Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Math Approach

I will try to put into words what is inside of my head. I have gathered lots of ideas from mothers and regular education teachers about Grace's particular block in math. So I have devised a plan:

Step on is to use a calculator that will permit her to immediately check her work/guess. The one I am using is not a cheapo as it will retain the equation in the upper left while showing the answer in the lower right.  The rationale to this is simple. At the age of almost eight Grace is able to recall only a small portion of addition facts without using number lines, dots, or adding on. I think adding on is fine as long as you can do it fast but she is not always fast as she stares at the problem trying to decide where to begin 3+9. 
So today she faced a small number of equations at one time and was encouraged to think only for a moment try to tell me what it is then enter it into the calculator and guess what.........she was correct each time and all were sums of 11-15.  No fingers, no abacus, no number lines or adding on..(well she may have added on but if so she did it with lightening fast speed).  The calculator gave her immediate reinforcement and lets face it, the current young adult generation X is all about the NOW movement so should I expect it to be different from a modern tech student. 

Honestly it was great to see her accomplish it and check her answer. Not a single one incorrect which means she is recalling more than she or I ever imagined.

Step two: sandwich several problems between other stuff like constant reinforcement of time or measure. So after two times and two measurement toss in two more simple addition facts followed by complementing subtraction facts so that she can keep moving toward the more complicated issue of borrowing. For instance 11-7   followed by 21-7.  She will have just experienced the first equation then not be so stress about borrowing and the ability to recall the subtraction fact.  It lets the focus be on the operation more than the fact. 

It is my belief that this will enable to to reinforce the facts she knows and learn the ones she does not know. It will promote success in the operation by easing the ability to find the solution.

I do not know if this is making any sense to anybody but in my mind it is perfectly clear. Sadly, I will now have to work harder to make math a coordinated subject while still using the curriculum that we have.

She is also going to spend five minutes each day with her flash cards again. Not to tell me the right answer or her mother but to know for herself. It will require her saying it out loud and turning the card or if she wants check it on the calculator. 

It also means a bit of page hopping back and forth so no telling when we will actually finish the book.

OTHER big plans include a creation of a new one room school house for them. The house is there and measures about 30x20 so now we get to make it all we want. The computer will move out there and we will get in some new floors, furniture and revitalize some old furniture. New doors and air conditioner to be installed. Not so worry about the heat as our Eden Pure does a great job and it will be all I need out there. Will have to maintain climate as there will be so much stored school things as well. I do not intend to put this all together again. I pray that Owen will do well with what the girls have used so far. No new lessons plans as I am essentially a lazy school teacher.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Visualizing the Early Stages of Life

Our duck eggs have life. We candled them and we have eleven with signs of life. Eight of them were not fertile and two of them did not proceed maintain life. We candled them all and were amazed that several of them were clearly more advanced that some others.

Both girls were amazed. You can actually see the blood vessels and in most of the eggs there is clearly movement as well. I did not intend for it to become a lesson about when life is life but God seems to have made it one. Both girls, especially Grace, see a living creature. Grace actually referring to it as a precious life.

No band wagons about right to life issues here as that is not my soap box. Just an honest conclusion to what the girls see and how it makes them feel.

Friday, March 23, 2012

I Just Cannot Understand People Sometimes

I know that there are many different ideas about life, love and religion so I expect to find that diversity is the spice in living.  Yet I am so often baffled at the actions of others who do things that causes a negative impact on others. Once again I have to announce that I am a follower of Jesus Christ and His Father believing in the Holy Trinity.  Not because it is something I must have heard but because as I begin to type my views of the day and the emotions that it has left behind I may need that affirmation to control my tongue and try to imagine WWJD (haven't used that one in a long time).

As I begin one will imagine that I have embellishing on words to hide the true nature of Grace. I will tell you that I am not going to do that. I am going to be 100% about her conduct.  It has been stated before that Grace does not respect individual space well. That remains true but she has made remarkable progress in that area. Still, Grace is energetic, joyful and busts at the seams to show it. Grace is shy and introverted all at the same time.  How can that be?

In general daily life when she is not expecting anyone to be watching her she will break out in a song with me and even dance. If she feels that she may be seen she will not do so and if she realizes that someone is watching us she stops faster than fast.  If she was to stand up to tell her name you could not hear it clearly with a microphone but her daily speech is so loudly presented that we had wondered if she had a hearing deficit. She giggles like all little girls her age. When she is overwhelmed with joy she actually will stiffen her arms to her side and tense up with so much excitement. (I had a son who use to hold his sides really tight and do the same thing).  Although she can be rude to a person it would always be by accident through lack of understanding unless it was her little sister or occasionally her mother.  She has a tender, gentle, loving heart that is deep in her soul. She is vocal. She is vocal. She is vocal. She wants her view to be heard when she is trying to offer it. NO exceptions!  If she has something that is important she will not rest until she has had her say. Not a nasty manner but to be sure she is heard when it is important. I read this as I type this and it sounds like she is a brat. She is far from that!  We have always encouraged her to be heard and speak up for herself. Well, she doesn't do it yet.  She wants to be sure that Kelley, Matt, or myself understand her view she does not ever conduct herself with such confidence in other situations.

The danger of that final sentence is that sometimes she submits too easily to an person of authority and feels like she is a horrible person when they correct her. 

Today it became clear to me in the early morning that there is a person who does not appreciate her for her unique energy.  Several back to back comments directed her way out in the parking lot with an unpleasant tone but a smile on their face. All I could do was to openly reply that Grace is full of energy and excitement for what the day holds.  The girls and I continued to unpack the trunk of the car and carry our items into the church for another day at enrichment program. They waited outside of the doors as directed as we dodge the raindrops so we did not melt on our way in. Deep breath at the door and all reminded it was now time to settle down and go inside. They both immediately complied with my request. 

Later that morning I mentioned to a friend that this adult sure seems to dislike Grace. It is not the first time I felt that way but after the "entitled" verbalization outside I was not certain.  Bite my tongue. Bite my tongue. Why do I permit the passive aggressiveness I come across so often in this environment?  I know that answer. It is because I am not there to get into the petty female games that such conduct presents. I am there for my kiddos to have an enriched experience that is blessed by God.  So when I come across the very specific stereotyped Christina female who uses her words and smiles to manipulate the conversation I tell Satan to step behind me and I rise better to the occasion. God is always working on me.

So back to the impact on others. Today I discovered that Grace was prayed with to encourage a corrective action. I am thrilled that someone would take the time to pray with her. She discussed with me the event however and I was baffled. She left not feeling uplifted but feeling singled out and humiliated yet once again in the class. --OH LORD help me choose my words here.  It seems that it was not this one single event but a habit she has displayed about complaining in the class. WHAT?  I can't imagine that coming from Grace. 

You may ask what she was complaining about? Well, it seems that in her tumbling class she is often physically pushed to stretch those muscles. Her joints are limber but her muscles are indeed tight but also rather short.

She complained about the discomfort of the muscles in her belly. She complained about a muscle hurting when she jumped on one of her feet today as well.

SO now I have to tell you my view.  Pain is given to us by God to tell us to stop before we cause some serious harm to our bodies.  I have heard this type of "complaint" from her in this class before.  It is not a complaint about an action from a teacher or student. It is not a complaint about the enrichment program. It is not a complaint that should effect anyone at all. IF anything it should make the teacher or proctor who is working with her to encourage safety while encouraging duration and trying the skill.

Humiliated again? I said the word again up there. Yes indeed. A couple of weeks ago as Grace prepared for the class I realized she did not wear the correct underpants so they were showing from the bottom of the leotard. I told her when we began the class to pull them high up and try to keep the tard positioned to cover.  So it seems that her panties became a laughing issue. I was talked to about the issue as well and honestly cannot disagree that she needed some shorts but we did not have them when this issue presented itself. I reassured all that we would have shorts in the future BUT the real issue here is not a seven year old girl displaying a corner of her panties. The real issue should have been a cluster of children who felt power in their numbers and a display of nothing short of "mob mentality" .  The actions of those children should have been corrected.

So on now one may ask, "what is your overall point," and I can answer it simple.  Today Grace felt as if she was singled out as other kids say the same thing from time to time when they are trying a skill or stretch. Grace was pulled out of class and prayed with by a person that all children feel is an authority figure. Faith enquired from Grace what she had done wrong to get in trouble. So statistically, ten others children will wonder the same.  Grace was made to feel singled out once again as a "bad girl" (in her words).

We have a family goal to improve Grace's feeling of self worth. If you ever read my first blogs you would know that is the SINGLE reason that her parents took her from the public system.  One teacher and the people of entitlement did a big number on her little tender heart. We are seeing the old Grace but some of it was destroyed and cannot be found. So you bet your britches that I am concerned about others who have contact with her and from there kind heart feel that they are doing her some good but the reality is this. IF,, IF,,,IF,,,this has been an ongoing habit that needed to be addressed then it SHOULD have been addressed to me or Kelley. It was not an infringement that altered the flow of the class.  The teacher of this group has always felt comfortable to discuss any issue with us before.

So what is different?  The difference is one person. The same person that I had said before verbalized across the parking lot to us.  So after the day ended Grace wanted to discuss it. At first she felt as if she was bad and required corrective action. I had to encourage her to stop when pain says stop. She asked me why God made pain. So I gave her an analogy of placing your hand in a flame. It hurts and you pull back really fast. If that did not happen you could be severely injured. The same goes for her developing muscles. When the stretch is painful you are too far. Come back just a bit until you feel a stretch but not the pain. 

Can you imagine if this was not correctly identified by me.  She would stop "complaining:" about the pain and could potentially hurt herself. 

Now my next voice to be heard. I run in a circle of Christians so I know we all pray to the same God and in the name of Jesus Christ.  Pray with me. Pray with my grandchildren. But do not force your idea of what a prayer is  upon us.  As I discussed the situation with the adult it was explained to me what her intervention was about but it was also clear that she insisted Grace say the words out loud. Grace rarely prays out loud. She will tell me what she prayed about but not necessarily the prayer.  She will tell me when I pray that she will follow along in her head. That is fine by me as most of my most earnest prayers are silent ones. But she had to pray with this adult out loud. As it was explained to me I could feel the emotions inside me knowing how hard this had to be for her. But I was reassured that Grace asked her to help her pray out loud.  I believe that if you are going to require a spoken prayer she is going to ask for help. I also know this person honestly felt compelled by God to pray with Grace.  I am thankful that someone cares enough to pray with her. I do wish it would have been a more positive experience for Grace.

Then comes the car ride. The one with tears in her eyes when she can relax. With very little encouragement it is shared with me that it "just did not feel like my prayer" and I shared how special it is to have someone stop and pray with you. I really tried to have her see how wonderfully special she was to have a person to pray with her and to pray out loud with her. Then she lost it. She cried.  She tells me that God hears her best when her prayers come from inside. WOW!  WOW!

So do you see how she thinks?  She seeks approval but everywhere she turns she finds disapproval. 

Solution: She wants me to be in that class with her from beginning to end for the remainder of the semester.  She wants me to be her voice for when something is too painful to continue.  Really Grace?  Yes, no one will listen to her as she is just a little kid.  So what she is telling me is that she does not feel secure and safe. She is telling me that she has lost some trust. I am so glad she can communicate with me so well.  I will be there. I will stay the entire class. I will also stop accepting the passive aggressive communication that is being offered to me and begin telling other my view if it becomes necessary.
Yes, I am a protective grandmother. I cannot trust others to love them and foster them in the same manner as I can. Maybe I have somehow completely misunderstood this but I honestly do not think so.

So Lord, lift me up to be a better person and reveal to me what you want me to do. AMEN.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Honest with Grace

During a conversation, recently, Grace discovered that I often have to learn the information before she does and that sometimes we are learning together.  I told her that I did not ever learn about penguins the way they are learning about them. She thinks it is really great that we sometimes learn things at the same time too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Remembering Math Frustration

Oh it seems so far away now but today I got a taste of the old time math frustration. I recently gave some advise to another person about the same thing and found myself reinforcing my own words.

"Grace it is OK, I see that today you immediately felt angry when we opened the math book" I said.  I will ask God to give me patience and lets work out each problem is what I sort of told her. (cannot recall exact words).  So we worked on the first few issues and then I brought her to a different part of the page that I knew she would feel successful in. It lightened the burden she felt she was carrying.  So of course we had to move on to the next difficult area for her again and she approached it without the face in her hands and the knees to her chest.  As I turned the page she was continuing to be successful and had to think some things out to determine what to do. When we got a big success I STOPPED!  There was more to the page but we do not have to do it today. I want a good attitude and feeling of success so that we have learning taking place and not locking one of us up in a closet.

This seems to work for us. No more anger and frustration and it helps her to approach math without so much frustration at the beginning.  I think the reason she felt it today right off  is because we have been away from the math workbook for a week.  We have done some math games and "shopping" with our money. 

I would like to see all frustration with math go away. I even tried the famous MUS that others swear by. Well it is not through her inability to see and understand the concept and she hated the manipulates that we borrowed when we tried it. To be honest I disliked it very much.  She gets the concept but she is not a memorizer and that makes a world of difference. On the flip side Faith is great at memorizing so she loves math as it does not require the same effort as it does Grace.

Other tasks done today included letting Grace mark my ballot today. I will let Faith mark it when we vote for president.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How I Have Come to Love Mondays

Another Monday has passed and it was once again painless. We continued with the lessons about penguins since Faith had requested it a few months ago. We have now spent time watching the movie MARCH OF THE PENGUINS, visited the zoo for the specific purpose of going through the penguin display. It is amazing how much more we all enjoyed the display with a lesson prior to going. The display of written material made me look really smart too.

So last Monday we worked on some globe issues and found where each penguin lives. Today we read and reinforced the material so that we could begin a lapbook. I love the "Hands of A Child" lapbooks that I come across but I also have found lots of other material that are lesson related to enhance the experience. I imagine it will take two more weeks to complete the lapbook.

We discussed it and feel that perhaps it would be good to learn about Arctic animals. There is a new series on Discovery Channel called Frozen Planet and I saw the premier last night. Girls think it sounds like a great idea. Lots of books to get in from the library as I rarely pay $20 for a book but found several at the zoo we all liked.  I tend to write down the ISBN and then go look it up. I can often find it at a much reduced price as well if I choose to buy it.

Today we also did a homeschool class at the zoo. One of the classes at Lyceum includes bird study and recently we took a great field trip that introduced the girls to bird nesting habits. They seem to be pretty fascinated with the topic as well right now. You know if I teach them how to have many irons in the fire now they should learn the skill of multitasking.  SO they attended a class called BIRDS FOR BEGINNERS and loved it. It got them into a classroom environment totally away from a parent. They made a book of observations, they handled three different kinds of birds and made a cute set of binoculars. The class for both girls (using my zoo membership) was only $32.  Of course, this is not something we can do often so we generally take advantage of the free stuff at the St. Louis museum scene. 

Duck eggs have not begun to stink so I imagine we are free of any rotten eggs and the experience will be a positive one. I must get the chicken coup repaired as I am suddenly down to only three chickens left out of thirteen. This is disturbing to me but fortunately the chicks are cheap right now. (ha ha to myself  ..cheap cheap little chick) 

Other projects we have recently done to reward the days work is to plant the strawberries. They are growing and in one more week the roots should be settled enough to hang them as they are intended. I also got a roll out butterfly garden that we will put around the tree when the get their work done this week.  I will plan to do this on Thursday with them. These things cost little as I get lots of things from the dollar store or plant starts from friends. 

I cannot express the joy I feel getting this opportunity to teach the girls. Soon Owen will be crawling around and of course learning begins with play.

OH yes!  We are absolutely going to move school back to my house. The classroom is going to be a toy room for the girls things that Owen will have the potential to get into. It was a toy room before it was a classroom.  I have a nice sized out-building that is attached to my back deck. We are going to make it into an old fashioned one room schoolhouse but with modern technology. I have Internet so they will have access to lots of things. I have a large wooded yard that is near much to explore. They have a nice big yard but it is surrounded by corn/soy/wheat fields and it use to be a wheat field. Their swings and toys are fun but recess here will be OK too.  The room will have storage as well so that items can be saved and brought out in cycles. I am excited as it means that I will stay here and they will need to come to me. I know it is a whole eight miles lets face it. I am not getting younger and walking down to their basement lately has been more difficult for me.  I am playing with some floor plan ideas to place things. 

Lyceum is all ready half over and I am working on enhancing the class I have planned. I am pleased with the content so far but find one boy not so enthused. You know that means I need to find a way to touch him.

That is all for now!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Duck Eggs

We have begun the process of incubating some duck eggs. It is a huge surprise activity for us. First, we do not know for certain that the eggs are fertile but have a certain degree of certainty that they are. Second, we do not know which type of ducks we will be getting if we succeed. Finally, they should hatch on Easter! Grace and Matt did not look at the calendar to see when they would hatch when they finally put them into the incubator. 

Grace is keeping track of the temperature and turning them as we do not have a fancy turn yourself incubator. She is too young for judging a 4H project yet but this is nice practice for her so that when she does her skills of record keeping will be better. 

Today I got nine more eggs so we marked them and added them to the mix.  This should prove interesting as we have not done this before.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Photos of some activities discussed in prior post

Grace at Nature Institute in an eagle's nest

Lewis and Clark interactive display at Magic House Children's Museum

How old is the tree?

Grace watches as they tap the Sugar Maple tree then later make maple syrup

climbing Jack's beanstalk

love that beanstalk

New baby Owen came to Magic House and he sat in the Oval Office display

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Upcoming week

Tomorrow we will have a KTM with some discussion of penguins and a review of butterflies. We are watching the movie March of the Penguins and going to do a lapbook as well over the next several Mondays.

This week we will finish up the book Who Was George Washington with Grace and order the next one on Adams. If you have not tried this series I really do recommend them. Not only are they good books for specific historical figure lessons but also great lessons of the period. 

WE also will be going to the Butterfly House this week for MARCH MORPHO MADNESS on Wednesday.  WE have learned about butterflies in the past be reinforcement is always great. It also makes them feel very wise when they know the answers already.

I have made several good choices with my money in joining the St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Gardens. It permits us to participate in member only events like the Morpho Madness presentation.  Next week Grace and Faith will attend a homeschool class at the Zoo at a decreased rate as well.  Without intending it, we have learned about birds and nests in general. One of the classes at Lyceum that they attend is beginning the bird component and the zoo class is "Birds for Beginners".  I find Grace being pulled by some force of gravity to the books about birds and their nests recently.  I hope to find an eager learner in Faith soon. So far she continues to be an easy learner but could care less if she sticks with the entire lesson. I keep reminding myself that she is only five years old but she tends to act so much older--then suddenly I am taken back by a typical five year old behavior. 

They have begun the duck egg incubation experiment. We are making sure Grace keeps records of the event. I think it is good practice for her to try this. I expect her records to be fragmented but it is a good step forward.  I may be surprised! 

AS the weather is becoming nicer I hope they will be motivated to get early start so we can have an early finish.  WE will plant strawberries tomorrow as well.

So I will wrap this up for now as I am actually at work and having a "slow" day.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Long time between posts

It is not like me to be away this long. It seems that I am forever busy and when I have a moment to play on the computer I find myself on the laptop working on my Master's Lyceum lessons.  So let me see if I can summarize what has taken place in three weeks.  I will begin at the current and work my way back.

Yesterday Kelley gave all class instruction while I saw my physician. I then grabbed the girls and took them to a friend's house to get them acquainted with the lay of the land. She has a huge horse farm and is expecting several new colts.  The plan is to spend the night in the barn and experience the birth of a horse. While there Grace gathered eggs from the hen house and found several duck eggs as well. She has brought them home and we will put them in the incubator for our surprise. Debbie, the friend, has several different varieties of chickens and ducks. 

Back another day, Kelley and Grace took a field trip to tap Sugar Maple Trees and make homemade maple syrup. They seemed to enjoy the event greatly. The group that held the event is a very nice, warming, and accepting group of women. Some also belong to our co-op but not all.  It was a different atmosphere indeed as there are not any noticeable "clicks".  I stayed home with Faith and Owen. I am getting a bit old for the baby stuff but he is only three months old so took a great nap. During the nap Faith and I had school time together and played games. It was also National Read Out Loud Day so I read her all the books that she wanted.  My mouth hurt by the end of the day.

Last week both girls and I went on a field trip to learn about bird nest and hike to observe several different types of nests.  It was with the same group I had just mentioned and the quality of the trip was remarkable.  I love it when they clearly learn and have fun.

We went to the final homeschool Monday at the Magic House as well. I had recently injured my foot so I sat on a comfy couch and played with the baby while Kelley and the girls enjoyed the day together.  Grace was excited to find that they had updated the pizza place to a vet clinic.

We have also attended the Mammoths and Mastodons homeschool day at the Missouri History Museum.  It was a crowded but great day.  Only Grace was able to participate as the last time I took Faith her behavior was so poor that she was not permitted to go to this event. I do believe she learned a lesson. Additionally, Grace was very engaged in the activity but she missed her sister.  I find that funny since she feels her sister can be such a pest.

So that brings me to around my last post as far as activities go.  In class we are clearly far behind for the year since we had so much going on. Faith got the flu during this time as well and had a terribly high fever. The rest of their household became ill but the severity was controlled by Tamiflu.  Speaking of which, $500 to treat the entire house with Tamiflu!  (and that is with insurance)

The girls continue to make progress. Faith's reading has once again begun to flourish. For a while there, she seemed to stall but these days I am pleasantly surprised each time she sits down to read to me. He comprehension is also doing very well. 

Currently we are in week four of this semester's Lyceum.  I am teaching two classes. Each revolving around material the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has available. The younger group seems to enjoy the class, the older group has been on the edge of enjoying the class but last week they really bloomed and I think I have figured out how to get them engaged.

The girls are well aware that school will go into the summer but they do not seem to mind. Afterall, they know that it does not take all day to have school and I am sure that the pool and trail hikes will keep them motivated to get the work done.