Thursday, September 30, 2010

Woops, it's been over a week!

Life has been barrelling along and I'm just trying to hang on. ;)

*Finally had a goodish morning yesterday, at least for the 16yo. Not so much for dd, and I don't think ds did any work, other than reading.
*I have not sat down to figure out lessons I can show the little one. It is starting to show that she has been very dependent on her sister to direct the way. She doesn't know what to do with herself a lot of the time. Although, part of that is sleep-dependent: if she did not sleep enough the night before, she is very dependent and not self-directed the next day--until she naps. ;)
*I need to remember to preview work before giving it to dd and to show her things or to tell her what new things are there. We're having the same issue as in the past where she thinks she ought to *know* all kinds of stuff already and beats herself up for "being behind".  :'( I don't know how to help her past this. Of course, it doesn't help that she did not manage to fight off whatever we were fighting off and has a full-fledged cold now. Makes her sensitive.

Other-wise ;) :
*ds is now 10!
*the 16yo is really showing some increased maturity. It's fascinating to see this development and change in him. He's not the same kid he was 2 years ago. Even his anxiety--he spent nearly 10 years of his life with anxiety, at a level that made normal functioning harder. I'm not sure what happened, but last year was a major growth year for him in that respect, and it's still continuing this year.
*I feel like I just have to hang on and can't really stop to plan for something different, read, etc. My poor inbox this week... Part of feeling like I can do nothing more than hang on is that I'm not using my time wisely and I am becoming more aware of it, which is good, because then I can do something about it. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How's the week going so far?

Well, it's Wednesday, I think. Yes. My inability to remember the day may indicate something. ;)

Dd and ds are fighting off something, so is the 16yo, and me, too. This makes for minds that aren't attaching well to any work, minds that aren't processing well. I need to make sure we eat better to help our immune systems!

Except for the 16yo, we went to a session held by our school board yesterday. Dd got to see a bit what it would be like if she did the online/virtual version offered. I asked her what she thought about it, if it's something she'd like to try. Kind of. "So, not really, then?" What appeals to her is HAVING to get work done. She recognizes that some of her skills are spotty because she hasn't worked consistently in some areas, but she also recognizes that she avoids those things because of how she feels about her spotty skills. She wants to *have to* do certain work--but she'd prefer I be the one to make her. :) So, with our health being so-so at the moment, I will start requiring certain work from her, not too much, and we'll gradually add to it. I think part of the requirements will be to get at least 3 fruit/high vitamin C servings each day! ;)

On the inner preparation note, I am admitting to myself once again that I am *too* flexible when it comes to changing things and I need to learn to set some limits. I used to have limits; they were very clear. And while the 16yo's work habits have always been not very good, dd's were. If I stuck to limits more, I think the 16yo's would be better, as would ds's.

Speaking of ds... Wow, the things a kid can learn in a few days on dinosaurs, more than I have learned in a lifetime on them! He's been pretty much playing and reading dinosaur books for days now and not much else. He has all kinds of information that he just randomly pours out. He saw yesterday about a project fair and some pictures on projects and he has said he'd like to do a project on dinosaurs. He's definitely got enough interest! I think I'll buy him a display board and he can do a display project--and if he decides to participate in the project fair, great, but if not, at least he'll have this wonderful piece of work to show off. :)

Today is get work done in the morning and then French class in the afternoon. I had some thoughts about things to do for the French class, so I'd better go get them down in writing so I know what I'm doing later on.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

5 Years

Dd and I were talking about dorm rooms for some reason, which led to her asking about the college she wants to go to and what their rooms are like, which then led to her exclaiming, "I'm going to college in *5* years." 5 years. She'll be there 5 years from now. OMG.

That means in the next 5 years, we need to make sure she continues with her art studies, possibly finding professional lessons somewhere at some point. In addition to a portfolio, the college wants the provincial high school diploma "or equivalent" with a 60% average on 4 of the grade 12 subjects.

I'll have to do some chatting with them within the next couple of years. She is grade 8 now, our high school starts in grade 10. Does equivalent to them mean a homeschool parent-provided diploma? I don't know. If there is something we need to do, or a way I can encourage them to see "or equivalent" in something other than a provincial diploma, or find out what sort of courses from an accredited distance learning university in the province would have her count as a transfer student.

Of course, this also has me thinking again about her high school plans. And even just this year's plans. We've kind of slacked the past couple of years. While we're having a hard time getting going this year, I still am determined to have her work in all the typical academic areas REGULARLY. It'll happen. 'Cuz I'm going to make it happen. ;D

Inner Preparation

I picked up a book at the library the other day which is fitting well with my need for inner preparation: No Matter What by Lisa Nichols. I think I'll go read a bit now and get myself off this computer. :D

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Difficult week

After Monday, things went downhill for various reasons, a bunch out of my control that had a huge impact on us. I was feeling very disheartened yesterday, and even somewhat this morning, but I'm starting to find the determination again. Hopefully next week will not bring with it too much craziness and unexpected bad news!

Let me think about next week while I'm here:

*Monday: Ds has a dentist appointment. I mustn't forget like I did this past Thursday. Fortunately, it's close by and they call if you don't show up--they kind of worry something happened to you! lol--so we were able to still get in on Thursday. I would hate to be late AGAIN. Other than that, we have to drop off school plans for Bob (ugh, these plans are driving me crazy but they're due Monday) and pick up some resources for him. And do as much work as we can before ds's dentist appointment and insist on at least an hour after lunch (which will be after the appointment). Although, if the appointment runs late, we have to get those errands done, so the afternoon work session might not take place.

*Tuesday: Morning--work time. There is an open house thingy for the school board my kids are registered with and to which we will go--that starts after lunch. We'll also have to go to the library. I hope to find the DVD I took out last week, and due today, which I have looked for repeatedly today and can not find! With the open house, the afternoon work session will not happen.

*Wednesday: Morning--work time. Afternoon--French class. Again, no work session. Argh.

*Thursday: Morning--work time. Afternoon--I was hoping to make it to a park day, but after having 3 afternoons of no work, maybe I should have work time instead. Especially since we'll have Friday afternoon off for a mini-birthday party for ds. Although, part of me thinks that if we've got every other afternoon this week off, maybe Thursday should be off, too! I think I'll see how the morning work goes for the first part of the week. I don't want to make it a coercive thing of "If enough work gets done, then we can go to park day." But, maybe it can be a discussion topic on Thursday, if they want to go--"This is our only opportunity to work in the afternoon. What do you all think about the work getting done so far this week? Would going to park day be reasonable?" Or some such. I should look through my mini Choice Theory Language book and see what would be good.

*Friday: I might insist on work, just because work has been difficult to fit in. Ds will have the day off because birthdays are days off of school work here. :D We'll do some sort of fun thing in the afternoon. Although, I might have to cancel morning work or make it really short--I have to be home by 3:30. Hm. I'll have to think about this. Maybe work Thursday afternoon with the knowledge that Friday will be a fun day out of the house. Ds has been asking to go to the local amusement park in the mall--I think I might just surprise him with it. I really don't like going, so it'll be an extra special surprise. I'll even take an unusual route to get there. hehehe.

Bob's school plans:
Argh, argh, argh. I thought they would be simple enough to do. No, no, you have to go through chunks of the provincial government's program of studies and say what you will use and how you will meet them. Plus you need to provide a rough plan of the year AND have a list of assignments the student will do for marks. SAY WHAT? This is proving to be more challenging than I thought! I've been making his ELA very detailed, but I'm going to try to skimp a bit on the social studies and science, and his phys. ed. plan has another week before getting in, so I can talk to him more about it next week and we can work it out together. I'll share more later maybe about what he'll do specifically in each subject.

Other than those specifics, part of my goals tomorrow is to work out goals and routines/schedules for the week for all of the kids. I have been neglecting pulling out things for the littlest one--and it's been showing. I either need to get things well enough together to show her something new or make sure to pull out different things each day for her to do. A refresher of beginning practical life and sensorial activities would be good for me.

Really, what I need to do most now is get *myself* organized: goals, priorities, vision, action steps and follow through. The lack of these is, I feel, my biggest block for the kids right now. That ever important inner preparation that Maria Montessori stressed in her teachers. I'm taking up the challenge. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Determined focus a little thwarted...

...yet good still came of it!

My determined focus yesterday went head-to-head with child tiredness (3 out of 3 students), crabbiness and more. Work was slow, but did manage to get through some stuff with Joe. Dd had a meltdown over math; but it was like it was needed to be able to move forward. We now have a higher level of Life of Fred ordered so that she can do something newer that doesn't leave her feeling like she's way behind. Ds had a meltdown, too, after I got testy with him (yes, admittedly, the crabbiness wasn't restricted to the kids!), but that ended up being good, too, because he has been more cooperative and interested in doing work activities.

Today was a bit of a right off. Too many tired children and kind of waiting around for Joe to go to his dentist appointment. He did finally decide that yes, he will do his diploma. I need to structure things and figure out what we'll do. I also think I need to make some deadlines for his math, ELA and science.

I have definitely decided to cover more than one unit at a time for him in math. I brought it up today and he nodded his head in assent. Not sure if I will try to get a CM-thing going--15-20 minutes of the algebra, then a different subject, then 15-20 minutes of the trig or maybe statistics, something like that. Cover 2, 3 or even 4 units per day. I just read an article on study habits which *ding ding ding* said that the students who retained the most changed things up more frequently. Which really has me thinking...

One of the things I have struggled with for CM and Montessori is how Montessori is all about letting the child have as much time as s/he wants and CM is about changing it up frequently. It's really sinking in about why there is this discrepancy: CM is about deciding what the student will do. If it's not self-chosen work, something that they're doing because they really connect with, then short blocks of time are probably better than longer blocks of time. With Montessori, the aim is "the flow"--which requires long blocks of time. CM doesn't ever get to "the flow", except maybe in the afternoon freedom.

This also has me exploring my own wants for my kids. I am leaning more and more towards a more CM morning with a Montessori afternoon. My kids are nearly 10 and nearly 13--we're not in the basic Montessori exploration anymore. And my son is woefully incapable of writing and "behind" in math because of my tendency to just let him be. (On the flip side, he can tell you about all kinds of dinosaurs and sharks!)

Having a basic routine first thing in the morning HELPS, I find. CM sought to vary it every day, which might be good for the schedule for the entire morning, but for the very first thing, at least for now, the knowledge that xyz will happen gets them going. At least for Joe and ds. Still have to tackle dd a bit. ;) She's on a huge piano kick. I can't remember the name of the song she's learning right now. I'm trying to stay hands off as much as possible--I learned what I learned on my own, by gradually paying more attention to what I was doing, etc. I know what I know now not because someone interfered with what I was doing, but because I adjusted and learned more as needed. When she asks for stuff, I'm there for her. I guess it goes back to a basic Montessori principle: don't correct. It doesn't matter that she's almost 13. Corrections make us feel wrong, incapable. A separate lesson at a different time is just a lesson. She can be 13 or 3, it's really not any different, is it?

So, for the rest of the week:

*Focused morning tomorrow. Hopefully I'll be bright and awake in the morning because I'm way too tired at the moment to plan out anything focused.
*Afternoon: I'm running a class from 1:30-3:30.
*Thursday: We have the whole day available to us, except I really ought to stop in at the school Joe is registered with to drop off forms and to pick up other ones. With him doing his diploma, I need to fill out some stuff about how we are going to meet the objectives. Oh, need to stop at the resource library while we're there, too.
*Friday: My niece and all nephews have a PD day (professional development day for the teachers at their school--teachers have to work, students have the day off); it'll be a day off for Joe and a fun day for my kids.

All right, must get to bed!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Determined focus on its way

I've been working on my determined focus for the school week. Because ds tends to just try to get through work really quickly to go have fun, I decided to have him do a schedule tomorrow. Yes, horribly un-Montessori of me; however, it does kind of fit with my feeling to incorporate a bit of Charlotte Mason into the mix.

Here's his schedule for tomorrow (Monday):

8:45 - French
-spelling/grammar workbook
-reading or writing, his choice

9:15 - Math
-place value lesson, then do worksheet and/or create his own numbers

9:45 - break time for everybody

10:00 - Science
-look through library books, make a poster of things learned, find an experiment, his choice

10:30 - Social Studies
-work on learning the name and location of 5-10 states--colouring and labelling the states on a map and practising mentally to name them or locate them on a blank map

11:00 - Free choice
-art, Garage Band, guitar in his room, piano (with headphones), German, or other educational, OR spend time with nearly 3yo

11:45 - lunch time for us all, followed by at least 15 minutes of silent reading

~12:30 - free choice of activities, as long as it doesn't bother those who are working (meaning, Joe and most likely dd)

So, it's nothing super heavy, but provides a structure to give a sense of, "Hey, this is work time." If I had the luxury of simply presenting lessons throughout the morning, I would, but I don't! Joe is likely to go completely off track. That's an area to definitely work on this year: developing focus and independence in work. It's not that he can't--he does it now and then when he has an idea of something he wants to be able to do that day but I say work comes first. It's developing the habit of doing it. (Oooooh, there's Charlotte Mason again.)

For Joe, here's what I've come up with:

8:45 - ELA part 1 (handwriting, spelling, phonics/oral reading)--so, really, three different activities during that time
9:10 - Math part 1 (continue with the trig, or pick a different unit; if trig, do at least half of the questions)
9:45 - collective break
10:00 - science -- first assignment for environment unit
11:00 - mini-break followed by Math part 2
11:45 - lunch and silent reading
~12:30 - ELA part 2 (work on chapter 1 analysis--I have a sheet for him to fill out; and listen to up to 30 minutes of the novel)
1:30+ - discuss diploma; if going ahead, start social studies! Discussion topic--could last 30-45 minutes

Done for Monday.

If he is going to go for the diploma, we'll have to have at least a few days each week where he works until at least 2:30. I am busy with a class Wednesday afternoons, and Friday afternoons are usually off, so I guess that means the other days will be work afternoons for him.

On other thoughts: I thought about how his education is more than just the academic subjects he's covering. I've requested "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens"--the only copies available right now from the library were on CD, so we can put it on during lunch hour or something; at the same time, it saves me from having to sit down and read! I also know I need to start building in learning strategies with him. He was doing some copywork last Friday and he complained about something. I asked a few questions and basically, it turned out he had no strategy whatsoever for copying the words. "Are you reading the words before copying?" "No." Ach. He's been trying to copy letters at a time. That's not at all helpful! And it's very hard. No wonder he hates copying!!! I'd like to find various resources on learning strategies to mix with our work during the school year. We do have access to an online course, but it seems to assume basic strategies are already in place--it gets right into taking notes and time management. I need something more basic than that for now.

I'd also really like to do the Socratic Logic this year, or get started on it--I think it'll be interesting and I think Joe could benefit from some logic training! :)

I did plan for dd, too, but just a list of things for her to do, requiring that she work on French, math, science and social studies tomorrow. She is good at picking something and just getting to work, so no need of a schedule for her. She would love and fit in well with a Montessori Erdkinder!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Not sure what to report about the last two days. There was something I had wanted to write about after Thursday, and I can't remember what. Maybe if I just babble a bit, it'll come back to me. ;)

My 5yo niece was at school, so that left 2yo niece. I pulled out some things for her, but I can't remember how well that went. What was I doing with the olders? Not sure. Hm. I know one thing I placed on the little table for her was water pouring and I showed her how to do it. She loved it. Unfortunately, I put a cloth placemat under, which meant she couldn't see if she'd spilled water and then wipe it up. Ah well.

I do remember by the end of the day, she had gotten very antsy. I need to remember to direct her to more practical life activities and such. She very much wanted to play with her sister--who was going to be coming after school, along with her brother.

Her sister, btw, is loving school so far, but why not? It's a small group at the moment and it's all centre time, outside time, snack time, story time and rest time. I did find out something yesterday that kind of concerned me: these kindergarteners are allowed to leave the classroom by themselves during story time to go to the bathroom. They simply take a pass and go. Now, the bathroom is not near the classroom. They have to go down the hall--almost to the exit doors on the playground side. Am I too influenced by society's fears on this one? I don't think so. Growing up, kindergarten classrooms either had bathrooms or you never, ever went to the bathroom by yourself. Any thoughts? I'd love to have people's feedback on this!

Other than that, yesterday ended up being a day off. We had a meeting in the morning, then we were going to go on a field trip to a science centre, but we got there and it was closed due to a water main break. Bah. We went to the movie store to rent a movie. Nothing we all wanted to watch. Not much as individuals we wanted to watch. Went to the convenience store to get a treat--the olders got slurpees, which were apparently not properly connected between the syrup and the ice. Two of the flavours were too watered down and had no flavour. They got dumped. Joe decided to just have grape because a quick taste test showed it did have flavour. Turned out it had too much syrup in the mix and he couldn't finish it. Bah.

But, the morning meeting: We found out that Joe would have to do all 3 levels of social studies. I don't know if it's going to be possible for him to do all the work he needs to for the provincial diploma AND be done by the end of next school year. I worked out some stuff last night and will have to talk to him on Monday.

Next week is going to be a difficult week in terms of establishing routines. Joe has a dentist appointment at 11:20 Tuesday morning for BRACES. He might not be fully functioning Wednesday. Wed. afternoon, I'm running a class in my home. Friday, Joe gets off as my niece and nephew have the day off school and we made arrangements to spend the day with the other cousins, who go to the same school and have the day off, and the grandparents, who are babysitting the other cousins for the day. I must, must, must have a determined focus and vision for the time we do have next week!!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Another day, another bit of progress

Well, kind of.

I think we did take a good step towards establishing some good routines. It's slow going, but that's the best way to make sure the routines will take. It was complicated by the fact that I have come down with some sort of virus, which had me awake at 3:30 this morning, going through about 20 Kleenexes, a headache and slight fever (which thoroughly messed up my brain--twice I went upstairs to get some Advil and later, once back downstairs, I couldn't for the life of me remember if I'd actually taken any, which means I didn't take any after because I didn't want to overdose; I think in the end, I did take some Tylenol, but didn't actually take any Advil the whole day), both my kids were on the grumpy side, dd slept until 9am, both had pink faces later on and a slight fever. *sigh* Joe was a little stuffy and his brain was having a hard time processing even stuff that had nothing to do with school.

So, what did we accomplish given all that?

Joe started off the day with handwriting. After a tiny bit, I was going to move onto something else. He said, "That's it? What's the point if that's all?" lol. So, I had him do more. Then we did Sequential Spelling (I started him off on Level 1, but I'm skipping over various words). At that point, he and dd were chatty and I decided to not continue with ELA, but switch subjects. We then covered the intro part to his unit on the environment in science. After that, it was break time, even though we were only an hour into work. That's still pretty good for around here. ;)

Break time led to being on Facebook. Not sure that I like that idea. Too hard to get them off the computer--maybe using a timer would be helpful. But given I had a headache, couldn't think straight, Joe and dd were sluggish (ds was playing with his cousins--my one niece doesn't have school today, but will be back there full-time as of tomorrow), I let it go while I ate and proceeded upstairs to get Advil that I don't think I ever took.

After that, we reviewed some of the trig. I don't know how much Joe actually processed. I ended up using his Blackberry to text with his sister, which he encouraged because, I'm sure, it meant no more math for the time being, then we tackled a sample learner's license test. He just about passed. He would have passed had he paid attention to some of the questions better, but he was trying to just go faster and be done with it.

We were slow to get to lunch finally, but we did, then I continued reading a bit from "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." What a great novel for Joe to have as a novel study! Totally has his interest.

By the time that was done, we were done for and I decided to put on a movie I had recorded, "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium." It's one of those movies where the first time through, I wasn't really sure what I thought about it. Since then, I've seen at least most of it more than once and it is now one of those movies that I just love watching!

So, that was the essence of our school day. The progress was more in the kind of work feeling first thing AND actually doing some work after lunch. I think I have to put the novel study after lunch most days--it's just a kind of relaxing thing and fits best as a final thing to do for the day.

I did tell Joe that he has to get the first trig lesson actually completed tomorrow. I may take a Charlotte Mason approach with it, having him do some of it, then do a different subject, then come back to do another bit of it. I'll at least suggest it to him if he's not getting into the flow, give him the option of gracefully moving onto something else, with the knowledge we will be coming back to it shortly.

I also had an idea that I'll have to mull over a bit. He has a tendency to crumple up loose leaf paper, even if it has work on it. :/ There is also the issue of switching papers or notebooks when switching subjects. I had the thought of him just having a single notebook. Each morning, he writes in the date, then proceeds with his work there. His handwriting could be there, spelling, math, etc. Everything would be all together, no loose papers to lose, and he would progressively get sensorial feedback as to how much he's actually working. Getting through a single notebook could help create a sense of, "I have worked, and I've done all of this." Just a thought at the moment.

As for my kids' work... Um... With both feverish and ds getting his last day in with both girls, I'm not sure what they really accomplished. Ds looked at some science experiment books tonight to start thinking about what sort of project or experiments he'd like to do. Dd decided earlier in the day that she wanted to work on the nervous system for biology. I'm thinking it might be best to start off with books on the topic, let her notebook what she finds, photocopy and paste in the notebook certain diagrams, etc. I'm not sure if we have anything in the house at the moment that would work. I have a copy of the grade 12 text, but it's the grade 12 text and, well, I do prefer more living-type books. I think a medical text could be better done and more interesting than the high school text. Of course, the big challenge is finding a living book that covers the nervous system. Hm...

Fantastic math worksheet generator link!


I saw a link about how British Columbia has initiated the full-day kindergarten. Curious, since more and more schools here are doing it, I decided to read the article. My mouth literally dropped open when I read this:

Angela Pellicia said her daughter will become more independent with better social and language skills.
“Two and a half hours isn’t long enough for kids to be away from their parents,” she said.
The girl is, what, 5? I don't know what appalls me more: that the mother has believed that her daughter can't develop social skills with her family and less intense activities, that the mother doesn't think well enough of herself that she can help her daughter develop good language skills, or that she actually thinks her 5yo ought to be away from her mother for more than 2.5 hours a day. How does a 5yo need to be away from their parents on a daily basis???? That's going to develop independence? My 2yo niece is highly independent, and it's not because she is away from her parents all day. It'd be interesting to see this mother's reaction if we were speaking face-to-face and I told her that my almost 10yo and 13yo are rarely away from their parents that long. ;) Honestly, other than a few sleepovers at their cousins' place and maybe a birthday party, I'm not sure my son has otherwise been away from both parents that long.

Better numeracy and literacy because of full-day kindergarten? This is sad. It just goes to show how many parents rely on the school system to teach their kids. My husband sees it all the time--parents who seem to expect the school to take care of more than they really ought to. And honestly, how much numeracy is covered in kindergarten? I mean, really? (Not in a Montessori, just a regular kindergarten.) I just looked up my provincial program of study for kindergarten math, which is almost identical to BC's, if not identical. "Say the number sequence from 1 to 10 by 1s, and from 10 to 1." "Recognize at a glance and name familiar arrangements of 1-5 objects or dots." Etc. for numbers up to 10. Stuff on patterns (no numbers), comparing size and weight of objects (no numbers)... Full day kindergarten makes that much of a difference? And then they are trying to say that full-day kindergarten has an effect on graduation rates. EXCUSE ME????? Correlation is not causation and I doubt very much that kindergarten has anything whatsoever to do with graduation rates. It'll be the quality of relationships and learning in later years.

The really ironic thing in all this is that kindergarten is still optional. Governments are paying more, touting all kinds of benefits from the full-day kindergarten but it is optional. Parents enjoy paying less childcare, so they don't seem to notice or care that the switch to full-day kindergarten actually means more taxpayer money being used for it.

Of course, don't get me started on the whole "school builds better social skills" topic... ;D

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First day of *work* done

So, we got a bit of work done today. I think we actually did pretty well given we have such bad habits built up. ;) Joe did some handwriting, Sequential Spelling, we talked about novels (setting, character types, point of view...) and then I read aloud a bit from "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." He is loving it. :) Naturally, that set the desire to watch the movie again, which they are doing right now as the day wraps up. Other than that, I got him to verbally work through part of his first trigonometry lesson; I already have some things put together for him to review the stuff tomorrow and finish up the lesson.

Dd got to work on art this morning. It's not her course work, but that's okay. She had printed off a picture of a rose from the internet, traced around parts of it, then put a white sheet of paper over top, placed it on a window and traced the lines she had made. She then pulled out the tubes of watercolours (which haven't been taken out in months and months), complained to me that they weren't doing what she wanted them to do, added water to thin them out, then was happy.  After that, she worked in one of her new French workbooks. She was going to do some math, but I don't think it happened.

Ds did some cursive and read in a book on animal facts. He also did Garage Band, which he is counting as music time. lol. He is right, of course, but he needs to get some work done on writing and math, too!

The little one was content to do a puzzle with dd first thing, then followed ds into the den to listen to his music creations. After that, she did some of the activities I had put on the little table for her (pouring beans, a cylinder block and a Discovery Toys Mosaic Pegs activity) and kept herself busy with all 3. After that, she got kind of goofy and noisy and wandering aimlessly, so I brought up the preschool kitchen and she very contentedly played with that until ds decided he'd done enough work, made a fort in the family room and played with her.

That was all just this morning! :) We decided to go out for lunch since I had errands to run anyhow, had lunch, hung out at the Apple Store for a bit (always fun), finished the errands, including a brief stop at the library where I discovered that a mechanical engineering book I requested for Joe, thinking it might interest him since he wants to go into mechanical engineering, was actually at least a 2nd-year university textbook. lol. I'll keep it around a bit; maybe he'll decide to have a look at it. It did give me the idea of changing how I refer to his subject work. All the math he's doing for the next few years, and the physics, is all used in engineering. He might quite enjoy thinking of it all as his pre-engineering program. Which, really, is a good way to look at it to make sure we are focused on him learning what he needs to be able to do what he wants to do.

In any case, we stopped at his place on the way back home to grab the movie, got home, little one was asleep in the van, the others went to watch the movie, and I kind of flitted around between school prep, cleaning, checking in on the hermit crabs...

All in all, a good day. To make tomorrow better, I think we'll need to have a little talk in the morning about the level of talk and what they will do about it, and the need to get a minimal amount of work done each day. I know in the past, we did a thing where they decided the consequences of "breaking the rules" and it worked rather well. We have slipped so far away from that kind of thing, it might not go over so well. I just know that I can't be the police officer keeping them on task!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

High school education and more

So, on Friday, Joe asked my dd, "Are you going to do your diploma?" She said she might, that it would be a good goal to work towards. (Wow, the changes that happen in these kids! There has been a whole shift in her thinking this past year.) I said maybe not, but I'd explain later.

What kind of parent says that a diploma isn't a good goal to work towards? lol

I brought it up with her last night to explain what I meant, that where we live, the diploma Joe is talking about is the provincial diploma, given by the government, and I explained how homeschoolers in the US do their diplomas and transcripts and all that, and that some people here are starting to do that and we could do the same. No real interest until she found out that to get the provincial diploma, she'd have to do their social studies. Ick. lol. This led to discussing various things and she said if we did our own social studies, then we could study interesting things, like Genghis Khan. "You want to study Genghis Khan?" "Yeah!" He is part of a book she's reading right now. "Well, how about you get started on that this week for your social studies work?" "Okay!" So, there we go, now she's got an area to explore this week for that subject area.

I also said to her that she really could get started on some of the work now, most likely. Honestly, she pretty much followed along with what was the mid-level grade 10 English program last year and was fine. (There are 3 options per grade, here.) She's technically only grade 8, but why not push her when she wants to be pushed? She also said she wants to do tests and exams. Crazy kid. lol. I think it's because she's feeling more confident, wants to see how much she remembers, things like that. So, things to add to the plans for the year.

More thoughts: I also had the thought that if I looked at the Ambleside Online curriculum (Charlotte Mason), that would be another way to get her moving further with her studies with some challenging literature. Truly, simply following the program offered in schools here will not bring her as far as I think Ambleside would. So, maybe what I should be doing is starting with the high school stuff, then moving to Ambleside. ;)

I'm finally starting to feel like things are falling into place well to start this school year. Good--we're starting on Tuesday. :D I did work out a plan last night (yes, I even plan Saturday evenings) of what she should work on during the week in each subject area. Here is what I have:

GERMAN: This *I* have to do. One expression/phrase/useful sentence per day. And just try to remember to use it with them!
FRENCH: Every day; work in new workbook or do other French work (grammar, reading, writing)
MATH: Life of Fred every day, aim for at least 45 minutes per day
SCIENCE: at least twice this week; **I actually have to figure out what to guide her into, she wants to do human biology and while so many sources say to start with botany, I think she will want to toss science aside if she has to go the botany route first; I need to see what would be a good human biology topic to get going on
SOCIAL STUDIES: Genghis Khan--if she needs guiding questions: Where was he from? What do we know of his early life? What did he want to do? What did he accomplish? How did he do it? What were the effects of what he did?
ENGLISH: Get started with highest grade 10 work OR a literature choice from Charlotte Mason. Other options: spelling, grammar, free writing, etc.
ART: At least once this week, preferably an afternoon or away from others if in the morning!; start working on grade 7 art book--first assignment is collage from unusual materials (cool--I'm sure others may want to get in on this!)
MUSIC: Review theory notes. (We still don't have the new keyboard. :( ) Practice drills to make sure fingers stay curved when playing. After that, whatever you want.
RELIGION: Faith and Life--either with me and her brother, or she can move ahead faster (we're still on the grade 3 book!); the Bible is always available--Gospels, Psalms or Proverbs good places to start private reading
HEALTH: Track fruit and veggie consumption.
PHYS. ED.: something daily, even if it's just 10 minutes of stretching! (she's going to be doing indoor soccer and ballet, both for the first time)

That's enough for this Sunday morning!

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Friday night--and I'm planning


I was watching tv with the family, but I caused a neck spasm earlier and I just can't take sitting in those seats anymore and there's really no other comfortable option. So here I am, thinking about next week's plans. Ah, it's not the first time I've done some planning on a Friday evening and certainly won't be the last!

My mind is actually on the littlest one (3 in 3 months). Tuesday will be her first day here where her sister will only come after school. It will also be our first actual day of school, since we ended up spending so much time this week chatting and planning and figuring things out.

The first thing I thought of was to go through the first period practical life lessons, which I will do shortly. But then my brain switched to: Are my shelves suitable for her. With our new arrangement in the house, there is more room for the materials and they are better seen, BUT there may still be too much stuff. Since the 5yo is only going to be here after school (and she is going to be TIRED after a full day of school) and on PD days, there is probably a bunch of stuff I could put away where I still have easy access to use with her now and then, which would open things up to have at least one section of shelves be aimed solely at the 2yo. So, something to tackle this weekend.

So, now for some practical life thinking/planning.

(according to Gettman--one of the "must have" books if you have a 3-6yo, imho)

Things she's already done:
*pouring beans between two jugs
*opening and closing containers
*buttoning (I meant to leave my one sweater out for her to button more)
*velcro fasteners (and she's very precise--they have to be on just right!)
*plastic snaps on doll clothing
*lacing (albeit "crazy" lacing and every which way, but she can do the lacing ;) )
*saying Please and Thank You
*wiping up spills
*wiping the window (she could use another more specific presentation)
*going up and down stairs--although she has to do the "two-step" method since she's so little still!

Not yet done:
*carrying and laying floor mats (we haven't used floor mats in ages; it would be good to start)
*carrying a tray
*lifting, carrying and putting down a chair (they've always been kind of pushed or slid around)
*sitting down on and getting up from a chair at a table--obviously she's done this, but I've never really paid attention to how she does it at the little table; at the big table, it is, of course, climb onto the chair--our big challenge now is to get her to actually SIT rather than spin around all over the place ;D
*walking on the line--I need a line. I can't actually stick a line down anywhere, so I'll have to figure out something for this that is distinctive, yet movable.
*hanging clothes on a hook: we don't have hooks, but I'm sure she'd be able to do this; she's actually wanting to put coats on hangers--she doesn't have it yet
*brushing hair

This not done list is great stuff to do with her. I could also check some other places, like Shu Chen Jenny's online albums, or maybe Montessori World or there's a blog I have in mind and I can't think of the name, but it's full of lessons! I know she's done some other stuff that Gettman doesn't specifically cover, like spooning beans from one bowl to another.

Well, I'm no longer comfortable here. I think it's time for me to lay down in bed and let this neck relax.

The weekend is here!!!

Well, almost. I still have my nieces here, so I'm still technically working. But our school day is done. Not that we really did any schooling. lol. Actually, 12yodd asked where her new French workbook was and went through two sections of that this morning. I emailed the friend I went to the store with yesterday, just joking around that she should let her daughter know that dd had started--her daughter had also started completely on her own! Good workbook choice. :D

Joe and I talked over some possibilities, looked at credits and requirements for a diploma here (an OFFICIAL diploma, that is; I can give him a diploma, but it wouldn't be recognized her as a "real" diploma because it's not from the government) and it looks like he's going to go for it. With his science and math courses, and starting out in a lower sequence and moving his way up, most of the credits are used up anyhow. We're going to try to do our own thing for social studies for this year to show that he could handle the "official" grade 12 social studies and so he'll do just the grade 12 social studies for credits. He will do the required phys. ed. course, he's already got a job lined up, so that will give him 15 credits there over the next two years, and then one last required health course (easy peasy)  and there's his diploma. He really, really didn't want to get stuck doing all three years of the official social studies program here. I totally understand why.

And he should still be done by the end of next school year! Here we were originally thinking he'd need to do a 4th year if he wanted his diploma, but everything is really working well for him to get it, but mostly our way. Nice.

I'll work out a plan later and try to share here. I think I am going to have a specific list of subjects to cover each day, just to start off our year, and then each day, a list with some things to cover and then they ought to choose something to do within the subject areas. Although, with Joe, his work is pretty laid out and straight forward. Of course, none of this counts for the youngest. It's so important that I plan for her! And practise. I really ought to pull out Gettman, pick the presentations I would like to do with her and practise. (Yes, my American readers, that is correct spelling for us. (grin) )

School still not really started

We still have things to talk about, issues to deal with! Certain issues with certain people in our lives consume a lot of our time because we do need to deal with it all. It's very hard to move forward when you have certain things on your heart and mind.

Yesterday we did go to a playground for a bit with some friends and before that a local bookstore  where I picked up some French materials for my two. The trick will now be to make sure they actually do it. ;) And Joe and I have been talking more about the possibility of him doing his diploma. I think we'll spend some time this morning looking at it all, seeing what would have to be done. It may mean some changes to his program this year, because we may have to add social studies to the list of things to do.

The weekend is now pretty much here. I have to make sure to well plan next week and to not forget about the youngest and the Montessori things she could do. She's been having some fun with some huge fraction circle pieces I have--something I pulled off the shelves and brought to the kitchen table. I have to keep remembering to make the things more visible and she will use them. It will be interesting to see what she chooses to do without her older sister around. Which reminds me: I need to start a journal for the year. Write down my thoughts and observations every night. It makes such a difference! I highly recommend it!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sign of trust

I thought of something just now that Joe said yesterday.

I was talking to him about his options for getting his science course done, explaining how they normally do it in school, but we're not doing it the same way, so reorganizing the order might be better. His response, "You decide what you think will be best for me."

Wow. :)

First day done, onto the second

So, the first day is done. Didn't quite go as planned as the kids needed more reconnecting time than I had planned for. We did still discuss a bit what was to happen, things for "Joe's" courses, etc.

After lunch, we ended up heading to a nearby, new park for about an hour. The 'big kids' (my two and Joe) did their own thing and I stayed with the 5 and 2yo. This 2yo (I'll have to come up with a name for her) is something else. Granted, she is almost 3 (in November), but still. I noticed yesterday what I've noticed other times with her: she will challenge herself to do something, but she knows her limits and never falls or anything like that. She never worries me like my son and her brother did. lol.

Last night, the girls' mom comes and 2yo decides she's going to try again to zip up her coat all by herself. She nearly succeeded, too, just didn't manage to hold it in place tightly enough when she pulled up the zip. Her 5yo sister has only begun really attempting--and still often can't get it. The difference in drive between the two of them is fascinating!

So, now it's on to the second day of school. Today, we will actually do some work. I need to figure out how I'm going to go about this. Only 3 of them actually doing school work this year, but with the 2yo nearly 3 and her playmate (5yo) going off to school next week, I think it's an excellent opportunity to really get going with Montessori with her. She's already done quite a bit here and there as it's been fit into our days, but she's likely going to need more for the next while as she settles into daily life without her constant companion and person to follow and imitate. This is something I will definitely need to plan and prep for over the long weekend. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'm supposed to be thinking about today.

I need to pick the gentlest way to get Joe (16yo) back into work. Things he said and the way he said them yesterday, comments his dad has made about some things this summer with him, all lead me to get a sense of his uneasiness, perhaps anxiety, in getting going with work. It means facing challenging things, not feeling capable and more. So, as with all Montessori, I need to work out the challenge while keeping it attainable so he feels better and is driven to try more. Of course, some easy stuff ought to also be brought in.

So, I've been thinking of starting the day with a short amount of ELA. He can start with some handwriting tracing and then copywork; he wants to improve his handwriting, so this isn't just something I've arbitrarily decided. I think I'll have ds (9yo) work on that at the same time. There's always comfort in numbers! After that, move to... hm... I had been thinking spelling, but maybe it would be a good time for a phonics bingo or something fun like that. Then he'll think about goals he wants to achieve over the course of the year and by Christmas, plus choose a novel study from the authorized list (yep, to get his grade 11 English credits here, the novel chosen for the novel study has to come from a list the government prepared!).

What will ds do during this time? Well, he'll play the bingo with us for sure. After that... I guess what I need to do at the moment is figure out how the days are going to be structured. Joe has 3 subjects essentially (English, math and science). My kids will be covering more than that, so simply grouping everybody together to do the same subject at the same time to get the year started won't work very well.

Dd, I should probably get the chart printed off for her.

That reminds me: I had meant to buy some pre-made schedule sheets for the kids to fill in afterwards--so, track what they cover when. Kind of the idea of the Montessori elementary journal, but less space and not so focused on specific time of when started and when stopped.

Ach, I feel like I'm going around in circles! I think I have to plan on paper first. I'll do that now. :)