Posts Tagged ‘homeschool’

Science, Strawberries and a Baptism


We had a pretty good week last week.  Saturday we went to the “Science and Engineering Fest” and spent about 2 hours enjoying robots in the “Robot Expo”. After, DS 1 decided he and Dad need to have a robot class every weekend and build a robot.  They got started  on Sunday.  

While it was a bit cool and over cast all the unseasonably warm weather early in the spring afforded us a trip to pick strawberries on Monday.  We drove to Yangley farm just about 40 minutes from us and picked lots of strawberries.  On the way, DS1 did his math and read us a story while DS2 looked around at all the green trees we past (until we stopped for gas and he got annoy we stopped moving and realized he was hungry).  On the way back, the boys fell asleep.  Then, in the evening, DS1 made whole wheat shortcake so we could enjoy a strawberry shortcake dessert and breakfast.

On Wednesday we made Egg Muffins from the “PalioPals” kids book we borrowed from a friend before heading to history group.

Thursday was a stay home day and we worked in the garden in the afternoon.  DS1 did a great job digging two nice and deep holes in his garden to plant potatoes.

Friday we had to go get mommy’s liecence renewed.

All of that and we did math and reading each day plus worked on DS1’s science fair project and studied Rome.

Saturday we went to the seasons grand opening of the farmers market to buy plants for the garden.  We were disappointed to find out our favorite farm is no longer farming.

Sunday we went to a lovely baptism of a baby girl born just 5 days after DS2 and a Kosher cinco de mayo lunch.

Now if I could just shack my nasty cold that started yesterday we could have another productive week.

MD Sheep & Wool Festival


I had a great mother’s day doing something the kids and I both enjoyed.  We went to the md sheep and wool festival.  Fun and educational.  We watched blade shearing finals where 3 shearers had to each shear 5 sheep with what looked like large scissors, no electronics. Just like they did in the past.   The winner won a trip to New Zealand to represent the US in an international competition.  We then enjoyed a demonstration of sheepdogs at work. Both things none of us had ever seen.  

My sons favorite part was seeing all the sheep and petting some of them.  Some of them were so tame that basically begged to be petted by passerbys.  I especially enjoyed seeing all the wool products.  I bought my first set of roving (wool you can felt with or turn into yarn), our first drop spindle and our first felting needles.  The little man and I included  learning how to make yarn with a drop spindle the following day for our Monday school day.

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.

Starting my Homeschool Blogging


Dad and son playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star"Okay, so I have to first show off a photo of my husband and child showing off their talents at the VAHomeschoolers Conference before getting to the business at hand.

Now to why I’m here. After attending the VAHomeschoolers Conference this weekend, I was inspired to get my blog rolling again, but this time to focus on my homeschooling experience and share my curriculum ideas.

I have one son, age 5. I’m finding that boxed curriculum are not the answer for us. We enthusiastically started using Enki Kinder at the beginning of the year. Some great perspectives on what to expect developmentally and how to create a rhythm but I found that I started disagreeing about the claim that Enki can nurture any child/family and I wasn’t impressed with the quality of the stories especially with a great and large local library system, Fairfax County Library. We continue to use the rhythm suggested (well, except when I fall off the bandwagon) and transition songs to help my son transition as needed (but not as much as we use to as it no longer seems as critical for my son). We’ve also incorporated the morning movement for the last 2 or more years. We go for a walk, do races, do movement to song/rhyme and recently enjoyed a few weeks of doing “Yoga for the kid in all of us” DVD by Rough, Chaz.. I find morning movement to be critical to my son being able to focus and be well behaved even if it’s just 10 minutes of active play to start the day. We also have a daily rest time in the afternoon that I find to be important to both of us. I can skip it on occasion just like I can with movement but things run smoothest as long as we do it most days.

As for rhythm, I find it a very important aspect for my son and I to have a good day. However, I find it to be very forgiving. The key is to start our day the same most days. An ideal day starts with waking, eating, dressing then movement. We also try to practice violin right after movement whenever possible as I find the “little man” (LM) is most focused right after movement.

On a “school” day, we will then follow violin practice with our reading lesson, “How to teach your Child to Read in a 100 Easy Lessons,” a story picked by Mom (folk tale, fairy tale, nature story, story related to a holiday to the day or other story Mom finds important), followed by creative time (a time for us to build or craft together). This lasts 1-1.5 hours and then we can do what we want or need to do with the rest of our day. My goal is to do this at least 3x/week. This has been what our ideal “school” day has looked like since January.

Earthy Birthy Crunchy Mama


The chronicles of a crunchy homeschooling mama in the modern world.