Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Exercise program

John is in charge of P.E., since thats right up his alley. He's developed a program of exercise for Kendall that he updates throughout the year. To get the recommended minimum 60 minutes of exercise a day, she does circuit training (sit-ups, handweights, etc) and also 30 minutes of cardio twice a day. She has 3 or 4 dance dvds that she can choose from (like Sabrina Bryan's BYOU2) for the cardio requirement.

We almost always have her in a sports class or lessons as well, and she plays tennis with John when the weather allows (we live right across the street from a public tennis court).

After taking a volleyball class through Parks & Rec, Kendall wants to try out for a city league. The tryouts are in November, and they use a point system (a certain # of push-ups = a certain # of points) for assessment, so we worked out a training program (needs to do 10 sit-ups by mid-May, needs to do 20 sit-ups by mid-June, etc).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Night time is the right time to prep for schoolzzzzzzzzz

Every night when everyone else is (finally) asleep, I get things ready for the morning. I have a general scheme in mind for the year and month, including state requirements. I've tried planning the whole year week by week and day by day, but I just can't deal in micro-management like that. Besides, if Kendall gets ahead or we have a sick day/unexpected vacation it throws everything off and I have to get out the white-out and start over. No thanks! I make sure we cover everything as thoroughly as needed, whether that takes more or less time than planned.

First, I list her schedule for the day (varies daily because of errands & appointments, projects, lessons/classes, etc) on the dry-erase board. Next, on a weekly assignment sheet, I list her assignments in each subject and gather the necessary worksheets, books, etc in one place so there isn't any last-minute hunting. Since she's old enough to do a lot of this work (reading, worksheets) on her own, this makes it easy for her to get started on her own (if the baby is screaming) and keep on schedule throughout the day. Some times I offer a reward (like extra computer time or helping me make brownies) for completing everything by a certain time that day. Its usually no big deal if we're a little behind schedule, but its fun for her to try to get the prize.

We've been homeschooling for 5 years -for the first few years, I didn't like having a schedule, so I didn't. I don't like having a minute by minute plan because it feels restrictive to me. Now that Kendall is older, its absolutely necessary to keep on task. If there is no plan, nothing gets done. Or, as I heard a million times in missionary training meetings, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail". Very, very true. If I wait until morning to try to work things out it is pretty much a disaster.

We have 5 general subject areas. Only because the sheet I use to list her assignments has 5 columns, though, so some are combined. First is seminary (gospel studies, but I call it seminary because it makes her feel like a teenager and seems to lessen the early-morning complaints). I have this first always, based on the principle of putting the things of God first in our lives. Next, math, and I try to keep her as far ahead of grade-level as possible, which takes more time than say, grammer. So both of those first two subjects are normally done by 10-ish. If something happens to disrupt school during the day (dr's appt, visiting teaching, etc) at least we have those two subjects completed - the rest can be made up on another day if necessary.

Our other subjects are English/Language (this includes spelling, reading, grammer, root words, ASL, and foreign language); Physical Education/Health (exercise program, sports, nutrition, etc); and MISC (everything else- History, Geography, Science, etc). The exercise program consists of two short cardio dance routines (on dvd) and a training program (sit-ups, etc) that we've created together to help her prepare for volleyball tryouts this winter. Chores are also considered part of school (home-ec, eh?).

Here is a typical weekday schedule:
8:00 eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth
8:30 seminary lessons/assignments
9:00 math lessons/assignments
10:00 cardio #1
10:30 training #1
10:45 language lessons/assignments
11:45 lunch
12:15 cardio #2
12:45 training #2
1:00 shower
1:30 MISC assignments
2:30 chores (straighten up bedroom & hallway bathroom, empty dishwasher)

If she finishes sooner than planned, she has free time or can move on to the next assignment, her choice.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Things worth buying for 4th grade part 1

If you glance over a homeschool supply/curriculum catalog, it's easy to get overwhelmed. I've never felt the need to buy a pre-packaged curriculum set because eliminating "busy work" and a desire to personalize the curriculum are some of the reasons we chose to homeschool in the first place. I create my own curriculum based on state guidelines and our personal choices. Sure, it would be easier to have a pre-determined set of assignments and worksheets already done, but it doesn't take that much extra effort. Also it keeps the cost of doing homeschool down a LOT. We have very minimal expenses. We use the library, the internet, etc. I make my own worksheet or find them for free on the internet.

We're nearing the end of Kendall's 4th grade school year, so here are some of the items that I did actually buy that were helpful for us this year:

"States and Capitals" memorization CD (Twin Sisters Productions)

I have used Twin Sisters CDs before. I would totally recommend them. We used "Phonics" and "Advanced Phonics" back when Kendall was learning to read and we would listen to them in the car during errands & my commute to college. They use songs to help you memorize, which saved me a lot of time and effort. Kendall memorized the states and capitals in ONE DAY (one day with a LOT of errands), which would have taken a lot longer the traditional way, so the $9 I spent was totally worth it.

Large Dry Erase Board
I used to have one of these on an easel, but a regular dry-erase board (like you would hang next to your phone) works just as well. We bought a large one (about 2' x 3'), which was only about $8.00 at Walmart. I write Kendall's school schedule on one side every night, so when she gets up in the morning she can see what we're doing for the day. On the other side, I write silly math story-problems for her to solve after she finishes her other math work.

Test Prep Book
I bought a 4th grade test-prep workbook for about $10.00 online (you can also get them at educational supply stores like Learning Palace). I bought one of these last year for 3rd grade, too, they are great for practicing standardized testing throughout the year. Also helps us identify areas where she needs more work (before the end of the year).