Friday, September 23, 2016

A Project-Based Homeschool Week

We had a great week. We did not do as much seat work as usual, but there was a lot of great learning. This is going to be a picture heavy post.

Dance ~ The kids had their first performance of the year. They danced with their dance studio on our city streets for a fitness awareness weekend. They had a great experience. They did a jazz piece, warm-up exercises and improvisation to music. To top it off, a production company was doing a music video near the dancers and asked Anne and one of her friends to be in their music video as extras. What an exciting opportunity! The music video will be released in late October.

Yes, she danced on a trash can!

Science ~ We had tons of fun in science this week. The kids made atom cookies, worked on their periodic tables, made a model of all of the parts of an atom and played chemistry periodic table games.

Art ~ They had an equally good time in art. They got to put the puzzle together of their drawings. It came out great and everyone learned so much about composition, working together, measuring and enlarging. They also began learning composition in nature.

Home Economics ~ One of my goals for them this year was to paint a piece of furniture. They painted an old green coffee table black this week. They gave it a new, fresh look. We are considering decorating the top with toile wallpaper and a clear finish.

They also helped me make freezer meals. This was our first time. We are reviewing a great website soon and were given the opportunity to learn how to make freezer meals. We now have 13 meals in the freezer and were able to take a meal to a family that is coping with a mother who has a very difficult illness.

So, it was a very busy and educational week. I am off to rest a bit. I am one tired Mom!


Weekly Wrap-Up

Blessings, Dawn

Friday, September 16, 2016

How Are the Kids Doing?

This school week went better  than I thought it would. I anticipated a very hard week, but with lots of planning it actually went better than some lighter weeks go.

Goldilocks ~ I thought it would be a hard week because it was loaded with some difficult appointments for Goldilocks (our 15 year old, high end special needs daughter who lives out of the home). First up was applying for a program that will help her into adulthood. This required almost three hours of online forms and a phone interview that lasted an hour more. We won't know for a few months if she will get in, but it seemed like a positive interview. Our post-adoption advocate was on hand to help me through the interview. Secondly, we had an appointment at the hospital to discuss what to do about her scoliosis. She is developing a little bit of a hunch back right at the base of her neck and shoulders. The doctor didn't feel that there was much that could be done because of the location, but sent her for a physical therapy evaluation to help with her back pain. I haven't updated here on Goldilocks recently. There have been lots of issues going on in her current placement. Her house mom is working double time to try tocontrol her behaviors. She has recently been accepted into a special therapy program for Borderline Personality Disorder patients. She has not been officially diagnosed with this disorder yet, because, technically, she is too young and also hasn't completed brain development. However, this is the most likely diagnosis at the moment and is also the diagnosis of her birth mother. She starts the new program next week. We pray that this will help.

Dean (14) ~ This past weekend was the kick-off for youth group at church. There is going to be tons going on this year. I am glad to see so much more charity options on the calendar this year. That is by far the most important thing about youth group (to me). I think kids should do tons of charity work. Dean will be doing about half of the activities this year, since I feel that not all members of the group are a positive influence on my son. I also think there are too many activities. Therefore, he only will be doing the charity-based activities, occasional seasonal parties, and occasional youth group meetings, when they apply to lessons I am trying to instill. My husband and I will be teaching Sunday school several times this year. I am looking forward to getting to know some of the new teens.

Dean may say he wants to be an engineer, but he is an artist at heart. He loves all of the arts. His days are filled with music. He can almost always be found with a string instrument in his hands or a sketch pad and pencil. He really is into drawing hands right now. He also is working on a collaborative art piece in his weekly out-of-the-home art class. The students in that class all have been assigned to draw small sections of a bigger drawing that they will piece together. It's supposed to be a mystery as to what it will turn out to be, but Dean has figured out that it will be a portrait of Harry Potter, because one of his pieces was Harry's scar. He is also enjoying dance so far this year. He likes his teachers and is relieved to have two other guys in a few of his classes. He likes jazz class the best. The studio has already begun rehearsing The Nutcracker parts. So far, he has been giving the parts of a guard and a street sweeper. He is hoping to get a part in the party scene.

His lessons are coming along. Chemistry is his current favorite academic course. He is not motivated to do more than what is required in any of his academics. He does what he has to so that he can get back to his music or drawing. Thankfully, he is smart and the lessons come easily to him, so I know he will speed up when necessary.

Anne (nearly 13) ~ This girl lives to dance. She is loving all of her 10+ hours of dance classes a week. She even enjoyed her class with the dreaded, difficult to please teacher. The first week he made her and half the class cry, but this week she understood the expectations and took the class in stride. She comes home in pain from his class which is new for her. Most teachers can't get a decent stretch out of her, because she is so naturally flexible. So far, she will be a cat, guard and street sweeper in the upcoming Nutcracker. Her other parts haven't been announced yet.
Anne worked hard on hand position this week. She used a quarter as a balance.
On the school front, she is racing along. She started Teaching Textbooks 7 (math) this week. She is finding it easy and is completing four to five lessons a day. She is also completing two to three weeks of spelling lessons each week. She is enjoying seeing her progress and it motivates her to do more. She likes learning about the piano but in short periods. It is hard for her, but she sees the progress she is making. She is enjoying chemistry and art classes with her friend S once a week. S comes to our house one morning each week for chemistry, which I teach. She is a perfect fit into our school day, and the two girls are motivating each other through chemistry. Then Anne and Dean go to S's house in the afternoon for art lessons. Anne has also started doing a film making course that I will be reviewing soon. This course is right up her alley, and she is busy pulling out all of our camera gear and learning how to use it.

Spending one day a week with S for lessons in addition to 10+ hours of dance classes and seeing her best friends for field trips is more than enough socialization for my introverted child. She decided that she didn't want to join youth group or return to chimes choir this year. She prefers to use her down time to work on her film making, self-taught tap dance practice and choreography.
Perler Beads are always popular.
Tim (our special needs adult son) ~ Tim is doing so well at his brain injury day program. He is now a supervisor of chore time and is also a buddy to another client during chore time. He is teaching this client to sweep, vacuum and clean windows. It is a big growing opportunity for Tim. He also is looking at a training program that would give him a certificate as a peer counselor. It will take him a long time, since he will only take one course at a time, but it is great to see him trying new things. Speaking of new things, he is going to a brain injury camp this fall without any of his family members for support. One of his brain-injured friends is going, too, and his friend's wife says she will give Tim the extra support he may need beyond what the camp counselors can provide. I am grateful for her offer.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Week 6 ~ Back to Dance Lessons

This was our first week back to a full schedule that includes all of our out-of-the-home activities. It went pretty well.

Jackson Pollock ~ We had art with Grandma this week. The twins came over and we had a blast. We were blessed with a bunch of paint from Freecycle, and after the art history lecture, the kids really went to town . My grass is all kinds of interesting colors now. HA!

Dean's painting
Dance ~ The kids are overjoyed to be back to their dance classes. On the second day of dance, they were assigned their first performance, which will be next weekend. It is shaping up to be a very exciting year.

Captivating Chemistry ~ We are having a great time in chemistry. I do think we are going to have to break down and buy a chemistry set. So far, I am not very impressed with most of the experiments we have done. This week we lit a dollar bill on fire which had been soaked in rubbing alcohol and water. It was supposed to be "engulfed" in flames yet leave the bill unharmed. We had a terrible time getting it to light on fire at all and then when it did it began to smolder. The rest of our studies are great and we are enjoying the videos about the periodic table of elements from Nottingham University and playing lots of chemistry games. 

State Fair ~ We went to the state fair on education day, which is our tradition. The kids did three rides this year and fell in love with a one day old baby cow. We had caramel apples and explored the education hall. This year we skipped all of the shows since we had seen them all before. I wish our fair switched things up a bit. We wrapped it up with lunch at Sonic. The food at the fair is outrageously priced! 

Yard Sale ~ We set up a table at the community center yard sale on Saturday. We were much more successful than we have been with yard sales in our own yard. We will do it again! They even let you set up the night before, which was very nice. 

Next week has several extra appointments amid all of the normal stuff. We will see how it turns out. It is going to be really busy.

Blessings, Dawn

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Week 5 ~ Goodbye August!?

Oy, what a week! This one flew by and I felt a bit out of sorts and tense through much of it. I think it is just that I am nervous about how our schedule will work out once we start back to dance classes next week. The schedule of all out-of-the-home activities being in full swing looks crazy on paper --which means it will be crazier in real life! I think that once we get the schedule down, I will actually have more time for all of my extra part-time jobs ~ eBay, TOS review crew, keeping everyone well fed with inexpensive, homemade, healthy meals. Trust me, keeping Dean (14) fed is a part-time job in itself. You know how anxious anticipation is often harder than reality. That is where I am right now.

Anne had an epiphany this week. She very much wants to concentrate on moving forward faster in math and spelling. I took it real easy on both of my students this August and let them move at their own pace, which was snail paced at times. It worked and Anne feels ready to take on more. She is also showing so much more independence, which is a delight to see. I told her she was getting perfect scores in math and could start skipping some of the review pages. She was delighted. I am so glad the desire to work harder is coming from her instead of me dragging her along. The result is that she finished four lessons of math in one day this week and two lesson tests. Anne also announced that she likes learning the piano. After years of balking about learning any instrument, she LIKES the piano, which my Mother kindly bought us this summer. Once again, she is the one who initiated learning the piano in the first place. She also announced that she likes reading and writing. This is all music to a Mother's ears!

Dean finally got to dye his hair again. He decided on a bright blue this time. We only did his bangs. I never imagined I would be dyeing my boy's hair. He also is picking up the ukulele even faster than the guitar. He loves it. He has a tenor ukulele so it has a richer sound than the more well-known soprano ukulele. With two kids practicing instruments, my home has turned into a very musical place and I love it.

We started science with our new homeschool student friend (I didn't get any action pictures because we were too busy). The whole day went great. She came to our house for chemistry, and then they all went to her house for an art lesson. Everyone agreed that it worked great. I think this will be a good fit. This does mean some adjustments to our schedule. It looks like we will only have time for science, art, CNN Student News and dance on Tuesdays.

I am testing out Fridays being exploration days. We will do about an hour of seat work school and the rest of the day will be field trips, life skills, special projects or sometimes just catch-up. Today is a catch up and life skills day. Anne really wants to work on math for an extended period of time. Who am I to get in the way of progress?

Well, that is about all for me this week.

Blessings, Dawn