Saturday, November 27, 2010

And At The Core Learning Happens

So I have been thrilled with the outreach that home-schooling has permitted. I find the fun in it for me and hope that G and F do too.  I catch the exciting moments on film but if the truth be told those moments are not the most exciting.  True, they can be caught in a photo but how to you capture that moment that a four year old tells her elders that the Pilgrims were told by the king that they had to go to his church and no other.  Her understanding of the most basic level of Thanksgiving is simple but clearly more than what others learn.

Last year in the PS system G learned about Squanto and that there was a Thanksgiving Feast that natives had attended as well. She never knew why the Pilgrims came, sure that might be a lesson for later but WHY.  She was eager now to understand the basics.

As this holiday week approached I found it a great time to sort of wrap up a few lessons and finally get to those tests that have yet to be given. In part I was not sure that G would perform well on the test. So I was slow to administer an evaluation test.  As it turns out I really under estimated G's retention of knowledge. She did so well on what I would have thought was the hardest part of the testing.  Same with F, I completed some oral evaluations and she too has really retained more than I thought they had.

As a student I must say that they are wonderful sponges that soak up what is offered them. In the middle of all the fun we have there is indeed learning that is taking place.

So we did not cut class time short on Wednesday just made it a testing time. Of course there was no school on Thanksgiving but the following day we concluded some study about Native Americans by participating in an artist fair at the largest early civilization site in North America. We do not live very far from Cahokia Mounds and they had Native American artists present to display and sell their handiwork.

It was great, G was very open with them that she was there as part of her home-schooling and wanted to learn about their pottery, weaving and such. Most were very very open with her and taught her proudly about their particular craft. One woman took the time with them both to make a doll out of pine needles explaining that their tribe would make things out of the items found in nature. She had baskets made of pine needles that she explained could be used for carrying water and for cooking in.  G and F were amazed by her and at the end of the day she thanked me for sharing my grandchildren with her.  WOW she was a blessing sent to us in order to complete a lesson full circle.  No longer do the girls think that Native Americans are mean or look odd or dress wild or attack us.  We did it!  We have reached a greater understanding of a culture. All hidden by fun, indeed at the core learning happens.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Come as you are!

[caption id="attachment_247" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="The best part of home-school is being able to come as you are. Here F comes dressed as a puppy after a little "recess break" to finish the rest of the day. "][/caption]

I cannot begin to tell you how this picture lifted my heart for the day.  I had to tend to my mother's health needs this morning early and was unable to be one of the teachers today.

It is an insight to the loving acceptance that my daughter has and open mindedness that a home-school parent is able to demonstrate.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

WOW tag team teaching really lightens the load

Three days into it and the flow shows great promise. That is of course, if I can butt out of what K is teaching.

I have been making it flow since we began alone and have really caught onto who each girl learns and the material as it is intended to be taught.  So of course, my motherly flaws show and I find myself needing to restrain direction to K.  K is perfectly capable of teaching her own children and my involvement is only an enhancement for the girls and a joy for me.

As the weeks progress we will really get better at this.  I see such hopefulness in K's eyes as she takes this on.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

First day in new location a challenge

I expected it would be but I am not so sure K was prepared for it all.  The girls have had a lot of changes lately and we all tend to think that kids are so bouncy that they can bounce right back with each change.

I of course am old enough to know better, but I also know that I did not fully understand that when I was a young parent.

It was a much longer day to get things done but we worked a lot of the lapbook project as well.  I am certain the tomorrow will be a better day as we have gathered our forces and know what job belongs to each of us. I would hate to step away completely as this has been a huge blessing for me. I also know that K does not want me to stop as she feels like we each have so much to offer the girls within our own special talents. 

So tomorrow I will become the phonic/language/reading teacher while their mother becomes the math/science/bible/social studies/health teacher. We will both participate in the art projects.

K has some reading up on the charts/games tips that came with all of the A Beka material.  It has been under-utilized but with another person there it will be fun.

So \~/ here's to another day!!

Coup is full of chickens again

That's right, I have been given eleven full grown Road Island Red hens.  The coup has been empty for a while now and was used for something else.  So today we will build some nesting boxes to place in there. I know we like to get chicks and enjoy them growing but next spring I can add some into the mix.

I am looking forward to fresh eggs.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lesson Room Pictures

[caption id="attachment_224" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A view from the outside looking into the room."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_222" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The desks have returned."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_221" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Reading Corner with comfy recliners and basket to hold current library books"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_219" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The "Weather Frog" has so many clothing items we placed them on the wall around him so the girls could choose easier"][/caption]

I made another post about moving from my home to the home of G and F. It really messed up my blog page so I will make it only brief  in comparison.

K--mother to G and F is now a home-maker and not a paralegal. We will be co-educating these beautiful souls.  It is a change yet again from my original plan and it appears that the girls will once again be in a classroom like setting.  I really refuse to call it that however.  I will refer to it as the Lesson Room. I may even make a sign for the door telling everyone as well.

This is new to K, just like it was to me.  I know she will keep this wonderfully creative room we made for its purpose and pray that she avoids the school like  routine.  Even if she begins with a routine we all know it will relax as she gets more comfortable in her new role. 

She is really becoming a great home-maker!!  She will be a terrific teacher and I will have to find out what I am to do with my plate being a bit lighter.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Learning that: self satisfaction in a job well done is a valuable possession

So another week is going. Today is Veterans Day and I have decided to proceed with class.  It is my belief that those who have served and who serve do so to maintain our freedoms and safety.  I will honor them in part by proceeding with instruction.  When the girls are older we will include in our Veterans Day lessons community service on this day rather than lessons.

One plan for today is to tell the oral history of their family. It will tell of many who are Veterans from the Revolutionary War forward.  It will eventually tell of those veterans who fought before the USA was formed. 

In the meantime we continue to make progress in our lap-book project. It is a multi-study project that compliments each section. To begin with the thankfulness list, Native Americans culture, the First Thanksgiving.  Of course it is a lot on one plate but it is the introduction of this material that they will then be able to build on as the get older and begin to learn more detail about early settlements.  The girls look forward to this project each day.  It has provided me with the leverage to get moving on their other studies.

I have halted progression in the math book for F.  We clearly are far ahead of schedule as when we turned the page for the next section it had pictures of Mary, Joseph and Bethlehem.  BESIDES, I did an evaluation of her understandingand she really needs to recognize the higher numbers by sight better before we move on. So the next several weeks we will work on recognizing numbers to 100.  If she does not progress then we will sit her comfortably until she does. After all, I remind myself that she does not have to do any of this.  BIG progress in blending sounds but she has a hard time with the short i and e differentiation when I say it. She does well when she says it.  This week she read the words.....fat, cat, mat, pat, rat, cap, map, with her blending skills.  I decided to focus on one short sound at a time as we blend, which is not the A Beka book lesson but it works for us. 

I find F to be disrupting G when I am giving 1:1 attention for instruction.  She will be doing well in a lesson that she can do independently but will deliberately make huge errors to get my attention back to her.  Trying to decide how I want to handle this as it must be something I am willing to do consistently and not a punishment.  I also am looking to build independent learners in the future, of course I have several years for that but the beginning is also important for future expectations.

G is also at a stop point in her math until I feel she has mastered some facts better. Yesterday she showed some great progress to that.  This week she finally reached the letter "G" within her cursive work. Now she can sign her name. It was a excitingday for her.  We have reached compound words and preparing to enter the world of "ed,ing" in Language.  She really dislikes this class and thinks it is so funny that the cover of the book as a skunk on it. She thinks that Language stinks.  Phonics is beginning to break the rules she has come to rely on.  It is making it hard to recall it all.  As always if I let her read all day long for class she would be thrilled.

As always the girls are a joy in my life and it is a blessing to be doing this with them.  They are so bright and eager to learn.  They both want me to be proud of what they do, I am trying to turn that inward so that they feel proud of themselves and self satisfaction in a job well done is a valuable possession.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I could never be a Pilgrim

Using the power of imagination and story telling we completed a day as a Pilgrim.

TODAY my muscles tell me that I am getting too old to be a Pilgrim.

Suddenly G was thankful for hot dogs and not needing to kill he own food for the day.  Although I must say that I should have taken the fishing pole as the action was great and we could probably prepared fresh fish on a stick instead. 

We began that first lap-book project and I believe this will be a great way for them to learn.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Schooling At Home vs Home-Schooling

The light bulb is on!!!!

In my beginning post, as I prepared for this journey, there was all kinds of verbiage about preparing the class room.  I obtained desks, I set up specific learning area and prepared to be in the front of a classroom to tell the girls what they needed to know.

I now have the double easel at the edge of the living room and dinning room to pull around and use as I need it. During paint time I placed that easel in the middle of the kitchen so the paint spills could easily be cleaned up.  The text books and workbooks fill a chair that is usually unused at my table and the leaf extensions of the table are permanently in place.  The walls of the kitchen, in between the decor of the home, have cardboard crayons in the correct corresponding color to match the word and a large home made math chart to reinforce some basic addition facts an rules. 

I have looked at this so far as my failure to maintain structure and control. UNTIL last night!!  I was taken to a broadcast archive in the process of searching, not sure what I was searching for even.  The broadcast was in the archives of September 2010 of Dr. James Dobson. I clicked first on the Sept 1 broadcast and listened to an old interview that Dr. Dobson feels is key to the current home-school movement into the mainstream.  The second one was specifically about home-schooling. 

It was an eye opener into my own evolution so to speak as a teacher of these girls.  Why, just yesterday, before hearing this information, I asked a friend who lives in Texas how far along they were in the lesson plans.  Her view was that it did not matter, that we are a private school and we know what and when is the best time to teach our individual children.

I reflect upon that and imagine being in a traditional setting.  In the public school those who struggle and have qualifying test get to have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Well, well---isn't every child in need of an individual plan to learn.  Every child has common ground that is used to teach them but they all also have their own special way of grasping things, of flourishing to be all they are capable of, and they all deserve and IEP.

We tend to teach in the method that we are most familiar with. For me that is the public school method but as a parent I saw and learned the flaws of that method. Being the grandparent who is teaching I feel then that I am specially qualified to recognize the individual needs, I use to anguish over it when my own children were in the PS system. However, the broadcast explains that for many, like myself, there is eventually a shift from schooling your child at home to the true homeschooling experience.

I know I will never completely get rid of the standard style workbook and prepared lesson plans as they are an excellent guide for me.  Perhaps being a nurse has helped me to evolve quickly to a homeschooling environment.  Nurses learn and practice a "nursing process" which calls for the formulation of objectives, interventions and evaluation for each individual health-care issue. After twenty-six years that process is now second nature and guides me unknowingly in other matters of my life.  Perhaps that is how I managed to evolve to the homeschooling level so quickly.

The plans for the week (and the next few) involve a large amount of my "off curriculum" as we begin our first lap-book lesson that will intertwine a daily account of things to be thankful for, Thanksgiving, Native Americans, map skills locating Europe and Plymouth--in the process there will also be recognition of numbers in numerical configuration along with written language: a discussion of trust and honor: religious freedom: how hard work is needed to prepare for the future---in the simple example of preparing food to make it through a winter.  Gee I can go on and on as I feel the excitement of taking on the homeschooling mentality to its most rich fulfillment. 

Today, after a little math and writing, we will wander into our woods.  I will take them into a world of learning through imagination and exploration. 

I am so blessed!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

I Evaluated My Processes and Now I Have Bigger Plans

Today is the first day of November.  I feel the Thanksgiving Holiday coming on so I want to teach more about it, UNTIL, I recall that G learned a lot last year and F is a bit to young to expect her to recall anything significant. Therefore, I will plan to only focus this year on being THANKFUL. I will created with each child a calendar where they will do 24 days of "things I am thankful for", it is likely as I type this that I can make this a lapbook project even. 

Also this month I am going to break the wild idea that the girls have of Indians being wild savages. I do not know why they think this, they do not see this on television, they do not even have television in their home. I found a nice unit study at HAnds of A Child that I am going to use. I am going to walk in our own woods along the river bank and imagine what it would be like to be a Native American on the land we live.  We will also take a trip to Cahokia Mounds once again when I know they can view them in a different light.

So here they come to learn and I must go. Wish me luck.