Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Going it alone

According to popular belief, you cannot homeschool without a whole community to help you. You must join a local homeschool group, be part of online forums, join play groups, have tons of other homeschoolers as friends, etc. One of the first things listed on almost every single list of 'How to Homeschool' is 'find a group.'

I guess this makes some amount of sense. Humans are, theoretically, a social species. As a society we have been trained to not think for ourselves and to follow in the footsteps of others, instead of taking our own route. So, we seek out those who went before so we can learn from them & follow their path. We often feel safer & more sure of ourselves if we have someone to look to that has been where we are now or is currently taking the same journey. For those reasons, it kind of makes sense to find a group, online or in real life, to join.

I, however, am done with groups. I have spent some time with a local group, only to decide I didn't want to join (for several reasons). I have joined several online forums/groups only to leave them again. I've tried making friends with local homeschoolers, only to find that we had nothing in common except being homeschoolers. Basically, in over 8 years of homeschooling, I have not found a single group that I want to be part of.

I've stayed on forums & other online groups, sometimes for years, before finally getting tired of dealing with them & leaving. I have never found a place where I truly fit in. On Secular boards/forums, there is often a condescending attitude about all religions & a belief that Atheists are more intelligent than anyone who could believe that there is something out there greater than we are. On other boards, that are 'inclusive,' there is a feeling that they are only inclusive if you are some brand of Christian or can leave your lack of Christianity at the door. Some boards are mainly unschoolers & relaxed homeschoolers. These are often full of criticism for anyone who 'forces' structure on their kids, even if the kids require structure to be able to function. They also seem very condescending to anyone who 'forces' their kids to learn anything that is not the child's choice. There are boards that are mostly school-at-home types. These are often full of ridicule & criticism for anyone who doesn't plan every second of the day, uses informal methods, or does not use textbooks & workbooks for every subject starting no later than 1st grade. There are boards that have constant pissing contests over who has the smartest kid or who is the best homeschooler. Entire threads, usually ones that started with someone asking for help, end up devoted to people trying to one up each other, often exaggerating or outright lying in order to do so. There are boards where people do nothing but complain. There are boards full of people who have diagnosed their kids (as in no professional involved, just mom's usually uneducated opinion) with everything from Aspergers to OCD to ADHD to Autism to being Profoundly Gifted to SPD to Bipolar and more. Many of these people claim that they won't take the child in for a professional diagnosis because they don't want the child to be 'labeled.' I truly believe that most, if not all, just don't want to find out that their child is average.

Basically, I've stayed on these forums for ideas on curriculum or for curriculum reviews & opinions. However, I simply don't feel it is worth it to have to deal with all the crap that comes with it. I am respectful of religions & don't care to be in an environment that isn't. I am respectful of of the various methods of homeschooling & don't care to be in an environment that isn't. I am tired of seeing people treat parenting & education as if they are competitive events. I am tired of reading posts that are obviously exaggerated or full of lies. I am tired of people diagnosing their kids with conditions they don't even understand, and then telling everyone that their kid has those conditions. There is a huge difference between the opinion of someone who is totally or mostly uneducated about a condition & the opinion of a professional who has spent years studying Psychology. I am tired of the disrespectful attitudes, the derision, the condescension, and the bullshit that so many homeschool forums/groups are full of.

So, I've sworn off all homeschool groups, both online & in real life. I mainly only wanted opinions & reviews of curriculum/materials and to find out about new curriculum/materials. I think I'll do fine with that without having to actually be part of any group. Most reviews & opinions I was finding were from places other than homeschool groups/boards anyway. I have found some new & interesting materials from posts on online groups/boards & am grateful for that, but I just don't think it's worth it anymore.

Part of it is my general anti-social attitude. While mankind may be a social species, I am not social. I have never fit in & gave up trying long ago. I much prefer to be alone than to be around those I can't be myself around. I also prefer solitude to dealing with other people's drama. I am very hermit-like and have become more so as I've aged. I simply no longer have the patience for people who are so busy trying to gain people's admiration, acceptance, and envy that they cannot be true, honest, and authentic. While I have met a few people on homeschool boards who seem to be authentic and who I like, the ones that annoy me far outnumber them.

Therefore, I am done with all homeschool groups. I follow a few homeschool blogs, though I never comment, just read. I will continue to follow those. That will pretty much be it for my interaction with other homeschoolers, aside from my own blog. I've never really gotten much support from any group I was part of; I wasn't there for support. So, I have really always 'gone it alone' on our homeschool journey. From now on, though, I will be truly alone in the homeschool community. I'm fine with that. Actually, I welcome it.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Friday

I hate Black Friday. I do not participate in it. I did one year. My sister had a lot going on & asked me to go with her & my mom, so I could act as a buffer. I went, for my sister. I hated every second of it. We went to Starbucks to get coffee. I don't do Starbucks. I find them overpriced and really prefer the coffee I make at home. We went to several stores I don't shop at. It was freezing out, and I hate the cold. I wanted to punch the idiot that was standing in line outside Toys 'R' Us, with her infant, at 4 am, in freezing temperatures. I will never go again. I only went as a favor that time. You couldn't pay me to do it again.

I have photosensitive eyes. They have gotten more sensitive as I've aged. This makes driving in the dark very difficult for me. I have to wear sunglasses when in a car at night, because the headlights coming toward me hurt my eyes so much. It is dark when Black Friday sales start.

I hate crowds. I have never liked being in large groups of people. I feel claustrophobic in large groups. I like my personal space and hate when people invade it. Stores are seriously overcrowded on Black Friday. They are full of people with no concern for the personal space of others. You can't walk or move without running into someone. People standing in line leave no space between them & those in front of them, so nobody can cut in line. If I can feel your breath on me, you are too damn close & need to back the hell off before I hurt you. People ignore this basic courtesy on Black Friday.

I normally go to bed anywhere between 1 am & 4 am. I would have to go to bed early on Thanksgiving, so I could get up when I'd normally be heading to bed, to go shopping.

Did I mention that I'm not overly fond of shopping? I despise shopping for me. Shopping for other people is somewhat better, but I often would prefer to just get most people a gift card instead of having to pick something out for them.

In other words, I dislike every single aspect of Black Friday. There truly isn't a part of it that I enjoy. I will venture out to go grocery shopping, though I'm not fond of the excessive traffic, and contrary to what some have said, grocery stores are still just as busy as usual (the least where I shop). I refuse to set foot in any other kind of store on that day, unless absolutely necessary. So, while so many people I know are out shopping, standing in lines, freezing, getting knocked around, and fighting for the items they want to buy, I am at home, snuggled in my bed, happy & relaxed. I think it takes a certain kind of crazy to enjoy Black Friday shopping, and I have an entirely different kind of crazy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Week in Review 11/23/12

This week was a short school week, of course, due to the holiday. We took Thursday & Friday off because my husband had those days off work. Due to only doing school 3 days & holiday lack of focus, we skipped a few subjects that I prefer have more time & attention than we could commit this week. It's a good thing we went easy this week, as he had a horrible headache on Tuesday & did almost nothing. We skipped Geography, Art, Latin, ASL, Spelling, History, and Science. Thanksgiving was fantastic, fun, and relaxing. We played a few games (over 6 hours of them), watched a little tv, and ate delicious food.

FF: p.132 - 135
LOFF: chap 25 - 27
Meas3: p.17-20

Langauge Arts:
EG4: p.217 - 220 Punctuation test
FTD: chap 1

Logic: MWW, FWL, Mensa Whodunnits

Monday, November 19, 2012

Next Year Science & History

As I said in my posts about how I plan the school year, I don't usually plan out a complete list of library materials that I plan to use for these subjects. However, I am this year. With the massive budget cuts I'm making for this next year, I want to make sure I have everything covered. Plus, we were going to have spines for History & Science next year, a first for Jay. Anyway, I have been planning out lists of all the materials our library has that we may want to use. It's been a huge pain trying to figure out a level for most of them. Some we may end up not using, because I can't guarantee the level of the books, and therefore I may have picked a few that are too young. My other problem is that they don't all have descriptions, which makes it a little more challenging to decide if it is right for what we'll be studying.

Of course, I will still run into the possibility of needing to put them on hold because someone else has them or they are at the wrong location. I deal with that now, even without a list, though. I'm still unsure if I like this new method or not. I'm also unsure if it will turn out to have been a pointless or useful exercise.

I do think the plan is coming along nicely, so far. I have a list of over 200 books & videos/dvds I hope to use for History. I have just finished the list of materials I hope to use for Science, and it also is over 200 items long. So, we should have plenty of material. I still need to do a little more searching for websites for both subjects. It does suck that we'll have less labs & hands-on projects than usual, but we'll deal. I've come up with a few project ideas, but am hoping to come up with a few more.

Hopefully, I have some time this week to work on planning for next year. With having to cut & reorganize so much, I still have a bit of planning left. We're doing light school this week, skipping a few subjects, and taking a few days off, for Thanksgiving. With any luck, all that time off will be plenty to finish any planning for the upcoming school year for both kids (I think I'm done with Dea's 9th grade year, but will double check).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Week in Review 11/17/12

This has been a long week. Let's start with Tuesday. Dea had an appointment with her therapist. At this appointment, we were informed that her current therapist is leaving & we're getting another therapist. Fantastic. We've been working with this one for less than a year. So thrilled that we are, yet again, being forced to switch to a new therapist. We're also told that we need to come back in on Friday, at a very inconvenient time, to meet the new therapist. Wednesday, we had to say good-bye to one of our cats. It was the oldest one, the one we had the longest. My husband had him before we ever got together. He hasn't been happy for a little while, now. He doesn't like the other cats or the dog (the cat, not my husband). So, he decided to show his displeasure by peeing everywhere except the litter boxes. After taking him to the vet to rule out medical issues and trying to correct the behavior, we finally decided it was time to let him go. My husband's sister agreed to take the cat. This is good because he will have run off the whole house (except the kitchen, where the chihuahuas stay) and will not have to deal with the stress of the other, younger animals harassing him. It was hard for us to say good-bye, though. It was a very tearful morning. Friday, we had yet another appointment with Dea's therapist. It was at a very inconvenient time & threw off the rest of the day. So, it was not a full week of school for us.

Jay finished his study of Water this week. We cut it short because much of what we were going to cover in this study will be covered next year in Marine Biology. He also finished AAS level 3. Last week, he finished CTD. This week, we didn't get to either Geography or Art, since we do those on Wednesday which was a really hard day.

FF: p.121-131
LOF Fractions: chap 21-24, bridge
Meas3: p. 12-16

Language Arts:
AAS3: step 27, 28
EG4: p. 207-216
FTD: chap 1

LFC B: chap 7

ASL: Getting Started in Signing section 2

Logic: MWW, FWL, Mensa Whodunnits

Science: watch dvd, read books, visit websites

History: read book

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Water Grade 3

This unit actually turned out to be even shorter than I had planned. It was going to include the differences between fresh & salt water and the animals that live in each, bioluminescence, and a review of the tides. However, he has decided to do Marine Biology next year, so that will all be covered then. It ended up being just a bit of review of surface tension, states of matter, the properties of water & what it can do.

Do You Know Where Your Water has Been?
Properties of Water
Why Why Why Are There Schools on the Sea?
Oceans & Seas
Survivor's Science in the Ocean
Diminishing Resources Water
Water: Opposing Viewpoints
The Solid Truth About States of Matter with Max Axiom
The Water Cycle

Science for Kids
Science Kids
States of Matter
States of Matter
States of Matter
The Water Cycle
The Water Cycle
Surface Tension
Surface Tension

Water: The Great Mystery (Netflix)

The 8 activities/demonstrations/experiments on water, in the Elements of Science kit

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Week in Review 11/9/12

I'm starting on this week's Week in Review post on Friday night. I'm rather proud of that. Lately, I haven't been very good about doing these posts at all, much less getting them done on time. It won't get posted until Saturday, but still.

Well, this hasn't been an exciting week. Really, not much happened. Dea had an appointment with the eye doctor & is getting glasses. The doctor said the prescription is really mild, even optional. We figure it's better to get them than risk her eyes getting worse because we didn't. Other than that, all that happened this week was Dea finishing her Algebra. She redid all the lessons she lost before the grades were entered, and then took her final (which she aced). So, onto Jay's school work.

Math -
FF: p.111 - 120
LOFF: chap. 17, 18, 19, bridge, 20
Meas3: p.3 - 11

Language Arts -
AAS3: step 24-26
EG3: p.197 - 203, punctuation test
EG4: p.205 - 206
CTD: chap 8 finished major writing assignment, is now done with the book
FTD: chap 1

LFC B: chap 6

ASL: Getting Started in Signing - section 1, chap 1 - 5

Logic: MWW, FWL, Mensa Whodunnits

Art: Leather work bookmark

Geography: MC - Bird Migrations

History - built castle

Science - read book, 8 activities from Elements of Science kit

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week in Review 11/5/12

I completely forgot to do this post at the end of last week. So, here's the Week in Review for last week. We took Wednesday off for Halloween. Halloween is a big holiday for us, and we always take off for it. We skipped ASL last week, while we decided on what we would use next. Since Jay does Geography & Art on Wednesdays, we skipped those last week, as well.

FF: p.97 - 110
LOFF: chap 14, 15, bridge, 16
Metric2: p.39 - 42 (finished
Meas3: p. 1-2

Language Arts:
AAS: step 23
CTD: chap 8
EG3: p.189 - 196

LFC B: chap 5 This was a review chapter, so we spent 2 weeks on it.

Logic: MWW, FWL, Mensa Whodunnits

History & Science: read books

Halloween was fantastic. The kids had a great time. We played pumpkin bowling & pumpkin darts. We played Halloween Scrabble, Halloween Bingo, and other games. We watched The Haunting. The kids dressed up. It was a fun day for all of us. After the day off, I kept forgetting we were in the middle of the week & kept thinking we should be doing Monday's work on Thursday.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

The plan for Thanksgiving this year is simplicity. We will be having a simple menu and simple entertainment. My husband doesn't seem to think my menu is that simple, though.

Grilled/Smoked turkey - we will get a few drumsticks & a turkey breast and hubby will either grill or smoke them
Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon or pancetta
Baked brie with artisan bread
Loaded mashed potatoes
Mushroom gravy
Corn on the cob
Cherry or apple pie
Spiced pumpkin angel food cake with citrus glaze

This is the original menu, decided on before I decided to scale back my holiday meals this year for financial reasons. So, I'm not sure what of this will get cut.

Thanksgiving Scrabble
Thanksgiving Bingo
Thanksgiving word puzzles (word searches & cryptograms) - found some online to print

Each November, we put up something dealing with what we're thankful for. This has included posters & an oil pastel cornucopia. We would then write what we were thankful for on the poster or on pieces of paper we then stuck to the cornucopia. The problem with that is that they always end up on the wall my calendar hangs on, meaning the calendar is taken down for the month. So, I've decided to go a slightly different way this year. I made us a Thankful Can. I took an empty oatmeal container, peeled off the label, and painted it. I cut a hole in the lid. Then, I cut several sheets of computer paper into pieces. I placed the pile of paper & the Thankful Can on the entertainment center. This way, everyone can get to it & add to it whenever they want. Plus, it's reusable, which is always a bonus. On Thanksgiving or at the end of the month, we'll go through & read all things for which we are thankful.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween! I hope you all had a great day yesterday. We did. We always take Halloween off school, since it's my favorite holiday. We took yesterday off & had a blast. We did Halloween Mad Libs. We played Halloween Bingo, with 3 sets of bingo cards, each a different theme (Halloween words, horror movie titles, & Stephen King books). The kids made mummy fingers & pumpkin brownies. I made bat wings. We had swamp water punch with a touch of toxic waste:

We had pumpkin bowling:

We had pumpkin darts (which was throwing knives, not darts):

Then, there was the great Pumpkin Massacre of 2012 - just look at that carnage:

We also watched The Haunting and played Halloween Scrabble, Scattergories, Wildcraft!, & Pass the Popcorn. We had a great day & hope you did, too!