Homeschool Summary – Feb 2015

Waaaah.  Where did the month go.  I think this is a refrain I’m going to keep repeating month after month.

This month we took a week off to celebrate Chinese New Year in Southern California.  It was a much needed break as I found myself losing momentum.  I’m noticing that I lose momentum after about 6 weeks of schooling.  Things are also crazy because I started school again.  There never seems to be enough time after downtime for research and making materials.

In general schooling is going well for Thumper, not so well for Astroboy, whom I’m neglecting. Personally, I’m struggling in striking a balance in:

  • Chores vs School.  After awhile of doing school it feels like the home is like a Star Trek Starship, slowly losing its integrity.  The clothes pile up on the sofa, various knick knacks on the mantle, things go unvacuum and unmopped.  I’ve learned over the last year, the general unkemptness of the house unconsciously bothers me and I start feeling unorganized.  What I haven’t figured out yet is the schedule to fit that in and also how to get the kids to help with it.
  • Fieldtrips/Outtings vs School.  When we have too many scheduled activities like going to Library story time on Mondays or Homeschool Library on Wednesdays or playdates in the morning or appointments to go to, it disrupts my flow.  I really need that 3 hour work period for myself, not for the kids.  I need to have long periods of activity, rather than going to multiple places one morning. But staying home all day except for swimming makes the kids go crazy.
  • “work” vs “non-work”.  Really all activities the kids are involved in are WORK.  But it is so hard to get rid of the mindset that non-academic work is work.  When we spend an hour outside gardening, I get anxious and think, “But we didn’t do school today!” I also sometimes feel like the kids don’t get enough exercise, especially Astroboy because all we manage is 1/2 – 1 hr of play during swim practice. Sometimes when I’m tired or sleepy we go eat or sleep instead.

I made one big change this month which was to wake the kids up at 8:00am. We get an extra half hour for stuff like cleaning and chores and gardening. And somehow this makes us really have a 2.5-3 hour work period.

We also didn’t go to swimming because the kids got sick for a week. Wow, never realize how much of a time suck swimming is. Without swimming and an earlier schedule the kids and I manage to go out and take walks in the afternoon. I will need to ponder what to do about this schedule.

In general I feel like I’m veering toward too much math and language again. I know I need to make two changes. One is to not prep while the kids are working and the other is to go back to planning my own schedule and a presentation schedule.

IMG_5022Fieldtrips: We took a field trip to California Academy of Sciences and also toured Acme Bread, visited LA for Chinese New Year.

Thumper is doing much better in the Work Plan front.  I forget to ask her sometimes how she likes her work plan.  But in general, she’s got the routine down.  I made a few more changes to the work plan routine by using our wall school calendar and also reorganizing our index cards.  It’s still a work in progress.  But there are some days when I’m taking a nap and she’s just following her plan, working.

Astroboy wants me to be with him still.  I know part of the problem is the unavailability of age appropriate classroom materials.



Math:   Multiples, common multiples, 4 digit x 2 digit multiplication, distributive & commutative laws of multiplication, factors, 4 digits / 2 digit division.  Though we covered the concepts she’s not doing on in all of them yet.   The materials/presentations used were: Commutative & Distributive Laws of Multiplication (Presentations 1, 2, 3, 4), Multiples (Presentation 1 & 2), Factors (Presentation 1), Large Bead Frame (Presentation 1 & 2 up to 2 digits), Long Division Racks and Tubes (Presentation 1 & 2).  I’m partly doing this to practice for my math and partly I know she can be introduced to the concepts.  We will most likely come back again to review when we actually do the work in this area.
Work-wise: She’s pretty much done with addition memorization up to 9.  We’re going to review the higher numbers before we move onto subtraction.  She is working on 4 digit x 2 digit multiplication as well.
We barely did any English this month other than listening to audio books (Wizard of Oz), Radio Lab, being read the BFG.  English handwriting, we’re connecting letters together.
For Sagebooks, we are now on Lesson 17 of Sage book Series 4 (Pink).  For handwriting, we are done with basic stroke names.  Wow, it is so much faster now when I tell her how to write something, I can use the stroke names!  I’m now asking that she read to me 15 minutes a day at a minimum.  We’re going through a lot of the Hsin Yi Yoyo/Baobao reader books and the Sagebooks Idioms book. One thing I realized ice I started having her read was the importance if building her vocabulary. Because she definitely uses her reading skills of guessing and using illustrations as clues. But she can’t so it when she doesn’t know enough words to guess. I changed our workplan so I have to read to her daily.I read the following books. These are about 1-4th grade level books I think.
Social Science and science:
We’re charting the growth of a seed.  We finished studying the history of money.  We must have read through 5-10 books on the subject and they all say the same thing.  So I finally learned how to say barter in Chinese, 以物易物.
We toured Acme bread bakery.  If I can get my acts together, we will try and grow some yeast.
The science kit we got as a gift for Valentine’s day, Thumper spent a day using to grow some colored crystals.

Practical Life
We made 發糕. She has learned how to make her own cup of hot drink using the water hotpot. I’m starting to get offers for hot tea. (Horray!).

She is slowly developing the habit of cleaning up after lunch and putting items away after she comes home. This is a big point of contention between us. I try hard not to get too mad since I know it’s my own bad habits she picked up.



Language: Sagebook Blue Series Book 2 lesson 10. It looks like we get about half way through a book each month. Partly because I don’t force him to read everyday. When I get anxious we step on it for a few days and progress through half a book.

Math:  No progress.

Practical Life: Cutting. Maze. Window washing. Dish washing. Lacing.  Ciaohu

Astroboy loves mazes for some reason. I finally caved and bought him a Kumon one so I don’t have to keep looking for new ones for him to do or say he doesn’t like.

Once in a blue moon he’ll go and wash dishes after lunch. I don’t force him. It makes me happy when he does. I do require the children out their dishes away. This sometimes is a power struggle and he’s starting to say no more often.

IMG_4874One day he got bored and I got my Ciaohu 3D puzzle blocks out for him.  He’s been pulling it out every few days to work on them.

Sensorial. Geometric shapes cabinet 1-2.  Colors

This is just an introduction to the geometric shapes.  We also spent a day playing with the Science Kit we got.  He spent a lot of time mixing colors.

In general Astroyboy’s problem is his inability to do anything by himself unless it’s practical life. I feel like I I think about it really hard I would know what to do. But my brain is pulled in 5000 directions I don’t want to stop and think about it yet.  I really need to get my act together and help him in the classroom.  With me needing to teach her Chinese characters, read to her, being read to, somehow it takes up a lot of time in the day.

There are actually other things we do in life other than school that’s interesting to me, like our gardening, which is really coming along.  And trying to figure out a chore system.  I feel like, because we try to garden every day, even if it’s just to water the plants, the kids are finally getting some hands-on exposure to botany somehow, even if it’s not in the classroom.


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