Saturday, October 31, 2009

Well, my Halloween is ruined!

I hate people right now. Some time last night, someone broke into our garage & stole pretty much all of my husband's tools. So, we called the cops. You would think that would be the logical thing to do. You call them, they come out, look at the damage, take a report, look for some kind of evidence that might help them actually SOLVE the crime, right? NO! Apparently, cops don't believe in work. I called, told them someone broke into the garage & stole our tools, and that we need to file a report. They took my cell number & told me that someone would call us back. They file reports over the phone now. Driving to the scene of the crime & actually seeing the effects of what happened might give you the idea that they intend to find the person that did it. They wouldn't want to give that impression. Why would they want people to feel like the police are actually there to help them, to serve & protect them. If they gave that impression, they might have to get up off their lazy asses, put down the donuts & fast food once in a while and actually WORK! We wouldn't want that now would we?
They're talking about making cuts to the police department. Considering how little they do now, cuts will probably mean they do nothing at all. Maybe we should just do away with the police all together. They don't do anything anyway, who'd miss them? I mean really, they're completely inept. Let's face it, real crimes don't get solved like the ones on TV. On TV, crimes get solved & criminals actually get jail time for what they've done. The real world, on the other hand, doesn't work that way. The cops don't actually work. Criminals often get off (or easily escape from the courthouse). What exactly is the point of our so-called justice system? Isn't it allegedly to protect the law-abiding citizens, to punish those who break the law, and to actually deal out JUSTICE? I guess that would just be too much like work, though.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This shouldn't be so hard

I've been looking for High School level Health curriuclum. We won't need it for a few years, but I wanted to look & see what was out there. I'm glad I didn't wait until we actually needed it. My choices seem to be 1) Buy a public school Health textbook, 2) Buy a homeschool Health curriculum written from a religious perspective, or 3) Create it myself.
I really don't want to go with a public school textbook. I'd have to buy it relatively new, to avoid it being outdated. Then, I'd have to buy another one when Jay gets to that level. As we all know, textbooks are not exactly cheap when you buy them new.
I don't want to use a religious one, because I'm not a religious person. All of the homeschool Health curricula I've seen so far are from a religious perspective. Some say there is scripture throughout. If I wanted my kids to read scripture, I'd hand them a Bible, not a Health book. Some say they "don't waste time on things like drug abuse & reproduction", but instead focus on bringing the child closer to God. If I wanted my kids to become closer to God, I'd send them to church, not hand them a Health book. Now, I'm not insulting those who want their Health curriculum to teach their kids how to live a more Christian life. I'm simply saying that is not what I'm looking for in a Health curriculum.
High School Health should not have to focus on nutrition & fitness. By the time a child is in High School, they should know how & why to eat healthy and exercise. Hygiene is something else that should not need to be taught in high School. By that age, they should understand why they need to shower, wash their hands, and brush their teeth. I also don't need one that focuses on Sex Ed. & Reproduction. We start talking about that stuff, with our kids, when they're little. We start with how boys & girls are different. Then, we regularly talk with them about it, giving them more information, as they're ready for it. We want to maintain healthy, open lines of communication with our kids about this topic. First Aid & CPR aren't a problem, because I'll sign them up for classes with the Red Cross.
So, that leaves the use & abuse (and effects thereof) of prescription medications, illegal drugs, tobacco, & alcohol; mental & emotional health; and stress management. So, I need a curriculum that focuses on those things. I would be fine if it covered the other topics, because we could skip those we don't need. However, it seems the only way I can get something that covers those topics & doesn't focus on religion, is to get a public school textbook or create it myself.
Now, I tend to piece together our curriculum from various supplemental materials, activities, experiments, projects, DVDs, computer programs, tons of books, and materials I create. I don't mind doing this & often enjoy it. I'm even building some of Dea's high school classes from scratch. Again, I don't mind it & have been enjoying it. However, it would be nice to not have to do it for so many subjects. Health curriculum should not be so hard to find. I shouldn't have to create that one myself. Why can't I just find something for this subject that I don't have to tweak, add to, or skip stuff to use? Why can't I just find a curriculum for it that covers what I need & isn't loaded with stuff I don't need? I never would have thought that Health would be one of the most difficult subjects to find material to cover. 

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Last week

We have 3 big pumpkins, and I decided to let the kids each paint one. So, they did that on Wednesday. The pumpkins are kind of funny looking, but that's okay. I'm going to carve the 3rd pumpkin. I probably won't get to it until Monday or Tuesday.
Thursday was the first day last week that I didn't have a headache. For the most part, it was a really great day. The kids were done with their school work by lunch. After lunch, we pulled out the dissection kit. We spent the afternoon cutting up an eyeball, heart, kidney, and brain. The kids loved it! They had so much fun looking at the different parts of the organs, talking about what the organs do, and poking the organs. We made jokes about how the heart mucle felt like the beef roast we we're going to have to for dinner. When we got done, the kids asked for a snack. Only my kids could be hungry after playing with organs & smelling formaldehyde. The organs smelled like a hospital - that stinging chemical smell all hospitals have. We had a great day.
Yesterday was the first day I've been able to work on the books since last weekend. I'm now finished with the Non-Fiction. Today, I'll start the Fiction. I should still be able to finish by the end of next weekend. I probably won't get any work done on it during the week, but I should have time next weekend to finish it up.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ancient Egypt Day

I'm on day 2 of a migraine. Since I'm feeling awful & light and noise make my head want to explode, I decided to let the kids have an "unschooling" day. They decided to spend the day studying Ancient Egypt. They drew pictures of mummies, pyramids, the sphinx, etc. Now, they're researching on the computer. They have a stack of books picked out to read after lunch. We've got some DVDs about Ancient Egypt, maybe they'll watch one of them today.
I love that they chose something educational to do for the day. As soon as I told them we were having an "unschooling" day, they immediately said they were going to study Ancient Egypt. They're having so much fun with it, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ambitious

After spending most of the last week keeping an eye how all of us are feeling, I've been feeling ambitious this weekend. A family member was diagnosed with the flu, not sure what type, so I've been extra attentive to our health. It's been almost a week now since any of us was exposed & we're showing no signs of being sick, so I'm pretty sure we're safe.
So, since I'm no longer concerned about any of us having the flu, I've been working. Yesterday, I decided to continue work on the home library inventory & rearranging project. Since it's a weekend, I actually have time to work on it. Between yesterday & today, I've finished all of the Non-Fiction Social Studies books. I finally decided to take a break from the books. So, I cleaned the kitchen. It's not quite done yet; there's a load of pots & pans soaking. It's almost done, though. I'm going to get back to the books & get the Biographies/Autobiographies done. After that, I have to go make a batch of laundry detergent and pick up a little before company gets here tonight. Even if I only work on the books on weekends, I should be done next weekend or the weekend after that. That's assuming, of course, that nothing comes up & I have time to work on it. In addition to finishing the books, I also need to finish getting my store set up, again. I had to change to a new storefront software & am still figuring it out. I'm hoping to have it up & running by Halloween. I guess I'll be busy for the next few weeks.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Have to get her organized

Dea has a binder to hold her finished schoolwork. I remind her daily to put her work in the binder, so she knows where it is. Yesterday, I was going through her binder. None of her English was in it, and most of her Science & Latin were missing. So, she has to redo it all. Everything that she can't find, has to be redone. Even though I had checked & graded most of it, I hadn't recorded the grades, yet. With no recorded grades & the work itself missing, there's no proof that she did anything in those subjects. I've tried explaining to her that she needs to make sure to put her work in hte binder when it's done, or when she's done working on it for the day. We're working extra hard this week (and with extra attitude on her part) to get as much of this work done as possible. Hopefully, by the end of next week, we'll be caught up again.
I'm taking this as a sign that we need to focus even more on organizational skills & study skills. I know her disorganization isn't her fault, it's her ADHD. However, she needs to learn to deal better with her ADHD & put effort into learning better organizational skills. This is going to be a major focus point for us for awhile. I guess I'll be spending the rest of the night figuring out a game plan for this.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

We need to support each other

In various groups and message boards that I'm on, there has been a lot of talk lately about homeschoolers being made to feel bad or insecure about homeschooling. It's got me thinking about how divided the homeschool community is. Not only are we divided from most public school parents, but we are also divided within the homeschool community.
Unfortunately, there are homeschoolers who seem very condescending. Some believe that the methods and materials they use are THE BEST and all other methods & materials are inferior. Most of us, at some point in our homeschooling journey, have been in a situation where someone inferred or bluntly told us that our kids aren't getting the best education because we aren't doing things their way. While some of these situations are due to unfinished thoughts or mistaken meanings, some are clearly intentionally condescending. When we make suggestions or give advice, it's done with good intentions. However, we all need to be aware of the negative impact our words can have and choose our words carefully.
We each have our preferred method(s) of homeschooling. We all have materials that we prefer to use. However, we have to keep in mind that what works for us won't work for everyone else. Just because Mastering Mathematics is the best Math program I could possibly think of for my son, that doesn't mean that everyone should use that program for grade school Math. The Spectrum workbooks have too much repetition & review for my kids, but that doesn't mean that they aren't fantastic resources for others. Whatever methods & materials we do or don't like, we need to remember that each family, each child has different needs, tastes, strengths, weaknesses, etc. We need to support & encourage each other, not tear each other down, making others feeling inferior or insecure.
We, as homeschoolers, as a community, need to be there for each other. We need to remember that the reasons we chose to homeschool have to do with what we feel is best for our families. Therefore, the methods and materials we choose also have to do with what we feel is best for our families. We need to keep in mind that what works for us won't work for everyone. Instead of berrating or insulting others' choices, we need to provide advice & opinions when asked and give support & encouragement. If we spend our time fighting amongst ourselves about which methods or materials are best, how can we expect to stand together to fight to keep our freedom to homeschool?
I call upon all homeschoolers to support other homeschoolers, encourage them. Think before you speak about a method or materials. Instead of making broad statements like "That curriculum just isn't enough" or "That method won't work," be more specific and say "That curriculum doesn't have enough structure for us" or "That method wouldn't work for us due to my kids' learning styles." Even though you may not intend to insult someone or make them feel inferior or insecure, thinking before you speak may help prevent it from happening accidentally. We can't always tell what someone means when they say something, especially online, so we should all be careful about how we word things.
Education is not a competition, it's a journey. It's not about who is right or wrong, who has smarter kids or higher standardized test scores, etc. It's about giving our kids a well-rounded education, preparing them for the future, and having them become life-long learners.
We need to stop competing with each other, tearing each other down, and fighting amongst ourselves. Instead, we should put that energy into encouraging & supporting each other. It's time to put aside our differences and focus on the similarities. If everyone in the world could do that, the world would be a much better place. Let that movement start with us.

Me and my wonderful ideas

We have a lot of books. I'm not really sure how many. I lost count a year or two ago, when we got rid of a bunch, and that took us down to eight hundred something. I try to keep my books organized so we can easily find whatever we need. Well, in the last month or two, we had an influx of books. Someone we know was clearing out their bookcases & we brought home 6 or 7 boxes full of books. So, now I need to rearrange all the books in order to fit all the newcomers in the proper places. I figured, since I was going to be moving almost every single book we own, I might as well also inventory them. So, I created a database & a form in Access. I'm keeping track of the title, author, ISBN, binding, genre, location (which of our 6 bookcases), etc.
Now that I've been working on this for a few days, I have to ask "What was I thinking?" This is taking so much longer than just rearranging would have. I wish I had a week to dedicate to nothing but this. I can't do that, though. I can't put everything else on hold - the housework, cooking the meals, the kids' education, etc. I'm not even done with 2 full bookcases, yet. There are piles of books all over the living room. The kids have been helping when they can. They like to read off the information to me & help carry the piles of books to the bookcases.
The kids don't have too much time to help, though. They still have their normal chores & schoolwork to do. Jay is doing fantastic with his phonics/reading. He'll be finishing the current Explode the Code book tomorrow. Then, next week, he'll start the next book. He also has been reading to me every day. What he reads to me changes from day to day. It could be a story from Beyond the Code, a book from the library, one of our books, or a few books from Starfall.com. Recently, he's decided to start reading the stories from Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We stopped using it for instruction when he got bored with it last year. He's been reading the stories again this last week or so & really enjoying it. We're studying Autumn in Science. I think we'll head out to a park this weekend to find some trees that are losing their leaves (our trees aren't yet) & collect some. Today, being October 1st, starts our study of Halloween for Social Studies. He loves Halloween, so this study should be pretty fun.
Dea's been better about doing her work without complaining. She also seems to be putting in more effort, at least for some subjects. Now, if we could just get that effort for all subjects & her chores, things would be much easier around here.
Wow! That came on fast. As I was writing this post, Jay got a bad headache. My husband has been getting migraines since he was a kid, and I started to get them when I was pregnant with Jay. I'm wondering if my poor little guy has a migraine. Dea & I got some blankets folded up on the dining room floor for Jay to lie down on. The dining room is the only room in the house that we can get almost completely dark. So, he's in there on blankets & his pillow. He's got a bowl next to him, just in case. Poor little guy. So, I'm going to go see what else I can do for him.