Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Joys of Schooling

Homeschooling can be downright nerve-wracking. I will not lie, it is not all roses. I saw this cartoon and it pretty much summed up how I feel most days:

The biggest joys happen on days like today. The two best kinds of homeschooling heartwarming moments both happened today: Carter had an enlightened moment of pure educational joy, and someone else took notice of Carter's progress and rightfully praised him.

This morning Carter and I were very annoyed with one another so Kurt decided to help Carter with his reading. Kurt listened and helped Carter as needed, and at the end of the chapter came to me in amazement, "Since when can Carter read things like 'pteranodon'???" Kurt was so proud of Carter, and Carter adored getting praised by someone other than me! It made him so proud that he had made his daddy proud!

Our second joy came when Carter did his math work. Carter asked me last week if we could learn about "space and planets" so I decided to do our unit on the solar system. Finding a cute printable online, I copied a math worksheet that added three different numbers together, instead of the standard two that Carter is used to doing. Kurt (bless him for working with Carter while I feel so horrible!) explained to Carter that he would be adding all three numbers together, and then let Carter go to work. Carter did it perfectly! The best part of this was seeing CARTER's pride in his work! He was so excited that he was able to do such a complex problem that had originally scared him! He was thrilled!

Seeing these beaming moments of Carter's pride really makes this hard work worthwhile. Being able to work with Carter and Harrison, at a pace they are comfortable with and which will maximize their efforts, is such a blessing!

Carter raced upstairs to my bedside to proudly display his math work (my morning sickness is still all-day sickness). He then demonstrated how he did it, and cheered at his accomplishment! At my request, Kurt snapped this picture of Carter- I love it! Carter is sitting so tall, chest puffed, trying to control his huge smile- his pride in his work is so great!

Yes, we love doing this. It is so hard, but so worth it =)

This week we are learning the basic concept of: Solar System. We are specifically going to focus on the sun. Carter continues to read Magic Tree House, Dinosaurs Before Dark, and is nearly finished! In addition, Carter also reads one other book to me each day- one he gets to pick all by himself. Harrison enjoys doing preschool worksheets, coloring, and reading level aa readers. The boys continue going to ballet (although I almost removed them... that is another story...) and this is their last week of the winter session of our homeschool coop. Their next session starts March 21st =)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


I love our Homeschool Coop so much!!! Here is a picture of the boys with their drama teacher. Such a great time!!! 

Friday, February 17, 2012


Carter keeps losing teeth! Here he is, latest tooth in a small baggie =) Soon after this picture his Grandma Joyce presented him with a tooth pillow for his valuable loot =)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

An Average Day

An average school day looks like this:

In our PJs, we meet at the kitchen table, and we do calendar work. We discuss the date, days of the week, upcoming events or activities, etc. Word of the Day is given- Fridays is a recap of the words we learned.

Still in PJs, Harrison goes to play and Carter and I go back to bed (my bed!) and Carter reads to me. Some days he reads a chapter from a larger book, some days Carter reads two other books, some days Harrison grabs a aa-level reader and will join us and read to us, some days I read a book or two to both of them, some days I read to Harrison alone after Carter and I have finished. We generally read for *at least* thirty minutes, but can last an hour.

Still in PJs- the kids play while I shower. Boys take showers next, we all get dressed.

Carter does while Harrison works on, or the boys take turns on the computer in the homeschool room. We are SO blessed to have enough computers for everyone in the house to have his own during the school day!

Unit Study time comes in early afternoon, generally after lunch. We will do unit based activities and readings- units are based on what the boys want to learn about. Because the kids pick the subjects, they are more likely to pay attention and be excited to learn. Amazing how cool math becomes when there is a graphic of an astronaut in the corner!

There is generally a short recess, followed by whatever work needs to come next. Grammar is something I stress- Carter understands punctuation and doesn't need reminding to capitalize the beginning of a sentence or put a punctuation mark at the end.

Science, art, history, social studies, and any spelling or vocab words are all based on the unit study and vary from week to week. I am IN LOVE with the Usborne science books and kits. In fact, I love them to much I just signed up as a consultant. Our "planets" solar system unit will take at *least* nine weeks. I think we are going to do an additional week on the sun- there was just too much knowledge out there, and the kids still have a lot of questions. At the end of this unit Kurt and I are going to take the kids to the planetarium at UNR (thanks to Grandpa Russ for the great idea!). The kids have coop classes and ballet classes, and our Church has a Primary program, in addition we do a lot of random outings to the library, museums, and parks.

As one can see, I greatly focus on reading. Once reading is mastered, the whole world opens!!! Carter and Harrison adore nonfiction books, and I believe reading is the cornerstone of a Lyle Family education. From the research I have seen, Kurt and I agreed to treat math as a logical concept rather than a necessary memorization of formulas. Carter and Harrison *DO* basic math- because if we move to a state where testing is necessary I want them to be able to pass well enough to stay home- but we do NOT stress memorizing- we stress conceptual understanding.

Here are a few pictures of an average day... =)

Harrison *adores* art and creation. Here, he is painting using "winter" colors. He was able to paint whatever he wanted, but I asked he use "cold" colors in his artwork. We discussed color temperatures and he picked his palate, then he painted whatever he desired. He painted a lot of Star Wars Hoth scenes =) (Carter painted as well, but did not love it.)

Carter *loves* technology. He uses for his phonics program, and it has been wonderful. We started Carter at the beginning of the program to build confidence in his reading and help him learn the program. There is a lot of review involved which helps retention and the positive feedback from the program is great! (Harrison works on the computer as well, but does not love it.)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

About time to update...

Our sweet baby is already 25% ready to join us!!!  I cannot believe that we are already at week 10!

I admit, it has not been easy. There have been some bad days, some really bad days, and some awful days. I have managed to clock more hours on Netflix than I thought I could ever do. Hopefully, as things progress, it will get a bit easier. Already I can tell I feel a wee bit better, so I continue to be optimistic that soon I will be back to feeling more like myself! Eventually, maybe I will even be able to handle making dinner!!! (I kid you not, we live on take-out... not good!) The pregnancy has been very difficult, and we realized that the most important thing right now is our family- we homeschool, have activities, and there was just not enough time for me to dedicate to school. I dropped a few classes and am now part time at the U of U- I am so close to being finished it is hard to do this, but at the same time it was harder to have to spend my few "good days" on schoolwork instead of family time. Not a good thing. So, school is going on the back burner.

In happier news (much much much happier!!!) we just booked our very last 4 person vacation!!! Our family has not had a vacation alone since 2009, so we couldn't pass up this chance! We booked our tickets to Disneyland! We are so excited! The kids are counting down the days, and we are thrilled!!! I will not be riding much, but the walking is excellent and I will be so happy to do all of the other Disney activities! We learned from our Disney '09 trip to make dinner reservations early (we thought we could just wing it last time, and ended up waiting longer for a table than for rides!), so we are already all set for that as well! Everything is paid for- we just need to go! HOORAY!!! I cannot stop thinking of this trip- I am so thrilled!

Carter and Harrison are doing really well! We managed to survive a week while Kurt was in California on training. Ick. It was really difficult, but we managed! The boys have been busy in their homeschool coop, and even took the time to make me a Valentine's Day gift- they fabric colored a new apron! I was so happy! Kurt has been working extra long hours because of all of these training trips- most days I can handle it- but the other day I broke down in tears when he went to work, I miss him so much! I cannot wait for our vacation! Little Ewok is growing right on schedule, and things are going well!!! On Kurt's day off, Kurt took the boys and me to see the Star Wars movie in the theater. We had so much fun! It is really nice when Kurt is home, because he is able to put more outings together- most days I just don't feel up to it. He is such a great guy!!!

I am glad I got to update this, but now if you will excuse me, I am going crawl back to my bed.