Category Archives: Homeschooling

Peach Jam Memories

Yesterday, our 4H club made peach jam for our first class this semester. We are studying aspects of cooking. Several of the children weren’t too crazy about the whole idea – they didn’t like peaches, they didn’t like jam, they didn’t want to get sticky…but they were all soon involved in the class – mashing, stirring, mixing. It was great watching them join together to produce such a beautiful and tasty treat.
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I have never canned anything. My mom spent her summers attached to a stove canning everything from tomatoes to homemade ketchup to green beans to potatoes to jams to pickles. I loved the pickles and potatoes and jam. I hated the ketchup and was always excited when we ran out so we had to buy the store bought kind (sorry, Mom). Kind of an Aunt Bee thing.
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Canning was always so much work, but I have to say, the fresher tasting vegetables in the winter months sure were nice to have around. And I liked helping mom get things ready for canning – snapping beans, shelling peas, shucking corn. The memory of warm summer days, little hidden bugs that would pop out as we worked and time to sit and talk while our hands were busy. Thanks for the memories!

Jack’s School Plan for 2011-2012

Okay, so it took me a little longer to finish up Jack’s schedule for 2011-2012, mainly because I was so busy the last couple of weeks and it takes a lot of time to fill out approximately 180 days worth of assignments. So, in case you are interested in what my 10th grader will be doing this year…here goes.
The Art of Argument: an Introduction to the Informal Fallacies. I’m pretty excited about this subject. Both Jack and Katrina are studying it — their only shared class this year. Not only am I hoping that it will improve their own arguing skills (less yelling and more psychology), but I think it will help them to see through advertising and the way people try to manipulate us as some of the lessons focus on persuasive arguments.
History is Jack’s favorite subject. So he will spend the year watching a series of educational historical videos (should supplement his extensive knowledge gained through Civilization and Story of the World). This year we are focusing on America. First he will watch America: The Story of Us . This is a video put together by the History channel and I receive it as a complimentary educational edition. It will present an overview of 400 year of history in a little over 9 hours.
Next he will be enjoying The Great Courses program: Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners. This looks really interesting. The professor teaches history in costume and character. It should really bring things to life. I only wish he had done a course from the Forty-Niners to present day. Next, Jack will be watching The Great Courses: The America Civil War, then The Great Courses, World War I. This will take him through the year. All of the Great Courses classes have accompanying booklets with thought provoking questions for each section.
Wordly Wise 3000, Book 9 is next. This is a great way to develop vocabulary. Each lesson is laid out and includes definitions, followed by activities to show that understanding of the words and finally a passage to read that includes the vocabulary with comprehension questions that follow.
Learning Language Arts Through Literature–The Gold Book–American Literature. I think this will be an awesome course! Jack will be reading some great American Literature, then answering questions about what he has read. The books he will be reading: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Great American Short Stories edited by Wallace and Mary Stegner, and The Mentor Book of Major American Poets edited by Oscar Wiliams and Edwin Honig.
Math is a bit up in the air. Jack has studied Algebra and Geometry via Great Courses Study, but I want to make sure what he has learned has stuck. So I went online and located tests for both of those subjects. The questions are ones that have been released from the state of California from previous years standardized tests. If he does well on the Alegebra I test(80 questions), he will take the Geometry test(100 questions). If he does well on that, then he will start the Algebra II Great Courses video. If he has problems with either, we have Saxon text books and we will hit the sections he had trouble with before moving on to Algebra II.
Science is Science Explorer Investigations in Life, Earth and Physical Sciencedand then Science Explore Adventures in Life, Earth and Physical Science. These are books by Prentice Hall.
Geography: The World and Its People by Boehm Armstrong Hunkins. I’m really excited about his Geography course and wish I was taking it too. It is done in conjunction with the National Geographic Society. I love the pictures!
So…as you can see, Jack has a busy year ahead of him. Add in piano, youth group and 4H and I think he will be plenty busy. I am hoping this busier set schedule will help him for taking classes at Community College next year.

Homeschooling 2011-2012 – A (gasp) Schedule!

So, this year I am doing something I have never done before! I purchased each of the kids a calendar for the 2011-2012 academic year. And then I wrote down what they will be doing every day for this upcoming year. I spent probably about 12 hours doing Katrina’s schedule and now I need to do Jack’s. Just in case you don’t believe me…here’s photos:)
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Katrina is studying the following this year:
Saxon Math 7/6
Draw Write Now – books one and two and more if she likes them. Basic drawing concepts
The Art of Argument – so she can actually win some arguments…Jack will be studying this too
Learning Language Arts Through Literature – The Tan book (she’ll be reading Big Red, The Bronze Bow, The Horse and His Boy and Carry on Mr. Bowditch)
Great Science Adventures: The World of Insects and Arachnids and Discovering the Ocean
Geography through Art
I am hoping that by having the plan written out like this and them seeing when they will have days off and when they will be done, it will help them to stay on track. Fingers crossed!

A Typical Day

Two things I have learned while homeschooling is that there is no one way to homeschool and that there is no such thing as a typical day. We have a ‘schedule’ we shoot for, but we miss it as often as we attain, it maybe more so. Things come up…and it is always different stuff. One year, it seemed like our life was just full of life stuff that always had to be taken care of.  One year, the kids weren’t happy with the chosen ‘curriculum’, so we had to drop back and punt. One year, we were traveling a lot. This year, there seems to have been more than the normal number of illnesses.

But on our typical day, here is what we do. We try to get up between 6 and 7. From the time we get up until 9, we each have things we like to do. Katrina needs that time to wake up. But somedays, she wakes up, ready to go and gets all of her chores for the day done before school starts (pets fed, animals groomed, shower taken). I aim to have some devotional time and exercise. I usually have computer time and some straightening up chores to do so we can sit down and do school work. Jack…well, Jack gets a shower and pays Runescape on the computer.

From 9-12, we do school work. From 9-9:45, we study History (we are using Story of the World and are in the third year). From 9:45-10:15, the kids do science. Jack is studying a earth science text book and Katrina is working on a 4-H presentation regarding invasive species. From 10:15-11 is handwriting and grammar and spelling(Katrina). From 11-12 is math. Afternoons that we manage to be here, Jack is working on learning Latin using Rosetta Stone. He is currently reading the book "What Color is My Parachute" so he can get an idea of where his strengths are and what careers might interest him. Katrina spends her afternoons reading and learning typing.  I spend my afternoons doing a variety of things. These are on the typical days. But our afternoons often end up being spent other ways. Tuesday afternoons are piano lesson times. Every other Thursday afternoon we have 4-H. On Wednesday afternoons we have been going to the library and spending time there and going to the grocery store.

So far, Mondays and Fridays, we are mostly at home. So there, you have it…a typical day at the Markham house!

Another Year Under Our Belt

It is hard for me to believe that we started homeschooling 7 going on 8 years ago… My son, Jack, will be entering 8th grade next year and Katrina will be entering 4th grade. Where does the time fly to? I was recently looking through some old photos which reminded me of numerous field trips, group events, and just plain fun we have had over the years. Each year, our routine is a bit different. The last two years we have become very involved in a 4-H Homeschool group that meets twice a month and completes other activities as well. We miss the meandering park days from when the children were younger and periodically, some of us will try to set those up, but the need of homeschoolers now seems to be different than it was just 7 years ago.

Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder if that is really a good thing? I mean, in the beginning people seemed more carefree about teaching their children and not pushing them so much. Now it seems like everyone wants to get their kids involved in this activity or the other. Are we truly homeschooling our children, or are we busy trying to keep us with the Public School kids that come to visit?  I think it is wonderful for children to have opportunities, but I think we should all remember that the best opportunity of all that we should make sure they have is the opportunity to be children.

When the life expectancy was 30, then children had to grow up much more quickly. Now average life expectancy is around 70 or so. Which means that once a child reaches adult hood (arguably somewhere between 18 and 21), they still have another 50 years ahead of them for work and following their interests. So, don’t forget to let your kids be kids now while they still can, because those grown up days are coming soon enough!

Homeschooler Grows Up – Serving His Children

I met the Bach family about 14 years ago. We were attending the same church and frankly I thought they were a bit odd. After all, they had many children and they did something called homeschooling. They had home births and didn’t do vaccinations. How kooky is that? But they were very nice people and very committed to serving the Lord. As I got to know them, I began to think they weren’t so kooky and I credit them for the fact that I homeschool today.
Over the years I have been impressed by the kindness of the children, the way the family reaches out and serves others and their faith and trust in God. The family has a business called Many Blessings Farms and with that business they provide hippotherapy to people who suffer from disabilities such as Autism, Down’s Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy. The children grew up being homeschooled and learning how to serve others. Now the fruit of that upbringing is really showing.
Renee, the second oldest daughter, is 19 and has already spent several months in Uganda doing missions work. In fact while she was there, she didn’t just do what she had been sent to do, but came up with a new idea of a way to serve the people there. She started a program for feeding the children. Her idea has grown and now, this 19 year old young lady is heading back for a prolonged stay in Uganda and she has started her own nonprofit organization which will focus on feeding and caring for children. Serving His Children now has a website that will tell you way better than I can about what they plan to do and hope to accomplish. The organization website is brand new and still under construction. But there is also a blog Be Hands and Feet that you can check out.
I know there are a lot of worthy organizations out there, but this one has touched my heart and as I have watched Renee grow up, I know that it is an organization being run for the right reasons. Please take some time to go visit the website. If you can help in anyway, I guarantee you will be blessed as much, if not more, than you are blessing others. I know economically times are tough, but we know nothing of hard times compared to these children.