Substantive Education

August 25, 2011


Filed under: Education,Homeschooling — kbagdanov @ 10:13 pm
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Wednesdays are now officially our Preschool and early elementary days.  If you have students who fall into this category see below for a description of the activities for our youngest members.

Marine Biology at Kelly’s Wednesday mornings from 9:00-10:00

This is an elementary school science class exploring the oceans and it’s creatures.  We will be working from the Apologia book Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures of the 5th Day.    (There is an accompanying notebook put out by the publisher.  We will not be using the notebook in class, but if you wish to add it to your at home studies that is totally up to you.)  In our time together we will be using the book as a jumping off place to do more explorations on the sea.  There will be storybooks, experiments, art projects and field trips to ‘flesh out’ the lessons.  This book is written for an older elementary school reading level, however it can be used by students from 4 on up if their parents are willing to read the book to them.   With this in mind, younger students are welcome in the class, but parents will probably want to stay to help them with some of the work.  Also, children will get a lot out of the class, even if they do not have the book…this may be an option for some parents with younger children who just want the additional activity/exposure.  (The book is worth the investment though.)

Group Time at Kelly’s Wednesdays 10:00-11:30.

This time will focus on group interactions,  story time, finger plays, singing, art experience, science exploration, and mastering basics preschool/kindergarten skills. Parents are encouraged to stay and participate. The last 15-20 minutes of our time we will have a snack and some free play for the kids, while the Mom’s focus on the skills (homework if you will) to work on for the coming week.

Park Days – Wednesdays from Noon to 1:30ish.

It’s the park, ending times will be dictated by the kids moods more than likely. Picnic lunches are encouraged. This is an unstructured play time at the park, allowing the kids more time to interact and for the Mom’s to talk. Parents of elementary (or older) kids from Grace are also encouraged to come to Park Days. Some of our Park Days will have a theme…a water day, chalk day, jump rope etc. Note: In the event of rain, Park Day is canceled. If the weather is unusually cold (or worse, very windy) we will also cancel. I send texts, emails, and will post on Facebook a final decision.

Field Trips

There will be at least one monthly field trip, frequently more. In order to simplify scheduling, if the field trips are specifically for our youngest students I will try to schedule them on Wednesdays. For regular school field trips, we try to stick to Tuesdays. Obviously, some venues only have certain days available so we must work within those guidelines.

Some of the trips we are planning for this year include: SeaWorld, the Post Office, the Fire Station, Tide Pools, the Pumpkin Patch, Petco, Snow Day, LaHabra Children’s Museum, and Whale Watching. There will be many others, but that gives you an idea.

Parent Training

We have a mandatory monthly parent meeting. The first half of the meeting deals with details like signing up for field trips, scheduling school photos etc.

The second half of the meeting is dedicated to training about a specific area of homeschooling to assist parents in staying on track and implementing new ideas.

School Photos

These are generally taken the beginning of October. Students and parents are issued student body cards. The cards for students are free, parents are $2. The parents card qualifies them for Teacher Discounts at some stores…such as Joanne’s.


Each year Grace puts together a yearbook and our preschoolers will have a section featuring them.


During the course of the year we will have a World’s Fair where students make posters about a country of their choice, then we all get together and listen to them share. We are more than happy to have our youngest students participate, it’s great for them to get up front and speak, even if it is only a sentence or two about what they have learned.

Students are also encouraged to participate in Science Fair (and yes, homeschool students can move on with their public school counterparts to compete at the County and State levels.) While the preschoolers are too young to officially enter, I’d encourage parents to do a scaled back, fun version to get their kids thinking about finding out about the world in a new way. More on this later.


Wild Rivers Homeschool Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — kbagdanov @ 8:08 pm

   Wild Rivers Homeschool Day
September 7   11:00-6:00

Cost:  $19 (you must order/print your own tickets online)
Parking  $10

BIG CHANGE  Due to continued changes (price increases, including parking, and cutbacks in the days they are open) at Raging Waters we are going to give another park a chance.  Our first day of school has traditionally been a trip to Raging Waters…this year we will be going to Wild Rivers instead.  Here are the details. 

August 6, 2011

Homeschool Information Meeting

Filed under: Uncategorized — kbagdanov @ 8:49 pm

Homeschool Information Meeting

August 17th


30750 Montgomery Ave. (The Bagdanov’s)

Nuevo, CA 92567

Have you wondered about homeschooling?

Are you qualified?

What are the legal issues?

How do you buy curriculum?

Will your kids have friends?

Will they be able to get into college?

Come find out the answers to these questions and more.

May 24, 2011

Romantic Composers

Filed under: Friday classes,Music Appreciation — kbagdanov @ 1:38 am
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Study guide for the final this week.  Here are the Romantic Composers.  You can find the Baroque and Classical composers here.

Music in the ‘romantic’ period stressed emotion, imagination, and individualism.  This period coincided with the Industrial Revolution.

Franz Peter Schubert

Born not far from Vienna

By 6 he could play the piano, violin, and viola.

He wrote many symphonies, including the “Unfinished symphony,” called that because it only had 2 movements instead of the usual 4.

Best known for his lieders, or songs…he was called the “Father of the Lied.”  He wrote over 600 of these German songs.

He died when he was only 31 years old.

He was buried next to Beethoven.

His music was not fully appreciated during his life, but today we recognize that few can match his gift for melody.

Here is a section of his Unfinished Symphony.

Felix and Fanny Mendelssohn

Felix and Fanny were born in Hamburg Germany.

Some of his music was inspired by the great poet, Goethe.

He wrote a famous overture to Shakespeare’s, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

He also wrote music after visiting Fingal’s Cave in Scotland.

Felix founded the Leipzig Conservatory, one of the most famous music schools in the world.

When he heard of his sister, Fanny’s, death (they had remained quite close) he became ill and never recovered.  He died 6 months later.

You should be able to recognize this piece that Mendelssohn wrote for the wedding scene in A Midsummer’s Nights Dream.

Robert and Clara Schuman

Husband and wife…both of them composed and performed.

Robert Schuman wrote reviews of the other Romantic composer, explaining their new and shocking works to the public.

Robert had a weak finger and after trying out a device to hold it straight, he succeeded only in crippling his hand.

This disability pushed him to be a composer rather than a performer.

Robert took piano lessons from Clara’s father and the two fell in love, married and had 7-8 children (reports vary)

Robert Schuman eventually became mentally il,l and had to be admitted to an institution.  After his death, Clara continued to play his music.

This is a piece from one of his earlier works.

Frederic Chopin

Chopin is considered Poland’s greatest composer, although his father was French, and he spent more than half of his life in France.

When he left Poland he took a goblet of Polish soil with him, and after his death his heart was sent back to Warsaw.

He was pale, passionate, and handsome.  His life full of emotional storms.

His friends in Paris included the composers Franz Liszt and Felix Mendelssohn, the poets Victor Hugo and Balzac, as well as the French painter, Delacroix.

Through Liszt he was introduced to George Sand, a controversial woman writer, who became his lover.

He was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was very ill and frail for much of his life.

He devoted much of his life and music in raising money for Poland.

When he died, his own composition, Funeral march, was played and the Polish earth he had carried with him, was spread over his grave.

Here you can listen to his piece, Funeral Music.

Franz Liszt:  The Piano Terminator

Franz Liszt was born in Hungary and at the age of 11 moved to Vienna, where he met Schubert and Beethoven.

He became of the greatest pianist of all time.

He could go through as many as 2 or 3 pianos in a concert.

He was as popular as a modern day rock star.

He would occasionally play in piano challenges…or play offs.  One stunt involved having an orchestra play a movement of a symphony…then he would play it on the piano, demonstrating that he could include all the variation of the orchestra and even be more exciting, all while on one instrument.

Here is Liszt’ Hungarian Rhapsody #2.  It is over 9 minutes long, and it is at 6:40 that the song will sound familiar to students as that is the section we played often in class, but listen to the whole piece.  It is beautiful.

May 11, 2011

Music Appreciation: Study Guide Baroque and Classical Periods

Filed under: Education,Friday classes,Uncategorized — kbagdanov @ 7:43 pm

This is intended to be a study guide for those taking Music Appreciation this year.  You will find the musical periods along with the composers we have studied, a few facts to jog your memories, and one piece that you should be able to recognize.  Your handouts from class have detailed biographies that you can review.

Baroque composers (1600-1750)

Antonio Vivaldi

From Italy

The ‘Red Priest’

Taught at a school for girls in Venice

Known for his Concertos…which established the three part pattern of fast, slow, fast

Piece to know… Spring, part of the Four Seasons. (more…)

March 9, 2011

Homeschooling Jr. High

Vintage Levi (11, or 12 here) Playing Bass for Tried and True

When Steve and I were first married he was working as a youth pastor in Santa Barbara. At that time we came to the conclusion that working with Jr. High kids is a controlled riot. I love this age, the energy, the silliness, and the endless questioning. It’s a transitional period of life, that gap between childhood and teen. Some children breeze through adolescence, and for others it’s a difficult period of self doubt. Academically Jr. High presents a unique opportunity for you and your student.

In elementary school we are giving our children the basic building blocks of education; reading, writing, and arithmetic. We also expose them to basic science concepts and vocabulary, and begin to build an understanding of the flow of history. If we make this framework strong and solid our children have a good base upon which to build advanced knowledge and wisdom.

In high school our children’s studies become more focused and intense. If they have that solid foundation they will be able to move, rather painlessly, into these more focused studies. Students at this age are expected to be able to work independently through material, to read, absorb, and analyze new information. By high school we should be past the ‘hand-feeding’ stage where a teacher is needed at every step. New concepts may well need explanations, but students have come to ‘own’ their education.

So, what about Jr. High? Jr. High is a great opportunity to evaluate our child’s progress up to this point and to take 7th and 8th grade to fill in any gaps and to drill those skills that are going to be necessary in High School. Probably most of you know your child’s weak areas, but here are some thoughts on where you child should be.

Trudenwilk, the early years.

1. Reading. By Jr. High your child should be reading fluently and comprehending most of what they read. In elementary school it’s important to give your child adequate practice at ‘easy’ reading so that they develop fluency, but in Jr. High it’s time to challenge them. Think of the reading they will be doing in high school…Shakespeare, Steinbeck, and Fitzgerald…you don’t want them to have to jump from easy reading straight into these authors. In Jr. High they should be easing their way into the classics, reading challenging works that cause them to think critically and learn new vocabulary. I don’t mean you should overwhelm them, but a little struggle now will pay off later. If your child is still having trouble with the basics of reading, it’s time to have them assessed and maybe do an intensive phonics review.

2. Spelling. By Jr. High your child should be spelling most words correctly, if they are not it is time for some review. Many times I find that students this age, who are consistently making spelling errors, are just being lazy. You will have to determine if this is the case with your child. If they are just being lazy you need to crack down. My suggestion would be if a paper or paragraph they have written for you has multiple spelling errors (and you know (more…)

March 5, 2011

We should be less concerned with the answers they know, and more concerned about the questions they ask.

Filed under: Education,Homeschooling,Parenting,Uncategorized — kbagdanov @ 10:25 pm
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Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Phillipians 4:8

My greatest fear when we began this homeschooling journey was not that the boys wouldn’t get into college, or even that I would miss some crucial bit of information, (that was inevitable); it was that when they finished high school, they would breathe a sigh of relief and say, “I’m done.”

Over the years I’d met many frustrated and discontented 20 somethings who felt that completing high school meant they knew all they needed to know. Post high school, many of these kids never read another book, and what passed as intellectual stimulation came in the form of reality TV and video games. In talking with these young adults, it became evident that their world was very small and self centered. Frequently they were struggling with issues of identity and worth, but didn’t know why.  The lessons they had internalized were that school is a waste, reading is a chore,  teachers are uncaring, and history is irrelevant…the school system had failed them and it was not just their education that suffered.

When our minds and spirits are starved of good healthy ‘food’ we don’t function as we were meant to, our growth is stunted and every area of our life suffers. This is not what any of us want, we want our children to live the full life that God created them for. We want them to enjoy life, to excel in what they do, to find satisfaction in relationships, and to contribute to their communities. When we make homeschooling and parenting decisions we need to keep these goals in mind. Proficiency at math and reading are a start, but we also want children who are prepared to take on all the challenges of the next stage of life.

What do you want for your children? How can you help them get there? Philippians 4:8 gives us a beginning point. This verse points out that whatever is true, right, beautiful is about God, and it would benefit us to dwell on these things. As I consider this verse I am struck by how inclusive it is…all that is beautiful is worth studying, not just that which makes a profit. All that is just, true and right should be our focus…not only that which is expedient or has an immediate application.  By providing a ‘diet’ for their minds and spirits of the beautiful, the just, the excellent, we give our children a strong foundation, a good beginning…and instill the desire to continue learning and experiencing all that God has for them.

Caleb during his semester abroad studying literature in the UK

For me, I wanted my children to love art, and to play music. I wanted them to be in awe of the beauty in nature. I wanted them to be curious about past civilizations and engaged with current events. I wanted them to experience other cultures and to appreciate that diversity. I wanted them to have an education that was rich and full, an education that encouraged curiosity and critical thinking. I was less concerned about the answers they knew and more concerned about the questions they asked.

Approaching education this way is both exciting and uncomfortable. It’s exciting because it’s alive; changing us and challenging us. It’s uncomfortable because very little of it is going to come through on some standardized test. It’s hard to measure the ‘educational’ benefits of art, or where enjoyment of a nature walk fits into a science scope and sequence. How does reading a great work of fiction that brings us to both tears and laughter, translate into a grade?

As homeschoolers we have been freed. We are not enslaved to the almighty ‘standardized test’ we do not have to view education in a dry, compartmentalized way. We can focus on the whole child: mind, body, and spirit…and feed them all. What a wonderful opportunity, be sure you don’t waste it.

November 2, 2010

Life is Hard and then….

“Life is hard, and then you die.”

Many of you will recognize the above quote as one I use frequently.  It’s really not that I’m a pessimist, it’s more that I’ve come to the conclusion that the sooner you embrace that thought, really take it to heart, the easier life is.  Life is hard…( wonderful, exciting, challenging)…but hard.  If you live for any length of time… people you know will die, jobs will be lost, illnesses will occur, hearts will be broken and dreams damaged. People are messy (both emotionally and in the kitchen).

Denying this reality, to ourselves or to our children, doesn’t create happiness and contentment.  In fact, it frequently creates the opposite.  When we teach our children to expect life to be easy they can feel extremely disappointed and put upon when it is not.  If we lead them to expect that they should always be entertained, happy, and healthy we are setting them up to become demanding little monsters (lovable monsters but…) I certainly don’t mean to imply that we should teach our children negativity, but that we should teach them that life is full of hard parts…and while we can’t control that, we can control our attitudes.

It would benefit each of us to remember that life is not meant to be a smooth road.  It is the detours and bumps that stretch and grow us up.  It is the persevering and doing what is difficult, day in and day out, that builds character.  It is modeling all of this with a cheerful heart that gives our children an example to follow.

We have all seen our children struggle with a subject and start down their own self-defeating path.  “It’s too hard.”  “Other kids don’t struggle with this.”  “I’ll do it tomorrow.”  “I’ll never understand it.”   They can get themselves so worked up that they waste an hour doing nothing but feeling sorry for themselves. In that time they could have finished the assignment four times over.  The fact that the lesson was hard, made them feel they should be allowed to just give up.  It’s at these times I would look over at  my sons and say.”Life is hard, then you die.”  They would laugh, they knew I didn’t mean all of life is hard, but that hard is part of life, and the more challenges we take on, the more we accomplish, the more we are going to bump up against hard parts. (more…)

October 5, 2010

Nurturing the Inner Life of your Child

A fall day spent apple picking with Tim and Jess

I love the fall, I think it’s my favorite season even though I’ve never lived where the seasons actually change. Ah well, maybe someday. Anyway, as I was decorating I was thinking about trees…and possibly planting some that change colors in the fall. We admire the part of the tree that we can see: the leaves, the shape, and the fruit. Those are what draw our eye and lead us to declare a tree beautiful or productive. Observing the characteristics of a tree helps us to determine whether or not the tree is healthy. However, it is what is going on below the ground and deep inside the tree that determines whether or not the tree is going to thrive.

The analogy is an apt one when we think about child rearing and education. When we see a happy, well-adjusted child we have indications that all is well, and when we see a disruptive, angry child we can be equally certain that all is not as it should be. Sometimes, as parents, particularly on those difficult days, we tend to focus on the outward, visible signs. When we see bullying behavior we discipline our child, when they are disrespectful we send them to their rooms, when they are selfish, rude etc. we reprimand them. All of these things can be appropriate, necessary steps, but they are like pruning a tree, they only address a small part of the issue. The roots and internal issues are left to fester and grow, without addressing these our tree, or child, will soon be troubled.

Behavior is an outgrowth of how a child thinks about himself and the world…there is a lot going on below the surface. While we need to prune back that out of control branch, we cannot ignore what is going on below the surface. We need to try to determine the root of the problem. (I’m loving this tree metaphor.) Frequently, due to the pressures of parenting and time, we resort to situational, or reactionary parenting. We merely react to each situation as it presents itself. Obviously, there is always an element of this to parenting…if your three year old throws a tantrum you need to react. However, if that is your main mode of parenting you are missing out on some powerful tools that will benefit both you and your child. (more…)

October 4, 2010

Essay Questions – To Kill a Mockingbird

Filed under: Uncategorized — kbagdanov @ 12:59 pm
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Students in my Lit 2 Class  an essay due on October 15th on  To Kill a Mockingbird.  Essays should be double spaced, 2-3 pages long.  Choose one of the following questions to analyze.

1. Analyze the childhood world of Jem, Scout, and Dill and their relationship with Boo Radley in Part One.

2. How do Jem and Scout change during the course of the novel? How do they remain the same?

3. What is Atticus’s relationship to the rest of Maycomb? What is his role in the community?

4. Discuss the role of family in To Kill a Mockingbird, paying close attention to Aunt Alexandra.

5. Examine Miss Maudie’s relationship to the Finches and to the rest of Maycomb.

6. Discuss the author’s descriptions of Maycomb. What is the town’s role in the novel?

7. Analyze the author’s treatment of Boo Radley. What is his role in the novel?

8.  Discuss the notions of Justice and Fairness.

9.  Discuss the various forms of discrimination in the book.  Expand your discussion beyond the racial discrimination.

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