September 24, 2011

Bridgetender School Quarterly Update--Beginnings

I love fall!  The cool, crisp mornings where temperatures are in the mid-70's; the promise that it won't get to the low 100's until mid-afternoon, allowing us all to venture outside past 9 a.m.  Fall has traditionally been a time to start school.  Not in Arizona!  We started school on August 8, when it is too hot to really do anything outside after 9 unless it involves swimming pool.  It is motivated as much by boredom as by the desire to be finished with school while the weather is still decently cool.  Subsequently, we have almost finished our first quarter of school.

This year, many changes are taking place at Bridgetender School.  First of all, my oldest entered 7th grade--Jr. High.  My youngest began his first year of "full day" school as a first grader.  A homeschooling friend, Tina, and I decided to form a two-family co-op for history, science, literature and art that meets on Thursdays.   Tina has three kids, two boys and a girl and they live five minutes away.  Her family moved here a year ago from the southeast and we have become great friends.  We also started a PE co-op inviting families in the Mesa area who are in our Veritas homeschooling support group which meets Thursday mornings.   She is the equipment procurement officer and I am the general coordinator and recruiter for the PE co-op.  The first three weeks of PE co-op, which didn't start until September, involved spraying the kids down with cool water in a spray bottle every five minutes to prevent them from getting too hot.  The city also graciously has their sprinklers running on one of the fields that provided a nice cool down.  Our very first class began with a police bust a hundred yards away from where our kids were gathered to start warm ups.  Thankfully, no guns were needed as about ten plainclothes policemen swarmed over a young guy with a backpack.  Doubly thankfully, we haven't had  a repeat of the incident.

The co-op uses Tapestry of Grace for history.  The period of history we are covering is the 20th and 21st centuries. We are die-hard fans of Apologia for science, though John and her daughter, our first graders are reading Christian Liberty Nature Readers, The Burgess Animal Books, and The Burgess Bird Book, all of which put facts about animals of all kinds in entertaining stories.  For writing, we are giving a mutual friend a chance to try her hand at a tutoring business.  She comes every other week for a lesson and to review their homework from the last lesson.  She has been guiding them on how to create a newspaper this month, since we are covering the turn of the century to the Great Depression when the Newspaper was still "king".  Future units will include radio programs and commercials, TV shows and commercials and then internet based writing.  So far, the kids love her and we enjoy the results.  Tina found a wonderful art teacher about a year ago who lives 5 minutes from us.  Once a month, she teaches our kids about a master and has them copy their style.  The rest of the time, we are having Elizabeth and her oldest lead a class since they have the most talent and are the farthest developed, once a month we are doing a craft and once a month we are winging it.  Tina has been teaching science so far and I have been teaching history.  She is introducing me to the wonderful world of lap books, which she is using for science.  I have been having the kids stage trench warfare for our WWI unit, using our couch and a mat to represent trenches, chairs to represent the barbed wire they had to crawl under, and crumpled paper to represent gunfire and aerial bombs.  They have also had to give presentations to help me present history.

We are still using Math-U-See for math, though Eric is teaching Elizabeth now and grading her math.  Elizabeth has also "graduated" to Apologia's General Science written for 7th graders .  Jessi and Kyle are learning about the Universe and John is learning about animals.  We are still working on Spanish and I am getting help from a friend who is a first generation American who emigrated from Mexico to give me conversational Spanish, rather than just "book" Spanish.  We have some applications on the iPad to help us conjugate verbs and learn more nouns.  We are starting an exercise program with the goal of meeting the Presidential Fitness requirements by May.  It involves running, swimming or bicycling (depending on the weather), strengthening and stretching exercises.

My challenge is spending time with each child while my youngest needs so much help.  His reading has improved greatly in the past six weeks, but he won't be an independent reader for a while yet, which is perfectly fine with me as I get the last of my "reading cuddle time."  Jessi and Kyle are more independent, but even they need help with certain subjects.  Elizabeth needs help sometimes with science and I love to work with her on the science experiments.  My challenge with her is to let her plan her week without any assistance and let her fail at times or get frustrated.  She had decided to go through one module of General Science a week so that she could go through Apologia's Zoology 2 book.  I cautioned her that the modules were much larger than the elementary modules and required a lot of work.  She insisted that she could do it.  In the middle of the second week, she broke down and cried about how much work there was, at which time I was able to suggest dividing the modules into two week plans instead of one.  At that point, she happily accepted the suggestion.  For me, lesson learned.



Mama J said...

How neat to have a new homeschool family so close by!

tandemingtroll said...

It is really cool. Her oldest son and Elizabeth have bonded over art and music, Kyle has bonded with her second son over baseball and her daughter and Jessi like to play together. John flits between playing with the daughter and her second son.

It has been especially helpful because we are now "sharing" books if one of us is having trouble finding the book we need.