Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One School Year Down and Ready for Another....

As we approach the beginning of a new school year, I decided to evaluate last year and see what I learned... here are my thoughts:

The bottom line? I absolutely LOVE homeschooling!  I am passionate about education and get ever so excited about not only what my girls are learning, but also what I am learning in the process!  I love having my girls home all day with me and although we've had our share of unproductive or down-right bad days, I wouldn't change it for anything!

My absolute favorite part about homeschooling?  Without a doubt it is spending hours of our week snuggling on the couch reading my all time favorite childhood books to my girls.   That is definitely my favorite part of our day!

My downfall?  Curriculum.  I'm a nerd.  I love books.  I love it all.  I want to do it all.  I want to buy each book I see.  I always plan waaaaay to much.  You remember my "great plan" for the beginning of the year?  Yeah, I pretty much only followed for a few days.  It was too structured for a baby with a changing schedule (who didn't want to follow "my" schedule :).  And it didn't leave enough time to take advantage of those "teachable moments" or to really dig in deep to our favorite read-alouds.  I was also going to do a "Letter of the Week" theme for Karlie but soon found out that she had learned all of her letters and sounds already from Karis and was pointless.  So I just did phonograms with both of them instead.

The best advice given to me?  A sweet friend named Jessica who has 3 precious stair-step children (even closer in age than mine!) told me not to try to start it all at once.  To start one thing, build it into a routine, and do it well for a week or two or even a month before adding something else.  Then work on doing those two things til we were set in the habit and ready to add something else.  Very simple, but priceless advice.  It worked.  My girls thrived on doing the one bit of schoolwork I had them do every morning and then got ever so excited each time I finally added another piece to our routine.  We ended up with only 3 real schoolwork periods: a short 10 minute breakfast memory board, a longer reading time on the couch, and a half hour table work time in the afternoon.  "Preschool" really doesn't take long. (If you want to see how our schedule ended up, you can clickHERE to see a longer version of this post on my family blog.)

Favorite Curriculum/ Books we used:
For Teaching Karis to Read:
The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading -- the girls loved the initial alphabet rhymes but the reading part was not super exciting.  Still, it has a great simple phonics and grammatical progression and is exactly what Karis needs.  I am more than happy with it.
Alphaphonics -- I take turns with this and the above to give Karis some variety and to help with fluency.  She likes that the letters are larger.
Bob books: She reads me one story each school day and they get progressively more difficult.  It has been great to use them as we go through our phonogram cards because she sees how the phonograms help her figure out words.  I just get these from the library.
The Writing Road to Reading and phonogram cards  --  The book is great and I am certain I will utilize its techniques next year since Karis is actually writing more now.  The phonogram cards are key -- there are only about 70 key phonograms in the English language and once a child can recognize them, she can figure out how to read almost any word.  They have REALLY helped Karis take off with her reading.  We memorize several a week and say them each morning as we do our "breakfast memory board."
Explode the Code Workbooks -- she absolutely LOVES her workbook and I am thrilled with the effortless way it teaches her to read and practice her handwriting as well.  This is probably her favorite "reading resource"

Chapter "Read-Alouds":  Our favorite part of the day is curling up on the couch with a good book!  I absolutely LOVE Sonlight's reading list for preschool and kindergarten.  We did not buy the curriculum, but instead I just got most of the books from the library.  There are a few great collections that I purchased from Amazon, but most of them are at our library.  I also requested books from the library from THIS classical book list.  

For this year:  We plan to do Classical Conversations for our science and history foundation and I will add read-a-louds and activites to supplement as I have time.  (Probably not too many the 1st year as I get used to the program.)  I plan to continue with our current phonics materials and Sonlight read-a-louds and add Saxon math to our schedule as well.  And I think that should do it!  I am very excited about the upcoming school year!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fighting a virus naturally

After 5 days of a super high fever,  I decided to take Abbi to see my holistic doctor just to make sure an infection had not snuck in while her body was fighting the virus.  I absolutely love my pediatrician and she is open to my natural tendencies, but after last summer's ordeal I knew exactly the protocol she would have to recommend: a trip to the ER to take blood, x-ray, and spinal tap to rule out the worst case scenarios.  I didn't want to do that when my holistic doctor could use less invasive techniques to tell me what was going on.  She found that Abbi had a nasty virus centered in her spinal cord and intestines.  That made total sense to me because she had been extremely uncomfortable through the sickness, squirming all over the place and unable to get comfortable enough to sleep more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time.    Here were her tips for getting over any kind of virus:

1. Therapy bath to help hydrate (because dehydration is the most dangerous effect of high fever):
1 3/4 cups epsom salts
3/4 cup baking soda
3/4 cup borax
1/4 tsp. lavender oil (if desired to help relax)

2.  L-lysine -- 250 mg 3x a day (mixed into food)
3.  Zinc -- 15 mg (mixed into food)
4.  Garlic cut open and rubbed on feet
5.  Elderberry syrup every hour for 2 days
6.  Collodial silver --  every hour for 2 days
7.  Probiotics -- 4 times a day

8.  Lugol's iodine and magnesium oil patted on spine every 2 hours -- this sounds absolutely ridiculously crazy but supposedly the virus does not like this mixture and will "move" away from it.  You "chase" the pain with the mixture until it is gone and the virus has left.  It will often go to your weakest parts.  (For instance, with my holistic doctor's daughter, the pain moved to a part of her leg that was very sore from dance practice the day before.)  With older patients, it is easier to "chase" it and put the mixture wherever  the patient says that it hurts next, but with Abbi it was a little more difficult.  The first time she grabbed her eye and started screaming, which made sense because it was hurt but was very frustrating because I could not help her there.  However, the next time after placing it on her spine, she started acting quite agitated and grabbing at the top of her neck.  I placed the mixture there and she calmed down immediately.  Weird, but it seemed to be similar to what my holistic doctor had described so I am thinking that it worked.  If nothing else, iodine and magnesium are things most people are deficient in and desperately need, so I thought it was definitely a worthwhile solution to try.

9.  Hydrating tonic (very similar to one I already posted) to battle dehydration from the fever:
1 Tbs. raw apple cider vinegar
1 pinch baking soda
1 serving aloe vera juice
1 cup of unfiltered apple juice
2 cups water
5 drops sole*

*sole -- dissolve as much Redmond's Real Salt as possible in 1/2 cup boiling water.  Put in dropper bottle