Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What Our Day Looks Like.....

Spend a day with us, well, through a blog post anyway!

Our day usually starts at about 7:30 a.m and looks something like this! (Not every day is the same of course, you can never plan for the unexpected. We have MANY days where our schedule looks a little different!)

7:30 a.m-We wake up. We snuggle and talk for about 15 minutes before getting up for the day.

7:45 a.m- We make the beds (or fold up our blankets if we camp out in the living room the night before, which happens a LOT), brush our teeth, and head downstairs to the kitchen.

8:00 a.m- We are usually ready for breakfast by now. Most mornings Brandon eats Frosted Flakes, and Jacob likes his Waffles with Chocolate Spread. Other favorites are Toaster Strudles, Cinnamon rolls, and Sausage breakfast sandwiches. Jacob also gets his daily medicine at this time.

8:30 a.m-Time for school work! Most days we choose to get Language Arts out of the way first. That is the subject that Jacob struggles with the most, so it is best if we get it done early while everyone is happy and relaxed. We are almost always still in our pajamas at this point in the day. Today we had a spelling test to do which is why you see the boys sitting separate. Unless we are doing a test the boys are always sitting together :) 
*We take a "brain break" for about 10-15 minutes once every hour. The reason we do this is that I have noticed that the boys start getting fidgety and restless after about an hour of school work. They start looking out windows, wiggling in their seat, and they just cant seem to stay focused. After a short break they are ready to get back to work and are OK for another hour.* 

11:30-12:30 a.m/p.m-This is our lunch and recess. Usually the boys will start playing at 11:30 while I prepare lunch. Then we will eat lunch when it is ready, and then the boys continue to play until 12:30. 
This is our only long break throughout the school day. 
*Right now it is summer. We spend a LOT of our lunch days at the park which is only about a mile from our house. It is super convenient to eat at the park because there is a playground that the boys can play on when they are finished eating.*

12:30-3:30 p.m-Time to get back to work on school work. 
*This is also the time of the day we squeeze in some type of P.E. Most days we work the Connections Academy PE lessons, however there are days when we just feel like doing our own thing, especially right now in the warm summer months. Some of the things we choose to do for PE are: Swimming, Bike Riding, Playing Sports (soccer, volleyball, tennis, baseball, etc), and water balloon play.* 

3:30 p.m.-
School day is all done for the kids. This is when the boys are free to do the things kids like to do. Right now some of the boys favorite after school activities are: playing on their tablets, playing on the Xbox, swimming (this one is a favorite), and playing with their toy guns. 

My night gets busy around this time. I spend about 30 minutes after school finishing up school related business (recording attendance, approving completed lessons, recording PE activities), checking out FB (my personal favorite after school activity), and checking Email. 
After that I start dinner, serve dinner, and clean up dinner. I also give the kitchen a quick cleaning. 
Then it is time to clean the house for the night. I go through each room of the house, mostly picking up the mess we made throughout the school day (school supplies, books, workbooks, etc). I also start a load of laundry, and fold a load of laundry. 
Then it is bath time for the boys, followed by my shower. 
Then, T.V time for the kids while they wind down for bed. 

9:45-10:00 p.m- Teeth Brushing for the boys, Kisses and Hugs, and off to bed for the boys. 

FINALLY I have about an hour and a half after the kids go to bed to update my personal FB, check on my "Families Of Connections Academy" FB page, and do my lesson planning for the next day (This includes printing off any worksheets or activities I might need the next day). 

And that's pretty much it! That is a pretty typical day in our house! 

***OH! Remember when I said that there are many days when something comes up that changes our schedule? Well the reason I have no photos to share with you from the last part of our day today (I had planned on taking photos of our COMPLETE day) is because my Jacob suffered from one of his migraine headaches not too long after lunch. This stopped our day in its tracks because I had to take care of him while he was getting sick, rush him to the Chiropractor for an adjustment, and call the pediatrician for a refill of pain medication.  The poor little guy has had a terrible night. ***

Thanks for spending the day with us! 
If you post on your blog what a day looks like at your house, please comment with a link, I would love to see it! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Our first week with Connections Academy

I really wanted to write this post earlier, however we had a very busy weekend. Oh well, better late than never! 

Our first week with Connections Academy:
As a new family to Connections Academy we are still learning the ropes. I have to say that navigating the Connexus page is really quite easy. Connexus is Connections Academy's education management system. Learning Coaches and Students use Connexus to access the daily planner, the To-Do list, Web Mail, the Grade Book, and many other features of Connections Academy. In my opinion, Connexus is very user friendly. I was able to use Connexus effectively the very first day I had access to it. You can read more about the Connexus system by clicking HERE
I also really like the curriculum that Connections Academy uses.One of my biggest fears about pulling my kids out of traditional school was coming up with a curriculum that would effectively teach them. While I really wanted to home school my kids, I just didn't feel comfortable enough to choose (or teach) my own curriculum. Connections Academy takes care of that for me! Connections Academy uses resources from leading publishers along with custom designed tools and materials that effectively engage my kids. My kids especially enjoy the interactive tools and games that Connections Academy provides. The animated tutorials really hold my kids attention and they truly enjoy watching them. We have not yet been able to experience a Live Lesson, so I will have to write about that when we come to that. While I am sure that the Connections Academy curriculum is not for everyone, it seems as if it is going to work great for my family. You can read more about Connections Academy curriculum by clicking HERE.
I wish I could say that every moment this week was pure bliss, the truth is that Connections Academy is still SCHOOL, and kids don't always enjoy school, especially the first week back after a long summer break! We had a few tears, mostly from Jacob who's Autism can make learning difficult at times. I am sure that it is a big transition for both of my boys to come home to learn after attending traditional school from preschool through first grade. It will take some time for them to get used to Mom being the one who gives out school work. It will also take time for the boys to realize there is a time for play, and a time to get serious and get some school work done. Despite a couple of melt downs, and a few tears, we had a REALLY great week. We laughed A LOT, we played A LOT, and we spent time together learning. So far, I am extremely happy with our decision to bring our kids home to learn! 
There is SO much that I love about teaching the kids at home. Spending QUALITY time together is at the top of that list. It has been so nice to do all of our school work during the day, and have our evenings free to enjoy each others company. When the kids attended traditional school, things were usually very hectic after school. Jacob would come home and immediately have a melt down. This happened EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. He was overwhelmed from holding it together all day at school, and he would just come home and let it all out! These meltdowns would last at LEAST half an hour after school each day. By the time the daily melt down was finished it would be time for dinner. Then homework. Then bath. We would have just a few minutes to spend together before it was time for bed for the kids. Then we would start all over the next day. It just didn't work for us. We were all miserable! But that is a thing of the past, and hopefully it is something we will never have to experience again! 
Gosh, I could just go on all day about how much I love about our decision to school at home. But to save you from reading at least another ten paragraphs, I will end with some highlights from our first week! 

P.E.: Soccer! 

Jacob and Brandon are really happy about their choice for P.E. today! 

Brandon gives it two thumbs up! 

The boys were laughing very hard while coming up with some nonsense words that have the letters CK in them. They came up with some pretty silly ones before settling down and coming up with some actual words! Brandon (blue shirt) was laughing so hard he had tears. 

Getting familiar with the TUX Paint Program

Whats better than lunch at the park? 

What a great day for lunch at the park! 

And why not do recess while we are there?! 

So much fun! 
Watch for our next post:
"What our day looks like"- See what a typical day looks like for us! 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Our First Day!

Yesterday we had our first day of Connections Academy! Although Kansas Connections Academy does not "OFFICIALLY" start until Wednesday, we got started a couple days early to give ourselves time to get aquainted with the system, and to test out our school day schedule.

Our first day did not end without lots of hiccups. The day started off well. The boys posed for the traditional "First Day Back To School Pics"

We quickly got to work on our lessons. The boys did complain a little bit when we first got started, which was totally expected after a summer full of fun, but once we were started with the work, they did do very well, and even had some fun while doing the school work! 

Then the troubles started! I also happened to be babysitting for one of my daughters friends. At first the baby was all smiles.....

However, after a little while, the baby became upset because she missed her Mom. She then cried for over an hour. This of course, distracted the boys from their school work, and triggered a full blown migraine headache for poor Jacob. 

Which ended in a trip to the Emergency Room. 
Needless to say, that ended our school day. We did get a few hours in today though, and learned the basics of the system. We also found that our school day schedule will indeed work well to get us started at the very least. 

We are taking it easy today, and resuming our school work on Wednesday. We hope to have a much better day Wednesday. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Letter Tile Practice

School hasn't officially started yet, but there is no reason we cannot start practicing with our letter tiles. We spent just a few minutes before bed playing with the letter tiles.

Brandon likes to freestyle his words:

Jacob uses some worksheets to help him along:

Both boys had lots of fun!