4

I wear a lot of hats with homeschool these days as the homeschool mom of a college student (she still asks my opinion on some things), a high school student and a kindergartener! And there's so much going on in our homeschool year now.  Being that I haven't really posted much about homeschooling (or anything else for that matter) for so long that I don't really know where to begin!

Hmmmm.... so let's start with the oldest child- she's not even home any more so that will be short! LOL.  Our daughter just started her junior year at our Alma Mater!

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/IUP_logo.svg/252px-IUP_logo.svg.png
Picture by wikimedia.org

...continue reading "The Many Hats of an Orthodox Homeschool 2015"

4

This post is being written impulsively and I already know I'll be posting more in the future as this will be rather incomplete but, as I sat down to write about one topic, this topic just leaped out of nowhere into my head and I decided to go for it.

From the perspective of being a mom, I know it's very important to teach our kids about natural health and the difference between food products that is the main makeup of the standard American diet and REAL FOOD.

From the perspective of a homeschool mom who sometimes looks through health curriculums, I know there's not a whole lot out there that comes from this perspective.

So what I want to do here is suggest on HOW to go about teaching your kids about REAL FOOD and the differences between conventional thought and non-conventional, the latter being the thought I find to be scientifically proven and the better, healthier way to go.

The first and foremost thing you can do is have discussions with your child.  Involve your child during food preparation time and while washing your fresh greens, cutting tomatoes and onions, and sautéing some grass-fed beef or chicken, discuss WHY you have chosen this meal.  What nutrients is it providing?  Why did you choose organic greens over conventional greens that are less expensive?  Why did you choose the grass-fed beef from the farmer down in the valley instead of the bonus pack of conventional beef on sale at the local grocery store?

Secondly, involve your child in recipe selection, menu prep and grocery shopping.  Give your child hands on experience in selection of nutrient dense foods, delectable treats that are actually healthy and teach them how to pick out the best produce and meats at the store.

Thirdly, find what reading materials/curriculums are available.  This is the part I hope to add onto in the future.  Thus far I have two particular sources that I find beneficial for kids.

  1.  The Omnivore's Dilemma Young Reader's Edition - This is an edition of MichaelPollan's book written specifically for younger readers.  You can easily assign an older child to read this, but I suggest it as a read aloud to do as a family.
  2. Real Food Nutrition & Health  - Kristen Michaelis has an astounding blog Food Renegade and is a mother and passionate advocate for real food.  Use this book and her blog as tremendous sources for endless hours of discussion and education on Real Food.  She actually has a number of books and classes on her site. I was pleasantly surprised when looking for a link to include here that she has an edition of Real Food Nutrition and Health for younger kids now!  It looks really good and something I'll have to check out for my younger son in a couple of years 🙂
  3. Blogs - There are lots of blogs out there on real food.  I already mentioned Food Renegade written by Kristen Michaelis.  Others I recommend are 100 Days of Real Food, and Rubies & Radishes. There are a LOT more, but like I said - this post is written a bit impulsively.  I plan on working on searching out more books and completing a list of good blogs.  Blogs can be read by you and then posts you feel are pertinent or relevant can be read by your child and then followed by a family discussion.

Give me some feedback.  What are some other sources on Real Food that you use in the education of your child?

 

 

 

2

I always start surfing the web and old catalogs in January or February to start getting a feel for what curriculum I may want to use the following school year.  This is the first year I've ever had to look at preschool curriculums.  We didn't start homeschooling our oldest until they were in 5th and 2nd grades, respectively.  My youngest is almost 4 now and is already ahead by leaps and bounds.

I am learning about Charlotte Mason so while I'm still reading books and watching videos about the Charlotte Mason approach, I'm also perusing websites that I have seen other parents mention or seen mentioned  on the Charlotte Mason blogs and websites.

Here's a few I have taken a look at recently:

Simply Charlotte Mason  offers a preschool guide.  While they are not suggesting anything formal, they do offer some very good tips here. They also have a section on planning schedules.

Heart of Dakota  I've seen various years of this curriculum and I have liked what I've seen, especially the flexibility offered within the choices.  Each day is laid out and very easy to follow.  The preschool program - Little Hands To Heaven- offers educational skills such as letter recognition and formation, sounds, art projects, early math skills and more.  HD also offers daily bible stories and activities. HD has curriculum through high school.

My Father's World I always find myself lingering around their booths set up at the Christian Homeschool Convention of Pennsylvania held each year in Harrisburg.  MFW has a toddler program and preschool program(as well as additional years). The preschool program offers alphabet skills and numbers 1-10, shapes, sequencing, visual discrimination, etc.  The package comes with a CD of bible verses for the child to listen to throughout the day.

Five In a Row  is literature based and seems to be a very relaxed style of learning.  There are 4 volumes for ages 4-8, volume 1 -3 being written at about the same level while volume 4 contains more difficult literature.  The 4 volumes contain 70 different unit studies covering various academic areas (math, geography, social studies, etc.)

Ambleside - While not really a curriculum, this site offers book lists that are of a Charlotte Mason approach for each year level.  Level year is geared for 5-6 but there is a list there for toddlers as well and can certainly be started early!

Math U See  In Primer, the child is introduced to writing numerals and basic counting, skip counting, adding and subtracting and is considered by the company a gentle approach to introducing math.  Math U See is a common curriculum used by homeschoolers.  It's one of those programs people seem to either love or greatly dislike all depending on their perspective of how math should be covered.  A lot of parents enjoy the video presentations and how Math U See is known to completely cover and reach mastery of a skill before moving on.

Explode the Code This series offers Get Ready For the Code - a series of 3 workbooks introducing the letters of the alphabet with various activities including tracing, writing and riddles.  Most places indicate this to be used for preschool.  Sonlight (see below) offers it in kindergarten - I'm not sure what their rational is for this.

Sonlight offers a preschool and a pre-kindergarten program.  I have often lingered near the sonlight tables at the CHAP convention as well.  I actually started out using Sonlight (back when I first pulled my daughter and son out of public school) but part ways from it because I found it overwhelming at the time.  We had many issues going on at the time but I always wondered if I should have stuck it out or gone back to it once those issues resolved themselves.  It was really laid out very well for the parent to follow.  It was a wonderful literature based program.  I just found it to be too intensive for our personal factors at that time.  I'm sure I will strongly consider it this time around.

Modern Curriculum Press Phonics - Who doesn't remember the plaid colored phonics books from elementary school?  I loved them in school and I loved them teaching... just as a supplement to practice skills being taught.

So this is what I've covered thus far.  I've only glanced at these websites.  I haven't even lingered very long but they are the top sites I'll probably keep revisiting.  I doubt that I'll make a choice before long. I usually make a list of the ones I've narrowed it down to and look at them extensively at the homeschool convention when I can hold the products in hand and really look through the manuals and get a better feel for the program. This makes it easier to compare.  I'll also talk to as many fellow homeschoolers as I can and see what programs they are or have used and why they have or have not liked particular programs.

One thing I've learned already is that maybe preschool is NOT the way to go....  looking over these I see skills that my little man has already mastered without my having to present anything in a school like fashion.  I am now considering looking at kindergarten options as well...but with the idea of only doing about half a year.  He will only be 4 and while his academic skills are advanced his attention span at this point is not.  But these are all things to consider in the months ahead and not make a sudden decision without thought.

Of course, before I do any in-depth research into any of the 'curriculum packages' above, as I stated earlier, I'll be finishing up my Charlotte Mason reading/viewing materials that I have.  I may find that I won't be using a formal curriculum at all or just use a few materials from one or two of them.

In the meantime, I hope you'll find the above links helpful if you are planning preschool in the year ahead as well.  If you have already covered preschool and/or kindergarten and have any advice to offer on the curriculums above or other curriculums you have used, by all means share it with me!  🙂  Others , including myself, may benefit from what you have experienced!

 

5

Too many times as an evaluator for homeschool students, I see children who HATE to write.   I can't imagine hating to write but I think I understand where it comes from.  Too many times educators and parents put sooo much emphasis on the spelling, grammar, and punctuation that the creativity and fun is lost. I've been guilty of this myself.  I guess I had too many years of public schooling in my system and add that to the worry of being the only one now responsible for my children's ability to learn to write well... well even the creative writer in me buckled under pressure to conform to how writing "should be taught."

I've tried at various times to incorporate creative writing just for fun into our homeschooling though.  It just hasn't always lasted as it does take time and along with anything else fun and relaxing, I'm guilty of worrying about future SAT scores and setting it to the side.  But in the back of my mind I'm thinking...I should write it... a writing curriculum that teaches all that important stuff, sure, but focuses on the creative fun aspects of writing. Maybe one day I will...

One way I've approached it with my kids is to do fun writing exercises they enjoy.

My son, just the other day, asked, "Hey how come we don't do those neat writing things anymore?"  I'm guilty.  My first thought... 'and just how am I going to fit that in the schedule??'  but realized later, 'where there's a will, there must be a way.'   So I'm hoping next week to restart those.  Even if we manage just once a week it will be good for him and good for me.

This is the exercise we will start with.  If I recall correctly, it's his favorite.  It's called Stop 'N Shop and I got it out of A Writer's Notebook by Caroline Sharp. With this exercise you imagine you are working as a check-out clerk in a convenience or grocery store.  A customer wanders up to the register with about 5 items.  Tell their story....   The book suggests coming up with ten character profiles first (29-year-old woman, sixty-four year old widower, etc).  My son and I skip that.  We just randomly list our items.  Then we decide what kind of person might buy those things and why.  Here is a sample from some time ago:

The List ( we take turns- one of us comes up with 2 items and the other 3)

  • pickles
  • peaches
  • granola bar
  • yogurt
  • milk

The Story (we usually time ourselves with 5 minutes)

This healthy young lady is on her way to yoga class.  She has grabbed some granola bars and yogurt for her breakfast before class.  She'll have peaches and milk after class.  The pickles are a snack she likes to have at night while she's reading.  She's weird tha way and knows it's a healthier choice than chips or cookies.  After class, she will go to the library where she works.  She likes working there amidst all the books and likes recommending her favorites to others.

It's not a prize-winning paragraph, but it's a fun way to be creative.  My son and I share one another's stories after we are done writing.  Sometimes these stories can be really funny.  And guess what else?  We DON'T check for spelling, grammar or punctuation.  We just have fun because writing SHOULD be fun.  I'm looking forward to starting this exercise again.

Today marks day 64 of the school year for my oldest boy.  This is his 9th grade year, his first year of high school and his first year of keeping grades for a transcript.

Some parts of planning for this year were difficult.  Others not so much.  You see, I've been through this before and have sent my daughter off to college already.  She is in her first year and doing quite well! I'm really proud of her.

My other boy is only 3!  There's not so much planning for the three-year old...though my eagerness has kept me exploring and I have peeked at several preschool and kindergarten curriculums but am heavily leaning towards a Charlotte Mason approach for him.

But back to my oldest!

This year we determined to start with 5 major classes:  English 9, Biology with a Lab, American History, Algebra II, and Russian.

English is always my favorite subject to plan!  I love reading and I love writing so what's not to love about planning English?  I do not like curriculums that lay everything out for English because I like to fiddle with things too much and make it more personable and meeting the needs of my child.  But I have dealt with such curriculums in the past for various reasons.  This year, I again chose a mixture.  For Literature, we are using the Gold Book of the Learning Language Arts through Literature Curriculum.    I chose the Gold Book because it ties into American History.  In the beginning, I was all for having him do the whole book and was excited about him being introduced to short stories.  But then I read some of them....   🙁     I knew darn well these were not going to be his cup of tea.  Classic literature or not, if he wasn't going to enjoy it at all, he wasn't going to learn.  So I fairly quickly ditched that part of the set-up.  (We'll try short stories another time, perhaps, if I can find some modern stories that he could relate to.)  Instead, I made a book list (oh how I LOVE creating book lists!).  In addition to the three books that the Gold Book incorporates (The Pearl, The Old Man and the Sea, and The Red Badge of Courage), I decided to introduce him to at least one Shakespeare.  We will be reading The Tempest.

Selecting which Shakespeare play to begin with was probably the hardest part of the book list!  But with much researching and asking of friend's opinions, The Tempest it will be! I'm looking forward to it as this is one I actually have not read myself yet. Additional required books on his list are:  Rifles for Waite, The Outsiders, Johnny Tremain (we read this one a long time ago as a read-aloud but I felt it fit with his American History and he may enjoy it more now that he's older), and My Side of the Mountain.  In addition to these, he gets to choose 8 for himself with the only rules that one must be about our Orthodox faith and they all must be pre-approved by myself.  I have a feeling he will be reading the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book soon since it was just released, but this one will NOT count towards the required reading!!  The Gold Book, in addition to providing background information and questions for the three books it covers, also has a poetry unit.  Three poems are assigned for reading for each poet the book covers along with comprehension type questions.  It seems to give a good overall view of the elements of poetry and develops skill for analyzing literature.

For the writing part of English, we are using IEW.  My son watches the video lessons presented by Andrew Pudewa and follows through with the assignments.  I think his writing has improved a great deal.  We are also using IEW's Fix It Grammar program as a nice review.  My son completed the Analytical Grammar program last year and,quite frankly, that program covered things so well that I truly  don't think he will ever need much in grammar ever again!

Biology was another easy choice.  It's his 9th grade year and the local co-op provides a lab for biology every few years....this being the year for it!  The course is through the Apologia Curriculum.  I love Apologia. It truly prepares the student for college level science but keeps the Christian worldview focus.  Science does NOT have to be all evolution.

American History was a little bit trickier to choose.  My son is not a lover of history.  He doesn't hate it.  But it's not a huge interest.  So I wanted something that may present things differently... not a typical dry textbook and not something that was only going to quickly go over the basics without grabbing any interest.  After much debate, we chose Exploring America by the Notgrass Company.  Of course, we've done some adapting.  The curriculum is cumulative in that it incorporates reading and bible into the history.  We are only using it for the history.  This means he's not doing the literature books they recommend, primarily because I knew they would never be books he would choose for himself and it wouldn't have left room for me to select books I felt he should read.  In addition to skipping the literature, we skip the bible lessons as well - they are of a protestant nature and I don't feel they are necessary to comprehend the history lessons.  We are Orthodox Christians and we read plenty of bible and faith related material without adding this aspect to it.  I here that part of the curriculum is actually done quite well.  I just decided there wasn't a need for it for our particular needs. We are actually reading the history lessons together and I am enjoying this.  We then answer the questions orally together and I help him study for the quiz that he takes every 5 lessons. I like the detail that the author put into the history lessons.  I've covered more American history in the past 2 months I've been reading with him than I think I covered in all my history years in the public schools.  And it's interesting... not just boring factual stuff.  I like it.

I am a HUGE fan of Teaching Textbooks!  We've been using it for our math since my daughter was in 6th grade!  It is AMAZING!!!!!!!  I am not a math expert.  While I got through math and actually got an A in my last semester of high school Algebra, it is not a subject I prefer teaching.  Teaching Textbooks does it all for me.  It's a computerized program and every single problem is on the computer.  If the student plugs in a wrong answer, they can watch the entire problem worked out step by step and see exactly where they made their mistake...and NO arguments with Momma!!  🙂  How can you not love it?? So this year he is doing Algebra II. He knows that he is to watch the explanation of any problem he misses.  If he scores below an 80, I delete the lesson and he does a do-over.  This way, we meet mastery before going on to the next lesson.

My son chose the language he wanted to learn.  My husband's heritage is Russian so it seemed a no-brainer to him to pick Russian.  While my husband recalls a few words and phrases taught to him by his grandparents in his youth, he is not ready to teach the language and I know nothing....sooooo......    CurrClick.Com offers a variety of online courses for homeschoolers and one of them is Russian!!  Mr. G does a fabulous job and my son really loves the course.

Well, that's the main courses.  In addition to these, he practices typing with a Mavis Beacon program as well as types out his final papers for IEW and Fix-It-Grammar.  We haven't seen dramatic results yet, but there are signs of improvement! He also uses Vocabulary.Com to practice SAT vocabulary and does the SAT question of the day two times a week to help prepare himself for that test in the future.

We've also added a bit of geography to the day.  I've been reading a lot about that Charlotte Mason approach and have learned a bit of how she approached geography with outline maps.  I liked the idea and thought it would be a really easy thing to start covering with him.  There's actually no set law that a course HAS to be completed in the same year it's started, so we decided to start out slow and add to it bit by bit like it's presented by the CM Approach... so right now we are covering North America since that's what he is most familiar with.  He did a bigger course last year that covered land forms, environments, etc.  so right now we are only focusing on learning names and locations of countries, major cities, bodies of water, etc.  It's only North America and I've already added to my own geography knowledge!! We'll see how we do the rest of this year before deciding whether to add to it and actually make it worth a partial or whole credit course.

Well, that wraps up what we are doing this year for my son's 9th grade year.  It's actually been a good year so far.  He seems to be doing well.  It's been an adjustment getting used to the amount of reading material and higher level questions and balancing that with Boy Scouts, hunting and pretty soon the ski season will start.  But for a 15-year-old boy who also helps out with chores and is a great big brother, I'd say he's doing a really good job!

2

Our story is a personal story.  Why anyone chooses to homeschool always is.  There could be a single or mixture of reasons given:  religion, health, curriculum choice, academic failure in the public schools, and school violence just to name a few I hear the most often.  But each  makes a decision that is personal to them.

We pulled my daughter out of the public schools in her 5th grade year. (We kept our son in public school for the rest of that year, despite his yearning to be home with us to try to meet our daughter's needs at that time.  The following year, we were glad to keep him home with us as well.) She desperately wanted to be homeschooled at that time for various reasons.  It was a decision that changed our family....  little did I know at that time how much it would and that I would be truly grateful for God leading us to do that.

Our family is closer.  We talk often. Not just at meal times, though our family dinner hour is always sacred, but here and there throughout the day.  It's an advantage most families don't have. And we spend lots of quality time together - time we simply wouldn't have if we had to obey the public school schedule and our children were whisked away by a bus early in the morning and not brought home until late afternoon with their backpacks full of homework for their evenings.

We have flexible schedules.  While my years of teaching in the public schools have lent their dent on me in still trying to maintain a bit of a 'typical school day schedule for academics', my kids don't have to get up in the morning until the public school kids have already been on the bus allowing them more sleeping time and they are typically finished with their work before these kids get back on the bus!   And if we are sick.  or want to go somewhere?  We just don't have school. (Yes, we DO fill the 180 days required by law, but we do it according to OUR schedule, not someone else's.) And if we want to take a full week off for PASCHA?  We do!  We can attend more church services, more field trips that are of interest to us (not another entity) and visit family a little more leisurely.   Now this flexibility IS harder in the higher grades with more inflexible choices we make such as volleyball, piano lessons, gym classes with the local homeschool co-op, online classes, etc. but it still remains more flexible than the public schools schedule.

Flexible Curriculum/Classes: Naturally we teach reading, writing and math but we are not held to the rigidity of particular curriculums or particular classes for particular years.  If my child would rather study zoology in 8th grade rather than general science, he can.  If he wants to take Russian rather than the typical French or Spanish, he can.  If he wants to do two histories in one year, he can.  If he wants to take an online class or even an online college course or a college course at a local university, he could!

We teach our children according to OUR beliefs. We teach them God is first, ALWAYS.  We are human, of course, and sometimes fail in demonstrating this.  I have. in the past, missed attending a feast day at church or other event because we are behind in academics.  But in this too, we are teaching God forgives.  But we must always, ALWAYS strive to do better.  This year I blocked out the feast days first on the calendar when I planned school days. So we teach them our faith.  We teach them the teachings of the Orthodox Christian Church.  And we teach them to love and forgive.

We maintain our HEALTH. My family has completely eradicated illnesses that conventional medicine claims there is not a cure for through eliminating MSG, other neurotoxins, and artificial additives and preservatives from our diet.  Because of homeschooling, my children were an integral part of our conversion from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a more whole foods approach and eliminating dangerous toxins from our daily consumption in food products and other sources.  They enjoyed finding new recipes and trying new foods.  They learned to read labels and make determinations on what to consume and realized the detriment these food products had been causing us.  Because of homeschooling, my children were able to delve deeply into our learning process and do not need to be fed nonsensical information in a public school health class.  Nor do they need to fight school policies on school cafeteria food that is full of the very toxins we avoid.  (More on our food habits and our food choices in posts to come!)

These are the highlights of why we homeschool.  I wrote this, I have realized, as though I'm still homeschooling both my older children.  It's a hard habit to break.  My daughter is actually not at home this year because she is attending college at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. (Yes, homeschoolers CAN go to college - this in answer to an actual question my husband received recently from a well-educated man.)  Currently, it is only my older son that is being homeschooled.  Of course, while he's only 3 1/2, my youngest is also being educated...but in a much more relaxed, fun approach and not really 'school'.  We are enjoying just exploring his world and teaching the concepts that come up as they come up.  He actually has learned a few words already!  Nothing like GOOD BOOKS to captivate a child and give the desire to find out what those letters on the page are doing!

My older son is in 9th grade... his first year of 'high school' and keeping track of credits.  It's a challenging year but he's keeping up well and still active in Scouts and got a doe while hunting the other day (while public school kids were confined in a brick building).

So again, these are the highlights.  I'm looking forward to sharing more about what we do and what we have learned.  There's so much to tell!  🙂

There's lots of things swirling around in my mind again today but for this post I'm going to briefly talk about one. English.

English is a very general term. It covers a variety of subtopics: Literature (my favorite), Writing (my favorite--- ooops...did I already have a favorite?), Spelling, Grammar(my least favorite), research, speech, vocabulary and ??? am I missing something?

Literature can be covered in so many ways and so can writing. Those are the parts of the curriculum I focus on the most and the rest generally fall into place at some point. If they don't, well, we can skip a year! LOL.

I'm thiking about stretching a 'one-year' American Literature program (Anthology) into two years, meaning he only has to do half of it next year, leaving lots of time to read full books - biographies, historical fiction (American history as he will be studing American History as well), classics and other books of interest. The hard part (and yet, fun) is coming up with the list... and deciding how many will be required. I've got lots of thinking to do. I am having trouble finding an actual list of historcial fiction books that are on American history and written at the high school level. So if any of my followers here have a recommendation, I would love to hear it.

Well, that's all for today. I am REALLY tired. I'm calling it an early night....before I accidentally delete any of this AGAIN (it's happened twice). Who knows if I've even made sense here....to tired to reread and edit! Goodnight!

Those are the four things taking up space in my brain today: Thomas, History, English & Lent

Thomas is the train. I am going to attempt (with the help of a wonderful neighbor) to make a queen size quilt for my toddler's bed. "Queen size?" you ask. Yes, well I didn't want to go out and buy a brand new bed or lose the potential guest bed that we have. So yes, he looks quite small in that bed - which is a good thing as he is growing and this makes him stay smaller in my mind 😉

History & English go together. Or they might be seperate. I'm not sure yet.
It's time to start thinking curriculum for next year already. I start now because it takes me forever to make a decision. This year all I really need to decide on is high school classes for my oldest son, though I can't seem to resist looking at classic book lists and preschool fun things for my toddler.... I know there's no need for anything formal yet - but he is progressing so far already without making much effort that I can't resist at least wanting to buy some fun games and books!

For my older son, I already have math and science figured out. It's history and english that are the mindbenders. First, because he's not really interested in them so I want to not only challenge and teach him something but I'd like to make it interesting or at least not as 'boring' as he usually finds these subjects. There are combined curriculums that take historical fiction and wrap them into a literature and history course. Those ar tempting other than to pick that curriculum you need to go with the text and the books they select and not always do I think their book choices are the best. I've actually debated on forming my OWN curriculum for history by somehow selecting about 200-300 or so 'facts' about American history and making up a list of questions and sources he is to use throughout the course of the year to find the answers to these questions. In the meantime, he would have to check with me the accuracy of what he finds and study them throughout the year to take a test on about half of those (of which I randomly choose which ones to test him on). Obviously these wouldn't all be things like who was the first president? But things he would really have to read something to find the answer to or really commit some things to memory for the test. I'm thinking this would really make him learn the material vs. just reading a chapter at a time from a text, answering some questions in an essay or a test and then moving on and forgetting most of what he covered. The biggest problem with that is me coming up with the material and source list for him to use. I'm thinking of putting some polls out there to the public (here) and friends to see what facts or information they think should be included. What do you think? Good idea or bad?

For English I'm thinking maybe pick a 10th or 11th grade literature anthology that goes with a curriculum and just have him do half this year and half the next. That way he'll get in the literary vocabulary and get a good introduction to answering questions about literature in the manner a text would teach it but also have enough time to read further books of fiction, historical fiction involving American history that I select and some biographies too. Then I can throw in some SAT vocabulary, a little grammar and still have room for a good writing program of some sort (need to pick that one too!).

As for Lent, it is approaching. I know, my non-orthodox friends are scratching their heads and thinking "What...didn't it already start?" No. In Orthodoxy, we still follow the old calendar and the timing of Pascha (the traditional word vs. Easter which is a western christianity term) is still determined according to the cylce of the moon and the Jewish Passover. This is actually our fast - free week. Next week is a 'normal week (fasting only on Wed and Friday) and then we have one week of abstaining only from meat products and then, on March 18th (a Monday not Wednesday like the Catholic Church) Lent begins and we follow a strict fast. Every year is different for us according to our needs but a traditional fast means abstaining from all animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, etc.) olive oil and wine thoughout all of Lent...with a few exceptions on oil and wine on a few select days. Naturally pregnent women or nursing mothers and small children are not expected to follow this. Which is why it's different for us every year. I'm not nursing anymore but we do have a 2 year old (who will be 3 soon!) to consider. So I'm not sure exactly how strict all of us will be. I do plan on eating salmon at least once a week and we are allowed spineless seafoods though I've never been one to think eating lobster or crab should be done during the fast...but remember, Orthodox Christianity was formed in 33 AD...and at that time those foods were not considered the delicacy they are today.

Oh well... I think that's enough for one day! Wow...that's quite a bit of unrelated topics all put together isn't it! Well, that's my brain for you! Have a delightful day! And if you have any suggestions on how to approach that history idea or any other suggestions, I'm all ears!

4

It's been a long time since I've posted anything....
so long I had trouble logging on since I almost forgot my password!

I'm not making any promises to myself at whether I'll keep posting or keep up with it according to any particular schedule because I know I'll just frustrate myself...

so here's this:

I'm working on planning our curriculum for our oldest son for next year and a schedule for doing homeschool evaluations at the end of this year and that got me back to one of my favorite sites:

http://donnayoung.org/index.htm

I have not yet figured out how to post a link here other than traditional copy and paste.... if someone wants to give me a hint on that it would be much appreciated.
But I thought, why not share this with other homeschoolers who might read this blog?

It's a great source for blank forms....calendars (which I used today) of all sorts, planners, handwriting sheets and so much more! It's put together by a homeschool mom.

My son is startting high school next year.
In PA that means he must do the following:

4 years of English (which is to include language, literature, speech and composition)
3 years of Science
3 years of Social Studies(to include Civics, World History, and History of US and PA at the secondary level)
3 years of Math (to include general mathematics, algebra and geometry at the secondary level)
2 Years of Arts and Humanities

That's 15 credits.
Of course, most complete more credits than the minimal, especially if they are aiming towards going to college or some other form of higher education.

I know my son will do Biology next year and probably take part in a lab offered through one of the homeschool co-ops in our area....and he will do either Geometry or Algebra II and I know which curriculum I want to use for that. But the rest is up in the air. I am researching US history curriculums and English curriculums. If anyone wants to share what they used and why or why they did not like it, I'd love to hear. There's so many out there. We've already completed Analytical Grammar which is an awesome grammar program so I don't feel his English courses need to be heavy in that....want something to emphasize good literature and writing. We have used SOS in the past for history and may end up doing that again but wish I could find something that would be at least interesting to him....not sure it exists! He's just not a history buff. Maybe we should do history with litereature....but then I feel that most of his reading would be on history topics and then I'd have less opportunity to introduce him to some other really good classics. Of course, I have four years to do that....
So many things to think about!

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I love my new writing style with my son. He is still 'reminding' me each day 'mom, we need to do writing!". Not that I need reminding. I just have a million things to do and am usually flying around the kitchen doing all the tasks on my MORNING ROUTINE list or my PODA (Parade of Daily Adventures - yes, I'm a FLYLADY fan) that I forget to look at the time.

I've decided that eventually, whenever I get back to writing and can figure out when to fit it in, I'm going to write my own homeschool writing curriculum. I love what we are doing so much that I really want to share it with others. But right now I'm still piecing it together for ourselves.

I wish I had more time to blog as well. I'm really enjoying it. But there's just too much to do in a day. And my time is running out with our nanny. We will probably have her stop working here sometime in June. I love having her and we will miss her, but can't help but feel I need to be giving more of the one on one attention to my son myself. And I got behind on the things I wanted to accomplish while she was here. I was behind on a lot of organizational things that I couldn't do since I was pregnant when we moved in. I still have some things I want to clean and organize while I have someone to occupy his time so I can do those things in a more timely fashion. And I want to get the garden started and things like that...and paperwork for schooling to end this year and to start next year.

So many things to do....and trying to do it all and not give up my prayer or devotion time or my own reading that I've finally gotten back into. Somehow I need to find a way to balance it all and still keep my dream of writing alive. YIKES.... is it even possible?