Monday, September 21, 2015

July and August

It's time for a picture post!  Here's what we've been up to the last couple of months.

July found us in Chiang Mai again getting our one-year visa!  This is a huge blessing as we no longer have to be thinking about the next step in this process for another year!  We still have to do work reports every four months and residency check-ins quarterly, but those are more a matter of routine and not as disruptive to our daily living.

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We had to go get some more visa photos before our trip



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Even though we spent a lot of time just waiting around the immigration
office, we did manage to find a playground.



We also got our new teammates as neighbors!  They moved in to the house across the street from ours at the beginning of July.  They have kids the same ages as the boys, and we've been having a lot of fun with them.  We also went adventuring with them to the waterfall we had visited first in April.

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There was a lot more water this time.


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New friends!


We are still trying to find our fit here.  We've been spending a lot more time learning the language (Alisha is learning Burmese and Phil is learning Thai), but we've also had a few other things that we get to do.

Alisha helps out by delivering produce to some of the birth class graduates.  It has a double-effect of being able to help these moms get the nutrition they need while they are pregnant and nursing and also gives us a chance to check in on them in their homes to make sure that they are doing well.  Alisha has found herself a few times taking people from some of the further away villages to Mae Tao Clinic to get the help they might need.  Often kids have diseases like Dengue or pneumonia, and their parents don't know how to get to the clinic to help them.

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Children's Ward
Phil's been teaching ESL to the kids in one of the villages too.  All four of us get to be around for this, and it's fun watching our kids interact with the kids in the class.

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Phil teaching colors
We also hosted house church for a while.  We took a break when Alisha went back to the States, but our house is still available as a back-up for now.  We'll have to see what that looks like in the future.

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The pile of shoes at our front door during church.


In August, Alisha left Phil with the boys, and travelled back to the States for her brother's wedding.  She had a great time seeing friends and family in both Seattle and Southern California.  She also got to visit both of her "home" churches: Bethany North (in Seattle) and The Crossing (San Diego).

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Girls Night with friends in Seattle


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Hanging out with my brothers!


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My brother's wedding was beautiful!  I now have a sister, and my brother,
Nate, has married into a wonderful family.
Love you, Shannon!

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My parents at the reception!  Don't they look great.  =)
We are also going to be moving into doing a quarterly prayer letter instead of every month.  If you want to get our prayer letters, please let us know in the comments or Facebook!

More pictures from July and August can be found on Flickr.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Another Homeschool Post

In our home we value a culture of learning.  A seemingly innocent question about what language do robots speak at the dinner table can lead to a long discussion about binary.  Because our children were the first to broach the subject, they are eager learners and are provided with endless opportunities to find the answers to their questions.  They've discovered the wonders of using YouTube for learning how to draw, figuring out a mathematical concept, having history come to life (or cartoon!), and seeing science's wonders.  Learning happens all the time, and Phil and I try to seize the moments whenever we can.  Phil wrote a bit about this when he talked about how he goes about teaching math.

Yet, we like having structure too.  We are not strict unschoolers.  I believe that kids will have gaps in their education regardless of the method used, but I think that if there is a way to combat that even a little, it is good.  We also need routine in our daily lives and having "school time" in the morning helps with that.  The kids know what to expect from the day which helps them as they form habits.

Every year around this time, I typically write out my plan for the homeschooling year.  I spend a lot of time figuring out what we are going to do, and blogging about it helps me to put it all in one place.  I used to also try to figure out what we'd do each day of each week of each month for the semester.  Ha!  Our lives don't look anything like that now.  First of all, as you've probably noticed, we live in Thailand.  Our structure and accessibility to resources is limited.  The Internet is wonderful though, and we can still get e-books.  BUT, most curriculum is not easily attainable if I don't plan it out far in advance.  Secondly, we now homeschool year-round.  I think this is very near the first year we've not been living in some way off the traditional school schedule.  Thailand schools have a different summer break than American or International schools.  Our routine is more important than having summer breaks and holidays anyway, and we also have to take necessary breaks when we have to do visa runs or other things that may get in the way for a time.  We have the freedom to take off when it feels most convenient for us.  Not that we have anyone looking over our shoulder keeping tabs on how we are educating our kids here in Thailand, but it makes me feel better as an educating mom.

This year then is more of just a roll-over of what we started last year.  All the same things, just a year further in.  We haven't had an official first day of school, but some curriculum recently ended and we are starting the next books so this seems like a good time to put this up.

Hymn Study
We like to begin our day with a hymn, and we'll continue to use Simply Charlotte Mason's Hymn Schedule.  This year we'll be using Group 3.  I like to find the hymns on YouTube and let the kids watch them so they can follow along with the words.

Bible
For Bible, I'm excited to finally get to use the Clarkson's 24 Family Ways.  I was waiting until I felt like both boys would get enough out of it as it talks a lot about the values we want to uphold as a family.  This Bible Study follows the ARTS Outline.  A - Ask a Question, R - Read the Bible, T- Talk about it, S - Speak to God.  They will also have weekly Bible verse to go with the study.  Update: We are now using Old Story New.  24 Family Ways was a little over the head of my six year old, so we will save that for a future year.

History
We will continue to go through Story of the World.  We finished Volume 1: Ancient World a few months ago, and we are enjoying Volume 2: The Middle Ages.

Language Arts
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We are working through Italics: Beautiful Handwriting for Children.  They are about halfway finished with this after having completed their Handwriting Without Tears last year.  Once they complete this, we'll start working on copywork.  They will work on copying out the verses from our monthly hymn, our weekly Bible verse, and selections from Classic Poetry.

The boys also have a Thai handwriting book for them to learn their Thai letters.

As far as grammar is concerned, we haven't done much left although our family is strange at times as it comes up in regular conversation. We "may" read through Grammar Land this year which teaches them parts of speech.

Z is now reading a lot.  For his sixth birthday, he received a reading Kindle from us just like N did on his sixth.  Z is currently reading through Treadwell's Second Reader and will be on the Third quite soon.  N reads voraciously so I don't assign much reading although I try to guide him to good books.  He's currently reading through the Wizard of Oz series.  I do, however, want N to be able to read aloud beautifully.  Because of this, I'm having him read to me from Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing.  This is a beautiful little devotional for kids, and it gives him a chance to practice expression.

Math
Phil already talked about this, but our actual curriculum we use is RightStart Math.  We are in Book C this year.

Foreign Language
We live in Thailand now.  So, the boys are learning Thai through Mango.  They are also getting a dabbling in Burmese as that is the language I'm learning, and they hear it a lot as well.

Science
This is all over the place like our math approach.  We typically have an unplanned science "lesson" daily just jumping off a question or event that happened in that day.  We watch YouTube videos or put together electronics.  The boys are programming using all sorts of different computer languages.  However, we are still going through slowly Science in the Beginning by Jay Wile.  This doesn't happen all the time, but it does give us something to do.

Philosophy and Art
We have a fun book called Philosophy for Kids.  We go through one question a week, and it gets the boys discussing life while also exposing them to some famous philosophers throughout the ages.

Z is really into art.  He likes to look up YouTube videos to figure out how to draw something.  Sometimes he'll just be drawing, and it will remind Phil or I of a famous artist, so we'll show him works by that artist.  For example, he started trying to draw pictures just using dots so we talked about pointillism.  Another time, he was playing with playdough, and it reminded us of the melting clocks by Salvador Dali.  We showed him some pictures, and he immediately wanted to try to copy it.  N isn't as interested, but he does watch Draw Squad with Z at times.  They are both trying out their 3D art.  N finds his niche more in the computer programming.

We are going to start using Simply Charlotte Mason's Art Study Portfolios.  We have the one featuring Giotto so we'll begin with that.


We are really enjoying how homeschooling has been going even without access to a regular library system.  The kids love school time (except for handwriting usually), and it's exciting to seem them pick up on concepts and see where their curiosity leads them.