Bridgetender School is currently in session with three grade school children and one pre-school. We started on August 17th, 2009. God has truly been blessing me in getting contacts in the homeschool groups here. The Arizona Homeschool Convention was held in Phoenix in July, which helped me find a couple of friends. I have also found homeschoolers in the church and who are friends of neighbors.
Once again, we are studying history and science as a group. This year, we are learning about the colonization of America, the Revolutionary War and the Constitution and American government system. We started by talking about some other documents that inspired the developers of the Constitution, like the Magna Charta. We also discussed some of the explorers of the New World, like Leif Ericsson, Christopher Columbus and Amerigo Vespucci. Every other week we are getting together with a retired homeschool mother who is teaching us basic colonial skills like washing wool, dyeing it, and, soon to come, spinning and weaving it. We have also planted seeds, which the smart colonists would do. All of our gardening this year will be container gardening. So far, we have planted tomatoes, peppers, carrots, lettuce and several herbs and spices. Science is a continuation of the Apologia curriculum covering flying animals. We are starting with birds and what makes them fly and some of their behavior. We will be starting to establish a bird journal which will . We are also going to set out bird feeders with different seeds and see which one is preferred by the birds. Apologia recommends some homemade suet as one alternative, but methinks that suet would melt in Arizona temperatures.
For math, Kris is continuing using Math U See. Elizabeth is almost finished with the third book and will be starting the fourth book, which will cover fractions and all the wonderful things you can do with fractions. Jessica is starting to learn multiplication and Kyle is starting addition. I think that they are all telling John math facts because he is starting to memorize certain facts.
For literature, I am using material from the Institute for Excellence in Writing, specifically related to literature. We are reading _The Princess and the Goblin_ by George MacDonald and talking about basic story elements, finding alliteration, similies, and metaphors. This also, we are doing together.
We are managing to do grammer a little bit together. I am using "Grammer Rock" to introduce topics, use the Bafflegab game to create sentences and then analyzing them, based on their level. Kyle is learning about subject/predicate, Jessi is having the basics parts of speech re-inforced and Elizabeth is learning about direct objects and will be learning about indirect objects. When President Obama gave his speech to Congress in regards to health care reform, I printed out the text and had the children take a paragraph and look for something, either subject, noun or verb. The kids like playing Bafflegab, in which they are given five words and have to come up with a sentence or two using as many words as they can manage.
Kyle is starting penmanship and Jessi is starting cursive writing using "A Reason for Handwriting." Jessi and Elizabeth sometimes will have copywork or dictation exercises. They also will sometimes be assigned writing activities. Most of the writing activities are short, but I did give both girls a biography to write and then verbally report to the rest of the school. Elizabeth did a great job and I will publish it soon. It was too much of a stretch for Jessi, though, even when I broke it down for her a little bit.
Outside activities include PE club called SportskidzAZ which meets Monday, art class, which meets Wednesday afternoon. The art class is another one of God's blessings. I found it by missing the turn to get to Usery mountain. I passed a house that looked like a castle and as I was pointing it out, I saw a sign indicating that someone was having art camp. I eventually wrote down the web site and found out that a local artist is teaching kids art in the area. He has been letting them make sculpey creatures, make wooden structures and is starting them on oil painting. Wow! The girls are also taking music lessons, Kyle has become involved in Cub Scouts and Jessi and John are taking gymnastics. Elizabeth has also become involved in the church youth choir and is taking horse riding lessons, which meets her P.E requirement. Her volunteer opportunity is helping her teacher, a college age girl, take care of the horses for an hour after her lesson. We meet once a month for a homeschool support/fellowship group and once a month for the group's playdate. Once again, God's grace is obvious because many of these activities involve more than one child at the same time, so that I don't have to be constantly in the car, though it does feel like it. We are currently evaluating the gymnastics day that Jessi and John are attending because it is already very busy.
I feel priviledge that God is still allowing me to learn so many things through my kids, not only stuff that I should have learned in school (reference to "Whaddya Know" program out of PBS--WI), but also how my kids "tick" and how to give gentle critism of their work. The best thing He has taught me is to recognize when I am being too tough on the kids, expecting their work to be high school level. When I catch myself in the middle of this train, I jump the tracks by saying, "Well, this is okay for a sixteen year old." The kids laugh at this and then I start "guessing" their real age. When I guess correctly, I tell them, "Well then, this is awesome for a ____ year old." And we hug. I am currently reading a book by Cynthia Tobias called _How They Learn_, which is a great way to have discussions. I am looking forward to learning more from Him and from my kids. I am amazed at what they can do.
We took a short break when a friend from Illinois, Denise, visited us, which was a LOT of fun. We will be taking a short break from all but the basics in October when we get a visit from Papa, Nana and cousin/niece Emily. We are really looking forward to seeing them.