In Homeschool This Week…

At I.D.E.A.S. Academy this week….our very first week homeschooling, ever, I witnessed a profound change in my 14 year old son. He started to READ. It has been like pulling teeth to get this kid to read since he was 6 years old. Now, he’s reading. Not just reading. LOVING it. Asking, “When is reading time?” and saying things like, “I love reading”! WHAT? What have you done with my son?

The difference that homeschooling has made in my son’s life, in literally ONE WEEK, is astounding. He is engaging with me, and most importantly — he is engaging with what he is learning. He is taking responsibility for his own education. He is communicating more effectively, discussing issues and ideas in depth. He is SMILING more. And when asked to do a one page writing assignment, he quickly typed out FIVE pages that were funny, creative, and smart.

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Up close and personal at the Sanderling Nature Center in Kohler-Andre State Park. One of the awesome places we visited this week.

Our older daughter, Kali, is in 7th grade and has always “performed” well academically. What she has always needed to work on is critical thinking. Instead of being told what to do and how to do it, she is now put in a position where she is having to ask herself tough questions and come up with solutions on her own, which is going to be so beneficial to her especially as she enters teenage-hood.

Some of the things we did this week:

For Math, Science, and English, the older two kids did mostly Time4Learning. They also collaborated to start a PowerPoint presentation about bees, and completed two creative writing assignments in their Field Trip Journals.

For Social Studies, I find the Common Core curriculum to be severely lacking and narrow-minded, so I will be creating my own assignments. This week, we started a multidisciplinary, long-term study of the Sioux Indian Tribe. To begin, we researched and discussed the current events happening with the Dakota Access Pipeline issue. We also bought supplies that we will be sending out to help the people at the Sacred Stone Camp. A list of needed supplies can be found here. 

For Social Studies, we also read the book, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: An Adaptation for Children by Ruth Rocha and Otavio Roth, as a precursor to our upcoming studies about the United Nations. This is a great book for all ages.

Reading: Both of the older children have a book assignment each week. Matt is starting to read the Twilight series and Kali started “Island of the Blue Dolphins” which is one of my personal favorites. And for the little one we just read as many books together as possible.

Art: Kali and I collaborated to draw a “Fall Bucket List” poster. Kali also made a cat bed and stuffed cat toys (and did lots of other drawings – she’s always drawing).

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Fiona creates a lot of artwork as well. My personal favorite of hers this week is below:

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“Rosemere with a flower in her hair, crying because people were being mean to her” (paper and fabric collage with marker)

Matt has a strong interest in video editing, and we found a free online course at Alison.com to learn how to use Windows Movie Maker (which is also free) to edit and publish videos. So he just started that and spends a lot of “after school” time working on his videos as well.

Arts education is extremely important to me, as an artist and art major in college myself. That is why one of our first field trips was to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheybogan, WI to see the Supernatural exhibition. This exhibition highlighted prominent Magic Realism works by Wisconsin artists.

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Of course, while we were up in Sheboygan, we had to stop at one of our favorite state parks, Kohler-Andre! We were so lucky that it was a gorgeous, hot day. Lake Michigan was warm and we got nice and sandy and wet. Not the best thing to do before the art museum but it worked out. Kohler-Andre boasts the amazing Sanderling Nature Center, and we spent a lot of time in there as well, making new discoveries about snakes, fish, turtles, birds, and more!

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Gym class is way better at the beach!

As if one field trip wasn’t enough, we also went to the HEART Homeschool group picnic in Madison on Thursday. It was located at the beautiful Hoyt park, and it was so nice to meet a whole bunch of other homeschooling families, and learn about the many group opportunities coming up for homeschoolers. We all had a blast!

Our youngest, Fiona, is in Kindergarten and already at a high level, so my goal for her this year is to continue supporting her ideas, creativity, and nurture her natural love of learning. We will read lots of books and do tons of projects and fun activities. In order to save paper and ink, because I like to have handy reports on hand, and because Fiona enjoys online learning, I’ve decided to do Time4Learning with Fiona as well. I’ve already discovered that she is definitely at a First Grade level in both Math and Language Arts, and it’s fun to do the activities along with her and understand her level of comprehension! She also did a cut and paste worksheet about wants versus needs (you can find it here, over at Lesson Pathways which is a great resource!).

All of the kids are learning and sharpening their typing skills over at Typing Club (free!) Even the 5 year old can do it (I was shocked at how fast she is picking it up), and it still challenges the teenagers!

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At the end of the week, I had the older kids complete a “Weekly Recap” (a two page worksheet where they write in the specifics of what they learned in each subject, along with some personal questions about what they liked and did not, what they want to learn more about, what their most successful accomplishment of the week was, etc), and we were all very impressed (if we do say so ourselves) in what we did this week. And we had Monday off for Labor Day! WHEW, our first week was exhausting but wonderful. I will not plan many short weeks that also include two field trips, but I’m relishing the excitement of starting our new homeschooling adventure. Happy weekend!

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