Jun 142016
 

artherlightWe are a game-playing family, so I was excited to hear about a new Massive Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) that is a Biblical allegory story!

Meet The Aetherlight: Chronicles of the Resistance.

I let my son be the one to build a character and enter the world, and “Arty” was born.  He had the fun of choosing a gender, customizing his appearance, and picking a name (within their funny steampunk guidelines).  Then he was off into the world.

There is an introductory episode, which can be played for free to try out the game.  This has tutorial quests, teaching you about the way that the game is played, the important characters that will be part of your life, and the setup of the city where you will be based, as well as the overall story-line.  This part of the game may not be particularly enthralling, since you haven’t gotten into the meat of the adventure yet – but hang in there!

artherlight 2Once you unlock (purchase) Episode 1, you can really dive into the fun.

You receive quests that help guide you on your overarching goal to restore the Great Engine, which will defeat the evil Lucky and disperse the sinister fog.

Your mysterious guide through the entire game is The Scarlet Man – none other than a representation of Christ!

One of the fun things about a MMORPG is that you are playing live, online, in real time, with other people.  You can coordinate a group with real-life friends, or just team up with others your meet in the game.

As a parent, I appreciate the emails that are sent out periodically (triggered by where your child is in the game), allowing me to understand what he is encountering, and make sure he’s making the Biblical connections.

Episode 1 is based on the story of Abraham and Sarah, and additional content is being developed that continues following the Biblical narrative.

My son had this to say:

I really like that you can chat with other players – get help when you need it, and help them.  It’s really fun to play – not too hard (frustrating), and not too easy (boring).  My favorite part is unlocking new areas and exploring, and I like fighting the Automatons.

I would definitely recommend this game to other parents looking for a way to turn “screen time” into something more valuable.

Disclosure:I received a complementary sample of the content of The Aetherlight from BuzzPlant in the hope that I would mention it on my website and/or in social media. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe may be good products/services for my readers. I disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Dec 262013
 

sharkSo, another half school year has gone by since my last school update, “No Child Left Behind“.  Once again, I find myself at the point where I have had to make some adjustments in my school calendar, and even the logistics of my lesson plans.

We have just completed the “common” work for the school year which might ideally have ended in May (the year we are calling 2nd Grade / Pre-K).  So after the first of the year, we will take up the new school year, 3rd Grade / K (which “began” in September).  Since I would like to get this common section a bit more back on track with the customary school year, I will be making an effort to work through it diligently, so that we can finish sooner than this time next year.

Their separate subjects, however, continue to diverge.

R.T. started in on his K Math and Language Arts activities over the summer, and is well on his way to being totally done with them.  Not entirely sure where to go with him at this point.

Miss J …  Ah, Miss J.  Since we delayed a year because of her total lack of response with reading, the work she has been doing alongside her “2nd Grade” school year was 1st Grade Math and LA.  And although we are now finished with the common areas, she’s still lagging with her separate work.

So, what’s a mother to do?

One of the things I appreciate about Sonlight, as the teacher, is that all the lesson plans are made, coordinated, and placed together in an orderly fashion in a 3-ring tabbed binder.
B050-m
Behind each week’s tab goes the common “core” material, the Science material, Jewel’s material, and R.T’s material.

For the last few months this has been quite a confusing situation.  With the common subjects we had reached one week, but Jewel’s work was way back somewhere else, and so on.

I had one spare smaller binder on hand, from the old Core I bought used (read about that adventure HERE), so I purchased one small binder and two sets of weekly tabs from Sonlight.

Now the Core (with Science), Jewel, and R.T. will each have a home of their own, and a pace of their own.

It is my hope that this will let us track each of those at their own pace.  I can keep the common subjects in sync with the usual school year schedule, while R.T. can work ahead, and Jewel can take the time she needs.

I am hopeful about this change.  It allows me to keep doing their Core together (easier for me, and I think nice for them, to be working together), yet give them the developmentally-appropriate support that each of them needs …  which is, after all, one of the fundamental benefits of homeschooling.

 

Dec 022013
 

Things are chaotic here, and I have no big plans for doing new things for Advent this year.

A little reading, a little storytelling…

Heck maybe we’ll even get to finally finish up our Truth in Tinsel ornament set! Be sure to read my review from last year ( HERE ), to find out what all the fuss is about.

What are your plans for the season?

Dec 022013
 

How did it get to be December, and I haven’t ordered my 2014 planner yet? Yikes!

I don’t believe I’ve ever shared before about the planner I use. I’ve been a huge fan of the Amy Knapp planner since I discovered it, I believe four years ago now.

She offers the planners in both spiral-bound and 7-hole punch, and in a generic and a Christian edition. There’s even a big, fun family wall calendar.

Roomy enough for activities and appointments, tear-out grocery lists, note areas, and weekly memory verse. I like it, I like it! :)

I prefer the 7-hole punch version because of the freedom it gives me from year to year. I purchased a “Day Runner” type binder inexpensively though eBay. Now I can retain the pages with addresses and phone numbers, important annual dates, web site references, and so forth, while removing the old daily calendar pages and adding new. I can also only add only part of the year if I choose, reducing the weight of my little companion.

They are available at some bookstores, and Amazon.com, but the most comprehensive selection (including the 7-hole punched) is only on Amy Knapp’s website (contains affiliate links, see below).

**

Yep, I like it so much I became an affiliate; this is not a sponsored post. Clicking through my link doesn’t cost you anything extra, but I earn a small commission if you purchase anything. Thank you for helping to support the blog!

Aug 272013
 

Welcome to the 400th Carnival of Homeschooling!
The Carnival of Chaos Edition

How do you homeschool though one child’s illness or injury? How do you homeschool through moving? Through your own chronic illness? Through grief or other turmoil?

Some days, all we can get done is what we can get done. That’s more some times than others, and not always in the “planned” or “expected” fashion. Sometimes other family members can step in and lend a hand. Sometimes there are curriculum alternatives that can help in a given situation.

It’s the beauty of homeschooling. It can be with us wherever we are. It can succeed in chaos.

So, without further ado, I bring you, chaotically, the submissions for this week’s Carnival of Homeschooling!

Rebecca embraces chaos! In Give a Label a Hug over at Down a Rabbit Trail: Interest-Led Learning with a Charlotte Mason Flair she explains, “Even though I’m a second generation unschooler, I’ve not always been 100% comfortable with the label “unschooling”. Unschooling…yes. All in! The label…not so much. I didn’t realize till lately how much that hesitancy closed us off from finding more like minded people. :)

How about the chaos of moving across state lines, and dealing with a new set of homeschooling laws? Jennifer discusses What Are The Best and Worst States For Homeschooling Regulations? at Time4Learning Community Blog

Also at Time4Learning, Jamie help tame and label that chaos with her Guide to Homeschool Grading.

Horrifying chaos is possible. A.Hermitt offers Thoughts on another school shooting at Notes from a homeschooled mom.

Mindy presents some chaotic and entertaining craft ideas in First Day of Fall ~ Sept 22nd posted at Den School: Homeschooling Articles, Freebies, Reviews and Giveaways, as well as Do Homeschooled Kids Actually Like to Be Homeschooled?.

Kristen takes an an international view. “We are studying the world, one continent a year, for our homeschool social studies. I have written plans using library books and the internet, and I thought I would share the fruits of my labor with my little homies. Check out the first installment: LATIN AMERICA.” Visit A Little Homie: Homeschool Blog to check out her Free Latin America Homeschool Lesson Unit.

To have chaos or not have chaos? Julie Bogart discusses the pros and cons of lesson planning in To Lesson Plan or Not to Lesson Plan at A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief.

And Annie Kate shares her chaos-reducing pointers in Oops! Minimizing Planning Blind Spots at Tea Time With Annie Kate.

ebele (who has a lovely accent – you must go watch her video!) shares inspiration in My story: How I started college at 14 and finished at 18 + YOU are a gift posted at Street-side convos.

Rachael discusses the chaos of getting ready each year in Heading Back to School! Top Ten Ways to Prepare for the Fall ‘Mayhem’ over at DiAmOnDs In ThE rOuGh.

Melissa’s chaos involves using nutrition and homeschooling to mitigate our son’s ADHD without medication in Finding What Works for My Son: An Ongoing Journey at The Cork Board.

Transitioning to college is definitely chaos. Carter White presents 21 Blogs with Info You Need to Know Before Sending Your Kids Off to College posted at Babysitting.

Dave shares about learning to value the moment in the chaos in Stop The Clock at Home School Dad.

Is there a Snowden in my office? Did he know what my theme was going to be? Henry, of Why Homeschool (creator of the Carnival) shares how his life has gotten a bit more crazy, again, in Homeschooling and soccer.

The first image above is from Scientific American, and the second is from Funderstanding, sites about which I know nothing else.

* * * * * *

A huge THANK YOU to all of the bloggers who shared with us. As always, it has been a joy to read through them all while putting this together (I confess I don’t typically get to read through an entire carnival on other weeks!).

Please take a moment to post a link to the carnival on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter… help spread the word about homeschooling, and the carnival, and send some traffic to all these terrific folks!

And of course, good Carnival manners includes the hope that everyone will link their submitted post to this Carnival post, as well as possibly including one of the adorable COH Graphics. Thank you!

Don’t forget to send in your post for next week’s carnival! Just visit Why Homeschool for all the details, and email the info anytime before next Monday.

Until next time… Happy Homeschooling!

Jul 132013
 

DISCLAIMER: You may not agree with me. Surprise, surprise. I have no problem with that, and I hope you can simply accept it, as well. If that is the case, please know that this post is not about you, so there is no cause to feel alarmed, insulted, “judged,” or any other negative reaction – unless such should be spontaneously generated by the action of the Holy Spirit in your heart. My purpose here is simply to explore a choice that we made, and share my thoughts for the consideration of others.

Several years ago, I purchased two “complete” years of Sonlight curriculum second-hand. For those not familiar with Sonlight, this means I received two big boxes full of not only the lesson plans and guides, but many, many reading books. (The photo is from the Sonlight website; one Core + Readers set).

Those levels weren’t what we needed at that moment (I just couldn’t pass up the deal!), so I crated them up, labeled them, and tucked them away in the storage room.

I was delighted when I realized that the Core I wanted to purchase for our 2013/2014 school year was the first of these years that I had stored away!

The Science books lined up with the Science we are just finishing up from this year (wish I’d known THAT earlier!), so I went ahead and re-sold them.

Sorting through the Read-Alouds for the Core, and the Readers for Miss J’s Language Arts, we found that we had most of them, so I only had to purchase the missing pieces.

I (read “we”) decided, however, to purchase the Core Instructor’s Guide new from Sonlight. (There is a re-purchase discount if you have previously purchased a Core, but that applies only to the original purchaser).

Why do that instead of using the perfectly functional one that I have in the box?

Here’s the reasons that immediately occur to me, roughly in order from least to most important (not ignoring the overall factor of prayer and debate):

  • The Core guide that I have is put together for the 4-day rather than 5-day schedule, so would require some re-working. It also has writing in it, lessons checked off by the previous user, etc. Certainly, it would be nicer to have my own fresh copy.
  • Purchasing the Core entitles me to access the online forums, registers me with them for Customer Support, etc., etc.
  • “Core 1″ is actually a number of years old, and predates a pretty significant revamp they did a couple of years ago. The currently-named “Core B” has a lot of improvements.

But the far-and-away main reason?

  • Because it’s the right thing to do. Because I adore Sonlight, and they deserve compensation for their product – this is how they support their family, remember!

Now, do I wish this hadn’t happen right now, when were’re suffering under a 20% pay cut thanks to Congress’ bright idea that furloughs were better than doing their job with the budget? For sure!

But right is right.

**

This is not in any way a “sponsored post”, but we sure do adore Sonlight (I can’t decide whether I’m more impressed with the incredible products, or their top-notch customer service and guarantees…). If you’d like to give them a try, you can get $5 off your first order by clicking through my affiliate link: sonlight.com/rewards/TH20214672.

Jun 232013
 

No, this has NOTHING to do with the failed governmental meaning of that phrase. In fact, my point is that in real life it works out to be something quite the opposite.

So, these are my kids:

Princess J is 8 (in the pink ball), and R.T. is 5 (in the blue ball).

When someone asks what grade they’re in, we all routinely give them the simple answer based on their age. She’ll be going into 3rd grade in the Fall, and he into Kindergarten.

But reality looks quite a bit more complicated in our house.

Begin with the understanding that, while we do a more “school” than “unschool” approach, we are firmly in the camp of Better Late than Early. If you don’t know what I mean by that, check out this video. It’s 25 minutes long, and has a bit of intro that is rather dry (but full of great information). The meat of it, though, is a great interview between Dr. James Dobson and Dr. Raymond Moore (from years ago).

As parents we stressed about it at first. We wanted to keep the curriculum flowing from grade to grade as the calendar years went by. But – as in the video – at the root of our schooling philosophy we believe that kids will get where they need to be by the time they really need to be there.

My husband always tells the kids one of our main family philosophies is, “get it done, no matter what.” In our schooling that translates to “take the time that’s needed to truly master the material” (NOT “comply with someone else’s arbitrary timetable”).

So, when the Fall came when she “should start Kindergarten,” and J was clearly not ready to begin tackling reading… We simply didn’t.

The following Fall we began anew. She was “in 1st Grade”, but she was doing Kindergarten curricula for Language Arts and Math.

History, Geography, Bible and the rest we’re handling differently. We’ve chosen a Sonlight “Core” that is suitable for both their age levels, and both kids are being taught the same material. Expectations, of course, vary.

At this point in time, we’re doing Science this way as well. That may need to change down the road. We’re flexible.

So then there’s the little guy. He sits in on the read-alouds for the Core subjects, but is welcome to color or build with Legos during that time. Science is play time for everyone, and I simply handle any writing that’s required (for both of them, still, at this point).

The plan for next year, then was “The Core,” with 2nd Grade Language and Math for Miss J, and Kindergarten Language and Math for R.T.

Miss J is still plodding through the reading, and between that and a lot of health issues (hers and mine), last year went very, very badly. We didn’t finish until November, then took December off and started this year in January. I figured if we could stay on track, even if we didn’t push, we could finish earlier than last year, and gradually work around to being back on a more “normal” school year schedule (with our built-in flexibility).

But R.T. is anxious! He wants to “do school” and have his own work.

A compromise was devised wherein we’d do a bit more of the common subjects, and finish up by August to take 2 weeks off and start the new school year on time (in my book) right after Labor Day. J would keep moving at her own pace on her other subjects.

He was pretty quick to realize that the worksheets I was printing out for him, and even the alphabet flashcards, weren’t “real school”. Smart kids can be a challenge, I tell you. So I pulled out the tiny beginning phonics readers from J’s Kindergarten program, and off we went. He sounds things. He blends things. And he begged for the “Explode the Code” workbooks that were part of his upcoming school year (he remembered them because J did them, and is still doing the sequels).

What’s a mama to do?

Obviously, I went to the Sonlight website and ordered his Explode the Code books, as well as the first workbook of his Math.

So, at this moment, we are here:

  • Miss J will be starting “3rd Grade.” She is still working through a 1st Grade curriculum in Language Arts, and in Math. If we stay on target, she will finish those in November and pick up the 2nd Grade versions after New Years’.
  • R.T. will be starting Kindergarten. He is already racing into a Kindergarten curriculum of Math and Language Arts, and may well be a fluent reader before his sister. If he slows down his pace, though, that’s okay, too.

She’s very bright. Even with language, if you stay verbal she can make rhymes and puns and language jokes right along with the rest of us. She doesn’t need “special ed” or a label (although I have wondered if some testing might enable me to find ways to help her better) – she just needs time to work through it at her own pace.

So I homeschool. Reason number 437, probably.

To strangers who ask, she’s simply “going into 3rd grade.” And when they compliment me about how polite and helpful she is, and about how smart and articulate she is, I just smile.

**

This is not in any way a “sponsored post”, but we sure do adore Sonlight (I can’t decide whether I’m more impressed with the incredible products, or their top-notch customer service and guarantees…). If you’d like to give them a try, you can get $5 off your first order by clicking through my affiliate link: sonlight.com/rewards/TH20214672.

May 252013
 

I’ve been very ill a lot over the past year, and from time to time the suggestion always pops up that I should put my kids in school – with the implication that somehow that would make my life better, or easier.

This morning I had a lovely moment of clarity.

Wolf left for work just before 6:30, as he usually does. I had propped myself up in bed, and after a while my attention was caught by children’s voices outside.

I looked out my second-story window, and watched as an intermittent parade of kids went walking down the street, gigantic backpacks on their back. Some of them I knew as my kids’ friends from the park.

A few minutes later, the big yellow bus came down the road to collect them.

About that time it started to rain.

Listening to the drumming of the rain against the window, I spared a moment of worry for the kids I had just seen, who were not dressed for rain.

Then I gathered my kids into the bed with me, and I read their science book to them. They brought up their lap desks, and J worked on her written work while R.T. colored.

Homeschooling is still best.

In spite of – or perhaps even because of – my challenges.

Apr 152013
 

What in the world am I talking about?

Well, this:

Sounds pretty much like a normal homeschooling day to me.

We run around in our Super Hero capes having a great time, and make sure to take advantage of teachable moments whenever they occur.