Speeding Toward Summer

June 9, 2012

Since Adrian moved out, the days seems to speed by at an astonishing speed.  Even with so much less to do each day, we’re keeping busy.  Here’s a bit of what we’ve done this past month:

Homeschool Co-op

We finished up our time at our homeschool co-op.  My story adventure class went really well.  I had parents tell me that it made a huge difference for the kids who normally avoid writting. They couldn’t wait to get home and write about our story!  I had many of the kids tell me they loved the class.  Several were already making plans about the story for another class next semester or planning to write stories on their own.

I’m very satisfied that my goals were met.  I fanned the flames of creativity and inspired many kids to enjoy the fun of creative writing. 🙂  By the end of the class, almost all the kids were bringing written work to class – completely voluntarily.  Several even had their own storylines going from week to week.  Kids who were shy about reading their writing aloud at the beginning were begging to be first to read by the end.

The class also brought an unexpected outcome for the 7th-8th grade group.  Even though I myself am a homeschooler, I’m still somewhat caught off guard when I see the middle school kids fall into the stereo-typical cliques and boy/girl tensions you’d expect to see in any public school.   When we started the game portion of our adventure story, these issues came right to the surface.  The kids’ characters wasted no time throwing one another in the river, withholding food or supplies or making rude/mean remarks to the other characters.

I’d planned to discuss conflict and it’s role in a story right at that point in our class.  I used it as an opportunity to let the kids stop and think on interpersonal relationships, both in the story and in real life.  I asked each child to consider how their character dealt with conflict and write about a conflict they experienced that demonstrated that.  Most decided that their characters were generally ‘good’ people and that they would deal with conflict in kind and mature ways.

Things changed a bit after that, both in the story and in the class.  There was more cooperation and friendliness, fewer ‘mean’ actions and words.  They used their character’s actions in the story and the stories they wrote to show kindness to one another.  And while no one called it out, you could see it affected how they acted toward the person behind the character as well.  It was an unexpected but pleasant side effect of our time together.

Testing

We got our annual testing over with.  We don’t have to test every year but I’ve found there are advantages for us.  First, the whole testing phenomenon is big.  Is it silly?  Yes.  Will it change?  I hope so.  But for now, it’s a big part of what our public schools are teaching – how to take a test.  It’s a skill and it can be learned.  While I don’t necessarily think it’s an essential skill for life, I also don’t think it hurts to have it.

Secondly, it makes for an easy end of the year assessment to comply with our state regulations. I’m lazy and writing up a narrative assessment for all 3 kids is work 😛

Third, it provides what a test should provide – an idea of how everyone is doing.  This is makes my husband feel better about the whole homeschool thing since he doesn’t see the work the kids do on a daily basis and doesn’t know, as I do, that they’re on target.  It also gives the kids an idea of how they’re doing.  It’s nice to have some objective proof of where they’re doing well and what they need to work harder on.

Home Repairs

AKA ‘Practical Arts’ as required by our state homeschooling regulations.

AKA beginning the long process of fixing everything Adrian broke.

The kids helped paint the bathroom, repair door knobs, clean out closets, move furniture and even make furniture for Adrian’s new place.  There’s still cardboard on the walls in most rooms.  We’ve got a long way to go…

Disney?!

Our family loves Disney World.  What better motivation to use to teach some basic programming?  We’re building a few simple apps for fun that will come in handy the next time we go.  The kids are helping with creating graphics, brainstorming ideas, data entry, programming…

Science Projects

Oh!  And school is still in session too!  June is our science project month.  The kids each pick a topic, research, perform experiments and do an oral presentation on everything they’ve learned.  They have the entire month just to work on this.  I think it’s a great way to wind down our year.   They practice many different skills while they’re preparing their own project and  the oral presentations mean that everyone learns about the other science topics as well.   Bonus!

As usual, we’ll be taking off the month of July from all school work.  We’re all looking forward to that.  With Adrian moved out, it will be the first ‘real’ summer vacation any of us have ever had.  Besides sleeping in, playing games and relaxing we’ll probably try to squeeze some day trips in as well….

As soon as we get through June 🙂

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