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Archive for February, 2008

Appetizer

Who was the last person you hugged? My children

Soup

Share a beauty or grooming trick or tip with us.  I don’t do beauty and grooming tips… here’s one that doesn’t quite fit the bill.  It’s probably be better to call it a health tip:  When stress is building up in your neck and back, take a nice warm/hot shower.  Bend all the way over at your waist, letting your head and arms drop.  Breath deeply.  You can even take the strecth a bit farther by bending at the knees a bit and grabbibg behind your heels.  Every time I do this I can feel the vertebrae in my lower back pop like dominoes and it really does help.  When standing upright, do it slowly and make sure you tilt your pelvis forward so that you end up standing as straight as possible.  Be careful… you might get a little dizzy!

Salad

What does the color yellow make you think of?  Happy sunshine

Main Course

If you were to make your living as a photographer, what subject would your pictures revolve around?  People… about half and half children/elderly.

Dessert

What was the longest book you ever read?  Oh my mercy… I could never answer this question I’ve read so much.  And I don’t really consider how long the book is unless it’s turning out to be a less than stellar read, in which case I may not finish it in as timely a manner as I usually do.

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OK.  Today has a perfect lead in for finishing up the post from the other day with an example of the difference in twins.  We begin with that check-up I told you I had to perform.  The one about how many hours they’ve so far accumulated…?. 

First, let me just say for whoemever newbie homeschoolers we may have out there, hours don’t always matter in the strictest form of the thing.  As common sense will tell you, you can get more information to a small group, and have it retained, in less time than it will take to get to a larger group… eg~ you don’t have to waste time with roll call/lunch money/cattle round-ups for the bathroom/ “please go to your cubby and get your blue folder and your number 2 pencil… no, colored pencils won’t work… you can’t find your pencil?”.  Not to mention perfect and acceptable ways of verbal intimidation to get the bully or slacker in the class to do what they are supposed to do.  No, I’m not saying homeschoolers don’t have lost pencils and attitude adjustments.  I’m saying it usually doesn’t require 15 wasted minutes to work through. 

So, my tweens keep track of hours because it helps each of them in different ways:  P, my overachiever/stressor sees that she gets quite a bit done in a day and shouldn’t sweat the small times she takes off from studies for sickness or mental health type days.  S needs it to keep on track.  It’s his prod… his kick in the seat of the pants to get his butt in gear.

With that in mind, our accumulate dhours shouldn’t come as any big surprise… P needs about 220 to complete her year.  Easily doable and she’s out around the beginning of May.  S needs FIVE HUNDRED 20 hours…. geemanee!  Didn’t we do this last year?  Didn’t we have this same problem last year and he ended up not finishing until mid June???  Yes, we did.  And just so you know, he’s in a 12 step program… *sigh*

He actually came to me back before the holidays and said the one (yes, only one) good thing about public schools was that they give you a schedule.  We had the “you would prefer to be told what to do and when to do it?” discussion to which he said “yeah, he thought he needed that”.  He promptly started balking with me when school started back up again when told to complete this or that at a certain time of day.  OK, says I… we’ll teach this lesson the hard way again.  And we’re here with 520 hours left to cram into his school year.  And him begging me yesterday to tell him what to do and when to do it.  Don’t get me wrong… he has made strides this year.  He started out the school year aware of his time management issues and he dealt with it effectively up until around Thanksgiving when he started forgetting everything.  Previously he had no clue.  So, hopefully, next year maybe we can get through a whole year keeping time management in mind.

And just so you know this all actually fits together in my little brain, they are both right on track with how much of their math and science curriculums they were to have completed by this time (so it’s not all about getting enough hours) and we are progressing towards this idea of learning taking place at any time of the day or week and in a thousand different ways.

Now, what’ll I do next year?

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mwahahahaha… twirling my little mustache…

No, really… don’t you ever feel a bit like a mad scientist when it comes to figuring out the changes to make that will benefit your children in the long-term?  I do… I’m not blessed with a crystal ball so I can’t be sure how any little change is going to turn out.  By putting this educational philosophy with that curriculum and that one, and tweeking our record keeping style, will I end up with a Frankenstein I can proudly say has maneuverd their way succesfully through the mob to live happily in the end, or a pile of nuts and neck-bolts that will end up on a couch saying the maker and the educator didn’t equip them with all of the right parts and everybody hates them and poor me?

Anyway…

I’m going to finish this year up with a repeat of the “year-in-review” we did last year.  I’ll ask the tweens questions like what’d we do right?  what do we need to change? what did you enjoy/hate?  Is there any topic you would like to explore next year?  How does all of this fit in with what you’re good at and are you progressing towards a goal… the “what do you want to be when you grow up” train of thought.

Back in September or October I found HomeschoolTracker and thought it would be good to try for our record keeping (thinking ahead for high school transcripts here).  I still think it will be, but I didn’t get it in my head early enough to put it into use (yes, I need THAT much time).  So I’ve looked at it on and off this year and I’ll spend the summer filling in all of the blanks to use it for 08-09.  We’ll have the 8th grade year to fidgit with it and see how to work it before the transcript record keeping becomes a need instead of a goal.

S has already said he wants me to tell him when and what to do next year… he needs a teacher driven schedule.  He’s a computer kind of thinker, so I think I’m going to plan on having him right by my side when I finalize the Tracker and have him keep up with his portion of it in that way and purposefully.  P will do it because she wants to.  Oh, raising two totally different children AND seeming fair is impossible.  This coming year, he’s going to see that over and over again.  He’s already made a comment about “your just going to make my schedule?”  Uh, yeah… P doesn’t need my help in that department and you yourself have said you do.  So deal with it.

The biggest change for me needs to come in preplanning for them… breaking out lessons way ahead of time instead of in general with a “in science you need to complete a module within two weeks to stay on track” or “here’s what we’ve got this week, so you need to think about which days you’re doing what”.  It worked when they were younger but it doesn’t work well for S anymore.  So actually running through the whole year before we start will help… just don’t know if we’ll  get it done with the Tracker (vaguely, I think we can) or with a system on file cards or paper.  In my favor is that I already know some of the extra type classes the tweens will be doing next year:  Girl Scouts, History/Drama and DI will be all year.  I should know by July if we have a scheduled gym day/time.  And I want them to have something to volunteer for all year too.  (We thought through that this year and P even sent in a couple of applications, but she hasn’t heard from either…S still hasn’t found anything to whet his volunteerism appetite.)

So, basically, I’m going to start looking at Homeschool Tracker and making some “dummy” forms to have it ready for our new year.  AND plan my history class for the group.  It should help that M will be gearing up for more learning next year too… basic preschool stuff, but it gets here into a system, too! 😉

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Now granted, I only heard a snippet… the stuff you get on the evening news.  But I’m really left to wonder what our new governor believes “checks and balances” are all about.

So, maybe you don’t know… Kentucky, being the horse capitol of the world, and thus, horse gambling too I suppose, should have casino gambling as well.  So say a LOT of heavy hitters in this state.  Well, it appears that the constituents of this fair state have maybe made their voices heard and the legislature has voted down 2 different bills that would allow casino gambling in the state (apparently the house is pretty well split).  Now, in an excerpt on the news, our governor, in all of his great wisdom says that the houses need to come together on this bill (which one?) for it to work?  Now, maybe I didn’t hear quite everything just right.  There’s probably a quote I could go Digg for, but I’ll skip it tonight.  Maybe tomorrow when I’m less bleary eyed… you do remember I was up at 6 this morning, right? 

Anyway, shouldn’t the split in the house be a sign that there are still a lot of people in KY who do not want casino gambling?  Does he not understand that the legislature is there to keep him in check and allow the citizens to have a voice (or at least, they’re supposed to be there for that)?  No, the legislature does NOT have to come together on this mister governor.  Duh!  You have been checked.  At least for the time being.

Yes, I know that’s what politicians do.  I’m just shaking my head and venting here.  I truly do not understand why we elect some folks.  But then, in my opinion, we didn’t have much of a choice and there usually isn’t much of a choice and when we think we have a choice… HE turns out to be a looser politician instead of the statesmen we kind of hoped we were getting.  Sorry.  Digging up the past here.  The pendulum swings the other way.  Maybe the best we can hope for is that not too much damage is done before the end of his term?

As an aside, the tweens came home a few Wednesdays ago talking about how all of the youth were having a hard time understanding this drive by politicians for more gambling.  The lottery, that great (failed, by all accounts) salvation of the education system… now we’re to take money away from scholarship programs to build these casino gambling facilities in order to pump MORE money into the eduction system?  Yeah, that’s the right track to take. 

Let’s just stick with the horses and lottery and cut our losses.

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Early Birding It

Dear Heart came home at 6 this morning.  He’s very loud when he comes home.  I woke up to greet him with somehting along the lines of  “Good morning love… I heard you coming so I woke up to chat…”.  To which he replied something like ” Yeah, I’ve lost my stealthiness.”  This leads me to believe that he lost it on purpose! 😉  LOL

Anyway… we chatted for a while, letting him vent some stuff that happened at his currently hateful job last Friday.  I asked him how his co-worker K is dealing with it (she’s a little high-strung) and he rolls his eyes and blurts out that she point blank told him yesterday that she just loves busy work and as long as someone’s telling her what to do she’s fine.  He adds “she’s not one to have big-brain discussions and vent sessions with”.  So I add the reminder… “just call me up when you need that… you’ve got me!”.  Yes, have to throw in the reminders of why he married me in the first place. 😉

So he leaves and of course he’s awakened M (which I would have done for him anyway… he loves the time with just her in the mornings as much as just me).  So, after we wave him off, I sit her down with some breakfast and some Playhouse Disney friends she hasn’t seen in a while, spend some reflective time watching the fish in their tank, sit with her on the couch for my first cup of coffee and I head for the computer.  Where I’ve been since then (I’m not going to tell you how long that’s been).  Tweeking things on my blog.  I’ve added an image to my sidebar of a thinking blogger award someone was thoughtful enough to pass my way, but I can’t yet see it.  Can you?

I love early mornings… I just wish I loved them enough to set an alarm. *sigh*

So now I’ve got to actually get some work done.  Have a great day!

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I’ve been inspired to consider my “next year’s plan”, putting aside my planning for a group class and considering my own class first (gee, what a concept!).  Either way, I’m planning for next year… that’s who I am.  It can be problematic because I get excited about next year and loose all interest  have to force myself to be in the here and now.  But it’s so much fun!  It has benefits too, cause the better prepared I am, and I HAVE to take time to do that, the smoother it goes.  Unfortunately, sometimes I’ll get an idea in my head and it will take 2 or 3 years to come to fruition.  Do you do that?  Well, I digress…

In the past I have let the children decide what they do and when they do it, only bringing to their attention their place in completion of their year at the key times of Thanksgiving and Easter.  When they were smaller, I did solid half hours and hours of instruction with them on math and reading skills and most everything else was “teachable moments”, self discovery and based in what they were reading (they are both avid readers).  As we approached middle school, I have required them to do more and more on their own.  So the responsibility for accomplishing their course material has landed more and more on their shoulders.  S I have had to hound more than P, though.  If you read much here, you know P is a teacher pleaser and does more than required (sometimes to her detriment as in the English teacher’s response “be to the point and more specific”).  S’s attention is too easily distracted and about 1/2 the time I hound him and 1/2 the time I let him suffer for his mistakes in time management.  It is a slow trek with him, but he does make small advancements with age and maturity.

About a month before I thought our school year should start last fall, I instructed the tweens to consider what they wanted out of their year, time-wise.  They were to know that they have to have 1050 hours of school a year (KY requirement) and the rest they needed to decide for themselves… what holidays do they want to take significant amounts of time off for?  DO they want a fall break and/or a spring break?  When do they want to get out for the summer or do they want to “go all year”?  I believed that this would further empower P and allow her to see results from her go-get-ive-ness.  I believed this would prove to S that there was a reason for “not putting off til tomorrow what he could do today”.  I also asked them to think about things they might possibly want to persue as adults and how their studies and what they studied would benefit those goals.  Know that S probably does not consider from day to day what he thought out so well in the beginning of the year.  I find myself reminding him when I get frustrated with his lack of desire for anything “school”.  I don’t remind him often, though.  Know that this is their 7th grade year, so I’m coming at this with the thought that I want them each to know how to approach studies effectively and efficiently by the time they start 9th.  It is hard to give him, in particular, this time to learn from his mistakes, but I do believe that is what will make the difference for him between success in high school and anything less.

What they came up with, after a lot of calculations, was a schedule with different amounts of time taken off for the same holidays and times of year.

Now, from day to day they are to keep their own calenders with information about how they are spending their day.  “9:30 – 10:30, math”, “12-12:30, lunch while reading” etc..  You should know that P gets very frustrated because she often misplaces her calender and S often forgets all together to log things.  P always finds it, S has had to make up for time that he forgot to log.  The only things they are required to spend time on every day are science and math.  Other things work around that.  Not that the other things are less important, but that math and science they will tend to forgo for everything else if I let them.  They were very pleasantly surprised when I told them they could count up to an hour a day if they are actively spending time teaching M something (imagine… credit for being a good sibling… huh?!).  They also receive credit for the time they spend in youth programs and Bible study when they can demonstrate a learning and/or understanding of the subject matter.  Plus, I consider the time we spend discussing things and doing things together that they probably do not… Bible discussions, letterboxing/hikes, cleaning and willingness to, folkdance.  I don’t always tell them about this “extra credit” they get, but it’s there in my head for when we get to the end of the year and I have to put the subjective analysis to what we’ve accomplished, figuring it in.  I probably should keep a written check of this time…  Their handwritten calenders consist of a piece of paper divided into 2 lines and 5 columns on both sides, so that they have 2 weeks worth of space on each side… they can be pretty detailed in that amount of space, so that they can detail when an activity covers two topics, most typically reading/history.  They came up with this format and it seems to work for them, plus it’s cheap!  I also want them to keep a running count of their hours spent in study on this calender.  I have to check on that…

One of my main objectives this year has been getting them to see that “education” takes place all of the time.  That 8-2 doesn’t have to comprise their school day.  This would be especially beneficial for S as his total attitude with all things school seems to be “it’s not going to interest me/ be fun because I HAVE to do it, so I don’t want to do it”.  Do you see how the 2 things are related?  If he could only understand that the things he likes to do can be school… love of learning ~ it’s a hard thing to teach… much sweeter when they just “get it” and, I believe in the end, a much healthier attitude.

So, where does this lead me for next year?  Let me look at where I’m going in a future post.  I promise I will… it’s just ruminating a bit in my brain first! 😉

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What type of Mother Hen Are You?
by Montessorimom.com: Educational Resource

Somehow when I was trying to do the above quiz, I got diverted to a chatterbean quiz without realizing they were different.  I do not recommend CB because of the deluge of ads to get anywhere, but since the results were different, here’s what I got from that one:

Your quiz score makes you: Zen Mom

How do you do it? Even when explosions are all around, you are able to take a deep cleansing breath and chant your mantra “this too shall pass.” You are a calming influence on your kids in a hectic world.

Really, I think the two go together.  As added insight, cause I know myself (objectively), I’ll also add that I can be a bit of a disciplinarian… I require certain things of my children at certain times AND I ask for a high level of intrapersonal understanding from them… sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t.  And that’s ok and to be expected.  The zen in me, I guess.  🙂

http://montessorimom.com/

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