Friday, October 4, 2013

No Biting Donkeys

I want to be naturally witty.  I crack jokes often and have lots of fun in life. I am not a quick wit when it comes to my written word.  I think I shall work on that issue.

Funny moments in my life this week include the baby donkey who bites my son-in-law.  Penny likes to rub and love. She nibbled hands when she first arrived here but some gentle guidance and that has stopped. Until my SIL arrives. 
It was an interesting experience teaching Penny that she could not nibble.  She nibbled gently and it did not even hurt. The next day her nibbles got firmer and firmer. It was clear I must stop this.  I sat in a chair and she nuzzled me. She rubbed me with her head.  She nearly sat on my lap.  Who knew that donkeys are actually lap animals!
So, I gave a gentle flick with my finger and told her no. This happened repeatedly for about five more times. Gradually, she began to nibble more gently again. She got softer and softer until all she did was let her lips lay on my leg, opened but not biting.  Just like a child she would try me, test me and learn.
My hubby often comments on the unique personality of the animals in our lives.  Seems this has happened again.  I wanted to laugh hard at her as she put her lips on my legs. Looked up at me in an unsuspecting manner and waited to see my reaction.  Being jumpy my laughter was held inside and the moment of gentleness captured in my memory.

As I sit here, I find that a nap is calling my name. CHC is great. Each week we get into the groove a bit more. I imagine by the time the semester is over that we will be in a good routine. Kids seem to really enjoy their classes and they tell me it is the best Co-op they have ever participated with.
Grace has finally gotten a friend that looks forward to spending time with her. It is probable that they will move into Missouri soon which makes us feel sad for a friendship that has not gotten off the ground much yet. 
Next week is my son's wedding. I think I am suppose to get a dress and shoes soon.  UGH!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Today are pics of the NEW CO-OP

The new CHC is indeed going to be a model of the new homeschool cooperatives.  Collinsville Homeschool Cooperative serves the masses. Regardless of where you stand philosophically, you are welcome to participate. As a Christian, I find it a great way to reach others by my actions and example. So much different than sheltering within a subculture, regardless of that that might have been in the past.

This is an important step. The face of homeschool is changing. The mainstream parents are finding ways to meet the needs of their children and the population of homeschooling families is on a rise.

Here are some pictures of the start. If you read the last post you learned about our class fair. Pictures of the displays and teachers answering questions about the curriculum, parents waiting in line for our on site-- on line registration, and then a glimpse at some class and recess time for the young ones. I missed shots of the older students.

Faith back there in math lab

Grace in center in Lego League

Too Busy to Blog

I know everybody understands the title of this post.  It seems that the past eleven weeks I have been very busy. I don't understand exactly everything I have done as it seems I still have unfinished projects that needed to be completed two weeks ago.

I still do not have us moved into our new schoolhouse. After a summer of mild weather it suddenly got scorching hot and I was unable to get in the room to do the painting. I do have almost all the painting done now but the use of the roller brush has my back aching. Besides, the new Co-Op development has been very time consuming as well.

New Co-Op?  Didn't I tell you about this before. Finally, there is a place that we can go as a group of homeschoolers that I can share ideas with and homeschool in our own style. No specific religious affiliation but also not something that has to include the word secular. When to try to avoid all the limitations and forced ideas from a strict religious cooperative it seems all you can find is the exact opposite.  It meant that there was no place in between. I was not a participant last year in the prior cooperative or participate in the Master's Lyceum for group classes. I do not know the particulars of Master's Lyceum and why the "leader" decided to give it a rest for the fall but I am thankful to the Lord for whatever He had planned.  The closure of ML did lead to a very small cooperative within the group but it seems to be a very closed situation and unless you are a member of the cooperative everything about it is rather silent on the rest of the local homeschool community. Needless to say, it did spark others to talk. Finally, seven of us and eventually about a dozen of us began having weekly meetings as we discussed the formation of a new cooperative.  I knew that I could not be the only person out there that did not see the value of the prior options. Thus the formation of the Collinsville Homeschool Cooperative was completed.

It is stated clearly that we are not a religious or a secular cooperative. We are an educational homeschool cooperative. We honor people from all walks of life with the common denominator being homeschool.  It has opened the way for people form the Catholic faith to participate as well, there was not a reasonable option for them at all.  We will not exclude group classes that are Biblically based but will be sure to include it into the class description. Group classes you ask?

Yes indeed. A church in Collinsville agreed to let us use their facility. When we sat down at the table and began planning classes it was stated that if the only people who come are our own children then we will still be a success.  We put out the information in the social media networks and currently have a Facebook page.  The FB page has 165 members but many are just watchers at this time. The paid membership ended up being for 57 families. We have 21 teachers and some teach more than one class. Every family must volunteer to be part of the cooperative and they go where the need it greatest to make the day a success.  We have four class hours and an hour for lunch. The lunch period is broken up between ages so that the biggest kids can play in the huge gym without the littler ones.  It seems we have a fair size group of older kids which is great for many. 

Our first classes began last week in the co-op. From the inside looking out it felt like small chaos but many commented on the day and were pleased.  If somebody was not happy they sure did not let us know yet. 

I am teaching two different classes but more than once.  Magic School Bus is a popular class and I have two periods that it is offered. The fourth period had a waiting list and another parent stepped up to conduct an added class. So fourth period we have 24 MSB students in two different rooms.  The other class I am teaching is a self made curriculum. I call it Money, Maps and Measurements.  MM&M is a life skills class to teach about maps, trip planning, and cost associated with it.  In order to teach a class like this there are many times that we touch on different geography issues, math is used in most classes. To begin the class we began with a tiny overview of the history of maps.  After a brief discussion we made our own clay and created an ancient Babylonian map. To do this required measurements and measurement equivalents as well.  I hope the class meets my goal.  It continues to be a work in progress as well with the core lessons ready to go.

Oh yes, one thing about this CHC is that we also had a class fair at sign up time.  Each teacher was expected to have a small presentation on their table and the lesson plans available for review.  In the past I have had classes that we signed up for which clearly had not been planned out.  Proposals were provided and actually reviewed by the group (not one person who decides if it meets criteria for a class).  That is a tradition that we think will continue. 

So what about Faith and Grace? How is their school year going so far?  If you ask them you will discover they love the year thus far. That is because we have been so busy with archery classes, trip to the STL Science Center for a special Lost Egypt exhibit, a field trip to The Nature Institute for a class about prairies and math warm up. This week will be our first week of opening our books and getting to the nitty-gritty.  Owen has caught up in his development and Kelley will begin some play school with him. His play will try to be organized a small amount each day to colors, shapes, stacking blocks and such. He is into everything so it is possible that his presence in the school area will be limited.

His favorite activity is to carry a stool to any location that he cannot reach and find a way to reach it. He does not always have an item he is wanting, just the fact that he did it is enough. 

Our Girl Scouts have begun again as well.  To be honest with you, I may have bitten off more than I can chew but I will be a cow and keep at it for now.

I will try to improve on my blog post as we get into gear here.
Have a blessed day.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Observing them as they observe and explore the world

As Owen is beginning to be with us more and more each day I have noticed a tremendous explosion of knowledge gathering.  He has made such progress now that his brain is not foggy with anticonvulsants. I can't imagine what it would be like for the world to so abruptly open itself to you in such a short period of time.

We have not officially kicked off our new school year but when you homeschool, learning happens all the time. Actually, every parent or grandparent experience the same thing regardless of how or where you school but homeschoolers tend to recognize it more readily as a learning opportunity. 

What has Owen reveal to us this week?  Several of his words and phrases are making sense. Some days they are so clear it is amazing.  Most little one's refer to ME and not "I" but he uses I very often in referring to himself and very appropriately.  Today I asked him if he would like some bacon and he clearly stated it back to me. When I asked him if he was ready he clearly said "yes" and nodded his head. He is often found saying thank you, and kitty-kitty-kitty, not to mention so many other attempts. In our car we have a game we call YELLOW CAR and he seems to have joined in. He does not actually see a yellow car but he points out the window and calls out for the count.  He does well with the word.  His energy is amazing. He will have one more week of therapy as he has surpassed his development milestones in many areas and at level with others. Considering how far he had to come it is fabulous that he had managed this.  His understanding of the world as it unfolds to him is unbelievable. 

Today he and Faith enjoyed an old fashion mud puddle.  It began as an area of dirt but with small amounts of water from their watering cans it was a great mud stew and a stick became a favorite tool.  Just a moment ago he drug a small chair to the piano. There is a chair at the piano but he wanted his and he sat, reached high and played a tune.  I could go on and on with the little things I am observing.

He is not the only one who is observing the world around them. Faith has had a huge challenge to alter her self centered ideas. She is loving but is the most selfish of the three children.  Her tendency to be jealous or sassy has been bad lately so we are working on that one. Today I utilized the teachings of God through the story of Moses to work on following God's rules. She is a great big sister but tires easily with any responsibilities. To work on this I got her a classroom bunny and 100% of the work is hers. It does not matter that Grace also ended up with a bunny. I mean, Faith ended up with a donkey when Grace got one. So Grace will carry the burden for donkey food/barn/water and Faith for the bunnies.  I noticed Faith observing what her bunny responded favorably to. I love it when I see a moment in their life.

The classroom must be done soon, no more delays. I will be sure to post pictures very soon.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Survey says.....

This morning, while sitting in the waiting room to begin Owen's physical therapy, the news reported about a study of 200 smokers and found that those parents who smoke tend to have children who smoke.  I thought is was so ridiculous that my mouth spoke about it before my brain thought. The room had about seven other people who were waiting. Half of them were ladies who had that ragged smoker skin look to them as well.  So I said out loud, "really they need to have a study to show that children learn by the example set by their parents" followed by "and to think, people go paid to do that stupid study"  The room looked at me as if they were clueless.  I suddenly realized I was the only educated person in the room except for my 6 and 9 year old grandchildren.  Grace thought is was hilarious and asked me how she could get a job like that some day. 

Survey says...... children learn by the example put forth by their parents.  In my little homeschool world that is a well known fact. Everything you see in parent magazines encourage you to read to your child early. Public service announcements tell parents that the first teacher a child will have is their parent. I cannot think of a single, most important teacher than a parent or other family members. Locally, in St. Louis, there are schools who have lost their accreditations and so local law will permit parents to enroll them into outlying schools at the cost of their own school district.  It all sounds so crazy if you ask me. I can look a the  primary lifestyle of most the members of the school districts that are failing and put it right back onto the parents more than the school. The example that uneducated and unprepared parents give lead to further failures in a failing school system. Just as the survey about smoking so goes the same survey if we addressed it toward a failing school.

I am not saying that I know the parents of the schools and I am sure there are many who are educated and trying hard to help their child succeed. I also know that statistics of the area will tell you that the overall truancy rate is high.  I can imagine being a teacher in a district like this. Some will be well prepared but the many who are not, who did not get their studies done at home, are going to slow the entire process. 

The school district that the grandchildren live in had horrible scores. Two years ago the won a beacon of light award for raising the scores so much. Mind you, they were still not at acceptable levels but they made such a huge increase and kept their accreditation.  I checked into the award they won and found it to be an award meant to motivate inner city schools who were struggling and poverty rural area as well who were struggling to teach their children.  So as the survey would imply the same goes for education.  If a parent is struggling then so will the child.  In a poverty stricken school district it is important to have parents who sit down each night and are engaged with what their child is doing in school. I am not saying that it does not happen at all but it does not happen to enough children.  Perhaps it is because the parent is so tired from all the struggle and stress in their life. Perhaps they are exhausted from working so hard and long that day. Perhaps they are not even home because they are working two jobs in hopes of making life better for their children. But life does not get better if a parent does not give the example. Sure they will have hard working children (for those who have witnessed that in their own parents) but they will not be better off as they did not get the education they needed. 

While it is true that many can survive the streets they cannot open their eyes and hearts and opinions when they are not well rounded in their education.  So the cycle of the school district keeps on going. 

It is becoming more and more clear to me that homeschooling is the preferred method for my grandchildren.  I would love to do this for all my grandchildren but my son does not live as close and even if he did I don't think he agrees with the concept.

One thing I think about in the study about parents who smoke is that of course we all are the first teachers in a child's life. The example of the parent or the adult authority is the MOST important factor in what a child does and how a child learns.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Some days are heavy on a soul

Nothing has gone wrong. There are just so many things happening all at one time and I feel like I don't know from one moment to the next where I am going to land.  I am flexible.  I am flexible. I can bend. I can bend.  I don't want to bend and be flexible as it is so exhausting on the soul.

My calendar if filling rapidly. It is filling with the things I want to do for teaching the girls. It is filling with things that I MUST teach the girls. It is filling with responsibilities that I have in commitments to others.  It is filled with helping my mother get to and from a multitude of physicians. It is filled with helping my son when suddenly his little one was ill and could not go to day care. SO, everything else that was going to happened had to change.  I have asked my mother to avoid Thursday appointments and the Mondays for zoo school. Other than that it is all fair game.  By the time I get to her it is a 45 minute drive. To her appointments and back is several hours and then I have to get home again.  That shoots the day for the girls.  Kelley will begin her new job and that will mean Thurs. and Fri. are tied up.

My soul just feel so tired from juggling so much right now. I know I take it all on but I take on what the good Lord hands me. (yes, I know I sought the co-op and that is a different story)

Praise GOD that I can take it on still.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

OH, The Hours I Have Invested

As the new school year approaches I find that it is necessary to finish up much of the planning that needs to take place. I also still look at a room that has gone unpainted, unfinished, unprepared for school. Normally that is not a big deal but I really want the school mess to leave my kitchen and have its own permanent location.  I know that many use their kitchen and living room but I find that it makes for more clutter than I want at the end of my day.  I want to keep projects out so they can be easily accessed and completed. I have the additional space, which many lack, so why not use it?

If you follow my blog you already know that the stringent guidelines of my SCCCHE co-op did not fit well with my values as a Christian.  Apparently there are groups of Christians who do not recall that old saying of What Would Jesus Do.  With that said there is another coop that is forming in our area. I am excited as it is a homeschool coop for all who homeschool.  Can you imagine that we would all some how be able to come together with the diversity of our families and get along?  The distance is further but the time to drive there is the same. We will be gathering on Thursdays and have several parent lead classes scheduled. It is not a huge offering like we had at Master's Lyceum but it took years for ML to grow like it did. BTW Master's Lyceum is taking a hiatus this fall.  I am not sure what all took place but the SCCCHE Master's Lyceum apparently had some theft issues and lack of people to help set up and clean up.  That of course is the rumor as I have understood it but I am sure it is accurate.  I know many who did not do their fair share to help ML be all it could be.  Then again it is possible they too felt left out by the leadership team who had it all together.  OK>>>>I am really getting petty now but it is how I feel and is how I was treated.  I can leave it in the past but that does not mean I have never discuss it when looking forward to the new coop and how different it will be.

I am going to conduct two Magic School Bus Science classes. It is an easy class as all material is available publically online all I had to do was to determine which week I was doing each lesson.  The other class is more of a challenge. I wanted to do a life skills class that I am calling Money, Maps and Measurements.  I have all sorts of plans in my head but cannot get it onto the paper well and the map resources are proving to be more  complicated than I originally thought.  I do believe it is time for me to do a huge road trip and gather maps.

Other items being planned are our St. Louis Zoo Homeschool Classes.  We are signed up for the three in the fall. They will be the second Monday of the month.  We have placed on our calendar the Magic House Homeschool Days which are the first Mondays of the month from October to February.  Traditionally, the Missouri History Museum has program as well on the third Monday of the month.  Hummmm, it looks as if we will only be in our regular homeschool environment three days per week. No wonder children love to be homeschooled.

I am going to continue our KTM routine and fit it in with our Monday programs.  It seems that my MM&M class will conflict with a class Grace wants to attend at co-op so I will conduct the lesson for her and Faith.  Call it a practice run. 

Our purchases this year for curriculum material was only $46.00.  I really overbought last year but with all the medical issues of Owen and myself we did not work ahead as I had planned. Either way we are fine as the girls have a good, solid academic base to build on this year.  It is funny that our school cost is so small. In the local news are more and more reports of the rising cost of school enrollment, book rental, and activity fees.  I have said it for years.  It is cheaper to homeschool than to public school. 

As for Owen, he is doing remarkable well. Since he received his pacemaker life has had a huge change for us.  As a matter of fact, Kelley is going to take on a part-time job.  The cost of living keeps going up around here and they find that an additional $300 per month or so would be of great help.  She will not be working in her degree field but will be in a happy environment, doing a job that should lift your heart as you do it.  Owen is doing well enough that he will go to nursery during the co-op as Kelley's job requires every Thursday and Friday. 

Grace did find the perfect donkey for her birthday but we ended up getting two of them and Faith is going to give it a shot at training it and taking care of it.  I have found a sweet little bunny for Faith when the classroom is finished. She will be very surprised.

Well, I will be off for now. As the year kicks off I will be able to blog more about what we are doing again. Keep your eyes opened for wonderful experiences to be shared.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. I get more readers when I post a picture.  This picture was Faith several years ago. It was Grace's second day at kindergarten in public school. She didn't understand the first day but the second day she had it all figured out.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Rocket Launch

I am not going to say much about our rocket study. We have just scratched the tip of the iceberg so far.  As a part of our lessons we included building rockets then the following week launching them. The following pictures are of the launch.