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Homeschool spotlight: Kittywitty

1200 Views 28 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  kittywitty
What are your kids ages and names/pseudonyms?

M (8) is my oldest daughter. She went half a year to Kindergarten before we pulled her out. She is a voracious reader and a huge help around the house. She loves to learn anything and everything and wants to be a chef when she grows up. She is in karate and girl scouts right now. She is very shy so we are trying to set up more social activities for her that she would be comfortable with. She desperately wants to learn violin but we can't find a teacher. She was in piano classes before we moved, but has self-taught herself an amazing amount of music learning by ear.

D (7) is my son. He has SPD and a gross motor delay so we go to OT. He is in karate but we are about to switch (hopefully) to aikido. He loves dinosaurs, dragons, mythology, and he is a budding inventor and artist. He also wants to play violin. He is my wild child and loves being outside climbing and jumping.

A (4) is my mommy's girl. She loves writing and "reading" my books. She is also in karate and will be in cheerleading this summer. We think she has SPD and she is very shy.

Ari (1) is a character. She has way too much personality and keeps us running all day and all night.

Tell us a little about your family.

My husband is a chemistry professor and I am a SAHM. We live in the middle of nowhere after moving all around for a few years.

How long have you been homeschooling? Is there a story behind it?

Since birth, I suppose. When my 3rd child was born I was able to SAH with the kids. I decided to hs shortly after. My oldest decided to "try" Kindergarten which was a disaster. It was a terrible school for advanced students and she came home with notes all the time asking us to "slow her down" because the other kids couldn't keep up. Her only friend moved to TX and she was so shy that she was getting bullied and I was sick of it and pulled her after she begged me not to go ever again.

Does your homeschool have a name or a mission statement?

Nope-I am just not that creative.

What is your general homeschooling philosophy?

I like this: 'Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire'-W B Yeats. We are now generally unschoolers though I have toyed with waldorf and classical over the years trying to find a good fit for us. Unschooling seems to fit that. My Virgoness can still plan things that I would like to do, but it's up to the kids what they are interested in and whether they want anything to do with it.

Do you use a curriculum?

My oldest has Oak Meadow 3rd grade that she asked for. She is a very self-directed learner and my job is to stay out of the way and point her in the right direction for the main part. So I bought it for her if she wants to do anything with it. Otherwise, no. I just have a ton of books.

Do you or your children have any special interests or hobbies that influence your homeschooling?

We all love being outside in nature. So being able to garden, hike, and camp are a huge part of who we are.

What is your typical daily routine? weekly routine?

This is totally flexible and we rarely see a day when it comes close to being complete:
  • Wake, chores (me), eat breakfast
  • Ari floor time, sesame street and computer for A, exercise for me after that
  • Calendar, circle time (movement activities for SPD), read together, do a project
  • Outside time-garden, bike, walk, play
  • Lunch
  • A floor time, D computer
  • D floor time, M computer
  • Quiet time for all (my youngest still sleep and the oldest listen to HP on CD)
  • Snack and reading together
  • Recorder and piano practice sometimes, handcrafts and crafts other times
  • Math or science together sometimes
  • Dinner prep and clean up
  • M floor time
  • Family games or movie and cool down when we don't go to the store
  • Bed prep-clean up, baths, massage, stories and songs. The kids don't have to sleep immediately (though A passes out immediately) but they need to be in their rooms and can listen to books on CD, read, draw, whatever.
  • Ari one on one time
  • Go to bed!

Weekly: Wednesday is OT and karate, we try to pick a project a day art-wise for the kids like painting, clay, etc. because they complained that we need to do more art.

How do you evaluate progress?

I used to journal about what we do but I am horrible at keeping up with that.

Do you have any special methods/tips for planning? household organization? storage? record keeping?
I have a household binder I rarely refer to. I love Martha Stewart and her magazines always have good tips. Lots and lots of bookshelves and a trip to IKEA can solve anything, IMO. The kids have this tall drawer thing with soft drawers they keep "school stuff" which used to mean books so Ari wouldn't eat them but has come to include anything they don't want Ari to eat or tear up.
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ah... so that's what you do all day!

One question...what is floor time?

and if you haven't checked out's perfect for finding art projects!

Thanks for sharing! I always love hearing about what a day for an unschooling family is like!
So far today:

We slept in later than normal today. Ari was up from 2:30-4 am so I was really tired. The older kids slept in and A watched Sesame Street while I showered with A and got the house in semi-order.

Then I exercised with A (whose idol is Denise Austin) while the big kids ate breakfast and eventually got dressed. Then I helped D create his own blog. M helped him spell and type it up while I took Ari outside to water and check on our container garden. Our mourning dove in the backyard just had babies but we can't seem to find them and it keeps flying around. We don't know if they flew off already or what happened.

Then all the kids came out and helped with the plants and checked on their containers. They had a ton of growth in the last 2 days. We have been learning a lot about our local birds and naming them. We have mourning doves, cardinals, Eurasian tree sparrows, and European starlings we can all name now that live in our tiny yard.

Dh came home and we came inside for lunch. M started posting on her blog we created the other day. She is learning how to put pictures on there. She has her own digital camera and takes a lot of pictures. She also started writing her "adventures of snow tiger and leopard" story on her blog. It will be a multi-part story that the kids have been making up for years and writing in various forms.

After lunch, we walked to the local coffee shop and the kids got chocolate cake and mochas or hot chocolates while we had our first real family meeting inspired by moominmamma. We agreed on some allowance guidelines, talked about their education goals for this summer, figured out which instruments we need to find lessons for, and discussed our animal feeding issues (they always fight over who gets to and when). The kids got to play the piano each for awhile before we left which they love. We have a nice keyboard but pianos are always better.

We walked home and dh took Ari to work to find the phone number for someone we think might be willing to teach violin for M. I called about Aikido and we are taking them to watch a class next Monday, but M is the only one old enough for this class, so we are going to see about Tae Kwan Do in the meanwhile. Their current karate class is way too violent and disorganized. I did the dishes, started matzoh ball soup and latkes for dinner, cleaned up and did some laundry with A.

Now we are finishing dinner and I am getting a break!

More later...
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your day was very full! love the blogs.
i managed some laundry and window cleaning today and Micah managed to draw and do some spelling words and phonics work...and spend time on the computer and watching DVDs of course. that was about all of note.
i swear sometimes I'm not cut out for this homeschooling seems like we do nothing when I start to read this stuff!
is my perception skewed?

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so what does it look like when you do floor time with the kids?
can i (we) have some examples?
I think that you got far more done than I did today! Our schedule was totally off since we woke late. I like keeping a good rhythm of the day since A and D do NOT do well with change or transitions. So we had some break downs today.

As for floor time, we don't do it every day. We should, but we forget or just get busy and miss it. The kids love it when we do it. I think 1 on 1 time is important whether you have 1 or 10 kids, so I try to remember it. With D, I just say "floor time" and he always knows what he wants to do-usually Lincoln Logs. We get them out on the living room floor and he directs what we build. Sometimes we talk about things if he starts the conversation, but usually we just make silly stories about the Lincoln Loggers. With A, we usually take a walk together or cuddle and read. With M, we ride bikes, walk, or cook together.

Ari gets floor time about a hundred times a day. She really craves tons of 1 on 1 and right now she's in her "baby cave" making dh sing songs from her books and play babies. We just sit back there and she always has a plan of her own as to what she wants to do. I just make sure I don't have the plans and they pick it out. If they can't think of something, I start listing off things they like to do and they like the control over it. Sometimes the other kids join in, but only if the main floor time child decides it's ok, otherwise I try to get the others doing something like listening to books on CD or paint.

After dinner, A played Headsprout and decided she likes Reading Eggs better. Then we set up a blog for her. She dictated to me what she wanted me to write and which pictures to use.

Then we did our family C25K. Dh and I run, littles in the jogging stroller, and M and D ride bikes. M usually runs but her back has been hurting so she is taking a little break. We went longer than usual because we had to go stop at the library to drop off some books and air up the stroller tires. We got back luckily right before it started looking nasty and got our little plants inside away from the storm coming.

The kids ate a little snack and got ready for bed when we got in finally. I read some of our book on Space Disasters and Matilda by Roald Dahl while D gave me a back massage (I had to pay 2 cents-but I tipped). They are totally into space right now and we are getting Apollo 13 next from Netflix. We google about meteors all the time and M reads a lot about them. D said he did *not* want to listen to Matilda, but the girls did, so I told him I could read something else with him, but once I started it, he was entranced. Now he's fairly addicted to it and begs for more. We only read one chapter today because I am beat. M got in the shower and right now A and D are "in bed" which means writing in journals, reading, and listening to the Deathly Hallows.
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you amaze me!
of course anyone with more than two kids always amaze me! lol
the exercising alone...we try to do yoga as a family (well me and the boys) but we haven't in ages. Somehow it always turns into a wrestling match free for all...<sigh>
i like the idea of 1 on 1 time...usually i hear the term floortime used in conjection with children with autism so was curious how that looked in your family. I've never done anything like that with Micah because he gets a lot of my time anyway...but i like the spin you put on it.

Oh and we love Roald Dahl! We have James and the Giant Peach and Matilda...James being Micah's favorite.
I added the kids blogs to Micah's bookmarks...that kittycatabby just kills me!
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Yeah, Abby was jealous the big kids got a blog and she wanted one, too.

I have started the 30 day shred dvd and belly dancing "by myself" which means A and M usually join in. A's idol is Denise Austin and so sometimes she puts that one on and tries to "help" me like Denise. I prefer to exercise alone, but I'm surrounded!
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I wrote this up for yesterday:

I could not get to sleep last night and was up just laying there until about 2 am. I woke around 8:45 and turned on the plant lights. did a load of laundry and ate breakfast at the computer. Then I finished dishes and took a shower while the kids played with Ari in her baby cave. M took her turn on the computer writing up the next part of her story. D decided to write his own story and brainstormed story ideas on a piece of paper.

It is dreary out today so we won't be going out long later. Right now the kids are counting all of their change to see how much money they have. We started a logbook on google docs for them to keep track of their spending. M counted her own and right now D and A are dividing theirs up while I nurse Ari and change her. Ari and I read several books and sang some songs back in her baby cave. She is starting to count so she jumped up on D's seat and helped him put his money back in his piggy bank and counted with him.

I counted A's money with her and we talked about how much each coin was worth and what it was called. Then we picked it all up so Ari wouldn't eat it and D played with Ari. We read part of Space Disasters and talked about the Challenger. M and D made themselves lunch and we all ate when dh came home.

Ari wasn't feeling great (teething) and asked me to lay down with her but she didn't go to sleep and is running around like a mad woman spilling drinks, eating toys, gnawing on pencils, etc. as usual. D did a couple pages of picture finds to work on his visual discrimination skills totally unprompted. While I was laying down with her, D took his turn on the computer with ABC reading eggs. M was playing "school" with A and had her do handwriting practice of the letter Q. Then she did some kindergarten math pages with M and was doing addition with the help of the Cuisenaire rods. After that, A did her "work" which consists of writing in her journal and then I read The Teacher From the Black Lagoon with her and she laid down for nap. M practiced her italic handwriting to move up to cursive.

Ari finally slept and then I started dinner. Dh came home and Ari woke up after a very short nap. We finally got ahold of someone who can give M violin lessons and we got out our two violins to see which one was the right size to take and get strung Monday. A decided she was not interested in violin, but wanted to do piano, so M got out her old Bastien primer piano book and taught A a song. She scheduled future "classes" for her for Thursday.

M had girl scouts tonight. They didn't have a real meeting, just got some Earth Day worksheets and had a picture taken for Operation Homefront.

When we got back, we got snack and ready for bed while I read Matilda.
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now that was a nice full day.
cool that A has a built in teacher in M, huh?

about learning trick we played with Micah was to tape a coin on a jar with the word label and have him sort pennies from nickels etc and he learned the correct name in no time. He still confuses a quarter from a nickel until he finds George Washington.
now we just need to work on the values and the concept that mommy and daddy just can't go to the bank to "buy some more money" lol.

what do you use for Maddies handwriting? HWT? or..?

and is that violin person near?

also i wanted to say that Chad's cousin teaches karate at OCC and he may be able to help you find something better or may even do something with kids himself...not sure but if you like i can ask him?

this is likely all off topic for a forum such as this huh?

oh well i'll learn.
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It's not OT.

I was going to put them in aikido, but only M is old enough for the one near here. So I will look into Tae Kwan Do or if you could ask Chad's cousin how young he teaches, etc. that would be great.

Violin is in town. We are going monday an hour away to get her violin sized and strung. Hopefully we have the right size! And then she will start the week after that. It's not that bad-only $10 a week. Which is considerably cheaper than piano lessons here.

M has the Dubay italic handwriting. We looked at a bunch and she liked it the best. A and D use HWT which is what D uses in OT, also. But you know that.
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We woke up a bit late again. No one has been sleeping real well around here lately. But the mail came early and we got some cool stuff. We ate breakfast and while I got dressed and cleaned up a bit, the kids tried out the new Lego Crazy Contraptions set and book we got in the mail. They spent at least an hour trying things out. D was in a lego engineering class last year before we moved that was awesome, so he recognized a lot of the parts and had tons of fun. I want to get a bigger set for him.

While they finished playing, I tried to get the Gentle Leader harness on our dog and figure that out. M helped me and we finally got her in order. We talked a lot about her training and how to properly correct her and hold the leash.

Then we did circle time. Start with "Shepherd, Shepherd" and light our candle. Then we put our calender/wall chart in order with today's date. I let one kid at a time be the "helper" and they fix the calender and get to do "show and tell" which they love and pick songs for circle time. It was M's day today and she showed off the dog's collar she helped fix and sang the "Days of the Week" song. Then we talked about Earth Day and put together a list of things we can do to help out the Earth a little more. We talked about what we do already and what we can work on. We decided to go for a walk and pick up trash in our neighborhood after circle and to keep the lights off until it was dark-which we usually do anyways.

We finished circle with a "Spinning Wheel" verse to spin and folded with "Frogs" which Ari just has way too much fun with. Then we do "I can Turn Myself..." and went for our walk. The kids collected 3 wal-mart bags full of junk just in our 3 block walk. When we got back, we watered and fixed up our plants. Ari's radishes are looking almost done and our peas and carrots are growing like crazy. We ended up reading part of a Captain Underpants and the Purple Potty or something book in the driveway which the kids thought was hilarious (thanks for the suggestion Terra-pip!). I must say that it was unexpectedly philosophical and I liked it more than I thought I would.

Ari wouldn't stay off of my bike, so we all hopped on our bikes and rode around for about half an hour together. We got back just in time to eat lunch with dh. During lunch I found tons of dinosaur coloring pages and mazes and fun crafts and snack ideas and printed them for ds. He was ecstatic. So I will staple those all together for them tomorrow am. He also decided to put together his own dino field guide. We will cut cardstock into cards and he is going to write some about each dino and draw a picture and we will put a ring through it just in case he happens across any.
M did some more pages in her italic handwriting book.

The kids played outside after lunch and since it was OT day, we went to the park until it was time and dropped D off while we drove around looking for houses for sale. We picked him up and came home. Realizing a bunch of our plants needed new pots outside, we mixed all our composted manure and peat and soil together and potted tons of stuff. M mixed it all with her hands and thought it was funny. A had to get to karate by 5 pm, so we got her dressed and dh dropped her off. The kids made themselves dinner (sandwiches) and got ready for their 6 o'clock karate and we took them and picked up A. It's incredibly hectic.

While the big kids were gone, I got the Mr. Potato Head stuff out for Ari and A and I did several puzzles. That's what she picked for her floor time and she was quite proud of herself for being able to do one of the "big kid puzzles". Once M and D came home it all got a bit crazy and it took forever to get baths and animals fed and everyone wound down enough to sleep. We read some of B is for Bluegrass about Kentucky before bed and talked about my family which is from KY and a little family history. Then we read two looong chapters of Matilda until I had no voice and they laid down for bed. Now Ari is awake so I have to go to bed, too!
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Just wanted to give you a
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Today was talk like Shakespeare day. The kids and I made a point of re to talk like him and we printed off Shakespeare masks and colored them. The kids ran around outside harassing passerbys to talk like Shakespeare,which was pretty funny. We went for a bike ride to drop off some bills and read part of our B is For Bluegrass book when we got back. I printed off the story guide when we were done and M went through it. After lunch we went to terra-pip's and to the lake and thekids had fun running around.

M did some handwriting and they all watched the animated version of A Midsummer's Night Dream on YouTube. They asked to watch more tomorrow.
After dinner the kids played HP on the gamecube and we took a short walk while dh was at band practice. Then we read some of Matilda and went to bed. It was a long but fairly easy day. We accomplished almost none of the goals we had set for today, but they had fun and that's what counts.
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Hi Kittywitty! I've enjoyed reading your spotlight. Do you still have family in KY? What part of the state? I've lived in four different areas of the state, and have family in another.

My dd likes Reading Eggs better than Headsprout, too. We went ahead and got a 6 month subscription for Reading Eggs. She loves hatching critters! I've been surprised by how much she retains.

Not that you asked, but here's my method for sizing a violin: Have your dd stand with her feet about shoulder-width apart. Place the violin on her shoulder, with the scroll lining up over her left foot. The button should be hidden against her neck. Then have her wrap her left hand around the scroll and let her arm relax. If there is a slight bend to the elbow, you have the right size violin. If she has to stretch to reach the scroll, it's too big.

For a child with long arms and skinny shoulders, I go with a smaller violin.
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Thanks for the tip, Elizabeth! I think this one is just her size but she grows so fast, we will probably have to buy a new one soon. We wanted to start her a long time ago, but have had trouble finding a teacher.

My family is all from SE Kentucky-Whitley, McCreary, Clay counties, etc. We go to the family graveyard and get togethers near Hazard a lot. I still have some family down there but most moved up to Cincy awhile back. I love it down there and we go every chance we get.

I need to go ahead and sub to the Reading Eggs. They are having fun on there. I just keep forgetting!

It was a gorgeous day. After breakfast, I exercised and M worked on handwriting and then they all ran outside. We worked on our garden and then brought out the Lego Crazy Contraptions and D and I made a few things. A figured out how to make tops with them and we tried to see how far we could get our rubber band vehicle to go. M decided to get her bathing suit on and go under the hose outside. I warned them it would be freezing but they found out the hard way.
Ari was not happy with the water but had fun running around outside butt naked until I caught her and got her dressed again.

Then we took a walk and found a couple new flowers we couldn't identify (but forgot to look up!). D played TimezAttack when we got back. I downloaded it awhile back and had it on the desktop and wanted to play. He liked it. It was pretty difficult but he got a lot of the numbers like 2 x 6, 2 x 10, 2 x 4. Then he got on Pixie Hollow and played some ABC Reading Eggs.

After lunch, we went for week 2 of our C25K together. It was a lot harder for M this time and she is going to bike next time. A and M got hosed off again when we got back because they were really hot. M helped me start the pizza dough for dinner. Her life goal is to be a chef so she works on multiplication and fractions when we have to make more than one batch of something. Then she helped me start the butterscotch pudding for our pie which took forever. When that was finished, we made coffee cake muffins for breakfast and she mixed all the streusel up herself and made the muffins. Then she made her own pizza. M and I ate fast because the library book sale started at 5 pm and we wanted to get there on time. We ended up being a little late. But M took her own money and got a big stack of books and bought some for the other kids. I got a pretty good deal on a bunch of books, too.

After the book sale, we got home and D was playing HP and the POA on the Gamecube and the kids played outside a bit and then we ate our pie and some fruit salad. I read Matilda before bed and did some 1001 Things To See (or spot?) in Ancient Times with A. Then Ari finally passed out after not napping all day and I did laundry.
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Oh no, I forgot Talk Like Shakespeare Day! What a bummer!

Baking Day sounds fabulous. I got hungry just reading about everything you made. DD and DS are starting to get into cooking and I love how math works its way into that so easily.
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