No time, no blog!
The “Kovar Family Academy” has been up and running now for 3 weeks. Little Emilee is now a ‘Kindergartner’
and my little boy is now looking at his teen years, and is officially a 7th grader.
* They each got a little something for the start of their new year of endeavors
A 7th grader? This is where I’m suppose to say ‘awww, it’s so bitter sweet, but, it’s not, there is nothing sweet about it. It stinks. Rather, it’s a reminder of all those years past that now will only be in my memory. It already isn’t enough. I wish I could have recorded more, I wish I could have captured his innocence in a jar, the smell of his soft baby head, I wish he still cried for me in the night so I could hold and comfort him. (Emilee still does!) I wish he still wailed his little heart out when he wanted his ‘nie-nie’ . Those memories are faded, they are dimming. He’s grown to be such a smart, witty, kind-hearted, caring, thoughtful, and hilarious young man. Words do not exist to describe how deeply I love these children. Emilee’s early years are still close in time, yet, they too, are trailing off, becoming harder to recall. But Joey, he’s gonna be a TEENAGER? I hate that they are growing older and older every day. I hate that they will venture out on their own soon and I won’t be there to foresee all the dangers, lurking on the horizon, that they might be oblivious too. I hate that, coming around to see Mom and Dad one day, may sometimes be an inconvenience in their busy, young adult, lives. All the years that we spent nurturing these little people that we made, from infants to grown-ups, will be over. Forever. It comes, and then it’s gone. I know, I know…that’s what is suppose to happen. They have to become independent and live their own lives. And they will. I just want to say that I’m not looking forward to it….
Our summer was a nice break, and easing back into our school year was a smooth, easy transition. Mainly because, when you’re homeschooling, it’s just not necessary to pull the brakes, and come to an abrupt STOP, from a long leisurely summer. Instead you just decide that in the next day, or so, we’ll dig into some of the really cool stuff we have lined up for our upcoming school year.
*Our ‘Homeschooling Headquarters’
*My prized collection of books, and educational stuff…so far! Oh – and it overflows into closets, and upstairs. This is just our ‘HUB’ where we grab everything off this bookshelf that we’ll be directly using this year. It may not look organized, but it is, but subject, and kid! The science kits, etc. are in their own special place!
*Our built in filing cabinets. This room was designed for us!
We are, once again, feeling extremely grateful for the decision to homeschool.
This year I decided to sign the kids up under a local charter school, so that I’d be able to get some extra funding for their supplies. It’s a decent chunk of money that will cover anything from educational Amazon purchases,
to local extra-curricular activities (gymnastics, rock climbing, jiu-jitsu, tennis, music lessons, swimming, pretty much anything that can be deemed as ‘learning’..) In exchange for the funds, I have to subject the kids to ‘state’ testing. I don’t love that idea, as I don’t, personally, feel it’s necessary. Like, EVER. However, they both did a couple tests (Joey on the computer, and Emilee was just one on one, writing letters, recognizing letters, numbers, shapes etc.) and they both tested very well. Joey, who is just entering the 7th grade, tested at an ‘end of the year – 7th grade level, for math, and then tested 9.8, (meaning 9th grade level, out of 9.9 as the highest level possible in the entire testing program) in both language arts and reading! Damn kiddo. Emilee tested as an advanced Kindergartner..We will have to meet with a personal ‘teacher’ about 1x a month. Fortunately, our teacher is just as laid back as I am, and she admits that our meetings, and those testings, are all just a technicality in order for them to receive their funding, and as a result, for us to receive our funding, and she doesn’t interfere (nor does she have any interest in doing so) with any of my teaching, in anyway (Unless, of course, I were to ask for it). It sounds great so far, and it’s been fine so far, so we’ll see where this goes. We’re able to drop out of the whole thing at any time, so it can’t hurt to try it out.
Joey and Emilee each have their own folders to check each morning to see what’s ‘on deck’ for the day. **Note: You can click on any of the pictures for a larger, close-up view!**
Now, the only time limitations we have are the kids activities we attend, later in the day. Every. Single. Day. we have to be someplace. (Insert exasperated sigh) This year, in an effort at getting the
beer, I mean blubber, I mean the extra weight off my body, I have chosen to set the alarm to wake me. I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t stressed out, or irritated, about trying to make it into the gym during the days, (like last year) after I’d finished up stuff with the kids, so I told myself, that starting our first day back to ‘school’, I’d wake up before everyone else and get to the gym. I am quite proud of myself, I saw my goal through, and now it is my new routine. The groove has set in, and I’m into it. I’m not sure why the heck I didn’t commit to that sooner. The hardest part was starting. Now, you can find me in the gym by 7:30 am doing squats on a Monday. It’s great. It’s quiet, I usually have the gym *almost* to myself, and when I get home, the kids are just waking up. We eat, we clean up, I light all my candles, and we sit down together and get to learning. It’s my kind of perfect.
Joey does his own math program online. It’s a cool, one on one style, virtual tutor. We used it last year, and he liked it, so we went with that again. This little guy talks to him, conversationally, and Joey watches the problems explained and done for him. Then he tries. If he gets it wrong, it’ll stop and tell him how to do it, again, or what he did wrong, and then he has to do it again, until he understands, and gets it right. For Language Arts-Grammar/Writing, Joey and I are doing a highly recommended curriculum that is meant to be quite different than your basic boring text. Instead, it’s full of rich literature that weaves itself in and out of the lessons being taught. We do this together. Currently, we’re reading a supplemental book, titled: ‘Nitty Gritty Grammar’. It throws in humor, and attempts to take the tedious out of grammar. We’ve just started it, so we’ll see. We really loved ‘Woe is I, Jr. and ‘Woe is I’, from last year. This new book is similar in style, so hopefully it doesn’t disappoint. For the writing portion, I went with another highly recommended Language Arts program that I just had to have once I read all the raving reviews. It is called, ‘BraveWriter, The Writer’s Jungle’, and with that, I signed him up to be a part of a virtual book-club. It’s geared towards teens, so the books should hold his interest. The first book was ‘The Hunger Games’ which he had already read, on his own, last year, and because we jumped in at the end of the month, and he’d already read this one, we skipped it. The next book is called, ‘The Flowers of Algernon’. Anyone heard of this? I plan to read this right along with him, that way he and I can also discuss. Each week he’ll have dictation passages that are strategically handpicked from the current book, meant to be thought provoking, with questions, prompting inspired discussions. It’s still new to us, but I am super excited about this program. I plan to implement it with Emilee, as well, from an early age! She (the creator of BraveWriter) also has daily suggestions to implement into your lifestyle. One is to have Tuesday Teatime. Now, it may sound silly to some, but it’s really just making a priority out of stopping what you’re doing during the day, setting a nice, inviting, table, coming together, and connecting with one another. I usually set the table, and surprise the kids with a treat. We’re going to focus on reading some classic, and some silly, poetry, (also recommended) during this time
or, as in the picture below, we caught up on some history reading! Whatever works. After we’ve snacked, goofed around, and chit-chatted, they sip their *cold* tea (we’re in the process of trying to find one they actually like!) while I read to them.
* that would be Emilee’s old crib sheet doubling as our table cloth, perfect fit…I’m so innovative. Ha!
* Tuesday Teatime bloopers!
Then there is a very important area of learning that takes place in this home, whether you like it or not, and that is Austrian Economics! We are subscribed to Libertyclassroom.org for the year, as well as many various lessons Joey (actually, all of us!) gets on a daily basis, through conversations with Kevin (who is the smartest man I know. Yes I am biased, but truly, it is amazing to me how well this man knows his history and economics. All out of personal interest, self motivated, self taught, resulting in an unshakable knowledge base, yet he could hold is own, and converse with the best of them. I believe that with all of my heart. No doubt in my mind) and Joey, of course, will continue to learn through real life experiences, of which there are plenty, if you just pay attention. He always has an economics book in circulation as well, the most recent was ‘How an Economy Grows, and Why It Crashes’, and just started ‘Not A Zero Sum Game’. Next we have History. This is a fun, and very important, subject around here, as well. I am teaching this, simultaneously, to both kids, and to myself. We are following along to a history curriculum I found, that was recommended, as a jumping off point, and along with that, we are reading Gombrich’s ‘A Little History of the World’. We are starting our studies from evolution, on, so we’ll just start there and move forward through the years, figuratively and literally, taking our time. The curriculum gives us extension suggestions, and fun activities, that tie into what we’re reading in the book. We will supplement with documentaries, biographies, historical games .. whatever we can find! I’m doing a couple more subjects, tandem as well. We are doing a program called ‘ Mapping your way with art ‘ (Geography – infused with art – drawing historical and geographic locations) and then we have a separate, stand alone, art curriculum as well called, Atelier. (DVD based, year long, curriculum. I bought two levels. One geared more towards Emilee’s genre, and one towards Joey’s. We will alternate between the two, until we’ve gone through both, year long, curriculum levels. Art is engaging, regardless, so I think it’ll work out well.)
We will also cover several aspects of Science because I have a specific curriculum for each of them (by the same publisher), geared towards their specific ages. On the days we do Joey’s Biology, Emilee will participate, and absorb what she can, and vice-versa. Additionally, we’ll be adding in a little Spanish, some basics of sign language, oh, and, Joey has a program called ‘Typing Instructor’ to help him avoid living as a keyboard pecker, and so many supplemental books, games, kits, puzzles… Fun!
Now for Emilee, I have her doing a literature based math curriculum called, Life of Fred. I got a little ahead of myself when I found a great deal, and purchased the entire set, through 5th grade! Guess we’re set with math for a while..
We read about a little guy named Fred, and it conspicuously blends in how the concepts of math work. To supplement, because I like all things educational, I have games, cute manipulatives, and fun, educational websites to utilize, to keep things interesting. Phonics is our biggest focus this year for her. I feel Emilee is more of a right brain learner, so I have done some extensive internet perusing to find the best methods for right brainers that I could come up with. For now I’ve settled on Reading Reflex and the ‘Phono-Graphix’ method, ** click the pictures for close-ups **
* Abner, the ladybug, tried to climb this hill, but became exhausted, as it was taking forever, so he decided to burrow a tunnel right through the center of that hill. When he came out, he saw that it was the home of many ants, who were now very angry at him. In an effort to make amends, Abner rolled a donut up to the top of that ant hill, and sent it down to the ants, as a peace offering.. But, it wasn’t stopping! So the ants quickly put a stick at the bottom of the hill, to stop the donut before it rolled away. That worked, and now, all was well. Thus forming the lower case a, and the capital A. (I didn’t recite that, verbatim, but that was the gist of it. The image was visual and the connection was better ‘seen’, hence, better comprehended. However it was worded, it made it fun!)
….as well as a few other visual, kinesthetic materials to play around with. We have plenty of fun supplements, and I’m hoping we use them all! I hate things that sit around, un-used.
In addition to doing ‘Mapping your way with art’, with Joey, I signed Emilee up for a, fun, monthly subscription to ‘Little Passports’. (Geography) Her first month she received her own personal suitcase, passport, world map, and photograph of her new ‘friends’. Each month they’ll check in with her, send her something special, and tell her all about the new country they’ve visited! Super cute!
In addition to our core subjects, we are including, as a whole subject, Nature/Gardening. I have a gardening curriculum to follow, and, we picked up several indoor gardening kits as well! ** Click pictures to enlarge **
Tickle-Me Plants, open (still babies)… but when you ‘tickle’ them…
They get shy, and close up!
*Sprout viewing window! Peas and Green Beans
* testing the PH of the water
* Growing: Spinach, Wheat, Marigolds, Zinnia
We will all follow along in our Nature books (they each have their own) and with our field guides.
We each have a ‘Nature Binder’, divided up by month, for journaling, and anything else pertinent to that month, or season.
Emilee also has a little boxed music curriculum we picked up from the charter school (on loan, for $5, for as long as we want it!) and it teaches her about all the different instrument families. It comes with a mini lap harp, a triangle, harmonica, flute etc. I plan to add in some real music lessons, as soon as time permits. Piano and guitar is whats on the radar!
Also, a website called, Brainpop (and Brainpop Jr.), is very resourceful, anytime! It’s all over the place, fun, and educational.
Joey and I are reading ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ right now, and Emilee and I are reading the ‘Little House’ series.
Emilee has also, recently, become quite interested in building fairy houses. We picked up some neat books showing all sorts of real fairy houses, and now she is obsessed! You should only use what nature has to offer, and now, everywhere we go, she brings home pine-cones, twigs, rocks, acorns, flowers, you name it. They are frequently found on our kitchen table… We experimented with a few of our own fairy houses in our backyard. ** Click to enlarge **
* We made this one while visiting the Arcata Marsh..it’s hard to see the dimension, and details, in this picture, but it was pretty neat in person! A fun past time together..
It is an art, and we are having fun perfecting these little bitty homes, for all the fairies of the world. We believe they are butterflies by day, and fairies by night….
Oh, and I have some dissection kits coming. I thought this would be so cool. Gross, but cool….apparently, as of right now, Joey, vehemently, objects! I guess I’ll be doing the cutting, they’ll be doing the observing, or peeking, at least, I hope..?
There is literally so much more stuff that we want to do. It is true, what my Mom always use to say, “There are not enough hours in the day”.
We have birthdays, and then holidays, on the very near horizon..yikes!
We continue to miss you all..
Lots of X’s and O’s,
Carre, and family!