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?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Missed Montessori Lesson

It would appear that I should have given a practical life lesson in how to open cereal bags:

The bag is cut, not ripped, at least. I asked my son--my 13-year old son--if he had trouble opening the bag. He looked at it and laughed the way he laughed when I asked him about the utensils and placemat and said, yes, he had. And didn't elaborate.

I sometimes feel like there are all kinds of basic Montessori lessons I didn't do enough with him (or at all). He is like the disheveled, clumsy, absent-minded professor, constantly in another world when he's not in the middle of reading, playing guitar or on electronics.This leads to opening the cereal bag like above, and his room constantly being a disaster, and his not knowing how long it's been since he had a shower and still making a mess with the milk most of the time when pouring milk into his cereal. He still stomps up and down the stairs, even though we have tried how many times to train him not to? I lovingly laugh as I think about all of this, he is just... so him. lol.

Think it's too late to have him do the Walking On the Line lesson and have it have an effect? lol

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homeschooling Snapshot

This would be far more effective if I had taken a picture, but there was something about the moment that seemed like a "homeschooling snapshot moment" and I have decided to write about it since it's now too late to get the picture.

What is today's moment?

It is about 10:30 a.m. Snow is coming down fairly steadily, fluffy and white outside. Other than my niece who is with us for the day, and my husband who is at work, none of us have been outside.

My 16-year old is in her pj's still, I believe (she just wears random t-shirts and stretch shorts to bed most of the time) with her hair pulled back and pinned down, sitting at the kitchen table working on a math test that she decided she would do this morning. She has been up since about 9.

My 13-year old, up since about 8:30, is in a t-shirt and tattered shorts I'm pretty sure he wore to bed. I made sure he had at least changed his underwear. He has a freer rein when cousins are here for the day, so he is sitting at the electronic piano with earbuds in his ears, his 6yo cousin on a chair next to him, she wearing his headphones, and they are playing who knows what but they are enjoying themselves. He's gotten a little more serious with playing the piano lately.

On the flip side of this is that my daughter is very tired and a bit stressed, so all kinds of noise is bugging her as she tries to make her way through the test. I am very tired and bothered by the thumping of the piano keys and the occasional high-pitched sounds that come out of the earbuds. I send the two pianists away to find something else to do. They go to my son's room where he pulls out his acoustic guitar and my niece starts on this:

(This toy has been one of the best my son ever got if not the best!) 

His bedroom wall is just on the other side of our kitchen wall. And sound carries through our house very well. I can not think/focus, so I go ask them to find something quiet to do. I come back downstairs and the dog wants out (the door is right next to the kitchen table), the fridge is making loud humming noises and I'm painfully aware of the clickety-clack of my typing. Then I make some tea with the Keurig, which makes "un bruit du diable" (literal translation would be "a noise from the devil", but I suppose we'd say, "God-awful noise" in English, which doesn't seem like a good expression, does it?), the dog wants back in, the one cat is meowing to get my daughter's attention and the other cat has stolen my spot and meows loudly when I come back to claim it. As I type this, the first cat is lapping water in the pet bowl next to the table. It seems ridiculously loud.

As I finish writing this, I find myself chuckling, despite my tiredness and irritation. :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The pictures I said I would post!

Okay, here's a picture of some of the science we did yesterday:

And here's a picture of how my utensil drawer looked after my son put away the dishes:

 It was very reminiscent of the way he was putting his placemat away after supper last year:

The best part about both the utensils and the placemat is that when it was brought to his attention, he actually let out a "That's ridiculous!" kind of laugh! lol.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

We Finally Did Science!

We had a pretty good homeschool morning, my son and I. We did some math questions from Life of Fred: Decimals and Percents (although I did the lesson on the side; I have NEVER seen anybody go about teaching how to multiply decimals the way he does!!) and then I had him read part of a passage in Matthew. For the math, I actually added some extensions to it all. We'd already looked in the past about how a decimal number reflects a fraction, so I tied that in and then (re?)introduced scientific notation since one of the answers was 0.00000009. Made sense to do so.

And then, wait for it: We finally did SCIENCE! Woot! I pulled out the Deluxe Science Kit we've had for, oh, perhaps 2+ years and have never really done? It's been open and we set some of it up but haven't done the experiments.

I decided to just start with Experiment 1 (they're not so much experiments as activities, but anyhow) and we worked our way through to Experiment 9, I think. He quite enjoyed the water play, which is funny because it brought back memories of him and his cousin, 11 years ago as 2-year olds, playing at the kitchen sink! lol. I have a picture, but I'm not at home and it's only in emails and I can't figure out how to get Blogger to put it in while I'm on a public computer! I'll share it in a separate post. Along with an after-picture of his having put away the dishes...

In any case, he went on to explore a bit more. The last experiment we did, he had a beaker full of water upside down in the sink full of water and put some tubing into the beaker, then he blew air into it. That led to his having lots of fun (no, 13's apparently still not too young to enjoy making bubbles! lol) with that and then seeing what would happen if he put a beaker full of air upside down in the water and sucked the air out. I'm not sure all he did as I ended up walking away when I saw he was just exploring.

After that, I read to him from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (the Kindle version is currently FREE!). We've been working on this book for over a year for sure. He had started it on his own, but found it difficult to understand, so I started reading it too him and I stop every now and then for him to tell me in his own words what they mean by something or to just outright explain because some of the vocabulary is like a foreign language. We are just about done but it's been an interesting story for him and I'm glad we're doing it together. I grabbed the Socratic Logic book I have by Peter Kreeft

Socratic Logic: A Logic Text using Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles, Edition 3.1
Peter Kreeft has a great sense of humour, or at least in the early pages. It was kind of funny as my son asked, "Why are we doing this?" and I said it was to help him write well, so that he could write papers and such where he could defend an opinion. "Oh, okay." (Always that practical, teenaged-mindedness!) And I opened it to what I thought was the first page and it was something like "Reasons to Study Logic". Ha! Then I realized there was a preface. I turned to that and it started off talking about Middle Earth (my son has seen all the Lord of the Rings movies, the two most recent Hobbit movies and we've been slowly reading through The Hobbit (oh! I was just trying to find a link in Amazon for the book and discovered an illustrated version!), so it definitely caught his attention. I only read the preface and a part of the first page of the reasons and he ended up playing his guitar for a little bit. This all took us the morning, was relaxed and enjoyable. It was superb. :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What Would Maria Montessori Do?

I,m in one of my "What would Maria Montessori do?" modes.

I know she would not have approved of how I went about my children's education up until now. She would have liked/agreed with some things; she would have tsk tsk'ed (or whatever her thing was) over others, like how much freedom I gave my kids.

I'm now facing a daughter who is doing online schooling and she hates it. Can't stand it. Whether it's the result of my approach with her, whether it's the result of the nature of the online schooling or a mix of the two is hard to say, but she hates it. And I hate it, I have to be honest. It's so uninspiring. But she is determined to have the provincial diploma and to go about it this way or in school. I don't know if it's the lack of my making her do things in the past that has her not wanting to try a different way or what, but I am discovering she has ways of thinking I was unaware of! Add to that, she has no confidence whatsoever in writing in French, her mother tongue, which makes me very sad and feel very guilty.

And I have a 13yo, grade 8 son who has not yet written a paragraph in his life in either language. High school starts in grade 10 here. I am quite convinced I will not have him do the online, and he will not have any interest in going to school, and honestly, might not have any interest in getting the provincial diploma. Regardless, he's technically supposed to start high school in less than two years. I need something to change so I don't feel like I've completely botched things!

I suppose part of my issues are resulting from my not only loving the Montessori method, but also loving things like the Sudbury Valley School but I recognize there is a particular environment with that, that having a mass of students of various ages around you all doing the same thing (directing their own learning) is far more inspirational than at home. Or can be. So I turn back to Montessori, or Montessori-influenced Charlotte Mason, to have a bit of the structure, to have the seeds to plant and the limits in place to help them.

What do I do at this point? What would Maria do if she were here in person and could guide me?

Photo taken from .

Part of me hears her saying with an Italian accent, "They are too old. There's nothing to be done." lol. But she thought that before with students and they proved her wrong. So, after I've pointed that out to her, what would she say to me?

"Freedom within limits."

Okay... Which limits?

*I'm not hearing anything*

What were her limits? Did she have things they had to work on? I'm thinking more the upper levels.

Perhaps it's time for me to refresh my memory and read some books and go check out all the adolescent links I have stored on this site. While they are aimed at students who have been "doing" Montessori since preschool for the most part, there is still something to be gleaned from it all.

In the meantime, I will place some limits on my kids on school days to do with the amount of time they spend on electronics. I will resume the Charlotte Mason-influenced assigned work with my son, but perhaps do it with a little more freedom (give him the list; he decides what to do in which order). And I will make a concerted effort to figure out how to get this 13yo son of mine to write more while thinking about ways I could bring French writing into the daily life of my daughter, without a sense of coercion or it being more she has to do.