Archive for April, 2011

Mulching, Homeschooling & an Eye Exam


eye chart + glasses
So, I don’t think I did bad as a homeschooling mom today. I was kinda slow in waking up this morning with the whinny cat overnight and the rainy morning but LM entertained himself for awhile to let me sleep. We had our breakfast but managed to skip movement without any major repercussions. Luckily, LM still managed to do 2 pretty good twinkle practices on his violin to prepare for his first solo recital after he got dressed. While Mom went outside before the rain started up again to mulch some of the front yard, LM enjoyed some free play inside and out. We then each made our own lunch. Mom wanted Spaghetti with egg but LM didn’t. He decided he wanted to make his own eggs. He scrambled them in a cup and mom started up the cast iron skillet. He then poured them in the skillet and used a spatula to mix them and cook them. Collected all his own spices he wanted too. Yep, he made his own lunch today. We then had to rush off to the eye doctor so mom could have her new prescription adjusted for the 3rd time (and she’s still not satisfied). LM got to watch the doctor check mom’s eyes on the machines. He thought it was pretty cool. We also managed to do one of our “100 Easy Lessons to Teach Your Child to Read” sans the writing part while waiting for the eye doctor.

Our day concluded with clean-up time while listening to C-Span, a quick trip to the grocery store, 2 more Twinkles, dinner, 3 final Twinkles, books and go to sleep.

Despite all the random stuff we had to do, I was impressed we were able to get all our 7 assigned Twinkles in, a cooking lesson, a reading lesson, a government lesson, some free play, and learned a little about eye exams.

Spanish Immersion


LETRAS MAGNETICAS EN ESPANOL (6305)-319 PIXELSToday, was Spanish day for us. The Little Man (LM), went to his weekly Spanish school for 3 hours this morning. We joined this Spanish Immersion Preschool Program in February. It’s not specifically for homeschoolers but our teacher plans to integrate K for us and her daughter who’s skipping K for next year. This has been great for him. His dad has spoken to him in Spanish (he is fluent) since the day he was born without fail. Mom, on the other hand, is far from fluent, but the person he spends most the time with. We were hesitant about the cost. Dad was not convinced that just 3 hours per week with a small group of Spanish speaking peers (the dominant language of well over 1/2 the class of 8 is Spanish) would make a difference. You see, LM understands Spanish very well but his speaking ability has been delayed. He predominately gets his Spanish only from Dad. We did get an exchange student from Spain to help facilitate the growth of LM’s Spanish skills. We saw a little progress but she mostly speaks to him in English. The real benefit their has been the cultural exchange and experience of having an older sister. We love having her around.

Anyway, back to Spanish School. On Thursdays, when he has class, he often spends the rest of the day incorporating more Spanish and even declares it Spanish day when dad gets home.

Not long ago, I watched him and his dad play solely in Spanish for about 30 minutes straight. A new thing for us. Then last Thursday, my son grabbed his guitar and started singing a made up song in Spanish. This lasted about 30 minutes without a word of English until mom finally said to wrap it up because it was past bedtime. Amazing progress I say for a boy that would barely speak Spanish even though he understood it just a couple months ago.

Now to convince him to go to the summer camp at the school and sign up for next year. While the immersion has been great, he’s had separations issues. He just doesn’t trust people he doesn’t know really well and he still asks me stay parked outside during the class.

Does My Child Need a Professional to Teach Him


Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education

Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education

So, my hubby got a copy of “The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education” by Leigh A. Bortins at the VAHomeschooler’s Conference. When I read the introduction a week ago, I wasn’t too excited. Then tonight, with a lack of options at my side (and a lack of desire to get up), I started chapter 1 and I found something well worth sharing. A good perspective on the present American public school system in the section labeled “Professionalism Replaces Parenting.”

Here’s an excerpt:
“Imagine and impoverished six-year-old boy who rarely gets a healthy meal and rarely has parental supervision. He finally goes to school and falls in love with the first person who has ever been there every day for him–his first-grade teacher…The six-year-old has a daily routine that includes a committed relationship for the very first time…Then the school year ends, and this wonderful teacher says, ‘Good-bye. You will have a great teacher in second grade.’

So the seven-year-old survives the short summer and starts the process over. But now he has a home room teacher, a math and science teacher, a language arts teacher, and a music teacher. Which one is he to fall in love with?…But at least he was physically safe and well fed every day.

And so, by the end of third grade, he hardly notices his teacher because he has formed a strong attachment to the friends who move along from class to class with him. They share multiple hours together daily. Instead of taking his signals of proper behavior from a committed adult, since he has none at home or school, he models his life after the future football captain, just as the girls in his class likely emulate the future prom queen…”

This influence of peers over that of a consistently available and caring adult, is a major contributor to my decision to homeschool. I want my son to have a core group of carefully chosen adults to guide him and teach him not only right from wrong but also share with him their passions. Like mom’s passion for science and gardening, dad’s passion for space and physics or the love we both have for music. I think I was lucky, I actually did strive in the environment of the public school system but I had loving committed parents that spent most of their free time with me and I even joined them at our family business after school rather than go to a daycare or the like. So many kids have 2 full-time working parents with little time left for their kids and so they have so little time with them that it is difficult if not impossible for these parents to have a major influence over their own children. I am lucky, I have a choice but what about those parents that have no choice. Would their kids be better off in a multi-age classroom that doesn’t have a different teacher for every subject and a teacher they keep for years rather than just months? I feel better about my choice to keep my child at home but what about the other kids?

Much food for thought.

My Son’s Learning Style


I’ll take today to talk a little about my child’s personality and learning style. He’s very personable and 20110326_7985loves people although he can get a little shy with groups of new peers. He loves to start conversations with all the adults he meets in this fascinating world from his parents friends to flirting with the waitresses at restaurants. Yes, he’s a charmer. Of course, the people that meet him in those situations would probably be surprised to learn that he really has to trust someone to be willing and happy to stay with them while mom and dad are away.

Recently, I had an epiphany regarding my son’s learning style. I’ve read several books about learning style but nothing stuck out as, “Yes, this is my son,” until recently. I was reading the summary of different learning styles in “100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style” by Cathy Duffy. I then read, the description for “Competent Carl,” and I said, “Wow, they are describing my child.” Our exchange student, who was sitting next to me, agreed and laughed. I then handed it to my husband. As the words, “Who does this remind you of,” came out of my mouth I thought, “wait, who is he going to say it reminds him of.” I realized that it also described my husband. Yes, my son is a “Competent Carl,” just like his daddy.

I suddenly realized why the Enki Kindergarten materials wasn’t really speaking to my son. The abundance of song, imaginative story and crafts sounded like fun to me but my son was looking for content and purpose. Too much pomp and circumstance. It also explained why he doesn’t like crafts unless they have a purpose, doesn’t like anything without a purpose and why he likes workbooks while so many of my friends report that their children do not.

So, how to do I describe my “Competent Carl?” He doesn’t like to do anything that doesn’t have a purpose or direct benefit to him. He always wants things the way they are supposed to be. He also likes to just get to the point. No dancing or singing to learn a skill but rather direct, to the point, learning. He often likes workbooks. They say that as he gets older, he will tends to be very self directed and can do much of his learning independently. I can see that. Sounds pretty good, right. Well, yes and no. He can be stubborn as he knows what he wants. This realization also threw mom for loop. I was so buying into the concept of lots of crafting and doing all sorts of fun little things to learn a new concept and not introducing academics too early. To this child, this is beating around the bush and frustrating. Now, some would disagree. They would say, it is good to exercise your child’s weaknesses and not just encourage the imbalance so that these kids can be more rounded. Well, I’ve decided that I’m okay with my son being an academic and a bit imbalanced. I’ll keep exercising his social part, as I think being able to interact comfortably with the rest of the world to be paramount to happiness. I figure, as long as my son can take care of himself and hold his own socially, he’s good. As for socially, he can be a little shy in certain situations with his peers but his mom was the same way at his age. She was fearless around adults and family but not sure how to interact with other kids. For her (me), she didn’t have the benefit of having friends that she’d known since birth like her son does. As she got older she was then known as being willing to speak her mind, enjoys leading and enjoys the company of other humans. Dad, while brilliant and an introvert at heart, does very well with people. Especially when he was younger, people had no idea he was actually an introvert. So, I’ve declared (at least for now), we will take advantage of my son’s learning style and help him learn the way that he’s most comfortable with and can learn best with.