Category - Eagle’s Wing Academy

A Day in the Life – Homeschooling
Teaching Bip to Read
School Plans 2012-2013
Laughing While Crying
I’m Underpaid
Summer Plans
Fun Times in School
Help Wanted
Breaking News

A Day in the Life – Homeschooling

The public schools around here are starting back next week.  We’re taking one more week off before getting back to things around here.  I’ve been planning all summer, printing out class materials, making copies and just generally  making sure we will be ready.  I’m trying very hard not to think about Boo being in 9th grade.  A high schooler.  Lord, help us all.

I took these pictures of a typical day in our homeschool a while ago.  I was going to link up to someone else’s blog series, but I never really got around to it.  But since Back to School is in the air, I’ll go ahead and share them now.

First off, we start our day fairly late.  I am not a morning person at all. My kids get up, get dressed, eat and take care of their chores while I’m trying to wake up. We officially start our day at 9 AM.  And doesn’t Boo look thrilled?


We begin with what the kids have dubbed “couch work” or “soft work”.  We are still using Sonlight as our main curriculum and I have combined Boo and Pumpkin Girl so that they are doing the same core work.  Couch work includes anything that involves sitting on the couch while I read aloud.  We follow Sonlight’s Bible reading schedule, then history, poems, science and end with the read aloud novel that usually ties in with history.


Pumpkin Girl listens best when her hands are busy, so she likes to work on loom knitting projects while I read.


Meanwhile, Pipsqueak plays in the room with us or with Bip in another room.  On a good day it isn’t a problem.  Sometimes though, he does become a distraction and we have to send him away with varying degrees of wailing and carrying-on.

Before releasing Boo and Pumpkin to work independently, we do spelling.  We use Sequential Spelling which doesn’t take too long and doesn’t require that they spend extra time studying spelling lists.  Pumpkin is a natural speller and Boo is not.  She tries to get all her words right everyday and he tries not to yell out in anguish more than 5 times a day.  It works for us.


The school day is so much more enjoyable when Pipsqueak cooperates.


Then it is Bip’s turn. He is not a fan of reading, so we start with that, just to get it out of the way.  After a tortuous 10 minutes of him reading aloud we are both edgy and frustrated.  I would like to jump right into history, but Bip is my budding Evil Scientist, so we go with science first.  That puts him in a better mood and makes him more receptive of his history lesson.  We end with a read aloud novel, which at his age does not necessarily match his history.


Thursdays are science experiment days.  Boo and Pumpkin do their experiments together, without my help.  They usually do them while I’m doing couch work with Bip.  They are a hoot to watch.  Pumpkin Girl does all the real work and orders Boo around, making him go get the supplies and read the directions.  Then she explains to him why the experiment did or did not work.  He is happy to be the errand boy and gleefully writes down the answers that Pumpkin provides him.  Occasionally I remind him that Pumpkin Girl will not be going to college with him and he’ll be expected to do his own work.



Bip and I do his experiments together.  When I took these pictures, we were doing experiments with magnets.  We successfully got one magnet to float above the other with the use of a little tape.  We were having so much fun that all the other kids joined in, too. Even Pipsqueak enjoyed playing with the magnets.




PipsqueakMagnetsWith the exception of spelling, the kids are on their own for seat work, or as they call it, “hard work.” They have various language arts, religion, logic, math and geography lessons that they work through on their own time, usually after lunch.  Ideally I correct their work once a week.  Realistically, it happens when it happens.


I am done with my portion of the school day around lunch time.  The big kids usually work for an hour or two after.  They like to gripe about how l-o-n-g school takes until I remind them that they are done before their friends have even left school and they still need to come home and do homework.

How about you?  When do your children start school, home, public, private or what have you?  Are you ready?












Teaching Bip to Read

Just when I think I’ve got this parenting thing down, somebody goes and proves me wrong.

This time it was Bip.

I started teaching Big Brother Boo to read when he was about six years old. He wasn’t too enthusiastic about the process, being a young boy who would rather run around like a crazy person. But we both stuck to it and he learned to read. My torture of choice was Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, known as 100EZ in the homeschool circles. I liked it for the cheesy title.

At about the same time, four year old Pumpkin Girl insisted she wanted to learn to read, too.

“Ok, ok,” I told her. “Later. When you’re older.”

But she would not be ignored and one day she told me again,”Teach me to read.” And the she dropped that heavy 100EZ book on my lap. Have you seen that book? Almost 400 pages thick!

When I recovered, I let her learn to read. Next thing I knew, girl friend was reading at a second grade level. I don’t think I finished the book with either child. They just didn’t need to since they were both strong readers.

So the years passed and now  it was time to teach Bip to read. Out came Ol’ Reliable, 100EZ. I can’t say for sure when the tears started. Lesson 1, maybe? With 99 more lessons looming ahead of us. From day to day, Bip couldn’t seem to remember which sounds the letters make. Ten lessons into it, we quit.

He’s just not ready, I told myself. Boys are often late readers. Yeah, that’s it.

Several months later, we started all over again. It was only slighter easier. Day after day we trudged on, often repeating lessons. Bip was in serious danger of learning to hate reading. I finally shelved 100EZ permanently. I got out some Catholic readers, circa 1950. Bip struggled some, but got through them. We got out the Bob Books, too and he really liked those. Next in line were the Sonlight readers. Then I found a Dick and Jane anthology and Bip sat down and read story after story aloud. He was reading!

Over this past summer we all caught Bip reading various things. Labels, signs, that kind of thing.

“I thought you said you can’t read,” we’d say.
“I can’t,” he’d reply.

Until one day I turned the question around and said, “You can read, can’t you?”
” Yes,” he admitted. Aha!

So now Bip is reading. He is still working his way through the Dick and Jane book. He really enjoys those, as well as the Catholic readers which are very similar in content and illustrations. He reads more and more outside of the context of school.

I really don’t know how it happened or where I go next with him. I like a well laid out plan, 100 easy lessons all bound in one book. I do have a stack of readers that I’ll just let him work through and I’ll teach him phonics rules as they come up. Bip’s not the only one learning here. I’m being challenged by him in many unexpected ways.

But I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

School Plans 2012-2013

This is the Year of Catching Up. I slept most of 2010, being pregnant with Pipsqueak and all. Then I spent 2011 and 2012 dealing with a new baby. We used to school year-round until Pumpkin Girl started doing ballet summer intensives and workshops which took up 5 weeks of summer. And now, here we are, woefully behind where I would like to be.

But oftentimes, the lesson is about family. Picking up the slack for mom while she rests and sustains a growing new life. Trips to the midwife where everyone can see the miracle via ultrasound. Learning to care for the newest, weakest member of the family. Math can wait, people cannot.

Yet, falling behind my personal schedule bothers me. So we will work on catching up this year.

This school year we have grades 2, 6 and 8. Additionally, the two boys will receive a total of three sacraments. Exciting times!

We continue to use Sonlight. My children always sigh at the end of most read aloud books and declare that, “Sonlight always sends us the *best* books!” I can’t argue with that! Boo and Pumpkin Girl are in the middle of Core 5/F, a year long study of Eastern Hemisphere cultures. We’ll be done around January, I think. Then on to Core 6/H. Bip is doing Core K (C?), World Cultures, I think it is. All are using the corresponding science programs.

For math we have a new approach.  We liked Horizon, but it is mom intensive.  That worked fine until the addition of Pipsqueak into the equation.  (Ha! math analogy!) The boys are using Math-U-See at their respective levels. They like it and both can use it on their own. Pumpkin Girl is using Teaching Textbooks, which fits her well. Having them all do math on their own frees me up big time!! With TT, I don’t even have to correct the tests!

We’re doing something new for creative writing, too. For the older two, they are using Institute for Excellence In Writing for both creative writing and grammar. Again, they are able to do this with minimum effort on my part which is good as I deal with Bip learning to read. More on that adventure later!!

Religion is more complicated this year. We are using Seton for regular, grade level work.  The boys will be required to attend the sacrament prep classes in person at our church, which irks me. But since we have a “home study” option for their regular classes and I’m “allowed” to use my own books, I’m willing to make this effort.

Extra curricular-wise, we have soccer and scouts for boys, ballet for Pumpkin Girl. Whew!  I’m wiped out just typing that all!

Laughing While Crying

A couple of days ago, this chain of emails transpired between Boo, my husband and me.  Watch this Toy Story clip first, it’ll be funnier that way.

On 2/7/12 Boo wrote:

> dear dad, I emailed [Eagle Scout candidate] to see if I should bring anything els then me my
> gloves eye protection and the other usual stuff here’s what he said. Love
> Boo
[forwarded email omitted]

2/7/12 12:34 PM Phil wrote

OK.  Sounds good.

You really need to check your spelling.  Kind of makes me sad. 8′-(


2/7/12  12:52 PM Lorri wrote

Actually, his grammar is what is especially painful.

2/7/12 12:55 PM Phil wrote


All those years of academy training…wasted…all gone…bye..bye


2/7/12 12:56 PM Lorri wrote

Does that make him Mrs. Nesbit?

2/7/12 1:01 PM Phil wrote

Definitely, can’t you see the hat?

2/7/12 1:15 PM Boo wrote

Ha ha very funny dad and mom here me laugh HA!


As Boo’s parents, we crack ourselves up.  As his principal and teacher, we are completely mortified.  We started a new grammar program that very afternoon.

I’m Underpaid

A part of Boo’s promotion requirements to first class scout included talking to a civil servant about the Constitution. There may have been more to it than that, but that’s the important part. He and a couple of other scouts chose to talk with one of the scout dads that was at camp for the week.

As they sat down, the dad started talking about “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” An honest enough mistake, right? In fact, you might even be reading this and wondering what was wrong.

Boo caught it right away. He said, “Actually, that’s the Declaration of Independence. The Constitution is the one that starts, ‘We, the people, in order to form a more perfect union…” and then proceeded to rattle off the whole preamble.

The dad said, “You’re right! I got the wrong document!” and they moved on with the discussion.

I think we should all stand up and applaud Boo’s history teacher, don’t you think?

Oh, wait…

Summer Plans

I really should know better, shouldn’t I? I make plans and God nods sympathetically, then lets me know what is really going to happen.

I had planned to continue to school through the summer. We’ve always done this. By not having a typical summer vacation we can take time off from school at any time. Grandparents visiting? No problem. Disney vacation scheduled? Got it covered. Also – having definite summer plans sure does cut down on the sibling bickering and I’m all over that!

And I kind of slept all last year, what with being pregnant and all. School was not high on anyone’s priority when mom was falling asleep by 10 am and there were Star Wars action figure battles to be waged.

My plan was a good one – keep going through summer as always, doubling up when we could to make up for lost time, take time off for our church’s version of VBS and for Boy Scout camp.

Two things I didn’t count on. First- Pumpkin Girl’s dance workshops. When she saw her studio’s offerings for the summer, she wanted to do each one. Ballet workshop, Broadway workshop (featuring selections for “Annie”), worship dance workshop – what’s not to love? She’s going to be dancing every day, almost all day, for 5 weeks. I might be able to sneak a little school in here and there, but not much. And because I teach her and Boo both using the same level curriculum (Sonlight Core 4 or E or whatever we’re calling it now), there’s no school for Boo either. Not that he minds. In fact, when he reads this – and he will, curses on whoever taught him how to use the internet. Oh wait, that was me. Where was I? Oh yes, when Boo reads this, he needs to go thank his sister for giving him such a grand summer vacation. He should probably offer to do her chores while she’s off dancing.

So that’s 5 weeks of school I’d planned on that we’re not going to be doing. Oh wait, only 4. One of those dance weeks overlaps Scout Camp.

The other thing I didn’t plan on? Pipsqueak. Oh, my little Pipsqueak! Double chinned, big cheeked, gummy smile Pipsqueak. He has decided that he has to be in physical contact with a parent, preferably me, at all times. All times. I love that little guy, but he wears me out. If he’d just nurse and sleep while I read aloud, we’d be fine. But no. He wants me all to himself, in the quiet sanctity of our bedroom. Them other people – let ’em fend for themselves. We’re doing the best we can, trying to let him nap in quiet, then cram as much school as we can during his waking hours before he realizes that I’m not holding him. It’s not going real well.

And tonight…the other children took off mid-afternoon to play with their friends. Public schools have already let out for the summer here, and it was downright hot today, so the neighborhood children were out in force. They had some sort of water weapon battle that lasted way past dinner time. At 7:30 I finally stuck my head out and asked my crew if they were planning on eating dinner that night.

Such nice weather, so many adventures to be had. Dinner could wait, apparently. I totally get that.

I think I need to let go of my expectations. I need to sit down and figure out what I can do to let everyone have a peaceful, happy, fun summer.

This summer will only happen once. We need to make the best of it.

Fun Times in School

We’ve been enjoying our school work, now that we are recovered from our vacation and are back to normal.

We read about Emperor Norton, learned that Raytheon manufactured the first microwave ovens, and sang Civil War songs (specifically “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” “Goober Peas,” “Dixie”, “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”). We learned that after John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, he jumped to the stage, breaking his leg. He then cried, “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” which as everyone knows, means, “Ouch, my leg!”

But the best part came when learning grammar. We’ve been using the DVD of the old School House Rock songs to learn parts of speech. Go ahead, sing it with me – Conjunction Junction, what’s your function?. We made our own version of “The Tale of Mr. Morton“. It goes like this:

“Little Pipsqueak naps on my lap.
Little Pipsqueak naps.

Little Pipsqueak cries for a snack.
Little Pipsqueak cries.

Little Pipsqueak was happy.
Little Pipsqueak was.

Little Pipsqueak is the subject of the sentence,
and the predicate says, he does.”

Because grammar is more fun with baby brothers!

Help Wanted

I think I’ve mentioned a time or two that I’m a regular writing over at The Homeschool Classroom.  Go check it out – it’s a great resource.  Lots of good articles by fellow homeschooling moms sharing tips, ideas and inspirations.  I just did a three part article on the Homeschool Preschool.  You can find them here:

Part 1 – Preschool At Home…Or Not
Part 2 – Toys and Games for the Preschooler
Part 3- A Preschooler’s Day

I need to take a break from writing for The Homeschool Classroom for a few weeks.  Nothing serious, I just need a break and get some pre-pre-move stuff done.

So if you’ve got a good idea for an article that you’d like to write, now’s your chance!  Actually, it could be an article you’ve already posted on your blog, you just need to state that at the end of your article.  Search your mind and your archives and help me out by submitting an article to run during my hiatus.

Details on becoming either a guest writer, regular or semi-regular writer can be found here: Guest Writers.

What sort of topics are we looking for?  Product and curriculum reviews (positive and negative), craft ideas, organizational tips, co-op ideas, more preschooler ideas, teaching a child with disabilities.  Do you follow a Montessori model or use Charlotte Mason’s ideas?  We’d love to see more information on these methods.  Anything that has to do with homeschooling is good!

Breaking News

This just in:  The Boy got an A in math.  Not on one test, but for the whole book.  This boy.  Got an A.

He’s made such a huge improvement in his attitude towards school which has shown up in his math grades.  He’s worked so hard to overcome his difficulties and I’ve gotten so much better in being compassionate and patient.  He called his daddy at work to tell him, then played a little air guitar in celebration.

So anyway…just had to share.  An A in math!

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