Monday, August 25, 2008

The Robinson Curriculum

***See updates below :-)
I was asked to tell a little about the Robinson Curriculum (RC) since I had linked to it on my sidebar. I found out about this program through friend who discovered the website online. I had been looking for a curriculum that would help me better teach our children, taking in the fact that there were several grade levels, reading levels, and learning styles. RC is basically a collection of Cd's put together by Dr. Robinson, on the Cd's are printable books. The printable books start at a kindergarten level and continue through a 12th grade+ level. By reading these books the children are learning everything they need, inluding their history and science. A quick summary schedule suggested by Dr. Robinson would be: Start the day with Math (he suggests the Saxon Math, which I highly recomend), then go to the writing, then required reading, finishing the *day* with some free reading time. The time for each is set by the parent and decided based on the age of the child. The Saxon Math the only thing not on the Cd's but ordering them through RC will get you a discount.

Dr. Robinson created this program with the help of his 6 children after his wife died. He needed a way to ensure a quality education for his children and be capable of working from home. My summary of what RC is about is incredibly lame compared with the wealth of information and detailed explanations that you will find on his website. He answers tons of questians and gives reasons, explanations, examples and stories all about the how and why. Far better than I can. I studied his site for days.

I can tell you what RC is going to do for me. All my children seem to have different learning styles according the their different personalities, likes and dislikes, and temperament. Some love workbooks and would rather read about and work the pages, while others would rather do something more hands on and write about it. All my children do love to read and be read to. So, instead of trying to wear myself out teaching different styles from several different books, and so forth we have come up with RC. I love the idea that the children are learning to locate info and work through things themselves no longer dependant upon me or a teacher to spoon feed them.

For my older children this year our schedule will be as follows:

Saxon math lesson- about 1 hr

Writing assignment- about 1 hr

Required Reading (from book list) - about 2 1/2 hrs (this includes time to memorize the

vocabulary words from the book)

Free Reading- about 1 hr

The time will increase as they get older and desire more time to write and read. For the younger children that are reading on their own, they will follow the same schedule but with lesser time for each area, again the time will increase with their age and ability.

For pre-reading children, Dr. Robinson suggests that you choose a good phonics program and begin teaching them their reading skills. (He is more detailed on his site.) I am using the Abeka K-4 and K-5 programs, I enjoy all the games and hands-on flashcards, charts and games that help to strengthen the learning making it fun. I make this take as little or as long as I need it too, fitting the curriculum to the needs and time table of my child. Some are slower than others and require more time, but all will be reading at the end of these programs. I also use the on-line program Click-N-Kids (100 lessons) to make reading fun and exciting.

For early math, Dr. Robinson suggests teaching them their numbers. Then using flashcards to teach the adding, subtracting, multiplication, and division tables. Once they can do this they are ready for the Saxon 54 book. Again He is more detailed on his website and flashcards are included on the Cd set.

The best advice I could give about homeschooling, is make learning a way of life. Not a list of things to memorize and copy. Education for us is giving the children the tools they need to learn and find out about anything they will ever desire. The three R's: Reading, (R)Writing, and R'ithmitic, once a child has mastered these tools the *world* is in their hands.

Please, like I stated above, go over the website for a complete understanding of the RC curriculum, how it works, the whys of his methods, etc.... Make it work for you. I don't use, do or agree with absolutely everything in his site but I have made it work for us.

BTW- I have also used and enjoyed the ACE- School of Tomorrow paces, Rod and Staff Publishers, ABEKA, and Bob Jones. Using these in a way that best fit the style of my child.

If there are any questions, you want me to answer specifically just ask, and I will do my best. Goood Luck!!!! Katie
Picture: Our children love to read, and our Daughter wanted a picture of her and her new books last Christmas.

****Update! 7-3-12

Hello!! I have noticed lately that this post is viewed several times a week and I thought I would just give a short update. We will have all 7 of the kids in school this fall and are looking forward to it!! I still don't "play" school, the thought of going back to those days are too ugly! We have a pretty flexible day which works great with Michael's business and the family schedule but for the most part we still follow the school schedule that I wrote in the post years ago. We have just kept adding the kids to our daily routine as they got older and intersted in what the older kids where doing. Our "School" is all day, every day all year long! We never stop teaching our children and they never stop learning, but I know what most people are interested in is the actual "school" part. We do school all year, meaning that the kids work on their math, reading and writing at their own pace continuing through the books and book lists until they have completed them. I have started using the book quizes that come with the Robinson CD's and the ones linked on the RC site. I then began to google the book's title to search for a quiz or test online and have several. This has really helped some of my speed readers to slow down a little. :-) We still follow the basic schedule that was posted above several years ago. We sometimes stop for a week or more to learn or study a subject or topic as a group. We often take days off school to work for Dad, which all the kids love to do and are growing into awesome helpers, they are hard workers and love the time working as a family.  We still use the sources I listed at the end of the post as well as anything other thing I find along the way that I think is intersting. We get a lot of preschool and K-5 books (and sometimes older grades) at the Dollar Tree store, they also have tons of posters, flashcards and other stuff to make school interesting.

So, probably this update wasn't needed since, well, everything is pretty much the same around here. School is fun, and learning is a way of life that doesn't end at 18 yrs or 12th grade.

Again! Good luck and God Bless!! :-) Katie

BTW- Recently a friend of mine recomended the free Homeschool Tracker Download, for the computer to help keep records for school. I Googled and downloaded it and while I'm not totally familiar with all of its functions yet I can tell that this is going to be a great tool for me and my family. :-)

***UPDATE August 8, 2016
Hello Homeschool families!!! Recently I was wondering around the internet and found my self on a Robinson Curriculum Pinterest post and what did I find! A link to my post here! So looking it over and seeing how many people are still looking for RC answers and information I see an update is needed once again! :-) The crazy thing is everything above is practically still same. LOL Just now with different kiddos doing what their older brother and sisters were doing!

Since our last update, my older 2 children have graduated. Our son and daughter both graduated in May of 2015. I had made a list of classes and activities that I and my husband required for graduation. I ordered their diplomas from and put together a typed transcript for each of them. While in high school they both had enrolled in Faith Bible Institute based in Monroe, LA. In December 2015 they completed the 3 yr course and graduated each with a College Bible Diploma from Faith Bible Institute. Our Son is currently working full time with his Dad, a crew leader in our small portable welding and fencing business. He also has spent time traveling as a hired apprentice for an Insurance adjuster/appraiser, when he returns after a month+ of travel, he is planning on going to school for this to get his certification and license.  He is also spending time as a volunteer firefighter at our local rural fire department, taking many classes for certification in safety, first response, and firefighter training. He is active in the bus ministry and other activities in our church. He will be 20 yrs old this fall and is trusting the Lord with his future. Our Daughter is currently enrolled in an Academy of Cosmetology and is really enjoying it. She plans to graduate with her license next spring. She is a part time Police dispatcher for a local city Police Department. She also has a small cleaning business on the side. She has made Sergeant rank in the local Police Department Explorer program, and is active in our church working in the bus ministry and nursery areas. She has just been asked to take charge of our church library and is excited to begin that new project. She is 18 yrs old this summer, she and her brother are a great blessing to us. They both still pitch in with the homeschool of the younger ones at times which is a great encouragement!

Now, for me and the "5 youngers"!, August 31 is the end of our school year for us. I begin RC schooling when my kids are about 7, before then they are learning as they play. Doing flashcards, workbooks, videos and whatever seems to interest them. They participate in all our history, science or whatever class/book we are doing together. This week we are wrapping up any projects we began for our 2015/16 school year. We have began placing their portfolios of school work (required by state) into a storage box, making room for this next school years folders. We have printed new student work record pages from the RC website and are binding them into new record books for this next year. And of course with all the sales going on who could pass up getting stocked up on new paper, pencils and notebooks. New folders and binders too for any books I print off this year. Our first day of school is the day after Labor Day and we have been kicking off our school year with a field trip vacation for that last few years. Been east to Cape Hetaeras, NC and Williamsburg, Virginia. Been west to Grande Canyon and south Colorado's national parks. So, recently I picked up a state park map while on a field trip and used it to map out a state history fieldtrip vacation around the state thinking this would be great credits for our freshman and junior girls and the younger 3 would love all the camping! Well, everyone was on board until we seen an advertisement for the new Ark Encounter exhibit in Kentucky, soooo we'll see in a few weeks where we go and where we'll stop no one knows! LOL

So, as for our RC day!? Very much the same, some of our times have changed but still totally going with the self-teaching, reading, writing and arithmetic type homeschooling idea that has been set up by Dr. Robinson.
Our day begins with:
*Math: 1 1/2 hr {11th grade girl (15 yrs old)is in Advanced Mathmatics, 9th grade girl (14 yrs old) is half thru Algebra 1, 7th grade boy (just turned 12) is mostly thru 65, 5th grade girl (10 yrs)  finishing Rod and Staff, is starting 54, and 4th grade boy (8 yrs soon to be 9) is mastering flashcards and finishing some Rod and Staff math workbooks} They all usually get more than 1 lesson done each day. (I use mainly the math flashcards before starting saxon 54, but have found that they all seem to want or need some busy work. Rod and Staff math books I feel compliment the flashcards and are doable with self teaching, builds confidence and is a great step into 54. I use the first and second grade consumable workbooks, 3 rd grade text book then into saxon 54 when ready)

*Writing: 1/2 hr of copying the Proverb of the day (15 verses for older, 10 for younger) + 1/2 hr of creative writing, whatever subject they choose, sometimes book reports or fieldtrip reports. A letter to someone. Write and bind their own short book....whatever. + 1/2 hr of Bible study, writing answers to questions given them in their Wednesday night Bible Study classes at church.

*Reading: 2 1/2 hrs ( RC booklist for older, 1/2 hr of McGuffey reader for younger + 2 hrs of RC booklist for younger)

*In our afternoons at least twice, sometimes 3, we get together and have an oral class of history, science, current events or whatever happens to interest us. I use the Abeka (sometimes Rod and Staff or Bob Jones), science and history readers, taking turns reading out loud with discussions. Sometimes a biography, we've done language classes, sign language videos/books, hunter's safety courses, boater safety/license courses, music theory....also canning in summer, lots of baking and cooking, sewing, wood working and welding. Lots of field trips! PE classes at local YMCA or Homeschool PE getogethers that I plan with other homeschool families. And of course many many hours of drivers ed!! lol

When we first started RC we began with no computers, everything was printed or books purchased. I made my own vocabulary flashcards and flipcharts (still do), printed our books (still do), printed and made our own school records books (still do). Later there were 2 years we moved temporarily and lived in a camper trailer, this is where our laptops became very important. The RC disks have a vocab program and all the books on disk made it very easy to do our school with less paper and books since space was so tight. Well, I do have to admit when we moved back home I tried counting the books that came out of our camper school cabinet and lost count around 300 :-)  Today we still use the laptops sometimes, and the kids do have tablets they use sometimes. The Kindle app on these devices are great tools and almost everyday more and more RC books are available. But, actual physical hold in your hand books are by far mine and the kids' favorite. The kids have when older began free typing classes online, has been one of my favorites.

We still limit sugar and junk food in general, tending to make our own snacks at home. The kids have seen for themselves the way they feel when they eat healthier compared to a day of junk or soda. We don't have a TV, but do on occasion have a family video night. We use a monitor/dvd player for educational videos and classes when needed.

One thing I have recently added to our homeschool is I haven't been a fan of much online school programs but this seemed to just call out to me and I became a member and introduced it to the kids as a tool that was available if they wanted it. In the afternoons during free time I have been pleased to see several of my kids use this site and begin some geography and history classes all on their own. One daughter told me today she is planning on starting the chemisty course soon. My younger kids were interested in the videos and after watching a couple they then searched online and found the National Geographic site with videos on tigers and other big cats, which was the starting place for a week long group study we did a couple weeks ago on big cats. So far I think this website is going to be a great tool for our kiddos this year. Schoolhouseteachers was recommended by the Old School House magazine which I highly recommend.

I also recommend becoming a member of HSLDA, having this institution fighting on the side lines for homeschool families is a great comfort. Check out their website and get informed. I have not personally had to contact them with a problem of our own but know of several local families who have and all issues have been handled either with a simple call or letter. I know when my daughter enrolled in cosmetology school we did get a little hesitation concerning her diploma, but I assured them that the diploma and transcript was acceptable and that I could have HSLDA give them a call if needed. Apparently the state board of cosmetology agreed because she was enrolled and started school shortly after.

Well!! I've rattled on long enough!! Many blessing to homeschooling families! Make your kids' education fun and make homeschooling your own, doing what is best for you and your family!!
~ Katie


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Fieldtrips R fun!

I sat in my lawn chair last Thursday happily munching my turkey sandwich and watched my children roam in the warm sunshine. I had spent most of the morning pouring over boxes full of used curriculum and school books, laughing with other moms as we filled our vehicles with our prized finds. For me the free curriculum exchange is the best part of Edufair. Free, is one of my favorite words!! Every year we attend a home school fair packed full of adventure, local businesses set up their tables with information about themselves and a fun activity for the kids relating to their business. A science show put on by Mad Science blows them away with experiments about air pressure. The Nature Center demonstrated the different types of owls and interpreted their owl language. The creek running through the park was full of adventure waiting to be discovered, captured and explored. Stories told by a Native American captured imaginations while artistic ability ran wild at the craft table. The kids labored over thank you notes written in exchange for prize tickets, excitement was everywhere. All too soon the fun was over and we packed into the van among the books and headed for home. Soon eruptions of joy filled the air, "MOM!, you found the book I've been looking for!"; "Hey, an old Hardy Boys book!"; "Meto-mor-fus!"; "All about ocean tides"; "Is this 3rd grade math for me?!"; "Flashcards!! okay, what is 4+5? No peaking!" That pile of books should keep them busy for at least....two weeks? :-) They all love to read and be read to, that is one thing they got from me. Something they all got from their Dad is sidetracking! That is what happened on the way home. Does anyone else have a place that they are always planning on stopping at one day? The Wilson Creek Battle Site sign taunts us on the way home from the nearby city every time we make the trip. For the last couple of years we have planned to stop and today was the day! The Wilson Creek Battle Museum was open just long enough to wet our interest in the creative exhibits of Civil War history and artifact displays. Outside a silent cannon called us over for a quick picture, and as the gates closed behind us we planned our next visit, a picnic! with our cousins before we explore the battle field of not so long ago.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Call me "Biker Mom"!!

I get a lot of things in my hair, as you can imagine with 7 kids in the house, most of which are not wanted. This time though it was the wind in my hair! An awesome feeling and I loved it! Last year Michael bought an older Honda 500 motorcycle to go back and forth to work. He usually spent $75 in gas a week driving his truck and the bike only costs $12! So with a kiss and a prayer I send him off most mornings, especially in good weather. Now, I liked all my body parts right where they were and in working order (most of the time) and had no desire, especially since I was expecting baby Jack, to rearrange myself by falling off a motorcycle! See, I'm a little vertically challenged at 5'3" and Michael and the kids just didn't seem to understand that fear of trying to come to a stop and falling over 'cause ya couldn't reach the ground. I did attempt to catch a ride behind Michael it seemed we (I) was a little over the weight limit. We wobbled down the long gravel driveway, the back fender rubbing the tire blowing smoke while I held on tight and yelled "Slow Down!!"! We turned around at the mailbox. :-) This summer though I haven't been able to stand the peer pressure of the family, "Come on Mom!, Jack is almost a year old and your not that big!" Thanks. So, finally I put on the incredibly ugly helmet I had picked up at the second hand store for the kids and climbed on the monstercycle behind my wonderful husband for my first ride around the block. :-) "Around the block?!" you say? Well around here in the middle of nowhere a block can be about 5 miles. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the sun was bright and felt warm on my arms as we rode. With the wind in my hair, the bugs in my teeth and the smell of turkey litter and fresh mown hay in my nose, I enjoyed our ride while commenting on the scenery and waving at the neighbors. It was GREAT!! That was start of our mini Sunday afternoon dates. Just the two of us! We have recently rode into town (about 30 miles) and enjoyed a Coke while returning some overdue movies, and the other day we went to the vet (18 miles) to pick up some flea stuff for Rowdy then enjoyed a Coke before the ride home. Yeah!, I love Coke! I love this way of enjoying time with Michael, it brings a rush of excitement I have a hard time describing. Maybe it's all the flirting going on, it's definitely a hands on sport! :-) I'm becoming addicted and now spend time searching the bargain places for a good deal on a cool "Momma" helmet, drooling over newer bigger bikes and contemplating that black leather that hasn't ever so far been my style. But who knows, things change!

So, ever been on a bike ride? and how'd ya like it?

Picture: Meet Rowdy, our lovable rottweiler.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Heat Wave!!

"I'm melting! I'm melting!" words from one of my favorite childhood movies about summed it up for us today. How about you? I was just roaming through cyber space when the thunder crashed through my speakers. I jump every time! The weather channel has a up date for us..... It's HOT!! I guess I shouldn't be complaining because as I checked through the US I see there are hotter spots than ours! But after a day of mowing the yard, picking the veggies from the garden, working on the truck hitch and sweating up a storm, we.......went to the creek! Oh!, how the kids love the creek. You can imagine what a sight we are, driving down the gravel road with a load of kids in the back and one large rottweiler with his tongue a mile long, all enjoying the wind and dust in their teeth. As soon as the truck stops, SWOOSH! goes the dog, Rowdy followed by the older 5 kiddos ready to feel the cool water wash away the sweat and grime. Wait, did I write cool? I meant COLD! How could I not have the camera ready!! As the 6 bodies came up gasping, the shock on their faces was just hilarious! It seems the summer heat causes a mild form of amnesia. They had all quickly in their excitement forgotten the creek started underground, underground translates: COLD! Dad and I followed at a slower pace and soon we were all wet and having a great time catching crawdads and tadpoles. Baby Jack sitting in his place on a smooth part of the low water crossing (some would call it a bridge?) with about 2 inches of water moving across his toes, he especially enjoyed letting his pacifier go and watch it float away. Quickly one of his sisters or brothers would make a show of rescuing it and hand it back to be repeated. Laughter rang out and echoed through the trees as cattle munched nearby watching and dragonflies swooped quietly around our heads. It was splish and splash until all was worn out and hungry. We pulled our now "blue" selves out of the water, released the captured creatures escaping from their cups and crawled back into the truck. What fun! Only one thing could make it even better! PIZZA! So on down the dusty road we went, to the pizza get'n place for a pizza party on the tail gate, slurp'n soda and wav'n to the farmers. Life slowed down for us today, and it was goood!

Been to the creek lately? How do you keep cool this summer?

*picture of the kiddos at another creek last summer