Friday, December 19, 2014

Pre-2015 Planning

My brain is already moving ahead to school resuming in January. Perhaps if I get some of the ideas out now in a safe place (yes, my blogs are safe places for me to find things; much better than notebooks that I misplace), I will be able to fully enjoy at least a week of my Christmas vacation without any thoughts of school. Not that school isn't enjoyable. It's just good for the brain to take a break.

My thoughts are centered around, at least for my son (*snort* in re-reading, I discovered that I had initially typed "at least for me son"; I've grown up in western and northern Canada where only British immigrants and perhaps Newfies say such things, lol), a progressive plan, where for the first week we start with basics we've been doing, and each week add in one or two other things. This will be written down, maybe posted on the wall in his bedroom so he sees ahead of time what's coming; it'll make the changes easier, I think. Right now, he does math almost every day, reading on his own (but the book is taking him forever, oy), a few times a week, I read to him from a French novel, and then here and there, social studies or science gets added in. While I've been saying it for ages that I need to get him writing, and I can't guarantee that this time will be any different, I will be doing something different to try to get a different result: a written plan of what he needs to do each week for writing and/or the writing workshop-style sessions we will do. I just think a laid-out plan needs to be written down for both of us, something we can refer to, check off, etc. It would also save me trying to fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to things like science and social studies.

But not all of my thoughts are specifically focused on subjects. I've been thinking, too, about things like having both kids prepare supper at least once a week, getting them more involved in planning breakfasts and snacks and lunches (they have had free reign, pretty much, for ages, within certain limits, naturally), getting household daily and weekly duties better organized and followed through on. Oh, and my daughter still doesn't have her driver's license but has been driving more recently. The driver's ed courses are ridiculously expensive here and, to be honest, from word of mouth, not terribly good, so we're not pushing a driver's ed course and she's not really interested in it, but there are definitely things I need to make sure to cover with her. I've taken this book out of the library before and think I should just finally buy it since I'll probably use it with her brother, too, if he ever decides to learn to drive:

He gives very specific lessons to cover with your teen and great activities to get them to do.

Since I'm in thinking/brainstorming mode, why don't I just go back to my son's school plan?

*Weekly plan. I know some Montessori schools start having the kids make written plans in elementary; other Montessori schools eschew that and go, no, they should just be writing down what they are working on. But my son is junior high age (high school age in the US). He had the experience recently of making his own guitar practice schedule. (Oh boy, as I think of all of this tying together, I can feel my insides getting all excited about this idea! I just have to spit it out!) I can use the same principle with him to have him plan each of his subjects. For example, I would like him to do at least an hour of Lua training each week, plus at least 40 minutes of math each day, 30 minutes of silent reading each day, social studies for at least 30 minutes twice a week, at least one Khan video for science (taking notes) and so on. One thing about homeschooling is that very often, some outside influence or input is needed to get the child to accept something. Because his guitar teacher has already asked something similar of him, he accepted it, wanted to make sure to keep his guitar teacher happy with him and did it. So, now he's done it and can keep applying that skill.

*Writing: My mind keeps going back to I must take a writer's workshop approach with him. But I need a plan. We had started looking at essay writing, and I've pointed out to him recently how something he was sharing with me and defending was just like saying an essay out loud, that to write an essay, he has to just write down the kinds of arguments and defenses and bits of info like he just said. Of course, this kid hasn't written a paragraph in ages, so it'll have to be broken down very well to get to the point of a first real essay. Another part of my mind is saying I need to get myself some resources to help me with this, either find some books to borrow/buy or find some websites.

Have you ever had moments where you felt like your brain completely shut off for a particular topic? That is what it feels like my brain has done just now. I guess I will leave the school-thinking for now!

It's the Last Day Before Christmas Break!!!

I'm so excited about it, but really, I don't know that we've really done any school this week. My 17yo has finished her biology course, my son did a few math questions and some reading--and his guitar practice--but other than that, it's been shopping and trying to fight off or get over illness and lots and lots of Doctor Who. :D

I've got things percolating in my brain for things to implement after Christmas; the unfortunate thing is that I forgot to write some of the ideas down and can't think of them at the moment. I should probably sit down and just brainstorm on paper (or here); it might come back to me. (Yes, yes, here is Christmas, almost here, shopping not yet done and all that, and I'm living in the future. *sigh*)

Okay, let me bring myself back to the present: It's the last day before Christmas break! My husband is a teacher (yep! we are both trained teachers and chose to homeschool) and will be off as of noon. My daughter has already bought her brother's gifts and is painting for everybody else. She did my mom and step-dad's gift; I suppose I should get myself out of the house for a bit so she has a space and time to paint for me and her dad with around.

What am I babbling about? I'm not even sure. My husband's alarm went off, as usual, at 5:45 this morning, but since I got to bed after midnight, I think my thinking skills are a little fuzzy today. Now that's something to be excited about for Christmas break: no more alarms to wake me up so early for a couple of weeks! lol

Thursday, December 18, 2014

*sigh* My old blog gets more hits than this one

My old blog was doing very well, getting lots of hits. But I ran into a "life snag" that meant that continuing it--and having someone in particular reading it--was potentially a safety issue but just also one in which this person could create stories about me to other homeschoolers. Given how homeschooling "communities" function and part of my income has everything to do with the homeschooling community, I felt I had to walk away.

I finally figured out today which account that blog was tied with (and a particular blog I was actually looking to post in after 2 years away) and have seen the stats: That blog gets more daily hits than this one. Still. After 4 years of not posting on it. *sigh*

Truth be told, there is a LOT of Montessori-for-the-young-and-early-elementary child on there; much more search-worthy than this one. But still, it's frustrating. And I don't particularly want to advertise this one too much because the nature of the person in question is such that her finding out about this blog could reignite her desire to try to connect with me--or just mess with my life.

Ah well, such is life.

When You Want to Encourage Someone to Homeschool...

...But Know You Shouldn't

I have a friend with 4 girls. Two of them are school age, one just recently having been diagnosed with Borderline Intellectual Functioning. What does that mean? Essentially, she's a slow learner who needs things presented concretely and needs adults around her to check frequently for understanding. (Okay, so that's a really, really brief description; more complicated than that.)

It also means, however, that she doesn't qualify for any special program. She's seen as doing as well as she can with the material based on her cognitive abilities. Her cognitive abilities aren't low enough to be in a special program, or if some of her abilities showed she should be able but she has blocks.

So, this girl is going to be in a classroom of I don't know how many children, being given modified work with a teacher who has to try to use all kinds of strategies just with her on a daily basis.

I so want to suggest to my friend to homeschool. But it really doesn't feel right to do so.

Maybe it's because I know her life circumstances and her and just think it would be overwhelming at this point for her--and perhaps her daughter. Part of me wishes I were still homeschooling others or were in a position to take it up again because, dang, doing Montessori with this child all day would be fantastic for her.

I suppose that is one thing I can do: keep supporting this friend with Montessori ideas or fit in Montessori tutoring with this girl if my friend wants to go that route. When you see a recommendation of "concrete" and know about Montessori, how can the two not be put together? :)

Have you ever been in a situation where you really wanted to encourage someone to homeschool but decided it was a bad idea?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Are We Allowed to Hibernate?

My 17-year old and I did a decent amount of Christmas shopping yesterday, although it was more walking than shopping; I suppose that's normal. With illnesses going around and the weather being wonky and now just gloomy and chilly, I just want to wrap myself up in a blanket and set myself in front of a TV or something with some dairy-free hot chocolate. lol. I'd like to hibernate, at least for a few days.

I suppose a nap will have to do. ;)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Physical Education Montessori-Style--At Home?

I went and did some searching after my last post. Specifically, I went to the Montessori High School at University Circle site to start with and looked at their curriculum for grade 9/10 phys. ed. Here is what they had to say:

Physical Education is a comprehensive program focused on the education of the mental, physical, and social well-being of the individual. Throughout the course, each student strives to achieve the basic skills and fitness needed to develop and enjoy a healthy lifestyle.

With access to a fully equipped gym, students are able to familiarize themselves with various machines. Students may choose a different PE focus each quarter. Offerings include workouts at the fitness center, basketball, swimming, urban hiking, soccer, yoga, and skiing, and may vary by season.

The Health course is devoted to student exploration of physical, mental, and emotional wellness. It is taught by several faculty members. Students study healthy habits for wellness, nutrition (with a hands-on component when working with our culinary arts specialist in the kitchen), mental health, human sexuality, epidemiology, sports science, and the impact of medicine and drugs on human health.

As much as I love this Montessori-style approach, how can we apply it in a home situation where the fully equipped gym needs to be driven to and has fees that add up substantially with frequent visits?

I kept looking and didn't quite find something helpful for phys. ed. at home in Montessori fashion, but this site I'm finding absolutely amazing and I wish I'd had this years ago:

There are all sorts of links on the left with the phys. ed./health curriculum info being in the "Program and Courses" section. But don't just stop there; there's a lot of great stuff in the links (including in the "Responsibilities of the Month" section). I should add it to the Adolescent Resources section if not already there.

As I try to bring my mind back to Montessori and the issue at hand, the thing that I've recommended to many over the years is now being said by part of my brain to me: work with the child. It doesn't matter that the child in question is 14. I need to work with him, present him with options, have him research as applicable, make it an expectation and follow through.

If all else fails, I drag him out of bed at 6:30 in the morning and have him do Tracy Anderson videos with me. ;)

Monday, December 15, 2014

How Do You Keep Your Family Active? Especially Your Teens?

We had our outing to the mall and the amusment park in the mall today. My son--who does pretty much no physical activity--complained after only a couple of hours (and a decent amount of that sitting) that his feet were tired and sore.

When he was younger, it was easier: he was always on the go. He played soccer and with the dog and after school with his cousin outside. He was on soccer teams until it got too frustrating around the age of 10/11 (community leagues--it seemed every team was 90% players who had never played on a team before). He built things in the snow and ran around and during summer, was constantly out on a scooter or bike or something.

Now... He goes up and down the stairs and walks different places in the house.

It's been at least a couple of years that we've discussed what sort of regular physical activity he can do. The last thing he tried 2-3 years back was parkour which he did for 3 sessions. He seemed to want to go back when he was bigger and could go with the older group, but he seems to have lost interest in that. There is nothing else that has really interested him. I brought up today that he needs to do more exercise, he agreed, but still had no idea what to do other than he would like to go back to soccer, but not if he's going to be on a team where players don't know what they're doing (and he doesn't want to be in the competitive league).

What do your kids do if they aren't on teams or in lessons? Or do we just need to pick something and just make him do it? lol

Sunday, December 14, 2014

One Week Before Christmas Holidays!

Is our Christmas shopping done? Not even close.

Is the house decorated? Sort of.

Is the tree up? Yes.

Is the baking started? Nope. (Addendum: Yes! I started this post, later asked the kids what they felt would add to the Christmas feel around the house and my daughter said, "We don't have any Christmas baking." I made Rice Krispie squares and some shortbread--and even bought Christmas candies and such and a poinsettia. Definitely more of a Christmas feel on that level of the house.)

How about you? How ready are you for Christmas?

My husband and I made a major purchase for a Christmas gift for the family. It's all hiding down in the basement in the storage area. Other than that... We haven't really decided about specific gifts for the kids--except that we won't buy them clothes this year, we'll give them money so they can pick their own (although I think we should give our son a certificate that says it's for clothes because otherwise, the money will go into his wallet and he'll NEVER go shopping).

This last week of "school" before Christmas is hopefully going to be focused a bit on getting the kids to do their shopping for Grandma and Grandpa and us and each other. We have a Christmas party Monday afternoon but after that, everything is pretty much open. I don't even have to pick my nieces and nephew up from school. I would still like some sort of "school" to get done, especially since not a whole lot has been getting done, but that can be a morning thing, we can eat lunch, and then off we go to the store(s). We can get more Christmas baking done, too, and perhaps even fit in something just completely fun. :)

At what point do you quit school work for Christmas holidays?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Is Coming--Do You Feel It? Part 2

There is a local radio host that I love listening to. Something about her is just fantastic. :) Yesterday, as I was driving my daughter to work, this radio host was on and talking about Santa calls that were going to take place and how people could email in with the information for th eir child so that Santa could give them a call.

The radio host has been saying that she hasn't really felt in the Christmas spirit this year (isn't that what I said the other day about myself?) but one email she got is helping her feel it. It was from a mom who shared that her son was sooooo very excited about Santa Claus this year, just incredibly excited, and he would love to get a call from Santa. He had written a letter, got excited seeing him at the mall and just so many other things. Her son, however, is 23 years old. (Does that not bring an immediate smile to your face?) He is mentally handicapped and when the mom was on the phone with the host just after she shared about the email, listeners found out that he is mentally like a 7- or 8-year old. Not only that but he is wheelchair bound, perhaps not a paraplegic, but close. He was able to somehow get himself onto a computer, into YouTube and finding Santa videos. lol (I'm smiling while writing this!) There was one video where it was like Santa was talking to the son and the son kept responding, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"

It then came out (oh boy, the tears are starting and I haven't even gotten the words out) that the son is in stage 3 kidney failure. The host told the mom that she had $100 to give away yesterday and she was giving it to the son. Not only that, but the $100 that was supposed to be given away today was also going to Christopher. The mom, as it turned out, had been saving up all year to get something special her son wanted for Christmas, even going so far as selling baked goods to have the money, so she just started crying on the phone (on air) when she was told this. Other people called in, at least two donating $100 each and another woman, someone who works somehow or other with the disabled and thought it was so great this mom had kept her son with her instead of putting him in an institution to be cared for, donated $200. Other people who wanted to donate were told to drop into the radio station with their donation and let them know it was for the son.

I am going to that radio station today. I shared the story with my husband last night, not even mentioning yet my intention of giving them a little something, and he, too, felt we should give them something. I am going to talk to my kids about it today, once they are up, to see if they would like to add anything to what I'll be giving.

What about you and your family? Is there something special you will be doing for someone else or a specific charity this Christmas?

photo from

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Homeschooling and Illness

Ah, yes, winter time so often brings with it illness.

Me, I'm so far doing okay *knockonwood*, but I have some glands that are definitely swollen and painful and I've been needing more sleep than usual. And I've been really, really enjoying orange juice!

My 17-year old, on the other hand, is on day 5 of being feverish and just feeling crummy. She put on a movie, I sat on the sofa with her while I watched the movie and took care of some things on my laptop and she ended up laying down with her head on my lap. That was well over an hour ago. My son had done his guitar practice before lunch, I let him play on the computer a while, then the plan was to have him get off and then we would work on some other things together. But this child of mine--even though she's 17--is asleep on me. And I don't want to disturb her. So, while my son isn't sick, illness in the house is affecting both kids' school progress.

Has illness affected your homeschooling household so far this winter? And did you get the flu shot? Has it helped, did you get sick anyhow or have you been worse than usual?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas is coming--do you feel it?

With winter here, the desire to hibernate, not do anything, or just play video games, has hit. But I don't consider those reasonable things to do, so I'm still plugging forward with my son (my daughter is pretty much in charge of her own work with the online program and altough she hasn't been doing school work the past week, she has been spending a lot of time in creative pursuits). It can feel like pulling teeth sometimes! I don't ask a whole lot, although I have been gently adding in more topics. This week, we've kept going with The Key to Algebra workbook he's been working on lately (just about done; I think it's the 3rd book), introduced him to essay writing, talked about levels of government and started looking at the history behind the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, specifically looking briefly at how the American Revolution and the French Revolution led to what we have today.

Things seemed simpler when they were little, taking time to cover winter themes with stories and word searches and colouring pages, or just going out to play in the snow--my son would go just by himself even. Then add on making Christmas decorations out of salt dough and so much more. It's different now that they're older.

Christmas vacation officially starts in 9 days for us, but somehow, I'm just not feeling it. We have the tree up, some decorations up, I even had a Christmas party with my French class students last Thursday. But somehow... It's the first year we don't have an Advent calendar--kids decided they were too old. But maybe I'm not. ;) Maybe I'll pull out that Advent calendar and give myself some treats. ;)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Second Day of Khan Academy

My son and I watched another chemistry video yesterday. He balked at first. "21 minutes?!" (Apparently, that's a long time?) I said that if he were in school, class would be 40-50 minutes. He retorted, "But it's not a video." lol. I'm not sure I totally understood, but that's okay.

We watched the Introduction to the Atom. It covered some of the same information from the first video and went in a little deeper. The thing that hit my son the most was the end, when the instructor said that what we see as solid is really mostly empty space. It is mind-blowing, isn't it? Which means that if our eyes could see that "clearly", we would not see things as solid but see the empty space. Crazy.

When we finished, there was a thing about having earned so many points and signing up and this and that. Do any of you "do" the points? I looked it up. All it seems to be good for is earning badges, which, I guess, are supposed to make the kids feel proud of themselves or something? My son having grown up without rewards for the most part really has no interest in earning points and badges. Sees it as totally useless. lol. (Perhaps if there were some actual physical product gain... lol)

So, so far, so good with Khan Academy. If only my son found Canada: A People's History as interesting (or perhaps if Canada: A People's History were in only 20-minute snippets and not hours upon hours long...).

Friday, November 21, 2014

It can be hard to change!

I had been feeling for a bit, and my husband and I talked and he felt the same way, that we need more structure, more routine around here during the day and part of that routine needs to include the kids doing more around the house.

We started off the week great for that--and 3 days in... By today, it wasn't any different than last week.

Have you ever made a kind of big change to your daily routine in your homeschooling household? How did that change go? If you succeeded, what sort of tips do you have for those of us who seem to very quickly fall back to the old ways?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

I finally used Khan Academy!

I feel like I'm so behind the times, what with so many familis using Khan Academy regularly--even my own husband has used some of the math videos for years in his junior high math classroom--and other than my briefly looking at one of the videos, I've never used them as part of our homeschooling.

Until yesterday.

And let me tell you, I think if I could have an entire video curriculum for my son, it could be just the ticket for him. The possibility of pausing, rewinding, having the visuals...

We looked specifically at the first video in the chemistry section. I took notes on the side in a notebook my son will eventually be using to take his own notes. I also added in additional notes/information and his questions. He actually had a really good question at the end of the video yesterday:

"What would happen if you could make the electrons and neutrons change places?"

I explained about electrons having no mass compared to the neutrons and what that would do. He came up with the idea of an apocalyptic movie where such a thing would happen--"It would be a two-minute long movie." (I'm not even sure it would last that long. lol)

If you haven't checked out Khan Academy yet, do so! Now if only they had Canadian or world history instead of just American and art history...

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Babble Planning--Junior High/Middle School

I've decided to babble plan. What is that? Just me babbling on "paper" while trying to plan out a homeschooling week.

My plans for my son have not been specific enough and so a lot of things haven't gotten done as I had planned. So, I will babble here and perhaps it will be of some sort of help to others--even if it's just inspiration to sit down and make a plan. ;)

*What has he done so far for French? ... Absolutely nothing. Okay, so what can he do? Reading, writing, grammar. I have not had him start writing a journal entry a day about what he's been doing. I was hoping his dad would get more into it, actually ask him, but things have been kind of chaotic and our son isn't up before Dad leaves for work, so... I can introduce it to him. Maybe have him write it like letters. "Cher Papa, aujourd'hui j'ai..." I also have grammar workbooks for him to work through, even just a page a day. For reading... I can resume reading Le voyage au centre de la Terre--except he's become quite bored with it (always that question: do you keep going? because you suspect he will enjoy it later? or just to see things through?)--or find something for him to read. Or maybe just start a different French novel for now, something simpler.

So, this means for this week:
-writing each day in the journal
-grammar each day (I need to find a book and have one specific page each day for him to do)
-at least being read to in French each day

*What has he been doing for English? We started Writing Strands, but haven't really done anything this past week. I'm not convinced it's a good fit for him. Getting him to write even just a paragraph a day in French might actually be enough right now, although I do still like the idea of perhaps doing mini Writers Workshop sessions. (I'd need to refresh my mind how they work.) He's been reading Lone Survivor. And I've had a few days of reading The Hobbit to him and we discuss things here and there. I could always add in Sequential Spelling, grammar... COPYWORK! Ach. He desperately needs to work on his handwriting.

So, for this week:
-continue with silent reading each day from Lone Survivor (at least 30 minutes)
-reinstitute copywork each day; what will he copy???? Ha, Calvin and Hobbes dialogues came as the first answer. lol. (He still loves Calvin and Hobbes!)
-Writers' Workshop?? Would have to see what I can find online (ooh, my search has led me to finding something useful for readers' workshops Looking at this document , it's hitting me that the best place to start would be a mini-lesson on journal entries, possibly start from the beginning with sentences. Having him write about things he wants, too, and why, like an electric guitar and an amp ("Why do you want it and why should Maman and Papa help you purchase it?") or a hamster.
-ooh, last-minute thought: have him read poetry. But what? ("Shakespeare's sonnets.") Oooh.

-he's been doing a bit of The Key to Algebra series, now in book 2. Just need to do it more consistently and perhaps for longer periods! And I've restarted him on multiplication table drills.

So, for this week:
-at least 30 minutes a day The Key to Algebra
-multiplication table drills, like I set up the other day (I should probably just take a picture, but it's closing in on midnight here and I don't feel like it ;) ). Basically, I just wrote out things like 1 x 3, 2 x 3, 4 x 3, 3 x 3, 6 x 3, 3 x 4, 5 x 3, 3 x 6... Lots of repetition with the x3s.

-we've touched on the school textbook a bit for the biology unit and the space unit. Could go back and touch on those or look at the other units.
-we haven't done any hands-on activities yet

So, for this week:
-touch on a different science unit each day (okay, except maybe Thursday--it'll be his birthday); I still haven't printed off the actual outcomes, which I think would be a better option to follow (research the outcomes) than simply following the textbook
-plan for at least one hands-on activity, ideally something connected with the science units

-we started watching Canada: A People's History

For this week:
I'd like to continue it and have him write something about what we watch. We also have some books and magazines out from the library on Canadian history, like issues from this magazine. Just a matter of being more consistent and deciding each day how much and what to do.

I haven't been having him track his hours, although he has been doing some exercise with the punching bag. I could always have him look up rules for things like playing badminton (we play sometimes at the rec. centre), tips for shooting baskets, something. Perhaps a year-long plan for phys. ed. topics would be in order.

Just need to sit down and do it with him.


I'm reminded by finding this that I haven't at all been doing a morning meeting with him. This will be important to discuss the work to do each day and have a routine to get moving with. And I either need to just set a schedule for him (which he seems fine with me doing) or a checklist (which might be more for me than for him). A daily checklist in a specific order that he can use as a schedule or can check things off in any order. There, sounds good.

Ok, it is shortly after midnight now. I can either stop and wait until morning to post or just post now. I think I'll post now. ;)

How do you plan for your middle school child?

Friday, September 5, 2014

What to do with my time? (And what about when my kids have graduated??)

It's 11:30 a.m. as I start typing this. My son has been up about 2 hours; my daughter a little less. My son has read Day 2 of Writing Strands (he asked to be allowed to just follow their schedule instead of doubling up; fine--it's a kind of structure that fits well with him), he has done a few pages of percentages and we've discussed safety issues with science labs and started looking at biodiversity. Not to mention looked at possibilities of books for him to read on his own. He would like something non-fiction; that doesn't surprise me. Now it's just finding the right type of non-fiction for him.

That's all I had figured out for today and now it's all done. My daughter has grabbed her bio text and is working at finishing up as much as she can from the chapter today and also has art assignments she's alternating with. Doesn't require much from me with these outside courses.

So, now I'm a bit: What do I do with myself? lol. And given my son is grade 9, only 4 (maybe 5) years left. What am I going to do with myself as time goes on and my daughter has moved onto other things and my son will just be working on his own a lot? And the bigger question: What will I do with myself once he's done school?

I am in my 12th official year homeschooling my kids, my 13th or 14th year if you count the homeschooling I did of someone else's daughter when my daughter was kindergarten age or the year before that when I homeschooled yet someone else's kindergarten child. That's a long time at "this job." Over many years, there were other kids here from other families, either in a homeschooling fashion or just childcare. It's now just the 3 of us most of the time. And I'm finding already this year that my son is much more able to do different things on his own (so far). I'm also not planning on doing all the reading aloud to him that I did last year.

In any case, I suppose I'm facing what any long-term homeschooling mammas face: what do you do when the work you've been doing is going to suddenly not be there anymore? It's kind of like knowing you're going to be laid off. And your work load as you approach the layoff is lessening, but you still have to be there for the hours.

This really is my chance to pursue long-term dreams/desires like writing, isn't it? I just need to make sure to take advantage of it.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Back to School!

Well, not back to school, but back to schoolwork. ;)

Our school year officially started on Tuesday. I guess it's only now Thursday, but Tuesday feels like a lifetime away for some reason. I was completely unprepared for any kind of work Tuesday, my daughter slept until almost noon (she'd been at a sleepover the previous night and hadn't really gotten much sleep!) and so we went out for lunch and both kids got a pair of shoes to replace the ones their toes are reaching the ends on.

Wednesday (that was just yesterday? wow) we had a meeting with our teacher advisor to submit and discuss our plans for the year. The original decision to change how my 16-year old is registered got changed--she's decided she wants to give the online another go, wants that structure, wants to learn to just push ahead even if things aren't completely done (and I will add, done "right"--I think this is a way she is working on tackling her perfectionism a bit). And she got started on her biology course yesterday, which is good since it's a day before the teacher expects people to start. :)

My 13-year old son is still leaving everything in my hands. lol. Except that I told him Tuesday morning I would have work for him on Wednesday. I planned out all kinds of things, but with the idea that only what would take up maybe a couple hours in the morning was all I'd have him do. He ended up reading The Action Bible for over 2 hours. I had him read Day 1 of Writing Strands 4 as at least some sort of other work for the day. Today, I got him resuming his work with The Key to Decimals workbooks. My plan is to kind of alternate between that and the algebra. He just needs a little extra on the side with some basics; he's otherwise completely ready to go. My daughter has gotten an art assignment done and has decided to tackle one course at a time by focusing just on biology for now.

A gentle start, but can't let things stay too gentle for too long!!


Thursday, August 14, 2014

School Starts Soon. *Gulp*

It was brought to my attention today that it is August 14. My husband will be back at school for preliminary stuff in 2 weeks. School officially starts in 17 days. I am not ready. Good thing I have 2.5 weeks left, but 2.5 weeks can go by very quickly!

My main issue is I don't actually have a real plan for the year, and I don't even have a plan for the first week, so I don't know about resources, activities, etc. I guess I need to get cracking on that. I did, however, go through my den closet the other day and discovered I have probably 10-20 unused notebooks of various sizes, 10-20 used notebooks that are still usable, possibly over 1000 sheets of lined looseleaf paper and a dozen binders. Add to that the overflowing jars of pencils and pens and I think we're set for basic supplies. ;)

Are you ready for school?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Must Write My Thoughts About Next Year!

Okay, I was going to try to hold off until August before getting into serious school planning, but my mind has so many thoughts going through it, I need to get some of them out!

My 16-year old definitely has to do something differently this year. There are some outreach places that encourage students to do a single subject at a time, get that whole subject done in a month, then move on. I was thinking this might be helpful for my daughter, give her something different, the sense of accomplishment... But then the thought hit: If part of her problem is that she feels she's not being educated, then is doing nothing but one subject for a month really going to help her? No. Her mind isn't going to have the time to really digest it. It'll get overloaded with information from only one subject. Yes, it will take care of the whole get-things-done part, but is that as important as real learning? Perhaps even enjoying it? And what if the overload causes her to slow down and not get the subject done?

Reading some Charlotte Mason things this evening, one thing that hit me--which has probably hit me before--is this: A single subject can be broken up into different parts and each part gets tackled but once each week. This would actually be super beneficial for the exams at the end of the semester because all the different topics will have been covered and refreshed in the mind over the course of the semester. I could see this potentially not working for her for math because math is the kind of thing you just need more regular practice with, but with English, social studies, science...? I would have to see if the biology is sequential at all, because that could be a bit of a problem, but English and social studies definitely aren't. She has grade 11 English, Social Studies and Science (most likely Biology) left to finish, plus we need to work out if she's met the requirements for grade 11 Art, see about dance credits and perhaps get her into some violin lessons and have her meet the requirements for grade 10 music. To finish high school over the next two years, the government requires that she do grade 12 English and Social Studies, I'm guessing she will do grade 12 math and science just to cover her bases for post-secondary admission (although, if she has the necessary grade 12 credits without those, she could potentially just leave them), the plan is for her to do grade 12 Art and Physical Education and I'm not sure where that leaves her in her necessary credits. I'll have to sit down and tally everything.

I do still have to decide about my son and books we didn't finish last year. (Oh, dear, it just hit me that because I was going to wait until August to plan, I may actually run out of time to have the necessary resources for the beginning of September; I don't feel so bad now about letting myself write out my thoughts!) Main goal this year: Learn to write. Both handwriting (well, he knows how, but it's terrible) and actual sentences and paragraphs. He's going to start off with one of the Writing Strands books as he really has no idea how to write things other than text messages to people. I do want to get him narration more, too, which will help with the writing. There's still some catching up to do in math before he hits grade 10. I know I wrote earlier this year some ideas for next school year. I guess I should check out what I've already said. :D

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When Do We Learn to Think?

I just read an article where the author repeatedly said that college was the time that you learned to think. Not that it was the only place, but it was the best one.

This actually stopped me in my tracks a bit.

Really? We have to wait until we're at least 17/18 to start to learn to think? No wonder things are such a mess! What are kids doing in grade school?? There have been complaints for years and years that our kids are not learning how to really think, they're only learning to memorize and regurgitate. Perhaps that's where this comment came from: the reality that the school system is messed up enough that college really is the first time most students get to learn how to think. The sad thing is that I was working on my teaching degree 20 years ago, was being taught all about the different ways to engage kids in different levels of thinking, but have things really changed? On an official level, the program of studies in our province recognizes these different levels of thought, but with the insistence on provincial standardized testing in grades 3, 6, 9 and the $&#*@! grade 12 provincial exams in core subjects worth 50% of the students' final mark (and this after already having had a final exam worth usually anywhere between 10%-30%), let's just say that the actual thinking is not there.

How different things would be if most schools were Montessori schools--where children are encouraged and left to think (because, really, let's face it, we start thinking at a very young age and simply have it curbed in school to the "right" answer) long before they hit age 18.

Math Is Sinking In

While I didn't have my 13-year old son do nearly as much math as I had intended him to do this year, what I did is definitely sinking in and has paid off!

He wanted to make a milkshake the other day and found a recipe online to do so. But he saw it would make 4 servings and he only need one. The only help I offered was he would have to divide everything by 4. He easily did the division in his head, even 2 divided by 4 being one half.

I have hope for this child yet! lol (Ok, he's really not that bad. This is so typically him: leave me thinking nothing's sticking and then effortlessly does something.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What a summer (so far)!

It's been an interesting summer. Aside from the growing desire to sit down and plan and prep the school year (I'm trying to hold off a little while longer, let myself really have at least a month "off" and do other things!), we've been to Hawaii for 10 nights, had our dog almost die (she has IMHA) while we were gone, come back to vet appointments, doctors' appointments, my previous shoulder issues flaring up even more and now requiring physio appointments and so much more. I almost feel like I've packed in an entire summer in July--and there's still a week left! I need a vacation! lol. On top of all this, we are looking at moving, so that takes up time in decluttering, reorganizing and looking at house listings.

Even though it's summer, that doesn't mean the learning/educational activities have stopped. My daughter has been doing some amazing art work this past week, including a cartoon version of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and an Elsurla (Elsa/Ursula combined for a challenge that had people combine a hero with a villain). You can see her stuff here:

My son bought himself an authentic (not a cheap toy) ukulele in Hawaii and has been playing it pretty much every day since we got back. The interesting thing is he's not playing typical ukulele-sounding stuff. It's unique and very interesting!

That said, they both have been getting lots of video game time each day! Things will change a bit the first full week of August when I will be babysitting my nieces and nephew again.

What are you up to this summer? Do you "school" during the summer or do you take time off?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A sample Montessori junior high schedule

I thought this was interesting from the Montessori Academy of London (Ontario):

W.W. = Writer's Workshop

Given it's almost all the same, I'm guessing that they have simply set aside the morning as being for these different subject areas, but not necessarily at a specific time?

Junior High Weekly Timetable
Full Band
Phys. Ed.
Prep/Set up
Cooking Support
Solo Time
Prep/Set up
Cooking Support
Solo Time
Phys. Ed.
Science or
Science or
Science or
Science or
Advisor Time
Advisor Time
Advisor Time
Advisor Time
Care of the
Care of the
Care of the
Care of the

June means...

June is here! That means a few things:

*last month of school; we don't finish, officially, until the last Thursday
*I'm already thinking about next year and doing some planning.

There are some things to decide still for my 16yo's classes next year, but she is still working toward the provincial diploma and has decided to switch from the online program she was doing to the basic homeschooling we had been doing. I think it will work much better for her, to be honest! There will be some work required in the planning, but course selections have to be made first. One thing that's nice is that she will be able to give input into the types of work she would like to do to meet the provincial outcomes.

For my son, while he's definitely made progress this year, it was, naturally, not anywhere near what I had planned on. But, without a plan, he probably would not have made as much progress, so I'm okay with that. He will be grade 9, which is the last year of junior high here. It really hit me how I have to do more "transitioning" next year, more adding in things that will be like the high school courses (I've decided to have him do the provincial high school credits because of just his general nature and approach to life! lol) he will have to do in grade 10. Writing will be a huge focus for next year and we've already picked Writing Strands 4 as a starting point. I may have him work through it faster than the book says to just so we can get to other writing sooner.

It hit me, though, that grade 9 is high school in the USA and that perhaps the Montessori High School at University Circle might have some good ideas for me. They do! I'm copying and pasting exactly below from their page Younger Level Elements of Study. I won't have two years to cover topics the way they do for history and such and besides, I would like to continue with Canadian and American history as planned (even though we didn't finish French and British history this year; we could do a month of super quick overview). I do, however, feel that I need to move beyond just the CM-inspired literature and narration (which I barely had him do, to be honest; we did more discussion of things than narration) and back into Montessori-style projects and such. There's something about the CM-style that doesn't feel... modern enough... if that makes sense. In any case, I have this vision of having portfolios and/or notebooks collecting their notes, work, pictures, etc., related to the outcomes they are covering. I've had this vision before and it keeps coming back, but I've somehow never properly implemented it. And both my kids can take this approach next year, which will, I think, bring a better unity to our little group. (Oh my, it just hit me that if everything goes as planned, it will be my daughter's last year of high school!!! WHAT?!)

From the Montessori High School at University Circle's site:

Younger Level Elements of Study

In the first two years of their high school career, students’ understanding of the world is developed through introductions to the distinct perspectives of the following disciplines and integrated work across the disciplines in application to real-life problems.
History and the Humanities are focused on exploring the evolution of human civilizations throughout time through the lens of the question “How have we come to the here and now?” The unifying central value of humanities work is the quest for peace through constructive human endeavor.


History is the study of human civilizations through time with the intent to find patterns of cause and effect and to create narratives that make sense of the human story. History gives insight into the human condition by identifying human universals and hopes in order to create awareness of opportunities for positive change in the student. In 9th and 10th grade, students are focusing on important episodes in world and American history, and they develop a strong understanding of the roots and methods of the discipline. Students conduct original research, discuss primary and secondary sources in seminar, and develop clear and coherent writing. Students learn to orient themselves in space and time, assisted by the use and creation of maps and timelines. The overarching theme is the human tendency for migration, as identified by Maria Montessori, and its effects and consequences. The study of history is enriched by work with the following social science disciplines or lenses which provide an emerging social justice perspective appropriate to the adolescent:

Social and Cultural Anthropology

Social and Cultural Anthropology is the comparative study of cultures and human societies. The study of the particularities of social and cultural life and emerging appreciation of general principles that govern human societies fuel the students’ understanding of self and other, empathy, and a drive to be engaged citizens of the world. 


Psychology is the study of human experience through thought and feelings and how they inform behavior. The introduction to psychology focuses on developmental and social psychology as a reflection of what it means to grow and become an adult in 21st Century society. It explicitly explores the role of motivation in exploration throughout history.


Geography is the interdisciplinary study of place in relation to economics, health, climate, plants/animals, and human populations. At MHS, geography orients to the study of place and human migration in close connection to orientation in time through the study of history. Students study both physical and human geography and build their understanding of how human population impacts the planet through the building of civilization, thus connect to the unifying central value of sustainability in the study of the sciences.


Philosophy is the critical, systematic study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. Students are introduced to both Western and Eastern philosophical traditions, with an explicit focus in 9th and 10th grade on the Enlightenment in relation to the study of revolutions and nationalism. Chinese philosophy in the context of European exploration and the evolution of global trade is also a focus.


Sociology is study of society through empirical investigation and critical analysis to apply for betterment of society. Students are introduced to the discipline when they study the Industrial Revolution and socialist challenge to capitalism. They continue their study of migration, urbanization, and demographics in application to the history of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Political Science

Political Science is the study of theory and practice of politics and analysis of political systems and behavior. Students are introduced to the discipline in the context of studying the revolutionary political, social, and economic changes associated with Enlightenment thought and industrialization of the 18th and 19th Centuries.


Economics at MHS is the holistic study of humans’ production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services with the understanding that market exchange has ecological, ethical, social, political, and social-psychological dimensions. In 9th and 10th grade, students are introduced to the discipline in the context of exploring the history of colonialism and imperialism.

Current Events and Ethical Thought

Current Events and Ethical Thought (CEET) class challenges students to think through current events by employing ethical theory as a tool of both critical reflection and discussion as well as moral self-construction. CEET engages students to see themselves in relation to others and in service to society. The course engages students by moving through concentric rings from a virtue-focused individual ethics towards the ethics of human relationships, society as a whole, and the environment considering the ethics of distributive justice, distribution of resources, human rights from the perspective of the modern adolescent.

Integrated Science

MHS offers an integrated science approach that allows students to understand natural phenomena from the perspective of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, and the earth sciences. The course’s integrative character is enhanced by unifying themes such as energy, or the interconnectedness of all life. The course also addresses the ethical implications of scientific discovery and incorporates the use of manipulatives, formal lab work, seminar, written assignments, and cumulative projects. The arch of discovery reaches from understanding the origins of the universe and of life to the central unifying value of sustainability.

Mathematics: Geometry and Algebra

The mathematics curriculum at MHS is unique in that students not only learn mathematical skills, but actively explore and come to understand the why of mathematical operations. The study of geometry, for example, includes direct work with Euclid’s The Elements to understand proofs as they were historically developed. Math class also includes seminar and lab time, which allows for open-ended exploration of mathematical concepts and individualized attention and progress in skills. 

Foreign Language: Spanish and French

Foreign language instruction at MHS gives equal attention to speaking, reading, and writing in another language. Both Spanish and French classes immerse students into the lived culture of places where these languages are spoken and include many opportunities to speak the language, project work, written assignments, and opportunities to go out, including optional trips to Spanish and French speaking countries. 

English Language Arts

English Language Arts works in close cooperation with the History class and focuses on the exploration of literature through studies of genres and forms, evolution of grammar and writing skills, as well as creative expression and other project work. The course opens venues for students to try out identities and create utopias to broaden their understanding of possibility. In addition, writer’s workshops, a popular elective course, offer opportunities to explore particular forms of writing such as poetry, dramatic writing, or the short story in a focused, two-week intensive.

The Arts: Visual Art, Theatre, and Music

All three areas of the arts are introduced to 9th and 10th graders, one semester at a time, with a choice of deeper exploration for a second semester in one of the arts. In all three courses, students are given the opportunity to develop their understanding of the theory and history of the arts, and develop their own skills through creative processes. Students are also given the opportunity to visit the institutions of University Circle and the city of Cleveland in order to experience the arts. Art is happening at MHS all year round, in theatre productions, music performances, including coffeehouses in the evenings, art exhibits, in electives such as Parade the Circle, and in the annual Arts on Magnolia event.

Physical Education and Health

Physical education, in coordination with the study of health, is focused on promoting the physical, mental, and social health of our students. Students may choose different PE activities each quarter. Options include work-outs at 1 to 1 Fitness, basketball, swimming, urban hiking, soccer, yoga, dance, and seasonal activities such as skiing or tennis. The health course holistically explores human health through lessons and project work on human development, nutrition with a hands-on component in the kitchen under the guidance of our culinary artist, and the impact of drugs and medicine on human health.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Yes, son, math is important

We are using one of our chemistry kits today.

I basically pulled it out, had a look at the booklet (a collection of science activities without ANY explanation as to what is going on chemically...) and said, "Here, pick something." lol. I had noticed one of the activities was "Slime" and mentioned it. So, he found it and is doing it on his own. Except for... I'm not sure where this kit was made, but it says to use 200g of cornstarch. Here in North America, I'm pretty sure nobody measures cornstach in grams. I said we could look online and asked him how we would go about searching for how to measure it in mL. His search didn't quite bring us to what we needed, so I added in cooking.

Well... The table we got to was rather complicated and had the conversions for cornstarch but not specifically 200g. Or even 100g. The easiest number to work with was 40g. This meant knowing that 40g fit 5 times into 200g, then multiplying the 1/3 cup equivalent by 5 and THEN figuring out they wanted 1 2/3 cups.

I LOVE it when practical things show up like this that show we do need certain math skills!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Break!! (Aka: The end is almost near)

Woot! This means no needing to plan a French class for tomorrow, no figuring out what school work to assign my son, no picking up nieces and nephew from school each day, no driving kids to activities in the evening... At the same time, it means tackling my taxes and babysitting my two nieces and one nephew. lol. They're old enough that I don't really have to do much to babysit, so it's all good.

I suppose I should update a bit: My daughter is taking a break from official school work for the next while. I am exploring different options we can follow for finishing up her high school studies, potentially even still by the end of next school year, as well as looking at post-secondary institutions and what they will accept. The less hoop-jumping as possible, the better. Right now, though, she needs a break. Well, really, she needs to deschool a bit!

With it being April just around the corner, it's hitting me that we only have about 2 months left for school work, which might not matter for my daughter given she's on a break, but it does matter for my son, who has not been doing a whole lot lately (my fault). The end is almost literally around the corner! I really, really, really need to figure out some gentle ways to get my son writing more. His math is going along okay, but we are WAY behind in the books we've been doing this year and he has really done only one tiny bit of writing.

A thought came to me that I suppose it wouldn't hurt to slightly modify things now in preparation for next year. Except that I haven't entirely thought about how I'm proceeding next year. Some thoughts at the moment:

1) Present my 13-year old with the fact that he is supposed to start high school in the 2015/2016 school year. Find some work samples of things students write at the end of grade 9 (jr. high here) and the kinds of work students do in grade 10. Work together to create a plan of getting him able to write at that level and do the type of work that is typical. (As I type this, I hear him previously having said to me, "I'll just do what you tell me to do." lol. This might turn into a "here, this is the level we need to get you to" discussion and me doing the planning.)

2) Lay out certain options with full disclosure. ;) What I mean by this is that a parent-issued high school diploma here means nothing for a lot of institutions and even for some employers. If the government hasn't issued it, it's not "real". One option is to go for the government diploma (which, in itself, has a few options). Another option is to just go for certain credits (again, some options within that). Another option is to do a similar, but not exactly the same, curriculum as our provincial curriculum and rely on things like perhaps SATs or portfolios as proof of completing high school. Have him think about the route he wants to take. (I can see him shrugging and going, "I don't know. Whatever you think is best." lol)

3) Start high school, sort of, next year. We could start covering certain grade 10 topics, like for social studies and science. For math, he's got a ways to work to be ready for grade 10, so we'll just keep on moving forward with what we're doing. I've been focusing a lot on basic things: multiplication, division, fractions, decimals... He's done some pre-algebra stuff and that always goes well, but we'd hit a point of his needing to be more comfortable with fractions and division before moving on. I had a look at what's in the grade 9 textbook for the province and he's actually covered some of the things that other students will be starting next year, so he's not entirely "behind". Regardless, we have the option to "bank" certain credits. If we can finish one or two grade 10 subjects, or even finish something like the required Career and Life Management course next year and get it out of the way and have a start on the credits, that would be fantastic.

Whatever we do, I feel it's really the time to print out the local school outcomes, with perhaps columns (started, somewhat covered, completely covered/mastered) for him to really start being more aware of what there is to learn and to start taking action on it more. Or perhaps just for him to see that there is a lot to be covered and only 5 minutes of work doesn't really cut it! I also have in my mind the idea of a checklist of certain types of texts to write and read. And definitely give him (even if it's used as worksheets) old provincial achievement tests for the sheer purpose of having him see what is expected to be remembered and just have experience with the wording. An introduction to testing without the pressure. :)

So, what can I modify right now?
*I could figure out the math he could get done by the end of the school year and make a checklist. He's been working on The Key to... booklets the past while. I'm sure I could flip through them and figure out something reasonable. Ideally, he would do some of the geometry or other work from the grade 8 local textbook, but I'm not at all sure how much is left in those booklets.

*For science and social studies, I could have him pick one of the grade 8, or even grade 9 (what do I care? lol) topics and we cover the outcomes and beyond by making use of whatever resources we can find. This would end up involving him doing some research, which would be good. It may also be the approach we'll take for his high school courses rather than just relying on a textbook. But on top of that, a checklist with science activities to work on during the week and social studies/history readings that we've (not) been doing (France and England).

*For English and French... I think we have to finish reading The Hobbit, and I will tell him that's our goal. We're only half finished Le voyage au centre de la Terre and it's been years that we've been working on it. Not sure it's reasonable to say we need to finish it. It's tough reading and the Charlotte Mason approach of a digestible number of pages is key. Other than that, my mind has been toying with the Writing Workshop approach with him, starting out with something easy but essentially going through a checklist of topics/text types. There are also some simple French grammar pages that don't take long and just give him some extra exposure since he doesn't read much in French. He's also been painfully slowly working through The Hunger Games. I think I either need to set the amount of silent reading time higher or just tell him, this book needs to be done before summer. Or provide him a challenge: "You think you can finish it before summer?"

I have written "checklist" I'm not sure how many times. I think it's time I had some checklists. lol. I can put on there things like:
*Italian (he's decided to drop Irish; using Mango for it was a little much). I got him connected to Duolingo and we will have a bit of friendly comparing as I make my way through the Italian in my account and he does his. Or perhaps we'll have something where one of us is on the computer while the other is on a laptop, sitting side-by-side in our respective accounts.
*computer programming: he wants to learn scripting, but doesn't like working on it unless I'm there so he can show me stuff. lol
*music (oy, I just realized I completely dropped the ball on Charlotte Mason-style music appreciation)

I'm not sure if I'm making any sense and this all might not be helpful to anybody but me. Sorry!

How are you doing as you face the approaching end of the year? :D

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Thomas Edison's Birthday--Let's Celebrate Educational Freedom :)

Today is Thomas Edison's birthday! We likely wouldn't be celebrating him today had his mother not decided to pull him from school at the age of 7 and homeschool him. Well, and had his parents not decided, at a certain point, to give him freedom in what to learn. Once he was able to read, write and do math well enough, around age 9 or 11, I've forgotten which, he was pretty much left to his own devices but with the understanding he was to continue learning. He discovered a science book at one point that guided him through all kinds of activities/experiments. He became hooked, obsessed, and for a while, ignored his previous voracious reading of literature and history. His father started to bribe him to read history books. Tom read them--and then used the money to buy more materials for science experiments. 

Would Edison have become the man he became had he been in the education system we see today? Or even if his parents had required him to study the same things kids were studying in school at that time or follow a government-decided curriculum? Not very likely. So, today, I honour Edison's birthday and educational freedom. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Rosetta Stone Sale!

Yes, I am a Groupon affiliate. I have this ad for you about Rosetta Stone being on sale. But given I'm in Canada, it turns out this deal is only good for those in Canada! In any case, if you are at all interested in Rosetta Stone for French, Italian or Spanish, for the next two days, it's on for $229.99. If you are in the US, perhaps check Groupon there to see if such a deal is available?

Rosetta Stone French, Italian, or Spanish Level 1–4 Set

Rosetta Stone French, Italian, or Spanish Level 1–4 Set

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Where did January go?

It seemed like yesterday that we were back into our first week of homeschooling of the year and that it was going sooooo slowly. Now, we're at the end of the month and technically the end of the first semester. Doing an assessment of the previous year is something we tend to do as New Year's approaches; I feel the impulse to do an assessment of how this school year is going so far.

Learning to manage stress and move forward with school work has been a big issue this year. Nothing that was supposed to be finished by the end of the semester is done. But that doesn't mean that I, at least, haven't learned some good lessons. I've learned to be compassionate without getting too caught up in trying to fix the situation. And, at least for the time being, there has been a determination on my high schooler's part to take somewhat charge of things. Although her stress management skills, her willingness/ability to change her thoughts about situations still need work, her level of persistence/perserverance is completely admirable.

With my jr. higher, have we got anywhere near the amount done that I had planned? (Part of my mind has broken out in laughter.) Uh, no. But we've explored some great things together and his willingness to do some work is so much better than it was. My issue is that I enjoy the subjects so much, I have been doing all of the reading (except his silent reading); I need to get him reading more for sure.

Things that need work over the next semester:
*finding balance

Well, huh. That seems to cover everything. lol. This covers the approach to subjects to cover and the time to spend on things, and the time to work vs the time to have fun and get together with others.

How about you? How has your school year been going so far? What things are you happy about? What changes, even small ones, would you like to work on making happen for the rest of the year?