Homeschooling: Why We Stay Home on Mondays

Our local Classical Conversations community started back up three weeks ago, and we were not there. I may have already alluded to our decision not to participate in CC this year, but I thought the decision warranted a separate blog entry.

But, even when all the signs were pointing to YES, there was a small, quiet voice inside my heart saying no.  No to “one more” activity.  No to being away from home for one whole day every week.  No to the hustle and bustle of getting up and out the door early each and every Monday. (There’s a reason we homeschool, after all.) --Why We Stay Home on Mondays, from Lone Star SignersAs I’ve mentioned in our previous posts about our Classical Conversations experiences (Why Classical Conversations Works for Us, Classical Conversations & Kindergarten, Classical Conversations Review Game), the program was a great fit for Addie during her Kinder and 1st grade school years. She has a quick mind, a gift for memorization, and a personal drive that are all well-suited for classical education. We also adored the families in our CC community, so choosing not to return this school year was a difficult decision for all of us.

But, even when all the signs were pointing to YES, there was a small, quiet voice inside my heart saying no.

No to “one more” activity.

No to being away from home for one whole day every week.

No to the hustle and bustle of getting up and out the door early each and every Monday. (There’s a reason we homeschool, after all.)

Homeschooling: Why We Stay Home on Mondays

As an introvert mama looking for margin, I realized how important it is to our family culture to carve out pockets of time when we just stay home. (I just love this post from Meghann at Practically Hippie.)

Our girls have group activities on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays–so I’m not worried about socialization issues. We get a big chunk of our weekly work out of the way before the fun playdate invitations start rolling in, which ensures that we stay on-track with our lesson plans. Staying home on Mondays means that the rest of our week is more organized and much less rushed.

Staying home on Mondays is working for our family this school year. What changes have you made to bring more margin into your family’s schedule?

Homeschooling: 2nd Grade Curriculum Choices

Can you believe it? We are two weeks away from our first day “back to school.” We’re trying a six-weeks-on/one-week-off schedule this school year, so that means our first six weeks will run from July 27th-September 4th. Personally, I’m excited to get the first chunk of learning out of the way during the hottest weeks of the year!

See our curriculum choices for our second grader over at Lone Star Signers!

Here are our curriuculum choices for 2nd grade (2015-2016):

After a lot of consideration and conversation, we have decided to skip the community day aspect of Classical Conversations this year. This is Kate’s last year in preschool, and I want to be sure that we use this special time focusing on all the things that really matter to our family culture right now: spending time together outside, reading books aloud, visiting special places, etc. I want to continue savoring the simple things into the fall–and that means that we’ll be starting out each week at home rather than at CC.

Please note that Lone Star Signers does use affiliate links, but we only recommend items that our family has used and loved. Thank you for supporting our small business.

In planning our lessons for all the fun “extras,” I have pulled some ideas and resources from our Classical Conversations Foundations guide. We will continue to learn about artists and musicians, practice our timeline song, and complete science and art activities that go along with everything that we’re learning. I also utilized our Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the terrific book What Your Second Grader Needs to Know to build a great year full of science, history, geography, and fine arts! (Read more about my planning process here.)

See our curriculum choices for our second grader over at Lone Star Signers!For math, we will be continuing on with Saxon Math 2 (link). It works for our family, and I love how much Kate picks up just from playing nearby while we do our lessons. I’ve written more about our reasons here: Why Saxon Math Works for Us!

For language arts, we’re continuing with First Language Lessons (link), Spelling You See (link), and our eclectic mish-mash of reading library books and writing/illustrating our own books for fun. We’re also hoping to put together a Young Author’s club for the fall.

I’m looking forward to this school year–what curriculum choices have you made?

Like this post? Read about our 1st grade curriculum choices here!

This post has been linked up at iHomeschoolNetwork’s 7th Annual “Not” Back-to-School Blog Hop.

Why Classical Conversations Works for Us!

Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products we have purchased and enjoy. 

We are nearing the end of our second year in the Classical Conversations Foundations program! I know many homeschooling families are making plans for next school year, so I wanted to share my thoughts in case anyone was interested. 😉

Classical-Conversations Works for Us! from Lone Star Signers

A is 6.5 years old and in the first grade. Some families choose classical education (and/or CC specifically) based on principle, but we ended up on this path because it suits our daughter’s personality and learning style. (I feel like that’s an important distinction. If CC was not a good fit for our daughter, we’d be seeking out another approach.)

  • She is an auditory learner and memorizes nearly everything she hears.
  • She is a perfectionist.
  • She is NOT shy.
  • She is comfortable around adults and eager to please.

The auditory nature of Classical Conversations works well for both of our children. It’s simple to turn on the CD while they play or when we’re in the car–they both absorb the memory work without a lot of effort. (I am a visual learner and much older than 6, so I don’t remember half of what they do!) We’ve also made a memory work box and spend about 10-15 minutes reviewing our flashcards a few days a week.

I love that the content cycles every three years, so we don’t feel the pressure to memorize EVERYTHING this year. Even with our fairly relaxed approach at home, I’m impressed by the amount of content that our girls seem to be retaining–AND how frequently we stumble across mentions of our memory work in other areas of learning. (Most recent example: our listening to the tall tale of Paul Bunyan included several mentions of our geography terms, which elicited excited gasps from the backseat.)

I truly believe that the Classical Conversations memory work is giving our girls a strong foundation in both history and geography, two subjects that our family is passionate about. They’re also learning important math facts, Latin, science, and English grammar. We enjoy the science and fine arts components of our day, plus A is benefiting from weekly presentations and social time with other children. Best of all, we are part of a wonderful community of local families!

If you are considering Classical Converations for your family, I hope this post was helpful for you. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can answer for you.

P.S. You can read more about our first grade curriculum choices here–we’ve also swapped out some of our other language arts workbooks for the Spelling You See (Jack & Jill) program.

Homeschool Routines: January 2015

Hello, January! This is the week that we start settling back into our routines–some familiar and some completely new.

Over the Christmas break, it became crystal clear that Kate (39 months) is ready for a bit more of a challenge when it comes to “formal” learning. She has been absolutely amazing about playing independently while Addie (1st grade) and I do lessons, and she has picked up an insane amount of memory work while being in the same room. BUT, she has also been gravitating toward the basket of scratch paper and crayons and asking me how to build words using her magnetic letters.

We’re moving up from Tot School to Homeschool Preschool, and I’m really excited. (Three is one of my favorite ages!)

I recently came across some of my classroom-planning notes from the summer I taught 3s & 4s at a local Mother’s Day Out, and that’s been helpful for me to double-check that I’m not forgetting any major component she’d be getting at preschool. At the MDO, our areas of learning included:

  • Art
  • Blocks
  • Books (Classroom Library)
  • Home-living
  • Music
  • Nature/Science
  • Puzzles/Manipulatives

I had already decided that I wanted to be more intentional with both girls and art this spring, and I knew we’d need to add something with science since our (awesome) weekly co-op ended in November. (Enter our family pass to the San Antonio Botanical Garden; I forsee lots of field trips with magnifying glasses and sketchpads in our future!)

Blocks, puzzles, and manipulatives are already covered in our weekly toy rotation/tot trays. We recently rearranged the girls’ bedroom to make way for bunk beds, leaving room for their toy kitchen (previously stored in their closet) and two new bookshelves. Kate has been playing “kitchen/tea partyrestaurant” pretty much non-stop since we made that change last week! (I also want to be more intentional about including both girls in ACTUAL housework, too. Why limit them to pretend when the real objects are available in the other room?)

New play area in our daughters' room |Lone Star Signers

The new play area in our girls’ room has a play kitchen, a small table, and a reading nook. SO cozy!

That leaves music, which will probably fall under my husband’s domain.

Our weekly schedule is pretty awesome this spring, full of activities that both the girls and I should enjoy.

Mondays: Classical Conversations and playground time with friends
Tuesdays: Bible study at church in the morning (social time for the girls)
Wednesdays: signing classes in the morning (Addie: tablework)
Thursdays: FREE day for chores and field trips, plus science and art
Fridays: signing class in the morning (both girls participate)

Afternoons will include a mandatory rest time, followed by all the direct-teach lessons that need to be completed. (The witching hour has always been our best time for schoolwork–I have no idea why!) Addie has a new daily checklist to start building independence and keep me accountable for covering each subject area each day.

I’m really excited about this new season. I am overjoyed that I am able to be home with our girls and have an active role in their education. 2015, I’m ready for you!

Thoughts on Homeschooling: End of 2nd Quarter

What a beautiful fall we had! I had originally hoped to finish our second quarter near the end of November, but we had so many lovely outside days to make up for the long summer. We officially wrap up the first half of first grade today, and I’m very glad to reach this milestone.

Lone Star Signers: Homeschooling Update Fall 2014 (1st grade & preschool)

Next week, our spring schedule will begin–we’re thrilled to continue with Classical Conversations for another twelve weeks, and we’ll be adding/dropping a few extracurricular activities from our weekly calendar. (More on our spring calendar and curriculum reviews coming soon.)

Our “at-home” school days consist of the following components:
* Saxon Math (level 1)
* Calendar
* Memory work review
* iPad time (current favorite apps can be found here and hereaffiliate links)
* First Language Lessons (level 1)
* Spelling You See: Jack & Jill

My current struggle with Addie’s work load is simply that so much of it requires me to sit with her, which can be tricky with a three-year-old and housework. If we’re focused, it can take less than two hours to complete everything, but it rarely happens that we work from beginning to end without breaks. (She needs them and so do I.) I’m going through my Teachers Pay Teachers downloads and creating short packets for her to complete independently during the day when she has a few minutes of wait time.

Lone Star Signers Homeschooling Update: 1st grade

Other subjects:

Addie has completely moved into chapter books (the “easy readers” were taking less than 20 minutes to zip through), so she’s enjoying Charlotte’s Web and Little House on the Prairie, along with a handful of picture books from the Mighty Girl booklist.

We learned more about animals in our science co-op this semester, and I’m looking forward to new science adventures in the spring!

Addie and I have both memorized all the states & capitals, plus we can correctly identify them all on a blank map! (I somehow missed this milestone as a child.) The rest of the year focuses on U.S. geographical landmarks, so we’ll focus on learning the names of mountain ranges/rivers and their general area. It’s quite clear that we’ll not reach Memory Master this year, and I’m okay with that!

Preschool Update:

Kate is not a toddler anymore! Our precious girl is growing up, and I’m enjoying this fun learning stage. She plays independently so well; I’m amazed at her creativity and open-ended fun while Addie and I sit at the table. Her favorite things are dress-up and imaginative play. She’s very interested in letter sounds and building words with magnets. She can read her name, Addie, Mom, Dad, most of the color words (brown sometimes trips her up), and many animal names (cat, dog, cow). She also knows all of her numbers up to 20 and can skip-count/recite math facts that she’s heard from Addie. I’ve started setting aside pre-K work for next year–I’m confident she’ll be ready by her fourth birthday!