Sunday, October 30, 2011

"break" is over

Oh my gosh, it has been an unbelievable busy month. It was a struggle to get lessons in as there was so much happening then the household became ill, baby O tried to come early and a million other little things that slowed us down until finally we came to a halt.

Tomorrow, Halloween, is F's 5th birthday.  We consider birthdays as holidays and do not have lessons.  That will not be the situation this time. The girls agree that we need to skip the holiday and get some real lessons done. Not the KTM program either but get some other work done. They also want to cut our winter break that is planned short and not take a break when baby O arrives. 

So here I sit thinking about our lessons that need to get done. I know that each time we have a period of time that we slow down it is hard to get moving in the right direction again.  This time we had to halt so I hope they settle into getting some work completed and some traditional lessons done.

Of course, life lessons keep moving along even during a work stoppage. I have lots of great seasonal craft ideas but am afraid we will not get to them as I want to get further along in our lesson plans. 

Today we will bring in another rescue Great Dane into our home. We plan to keep him but he has some serious behavior issues and may not be adoptable to others.  It is my hope that I am able to turn this Dane around. I have not found one yet that I cannot return to his greatest majestic stature.  Yes, I am a Dane lover and would not want any other breed.  This is a male and I generally do not own male dogs. I am talking to God for guidance on this matter. He will be a great little brother for my young girl Allie.  Allie is the nearly perfect Dane so he will have a good teacher.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sick Days

When I planned out the school year we took a bit of a break around the expected time of baby O. Well this week for F has been a sick week and now G is ill.  Looks like I will once again adjust the plan.  Seems I am always re-planning something.

Guess I will be away from the blog for a while as I have nothing to tell about. Think it is time for a much needed nap while everyone gets well.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Math without tears

Yes indeed it was a great day!  G moaned and groaned about math when she got on in the recliner with me. Yep, math in the recliner yesterday. Then she opened the book and to her surprise she did her warm up lesson without a single issue. She was completed in record time and all correctly done. I said, "wow, seems you have been learning something after all" she tucked her head into me with a huge smile and clearly was proud of her work. We then did some lesson time briefly together and she completed the rest of her lesson page. She did it diligently and without a single tear. She sees that she is learning and likes to know new things.

This week F has been absent from class. F has pneumonia and not feeling well at all. Her little eyes plead for relief that only her mommy can provide. K has not been able to leave her side for one moment, which is not difficult as the little stinker Baby O tried his best to come too early so she is on bedrest at home.

This week G and I did complete our lessons on wolves and attended a field trip to the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, Missouri.  We also have been to the library to get the books I ordered in. The past two night we have read about SUE the T-Rex and the entire story about her discovery, the journey to claim her, the auction, the process of preparing her and putting her puzzle pieces together. It was a great story, the book is called- Sue The Colossal Fossil.  I still have not gotten the entire time line down great but for now just understanding millions of years is enough. 

Someone has permitted us to borrow their math rods to see if it helps G to grasp math. I have concluded that for her the rods do not help the matter but confuse it.  When I speak with others about her addition and subtraction issues they keep referring me to a MathUSee program. I have reviewed that program before but never felt it was the right fit. So now I am playing with the idea and still do not see how it is going to help her. G does understand the concept just fine but is slow because she does not have them memorized. She is not good at memorization. SHE IS THE LEARNER!  So as we worked with the math rods she even realized that herself. She told me "I get it"  "but this is like math for babies". She let me clearly know that she understands the concept she just does not enjoy it like other subjects and gets frustrated because she does not remember them. It is too boring by her standards to do the same math over and over to get the same answer over and over again. She tells me that she can do the math but it is too time consuming to have to figure the problem out every time. So I know she does understand the concept but also, even G, gets that her memory of these facts (or the lack of memory) is slowing her down.  So we are moving on! I know we will eventually develop memory of more facts but I want her to find the fun part of math so I do not want to drag her and hold her in one spot just for lack of memory.  OH YES, back to the math rods.  She wants to fiddle with them a bit more and not give up to quickly but I do not see us investing in them anytime soon.

In the long run I find that G understands her learning style better than I do so I am going to let her be my guide.

I am beginning to think our fall will be a short one as it has been very cold for this time of October, even for the Midwest region.  Highlights for our region is that the St. Louis Cardinals are in the world series again so everywhere you turn you are reminded of the experience. I know those poor Texas Rangers will have a hard time in this type of cold. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My Perfect Day

Today we took a hike in our vastly wooded area next door. My neighbor is the Kaskaskia Fish and Wildlife Area. What a good neighbor they are as I have access to a wealth of nature resources to share with the girls.

The leaves are perfect, the weather was perfect and so off we were. I had the day off from my job because we did not have enough patients in the ICU. On our hike we found owl pellets that we explored, mussel shells, newly fallen trees that have created a terrific tree house and jungle gym, fresh kill of some feathered critter with some scattered fresh remains, beaver signs, animal tracks, somebody's deer stand, camouflaged tree frog, and great examples of hitch-hike seeds.

I love where we live. Life experiences are great especially when you have curious and eager learners at hand. It was not a school day but the way the girls were into things you sure would think it was. The told me all I would want to know about so many things that my mind is still spinning. Every day is an opportunity to make new memories with them and I am lucky to have made many today.

Each girl made me a fall time sensory box today.  It is filled with pine cones, pecans, acorns, pine needles, moss, drying leaves that crunch small branches with tiny red berries but they caution me not to eat it.  I am so lucky to have such excellent teachers.

"Your girls are so happy"

This is the last rant post I am going to make. K was told yesterday, by a parent who I respect a lot, that her girls are always so happy and friendly.  I can't imagine a better compliment that a parent can get!  G and F are indeed always "so happy".  Disappointment is not easy for either of them as they are very joyful children, yet they take disappointment eventually and move on as they know joy is just around the corner.

You may ask how this is a rant post by now.  While I attended one break out session at our last coop meeting K attended a different one. She attended a session on discipline. Let me say that how you discipline you child during lesson times is critical to their approach in learning. We so disliked the excessive attention to the red, green, yellow light and the standing along the fence line for five to ten minutes during recess that is is one of our core reasons to leave the public system.  Our public system would move a five year old child to yellow for talking in the lunch line.  If a small child lifted their bottoms off the lunch table bench to lift and see what their friend across the table had they would be removed to a solitary table.  Lunch itself becomes a stressful event. 

Now back to the discipline session that K attended. I have to first say that there were coop leaders as well as another father who conducted this session.  Using the idea that the Christan father is the leader of the home there were not any mothers heading up this panel at all.  Since they are "leaders" in the group then there are some who will listen to the material and go right home and decide that they must attempt the methods of discipline and when to use them.  It is fortunate the my K is an independent thinker and takes in the information and determines how it best fits their family.

The recommended discipline is spanking. That's right, if your child is disobedient they should be spanked. You tell them no and then if you tell them no again you get off you chair to spank them. If they stop what they were doing when you get up then you must spank them as they were still disobedient.  You use a paddle or a wooden spoon.  After all, they are disobedient because they are children still carrying the burden of the original sin. Since they are sinful children they must be spanked to stop from being disobedient.

So where do I go from here?  I guess I will tackle the sinful child. First off, I understand that we all come from differing religious stances even if we all call ourselves Christians. I understand and accept original sin. I do not accept ANY Christian's stance that their child is sinful. IF you are following your Christian faith then someplace in time you either bring that child to the alter and wash that sin away or you dedicate to raising your child in a Christian home and teach them about the Word of God; thus understanding the innocence of a child until an age of accountability and acceptance of the Lord.  I cannot (and will yell it at the rooftops) tolerate, that's right, even tolerate a person who thinks their child is sinful. Finally, if Jesus died for our sins then he also washed away original sin. Take your pick but either way there are not sinful children in the world. I will not waste anymore time on this nonsense.

Where do I go from here? Spankings! I did spank K one time in her life for a huge infraction but not until then. She was thirteen years old.  Did she learn how to follow rules without spanking?  Yes!  As a matter of fact, she had a moral conscience at an early age and all she had to do was feel that she disappointed you and she would cry and effectively correct herself.  There was a brief period that G needed to sit in the corner as a chair time out was not effective.  G rarely gets a time out anymore. F is still getting some time outs but she is younger and not always able to comprehend the problem her behavior created. 

A child's neurological system is not completely developed so their ability to understand and reason with a situation varies with their physical development. If you raise a child to understand and reason then your days of needed discipline will be few while your days of providing direction will be many.

There is a danger when a group of "leaders" present their view to the struggling young parents in the world.  I am thankful that my daughter, the young parent, has a mind of her own and understood the dangers of what she heard. Because my daughter does such a good job, even when she thinks she will pull her hair out, we will get complements about my grandchildren. They are happy!  We hear it often actually, because they are happily loved and treasured as the gift that they are.

My conclusion to this subject is: As an enabling mother my goal is to raise independent, effective adults so that they to will be enabled to do the same for their children. When we all do that, what a terrific place this will be.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Common Sense View

That is what I feel I have. I am an educated woman capable of reading a law and determining just what that law says. I also know that when we joined HSLDA there were boxes to mark that indicate our understanding of and acceptance of terms. Those terms included but were not limited to keeping records of child's education progress, to exercise diligence in teaching the children in a responsible way, and to use a thoughtful and intentional program of education to instruct the children. 

I am in Illinois. I am not required to register my students with the state or our school with the state. The Geralds Learning Academy is a stand alone private school in my state. I have a compulsory attendance law that went into effect when G turned 7 yrs old and I do keep a desk calendar that shows dates of attendance and dates of field trips. We must attend school 176 days per year. 

I must teach in the English language in my state. I must teach in the branches of education that correspond to the age and grade level they would be in if they were in the public school.

Permit me please to break this down. I have the due diligence to know what subjects are being taught in their public school for like grade. Now, if they were in public school and were to be held back then it is reasonable to also assume that I can hold them back if they have not mastered the material.  So I could do two years of second grade if it was appropriate.  So let me look at what I was told last night. When she reaches sixth grade then it is OK that she is only performing second grade level math.  I am more than willing to say that one cannot expect more than a child is capable to do. However, should I consider my student a sixth grader if they did not meet the basic knowledge of information with at least an 80% comprehension of a third grader?  If they are doing third grade math and sixth grade language then yes, we now have a special math program for that child. If they are doing third grade level work in all subjects then we do not have a sixth grader, regardless of age, we have a third grader- period.   BUT to not have goals of achievement is nonsense.  Use a thoughtful and intentional program of education to instruct the children.   

You are not planning out and giving thought to each aspect of your daily life. You may be living an intentional life to the best of your ability but that does not meet this term. 

Therefore, I submit my conclusion that one cannot take a day at random and play Yahtzee and call it math. Sure it is a great game to reinforce but it will not teach math. Yes, you can cut you pizza up at dinner and find a practical application for your intentional teaching but it is an enrichment activity and not your math lesson. 
This idea that so many have about the freedom of Illinois law really should look at that freedom and respect it or it will be lost.  I am not saying you have to have a workbook lesson everyday but you should have an evaluation process that will display the learning progress of your child.  You cannot do hands on science every day without keeping samples and photos of the project. It is my opinion that if we take lesson books away completely then we are not teaching them how to express their own curiosity and question the validity of a statement.

We must teach language arts, fine arts, math, science, health/physical development, social science and we must include character development.  I am not all about standardized testing but I am able to read the education standards for the correct level and find a means to broadly address the standard. Lets face it, the standards do not give specific items to master but general material and of course year to year it will overlap as education is a process.

As homeschoolers everything we do is an education process so we teach 365 days per year.  Nonsense!!!!  Other parents who do not home school are also teachers to their children. Does that mean that they can take the time from the public school and declare it as education. This is by far the most disturbing comment I get from the hard-core HS group.  Go back to the HSLDA terms and I believe it will guide one using common sense.  Use a thoughtful and intentional program of education to instruct the children.   

My conclusion is that Illinois does have laws that clearly direct me to what needs to be done but I have the freedom to choose how to do it.  I believe I have made myself clear.  I do not expect you to agree but at least read it with an open mind.

Frustration at justification once again and ENABLING

WHY can't a person do school at home and also be homeschooling? WHY can't others realize that there is no one fit?  I find myself tonight justifying ONCE again the methods that we use to teach. All in all my grandchildren are learning and they enjoy the process. Sure we have a tough day from time to time, like a few days ago when I took F out of the room and "suspended" her.  WHO THE HECK DOESN'T? 

I took this one as a request from my daughter and her spouse. I felt called to do it, honestly a calling by my creator to do something that was more than just me.  I had the same feeling when I decided to be a nurse. DO NOT get me wrong, I became a nurse to assure that I could provide for my family, because I learned it easily, and so I would never find myself stuck in a situation that I felt I could not get out of. Even with those motivators I felt the calling from my creator then too.

So tonight we have break sessions at our coop meeting and I went to the one that was to tell about ideas and tips to homeschool with toddlers present and what you child needs to learn in elementary school.  I got some great ideas for when the new baby becomes a toddler and can even see them being useful now for the current kiddos to have quality busy time when the other needs some extra attention in a lesson.  But what I got about what my student needs to learn in elementary school is not a satisfying response.  The answer is --what ever she is able to do-- NO NO NO.  I do not accept this response. No matter what you want to say it is an undeniable fact that live can change in an instant. Perhaps the picture perfect life that so many see blinds them to this possibility. WHAT IF YOUR CHILD HAD TO GO BACK TO PUBLIC SCHOOL NEXT WEEK?  WHAT if your family has a life altering experience?  GET real with yourselves people! 

I have special insight on this. I deal every day with life threatening illness and know how it can change. I have been on the brink of death on more than one occasion.  I tend to clients facing the same thing every weekend. I see how it impacts a family and how unprepared they are for the change they are facing. Maybe it is a permanent change or a temporary change. Either way, they are caught unaware and unprepared.

NOT ME! NOT US!  You cannot go through life with rose colored glasses on and think that your children will never be expected conform to the rest of society.  Today you walk, talk and take advantage of the blessing you are given. Are you prepared for the possibility that it could crumble tonight?

Then I heard the word, "enabling" as well. Enable?  Yes, I enable!  I enable my grandchildren to feel my love each day that I am present in their life. That, by the way, is not every day of their lives.  Yes, I enable my daughter to have better quality of time with her children by teaching the other one while she is occupied.  Yes, I enable the girls to choose their KTM project and do the research to make it happen.  Am I enabling my daughter by teaching her children. YOU BETCHA!  I enable all my family to the best of my ability. I enable them to develop when they were children into adults.  Does mothering have to stop. I do not pay their bills, clean their clothes, buy their clothes, buy them beer, supply them with drugs, make excuses for their poor choices that are made from time to time, patch up their family spats, tell them what I would do if I were them (that one really gets them irritated as they want to know what I would do from time to time) or make their curriculum choices for them.  I do not have to agree with them but I will honor their wishes in how the core subjects are taught as these are not my children.  I enable my family to be part of one whole extended family. 

So now I know how this particular person feels and being a leader of sorts I know the truth about how many of her kind feel as well.  Talk about feeling a total lack of respect! 

The woman in me wants to strike back and say---what's wrong, are you jealous of the wonderful relationship that my daughter and I have--- but I know that would be a petty and useless response.  So the educated person in me will realize that I am comfortable where I am at.  I know what God calls me to do and I always have responded when I felt a call, even if it was good for some and not particularly me.  The calm professional inside of me will understand human behavior from not only a biblical standpoint but from the well trained and research that teaches us about human responses and psychological effects. 

I know that I can only ask my student to perform to their best ability but I also know that there is an expectation at each educational level.  IF I was in a different state the response would be different. In Illinois we are a free state in regards to regulations. As a member of the HSLDA I had to agree to teach according to state law and keep records of their work and attendance. So I have to then decide what that is.  I will tell you about that in my next post as this is now too long.

I suppose the real issue is that the "others" feel the need for others to confrom to their standards. At least that is how it feels and I feel attacked.  NUFF Said!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hodge Podge of Stuff

As it turns out, I made a good choice to keep F out of lesson time when she became totally unruly. The next day she did her lessons with serious effort and enjoyed the day as well.  So just what is happening in our lesson time these days?

G is advancing in he knowledge of our language. Her writing skills improve each day and we are at capitalization rule number 5. Seems she likes the structure of each rule gradually being introduced. He spelling in naturally improving as well.  Math has not been tears for three days in a row. She really seems to enjoy our classroom money and we are going deeper into how to count your money. Yesterday she got a huge pile of coins and first separated them and learned to count coins by beginning with your largest value coin. She has great reading comprehension for the short stories in her book but also for a timed reading lesson.  It is funny that she has added on an extra class to her routine. She does not have a phonics lesson now but a little review from time to time. Well, she got a book as a gift that is too easy for her but does take thought to complete. It is a great review for her and she has begun each day with that book on her own. If she wants to take on more why not let her but it is a real confidence booster for her.

F is doing well but still that drag it out reader. I like that she blends her words but dislike that she blends every single word before she reads it. I think she would enjoy reading if she would just let loose and let it flow.  Her phonics are newer concepts and I think I will need to slow down as they are becoming so many special sounds that it is beginning to clutter in her thoughts. I will probably spend more days on each sound for a while. Yesterday she kept getting confused with TH,SH, and could not think it through when it was at the end of the word. I am not concerned about when she completes first grade. I thought it would take two years for Kindergarten but maybe this will be the grade that she settles for a bit and gets closer to her real age level.  Her math skills are better than G so we will move on. I just hope that she does not pass G in math level as I know that will be hard for G to take.  I am seeing more and more age level actions in F.  I think I need to bring down my methods a notch as she wants the "baby" and fun preschool type of stuff too.  I ordered a Blueberries for Sal from the library and will do the FIAR lessons to go along with that book. 

We got a few little fall time crafts to do which will be on the agenda for today. I disliked the lessons in the book for nutrition and got a book called  The Monster Health Book: A Guide to Eating Healthy, Being Active & Feeling Great for Monsters & Kids! and it will be a great fun book for years to come. It covers lots of impotant nutrition and eating habits material in a fun manner.

Tonight is our coop meeting and the 4H club has arranged for a group of reptile handlers to be there to discuss the animals. Girls are looking forward to this but G has a girl scout meeting. Her scouts only meet every other week and it really makes it hard to feel like a group that way.  G wants to go to the coop meeting so K will let her make her choice. The SCCCHE coop also has a family night next weekend that will include hayrides and bonfires. Sounds like a great night! 

On a final note, the baby's room is all decorated. I need to get some photos of the room but it is all fireman theme including a mural that K and her friend painted on the wall. That same friend is holding a baby shower for her. They do not have any boy items and K loaned (gave away) so many of her baby items to help others out that she finds herself without. Seems when she loaned out her very nice swing to a friend who had twins that it did not come back but instead that friend loaned it to a sister and that sister gave it to a friend. Sharing is a valuable trait to have but sometimes it sure can bite you hard.  I am old fashioned and do not geneally consider a shower for your third child proper but her friend put together a cute theme that clearly revealed that the frills are being put away and there is a need to welcome this boy.  K has a friend who is about to have a daughter so she has clothers from 12 months to 4t that she will give to her. That will clear some space in her house as well.

Well, off to make my oatmeal and get my day flowing. Have a blessed day to any and all who read my blog.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I suspend a child from lessons yesterday

I do not know what else to call it but F kept on whining about everything she did. She got up and down and wandered which I did not care about but then she was constantly interrupting what was going on with G. I discussed how rude that was and gave kind encouragement words as her project was 85% completed and was done well.  Then I had time that we were all dealing with time and money. She began hopping jumping from recliner to recliner and getting loud. So I took her out of the lesson room and said to her that her disrespect of other will not be tolerated. I let her know that learning at home is a privilege and she had run out of opportunities. I had corrected her at least 20 times in an hour. So out she went. I took her upstairs and she got busy doing things to help mommy instead. I was taking on lesson alone yesterday as K had millions of task that needed to get completed.
As the day was completing she begged to come back and as hard as it was I did not permit her to. That was a difficult thing for me to do, however, had I taken her back into the lesson room it would have extended my day by another hour and a half as we were finishing our last item. 
I sure hope today goes better.  F has been a bit difficult lately, baby is coming in five weeks and lots going on with preparations.
G is really making progress in her writing and spelling, she has found it enjoyable to create her own story.  Math has not had a lot of tears but inside I cry every time as she take soooo long and drags it out. I have to find a way to cut the time of math or we will both burn that book soon.  I may ask her if she wants to split the class, do some in lesson time and then have homework in the evening.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Vet for a day.

So I have always used the first initial to protect the girls on the Internet. Their mother tells me that this is not necessary and to share who they are. Still I have not done it. UNTIL NOW. WHY?

Grace made a picture I had to share and it has her name clearly written on it.  We took a field trip to a vet clinic this morning. Grace always says she will be a vet when she grows up. After the trip she has created an elaborate clinic in my bedroom. Found items suitable to be used in daily vet use and attire. Then she sat back on the bed and made a picture to illustrate her day.  Here it is.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

In My Lap Math

So, yesterday I had g sit in my lap as we did math. It eased her tension right away and overall she did well.  The concept is hard for her but we did not have any tears and I promised her that I would give her all the time she needed and not be pushy or get frustrated as well.  I do not know if this is healthy to do in my lap math but I need her to feel comfortable about math.

Today we will return to our lesson room because we have been doing class in the camper all week. They really have enjoyed it. We had the field trip on Monday and the girls stayed the night with me as K had an OB appointment early Tuesday.  Then again K had an appointment for a business matter on Wednesday so we did lessons later in the day at my house, which is where the camper is located.  This morning I will pack it up and carry it back to their home. We have several test to be completed today. I do not like to have more than one test per day but K had not brought that material here. Since there are several test to be completed I will not do lessons in those subjects today. Generally we still do lessons after the test but I hate that they have so many testing in one day. It will make for a shortened day so I will try to spend extra time on the other subjects and get some quality to them. I must say that I am not thrilled with the ABEKA health, science or social studies. I think they are capable of so much more and each subject should be more exciting than they make it. I always find ways to supplement the material. 

The fall colors are beginning to show and I do believe it is time for a walk in the woods. I would much rather use the season to better explain photosynthesis, which of course is not even mentioned in the material. I know at some point it will be mentioned but they are so VERY curious now.

At Lyceum the girls are taking a solar system class and seem to really be taking in the information. I hope to use that information to better learn about our seasons.

Tomorrow we are taking a visit to a veterinarian office, G is looking forward to this trip.  F has really come a long way in her reading this week.  As long as it is not in a reading book she does not moan about it. The language book of course has many sentences to read and I see progress in her ability to blend quickly and read faster ( not fast but no snail slow). 

There is a retreat this week in Chicago so our Lyceum is cancelled which permits us to get together with another local group of homeschoolers to go to the vet office.  I do not know them but we must venture out beyond our little group from time to time.

K did get a confirmed induction date for baby O. I am not thrilled as she is to be induced in order to control her delivery time in association with her blood thinners. Her perinatologist wants 11/21 but her primary OB wants 11/30.  He does not want to risk being too close to Thanksgiving Holiday.  I am concerned that she will go before then and we risk not being in control of all risk factors then.  I also do not want her to risk being in labor on a weekend as I must be at my job.  Overall, it is not in any of our hands and God will do as He plans.  She is eating well and baby O is growing well but she has only gained 7 pounds and she is 31 wks gestation. It seems she will weigh less after delivery than she did when this began.

Off to dishes I go then off to lessons.  TTFN

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One week later...

Last time I  posted was one week ago. Not a big deal but funny because I last commented that I need to post often or risk forgetting or creating too long of a post.

Yesterday was Magic House Monday and the girls enjoyed the experience as always. We met a new family last week that homeschools and went apple picking. That was a huge success. The family has girls of similar age and everyone got along terrific. I see future gatherings with this crew.  We got back into the classroom and got some traditional lessons again. We went to the Dolphin Tales movie with our SCCCHE co-op.

F is still a sound it out slow reader but is reading. She does very very good at her phonic testing. G is still frustrated with math but is very capable, thinking of taking her to Sylvan to evaluate this process for us and maybe get her some help and build her confidence.

So that is how things are here in a nutshell and gotta run again.