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. ;)