move on to harder things.

We had this same issue yesterday in math.  She doesn't want to "waste time" with things she understands.  But we have to move through this stuff.  It's frustrating for her and then her behavior frustrates me.  Yesterday and today I have been irritated with the feeling that I have to constantly remind and reprimand her to work and learn.  "This is your school now. I know it's weird, but you have to listen and learn from me.  You have to sit quietly and listen and behave, just like you did at your other school."

I know it's just the beginning, and I have faith that it will get easier and easier... But man, getting into the grove of things is killing me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

One Week Down

Well, we've made it through one week.  I can't say that we've got it totally figured out, and we're far from a typical schedule.  All of the classes last week were more like "learn how this will work" versus actual lessons.  And on top of that, we had K tested out of kindergarten math and English, so we're going to be on even more of a hold up waiting for the 1st grade materials to arrive now.  Such is life!  I am thrilled with her teacher's availability and encouragement to work towards a challenging school schedule for our daughter.

So we are enjoying the schedule, the two little ones are much happier and well balanced now that they're not waking up so early and having a screwy nap schedule, and I am a million times happier and more energetic.  So far so good.

The biggest issue we have thus encountered is exactly what I thought it might be: entertaining those littles while K is supposed to be learning.

When K was going to traditional school, AB and I spent a lot of time chilling and watching tv or reading books.  Now the majority of my time is eaten up trying to understand what we're doing and giving K proper instruction.  Luckily, the computer program for the curriculum is very easy for her to navigate, and as we get into this more I  know she'll become more and more self sufficient.  As for right now, AB gets very demanding and upset that I can't entertain her 6 hours a day as we had been doing.  Luckily, E is still very easy going, and other than carrying on about wanting snacks every 30 minutes he is usually good to go.

I think as we move forward and get into the actual lessons where K gets used to what we're doing and hopefully able to work on her own, then everyone will be even happier.  Then I can focus more on the littles again, and hopefully start AB working on some things of her own.  For now - continued forward progress!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Making Changes

Beginning on Monday, January 13, 2014, we switched our oldest - K - from traditional school to a home school/online charter school hybrid.  I suppose that is the driving factor behind this blog, that I want to document what we're doing and why, and just have an outlet.  Now that I'm not going to the bus stop every day, my interaction with the outside world has seriously dwindled.  I need you blogosphere. (Do people still say that?)

So why did we take her out of her traditional school?  It didn't seem like she was getting the challenge there that she really needed.  She would come home from school and say that she had spent three periods on the computer, because she didn't need to work on what the class was doing since she already knew it.  The teacher had told me she was putting K up into 1st grade curriculum for the challenge she needed, but it never seemed to change things so I'm not even sure that was ever followed up on.

Additionally, I was just sick of the schedule.  We are a military family, and our ability to travel home to visit our families is limited.  That was further limited by the strict schedule of a brick and mortar school.  Super frustrating for us.  On top of that, the daily schedule was not working well for our family.  We have K, plus her younger sister (A - 3), and brother (Z - 1).  I had to wake these guys up every morning to sit at the bus stop at 7 am, and then had to adjust/completely mess up their nap schedule to pick K up at 2:30.  So frustrating to have two tired kids all day, just for a 10 minute wait at the bus.  On top of that, I felt trapped in my house by this schedule.  The bus is back too early to get out and do much by the time things open for the day, especially when we live 45 minutes from the bulk of the activities our city has to offer.

Before we even moved here and K began school we were *this close* to homeschooling anyway.  I felt like I was denying K an experience that I wanted her to have, but in the end the frustrations won out.  If she wasn't learning like I wanted her to, and she was usually bored, then we needed to try something different.