After reading about the idea on a Homeschool Facebook page that I follow, I really wanted to hold an “Open House” of our own. We knew that everyone had some questions about what exactly we were doing, so we thought it was a great opportunity to invite the family over and be able to look at all J’s work and see the curriculum in person. We had both sets of parents and the local aunts attend, along with an uncle and a cousin. J was so excited to have everyone over and show off all that he’s been working on. He read a few words for everyone, showed off his green room and played with his cousin. We took advantage of having company and really got the green room back in order again, putting away all the loose toys and coloring books and pages that get everywhere so quickly.
We set up all the curricula and the work he’s already completed on our kitchen counter so it was easy to pick up and look at. We got a lot of great questions, and it seemed like everyone left with a bit more confidence in our alternative schooling route. I imagine this will be a yearly tradition at the Hammond Academy for Boys!
What a fun week! Even though we were just as busy as we were last week, it seemed to flow so much better. J zipped through his lessons this week with minimal issue (except for his first sight word- the; it’s killing him!). He even got his fluency sheet for AAR Lesson 4 done already today! I’m so impressed by how quickly AAR is building his confidence in reading. He’s so excited to start his first stories next week. He really enjoyed his science lessons this week, especially regarding his sense of smell and a sliced banana! Since last week was so nuts, we missed his art lesson last week. The boys were both excited to pick that up again today and were super thrilled at being able to do a messy project.
As far as outings go, we started out our week at Homeschool Day at the Houston Children’s Museum! We didn’t do anything special there that we wouldn’t have been able to do any other day, but it wasn’t nearly as crowded and J was amazed at how many homeschoolers there are in our city. He thought it was so cool to see older kids, and he kept remarking to me that everyone there “except the adults” were homeschooled just like he is.
On Tuesday, we had our Open House for the family to come over and see our little “school.” J was so excited and proud to show off what he’s doing, and he always loves having family come over. My parents spent the night (also exciting for both boys) and took the boys and I to see the Sharks! exhibit at HMNS, which, obviously, J loved. The biologists/curators were amazing there, as always, and were answering our questions and letting the boys touch a fossilized megaladon shark tooth. They were even both given a shark tooth from the Cretacious time period, so J is super proud of his new cool shark teeth that lived with dinosaurs.
The rest of the week consisted of our normal activities- swim, Little Gym, MOPS, chiropractor and even a trip to IKEA. We have a low key weekend planned and then we’re off to another crazy week!
In terms of the DIY projects that have happened at our house, this was a very, very easy one. In total, it took Jony less than an hour, and now we have a large US and World map on our wall in the green room (our home school room) that doesn’t take up the entirety of our wall space, which is minimal. I wanted easy access to the maps and longevity for their use, and this is the perfect answer for us. We got laminated maps from Costco, attached one to each side of a piece of wood using spray adhesive and paint rollers and attached it to the wall using command hooks. Simple! The boys, especially J, are loving the easy access to both maps on their eye level, and I’m loving the sturdiness and ease in switching between the two (although, admittedly, it’s a bit awkward to flip it around!).
With our maps up and ready for learning, I’m ready to start figuring out how to tackle our United States study that J has requested. We made a request from all fifty states for travel/visitor information, but I’m still torn on what I want to do alongside that information. We’re still waiting on about ten states, so our days of fun mail will be coming to an end shortly. We talk a little about each state as we receive them, but I know J is going to push for more once all states are accounted for so I need to get on that! That boy can already tell me where each state is on the map, but he won’t be satisfied until he’s an expert on every state. I certainly don’t want to stand in his way!
This was a crazy busy week, and I feel like I was running around constantly. Nap time is always a low key time, but the rest of the day? Exhausting. For all involved. Wednesday was Jony’s birthday, so that was the biggest excitement of the week. Swimming for J also kicked off again for the semester. It’s clear he was doing more free form swimming than “swim lesson” swimming over the last month, but he was getting back into it by the end of the lesson. As usual, he loved it. Both boys are still loving their respective classes at Little Gym, and J is handling hanging out in the lobby during G’s class way better than I could have anticipated. He takes his backpack of activities, and he’s perfectly content between that, the toys they have there, watching/cheering G on and having one-sided conversations with the employees trying to do their job. G missed out on both of J’s activities this week due to naps. One of the few benefits of Jony working from home! It was nice to have that solitary time and get to just enjoy watching my big boy have a blast in his classes.
As far as other activities for the week, we had playgroup on Tuesday, some friends over from LLL on Wednesday morning and spent an hour or so on Thursday pouring rice and beans into plastic bags for a local food pantry. It was our second time for this service activity, and I could tell that J got a little bit more out of it this time since he had something to build on. I’m sure we’ll be back; it’s such an easy way for young kids to provide a service for their community.
School for J took a bit longer this week than it has been, mainly since reading is starting to really pick up. Not everything is coming as easy to him, but he’s doing great! He refers to his school work as his reading games or math games, and he’ll come and ask me to start school on the days that I don’t initiate it quick enough for his liking. We’re currently working through his first fluency sheet in AAR Lesson 3, completed MUS Lesson 4 on rectangles (math is still very easy for him), and started working on parts of the body in science.
The biggest development of the week is the switch of career goals for J. He’s wanted to be a construction worker since he could talk, but he’s moving on. He now wants to be a “shark scientist” and discover why hammer head sharks have hammer heads. His set goals for himself to prepare for when he’s adult is to learn about the ocean, all about sharks and to keep taking swim lessons so he’ll be able to go deep into the ocean. He hopes to be able to swim with sharks by the time he’s a daddy.
J took a week class over the summer through the Museum of Fine Arts, and he was all over it. He’s always loved to color and do all things artsy, and he was in love with the class and all of the fun stuff he got to do. Our hope was to have him in their semester classes, but the homeschool time doesn’t work in our schedule and the regular after school classes would mean a nightmare of driving in rush hour home from the Museum district. So, we opted for Artistic Pursuits while he waits to take a few more classes next summer. He’s used to be able to do free-form art in any way he likes while at home, so it was a bit of a mind-set change for him to have a plan of attack. Having an art box that he can only use during art was extremely appealing to him, though, and his eyes sparkled when he saw the great huge box of crayons he gets to use! Two weeks in, and he looks forward to doing “Art Friday.” Little brother has even gotten in on the action! It’s been amazing watching his little creative muscles grow, and it doesn’t hurt to have a few pretty new pieces of art to display!
My boys are so very lucky to have four grandparents that love them and are so present in their lives. Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about at least one of them, and we are made fully aware when it has been too long since they’ve seen them. I’m so happy that there are so many fun memories of our parents with our children that finding pictures of them all would be exhausting. Instead, I’m focusing on a memory that neither J or G will remember but will always cherish: some of the first times they met each of their grandparents.
Here’s to many more memories! Happy Grandparent’s Day, PawPaw, MeMaw, Grandpa and Grammy!
Now that we’ve been going for about two weeks, I believe we’ve found a groove that’s working for us. I’ve updated and changed some things around from my initial planning, and I’m feeling good about our plan for the year! J has been really flourishing at home and loves telling everybody he’s homeschooled. I’m very confident that we made the right decision!
Our schedule is loosely based on a four day week- Monday through Thursday, with Friday being art day (which he loves!). During each week, we’re going through one lesson in All About Reading (AAR), Math-U-See (MUS) and Artistic Pursuits and two science lessons (Nancy Larson). Every day, I beging with a short reading from What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know, he works on some BrainQuest pages while I read, and we read a short story together.
Here’s a general approximation of what our lessons look like during the week (changes a bit based on what the week’s lessons call for, especially in AAR):
Monday: review previous AAR lesson, watch video and learn material for next MUS lesson Tuesday: new teaching for AAR, practice sheets for MUS, and a science lesson Wednesday: worksheet for AAR and practice sheets for MUS Thursday: worksheet for AAR and/or fluency page, final sheet for MUS, and a science lesson Friday: Artistic Pursuits and a craft, usually from Kiwi Crate
It’s been taking between 20-45 minutes each day, depending on the day. Usually, we tackle school after his nap/rest time (when he starts begging for it!), although it’s moved around a bit based on our schedule. Even on the longer days, it hasn’t been much of an issue to keep J engaged. He even calls them his reading and math games, so I guess we’ve been doing something right even if it was just choosing the right curriculums!
Since we’ll be using AAR for the next few years, I knew I wanted to make sure that the letter/word cards would last. On their own, they’re a thick paper and good quality, but I know how things look after my boys get to them! I figured it was also a perfect opportunity to really break in my new laminator. It ended up being a bigger job than I anticipated and took longer than I care to admit, but I’m happy with the end product and know that it was worth it. If nothing else, it built up quite a bit of anticipation for J as he saw me working on them!
I ended up fitting three along the bottom, but I was nervous with my laminating skills for a few sheets so I played it safe. The cards kept moving around a bit, so I used just a bit off of a glue stick to keep them in place. The heat made sure that the glue was completely clear after the sheet went through. That was all the fun part. Cutting it? Not so much.
However, now they’re all laminated and ready for use for this year and when G gets older.
We just completed Lesson 1 this week, and so far are really liking this choice of curriculum. J already knew the letters introduced, so it’s been just review. I’ll be interested in how it goes when we get to some tougher material, but I’m hoping that his confidence continues to build (as it did this week since he’s reading the first three word cards easily!) as I’m positive that’s the only thing holding him back from really starting to read. Lesson 2 starts today!