Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Back to School

As of today, we are officially four weeks into our 2009-2010 homeschooling year! After spending two years homeschooling through Connecting Waters Charter School with Natalie, we decided to try something new. Max is now in Kindergarten and Natalie is completing second grade through a virtual public charter school called CAVA (California Virtual Academy) that uses the K12 curriculum....and so far, so good!

The lessons are engaging, the kids are excited about learning, the program successfully employs technology in reinforcing concepts, and, best of all, I don't have to spend countless hours selecting and ordering curriculum, lesson planning, and scheduling our learning. Much of the administrative tasks are handled virtually through the CAVA website. The curriculum provides multiple opportunities to connect with the content through visual, audial, kinesthetic, musical, mathematical-logical, and naturalistic learning modes.

The most difficult thing about starting a new program has been getting the kids into more of a regimented schedule. After having had so much freedom with their time during their early years, it has been a struggle to spend several hours completing "schoolwork," however, we are trying hard to complete our required work before noon so that we have afternoons and evenings free to read, play, and explore individual interests.

Two weeks into the curriculum, we switched to block-scheduling so that we can devote more time to a given subject for one day each week. We continue to do language arts and math daily, but now have history Mondays, science Tuesdays, art Wednesdays, language Thursdays, and music Fridays. With block-scheduling, we still have time for weekly fieldtrips, library visits, park days, nature hikes, art lessons, 4-H, Cub Scouts, music lessons, church activities, community service projects, and Victory Sports League. Our lives are rich with stimulating educational and social activities that contribute in the character development of each of our unique family members!

This year, Natalie is taking a Spanish language course provided by PowerSpeak. She has enjoyed creating an avatar and earning virtual dollars when she completes her lessons. She can then use her earnings to purchase clothing and hairstyles for her avatar. Natalie uses a headset to record pronunciations of rehearsed vocabulary which is then graded by a real person who responds to her assignments.

Max's favorite subject is math, however he claims he loves all of his subjects. So far he has traveled to Australia and Spain in history, explored the five senses in science, studied portraiture in art, read several wonderful fairy tales and poems, and has been singing up a storm.

Although not enrolled in the CAVA music curriculum, Natalie's favorite subject is music. Aunt Krissy comes over once a week to teach Natalie piano, and Madeline and Max join in to learn about rhythm, beat, and other introductory musical concepts. All three delight in music...and their cheerful aunt!

While Natalie and Max are busy working, Madeline runs wild in the backyard, plays with the animals, performs gymnastics on the swing set, and schemes in her playhouse. When she gets tired of the outdoors, she comes inside to do puzzles, clay, paints, computer games, or join in on the science experiments. She is a patient child who delights when her older siblings are available to play with her. We joke that Madeline is 3 going on 13 as she seems so mature for her age and insists on playing with the big kids, not the "babies."

It will be rewarding to see how much the kids grow and develop this year--we are grateful that I am able to stay at home with our children and offer them a rich and varied education from our home.
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The DeVito's said...

Those are great pictures! I'm glad the homeschooling is going well. You are more patient than me!

april said...

janine -- you are awesome!! i love how passionate you are. I wish I had your energy :)
I'll keep checking in with your blog to check out everyones progress
Thanks for sharing

a guy with moustache said...

great photographs. :)

bodybyfitnessmeme said...

Hello! I've enjoyed reading your post on Cava . Thank you for sharing. I'm pulling my son who is in the 1st grade right now out of his current school and enrolling him in Cava. I also have a 4 year old girl that I'm currently home preschooling. We live in the east bay area as well. I'm excited to have found your blog.