Friday, August 31, 2012

Apologia Biology Module 1

This year, we are studying Apologia Biology for our science curriculum.  We have a couple other families that are doing the labs with us on Friday afternoons and today was our first lab.  We invested in this wonderful microscope and digital camera so we could share with you all our discoveries.  It was very exciting learning about our new tools of discovery.  Look at what all we saw.

This is an inner cheek scraping of oldest son, 40x with Methylene Blue contrast.

This is Millie the cat's hair at 40x

This is a grouping of youngest son's sloughed off skin cells from his head (frequently called dandruff) at 40x

This was our basic sewing thread, 40x

We all got to learn about the microscope, how to prepare a wet slide, mount it on the microscope stage and bring our objects in to focus.  It is going to be a great biology year.

O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all.  The earth is full of Your possessions- Psalms 104:24 NKJV

Blessings as you ponder God's Wonderful Creation! Suzie

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Homeschool Priorities

If you have home schooled for any length of time, I am sure you experienced what I did last Friday night.  It was our annual back-to-school night for our local home school group.  We all brought our covered dishes, ate, visited, caught up on the summers' events and then settled down to look at all the activities that are being offered in our home school group this year.  WOW!  What a plethora! Band, co-op, volleyball, soccer, Keepers and Contenders Clubs, moms meeting, field trips, etc.  You name it, and it could be done with this group.  All of it is very wholesome and good things for our children to do.  Many of the co-op classes are God-centered, Soccer includes scripture memorization, and all volleyball practices start with devotional and prayer.  These are all really good things.  I got caught up in it all these things last year just about drove myself and the children crazy doing all these 'good' things.  There needed to be a different way.  When our term ended last year, I determined to figure out what the purpose of all the good things was. The first question we asked was 'so why are we doing this thing called homeschool?' Dear husband and I reconsidered our homeschool priorities and decided on the following parameters for our extra curricular activities this year.

1. All extra curricular activities will take place preferably in the afternoon, and evening if necessary.  Most evenings need to be kept for family and Bible study.
2.  God's Word is primary, next,  musical instruction outside of the home will take priority over all other extra activities.
3.  We will not participate in any activity where amount of time required is left open ended.  We have had a couple of activities in the past that were like time robbers.  Just when you thought you had prepared for that activity, you needed to spend more time preparing something else for it. 
4.  We decided that we need to do things in small groups with other friends, rather than in large crowds (ie: co-op classes).  This would provide  more flexibility.  Thus, we decided to do a small group for Biology Lab.  There are only about five children...nice!
5.  We also decided to do away with curriculum that required a lot of teacher preparation.  That is time that I was taking away from my children to prepare their schoolwork.  

Then I went to work on a master schedule.  To give you an idea of what it looks like see the pictures below.

Now let me explain that a master schedule is a guide, I don't let it master ME!  It is simply an organized way for me to keep track of where we need to be at different times during the day.

I did a lot of thinking and researching over the summer as I really wanted to know the value of giving my children extra curricular activities. Was this important?  Why was this important?  I went to a book called Home Educated and Now Adults, a book of research done by Brian D. Ray, PhD.  The copy write date on this book is 2004 and the people participating in the study were all recent  home school graduates, which means these children were being home schooled in the 1980's and 1990's when no one really knew what homeschooling was and there certainly wasn't many other home schoolers around to do activities with.  My big question was, 'Are my children going to grow up to be normal, productive, Christian, citizens able to interact in everyday society even if I don't subject them to every type of social situation imaginable?"  The resounding answer supported by research is, yes!  In fact, they will be better prepared.

"The Home-Educated adults in this study were more civically involved than the overall national population" (pg 75)
The last page of the book, labeled 'Final Comment' states, "In summary, the home-educated adults in this study were very positive about having been homeschooled and toward homeschooling in general, actively engaged in their local communities, keeping abreast of current affairs, highly civically involved, tolerant of others expressing their viewpoints, attaining relatively high levels of formal education, religiously active and wide-ranging in their worldview beliefs, holding worldview beliefs similar to those of their parents, and largely home educating their own children." pg. 85

After much prayer and meditation on scripture, we  have done away with a lot of activities and replaced them with activities at home and with family.  Several classes are done as a family (Biology and Writing) and I like how the year is going.  I am spending time with my children.  This is how I always thought homeschooling should be.  I am learning to do my best and trust in the Lord for the rest.  He will take up the slack.

'I will love You, O Lord, my strength, The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer;  My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.'
 Psalms 18:1-2   

As you are planning your school year, may you trust in the Lord to guide all your ways. You and your children will be blessed.  Prayers and blessings for a fantastic year,  Suzie