Unschooling for Monday – Forget Columbus Day


Having read the first part of Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States and learned a few things about Christopher Columbus, and what a completely and total monster he truly was (rape and enslavement of women and girls, wholesale murder of those who resisted) I am happy to say that today is NOT a recognized holiday for us.

Today the kiddo was getting a fantastic treat – a day with one of her favorite best buddies, Lucy, (and her wonderful parents, Kristin and Tom) at Powerplay, with a fancypants dinner and sleepover afterwards.

But first we had some learnin’ to do.

Or should I spell that ‘larnin?

I gave her a couple of options…

  • I could read Story of the World (ancient history)
  • We could do another chapter in Life of Fred (mathematics)
  • I could read more of The Family Under the Bridge

Em first chose our Q&A a Day books while she ate breakfast, I updated those. It’s been months since we touched them, but it was nice to pick them back up again. One of the questions in her book was, “Do you ever think about having a girlfriend/boyfriend? Whom would it be?

She answered, and I dutifully wrote it down…”Derek, because he is such a sweetheart and I’m a sweetheart. We are perfect matches. He will still be that way when he grows up, I can see it in him.” I love that she said that.

And that really struck my heart because of the situation at hand. This little boy’s dad is dead and his mom is a drug addict. She was recently dating the metal scrapper across the street who, despite being a metal scrapper is actually a pretty stand up guy. He has a prison record for drugs, but has chosen to clean himself up and to try to live a better life. He was engaged to Derek’s mom, but that has apparently collapsed due to the young woman’s drug use and other issues. Recently, the woman’s mother (who she was staying with) moved and our neighbor has no idea where, and no way to see the kids. Derek is a sweet boy, very shy, but a good kid. His mom spends her food stamps and other welfare money on drugs and lets the kids go hungry. It’s pretty bad, and her mother (the grandmother) seems ineffective at dealing with it. We don’t even know if we will ever see Derek again, which has Emily pretty sad.

In any case, that sad story aside, we headed upstairs, where I have relocated most of the homeschool books except for some of the science books (they stayed in the homeschool room) and Em decided she wanted Life of Fred first.

We are now on Chapter 5 of the Apples book (the first book in the elementary series). I’m waiting, holding my breath, will the bubble burst and Em not want to do the book anymore? So far, it is “easy peasy” to quote the kiddo, but when it becomes difficult, will she lose interest? I’ve paid $60 for these four books, but if they work out, I’d happily pay twice that.

In any case, after Chapter 5 was done and she had answered the questions, we took a look at Mathmania, which is put out by Highlights. My mother-in-law sent a huge stack of them a couple of years ago and I’ve been waiting and hoping we could start to use them, because they look fun. We actually managed to do several pages and it held her interest for nearly an hour. I’ve found that, if I’m doing some of the writing and helping break it down for her, it is less intimidating. I am sure that, over time, she will take more of the initiative because she will have done it with me enough that it won’t seem as daunting.

We did this exercise…


And then I gave her just a quick intro on division…


We reviewed counting by twos to do this dot-to-dot…


And this little exercise ended up on the blackboard wall. It turns out that Eliza was the youngest ape and Gordo the oldest…


The fun part was seeing her making the leaps in addition. She is seeing how I group numbers together and progressively move through the problem. She is also becoming very familiar with carrying numbers and how that works. After this, though, it was time for Story of the World. She needed a break.


I read one chapter, the death of Alexander the Great, who died at a very young age, just 32 years old, and a phone call that needed my attention ended our studies for the day. Her reading skills are increasing markedly with each day that passes.


I get the rest of today sans-child and will pick her up sometime tomorrow. We will hopefully tackle more studies then. With the homeschool books now upstairs, we have a comfortable spot to read through them. Just sitting on the carpet is more comfortable than the hardwood floor! I am hoping we will make a regular practice of paging through more of the books and getting Em even more comfortable with hanging out in the library. Tonight I hope to enlist her dad’s help in moving Em’s computer upstairs. She will get a spot opposite of me at my desk and can work on her computer when I am writing.


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