Long Summer

March 8, 2010

Fun monday math

Filed under: Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 4:38 pm

I think I like Mondays.  We’re all fresh and rested from the weekend, and ready to get started.  And it looks like this morning was all about enjoying math!

Orion decided that since it was such a beautiful day, he would drag a table and chair out in to the sunshine, and work on his Life of Fred pre-algebra.

Wait, who is that, sneaking around?  Its Fluffernutter!

See, Orion doesn’t go to school by himself! 

For Raven’s part, he was finally ready to turn on the “Learning Resources Light ‘n’ Strike Math”, which I had bought as a holiday present in 2008

Of course, we’d lost the mallet, but we improvised.  This toy is a bit frustrating, because you have to wait for the right number to light up before you hit it, and then AFTER you get the right number,  you have to hit ‘enter’ (to allow 2-digit answers).  It also goes from level one, using numbers from 1-15, to level 2, using numbers from 10 – 99, if you get 10 in a row right . . . but level 2 was MUCH too hard, because it’s timed. 

Ok, this last one is not a great picture, but can you see that grin!  It WAS fun to get the answers right and be told Good Job!

And no, we hadn’t cleaned that room in a while . . .thanks for noticing . . .



March 2, 2010

Thank You, Dr Seuss

Filed under: Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 1:39 pm
Tags: ,

Today, in honor of Dr Seuss’s birthday, I checked out Seussville.  Raven was interested, so I brought it up on his computer and he checked out the games. The only game he was interested in was one where you have to write in the words in the word-bubbles on a short (3 page?) video story book. I was shocked – he’s not shown any interest in writing, and the only writing we’ve done is a few pages in his HWOT books where he copies words. (aside from his name, of course).

One thing I found interesting – when his older sister was learning to write (at age 4), she would ask me to spell out the words for her one letter at a time. But this stubborn 6 yo boy, who struck me as more of a whole-word than a phonetic reader, was asking me “what makes the rrr sound again?” “What makes the oo sound at the end of kangaroo?” He did some (typical, awful) phonetic spelling, only asking me maybe 10% of the letters. He proudly showed me the results and noticed that I was thrilled . . . omg I was thrilled! My stubborn boy is writing!

And my big boy is outside trying to build a fort, using power tools. I find this to be a good use of his time – he wanted something, and he’s working hard for it, and not asking for help. This is behavior I want to encourage.

Ok, so the ‘fort’ looks a bit seussical, itself.  But this is the first thing he’s tried to build out of wood and he’s doing it all by himself!

Finally, something that feels like a good unschooling day!

February 11, 2010

Serendipitous learning

Filed under: family,Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 10:14 am

I must admit, I’ve been pretty excited about my blog .. . nay, even a tad obsessive. 

Well, a certain someone noticed . . . someone who has been resisting writing assignments.

Lo and behold, Orion has started a blog.  I try to assign him at least 30 minutes of free writing each week, and I wasnt asking to see it, but now I can spy on him!   Finally, some ‘not-pushing’ paid off 🙂

And he doesnt even know he’s learning!


(ok, disclaimer here, he seems to be repeating tidbits he’s overheard from me, out of context and without a thorough understanding of my meaning.  Please forgive his obvious naivetee.  )

February 5, 2010

Stumbling through science

Filed under: Curriculum,Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 10:34 pm
Tags: , ,

I loved science when I was in school.  Mostly I loved chemistry.  Physics was ok.  Biology?  Not so much.  My big boy?  Biology all the way.

Luckily I havent managed to kill his love of the science yet. Even tho I cut the cork too thick and broke the dropper (ok, it was already broken, but I made it worse), and snapped at him for every single clumsy thing he did.

looking at cork

We are working through The Microscope Book. This day, we started with the three pieces of colored thread, to demonstrate the depth of field.  It was cool – even Raven looked at that one.  Then we attempted that cork in the picture, which was rather a failure.  But Orion wasnt ready to quit yet. Since I was prepping dinner anyways, we looked at an onion skin – woot!  Long, clearly visible cells!  We didn’t manage to see anything inside the cell wall, probably largely due to air bubbles under the cover.  But still, I apologized a few times and he seemed happy with the microscope lesson!

Not only that, but he still seems happy with Biology: Concepts & Connections  too.  I break it in to short segments for him and assign him videos to explain the concept. I seriously have trouble keeping my eyes on the page.

He says its fine. Go figure.

January 28, 2010

Flashcards on a walk

Filed under: Home School,Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 9:02 am

Wednesday was a good day, tho I didn’t really notice until i woke up on thursday. Mom needs to open her eyes more!

The morning began auspiciously quiet, with dh sick in bed, and Orion trying to teach Raven how to play chess. The structured part of the day brought fights from the 6 yo as usual, but mom won. First, Raven got dressed by himself when I promised 10 more minutes of free play ONLY if he did it himself. Then he threw a huge tantrum saying he would not do his morning chore (remove place mats from table) or “ANYTHING ELSE FOR YOU EVER”. I took him in to a forced time out, and ended up bringing out the ‘if you wont do anything for me, i might have to send you back to school’ threat. Oh, it broke my heart . .. his shoulders sank and he started silently sobbing. I apologized and assured him I don’t want to, but he has to do SOMETHING for home school.

Orion got set up with his work, and Raven sat on my lap at my computer. I opened up an old daily check list I’d made for Raven, with only 3 items in a very large font. This time, I read all the items on it, and then added more, reading them out loud, until we had all the things we sometimes do for school: math, handwriting, maps (we are doing a Intellego unit study), animal study, time4learning, reading. I printed it out and let him circle the 3 things he wanted to do today. And guess what – he was ready to start right away!

We started with maps, and he ended up coloring a map and then doing more drawing. His sister, who had come down for breakfast, was impressed with the representative nature of his drawings. Then it was time for our morning walk, and I took some math flash cards with us (a hand-me-down from a neighbor). The cool thing, with my oppositional child, is that I could hold out the cards subtly, so that he could see it when he looked up, but I didn’t say “Raven, what is this?”. So he answered them without fighting, until he didnt want to do any more. Felt great!

But this good day wasnt over yet! After lunch (and time4learning) we went to park day. Both boys did well playing with others, finding kids they could talk to AND chase. Orion got invited to play laser tag that evening, with a boy whose family is in the area temporarily, but might stay – Orion is a bit quirky, so finding friends is always a huge win.  Then we listened to the story of Pocahontas on our cd of The Story of Us on the way home.

Yay! With good days like this, I can feel more hopeful about our home school experience continuing to improve!

January 12, 2010

Right brain too

Filed under: Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 3:38 pm

I’m such a left-brain person, its good for me to stand up, take notice, and pat myself on the back for supporting my boys right-brain activities as part of our home school day.  

Orion has taken up whittling.  It’s a great use for his excess fidgety energy, especially while waiting for me:  

a boy, a stick, a knife


Raven took advantage of art time to do his usual dry-erase-board doodles on paper:  

"The Big Battle"


And what about me?  

I see dinner!

January 9, 2010

Teaching math to ‘the one who doesn’t NEED to be homeschooled’

Filed under: Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 4:09 pm

The main reason people think I’m homeschooling is because of my 13 yo autistic/bipolar/gifted/processing disorder son. Ok, its true, he really NEEDS to be homeschooled. Finally everyone agreed, he was learning nothing but in trouble all the time, and the school was clearly doing more damage than good.

Everyone thinks that my bright, better at social situations, better at controlling his emotions 6 yo son does NOT need to be homeschooled. But I don’t agree. After 4 months at school, he was crying every morning that he didn’t want to go to school. By the end of the year, he was convinced that he was bad and dumb. He cried talking about things that happened on the bus. He was really upset about the publicly humiliating punishments, too.

When we first started home schooling, this boy would scream ‘no’ and throw a tantrum any time i tried to do any sort of academic work . . . no matter how fun or interesting or easy. Now, after 3 months of home schooling, he still tends to shoot out a reflexive ‘no’ (as he does any time you speak to him), but is easy to get started and really enjoys much of what we do.

Today we were working on three-digit addition and subtraction with carrying/borrowing. He loves math, and we’re using Singapore 2A, and using Legos as manipulatives. He set up the first number, 960, no problem. He explained, tho, that the white Legos in the hundreds place were fighting masters, the blue ones in the tens place were in training, and the reds in the ones place were brand new students. When it was time to subtract 237, he brought in the black Legos to kill off the good-guy Legos . . . first 2 of the hundreds, then 3 of the tens. Then he struggled for a bit to remember how to borrow (ok, its our first day back after a 2-week winter break), but when I handed him a stack of 10 reds, and asked him what it was, he excitedly handed me a single blue Lego in return. And then ‘killed’ 7 of the ‘new students’.

Could he do math this way at school? Of COURSE not! First of all, public school doesn’t even cover this until 3rd grade. and second of all, he’d be expected to sit quietly in a chair and do the problems quickly. He would learn to hate math . . . but here at home, math becomes part of his rich world of imaginary play.

This child needs to be homeschooled too. Believe me.

January 7, 2010

Home school lessons from the pool june 09

Filed under: Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 3:10 pm

Originally posted June 26, 2009

I live in the middle of what I like to refer to as the ‘great, white soulless suburbs’, outside of Richmond, VA. People around here take classes seriously – gymnastic, dance, sports teams, music lessons, karate lessons, cotillion (fancy dance lessons for preteens), and so on. And don’t forget the private tutors hired to help the preschoolers prepare for entrance exams to the most prestigious grade schools!

So when I spend my lazy summers at the pool, swim lessons always come up. My older kids learned to swim when we lived out in the country, but my youngest one has been coming to this ‘swim club’ since he was 3, and the pressure was always there. The moms discussing which swim coach was best for teaching swimming, or whether to go with the swim school in town often referred to as the ‘swim nazi’. I even had parents tell me outright, he’ll never learn to swim if you (xyz).

But I decided to honor my child as he is. And for him at three, he was afraid of water. In the kiddy pool, he was afraid to pick things up off the bottom of the pool, for fear of getting his head wet. And the only way I even got him in the big pool at the end of that year was to get him a swim vest with attached tube.

However, once I gave him that tube . .. suddenly, he didn’t want me to hold him any more. The child who had been clinging to me for dear life and crying to get out, suddenly paddled around chasing his siblings in the shallow end of the big pool. The sudden confidence was astonishing!

So I decided to just keep doing what we were doing.

At the beginning of the following year, he was afraid again, and only wanted the kiddy pool. But after a few weeks, he was willing to paddle around in his swim vest again. Eventually, I pushed him to try without the tube. Well, he loved it! I couldn’t get the tube back on him! He was now tall enough to be able to stand at the very shallowest spot, and cling to the side (yes, we are short). Soon his older brother convinced him to try goggles, and he started putting his head underwater. On his own! With no pushing or scare-tactic teachers! Then, ear infection set in with tubes, and there was no more pool that year.

This year? Wow! He’s jumping in off the side, trying to swim, and venturing in to deeper water for a challenge. This is my stubborn one, so I cant tell him much, but I tried throwing toys on the bottom for him to get, and in frustration of not being able to get down, I showed him a sitting dive and he did it!

This is just so exciting for me to watch and realize, home schooling will work, esp for this child. This child who is fearful and self-conscious and really needs to set his own pace, but is highly motivated. Trust this child. Teach this child. Enjoy this long summer!