Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tapestry of Grace Year 2 First Impressions

I did it again. I made a sudden change to our curriculum just days before we started back up. I had been eying Tapestry of Grace for a while. I really like the idea of Sonlight, but I really think I tried it at the wrong time. I was in a mental state of chaos with life events (selling our house in the city, moving in with my parents and building a house in the country) and struggling to find what my oldest daughter needed in certain. Add to that my toddler and we will just say that not much was going to plan. We have still been using elements of Sonlight, especially their reading lists and when things started getting calmer.

I started re-approaching the idea of using Sonlight at the beginning of last year. I really love the idea of it. We love living books and I want to use history as our spine. I researched and talked with friends, went over what made me try it the first time, but for some reason, for which I am still not entirely sure, I chickened out last minute.We finished last year using an eclectic mix and the year was fairly smooth.

But it still wasn't what I was wanting.

When my friend and contributing writer Christa started researching Tapestry of Grace, I was initially impressed but not particularly interested. I still pretty much had my heart set on getting back into Sonlight. However, as time went on Christa started using Tapestry of Grace and after hearing all of her glowing feedback, I re approached it and eventually decided on giving it a try. I purchased the Digital Edition of Year 2 Unit 1and thus, last week began our Tapestry Journey.

First Impressions: I have come to learn that there is a coined term for the first few weeks of  Tapestry to new user, it is called the TOG Fog. It is very accurate. In the beginning there is so much information to take in that you sometimes feel like you are drowning. Since Tapestry differs from Sonlight in that it is meant to be less of a plan and more of a "buffet" that you take what you wish from, you will spend a few days staring at pages of suggested resources. I am pretty sure I developed a twitch from trying to sift through the information. You will spend much of week 1 fumbling through as you figure out how to teach, what to teach and how much to teach. I purchased the digital edition because I have a patience problem and the download gave me the satisfaction of instant gratification. I am not sure I would recommend this to someone else with my personality. I can not read through the amount of info that TOG offers, over the internet. I spent a good portion of 2 days printing out the 700+ pages, hole punching and organizing them. Had I purchased the print edition it would have been done for me. Please take that into consideration before deciding if the extra money spent on print might just be worth saving your sanity. I did eventually get everything organized and that alone lifted a good portion of the fog. I won't lie, it was a lot of work, but I am grateful to have a hard copy.

Even in my fog, I did feel like we got a lot done. I love the hands on activity options and we had tons of fun creating our map. I loved that we had so much to chose from but didn't feel like we were missing something if I chose not to do it. I also love that from the beginning TOG starts setting the pace for creating independent children who can work off of an assignment sheet rather than having to be hand held the entire day. My girls LOVED their check lists. I am also glad that TOG offers the option to purchase in units rather than having to make a large investment in something that might not work. It is a little more expensive but I think it is worth it.

At the end of the week we felt like we had accomplished something and I feel as though we dug a bit deeper than usual, but we did it without piling on a bunch of boring busy work. I am looking forward to week 2.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Sponsored Post: GHSC Giveaway "How Am I Smart? A Parent’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences"

Greater Homeschool Conventions doing another giveaway for subscribers! This time subscribers can download a digital copy of Dr. Kathy Koch's book, How Am I Smart? A Parent’s Guide to Multiple Intelligences.

Be sure to grab it quick as this will only be available from June 22nd-27th!

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Christian Private School Experience: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

At the risk of offending many people I love, I am going to give you some insight into why sending our children to the same Christian private school I attended was never an option for our children.

The Good.

My early elementary education was fabulous. I had great teachers who cared. They were there because they felt called by God to be there. They weren't making a ton of money and like all teachers their work extended well beyond the 8am-3pm school day. They were attentive and loving and while this many years later I don't remember the details of those years, I remember being happy. My later elementary years were good as well. I don't remember them being quite as great as my early ones, but I have fond memories. My favorite year being the year my own mother taught my grade. She doesn't give herself enough credit, but I can tell you that out of all of my elementary years I remember that one the most and I remember how much I loved having her as a teacher. The class sizes were relatively small. My 5th grade year our class totaled 9 at its height.

I have little to no memory of my Jr. High years other than playing sports, which I loved. Sports also consumed my high school years. We were decent and the school saw the height of its sports achievements, which would also be their last hurrah. Because of our class sizes and the fact that most of us attended the church that the school was attached to, my circle of friends was small and tight. I had grown up, literally, with most of my classmates. My senior year was fun. Our class was particularly close that year and since most of us had cars we would all pack up and go to Grandy's after we were done for the day.

My education was Bible based. We memorized scripture, had chapel and Bible during the day. I owe most of credit for the scripture I have memorized to my school and have even managed to retain a lot of it through the years. I truly appreciate this aspect of my education and strive to make sure my children get the same.

I had excellent English teachers who did a good job of presenting a dry curriculum. Between them and my mother I have retained a love of reading and a decent amount of grammatical knowledge.

The Bad.

Our school had a lot of the same "socialization" issues that other schools have. There was drama, gossip, and bullies. I succumbed to peer pressure often and did things, while relatively minor, that I wish I had not done. I also gave into the social pressure to have a "boyfriend". I have always been an all or nothing girl and at the ripe age of 14ish I gave all of my heart to a boy. Of course, later down the road he tried to give it back to me and for the longest time I was sure he still had some of it. In retrospect I can see that eventually I got it all back, but I still gave a boy too much of my time and energy and it sucked a lot of joy from those years.

The Ugly.

Christian schools have rules. Lots of them. I would never question the intentions of those rules. Most of them made sense. However, they were selectively enforced, even sometimes in my favor. The mixed messages sent during my high school years were overwhelming. You knew from year to year who the favorites were with the staff. It was painfully obvious.

Conformity was the word of the day. Conformity in the way you dress, the way your hair was done, how you speak. Like most schools, our school had an idea of what we all should look like, what we should all be learning and how that learning should be tested. Some of this even dug into the realm of legalism. From our ankle length denim skirts to our KJV Bibles, we were told that there was one way to do things and that was the only way. To this day I do not know why certain rules were in place.

My senior year I had 4 classes: English, consumer math, Revelations and Health. My English teacher was the only teacher I had that consistently showed up to class. Oh you read that right, I had 2 teachers (one taught two classes) that 99% of the time either didn't show up to class or dismissed us within 5 minutes. I loved those teachers. I hate those teachers. What is worse, is that the administration knew about it. My own mother called to complain. We were forced to go to class 3 days that week and then were again dismissed early from then on out. I think at that point my mom was just ready for me to be done.

Like most Christian schools we used Abeka. I was cheated. Abeka was a yearly repeat of the driest educational material you could imagine (no offense to those of you who use it). We spent hours reading down the line one paragraph after another with no real discussion and no hands on application. We were forced to stay on a schedule due to tons of testing. I took a total of 7, yes SEVEN years of some form of American History (providential history at that), when we could have spent some of those years learning church history, ancient history, medieval history; anything but another year of American! My high school years of math were disjointed. The year that I started algebra, the school decided to use our class as an experiment and split algebra 1 into 2 years. I, being used to being a mediocre student, didn't even try to skip the first part of algebra 1. Another class mate of mine was brilliant, scored 100% regularly, but because he missed the day of the placement test, was forced to sit through algebra 1. Anyways, I digress. Because of algebra 1 being split, I spent 1 year in algebra 1/2 , went to Australia and took a general math course, came back to Algebra 2. As you can imagine this caused all sorts of problems for me. Algebra 1/2 was basically a review of per-algebra and I had missed all of the new stuff when I went out of the country! I took no geometry, which generally gets put in between algebra 1 and 2. I can't remember which year, but I actually ended up in summer school for math at one point. At the end of my school career I had only had 1/2 of Algebra 1, a general math course, Algebra 2 and a consumer math class that my teacher never showed up to. Needless to say, I took many years of remedial math when I went to college.

There are many other things that I could go into, but don't feel like it would serve any purpose. I do feel like my parents did what they thought was best and in the early years it might have even been best. However, like all parents, I want more for my own children, and my own experience in this school has helped to determine that homeschooling is the way to go.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Updated Long Term School Plans for the Girls

It has been about a year since I wrote out our long term plans for the kids. Of course, as expected things have changed a bit so I am updating it to reflect those changes and to talk about what we actually did for the 2012-2013 school year as compared to what I had planned. Our school year start date has changed to closer meet with the traditional date (it has to do with the sales cycles for curriculum) so we are starting July 15th this year. Here is a link to the old post so you can see how things changed. As a side note, Luke starts this year, but this plan does not include him. I will have to write him up separately as the gap between him and his sisters is large enough that I won't be able to combine much.

I'm going

We are still on track for history. Over the summer we have covered early American history and just started on a Texas State History notebook which will be finished pretty quickly.

2012 Ancient History (Mystery of History Volume 1) COMPLETED
2012-2013 Middle Ages (Mystery Of History Volume 2) ON SCHEDULE TO START MONDAY
2013-2014 Renaissance (Mystery of History Volume 3)
2014-2015 Revolutions (Mystery of History Volume 4)
2015-2016 American History and British History (Long way off so haven’t decided which curriculum)
2016-2017 Ancient History
2017-2018 Middle Ages
2018-2019 Renaissance
2019-2020 Revolutions
2020-2021 American History
2021-2022 Civics and Politics

Science Cycle- I had great intentions. We got through Astronomy and are finishing up Botany right now, but I have decided to lapbook our way through the rest of elementary science then pick up the text books again in 6th grade. Since Keira and Brianna are both doing the same exact work, I am considering them both as 4th grade so they can just stick to the same schedule.

I am still tossing up Apologia for the jr.high and high school. My other thought is Bob Jones. I really like the look of it, but I still have plenty of time to change my mind.

2012-2013 Intro to Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Astronomy (RS4K) COMPLETED
2012-2013 Astronomy and Botany (Apologia) COMPLETED
2013-2014  Lapbooking
2014-2015 Lapbooking
2015-2016 General Science
2016-2017 Biology and Marine Biology (Apologia)
2017-2018 Anatomy and Physiology (Apologia)
2018-2019 Chemistry (Apologia)
2019-2020 Advanced Chemistry (not sure but probably at a college)
2020-2021 Physics (not sure but probably at a college)
2021-2022 Advanced Physics (again probably college)

Math: I have completely ditched Teaching Textbooks. It just wasn't working for my daughter who is easily overwhelmed with visual and audio input. We are now using Bob Jones and it seems to be working well. I talked to her about swapping to Math U See but she asked me to stay with BJU.

2012 Teaching Textbooks 3 COMPLETED
2012-2013 BJU 3 COMPLETED
2013-2014  BJU 4
2014-2015 BJU 5
2015-2016 BJU 6
2016-2017 BJU Fundamentals of Math
2017-2018 BJU Pre-Algebra
2018-2019 Algebra 1
2019-2020 Geometry
2020-2021 Algebra 2
2021-2022 Pre-Calculus and Economics

English: Each year will automatically include spelling and vocabulary. We had to back track a bit to re-enforce some grammar so we tracked to be a year behind on grammar. I plan on doubling up some lessons here and there to get us back on track eventually, but it will probably take the entire year to do so. I added in formal writing with Institute for Excellence in Writing. We are using BJU for spelling and vocabulary and are just going at whatever pace we need to. We are also doing a final phonics run through using Rod and Staff. We should be finished with that by the end of the first trimester.

2012-1013 Easy Grammar 2 COMPLETED
2012-2013 Easy Grammar 3 and beginning writing techniques WORK IN PROGRESS
2013-2014 Easy Grammar 4 and continuing writing techniques
2014-2015 Easy Grammar 5 and continuing writing techniques
2015-2016 Easy Grammar 6 and Creative Writing (Thinking Abeka but that is a while off)
2016-2017 Daily Grammar 7 and continuing writing techniques
2017-2018 Daily Grammar 8 and research paper-Old World Literature
2018-2019 Daily Grammar 9 and Poetry Anthology- New World Literature
2019-2020 Daily Grammar 10 and Creative Writing-American Literature
2020-2021 Daily Grammar 11 and the Art of Debate-British Literature
2021-2022 Daily Grammar 12 and Research Paper (or English 1301 in college)

Foreign Language:

I really need to get on this.

Bible: We are still trucking through the Life Pacs but I have decided to make them a personal study time and have picked up Apologia's World View Series. I honestly have no idea how long each book will take us to get through so I am guessing at about a year each. I am not sure what is going on with the years, but we are pushing through the early sets at a faster pace than I anticipated so it will likely right itself before too much longer.

2012-2013 Life Pac 2 COMPLETED
2013-2014 Life Pac 3
2014-2015 Life Pac 4
2015-2016 Life Pac 5
2016-2017 Life Pac 6
2017-2018 Life Pac 7
2018-2019 Life Pac Practical Christianity and Church History
2019-2020 Life Pac New Testament Survey
2020-2021 Life Pac Old Testament Survey
2021-2022 Life Pac Bible Doctrine
2022 Life Pac Christian Faith and Living

Home Economics:

2013-2016-Health and Safety
2017-Nutrition and Food Preparation
2018-Sewing Basics and Historical Arts (canning, embroidery and so on)
2019-Cleaning and Home organization
2020-Etequette and Hospitality
2021-Holistic Medicine and First Aid
2022- Finances and Consumer Math

My DH will take care of computer science, though I will also encourage them to take it as a dual enrollment class their senior year since most degrees require a college level computer science course. I also didn't include reading but you can read our 2013-2014 list here.

Of course all this is subject to change as needed. I will also allow them to chase some self-led interests, but over all this is what I believe they need to have a well rounded school experience with a Biblical world view. Let me know if you see something missing!

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Years are Short, Do You Know Jesus?

I understand the "midlife crisis" better than ever.  I am 37 years old. There is just not enough time to live.

I look at the elderly and know, if Christ tarries in his return, that will be me.  I found several grey hairs on my head the other day.  The skin on my hands is losing elasticity faster than I can prevent it.  There are new lines on my forehead, around my eyes, and laugh lines are appearing.  I am aging, dying slowly (I hope), and one day will no longer be in this world.

This life that I love is going to be over before I know it.

I had some trouble sleeping not too long ago, as I was just overwhelmed with the thoughts of how short life is.  I was considering and praying for some friends of mine that are not believers.  I feel so badly for them.   For several minutes I wondered, "What if?  What if my belief is just that? My belief?  What if there is nothing to it."  I realized that would mean that when I die, there is nothing. I no longer exist.  There is no more Jessica.  I would be completely gone.

I understand why people feel urgency to "do something" and to "make their mark" on the world.  They don't want to be forgotten.

The whole idea nearly brought me to tears and made me feel scared.

The only way that I could find any measure of peace with my thoughts is because I do know a Savior.  I know Jesus.  I know that this life is not the end. Although I love this life, I really, really love this life, I know that there is so much more.  I am not yet anxious to meet the next life, but I do find a tremendous amount of relief knowing that it is there, waiting for me.

Christ is there, waiting for you.  Please, know Him.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit

Ephesians 2:8-9  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Romans 5:8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 10:9 -10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

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