Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homeschooling through a Crisis

I have been homeschooling for 16 years and have been through many, many crises throughout that time. Physical, psychological, financial, you name it. new babies, exhaustion, dying parents (mine and dh's) getting kids into college, finding materials that would "work", learning HOW to homeschool, starting a home based business, working full time, not losing myself in it all, dealing with tenn and adult kids along with little i said, you name it.

I am commited completely to finishing out this journey...whether by stubborness, or by the principle of the thing, it has never been my way of getting past a crisis by getting rid of it....

So, how to get past it...

1. Realize that homeschooling is a loooong and arduous journey full of ups and downs. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon.

2. realize that it is ok to shake things up, get off the treadmill, go off the history sequence or change grammar a little, try out new things. No one will be ruined. It is an adventure where you discover new things...together

3. Realize that homeschooling is a joint effort on everyone in the family. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. It is family-centric. We work together, play together, worship together, laugh together, cry together.

4. It is ok to be tired. It is ok to take some time to yourself. it is ok to throw all the books in the closet and sit on the couch and read a long read-aloud, or break out the paints and create.

5. Realize there will be gaps in an education no matter where that kid goes to school. I know public schooled kids who have no idea what a noun is....They will learn it in English 101. Really, it happens. I know homeschooled kids who are behind their peers in one subject and eons ahead in others...that is ok too as long as Mom (or dad) is serious about the child's education.

6. Realize that one of the great benefits of homeschooling is you do not need to be on anyone else's time schedule. We can school in the even ing, we can school in the car, we can school on Saturday, we can school early in the morning, on vacation, in the summer, etc. We can make schooling a living thing, not bogged down with workbooks or assignments....but a truly living, breathing, enjoyable lifestyle.

7. Realize that crises come and go, and just because it really sucks right now, doesn't mean it will always suck.

8. Learn to never, ever, ever, ever , ever compare yourself to any other homeschool Mom. We are not all the same. our kids are not their kids. Mom's here usually post their strengths and their kids strengths. While some 11 year old may be flying through Calculus, I doubt he is reading Homer in his spare time. My 11 year olds do neither....they are still learning to do fractions and are reading Ramona the 11 year olds are usually still little what? They grow up...and they are growing up in an academic environment with parents who love them and love to they love to learn...and get to be little kids too.

9. Sometimes we need to change our surroundings...put in extra lights, school in a different room, buy new pencils, whatever little thing will bring a spark back.

10. Once again, learn to love yourself and be proud of your accomplishments. Homeschooling is not easy. If it were, everyone would be doing it. It is hard, it is lonely, it is sacrificial, it is often a thankless job. It is also the most important thing I have ever done. It is also the most satisfying job I have. It is what makes me who I am and my kids who they are.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Outside the Box not Outside Reality

I do not think that "thinking outside the box" precludes setting up plans or allows a free for all attitude. Let's face it, this world is not a "free for all." Sometimes what my kids ARE learning is that they are to do the assignment BECAUSE I gave it to them. period...end of discussion. When they are in college no one is going to give a sh*t what they FEEL like doing or if they fail the class. Colleges are businesses and if you need to retake Chem 101 3 times...well, they get paid 3 times. Fine with them!

When I think of going outside a box, I do not leave out skills that are mandatory, nor do I allow my kids to tell me they aren't going to do an assignment because they don't feel like it. Honestly, I don't FEEL like hearing their complaints. I work very hard to offer them an exemplary education and I work hard to give them things of interest to work on and persue according to their bents BUT, sometimes we have to do the time in order to get to a place where we can persue our passions. And lets face it...middle school kids are basically lazy and will usually take the path of least resistance. They are moody and argumentative, which is normal at that age. They will test any boundary or border and will test you constantly to see how firm those boundaries are. It is a very tricky walk to not bend or cave in without ruining your relationship with your child. It is delicate to stand your ground, unflinching, without emotion coming into play when you have a 12 year old Moussolini screaming in your face that the world is not fair, you are mean and school work is dumb.

My dd wants to be a writer...That means she needs to spend MORE time on spelling, grammar, literature & history, BUT she still needs to put in time in her math, because intelligent, educated people can master a certain level of mathematics. She needs to study science, because intelligent, educated people can discuss scientific ideas. She can also put what she learns in her science classes to work in her novels.

Now, the number of courses she takes in math will not be the same as my other child who is mechanically, mathematically and scientifically geard...but then again, he is not excused from spelling, grammar, history or literature scientists and engineers need to be able top communicate and discuss history, literature and politics. See what I mean?

My idea of thinking outside the box says, this kid loves this....I would like to help said kid persue this passion...said kid needs to trust that I have his best interest at heart and WANT to see him succeed.

There are only so many hours and days in our homeschool journey, which makes me very aware that I need to train these kids to go on with their lives in a very short period. It is my opinion that outside the box does not throw the baby out with the bathwater. It is not child-led, but child sensitive. It does not paint a picture that the world revolves around their wants and desires, but gets them ready to persue their God given gifts and paiions in the context of society to be a blessing to those around them and bring Glory to their Creator.

My kids have workbooks and textbooks, videos, games, shelves of reading material, art supplies, sports equipment etc. These are tools. Just as curriculum is a tool. It should help guide yuou...not drive your school. It is a nice suggestion on how to accomplish goals...but the goals have to be there...with a vision on how to proceed and where you and your child want to be in the next year, 5 years, 10 years etc. Of course things change, goals change, circumstances change, passions change, so we must prepare our kids for that as well.

Homeschooling gives us an advantage over private and public schools by allowing us quantity as well as quality time with our children. We can take them along side of us and teach them, cheer for them, guide them, pick up the pieces when we fail or fall short and move on showing them that life is full of ups, downs and all arounds, but we can still be there for eachother as a family and as friends.

Academically speaking, there are many ways to reach a goal. There are many roads that lead to an intelligent, educated person. The longer I homeschool, the more confidence I gain to think even more outside the standard fare, BUT I would never leave a childs education solely up to them. Encourage their passions...YES. Plan my lessons and schedules accordingly...YES. Excusing my kids from assignments they decided were not worth thier time, or excusing them from simple do it because I said so because I know you need to know this even though you don't think so...well...nope sorry, can't help ya there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cymbalta Journies.....

    I have been in horrible pain for years. My doctor prescribed Cymbalta to me...and said it would help with my pain, insomnia and the diabetic neuropathy. I am a little nervous about taking it...yet excited that I may atually get some relief.

Anyone dealing with the perpetual cr@p that has happened here over the past few years would be depressed...but somehow, I am not. I do have some bad anxiety especially hormonally (PMS) about a week before "truth" week. LOL. Dr. said it would help me with that AND my crazy i am almost giddy.

My dd takes cymbalta for fibro...which is where I got the idea to ask my dr. for it. She says she feels like a new woman...can sleep...and her pain has subsided greatly. I am hoping for similar results. The fibro even hurts my teeth!

I have always used exercise as my # 1 treatment...and it really was the only thing that helped...but I am now in so much pain, that I can't even THINK of begininng to exercise again. I stopped walking last March after walking every day 3 miles for 13 years....I was sick due to other autoimmune diseases (hashimoto' numbers were horrible! and PCOS/ Insulin Res....again...hypoglycemic problems.) Then, by not exercising, I had the worst fibro flare up in years. I am hoping the cymbalta will give me enough relief from the pain that I can get back on my exercise routine....then all the other stuff gets better as is a nasty downward spiral....and after my mom died this fall....well...who felt like doing anything?

Day 1

Took the first dose last night and today, I am so dizzy and nauseus I can't get out of bed. eeeeewwwww.....

BUT a lot of the pain in my back feels so much better. My legs can actually move....but I can't move....because I am afraid I am going to throw up....

I did take it very easy today....and only had a minor snafu....I slipped my car off the road right outside my driveway...I wasn't going for a drive, just moving the van for the plow guy....ummmm....dh got my car out and put me back on the couch.....good thing we had an ice storm today and everyone was home.

I am not sure if I like this loopy feeling. I was really relieved from my pain today though....until I fell on my butt in the icy driveway....grrrrrrr.

My bones just feel better...really weird.

Day 2

Today, I still feel foggy, but not nearly like yesterday and not nauseaus. I just feel weird, like I am pretending to be here.....strange. The pain is very bearable...which is a marked improvement over usual when I wake up....I was able to get right up and walk, so that is definitely better. I am going to try and get in a good day of school today. We did pretty well did math, reading, and LA...and we had lots of couch read-aloud time due to the ice storm. Kids made pies with dad...and we watched a movie that made my 6y/o cry (Letters to God.) It made me cry too.....

We are snowed in here today, so I won't even need to try and drive....

I am going to give this stuff 2 weeks...see how I feel, and then make a decision to continue or RUN! I just feel like I am on so many meds right now...and I am such a "natural" healing kinda girl....I am on thyroid meds, diabetes meds, pain meds and now this cr@p.....I can't help feeling a bit like I am being sucked into the medical industry vortex......

Day 3 

So,  yesterday,  I had an all out panic attack.  I never had one of those before....soooo,  I kind of figured it must be the Cymbalta...
I also was helping Hammy with his math lesson...tried to write out a number line....and couldn't remember the # took a few seconds.  As it got closer to the time to take it again,  I started to painc,  I didn't take it.

I did take a pain killer last night...slept like a log and feel so much better today.  Today,  I call my doctor,  tell her what happened...and see if she will just give me a script for Xanax or something temporary for those really bad days...otherwise,  I feel great today!  Back to me....BUT,  now to try and deal with the issue of pain....sigh.....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Our Math Conundrum.....

I have finally figured out why I HATE teaching math to my little crowd...
It is because it is like the lima beans in the mixed just can't sneak them in!!!

I can sneak in literature by reading them good books...I can sneak in phonics and grammar by READING THEM GOOD BOOKS!
I can sneak in art, by you guessed it....reading them good books..

History, science, ...yep...good books.
Music can be listened to in the the concerts...
Again, I can sneak it in so that it is just life as usual. I can sneak in science projects or lessons with my garden, or baking....or a great experimnt kit...

BUT MATH!!! UGH!!!! Oh the D-R-U-D-G-E-R-Y!!!!!

show me two more...there ...that makes nauseum!

I do not know how to sneak math in...nor get my kids to memorize their facts....we could use living math books.....or games....or manipulatives until i get nuts...but they just KNOW it is math....and spit it out!

Oh boy! And well, math is eating your veggies....

So, how can I sneak it in??? and still have them excel????

I have done pretty much all of them throughout the years...and it is not the is not mastery vs. is not conceptual verses fact is just MATH.

My kids do not like it...It is not interesting or applicable to their little lives no matter WHAT I do, except pay them...LOL...and I do pay them ....sometimes...a penny a problem...a dime for a word problem!

I beg, cajole, whine, force, pretend to play with them, make all kinds of manipulatives, make up funny word problems....but no matter what I do...I can't disguise it. It reminds me of the story of the little boy who hated kreplach.

Once upon a time there was a little boy who hated kreplach. Every time he saw a piece of kreplach in the soup he screamed, "Aaaaah, kreplach!" So his mother decided to teach him not to be afraid of kreplach. She took him into the kitchen and rolled out some dough. "Just like a pancake," she said. "Just like a panckae," said the little boy. Then she took a piece of meat and rolled it into a ball. "Just like a meatball," she said. "Just like a meatball," said the little boy. Then she rolled up the meat in the dough and held it up. "Just like a dumpling," she said. "Just like a dumpling," said the little boy. Then she dropped it into the soup and put it in front of the little boy, and he screamed, "Aaaaah, kreplach!"

So, for my little is AAAAAAHHHH MATH!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Homeschool or School at Home: A Non:Traditional Approach

We homeschool....we do not school at what we do kinda NEVER looks like school. When someone asks my kids about school, until they are about 3rd gradish, they just give a blank stare and look at me....
I don't unschool I don't fit into that pattern either.

My life is very unpredictable due to our circumstances and dh's business....soooooo....we school when we can throughout the week...whether that is in the evening, in the morning, on the weekend etc. I have been known to teach a kid to read with foam letters on the bathtub wall or on the dust of a car in a parking lot. I drill my kids on spelling,Latin noun declensions, math facts, vocabulary words, parts of speech etc. as we go through our day. I never call what we do "school." I call it learning or lessons. What we do is not really school. It is learning and having lessons.

We will have lessons on the couch, in the kids rooms as they play legos or color, in the car, on walks etc. We spend inordinate amounts of time talking, looking things up in books, on Google, at the library. We watch all sorts of videos, listen to all sorts of music, make all kinds of food, craft, garden,study art, read Shakespeare, recite poetry, write notes to eachother in haiku for weeks. Now don't get me wrong, our life is not a pretty little Victorian picture with Mom all sweetened up wearing a gown and make-up with 3 little perfect darlings in frocks looking longingly up into her face as she reads them a story and the hazy lense on the camera. Life is lived here...hard and fast. We are not trust fund kids. We come from very poor people...and we strive to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps...nose to the grindstone....keeping ourselves far away from the public dole. I want to give my children high aspirations. College for them is the American Dream. It is their ticket out of the inheritance of poverty. Husband and I worked very hard to pull ourselves out from the burden of poverty, but these children will not have a trust fund to live off of...and they know it. They need to be self made, self taught and self motivated to achieve beyond what we can offer to them.  The American Dream at work.

I have a sort of sequence that I like to follow and books I like my kids to have lessons from. I like SOTW, so we read out of there at least once a week. We find places on our wall map, color the pictures, discuss the events, narrate, draw. I try to find read alouds that go with the time period and those become bedtime reading, I like the Apologia series of science the upper levels) so my kids start those at 12ish. BUT, my dd spent 4 months on Module 1 because she wanted to read more about each we read, and experimented, and read some more. I really like Christian Light Reading, Math and LA. This helps me to streamline my planning and gives me some goals to attain. We do most of it orally until levels 400 or 500 depending on the child.

I have a set of skills I would like my kids to possess before they go on to college. I want them to be able to diagram complex sentences....if anything, it WOWS! their English 101 teachers and they stop wondering if that homeschooled kid is educated.. I want me kids to be able to communicate well in writing. This includes spelling and grammar. I want my kids to be literate; to be able to discuss the Great books as well as contemporary best sellers. I want my kids to be able to discuss history, and current events....and understand the connections and repetitions. I want them to understand politics, economics, how to balance their checkbook, how to save money, how to invest and how to stay out of debt. I want my kids to love mathematics and see how it relates to them and the universe.

I want my children to be loving and kind, benevolent to each other and to those in need. I want them to love Jesus and follow in His ways, not man's interpretation of His ways.

I pulled my older kids OUT of the rat race, out of the public agenda, not to repeat it, not to remake it in my home, but to offer them offer them a freedom to discover who God made them to be and not to be pushed into some artificial mold that was put there to keep them in line. Providing this has been a challenge throughout the years. I am constantly second guessing my methods and constantly researching educational theory, curriculum development, teaching strategies, etc. but in the meantime, the kids need to be cared for and the lessons taught. I learn and change, the kids learn and change, we evolve, mature, move into new interests, make new friends, develope new happens.

I want my children to think independently, to act in strength and honor, to do hard things, to work hard, play hard, love hard, live well, continue to study hard. I want them to be fulfilled adults that follow their dreams and make an impact on the world around them....even in small quiet ways.

Homeschooling has become a lifestyle for us. It is not an interim plan to get the kids up to snuff so they can enter the Public Schools (This is for us, if it is your goal to help your child re-enter the PS, then disregard this statement .) It is not my intention to keep my kids home because it is easy....this has been the hardest thing I have done in my life. It is not my intention to fill my kids with head knowledge without wisdom, nor is it my intention to have my kids filled with street smarts without book learning.

Homeschooling, a home based business, home prayer and worship, a home based lifestyle has been our journey so far. Some of my children are now adults and have gone out into the world to seek their own lives. They are really cool adults. They are not afraid of trying new things. They are comfortable in their own skins. They know how to defend themselves and those who may need defense. They are self-teachers. They had their ups and downs like all kids. They are not perfect humans who never felt discouraged or lost, or had their self-esteem crushed by the thoughtless actions of other people (or their own stupid choices.) BUT, they are well educated...despite my many major freak outs that they weren't on course or "where they should be."

Our days vary in the number of lessons or chapters we read, or pages we write. I try to keep us on a reasonable schedule because I find my little ones need a routine, but our routine is flexible. I don't allow outside commitments to get in the way of my commitment to my children, my husband or my home. Right now, I volunteered to raise these children that the Lord so graciously entrusted into my care. That is my priority. I have to work to help support our business, but I can be flexible there as well.

I can look at curricula, teaching methods, lesson plans, etc. and see how they will fit into our lives. if they make sense to US, then we fold them into our day. If not, no matter how good it looks to me, I know it won't work, so I just don't go there.

So all that to say, yes, I guess you could say that we homeschool in a non-traditional way.


Friday, January 7, 2011

Week in review 1/7/11 Back to the Books....Ummmmm....sort of

This was our first week back to school since my mother passed away.  We did have some lessons here and there,  but nothing formal or in depth.  We read lots and cried lots and tried to pick up all our pieces...BUT,  now is a New Year,  and it is time to get back to a new normal.  I am not sure if we are behind or ahead in our studies and I refuse to go there.  we are where we are,  and I think my children are making a nice progress forward.

We have had some setbacks this year.  My mom passing on was a big one.  Elvis also was battling the effects from a bad case of Lyme disease. Lyme really kicked his butt.  School for him was put on hold per doctors orders. Swimming took a back seat,  then he got back in the pool...within a week he received an injury that put him out for 2 more weeks.    Thank goodness he is almost done with his High School he has some play room. Dh has begun to take him to work and train him on HVAC equipment.  Hubby is thrilled with how fast he catches on and how interested he is in all they do.  Our customers LOVE him!   Dr. Kazam is taking a year off of swimming to persue other interests and has joined an art class and a dance class.  She is in LOVE with dance.

So,  Now for our week in review.
Sunday,  Daddy and the boys went up to our ski house (aka a little cabin in the woods) and built a set of steps going down into the man cave (aka ...the cellar)  The boys have been working on changing the cellar into a man girls allowed except Moms and girls that bring snacks.  So far,  they have set up a lego table,  my out door furniture works as a livingroom,  one of our customers gave the boys an old style flat screen TV and a small fridge.  Daddy stocked it food and drinks.  The game box is set up...

and now....they have a set of stairs.  Daddy taught Elvis how to make the stringers and the risers. Lots of angles and math.  Elvis got to work and made them perfectly!  In the meanwhile Daddy cut out the floor of the closet upstairs and  moved the wall forward.  Several hours later and a couple of tired boys....and stairs!!!  The man cave can now be accessed without putting on our boots,  trudging through the snow and climbing through the bilco's

Monday was book work day.  let's just say it took ALL day!  The boys just were not into the swing of doing what they were told.  I showed them my badge and read them their rights....

In Bible this week we studied the early church,  the conversion of Paul, The healing of Dorcas  and the baptism of Cornelius.

This week we covered David Livingstone in SOTW 4.  The kids were really fascinated by his adventures.  We are also reading about Nathaniel Bowditch and I am fascinated by this autodidactic man.  I am always fascinated by self taught people and desire to be like them.  I desire my children to be like them. 

Hammy started CLE Reading Level 200 and finished 3 stories.  We use the light units,  but we do them mostly orally...thus covering 2 lessons per day.

He also finished 3 math lessons (like pulling teeth!)  and 3 LA lessons.

Cubby is continuing in CLE level 300 Reading and has completed LU 301 this week.

I am always amazed at how much my kids love these stories in these readers.  I always steered clear of readers,  but the stories in these are so sweet,  character builing without being preachy or guilt inducing,  and so age and maturity appropriate.  the reading lessons go well beyond just plain comprehension and teach the children to think deeply about what they read.  I think this reading program is as close to CM in a workbook as I can get....BUT,  we do most of this orally and in conversation.  I will many times write in their workbooks so they can see what the answers in the books should look like.  I especially like the questions which lead to narrative answers  The answers are so much more thoughtful and in depth than if I would have them write them out. 

Cubbly also finished LU 208 in math and his LU in Language Arts.  He needs to review his spelling words as this weeks were kind of difficult.

Dr. Kazam is plodding along in her subjects.  She also finished LU 's this week.  She finished LU 604 in math...needing a bit of help in finding percentages of numbers.  She finished LU 701 in Language Arts which is now getting into some pretty serios diagramming.  We also started Kilgallon's Sentence Composing for Elementary Grades. 

We just dipped our toes in this one,  and so far it is very easy....and I hate the way they  use the word chunking...blah!

Today was a snow day....we finished 4 pretty full days of today we allowed ourselves to the snow!  It was fun!

And now to finish off the week with a good Wii Sports championship and a vodka and cranberry in my
Lucy Van Pelt coffee mug!