Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Not a bad day, except that whole being sick thing

I generally don't do a post detailing what we did in a day. Usually, either there's too much or it would be a bit dull to read about. Today was kind of a lite day, since I've been a bit under the weather the last few days (I got my usual change of season cold), so I figure "why not?"

Dea worked some on her Oxford Latin Course. She's been getting a little frustrated with it since it seems to use words, in the translation sections, that it hasn't introduced previously. Also, she doesn't really want to learn Latin, so it's a bit of a fight with her. She researched who was on each side in WWII and worked on her history notebooking pages. She did a painting in the stylse of Gauguin, and then did a short bio on him.

Jay started chap. 11 of Song School Latin. He did part of lesson 5 in ETC book 7 and one lesson in Primarily Logic. We read about Ancient Egyptian art. Our focus in Science right now is Insects & Spiders, so he worked on a unit packet from Schoolexpress.com, on Butterflies & Moths. We're doing graphs in Math this week. He decided he wanted to graph our books. So, we opened our book inventory database & got numbers of various genres. We then did two different graphs (one bar graph & one line graph), using specific genres for one graph & larger, general groups for the other.

While I was in the kitchen getting the beef stew started for dinner & washing some dishes, Jay made & played with blue goo (corn starch, water, blue food coloring).

Since we have our Pandora account linked up to our Roku, we can listen to it as background noise. So, we had that playing today & Jay requested that we play the Scott Joplin channel (yes, we have one).

Our Scientist/Inventor of the month for September is Thomas Edison. Even though September doesn't start until tomorrow, we started reading one of the Bios we picked up at the library yesterday. I figure we'll do these as read alouds. So, the kids & I sat on my bed, and I read the first 20 pages of Inventing the Future: A Photobiography of Thomas Alva Edison.

Aside from being so congested that I can hardly breathe, and the fact that I have no patience when I'm sick, this has been a pretty good day.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New additions

We're adding a few new things to our school year.

The first new addition is our Scienctist/Inventor of the Month. Each month, we'll study a different Scientist or inventor. This will be in addition to our regular schoolwork, not replacing anything. We'll read at least one book about them and look for documentaries about them. We'll learn about the contributions they made and what the world would be like without them.

The other addition is just for Dea. Each month, we'll have a Featured Author and both Dea & I will read at least one book by that author. We won't necessarily read the same books, just as long as we're reading the same author. This will be in addition to what she's reading for school & our regular free reading. I came up with this to make sure that she is reading a variety of authors, genres, and styles. With both of us reading the Featured Author, she'll know that I read a variety as well, not just one genre. She's really been stuck on one or two genres lately & I just want to make sure she's exposed to as much diversity in the literary world as possible. The list of authors is still a work in progress, but I've got a decent amount so far. We decided to write the names on slips of paper & put them all in a container. Around the 1st of each month, we'll pull out a new name. That way, the Featured Author will be a surprise to both of us.

So, the Scientist/Inventor of the Month for Spetember is Thomas Edison. We're going to the library today, so we'll be looking for a book or two on him. This morning, we chose September's Featured Author, also - Jules Verne. Dea is going to read Around the World in 80 Days and I'm going to read A Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Friday, August 27, 2010

This weekend

Last week, before leaving for a long weekend, we started week 10 of our school work. This week, we've just been focusing on finishing week 10. Tonight, after dinner (or after everyone else goes to bed), I'll sit down & plan out weeks 11-15. I also need to really get to work on my schooling. I'm hoping to get some major work done this weekend. Hubby will be working. If I can get the kids busy with something, I should be able to spend a good portion of the weekend on my studies. Since I'm getting a certificate through a correspondence school, not doing a degree program, I don't have specific deadlines for each assignment & specified dates for the tests. I just have the deadline of when I need to be finished with the course entirely. While that deadline is months away (next February I think), I'm hoping to be done by the end of September. October really starts the holiday season in our house, and I'd like to be done with my schoolwork by then. That way, I can focus on the holidays, creating Dea's History class for next year, and some other planning for the next school year for the kids. So, ideally, I'll be done with my schooling by the end of next month. It shouldn't be too hard to do, actually. After all, it's less than 450 pages of reading & only 5 tests on Abnormal Child Psychology. That really shouldn't take me long at all. If I didn't have to deal with housework, the kids, hubby, cooking, and the kids' homeschooling, I could be done with it by Mon (Tuesday at the lastest).

Random thoughts about homeschooling

Can a Secular homeshcooler use Christian-based materials?

Some may think the answer to this question is quite easy. However, there is apparently some disagreement on the topic.

There are some Secular homeshcoolers who are very adament that they will never use a Christian-based curriculum for any subject. The problem I have with this, is that many of them seem to look down on those who do use some Christian materials.

How can you call yourself a Secular homeschooler if you use Christian material, you might ask. Well, many Secular homeschoolers use materials that are actually religiously-based, and just omit the religious parts. Unfortunately, many have found that they need to Secularize Christian-based materials due to the lack of options.

In an ideal world, there would be Secular options with just as much variety as the religious ones. We'd have Secular options for every kind of learning style, every interest, and every topic. However, I live in the real world, not some dream world where everything is perfect. Here, in the real world, you can't always find exactly what you're looking for.

I would prefer to use Secular materials for everything. Unfortunately, I can't. Now, there are a few subjects that I will not use Christian materials for, no matter what. These would be History & Science. I will only use Secular materials for those subjects. However, with other subjects, I'm a bit more flexible.

Technically, the Math we use for both kids is Christan. Christian references are easy enough to ignore in Life of Fred. Life of Fred is the best Math program we've ever found for Dea. She hates Math, but is fantastically gifted in it. She grasps the concepts quickly & masters them easily. She does not need or want a lot of review & repitition. She does not need extensive drills. Every other program we've found has too much review, too much repetition, too much drill work, and not enough flexibility. Plus, Math is a dry, boring subject. Life of Fred is different. It has a story as its base. It moves quickly, instead of bogging the student down with extensive drills & review. It lets her move at a pace much better for her, lacks the huge amounts of unnecessary review & repitition, and approaches Math in a fun way. Plus, you can tell that the author actually LIKES Math, which helps foster an appreciation in the student. Basically, it's the perfect Math curriculum for someone like Dea. The only problem - it is not technically Secular. It doesn't quote Scripture or have a reference to God every other sentence, so we can work with it. It works better than anything else we've tried & has a fantastic price tag, as well. I would be an idiot to refuse to use it, considering how well it works for my kid, just because it has minor Christian influence. It's not like the Math is incorrect.
Mastering Mathematics is also a Christian curriculum. I knew that when I bought it, but did not know the extent. The description & reviews I read mentioned that the story problems had some religious overtones. Ok, we can deal with that. Well, then we got to the Graphing section of the first book & it wanted us to look up information, in the Bible, to graph. Ok, so we skip the Graphing sections & graph other things, on our own. Not a big deal, in my book. I could have just changed to a different program, I guess. Where would I find another program like this, though? It has a separate book for each main concept. It lets them completely master one concept before starting the next or work on multiple concepts at one, depending on the what child wants to do. It allows for the child to go at their own pace. It comes with games, flashcards, and other manipulatives & tools. Each page faces a blank page, so there's nothing to distract him. It comes with a page protector to use dry erase markers on when doing pages you'll want them ot do more than once (like drill pages). Plus, I got the whole program (1st-6th grade level work) for less than $150. Jay is much like Dea with Math, except he enjoys it. He's well above 'grade level.' He masters quickly & easily. he doesn't need review & repitition, but doesn't mind doing some (just not a lot). Where else would I get a deal like that on a program that is almost perfect for my son? So we have to do graphing on our own, instead of using the pages in the book. So what? If that is the biggest problem, it's worth it.

I homeschool for academic reasons. I homeschool to provide my kids with the best education possible. I expect academic excellence from my kids. I will use whatever materials I feel best provide my kids with the education I want them to have. If that means that I need to choose between Secularizing a Christian Math program or choosing a Secular option that doesn't work as well for us, I will choose to Secularize. 

Some people may be able to get through homeschooling without ever using materials that aren't 100% Secular. It doesn't make them more Secular than those who choose to Secularize Christian materials. It simply means that either 1) they settled for material that didn't work as well for their child so they could still see themselves as Secular or 2) they were lucky enough to find Secular materials for all subjects that fit their child's learning style.

I find that there is a lack of really good Math programs, especially Secular ones. I find that there's a lack of really good high school level Secular Science programs. I find that there's too much curriculum that has done all the work for you. I don't want something that is "open & go." I don't want something that is all planned out for me. I don't want something that comes with lesson plans & schedules for how long each topic should take. I don't want a literature study guide that tells them the plot & themes, gives lists of vocabulary words for each chapter, provides a summary of what happens in the book, or only asks basic comprehension questions. I cringe when a description says the material is 'scripted.'  I WANT to do the planning myself. I want to tweak, alter, and combine until I have the PERFECT curriculum. I want my kids to think for themselves, not have a book that tells them what to think. I want to look at historic times & events from more than one perspective, to better see the truth.
I find that I want something very different from other homeschoolers. So many want something that's open & go, something all planned out by someone else, something that they have to put little to no effort into. I'm not saying that's wrong. I'm just saying that's not what I want.

I have always seen things in a different way than everyone else, so it doesn't surprise me that I see homeschool curriculum options differently or that I want something different from most (if not all) other homeschoolers. I read rave reviews about curriculum that I wouldn't use if the publisher paid me. While many rush to buy materials aimed at Gifted kids, I generally avoid them because, in my experience, I've found that most claims of being perfect for the Gifted child are nothing more than a marketing strategy aimed at those who 'think' they have gifted kids, but don't really. While most others choose the material that's open & go, all planned out. I prefer to build our curriculum with supplemental materials, books, documentaries, dvds, software, visits to the library, and materials I create (with the occasional textbook as a small part of a subject). i'm not saying my way is the right way, just the right way for my family.

However, I digress. This started about whether or not Secular homeschoolers could use religoius materials. In short, yes they can. If a homeschooler chooses to Secularize a religiously-based material for use in their homeshcool, they are still Secular homeschoolers.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Where's the road?

We've all met homeschoolers who are very close-minded about something. With some, it is religion - either religious homeschoolers who are against secular homeschoolers or secular homeschoolers who are against religious homeschoolers. With some, it is homeschool methods - the method they use is the only right or good method. With some, it is public schools - all public schools are evil & everyone should homeschool. With some, it's materials/curriculum - as with methods, only what they use is good & worth using. There are other things, as well, that some of us can be close-minded about.
This shouldn't come as a surprise. The world of homeschooling is very diverse, with people from many backgrounds, countries, religions, etc. So, as with the population as a whole, there will be some who are close-minded & some who are open-mined, some who follow an extreme point of view & some that prefer middle ground, some who are honest & some who aren't, etc.

I've seen many debates that I really just don't get:

The debate of "helicopter moms" vs "free-range kids"
Many assume that homeschoolers automatically fall into the former category. They figure that we must be sheltering our kids from the real world. Honestly, I disagree with both extremes & perfer the middle ground. I want the kids to have freedom & independence, but not all at once and not to the point of risking their safety. I give my kids freedom & independence in small amounts that they can handle. I live on a busy street in a mid-sized city, with an unfenced yard, not the suburbs, a quiet subdivision, or in the country. I can't just let my kids go off wherever they want. They have to stay close to home & check in regularly when outside. They have a specified area they can be in, and there are consequences when they go beyond the boundries. I don't just let them run free with no boundries, but I also don't hover over them every second, never allowing them to grow.

The debate about homeschooling methods:
I don't really care what methods others choose to use. Different methods work for different people. At one extreme, there's school-at-home. This is very structured, with lots of textbooks, workbooks, and a schooly kind of atmosphere. On the other end of the spectrum is unschooling. This is very relaxed, and is led by the student not the parent. Neither of those would work for us. One is way too structured & the other isn't structured enough. Again, our way is more middle of the road. I say, use the method that works for your family.

The debate of homeschool vs public school:
I really don't see the point of this one at all. People learn in different ways. There are some who flourish in the public school system, some who flourish in private school, and some who flourish with homeschooling. The public school system is NOT perfect, it has problems. However, that does not mean that it is useless & should be gotten rid of entirely. I am not of those that thinks everyone should homeschool. I know many people who should deffinitely NOT homeschool their kids. It is a huge undertaking and not everyone can handle it. I am not anti-public school. While I believe it has many problems, and the only way to fix the problems would be to tear the system down to the foundations & rebuild it, I also see that it still has value (even as broken as it is). I also tend to disagree with people about what the problems actually are & that is why the system will never be truly fixed - people can't agree on what to fix. I also don't really see why so many are admantly against homeschooling. The reasons they give for why people should not homeschool are usually rather ridiculous. 1) Socialization - was your socialization confined only to the hours you spent in school? 2) Academics - my 1st grader is reading & comprehending at a 4th grade level; can add & subtract any positive numbers with or without decimals & with or without regrouping; studies Latin, History, Science, Math, & Language Arts daily and Art, Music, Logic, and Geography 2-3 days a week, and we're less than 3 months into the school year. How does the 1st grade program at your public school compare to that? 3) You aren't a certified teacher - Well, guess what? Private schools do not have to hire certified teachers, either. Plus, many states require homeschooled students to take the same standardized tests as public schools (which private schools don't have to take), and some require the students work to be reviewed by a certified teacher. 4) You're depriving the public schools of money by homeschooling - I am a property owner. That means that I pay property taxes. Part of my property taxes go to fund the local public school district. My kids don't attend those schools, so they aren't using that money to educate my kids, they're using it to educate other people's kids. The State, Federal goverment, other residents of my city, none of them are paying for my children's education. I pay for it. So, I pay for my kids' education & help pay for the education of others. What I really want to know, though, is why this is never thrown at people who send their kids to private school. They're not accused of depriving the public schools of money. People aren't outraged over the existence of private schools, even though they aren't held to the same standards as public schools.
Again, with this I fall in the middle. I have nothing against private schools, charter schools, correspondence schools, or public schools. I think it's great that there are so many educational options available. I chose homeschooling for my family. It is what works for us. I don't think everyone should homeschool. I won't try to force homeschooling on someone. I see many benefits from it & am happy that this is the path we have chosen, but I don't expect anyone else to follow the same path.

The debate of religious vs secular:
Really, what I have to say about this one, sums up my opinion on all of the debates & issues dealing with educational choices - Do what works for your family! All that really matters is that your children are healthy, happy and getting a good education. It doesn't matter if that is done in public school, private school, charter school, or homeschool. It doesn't matter if it's done with or without religion imbued in their classwork. It doesn't matter which method you use or what materials, as long as it works for you. Don't choose a method or materials because someone else uses it. Choose what works for you.

Sometimes, I'm a middle of the road person. I see both sides of the issue & can understand (though don't always agree) their points of view. Sometimes, I'm off the road completely, forging my own path through the wilderness. This is a big part of why I tend to not keep friends for very long & why I don't ever really fit in anywhere. I see the world in an entirely different way, and have yet to find anyone who sees it the same. Some people march to the beat of a different drummer. I dance to the tune of a sitar played by a monkey.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Yay! School starts tomorrow!

Public school starts tomorrow (ok, I guess technically today, since it's after midnight). That means the library will be less crowded & will have more kids' fiction in when we visit. It also means that the neighborhood kids won't be ringing our doorbell all day long. It means local museums will be more fun to visit during the week, again. It means we got great deals on basic school supplies a few weeks ago. I love back to school time.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Weekend

We had a great weekend on the lake with family. We went swimming, boating, & fishing. It was a beautiful place and there was so much wildlife. We saw blue herons, hawks, eagles, turkey vultures, catfish, turtles, sea gulls, and more. It rained on Saturday, while we were out on the boat. We got completely soaked. It was fun, though. Friday night, we got lost on the lake, trying to get home after dinner. It was dark & we weren't exactly sure which direction to go. Plus, we were pretty much out of gas.
It was such a great weekend. None of us wanted to leave. It was relaxing, beautiful, fun, and we were in great company. Jay was a bit skittish about going in the lake. He didn't really want to go in, even in my arms. He doesn't want to learn to swim & refuses to be in water that is too deep for him to stand. We got him in for a little while, sitting in a tube, as long as I was holding the tube. Dea would have stayed in the water the entire time, if we would have let her.
All of us girls went to an art show. There was some really cool stuff at the show. Unfortunately, most of it was beyond what we could justify spending. Dea bought a beautiful dreamcatcher and I got a gorgeous scarf. Then we headed to a flea market, where I got 3 little 'witches brroms', a Chinese fan, and some binoculars for Jay. Dea got a witch hat & a Chinese fan. I couldn't help but giggle a little at the sight of her walking around in her witch hat, using her new fan, as she walked around the rest of the flea market.
It was a fantastic weekend and I can hardly wait until we can do it again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Almost done with the Subtraction book

Jay is almost done with Subduing Subtraction. He's finished the regular subtraction work; all that's left are the additional topics. I told him that he can choose the order of the additional topics. So, next week we start graphing (he LOVES graphing), then Roman Numerals. After those, we'll do subtracting measurements (subtracting with feet, inches, yards, etc.) & time. I was planning to wait until after our Christmas break to start the next book. I don't know that I'll be able to stretch these topics out until Christmas, though, even if I add in some additional review of other topics. So, it looks like we'll be starting the next book before the break. I'm not sure if we'll do Mastering Multiplication next or if I'll let him choose which book to do next. He already has some understanding of all the remaining topics (multiplication, division, fractions, decilmals & percents). I do want him to do division before fractions. Other than that, I'm not really particular about the order in which he does the books.
He did some multiplication today while he helped me make dinner. He was so thrilled with himself when I told him that he had done multiplication. He really enjoys doing Math & loves to find ways to practice it in daily life, especially when he gets to use new concepts. He asks to weigh produce every time we're at the store. He loves reading the temp on the thermometer on his weather station. He helps with recipes and figures out how much we need when we double them. He adores measuring things with his ruler or a measring tape. I wish Dea could find the same enjoyment in Math.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This week

Yesterday was one of those georgous days. It was in the 70s & there was a wonderful cool breeze blowing. It was almost Autumn weather. We took advantage of the beautiful weather and played out in the yard together, after doing the shopping, going to the library, and taking Dea to that quack "doctor" at the walk-in clinic. Dea & I pulled out the badminton rackets & played (without a net). Hubby & Jay grabbed the footbal and roughhoused. It was the perfect weather for playing in the yard. I'm so looking forward to the Autumn, when it'll be like that more often.
We didn't get any school done yesterday. The kids are working right now, though. Dea is in the other room doing Math with dad & Jay is finishing up his ETC. We're leaving for a long weekend either tomorrow or Thursday. So, we're trying to get the whole week's work done before we go.
I don't know if I'll post again before we go. If not, I'll post on Monday to tell you all about our weekend.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why do I bother with doctors?

Dea woke up this morning with the classic symptoms of a sinus infection. This afternoon, I took her to a walk-in clinic. We'll be leaving in a few days & I figured some antibiotics would help clear it up before we leave. Well, the Dr decided to say that it would be virtually impossible for her to have a sinus infection because your sinuses don't even start to develop until age 10, and at 12 years old wouldn't be developed enough to get infected. WHAT!? Has this "Doctor" ever been to med school or taken an Anatomy & Physiology course? This is such a load of crap!
He said it was probably a cold, or a reaction to the mold in the air. No. It's a sinus infection. So, I'm treating it on my own. Stupid doctors.
I wish this was my first experience with a moron who apparently didn't attend med school. I've been dealing with them my whole life, though. It seems I'm constantly dealing with Drs & nurses who know nothing about medicine, anatomy, physiology, or how to treat a patient with respect. By the age of 6 I could tell them exactly where they needed to put the needle to draw blood. My veins hide (not roll, hide) whenever a needle comes near my arm. So, I'd tell them, "You won't get blood from my arm, you'll have to take it from my hand." They always thought that they'd be able to get it from my arm, and I'd walk out of the office looking like a junkie with huge bruises & several needle marks on both arms and one mark on my hand where they finally managed to get blood. Even as an adult, it's very rare to find someone who will believe me & not attack my arms out of some ridiculous need to prove that they'll be the one to get my veins to cooperate.
I can't count the number of times I've gone to the doctor (as a child, adolescent, and adult) and told them exactly what I had only for them to respond with "Well, I doubt that," or "We'll see about that," or some other similar response. Then, after they examine me, they tell me that I have whatever it was I said I had when I came in. Though, they always try to do make it sound like that wasn't what I told them I had. I've been wrong once or twice, but it's very rare. I told one doctor that I had an ear infection (I was in my 20s at the time). He told me that I couldn't have an ear infection, because adults don't get them, you outgrow getting ear infections by the time you're a teen. Guess what I had. That's right, an ear infection! At least he had the balls to admit that he'd been wrong. Last year, when I had pneumonia, I saw several different doctors. Each time, I told them I had pneumonia. Each time, they said I didn't. I got a shot of pain reliever, a bottle of steroids, and an inhaler. Dr #4 was the only one to believe me & I ended up needing to be hospitalized for a week on massive antibiotics & breathing treatments, after spending a week at home in bed with a fever of 105! I could have recovered much faster had just one of those first 3 doctors been able to set aside their pride and actually listen me.
Maybe I should become a doctor. That way, I would almost never have to see another doctor again. : )

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Holiday Celebrations

As I believe I've mentioned before, I love binders. Math may be the key that unlocks the universe, but binders are what keep the universe organized. I have many binders in  my house.

I've recently been working with my Holiday binder. This binder contains info on each of the holidays we celebrate. It has lists of food that I typically cook/bake, our traditions, lists of entertainment (movies games, etc.), ideas for possible new traditions, lists for cards, gift ideas, etc. Basically, anything anyone would need (or want) to know about how we celebrate each holiday goes in this binder. So, I've been working in this binder, looking at the holidays we celebrate, and thinking about why we celebrate them.

I'm sure many would disagree either with our reasons or with our choice in holidays (or both). I celebrate Easter & Christmas as family holidays, they hold no religious meaning for me. My husband, who is a Christian, celebrates them for religious reasons. I respect his beliefs & have no problem with accommodating his religious traditions. We're also starting our own Advent traditions, to help hubby  keep the Christmas spirit & not be overwhelmed by the commercialization of the season. This was actually my idea. I saw how stressed he was about the holiday season & decided to do something about it. It will mainly consist of  things like reading stories like A Christmas Carol & the Gift of the Magi; watching movies like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and our favorite version of A Christmas Carol; buying toys to donate; donating to the homeless shelter; and doing some of the holiday stuff our city does, but also includes an Advent Wreath and the telling of the Nativity Story. We celebrate St. Patrick's Day, not to celebrate St Patrick or what he did, but simply to celebrate our Irish heritage. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a family holiday, with no connection to the ridiculous so-called first Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims & American Indians. Of course, Independence Day is among our holidays, as well. We also celebrate some Pagan holidays. Halloween, or Samhain (I don't really care what you call it), has always been my favorite holiday. Beltane is a recent addition to my holiday celebrations (unless you count that it's my b-day & I've always celebrated that). We also celebrate the Solstices & Equinoxes. Pagans & Christians alike will notice some holidays missing form that list. I'm not forgetting them, we simply don't celebrate them. I only celebrate holidays that I'm drawn to celebrate. I see no reason for me to celebrate Imbolc, Lughnasadh, Lent, Epiphany, etc, I'm simply not drawn to them.

I don't force hubby to celebrate the Pagan holidays I chose to recognize. If he doesn't want to, I'm cool with that. I wouldn't force the kids to celebrate them, either. Just like we wouldn't force them to celebrate the Christian holidays. Hubby and I agreed to let the kids choose their own religious paths. I have never bought into the Tabula Rasa mentality - that kids come into the world as blank slates, no personality or indiviuality of their own, just waiting for an adult to tell them what to think, what to believe, and who they are. I know I sure as hell didn't need someone to tell me what to think, what to believe, or who I am. Spirituality is a very personal thing. No person, no matter how old they are, should feel pressured to follow any religion. So, I am adamant that my kids will choose their paths/beliefs.

Many disagree with this thought. I have been told countless times that a child isn't capable of finding their own beliefs, that if I don't raise them strictly in a religion, they will never find their path. I've been told that I'm neglecting their spirituality by not forcing them to memorize scripture, read the Bible from cover to cover, attend church, Sunday school, and Bible study groups. I've been told that I can't expect my kids to behave properly or to have any kind of morals because I'm not forcing religion down their throats. I've even had someone tell me that allowing them to choose their own paths is the cause of their ADHD & Dea's Bipolar.

I've been shunned by Pagans for not celebrating all the Pagan holidays & therefore (in their minds) not being truly Pagan. I've been yelled at by Christians for celebrating Christian holidays, because only Christians should celebrate them. I've been insulted for not completely buying into the Theory of Evolution (I believe some, but not all of it). I rarely discuss religion with people because I'm tired of being attacked for the way I see things. I know I see things in a different way than most. So, I've learned not to get involved in conversations about certain things. This is a rare post for me, and the closer I get to the end, the more doubts I'm having about posting it.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Eclectic Homeschoolers no more?

I've always said that we are Eclectic homeschoolers. However, I'm seriously considering changing that. I have no plans to change our method. The way we do things works for us. No, I'm just thinking about calling us something else. I'm thinking about actually naming our method & writing out all the details - what we do, what we use, our scope & sequence, my educational philosophy & how we meet each and every ideal/point of that philosophy.
I think it would be fun to do. (and, yes I know I'm strange) There's also the fact that it would give me a project, and I love projects! Plus, I've had multiple people suggest it & many others ask for more details about the way we do things. So, maybe I'll do it. Maybe, I'll write it all it out, get all the details on paper. It couldn't hurt, and might even be helpful to me. Then, once it's done, I can consider publishing it for others.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fun break

Jay is really into weather, right now. He loves going outside or looking out the window to see what the weather is doing. He actually enjoys watching The Weather Channel. He got a weather station as a gift for his b-day or Christmas, but we hadn't put it together yet. He wasn't that interested in the weather when he first got it, so I figured I'd wait until he was more interested or we were covering it in school. So, today we put it together & set it up outside. When we did the shopping yesterday, I bought a journal for him to use to record the weather. He's going to go out 2-3 times a day to get the readings from his weather station. He might even compare them to the readings from the weather station in a different part of our yard (from when Dea was studying weather). He'll record the readings in his journal, along with his observations and maybe the local forecast (to compare & check the accuracy of the local weatherman). He's so excited about it.

We've been on break from school for 2 weeks now. This week, he helped me make chicken & spinach lasagna. We made salt clay & used it to make pyramids. We've been reading the Sir Cumference books, and he's really enjoying those. He's used most of his tv time to watch Bill Nye dvds. Right now, he's in the dining room playing chess with daddy. Chess is another of his recent interests. He uses part of his computer time to play chess, almost every day. It's been a pretty fun (and educational) week. Dea's been gone since last week. She's spending some time with her grandma, and I'm sure they're having a great time.

Monday, Jay and I will get back to school. Dea won't be home until Monday night, so she'll start school again on Tuesday. Hopefully, we'll all be refreshed after the break, and ready to really work. I'd like for the kids to not be in the middle of a study when we take our Christmas break. So, I'd like for Jay to finish Ancient Egypt (maybe Ancient Greece, too) and insects & spiders. I'd like Dea to finish WWII & be between chapters in Biology. It would also be nice if she was done with Beginning Algebra & ready to start Advanced Algebra after the break (or already in Advanced Alg. before the break). The Christmas break isn't the halfway point of our year, so I would really prefer if we had even more done by then.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The great method debate

What method do you use?

Do you know what kind of a debate that question can start? You would think it would be a simple question to answer, but I've witnessed some pretty heated debates about this simple question.

There are several basic methods of homeschooling - Charlotte Mason, Waldorf, Classical, School-at-home (not to be confused with public school at home, where your child is actually considered a public school student, but does their work at home), Unschooling (though some consider Unschooling an entity separate from homeschooling), Cyberschool, etc. If you don't fit into one of the main methods, you're generally considered Eclectic. The problem is that some people think that you can't claim to use a method if you don't follow it strictly. Meaning, if you use the Charlotte Mason method, but tweak it a bit to work better for your kid, instead of doing it 100% 'by the book,' you can't claim to be a Charlotte Mason homeschooler (substitute the method of choice).  Others feel that, even if you tweak it some, what matters is that the basic structure or integrity of the method is maintained.

The one that seems to be most divided, though, is Unschooling. There are some Unschoolers who say that you can use any materials, as long as it was the child's choice. So, if your son wants to use a textbook for Math, that's fine, as long as it wasn't forced on him. Other's say no textbooks or workbooks at all, no matter what. Some say, you should limit tv, computer, and video game use, so they are more likely to look for other things to do. Others say they should have free choice with all their time, and you're stifling your child if you put time constraints on any activity. Some say it's fine (even encouraged) to introduce the child to new things they might be interested in by leaving out books on the topic, playing documentaries, planning field trips, etc. Others say that is interferring & the child should be left to find things of interest entirely on their own, with no interference (otherwise known as help) from you. Some say you can Unschool for some subjects, but have structure for others. Others say Unschooling is a lifestyle, so it's an 'all or nothing' deal.

The other methods don't generally have so much debate, but I think Eclectic is the only method I haven't seen a debate about at all. I really don't see why so many are convinced that there is only one way to do things, or that you have to follow a method 100%. It seems especially strange since we're talking about people who complain that the public schools try to force all kids into the same mold. Well, guess what? That's exactly what you're doing when you say that the homeschool method you use is 'the best one,' the Math curriculum you use is 'the best,' or when you tell someone that they aren't really Classical homeschoolers because they don't follow the method 100% by the book.

Kids aren't all the same. They don't all learn the same things, at the same pace, in the same order, in the same way. That is why there are so many different homeschool methods. That's why there such a variety of materials available, covering the same content, but in different ways.

I'm so tired of being told that I should use a different homeschooling method. I happen to like the way we do school. It works for us. The kids get to work at their own pace. We get to spend as much time as we want on each topic or subject, determined by importance to us & interest level, not determined by a curriculum or scope & sequence someone (who doesn't know my kids) came up with. We get to choose materials based on what will work for the kids & is at the appropriate level for their abilities. They're getting a well-rounded education, are happy, healthy, enjoy learning, and have the opportunity to follow their own interests in addition to studying the things important to their futures. Yet, I constantly get told that we need more structure, or we need less structure. I get told that I'm forcing too much on my kids & pushing them too hard (even though I'm not pushing them). I get told that I need to have more flexibility in our schedule (mainly when I tell someone that they can't have the kids because we have school to do), or less flexibility (when people find out that our daily schedule changes daily). The bottom line is this - The way we do things works for us. If you don't like it, that's too bad, but it's your problem NOT mine. Get over it & stop thinking you have the right to tell me how to raise or educate MY kids. You do your thing, and leave everyone else alone.