Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When You Leave Your Co-op in Georgia

As you know, I had this school year planned right down to the minutest detail. My plan included two co-ops: the big, giant one the kids have attended for the last couple of years and a new one with just my friend Tisha and me. We had marvelous plans for teaching our 6 kids science, history, geography, and art. A classroom experience without the public school attached.

Then came The Move which left behind my two co-ops. The big, giant co-op didn't matter that much, academically speaking, because the classes offered there are just extras, and we mainly went just so we would have a chance to hang out with other homeschoolers. But my other co-op? It mattered, especially since Tisha was going to teach art, geography, and half of history.

When we started our homeschool in its new location, science worked out just fine. I had already planned science and had all of the copies and curriculum I needed. We are doing Pandia Press' R.E.A.L. Science - Chemistry. And we're having lots of fun. Every week brings on a new hands-on experiment, and the fun text breaks Chemistry down so that even I can understand it. (If only I had had R.E.A.L. Chemistry before I sat in that high school classroom with a glazed look on my face!)

Geography has been alright as well. I have been using Notebooking Pages' state pages. We are studying the states by region and do two states per week. The kids fill out one or more of the different sheets offered based on reading we do. We also do map work on each state. The kids look forward to discovering the peculiar law for each state. For example, did you know that in Arizona, "It was illegal to kick a mule. But if a mule kicked a person, it could not be persecuted" (Read & Write Across America, Creative Teaching Press)?

My goal this year for US Geography is for the kids to master all 50 states: their location, abbreviation, and capital. To help with this, I use Seterra, which is free software you can download. It covers world geography and is a valuable tool the kids can use independently. I also made a great find at a school supply store yesterday. My US map got ruined in transit to the Arctic, so I was on the lookout for a new one and was very pleased to find one that was broken up by region. So I can put one region up at a time as we study it, thus making it a little less overwhelming for my little students.

I have flailed around a bit with art. I purchased ARTistic Pursuits and have used that successfully a little bit. It is frustrating for me, however, because I am not the least bit artistically inclined. That is why I was so happy when my friend Sharon told me about Currclick's live classes. So I signed us up for a class using oil pastels. I've never touched an oil pastel, but I sure am having fun. I enjoy participating in the class; it's relaxing, and I'm actually learning something! We have also registered for pencil sketching and will continue to sign up for the art classes.

History has been a source of frustration for me as well. I was OK the first couple of weeks because those were my weeks, and I already had detailed plans. Of course, they did not go as well with just my 4 kids as I had planned the classes to work perfectly for a bigger group. But nevertheless we muddled through them. And then, without any more plans, I wondered what to do. I thought about scrapping the whole Focus-on-US-History-This-Year thing, but then I realized that wouldn't be a good idea since geography and my read-alouds revolved around US History. So I have made up my own plan...of sorts. I am using School Specialty Publishing's The Complete Book of United States History as my skeleton. It is very skeletal in content, so I basically just use it as a schedule of events, and then I fill in the content using whatever books I can get my hands on.

So there has definitely been some adjusting and lots of tweaking, but I think we'll probably make it. And hopefully learn something. Now math...that's another story, but I can't blame it on the move, so I'll leave it at that.


Amy @ Cheeky Cocoa Beans said...

I love the idea of a map broken down by regions to learn a group of states at a time. Hmmmm...I may take some scissors to one of our US maps for that purpose. (A few years ago I would not have been able to say that without shuddering at the thought of *cutting* a map. Progress? Low standards? Who knows.)

I'm glad you've got your bases covered now (well, except for math??). I know that's a good feeling. And I LOVE the photo of your boys. I can see my 8 year old picking that spot under the table, too.

tsinclair said...

I like your new map. :-)

Also glad that Science is going well, and I am sure that you are doing a great job with History.

Sounds like the Currclick is really working too...I will have to look into that.

All in all, it looks like you have worked out most of the kinks from the move and settled in nicely. :-)

CrossView said...

I kinda got stuck here: "...in transit to the Arctic" and am still laughing!

Glad you're getting a new routine going.

@nnie said...

I've been reading your blog long enough to know that you'll more than "make it." Your careful planning and thoughtful consideration is amazing. I am sorry for the loss of your co-ops, but on the other hand, that fall foliage on your blog header, WOW!