Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Yesterday was a full moon. And it showed.

Yes, there was a full moon yesterday. And it showed from the very moment I got up.

Started off waking up at the usual time. Was kind of thinking of just letting myself stay in bed until 6. I didn't. But I wanted to (and I never want to). Got myself up but was horribly distractible. Like really, really distractible. Couldn't get anything resembling work done. Finally got myself dressed (that alone is unusual--I'm usually dressed and ready by 6am and today it was 7am and I'm going, "Hm, I'm driving my daughter to the transit station; I should really get dressed").

My husband seemed more tired than usual, although we both had decent sleeps.

My daughter got up and was visibly tired.

She and I left for the transit station. The radio reported all of the accidents. One accident is pretty common for that hour; there were 3 reported yesterday morning and one of them was a 5-vehicle collision. Oh-kaaay...

I dropped her off, came back home, mentally telling myself I'll get work done on my French lessons website. Nope. Took care of other stuff today, but was just mentally all over the place.

My son woke up. Visibly more tired than usual like the rest of us. Didn't feel physically as well as the previous day; his cold had seemed like it was going away. He informed me one of the cats had vomited on his guitar case. I got to clean it up. He ate, then we got to work. Or tried. We sat down and had barely begun when the phone rang. My mom. I answered. We got back to what we were doing. Then we headed to the TV upstairs (a Smart TV) to watch the BBC version of The Merchant of Venice on YouTube. "This video can not be played on this device," or some message like that. We tried the PlayStation. Same thing. Fine. He decided he'd watch it on a laptop later on. We decided to head back downstairs to do some math and science. But the phone rang before I even got to the stairs. The repair guy was on his way. Okay, good.

Of course, because the repairman was on his way, we had barely pulled things out for school work when he arrived. The dog barked FURIOUSLY after the doorbell rang, but then was so ridiculously excited to see the repairman (he'd been here twice before) and seemed to think he was going to play with her, she was running for toys and just bouncing all over the place. OMG.

The repair guy started doing his thing at the stove and I went back to math with my son at the table. My son, whose brain seemed completely incapable of processing math stuff yesterday. "What?!" Not sure how many times I heard that. We quit math early.

Then the repair guy informed me that the part ordered for the stove wasn't the right thing. That it might be a more recent version of the part, it doesn't fit.  Given how the day was going, it really didn't surprise me. lol. The dog, of course, was very excited to have him move back through to the front door and seemed to think she was going to get to go somewhere, too. Oh man...

He left and my son and I got working on science. That actually went smoothly. 

It was 1-1:30 pm by this point. My son hadn't eaten lunch. He was going to watch 30 minutes of The Merchant of Venice on the laptop while eating lunch, and while he was finding it, I was checking to see if the library had a copy. Yes, they did--at the library I was at on the previous day. Told him he could hold off; we'd watch it together.

I decided that I was DONE. Yes, 1:30 pm and I was DONE. I let my son off the hook for everything else (although he did choose to do silent reading). I just wanted to do something fun, distracting, although I thought I could maybe try to work on my French lessons website since I'd gotten nothing done that morning, so I went upstairs to put on Back to the Future and work on my laptop while watching. But, I wanted popcorn. So, I started to heat up the machine (it's a small professional machine next to the TV), but the dog started hacking and acting like she was going to throw something up, which she did, and I wanted my son to get her out the door except that there were workers out in our yard looking at our window well. So, we left her inside and I cleaned up the hack she did on the way to the door.

I got the popcorn into the machine. While things were starting to pop, the doorbell rang. Gah, really?! My son doesn't know how the machine works. I went to the door as I told him to turn it off when it was done popping. It was the window well guys, saying it doesn't really need to be redone, that it's almost at the siding and some such and if I was fine with it, just to initial. Meanwhile, the popcorn upstairs was done and I could hear my son's voice going, "How do I turn it off??" Yes, some of the popcorn got burnt. And the other cat escaped while talking to the window well guys.

I finally managed to get upstairs and settle in front of Back to the Future. I didn't get to do the marathon on the 21st, so that was my motivation for putting it on yesterday. I kind of watched and sort of worked--and then fell asleep with the laptop open on my legs. I woke up about 5 minutes before my daughter texted me, asking me to head toward the transit station to meet her. Getting there, it seemed like it could be iffy in terms of getting home and her leaving for work and getting there on time, so I just drove her directly to work.

On the way back home, the longest line up of cars I've ever seen at the 4-way stop near my house. I couldn't believe it. Went back nearly 2 blocks. That, fortunately, seemed to be the end of the weirdness for the day. Phew. lol

How was your Full Moon Day? Anything weird? :D

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Recap--Illness and More Illness

Both my son and I came down with viruses in September. Mine seemed to go away and now I have something new. He just seems to be going and going and going, like the Energizer bunny, with the same thing that just doesn't want to leave him. To the point I'm not sure if this makes 3 weeks straight he's been sick or 4.

What to do? When it's just a couple of days, you take some time off school and recover. But this 3-4 weeks business... In a year where there are things we have to cover, so each day off is a day behind...

Physical education was one of the courses I kind of let go. He's still coughing up a storm, and I'm now coughing up a storm with a sore throat, but I said, "Screw it! The weather's good, let's do something." So, we went on a 30+-minute bike ride today. I'm out of shape; he told me it was kind of slow, but I really couldn't give it more without feeling like I was overdoing it.

We've got a bit of math done this week. He's on a trigonometry unit. I keep thinking he's way behind, but the lessons are set up differently from the usual textbook, so I think he's close to being on track to finish by the end of May. This math is not something he'd be studying if he didn't need it for the diploma. I think it's good for him, make him think, but surely there have to be other ways to get him to think that way...

Made sure he got a writing session in. He asked if it had to be by hand; I said that sometimes I'd require something by hand, but not this week. So, he set up a cloud account and started typing his story idea (from way back, mentioned in my post about "Who are you and what have you done with my son?") on his iPad, saving it in the cloud so he could access it from the Mac. These modern kids, I tell ya! He's been getting some more silent reading in. Pretty good at getting his music theory stuff done, too. And, afaik, he's still been drawing almost every day.

So, not a bad week. Not great. Not what I had envisioned. But I hadn't envisioned us still being sick. And then my daughter was home sick on Wednesday; he wasn't looking great, so I gave him the day off. We spent most of Tuesday Christmas shopping (uh, yeah, we are celebrating Christmas this Sunday with my in-laws because my mil and fil will be soon heading down to Arizona for the winter). I don't know what happened yesterday, I was just so burnt out after my morning French class and my throat and cough getting worse. I know we read. And did math. (Oh yeah! My brain was in such top functioning mode (please read that sarcastically) that I wrote down "408" for "48". You know, 40-8. Oh man... lol)

My brain is feeling rather fried, to be honest. I'm not sure this post is making any sense, but we were both writing together and I got stuck with the story I was writing and blog posting is still writing, so here I am. hahahaha

I'm fine. Truly. Nothing that a good nap can't fix. Hopefully.

Friday, October 2, 2015

More Cool Science: Ants--Nature's Secret Power

My husband somehow ended up learning about an "ant city" and then found the whole documentary from which the original clip he saw came.

By last night, he was watching it his 3rd or 4th time. :)

It truly is fascinating and could make for a good science class. The mass collective intelligence of ants is astounding.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Science Coolness: You Won't Believe Your Eyes

My 15-year old son might be a near iPad addict, but he also does find some really cool stuff.

He is subscribed to a YouTube channel called Smarter Every Day and this new video from the channel showed up in his YouTube feed. He just had to show it to me--watch it and you'll see why! It's crazy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Who Are You and What Have You Done With My Son?

I've had another one of those moments with my son. Actually, a few of those moments today. Where is my son? lol. The first thing started off with our morning mini-meeting and looking at the planning sheet I'd set up (available here) and he said something about "the other stuff". I said that's what the Misc. section was for and started pencilling some stuff in. And what does he say he wants to have as extras in the afternoon? He wants to learn to draw. Specifically, some sort of anime/manga he saw before going to bed last night and he now, out of the blue, really wants to learn to draw it.

I can't exactly say no! So, we did a bit of research to pinpoint that it was an anime/manga style and he read about some supplies he would need and we made a plan to get some things later.

We had our academic time and finished it off with a Writer's Workshop session. I introduced the T-chart for brainstorming ideas, as well as the Mind Map; I should perhaps have waited for the Mind Map. In any case, we both did our T-charts ("like" on the left, "dislike" on the right) and then I said I'd set the timer for 10 minutes and we could pick any topic and just write, fiction or non-fiction and that it might be a little rough at first, but in time, it'd become more of a habit and most days would be easier. So, we wrote. And he spent the entire time writing. This alone is surprising. He writes slowly, but he spent the entire time writing. The timer went off and I finished off my sentence. He kept writing.

"Do you want to continue?"

"Yes, I just want to finish this." *Mouth mentally drops to the floor while eyebrows go up high*

He spent another few minutes finishing up and said I could read it. It was about how he wants to learn to draw and why. A proper paragraph. Quite well written. From the kid I'm pretty sure has never written a paragraph in his life. Well, maybe one other. And has barely read anything resembling a full-length book in a few years, although did recently start Thunderhead (only because we insisted he read something and that was one of the recommendations and he decided to read it) and did read Lone Survivor last school year. He absorbs--or can absorb--so much. It's crazy. It just sits there in his brain and simmers a while.

But that's not the end of it. No, no.

I went off to teach my French class, got back and found out he hadn't eaten ALL DAY. He's 14. 15 next week. But he just said he wasn't hungry. There is a virus that seems to have hit all of us in its own way. Okay, fine. We ended up eating supper and heading out to Michaels to pick up a few art supplies of his own so he's not borrowing from his sister. We got back home and although he hadn't yet had a turn on the PlayStation 4 or the computer, and he would normally dash right to one of them, especially since it was already 8 pm, he didn't. He was on his iPad last I checked. I think he still is. It's now after 9pm. He certainly isn't actually playing. What has he been doing?

I'm still so... stunned? Not quite the right word. Amazed. Shocked. In awe. Whatever word you want to describe happy disbelief.

He was writing down ideas for a story he'd like to write.

*Insert massive shock to the point of holding breath here*

He has NEVER written a story of his own accord. EVER. He has always resisted writing. I even used to try to get him to tell me stories to write down, but they were always just nonsense things, so I stopped. I didn't see what it was he was getting in his notes on the iPad today, but it was stuff for a story.

Seriously, who is he and what has he done with my son?

He did mention the other day that he was wanting to continue studying astronomy (not part of the credit courses, but I told him we can't just do only the credit courses; it's important to learn the things we want to, too). Perhaps it's a sign of whoever this is and their alien origins? ;)

Saturday, September 12, 2015

First "Week" Done!

Our first "week" of school is done. I say "week" because, well, first of all, there were only 4 days this week. And then on Tuesday, I was gone with my daughter during the day as part of her transition to high school. Wednesday, my son and I looked over things that need to be covered this school year for credits and he did some math. Thursday and Friday, more work done, but then my daughter was home because it's orientation week and her orientation day was on Wednesday.

It's been a strange week.

Add to this, my husband (a teacher) had his first week back and is in the process of packing for a school trip that he, some other teachers and about 80 students are heading on for a couple of weeks. Strange week for him, too.

But it's been a decent week for our first week. It looks like we've already kind of fallen into a pattern of doing academics in the morning and other things in the afternoon. My son's trying to cut corners, of course ;), but it's been pretty good. Next week, it'll be academics in the morning and at least 2 other things in the afternoon, aside from guitar practice. Or perhaps I'll insist on 30 minutes of phys. ed. being done each day and then he picks at least one other thing. Other than guitar practice. That kid has been known to spend 2+ hours straight practising.

But even next week is going to be a different kind of week. I'm starting one French class Monday afternoon; it's a good thing we've already fallen into a "academics in the morning" pattern. I was hoping to get a phys. ed. group going on Tuesday, but I haven't figured anything out yet, so if we do anything, it'll be last-minute. I'm picking up my nieces and nephew after school on Wednesday. Friday, there's a homeschooler Mass and picnic (I think it's a picnic, I should probably check) that I will force my son to. ;) And my daughter will be in school all week for the first time ever.

I am finding, however, that already, there's a feel that things are very focused on what "has to" be done for credits rather than him appreciating the learning. Maybe it'll come as we explore more, or maybe we'll finish the requirements and I'll be able to say, "Just because we're dong the outside requirements doesn't mean we're going to stop learning." I think, though, he is feeling a bit of the "ugh" that we have certain social studies and science topics we have to do rather than just exploring what we would like. I can appreciate that. Hopefully I'll be able to make these requirements as enticing as possible.

Was this your first week back, too? How was your first week, whether it was this week or earlier?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I'm Making an Education Plan--for Myself

Where I live, we need to register as home educators with a willing school and submit a yearly educational plan for each student.

It occurred to me today that I could, and maybe should, make my own educational plan. So, I've begun. :)

I've done lists of goals before although never had anything in place to actually go back and check the goals after a few weeks, much less several months. I haven't decided yet where I'll put this plan, perhaps with my son's plan so that I see it every time I check his plan or perhaps in its own binder.

I make all kinds of goals, from eating healthier to decluttering to things like getting x number of lessons done for my French website. But it's always about accomplishing things and never a plan for just learning things I want to learn.

What have I got on my plan so far?

English Language Arts: Read or listen to at least one novel/book per month. (I have a list of books from our province plus a number of classic books in my bookshelves, books I have yet to read.) I'll be doing a lot with my son's English course, but I do need to have this reading of at least one book per month to stay ahead of him and have things to talk about for our reading workshop "book talks." (Here's one link about book talks.)

French Language Arts: We speak French at home and I have to write emails and such. But I don't ever read in French nor even watch TV or watch movies in French (anymore; when the kids were little, we alternated between watching movies in French and in English) to expand my vocabulary (and even just being used to other accents and regional colloquialisms). I want to read or listen to at least one classic book this year--I'm thinking along the lines of Jules Verne or Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo comes to mind as a good one, especially since I could play it at lunchtime with my son eating with me and it could double for covering both of our education plans). Also, I'm completely unfamiliar with francophone music; my goal is to discover at least one artist/band that I like. (I'm assuming there's got to be something I'll like. My husband has started listening to a band whose music sounds entirely like easy listening/Abba-esque stuff out of the 60s/70s, actually, somewhat like the stuff I find boring on the German station. It just has a certain sound to it that I associate with my childhood--specifically, my friend's grandparents' music. I'd like something more modern.) I do want to put actually reading things--be it online sites or books or what have you--because while I feel my grammar is strong, I'm noticing how other people who didn't used to make mistakes are making mistakes even though their written grammar/spelling used to be top knotch.

German Language Studies: I grew up learning a very limited German vocabulary and hearing my grandfather mutter certain things under his breath. It inspired me to take 3 years of German (one course per year) when I was in university and then I took a semester of conversational German after graduating. But it's been years. And I've been recently inspired to revive this language in my life and even in my family a bit; I've actually been using various little phrases with my family for a few months now, some of them becoming just commonplace and I don't even think it before I say it. My grandfather's first language was German; at least two of his wife's (my grandma's) grandparents had German as their first language. My kids have learned French as part of my husband's heritage as a French Canadian; I wish now I had mastered German better when they were younger and made German more a part of their lives. But I'm babbling. My plan for this is to actually complete a boxed German language learning program I was given several years back. I've started it more than once and never completed it; this year, the goal is to actually do it all. I will also supplement with German radio (either the local program that runs for an hour daily or an online station I can find). I'd also like to see about an online forum where I can have written and/or oral conversations.

Spanish Language Studies: You might be thinking me crazy to be adding a 4th language in here, but my son will be doing an online Spanish course this year. Since he prefers working with me--and as a means of testing him and pushing him a bit to really master it--I'd like to kind of follow what he's doing and learn what he's learning.

This is as far as I've gotten. I've been trying to think about things learned in school or university and just general interests (like in Accepted--what would I want to have as a course?) and not sure what else I'd like to add on. I'm thinking of things like Food Studies--I could learn more recipes for gluten-free cooking. Math? Nah (although I love math). Science? Hm. History--now there's something I could set some goals for. I feel like there's a lot of history that I don't know that I would like to know more about or that would be useful. I'll have to narrow that one down. Music? Maybe. Art? I have Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain kit that I kind of started and never finished; that could be fun. Physical education--that's probably a natural thing with just trying to be healthier, fitter. Health could fit into that (what sort of specific things do I need to learn about health? maybe nutrition). Typing: I never did master the numbers. When I'm going strong with something, I can type upwards of 100 wpm, but not if I have to do numbers and symbols! Religious studies--all kinds of stuff that interest me there. I'm sure Khan Academy has various things I could spend time watching. Perhaps just some time each week for "delighted-directed studies"?

Okay, that's enough thinking for now. Have you ever done up a learning plan for yourself?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Another school year almost here

Maybe you're reading this and you've already started your school year; I know some areas have school years that have begun and some people just follow their own schedule.

Me, I'm so very glad we don't have to start just yet. lol

We've had a busy summer. My husband even commented the other day that other than my daughter and I heading to Orlando for Dance the World, we haven't done anything big (no trips as a family), but we haven't gone more than 2-3 days at a time without having something going on. And it's true. I'm writing this the day my cousin and family have ended their visit with us. I actually have a week ahead of us where there is nothing (yet) going on until the weekend. Well, that and my daughter's work schedule. And while I wanted some calmer times, I kind of feel like, "What? What am I supposed to do with that time?"

I know one thing I will be doing: Figuring out what we'll be doing this year for homeschooling. Well, for the first week or two, at least. ;)

I have a few things kind of figured out. I have vague things figured out. I don't have specifics figured out.

My daughter will be going to high school for her grade 12 year. Yes, I'm now one of those homeschooling mothers who is going, "My baby's first day of school!" And she's 17. That still requires some of my attention since the school has already done something with her course selection and removed from her schedule the course that's the most important to her. And it involves going in with her on registration day to take care of this, that and the other. I'm excited for her, though, because this school just seems awesome, the program kind of a mix of high school and university. I think she'll have a great year.

My son's program is the one I really need to figure out. I admit that it stresses me a bit: we've hit high school credits. And this isn't like in many places in the United States where I get to just decide what is to be done to earn those credits: I have to cover the learning outcomes (and there are a lot of them) as given by our provincial government (and the school we're with has him do a final exam for each core subject). I can decide how we go about them, but that's a large process in itself, especially trying to find interesting resources to learn from rather than just relying on textbooks. Math will still be a text, but everything else... I have some research to do the next few weeks, for sure. All while trying to get things ready to open up my @Home French beginner French course.

We do have the basic subjects worked out (sort of):
*The required courses: English, math, science, social studies, physical education, Career and Life Management (has to be taken at some point during the high school years; figured we'd get it out of the way this year)
*Options (or electives, depending on where you live): music, Spanish, foods (and this will only take up to a month after which point he can continue with the next foods course OR he'll pick one of the othe Career and Technology Studies courses; I have a list somewhere of potential candidates).
*Not for credit: Here and there, add in things like Rich Dad Poor Dad for Teens (although, this does kind of fit in with one of the CALM units), logic, religion...

I'm not sure what I've written before and perhaps this is just repeating myself, but it helps me think to write, so I'll write. :D

For English, I'm not taking the usual read-this-and-answer-these-questions approach. I'm going to incorporate what I can of the reading workshop and writing workshop approach. This means mini-lessons on various things, but also just lots of reading and writing without evaluating every single thing. And lots of discussion and sharing. I know a lot of homeschoolers just find things they can have their kids do independently at the high school level, but not only is my son not like that (despite being a huge introvert, he'd much rather work with me or someone else than on his own), I am a trained teacher. I like being "part of the action", so to speak, when it comes to learning. Even with him unschooling, I was finding things, guiding what I could, asking him things... This time, there's specific stuff he has to cover; I don't want to just leave him to it. I'm actually quite looking forward to these next three years, despite the added stress of having to meet someone else's objectives in a way.

And with that... It's just hitting me really hard right now that this will be my daughter's last high school year and iff things go as planned with my son, in twos year from now, I'll be posting my last "Another school year almost here" type of post. (And then, what will I do? lol)

Monday, June 15, 2015

BraveWriter Shares Helpful Tips

I've started following BraveWriter in Facebook and today's post is just fantastic! You can read it here:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Semestered vs Year-Long Learning

I'm still thinking of my son's grade 10 (first year of high school here) year next year and how things will be organized. Even though I don't have resources picked out and more important things that need to be decided at this point, but it's on my mind. Although, the scheduling is part of figuring out how we'll actually go about things, what kind of time we'll have and what we'll be able to do with that time.

Technically, a semestered course should have just as many hours in it as a year-long course. So that's not really the kind of "time" I mean. It's more: How many hours per week are we going to have on a subject? How long are the individual sessions going to be? Then there's, Do I provide structure in terms of what we do on which day? Or do we just have our things to do for the week, the time is blocked out to pick those things? Or a mix: certain things, like reading and writing workshop time, are scheduled (or put on a certain day) and the rest just has a certain amount to work through?

The advantages to doing semestered is that you can be done with that course and move onto the next thing. The disadvantage is that you kind of have to plow through it and don't necessarily get to really absorb it. And if you don't have to kind of student who is prepared to plow through things...

I was originally thinking of doing some things semestered and some things all year, like perhaps social studies and science semestered and the rest all year. But now I'm second-guessing that. Is my son truly prepared to spend 5-7 hours a week on social studies for 4 months? It's doubtful. lol. It's just really not his style. And part of homeschooling him is to make this high school experience fit well with him, to approach things in an enjoyable way so that learning--even topics we wouldn't have chosen--is enjoyable. I'm also thinking retention. Now, I know the one online math teacher here recommends that students do the math course in a single semester because by the time the final exam rolls around, they've forgotten too much of the beginning stuff, but shouldn't that just mean that better review needs to be built in during the year so that it truly is retained? Yes, that's what I'm thinking.

What about you and your family? What do you do for your high school students? Do you use semesters or have you done it both ways and prefer one over another?

Friday, June 5, 2015

I Want Summer to Start

What to do when you want to officially declare it summertime for you and your kids but one of your kids has work still to finish--to hand into an online school by a certain date, so there's no, "Oh, it can be finished during the summer sometime)?

I am soooo ready for summer holidays. Just take a week and do nothing before the reality of doing nothing hits and I start feeling like I need to do something--but it can be whatever I want it to be (well, within reason--I am trying to get the French instructional website ready and definitely to have the first level ready by Sept. 1).

The sun is out, temperatures are rising and I'd like to just go out for hikes and picnics and get my kids together with friends (or just other people in my son's case).

I can't put additional pressure on this particular child, although I have backed off from the other one's work requirements a bit. In addition to not being able to put more pressure on getting the work done, we've been hit by a virus--possibly viral meningitis--day 12 of being sick for her.

But I know it'll get done and really, what's to stop me from doing my own thing even though I have one child who has work to do--which really doesn't involve me much in the first place? Just my own thinking getting in the way.

It'd still be nice for us to all be done and I can just swoop them away to outdoor places or field trips and such.

When do your summer holidays start?

Friday, May 29, 2015

Ninja Squishy Balls!

I'm not sure how I even came to find this, but it looks super cool. I may just ask my teens if they'd like to make some--and also thinking it could be useful in my French class in the fall:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Montessori High School Schedule

I came across this and thought I would share it:

I found it very interesting that they have 20 minutes of Care for the Environment and Closing time. I'm not entirely sure what the rest of the schedule means exactly, though. Does each grade have their own subject for each time block? Is the time block simply the time they can choose which of the listed subjects they can work on?

I'm not sure that such a schedule would be required at home with a single student. I do like the scheduled 15 minutes of physical activity, but I think I would make it EVERY day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I'm mad and disheartened :(

My friend has been trying to raise money to get her and her family moving much sooner than they had anticipated because of an unstable person in their lives--someone who has been unstable enough that it's not unreasonable to think he'd be one of those people you hear about in the news who was never in any real trouble, maybe a few personality issues, but just snaps one day and bad things happen. And they are afraid they could be the target. Having been connected with enough people who have problematic, unstable people in their lives and hearing their stories, my friend and her husband's worries are not unwarranted. There is nothing for them to do legally. There are just warning bells going off that they need to tread lightly with this guy. And ideally, get out of there.

They have, in my opinion, a truly legitimate reason to be raising money. They have in the past couple of months raised $210.

Then you have Nicole and Joe Naugler, whose behaviour (including involving one of the children in threatening the neighbour with a GUN, although he denies it, apparently--somebody is lying and I guess I have to be humble enough to go that I can't know who for sure, but the accusations are there) and words got their children removed from them (after being warned repeatedly that that's what would happen if they wouldn't cooperate). And they, as of this moment, have raised over $40 000.

I'm mad. Disheartened. My friend has a disability that makes it impossible for her to hold down any kind of regular job. She homeschools their kids. She is trying to make a living out of writing. They don't have any run-ins with the law. They have a worrisome person in their lives. And hardly anybody has helped. Then you have the Nauglers, with Nicole clearly lying or not remembering events since she has said that she couldn't be guilty of disorderly conduct when she was in the car (she wasn't in the car) and so much more. It is entirely possible that the cop did not follow things as he was supposed to, as some have alleged; I don't know Kentucky law. But her behaviour, whether she was right or not, was uncalled for in so many ways.

My heart aches for my friend. She's not even looking to get 1/4 of what the Nauglers have made in less than a week. :(

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Nauglers: Victims? Maybe Not.

If you only read one article online about a situation, you may not be presented with all of the facts.

Popular posts right now are defending Joe and Nicole Naugler in a complicated situation. The two claim that their children were unlawfully removed from them because of their unschooling and living off-grid. And people are getting riled up about it, believing only the one side.

Then you do some searching and find other sides to the story. And holy cow, there is a WHOLE other side. Theft of the neighbour's water, trespassing to get that water, asking a child to go get the gun when the neighbour told him he had to keep off his property, piles of garbage, broken glass and nails (and the children roam freely without shoes or anything), another family living the same way and who knows them saying that the family has been banned from their house for a while and so many other things.

But, interestingly enough, the most compelling information on the other side is actually supported by the Naugler's audios found here:

Should I go into great detail about the issues and concerns these audios bring up? How about a mother telling her child "don't do it, he'll just shoot you because that's what cops do when you don't comply"? About a mother who has police saying the need to investigate the allegations and her resistance is going to lead to her children's removal, who then answers back, when the cop tries to get her to understand by giving an example of her witnessing another woman or a child being attacked, that she wouldn't call the police, she would only intervene if her own children were being attacked.

Nicole is trying to claim the police arrested her for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest when she was just sitting in her car and that if you listen to the audio, you can tell. Listen to the 3rd audio for that--she was not in her car, she was clearly losing it, she was absolutely resisting arrest... I had to admit that upon seeing the photos of her bruised arms, I wondered how poorly the cops had behaved, but then you hear her completely losing it and it was very easy to imagine her physically resisting with all her might and I think the cop said something about her jumping and scuffling. Well, that means the cop has to hold on tighter. He's arresting somebody who is resisting arrest. And if she's resisting strongly enough, he has to hold on tight enough that it will bruise.

The things she said during the conversation with the cop I find truly concerning. I completely understand why the cops had to take the boys and arrest her. She might be all, "Oh, they were going to let me go and then changed their minds without any reason," but enough time passed that I suspected they quickly got approval from somebody higher up to take the boys right then.

She claims all kinds of rights, but doesn't seem to have ANY understanding of what those rights actually mean. She tries to accuse the police officer of trespassing. She, in a strange twist of things, uses US rights and amendments to try to prove her case but then completely rejects the authority of the police and government. It makes no sense whatsoever. Now, this lack of logic doesn't have anything to do with her kids being handed over, but her misunderstanding of and unwillingness to obey the law of the land she's living in is what has led to this situation.

Oh, and when you listen to the audio, you'll hear both her and the cop talk about "the last time"--a year ago, another CPS allegation had been made, but that time, she let somebody talk to the kids. She's not letting somebody this time. Not unless an attorney is present, which has absolutely nothing to do with CPS situations AT ALL from my understanding. But I admit I could be wrong. I've never, however, EVER heard of children demanding a right to an attorney to speak to a cop or caseworker over CPS allegations or even being able to demand that right.

All she did was dig herself into a larger hole, make the police even more convinced she's trying to hide something. She went so far as to tell the cop that she wouldn't call the police if she witnessed a woman being attacked by her husband or someone else's kids being attacked, but she would intervene if someone was attacking her own kids. That is not comforting for a police officer.

The husband can be heard on the third audio, saying something about her being arrested because they weren't around to have the kids talk to them, but he's clearly unaware of his wife's having refused to allow the police to talk them, so at least it wasn't a pre-planned thing on both their parts. She also told the two boys, as they were being taken, to not saying anything under any circumstances. Whether she's just fanatical about her perceived rights or whether she's got something to hide, she clearly has no idea that such behaviour is going to be seen by police as her hiding things.

In a nutshell, this story has nothing to do with homeschooling, unschooling or living off the grid, but about resisting the laws of her country of simply having the kids speak to authorities after her husband's threat with a gun and other allegations led to a CPS complaint. Well, the removal of the kids was the result of not only not letting the kids speak to the cops but the other things she said that the cop clearly found concerning (as did I); her arrest was the pure result of her behaving the way she did when the cops were removing the boys.

Btw, here's a really good page on some of the other side:

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Montessori High School Quote

"The teacher provides order to an adolescent’s learning, not to dictate what should be learned, but to help structure the process by which everything and anything can be learned."

Friday, May 8, 2015

Grammar Time: More healthy or healthier?

If you read the wealth of comments by people online, you will come to the conclusion that "more healthy" means the same thing as "healthier."

No, sorry, it doesn't. And sadly, there are foreign language teachers being told that it's the same thing. If that were the case, dictionaries would indicate that "healthier" is the same as "more healthy," but they don't.

There is a time, however, to use "more healthy"--but not in the sense of "healthier." Take, for example, a case of you serving your kids healthy food. You want to serve them more of it. So, you say you want to serve them more healthy food. You're not saying you want healthier food that what you have chosen as healthy food for them, you just want to serve more of that type of food. Makes sense?

This kind of thing actually affects comprehension, so I don't think it's one of those things where we should just say, "Oh, the language is evolving and it's okay." It's not like my personal preference of sticking with saying "thee" for "the apple"; comprehension and clarity aren't affected in the slightest by people saying "the" instead of "thee". When you don't use comparatives properly, however, it can defintely affect comprehension.

And whatever you do, don't ever, ever, EVER say, "more healthier"! ;)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What Are Your Electronics Rules for Teens?

I'm curious to know what your electronics rules are--both for your teens (homeschooling or not) and parents.

We don't have any set rules--something that bugs my husband because he's more black-and-white in his thinking than I am--but that doesn't mean we don't go at one point, "Hey, you're spending an awful lot of time doing this on this device," or "Hey, you've already spent a ridiculous amount of hours doing this electronic stuff today, so no, you're not allowed to go on the Playstation." When they were younger and didn't really have devices, it was rather easy to set limits for screen time. With them being teenagers and having their own devices--and in their rooms--it's creating some challenges which might not be real issues, but definitely something my husband and I are thinking about. Are they spending too much time? What's a reasonable amount of time? What's a reasonable location?

My husband and I grew up differently, which creates some conflict there: he was in a house where there was a TV in his parents' room, a TV in the living room and a TV in the rec room in the basement--which was really his and his two brothers' area to watch TV and play video games. I grew up in a house where my mom had a TV, there was a TV in the living room (that I never had to ask to watch) and when I was in high school, I got my own TV for my room. I don't recall any rules being put on it, but I was the kind of kid who really needed my sleep, so I wasn't prone to staying up super late anyhow. Granted, we didn't have as many channels and such, so that difference is admitted by me.

So, my husband has his idea of how he grew up is how things should be; I have my idea of how I grew up isn't how things "should" be, but it's fine. My thinking, too, is what's not fine is if they watch things they know we won't approve of or if it gets to be too much. I have, for example, put a limit on our son's watching because it seems to affect his sleep more than his sister--he will literally watch something on his iPad until midnight and be awake at 8:30 or so and tired because he needs more sleep than that. His sister might watch something on her laptop, and until midnight or past, but it doesn't seem to affect her sleep the same way AND she tried on her own for a bit to follow some sleep recommendations and not watch anything for half an hour before she tried to fall asleep and it took her an hour or more longer to actually fall asleep. It's more for the background noise of familiar programs or lately, things like My Little Pony: silly, not too engaging, relaxing.

He didn't really say anything about our daughter watching stuff on her laptop until it had become something she'd been doing for a while. She's 17.5; doesn't seem like a time to be telling her to stop, something he realizes. He has concerns about what she might be watching; I check her browser and Netflix recently watched fairly often. There's never been anything of any concern to me, although he wonders about the horror movies she watches (except he and I both talk about horror movies we saw in junior high and high school). She pretty much watches stuff after everybody else is in bed, and given she has always been a night owl, since birth, she watches a bit before she's ready to fall asleep, usually around midnight or so. Is this a habit we should be discouraging is the question on my mind today.

Another issue in our house is our daughter's use of her phone after a certain hour. My husband said today he thinks she should have a curfew on it; I'm not opposed to that, but his idea of a curfew, I believe, is based on what his students have as curfews--but his students have to get up between 6-7am each day, whereas she can sleep in, and does, often until sometime between 8:30-9:30. If a school student has a phone curfew of 9 or 10, then is it unreasonable for her to be checking things at 10:30 or 11? So many questions to ask oneself as a parent! I do think that if she goes to school next year, as it looks like she will do, and she's on her phone at 11pm every night at that point, yes, it might be time to say something, although I would take more of a position of discuss it with her and work something out and I think my husband would like he and I to figure something out and tell her. (Is that a man vs woman thing? Or maybe it's just the Montessori in me: work with the child!)

My son spends HOURS AND HOURS on his iPad watching YouTube videos about games, mostly, although sometimes he does share cool stuff like Matthew Santoro's videos. (He's got awesome educational videos, btw!) I am starting to feel like it's really too much, but again, do I just determine the limit, or his dad and I determine the limit, or do I figure out a way for him to choose to cut back and regulate himself? Maria Montessori would say we need to set the limits when the kids can't set them themselves. I guess I'd like to see first if he and I can figure out a limit together.

Each teen has their own iPad (well, Mini), my son has an iPod Touch, my daughter has an iPhone (yes, she pays for the monthly bill), we have an iMac, I have my Asus laptop, my husband has an iPad from school, we have a TV in our bedroom, there's a TV in the family room and a TV in the basement, which we had designed to be the "teen cave" and it hasn't really turned out that way... (My husband puts the TV on and the sleep timer every night at bedtime. Every night. I know in high school, I often had to put something on--radio, TV, music, something--to get to sleep. As our daughter is finding is useful and our son thinks is useful, but it's typically just listening to music that gets him to sleep.)

That's just a little picture into what's going on around here. Homeschooling offers the possibility of much more openness and while the Sudbury Valley school might say, "Hey, let them do as they please!",  the Sudbury Valley school also has all kinds of kids and activity opportunities around that change the environment and influences. (I hear the "change the environment, change the child" quote. I suppose it applies to teens just as much to little ones or adults. I'll have to think about this more.)

A long way of giving you some info on my side of things to ask you: What are your electronics rules for your teens? Be it the amount of time, do they have to ask permission to use this or that, is there a curfew for certain things, restrictions on locations...?

And with that, I think I need to go upstairs and check if my son is actually getting ready for the day. He went upstairs about 10 minutes ago, but that's not a guarantee he isn't watching something else on his iPad instead of getting dressed.

Homeschooler Morning Routines

I had a realization today.

I don't remember the schedule my kids used to have. I do have a recollection of my kids having to be up by a certain time because the other homeschooled kids (from another family) were coming at a certain time and I didn't find it a good idea for my kids to still be in bed. I don't remember how long it took for them to get ready in the morning.

Me, now, I like to get up, I'll spend some time in prayer, maybe some spiritual or motivational reading, a bit of exercise and breakfast and then I'm tackling all of my tasks for the day--but that morning routine is part of my tasks for the day.

My daughter might spend a bit of time looking at her phone or iPad while she's walking downstairs, grabbing something to eat, but it's short-lived and upstairs she is getting ready for the day or starting work in her pjs.

My son is: Watch a video maybe before actually getting up, slowly get breakfast going, slowly eat breakfast while watching something on YouTube (it literally takes him at least twice as long as it "should" to finish a bowl of cereal), keep watching stuff on YouTube, and finally getting up, getting dressed (which feels like it takes forever, too) and then probably going to play guitar for an hour or two before doing school work. And then going back to guitar.

I was starting to heckle him a bit this morning about his taking so long to really get moving and get going on school work. But then I realize that his dad spends about 45 minutes or so just reading or looking at stuff on his phone/iPad and now I've realized I've got my own non-work routine that takes an hour or so... Just because I'm up earlier than he is doesn't mean he shouldn't have time to wake up and get ready for the day in his way!

I do still feel like, hey, you're spending too much time watching videos on your iPad. So, I've just told him it's the last video. But he's welcome to have other ways to get himself going in the morning, even if it takes longer than I think it should.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Pretending for Education

It's crossed my mind that there's a lot of "pretending" going on in school. Not so much Montessori schools, I don't think, but just thinking about assignments given in local schools here. They don't use the word "pretend," but that's what they mean:

*You have been hired as a summer camp counsellor. This and that were promised to you (blah blah blah) but this is what really happened (blah blah blah). Write a business letter to the director to tell them about the situation and request extra pay be provided due to the extra hours you worked.

*You've been in an accident (and the question provides all kinds of details). Write what you would you to your friends. Now write what you would say to your parents.

For some reason, this pretending bothers me today. It's just so... fake. Yes, they're trying to use real-life potential scenarios, but what about getting the students to write real letters about an issue? To write real things that they've shared with both friends and parents in a different way? And, sort of related, why do they spend so many years trying to get kids to write fiction???? What difference does it make if they can write fiction or not in terms of being educated?? (Answer: None, unless they enjoy writing fiction to the point they become professional fiction writers, but let's just say that's not the most common career and certainly not one of the most encouraged.)

It's somehow different to me if you were asking students to put themselves in the shoes of someone, a real person whose account you've read, and to write what they feel/imagine from that. Like just last night, I was watching The Bourne Identity with my son and I lightly interrupted the movie by saying, "Gosh, can you imagine forgetting who you are, your past and everything?" We both had a moment of, "Woah..." Feeling the fright, maybe even panic.

I think my mind is moving ahead to next year and homeschooling my son in high school and being fully responsible for what he does--and having to check off all kinds of things that he is expected to cover to get credit. I've worked now with my daughter and others who have not responded well to the questions such as the first two above. There is something so dreadly artificial to it, even though the situations are totally plausible. (I can't honestly figure out what it is about them that bugs me.)

I don't know, maybe it's the years of Montessori in me? Give a child real kitchen equipment and food to work with rather than the stuff to pretend with? So, give a child a real situation where s/he has to actually write a letter of complaint--or maybe just complimenting--or something actually meaningful.

Meaningful. That's the kind of education I want for my son, especially for high school. I don't know I've totally succeeded so far, but I see all the meaningless stuff my daughter is doing and it just irks me. All the pretending required. And she hate it, too. She wants to be honest, real, and so often, the questions are just so not connecting with her on any level. Is it truly education if kids are just going through the motions, pretending they care about an issue, because it gets them writing certain types of pieces or on certain topics? "Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." (William Butler Yeats) I fear most students these days are not being truly educated at all. They are robots regurgitating information, invovled in tasks so disconnected from them that their fire is being put out. And what's left is the pretending side of them, which just leaves them lost because it's not who they are.

(I'm Miss Sunshine today, aren't I?)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wheat May Be Bad for Homeschooling

I've been doing a 3-week challenge over on Facebook during which time I cut out almost all wheat.

The challenge ended yesterday and I had bought Mini Wheats for my son, but decided I was going to indulge in some wheat today, especially with the challenge over.

But I feel like I've been in a fog most of the day.

I wanted to blame it on not having my usual morning routine this morning. Things just didn't happen the way I normally do them, largely because I rushed out early morning to do groceries before my teens were up. But this "fog" isn't lifting. It's not just being out of sorts. I can't even explain it. But I am reminded of many homeschooling mornings just feeling kind of out of it and not able to focus on what I had planned or just... not sure how to describe it. I'm now wondering if starting my day with wheat was part of it! A study was done sometime ago that showed the wheat could affect the blood flow to the frontal cortex, which would explain my problem with thinking today.

Does your family follow any special diet? I know many homeschoolers have put their kids on special diets for just general health or things like ADD. I'd also be very curious to hear from others about how wheat seems to have affected them!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Uh... WHAT?!?!?

There is a post on Blunt Moms about homeschooling (link no longer works, unfortunately :( if somebody has a cached working link, please share!) . Blunt Moms is supposed to be a place where moms can be blunt, direct. The problem is: there is a difference between being blunt and just plain ignorant.

Where, oh where shall I start? Perhaps I should just write it in letter form to Ms. Morrison:

Dear Ms. Morrison,

I read your post today. I was, to say the least, flabbergasted. That's the only way to express my feeling. And that was before I'd made it out of the first paragraph.

You believe that people need a teaching degree to teach. Well, I have a teaching degree and I say nonsense. One does not need a teaching degree to teach their child how to count, nor to add 2+2. And once that's done, one realizes, hey, I can teach her how to multiply 2x2 and 2x3. Oh, well, now I can teach her to divide 6 by 3. Okay, let's show her the fraction for it now. And on it goes until maybe you get to a point of, hm, I don't really get this. But this text/program does a great job of explaining this concept. This all applies equally to any other subject. And there are so many things you don't have to specifically teach any child, you just give them the opportunity to learn. I don't need to know about the War of 1812 to have my child learn about it, for example. I can have him read about it from a variety of resources, have him write something about what he's read, do a drawing, maybe discuss certain aspects with me (as I read quickly on the side to figure out what he's reading and if he's actually understanding it). It's not hard. It's one kid, not a classroom full of kids that I need to figure out how to reach them all and assess them all in a way that I can report it to parents. Which brings me to...

The whole point of a teaching degree is to teach and assess the progress of a large number of children roughly the same age at the same time. It is not to be a one-on-one tutor like in a homeschooling situation. Which demands the question: Do you have any idea how many high school students make money by tutoring? Even at tutoring places like Kumon? How in the world do you think they do it if they don't have an advanced degree?

You wrote:
The worst part is that they all think they have perfectly rational reasons for making this choice. They say that they’re saving their kids from terrible things like learning about evolution, or having to get vaccinated or, god forbid, being exposed to other perspectives on the world. They never seem to realize that this comes at a cost of stupidity with a giant side order of narrow-mindedness

You show utter ignorance as to why people homeschool and not just ignorance, but absolute judgment based on your ignorance, an assumption based on the few people you know of rather than informing yourself before spouting off inflammatory remarks. My assumptions of what your comment must mean of what you think about the Amish aside, there are so many reasons people homeschool, like thinking that since they gave birth to their child, that perhaps they'll continue raising the child full-time instead of some stranger and an unnatural grouping of kids all the same age, or because they just know that the school options available to them won't work well for their child, or sometimes there is a health problem, or educational values that have nothing to do with evolution, or perhaps the child has already been in school and things are absolutely miserable (sometimes even verbal abuse even by a teacher and the child isn't believed) and the child's mental and physical well-being are at stake, or many other reasons that you could find out for yourself if you took the time to actually learn about it before expressing your judgement and your own narrow-mindedness.

You also wrote:

To my mind, anyone who isn’t bright enough to see the value in an advanced degree and training shouldn’t be trusted with the education of their child. 

Your assumption is completely illogical. People who choose to homeschool don't do so because they don't value an advanced degree and training. There is absolutely no logical reason to jump to that conclusion--or to start with that as your premise. There is absolutely no connection between seeing the value of an advanced degree and choosing to homeschool. None. One can both value the advanced degree that school teachers have AND homeschool.

You do realize, or know, I hope, that up until fairly recently, people were schooled at home? The nobility and royalty of Europe were largely educated at home. The likes of Thomas Edison, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Louisa May Alcott, Ansel Adams... Perhaps you think, "But that wasn't recently!" You should see the kind of texts used in the past. Much more challenging in many respects than today's. Some were also self-taught for the most part. Thomas Edison, after being taught to read, write and do basic math, was, at the age of around 10, left to learn on his own with the expectation he would keep learning things. Where was the advanced degree there? He learned from, gasp, reading books. Abraham Lincoln never went to school and never had a tutor. He somehow learned to read and from there, he read--thereby learning--whatever he could.

Some of your post is just plain rude. Not blunt; rude. Blunt is saying, "That hair cut makes your face look rounder." Rude is saying, "That hair cut really makes you look ugly and nobody's going to hire you." Blunt is pointing out your FB acquaintance who is homeschooling can't spell well; rude and judgemental is making the assumption that because she can't spell, her child is never going to amount to anything.

This actually made me laugh, but I don't think you meant to make me laugh the way I did:

I don’t know when it became okay to take a DIY approach to the most important task we have in this world

Actually, the DIY approach was THE way things were mainly done for a very long time. Yes, there were schools, but not everybody who was educated went. To the point that school districts in Ontario, Canada, were advertising in the early 1900s trying to convince people to stop educating their children at home and have them go to school. Whatever happened during the time of Socrates was not the norm in the rest of Europe and then North America. Many of the highly educated were educated at home, by their parents or a hired tutor of some sort. And given there weren't any degrees for teaching until the past century or so, none of those educators were qualified, in your opinion. Do you think those teachers teaching in the one-room schoolhouses, all those different grades, had teaching degrees? Think again! They took a test (often while they were still studying at what we would call the high school level) that assessed their knowledge, much like a reduced version of the SATs, and if they got above a certain mark, ta da! They were teachers! Have you read Jane Eyre? Gives good insight into how people became teachers in the UK. Or have you read Pride and Prejudice? It was absolutely assumed that the girls were all schooled at home by a tutor or governess. While some students were sent off to schools, by and large, education happened at home. Educate yourself a bit.

There is a clear difference between being blunt and being ignorant. You describe yourself as smart-assed. I find nothing blunt or smart-assed about your comments, just plain ignorance. And in your ignorant attempt at bashing those who don't have teaching degrees and have chosen to homeschool, all you've truly succeeded in doing is getting those who are equally ignorant to go, "Yes, yes, you're right" and getting those who actually know something about it all shaking their heads at you. Perhaps next time you are ready to publicly judge and declare that Child Protective Services should be involved in a situation you'll do some extra work and find out if you are, instead of being a smart-ass, just making an ass out of yourself.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Is It Summer Yet?

I could use a looooong summer break. It'd be nice to just toss school aside for the next 4 months. But I suppose there isn't a good chance of that happening.

It's that time of year. Winter is finally over here and spring is turning quickly into summer on certain days. My husband has noticed the lack of work motivation at school--the kids want to be outside and doing things. My kids don't... Maybe I need to push them a little.

I to push myself a little. Get outside and take advantage of some of the nicer weather. Not all of it's nicer, though, like the 20 degrees Celsius we had--with wind gusts up to 50 km/h (that's 60F and 31mph for you non-metric readers). The temperature is an excellent one here for this time of year, but the wind killed all delight. It's better than the 90 km/h gusts we had a couple of years back around this time, so I will try not to complain too much.

This desire for summer does have me doing a bit of reflecting: What have we accomplished this year? What needs to be accomplished before the school year is over?

My daughter has to have all of her work submitted by the first week of June, I think. Then she's completely free from school work until the fall--well, that depends. She's considering attending an alternative high school where instead of having a typical schedule and listen to the teacher present lessons and such, they have, essentially, correspondence work but meet up with an advisor each day to make plans and track progress, there are seminars to attend and I think a few classes are acually in-class, like phys. ed. and art and cooking. We still need to visit the school and see if they'll even accept her, so it's not a done deal yet. If that's what she ends up doing, then she has the summer off of school work. If she doesn't do that, her plan was to finish most of the grade 12 English course during the summer so she would have one course knocked off for next year. With the board we are registered with for homeschooling and her online schooling, they have most of the coursework available to us all year, so she would just work on the side and submit it in September.

My son... I need to get him writing again. I don't do it consistently enough, but I need to get him writing. He's going to have a big shock next year with all of the writing he'll need to do, especially if I don't get him writing more now. Math, I should really see what's covered next year to make sure to practise the pre-requisites with him and just leave off any extras that aren't terribly important. And with chaos the past few weeks (since spring break, two dance festivals already that my daughter has danced 3 times in each one...), getting him back into a more reasonable work schedule and doing more work, period. With him, I can make him work until the end of June, though. ;)

Of course, the drawback about if it were actually summer is that I'm nowhere near ready to actually start high school work with him in September, so I'd have that much less time to plan, select resources, etc. So, maybe I'm not quite in a rush for it to be summer just yet. Maybe a little more relaxing--outside when the winds are calm(er) and the sun shining--might be enough for me right now.

Friday, April 10, 2015


Imagine you are a stay-at-home mom, a homeschooling mom, who has decided to get back into the workforce.

Imagine that while training for your new position, in a field you've wanted to enter for sometime, a fluke event creates a permanent, painful disability, whose pain leaves you bedridden sometimes for a day at a time, ending that future career and closing the door to most others.

Imagine that you then move somewhere where life is supposed to be a little easier on you and your family. But life there turns out to be harder than you planned and you and your spouse start researching other places to settle the two of you and your kids. And then, things start getting frightening. Imagine that someone in your family's life there, someone who had been a friend of the spouse, is clearly unstable, but hasn't done anything yet to warrant legal action and if you can even get a protection order, that very act has a high chance of triggering the unstable person into action, possibly even violence (and he has access to firearms).

Your wanting to move somewhere else starts to become a need. You don't have family who can help. Friends don't really have the means--especially since you have 5 kids. Your past experience with unstable people tells you that this person could end up doing something any time--and the stress is causing your pain to flare up even worse than usual.

You start feeling a pressing need to move, but you haven't been able to save up enough funds yet to move you and this little guy and his siblings:

If this were you, would you not appreciate it so much if others, strangers could help you?

There's a lot of talk about the government being "responsible" for taking care of this and that, for protecting us. When it really comes down to it, we are the ones who need to take responsibility for helping each other and protecting each other.

You can help this family, this friend of mine. She is sooo appreciative of any amount, even $5. She is starting to feel desperate. They have even started researching other places closer by they could move to but to find adequate housing for them, so far, has been more than they can rightfully spend.

Please help them in any way you can. Maybe it'll be $5, $10, or even $50 or $100. Maybe it'll be sharing the GoFundMe link to your friends and family and on your blog or Twitter or Facebook. Go to GoFundMe now and help:

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Can You Help Out This Family?

I don't know that I've ever posted something like this here. I am now. This time, the people involved are a personal friend and her family, including this cutie:

They are in a sticky situation and the GoFundMe details don't even share it all. They have 5 kids at home, my friend is disabled, their rental is not in great shape (but with 5 kids, their options are limited), and then the added serious issue discussed on the GoFundMe page. They have a serious need to move ASAP. And not just move, but to get settled somewhere far from where they are now, where they will be financially okay, which means moving to the other side of the country where the cost of living is much cheaper. You can help. Every dollar counts. If you can only donate $1, it will help. If you can do $5 or even $10, don't think, "Oh, it's not much, it's not going to make a difference." If 1000 people visit the page and donate $5 each, that's $5000 to help my friend and her family. If everybody donates at least $10, then $10 000. Every dollar makes a difference.

Please visit their GoFundMe page , share their page on Facebook, Twitter, your own blog, anywhere where people might see and can help. And remember, any amount you can give them will make a difference.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Thoroughly Enjoying Spring Break!

I made a list last Sunday of all the things I could work on this week.

And almost none have been touched.

My husband and I talked about spending the day out with the kids somewhere.

We ended up staying home.

Our daughter has been going hard on a sewing project, that she has either finished or is just about finished--a large Toothless stuffed animal. We don't have a proper sewing space, so our dining room table has been taken up all week and we've eaten at the eat-in counter in a very relaxed manner.

We had gorgeous weather a couple of days ago, enjoyed being outside on the deck, my son had a 3-day sleepover at his cousins' where they, too enjoyed the sun (18C/64F in the shade).

Then April 1st hit and Mother Nature played a practical joke on us and hit us with a mini-blizzard and at least a few inches of snow and below-freezing temperatures.

But I'm still enjoying my spring break. :) It's nice to have a real break. It's been a bit like a stay-cation where we have mostly just relaxed, puttered about and enjoyed computer time and for me, even more reading time than normal.

Some school districts have two-week long spring breaks; I kind of wish we did. I know we still have the long weekend ahead of us, but I just feel like I could use a longer break, especially with winter having snuck back in a bit.

At some point, though, before the end of spring break, I will have to sit myself down and do some sort of planning for at least Tuesday.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Montessori High School at Home Meanderings

Spring break has officially started, and what am I doing? Relaxing? Having fun? Catching up on sleep or reading?


I'm working on high school plans, in part so I can set some plans in place for the rest of the school year for my son.

I've actually been working on things all week. I started a separate blog for people homeschooling high school in Alberta, I've been asking questions of people regarding getting credits (it's not the same here as many homeschoolers in the US do it, although at least we can earn official credits here as homeschoolers; not the case in all provinces). I've been thinking and mulling and trying to figure out how we can move in a direction where my son is reading and writing more and how we can do social studies, in particular, but also science next year, without relying on the textbook. Or ideally, touching the textbooks at all. Well, maybe some of the assignments or self-checks.

So, I find myself here shortly after noon on a cloudy Saturday morning, first full day of Spring Break, having already taken the car in for an oil change and eaten 3 chocolate chip cookies (what does that have to do with anything? no clue--catching up on sleep might be a better choice today) sitting on my laptop researching Montessori high school.

At the Austin Montessori School, this opening sentence catches my eye:

In the Austin Montessori Adolescent Community the adults collaborate to prepare an environment which meets the cognitive, social, and physical needs of adolescents so that they can continue their individual self development.

What are my son's cognitive needs?
*One, to learn to pay more attention. He is not ADD; more off in LaLaLand a lot. Not here and present. Perhaps having him learn meditation and other activities that encourage focus in the now would be useful. Other than watching YouTube videos of people playing video games.
*Stimulating, challenging, interesting, growing in logic, analysis, synthesis... He also needs to learn things like reviewing to prepare for tests and how to actually do things to remember information you might not remember automatically (I've been reading Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning and know, now, that I will quiz him often and train him to quiz himself and do things like narration in small bits, working up to larger sections to narrate and so on). Heck, he might even like some of the memory training tactics or speed reading and such. These are things that academics and other courses will address or incorporate, although I'm not sure they address logic as much as I'd like them to. Not explicitly. I do have a book for that, one we'd even started. I don't know if it has been found since we moved. (I still can't find our copy of The Hobbit...)

What are his social needs?
*He needs activities in which he can interact with others, but as an introvert, he doesn't need a huge amount of this. He does, however, need more than he's getting. He actually said one day not too long ago something to the effect that he does what he does (mostly be on his iPad) because he doesn't have friends around to do things with. The reality of living in a large city where homeschoolers are all spread out, he doesn't see ones his age very often, can't establish friendships with them, so, really, 99% of his friends are his 3 cousins (okay, I guess it's really 75%--he has one other friend) who all go to school and live at least a 25-minute drive away. It's tough. But I need to remind myself this is a need. My daughter has this need more than he does and it's one in which we've really struggled to get it filled without her heading to school (which, honestly, I think would not work well for her; as she's been spending more time with coworkers--who are, for the most part, older than her by at least a couple of years--I think she's seeing that her lack of "fitting in" very well is that, while most of her homeschooling comrades are younger than her, she does fit in better with a group that's older than her, despite her petite size, which high school kids seem to be very quick to dismiss her for for some reason, but I digress).
*Finding his place in this world. Okay, maybe not entirely, but getting a sense of having a role in the greater world. While he has shown interest in a job for the financial aspect of it, it could help with this social need, as could volunteering. (Note to self: Bring the kids to that one homeless charity's thrift shop that's just down the street! See if there's some way we can help.)

What are his physical needs?
*Healthy foods. I'm not sure why, but he said to me just yesterday or Thursday that he wants something set up so he can try to aim for a certain number of fruits and vegetables every day.
*Health class addresses some of this.
*Physical education--My plan is for him to do phys. ed. all the way through high school. Largely because he needs those credits, but also because he has a tendency, since becoming an adolescent, to just do NOTHING. His dad keeps bringing up that he (the 14-year old) should be on a team of some kind (although his dad makes it such a "grander" thing, "He needs to be part of something greater than himself", as though sports teams are the only way? but that's a whole other thing). I think the only way that would happen is to get him out and watching some of these sports in action, maybe get him going, "Hm, that looks like fun," AND having someone on the team that he knows. He is soooo introverted and it's a serious threat to not know anybody, or not know them well, when surrounded by a group of strangers. That said, if we were willing to dish out the money for a membership to the rec centres (which would end up being over $1000/year just for the two of us, or let's say we just do 6 months of winter, under $600...), I could set something up where other families/teen boys meet up with us every week to do sports. Not quite a team, but it would give him greater variety and wouldn't involve us trying to coordinate 4 vastly different schedules with only 2 vehicles. He really doesn't like the idea of having to go to a practice or two a week plus a game for something he's not super interested in and I can't blame him. His dad, on the other hand, played soccer all through elementary, junior high, high school and still today, in his 40s. He has a completely different mentality about it, so a sports team is always his solution. ;)
*Good environment: Fresh air, air quality inside the home, etc.

There are probably others, but I'm getting tired of typing about this. Hahaha.

Okay, so with those three aspects in mind, how would you organize your homeschooling during the high school years? :D

Hm, you know, they've left out emotional in this, but I guess it's often classified as socio-emotional. Or psychological/emotional. I'm not sure where my idea fits in exactly, but the idea of a sense of accomplishment. This might just be a personal sense of accomplishment or one where there's a sense of making a difference for others (that's part of the social need, I suppose).

Where am I going with this?? My brain has shut off. All I know is I want something engaging, stimulating, interesting, even though most of the content will be decided for us. Something that truly respects his development. His sister decided to do the online classes and didn't really want me involved in it at all--her need for feeling like she can take care of things herself--but he's not the same child at all and isn't just going to take charge and get things done. I need to plan and prepare.

So, has my babble confused you? Inspired you? Informed you? How have you organized your homeschooling during the high school years Montessori-style?

Friday, March 27, 2015

I'm now on Facebook!

Well, I, personally, have been on Facebook for years, but I decided to set up a Facebook page for this blog for two reasons:

1) Potentially increase readership.

2) Because sometimes I want to share things on this blog but don't want to go through all the trouble of starting a post, typing this and that... Those things--links, really, to articles and sites and such--will now be easily posted through the Facebook page.

Consider meeting up with me there today. :)

Finland Goes Montessori-ish

I just read an article about how Finland--who already has what is considered to be among the best, if not be the best, education system in the world--is making changes to their system. While there are those who would say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Finland feels that their system is a bit broken and they are looking to make it better.

What are they doing?

They are getting rid of official subject titles and will be combining subjects as part of a larger study and having children work together in small groups. So, a study on the European Union, for example, might involve reading a novel, working with maps... Sound familiar, Montessorians? (Of course, those who use unit studies will say the same thing. ;) )

You can read more here:

Thursday, March 26, 2015

14-Year Olds Are Big Toddlers

I made the mistake yesterday of introducing my son to a scientific calculator during our math time. (I say "our", but it's really "his", isn't it?)

That is not to say that he's never seen or used a calculator before. It's just that, at least so far this school year and probably all of last year, he did not use a calculator or if he did, it was just a basic calculator without any fancy things. His math so far has used numbers that I expected him to work it out in his head or on paper.

But the questions yesterday were a little more complicated and I didn't want the focus concepts to be bogged down with his having to do all the calculations (which he's slow at, so maybe I should have).

Problem was: It didn't speed things up AT ALL. O.M.G. It slowed things down ridiculously because it was like letting a toddler loose in a toy store where everything was available to play with.

I wish the calculator had more memory of what he put in it so I could share the sequence with you properly. Let's just say it started out fine, with him learning where the squared button was and how to used the 2ND button to do the opposite of squaring: square root. Okay, well, actually, no, that did get messed up a bit because he went  3242 for 32 + 42, but it was otherwise okay. After that, though, all heck broke loose.

He was pressing anything and everything and then sharing with me the results. (Um, why?) He was supposed to be figuring out angles and sides using the Pythagorean theorem or just from the fact that all angles in a triangle add up to 180. It was supposed to be a review that we'd go through pretty quickly to then tackle the first section from a local textbook dealing with circles, tangents and triangles with the circles and tangents, figuring out missing degrees and sides.

But nooOOOooo.

"Oh, look. Somethingsomething something nPr somethingorother." With giggles.

"Um, yeah, that's for probability which you'll do for grade 12 math [if you live that long]. Can you get back to the question?" (Okay, I admit it, I was laughing with my frustration and laughed just now writing it.)

More giggles from him as he shows me various things that have nothing to do with any of the questions he's supposed to be working on. Giggles from this 5'7"-5'8" 14-year old boy with a darkening upper lip and slightly lower voice that's still changing and occasionally cracking, especially when he laughs.

More pressing of buttons. "Look! Blah blah blah blah-nothing-to-do-with-what-he's-supposed-to-be-doing = 0." (Square root of a negative decimal number to some ridiculous exponent.)

"OMG, would you just do the question??"

Giggles. Pressing this and pressing that and more comments and more not doing one of the first couple of questions. "Look, One og...." I glance over. "That's 'log'." (Yes, I admit, I didn't help any by contributing.) "It looks like a 1." "It's an L. Trust me."

He finally does the question. By this point, it's possible only one question has actually gotten done. I'm not sure. My patience is wearing thin all while I'm actually laughing quite a bit. After some more aimless exploring of the calculator (why do I hear Maria Montessori going, "Tsk, tsk"?), he gets to a question where he has to figure out 'a' from a2 + b2 = c2.

"What am I supposed to do?"

"Use the calculator to figure out a."

Punching things. Not aimless exploring this time, but he seems perplexed.

"I can't find the a."


"On the calculator. I can't find a."


This is not the first question where he's had to find the missing letter value. What is his mind doing??

"You can't just put 'a' in the calculator."

"But you said to use the calculator to figure out a."

Pure literal moment going on negating everything he'd just done before. (What would they do with him in school?) I think it was at this point that I said to him, "Oh my gosh, you are going to be the death of me." Followed by, "You can't put 'a' in the calculator and have it figure it out for you. You have to do it like the other questions, figure out this part [point to paper], then use the calculator to do the calculations to figure out a."


That was not the end of it all. More giggles did end up popping up. It all led to us switching to something else before he'd finished the work I had anticipated him getting done yesterday.

Naturally, when we were all done for the day, he had no further interest in his calculator-exploring pursuits on his own time. I couldn't help thinking of Maria Montessori likening the first part of adolescence (ages 12-15) to the first plane of development (ages 0-3), which, while she was more focused on the intensity of physical and mental development, many have said that behaviourly it matches up, too, making the 14-year old in some respects like the 2-year old.

I looked at the calculator later on and found this on it:


Why? I then remembered his discovering "cos" and giggling as he read it aloud to me.

How old is this boy?

Oh, right: Second toddlerhood.

Something to keep in mind for next time.