Summer Workbooks

This summer Anthony completed the PK-K Summer Quest workbook, Mayci completed the K-1 Summer Quest workbook, and Zeke completed the 1-2 Summer Quest workbook. They had lots of fun adding stickers to their maps all day and were so proud when they made it to the finish line ready for their next year of school

I’ve been going through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with Zeke and Mayci for two summers now and we managed to finish it just before school started, bringing them both to a second grade level in reading. Some of those lessons felt disjointed and some of the stories were downright strange, but it truly did teach them to read very well.

Fritz’s End of Course Results

No surprise Fritz passed all three of the STAAR end of course exams he had to take. They can get Did Not Meet Grade Level, Approaches Grade Level, Meets Grade Level, and Masters Grade Level.

He got Meets Grade Level for Algebra I with the 44th percentile. The state, district, and campus averages were all in Approaches Grade Level. His score was 113 above the state average, 126 above the district average, and 297 above the campus average. His quantile score grade level equivalent is late 9th grade to early 10th grade, so right on target.

He got Masters Grade Level in Biology with the 96th percentile. He really enjoyed his biology class this year and although he has no intention of going into a career related to biology, he clearly does well in the subject (probably helps that biology is my favorite science so we covered it a LOT when we were homeschooling). The campus average was also Masters Grade Level, but the state and district averages were both Meets Grade Level. His score was 395 higher than the campus average, 856 above the district average, and 1,027 above the state average. (This test took him a whopping 45 minutes to complete, by the way.)

He got Meets Grade Level for English I with the 71st percentile. The state, district, and campus averages were also all in Meets Grade Level (just barely for the state average). His score was 216 lower than the campus average, 134 above the district average, and 267 above the state average. His Lexile reading level put him at first year of college (well above the expected range for a 9th grader and even outside the expected range for a 10th grader).

He’s happy he passed the tests mainly because it means he doesn’t have to retake them and only has to take two more EOC exams before graduating high school. I like seeing his scores because it means homeschooling was successful and I did a good job preparing him for high school.

Summer Schedule

Zeke and Mayci definitely operate better when they know what to expect and have things to do so I made them a schedule for the summer and it’s been going great.

We start the day (WAY too early) with a snack and whatever they want to do (Anthony and Nicholas are home at that point, too). They eat breakfast about 8 while watching something they choose on TV and then go outside to play. We drop Anthony and Nicholas off at preschool camp some time between 9 and 9:30. Zeke and Mayci keep playing outside until 10.

At 10 they come inside and have a snack while watching Little Einsteins or Bluey or some sort of other edutainment. Then they play with a selection of toys that changes every day. They get to choose which they play with and for how long, but are only allowed to play with whatever was put on the table that day (or they can look at any of the books in the living room).

While they are playing with toys I call Zeke and Mayci in one at a time to do a lesson in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We do one or two lessons a day depending on how well they are doing and what sort of level of focus they’ve got. We’re about twenty lessons in and both are doing great with reading. It’s easier for Zeke since he started learning in school last year. He’s improved a lot already. It’s pretty new for Mayci. She knew her letters and the sounds they make and had practiced isolating initial sounds of words, but she had never blended sounds into words before.

When they finish their reading lesson they return to the table to continue playing with the toys. Meanwhile, Adrian does his chores and straightens up the living room and then he gets his computer time for the day. He spends 45 minutes on Adventure Academy, 10-15 minutes on DuoLingo, and 45 minutes to an hour on Code.Org/Hour of Code.

After asking me every single day the first week if it was the day they go back to school, I made a calendar that shows each day between now and the first day of school in August and has a countdown for how many days are left until the first day. I also put all the birthdays during birthday season (which begins with Adrian’s birthday on Saturday and ends with Mayci’s birthday the beginning of August) on there as well. Each day around lunchtime we go to the calendar on the wall and go over the day, date, and how many days are left until school starts again. Currently they also want me to tell them how many days until they test for their new belts in taekwondo and how many days until Anthony starts taekwondo. They really like to see what day it is and how much time is left of summer break. Since I put that calendar up they haven’t asked once if it’s the first day of school.

We have lunch at noon. They always watch an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates while they eat. Fritz and Adrian used to love that show, too. One or both twins joins them eating and watching depending on if they are napping at the time or not.

After lunch they go upstairs for an hour of quiet time. After quiet time they watch an episode of Sesame Street. That’s followed by another snack while watching Bluey or some other very short show. Once their snacks are eaten they go back to the table to play with toys again.

On Mondays and Wednesdays they get ready for taekwondo about 3. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, I call them back in one at a time for computer time. They get 20 minutes on ABCMouse (we might try out Homer in a couple weeks) and 10 minutes on CodeSpark.

While one is having computer time the other does two pages in their Summer Bridge workbook (Adrian also does two pages in his Summer Bridge workbook most days). During the rest of their sibling’s computer time they either watch the other play (because kids really like watching other kids play on the computer) or go back in to play with toys on their own. Sometimes they keep playing with toys until Anthony and Nicholas come home and sometimes they watch something on Living Scriptures.

It really is amazing how smoothly our days are going with this schedule and amazing just how much they enjoy the schedule. It really makes them happy.

In 2015…

fiveyears

This goes extra for us. Not only did we not guess we’d be pretty much just staying home and wearing masks when we go out thanks to a pandemic, we certainly didn’t guess we’d be foster parents and wouldn’t have come up with adopting six kids five and under in our wildest dreams. Add to that the adventures of public school on-line and in person rather than homeschooling and I think it’s safe to say, as my friend put it, we win at this meme.

Two More Enrolled

We enrolled Fritz and Adrian in public school this week. We decided to fully take advantage of the pandemic academically. Our school district is beginning the year with 100% remote learning and then once they can begin face to face learning parents will still get the option to keep their kids on remote.

So our plan is to keep those two on the remote option. I would not be surprised if remote continues to be an option for the entire school year (they are planning to continue to offer it as long as the state allows them to). Then starting next school year, we’ll switch both of them in the virtual school. In Texas, they have to be enrolled in public school for one year before being eligible for the virtual school.

The boys are a bit nervous about it, but since they can do school from home most or all of the school year and then the virtual is from home, too, they are okay with it. Adrian was concerned about all the coloring he remembers hating when he was in public school before. I assured him 7th graders do a whole lot less coloring than kindergartners. Fritz will be in 9th grade so I figure that’s the best point to put him in public school if we are going to at all since that is the beginning of high school.

Not having to spend tons of time creating a curriculum will be nice and with raising a million kids now it’s such a relief not to have to. I’ll still be spending about the same amount of time helping them with school and keeping Adrian on task, but that’s no big deal. I’m used to it.

Planning, planning, planning

Lesson planning goes a lot slower with six little ones at home. But I have been working on Fritz’s lesson plans. I’ve finished sixteen – so just over three-quarters – of the Layers of Learning units for next year which takes him through to the middle of April and the 133rd day (of 162) and the 28th (of 34) week of school. So far I’ve got 673 pages of his worktext all ready to be printed (I think I’m going to have to bind it in more than one part!). It doesn’t take a horribly long time to do a unit once I get a chance to sit down and work on them. It’s finding that time to work on them that’s the problem.

Just over two months to go before our school year begins…

Why Public School?

Since these kids are adoptive placements, we could legally homeschool them without CPS permission. But we are not going to homeschool them. I don’t know if we will ever homeschool them. We might, we might not. It’ll just depend on how things go.

Why?

Three main reasons, really.

1.) There is a reason the children ended up in foster care. CPS doesn’t pull kids from healthy, functional homes. There is a reason their birth mother relinquished her rights and their birth father had his terminated. These reasons can lead to problems down the road that we can only sort of anticipate (sort of because we know possibilities, but don’t know for these specific kids). Some of those potential problems could cause difficulties in learning.

And so it’s a really good thing to have a professional who knows what normal looks like at any given age to be in regular contact with them. That way we can know they are progressing normally and, if not, early intervention can happen before it becomes too much of an obstacle to overcome.

2.) These kids are super close in age and really need breaks from each other. They are very attached to each other and extremely bonded, but like all siblings, sometimes they just need their own space, time, and friends. And with such close ages, that kind of goes double.

3.) Quite honestly, with so many so young, I need a break, too. My older two bios were 1 1/2 years apart and my younger two were 2 years apart. It’s a lot more intense with one after another one year apart and then twins. Homeschooling six elementary schoolers would be insane.

I don’t love public school. There are a lot of things I hate about it including the sheer amount of time (7+ hours each day) kids spend there. But there are definite benefits like it’s free (I’ve still got to buy school supplies and clothes whether they are home or not) and there are a lot of extra curricular activities they can choose from. So, because it really is best for The Six, at least for now, we will embrace the positive and enjoy public school for as long as they attend, whether that is 4 years or 14.

Adrian is learning!

For all the reasons we have found for not continuing with Power Homeschool, retention of what has been taught is not it. At least for Adrian. He learns very well from listening (if he is interested in the topic at least). He keeps telling us what he has been learning, particularly in ancient civilizations. It’s really sticking.

The other day he was telling us some stuff he had learned over the previous few days. I had overheard some of it so I know he was very accurate in telling us about it. He was explaining about the religion in China and Jamie said, “Shinto, right?” and Adrian immediately said, “No, that’s in Japan.” So I’d say that’s a huge win for Power Homeschool.

Lesson Planning

I’ve been working on Fritz’s lesson plans for ninth(!) grade next year. I’m making him a worktext basically. He said he learns best from reading so there’ll be a lot of reading in there for him to do. I realized it’s going to be very, very long when the first four weeks took 88 pages. I’m rather proud of how it’s turning out honestly. I think it’ll work very, very for him.