Shaking It Up

Best Behavior

Since she was caught dead to rights cheating on her spelling and lying to me about assignments, Em has been on her best behavior. Surrounded by three adults, she has certainly heard about how disappointed we are with her behavior.

The thing is, we all have taken walks down memory lane and realized we did it too. So it would be a hard sell for us to get indignant or self-righteous about it.

My theory that we would avoid this kind of behavior by homeschooling was disproved, but it isn’t the end of the world. I’ve treated it as a learning experience.

Yesterday, I loosened the restrictions on her television watching and allowed her to watch all of the science and nature documentaries she wanted. She had a “pajamas day” while we worked on The Cottage and yard.

Year-Round Schooling?

Recently, Em had progressed through Time4Learning to the stage where she finished with multiplication and was heading into learning basic division. The problem with that was that she had forgotten her multiplication tables! Before our summer break, she had them down pat. Then we broke for summer and after a three-month break, she had forgotten them!

This really brought home to me the reality of what our kids lose over summer breaks in traditional school settings. The nine month on/three month off, educational model is horribly flawed!

I had known this, but it really became clear as we abandoned the math on Time4Learning in exchange for a two week long review of flash cards to get back on track with multiplication.

I had struggled with the decision to break for summer or homeschool straight through. Part of it, to be perfectly honest, was a fear that I was being too pushy, or academically strict. Was I wanting her to homeschool all year so that she could pull ahead of her peers? I had once calculated that if we stuck to achieving a “year” of homeschooling every nine months, without any summer break, Em could end up graduating high school at the age of 14 or 15.

So I guess you could say that one part of me was interested in year-round schooling because I had heard that there was less “data loss” and another part of me was interested in having a high school grad at the tender age of 14 or 15.

The more I thought of that idea, the more I worried I was rushing things too much. But having the reality of data loss after a three-month break smack me in the face, I knew one thing – I was definitely changing to year-round schooling!

How About Four Days Per Week?

So I’m toying with the idea of doing homeschool four days out of the week since we will be doing year-round schooling. I thought of doing it on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday schedule, but then realized it might make more sense to tackle it in a different manner.

Why not customize it by the week? Some weeks can be busier than others – I still run my cleaning biz and we have random play dates and other things filling our schedule.

I haven’t said anything to Em yet – merely mentioned that I was considering a four day a week schedule. So far this week, we have completed two of the days, and I may just take off tomorrow, homeschool on Thursday, and then on Friday.

Is it cheating if I admit that she is going on an all-day play date on Friday? She will still have to do homeschool with her friend, but I won’t be overseeing it. That would put us at four days this week. I’m going to give it a try and see how it goes.

Something is Sinking In

As we drove home today, the temps outside spiking to over 90 degrees, Em looked up at the sky and sighed. “It figures. Thin, wispy clouds.”

“What about them?” I asked.

“They hold the heat in. Now big, fat clouds…”

“Cumulus clouds?” I asked.

“Very good, Mama! Yes, cumulus clouds. They cool things off.”

“What do they call those thin clouds…are they cirrus clouds?”

“I dunno, I think of them as nasty, evil flat clouds.”

What could I say? I had to laugh.

Posted in Bonding, Challenges | Leave a comment

Truth and Consequences

I’ll admit it – I’ve been suspicious for a while now. And today, my suspicions were confirmed.

It started off with me running to Lowe’s. Before I left I told Em, “When you get up, do your morning chores and then start working on homeschool.” I knew I would be back in short order.

At 9:30 I returned and Em said, “I’ve finished my handwriting practice, my creative writing homework, and I’ve finished my French lesson.”

In record time. After all, she couldn’t have been working on school work for more than an hour at most. Something didn’t feel right. I let it go for the moment and we started to work on her other assignments.

And then she let it slip. “I saw it was 9:05 and I got to work right away on homeschool, Mama.” She said offhand as she finished an exercise in Time4Learning.

Twenty-five minutes to finish a full handwriting lesson, a creative writing exercise, AND French? No way.

“So what letter did you practice for cursive today?”

Deer in the headlights look. Long pause. “I, um, don’t remember.”

“Well let’s take a look, shall we?”

I knew from her anxious, scared look that I wasn’t going to like what I saw. And when I looked over the work, I realized she had been up to no good for some time. We started the fall semester on Lesson #12 in the book, at three days a week for practice and a couple of days in there off for holidays or illness, she still should have finished at least ten lessons, putting her at Lesson #22. Instead, the last lesson she had even partly done was Lesson #18. And she had not followed the directions at all, there were short abbreviated lists of words on the pages.

The same situation was true in the case of the creative writing. She had done the bare minimum in most of it, and none of it at all in several instances.

The jig was up, and one special little someone looked rather nervous.

“So, why did you not do your work and lie about it?” I asked.

“I wanted to get done faster so that I could be on my computer and play Minecraft and watch YouTube videos.” She answered.

“I’ve always heard that you should let the punishment fit the crime. Taking that into account, what do you think your punishment should be?”

She hung her head. “No computer privileges.”

I nodded, “And how long was this going on?”

“At least a week.”

“And longer with you only doing partial work on the handwriting, from what I can tell.”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, so no computer until next Monday. That is one week. And that also means no YouTube videos or cartoons.”

[sad sigh] “Okay.”

“And this handwriting needs to be caught up. So we are going to start again with Exercise #12 and have you do two exercises a day to get you back up to speed. And this time, you are going to do it right, according to the instructions.”

So yeah, it hasn’t been a great day. It turns out she was also cheating on her spelling tests after the first week. She reviews the words first, writing them and pressing hard into the paper so that there is an impression left on the following page. Then she takes the test, writing the letters into the impressions.

Sneaky girl!

Dee caught her doing it and said nothing, just redirected her to a page in the middle of her notebook. The remaining words on the list took a dive in accuracy after that.

So we have some issues to address. A part of me wonders if I’m doing too much all at once. Do I need to back down on some of this? Or do I just need to be more hands on, less trusting and more attentive? Or a little of all of the above?

This is not an easy situation.

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Diving Deep

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First Week – SUCCESS!!!!

I was a complete stress basket at the beginning of the first week. I was worried that I was taking too big of a bite – our curriculum included Time4Learning lessons (4 math activities, 2 language arts, 1 science, and two social studies each day), weekly spelling lists, creative writing, daily reading (minimum of 30 minutes), cursive handwriting practice, French lessons, and cello practice.

Thanks to my reduced schedule (less cleaning clients and I am also eliminating teaching community education classes), I have had more time during the day to focus on homeschooling. But last Monday started with back to back cleanings, Dave full time at work, and Danielle full time at school. I was on my own!

We survived. More importantly, we thrived.

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Second Week – Off to a Great Start

Em aced her spelling list first try. She had one hiccup, a missing “i” in the word associative. However, she recognized it immediately. I covered the word with my hand and said, “Spell it right, without looking at it, and I’ll call it good.” She did, and wow, zow, what an achievement! I have to credit my husband Dave with this, he took her from a whiny, complaining, feet dragging on the ground, “take two weeks to get a weekly spelling list right” kind of girl this past winter to “we got THREE weekly lists done this week!”

It seems that we have struck a happy middle ground – where I feel we are covering a lot of subjects and doing it well, and Em is challenged but not intimidated by the work.

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The key is reviewing – out loud, in writing, and then we test. He also helped her in ways I couldn’t. I was always good at spelling, so I never needed to know rules or tricks. So I had no way of passing them on to her. But Dave, having had his own share of frustration and difficulty over spelling as a kid, remembered them well. He helped her break words down and be able to retain the spelling rules.

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Those Control Issues

This morning I let Em sleep in. She ambled downstairs at 8:30, so it wasn’t too late. Today is filled with two objectives – homeschool (including Harmony Project) and cleaning the house in preparation for a party on Friday.

I took a few minutes to go talk with our contractor at The Cottage and returned to see the kiddo still in her pjs and rolling around on the couch with the dogs.

I tend to be a “we work, then we have fun” kind of person. And so five minutes after saying to her, “It’s about time to get to homeschooling,” I started to get antsy. She was still happily petting dogs, singing a song, and generally taking her time.

I resisted the urge to bark out an order urging her to hurry up and get on task. Instead, I said, “So, it is 9:10, when would you like to begin homeschooling today?” (I’m growing as a person, I hope others will recognize this and pat me on the head, because it is HARD to pull back and NOT try to control everything)

In any case, she thought for a moment and said, “How about we start at 9:30?” Which was perfect and completely acceptable in my book. Of course, after that, we realized she needed a bath, so a 10 a.m. start time was agreed upon. “I’ll take a quick bath, Mama,” she reassured me.

We started hs’ing at around 10:15. I expect we will be done by mid-afternoon.

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A New ‘Tude

I’m not sure if it was that whole line of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” or what, but ever since Em returned from her two weeks in California, she has been an absolute dream. Not that she isn’t a wonderful, sweet child all the time, because she really is, but there is this extra level of it that I find particularly surprising and rewarding. No whining over chores or school work, no wailing or gnashing of teeth over spelling words, and a willingness to stop what she is doing and help out.

It’s been lovely.

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First Day of Fourth Grade Coming Soon!

I had originally planned on starting the homeschool year this past Monday. However, Em’s trip to California interfered with that. She was still in San Francisco on Monday and having a great time with her grandparents and the rest of her extended California family.

So I’ve rescheduled it for Monday, which now looks to be exceedingly busy since I’ve got two cleanings on that day. No worries, we will take a little time today to review what needs to be done.

Wednesday I signed up for Time4Learning and Thursday we spent some time getting used to it so that Em feels comfortable signing in and working with it on Monday.

We also need to work in one other activity – yoga. I recently bought an “introductory unlimited classes in a month” package for $30 from Boulevard Yoga. I’ve been to two of the classes, Beginner Yoga on Monday and Yin/Yang on Wednesday. I plan on going tonight if I can manage it. Last night, as I was returning from a yoga class, Dave and Em were returning from working on our rental house in Belton.

Em immediately perked up at the idea of yoga classes. “I want to go too, Mama!”

So it fills the Physical Education component and is something we can do together. This is a high priority in my book!

I’m not sure which classes will work the best for us, so I’m possibly going to purchase a 30-day new student promo pass for her as well and bring her along. Together we will figure out a good schedule for both of us.

Here is her proposed schedule. I will be re-learning French right alongside her. And Em’s big sister, Dee, is taking French I this semester at UMKC. Between us, we should do okay at linguistics.

Monday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Cursive practice
  • Cello practice
  • Rip The Page! Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle
  • Play dates every other week the McLoughlin family?

Tuesday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Harmony Project
  • Rip the Page! Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle
  • Play dates every other week with Blevins family?

Wednesday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Cursive practice
  • Cello practice
  • Rip the Page! Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle
  • Play dates every other week w/Gunn family?

Thursday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Harmony Project
  • Rip the Page! Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle

Friday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Cursive practice
  • Cello practice
  • Rip the Page! Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle
  • Swope Park Friday recess every so often

Saturday:

  • Harmony Project
  • Social activities/sleepovers

It might seem like a lot, but homeschooling moves rather quickly. An hour, sometimes two, and she is typically all done. We will be doubling up on math for a while. When I set her up with Time4Learning it asked for me to enter her grade level for Math and English. I set the bar at 3rd grade level for Math, and 4th grade for English, but I hope to see her at grade level soon.

So when it comes to Time4Learning work each day, she will need to complete the following:

  • Language Arts – 2 activities per day
  • LA Extension – 1 activity per day
  • Math – 4 activities per day
  • Science – 1 activity per day
  • Social Studies – 2 activities per day

This took us a couple of hours on Thursday to complete all of the activities. So the proposed schedule will probably need to be changed around somewhat. We will re-assess after a week or so.

Posted in Homeschool - General | Leave a comment

Drawing the Line

I hated to do it, but…

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Let me preface this by saying that, overall, both of my girls are amazing and wonderful. I’ve seen some kids who were a handful of rotten, and my girls aren’t. They have good hearts and try hard.

That said, my little one has now driven me to issue edicts. And I HATE to issue edicts.

Each morning, the hour gets later and later. She eats breakfast around noon, slouches about with hair unbrushed, chores not done, teeth unbrushed, and obsessively sits in front of her computer. For the first five years of her life, she had no idea how to operate a remote, and no interest in learning how. For the first eight years of her life, computers were these boring things she wanted nothing to do with.

It seems that Em has been making up for lost time in the past year, and it has gone from bad to worse.

Even in the heat of the summer, faced with soaring temps in her bedroom (we have a handful of window units, but none of them are in her room), she spends hour after hour in front of the computer, watching videos on YouTube and Netflix and playing Minecraft.

This has continued, to the exclusion of anything else, and become a real issue. Especially because she isn’t even doing the basics (listed below). This morning, I found I had had enough.

It was 10:30 and I had already had to argue with her over taking a bath. What kid besides mine hates baths? It’s insane! She hadn’t even eaten breakfast, and of course she hadn’t checked on the chickens.

I promptly issued the following edict:

THE RULES
Every morning, seven days a week, before you can get on the computer, TV, or any other electronic device you must complete the following:

• Take bath (if bath day)
• Brush hair
• Get dressed
• Eat breakfast
• Brush teeth
• Take care of chickens

If you do not do this, and get on a computer etc, before you are finished, the computer and all electronic devices will be seized and held for ransom for a period of at least ONE day for first offense, and increasing with each further offense. This includes usage of cell phone for Pokemon Go et cetera.

In addition, during the school year, on a school night (Sunday through Friday nights) you are to turn off your computer by 9pm and brush your teeth. Failure to do so will result in the same punishment listed above.

You are old enough to remember, to read a clock, and to be held accountable for your actions.

I’ve sent it in email form to her sister, her dad, and Em herself. I’m also printing it and posting it at eye level on the wall of her bedroom.

In just 2 1/2 months, Em will be ten. By her age I was waking up to an alarm in order to get my mother up and ready for work on time. I made sure she had coffee and often had to wake her up several times before she had it together enough (she was working a job late at night to make ends meet). And I was responsible for feeding myself, packing my own lunch, and riding my bicycle to school every day.

Em can do this, and I need to put my foot down and say “Enough is enough!”

It’s all about boundaries…

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Reviving the Homeschool/Art Room

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If you were hoping for “before” photos, I am afraid you will be sorely disappointed. I couldn’t bear any more damning evidence that my homeschool/art room had devolved into a mass of half-finished projects and clutter.

Yesterday morning I woke up thinking of the art room. I wanted to:

  • conquer the clutter
  • make more room to move around in
  • utilize the storage spaces better

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I began by removing two pieces of furniture – the country-style china cabinet which had some china stored in the bottom section and then books and art in the top. Danielle and Dave were kind enough to lug the thing all the way up to the attic, where I will put all of the remaining china that isn’t stored in the dining room hutch.

Dave and I lugged the six-foot-long folding table downstairs where it can serve as a “painting station” for the front porch stairs project he is working on.

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I moved the low-slung white organizer to the opposite wall, opening up the wall with the window. We will put the elephant ears in this window over the winter, freeing up space in the dining room.

And I moved the white metal and glass baker’s rack to where the china cabinet had been.

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We brought over the expandable kitchen table that we found in The Cottage. It needs to be sanded and repainted with some chrome spray paint. It also needs one of the extenders fixed underneath the table top, it won’t stay up.

Then it was simply a matter of decluttering and organizing all of the stuff into categories.

Paints, markers and pencils

Paints, markers and pencils

I filled two bags full of trash, and 1 1/2 bags full of donations. At some point in the next few weeks, I hope to get some organizing solutions from IKEA that will make the room even more attractive, along with displaying more of our completed art projects.

I wouldn’t mind adding a sisal rug to the floor and curtains on the windows. I’ll probably make curtains from the drop cloth fabric and possibly stamp them with a decorative pattern. I’ll have to look through my stamps and see what I can find.

At some point, I may want to paint the rest of the walls to match the chalkboard paint sections on the other walls.

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Overall, it was a great experience and I’m pleased with how it looks. I look forward to sitting down with Em and making art, creating crafts, and more. Having a smaller workspace means that I am forced now to keep it clean!

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I still have a bit of organizing to do…

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And plenty of empty baskets now…

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What do you think?

Posted in Arts and Crafts, Homeschool - Fine (and not so fine) Arts, Organized Homeschool | 2 Comments

Pokemon Go Arrives at The Shucks’

When I first heard of Pokemon Go, it was vague references on Facebook. Honestly, I thought it was another Facebook game like Candy Crush.

The second time I heard of it was earlier in the week, when the news stories came out of people being robbed while playing the game.

On Wednesday, still not completely understanding this idea, I asked my eldest what in the heck was going on and she explained the basic premise of the game to me.

I’ll admit it, it sounded weird.

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And then my husband downloaded the game on both of our phones. It turned out we were infested with the digital buggers – there were two outside our house and one in our backyard! Dave and Em went outside to lasso them, battle them, shove ’em into balls, or make treaties with them.

They battled one and captured it, and the other two scattered to the winds.

And the game was on. After day camp, Em returned home and found one in our library and one flying around above the dining room table. Thankfully she captured both, eradicating their incursions from our home.

And at around 8 p.m. a time that Em is normally glued to her computer and Dave to his, they went for a walk, not returning until after sunset.

They walked down one street, up another. They met a group of two or three children and a passel of kittens along the way. And earlier in the evening, Em met two girls just down the street from us, who she played with until they had to go inside.

As they returned home, Em netted even more Pokemon creatures, bringing her total up to a full dozen caught in one day. And at least a mile of walking under her belt.

You see where I’m going with this?

Em (and Dave) got their exercise, had fun, and met a passel of new people. And although the intricacies of Pokemon still elude me, I can’t help thinking that this is an amazingly cool way of getting all manner of ages out and about. It also has the unique side effect of creating interactions with people we normally don’t get to meet.

It’s P.E., but the fun and enjoyable kind!

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Further Fall Homeschool Planning

I’ve talked to a few of my homeschool friends and it sounds like Time4Learning could work well for us this fall.

That said, there are a couple of other things to work out.

  • How will our days look?
  • Should I sit with Em while she works through her studies online?
  • What other studies do I need to encourage? (Handwriting, creative writing, social situations, etc)

Em will be attending Harmony Project KC again this fall and continuing to learn the cello. That happens on Tuesday and Thursdays from 4-5:30 and on Saturday mornings from 10-12. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays she will also practice the cello at home for half an hour.

I dropped the ball on cursive practice this summer, but that will change in mid-August and we will go back to a lessons three days per week.

Spelling is important, so I dug up a 4th-grade spelling list here. We will tackle that on a weekly basis. One spelling list per week. As soon as she gets it 100% correct, we move on to the next.

Writing, being in the habit of it, practicing it each day, will not just help with spelling, but with structuring her thoughts and encouraging her creative outlets.

Reading, which I had hoped would be something she willingly did these days, is still not happening on a daily basis. Despite being surrounded by literally hundreds of books, owning a Kindle of her own (two, actually), and having a mother and an older sister who are both writers – Em still has not jumped on board with reading. This needs to change.

DuoLingo – learning French. I know, I know, Spanish is what is usually recommended. But you know what? French will be good for two reasons: 1) I took four years of it in high school and while I can barely pick words out right now, I will be able to help better soon, and 2) Danielle, Em’s older sister is taking it this fall, so she can help with the French lessons as well.

Writing this all out helps. It helps me visualize what I need to do on a daily or weekly basis.

I want to see her involved in social activities – hopefully we can manage that on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and possibly Fridays – allowing her time to pursue her friendships with her friends. She prefers this to taking classes with them – and really, can you blame her? Em equates seeing her friends with fun and play time, not sitting and learning. And I can’t help but think that is as it should be.

So, in looking over my cleaning schedule, along with her schedule, I’m hoping to see things fall into this basic schedule starting at around 10 a.m. each morning:

Monday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Cursive practice
  • Cello practice
  • Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle
  • Play dates every other week the McLoughlin family?

Tuesday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Harmony Project
  • Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle
  • Play dates every other week with Blevins family?

Wednesday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Cursive practice
  • Cello practice
  • Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle
  • Play dates weekly w/Gunn family

Thursday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Harmony Project
  • Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle

Friday:

  • Time4Learning
  • Spelling List for week (until 100% accuracy is obtained)
  • Cursive practice
  • Cello practice
  • Journaling
  • Reading for minimum of 1/2 hour
  • Practice French w/Duo Lingo app on Kindle
  • Swope Park Friday recess every so often

Saturday:

  • Harmony Project
  • Social activities/sleepovers

The fall is starting to shape up nicely. Meanwhile, Em is thoroughly enjoying herself at Campfire Day Camp this week. I hope she has TONS of fun!

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Bring on the Rebels

In July, my thoughts increasingly turn towards curriculum planning for fall.

I’m strongly considering Time4Learning, an online learning site that several folks I know use or have used. When I mentioned doing this, my eldest reminded me that Em needs more writing experience under her belt, and I couldn’t help but agree.

So yesterday I had a few minutes, and I began looking up 4th grade writing prompts. I didn’t see anything that gave me the warm and fuzzies, so I headed over to Amazon and typed in “children writing” into the search box.

This gave me a nice list of books geared towards encouraging writing. As I worked my way through the lists, I began reading the reviews.

Note: As an author, I know how important reviews can be. Especially these days, in our digital society. So if you have read one of my books and NOT left a review, go and do that now. I need that review more than you might think!

One review stood out and absolutely sold me on a book:

one star review

In case that is hard to read, the reviewer has an issue with Buddhism and says the book encourages kids to be rebels.

I couldn’t help it, I HAD to comment!

one star review

My focus remains on encouraging my daughter to write creatively, and eventually include persuasive, entertaining, and thoughtful written responses to any number of challenges that life throws at her.

The LAST thing I want is some idiot who says “yes ma’am” and obeys me without a thought in her head.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that rudeness or disobedience should be embraced. You can have a thinking, polite human being growing up in your house that has a mind of her own and still shows respect and understands compromise.

But when it comes to learning, I want an out of the box thinker. Let the public schools produce the worker bees our society seems to expect and thinks they need for the world to keep turning. I want to see my little girl think for herself and write things like this in the future:

mic drop 1

mic drop 2

This was in reply to a guy telling her that ALL of the technology and culture that we have today is thanks to war. He was also suggesting that allowing a free education to anyone willing to pursue it was foolish.

In any case – all of this is to say, not only am I sold on this book and it will arrive in two days, but I suggest it to you for your child as well.

rip this page book

Here is the link to the book.

This world needs thinkers, creators, world breakers, world changers. We need innovation, versatility, and more if we are to survive the vast changes that are to come.

Bring on the rebels!

Posted in Advocacy, Homeschool - Language Arts | Leave a comment

Changing My Approach

As Em grows, her input is more and more necessary when it comes to planning our homeschool curriculum.

For one, I want her to feel that she has some level of control over her schooling choices and what time she spends involved in homeschool activities and other children.

Lately, as my focus has turned increasingly towards putting in the time required to get my writing career off the ground and earning me more than a handful of lattes each month, I have also been considering how that would impact Em’s schooling.

I began to look at Time4Learning, which incorporates Language Arts, Math, Science and History together in a grade-specific format. I reviewed the website several times, and finally brought it up to Em today, showing her the site and asking for her input.

She was interested, and also had some strong opinions to share. This was actually a relief, since Em can be a “people pleaser” type and that leaves things open for misunderstanding. If she didn’t want to do something, I needed to know about it.

“I don’t want to go to the Wednesday classes, Mama, I don’t like them.”

I asked her to tell me more and found that it wasn’t the Wednesday classes she disliked, it was the feeling of not always fitting in with the crowd of kids in the gym, who avoided her or played keep away games when she wasn’t with her friends. “I don’t like it, they hurt my feelings,” she said.

It was confirmation of what I have been suspecting for a while. Em doesn’t get much out of organized classes because all she wants is to play with her friends. She has no problem doing work on her own, and learning on her own, but when she is with other kids, the only thing on her mind is playing.

I can’t say I blame her. And I find it a little ironic – because it is how I do best as well. When I’m around other adults I prefer to socialize, not work. And I happily will work for hours all on my own.

In any case, we then discussed LEARN Math & Science, which is a separate entity from the LEARN co-op on Wednesdays. I told her that we could afford to send her to one of the semesters, but not both.

“That’s okay, Mama,” she said. “My friend is staying in the lower class this fall so that her brother isn’t lonely. But next semester she is going into the advanced class. So I don’t need to go until then.”

I asked her if she liked the classes for what they teach or because she liked hanging out with the kids. “Both,” she answered, “I really like the classes too.”

Fair enough, kid.

And with that short five-minute discussion I had a clear idea of how fall homeschool was going to develop.

  • Time4Learning five days per week
  • Harmony Project music class on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and home cello practice on the other three weekdays
  • Cursive instruction and more personalized writing practice five days per week
  • Reading at least half an hour each day, five days per week
  • As many play dates and visits to parks and other social events as we can manage

I love that I can talk with her and we can come up with a plan together!

Posted in Daily Conversations, Homeschool - Choosing A Curriculum Series | Comments Off on Changing My Approach