Election Study and Detours

October 23, 2008

We’ve been focusing most of our time and energy on election studies these past couple of weeks.  I’ve been using some of the materials from Lydia’s wonderful unit study over at Little Blue School.  Last year, when we began discussing the election, we found the girls were very interested in the subject.  They wanted to create their own campaigns and have our own family election.  As luck would have it, Lydia’s study walks through that process.  Thank you Little Blue School!

As we’ve explored various issues, detours of interest have presented themselves.  When talking about wars, the girls expressed interest in learning more about World War II.  We’ve also discussed and read about the different sides of the abortion issue.  Other topics we’ve touched on include the environment, education and health care.  The girls are quickly learning that these are all complicated issues with no one right answer.  We’ve got multiple political parties and many different opinions represented right here in our own family so the girls are getting different takes on all of them and forming their own opinions about the direction they think is best.

With all the great detours and information this study has brought us, I think I’m just going to ignore the dates on my homeschool plan and just let it continue till we’ve exhausted their enthusiasm. 🙂

Printable Graph Paper

May 31, 2008

My sister (the school teacher) passed along this great site that has .pdf files of graph paper.  They’ve got everything from traditional graph paper to dots to triangles and trapezoids.  Now I just have to think of fun stuff to do with it all 🙂 

Dreaming of Disney…

April 27, 2008

As if it weren’t bad enough that I’ve been working non-stop and feeling desperate for a vacation, I had to come across Jennifer’s carnival on Disney World.  I’ve already been having withdrawal symptoms since it’s been a whole six month since our last trip.  Reading all the posts on what a good time everyone has there doesn’t help!

Ah, yes.  The magic of Disney.  One of our most magical and memorable times at Disney was four years ago.  We went in the spring so we could catch Star Wars weekends (another one of our family’s obsessions).  My husband and I celebrate our birthdays together being that they’re only 8 days apart and our trip was scheduled right between them.  So we had to celebrate our birthdays at Disney!

It was a big trip.  And by big I mean everyone was coming along.  Besides our family of six, there was my mother and father-in-law, my brother in-law, sister-in-law and our nephew.  With such a crowd I opted to go all out for a birthday celebration.

We sent everyone invitations telling them to meet us on the Fort Wilderness dock at 7pm.  Everyone was surprised and elated when our birthday boat arrived decorated with balloons.  Our captain took us for a cruise around the lake.  Poor thing tried to tell us little known facts about Disney as we went.  With all our Disney experience, we ended up teaching her a thing or two instead. 

It was a beautiful night.  As the sun set we stopped in the middle of the lake and our Captain pulled out the cake and sodas.  We were all so relaxed and enjoying it so much.  Then it was time for the fireworks!  The captain told us that once we saw the fireworks from the boat, there wasn’t any going back… and she was so right!  There really is no better place to watch the show. 

It was an awesome experience for everyone.  Four years later everyone still agrees that was the best Disney experience ever! 


Turning the TV ON

April 10, 2008

Summer at Mom is Teaching mentioned that Turn TV Off Week is coming up.  

Will we be participating?  Well, no.  We’ve skipped TV on school days all together for a very long time.  Recently Adrian became obsessed with having the TV on PBS … all the time.  So for the past couple of months I’ve let it stay on when he gets home from school.  During that late afternoon period they’ve got great educational shows like Cyberchase and Fetch!   But even then, my kids are rarely glued to it.  It’s on right now (because Adrian insists) but no one is even in the room.   They’re too busy painting, making kites and folding paper airplanes! 

No, we’re not a family glued to our TV.  My husband and I aren’t addicted either.  We can go weeks or even months without watching a single TV show. It’s just not our vice.

Since I started homeschooling I’ve realized that in ignoring the tv, we’re missing out on a very useful educational tool.  I’ve tried to get my act together.  We introduced the girls to Mythbusters, How It’s Made and Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel.  We showed them a few episodes of Alton Brown’s Good Eats on the Food Network.  We’ve caught a show on the Travel Channel here and there too.  But old habits die hard and I forget to check the schedules, record the shows or post reminders.

So instead of turning the TV off for a week, I’m vowing to review the tv schedules, find the good shows, hit the record button, post the reminders …and remember to turn the the TV on that week! 


Foolish Fears

April 1, 2008

Home Education Week continues over at Principled Discovery where in honor of April Fool’s Day folks are sharing foolish moments, challenging times and rough days.

My first (of many) brushes with foolishness came before I even started homeschooling officially.  I was committed to it.  I’d told the school I was pulling Bee out and our official start date was about a week away.  Despite the fact that it was such a big step, I was feeling pretty confident that it would all work out.

Well, until a well meaning friend in my moms group said, “I don’t know how you’re going to be with your kids 24/7 like that and not go crazy.”   She meant it as a compliment, I think. But when she said it, I realized I’d not even considered that aspect of homeschooling.  I’d been so busy thinking about curriculum and schedules and plans and official paperwork and teaching methods … I hadn’t even thought about the potentially significant switch to being with my kids all the time without a break – ever!

How foolish of me!  I had made the decision to homeschool and never even considered the reality of the endless hours I’d be with my kids as a result!  Her remark had me worrying about it for the next week or so.  Could I really handle being with my kids that much?

Of course, now I feel a fool for every having given it a second thought.  I love having my kids home with me.  As I explain here, I’ve actually found it easier to be around them now than when they attended public school.

In the Beginning…

March 30, 2008

It’s Home Education Week over at Principled Discovery and Dana’s asked us to share some personal history… life before homeschooling.  

In the beginning there was my husband.  Of course, back in 9th grade he wasn’t my husband yet.  We were friends.  I enjoyed bugging him while he worked in study hall.  I sat next to him in almost every class.  But neither of us was romantically interested in the other.

Until 10th grade.  Suddenly we looked at each other and thought, “Wait a minute… you’re the one!”  We dated through 10th grade and by the end had a solid relationship.  Which was good since he and his family moved an hour away the summer before our junior year.  We carried on a long distance relationship for the final two years of high school. 

College time came and although we both looked at private schools, we both ended up at the same, much cheaper, state school.  I went into college with the idea that I would become a math teacher.  I hated the math department so I switched to computer science.  It didn’t really matter.  I think I knew all the while I was just killing time waiting for a proposal. 

I think I finally convinced him we didn’t have to wait till we finished school to get married.  So with a year still to go we finally tied the knot.  Then I convinced him we didn’t have to wait for our degrees to have a baby.  We timed it perfectly, the baby was due just as my last semester was scheduled to end.

Thus I began my career in my chosen profession.    For years I worked at part time jobs. Both for the much needed cash and the chance to be productive, the opposite of my full time Mom job.  But when Adrian was diagnosed with autism at 2 years old, I realized that I was going to need to make being Mom my only job.  I gave up the part time job and have been putting all my energy into my career as Mom ever since.

Adrian started at a special preschool as soon as he was diagnosed.  That was a no-brainer given the amount of educational intervention required and my inability to provide it while caring for 6 month old twins.  School is still the best option for him for many reasons.

The girls went to preschool at 4.  The teacher had some concerns and suggested we hold off on sending them to kindergarten.  But we sent them.  In my mind I figured if it didn’t work out I could always homeschool them.  They had a rough time in kindergarten.  Bee had a rough time in first grade too.  But we muddled through all right. 

Then we got to second.  Bee wasn’t muddling through anymore.  She had some ADHDish tendencies and the school was pushing towards diagnosis, medication and educational interventions.  We didn’t think she needed any of those.  She just needed the right learning environment.  The time had come to homeschool.

Hubby wasn’t fully on board back then.  He wasn’t sure I could handle it with a toddler running around too.  I didn’t have time to think about that.  I had to make it work.  And I did.

So here we are, homeschoolers.  What do we miss?  Absolutely NOTHING.  I wouldn’t go back to the school nights full of stress and homework and chaos for anything.  You couldn’t ever convince me to go through school supply shopping, unproductive meetings with teachers and making my kids do work I know is pointless.  Fortunately, the girls and the hubby all feel the same.

What have we gained?  EVERYTHING.  It’s the ultimate freedom to do what works for us as individuals and as a family.  It’s the chance for the kids to learn and grow without labels, medication, boundaries or boxes.  It’s the chance for us to be together and enjoy our family time – all the time.