Penmanship to Praise

This morning I received an email from a woman asking for info about Penmanship to Praise. I thought I’d share some of my response here.

Penmanship to Praise (or P2P, as we like to call it) is a penmanship program written by Becky Avery, the author of The Weaver Curriculum. Within each book you’ll find colored cardstock with both cursive and italic alphabets. (Although I’ve never seen the A Beka or BJU programs, I’m told that the cursive and italics in P2P are not quite the same–seems no two companies are alike when it comes to how to form letters.) The younger levels also have a page that is block-style, and the older levels have a page that compares the three styles. I tend to teach cursive myself, and have been known to ‘change’ a letter or two if I don’t like how it looks on the chart.

You need to choose the level based on the size of the lines that are comfortable for your child. I started my then-1st-grade son on level 1 last year and after about a month I moved him up to level 2 because the lines were too far apart and he was writing sloppy.

P2P is set up in three sections: Memory Verse Choices, Practice for Praise, and Border Sheets. The Memory Verse Choices section is co-ordinated with the Weaver volumes, with all the memory verses for each volume listed by chapter. This is the only program within the Weaver Curriculum that has the Bible verses printed out (New American Standard), but it is just as easy to use your own choice of translations. The verses are merely type-written, not done in cursive or italics. The child is expected to “translate” the verse to the proper form on their sheet.

The Practice for Praise section gives suggestions for letters to focus on each week, and then provides four days’ worth of practice sheets (Mon-Thur). The Border Sheets are for Friday, when the student writes the week’s verse in their best penmanship.

There are detailed instructions at the front of the book that explain how to use the program, but as with any curriculum you are free to adapt it since you are the teacher. ūüėČ You can get a free sample of the program from AOP if you call them. They’ll send you sample sheets from each level so you can see the various line widths. Again, this is very important for placing your child in the correct level.

Check Please !

The new year is upon this mom of many and one thing I have found most helpful to start a new year is to do a quick re-evualation of my schooling. I like to start with reminding myself of why I homeschool as it seems that after the holidays everyone can easily feel a little burn out.

Next, I like to go over our schedules and see if everything is working the best it can. Do I need to give more time to a particular student or maybe I just need to allow more time for research on those supplement objectives that my older students are working on.

After checking those off my list I look at our schedule in general. Are we able to stay with how it is or do I need to switch some subjects around to ease the load.

I realized that when I make myself (note the key word here is make) do this simple check that the second half of my school year goes much smoother and I don’t feel so overwhelmed with a scheduling problem that really was just a simple fix. This time of checking also allows me to review what we have already accomplished for the year and that is always a boost at a much needed slow time of year. Lastly, when I take time to “pull up any loose strings” my days are less likely to unravel.

Put on the kettle for a nice cup of coffee or tea, grab your school planner, say out loud “check please” and help the rest of your year to weave together.

Don’t Gimme A Break

You know why? Because my children will not get out of bed when they are supposed to! We started back to school last Monday after 3 weeks off and going into our second week back, my daughters are struggling more than ever. Typically, both of them are up by 8:00, at the latest. That gives them time to clear the fog from their sleepy brains, eat some breakfast, and do their morning chores in time to start school by 9:00. Yes, it varies in actual start time on occasion but we try to hit the mark most days. However, these past 6 school days have been a joke. At first, I was very relaxed about it — oh, they are just recuperating from all the festivities, traveling and inconsistent bedtimes — but by now, I’m running out of patience!

It doesn’t help that this time of year also creates a little lethargy in myself. Getting up while it’s still dark takes quite the effort on my part (and on my husband’s part — his foot on my backside pushing me out of my warm covers). But thankfully, because of a commitment to provide daycare for my cousin’s daughter, I am up and at ’em without fail.

Any ideas for breaking your children out of a “sleeping in” habit? So far, releasing the aforementioned commitment into their bedroom is at least waking them up. She is my secret weapon for now!

In Deep

One of the reasons that I love Weaver is that it doesn’t demand that I finish the curriculum in a school year. Currently we are in Chapter 16 of Volume One, so we will be finished with the volume by the end of the month, before we go on break. Who caught that? “Wait… chapter 16 is only supposed to be 8 days long.” This is just one example of what happens when I get “in deep” with a unit. I just happen to love¬†this unit. It is about the Civil War and slavery. American History used to bore me to tears when I was in school but now I can’t get enough of it. I just¬†want to spend two months here because there is so much to learn, to apply biblically, to read about and to do. I realize that we are only supposed to touch on some of these subjects and not get too deep into it, but I just can’t help it! I also love to do all the research; find the reading books, find the projects to do, read internet site after internet site and book after book. So far, we have done a lot of reading. We’ve read books about the Civil War, about Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman, not to mention fictional stories that took place¬†during this time. God is so good to show how certain things tie together. I will admit that sometimes I don’t stick too closely to the DbD when I think it doesn’t go far enough with a subject and we go on our own rabbit trail. When we started, we talked about battle and the scripture I used was¬†2 Timothy 2:2-3, “We, therefore, must endure hardships as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Anyone engaged in warfare does not entangle himself with the affairs of this world, that he may please the one who enlisted him.” I think I got that about right, as I am quoting from memory. We had very in-depth conversations about what that verse meant. Focus in¬†times of battle, not getting caught up in the things of this life, keeping the enemy in our site (or sight. I don’t know much about guns). Today, I went ahead and ventured ahead of our bible lessons to the birth of Moses (though I suspect that’s probably coming up in Vol. 2, so we didn’t go too far), and we talked about God’s purpose for Moses. Like Moses, God used Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman to free the captives. He had a specific purpose for their life. Just like He has a specific plan for our lives.

I have done so much research on this and there are so many great ideas for this chapter that I know I have to reign myself in. I have to make sure that I’m not taking this above the heads of a 1st and 3rd grader. Do you ever feel like you are having more fun with it than your children are? That’s okay; hopefully my fervor and excitement will ignite something in them as well.

But, again, this is why I love Weaver. Independence with a little structure to keep me in line!

Learning In The BIG HOUSE

OK,¬†now don’t get your thoughts on the wrong path here, the big house does not refer to prison (although some days my children would argue that). ¬† I’m Holly, joyous mother of¬†10 children, and veteran homeschooler of 14 years. Six of the past 14 years we have been using Weaver and they have been the best and easiest years of homeschooling.

Presently we are on Volume 2, chapter 10 which is one of the white chapters and the last one of that volume. Sometimes these white chapters still intimidate me but after I ¬†look over¬†them several times and write out my lesson plans the “intimidation factor” disappears. In this particular chapter Early American History is the subject for dissection and I chose to use the Time Travelers unit study of New World Explorers to enhance our study. It has been great fun as we dry fruit and meat for our journey, make our flag for our ship and journal in our captain’s log. In September our town has a Heritage celebration and I purchased several items including ink wells, ink pens, hard tac and a¬†compass from the reenactors tent store.¬†I find small additions like this really help¬†to liven up our studies.

Another great find to help with the Bible end of our studies has been the Herein is Love commentary series put out by Shepherd Press. These are commentaries written for children and since 7 of my ten children are age 10 and under this has really helped this busy mom to put the wonderful meatiness of the Weaver Bible study into little people words.

I am really looking forward to encouraging all the weaving moms and just being available for questions. I have been greatly blessed by all those on the Weaver boards and extend the invitation to leave some comments.

Weaving in the big house 4 Him,

Holly

Cold Coffee

If you are a homeschool mom and a coffee aficionado, I’¬ím sure you understand what I’¬ím implying. You pour yourself a nice, hot cup of coffee before you get started on your day. In a perfect world, you would have time to sit and enjoy this moment of tranquility. But reality says that even if you have a brief moment, it¬í’s rarely tranquil because your thoughts are on what you are pulling together today for your lesson! You consult your Day-By-Day or other form of agenda, read over your bible study, spend ¬ďjust a few minutes¬Ē on the Internet finding just the right information for your lessons and checking email; then, before you know it, your abandoned red-with-gold-polka-dots-from-Starbucks coffee mug has gone cold and it¬ís contents are uninviting. It’¬ís sad, but you take a drink anyway and mourn its passing.¬† Sigh.

So, on with the show! I am Patty and I have been a homeschool mom going on four years now. I have six children, who range from 20 to 6. Two are step-children, the other four natural. But in my mind, they¬í’re all mine!¬† I am only homeschooling my two youngest daughters, who are eight and six, 3rd and 1st grades. I used a conglomeration of materials for our first year of Kindergarten and began A Beka for first grade. However, the glitter of A Beka quickly wore on me. By the end of that year, though my daughter was reading successfully and writing in beautiful penmanship, I really felt it was lacking some important substance. I couldn’¬ít put my finger on it but I knew something was missing. The first idea that began to catch my interest was the concept of notebooking that another homeschool mom shared with me. After some research I thought it might be the key to stepping up the fun and interaction in our school day. Then, after some input from my sisters-in-law, I decided to look into Weaver and I was sold!

We are weaving into our second year now, though it hasn’¬ít been without some doubts.¬† By last February, I was ready to get a job at a private Christian school and sign the girls up!¬† God has been so faithful in this whole calling, though. Just as I was ready to give up, another friend called me for encouragement. She, too, was re-thinking her dry curriculum and looking into unit studies. It completely refreshed my mind of where I had been just a year prior, ¬ďlooking for substance¬Ē. And she, through the counsel of another veteran homeschool mom, was reminded to PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! This was certainly my turning point. I realized that it wasn’¬ít exactly the curriculum that I was having trouble with. I thought I needed more structure when I had complained about too much structure the year before.¬† Basically I just needed to PRAY! Of course, I pray on a daily basis, for our school day and all but there’s something different when you are at your wit’¬ís end and are crying out for God to bless your homeschooling experience, to bless your children despite your faults, for it to be ALL Him and none of you. Needless to say, our school caught fire as I began to document in our personal homeschool blog (www.graceandemilyschool.blogspot.com). ¬†We entered Chapter 6 of Unit 5 in Volume One. It was the most exciting school experience ever, for us! From that point, I have not looked back. Even if we’¬íre in a lull, I know there’¬ís something around the corner. I have given our school over to the Master, the fully equipped Teacher, the Principal of principles, the most creative Creator, the Mathematician of the stars and sand and hair, the Scientist of existence, the Great I AM of grammar, the — well, you get the point. It’¬ís all His and I need to consult Him as I serve Him in His ministry. That all seems so elementary to a seasoned Christian but sometimes us seasoned Christians can overlook the simplest of things.

I look forward to sharing what we do at school and hope to encourage the ¬ďdoubters¬Ē. I don’¬ít know what I can offer the veterans, as I am still learning the ropes, but hopefully there will be something here for you, too!

Blessings, Patty

Using Wisdom Words Without the Day by Day

I started with Interlock. It seemed logical, since my sons were 5, 3 and 1. Before the end of the year, my husband lost his job. I managed to find someone selling a new Basic Five set and purchased it at a huge savings. Our first year in the Volumes was rocky at times, but enjoyable for the most part.

When I started shopping for a used Volume 2 I decided I could do without the Day by Day. After writing out the lessons plans for the first week I took time to map-out the Wisdom Words objectives for the year.

My first step was to page through the first grade objectives and see how many of them there were. I also needed to know how many of them required multiple days to complete. Once I had this number, I looked at my calendar and figured out how many weeks of school we would have that year. I divided the number of objectives by the number of weeks and came up with a rough idea of how many objectives we needed to do each week to get through the program in one year. If I recall correctly, it came out to be two or three objectives each week.

I chose to do at least three a week, sometimes four. I didn’t want any objectives split over the weekend, and I also wanted it planned out so that we finished WW before we finished the school year. That way, if we fell behind for any reason, I would have time to finish. Now that I’ve been Weaving for awhile, I realize I could have also just kept moving through WW without worrying about stopping. When my child finished the objectives for their grade, I could have moved them up to the next grade and kept teaching.

My children don’t have to “see” the WW pages, so they don’t have to know which grade I’m teaching from. I still have two early elementary children and I’ll probably use the latter method to get them through Wisdom Words.

What Exactly IS Weaver?

Just about everyone knows that Weaver is a unit-based curriculum. But, that doesn’t mean much to those new to homeschooling who don’t know what a unit study is. I recently replied to a homeschooling mom who had questions about Weaver…

What’s included in a volume?

Each volume consists of a complete curriculum to teach students in grades K-6. All the objectives and activities are listed, by grade and subject, and the sheets are color-coded:

  • white for everyone/teacher
  • goldenrod for K
  • dark pink for 1st
  • light pink for 2nd
  • blue for 3rd
  • yellow for 4th
  • green for 5th
  • salmon for 6th

The volumes are divided into 9 units, with some units having multiple chapters. Volumes 1-3 are designed to be done within one year each, while volumes 4 & 5 take about a year-and-a-half each. Going through each of the volumes once will cover about 6 years.

Each chapter starts with an overview so you know what you’ll be covering. Next are the For Your Information pages–these provide background info for the teacher, but you can also share this material with your students. Next are the Bible lessons, followed by a Recommended Reading list. Next are the colored pages, mentioned above, for the different grades. The subjects covered in the colored sections are:

  • History (Social Studies)
  • Science
  • Language Arts

Following the colored pages you’ll find a few more white pages:

  • vocabulary list
  • health/safety ideas
  • field trip
  • art suggestions
  • Bible memory verses

Sometimes the chapters have extra materials, like suggestions for character study, or information on mummification, or some other topic you may wish to study more in-depth while you study that section of the Bible. These extra materials are white pages as well.

At the back of the book you’ll find a resource section, with pictures, charts, maps, and various other “visuals” for your use–there is an index for these items as well, telling you in which chapter you’ll need each visual.

Does it matter which volume you start with?

This really depends on what your children already know. It’s recommended that you start with Volume I and work your way through, so as to go through the Bible chronologically. There is an overview located at the Unofficial Weaver Pages where you can see what is covered in each volume. Because Weaver is based on the Bible, choose where to start by thinking of your child’s Biblical knowledge.

What about math?

The only volume that contains any math is the Interlock, which covers pre-K/K grades. All other grades will need to purchase math separately.

The volumes themselves do not contain the daily lesson plans. These are found in the Day by Day, available separately. Wisdom Words, a grammar program written by the author of the Weaver, will round out your children’s academics.

The Teacher’s Binder

Often, on the email list, we’ll discuss how to manage the trees— er, I mean, binders when it comes to the daily use of Weaver. Tammie (Blessed Hope Academy) gave a great description of how she sets hers up. (I’ve edited it slightly, for ease of reading.)

Front Cover Flap: Reminder note for the steps of planning a unit; and notes, craft projects, emails I’ve printed; resource listings; etc. First in the binder is a copy of the Volume Overview chart so I can easily see where we’re headed and how long it should be before we get there. Then a copy of the Assigned Credits from the Supplement so I can reference what is required to achieve the credit in the subject. Then a copy of Becky’s Dear Friend, instructional letter about homeschooling highschool from the front of my Supplement.

Tab Labeled Day by Day: DBD pages for the current unit and the next unit.

Tab Labeled Bible: Bible lessons for the current unit and the next unit.

Tab for Academics: Colored pages from the Volume and the white pages from the Supplement with another tab for the exact grade levels I’m teaching inserted. I used to just put the grade levels I was teaching in my notebook, but there were too many times that I wanted to go up or down the grade levels (either for teaching or for my own reference) that now I just put all grade levels in my book.

Tab Labeled WW: WW pages for the grade level I’m teaching.

Tab Labeled Literature: Copy of the Recommended Liturature List from TT&T. I have a copy for each kid and highlight the books they’ve already read.

Tab Labeled Resource Section: About 20 pages from the back of the Volume. I trade these out as needed as we start a new Unit.

Back Cover Flap: List of the Weaver resource books and which ones are used in each Volume/unit. I refer to this as I start each unit, to pull books that are relevant and helpful off from my big book case, and move them to my current teaching shelf. I also have inspirational and encouraging notes in this flap.

Some units are large, so I also keep paperclips, or those black binder clips, attached to the tabs, so that I can clip the pages to the tab as we move through the unit. That way when I turn a tab, I also turn to the exact spot within the section that I’m currently teaching from. It’s a very minor thing, but it does save on a lot of page flipping.

Thanks for sharing, Tammie!

Meeting Other Weaverettes

Every now and then my children and I get the opportunity to accompany my husband on a business trip. Before we leave, I “prepared” by finding out who (from the Weaver email list) lives in the area we’ll be visiting.

During the past 11 years we’ve been blessed to meet many Weaving families:

  • In Texas, we spent the day at a science/hands-on museum with two weaving families.
  • In Ohio, we went to Sea World with a local homeschool group (one of the moms was a member of the Weaver email list and got me in on the field trip).
  • Another trip to Ohio allowed us to spend the day at the park with two other families (dads included).
  • There’s a Weaving family attending my in-laws’ church in Arizona.

I’ve even been blessed to host other Weaverettes in my home:

  • One woman stayed with us while attending a Women’s Ministry conference.
  • Three separate times, weaving families were passing through town and stopped to visit (two of the families stayed for a few days).
  • A couple women have stopped in for a one-on-one workshop with Weaver.

Weaving families are scattered around the world, but with a little detective work it’s possible to find Weaverettes just about everywhere. There are four other Weaving families living within an hour of my home!

How I’d love to meet each and every family from the Weaver email list. I know I will meet many more over the next few years! If you’d like to find Weaverettes in your area, or if you’ll be traveling and wish to hook-up with other Weaving families, drop me a note and I’ll assist you in your search! Perhaps I will be one of the families you bless with a visit!