Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Homeschool: How we roll....

We enjoyed a peaceful, glorious holiday at the Nichols compound. Hope yours was the same. Public school begins tomorrow in these parts, but we'll use the remainer of this week as a review then hit the ground running next Monday. Illness cancelled four days of school just before the holiday and the girls have tests to take in Latin, math, science and Bible.  We They will review tomorrow and test Thursday. Friday is our usual co-op day, but since we don't report back until next week, I'll schedule something else instead.

Nichols Academy doesn't follow the normal Monday-Friday approach to school. Six or more subjects a day for five days would drive me totally bonkers. Really. I'm sure it works for some, but I'm convinced that successful homeschools incorporate the needs and strengths of  both the parent and the child. But especially the parent. Just joking. Not really.

We follow a Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday schedule that covers 3-4 subjects a day. That may not seem like a lot of instruction, but I can't  emphasize how much more deeply the girls get into the subjects when they can spend one and a half to two hours on each.

I keep it all straight in my handy dandy homeschool binder. The open notebook is for my girls. The rest of the binder are the classes I teach at our co-op.

Here's how our schedule works. I'll discuss curriculum in another post.

Monday/Wednesday: Bible, Latin, home ec, math

Tuesday/Thursday:  co-op homework, literature, science

On alternating Mondays, our school begins in late afternoon as we all join my husband on our church's visitation team.

Bethany (15) has drama rehearsal some Tuesdays, band and dance on Wednesdays and co-op on Fridays, where she takes logic, SAT prep, African studies and drama. She also takes an online literature/history course. Because she plans to study communication in college, she was assigned a blog this year. She's graded on set-up, maintenance and making at least two posts weekly.

Grace (12) has violin on Mondays and Girl Scouts on Wednesdays. On Fridays, she takes an entreprenuer class at the co-op and is a teacher helper in the first grade reading class.

I've reviewed the table of contents for each text book we use and mapped out a schedule for the year. Online resources, labs, research papers, Netflix and/or library support are added in. This isn't as difficult or time-consuming as it sounds, especially given our schedule. It took several hours over 2-3 days to create.

 I can't tell you how handy this is. In years past, I set apart Sunday evening to plot the week's work. Often, this time was eaten up with my freelance work or I was just plain tired and I ended up cobbling together a lesson plan the hour or so before the school day began. Bad idea.

A rushed, harried teacher without a focused teaching plan will not result in a student who enjoys learning. I can't say it enough: take the time to plan, and plan as far into the future as you can. It doesn't have to be the whole she-bang. If you've chosen the appropriate curriculum, a few lines will suffice.When sickness, appointments or life takes you temporarily off-course, it'll be easier to get back on the road. This is Beth's biology schedule for February - June 2013. It's too small to read, but I added it to show that you don't have to write your arm off to complete a yearly schedule.

When the girls come downstairs in the morning, the first thing they do is consult the dry erase board listing  chores, assignments and anything extra going on that day. I write it out the night before using my master schedule. This helps teacher and student 'see' the day. 

Each girl has a school binder. When they complete their work, it's placed in a file on my office wall to be checked. (Yeah, I'm kinda behind.....)

Gracie is a middle schooler, so I don't officially record her grades. Beth, the 10th grader, has her grades recorded on a transcipt. More on that in a later post.

We have time built into our schedule should we fall behind. Each girl has a study hall hour at Friday's co-op that can be used to catch up. Also, because daddy works nights, we're not cutting into family time should we need to study later hours, and we have on occassion.

It's important that each family follows a schedule that works for them. And by 'works' I mean creating a plan that maximizes student achievement without causing mommy to lose her marbles. If something isn't working for you, pray, seek, tweek and change until you find what does. I'd love to hear what works for your homeschool.  

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ceiling fan re-do

My hubby's idea of redecorating is buying a new shower curtain. Seriously. And one should only attempt that when said curtain is so old it's changing colors or falling apart. Heavy sigh.  

It came as no surprise, then, when my desire to remove the dining room ceiling fan was met with shock and disdain. I'd been threatening to do this since we moved in 15 years ago. I'm a lil' slow.

I forgot to take a 'before' shot, but this is what the fan looked like (add a layer of dust just to keep it real....)

 He: It's a perfectly good fan. Why take it down? (Husband translation: Ah, man. More work for me.)

Me: Who puts a ceiling fan over a dining room table?! (Wife translation: This is happening. Fall in line, mister.)

I adore pendant shades, and since hubby wasn't onboard with removing the fan, I decided to blend the two. The finished product first, then the directions. Ain't she purdy?

Another view. Me likey.


This project came in under $5. The shade is a $2.99 Goodwill find. I removed the globe, snapped it in place and it fit perfectly. I don't know exact terminology, but I didn't use what I call 'normal' lampshade, i.e., the kind that fits over the bulb on the harp and is secured by a finial. The type I used is placed on the lamp, underneath the base of the bulb.

The black spray paint cost about $2.00. The fabric is left-over from the curtain modification in this room. (I'll post on that later). 

I'd initially planned to use hot glue, but I was out of glue sticks. I had leftover spray adhesive and that worked. There were a few places I had to break out the liquid nails adhesive, but I think was due to the way I cut the fabric.

I still need to paint over the overspray and purchase a pull chain, but I'm thrilled with the outcome. Best part? Hubby loves it.