Standardized Test

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Last week, the kiddos took their annual standardized achievement test. We have done this for five years now. Our umbrella school makes it optional for first grade, but they ask that you bring them in for testing starting in second grade and on.

Well, we wanted them tested in first grade, too. There is a lot of water under the bridge between kindergarten and second grade. So we have been doing it for five years and use the results to help us in planning the following school year.

Boy and girl in front of evergreens

They were very relaxed before the test.

We do not stress too much about this test. Of course, we prepare for it, but we do not make it into a big deal. It is an assessment of their mastery of different learning objectives. As such, it paints a picture of growth areas and strengths. Continue reading »


The Art of Teaching

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Teaching is an art. There is no exact science to sharing knowledge and getting children excited about learning. All we can do is learn a few techniques, then let our love, passion, and instinct lead the way. Creativity saves the day many times in teaching. But where can we get creativity?

The Artist's Way Cover

My copy of the 10th anniversary edition. Now they sell a 25th anniversary edition.

One of the books that have helped me in my teaching is “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. At first, you would not make the connection between homeschooling and this book. Ms. Cameron has put together a 12-week artist recovery. As such, this book speaks to all kinds of artists who feel blocked in their creativity. Continue reading »


Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 42

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Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 42 (titled “The End of the Twentieth Century”) is the last chapter in volume 4 and, as such, the end of our journey through Story of the World volumes 1-4. It has been a long and pleasant journey. Every year, we covered this curriculum in a different way.

Andrew Johnson Bust

Bust of one of three US presidents from TN, Andrew Johnson – at the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville.

One year, we faithfully followed every suggestion in the book, did all the reading comprehension questions and narration exercises, read most of the books recommended, did the mapwork, and at least one craft. Another year, I just could not seem to find time for history. So we crammed it all in during the second semester. Actually, it was more like from the middle of March until June. Continue reading »


Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 41

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Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 41 deals with communism again, namely how it crumbled in Europe but survived in China. Arguably the most impactful event of my life – or one of them, for sure – was the fall of the Berlin Wall. Romania left communism behind two months later. We knew our lives would take on a different trajectory than what we had thought previously.

Timeline book

Each child has one of these binders in which they place stickers with important people and events in history.

Did we do a craft? Nope. We did not connect with anything. We are just so close to finishing this book, we did the mapwork and called it a day. Continue reading »


Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 40

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Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 40 covers the 1980s in the USSR. I remember when Chernobyl happened and my dad warning us to really wash our apples well. As if radiation can be washed away from an apple.

Nuclear Warning Sign

Nuclear Warning Sign

Meanwhile, over in the US,  my husband says they used to do bomb drills when he was in school. The lesson was, you go under the table. As if being under the table will save you from a nuclear blast. Living so close to Oak Ridge, my husband and his friends actively engaged in speculation that a Russian attack would hit Gatlinburg as well as other parts of East Tennessee.  Continue reading »


2019 Science Olympiad

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This school year, our son joined a Science Olympiad team through Cedar Springs Homeschool Group. This is not a co-op, but a support group. Moms meet for monthly encouragement and to exchange ideas and insights. Then, their children have the opportunity to compete in different teams and events.

Boy with Science Olympiad medals

Our son and his two silver medals at Science Olympiad

Cedar Springs run a Spelling Bee and the winner goes to Regionals. For American Math Contest, they will arrange for a coach to help you teach your child and prepare for it. They can build a team if there is enough interest in the group. Continue reading »


2019 TeenPact One Day

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We attend a political science workshop every year, in Nashville. Well, the children do. We have to take them there the day before, as it is a four-hour drive for us from the house. The next day, they have courses from 10am-4pm, with a lunch break.

TeenPact Girl Participant

We get to sit in the back of the room and watch. They start with an icebreaker – the box game. They each get a booklet for the day. Continue reading »


Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 39

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Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 39 talked about my childhood. Our history book has finally caught up with me. It feels strange to read about one’s lifetime in a history book. We called it “contemporary history” when I was growing up but I see they only call it “modern” here.

Langar meal

First step in a langar meal: roast potatoes and cauliflower, chop tomatoes

The 1980s in the East and the Mideast took us to India after partition and Iran and Iraq. In all honesty, I did not know much about those places. I mean, I knew Indira Gandhi got assassinated by her own body guards but why I did not comprehend. Now I know. And I had never heard of the Bhopal disaster. So this was very educational for me. Continue reading »


Art Classes

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If you can teach your children art, more power to you. I have tried. It worked for a bit, when they were younger, and we brought out the paints or the sculpting clay and went to town, not caring about the final project that much. The process and preparation was more important than the result.

Sketching a scene from Ender's Game

Sketching a scene from Ender’s Game

Then, we got older and wiser. We realized the art curriculum was just sitting on the shelf and we never got around to using it. Why? Because it had become obsolete. Or, it was too much preparation for me to teach. I have bought more art curriculum than I care to recount, but I do not regret it. It still sits there for us to use one day. Continue reading »


Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 38

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Story of the World, Vol. 4, Chapter 38 is titled Two Ways of Fighting, referring to Soviet invasions and the rise of international terrorism. Fascinating chapter, of course, for someone who grew up in Eastern Europe. We did not know much about the invasion of Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan under communism. So every new detail I learn or every new angle means a lot to me.

This way to Moscow signs

They made signs and I placed them in the wrong direction so that they would not find the toy.

The first invasion happened before I was born, so I cannot tell you what the communists reported in their highly controlled news at the time. But I do remember reading in the newspaper about the Mujaheddin in the early 80s, when I was in elementary school, and we had to prepare a news flash for a report.  Continue reading »