Thursday, July 31, 2014

Starting a New School Year!!!

Well, we are just finishing up our fifth week of our new school year, and so far, so good!
To tell the truth, I was *totally* overwhelmed about just thinking of getting started. I felt so disorganized, we had been traveling so much, and I felt "low" on curriculum. Two years ago, we returned to Brazil planning to be here for a two year term, so I planned out two years of curriculum for that time and brought it with me.  Now here we are two years later, and we are not going to be returning to the States to restock, so I had to rethink everything.

The great news is that these days there is SOOOO much online, available for free, or even to be downloaded for a fee.  The "problem" is that it takes searching, putting stuff together, printing - and in some cases binding - in short, a lot of work, planning, preparation and organization. Which I did not feel I had time for. Things always came up. :)
About that time, my mom sent me a catalog from My Father's World, and for the first time EVER, it really appealed to me to have it all put together for me! Just order the package for each grade and DONE! I have never wanted to go with an already-put-together curriculum in the past, because I am so eclectic and prefer to do my own thing, but as I said: overwhelmed.
But I didn't go that route after all (although I have heard wonderful things about their curriculum, if you are interested).
Taking a break now from all these words to show a few pics of our school *in action*. :)  More about what we are doing for curriculum at the bottom of this post if you care to know.


Olivia has actually been easier to manage this school year than she was just a few short months ago, thankfully! She actually enjoys sitting at the table with us - for SHORT periods of time, and doing her "school books" (coloring books or already-used-up workbooks from the other kids).  She actually likes "blanket time" too these days, and then I put out a few things for her like books, potato heads, puzzles, or duplos. I try to vary these things so they are always novel, and that keeps her happy for, oh, about 15 minutes at a time. Then sometimes she is just wandering around the house, and sometimes getting into mischief, or whining and crying about something or other. One time she was just so wonderfully quiet while I was trying to read to the kids! I had this nagging feeling that I should go check on her, but it was so nice to read in peace! Well, a bit later she came back sopping wet! I thought she had taken a bath in the toilet or something, but it turned out the washing machine had flooded (again!) and she was having a jolly time playing in the "flood".
So here is our "table time". As you see, each of the children has a box with their daily books in it, and each child also has a three-ring binder for their notebooking pages and other misc. pages. I intend to post a pic of that stuff at some point.

For now, back to what we are doing for curriculum. Well, I found a site a good while back which I used  a few things from, called Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool. I revisited it while attempting to plan. The nice thing about this site is that it is all done for you, and all free, from a Christian perspective, and all online with no extra supplements required. Each child for their level just clicks on that day, for example "Day One" and goes through all of the links for that day for each subject. And then you're done. Did I mention that I was feeling overwhelmed and that something "all put together for me" was really appealing to me?  So, looking at this site helped me to feel more encouraged about starting our school year. She had laid out to do Ancient History, starting at Creation, and Biology for science, starting with Human Anatomy. I had had NO clue what to do for history this year, as we had been doing American History for the past several years (lol) and had finally wrapped that study up. So, doing Ancient History starting from Creation sounded like a great idea.
And about science, well, we hadn't done very well incorporating much science at all recently. But the awesome thing was that I had put together materials (from garage sales and used curriculum sales) YEARS ago to do a unit on human anatomy, and we had never gotten around to doing it! So, this also sounded like a great idea to me.
I also discovered that I had some "stuff" I could use to supplement our Ancient History study!
And all of this game me the "gumption" to go ahead and dive in.
I must say that I was NOT really feeling ready or organized when we started. But I figured that if I waited until I was, we may never start, so I decided to just go for it, hope for the best, pray a lot, and wing it. And I'm glad I did.
Little by little, I have continued to organize AS we go along, even though I think it would have been ideal to have had everything laid out beforehand. But all in all, I feel it is going well.
And as it turns out, I am actually barely using the Easy Peasy site at all! haha. I did get the link from it for Xtra Math, which has been great for Dominique to practice her math facts on, and Johann is using her flashcards and McGuffey Reader for his reading program. Other than that, I have gotten a few ideas for video links and such from the Biology section, but as I said, I already had materials for a human anatomy study. :) I will post more about what we are doing for History and Science later in another post.
Then I realized that I had a LOT of curriculum saved on my computer. I have been faithfully downloading every resource I find interesting from Homeschool Freebie of the Day for years and years, and most of it I had not yet used. So, now I am!  And since I have always preferred non-consumable materials, the children from Dominique down actually have more "hand-me-down"materials than I thought, once I went through my shelves. And some of the things I am a big fan of don't require a textbook, like copywork and narrations and such.  I have a kindle that was a wonderful gift, and now each of the three older children have bought themselves a kindle, so for reading and other supplemental materials, we were able to download a lot for kindle.
Finally, I did "break down" and order a few choice things from the States. :) But it was minimal in the long run.

So, here's my CLASS TEAM!

Israel Lincoln, in 2nd grade:
Olivia Glorianna, who is showing how excited she is to be TWO!!!
Johann Luiz, in 1st Grade! (He is five until September, but was seeming ready for the most part for 1st grade, so we are breaking him into it easy.)
They *really* wanted a picture together, so here is Olivia again, with Johann (who she calls 'Onan')
Dominique Joy, in FIFTH grade:
And Joshua Sebastian, in SEVENTH grade:
WOO HOO!!!!  School year, we are rolling though!!! And determined to have a good time while we are at it!!

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