Friday, 16 March 2012

Weekly wrap up and Mother's home school journal combo post

The last couple of weeks has been wrapping up all projects and getting ready for our month long break while visiting family. While away I do try to do a little bit of the core subjects with the children like math and writing. The rest we leave alone until we return home. I try to take very little in the form of work books with us while we travel. Preferring to incorporate a more relaxed home schooling approach allowing the children to really enjoy their time off and just experience being with extended family. This doesn't mean there isn't a lot of learning going on, it is just a different kind of learning. The whole family is looking forward to our spring break and visiting with friends and family.


I have been selected to be a reviewer for the TOS crew. I am so excited to be part of this group and can't wait to get started. I have my first review coming up shortly after our holiday. So we will be working on this while away.

What we are reading:

Princess is reading along with Daddy the story War Horse as part of our WWI unit.

Little Man is still working on the Harry Potter series with Mommy

I am reading How to talk so kids will listen and Listen so kids will talk and How to talk so kids can learn books by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish -- My oldest has hit the pre-teen years and with it comes attitude:(, and I am just not handling it well. I will admit while things still aren't perfect I do see a bit of a change in us both since I have implemented a few suggestions from these books. I think I will be re reading these books a lot in the months to come. Any other book suggestions for managing the tween/teen years:) I have a feeling I am going to need them!

In our school this week:

We are wrapping up all of our school projects in order to prepare for our upcoming spring break. We just completed our geography lesson on Mexico. Now working on Physics in science (see below) . We are beginning our WWI unit for History and found some great resources that clearly explain the reasons (and madness) of the war. To be honest all I remember in school about WWI was someone shot someone. So this has helped me understand the whys of the war as well.

What's not working for us:

We have hit a major snag with our Science program...Real Science 4 kids. I loved, loved the Chemistry books and experiments however since we have moved onto the the Physics book and experiments I have not been impressed at all. There are too many variables that can occur in each experiment that so far we haven't had a successful turnout of an experiment. While it is good for the children to see and problem solve when an experiment goes wrong, it is not good when you can't worked the experiment too show how the experiment can go right. It means the kids lose interest and quite frankly so does the MOMs. We are half way though this book, I keep hoping the next experiment will be better. On top of all that my favorite site for downloading Bill Nye Videos has been out of commission for 2 weeks and I use those to help the kids see experiments that do work in regards to our physics lessons.

On a positive note the actual physic text book is great and really explains things at a younger child's level. So I do like that portion of the books. We still love having our friends join us every week for experiment day, as the Moms get a chance to talk and the kids get a chance to play, after science that is:).

Thoughts I am having:

I just received the CAT test for this year and reviewed it. There are a few areas I need to go over before giving the test to the kids. One of the things I noticed is fractions is on this test. Since we are using the Math U See we haven't done fractions yet. So I am trying to figure out what to do. Do I jump a head and see if we can tackle this area ahead of Math U See's schedule or should I just let those answers go unanswered on the test. I have used this test for the past 3 years mainly as a way of helping me judge how my children are doing in the areas of math and language arts. However, now I am questioning if I should give up testing and just keep going with the schedule we have. While a huge part of me wants to quit the testing there is a small part that wants to keep it just to make sure I am doing everything to make sure my children have the necessary skills they need to enter college and/or work force. My husband and I will be having further discussions about the need for testing.

Question that I have:

I am looking for a new writing program for next year. Anyone have feed back for the IEW program versus the Winning with Writing program? I have heard good things about both of these products. I don't know of anyone using these products personally in their homeschool. Good honest feedback would be very much appreciated.

We are off to visit friends and family for the next month. So school and blogging will be taking a back seat for a bit. I will post when I can but it will be sporadic. I love visiting posts of all those who comment on my blog but am not sure I will be able to keep up while away. However don't let that stop you from visiting or commenting as I love seeing that people have stopped by. I will be sure to visit back as soon as we return.


  1. My humble opinion- keep on keeping on. :) For years my sister valiantly tried to prep her children for the tests. The bottom line is that unless you follow the same standards as the test, there are going to be glitches like this one. I would avoid the stress of cramming in factions and just take that in to account when you get the results. We did standardized tests with my now adult children. Social studies and science were included. Some years, when my objective matched the test's, my girls aced it. Other years, not so much. In the end, we stopped testing because it took a week of our school year and they tested almost exactly how predicted they would (mostly). Although, test taking is a skill in itself, so exposure to that setting can be useful!

  2. Following up on my sister- also a MUS user. She finally stopped stressing and just has her children take the test. She is much more relaxed. Sorry, I sort of rambled there!

  3. Hope you have a wonderful vacation time! We took ours this week because we had family come visit us. :) Enjoy your time away and hope your kiddos do as well!

  4. Have a great holiday!! The question of testing keeps popping into my head, do I need to, what are the benefits, etc? My oldest is only 5 so I feel like we have time before we make that decision but I've been wondering about the pros and cons. Thanks for sharing just a little.
    Stopping my from MHJ.

  5. Oh, have a GREAT time with your family! Sounds like you'll have a blast! (I do the same when we visit family - we bring a few basics for "downtime" or rainy/snowy days and pleasure books, but focus on spending time with family.)

  6. I enjoyed your post. I will have to get the book. I have a lot of grands. I know the younger ones listen to me but I have my doubts about the older ones. I think I may be lost on the blog hop but I'm a new follower from Friendly Friday. Doylene

  7. I loved reading about your homeschooling experiences. I sent your link to my one daughter who homeschools. I marvel that as soon as a child turns 13 there is a change in attitude; or they just have an attitude. We just had 4 of our granson's turn 13 since the 1st of the year. Good luck to you all; I am happy that I am passed this stage.

  8. I hope you have a wonderful vacation!! A month off sounds wonderful! I think we are going to double up to be done by the second week of May.

    I am torn on the testing. I like to test, just to see how the kids compare to other kids. It's the same standards they will be competing against when they head to college. I also need to know what is sticking in their brains and what needs work. We had a few years where MathUSee was not on par with the tests. For that reason, we had to abandon that curriculum and go to Horizons. If your state does not require the CAT test (that is also what we like using) then you don't have to do that. You can always leave that part blank, but then the scores are a bit wonky and not accurate. That is a tough call, I wish you the best making this decision. It has to be the best call for your particular homeschooling crew.

  9. Most of the Homeschooling families I know use and swear by IEW. I have just ordered the beginners program for my 7 year old son, so we will see how it works for him.

  10. You're amazing, as always! Have you though of enrolling your kids in the NANOWRIMO children's program? It's worth looking into!

  11. Visiting from HMJ.
    My kids take state testing at the local school.
    I use Math U See, but I also tend to highlight a few "basics" on the state standards that are foreign to them during the week before the test. No stress, just a little info.
    They score well.
    If you can give up testing for a few years, that may be a valid option at this age. There will be time for preparing them for college and the work force in years to come.
    If you want to keep testing, just keep your eye on "Why" you are doing it.
    You aren't in it for a comparison. You want to see if your children know what they have been taught. If they haven't been taught, you need to decide if you trust your curriculum to cover everything long term.

  12. Yeah, a little attitude comes with the pre-teen years. People talk about how bad teenagers are, but I think they are a cake walk compared to pre-teens (at least with girls). I just could not believe how annoying my girls were during that phase. Of course, I was not so annoying at that age. :-) I'm sad to hear that about the Physics book, because we are starting that up. I just gave up with the physical science curriculum we were using and am trying to do a quick wrap up for the year. I'll admit, I already saw the writing on the wall (having done physical science three times already) and have gone through the lab book and have been frantically ordering materials to improvise with my own experiments that illustrate the point without making me want to pull my hair out.

  13. Oh have fun on your month off! Congrats on the TOS! I always love hearing and seeing pics from your adventures. Someday the kids and I will come over to your side of the pond and visit! Blessings....

  14. Anna Marie, We have used IEW for several years and love it! (just posted on CREW forums about it!) Questions...ask away! Writing was our weakness, but this is a great program and my senior who is duel crediting her freshman year is doing GREAT on all her papers. High grades from college professors=good program to me!

  15. I always enjoy the door you open into your homeschooling and parenting world.
    Just a thought regarding the math. I introduced my public schooled 6 year old niece and 11 year old nephew to the online free Kahn Academy and they were quickly taken in by it's easy to follow format and the competition to improve upon their own scores.

    As far as parenting pre-teens, teens go, love your children harder and more than ever. It can be a tough road for some and very tough for others. Ours was pretty tough.

    We found the Positive Discipline series by Jane Nelson very helpful. You are probably aware, but just to reiterate: when you start to change how you respond to the kids, they will fight even harder to rein you in so they can continue to exert their method of control, even if it is unproductive. Just remember to breathe deep, pray a lot and stand your ground cooly and calmly.

    Other women have recommended The Entitlement Trap by the Eyres, but it wasn't around when my girls were little. :-)

    Good luck with and enjoy these years. There is a lot of positive in them, but sometimes it's harder to see.

  16. Hi!
    I have heard amazing things about IEW. I have many friends who homeschool and they LOVE it!

    Also, my oldest son is now twelve, so I totally understand the more moody "tude" that can rear it's ugly head every now and then. While on the one hand, my heart feels that quick pierce of ache because he's getting to "that age;" on the other hand, I 'm excited for him because there is so much he is learning about himself as a young man. The book that helped me, by far, the most was Rick Johnson's, That's My Teenage Son (How Moms can influence their boys to become good men). While it may be geared toward a little older age, it has been very powerful in helping me see the road ahead, and how I can walk along side him, even though some of what he does and says is completely foreign to me! LOL! ;)

    I look so forward to reading more!
    God Bless,
    Christy at Cross Moms