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Showing posts from May, 2010

Empty Spot at Our Table

I thought of my brother often this weekend. While we have been busy studying, playing and preparing for summer, he has been busy training a group of young Marines, preparing them for war. We skipped our town parade, a parade where a very small number of veterans march but every town politician comes out to shake hands, and every youth group marches while parents proudly snap pictures. Not of the veterans, of their children. Not to minimize their children’s accomplishments whatever they may be, but it seems to me that we have lost sight of the meaning of this day. The focus of this parade is not the Veterans, but on the litany of groups from across our town. I tire of watching vendors hawk their cheap wares to children more interested in gathering up the candy that is casually tossed to parade attendees than clapping for those who served in the Armed Forces. Have we forgotten the meaning of this somber holiday?This year, our family attended a much smaller parade in a beachfron…

A good book is a great friend

This is my first blog challenge - responding to a topic chosen by another blogger. Home Is Where You Start From has issued the L.E.N.S Blog Challenge topic: A Love of Reading.
Here is my picture:
Reading stirs so many memories in me. From rocking my infant daughters while reading picture books to them at bedtime, or snuggling in front of the fireplace reading together, to reading every Disney Fairy book to Lilah when she was three to reading every Junie B. Jones book to Grace when she was four, reading has always been a priority in my family. Books line our shelves, our nightstands, our countertops, overflow out of library bins, and can be found hidden under carseats. They are tucked away under pillows, strewn across the couch, and fill the racks in the bathrooms. This clutter never bothers me. Books are our friends and it would not feel natural to not be surrounded by them.

If You Change the Way You Look at Things....

Someone told me recently that they thought I have changed. This idea of change has been bouncing around in my brain ever since. Have I changed? I spoke to my husband about it. We do not think so. Today one of my favorite blogs, Our Life In Words, posted a quote by Albert Einstein: If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. This one sentence sums up how I have changed, or not changed.I am still the same person. I have had issues with public schools, despite being a teacher with a M.A. in Elementary Education, even while I was teaching. This is no surprise. I have talked about homeschooling for five years but I was never taken seriously, or maybe I never took my ability to homeschool seriously.I changed the way I look at things in my life. If I don’t like it, I no longer have to accept it. I have heard it said that your 40’s are the greatest decade because you have finally figured out who you are and as a result, you finally get to enjoy yourself…

Change of Scenery

It has been a tough morning. Grace is on day three being home from school. She is better, but not able to cope with the extreme heat that her upstairs classroom in an 80 year old school with no air conditioning will bring on a 85 degree day. On top of this, Lilah is very out-of-sorts. I am blaming it on the bug bite she got at her nature class yesterday. We have been so vigilant to wear long pants, long socks, apply loads of our favorite all natural bug spray and she did not get one bite...until yesterday. Figures, on her last day she would get one of her massive welts on her leg. It is so large it hurts her to walk. Benedryl will relieve the itch and the swelling but it does not do wonders for her mood. So, rather than stay inside on such a beautiful day and argue over lessons, make up work and crappy attitudes, we are going to check on our garden, give it nurturing and hopefully it in turn will nurture us back into alignment.

Blessings

Today’s closing ceremony touched my heart in a way that I never expected. I expected a song, perhaps a dance, a few words, something typical to other programs my girls have been involved with, or what may happen at the end of the year in public school. I got a song. Children and adults joined hand in hand singing words of encouragement as we send out children on to a new adventure. The song was enhanced by the steady beat of a drum which the children all participated in playing. And the words, oh the words. They touched my soul. You see, the instructors at this amazing school deal with homeschool children all the time. They had no way of knowing that Lilah was new to homeschooling and that this was her first major program with new friends, in a new setting, with new teachers. At the circle, each child in the program stepped into the center and received blessings from their instructors. The instructors shared what made an impression on them or a certain strength or talent the…

A Book and A Challenge

I stare out my window at my pool shimmering in the late afternoon sunlight smug with the knowledge that G’s school ends soon and rather than dream of lazy playdates, swimming in our new pool, making trips to our beach, my head is full of books! I have two dilemmas to work through in regards to reading.First I have L, an avid reader. She is reading at a fourth grade level but she is only seven. When we began homeschooling she struggled to tell me about her reading. Now that we practice narrations (she tells me what she has read) orally and in writing, her ability to retell is dramatically improving. She narrates every book she is reading, whether it is part of our curriculum or her pleasure reading. I am constantly checking in on her comprehension and ability to decode the words. When she was in school she was given easy books that did not challenge her ability to read or her imagination. My theory for this was so the teacher could focus her energy on the children struggling to…

Choices

Today I spent some time with my Queen Homeschool Catalog and my laptop searching for what I plan to use for curriculum for G and L. In my mind I am trying to envision our day, what subjects can be taught together and what can be taught together but at different levels. Math will be different. They will use different books (Life of Fred and Horizons for G and Singapore for L) and most likely be taught at different times so that I can give each girl their own individual mini-lesson. While I am doing this, the other will be working on independent reading for their literature study. I have to come up with a book list for each girl. History will be taught together. Neither has had history in public school. We are up to the 14th chapter in Story of the World but one of my friend’s kindly loaned me her cd’s so that G can just listen to chapters 1-13 to get caught up to where we are. I am thinking of adding in a living book program which would pick up at Ancient Greece and would be…

Friday in Pictures

A little bit of cursive practice....
A little bit of art...

A little bit of spelling...

A little bit of piano.


We moved our learning outside.

The coffee table became our desk.

We shared the yard with Jake. He always makes us laugh.
A little more art...

Some learning about King Tut...

Followed by very yummy cookie/muffins.


We ended our day at G's school for their Spring Carnival. They choose great books at the used book sale. It all added up to a great day.

Sticks and Stones

Today I was a chaperone for the Brownie Trip to the Maritime Aquarium. It was the culmination of their year-long study of water. While we were watching the seal feeding, I happened to be standing next to a preschool group. Most of the children were settled peacefully on the concrete steps of the tank except for one little boy who was about three. He was having a terrible time. I am not sure what upset him but he was crying for his Mommy. He did not want his caregivers and was struggling against them. One older woman, kept telling him to stop - he was not being “nice”. I hate that. Nice has nothing to do with a three year old and a meltdown. Anyone who works with children knows this. This little boy could not self-soothe and he was resisting efforts to restrain him from kicking and writhing on the floor. Clearly in despair, he looked at the older woman and said “I don’t like you!”. She replied back, “well, we don’t like you either! How about that!”. Tears welled up in my …

Joining a coop

I am excited by thepossibility of joining a coop. L and I visited a coop about 45 minutes from us today. They were having their year end picnic and graduation ceremony at a stunning location, Wadsworth Mansion. The picnic was open to prospective families so we took the ride north to check it out. We were not prepared for a picnic. We did not bring games, food or blankets. Our goal was not to intrude on graduation but to introduce ourselves to the organizers of the coop, glean bits of information about how the coop is run, what type of classes have been offered and how the registration process works. While my friend and I met with other parents, our kids ran around, played tag, climbed trees, read their books and wrote in their journals. The beauty of a coop (from my newbie perspective) is that parents, each having unique and often fascinating backgrounds, offer their skills and talents to the group. Children get to select the classes they would like to take. In the past clas…

Bliss

G's egg lab

L's lab. She was amazed by the blastodisk. She dissected the egg to remove it.

G learning more about weather patterns while snuggling with Daphne.
Math time.


The best part of our day was a healthy lunch - chicken stir fry with rice noodles.
Today was a little glimpse into what homeschooling two children will be like. G stayed home one more day. But since she was not quite as sick as yesterday she joined us for lessons. She did a page in her math workbook while L worked on her review. I showed her a great website I found for meteorology which is basically a text book online. She joined us for a science lab in which we labeled that parts of an egg cell and learned the differences between plant and animal cells. Then she disappeared upstairs to work on a rough draft of a project she has due on Monday. When she came back down, not only was her draft complete but her room was clean! Amazing.Having G home felt complete. L was not learning alone. Our dogs were ov…

Sick Day

A challenge is presented when G is sick. When she stays home from school it affects the day of lessons I had planned for L. I remind G that being sick means no tv/no Wii/no dsi. It does mean lots of rest, reading and sleeping. Then I have to talk to L. She still has to do her lessons. After all, she is not sick. Lessons become significantly harder. Add to this a follow up doctor appointment for me at the surgeon for my cyst and the day gets even more complicated. As of right now it is 8:30 am. G is on the couch. I think she may be sleeping but then I hear her cough. L is still in bed sleeping or reading, I am not sure which. I am showered, but not dressed. Lessons should be starting at 9:00 but that looks unlikely. I am going to pack a bag for each with work to do while we are at the doctors and we will just see how much we can get done given it has become a sick day.
By early afternoon some lessons were done. Math - check. Spelling - check. Reading - check. Then out…

Great Park Pursuit

Each week The Great Park Pursuit picks a State Park and plans a days worth of family adventures. This year our family is participating. I wanted to do something that would make us get out and explore. It is so easy to get caught up in housework, especially with homeschooling. The laundry piles up, the grass needs mowing, the vacuum cleaner is making a strange sound, the winter clothes bins are still out....I could go on and on. We have to walk away and be a family. The clothes, lawn, laundry will all still be there when we get home.
We met up with a friend and her two daughters. Together they splashed in the Housatonic River, counted rings on an ancient tree (85 years old), calculated wind speeds, ventured out in a canoe, picked wildflowers and enjoyed their friendship. It was a wonderful start to the weekly adentures. When we left we were given a clue to where the next location is. To find the location we need to read a Jean Craighead George book, To Climb A Waterfall. If …

The Fence

Today G forgot to have a test signed and returned to school. A test that she scored 100 on. The stamp that said Please Sign and Return was in the lower right hand corner of the paper, not the usual spot on top near her name. So she forgot. It did not come home for my signature stating that I am aware she scored 100. Her punishment......the fence. The dreaded, nightmare inspiring, humiliating, degrading, embarrassing fence. This is where children are banished to should they not do their homework or forget to bring something home and then back again. For G's infraction the punishment was ten minutes off recess, spent sitting on-the-fence watching her friends play, while they watched her sit-on-the-fence.
Okay teachers. My child is prone to anxitey - you come to my house and deal with the aftermath of your punitive punishment. I wonder if you forgot your plan book, or if you forgot to bring in a letter to send home or if you did not see a form requiring your signature, would…

Wednesday

6:40 - Rainy day. Perfect day for snuggling in bed with a good book and cozy covers. Up to face the day. Spent half hour, checking email, and printing out Lilah’s checklist for lessons today.7:15 - kids up, breakfast, and get ready for school/lessons. Love the smell of homemade french toast in the morning. Vanilla is very comforting to me. However my peace was shattered when we discovered the biggest spider I have ever in my house, crawling across the ceiling, inching its way closer and closer......8:30 - get G to school.8:45 - L usually uses this time to play or read. Today she asked if she could read. I asked her to read Sohpie’s Tom but she replied that she really wanted to read her new children’s Bible she received for her First Communion. How could I say no to that??? 8:45-9:00 I clean up the kitchen from breakfast while Lilah reads the Bible.9:15 Once L begins reading it is very hard to transition her to something else. After much prompting we begin lessons. Killing…

Tuesday

Last night I spent an hour reading and planning for geography and science. I am very excited to start these two new programs this week. Today began at 6:30am to get both girls off for their day....6:30 prepare lunches for school and nature class, get girls up, dressed, fed and ready to go8:30 drop G off at school9:00-9:30 drop L off at Two Coyotes. During drive listened to math facts on an mp3 player we borrowed from Library yesterday.In between drop off and pick up I have to:do a major food shop, hit the organic pet shop for dog food, get Greg’s shirts at dry cleaners, clean the house for the sitter tonight. Not to mention squeeze in a trip to the Audubon to pick up Lilah’s shoes from yesterday. 4 hours seems like a long time until you realize you have so much to do to get caught up on a week’s worth of errands that can’t be done during lessons....2:30 leave to pick up Lilah. Stayed to enjoy a performance by the children. They sang a song about how a child's birth is conne…

A Week in Our Life

We have been learning at home for five months now. We have settled into a routine that includes outside classes, new interests and new friends. I thought it would be fun to document a week in our life. We are still figuring some things out but for the most part I am very happy with how things are going.
8:30 am walk G to school9:00 begin our lessons. Math is usually first as this is her least favorite. I often find her on couch with our dogs working in her Singapore Math Workbook. Today was a review before we start a new unit on money this Wednesday. 9:30 Spelling - Starting a new program: Learning To Spell Through Copywork. I have never found that a spelling program translates into well spelled independent writing. I find that taking time to memorize a random list of words may work to pass a test, but ask the child to spell the list two weeks from now and they certainly will not score 100%. This book is simple yet teaches the phonics rules to be a good speller. Although th…