Monday, September 21, 2009

Weekly Wrap Up

image linked
I'm going to try to make a note at the end of each day, just ignore it if I change tenses. I'm working on accepting my imperfections and getting a blog post done hastily is better than not at all. Right?
Monday: Basement flooded - whole basement, which has never happened before. So school was educational computer games, reading and math while Hubs and I cleaned and he tried to prevent it happening again. We've had 15 inches of rain in the last 3 days.
Friday: It continued to rain on Monday, bringing a 24 hour total up to 12 inches. That includes some part of the 15 - or so was reported on TV. Checking the NWS report as issued by the AJC, the rain in our area was a little above 13 inches. No matter the official report, it's 3+ times more rain than average. September 2008 had .75 inches of rain. They're calling it a 500 year flood.
With a flooded basement (thankfully nothing severe) Hubs and I had our work cut out for us, so the kids went off to Grandma's and Papa's for the rest of the week. What ever schooling was done happened there and I'm not going to question aka look a gift horse in the mouth.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

image linked
Monday was a banner day. We started out with a very short writing skills session - just 1 trace and 1 writing of the days of the week. Then I introduced Montessori large number cards. The supplier I bought them from makes them out of wood, I don't know if that is standard or not. Next, I showed her a material I made. When I was at the Southeastern Homeschool Expo, I didn't have a great experience, but I did get to listen to the sales pitch for Math-U-See, which a lot of MHSers use. During that pitch, the presenter talked about a neighborhood of place values, each place having it's own house and only 9 fit into each one. So we used a combination of the 2 to talk about 4 place values and to practice making them and writing the numerals. She spent 2 hours on this and was reluctant to stop when it was time to get her siblings. She told me that night that it was the best school day ever. The next day was the heart-stopper, but she went on to work in a Hello Kitty Time & Money workbook. That night when she couldn't sleep, I let her write in her journal. All on her own, she practiced making a fancy font with serifs and swirly ends and changed pages to start writing a story. The first line is "i thenk i nou a FLAWr" I think I know a flower. Considering this is her first solo sentence writing attempt, and she's 5, I think it's wonderful. And I think I know what her journal writing assignment will be now. Wednesday was a sick day so we read books, both of us, she added "at Grandma's" to her story, and worked on reading CVC words in cursive. Thursday was another math day. We worked on addition and subtraction facts. I downloaded some things from The School Bell but I'm not sure how I feel about using them. I think I need to tweak it just a bit. Friday was a geometry day. We examined and compared our eyes in a mirror, talked about the shapes that make up our eyes, and a small bit about the workings of the eye. She drew her eye in her journal and wrote a few words about it. I presented constructive triangles box 1 and 2 and we did some of the geometric solids - sphere, cylinder, rectangular prism, cube, cone triangular prism. It's not hard to see that the maths are her favorite right now. I had planned on doing an apple week next week, but at the moment she's not so keen on that - we'll just have to see!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

How I got started on Homeschool

...and homeschool blogging.

When my first born was 15 months old we were at the pediatrician's office for her regular check-up. We had brought along her favorite picture book DK My First Word: Touch and Feel. She was sitting on the exam table looking through it as the Dr. reviewed her files. She rapped her little knuckles on the photo of a door said, "nowk, nowk", pretended to pick up the telephone receiver (from the photo) and said "ello" as she went on naming and "interacting" with the photos, the Dr. said something like, "That's cute. Did you teach her that?" "No," I replied, "she did it on her own" His eyes widened and so I knew, before he even proclaimed it, "That's a very big step in cognition for one so little". For my Dad's birthday, when she was 23 months, we made a card out of a scribbled on page and a traced hand. She took it from him and returned moments later. She had adorned it with the letters N, T and A. Pointing out each clearly formed letter as she told us what it was. Which were also things I had not "taught" her. (sometimes I think she wrote better then than she does now!) I didn't assume my child was a genius, but I could clearly see that she learned things just by observing. That hidden behind her quiet, but talkative, nature was a quickly turning mind. That is when I started to look into Montessori schools. That was when I discovered the least expensive schools, which were run out of church basements and doubled as Sunday school rooms so they weren't exactly set up right, still would cost $500 a month for 3hrs a day 3days a week. (I totally get regular preschools run out of church basements in the Sunday school rooms, sent my kids to one, it's just not appropriate for Montessori unless it's a Montessori room) Anyway, I didn't have $500 extra and I wasn't going to drive my child to school in a sketchy part of town and I didn't have $660 extra to keep her close by. So, I just worked with her at home, reading books, discussing things, drawing, attempting to get her to trace and write letters (she still dislikes all that stuff). We started math with things like "How many cheese cubes did I give you?" "Yes, one. Is that enough? Do you want me to ADD to it? I ADDED 2, now how many do you have?" Nothing monumental, started small and worked our way up. But the more I did those things and watched how she learned, the more determined I became to get her a Montessori style education. But it just wasn't going to happen people so I had to take matters into my own hands. I got some books, read some websites, joined some Yahoo groups. But I was still feeling lost. I hadn't found any one's tale of how EXACTLY they got started. What was their first purchase, why, etc. etc. I was too nervous, sometimes I still am, to be able to effectively use my own brain power (and sleep deprived, I had 2 more children during this time - not twins).
So, still not knowing anything about blogging, I started Montessori From Scratch about 13 months ago. I intended, and still do, to make it a place to learn how to, well, do what the title says. I'd hoped to find the materials, time and voice to make it a worthwhile place to visit. But, I've lost my voice somewhere. The poetry that used to flow in my head all day vanished years ago, the witty remarks that I formed in an instant became more and more rare. I'd found exhaustion, brain fog, depression and antipathy. I was too overwhelmed with the 3 kids and all the attention each one needed to make a cohesive lesson plan, to make the materials, do the projects, teach the lessons. I know many people do those things just fine, or even excellently, but not me, at least not the me I had become. It wasn't just the kids, you can read some of my cranky side and marriage tribulations if you're interested. But the plan wasn't working and neither was the blogging. I "gave up" for a while and went back to my natural form of teaching which I'd describe as "casual unschooling." I learned more about my children's learning styles and watched as my eldest grew beyond some of the early Montessori work. I realized that I was firmly on the eclectic side of schooling, which really was no surprise, I'm eclectic in many ways. And I started another blog. Another attempt to give guidance that I had not found - or not easily found anyway. But I'm still lacking time, clarity and voice. I'm not sure if I'll fulfill my vision for this blog but I like doing it anyway.
If any of you would like to guest post the whys and hows of starting your homeschool journey, I'd love to hear it and to share it. And, if I have reached anybody who is where I found myself 2 years ago, feel free to ask me a question. There is so much more to what I've done than what I've blogged about and I'd be happy to answer you / direct you to where I found my answers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

John Stossel Report

OK, this is a bit old, as evidenced by the appearance of a certain Governor and his wife, but if you like John Stossel and you're thinking about homeschool, you'll like this!
Thanks to Eclectic Homeschooling for posting it.
John Stossel: Stupid in America

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Why couldn't you have told me this in July?

I had a heart stopping moment - heart stopping for a homeschooler that is.
This morning when AT woke up, she said, "I really like having a teacher in ballet class. Maybe I'd like to go to regular school instead of being home"
Me: OK, what is it you like better about having a teacher?
A: I like that she only tells me once what to do.
Me: And what do you do when she tells you one time?
A: I just do what she tells me.
Me: How about you just do what I tell you the first time I give you an instruction?
A: Umm, I don't know about that.
Me, thinking that I've got it wrapped up in one comment: You know, you'll have to do a lot more writing on your own if you're at big kid school
A: That's OK, I like writing lots. Writing just a little is boring.
Me, perplexed because writing is clearly her least favorite thing: We can write what ever you want. Plus you have to get up much earlier to go to regular school which means you have to go to bed earlier.
A: How about you wake me up tomorrow at the time when I'd have to get up for regular school.
Me: OK


Me: I'm worried that if you go to school in the middle like this that you won't have learned some of the things that they have and then later you'll have to repeat things you already learned. Like math, I'm pretty sure that we're doing more math than the regular school is (our next door neighbors and dear friends have a daughter the same age who goes to regular school so I've been getting updates from them).
A: Oh, I really like math. Can we do the beads now? [a Montessori material]
Me: We can tomorrow right now it's almost time to get GR, but they don't have the beads or any of the other things on the big shelf downstairs at regular school.
A: Oh, then I want to stay here with you. I'll try to listen better.
Me: OK baby, that makes me happy


The main thing that set me into a spin was the possibility that she wouldn't know some of the things they've taught at school already and that she'd be labeled in a bad way. I couldn't stand the idea that she'd be thought of as less than she is - that broke my heart.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How to Homeschool: Tutorial: Sandpaper Letters

Today I posted a tutorial for making sandpaper letters on Montessori From Scratch. In case you're not familiar with this montessori material here's a little about it.

Like most any other Montessori presentation, it is done in a 3 period lesson. Sandpaper letters, and numerals, serve several purposes. They are the tool used to introduce letters to the pupils. (In Montessori, children are taught the sound of the letter first.) While the children are being shown the letter, the presenter also demonstrates how to follow along the letter with the first 2 fingers - using the same movements as one does when writing the letter. This is an exercise in motor skills and it creates a muscle memory for when it comes time to write.
Tutorial Sandpaper Letters and Numerals

Friday, September 11, 2009

Weekly Wrap-up

This is one of the things that I've got on my to-do list but haven't gotten to it yet. There's no time like the present since Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers makes a weekly round-up of wrap-ups.
The bulk of our concentrated homeschool lessons take place on Mon, Wed, Fri when both the younger kids are in preschool. Monday was out due to the holiday.
The other days we worked on (in order of how I happen to remember it): Copy work from How Many Teeth- which also served as one of our reading lesson books, continued to study the human body and 5 senses. Talked about family relations and terms. We solidified memorization of our address- verbal and written, drew a family tree graph, reading practice with an opposites puzzle, journal work, drawing and coloring, sticker activity workbook, review of cursive letters we've already worked on, discussion of neighborhoods & community workers such as police officers and firefighters, when and how to call 911, beading, sorting, patterning, rhyming, days of the week, baric tablets, lacing, 3 part classification cards - um I'm drawing a blank so perhaps that was all!