Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm On A Roll

So I may as well keep posting...

Many have posted "Why I Homeschool" topics lately. And while I would love to tell you why I have chosen to temporarily homeschool, I cannot. My reasons are many and varied, and I tend to get a little heated on the topic.

You see, homeschooling is not easy. I will not paint you a glorious picture of a well organized home, where the children sit patiently waiting for lessons.

I will tell you a little about how I have approached the past year of our homeschooling adventure.

I have always been "homeschooling" since Katie was born. I began talking to her in the hospital, reading to her the first week she was home, and singing her songs to relax and entertain her. As she has grown, so has our method of schooling. We have played peek-a-boo, games of I Spy - hunting for colors and shapes. We have read countless books. We have taken field trips to different zoos, parks, museums, and states. A brother was born, who also has taken part in this homeschooling experience.

I have used different curriculum, including your standard workbooks and flashcards.

I have found there are days that we fly through everything I had planned, and days that I can tell she just isn't concentrating at that moment, so we try again later. There are days that little brother wants to be on mommy's lap, and teaching becomes more difficult. There are days that are bright and sunny that beg for us to come out and play, and we do.

I have found the official title of Homeschooling to be just to cumbersome. So I am thinking of changing it to Loving Lifelong Learning (LLL to be short). For isn't this what in essence we are all trying to do? Create a desire in our child from birth to be a lifelong learner. Aren't we teaching from the day they are born in a loving environment? They learn to recognize emotion in our voice, the look of our blurry big faces, what words mean, what the color red looks like, and on and on...

Deciding to officially homeschool doesn't mean much to me anymore. I have been doing it all my life. The title just gets me strange looks from people who don't understand. They think it is a statement against their parenting, the local schools, or a crazy concept that leads to unsocialized children. They think I push too hard when in fact I think the opposite. I don't send my child somewhere to learn for 7 hours a day with a bunch of strangers, and concepts that at times are hard. I do what comes naturally for me and my children. I follow their curiosities, their abilities, and I have the ability to say, Okay this is too hard right now, let's try again another day. I have no standardized test to teach to. My kids love learning, and I love learning with them.

Like I said earlier, don't get me started on this topic...

I haven't even gone into all my reasons for LLL, and already I have ranted too long.

But I will say, I have loved every minute of watching them learn. I fully intend to send them to a traditional school in the future, but even then, I still hope that their father and I are the most important teachers in their lives.

What We Are Reading

James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl

Ms. Frizzle's Adventures: Ancient Egypt - Joanna Cole

Spot Goes to the Farm - Eric Hill

Easter Bugs - David Carter??

Dora Loves Boots - ???

Thomas Tells a Lie

Overheard While Driving

Katie (talking to herself): (Big sigh) How long does it take for a wish to come true??

Do I dare ask what she wished for??

Saturday, March 24, 2007

My First Homeschool Convention

It ended up being an absolutely gorgeous day today. Mostly sunny, in the 70's with a cool breeze. A perfect day to spend outside. And spend it outside, I did, after attending my first and Cincinnati's first Homeschool Convention.

While, I didn't go to any of the lectures, I did manage to meander my way through the 2 exhibit halls of vendors. I had already received in the mail, the new Sonlight and Alpha Omega catalogs, and I had already gone through the Rainbow Resource catalog, so it was great to see all the products and page through them. Plus they had a lot of discounted items, and some other curriculum providers that I hadn't heard of before, that I found had some neat stuff. I did lots of browsing, and very minimal buying. I came with list in hand, and pen for writing, and I highly recommend both. I knew what I wanted to look at primarily, and then made notes of other items that I liked, but knew I could get for cheaper prices at Rainbow Resources online.

I ended up getting 2 books for Katie that were deeply discounted. Germs Make Me Sick, which is a Let's Read and Find Out Science Book, and The Big Balloon Race, which is just an easy reader that I thought she would enjoy.

I also got this very cute book called, God and Me 2 Devotional Series for Girls 2 - 5. It has a short story a day that teaches a simple social skills lesson essentially, and then a couple questions, plus a second page that gives some kind of activity to go with it. They also had a book for girls 6 to 9, and one for 10 to 13 or something like that. I thought the 2 to 5 year old one really fit better for an older 3 year old to even a 6 year old. The 6 to 9 year old version was more bible oriented. I think Katie will really enjoy it.

I looked at the various math programs and have decided that we will most likely use Horizons 1. I also liked the A Beka Math surprisingly, since most of A Beka's curriculum is very workbooky (is that a word), and trendy in my opinion. All the other math programs were very number fact oriented, and boring, including the highly acclaimed Saxon and MCP.

I also liked the Alpha Omega Horizons Phonics Readers. I don't know that I will buy them, since I already have some others, but for those of you who may consider them, I highly recommend taking a peek to see where your child may be at. I thought that the Kindergarten readers were more appropriate to 1st grade, at least early 1st grade. So even though our curriculum will be mostly 1st grade, it just goes to show you need to look carefully when combining different publishers.

Evan-Moor makes a series of Science teachers books that I like. Each one is a thematic series on things like weather, the human body, animals, etc.

I also liked Usborne's First Encyclopedia of the Human Body.

There were several other things that I put on my list of items to consider, but I think these were the main points. It was definately an interesting experience, and a crowded one at that. It was also fairly interesting to see so many Amish people mainly working as vendors, but also doing some shopping. I forget that we are so close to a large settlement of Amish people, we so rarely see them.

Hope this gives all you homeschoolers some ideas and information, and that you in turn will pass on your "finds".

Thursday, March 22, 2007

I Am Truly A Bad Parent

A very large spider was walking across the kitchen ceiling.

Both kids saw the spider, and wanted it gone.

I finally got up the nerve to get a kitchen chair and a large book and attempt to kill it.

I hit it with the first shot, but with the textured ceilings, didn't quite kill it, and it dropped down on a line about 10 inches, at which point I panicked and swatted it with the book and then threw the book down.

The kids kept asking where the spider went, and honestly I don't know. But rather than telling them it was dead and gone. I decided it was more fun to say it was crawling across the floor to get them. After all, I have had one less than delightful child today. So for now, I have two kids creeping around, watching for the infamous spider, and pretending they are killing it with books too. At least, Katie seemed to understand I was joking.

Kids Have Bad Days Too

Nicholas has been in an atrocious mood all day today. From the moment he woke up until even after his nap, he has been whiny and clingy and complaining about everything.

He wanted water with ice. I gave it to him, and got back an emphatic "NO, ICE".

We went to a neighbors to play where he spent most of the time lounging on my lap, unwilling to play by himself or with others. Instead he wanted food and home. So we finally left.

He woke from his nap, complaining and fighting with his sister.

I finally came to the realization that kids can have bad days just like us, and this must just be one for him.

It is rainy and yucky outside. I think he is getting his last 2 year old molar. And I know that I have a headache, so maybe he feels crummy too.

So we turned on Dora, and we were all rewarded later with lollipops. Katie for completing her work quickly and correctly. Nicholas for stopping his complaining temporarily. And mommy for managing not to yell and scream and threaten the children.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A Ban On Jumping

At least on other living things that is...

About 3 months ago, Nicholas jumped on the side of my foot while I was cleaning out our built-in shelves. It was quite painful and I lived with it until this Monday, when I decided this really was ridiculous. After seeing the doctor, who was quite certain it was broken, I had an x-ray and today found out it is not broken. I repeat - NOT broken! Good news and bad. Great it isn't broken, but why does it still hurt in the same spot. Is it just badly bruised and keeps getting reinjured by the constant stepping of little feet or is there something more wrong. So for now I am supposed to wait another week or 2, like after 3 months that will make a difference, and try some anti-inflammatory.

Then 3 weeks ago, Nicholas jumped off our fireplace hearth and landed on the dog, who jumped up also. He then spent the next two days limping around. Nothing funnier than a 2 year old with a peg leg. He got his x-ray, which showed just a very mild sprain, and 5 days later was good as new. Of course, when you are two, you heal faster, and don't seem to mind continuing to jump on the hurt foot. It does slow down your running though.

Now, several days ago, Katie came upstairs from the basement, where I believe she had been jumping on the mini trampoline with her brother. She had a huge black eye, and claimed not to know what happened. It is currently a lovely shade of green, but is getting better.

Am I doomed to constant injury with the mini-monster?? Should I propose a ban on all jumping while within 5 feet of another human or animal? Should I ban all jumping from now on??

My solution for now: Allow all the jumping one can stand, but be sure to stand back. You never know when the young parachuter might land on you next.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day - Belated

Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day. And while I knew this, I was too sick to do anything with the kids. It was just allergies, sore throat, runny nose, but I still wasn't up for much of anything.

Today I feel quite a bit better, and having promised Katie we would do something for St. Patrick's Day on Sunday, we spent the early morning making Shamrock crowns. While Katie is proud to model the one she made, Nicholas decided crowns were fun for making but not for wearing.

I also made cupcakes with green sprinkles earlier in the week, so the kids at least had a special treat.

And Daddy was kind enough to read two books about the holiday to Katie last night.

Nicholas vs. The Sweater

Grandma E. made Nicholas a lovely blue sweater some time ago. It came with a hat and mittens, and is nice and soft and warm.

Grandma wanted a picture of Nicholas in said sweater, but to understand the following pictures, you must first understand Nicholas.

Nicholas does not believe in clothing. If given the opportunity he will take off all clothing including his diaper, and run through the house. He protests getting his jammies off in the morning, and then 3 seconds later protests getting clothes back on, even if it is the same jammies. He gets along fabulously with our 2 year old female neighbor who also has the same theory in clothing. "It is meant to be taken off!" Luckily she leaves her diaper on though.

So here is a story in pictures of my boy and his sweater picture session:

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Nice Compliment

It isn't very often that we hear compliments of our children's behavior when out in public. At least not from someone that isn't family. So last night when we were out eating pizza at a local restaurant, it was nice to hear the waitress say as she came to take our bill, "Your children are very well behaved."

Mike and I exchanged looks and told her thank you, but it really is true. For 2 and 5 they are usually well-behaved and polite. They say please and thank you without prompting, and sit relatively still and quiet during meals. Of course a lot of it has to do with us keeping them actively engaged in other things while waiting. The compliment also happened to come while the kids each had a mint in their mouth.

As we got up to leave, two children left the restaurant happily by climbing under the table, but other than that, there were no major behavior issues. And Nicholas at the ripe old age of 2 told the young high school girl who held the door for us, "Thank you girl."

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Magic School Bus

Katie is hooked on the Magic School Bus. It started with the books. I got her a dinosaur and solar system one at Half-Price Books. They were only 75 cents with our coupon, and she was in a dinosaur phase. She fell in love! We have now borrowed every available copy from the library, and half bought several more at the bookstore. We found the show is on TLC and Discovery Kids in the morning, so she usually watches an episode at 7:30 or 8:30 in the morning. She has taken to sleeping with her brother's toy bus. And Grandpa made the kids this cool school bus, while he was visiting recently.

I am most delighted with the amount of information that she is absorbing. She has always been a bookworm, and I have tried to implement a science and social studies curriculum that uses books with projects and other lessons to learn. She loves listening to stories. Even Daddy is impressed. How many 5 year olds can talk about echolocation, the blood stream, and butterfly camouflage all in the same day. Sometimes all in the same hour.

For those of you using or planning unit studies, make sure you check out these great books.

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has at least temporarily arrived!
The past few days have been gorgeous, and today is especially beautiful. Sunny and warm, so we are planning to go outside and enjoy the rest of the day.
The kids have been busy swinging, playing in the sand, digging in the dirt, and riding bikes and cars. Good News: Nicholas no longer screams in terror when any of the numerous children come riding by in their motorized cars. Bad News: He now likes riding and driving them. Which means I have a 2 year old behind the wheel. Which means my trees, bushes, sprouting tulips, and anything else that happens to get in the way are taking a beating.

My Daughter the Gymnast

Since I didn't want to disturb class, this was the best photo I could get of Katie doing her handstand. She is becoming quite talented. Besides this gorgeous handstand, which her teacher frequently has her demonstrate for the other kids in the class (Yes, I am proud), she finally has the cartwheel down.

I love watching her practice. She has so much fun, and has more energy than I could possibly even imagine. Today I watched her as she vaulted doing a handstand and a somersault, and thought to myself- WOW, and she is only 5!! Even though she is the youngest and smallest in her class, she makes me proud.