Archive for January, 2013

Questions about our Virtual Academy

January 31st, 2013

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Thanks for the great questions about the online public school we use, Christy! Here is a little rundown of how it works:

– How much does it cost?

It is free! It is a state public school funded under an “Alternative Learning Experience” or “ALE.” Sadly, it is continually at risk of being shut down every time the state looks for ways to save money. We really hope it continues, because it is just fantastic. (Anyone here work for my state government? Please keep this open. It is an incredibly efficient and effective way to educate children. Tax money goes directly to materials for the child and the teacher is free!)

– How do you enroll?

Back when I was researching this option, I searched for “online public schools” and “virtual academies” for my state. Then I looked at the ones available and chose ours because I liked having a variety of curricula to choose from (rather than just one option) and only checking in once a week for accountability (rather than daily).

To enroll, I just filled out a form to move my son from my local school district to the parent school district for the virtual academy. Then they received the public school funding for my child and off we went!

– Do you return the materials?

It depends.

The materials deemed “consumable” like art supplies, workbooks, vocabulary cards, science supplies, etc. we are allowed to use up and keep. The materials deemed “non-consumables” like reading books, teacher’s manuals, DVD’s, CD’s, etc. we return to the school. I just box them up and request a shipping label from the school.

– How do the grade levels and ordering curricula work?

They are very flexible in meeting our needs. We tried a number of kindergarten Social Studies curricula that didn’t work for us, so the teacher just looked in the next grade up and ordered one of those that sounded like a better fit for us.

Brother is quite advanced at math and there were no math workbooks available for kindergarten, so our teacher just requested that the first grade workbook be added to the kindergarten options as well.

– How much curricula do you get for each subject?

For almost all subjects, you pick one primary curriculum and can pick up to two supplemental curricula. We’re pretty gung ho, so I ordered the max of everything and Brother is happy as a clam chugging through it all.

– Do you plan to continue?

Absolutely! It’s been a wonderful fit for kindergarten and we plan to continue in first grade.

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“Look, Mom, I made green water!” (Saxon Math lesson from last week: following a recipe.)

 

Official Home School for Brother

January 30th, 2013

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We started official home school with Brother this last fall and it’s been such a joy. He’s enrolled in kindergarten for an online public school in our state and it couldn’t be more suited to our needs. They offer a variety of excellent curricula for each subject, so we have plenty of options but not everything under the sun that would completely overwhelm me.

We decided to sign up for every subject, so each week we do literature, reading, writing, vocabulary, math, science, social studies, fine arts, Mandarin Chinese and PE with him. The school ships all the curricula to us and we feel like kids in a candy store opening package after package of workbooks, textbooks, teachers guides, CD’s, DVD’s, art kits, science kits, math manipulative kits, etc., etc., etc. Every week we call to check-in with a teacher and if something isn’t working for us or he finishes something, she orders us more and voila! Another package on the porch!

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Here you see Brother displaying the Water Cycle diagram he made last week as a conclusion to our most recent science unit on exploring the water cycle. He says science lessons are his favorite because he enjoys making things like a wind meter, weather vane and water-cycle-in-a-bowl. Math and art are at the top of his list, too, which are also very hands-on.

It’s been a special treat to be able to educate our son like this in our home. He is an eager, diligent student who learns instantly and cheerfully. We couldn’t be happier with how it’s going and how much Brother loves it. What a blessing. Thank you, dear state!

Sledding! (Kind of…)

January 27th, 2013

Thank you for your comments, Desiree and Shawna. It’s always a challenge for me to balance my free time and I had convinced myself it was okay to neglect my blog while writing my novel or posting on FB. But now I feel like I’ve returned to a good friend that I had forgotten how much I liked. And it’s really fun. Thank you for being patient with me. I hope I never lose you great readers.

Here are a few pictures from some impromptu sledding a week or so ago. It had snowed and after all our chores and lessons were done, Brother exclaimed, “Let’s go sledding!” I took a breath and held up my finger, on the verge of saying ‘No,’ when I paused and thought, “Why not?” So we dug out the full snow gear, found the sled and pretended we really had some snow. :) It was a great time.

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Look! Mr. Moo is happy! Strangely it only lasted a couple minutes, but it was some darn cute couple minutes. Just check out that little wave. :)

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As soon as we reached the park next door, Boots was next in line for pulling! He was sure adorable and so puffy. I snapped this one in the spot with the most snow, does it look convincing?

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This is his spectacular ham-it-up for the camera smile. “Cheese!”

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Man, I love all these sunglasses! I can’t remember if they were being secret agents or Prep and Landing elves, but either way it was awesome. “We’re going sledding? Better get our sunglasses!” We’ve gotta get a third pair so Mr. Moo can join in the fun.

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Brother got the first pull down the tennis court hill. It wasn’t snowy enough for the sled to slide on its own. So I just hitched myself to the wagon and raced away! The whole time just grateful my body could handle something like that.

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After a while, Mr. Moo started mooing away in his spectating stroller. All on his own, Boots ran over and stood beside him for comfort. Those are the moments you never want to forget.

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The boys took turns pulling the sled back up and I marveled at how cute they looked just trucking up the side of a hill. (Lol, all the snow is gone from our sledding!)

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I knew Mr. Moo was getting close to his limit, so I declared it was time for doubles and did a few more pulls.

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Oh, how I wanted to get a triplet picture on that sled! But Mr. Moo blew a gasket when I had the gall to put him on there WITH HIS BROTHERS! Poor guy thought he had a monopoly on the sled and was sorely disappointed to have to share. (Pretty sure some teething or congestion pain had an influence there…)

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Boots cracked us up with a brief attempt at pulling Brother before we headed back home. Sorry, it’s harder than it looks. :)

Home Depot (and thank you, Jill)

January 23rd, 2013

I’ve been working on my novel and didn’t think much about not posting here anymore until I got a comment today from Jill, letting me know she enjoyed watching our family grow and had missed my posts. I was really touched and realized I shouldn’t be so neglectful. Thank you, Jill!

I also told her I’d start posting again, so here’s a quick one about a discovery we made this month…

The Home Depot Kids Clinics!

We had heard about these free workshops for kids, but had never done one. Well, we finally decided to try it after the boys loved assembling some snowman picture frames Lowe’s randomly gave me a long time ago. The boys couldn’t be happier hammering away and we even made a few commemorative holes in the counter top. :)

Here are a few pictures off my camera of the first clinic we went to at the beginning of January. The woman who runs them was really wonderful. She told us she does them every single Saturday, so the boys have been back every Saturday since!

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First, I set up Sir Potatoes in a grocery cart with a bowl full of crustless sammies. I knew that would happily occupy him for quite some time.

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Then I partnered with Sir Brother and we got to work on his birdhouse. I kept reading the directions wrong and had to borrow a screwdriver to pry off sides, but he was such a good sport and worked so diligently.

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Daddy and Sir Boots paired up and made a wonderful team hammering away. Home Depot even gave them aprons with their names!

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This was the best shot I got of Boots’ completed project prior to painting. He was so cute with all his equipment, I just wanted to squeeze my little handyman.

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Potatoes kept chugging away on the bottomless pit. Did I mention he’d just eaten breakfast?

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Brother was so proud of his birdhouse. After this he joined Boots and they painted and painted. Then we went home and attached them to the backyard fence. We’re really hoping they get occupied this spring, but either way it’s sure fun to see them out there and hear the boys talk about how they made them.

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This little guy was so entertained just watching, I have no doubt there’s a budding carpenter in there already!