Friday, April 27, 2012

Week 36: HUZZAH!

So implementing our sticker chart really helped get the girls to do their bookwork. It has worked so well, that Rose, my two-year-old, has begun simple bookwork to achieve a sticker for the day. I'm not as tough on her as I am with, say, Lily, who is doing 2nd grade, but sometimes she does lose focus. I'm not worried, though. She's two.

Speaking of Rose, she is doing splendidly at her bookwork. I have to say that my kiddos are not the norm. My daughters (and now my son) have always been above average when it came to developmental milestones. Academically, they have always excelled, and have helped children their age better understand concepts that they already know. It's actually quite wonderful to watch my girls patiently help a friend learn a new concept that they have already mastered. I just wish they were that patient with each other! But I digress... Rose has begun her line tracing. She is doing such a great job that I've added angles to the lines. Not only that, but she surprised the heck out of me by counting further than I knew she could. She even recognized the number 100. I didn't even know she knew that number yet!

Lily and Iris are excited for their certificates. I've actually had to tell them that they should wait to have a collection so they can use them for something BIG. They keep shoving it in my face asking for cake, but I want them to be patient and learn to save them and spend them wisely. I think this is good practice for when they start earning an allowance for chores and such.

Good news: at the end of May we are moving into our own apartment! FINALLY, we will no longer be homeless and we will be able to get our hands on all of our supplies once more. I am super excited for this and have already started planning the ideas for next year's lessons. It makes go *squee* just thinking about our schoolroom. *sigh* If time only moved faster.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Weeks 34 & 35: War and Peace

Last week, which I will dub WAR, was a complete and total failure. I struggled to keep the kids focused, and I struggled in keeping my temper. Many tantrums were had, both by the kids and ME! Both my mother and my husband had to sit down with me and tell me to just chill out. I admit, I don't handle stress well, and last week, I was feeling super overwhelmed. I had a bajillion things on my to-do list as well as all the stuff running through my head. Put homeschooling and taking care of four children on top of that as well as doing my own homework, and I snapped.

So I had to organize myself. I realized just how out of sorts I was and horribly disorganized. The kids NEED to do their work. They can't half-ass it. I need to do my work, too. I can't half-ass it, either. I'm not speaking of just my homework, either. I need to be the best at being a teacher, a mother, and a wife, as well. All of us need our PEACE. That is what I had focused to achieve this week, and we did it!

the girls chose their letter stickers
to make their names
Digging through our supplies, I found a few things that I was saving to use for next school year but decided now is a better time than any to dig into it, even if we are closing in on the last few legs of the school year. Grabbing some sheets of stickers, name plates, and a weekly to-do list that was actually for me, but I voted against it in this time of need, the girls made their own "I Did My Homework" charts.

The plan was simple. I need them to do one assignment from each subject every day. Some subjects they have already finished and they recieve a sticker at the completion of the section to place on a certificate. I don't know why I didn't do this more often, but now we do. They recieve a sticker at the completion of that one assignment, a sticker for each subject. On Monday, Lily had 12 subjects left while Iris had 5. On Friday, Lily only had 6, and Iris had 3. They both recieved all the stickers. At the end of our lessons, they would recieve one large sticker for completing all the subjects. They could not recieve a large sticker unless all of the small stickers were won. At the end of the week they recieved a certificate of completion for that week.

Rose gets in on the sticker action
I'm not one for bribery. I hate bribing. It doesn't teach responsiblity. I don't want them to think that just because they did something, I'll give them something special. I want to teach them that they have to be responsible and by doing so they EARN something special. This reward system is the best form of subtle bribery. :) They need to earn the certificate throughout the week. After earning so many certificates, they can then trade them in for something special. Even the two-year-old wanted a piece of the fun. She refused to be satisfied unless she made her own nameplate and was able to recieve stickers.
The week is done!
I'm considering "pricing" special treats. Like a trip to the park equals one certificate. A trip to the indoor playground or the zoo (both an hour away) is five certificates, etc. I think I may even price a field trip or two. Whenever we get into bats and caves and things, I could easily get them to do their work if they earn a trip to Inner Space Cavern. So many things I can charge!! I'm excited to see what they plan on "buying" now.

Here they are at the end of the week, super happy to have finished the week!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Secular Thursday: Homeschooling and Homelessness

First off, I have to say we're lucky. While technically, we are homeless, we have always had a roof over our heads and a place to sleep at night, clothes on our backs, and food in our bellies. We could have ended up a lot worse, but family has been helping us out a lot. Regardless, it has been a very challenging experience.

Homeschooling in itself isn't an easy task, but when all of your things are gone, you have to get creative. When your initial classroom no longer exists and you were a Montessori and Classical homeschooler, it's very much overwhelming. You suddenly realize your life has become a bubble. A very large balloon, stretched so far out and so thin you are afraid you're going to pop.

Now, again I say, my family has been lucky. We've had a place to sit and do our studies when we can. We haven't had to get rid of our laptops, and all of the people we have stayed with have had internet. I have grade-level specific educational programs that I downloaded onto my laptop for the kids to use. On top of that we have our "mobile" resources.

One thing we learned while being homeless and hopping from place to place was to always have everything you need at hand. EVERYTHING. Our schooling currently revolves around things shoved in canvas shopping bags and large diaper boxes.

Workbooks and supplies are carried around and easily found in a green shopping bag that I bought at Walmart for about $3. Along with the books, it has pens, pencils, rulers, crayons, markers, erasers...etc. I also bought, for $.50, a little handled box to carry the tiny supplies when in use.
Our reference books are currently stored in two large diaper boxes. Having two kids in diapers has had the benefit of us being able to reuse the large boxes for storage. It's a plus that those boxes have little hand holes for you to stick your fingers through. It makes transporting them around easier.

For books we don't have, we have used three addresses we have stayed at to get three different library memberships in three different towns. I keep a note in my planner on when they are due and to what library so that we don't acquire any late fees, and we carry those library books in a canvas shopping bag that was given to us for that purpose.

It has been a blessing to be able to have all of the tools necessary to continue our schooling. Even if we didn't have our laptops, we have made due with the books we do have. Sure, we don't get to do elaborate projects like we used to, but we also use the great outdoors as our classroom. Due to the ridiculous climate changes, we've had an unseasonable warm winter and hot spring. We've been able to go outside and due nature studies and even other lessons where we can utilize what's outside.

It doesn't matter whether one has an actual building as a home or not. Homeschooling starts at home; home is definitely where your heart is. My heart lies within my kids.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Weekly Wrap Up: Week 33

Note: This was intended to be posted on Saturday, when I wrote it. My days feel like they are just melding together, we've had so much to do.

Monday: School lessons were slow. While Lily made her day interesting by doing her bookwork starting from the back sections of her book and working her way forward, Iris spent TWO HOURS doing the same two pages. I was on the brink of insanity with that child. She absolutely refused to get any work done. While they lunched, I made some phone calls to my old school to see how much I owed them and what I needed to do to get back to my own classes. We then headed to the district attendance office to sign an affidavit that states we are homeschooling and to not bother us. It makes it easier. If for whatever reason the truancy officers are called about my kids running about, all they have to do is check the system and find us there. :) Afterward, we headed to the store and did math while adding up the total for groceries. This was my first day hauling ALL four of my children around without my husband to help. Needless to say, I was exhausted by the end of the day.

Tuesday: Lessons went along like they did on Monday. Lily continued her work backwards just because it made it more interesting that way. Iris spent another two hours on the same two pages. I had a WIC appointment, which was tedious. It was a class on nutrition. Seeing as I've done this four times already, I'm a pro. So both my children and I were bored. Thankfully they had a little hackey-sack game that the girls played while I answered questions and the girls got to win prizes. They then grabbed a bunch of toothbrushes from the dentist who was talking to everyone there, and we left, headed to the library. Library day is usually fun, but unfortunately I have to hover around the children's section with them as they are under the age of ten and are not allowed unattended. I MISS the old library we used to go to where my children could browse without my hovering. The librarian knew them and knew they would stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, because of this, they were reprimanded and I was scolded frequently by the staff because I was letting my children browse the aisles. This was also the last day my children were to see their grandpa Doug. Doug was moving to Oklahoma for a new job endeavor and wouldn't be back again until June when he would pick up Gin and their things to their new home. The kids' uncle Joey and aunt Lauren came up from Austin and we spent a little bit of family time (unfortunately without J who was working) before heading back to my mother's house. Day two of being alone with the kids everywhere and I was beyond tired.

Wednesday: CRASH AND BURN. I could not wake up long enough to get out of bed. I am ashamed to admit that I turned on the TV to Nick, Jr. and had the girls watch it until lunch time only getting up long enough to feed them and the baby. I crawled into bed and snuggled with my little man while the girls watched their shows.

Thursday: My mother came home with a wading pool and set it up, along with buckets, outside. The girls stripped down to their underpants and the two eldest played a game of sink or float with Rose. Great learning activity for the toddler that I didn't have to do. :) I hung out on the patio with my little man and watched them learn and play. As the day cooled, they got out, received haircuts from my mother, and were able to spend some much needed quality time with their daddy who came home from work early.

Friday: Back to book work it was. Lily plowed through as usual, switching up her sections so she wouldn't get bored. (Smart kid, that one.) Iris FINALLY got through EVERY single section that day and we were able to place stickers on three chapters for completion. Lily was a bit bummed that she has yet to complete a single section, but seeing as she is six and doing 2nd grade, that's a feat in itself and I told her so. :) I then threw them outside to play.

Saturday: J used this day as a make-up day for Wednesday since I had TV babysit them while I recovered. Using our feet as units of measure, we mapped out the backyard until they became disinterested and played with the wading pool where they got muddy and gross until we headed to their Abuela Gin's house to play.

J worked from last Wednesday until Thursday. He's been off since Thursday afternoon and has spent most of his free time either catching up on sleep or catching up on homework. I'm dragging him to church tomorrow for my mom's Easter shindig.