Sunday, June 27, 2010

June Update

Wow! I can't believe this month is about to be coming to a close. What a whirlwind! With the end of the school year and the start of summer, the Zickafoose clan hit the ground running and we have not looked back. I have so many updates and pictures to share, I thought I would do a bullet post update to recap the month, followed by several picture posts. Here we go!

* We started the month with the girls dance recital! Such fun having two little ballerinas in the family. This year Emma's class did their routine entirely on their own without a teacher on the stage. Emma remembered all of the moves and we were so proud of her! She continues to say that she loves taking dance, and it is her goal to one day wear point shoes. If she continues to love dance the way that she does now, I have no doubt that she will achieve her goal! Kate also did a fantastic job! She smiled so brightly and loved being on stage. At first I was a bit nervous after the dress rehearsal. During the rehearsal she did the first move that her teacher did, with a smile on her face, but then she held that pose for the entire routine and did not move an inch! She was just standing there in her pose, smiling, while everyone else danced around her. It was quite precious and funny! However, she pulled it together at the recital and did a fabulous job, doing everything that her teacher instructed her to do. We love you dancing darlings!!

* The next week we had Bible Day Camp all week. Emma loved it, but Kate not so much. She decided it was overwhelming and did not like being in a large class away from Mommy, so she spent the last three days at home having dates with her daddy.

* During all of this chaos, we moved to a new house on campus. It is a larger home with a walk out basement, an extra spare bedroom, and a fenced in backyard. While we loved our other house and have many memories there, all three of our kiddos were sharing a room, and we knew eventually we would need more space. Ben worked hard painting our new home, and with brand new flooring throughout we are loving it!

* The day after Bible Day Camp ended, we left for a family vacation at Myrtle Beach. So fun, and can I just say that my children are excellent travelers?! They are the best and we had a blast. Moments alone as a family are rare in our life, which makes trips like these all the more precious to us.

* While on vacation, Jack Ryan turned three months old! Love that boy!!!

* Once home we spent the week getting the house settled and preparing for Kates 4th birthday party, a Dora the Explorer Backyard Bash for the neighborhood (family party to follow). Can't believe our baby girl is now four. Where does the time go?

And that takes us to today, I do believe. Ben has left for a week of camp, and I am holding the fort down here with all of the kiddos. We lead a busy, yet incredibly blessed life. Thanks for checking in on us and look for pictures of our summer adventures soon!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

One Year Down, Twelve Years To Go Part 1 (For The First Child Anyway!)

So, we are currently wrapping up our first year as a home schooling family! Whew! And what a year it has been. I have not written much on here in regards to our decision to homeschool our children, but I plan to remedy that right now! The following is a little sample of what I wrote last year on what I hoped to accomplish this year, and what my expectations were for teaching Emma Kindergarten. Let's review, shall we?

"I have finally chosen all of the curriculum that we will be using! I am going to use Weaver Interlock by Alpha Omega for Kindergarten for Emma next year. A friend recommended it to me and after looking at some of the sample lessons, I believe that Kate will be able to participate too, and both girls will love it. We will be using Leading Little Ones to God for our morning devotions and Hermie and Friends Scripture Memory Songs to help us with our memory verses. Emma will be using A Reason For Writing for her handwriting and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons for reading. For math we will use the Brighter Child workbook.

I am hoping to do lots of hands on activitities. This year my main goals are to strengthen Emma's reading skills (she can already read short books at age four) and to set the stage for our later years of learning. I want the girls to think home schooling is fun! We will also be working on discipline and setting more of a routine for our days."

So how did we do? Epic Fail! Just kidding. We had a pretty great year! It did not go at all as I had planned (turns out I had pretty lofty expectations for our first year of home schooling), but we learned a lot about how much time we would have each day, what time of day Emma has the most energy to learn, Emma's learning style, and what types of curriculum/workbooks Emma enjoyed using the most.

When I first announced we would be home schooling Kindergarten, the advice I received over and over again was to focus on reading and math everyday, and to simply let the rest go. Those who have gone before me suggested those were the two most important components of a Kindergarten year, and suggested I not worry too much about schedules, subjects, and formal learning. But did I listen? Of course not :). I had grand visions of us waking early, getting dressed, sitting at the table five days a week over morning devotions, following a curriculum to a T, and being so organized that I would impress even myself. Ha!

I did purchase the core curriculum that I mentioned above and we used it for about the first month of schoolbefore putting it aside for the remainder of the year. As we started going through it, we discovered that it was quite a "hands on" curriculum, and I found I did not have the amount of time necessary to put in to teaching it. Also, because Emma had gone to such an in depth preschool program the previous year, she was more advanced than what the curriculum was teaching. I do believe that I will use this curriculum when Kate starts Kindergarten, but it simply was not for Emma. She enjoyed the crafts that went with the lessons, but the work was much to simple for her.

Morning devotions did not go quite as planned either, and this is probably what I am most disappointed in myself for. I did not end up liking the book that I purchased, so we borrowed a devotional book from a friend, and the girls did keep picture journals of the lessons we learned. There was also a memory verse that went with each devotion, so we covered a few of those. We probably only did journals 50% of the time, and that is the first thing that I plan to remedy next year.

So what did we cover, you might ask? Why reading and math of course, just like my wise friends suggested in the first place :). We ended up using a Kindergarten Abeka math book which we completed the first semester (covering all necessary Kindergarten content), and we spent this last semester delving into some first grade math concepts (double didget adding and subtracting, time telling, money, etc.) Emma LOVES math, and it turns out the girl LOVES worksheets! Totally not the way that I enjoy learning, but it works for her. She enjoyed working at her own pace, and would sometimes sit and complete ten pages/worksheets a day. Smarty pants.

And where do I begin with reading? My sweet girl can now read almost any book that she picks up. She still reads quite slowly (getting faster every day!) and stumbles over some words, but she's got it. I completely recommend Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons! It was so easy to go through and they made the process of trying to teach your child to read enjoyable and easy. It is such an amazing thing to witness! My heart swells with pride each time she picks up a book to read, and I am so glad that she LOVES it!

So, I suppose you can say that we met the majority of our goals for this year, and more importantly we had fun doing it! We covered everything that your average Kindergartener would have learned in a public school setting, and then some. Next school year I plan on making August a review month before diving in to first grade. I am excited about the materials I have selected for next year and hope they are a good match for Emma! While it is looking like we will be busier than ever, it will be a bit more necessary to spend more actual "table time" learning, and I will be working this summer to come up with a realistic schedule. And as always, we will strive to make discipline and following a routine top priorities!So there you have it. One year of teaching down, and twelve to go (for our first child)!