Tuesday, April 28, 2009

School for Next Year or Not??

I am exhausted after a couple of weeks visiting and observing in schools and researching homeschooling. I think I found a school that I can live with and that my children will love and I am still considering homeschooling. Below I talk about both.

Montessori Schools
Here is a few things I was looking for(important to me) and observed. In blue is my answers to the one school I narrowed it down to.

1. Time it would take me to drive there with traffic. (20 min)
2. Does the school go through elementary? (yes, 8th grade)
3. Do the children have access to the outside from their classrooms to work? AND Can they do it freely? (Yes, and YES)
4. How much outside space do they have to run and play? (the school sits on 3 acres of land. there are two huge play areas. One has the typical play equipment and the other is the nature side with a pond, gardens, etc.. They trade areas weekly)
5. Are there two certified teachers in the classroom? (Yes until after lunch. After lunch the younger kids go home and the older kids stay with one teacher. This is usually 10-12 kids)
6. How where the teachers speaking to the children? Softly and respectfully? Yes
7. How where the children interacting with one another? I liked what I saw
8. Did the children seem happy and engaged? Yes
9. How where the children re-directed when needed? I liked what I saw
10. Do the teachers track what works the children have had lessons on and have worked on? and if so, how do they do this? Yes, one teacher is responsible for tracking the younger kids that stay half day and the other teacher tracks the other children.
11. Did I feel comfortable with the Director, secretary, teachers and staff and just the overall feeling? ( Basically, did I feel it was right?) Yes
10. How did the teacher help the children resolve problems? I liked what I saw
11. Are parents encouraged to volunteer in the classrooms? Yes Are parents welcomed? Yes
12. Do 4 and 5 year olds have to nap? This is torture for my son at his current school. No naps.
13. Can 5 year olds (Kinder students) just go half days? (Most schools don't allow this. This school allows half day Kinder)
14. Do they have a 2 to 3 hours uninterrupted work period? You won't believe how some schools Primary schedule looks more like a traditional schedule due to so many special classes. (2.5 hours in the morning)

To find the answers, I spoke to 4 parents who have their children there or have had their children at the school. I observed in both primary classrooms for 40 minutes and in one of the elementary classrooms for one hour. I observed in the morning in the Primary classrooms. I will be going back next week to observe outside play time, lunch and afternoon time. I spoke to the teachers after school was out so I could get answers to some of my questions and some answers I got from the Director or Moms.


With homeschooling I have talked to several moms in my neighborhood who homeschool and several college students I have taught that have been homeschooled. Some mom's homeschool and their children attend Coops and some parents have their kids in a part-time school. The part-time school is a two day a week school with a classical curriculum. The parents follow the schools curriculum to teach at home.

I have spent many hours reading books, articles, and also looking at health insurance. We have a problem with health insurance. We would have to pay $650 a month on health insurance if we put our family on my husbands health insurance. We are planning on a third child so we really need a good health insurance specially since I have to have C-sections with my children. Right now my main concern is health insurance. OR my other choice is to keep my job and homeschool.

My husband is fully supportive to do either. I'm leaning towards trying out this school. It seems like a wonderful place to learn.

My husband still needs to visit the school and then we will sit down talk and figure this out!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Summer Language Institute

Someone asked me about the Foreign Language training I attended last summer. Here is a link to their website: http://home.hockaday.org/FLES/
It is the National FLES Institute of Texas for Foreign Language Teachers. This was SO SO great. You come home with TONS of resources, songs and games. There were teachers there from all over the United States in the areas of Spanish, French and German. It is very affordable even if you are not in Texas since this school provides, for a small fee, meals, room and board. This school is a K-12 school for girls only. It is a BEAUTIFUL campus in a beautiful area of Dallas. They have events every evening so you can get out and see the sights.

Check it out. They also have scholarships which I applied for last year and received 1/2 tuition scholarship. My school paid the rest. See if you school will pay for you. You never know until you ask!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spanish for the past three weeks

The Primary classes (ages 3-6) met for two weeks while elementary was testing. We worked on learning how to say Happy Easter "Feliz Dia de Pascuas", Easter Bunny - "El Conejo de Pascuas" and Easter Eggs - "Huevos de Pascuas". I printed Pictures of these on cardstock and everyone got to pass them around while we sang about each and we discussed their color and how many eggs there were. I am working a lot more with the Primary now on asking questions and seeing if they understand the question and then asking them to answer me in Spanish. I do not require complete sentences. I am just happy if I ask "What color is the bunny-De que color es el conejo" and they say "Rosa-Pink"!! I am happy even if they say Pink (in English) because I know they understood the question. If I get the answer in English, I will say that it is correct and see if anyone can tell me how to say it in Spanish.

Las Ruedas del Camión
In the Prmary class they also learned "The Wheels on the Bus" "Las Ruedas del Camión". There are so many different Spanish versions of this song but I like using the word "Camion" for bus and Cuidad for Town.
Here is a link to the words to the song. I also add the windows - las ventanas se suben y se bajan. Mrs. Shivers Class.

In the Lower and Upper Elementary we started playing another memory game like this one but I am using numbers between 10 and 100 and 100-500. I have the fruits and vegetables as the vocabulary we are reviewing while learning these numbers. The children have a work on the shelf to match the number to the number word. For Example: 10 diez.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Lately on our Shelfs

The picture above is the Spanish work my son has been doing. I describe it here.

Above: I've been adding different things to string with the beads. For Easter I printed little eggs different colors with the name of the color on it so they could string along with the beads. I added little holes at the top of each little egg for stringing. I got the eggs from first-school. I love this website of printables. We do many of the crafts found on this website.

Below: Picnic and learning in our backyard.

Below: Geography and the books for the moth or week depending on interest.

Monday, April 13, 2009

What we've been up to lately at home & We got a table!

Here is what we have been working on at home lately.

Practical Life all of the time. They love to open the boiled eggs and cut their fruit.

Notice the table. I looked for a wood table for the kids for months and finally found what I wanted! This is the table on the target.com store. It is called Avalon Natural Table. What I like about it is 1) very sturdy 2) table is 22 or 23 inches tall. Tall enough for my son and 3) the seats of the chairs are wide. I went to craigslist.com and found an independent seller in my area and bought it new in box for more than 50% less than I would have purchased it from the store. $100 and no shipping and no tax. I purchased many many things from craigslist. It is great. If you don't feel comfortable going to someones home you can always meet them which I have done several times. I have purchased bikes, play kitchen, rugs, toys, scrapbooking suppies and more.

Painting. Notice the "Mud" I told you my daughter paints!!! She does paint some nice pictures onces in a while! Sweet boy did paint the planets the other day which I was impressed since he usually just moves paint around!

The symphony with my sons school.

The baseball game with friends from my husbands work.

The Arboretum with friends.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Geometry Training: Geometry Stick Box

The child gets the opportunity to construct and explore the geometric nomenclature using the Geometry Stick Box. This geometry stick box is something you can easily create on your own and if you are homeschooling you do not need so many sticks.

There is a self healing board and a box that is divided into 12 sections.
10 Sections - Colored Sticks. Each set of sticks has a different length and different color.
2cm-brown 12cm - light brown
4cm-purple 14cm- pea green
6cm-orange 16cm - pink
8cm-red 18cm - blue
10cm-black 20cm-yellow

The colors are arbitrary and have no connection to the bead bars. There is one hole at each end of the stick. These measurements are from one hole to the other. Two or three sticks within each set have holes all along the stick, rather than just at the ends.

Additionally, this box contains sticks of natural wood that is used in upper elementary for hypotenuse work, thumb tacks, brads, and measuring angles.
There is also a few other items in there that are not used in lower elementary geometry.

This yellow and red triangle is a measuring angle that comes in the box.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Geometry Training: Nomenclature Introduction

The last part of my Geometry Training for ages 6-9 was the Classified Nomenclature.
The nomenclature is divided into eight series. Each series consists of the following material.

A. Three-part cards - labels to match the pictures and definitions corresponding to the pictures.
B. Wall Chart
C. Booklet - Picture and labe on the left, label and definition on the right.

If you purchase the material from Montessori R&D it is color coded. The colors are arbitrary except for the first series, which is a gold color because the golden bead material is used to introduce the child to the basic concepts in this series. You can use folders to match the color of the material to help organization. It is a lot of Nomenclature.

Gold Series: Basic ideas of point, line, plane, and solid. These are the basic elements of plane and solid geometry.
Light Green Series - Study of lines
Yellow Series - Study of Angles
Pink Series - Study of plane figures
Gray Series - Study of the first polygon - the triangle
Light Beige Series - Study of quadrilaterals
Red Series - Study of regular polygons
Green Series - Study of the circle

For the exception of the Gold Series, material needed for all of these is the Geometry Stick Box. My next post is on this Stick Box Material.

Free Montessori Books Online

Did you know that you can find Maria's Books Online, free to download?
The Montessori Elementary Material was reprinted and re-titled to Volume II of The Advanced
Montessori Method. This book can be downloaded here: http://www.archive.org/details/montessorielemen027888mbp This book written by Maria Montessori contains information on teaching Grammar, Math and Geometry.

I did a search on Montessori on this archive site and found 64 founds written by Maria or about the Montessori method.