Friday, October 29, 2010

October 29

Weekend links:

FIMBY: Homeschool philosophy and practice I'm pretty much inspired by anything Renee writes.
Very, Very fine: those who can't teach Hilarious take on homeschooling and pseudo crunchy parenting
Organically Inclined: Those perfectly homeschooled children

Thursday, October 28, 2010

October 28

I love to read and to do research, so it wouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I've read a little about homeschooling too. I read The Home School Source Book last year which was um...interesting. The authors share a few of my views (attachment parenting, natural family living) but I could've done without reading their religious, racial, and political views. I bought it mainly based on the above mentioned shared views, but found it dated. I can see how it might have been a handy resource 15 or more years ago before the internets was huge.

I started The Three R's by Ruth Beechick this week. I haven't gotten very far into it, but I really like her no nonsense, no curriculum needed ideas about K-3 education. I totally want to be Zen and just believe that I don't need any more tools than the ones I already have to teach my children. But then I go on the WTM forums and that all goes out the window...

I also paged through Seven Times the Sun: Guiding Your Child Through the Rhythms of the Day as I'd been wanting to read it for a while. In AP circles, the term "Waldorf" gets thrown out a lot. So, many of the ideas in the book I was already familiar with (family rhythms) or practice myself (blessings and/or recitations before or during activities). I did learn a few new blessings which was nice, but I think this would be better book for a parent with a very young child (under two) who knew virtually nothing about Waldorf and/or needed tremendous guidance. I'm not really a "by the book" parent. In fact, I read an article recently that mentioned that while you may read parenting books, babies sure don't!

Today, I started Trust the Children: An Activity Manual for Homeschooling and Alternative Learning which I picked up at the library yesterday. I already love it. I rarely buy books anymore, but I'm going to purchase this one for sure. Kealoha starts out with an explanation of her own background as a homeschooler/alternative schooler. She goes on to mention everyone from Dewey to Neill in a short (two page) history of alternative education. I find her proposed educational utopia wherein schools become year round public learning centers akin to libraries where children can come and go as they please a fascinating and wonderful idea. That's as far as I've gotten. Lillian Jones has a much more thorough review here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27

"This is Blahblahblah Elementary school...nothing is wrong." Um, not really what you want to hear when you answer a call from your kids' former school. Apparently, I hadn't signed some form. It had nothing to do with homeschooling. I was still anxious about going up there though. I was worried that it would be some kind of trap in which I would be forced to meet with the principal and explain myself.  Yes, I am paranoid...and a huge chicken.

I thought I would miss the school once we started homeschooling. But I haven't. The truth is, I never really felt comfortable there for a lot of reasons. Now our school is the park, the library, the car, our dining room table or sofa. It feels right so far. And in the end, revisiting Blahblahblah Elementary wasn't as hard as I thought.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

October 26

Today is a little hectic, but that's o.k. I stayed up way too late last night and woke up way too early this morning. We've done a little math and a little language arts, but what we (I) needed most was to get outside. So, we went to the library. It's amazing how much a 30 minute outing can do. I feel energized but relaxed and the kids are thrilled with their new book discoveries as usual. They are heavily into graphic novels right now with Babymouse, Kit Feeny, and the new (to us) Geronimo Stilton being their favs. We'll "do more school" later. After all, flexibility is one of the great things about homeschooling. With that said, I'm going to curl up with some of my homemade granola...
granola squares

and The Three R's!

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25

Our day so far:
  • Early morning spent playing soccer in the yard (Daddy & Robin cut the grass yesterday)
  • Read aloud time for Robin and Wren.
  • Vocabulary and spelling words based on unfamiliar words from read aloud time.
  • Tears brought to you by the letter "P" which Finch has a hard time writing.
  • Fractions.
  • Too many sentences beginning with "I".
  • Division.
  • Hot Wheels.
  • Me loving Math Mammoth.
  • Time4learning. Much more fun than that pesky letter "p".
  • Breakfast...
  • again...
  • Snack...
  • again...
  • And in the background, nursing. Always nursing.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

October 23

Every person we have told about homeschooling has brought up socialization. It wasn't something that ever occurred to me would be an issue. My kids had a few school friends, but they were all just that: school friends. The only time they would really spend with those kids were a few minutes during P.E. and sometimes lunch (and then only if they were in the same class as they were not permitted to talk across tables). We're lucky enough to live on a street chock full of kids. There is a knock at our door nearly every day after traditional school is out asking if my little birds can come out and play.  It's not unusual for my kids to spend two or more hours outside on a daily basis playing and exploring a nearby field and "woods". My door slams a few times an hour as they go in and out with bikes, toys, scooters, blankets and snacks. The large, active homeschooling/attachment parenting community here also organizes many events and park days. The only thing preventing us from attending was school! On top of that, Wren is a Girl Scout, the kids all swim, and the boys usually participate in fall/spring sports. So, yea, I think we've got that pesky socialization issue covered.

Friday, October 22, 2010

October 22

Last night I dreamed that the kids hated homeschooling and asked to go back to public school. In the dream, I did the walk of shame through the school and could practically feel the superiority of the staff and the teachers. They knew I would fail. This dream came about b/c of a conversation I had with L right before I went to bed last night. I told him that more than anything, I fear won't be able to teach Finch, our 5 y/o, how to read. The older kids and I love reading, we have tons of books in the house, and we go to the library at least once a week. But I feel I don't know how to translate all that into teaching. We've been doing the free trials at Headsprout and Reading Eggs, but frankly, he finds those boring. He has asked that I teach him instead. So next up is The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading which I requested from the library. Today is our last weekday of "free time" before we jump into working from a curriculum on Monday. We're planning on doing a science experiment and DD Wren is going to do some research on Siberia which we heard a little about on NPR this morning. I definitely love being to learn about something when we feel like it without time limits or expectations and I know the kids do too.

October 22

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 20

Things got better on Monday. We met up with some other homeschoolers and my kids went letterboxing for the first time. I got to learn more about the co-op I'm interested in for the kiddos from a few people that are actually members. I woke up this morning without the butterflies I've had in my stomach for the past couple of days.

Yesterday, I gave the kids some math placement tests even though I know we're technically supposed to be deschooling right now. They are both about a grade level behind in math. And these are "honor roll" students. Damn that Everyday Math! I picked up Wren's remaining school supplies and got a sweet encouraging email from her teacher which was nice. We went to the library which is one of the kids' favorite places to go. They were thrilled to go in the middle of the day and promptly came home and spent a couple of hours reading. Love that. I spoke to my mom about everything that we're doing and she told basically told me that she supported me as she knew I was doing what I felt I needed to. She did the same for my brother and I when I was growing up. She was a fierce advocate and activist and still is.

I've made decisions about all our curriculum (curricula??) except for language arts for Robin (5th grade) and Wren (3rd grade). The breakdown is as follows:

Math: Math Mammoth for Robin & Wren, Singapore Math Essential Math Kindergarten for Finch
History: Story of the World 
Science: R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey
Language Arts: ?? for Robin & Wren, Headsprout for Finch
Art: Our normal weekly family art days & museum trips
P.E.: The kids take swimming and we are thinking of taking another class
Music: Undecided, they may learn new instruments

I'm also going to supplement with Lesson Pathways which is awesome and free (!) as needed.

Monday, October 18, 2010

October 18

It's done. Everything is filed. Filing the NOI was surprisingly easy. I did it in person and made sure to get a receipt. I then went over to the kids' school to withdraw them all. The staff was a little surprised but told me they would notify the teachers. I plan to send each of their teachers an email and we'll be picking their things up after school today. I feel a lot of things but what I feel most is fear. The fear has risen from the pit of my stomach to my head and my ears are throbbing right now. It's the fear that has prevented me from doing this for so long and I'm just going to swim in it for a little while. Not helping is the fact that my mother is against us homeschooling. She hasn't said it, and would never say it, but I can tell by her tone she isn't pleased. My mother and I are pretty close. Having her "on my side" so to speak is important to me. However, we are going to do this, regardless of the opinions of others. And with that, we're going to go meetup with some friends at the park today and try to forget about all that!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 17

I was up till 3 this morning cleaning house. For some reason, I really feel like I need the house to be perfectly spotless before we start homeschooling. As if a floor free of play-dough will somehow be the key to our academic success. I managed to tackle downstairs, and today I'll help the kids with their rooms. It's not just homeschooling that brought this on. With the holidays around the corner, I am trying to prepare for the deluge of toys that will inevitably enter our home in December. My children are the only grandchildren on both sides and are lucky enough to be loved by and receive gifts from quite a few people. On top of that, baby Lark will celebrate her first birthday two days after Christmas. So, yea, my house tends to look like a toy store at that time even though L and I buy almost nothing for them. This year, if anyone asks what they'd like, I'll recommend museum memberships and classes. Those won't have to be purged and I'm sure will provide many more awesome memories.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

October 16

Perfectly fine. That's how our public school year was going so far. Sure, my kindergartner experienced some bullying, ate cheese balls at snack time more than once and got sick in the first two weeks of school, but other than that...everything was going o.k. One day this week, L came home early and so was able to help the children with their homework. He was astounded by what they didn't know. He felt they were memorizing things to be tested rather than learning information they would retain.

At that point, I knew I couldn't do it anymore. Our afternoons were always extremely stressful with me sometimes spending three to four hours on homework with Robin who is in fifth grade. I lost my patience, there were tears, lots of breaks, and always frustration. I didn't want to spend my evenings being the enforcer when I knew my kid should be outside playing after spending 6 hours in a classroom. I thought, if I am spending this much time on "homework", my kid could just be at home. The plan was always to homeschool, but when the time came for Robin to start formal schooling, I was too scared. So instead, I sent him to school and boy, did we have some experiences. He was given a half day of in school suspension for eating another child's snack (the principal's child) in the second grade. He was bullied in the fourth. I fought the schools and the staff. Sometimes, I did nothing.

Wren fared somewhat better, I guess. In first grade, her teacher asked me if we had any books at home. Then a classmate told my little six year old girl that she didn't like black people. When I told her we would be homeschooling, she cried. Said she would miss her very very nice teacher. I asked her what else she would miss about public school. "Events."

Finch has only been in school for six short weeks but has already been called names and was afraid to stand up for himself for fear of getting in trouble. He is one of the wittiest kids I know and I really worried about putting him in public school. I worried it would break his spirit. I don't think he's going to miss it much.

A few months ago, when I was certain I would not send them back this school year, I went to a homeschool park day and someone remarked that they'd heard that most people want to live in my neighborhood b/c of the good schools. I guess. But I can't shake the feeling that my kids are just being passed through. And that bugs me. Especially since I am raising children of color.

On Monday, I will be filing my Notice of Intent (to homeschool) and withdrawing them from public school. And so it begins...