Monday, March 30, 2009

I live in Mayberry...

Well, maybe not literally, but it sure feels like it.

Last Friday night my husband, father-in-law and I went up to the local IGA for the Friday night Bluegrass Concert.

Yes, you heard me right. Leonard, the owner, moved the banana table to the side, set up some chairs and then the band came in. They set up speakers and microphones by the deli and then they were good to go.

I am not kidding! I was laughing to myself most of the time because it tickled me so much. And you should have seen the poor folks who were trying to fight their way through the audience to buy apples and salad in a bag. I saw one lady pushing her shopping cart down the aisle while doing a sort of down-home stomping dance [remember Jed Clampett?].

To be fair, the music was really good. Besides Crazy Joe Gerlach on the Dobro, there were other musicians on the bass, the guitar, the banjo and the mandolin. It was great.

Drew Scaggs--son of Ricky--played guitar and the musicians kept trading places and trading being the lead singer. They were all very good. It was kind of amazing that this high quality of music was being played in the produce section of IGA. People were smiling and clapping and were all in generally good humor.

Some folks brought their own chairs so there would be enough seating. Also, there were hotdogs available in the deli for $1.00, chili dogs for $1.50. Crazy Joe suggested people buy the chili dogs if "you aren't kissing anyone tonight."

It was really a little slice of Americana only 2 blocks from home. More Friday night concerts are planned and I can honestly say I look forward to getting a front row seat right next to the cabbage!

I have to say that once I saw what a treasure this was, my great husband went home to retrieve my camera. Thanks, Bob, for making this blog post seem a bit more real.

[Photos: top, Drew Skaggs singing, see the deli in the background?; middle photos showing the seats along the produce section-one of the empty ones is mine; bottom a photo of all the folks in chairs].

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I love books...

I love books!

I once cut out a comic that has a tiny little pastor sitting behind a small desk that has a looming book case behind it, towering above the pastor and the small lady he is talking to. We can only guess what she said, but he says,

“Books are not things of this world.” [Amen!]

Because of my love for books, I guess it was a no-brainer that when I got more experienced as a homeschool mom I branched out into literature unit studies with my kids. The year I did this the kids were in 9th, 7th, 5th and 1st grades, with a 3 year old thrown in for good measure! We did a study of animation and read biographies of Walt Disney and Bill Peet—and did some animation besides. We did a Robert Louis Stevenson study and read his biography and a few of his books—anyone for buried treasure? And we did a few other equally intriguing studies as well. WE all loved it!

But the planning about killed me. So, the following year it was back to textbooks. A few years later I discovered a curriculum that was literature based, but had daily lesson plans. Amazing! I mean, I literally wept for joy. And that started my love affair with Sonlight Curriculum.

There are a lot more literature based curricula out in the market place now, and people ask me all the time why Sonlight is better or how it is different. I am not an expert on all cururricula, but I can tell you how Sonlight is unique.

~Reading Great Books inspires children to do their own hands on activities such as drawings, writings, making pyramids out of sugar cubes and constructing beaver dams out of sticks and mud and so on. After reading a book on Samuel Morse my kids actually made a working telegraph system that ran between their bedrooms! I stayed out of their way and was called upstairs to stand in amazement when they sent messages the 40 feet-from one end of their attic bedrooms to the other.

Many curricula have plans for moms to spend lots of time and money preparing coordinating hands on activities. And some people like that. But I believe we just need to provide a learning-rich environment and great books—that's all you need. The kids will take it from there.

~Sonlight's goal [and my personal goal] is that of creating Ambassadors for Christ that are equipped to reach THIS generation. With Sonlight's broad base of books and their detailed IG teacher notes, children are taught to "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."

I know with the well rounded education they get from Sonlight that our children have been prepared to go to a our state universities, sit with people of varying backgrounds; not be judgmental, but seek to understand where the person is coming from, then show Christ's love to that person--as an Ambassador.

I found many curricula try to advance their own agenda, but with Sonlight the information is given to you and then it is up to you to interpret it to your kids. The study notes constantly remind us to measure what this person or nation did by looking to God's word. The notes are very balanced and lead kids to learn how to think critically and not to believe something just because it is in a book.

~And, I think the thing that makes Sonlight head and shoulders above any other curriculum is the Instructor's Guides [IG]! If you are convinced that the literature approach is the way you want to go, look at Sonlight’s Instructor's Guides. They are amazing--and another benefit, you can get all the books from Sonlight so there are no fruitless trips to the library and/or the book store. The editions match the IG right down to the paragraph and page number. The IGs save you so much time, and are so complete, they are unparalleled.

And that is why if you love books, love creativity and want to raise ambassadors for Christ who can think critically, Sonlight is the perfect curriculum.

Take care,

Jill

[Pictures, top to bottom: A picture of the kids the year I wrote my own unit studies-here we are at Gettysburg; the other two pictures are ones I like of the older boys reading to the younger kids.]

Homeschool? Me? I don't know everything...

And some mornings I wonder if I know anything at all.

I hear this question a lot:

"How can I homeschool, I don't know everything? I am not a teacher."

I want to ask you, “Does anyone know everything?” I mean, I probably know a lot of stuff you don’t know, and you probably know a lot of stuff I don’t know, and yet we are functioning adults and do quite well.

We do not need to know everything in order to teach our children. We can learn right along with them. And, we really do not need to teach them everything they need to know by the time they are 18. Haven’t you learned a LOT since you were 18? I bet you thought you knew a lot when you were that age and now you realize how little you knew then. More frightening yet, is how little you know now. It seems like the more we learn, the more we realize we don't know. But, maybe that is a discussion for another day.

Take heart! Teachers don’t know everything either. Doctors, lawyers, rocket scientists—they don’t know everything either. In fact, and this is the honest truth, I talked to a rocket scientist last year. She and her rocket scientist husband were going to homeschool their five year old so she called me for advice.

I was mentioning how she could teach using literature and how effective that can be. She didn’t know she should be reading aloud to their children! I mean can you believe that? Here is a rocket scientist, someone who we think should know it all, or at least know a LOT, and I was giving her advice about reading aloud to her children in order to develop language skills, family closeness and to transfer core beliefs. She didn't know that. She learned something new that day and so did I.

No one knows everything.

Also, if you really get stumped, help is pretty close. I have found that there are people in my community that can help if chemistry or calculus is more than you can teach. There are community college classes that students as young as 14-15 can take. There are co-ops and other opportunities—tutors if you need them and the amount of help you can get on line or with DVD's and the like is staggering.

Maybe one of the best lessons your children will learn is that "we are not quitters" and "you're never too old to learn something new." I think if our kids see that someone as ancient as mom or dad can tackle Algebra 2 for the first time, surely they can do anything they set their minds to.

You don’t need to know everything. What you need is a strong desire to enable your child to learn as much as he can in the time you have him home. You can help him pursue his desires and encourage him as he struggles though something that does not come easy. You can learn Calculus along with him if you need to, or have him take it away from home.

Homeschooling does not mean that you know everything or that you have to teach everything. I loved it when my kids would say, “You didn’t know that, did you Mom?” And I didn’t. We learned it together.

What a blessing, to learn along side of your children.

Sometimes you teach, sometimes you learn, sometimes you tutor or mentor and sometimes you bring in outside help.

You can do it. You can homeschool. Take the first step now and don’t worry about chemistry labs and foreign language. You can worry about that when the time comes. And when the time comes you will be surprised how many different ways there are to accomplish an incredible high school education without going to a traditional school. You can do it-I know you can.

Take care,

Jill

[Photos: High school student Cris with book written and illustrated by Cris; Chad and Dusty in middle school working on school work, Scotty learning outdoor cooking.]

Monday, March 16, 2009

High School Credits for Sonlight Cores

Many parents I talk to ask me how to translate the Sonlight Core Programs into high school credits. I am not an expert on this, nor do I have any special insights or training into granting high school credits. But, I have graduated two children who used Sonlight for high school and I can offer some idea of what is possible. My two children we accepted into state universities and a Christian college without any problems. They went on to state universities and did very well.

This is not any kind of official advice, just one mom giving you a place to start as you consider translating Sonlight cores into high school credits. You may also want to check this post on creating high school transcripts.

Core 5: Eastern Hemisphere and LA 5
[I do feel this course is high school worthy. My older boys went to public high school starting in 10th grade and these studies are way more than they did for world history, but use your own judgment. You may want to add extra research or more in depth writing]

• World Cultures or Eastern Hemisphere or Eastern Hemisphere Geography: 1 credit
• English: 1 credit [If you increase the difficulty and expectations of the writing assignments and make sure they do the research in the Eastern Hemisphere Explorer]
• Geography: ½ credit if you student does all the mapping assignments and does a bit more research on the areas studied
• Bible: ½ credit

Core Alt 7 or 7 with LA
[I do feel these are both high school worthy. My older boys went to public high school starting in 10th grade and these studies are way more than they did for world history, but use your own judgment. You may want to add extra research or more in depth writing]


• World History [Alt 7] or Modern World History [Core 7]: 1 credit
• English: 1 credit [You may want to break this down into composition and world literature, ½ credit each, but I just called it an English class]
• Bible [an elective]: ½ to 1 credit depending on time spent

Core 100-American History in Depth

• American History : 1 credit
• English : 1 credit [You may want to break this down into composition and literature, ½ credit each, but I just called it an English class]
• Bible [an elective]: ½ -1 credit depending on time spent

Core 200- History of God’s Kingdom

• Church History or Western Civilization or World History [depending on what you child needs and what type of college, secular or Christian, they are applying to]: 1 credit
• English [You may want to break this down into composition and literature, ½ credit each, but I just called it an English class]
• If you child just does only literature part, you may want to call it Classic Literature and give 1 credit for it, and perhaps give ½ credit for composition.
• Bible: 1 credit

Core 300- 20th Century World History

• World History, Modern World History or World History 20th Century: 1 credit
• Modern World Literature: 1 credit
• English : 1 credit
• Bible study: 1 credit
*As a note, I would give this if the student has done most of the writing assignments. If they did considerably less, I would give 1 English credit and maybe ½ credit of World Lit.

Core 400: Government/ Civics

• American Government or Advanced American History: 1 credit
• Civics or Political Science or Constitutional Law: 1 credit
• American Literature: 1 credit
• English: 1 credit
• Bible: 1+ credits [Depending on time spent and depth of discussion with parent/mentor]

Core 530: British Literature

• British Literature: 1 credit
• English or Composition: 1 credit

High School Credits for Sonlight Cores

High School Credits for Sonlight Cores

Many parents I talk to ask me how to translate the Sonlight Core Programs into high school credits. I am not an expert on this, nor do I have any special insights or training into granting high school credits. But, I have graduated two children who used Sonlight for high school and I can offer some idea of what is possible. My two children we accepted into state universities and a Christian college without any problems. They went on to state universities and did very well. This is not any kind of official advice, just one mom giving you a place to start as you consider translating Sonlight cores into high school credits. [You may want to check one of my past blogs for how to make a transcript.[

Core 5: Eastern Hemisphere and LA 5 [I do feel this course is high school worthy. My older boys went to public high school starting in 10th grade and these studies are way more than they did for world history, but use your own judgment. You may want to add extra research or more in depth writing]

· World Cultures or Eastern Hemisphere or Eastern Hemisphere Geography: 1 credit

· English: 1 credit [If you increase the difficulty and expectations of the writing assignments and make sure they do the research in the Eastern Hemisphere Explorer]

· Geography: ½ credit if you student does all the mapping assignments and does a bit more research on the areas studied

· Bible: ½ credit

Core Alt 7 or 7 with LA [I do feel these are both high school worthy. My older boys went to public high school starting in 10th grade and these studies are way more than they did for world history, but use your own judgment. You may want to add extra research or more in depth writing]

· World History [Alt 7] or Modern World History [Core 7]: 1 credit

· English: 1 credit [You may want to break this down into composition and world literature, ½ credit each, but I just called it an English class]

· Bible [an elective]: ½ to 1 credit depending on time spent

Core 100-American History in Depth

· American History : 1 credit

· English : 1 credit [You may want to break this down into composition and literature, ½ credit each, but I just called it an English class]

· Bible [an elective]: ½ -1 credit depending on time spent

Core 200- History of God’s Kingdom

· Church History or Western Civilization or World History [depending on what you child needs and what type of college, secular or Christian, they are applying to]: 1 credit

· English [You may want to break this down into composition and literature, ½ credit each, but I just called it an English class]

· If you child just does only literature part, you may want to call it Classic Literature and give 1 credit for it, and perhaps give ½ credit for composition.

· Bible: 1 credit

Core 300- 20th Century World History

· World History, Modern World History or World History 20th Century: 1 credit

· Modern World Literature: 1 credit

· English : 1 credit

· Bible study: 1 credit

As a note, I would give this if the student has done most of the writing assignments. If they did considerably less, I would give 1 English credit and maybe ½ credit of World Lit.

Core 400: Government/ Civics

· American Government or Advanced American History: 1 credit

· Civics or Political Science or Constitutional Law: 1 credit

· American Literature: 1 credit

· English: 1 credit

· Bible: 1+ credits [Depending on time spent and depth of discussion with parent/mentor]

Core 530: British Literature

· British Literature: 1 credit

· English or Composition: 1 credit

Monday, March 9, 2009

Springtime in Kentucky...

Well, today was it! Today spring has come to Kentucky. You may wonder how I know since it is not March 20th. I know because my first daffodil bloomed. And that says more than spring to me.

It says hope and promise and new beginnings. The first flower of spring always makes hope spring eternal in the human breast. It means the long cold winter is over and newness is here.

If you have had a bad school year, or a hard winter--if you have had sickness, or struggles or depression, take heart! God is making all things new. We get a chance to start over, to start fresh, to bloom anew.

OK, maybe I sound too Pollyanna, but I really believe it.

Every spring I look back and re-evaluate the past 6-9 months and then look ahead to what I can do differently in the future to make next year better. If you are raising young kids, look at how far you have come and then make plans for what needs to be done in the future. Somehow the coming of spring makes it possible to renew our vision and go forward with confidence.

I took a drive today to take some spring pictures, but almost everything still looked pretty dead. The grass is greener, but the trees are still bare. At any rate, I will share a few with you...perhaps in a couple of weeks I will post some photos when the red buds are in bloom.

Honestly, there is nothing better than springtime in Kentucky.



Take care,
Jill

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Other Blog...Paths to Learning

Because of the new way Sonlight Consultants do business, I needed to create a new blog because that is the way Sonlight could create a Sonlight Landing Page for me. They took the first two posts from my new blog to make it.

I have posted some of the same posts there, that I have here, but I have some different ones too. My new blog is http://jillevely.blogspot.com/ and my landing page is www.sonlight.com/jillevely

You might want to take a look over there. I am not sure if I will keep up both blogs, or just mainly post on the new one. For now, I will keep them both active and see how it goes. Today's post is "Never Tease a Weasel."

If you have any friends that are interested in Sonlight Curriculum or Homeschooling, you might want to check out my Special Spring Book Drawing which is detailed here:
Take care
Jill

[photo:
An afternoon on our KY Farm]

Friday, March 6, 2009

It was the Mother Board!


My computer is back and working fine. I added photos to Maple Syrup Day. I love the one where Molly and Jen are on one side of the saw and Chad is on the other. It took both girls to match Chad in muscle power.

Can you see my smiling?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I should have my computer back by tomorrow...

Hopefully I will get my computer back tomorrow afternoon. :) I am excited to see that Sonlight has the proofs for the new catalog. I am hoping to get my supply by my first homeschool convention of the season which is April 3-4. Check out the proofs!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My computer is still in the shop...

ARGH! My computer is still in the shop and I don't think I realized how much I depended on it until it was gone.

I have four different emails located in 3 different sites on the web. In real life--my life with my computer--they all come into one convenient location. Ahh, so easy. But in this life--my life with my husband's computer-- I have to log in to 3 different sites to see all my email.

And that isn't all.

I have forums that I moderate and I need 2 URL's to view and moderate them. I have my blogs, the forums I follow and an on-line soap and candle business; all these require different sites and passwords. Did I mention my on-line banking? And how about stuff that is in my computer, in My Documents, that I can't access? I am telling you, I am totally too dependent on my computer. Totally!

But, I found a great tool called iGoogle and set up a homepage that I can access from my husband's computer. I put my calendar on it, links to all the sites I need to access, links to all my email accounts and so on. It is not like my computer, but it is pretty good. If you don't have iGoogle as your homepage I heartily recommend it. With it, no matter what computer you are using, you pull up you homepage and all your sites [all your life!] are right there!

I still can't access my cookbook and my camera software that are in and on my computer, but things are a lot better than Saturday night, the first night without my computer. Sure we can't eat or I can't post a picture on this blog, but it's not too bad.

I guess this post has not been about parenting or homeschooling or anything I normally write about, but it seems so important to me right now. My husband's computer is nice, but it does not have the personality that mine does.

Wait! What am I saying?

I cannot believe I am so attached to an electronic device--I almost feel like a kid again!

Take care,
Jill

[Who hopes my next blog post will have some new pictures and I can add some maple syrup day photos!]

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Maple Syrup Day...


Yesterday was Maple Syrup Day. Doesn't that sound sweet?

When you think of Maple Syrup you probably think of Vermont or Canada, but in Southern Indiana there is a great Maple Syrup family farm that produces about 1000 gallons of syrup per year. That is about 60,000 gallons of maple water that gets boiled down to make syrup! That is a LOT of boiling and evaporation.

We had grilled chicken with maple Bar-B-Q sauce that was fantastic! We also bought maple cotton candy and maple sugar, but the highlight of the day for most of the gang we has with us was the hatchet throwing. Yes, you heard that right!

In a society where every playground is padded and every kid has to wear a helmet on a bike and be strapped in a car seat till they are practically adult--on Maple Syrup day adults and kids can throw real hatchets at a wood target. Sure, most don't stick and go flying off to the side--but there is a certain satisfaction is the act itself. And, after the flying hatchets, we went over to the cross cut saw area where two of us [or three if one side needs extra help] pull the huge saw back and forth, back a forth, until a round piece falls off. Success! The slice is then taken to the fire where a nice young man brands it with a maple leaf brand!

And the price--FREE! Yes the whole family fun day is free. All you pay for is whatever you eat or the 10 bags of maple cotton candy that you take home. [Oops, did I type that out loud? Now you know.] Yep, I took home 10 bags of cotton candy, 2# of maple sugar candy and a gallon of Maple Syrup.

I will post pictures in a day or two as soon as I can get my sticky camera plugged into my computer. Ugh!

Take care,
Jill