Long Summer

March 1, 2012

Declaration of Independence from Public School

As a wrap-up for our study of the Declaration of Independence, I decided we should write our own declaration.  I used this website for some questions to ask the boys.   The three of us brainstormed the list of complaints together, and Orion and I did most of the ‘what are you going to do about it’ questions.

Then I sent all our notes and a link to the original text to Orion . ..and he put together the first paragraph and the list and sent it back to me!  I did cut the list slightly  (to make it fit on a page!) and I wrote the last paragraph.

We think it came out pretty well!  Click on the image to see it full size.

(image has been updated to remove 4 typos, 3/4/12)

March 2, 2010

Thank You, Dr Seuss

Filed under: Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 1:39 pm
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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 24, 2010

Do you have a room for homeschooling?

Filed under: Home School — by dbmamaz @ 8:49 pm
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This question just came up on one of my home school groups.  Many people who home school want to create a miniature school room to help feel official or stay focused.  Some people want to keep all the materials together.  Not me.  As I was writing my  response,  I thought it might make an interesting blog post:

It’s funny, now that I’ve been doing this for 5 months . .  I don’t have a ‘school room’ and don’t want one.  Maybe it’s partly our situation, but we do things in almost every room of the house.  

 The computers are all in the computer room, so anything done on-line, or computer writing, is done there.  We have bookshelves in the dining room, and last summer dh and I cleared off a few shelves for the school materials.  Every morning we clean off the dining room table, and I used to do a ‘circle time’ there, but it kinda fell by the wayside.  My 13 yo likes to do a lot of his work on the dining room table, esp anything he write by hand, such as math, and sometimes science, because the big text-book is hard to hold.  We do grammar together there, also.  Things he can do on his hand-held, such as watching science videos or doing entries on his blog (writing!), he often does on the sofa, or pacing around the house.  When he’s not feeling well or his brother is being loud, he often does his fiction reading in his room. 

My 6 yo really likes me to read to him while he’s doing other things, so I read both literature and topical books, esp science/animal books, in his room while he plays with toys, or sitting on the bottom stairs landing while he plays w the Lego table in the living room, or in the breakfast room while he draws on the dry-erase board.  He does HWOT at the dining room table, with my old nursing stool under his feet.  Math and reading we do in his room, math on the floor and reading in bed. 

 I guess its obvious, tho, that we are very eclectic, and NOT classical at all!  We work where its comfortable.  My boys of course both had a LOT of trouble staying in their seats at school, so setting up a school-like environment was the last thing on my mind.

 Oh, and don’t forget the history lectures on CD in the car!

February 5, 2010

Stumbling through science

Filed under: Curriculum,Learning moments — by dbmamaz @ 10:34 pm
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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
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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 20, 2010

starting to awaken

Filed under: Home School — by dbmamaz @ 9:56 am
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When I first started reading (obsessively) about home schooling, i read here and there about deschooling. I read that kids often need time to ‘recover’ from school. I read that, the longer kids have been in school, the longer they need to deschool. But do I believe everything I read? hah! They had the summer to deschool! Truthfully, my 13 yo LOVES doing school work, he just didnt like school. So getting him right on schedule was good.

But today, something reminded me of an old friend. An old friend with lots of opinions. He used to tell me that the reason so many people seemed stupid was that their brains were just too busy with their baggage. People spend so much energy trying to hide old memories, cope with ongoing hurts, or pretend they don’t really feel the way they feel, they can’t see what’s in front of them. It occurred to me that this might explain the magic re-birth, the awakening, that I’ve read about, that comes over our children after they’ve been home schooling for a while.

I am starting to see this in my six-year-old. All year at school, his little brain was exhausted just trying to make sense of . . . school. Some kids want to play with me, but some don’t. If i try to play during class, i get in trouble. some kids play fun games but wont let me join. But if i do really silly things during class, then they laugh at me. But then I get in trouble. Is this good, or bad? On the bus I’m not allowed to sit with my best friend.  This makes no sense! Why am I the worst reader? Cant I just go home when I’m tired?

No wonder he wanted nothing to do with anything school-related.

But i feel like I’m just starting to see inquisitiveness come back again. Sure, he still struggles at times with how to be appropriate socially, but he’s doing pretty well at park days finding kids he CAN get along with . . .and there’s no confusion about what is and what isnt social time.

Instead, I see him exploring what floats and sinks in the puddle in the park, picking up the inflatable globe and asking questions, reading things on the computer when there is no pressure to do so. He’s so much more self-confident and happy! His brain can focus again on living and learning instead of trying to figure out things that just made no sense to him.

Now, i’m not seeing as much of this in my 13 yo, and of course I attribute it to his special needs. However, since books say that you’ll need to spend more time deschooling kids who have been in school longer .. . who knows, maybe he will also begin to take a more active role in his education. We’ll just have to wait and see.  Its not like i’m in a hurry to put them back in school . . . we LIKE home schooling!