Category: Homeschool

Monthly Summary Jan 2018

Must post this before our trip to Taiwan or I will never remember what we did. Not even going to bother putting in links this time around.  January kind of flew by because my brain was in my computer half the time, planning for our Taiwan trip.  I’m surprised the kids got anything done.


  • English – 
    • Grammar  – IXL reviewed parts of speech, literary elements, Finished NAMC Language Curriculum Year 1!, poetry rhyming, literary elements, metaphor vs simile
    • Books –The Plant that Ate Dirty Socks (AR 4.1), Tales from the Odyssey (AR. 4.8-5.3)
    • Writing – Writing With Ease 2.23-2.24
    • Spelling – Evan Moore 2.13-2.17
  • Chinese – 
    • Reading – 說給兒童的台灣歷史 audiobook, Little House in the Big Woods
    • Writing – 來玩寫作的遊戲 chap 11-?
  • Math – measurements (volumne, distance, length, weight, data & graphs, venn diagrams, unit conversion,angle measurement, parts of a circle, parts of a right triangle
  • Science/History – skeletal system, circulatory system, respitory systemBrains On Podcast
  • Others – Violin 3.2, rainbow loom, Picasso Art in Action Coop, Jazz, swimming, Orff music class


  • English
    • Reading – AAR Book 2 #17-#35
    • Grammar – reviewing parts of speech
  • Chinese –  Chinese dinousaur books, 說給兒童的台灣歷史 audiobook
  • Math – division memorization, fraction equivalence, angles, names of triangles
  • Science/History – same as sister
  • Others – swimming, Orff music class, Picasso Art in Action Coop, Jazz


We didn’t make much progress in January except continuing our focus on measurements and geometry.  Last year’s test scores told me I’ve kind of been neglecting that area of math.  Hey, the trainer never went over measurements so I kind of pretended it didn’t exist?  And I didn’t take geometry class so I kind of neglected too.

Thankfully I’m discovering that Thumper’s learning style is that she understands concepts very quick.  I can explain something just once and she gets what I’m saying.  Then I just have to leave her to IXL or projects and she can practice till she actually learns it.

We just got this year’s test score back and she kind of jumped a lot due to these 2 areas.   With IXL telling me what Common Core teaches, I see that Montessori geometry can go up to 9th grade and high school level, all in elementary.  This is all fine by me because from the albums, geometry is actually fun!  Not the dry AB, CD line, angle A, angle B mind numbing problems in high school.  So I would love for her to learn it concretely while she still love concrete materials.

I shall try very hard to move her back to concrete math in February.

In science we’re focusing on human body parts this session.  The kids have been having a blast with the hands on experiments/projects I found.  And I finally figured out the right format for 6 children.  I realized after one particularly good class that I needed to group the kids together in such a way so that I focus on 4 kids, 1 pair of which can mostly work by themselves, and then another mom focuses on the other 2 kids.  This allows some actual attention on the younger kids and moves everyone along.

The other “weak” part from her test score is related to knowing the vocabulary of literature, and inferring meaning (literary elements).  I’m undecided as to how I should approach this as I think a lot of it comes from reading. But knowing the nomenclature for the literary elements is important as well.   As I asked Baba, the test gives you hard vocab and asks you to infer meaning.  If you’re a kid who reads a lot and has a huge vocab, don’t you just seldom infer?  Clearly she picks up words from reading, so clearly she knows how to infer.  So then I don’t much care if she cannot answer the questions.

So what’s the undecided part?  As I like to tell the children, tests are for finding out what you don’t know.  So I’m just not sure what it is I don’t know about the language curriculum that maybe isn’t covered in Montessori albums but is needed.

We’re also getting stuck in Writing with Ease because it’s working on some mechanics of writing (using quotation marks).  So instead of doing 2 chapters a week, we were back to 1 chapter a week.  In addition, she’s now learning how to summarize without prompts and there were a few tear inducing weeks because it was so hard.  I have to say, once again, how much I love Writing with Ease and I see how it works on writing without actually writing, which suits perfectly for my spelling challenged child.


With Astroboy, we’re just zooming by in our All About Reading book 2, doing 2 chapters a day.  I can see now that I should have used this curriculum with Thumper, the All About Spelling wasn’t really enough as a supplement.  But, I can also see how Astroboy just has this fairly logical brain that allows him to understand phonic rules fairly quickly, see the patterns of word lists, and be able to apply that concept to future word lists.  His sister got around this when she read word lists by using her prior knowledge of words and guessing.  She could not quite apply patterns.  Yet, unlike his sister, he cannot for the life of him remember what I mean when I say, short /i/ sound or long /i/ sound.

I continue to be amazed at how different curriculum just suit different children better.  And the more I understand how the kids learn, the more I can see which curriculum suits which kid better.

Sadly, phonics is just about all we manage to do it seems.  Phonics and IXL.  I still don’t understand why it takes the child 3 hours to get ready for school, when I’m not there to nag remind him when he gets distracted.

We’re finally starting our study of Taiwanese history by listening to audiobooks, and watching travel shows on Youtube.  I’m hoping this will make the actual sightseeing part more relevant for the children.

Lastly, both children really got into a song by Ella Fitzgerald that I put on the other day, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.  It’s probably a very good song to use in language class as it talks about different ways of pronouncing a word.  They begged to listen to it day after day till they could sing it.

Then I played Ella’s C-Jam Blues and explained to the kids how she used her voice as an instrument and had a dialogue with the trumpet player as she was singing.  Astroboy especially loved this song and wanted me to play it over and over as well.

On days like this, when we happen upon something that I love and get to show the children, I super love homeschooling.

Monthly Summary Dec 2017

I’m only a month behind.  Not too bad.  I lost my mojo 1 week after I came back from our vacation and writing a flurry of stuff.  I guess it didn’t help that we got into a car accident (all’s well) and I had to deal with the fall out from that.

The kids are doing A LOT of IXL now.  I feel kind of bad.  But as the homeschooling podcasts I listen to says, we go through seasons in our homeschooling life, due to, you know, life.  So no need to beat myself too much for it.


  • English – 
    • Grammar – adverbs
    • Books – Story of Dr. Dolittle (AR 5.1)
    • Writing – Writing With Ease Book 2 Weeks 21-23
    • Spelling – Evan Moore Spelling 2.9-2.12
  • Chinese – Characters – 童話莊子
    • Reading – 水滸傳 (4th), 說給兒童的世界歷史 audiobook completed
    • Writing – #200-210, Writing with Ease (童話莊子), 來玩寫作的遊戲  chap 8,
  • Math – decimal multiplication, fraction multiplication, division review, similar/congruent/equivalent
  • Science/History – reptiles, amphibians, dissected frog!, birds
  • Others – Art class (studied Russo), monarch butterfly fieldtrip, swim, Christmas holiday hike in the city, rainbow loom


  • English
    • Reading – Primary Phonics level 2 reading books, AAR Book 2 #10-13, Magic Treehouse finished (audiobooks)
    • Grammar – prepositions
    • Others – cursive writing
  • Chinese – 神奇樹屋 #9-#35, Sagebooks characters writing, Reading 123 小火龍 series, 說給兒童的世界歷史 audiobooks
  • Math – division memorization, fraction add/sub same denominator, frac multiplication whole number, triangles
  • Science/History – same as sister
  • Others – same as sister,

Maybe I will really try to keep it short and sweet this month.


Homeschool Summary Apr/May 2017

School officially ends this year mid May because we are off to visit family for the summer.


It’s been a year of growth for me.  I have so much to say about what I learned this year, its going to get its own perspective post.  So here’s a short summary of what the kids did the last 1.5 months.


  • English – Finished Explode the Code.  Started and dropped Sara, Plain and Tall, read Percy Jackson 4 & 5 (Guided Reading Level W & S), started and dropped D’Aulaires Greek Mythology (GRL X), started Pawn of Prophecy (AR 5.9), superlatives, syllabication, All About Spelling review, Whodunit Detective Agency series (AR 5.x)
  • Chinese – Sagebooks characters #61-#130
  • Math – opeartor precedence, divisibility of 8, fraction multiplication of 1 unit, decimal multiplication, line, ray, segment, horizontal, vertical, broken, curved lines, division by 4 by 1 digit
  • Others – Cowgirl Creamery, running 1 mile , knitting, Orff class, violin class, sourdough, hawaiian mythology, hawaiian hula 


Summer Reading and Listening for the Homeschooling Teacher

One of my favorite jdrama is Long Vacation.  The main lead is an aspiring pianist who is in a rut.  There is a scene in the drama the main characters are talking about how he is no longer entering in piano competitions and contemplates giving up altogether.  Rather, he’s just floating by giving piano lessons to kids.  The female lead suggests, maybe, he is just in a long vacation.

I’ve always loved that concept of long vacation.  Maybe you’ve falling off the exercise bandwagon, or the eating well bandwagon, or the homeschooling well bandwagon.  But you haven’t failed, just taking a long vacation.

Or as I like to tell my children when I’m feeling lazy, 休息是為了走更遠的路。

This year, we’re staying with my parents for 6 weeks while I help my sister with her sitting month.  The kids stayed with their other grandma the first two weeks.  I spent my kids-free time doing mostly brainless activities, waiting for my 3 meals to be served, not tidying or tackling the huge list of things I’d wanted to accomplish during my time here.

Finally I got bored enough to get off my butt and do some stuff.  Stuff like:

Reading Raising an Emotional Intelligent Child.  The author, John Gottman, is a researcher who studies marriages and his conclusion is that we all need to be emotionally intelligent and learning this skill starts in childhood.

We all know the drill of acknowledging children’s feelings, but he goes a step further.    How do you guide them when they’re having a moment, be it a tantrum or being sad or angry, and help them during those moments to be aware of and to process their emotions.


Homeschool Summary March 2017

I’m going to be sad when Spring semester is over.  Finally, after 3 years, I have figured out what homeschool daily routine works for me and what kind of homeschooling method/curriculum fits me.  I’m also very close to figuring out what kind of homeschool fits my kids now that I’ve discovered Myer Briggs.  Since March is so long ago, I no longer remember what I learned that month.

  • English – Read Percy Jackson book 1 & 2 (GRL W & S), Frindle (GRL R)Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (GRL V).  Half way through Book 8 of Explode the Code.  Homophones, homographs, Singular & Plural possessives, comparatives/superlatives.  All About Spelling book 3, L2.  Handwriting.
  • Chinese – Percy Jackson book 1 & book 4, 晶晶的桃花源, Writing first 60 characters in Sagebook,
  • Math – common multiples, least common multiples, factors, prime, divisibility of 2, 5, 25, 4.
  • Geography, Art, History – Listening to D’Aulaires Greek Mythology audiobook, reading Chinese history, introduction to biomes, Waseca North America biome portfolio
  • Others – violin lessons, orff lessons, cooking class, Fieldtrips to learn about local foxes and birds, hiking, running laps


Homeschool Summary February 2017

We did bare minimal homeschooling while in Taiwan and getting over jet lag took me all of January.  Early February, my ceiling leaked, which resulted in the removal of a bookcase.  As a result, I needed to reshuffle all my books, which lead to a general purging and organization of the living room/homeschool area.

Finally.  I had a homeschooling area again.  Who knows how long it would have taken me if the ceiling hadn’t leaked.  February was the first month we’ve tried to stick to a 3 hour work period in a long time.

Here’s what the children did this month. (more…)

A Day in the Life of a Bilingual Homeschooler

Age: 6 & 9

My February monthly summary is sitting in draft, because we’re finally back on track homeschooling-wise and I had so many things to document.  Since who knows when they’ll get published, I wanted to do a short post so I can at least document my happiness that things are going (mostly) well.  It’s taken me 3 years, but I finally figured out what daily routine works for me.

I would fill this with pics, except I only remembered to take one.

Our homeschool day is supposed to be 9am-12pm for Astroboy and 9am-2pm for Thumper. On this day, the children started their work day at around 9:40 after getting up between 7:30-8am.  We worked till 3pm, accounting for random breaks, chores, snacks and outside lessons.  I tend to go with their flow when it comes to meals and rest.  Usually they need a break after about 1-1.5 hours of work.  They always get cranky or start not paying attention (as in I have to say something 2-3 times).

7:30am I wake up before Astroboy for once and quickly pop some Trader Joe’s berry scones in the oven.

8:00am The kids get up.  I’m busy cutting flashcards and reading email and try to ignore them while they get ready for the day and eat breakfast.


Homeschool Summary Oct ’16

Been awhile since I’ve posted a summary of what we’ve been up to homeschooling wise.  After a month of minimal homeschooling in Japan and Korea, and a summer of play, we’ve been making some progress so it’s time to document.

Rather than detailed listing of what we’re doing, this time around I’m going to try and summarize.


After a summer of working on her English, we jumped from Guided Reading level K to about M/N.  I don’t know why I continue to be surprised that when you have the comprehension you don’t have to worry about learning to read late.  Because I keep worrying!

We’ve been working with Explode the Code to get the basics of phonics down more.  Right now, she can slough through The Odyssey by Mary Osbourne, which is about Level S.  I’m breathing a sigh of relief that she’s now close to 3rd grade English reading level and almost caught up.

In Chinese, she started with zhuyin version of Harry Potter, then went ahead and just read the other two without zhuyin.  I’ve having her wait a year till she reads Harry Potter #4, as content-wise she’s not mature enough for it.   This is the biggest thing occupying her life right now.  Everything is about Harry Potter.  She dreams about it, she does her Chinese sentence composition about Harry Potter, her first country in our flag study is England.


State of our Chinese before 2016-2017 School Year

Wow, this school year will mark our 4th year homeschooling!


Last Year, Thumper started the school year reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in Chinese.  That’s about a 2nd or 3rd grade level, and Level 4 in Chinese reading level.  She spent the rest of the year jumping around, re-reading the Reading 123 series, the Dahl series, starting but unable to finish books like Harry Potter, Little House on the Prairie, picture books, etc.  People remarked that her spoken Chinese improved so I tried not to worry that she is seemingly stuck around the Reading 123 level (Level 2-3).

Because our focus was on learning to read in English, the Chinese reading was just me providing reading time and allowing her to read whatever she wants.  The rest of our Reading 123 and the Reading 456 series came at the end of the school year and she binged read the rest of the Reading 123 series and maybe a book or two of the Reading 456 series before she gave up.


A Summary of Our Last 4 Months

Every week, I think about writing a post on our progress in homeschooling, thoughts on books, and what we’ve been up to.  But nothing gets written because it takes too long.  However, we’re about to embark on a 4 month trip.  I figure I should at least summarize what we’ve been up to and other random thoughts I have before our big trip.

We moved in April and sold our house in June.  Given that I got the idea in my head at the end of February, it was a very quick move.  Thankfully half of my house was already in various plastic boxes due to me kondo’ing the last 3 years.  But the whole thing still took up a lot of my energy and I’m amazed we still managed to homeschool some and attend our co-op during our move.

We’ve downsized from a 00600 sq ft house into a 1000 sq ft apartment.  I don’t think I’m made out to be a home owner, despite loving to garden.  So it’s with a relief that I no longer live in a big house and had to toss/sell various things.   I love our new neighborhood and our new way of life.  We get to walk everywhere.