Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just once...

I would like a friend with kids my children's age, to call and say, "hey can A~man come over and play?" It has NEVER happened. Z is going to a friends house tomorrow to play...that also has a son A's age (although he may be at camp) but I know he wasn't included in the invite. (I do get that Z needs to have time with just girls though) Z gets invited on many playdates and always has. My heart did smile a bit on one of Z's last playdates as the mom said, "Where's A~man??" She had assumed I would bring him...but I wasn't sure. It did make me feel good that she honestly seems to enjoy his presence, and her daughters also.

Today after a movie we ran into a friend that used to belong to a same club that we do. Her son is on the autism spectrum too and seems to genuinely like A~man. He's a couple years older but they seem to really hit it off. A~man made sure to invite him to do something this summer with him. (we have met him and his mom for lunch before) The mom is really nice, I hope he gets invited to do something. We also ran into another homeschool friend (they're everywhere, they're everywhere...those homeschoolers!!) and her son was in Cub Scouts with A~man. A~man asked the mom if he and E could hang out sometime! (the boy was not nearby) My heart would burst with sunshine if this mom called for a playdate especially since her boys are very kindhearted!

Needless to say, I would never just drop him on someone. Either my husband or I would be there, as he does need extra supervision. To all of my homeschool friends out there,or friends with kids period.(most that I do not know in person) If you feel it upon your heart, and know a child with special needs around your own child's age, try getting together with the other mom (or dad!) so your children can play with this "special child". Your child may get more out of it than their new special friend does!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Homeschool groups

Do you belong to a homeschool group? Maybe you belong to several. I belong to two, a Christian homeschool group, and a smaller group of more "open-minded" homeschoolers. I believe that both serve a very important purpose of supporting other homeschoolers and providing a social outlet for both children AND parents.

Both are groups of very nice families, but I must admit, I feel more comfortable with the smaller group. I should add that there are many families in the smaller group, that like myself, have Christian beliefs BUT somehow in the larger group I feel like everything I do or say is under a microscope. (plus, I do not do well in large groups) It's almost as if I do not quite live up to the standards of the Christian group. (at least to some of the people)

To me it makes more sense to have my children around a mix of people of different beliefs because isn't that how it is in the real world? When my kids grow up I hope they do have many friends with the same beliefs, BUT, I think it is really important to know how to relate to, and respect all people. I truly think that is how God wants us to be. He wants us to love our neighbor...not just the ones that believe exactly like we do. Does that makes sense to anyone else?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pearson Reading Street


This month we had the opportunity to try out some curriculum from Pearson Homeschool. Their homeschool   products include the core subjects of Math, Science, Social Studies, and Reading/Language Arts for ages K-12th grade. These core subjects are backed up with supplemental materials, lesson plans, and an instructional guide. Each program allows the student to set their own individual pace. The program includes assessment tools so you can see how your child is progressing through the material. This, is from their website-
How do you keep your kids focused and engaged in learning without becoming a nag? Easy. Pearson Homeschool products are loaded with tried and true tactics for keeping students in the groove. You'll find great storytelling lessons, visual learning with videos, game-style drills, and more. Digital and online components let you take advantage of children's natural affinity with technology to accelerate learning and develop their 21st century skills.


 The curriculum we were able to try out was grade 5 Scott Foresman Reading Street.  It includes classic and newer literature in the daily lessons. The instruction includes many appealing activities, and the illustrations  are bright and very eye catching. Each page leaves you wanting to see what is on the next page!
  • Engaging content will motivate your child
  • Reading selections emphasize comprehension, vocabulary, and writing skills
  • Abundance of practice with daily activities, games, quizzes, and reading and writing exercises
  • Six units with six weekly lessons make instruction a breeze 
Each week focuses on one theme and includes learning language arts skills to go along with that theme.  

Each homeschool bundle includes a Student Edition Package, Teacher Resource DVD, Guide on the Side, ExamView Assessment Suite CD, and Parent Guide.
The price for the Reading Street bundle is $124.99. 

I used this with my 10 year old daughter. We have never really used text books in our homeschool so this was a fun way to try it  out and see if it could work for us. What we especially like was the literature! The pieces were handpicked and included beautiful illustrations. I think including the classic literature with the new literature was a great idea. My daughter and I really enjoyed sitting down and reading the stories together. The extensive teachers guide could be really beneficial in putting together the daily lessons. For me though, I have very limited time to read a teachers guide. Even without reading the teachers guide it would be quite easy to formulate a plan. I really think we will continue with this program for the upcoming school year!

I encourage you to check out Pearson Homeschool on their website to see the other curriculum available and visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew to see what others are saying about Pearson's other curriculum.

Disclaimer- I received the Reading Street Homeschool Bundle in exchange for my honest review of the material. All opinions are my own and were not influenced by the company in any way.



Saturday, June 16, 2012

Homeschool testing done!

Now, I try (seriously try) to keep my mind off of all testing. In fact, we do not do testing on subjects throughout the year unless it is a computer class that retests to check on retention. Still, I cannot tell you the relief I feel that our yearly testing is done!

It seriously couldn't have been much worse of a week to have A~man do testing though. We have company here for almost two weeks so he is "kicked" out of his bed so we can sleep there, and is on an air mattress in his room. I normally do this when we have company as we have a master bath in our bedroom...so it allows me to help our guests have a bit more privacy. Plus, it usually helps me to keep A~man safer in case someone leaves out medication or things he could get into. (most family visiting by now know to keep food and medications out of sight)

Also, this week was A's appointment with his new Dr, who is a pediatric gastrointerologist. That will be a whole 'nother post at another time. I will say the appointment went well, the Dr. was familiar with Prader-willi syndrome, and we have a plan on moving things along. (hahaha sometimes a person has to laugh)

The lady who did the homeschool standardized test has been doing it since we started homeschooling. I've mentioned it before but we use the Woodcock-Johnson Tests as it works well with children who have learning challenges. I admit that most of A~man's progress was minimal, and I have to keep reminding myself that he will learn what he needs to in his own time. My job is to help him achieve the potential that God (NOT ME) wants for him. Also...he was not tested under the optimal situation for him. I forgot to add he broke his glasses a week ago, (I am so far behind blogging!) and I will not have them back until Tuesday. YET, I do have a mommy brag on him. For Oral Comprehension he went from a 1.2 to a 4.7! What this means is, that in this particular area he went up 3 grade levels!! Picture Vocabulary went up 1 grade level. So even though he just progressed by a couple months in the other areas...he wowed me and the tester in these two areas.

He has always been a whole word type of reader but she also noticed his spelling and phonetic awareness is emerging. I will say I have seen it for years but it is nice that someone neutral, that only knows him for testing is now seeing it! So for next year I will continue on learning the words at his level...and now work on him writing them more. Mainly, I have been having him do his online spelling program, but I am going to add him writing them into sentences, and make him some spelling flashcards to reinforce the words he is learning.

Oh and I cannot forget my Z~girl! Her tests were done as a 4th grader. (she will be 11 in August) I always get confused on what to say when someone asks us what grade the children are in. We just do not think in those terms, until I see the grade level at testing. If I would have put her in public school, due to her birthday, she would either have been a very young kindergartner or an older one if I held her back. So when we started testing I had the proctor test her originally as an older kindergartner. Yet due to her age this last year if someone asks, I say she would be in the 5th grade. I have really made that way more complicated than it needed to be. LOL

She doesn't have any learning challenges, although like me, math does not come easy for her. I admit. I was nervous what her math score would show. I sometimes, in my irrational moments, equate these tests into how well I am doing teaching them. (I need to get over that!) She is right at grade level for math but in one area of math she surprised the lady as she was trying (and successful) at doing some mental math. What I understood was, in her head, she was figuring math problems, that were beyond what she currently knew.

On all the other areas of the testing she has progressed a year and in many of the areas 2 and 3 years ahead of where she was a year ago! She does need help with her writing. She has a lot of great, creative ideas that she puts on paper but she needs help with the mechanics of it.

OK, instead of a blog entry this has become a shameless bragfest! I really am proud of my kids, but it's the pride of seeing them grow and mature into what God wants them to be. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Our America...The Pilgrim Adventure

Recently I was given the chance to read Our America...The Pilgrim Adventure by Susan Kilbride. I will copy/paste the summary and review I did from Homeschoolliterature.com.


Finn and Ginny's parents are lost back in time, and the two young twins have decided to go back to early America to find them. Their search takes the twins to the Mayflower where they discover that the Pilgrims had far more adventures than they had ever realized. This first book in the Our America series is designed to teach the real story of the Pilgrims in such a fun way that the reader won't even realize that it's educational. "The Pilgrim Adventure" is based on actual accounts written by the Pilgrims themselves, and kids who read this book will find that by the end of the story they may know more about the Pilgrim's adventures than their parents do.

Joy's Review-

"The Pilgrim Adventure" begins its tale with Finn and Ginny living at their aunt and uncle's home in northern Wisconsin. Initially they had traveled there with their parents, to visit the aunt and uncle for Christmas. Since then they had been living there for over a year, since the time when their parents seemingly disappeared into thin air! Understandably upset over their parents vanishing, they decide to investigate what could have possibly happened to them. During their investigation they end up finding an adventure completely their own!

 Susan Kilbride is the author of this thrilling tale that teaches children about history through involving the book characters in the historic saga itself. She is a home educator who wanted to find a way to pique the interest of a child to learn more about history. I really wish I would have had this type of historical fiction available when I was a child, as hearing your teacher read out of a text book did nothing to stir an interest in history for me.

I love how Finn and Ginny become a part of the story and participate in the unfolding of the pilgrim's experiences when they arrive at Plymouth. I found myself while reading it, forgetting that it was also educational! An especially nice fact about this book is that the author obviously knows her facts on the pilgrims and Mayflower. Included in the list of characters in the book are such people as Captain Miles Standish, William Bradford Mary Chilton, William Brewster, and John Carver. She very effectively brings these people to life in an interesting way for the reader.

My 10 year old daughter also enjoyed reading "The Pilgrim Adventure". She is an avid reader and likes adventure books especially. She found that the book really described how hard the pilgrims had it with sickness, not enough food, and people on board fighting. She has always enjoyed learning about Indians and this tale tells about how the Indians and Pilgrims interacted with each other with their initial meeting.

I would definitely recommend this book for readers 10 and up but also think younger children would be interested in the story being read to them. This book would be a fun way to incorporate fiction in with a child's history curriculum.

She also has a website with activities to go along with the book.
A couple of weeks ago I was able to do an interview with the author. (ah the joys of the computer world ;) It was so much fun! I would love for you to go see my interview with Susan Kilbride.

Speaking of literature (one of my favorite topics btw) I want to mention that there are many free literature games and activities to go along with popular classics on this fun website. Some of the book titles are -Harry Potter,Huckleberry Finn, and Gulliver's Travels.

Happy Reading!!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

End of school year fun

We're still finishing up our elementary online curriculum with Time4Learning but this week we still had plenty of time for some outdoor fun! That is one thing I really like about doing part of our school online, is that it leaves plenty of time for the kids to have some social time or explore the great outdoors later in the day. Early this week we went to the next town over to a really awesome park where the kids could play in the water.

We also had a field day. The mom that organizes our PE classes came up with lots of fun games and to top it all off we even had icecream.

One of Z~girls favorite things to do when her school work is done is to explore our yard. She even brought me a surprise that I insisted she returned to it's own habitat. That evening she counted 85 that she found under a couple of old boards. Isn't he cute??

Then Saturday started bright and early with a soccer game for Z~girl (followed by an airplane ride as one of her teammates dads was a pilot) and continued onto a baseball game for A~man. The day ended with a talent show. Z~girl played Little Liza Jane and Old Joe Clark on her violin. A~man was going to recite a poem by Shel Silverstein but he got a little stage fright.

Phew...it makes me tired just thinking about all we did this past week. I'm hoping for a nice and lazy, stay at home kind of week for next week!