Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Newsletter 2009

Not to have a year in our family without babies… in January we welcomed C & R’s baby boy and on November 18th we welcomed our third child, a baby daughter.  She is named after K & J’s grandmothers.  Let’s see who will have a baby in 2010!!!

The boys anticipated DD’s arrival with much excitement throughout K’s pregnancy and just love their little sister.

DS1 turned 5 in July and moved from Junior Kindergarten to Senior Kindergarten this year as we continued to homeschool.  His reading skills continue to improve as well as his interest in math and sciences.  DS2 turned 3 in November and loves to participate in our lessons and do his own seat work.  Both the boys started AWANA this Fall and have memorized several Bible verses through this program.  They enjoy interacting with their peers in this setting as well as during Sunday School at our church.  Our local homeschool group has also given us the opportunity to take them to the Zoo, on a “Pumpkin Tour”, to a “Life at the Longhouse” educational program, and to see the Dead Sea Scrolls at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum).

This year K transferred from a branch at the East end of M to a smaller one at the West end, shaving a bit of time off the commute and also placing her in a position to do more reference work.  She has completed ¾ of her Masters of Information Sciences degree and has 5 credits left to complete when she returns to her studies at the end of her maternity leave.

J did a HUGE amount of work on our new home in the year we’ve been there – he replaced all the old windows (10 in all), did lots of rewiring, built himself an office, built a brand new bedroom from scratch, and even put in a second bathroom!  He was also asked by two people to work on special projects for their homes so his skills are being put to very good use outside of his work at H.D.

In July we billeted an international student for the 5th year and since September we have had the pleasure of hosting a lovely young lady from Japan.  She is here for the school year so is with us until June 2010.  August found us at World’s End State Park in Pennsylvania for our annual vacation with J’s family.

Sadly, this year also included a tragic loss to our family.  On July 24th K’s brother-in-law S was in a motorcycle accident just blocks from home and died instantly.  Please keep K's sister S and her daughters R and J in prayer this Christmas season.

Wishing you every blessing for the new year!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Lately I've been getting a few questions about homeschooling from friends who are considering it.  It's a big compliment when you figure this is only my 2nd year doing it (DS1 is in SK).  But I did a lot of research before making this decision and I've found it so helpful to get feedback from other friends.  Anyway, this is just a place to park the info.

"So I'm wondering, do you have to battle "the sillies" when trying to teach DS1? Does DS1 ever ask to be put in regular school?"

My reply:
"DS1 has never asked to go to regular school as far as I can remember but I'll bet that comes up for most homeschoolers. There are also public schoolers who ask to be homeschooled!

We don't have so much trouble with "sillies" as with "I can'ts"... some days he is really not interested in cooperating with his reading lesson and that is the one thing that is mandatory for me. So I explain that it's his "job" to learn and that he needs to be obedient and try. It can get very frustrating when a lesson that one day takes 10 minutes takes 45 minutes. I am trying to be more patient & loving and remember that the lesson that day might not be so much about reading but about being accepted and understood when you're having a bad day. It's hard."

"I just have to ask you, how do you do it all? You are working, homeschooling, being mom of two, in school (I think) and pregnant with DD. I have just the two children, am staying at home and considering homeschooling (my eldest is only 2.5y still). Really, how do you do it? I appreciate your posts and just finished reading the Duggar book too. What are your reasons that you've chosen to homeschool? By the way, I've always wanted to be a librarian. :) Anyway, I hope you don't mind the questions and would love to hear from you if you have a spare moment!"

My reply:
"Sorry for taking so long to reply. Well, right now I'm off school for my mat leave so that's one less thing :-) And only 2 more weeks of work, yay!! But how it normally works is that between work and school I'm out 3-4 nights a week and J takes care of things at home. He is extremely supportive and is the one who makes pretty much all the dinners around here so that is one less thing I have on my plate. I've also relaxed a whole lot to the point where I can handle dishes in the sink and hair on the bathroom floor. That's a big God thing in my life for sure.

DS1 is 5 so SK this year and DS2 will be 3 in a few weeks. We do school in the morning (starting around 9 most days) and it takes an hour to an hour & half depending on how cooperative DS1 is with his reading lesson - on a good day that takes 10 mins, on others it can take up to 45. DS1 sits in if he feels like it, and mostly he does and insists on a turn at reading too. After that we do "seat work", which is worksheets for math or science, colouring/crafts, etc. Probably 4 out of 5 days go pretty well, sometimes I do less than other days and make up for it on another day.

So that means that by 10:30-11am I'm done with school for that day and can send the kids to play and do some housework. Sometimes I get them to do chores too because that's part of training. Sometimes I can get some of my school work done but I get most of that done during my commute on the GO train since it's an hour each way to U station. I'm thankful for that quiet time!

I chose to homeschool because I felt that it was my responsibility as a Christian parent to shepherd my kids and raise them up in the faith, especially during these vulnerable years as little people. I am not saying that all Christian parents must do this, only that that is how I was convicted. I feel quite strongly that the public school has an agenda that runs contrary to our beliefs. I also don't think it makes sense for me to work longer hours to pay for Christian school. As parents we are directed to instruct our children every possible opportunity we have, not to turn them over to strangers. I also felt that DS1 would be labeled "ADD" or some other behavioural problem. He has a lot of energy and is usually not interested in conforming to the group activity, this would not go over well in school! I have seen him change over the past year as he is getting older and as we have opportunities to direct him and help him develop his character. I would hate for him to be a round peg in a square hole and to have his spirit crushed. I believe God made him the way he is and that I can help him to discover his unique giftings and calling.

Anyway, lots to say, which is why I took a while reply since I knew it would be long!

Hope that helps. Remember you don't have to legally register your child in school until age 6 so you can take your time connecting with homeschool support groups and pouring into your child. Even if you decide to send them out to school at least they will have had those extra years with you.

Feel free to ask more. I'm a newbie but have a great support group here and have found a lot of my questions have been about the practical "how tos" on a daily basis."

"I've read the articles you posted on homeschooling with great interest. Truth be told, I had never really considered it a viable option for our family, but I'm reconsidering now that I'm not totally going insane any more (daughter is now almost 4 and son is 2 1/2). I was wondering if there were any resources that you found helpful (books, web sites, curriculum, conferences, etc) that you could recommend that I look at? My husband and I are in agreement that academically it's definitely the best option, but we're still not sure about the social angle and would like to do some additional reading on that as well if you know of anything.

I was also hoping to ask you how much time it takes to prepare the lessons, etc. I know it varies depending on what format you choose to follow etc etc but I know you're a planner and I am too, so I was hoping to get a bit of an idea.

No rush on answering this - I wouldn't do it this year for JK. My daughter is going to the same school where she went to preschool and we're really comfortable with that environment - and she's going part-time, which is all we wanted for this age. I was thinking maybe for SK so I have a year to figure it out (but of course, as a planner, I like to figure stuff out ahead of time). "

My reply:
"- it doesn't take as long to plan as you might think, especially at the lower levels we're talking total of about an hour/day of teaching

- the social aspect is a strange strange myth that persists, when you think about it your child being with other children their age is not really learning the best social skills... a better environment is a family where they interact with people of all ages and learn how to cooperate and respect each other... plus most of us have regular interaction with other people, whether extended family, church, Early Years Centres, sports, or even out in the community.

- there is a LOT of curriculum to choose from and you don't necessarily have to choose anything at this point, your library is a great resource for books & DVDs.

Check out http://www.ochec.org/ to find a group near you, you don't have to be committed to homeschooling, you can just be checking it out. But lots of wisdom to be gained from those who have gone before.

And you're right, academically homeschoolers outperform their peers."

"Hey, I was wondering if you could help me, R has not entered the daycare world yet and I want to start her education while we are still together during the day.  I don't really know where to start in getting the proper material or even what to teach her other then her ABC's and 123"s.  So I thought who else would I ask then the home teachers in the family.
I am grateful for any advice you could give me."

My reply:
"That's great! In most provinces you don't legally have to educate your child unless they're between 6-16 so you shouldn't have to file any special letters with the school board saying you're educating her at home. But of course check with your ministry of Ed there.

The public library is a great resource (and of course I'm seriously biased here!) - so much to borrow and great programs. If R will sit through a storytime or even part of it that's a good start (and DS1 only started recently so it depends on the child).

You don't have to spend much money really - if you have alphabet magnets you can use those to learn the letter sounds and how they go together (though that is something more for JK and I forget if R is 4 yet). You can count pretty much anything so line up the toys and do that. Also chalk outside is great. Walmart and the $ store have little books labeled preschool, Kindergarten etc and they are great. It's important to remember that little kids learn so much through play so you don't want to over-formalize her learning at this point. I wouldn't spend more than an hour total a day at the JK level and am aiming for about 2-3 hours at the SK level this coming year with DS1.

If you have an Early Years Centre (for kids up to age 6) then check out their programs because they are fantastic! Out here they have one to prepare them for school so it's like a mini school idea with routines etc.

Hope that helps. You may also want to look into homeschool support groups in your area even though you might not intend to homeschool but they provide great information & networks as well as friends for R :-)"

Posted on an old blog Oct. 30th, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Places to Lay Your Head

How many different places (cities, houses, apartments, dorm rooms, etc.) have you lived in? Which is your favorite? And your least favorite?

2 countries, 3 provinces, 2 states (not the United States though), 9 cities and slightly more houses than that.  My favourite place is British Columbia but my favourite house is the one I'm in now.  Least favourite might just have been the townhouse we lived in last - too much noise, smell, and general nosyness from the neighbours!

Posted on an old blog May. 26th, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Scholastic wish list

Every now and then I go through the Scholastic flyers on line and make up a wish list to look up at the library.  Here's my list from the March & April flyers for "Elf" (Pre-K) and "See-Saw" (K-1).  If the library doesn't have it and I really want it I can ask them to order it and sometimes they do.

1001 Things to Spot on the Farm
A Caterpillar grows up
A First Book of Mapping Skills by Scot Ritchie
a nap for zap
A sunflower grows up
A tadpole grows up
A tree is a plant
Adding It Up by Rosemary Wells
An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Aston
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett
Down the Drain! by Robert Munsch
Duck on a bike by David Shannon
Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway
Follow That Map!
Froggy learns to swim by Jonathan London
Froggy plays soccer by Jonathan London
Froggy rides a bike by Jonathan London
Grow Flower Grow
Honey Helps by Laura Godwin
How Long or How Wide?  A Measuring Guide by Brian P. Cleary
Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns To Listen by Howard Binkow
I can cooperate by David Parker
I care about others by David Parker
I did it, I'm sorry
I love it when you smile by Sam McBratney
I love my shadow (I’m Reading Now)
I tell the truth by David Parker
I wonder why stars twinkle
I wonder why trees have leaves
I'm a good friend by David Parker
Let's all be water wise (Kid Guardians - Planet Earth Patrol)
Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk
Lucky Duck (Phonics Tales)
Magic School Bus gets recycled
Miriam’s Cup: A Passover Story by Fran Manushkin
Mouse's First Spring
My Daddy Snores by Nancy H. Rothstein
Not Norman A Goldfish Story by Kelly Bennett
One Rainy Day by M. Christina Butler
Oops-a-Daisy!  by Claire Freedman
Rise and Shine by Tim Warnes
Saving Energy (Green Kids)
Saving Water (Green Kids)
Skippy Skunk (Phonics Tales)
Someday by Alison McGhee
The Big Wide-Mouthed Frog by Ana Martín Larrañaga
the day duck's truck got stuck
The Easter Story by Heather Amery
The Human Body Inside and Out by Andy Morrison
The Light of the World The Life of Jesus for Children by Katherine Paterson
The One-Armed Cook by Cynthia Stevens
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick! by Lucille Colandro
There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly pictures by Pam Adams
Thump, Quack, Moo by Doreen Cronin
To sleep count sheep
Tough Trucks by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker
We’re Going on a Nature Hunt by Steve Metzger
What's it like to be a fish
Will You Read to Me?  by Denys Cazet

Posted on an old blog Mar. 7th, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Homeschool Curriculum

I was talking to my sister tonight about homeschooling and put together a quick list for her of some of the curriculum I'm familiar with.  There really is so much to choose from so these are just some that I've personally seen or researched.

Abeka  This is good for science, I'm using the Grade 1 level with my JK son.

My Father's World This is also very nice.  I have the Kindergarten stuff on loan right now but opted against it and am using Weaver instead.

Five in a Row I have this but haven't used it yet.

http://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/teacherslounge/styles/weaver.php  and http://www.aophomeschooling.com/weaver/overview.php  This is the curriculum I'm using.

Tapestry of Grace  Looks great but seems like a bit of work.

Sonlight  This is a fairly popular one.  I don't buy their stuff but do enjoy the newsletters and will sometimes use their book list at the library.

Vision Forum  I've listened to several of their CDs and have really enjoyed them.

http://www.ochec.org/  "Ontario Christian Home Educators Connection"

http://www.eho.org/  This page looks a little busy but might have something of interest

Posted on an old blog Mar. 5th, 2009