Monday, April 13, 2015

Reasons I Love CC #1.....It Works!

My daughter chose Clara Barton to research and do her Faces of History report for Essentials (CC's grammar, math and writing program). Therefore, I decided to read aloud a book about her to everyone. We chose the Heroes of History version. They decided to play Legos while I read. I learned early on in my homeschooling career that kids listen better when they can keep their hands busy. Of course, sometimes I wonder if they are really listening, but every time I ask them a question they repeat back the exact words I said!
When I first learned about Classical Conversations I wondered about all the memorization they do. My public school teacher self wondered if that was just the lowest form of learning. Boy was I wrong! It was explained to me that when kids memorize facts it gives them a peg to hang any knowledge they come across upon. I have seen how much my kids are learning this year, but today I really got to see it in action.

We were on the chapter about Clara Barton's service during the Civil War. I could hardly read for the boys interrupting me excitedly saying, "I know about that!" They started spouting off their history sentences about Lincoln, Lee, and the Civil War. They truly understood it more because they already had a basic understanding of the big picture of that time period. Plus, because it sounds familiar to them and they are proud to know about it, they are instantly engaged. 
This was such a great time. They loved this book so much that they have begged me to order some more Heroes of History biographies! It was so wonderful to get such a confirmation that this method truly works and that my kids are flourishing with the classical method!

A Perfect Day...

I'm ashamed to admit that way too often as a homeschooling mom I listen to my doubts and insecurities (which certainly don't come from my heavenly father) and think I'm the worst mom/teacher ever. No days are perfect, and we should never expect them to be no matter how perfect other moms look on their blogs :) BUT sometimes, you have one of those days where you think you are really rocking this homeschool thing!
Ours all started when my daughter was invited to spend the weekend with her bestie (who recently moved to London!) at her grandmother's house. Her face looked something like this:
After we took big brother to his Challenge B class and sister to her weekend get away, it was just me and these two cuties. Since their older siblings' schoolwork can be so challenging that they need me, I feel like these two get the shaft sometimes. That just made me even more excited to have this alone time with them.
There were some American history books that go along with CC cycle 3 that I wanted to read to them. I had read them to my older kids when they were younger so since they had already heard them this was a great time to read them. They worked on puzzles while I read to them. We read two entire chapter books: The Bears on Hemlock Mountain and Sarah Witcher's Story! They listened and were really into them the whole time. It was epic! I may have called my husband to brag.
We love our All About Spelling program, but the boys aren't thrilled when I pull out a big stack of their review cards for them to read. So, today I tried something different. I made a little path of them, and they drove their cars and jets on them. In order to move on they had to read the words on the cards.
We got through more cards than ever before!


Will especially gets overwhelmed when faced with a large stack of cards, but he really got into this. Any time I can find something super active for him he does so much better.

Next, we did not one but TWO Saxon math lessons!
The first one had pattern blocks- their all-time favorite manipulative.
They will play with these things for an hour. Wesley made a deer.
I can't remember what animal he built, but he was super proud of it.
And then it's fun to play with the bag....
Our 2nd lesson was on weighing so I made these little boxes with different items in them. They had to measure and determine which ones were the heaviest.
They did really well with this and worked well as a team.
I love watching them do their Saxon worksheets. It brings back such memories of when we started homeschooling and I did these with their big bro.
We had an ideal homeschooling day together. Then big brother got home and this happened...
Now you see why we don't get as much done when he's home......

Reasons I Love CC #39; Presentation Time...

Every week in Classical Conversations the kids give a presentation. The tutors give topic suggestions, but you can choose what you want your kids to present about. As the director I am popping in and out of classrooms so I don't always get to see my kids' presentations. This day I made it a point to see them because they were so excited about them.

This is Will telling all about his Blue Angels jet. He was so cute I could eat him up!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Reason #68 I Love CC: Fall Break...

So, here I am at my happy place for my birthday, no less. We aren't even missing school which is such a blessing. 
Despite how this picture looks, the beach was not very crowded (vacationing in the off season is one of my favorite things about homeschooling). It was just what we all needed to refresh ourselves and be together as a family.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Challenge B: an Answered Prayer...

When we first decided to change from our tutorial we had been at for 4 years, our son was a little worried. A few of his friends were also returning to public school, so he even mentioned that for the first time ever. He's also very much like me in that change makes me nervous (when we were looking for a new church one time my husband called me a church chicken!). I so wanted him to be happy in his Challenge group. I was also worried he would rebel against all the hard work.

So, my husband and I began praying about it. We prayed fervently all summer that he would make new friends and enjoy Challenge B. They had a few get-togethers that seemed to help, but I was still worried that the work load would turn him off.

Then class started. I was a little nervous after the parent meetings and looking at the assignments, but he wasn't at all. He loved it. Sometimes I wish he'd be a little more stressed just so it would light a fire under him to get things done :)

I'm so impressed with everything about the Challenge program. One of best parts is it is such a great blend of schoolwork and a great social outlet. Part of his willingly doing the work is due to peer pressure- but the good kind! I'll take all the help I can get getting him to do his work. He has made such great friends which makes this mommy very grateful.

It's not just the social part though, I can really see the things he's learning beginning to impact him. He has loved both the books, which is saying something for him. Then the ultimate confirmation came last week. We were to leave for the beach Saturday, and Thursday we were joking about jumping in the car and leave early. Jackson said he didn't want to miss school! Really, for the beach???

Then when we were at the beach we were trying to decide what our fun activity would be- renting jet skis or a pontoon boat. Jackson said, "We should make an ANI chart!" He got a piece of paper and wrote down all the Affirmatives and Negatives for renting a pontoon boat. I had to send a picture to his tutor to show her it was soaking in!
My husband and I truly believe that God answered our prayers. Our son is happy and flourishing, and we are reassuringly confident that Challenge B is just what he needed. As everything in CC, it has been a great blessing to our family.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Nature Walk...

Since my hubby was gone all week on a mission trip to Nicaragua, we decided to go stay with my mom. She had found a new park for us to check out. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. We even brought our dog who loved it. Will is always a great poser!
My family is on that bridge but you can't quite see them. Isn't it beautiful?
We loved the bridge because we could see turtles and all the geese with their babies.
After several tries (sorry Mom, I couldn't resist) Gram snapped a picture of me and my girl. I'm actually in a picture!
The boys LOVED the babies!
I had to snap this picture because we found where someone had scratched "I love Will" into the bridge. He thought that was cool.
As we walked we saw tons and tons of turtles. Being a homeschooler, I had to use the opportunity to teach them about reptiles and what it means to be cold-blooded. To top off our great walk we saw this snake hanging out on this branch.
Luke watched over his kids.
 Some little cute stinker talked big bro into carrying him.
 I love this picture so much I may frame it!
 This one melts my heart!
As we were leaving they were making a movie about the city and asked us if we would be in it because a family out walking their dog was perfect. So we walked across the bridge a couple of times while they filmed us. We will keep watching the website looking for our debut! At least it will be a fun story to tell daddy when he gets home!

 We spent the night and, let the record show, got up and did some school in the morning. It was fun doing it somewhere different. I enjoyed having a co-teacher as Gram did Bible with Ashton.
 We just started a new math program and they are doing great on it.
 When a 13 year old sees you taking pictures they have to be goof balls...
 We had a great visit. The kids spent hours and hours playing outside and in the creek. We love being here. I'm thinking we should just move in. It takes a village after all!

Our New Adventure...


For four years we have been part of a great tutorial. It is led by some of the godliest women I know who I have the pleasure of calling some of my dearest friends. I have also been the history teacher there for four years teaching all 4 volumes of Story of the World. I loved teaching. It was great to be back in a classroom setting again teaching the most precious children. It has been a pleasure to relearn history by looking at it as His-story. I loved the families in our tutorial and have been blessed beyond measure by our participation in it!

However, after much prayerful consideration we have decided to do something different this upcoming year- Classical Conversations. With the twins starting kindergarten this year my official student load doubled! I have just felt so overwhelmed trying to teach 2 kids to read, a fifth grader who has been diagnosed with an eye problem (convergence insufficiency) requiring therapy at home and 45 minutes away, and a middle schooler diving into Latin and chemistry!

I have always felt this constant pressure to reinvent the wheel in my homeschooling. I am also always stressed about filling in the gaps. Confession time: my kids have never learned about plants. How did that happen? Along with that comes the mommy guilt all homeschoolers face of "Am I messing them up?", "Can I do this?", "Are they missing out on things by not being in public school?" Of course, I know that God called us to this and it is absolutely the right things for my kids, but the devil certainly knows how to attack me in my thoughts and doubts.

I don't want to have to worry about missing things on the "2nd go round" with the twins so I really wanted something that was laid out K-12. We had visited a friend's Classical Conversations Community the year before, and I was blown away by how much my kids learned in just that one visit. I knew the fast pace would be great for my very active boys, and the auditory aspect is ideal for my daughter.

With all of that said, there is nothing I enjoy more than lesson planning- no seriously! I love reading blogs and pinning ideas on Pinterest. Therefore, I wanted a curriculum that was laid out but not scripted. I am just enough of a rebel that I don't want it to tell me what to say and when (that is terrible, I know). I feel that Classical Conversations gives me an outline of what to cover but allows me the freedom to decide how deep I want to go. This cycle we will be studying the human body. When we get to the five senses I already have some cool hands-on activities and crafts I'm planning to do.

But here is the beauty part: if life gets busy (as it does more often than not) and we don't get to all that hands-on goodness, it's OK. Did you guilt-ridden mommies hear that? It's OK if I'm only able to do the CC memory work with some math and reading because they are still learning a huge amount of information. There is such freedom in that- freedom from guilt of not doing over-the-top crafts every day while still allowing me freedom to do things the way that best fits my kids. The thought of it makes me giddy :)

So now that you know I'm a planning geek, I am hoping to use this blog to document our new adventure and share anything I figure out that might help others as we begin our new classical adventure!