What I am Thankful For

We’re on a week long Thanksgiving break right now. Homeschooling, breaks are pretty low key. Basically, the real difference is just that we’re not doing school. We spend time as a family and do non-school-related things every day anyway.

It is so much nicer than when the kids were in public school. Thanksgiving break was the first real break they got last school year (5 days of school every week from the last week of August until Thanksgiving aside from days off for Labor Day and Columbus Day). After school was consumed by homework and other school things.

By the end of November, I had come to pretty much live for weekends when the kids would be home. The week of Thanksgiving was so incredibly nice (although both big kids still had school intrude with homework). We finally had several days straight where we could be a family.

I look back on how much public school took over our lives last year and this Thanksgiving the #1 thing I am grateful for is to be homeschooling again. This year I am not feeling the need to fit months of family life into one week. It’s fabulous.

Adrian Edutained

We’ve been studying Vincent Van Gogh the last few weeks (everyone’s favorite: The Starry Night). Last week Adrian remembered Little Einstein’s. I decided a little art and music edutainment would be perfect for him.


I got him all 5 episodes featuring Van Gogh paintings. We’ll be finishing up the parts of the orchestra and moving on to Bach in a couple weeks so I’ll get a couple more episodes featuring his music, too. Bonus: two of the Van Gogh episodes are also Bach episodes.


Fritz Kicks

Fritz does a lot of sparring with tall people during our taekwondo class. Because of this, he has learned how to kick pretty high. He can now kick completely over his little brother’s head while Adrian is standing straight up and can land a kick on Jamie’s chest (the bottom of the balloon in this picture was even with Fritz’s chin). It’s amazing what you can do when you just try.


Ani’s Creative Writing Class

Ani has been wanting to start a creative writing class for homeschooled kids ages about 8-12. Yesterday, she finally had her first class.

She had her 8 year old brother and three girls, ages 10, 12, and 12. For the first class, they focused on taste. She chose chocolate and grapes. She said it was really neat to see how the four children all wrote so differently about the same things.

The first class was a definite success. She’ll be continuing her class once in December and then twice a month starting in January.

A Quarter (and then some) Done

We’re near the end of our 11th week of school. We finished our first quarter almost 3 weeks ago. So far school is going great.

Fritz and Adrian are both doing great memorizing poems in First Language Lessons. Adrian hears them once and they are in his head permanently. Both boys are planning to pick one of those memorized poems to compete in La Voz this spring with their sister (she was a finalist last year in her age category). Both boys are easily learning grammar. Many people complain about the repetitive nature of First Language Lessons. I like it because it really gets it cemented in their brains. Fritz is doing simple sentence diagrams easily.

Cameron and Fritz are using Susan Wise Bauer’s writing. Writing With Ease for Fritz involves narration twice a week, dictation twice a week, and copywork once a week. He enjoys it a lot and is getting better and better with the dictations. Writing With Style is challenging for Cameron. No surprise since writing isn’t his strong suit. The challenge has been good for him and his writing has improved dramatically in these few weeks. He can figure out how to make a single-level outline mostly on his own now and he can make notes into sentences and paragraphs. He struggles a bit with making notes for narrations himself, but he’s improving.

Fritz is nearly done with level C of Spelling Power (he was halfway through at the beginning of the year). Cameron is coming up on the halfway point of level C. Pretty good since we’re not halfway through the school year yet. It’s amazing to see Cameron actually learning how to spell words and remembering most of them!

Art of Problem Solving has also proven to be a bit of a challenge for Cameron, but he’s getting into the swing of it and is understanding how to deconstruct their puzzle questions. His math skills are improving by leaps and bounds. Sometimes I wonder if he shouldn’t go back to Teaching Textbooks, but the fact is, AoPS is helping his math skills develop and he’s getting a true understanding of the concepts rather than just learning where to plug in what. Beast Academy was a bit challenging for Fritz at first, but now he’s used to it and flying through it. He loves the graphic novel and the storyline.

We’re up to the agricultural revolution in history. The kids, especially Fritz, were fascinated by the advances described in this week’s lesson. I like how Pandia Press pulls from various sources in order to tell the complete story. In chemistry we’re learning about the first two or three elements in each group on the periodic table. We’ve got epsom salts that we dissolved yesterday growing crystals right now. The boys love to check on it to see how it’s changed. I need to be better about reserving books at the library for the boys to go along with both history and chemistry.

I don’t think the boys are enjoying the art, music, and religion lessons very much. But they are learning a lot and that’s really what matters. We’ve discovered that Adrian loves classical music, particular Vivaldi! The boys’ artistic tastes vary wildly so it’s been interesting to hear their reactions to various works.

There are few minor things that we’ve adjusted or dropped and that I might drop or change for next year. But, for the most part, school is going fabulously. It’s been a great year so far!