Monday, December 27, 2010

It's a Kindle sort of Classroom....

Well, it's going to be.
I got a Kindle for Christmas and I'm loving it so far.  Today I pulled out the notebook computer and just spent over an hour loading that little reader wonder with the books we'll use in our studies as well as practical goodies (several cookbooks, reference books, etc.) and then just some plain fun for momma who never gets to read anything other than school books :o)

Of course, now I have to sit and go back through them all and get them placed into some sort of usable reference order.  Thank you Kindle folks for making "collections" on this little wonder!

I'm totally new to Kindle schooling, but I've noticed alot of others already on the wagon.  I have lots of books....the real deal, pages, covers and all that...and while alot of tech-saavy schoolers are using this little smartbook for their home libraries, I will not be down-sizing my physical bookshelves in favor of smartbooks.  I love real books.  I love turning pages, smelling a good old book, listening to that paper noise.  I love this Kindle thus far, but it's not going to replace books here in this little homestead school, but it will definitely add to our library.

Sara shared with me a great blog link, a compiled grouping of Ambleside Online/Home Education books, all Kindle-ready! She even shared a great link for making your own Kindle covers.  I had a Kindle cover...a nice leather one with a light.  It didn't work.  Fresh out of the box, nothing.  Don't even get me started on the numb-nuts I had to deal with trying to return the stupid thing.  So, I'm looking at options today to get this little wonder book into some protection :o) you have a Kindle? Do you like it? Do you use it in your hoomeschooling, or just for personal use?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Some free nature readers:

Here are some wonderful readers you can download (or read online) free!
I've spent my day downloading to a memory stick practical all of the ebooks available at Temkit's site! Here are some of my favorites so far:

Exploring Nature in Stories.....from Robert Burns, to Abe Lincoln and more!
An entire PDF Nature Library
Down Nature's Paths....inspiring stories with a Sabbath moral

And Temkit Sunday Papers for study

Oh just go start downloading the whole site :o)

A Hebrew Model of Education

One quick question....actual think about it before you answer.

Who says a child has to read by age 6 or 7?

I mean, seriously, does life end in misery from that point forward if a child isn't reading?  What exactly is "on grade level" anyway?  Who determines what that is?  Oh sure, in public or state run school, they have to set some sort of target, I understand that.  But I'm not in the public or state run school arena.  I don't plan to be.  And honestly, if they were doing that great a job we wouldn't rate so low among every other country of industry.  Ok, so we aren't low low...but really, hanging out in the middle with just as many below us as above us, is hardly worth tooting a horn of pride over.  Not for all the big talk this country puts out about no child left behind and all.

So, back to the question....what do you think?

Obviously I'm not saying leave a child to his own devices and let him learn what may, in his own time frame.  I never could wrap my mind around the whole idea of 'unschooling' and such.  I like natural learning and all, but I've seen too many parents take it to the far side and simply allow free ranging well beyond anything proper for a child to really be learning. I've seen it work, too, but it's just not something I can put my entire mom-as-teacher cap behind. Kudos if you've got unschooling working for your children!

My children, my older children, learned to read in Kindergarten in public school, so I'm hardly saying it can't be done.  They were in the public arena, were blessed enough to have small classes for their fledgling year.  My 3rd child, started school at our small church, and blew thru Kindergarten before their Christmas break, and 1st grade before the year ended that May.  She breezed thru learning to read at age 6.  My other children didn't read so quickly, or thoroughly.  And of course, I worried it was due more to my homeschooling from there on out than anything else.  The idea of 'nature' simply kicking in and the heart for reading not coming to all of them in the exact same time frame never crossed my mind.

And I stressed terribly over that.

A couple years ago I finally settled down more.  Sure, I still have worries about keeping up with those Joneses there in the public school arena, especially when no one in my area that I socialize with homeschools. Those that do are more of the satellite school bend, and big Bob Jones folks.  I like Bob Jones.  It's not in my future, but I have no serious complaints about it.  We use mainly Rod & Staff for math and English, and their Bible series for reading.  We love The Handbook of Nature Study as our main course for nature/science studies.  We are following our Paths of Learning curriculum for everything else, with tons of added reading and bunny trails along the topic flow.

And now, I'm adding in Sonlight Education. No, not the Sonlight, with cores and IEPs and all.  This Sonlight Education is more of an old fashioned, Hebrew model of education. It revolves around The Bible, building ones character and sense of morals, the study of nature around us, and grows upon the everyday life experiences that help to develop the deeper understanding of the other areas.  All four work together to grow Godly children into God-driven adults.  From there the cycle can't help but continue along.

“In an age like ours, in which iniquity abounds, and God’s character and His law are alike regarded with contempt, special care must be taken to teach the youth to study, to reverence and obey the divine will as revealed to man. The fear of the Lord is fading from the minds of our youth, because of their neglect of Bible study."
Don't you agree with that statement?  There is very little fear of The Lord in the youth today.  I'd go as far to say even in the adults.  There are a few here and there, but by and large, it's been put away with grandmother's china and crocheted doilies.  What has replaced it is plastic disposable junk.

The work of the parents in the homeschool begins at birth. Long before formal schooling is started, you are already educating your child. 
 “It is in the home that the education of the child is to begin. Here is his first school. Here, with his parents as instructors, he is to learn the lessons that are to guide him throughout life—lessons of respect, obedience, reverence, self-control. The educational influences of the home are a decided power for good or for evil. They are in many respects silent and gradual, but if exerted on the right side, they become a far-reaching power for truth and righteousness. If the child is not instructed aright here, Satan will educate him through agencies of his choosing. How important, then, is the school in the home!
 “Upon all parents there rests the obligation of giving physical, mental, and spiritual instruction. It should be the object of every parent to secure to his child a well-balanced, symmetrical character. This is a work of no small magnitude and importance—a work requiring earnest thought and prayer no less than patient, persevering effort. A right foundation must be laid, a framework, strong and firm, erected; and then day by day the work of building, polishing, perfecting, must go forward.”
 The most important subjects taught in these first years are Bible, Character, Nature, and Practical Work. It is best to leave the Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic for a later time when the child has developed more mentally, physically, and spiritually. When the child is more mature, he will learn more quickly and easily what would have been difficult and frustrating at a younger age. This method helps to encourage a love of learning and the child will catch up with or excel beyond his or her peers.

Their  idea of 'grade level' placing truly mimics what we long ago determined suited our needs better than the cookie cutter levels offered up by a failing American educational system:
Kindergarten/Pre-school – 0-7 years 
First Grade – 8 years
Grades 2-8 – 9-14 or 
15 years
Grades 9-12 – 15 or 16-19 years
Apprenticeship Under Parent or 
Godly Adults – 20-25 years 

We don't necessarily learn to read before that first grade 'age' there.  And during that time we aren't simply playing games and running around, we are schooling with lots of read-alouds, plenty of good stories and experiences.  We do connect the stories together and have been working on lapbook type projects and narrations to practice writing and such. But even with a few short lessons here and there with learning to read (we have Learning to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, as well as our McGuffeys, and our Pathway Readers), my children have fallen into a routine of reading and really grasping it around age 8 or 9.

I know. Gasps and hushed murmurings usually follow that.  So, by that standard, am I saying my children are barely 3rd grade at age 12? No, not at all.  So far, they've seemed to grasp the whole understanding of other subjects ahead of those reading and true comprehension skills.  It just seems to be natural for them.  I can't believe it's just me.  I mean, sure, I suppose we are lazy in schooling, moreso than some, much less than others, but we get our needs done and my children will not graduate as half-read fools to join the ranks of the far-too-many already existing out there.

What I'm lacking is the apprenticeship end of education.  We keep looking, hoping to find resources for that.

So, how does your homeschool play out? Are you struggling to keep up appearances with the Joneses of the state run arena because that is what "school" seems to dictate to you? Or are you forging ahead and making your own pathways that your children can follow with their own children's education in the years to come?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

hello? still homeschooling?

I know....of course you all still are.  And we are, too.  I'm just not blogging much.  sigh like I need a school blog, a kitchen blog and a family blog.  I can't keep up with any of them.  I simply don't get online via computer much at all these days.  I grab a few downloads when Homeschool Freebie of The Day has something we're interested in (which is at least twice a week).  Sadly, most of my sharing experiences lately are via the Blackberry.  I like my Blackberry, don't get me wrong, but I'm too easily side-tracked by these things. however, if I could hook up my printer to that cell we'd have it made!

So, where are we school-wise? Well, I'm re-evaluating again.  I need to stop doing this.  In my defense, I have been settled in for quite some time now with our curriculum, so maybe I was just due for a re-work.  I used to do it quite often.  I am actually looking at the current flow of our schooling and trying to figure out what will work better for the children.  We are not 'on target' via public schools.....however I do not give a purple fig about that in all honesty.  I have family members who stress that fact quite a bit, but if I was that concerned, we'd be part of the public school drone assembly.

Still, there is a part of me that lets that nag in the back of my mind to a certain extent.  It's really like comparing apples to oranges as far as I'm concerned.  Ahh, I'm sure most homeschoolers have folks who linger over traditional grade levels and the like.

So, here's what my mind has been pondering of late.  I love Paths of Exploration....even though we are lingering far too long on the Pilgrim colonies and not really gaining anything from it.  I am a book junkie and bought their full package.  In all honesty, we never follow step-by-step any curriculum we use.  We stay very free-form and gravitate along the interest levels, which often trails us away from the original plan.  We have done so with Paths as well.  We are working the majority of it as lapbooks and/or notebooking components. We have pulled lapbook units in from other resources, and it's been alot of fun..  I will probably order the next level, Paths of Settlement, and again go with the full deal.  That said, the way we school here, I do not see that the specified reading resources are set in stone.  We could have read any books on Columbus, Jamestown, The Mayflower, etc. and garnered just as much with this curriculum.  But that's because we deviate alot.

I have used Christian Light Education a lot, as well as their counterpart, Alpha Omega, and I am looking at going back to the CLE workbooks for a season to see what the lay of our land is here.  I have a full set of Rod and Staff curriculum from 3rd grade up when hardcover "textbooks' begin and that seems to be posing an issue right now.  We have a couple of competitive children and book sharing isn't playing out well, no matter how I work it.  I am thinking that we could go with the individual unit workbooks for math and English for this year and then see where we stand.  More than likely, I have one child who will by-pass the other 2 in no time and be ahead in grade level and our problem will work itself out to a great extent.  We have one who really thrives more with one-on-one schooling, and individual workbooks will help ME with that as well.

I also have one who is ready to finish her 'formal' book work and graduate from that onto more extra-curricular study lines, pretty much on the targeted time frame she has always expected to.  Good grief, what will we do with her now???  And we are pretty much finished with the oldest at home currently, as she has decided she is not interested in continuing beyond the point she has completed, and yes, it's ok with us but I had really hoped for a bit more :(

So, there are my update rambles....and here are some links shared with me this week I thought I'd pass along:
Top 50 Best Homeschool Blogs

Some great links shared by an online friend this past week:

AAA math by grade level 
AAA spelling by grade level

And lastly, Daniel Boone, here we come...after the New Year takes off, that is!
Famous Missourians
Daniel Boone TV and Movies
Biography...and a great online book to read
Daniel Boone Homestead
from Netflix....Time Machine: Boone and Crockett, The Hunter Heroes
Daniel Boone unit goodies
YWAM Publishing...a great book on Boone (we have the entire Heroes of History set)
Daniel Boone at EasyFunSchool
a CurrClick goodie
Homeschooling The Middle Years blogshare 
Lesson Pathways page