Thursday, August 30, 2012

Laid Back Homeschooling, not quite Unschooling

If you've been following our homeschool story for the past 5 years, you may have picked up on the fact that I get overwhelmed sometimes. This year I've decided to be especially laid back, especially with the 7th-grader. The 11th-grader is going to be on a very structured program with Connections Academy,  so I need to keep up with what's she doing. However, I'll be doing that in a very laid back manner.

Here are the resources and activities I'm using to keep me sane and calm:

1) Meditation - We've been starting our day with it. Yes, the two year-old heckles us, but he knows that it's meditation time. He isn't exactly honoring it right now, but he is acknowledging it. I start my day in the bed with my own personal meditation, but we have group meditation for school to teach them the practice.

2) Exploration - When a question comes up, we explore it. It doesn't matter if we are in the middle of a structured lesson. We pause and explore. Exploring keeps them interested and keeps learning exciting. Today we studied more on nutrition, but we ended up exploring complete proteins for vegetarians (see related, but we took it where it led us).

3) Deconstruction within structure (linear vs non-linear) - Reading through a chapter in a the way that moves you. It's not necessary to start at the front and end at the end. Explore charts first, look at tables, read the questions. Explore it the way you want. Study it in the way that matters to you. (This keeps me as an educator calm because I don't have a child staring off into the sunset when boredom strikes)

4) Youtube, teachertube, google tumblr, blogger, TECHNOLOGY!!!! We live in 2012. I love to use what we have around to support me when I don't know something or if I'm too busy to focus on a question.

5) Lunch dates with Hubby! I have older children, so I leave them in the house alone and run off when I need too. They are great babysitters, and I take advantage of that. I do this to keep my mental health. Note: I make sure that their cell phones at close at hand and I CALL TO CHECK UP!

6) Community activities - We need classical music, we are using a Presbyterian church, we need acting classes, we are using an ensemble that pays our teenager, we need daycare, we are using the YMCA's classes for toddlers and the 1.5 hours in the playroom for childcare. We need books, we are using the library. We need to exercise and Phys Ed, we are using the YMCA again for swimming, volleyball, yoga, etc.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

We Studied MJ Today!

I love homeschooling because of days like today! Today was Michael Jackson's Birthday, so we paused to celebrate and study him. We watched his videos. I discussed what I knew about them. We danced, we danced, we danced, and we watched an interview he did in 1980.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

We Have a Banner!

11 y/o made us a banner for art class. I gave her few tips. Here's her natural talent:

Here's the one after momma gave her some tips (notice that Momma is a little more jazzy). Not only that, we talked about art being figurative versus literal. In real life 11 y/o is taller than me (see above), but in art she needs to show mom & dad bigger, to illustrate and communicate the family dynamic. Art needs to tell us something (I think), so Dad & I am teaching her how to do that.

Tween Chomping is out of Control

My 11 year-old is a growing, growing girl. She is taller than me and wears larger sizes than the 15 year-old. She is going to be a tall girl (maybe close to 6 feet). Since she's growing, she's always chomping, chomping, chomping. I thought that the first day of school was the perfect day to talk to her about nutrition. We did a mini-lesson from the Science book and then, she did this project on her own. The reason you see Calcium & Iron highlighted is because those are essential nutrients for children her age. This was done in Keynote on Macintosh. She's a great graphic designer, I didn't help a bit, accept with having her to correct some of the foods.

Monday, August 27, 2012

We're Back!

Homeschooling blast off in 5 4 3 2 1!  Eleventh grader will be doing public homeschooling and 7th grader will be on a homegrown curriculum that she and I created. Nearly 3 year-old will be doing learning play stuff.

I will be posting on this blog again, but not sure how just yet. The only thing I know is that we are homeschooling again, and I like to chronicle that by using this blog.

This is about what it will look like for the next few months. Check the facial expressions and body language, pictures don't lie :)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I Can Handle it!

Three things I remember when I took my daughters out of traditional school and decided to homeschool them. One teacher the year before had decided for me that my child's standardized test score was "not bad." Her math score was 59 percentile or something like that. I guess it was not too bad if you had no reference point. However, I did. My daughter had always tested above 90 percentile, so for it to drop so drastically was a huge red flag. The young teacher said to me with an attitude "I don't know what you want us to do for you?" I replied "nothing else, we'll take it from here."

The next year, she did one marking period in an All girls school and when we withdrew her, the honors teacher gave me some paperwork to get into gifted classes when she returned to school. I threw them out because I knew she would not be returning to that school system again. I could handle it, and I resolved to do just that.

The third thing I remember when I took my other baby out of her charter school was one of the teachers telling her how lucky she was to be homeschooled.

When my high schooler returned to school at the beginning of this year, I came to her guidance counselor ready for battle. I wanted to make sure she was on the right track to attend a great university. I actually had no problem at all. Based on the transcript I submitted and her new test scores, she went right into honors classes.

The first marking period she came out of the gate swinging with 5 A's and 2 B's. Every marking period since then has been above a 3.0, but not as great. She falls asleep and wakes up at the end of the marking period to slip in under the wire, so that she can attend the doughnut honor roll party.

Why am I saying all this? Because lately parents have been getting arrested for trying to send their kids to a great school. Arrested! For wanting what's best for their babies. The system is screwed up and it's set up to put certain kids in certain lanes their whole lives. If you know anyone who can homeschool, encourage them to do it. Even if it's just a year or two. The point is to grab the kids back, and to make them aware that whatever a school tries to do to them, they have the power over their education. We can handle it!