Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pressing On

While just about every homeschool mother I know is finishing up the school year and getting ready to enjoy a break, we're pressing on here. We've been utilizing Time 4 Learning for about 3 weeks or so and are finding it helpful in helping the kids cover more material than they had been, all with significantly less Mom Power required to keep it going. Also, it's fun and they are enjoying it. Even the one or two that tend to not like to do school. Instead of the usual moans and groans and avoidance tactics, they smile and say "ooh I love this one!" when they see their learning activity loading up on the computer screen. So, it's a good place for us to be, and I sure hope it keeps on working for us because it's nice to lift a few of those worries off my plate.

Since I started homeschooling I have been a proponent of the year-round schooling idea in theory, but have rarely been able to pull it off. I'm actually glad to be keeping on this time around. The kids will be continuing to move forward, instead of forgetting and then needing a lot of review time, and they'll have that built in structure to their day which helps. Too much time on their hands seems to contribute to a significant amount of bickering around here. School time is short enough that there is still plenty of time to enjoy playing, swimming, the garden, and everything else. In addition, I love it that by keeping going year round, I have more wiggle room for taking time to do other activities when the need arises. Whether it be making grape juice, going apple picking, visiting grandparents, or whatever, I like having total flexibility, so paying the piper on those school days sure helps alleviate any homeschool mother anxiety I have.

I ordered a few new materials from Timberdoodle today. I am looking forward to checking out several new resources and seeing how they work for us. Timberdoodle has been one of my favorites for probably 12 years, and I love that they keep on showing up wonderful, fresh, new resources year after year.

Are you using paperbackswap yet? I love it! It has been a long time since I had time to get books from the library and actually read and return them on the proper schedule. Now when I hear about a book I want to read I just order it (or add it to my wish list) from pbswap and when it arrives, if I don't have time to read it, I add it to my wonderful To-Read pile and don't worry about it. It'll get read when the time is right, and then I'll probably send it on via paperbackswap again.

Well, I do the same for our Sonlight books. We are doing core 4 right now and almost all of the books were rec'd through paperback swap. Once I got core 4 in hand I started collecting core 5 books through pbswap as well. Any that were not available went onto my wish list, and they trickle in as they become available. By the time I need core 5 I will order whatever I have not already obtained, and core 6 books will be coming in. Also, as I finish core 4 books I just send them back out into the world through pbswap as well. So many of those readers are easily obtained this way. I will say that one small "rule" I have for myself is that if I see that I can buy the book new from Sonlight for around $4-5, I don't usually try to get it through pbswap. Each credit basically costs $3-4 for me to ship something to someone else, so I am content to get those new, and focus on the money-saving aspect of obtaining other books through pbswap.

I obtained almost all the books we needed for core 300 through pbswap, including some that retail for around $30. I thought that was pretty great. :)

One other resource we are enjoying here is college-level DVD course from The Teaching Company. They have a huge selection of course that regularly go on sale for around 70% off. Although my two teens are not college-age yet, we decided to give a few of the courses a try. My thinking was that although some of the material may go over their heads, they would probably benefit from being stretched and introduced to some more challenging material. My 14 year old daughter is taking The Joy of Science (cost around $90 when I got it on sale) as well as The History of European Art (was around $40 on sale). She likes the art one more than the science, but I believe both are beneficial to her and are bringing learning opportunities to her that were not previously happening. I definitely plan to add more of these courses to our collection, and of course then I will have them available as the other children get older as well.

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