Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The word no parent ever wants to hear

What do you say when there are no words to express your feelings? How do you comfort a friend who has just heard the most dreaded words a parent can hear? How do you explain to your child what their friend is about to experience? These are all the questions I am asking myself today.

Today I found out that one of my daughter’s best friends has lymphoma. My daughter is not one to express herself eloquently. In fact, she tends to hold her emotions inside and saves them for a time when she is better able to process them. Unfortunately I have no idea how long it will take. Sometimes it is hours, sometimes weeks. Her sister L will be her guide through this. L realizes the impact this will have on their family and on her sister’s friendship. L is helping her to make a card and write the words that G cannot find. L will take her sister’s book list to the store tomorrow and find amazing stories to give to her friend who devours books like my kids devour ice cream. L encouraged her sister to give her own money towards this gift. I have amazing children. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses. In our dinner conversation tonight I saw them support one another. Our table talk included people we know in our family and in our church community who have successfully conquered cancer. We give thanks that this type is well known and treatable. We are fortunate that we have access to some of the best medical facilities in the country. We pray. Please pray with us.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Class Photo

Today L found her class photo from earlier this year. I was not “hiding” it, but I put it away hoping it would not stir up feelings for school. She carefully placed the photo into her School Days Memory Book that holds the class photos for previous years. She taped it in, wrote in the margins and then presented it to me. For teacher, she wrote “Mom”. For friends, she did not list the children in the photo, she listed her homeschooled friends. She asked me why we have the book. I told her so she could remember her time at school. To this she replied, “Ugh, why would I want to!”. She asked me if she can have a picture of her and I to go in the next year’s space. Well....I guess I don’t have to worry.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Beethoven Day



L enjoyed reading Ludwig Van Beethoven: Getting to Know The World's Greatest Composers. We put his information into our Book of Centuries. I love our book! Now that we have several entries including Abraham, Sargon, as well as Mozart, and a relative who immigrated from Poland, we can see history coming alive before us. We know that our relative lived at the same time as Beethoven, something we never would have realized had we not been keeping this book. We noticed that the anniversary of Beethoven's death is today, March 26th. L decided to proclaim today "Beethoven Day"! To mark this occasion we listened to a fabulous story on our ipod: Beethoven Lives Upstairs. We downloaded ours on itunes. Then we made cookies, well, L made the cookies, I was her assistant.




L wants to study Joseph Haydn next as he was one of Beethoven's instructors. Learning is sweet! Both literally and figuratively!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mondrian Moment



The coolest part of this art lesson was when we put the picture and dates of Piet Mondrian into our book of centuries, we discovered that he lived at the same time as one of our ancestors; a war hero L did a report on!




Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pros and some Cons

There are not many blogs I have found that focus on what the first year of homeschooling is like. When I began researching my choice to homeschool, I found a Examiner blogger in who was in her first year of being a homeschool family. Like me, she has two daughters, my girls’ ages. From what she wrote, their personalities were similar and her reasons for removing them from public school were similar. I thought I found a beacon on light to guide me on this journey. Her latest post was that she is “quitting” homeschooling and returning her daughters to public school. Her reasons were self-described as selfish. She has too many things to get done that she cannot do while her daughters are home. I don’t judge her decision. But it lead me to think what are the real cons to homeschooling? To me, there are not many, and they are manageable but they should be addressed.


Pros

Cons

the ability to spend time with your child exploring what interests them as well as the basics

house is cluttered with learning material

being able to have out of the house learning adventures that are not available to public school children

laundry can pile up quickly and quickly pass the point of out of control

customizing a curriculum that meets your child’s needs and interests

taking kids to your doctor appointments

being able to learn for mastery

having to schedule personal appointments on weekends

no exposure to the detrimental aspects of public school

running errands takes up weekend time

no reliance on a schedule set by outside influences

balancing the parent/teacher relationship

spending as much time as your child deems necessary to explore an interest area


no sick days

no sick days


Really there is no comparison. My husband is committed to this choice and helps with the housework and errands on weekends - despite working 75 hours a week commuting 2 hours one way to Manhattan. If my doctor does not understand why my child is with me, then I change doctors. My non-homeschooling friends seem to understand why my house looks so differently now. My dining room table has a center piece of books, rather than of flowers. My window seat has art supplies and works in progress rather than cushions and throw blankets. That’s okay....I can still brew a pot of tea, bake a bread and serve it on mismatched plates. Just push aside the books.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Full Brain



Today was jam packed with learning. Some of

it happened using textbooks.


She explored patterns in math, reviewed her spelling words through a crossword puzzle, and wrote a summary of an excerpt from Ginger Pye. We read from our history book and she cried during the ancient fairytale of Gilgamesh. She hoped that Gilgamesh met his old friend Enkido meet again in whatever kind of heaven they believed in. I listened to L read to me from her book while we snuggled on the couch with our dogs.




She began to learn how to type using a

free online program.



She learned what an action verb is and listed 57 verbs on our web.




We did a lesson about abstract art and two artists Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollack.

She titled her painting Peace Maker.


She learned a new poem, Keep A Poem in Your Pocket by Beatrice Shneck de Regniers.


She spent time creating a picture book about Water, to summarize her study of water.

When G came home, they set up a store in our living room and pretended to sell Wii games.


Then it was off to piano lessons. Whew. Her brain must be full.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

In her own words

A recent journal entry from L:


I love being homeschooled. It’s like the best thing that ever happened to me! I think every body should be homeschooled including my sister G. It is very hard to get to where I want to go when G is in school. But I still get to do alot of cool things. I’ve made alot of new friends. In the spring I get to do my lessons outside! Every Friday we bake a different dessert! My sister and my dad love testing my treats. My favorite subject is probably Art or Grammar. Another one of my lessons is practicing the piano. I love learning new songs on the piano. I also get alot of free time, more than you would get in school. Any you can have snack almost any time you want and in school you would get one or even zero snacks. I think school is much worse than being homeschooled. When I was in school I thought not alot of people were homeschooled but I was wrong! When you first get started, you will have some bad days where you will not want to do anything. I am only in second grade. I have learned multiplication and division! You get to spend more time with your Mom or Dad. Alot of times I bring a stuffed animal downstairs like Marty, and they spend the day with us. You can also do alot of different activities, I do camp, brownies and I used to do swimming. You get your work done . I just love being homeschooled. You get more playdates because you do not get to see friends. I am just waiting till the end of the year because I think my sister G will be homeschooled. If it is a snow day we get to play outside! Same thing with warm days! Some lessons we do are art, math, history, grammar and all that stuff. My mom talks to me like a kindergartner sometimes and it is so annoying!

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One of the questions homeschoolers get asked ad nauseam is “will they be ready for the ‘real world’?”  Homeschooling is a world free fro...