Monday, September 30, 2013

My Son Now Has an iPod Touch

My son turned 13 last week. His request since last year has been to have an iPod Touch for his birthday. Since his sister got one for her 13th birthday, we acquiesced and got him one.

That has meant hours and hours of his playing on it and adding free apps and texting with his cousins (a couple have iPod Touches and one has an iPhone) and then, upon getting a $15 iTunes gift card as part of a gift on Saturday, I'm guessing he has added in some apps he has to pay for. We'll see how well he manages his funds!

He is not a self-regulator for fun electronics, so I've finally had to start putting some limits. Going all out for a few days is okay, but at some point, reality needs to be lived. ;)

That said, if anybody has some great educational apps recommendations that a 13yo would enjoy, fire away! :D

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2 Hours of Work Is Apparently a Lot

I think my son did 2 hours of assigned work this morning. It might not have even been that much. It might have only been 1.5 hours. I can't remember at what time he got up. Here is what he got done:

*I read Matthew 4 to him and we talked a bit about it (I admit it, while the Charlotte Mason approach would be to just have him narrate, there are certain things that seem too important to just leave to his narration!)
*a page of division practice
*copywork: very simple (Demain, c'est ma fête de treize ans. J'ai vraiment hâte!)
*read a grammar lesson and do one page of grammar work (not much to it, to be honest)
*read the next chapter in Our Island Story
*read the French poem "Le Corbeau et le renard"

He was practically moaning by the end of it. Even said, even though the readings were fine the other times, that he wasn't really interested in Our Island Story and didn't see why he had to read about it (and complained about how "long" yesterday's reading about ancient Egypt was). I see different factors in this finding the amount of work difficult:

1) We had a busy day yesterday and he is visibly tired today. Tiredness = grumpiness.
2) I'm not alternating the type of work enough (I see now I have the poem right after the history reading.
3) I haven't yet included enough "extras" that would pique his interest more (like science; gah, I need to pick something and thinking that if he's balking right now with the amount of reading, perhaps more reading is not a good choice for the time being. I quickly grabbed a TOPS science unit we have but decided it's not a good fit for him; he needs something more complicated, in-depth, although the pH testing might interest him).

I said to him, after he complained about the "11 pages of reading" (it's below his reading level, was only 9 pages and each page is not that full) from the ancients book yesterday and there being a LOT of information in it, that he was going to be in high school soon and would have a lot more he would have to read at a time. He said he could read that much, he just didn't like it. lol. But, since he's having a hard time narrating much shorter things, I probably should have given him a shorter amount to process.

Regardless, this is all still progress. He has adapted rather well to having requirements, except for how long they take up of his morning. (No, he has never expressed an interest in school and is always worried when he thinks I've said something about him having to go to school. I can't imagine how he would handle it!)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Help Stop the Ban on Homeschooling in the Netherlands

I received the following email. Please read and pass this information around!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Rippy and Graham Dusseldorp"
Date: Sep 21, 2013 7:12 AM
Subject: Please Help Stop the Ban on Homeschooling in the Netherlands

Dear all,

We in the Netherlands could really use some international help right now. In July, the State Secretary of Education declared that he will be abolishing home education in the Netherlands.

The Dutch homeschooling community is doing everything in our power to prevent this. But our community is tiny. There are only 429 homeschooled children out of a population of approximately 2.4 million children. 

We need your help.

Please sign this online petition designed for the international community (both children and parents can sign):

If you can spread the petition and this message far and wide, it would be most appreciated. Please cross post on as many homeschooling lists as possible. Please post it on Facebook and Twitter and anywhere else you think may be helpful.

Thank you so much for your support.

Rippy (fellow Canadian, life long Oilers fan, married to a Dutchman) on behalf of homeschoolers in the Netherlands

The longer version of our personal story is here:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Lovely Work Time!

I wrote up a plan for the week (well, the three workdays my son has this week) and put below it reminders of things I wanted to try to add in as the week progressed and then some notes about what I wanted to try to add in next week.

Today's plan was as follows:

  • New Testament reading: Matthew 3
  • Faith and Life chapter
  • Life of Fred
  • copywork: printing
  • Our Island story: chapter 3
  • French grammar
  • (Chemistry activity--need to find document first)
 My son got started on Life of Fred before I even had a look at the plan. That went well and was done rather quickly. Then he went to grab my iPod to play with, since I said he could use my iPod once his work was all done. I looked at him and asked, "What are you doing? You're not done!" He realized he'd only done math and had more to do and put it back without a problem.

I had him read Matthew 2 on his own last week (in French) and said I would read the third chapter to him this week. It's not CM but I do a lot of explaining of things, like today's Pharisees and whatnot. His narration was pitiful. lol. I need to learn to ask him sooner in a reading to give a narration. He did his copywork (barely anything, just some letters to practise since he seems to not be paying attention while writing them in words) while I was reading. I then grabbed our book on Ancients instead of doing Our Island Story today. He read that chapter on his own and told me a little bit. I didn't have the French grammar sheets ready, nor did I have the science ready (but I suspected I wouldn't, which is why it's in parentheses!). So that got cut a bit, or rather deferred: the grammar pages are now ready and he will do them tomorrow. I did, however, read to him from The Hobbit a bit and had him narrate some. (The Hobbit was actually scheduled for tomorrow, as was the reading from the Ancients.)

I'm not sure how long it took, clearly not as long as he ought to be spending working in the morning, but I like FlyLady's motto of progress, not perfection! Now, those aren't the only things that got done. I took out my guitar just after lunch and was trying to play this new song. He heard me, took out his guitar and we tuned in slightly and he practised a bit, trying to play one of the songs from Transformers--by ear. Getting his guitar tuned and practising was one of the things on the "try to get done this week" list. Getting that done makes me smile. :)

I realize as I write this that this has been my time management format for a while and when I actually sit down and do it and follow it, it works beautifully. Two simple steps:

  1. Decide what has to be done.
  2. Have your list of other things that can be done, that can be chosen from, when the time is available.
Clearly, I kind of changed the things with #1. Sometimes you have things that are scheduled or deadlined and they really have to be done that day. I got a GTD tip from a college student site about scheduling your study periods and making yourself stick to them, as though somebody else had scheduled that time in. I feel no need to insist on certain things being done at specific times, but being done at some point during the morning? Yes! You can't put in so much that you'll be scrambling to get it done (well, I can't), just what is truly the most important to you. Then, with your list from #2, you can pick and choose based on your mood or something that just fits with the flow you might be in. When I get any of those #2s done, it feels so good! It's icing on the cake because I know it didn't have to  be done. It was chosen, it was an extra.

Anyhow, I feel I may be rambling as I try to finish this post while making supper. I will leave you with a time management book that, while I still haven't managed to do all the steps fully, it has nonetheless helped me get more things done!

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Two Weeks Under the Belt!

A lovely week, each day wonderfully planned out, my children getting everything done each day they need to with positive attitudes... This was my vision for our first week. ;) It's not quite how things panned out.

Our first day, I lost my most recent plans for my son. Could not find them anywhere. So I grabbed an old plan and picked a few things to do. Those have become our "staple" for each day: Religious Studies (usually Bible reading and discussion--boy, did we have fun with the Proverbs 1 reading since the French translation we have uses the word "stupid"!), math (almost every day), history of some sort most days, and my mind is drawing a blank. Oh, some days with copywork. He resists it so much, but his handwriting is not good. And he still has to think about some of the letters. He needs lots more practice! Here and there, he has also done some computer programming, an Irish lesson.

So, my plan for his Charlotte Mason-style approach has been sort of followed but my plan wasn't specific enough; I didn't sit down each day to really plan out what the day would look like, so it's been so-so. At the same time, I'm so pleased with all the different things he's already covered! For now, the reading I assign him is definitely on the low side in terms of amount, but because it's low, he's adapting well to being assigned these readings. I know I need to take the next step and increase the things we do but there's been a bit of a snag:

I've been sick.

Not just sick, but lost-my-voice kind of sick. This creates a definite problem given some of the readings I'm doing aloud, both for him to learn to listen and narrate back and because of the difficulty or unfamiliarity with the language, like in the French history book I got (it's in French). Not only that, but because I started getting sick on the first school Friday, my brain hasn't been able to function well enough to think what more to do and actually have the gumption to implement it. I managed to teach my French class last week and by that evening, pretty much had no voice. I saw family on the weekend that commented I was losing my voice; no, no, I corrected them, I was regaining it! lol. Btw, this drink is fantastic for sore throats or laryngitis:

My daughter is doing much better with her studies this year, staying on top of things, being self-motivated to work in the evening if she didn't manage to finish something important during the day, things like that. She is quite enjoying that she can usually get her two core subjects done by or just after lunchtime, but then she feels a bit like she ought to be working on other things. I had been leaving the other time more open, but she may want more specific things as musts that I expect her to get done. Of course, now we've hit a snag in that she's sick and I actually gave her a sick day today to just try to recuperate from the entire weekend. She was feeling fine about being home and excited about different activities going on, but a disappointing, draining and ill-making weekend have left her blah and moaning a bit about not knowing about going to school or not (it's a moot point for this year! but when she's blah, the emotions go strong).

This brings us all to the beginning of the third week. Well, and now the first day of that week is done, so, four days left. If you are having a bit of a rough start, too, it's okay! Pull up your bootstraps, think about what you could plan for tomorrow that would make things be smoother and "make it so!" For me, my make-it-so plan is as follows:

  • Remind myself of the subject areas for my son that I feel are the most important right now: religious studies, math, history, copywork.
  • Remind myself to focus on routine and habits (like morning prayer time with the kids before we get moving on school work!) rather than all the little things I want to try to remember.
  • Write out an "ideal" plan for the rest of the week (it'll really only be 3 days for him since his cousins will be over on Friday, all day; it's just cruel to make him spend the morning working lol), but highlight those things I reminded myself were the most important things to get done.
  • Remind myself to be very specific in my plans: I too often use one or two words because the idea is clear in my head when I tend to think about it. But when I sit down to follow the plan, do I know what those words actually encompass? Which book I had in mind? How much to read? Etc.
  • Time to relax with a cup of tea (or the above-mentioned honey and lemon drink) and really let go of it all. I don't know about you, but I easily get caught up in thinking and thinking and thinking about things and sometimes, you just have to let the thoughts go, let them simmer in your subconscious and then deal with it again later. Down time is important; vital when things are chaotic or not working the way you had hoped.
If this doesn't all help me, I know that journalling can do me wonders!

What about you? How has the school year gone so far? What little things do you do to try to capture the reins again when things seems to be going out of control?