Thursday, August 25, 2016

Setting Up Mother Goose Time...Here We Go!

It is finally time to set up our Mother Goose Time area and display for the year! Our September box arrived and was welcomed immediately by the kids and our new puppy, Jack. 

The first box comes with all of the display items needed for the year, such as the circle time things and the alphabet. First I took everything out and laid it on the ground. Strong B was so excited because he knew that now Mother Goose Time (MGT) is his only curriculum! He isn't attending preschool anymore, and he knows that he has so much learning in store for him this year after watching Tiny B learn so much last year. Tiny B is in kindergarten this year and I'm homeschooling her three days a week and she attends her public charter school two days a week.

Yesterday I had a big epiphany and realized that I absolutely cannot stop doing Mother Goose Time with her, and I'll explain that in my next post. This curriculum is so rich and engaging and can absolutely count as her social studies and science this year. Not to mention all of the beautiful fine motor activities that are included that she so desperately needs. I have so much to say on this but I will wait...

Strong B dove into the bags and got excited over absolutely everything, and was especially intrigued by the stamps. 

I laid out the bags and filed what needed to be filed and separated what needed to be hung. The "Getting Started" book told me exactly what to do, where to hang things, etc. I could be as creative or uncreative as I wanted, and either way, my classroom area would turn out adorable and effective.

I was so happy to see the portfolios are included this year. I believe they removed them last year, but listed to feedback and added them back in. What a fabulous way to track their development as well as keep an adorable reminder of the fun and beautiful times had in their year. 

I bought a white tri-fold science board and painted the background. This did add extra time, but it was therapeutic for me. How often do I just get to paint? Not very often. I followed the set-up that MGT gave me in the book almost exactly, with the exception being the weather area. I chose to include all of the weather pieces at one time and I'll have them just point to the weather of the day. I find that removing them just doesn't work for us (and I love in sunny SoCal, so what can I say...). MGT gave us a choice of starting with the number 1 or 11, and I chose 11 given that both B's are ready for it. 

I really struggled as to where to put the MGT continent poster as well as the MGT theme poster, but I finally decided to put them on a bulletin board with double sided tape in my homeschooling area. Because we have a new puppy, I don't want to be using any tacks and I wanted the kids to be able to get to both posters easily. 

This area is basically my family room. Right next to it is the couch where we watch TV. Years ago when I was majorly into home decor, I would have died having this stuff in my main room, and it honestly makes me cringe a little now, but homeschool is all about incorporating education into every part of our life, so why not have the homeschooling area in our main house area?! I bought the tables off Amazon and Costco, and they're easily foldable, as is my trifold board, so I figure when we really need a break, I'll put these this stuff away. It's worked out really well so far. 

I put some books in this bookshelf right next to our homeschool area, and I'll keep their readers (easily decidable Bob Books, MGT readers, etc) here so that they can get to them easily. 

I am so excited about the new additions to MGT this year.
Every single one blew me away. They really listened to their customers, but most importantly, they continued to do research and development and really considered best practices when it comes to early childhood development. These reasons are why I love pre-made curriculum and why I'm highly unlikely to just go off the cuff in our homeschool journey. 

Please let me know if you have any questions about Mother Goose Time or homeschooling in general. This is quite a journey we're on, and I'm immensely thankful for this program as well as my homeschool friends who are walking this journey with me.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.

Friday, August 19, 2016

My Mom Teaches with Mother Goose Time

A week ago my husband and I made a trek to Northern California and we left the kiddos and my Mother Goose Time (MGT) box with my mom. She is an artist, therefore the July box which focuses on art, really appealed to her. 

I told her that she could follow the directions in the lesson plan book exactly, or change it to however she felt would best suit the kids' needs. I don't know exactly what she did, but I do know that she sent me the pictures as it was taking place, and I was so thankful for this beautiful curriculum that is able to help family teach my children, even when I am away. 

She chose to do Sunflowers. 

Years ago I did art therapy, which basically means that I created art as a way to help me feel better. These pictures make me think of art therapy and all that taking time to create in a beautiful place must do for the soul. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Summer Series: Making a Castle and Making a New Start

One of my most favorite things about homeschooling is when we take the lessons with us! Mother Goose Time is so portable. I brought the box that it came in over to my mom's house, along with glue, crayons, and scissors. My mom watched the kids for a few days this week so that the hubby and I could take a business trip. 

I showed my mom how to read the lesson plan book (took about a minute) and told her which activities to do while we were gone. (I've already received the pictures from what they did, and it is absolutely adorable!)

For my last lesson before I left, we read a participation story and did an art project. 

I read them a story about an alligator, a castle, and art, and every time I said certain words that has to do something with their hands and fingers. 

At the end of the story I asked them the questions that were given at the back of the story. I loved that there were a variety of questions. Some of the answers could be found on the page, some questions had to use inferencing, and some required that the child look completely beyond the page into their own experiences. 

This picture melts my heart. It is my 90 year-old grandad who sat with us and listened as we did the lesson. As a homeschooler, it's important for our families to see that we are using an appropriate curriculum and that we know what we're doing. Also, it's really just precious. Children in this country used to be educated only in the homes and it was a family experience. I'd love too see more of the family members get involved in the current homeschooling movement. 

After we finished answering the questions, we moved on to creating our own castles. 

The instructions said to use found items from nature in which to decorate the castle. I explained to my daughter that the flowers would turn brown and she didn't seem to care or quite understand why, and therefore I let her decorate it with as many flowers as she wanted. What a concrete way to learn about cause and effect and the lifespan of cut flowers. 

Summer is almost over. It's been a rough one for me, concluding with the loss of my beautiful 3-legged standard poodle. In the midst of the summer, we had visitors who stayed quite a while and surgery and I found myself trying so hard to be doing so many things. Last night I saw fall themed mugs and decorative items at an adorable little store, and my heart felt ready to move on from the summer, and into the next season of our lives. I'm praying that it slows down and that I can begin to see the light again. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Why I Homeschool

I think there comes a time in every blogger homeschool mom's life, where they finally share why it is that they do this weird homeschooling thing. I mean, why in the world would a mom choose to keep her kids home with her all day instead of sending them to school where they can socialize with other children and learn from professionals??

So, my time has now come to do my explaining because Mother Goose Time (the company in which I blog for and use their curriculum) has asked us blog ambassadors to write about professionalism, the MGT curriculum, and why we do the things that we do.

In all honesty, I've put off writing this post because it's really a hot button topic and I want to make sure that I do it justice. Unfortunately, I've had a truly awful and sad week because my beloved three-legged standard poodle has passed, and I feel pretty raw inside, so I figure that I might as well try to occupy my mind a bit while writing about a subject that is very meaningful to me.

In 1998 I earned my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Child Development. In 2000 I earned my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with CLAD (that last part means teaching learners of different languages). 

I spent four years teaching 3rd grade, three years teaching 4th grade, and three years teaching 6th grade. I taught in two districts and both were high-performing with out of this world scores on the standardized tests. I learned so much during this time as the districts were both stars in being in the forefront of the best educational techniques and I was required to continue my training every year. My time in the classroom ended when I had my little one pound Tiny B and with such a tiny baby, I knew that I would not be returning to the classroom for a long while.

Tiny B's great adventure started and so did the hospital stays and feeding tubes and therapies (oh you micropreemies know how to keep us moms on our toes!) and my mama heart started to see that I wanted to protect this child and give her every bit of help that I can in this rough world. I had my Strong B two years later. During this time I moved to a town where a hybrid homechool was extremely popular amongst the families in the area. 

It's a public charter school in which you have the choice to send your child none, one, or two days a week and you homeschool the rest. The families are very involved with the school (which has several campuses in the area) and the standardized testing scores are very good as are the teachers and special education program.

I'm in a strange situation because people who call themselves "true homeschoolers" say that we are not because we work with a public school and that school does common core and most of the things that public schools do. Some say that we are merely public school at home. To that I say that I feel that we are both homeschoolers and public school at home.

My beloved friends, some of which are public school teachers, and maybe even some family, might feel that I am completely crazy and that my next step might be to hide inside our house, completely shut out the world, and chant bible verses all day. I promise that it is not this way, and that homeschooling is becoming quite popular and homeschoolers are attending amazing colleges.

Before I continue I want to state a few things that I feel are important for you to know.

1. I support public school. I like the curriculum and I used to pilot the programs. I truly believe that they choose curriculum that they have heavily researched.
2. I think that public school teachers are amazing. And I'm not just saying that because I was one for so many years! Every single teacher whom I worked with were devoted whole-heartedly to their profession and loved their students. They are also smart. In California, teaching jobs DO NOT come easily, so you have to push your way in and have a strong background and interviewing skills.
3. If I should become ill or have to go back to work in a teaching position, I will be okay with sending my children to a full-time public school, for the reasons that I mention above. I will also send them to public school if I see that homeschooling isn't a fit for us at the time.
4. I believe that my friends who send their children to public school are doing the right thing for their own family and I am in no place to judge them.
5. I also believe that not everyone is cut out to homeschool. You really do have to be called to it and it has to be in your heart. It is hard and often times unrewarding.

Up until two years ago, I swore that I would never ever homeschool because my children need the socialization and the experience of different teachers. I also believed that only credentialed teachers such as myself were able to teach children.

My heart has changed as I've tried to give Tiny B every opportunity to grow and shine. I've seen how disenfranchised parents are feeling with the school systems. I've educated myself as to how beneficial homeschooling can be.

I homeschool because:
1. I want to have the most influence on my children. I want their schooling to include learning about God and about our values.
2. I want to try to develop high self-esteem in my children. At school, there are so many chances for them to be made fun of, put in the "low" group, compare themselves in a bad way to other children. Because of Tiny B's tiny beginnings, she is going to have some challenges and I want to make sure that she has my utmost attention in all areas of learning. With only two students, I can truly make sure that they know the standards that they are supposed to know.
3. I want them to love learning and with homeschooling, I can focus their subject matter around things that they truly love. Strong B loves cars. If he still loves cars in third grade, I will have him learn paragraphs by using cars as the subject. In sixth grade, if Tiny B just can't get enough of horses, she'll read fiction and non-fiction text about horses and she'll write her essays based on horses.
4. I feel called to it. That might change later, or have to change later, but I truly feel like it's just something that I was meant to do. 
5. But mostly...I just want to protect them. I just want to spend as much time as I can with them before they leave the home. I want to control what is in their little worlds for now. That might sound crazy and overprotective, but really, I don't care.

And I just want to add on one thing...A friend told me at the beginning of the year that my kids would be so social while homeschooling that I would have a hard time fitting in school. I thought she was crazy! Between all of the field trips, play dates, church events, charter school events, camps...The social time is just insane!

I think the homeschool memes are hilarious. 

Mother Goose Time curriculum molds perfectly with my teaching style and my needs. We used this curriculum for preschool/transtional kindergarten for Tiny B and half-time preschool for Strong B. The public charter school liked MGT so much that they allowed me to use it instead of their curriculum. Next year for kindergarten Tiny B will be using the charter's curriculum but will also still be using MGT along with Strong B, whom I will now have full-time for preschool! He is diving into MGT and he's already so excited about this!

I love the way that it is so organized and completely laid out for me. I truly don't have to spend hours thinking of adorable projects beause they're already included. MGT helps me to learn and try new things because I really don't know much about preschool. Preschool scares me, frankly! I learned about preschoolers so long ago and they are absolutely foreign to me! 

MGT guides me by telling me exactly what they should be doing at their level. 

Every day using this curriculum is a learning experience for me. 

This is all an adventure. Life is very hard and I'm feeling it very much now after the loss of my precious dog. Life is hard to navigate but we do the best that we can and we all hope and pray that we are making the right choices. Some days I think that I'm crazy for choosing to take on their education. There are a few times where I've wondered if I should go back into the classroom...I would love to own a home again. But then I think about what my dream life looks like...Me getting up with the kids, eating breakfast, and doing our first lessons of the day in our pajamas...Then getting dressed and taking a break while they play outside. We come in and eat lunch together and finish our lessons. Somewhere in there I've taken B in to her speech therapy while Strong B and I take a quick trip to the grocery store. We all go home and go to Tiny B's American Heritage Girls meeting (similar to Girl Scouts) and we come home and eat dinner and spend time after dinner watching some TV. Then we end the night with reading in their bed and prayers. It might sound awful to some, but to me, it is beautiful.

*I receive Mother Goose Time curriculum in exchange for my honest sharing of experiences, resulting from our personal use. All opinions/thoughts are my own and are in no way influenced by others.