Changes – Here, There and Everywhere

 

You may have read the last entry and thought “end of an era.” And you may have figured there would be no more entries.

And perhaps it is. And perhaps there won’t be. But I doubt it.

For now, for this school year and perhaps permanently, I have stepped down from my role of teaching core subjects and being my daughter’s primary educator. However, I remain her teacher, her mentor, in so many things that I already find myself with things to say.

For one, it is the first day of school for Emily. Her first day of public school, that is.

This morning, as we cuddled close she whispered, “I’m scared.”

I hugged her close and kissed her hair. I didn’t whisper reassurances, I didn’t tell her it would be easy peasy and that she would be a-okay. Instead I said,

“It’s okay to be scared. Just like it is okay to be excited. During this school year, you will probably feel everything from ‘why did I ever want to go to public school” to “I wish I could have been here since kindergarten.’ And all of that is okay and expected.” She nestled closer. “There will be kids who are mean, and kids who are nice. You will meet some who you can’t wait to be friends with and others who will probably never be okay. You will have teachers that you love, and teachers who you might wish you don’t have. There will be times when you are bored and times when you are fascinated by what you are learning. Just remember, to be yourself, sweetheart. Because you are wonderful. And I love you.”

Later, after I had walked her around the school, said hello to her homeroom teacher and hugged her goodbye at the door to the cafeteria, I walked home to fix breakfast for my dad.

I thought about this blog and decided a slight change in name would be appropriate. In fact, it is far more accurate. I am, and always have been an advocate of learning, in whatever form that takes. I can’t do much about the domain name for now, and I don’t know how much I will be posting here even still, but for now, the title reflects where I am, where we are.

I’ve come to some measure of peace with our decision. I made it for several reasons:

  • have to work. For our future, for our now, we must have the additional income.
  • Balancing so much, I have felt scattered, unprepared, and insufficient as Em’s teacher
  • The schism between my eldest, specifically her memories, however inaccurate they were, has caused me to question everything (my parenting, my teaching skills, even who I am as a human being) all over again and has put me in a mental space that adds to my fears of being less of the teacher Em needs.

While I continue to recover from that last reason, I don’t feel it is fair for Em to be caught in the middle. She deserves me to be steadfast, reliable and loving – something I cannot be when I am constantly questioning myself. It doesn’t make for a good learning experience.

I look forward to seeing her smiling face as she exits school today. I hope she will have a skip in her step, I hope she will have made a friend, or even a handful, and I hope she will tell me about each and every one of her teachers. I’ll be waiting on the corner for her, knowing I have done something right if she is happy and less scared and at peace with this new dynamic.

Posted in Bonding, Challenges, Community | 2 Comments

And This is Where I Cry “Uncle”

Before 1997, I hadn’t even heard of the word “homeschooling.”

I moved back home to Kansas City, Missouri when I was 27, with my almost nine-year-old in tow. Down the street from us was an odd-shaped house full of children. “They homeschool,” my mother said it quietly, under her breath, almost as if it were an affliction.

“Is that legal?” I asked.

It was, of course. And slowly, as I watched problem after problem surface during Danielle’s path from Kindergarten through eighth grade, I dreamed of homeschooling her. I was scared though. What did I know about teaching my child? And working full-time, how could I possibly do it?

Every bump in the road. Every mean kid, bad teacher, or poor grade – it would remind me of my own difficulties in school and I was desperate to change the paradigm.

And less than five years later, I would join the homeschooling ranks, pulling my child out of school and doing my best to homeschool her.

I would like to tell you that it was just hard at first, that I got my sea legs and grew confident in my homeschooling abilities. But, honestly? That never happened.

I had some extremely high points with Danielle – she studied politics, women’s history, and wrote papers. It was, by far, the most rewarding homeschool experience I have had. I still felt a little adrift, so I encouraged her to go to community college once she had her driver’s license. After all, she would get a start on her agemates, heck, maybe even have an Associates degree when they were still kicking it in high school.

It didn’t work out that way.

And when I was pregnant with Emily, my mind was made up. I was going to do it right, all the way through, from start to end. I was going to be a homeschool mom from the word “go!”

When Em was four, nearly five, I spent more than a month gathering materials, designing a curriculum, and planning our days.

That curriculum and those meticulous plans were thrown out of the window in less than two weeks. And that was because I was stubborn, it had really been over within the first two hours.

And over the next six years there have been various renditions of that – rinse and repeat – try something new, give up, try something else, have limited success, move on to the next thing.

And Em has learned many things along the way. She learned to read, print, write in cursive, spell, add/subtract, multiply/divide…mostly. She loved science classes with LEARN Math and Science, playing with friends, and art.

She squirmed through social studies and yawned a lot. And her personality, always kind and loving, has florished. She is popular, well-spoken, and kids and adults both are drawn to her.

And we have lumbered on with homeschooling, in fits and starts, for six years.

Me feeling more or less incompetent, her mostly bored, and homeschool hanging on by a thread.

And then last month happened. And in the midst of dealing with what is, hands down, the worst pain I have ever felt in my years as a mother, I realized today that there is nothing that escapes the feelings of self-doubt and questioning that have risen like a flood in response to Danielle’s post.

I’ve certainly had these questions before…

Am I continuing to homeschool out of some ego/pride thing?

Would she be better off in a school?

Does she need more structure than I am providing?

Are my own personal experiences with public school coloring my outlook?

Em is so outgoing, so at home with new people and new experiences. She’s different than me, or her sister. I would go as far as to say that she is most surely an extrovert, where we are very firmly introverts.

And of either of my two children, I would point to her and say that she has the most chance of success in a public setting.

These feelings of inadequacy that I have, coupled with the devastating pain I have felt in the past month, have collided. I am left feeling insufficient and full of shortcomings. And Em, my outgoing kiddo, who squirms in her seat and voluntarily takes a dreaded bath just to get out of homeschooling for a few extra minutes, is being her normal self.

In a public school setting, she will knock the socks off of the other kids in terms of good behavior. Part of me looks forward to meeting with her teachers. It will be a bright light of happiness, meeting them and hearing how well-behaved she is. But my decision to send her to public school tastes like failure. It is full of bitterness and disappointed dreams.

Nothing is set in stone, but it is looking more and more like we will be enrolling her in public school this year. Kauffman Charter School if we are really lucky, and nearby Whittier if we are not.

I’ve been standing on the edge of the cliff for a very long time. And my eldest’s words stirred up the hornet’s nest of self-hatred, insecurity, and uncertainty bred by decades of betrayal that I try so desperately to push away. I realized that I need a break – possibly a permanent one. I need time to grieve the loss of my eldest. Whether there is reconciliation or not in our future, she is someone I can never trust again. And that is a loss that has rocked my understanding of the world. I still struggle to accept it.

I need to bury myself in work and let teachers handle the job of teaching.

So this may be the last post on this website. Then again, who knows what tomorrow will bring?

But for now? I am crying “uncle.”

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First Day of Fifth Grade

First Day of Fifth Grade

The “first” day of school is rather a misnomer around here. After all, we school year-round, so I consider the 4th grade school year to officially end on July 31st, followed by the “first” day of fifth grade beginning the very next day.

That said, welcome to fifth grade my little sleeping beauty!

A Frantic Summer

It feels as if we have the opposite schedules of conventionally schooled children. In the summer it is a rolling ball of day camps, Harmony Project, and sleepovers. I barely get to see the kiddo at all!

And now that the summer camps are all officially over, I can relax, sort of.

She will have Harmony Project starting up in a couple of weeks, every Tuesday and Thursday from 4-5:30 pm. In September, both LEARN and soccer will start up.

And although we will miss it, I breathed a sigh of relief that I would not have to take Em to Peace Quest on Monday nights. It was just too much in addition to all of the other things we were doing. We were very lucky to have it for years, but I need my Monday evenings back!

Our Curriculum, Such As It Is

I’ve been honing in more on our starting curriculum. I say “starting” because, if it follows anything of a pattern, it will change, significantly, over the school year.

Not everything I try works, and that is fine. If the knowledge goes in, and the thinking occurs, I’m good with that!

Language Arts

As usual, I will be pushing reading, writing, and spelling. We use the weekly spelling lists through K-12 Reader. For writing, I will be using one of the Complete the Story books I picked up, along with intermittent entries back and forth with the Fairies journal. And I will be encouraging her to write to friends on a weekly or monthly basis. We will continue to read together and I will work with her to find books in our home library or buy more for her own independent reading adventures.

Mathematics

I continue to reinforce the basics – addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. She can learn more about fractions through cooking, and this will actually be a responsibility of hers each Wednesday. More on that below. We might sprinkle in Life of Fred and Khan Academy, but she isn’t particularly excited about either of them. Mainly we do Real World Math and I don’t sweat it too much. In a few years, she can take a remedial math class at a community college and catch up quickly.

Science

I’m still trying to work out my schedule right now for fall. Fridays may have dual cleanings, which would interfere with me dropping Em off for LEARN Math & Science Club at Rockhurst Community Center. I’m trying to find a parent whose child is going to the afternoon class and structure it so that Em has a half day play date and then goes to LEARN Math and Science with the child.

I’m also working on finding some cool weekly science experiments from the Totally Irresponsible Science book.

Social Studies

I’m running with a cartoon theme for now. Em really enjoys graphic novels, so I found some that deal with non-fiction topics. The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 1: From Columbus to the Constitution seemed a good place to start. I also purchased the Cartoon History of the United States. We will also use the internet to look up questions we have from what we have read.

When it comes to geography, I think she is finally ready for the Scrambled States of America game. This will help with U.S. geography and we will expand from there.

Critical Thinking and Philosophy

I really hope to guide Em down the road of critical thinking and building those skills now. I’m considering buying Comprehension and Critical Thinking for Grade 5 and The Fallacy Detective. That last book does say it is for ages 12 and up, and Em is just 11 years old, but what is one year?

Following on that same “cartoon” theme, I have two books – Heretics and The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy. We started in on Heretics towards the end of the school year, so we didn’t get far. I’ll resume with that and then use the other book to start some interesting conversations with the kiddo. Eventually we will study/read together Sophie’s World: A Novel About the History of Philosophy, but I looked over the book and I think Em will be bored/confused right now with it.

Music/Arts

This past year, Em made noise about not wanting to continue with Harmony Project. A program designed specifically for at risk inner-city youth, it teaches students how to read music, sing in a choir, and play a musical instrument. Em has been studying the cello for the past two years and she has done quite well in the program.

I told her that I wanted her to stick with it one more year. And this is the deciding year. In May, she will have the choice of either sticking with it or dropping out.

She has mentioned that she wants to be an artist, so we are exploring that as well and she is especially interested in sketching right now. That’s something she can do while I read to her or we watch documentaries and more.

Health/Living Skills

We will continue to read from What’s Happening to My Body for Girls, This book discusses in depth girls bodies, changes during puberty, and more.

I mentioned above that Em will be cooking one meal per week on Wednesdays. This will help with her math skills, since she will be cooking different meals, planning them in advance, and preparing them entirely on her own. I hope this will give her a sense of accomplishment, along with a much-needed skill.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print. Time to get to homeschooling!

Posted in Homeschool - Fine (and not so fine) Arts, Homeschool - General, Homeschool - Geography, Homeschool - History, Homeschool - Language Arts, Homeschool - Life Skills, Homeschool - Mathematics, Homeschool - Music | Leave a comment

Word Nerds! (and other stories)

Word Nerds!

The call went out for class proposals with my local homeschool co-op and I immediately responded with the class I’ve been planning and talking about for several months.

Word Nerds is part spelling bee, part etymology, part writing and all words. I’m really looking forward to the class. We will:

  • Conduct weekly spelling tests (with the end goal of participating in our own spelling bee at the end of the following semester).
  • Dig into the origins of words. Where do they come from? What do all of those little parts mean?
  • Have fun with Mad Libs
  • Confound Christine (find a word I don’t know, spell it and define it for everyone, and you can add it to my Word Nerd lab coat)
  • Create art with words
  • Creative writing using word prompts

This will be on Wednesdays at LEARN at the Brush Creek Community Center location.

Lesson Planning for Fall

It suddenly dawned on me that it was mid-July and I haven’t done ANY planning for Em’s homeschool curriculum. We homeschool year-round, but the rest of this month is taken up with day camps and then a week of simply reading and a little journaling before we resume a “full” class load on August 1st.

So far, it is looking like this:

  • Spelling – 5th grade list that I downloaded from K-12 Reader
  • Math – Life of Fred and Khan Academy coupled with Real World Math
  • History – I’m running with a cartoon theme for now. Em really enjoys graphic novels, so I found some that deal with non-fiction topics. The Cartoon History of the Modern World Part 1: From Columbus to the Constitution seemed a good place to start. There is also the Cartoon History of the United States that I may buy if the first book is a success.
  • Philosophy – following on that same “cartoon” theme, I have two books – Heretics and The Cartoon Introduction to Philosophy. We started in on Heretics towards the end of the school year, so we didn’t get far. I’ll resume with that and then use the other book to start some interesting conversations with the kiddo.
  • Reading and Writing – These continue to be challenging. In the age of computers and Minecraft, reading from a book or writing more than a few words at a time seem to be quite challenging and, according to Em, BORING. I expect her to give a new book a full 20 pages before setting it down and finding something else if she isn’t interested. And as for writing, well we have several options – Complete the Story, write in the Fairies journal, send a letter to a friend, or write in her journal.
  • Science will be handled by her attending LEARN Math and Science and also through Nature and Space documentaries as well as “How it’s Made” type videos.

There will be other things – such as more reading from What’s Happening to My Body for Girls, discussions about articles from Futurism, and possibly some field trips. Recently, Em went with a friend to the observatory in Atchison, Kansas and was able to see Uranus and her rings.

We remain eclectic in our curriculum planning and choices. Given the option, I am sure my munchkin would happily watch videos and play Minecraft all day. But that is not in the game plan.

Looking Ahead

When it comes to homeschooling high school, which is several years away, I’m hoping to wait until Em is 14, or nearly there, and then I will enroll her in a couple of college classes to augment her home studies. I won’t be worrying about that until Fall 2020.

My game plan is to start with 1-2 classes, then increase it to a max of 3 classes per semester. She could attend in the fall and spring semesters and then use the summers as an opportunity to work and make some money.

The nice thing about this is that by age 18, she may well have accumulated enough credits to graduate with an Associate’s.

I hope that I will be able to pay for her to go to a four-year college after that to get her Bachelor’s degree IF that is something she is interested in. The idea of paying for her schooling is a big step for me. I didn’t get that help from my parents, and I know how expensive it can be. But I have some ideas on how it could work. More on that another time.

Meanwhile, I leave you with this to ponder…

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Tackling Spelling – Through a New Approach

Image result for spelling meme

Last week, last Thursday to be exact, I was in a lot of pain. My back, which had been threatening to do it for weeks, and finally seized up. It was down low, on the left side, and I felt pretty useless.

At the same time as I was laying on a yoga mat, wishing the pain would go away, Em was gnashing her teeth over her spelling list for the week.

I get the spelling lists here by the way. They have them for First through Fifth grade and then High School and they have worked well for us. Well, usually.

As I said, Em was wailing and moaning about the spelling list. On Tuesday she had missed nine out of 21, on Wednesday she missed six, and she was not motivated to try for yet another day in a row.

“Come here,” I said and reached an arm out to her.

“Why?”

“Because I want to cuddle with you and I have an idea.”

If there is anything that wins this girl over, it’s cuddling with mom. She might be a tween and chomping at the bit to find her way through into her teen years, but she still loves to nestle her body against mine. As far as I’m concerned that can happily never end!

She scooted down to the floor, put her head on my outstretched arm and nestled close.

“Now, close your eyes, relax your body and take some deep breaths in and out.” She did this as I explained, “When I was your age and a little older, whenever I would take a spelling test I would imagine the word hanging before me, crisp black letters on a white background. I would visualize it, and then I would spell it.”

“Are you ready to try?” I asked her.

She nodded and I gave her the first word, “Spell ‘irrelevant.'”

She spelled it perfectly the first time through. Both times before it had been a mangled mess of letters and she had wailed at the long list of marked words.

We worked our way through the list and with any that she had trouble on or spelled incorrectly I would pause and ask her to re-spell it, thinking of how it might be spelled differently.

It was a phenomenal success. Even more so because she was happy curled up by my side, my arm around her.

This week, we tried it again and first time out of the gate she spelled all but three words correctly. I asked her to then practice those three words by printing them and writing them in cursive both while spelling them out loud.

I had tried getting her to visualize the words before, early on, but not in quite the same circumstances. There on the floor, close to me, and armed with the skills she has learned over the past two years of spelling tests, she was able to fully embrace the concept.

Go on, give it a try. And let me know how it works out for you!

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A Trio of Fairies

I mentioned in my last post that I was considering reviving a practice I had with my eldest daughter – that of writing under a supernormal persona.

With Dee, it was an elfling. I briefly considered using Iliana again, but she was special and really for my eldest. For Em, I needed a whole new persona.

In the original stories back and forth, Iliana had three fairy friends (they always come in threes, in case you didn’t know) named Pip, Squee, and K. Two sisters, and a brother. I decided to create a similar trio for Emily. And after googling Pipsqueak, I found the word Whippersnapper. Which I shortened to Whip, Snap, and Per – also two girls and a boy.

But where to put the first note? I finally settled on putting it, rolled up, on top of her new satin pillowcase last night.

Hooman Girl NAMED EM-LEE

Find us in the room of books.

W-S-P

“Mama! Look at this!” Emily was bubbling over with excitement. “The room of books, that has to be the library!” A moment later, “I found it! I found it!” She eagerly unrolled the slip of paper that had been tucked into a box of books…

Hooman Girl-

We have been watching you from time to time.

We wish to understand you, and all hoomankind better.

Here in this room of books, is safety, luck, and more.

Will you speak with us of the hooman world? We have heard of other hooman child friendships and you seem nice, but can we trust you? Are you a friend of the fey?

Our name is Whip, Snap, and Per.

WE ARE FEY

“Oh wow,” Em breathed, her eyes dancing, “Oh, this is sooo exciting! I have to write them back this minute!”

She told me later that she had tears in her eyes, she was so excited about this adventure.

She asked a bunch of questions in her next note back, which I now cannot find (yet another reason to have all of them in one centralized spot), and I responded:

Dear Em-Lee Hoouman-

Most excellent and advantageous yet prompt is your response.

Yes, we are fairies.

Whip – female, green hair, green eyes

Snap – female, red hair, greenish blue eyes

Per – male, black hair, blue eyes

Fairies come in threes. Did you ever meet Pip, Squee, or K? They live near the shed in your old house.

We are cousins.

We have questions for you:

Have you ever participated in a ritual war? Did you win?

What is your favorite food?

W-S-P

There was a shout of glee this morning at the discovery of this third note.

A Dose of Reality

Of course she knows it is me. Despite this, we both speak of them as if they are real. I can’t help but feel that this is our last chance at pretend, at a fantasy world that the two of us can create together, visit from time to time, and giggle over.

There are moments when I wish I had been able to have more children. A whole passel of kids, honestly. When I was just six years old I met a baby who shared my middle name – Danielle – and I could not wait to grow up and have a baby I would give that name to.

As much as she may wish to convince herself otherwise, I have always loved her and wanted the best for her. I will admit, it was very, very hard playing second fiddle to her dad for all of those years. He loved to dig at me and tell me how much she liked him and how little she liked me. It was hard.

But I did what I could, I tried to be a better parent than I had seen modeled, and to connect with her and love her. And with little Em, it is the same. How can I be a better parent? How can I be kind, yet firm, loving, yet disciplined? How do I raise another human being to be independent, introspective, action-oriented and more?

I don’t parent in a fog – every day since a few months after my 18th birthday has been filled with those questions. Each day I try and answer them as best I can.

Why Fairies?

So, why fairies? I dunno, it sounded like a good idea at the time!

Honestly, though, judging from Em’s reaction, this is JUST what she needs from me. An odd and whimsical combination of practice writing letters, fun fantasy, intrigue, adventure, bonding, learning about another race (albeit an imaginary one), and I’m sure I’ll manage to throw in some ecological and historical info into the fray as well.

A Proper Book

“I think we need to go and get a proper journal for communicating with your fairies,” I told Em this morning. The joyful look on her face said it all.

It took us some time to find the right one. We wanted a combination of leather journal, unlined pages, and the proper paper feel. It took a while. In the end, she found one she was happy with.

She drew a picture, wrote TWO letters, and has placed the book near the spot where she found the second note. I have explained to her that most fairies are nocturnal. She was disappointed to hear this, but at least now I can be sure I have the ability to retrieve, write in, and return any of her missives while she sleeps in each morning.

And who knows? As a friend on FB pointed out, “This is how JK Rowling started out!”

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Real World Math and…Fairies?

Real-World Math

After flipping and flopping over how to teach math, I’ve settled on a plan of attack that seems to work. Real world math.

These generally manifest in the form of word problems.

Here are two from the other day…

And…

The second one took a few minutes, but the first one took us nearly half an hour as we worked our way through the problem, tossing out possible scenarios.

Me: So my usual preferred objective is to earn a minimum of $30 per hour. Did I earn more or less than that?

Em: More, definitely more.

Me: Did I earn a lot more?

Em: I think so.

Me: Double that?

Em: I don’t know.

Me: Great, let’s try some numbers out.

And we worked through multiplying 1.75 hours times 35, 40, 45, and even 50, before finally narrowing it down to just over $48,50 per hour.

She was pleasantly relieved when the grocery store problem was solved quickly.

I’m going to continue working with Em on real world math. It means that we don’t have a TON of math each week, but it will get pretty in-depth.

This eventually falls into my overall goal/question of: How do you raise a capable, self-sufficient adult?

That is the basic focus of education, isn’t it? You want someone who can balance a checkbook, understand interest rates, mortgage rates, sales tax and more. You want someone who is capable of washing their clothes, cleaning up their surroundings and holding down a job. There’s more, but that is for another post. Stay tuned.

We Dream of Fairies

This morning, as I was preparing breakfast, Em asked me, “Mama, could you braid my hair back into a ponytail?”

It has been a long time since Em asked me to do her hair. I don’t miss doing it every damned day, but I did miss it. I tried my best to brush out the handful of snarls deep in her golden locks of hair. As I did, and she flinched, I apologized.

She said, “Mama, remember the Tangle Fairies?”

Dad, who was finishing his breakfast, looked confused, “The what?”

I laughed, “The Tangle Fairies. I told Em and Danielle these stories about the Good Hair Fairies and the Tangle Fairies. It distracted them while I got all of the tangles out.”

Em nestled against me, “I loved them, and I always kept a sharp eye out for the Tangle Fairies. I believed you even after we moved here to this house.”

“It did seem to entertain and distract both of you.”

I related giving Danielle a “magic” hairbrush that the Good Hair Fairies had left out after one of their festivals. It was a tiny pinecone, no longer than an inch in length. “I told Danielle that it would take a while to brush her hair with it, but if she did, the magic brush would mean that she never had tangles.”

Em giggled and then asked, “And didn’t you used to pretend you were an elfling? For Sister?”

“I did! I could show it to you if you liked.”

We ran upstairs and found it – a journal which spanned intermittent entries over SIX YEARS. I had started it when Dee was just eight years old, and the last entry was when she was approximately fourteen.

Obviously, she had known it was me by then, if not all along.

I had started writing to her as Iliana Llorena Elfling, a summer elf that lived under her grandmother’s back porch the first summer we came here to Missouri in 1997. She had been so sad – missing her dad and her little half-sister, missing the only life she had ever known.

I remember thinking that if I could only connect with her on a level that no parent can ever truly do when our children are young – that of a friend – that perhaps I could help distract her, help her slide into her new life, and find happiness in her new world. Not just that, but as a friend and not her mother, I could laugh with her, be silly and fun and weird.

Yes, I could have done that last bit as her mother, but I hadn’t realized that at the time. I was too busy providing, protecting and guiding and feeling like it was ALL ON ME because, in the end, it WAS.

And let’s face it, it’s hard to be friends when you are also teaching your child, guiding them, and doing your level best to raise a capable, independent adult. I don’t know a single friend who will tell me to brush my teeth, clean up my room, or get back to doing schoolwork. Do you?!

Iliana became my alter ego. She was spontaneous, fun-loving, adventurous, creative, loved nature, and was self-assured, and surrounded by her people. All things that, for one reason or another, I was not and could not be.

As I read the entries to Emily today, she said wistfully, “I wish I could have a fairy write to ME.”

And as is my down-to-earth way I said, “But you would know it was me!” I thought a moment and realized that Dee had probably ALWAYS known it was me. It hadn’t mattered. She had still written back.

I guess it is time to dust off my magic pen and re-imagine a world which has elflings running amok within it. Or one with another magical creatures. One of whom will do what I, her mother, cannot do until she is grown…be her friend.

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Logging Those Hours

In the state of Missouri, there is very little oversight for homeschoolers. IF your child has been registered with the public school system, then you have to send a letter each year informing them that you will be homeschooling your child.

However, if you have never registered your child in the state for public school, then no notice is required.

Weird but true.

The only other codicil I could find was that homeschooling parents must provide 1,000 hours (600 of which must be of core curriculum – Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies) of education per school year and, if necessary, show a log of those hours upon request.

So here is a quick, easy way to log those hours and keep basic notes as well as a running tally of your child’s hours for the year. Feel free to save this Excel spreadsheet to your own files and manipulate it how you please.

I’m also including a copy of my own file for this year as an example.

Sample Homeschool Log

Take a look, play around with it, and change it to suit your needs.

We school year round, but usually only four days a week. Despite this, Em does accrue hours on her “days off” depending on what she is learning and doing.

I keep notes on what we do each day. I try to list the names of textbooks or other learning materials.

After filling out the Notes section, I estimate times with each subject. I typically round to the nearest 1/4 hour and often a class she attends can go under more than one category (science and math, art and living skills) depending on what is happening in that particular class.

And speaking of “logging hours” here is a great write-up on the question of LITERAL hours of instruction. If that 1,000 hours of instruction has you running scared, read it and worry less. It really isn’t as bad as it might sound at first!

Questions?

Ask away!

Posted in Helpful Links, Homeschool Assessment, Legal Shmegle, Organized Homeschool, Tracking/Recording | Comments Off on Logging Those Hours

Complete the Story

How do you get a reluctant reader and writer to, you know, read and write more?

Do it with her.

Again.

And again.

And again.

Oh yeah, and make it fun.

I was in one of my favorite places – Barnes & Noble on the Plaza this past weekend. The day before Mother’s Day, a beautiful sunny day, and the Plaza was teeming with shoppers. Even Barnes & Noble was moving at a steady clip, folks shopping for Mom and more.

I was there to get a dear family friend a graduation gifts. Aliyah, once featured in my blog in an interview I conducted nearly seven years ago, was graduating from homeschool. Little Aliyah, all grown up and as beautiful and talented a girl as I could ever hope to know.

In any case, it didn’t take long for me to find the perfect journal, wrapping paper and a world map to gift to the special young woman she has become. And then of course, it was time to find out what other cool things there were there.

I found a couple more books for my Word Nerds class I’m planning to teach this fall:

Where Do You Get Your Ideas? – an idea-generating book for beginning writers

501 Things YOU Should Have Learned About…Grammar – which is more about the history of grammar and trivia

And then, the piece de la resistance…

Complete the Story – a book of writing prompts.

And that is what we are now working on today. Em and I had the same great idea. “Let’s take turns writing sentences,” she said.

“Exactly what I was thinking!”

So we have been writing 1-3 sentences at a time back and forth.

So here it is from start to finish. It all began with this writing prompt:

At first, we thought the black liquid was oil, that we’d struck it rich and that we’d be able to retire and live in leisure. We actually started writing down all the ways we’d spend the money. Our first choice was…

Em started…

Live in a mansion with many things in it. Our second choice was have a swimming pool.

Then I chimed in…

But then? We learned it wasn’t oil. It wasn’t valuable at all. At least, not valuable to humans.

Em continued…

Now we’re stuck with this black stuff, oh my god what is that????? Something is coming straight for us!

Me:

Della and I screamed and scratched each other accidentally in our haste to escape the creature that was rising from the dark muck. We backed up, tripping, falling, screaming again as it slogged closer and closer.

“Take her! She tastes better!” I said as Della fell in its path.

Em:

UM…I DON’T EAT GIRLS, I EAT BOYS…

Me:

I screamed then. Like a girl. High-pitched, shrieking. And you know what? It thought I was a girl and turned and walked away.

Della stood up, gave me the stink-eye something fierce, and actually punched me.

“You are one big, huge jerk, Donald Trump!” She said.

Em:

DONALD TRUMP???!!!! NOW I MUST KILL YOU!!!!

Me:

And you know what I did? I ran. I ran past my bodyguards, away from the White House, and straight out of D.C.

And the world was a better place.

THE END.

I’m not sure how or when it got political. I know at the first I imagined magic and magic gone wrong, maybe even the black gunk being the repository of evil souls. Well, wait, that last one might be accurate when referring to Donald Trump.

In any case, we had fun.

“Yep!” Em said, “We had fun. Now let’s read it again.”

And so we did.

Posted in Bonding, Homeschool - Language Arts | Comments Off on Complete the Story

Real Life Math

There were plenty of moments as a child and teen when I bemoaned having to learn mathematics. Especially algebra. So I prefer to use real-life examples.

This past weekend, I woke up to see in the weak morning light a typical scene…

Imagine a king-size bed, which can comfortably fit three human beings, or more if you are cozy.

On my 1/3 of the bed was me, and only me. In the middle and over a portion of my husband’s side of the bed, were our three dogs. I’d say about half of the bed was taken up by them. And my husband was curled into the small fraction that was left.

I got up and walked straight into my office to write the following question on my office blackboard…

I had a cleaning, and my husband is temporarily laid off from work, so he tackled this problem with her. Emily reportedly said, “Wow, this is an interesting math problem!”

They worked it out with pie charts.

I guess I’ll explain LCD (least common denominator) another time…

And here is what Em came up with…

Soooo much better than a boring worksheet. And she understood it and enjoyed it!

Math doesn’t have to be boring old worksheets or a long line of problems to solve. Sometimes it can be as straightforward as the problem above.

Next on my list?

Figuring out how much in purchases I need to make on my Capital One Travel Rewards credit card to pay for two one-way flights to Europe in 2020!

Round trip prices as well…

So if I have two $700 tickets to buy, I need to either pay $1,400 or have accrued 140,000 in travel miles. Which is the equivalent of spending $112,000. By April of 2020. That means an average of $3,111 per month of transactions.

Huh.

I’m thinking this rewards card sucks donkey butt.

Math Lesson for tomorrow: Why My Rewards Card sucks donkey butt

Posted in Homeschool - General, Homeschool - Life Skills, Homeschool - Mathematics | Comments Off on Real Life Math