Sunday, September 21, 2014

When the Real World Crashes through Your Ideal Vision

A little while back I listed my ideal plans for our homeschool this year.  But our first day was simply awful.  Awful to the degree that even after 7 years of doing this home education thing I was really thinking that I’d made a horrible mistake.

My Album 3-001I was having really serious doubts.

Maybe the 9th grader should have gone to public school this year?

Maybe the kindergartener needs a classroom to keep her busy-ness occupied?

Maybe the 3rd grader is never, ever going to get math?

Maybe the 5th grader really does get her shrillness from me?

So what happened?

My ideal vision of what my homeschool should look like once again hit the brick wall we call real life!

Real life is never going to fit that ideal. 

Confession time here…maybe I spent a wee bit too much time lurking on homeschool forums and blogs and got too wrapped up in what a good homeschool looks like.  Oi!  You would think I would learn my lessons.

Sometimes Mom’s vision of where her kids ought to be just doesn’t match up with where they are, whether it be academically, emotionally, or even physically.  Sometimes, she gets her head turned and forgets where she really is in her homeschool journey.

The first couple of weeks of school tends to be full of revelations.  Be open to them.

Maybe spelling, plus handwriting, plus a writing program, plus written narrations every day really is overkill.

Especially if the kid is of the meticulous-perfectionist type who goes above and beyond whatever you were expecting in the narration department, anyway.

Maybe the kid who spontaneously writes out (long-hand, mind you) sequels to the Wizard of Oz stories that are pages and pages long, with nary a punctuation or spelling error in sight doesn’t really need a formal writing program at all.

Maybe the youngest really does crave more workbooks and maybe there’s nothing wrong with loading her up with colorful printed stuff. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with initially planning too much (or even too little), because I always have the opportunity to change what I’m doing to fit our needs a little better.

After giving it a fair shot and conferring with the kids, I slowly made some changes and will be revising the plans I posted here to reflect those changes.  It’ll take me a bit, but I will revise them.

We have dropped a few things and switched out a few others---the good news is that we are getting very close to our magic balance.

You know what I’m talking about…the point at which each child is kept intellectually busy enough that he’s progressing, but not so bogged down in requirements that he lacks the internal motivation to continue on and pursue more interests on his own at the “end” of the day (instead of zoning out). 

The routine that ceases to feel like a box and becomes just the right support for my particular kids.

The school day that you not only don’t mind doing, but look forward to.

What changes have you made in your plans for the year?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Roaring Spring…Better Notebooks for Your Homeschool (a review)

Looking for innovative solutions to your homeschool notebooking needs?  Roaring Spring Paper Products is a manufacturer of high quality school and office supplies to fit your needs.  I recently had the opportunity to try out a selection of their offerings. 

Roaring Spring---better notebooks for your homeschool!  A review at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsAt first glance, you might think that these notebooks are just like any other notebook, but there are little touches that make a big difference. 

The one consistent feature I love is the way the spiral coil is locked around itself---no danger of it spinning out and it’s unlikely to get caught and snag you or your clothes (I hate it when that happens, and it seems to happen with most of the other coil-bound notebooks I’ve used). 

 

 

<----Cheap notebook on top, Roaring Spring notebook on bottom.

 

 

Let’s take a closer look at the samples I received from Roaring Springs.

Roaring Spring---better notebooks for your homeschool!  A review at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

 

Roaring Spring Genesis---better notebooks for your homeschool!  A review at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsThe Genesis line of spiral-bound notebooks is a green alternative, with durable vinyl covers and pages made from recycled paper or sustainable sugar cane.  Pages are perforated for easy, clean removal.

Roaring Spring Genesis---better notebooks for your homeschool!  A review at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Genesis Shades notebooks have colored pages in your choice of 4 different vibrant shades. Here’s the purple (a little hard to photograph, but my daughter loves it).

Roaring Spring Genesis---better notebooks for your homeschool!  A review at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Genesis notebooks are available in single subject, 3-subject, and 5-subject sizes.  Each notebook has a double-pocket near the front and a heavy-duty back.  Multiple subject notebooks also have a printed cardstock page for recording your class schedule.  Roaring Spring Genesis---better notebooks for your homeschool!  A review at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The quality of paper is similar to nicer notebooks (not the cheapies) and they seem quite durable. 

A favorite for younger kids will be the Color Me line.  These are single subject, wide-ruled, spiral notebooks with a “coloring page” front cover, available in 4 different designs. 

Roaring Spring Color Me notebooks---great for kids!

The front cover is a heavy, matte paper that should take color from crayons, pencils, or markers easily.  The reverse side of the cover is a semi-gloss (like the shiny side of poster board) and would require markers or pens to write on.

Let’s compare these to the cheapie single subject notebooks I get from my local big box store.

Roaring Spring Color Me notebooks compared to cheapie notebooks at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsRoaring Spring Color Me notebooks compared to cheapie notebooks at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsRoaring Spring Color Me notebooks compared to cheapie notebooks at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The RS notebooks have whiter pages, rounded corners, and line up better (I think this is partly due to the oval punching for the spine---the cheap notebook has round holes---and partly due to better quality cutting of the pages). 

Both are 3-hole punched so they can go into a binder.  Their pages and covers are roughly the same thickness.

The cheap notebook does have perforated sheets for easy removal, something the Color Me notebook lacks.

Also available in the Color Me line:  matching pocket folders and composition books.

Our favorite selection in our Roaring Spring sample box is the Cross Over Book

Roaring Spring Cross Over Notebook---review at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsThese top-bound spiral notebooks feature 20-lb recycled paper and are ingeniously designed for math or science work.  The front of each page is ruled in portrait orientation, while the backside is ruled in landscape orientation.  You can see the backside through the front (and vice versa), giving you the option of using either side as grid-paper. 

Pretty cool, plus versatile! 

This is perfect for writing up labs where you need to write out some explanations, but also need record data and graph it.

The front and back covers are a colored, thick, textured, semi-gloss, compressed paper (not easy to crease like cardstock covers) and the Cross Over notebooks can easily be used front to back or back to front, depending upon which way you want the lines to go.  Pages are not perforated for removal, so there’s no risk of accidentally tearing out a page.

Roaring Spring Cross Over Notebook---review at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsRoaring Spring Cross Over Notebook---review at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsRoaring Spring Cross Over Notebook---review at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

My kids are enjoying their new notebooks and I expect them to last the whole year.

Roaring Spring Paper Products does not conduct direct retail sales, however their products are available from many online stores, including Amazon.  You can find the products I feature in this review here:  Genesis, Color Me,  and Cross Over.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Emma’s Kindergarten Plans

Our Kindergarten Learning Plans at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds5-year-old Emma is very excited to be doing school this year…in fact, she’s been begging to do math on Sundays.

Who is this strange child?  It’s hard to believe that she’s related to my math groaners, lol.

My kindergartner will be joining her bigger brother, Peter (age 8) for many things.

Five in a Row Unit Studies

Volumes 1 & 2 (science, social studies, art, language arts)

Language Arts

Logic of English Foundations

Handwriting without Tears Letter and Numbers for Me

Picture Book Club at our local homeschool group

Lots of great books

Our Kindergarten Learning Plans at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsScience

The Nature Connection

The Private Eye

Health and PE

Healthy Me

Family Time Fitness (with the rest of the family)

The Arts

Complete Book of Arts and Crafts

Making Music

Religion

Catholic Treasure Box complete set

Do you have a kindergartener this year?  What are your learning plans?

You might also like to read about our 2014-2015 Learning Map.