Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tableau Thursday

Tableau: A still image, a frozen moment or "a photograph."

Today's break time activities.
1 - Learning 'Do-Re-Me'
2 - Playing Sandwich w/dog
3 - Tired out pooch

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Textbooks & Unschooling

(Pictures taken and stylishly overexposed by the teen.)

It's been a busy couple of weeks. School is going swimmingly. Well... we're treading water. The children are doing well, moving along in their work, textbooks and projects. I'm the only one balking apparently.

I hate textbooks. Okay, personally I love textbooks. All the work lined up in rows, indexes, step by steps. That's how my linear learning brain works. But my kids' eyes glaze over when we pull them out and my little one says I don't make school 'fun' anymore. I don't know how to get past the 'need' for textbooks and go more into an unschooling learning environment. At least for the little one. The teen might revolt if I took her out of her safe little textbook world. She, like me, craves order and the textbooks make her feel like she's learning something (even though they bore her) as opposed to 'willy-nilly' learning as she calls unschooling, which would make her feel scattered.

I'm not sure if an unschooled school style is for us though. I think we need more of a semi-unschooling going on. Somehow I'd sneak in math and such. Otherwise, my little one would spend her days playing with legos & playmobil, sewing, digging in the dirt and catching bees.

** banging head against the table. **

I am really feeling that feeling of ruining my kids lives 'forever'. I want homeschool to equal fun or at least a good learning environment to them. I don't want them to someday say with rolled eyes and clinched teeth, 'my mom homeschooled us.' I would feel like I had wasted their precious formative years in an endless stream of boredom. Don't know what to do though.

I need to find a good balance. I need to make time for the balancing. Suggestions welcomed.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Monday 'Not' So Good To Me

Today is a typical Monday for us. I don't know what we do on weekends that flattens us out like pancakes under a semi, but on Mondays we're toast. Sundays we usually head to church for 2 hours and then a leisurely afternoon at the grandparents house, eating, reading, sometimes swimming. After that we have every intention of coming home, straightening the house so its ready for Monday's school start but instead we usually laze around in our respective areas reading, watching Food Network, cartoons or on the internet. It's down time for us. So I don't see why we're always so worn out on Mondays.

Today the girls both don't feel well and I'm propping my eyelids up with toothpicks. Didn't sleep well myself. Today we're forgoing traditional school and calling it a snow, I mean slow-day. Everyone has a book to read and either tea, hot chocolate or spiced cider to drink.

Reading material of the day:

9 yr old
The Boxcar Children
-- Little House in the Big Woods
-- Spiderwick Sprites
-- Elephants Don't Do Ballet
-- various other library books

Autobiography of Frank Lloyd Wright
-- Ghost Stories of Charles Dickens
-- (I'm sure she'll slip in a little reading of the new 1" thick
Vogue she borrowed to read.)

Artful Blogging
-- A Charlotte Mason Education
-- The Altered Book Scrapbook
-- Bent, Bound & Stitched
-- Alphabetica
-- The Shop on Blossom Street

I try not to feel the overwhelming urge to force children to do regular school (like spelling test, math homeschool, etc.) However, we have so much going on this week (Drs. appt, Homeschool Co-Op starts Friday, french Tutoring) that I have school on the brain. I guess we have another 35 weeks of school. We'll be just fine with one slow-day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Art Turns Into Science

The girls are working on a dress for the little one as a combined art project this week. Teen has been weeping and rejoicing over ever aspect, especially putting in the zipper. They're doing the whole thing without a pattern. Just eyeballing it and lots of try ons. It's an experiment.

But the dress is not done yet so I'll share that later. I wanted to tell how our sewing art lesson turned into an impromptu science lesson. Look what dd found in the sewing tray (the thingie attached to the sewing machine that holds the different foots, small screwdriver, etc...)

Lovely isn't it! Needless to say, there was mass murder screaming, arguing, yelling for me (I happened to be in the bathroom), accusing me of taking my time, and wide-eyed disbelief that I wanted to catch it in a jar for observation. I'm a homeschool mom, what can I say? lol

Jumping Spider (Family Salticidae)
His legs are an inch long each, and his body is another 1/2" itself. He's a BIG sucker.

P.S. Now dds are arguing about the benefits of Shakespeare (I'm sure you have things like this going on in your house.)

Little one: Shakespeare is stupid.
Teen: You're stupid!
Me: No more saying stupid okay?
Teen: Well, she can't say that about Shakespeare, its just, its bad, its just not right. You can't say that about Shakespeare.
Little one: But they're poking eyes out in this book I'm reading!
Me: What the heck are you reading?
Little one: It's called 'Top Ten Shakespeare Stories'
(It's a Scholastic book by Terry Deary)
Teen: Well still, it's not allowed.
Little one: Why not?
Teen: He's, well he's just Shakespeare and you can't.

Ahhh, I love my children.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Compare & Contrast

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is kind of the same. - Sesame Street song

I think the tendency is there to compare your children. Not saying we favorite or anything, just saying they do things differently. This is all good. We like different. We embrace change.

I have to be careful though to contrast their ages and apply that to their work. Especially with the 4th grader. I love school and tend to want to have her work work work because there's so much to do, so much to learn. But being the age she is, she's not going to sit for a straight hour or hour and a half doing math. As you get older, you forget about the intrinsic value of recess. A release from the rigors of work, even if it may be fun; to run free, do what you want, feel what you want to feel. The key is finding the balance between lots of recess and getting all the work done. Sometimes there can be problems getting focused again after recess.

On the other end of the spectrum, the teen is driven. As I've said before, she doesn't like to 'not' finish a lesson after she has started it. We try to stick to a certain amount of time per subject per day, just to get it all in. I think in the back of her head she feels dumb although she knows she is smart (heck! She got 6 grades in the A range, and 1 B last year!) It probably stems from some subjects tend to scramble her brain in how she learns them. But then we find the niche in learning them and she gets it. But the failures and missed math problems plague her. I also think she has a tendency to compare herself to other kids her age in public school. She tells me 'Whoziwhaty is in 10th grade and already doing Algebra 2 and I'm only on Geometry'. I can't help that. We did math every year. This is where Geometry fell for us. I don't know how to get her to quit comparing. She has pushed aside all the 'fun' that school can be.

Here's a little comparing and contrasting of my kids:

Both love Art (drawing, painting, new product projects)
Both love to procrastinate (sometimes)
Both love to read
Both love Science
Both love new school supplies (have you seen anyone get excited about pencils?!)
Both love to eat/snack (don't we all?! lol)

Teen loves English, little one not so much
Little one loves Math, teen abhors it
Little one likes to invent for fun, teen prefers spelling/vocab challenges
Teen likes order, Little one likes variety

I think I have my hands full.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

3rd Week of School

Some patterns have emerged. Best laid plans of Mice & Men I guess.

Many of our activities have fallen by the wayside:
-- Making our beds before breakfast
-- Exercising after breakfast/before school starts
-- Walking during break
-- Being done by 3 PM
-- Doing anything other than an Art project on Fridays
-- Getting chores done daily
-- Piano time is suffering too

It's only the beginning of our 3rd week and the teen is feeling stressed. I don't really know how to take that away from her. I schedule her to do 1 hr of each main subject Mon-Wed, 1/2 hr of each main subject on Thurs (there are other subjects too.) That's all she needs to do. But I find that she is going over her time each day because she can't stand to not finish something she has started. She feels like she doesn't know anything that way. Honestly don't know what to do. I'm thinking of doing certain subjects only on certain days so she can have longer than 1 hr to work on them. I hate to see her working on a subject so long though. And won't that make her forget stuff in between? Any advice?

The little one is doing well. Some things I fear were forgotten over the summer so we're reviewing. She's dealing with it but the math is frustrating her. All her Times Tables were forgotten or severely pushed to the back of the brain. I feel so helpless sometimes like I've forgotten how to teach them as well! UGH. Piano. What was I thinking in teaching her? So what if I took 8 years of it? That was 23 years ago! I have no clue what I'm doing and I'm frustrating her. We'll manage but I need to get some books on it or something.

I loved it when little one and I went to the library today to return books. I sat thinking of what we should study next for history (we did 2 weeks of the history of dolls. She's still making a dollhouse and furniture but the studying part has petered out so I'm on to something else.) Anyway, she asked what we were going to study, I said 'Pioneers & Westward Movement' and she said 'YES!' with her fist pulled to her side. Like she had scored a pile of candy. lol She just loves learning.

The teen started the 2nd book of senior high Artistic Pursuits which is all about color. Her first few paintings are amazing and look like she's been painting forever. I love seeing her talent for art shine through. Makes me smile.

I am determined to get a handle of everything this week.
-- Figure out how to help teen with stress
-- find books on teaching piano & times tables
-- make sure to have some fun w/the kids
-- get in more exercise
-- have chores finished daily
-- earlier bedtimes for all (including night owl me)
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