Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our Style of Homeschooling

I so often read about styles of homeschooling.  I fully understand the difference when a family is choosing a 100% unschooled style.  Clear as a bell as to what that it is, but when I read on other blogs about how somebody is unschooled I discover that they are often not able to find themselves using a100% approach.  I read on about other methods/styles of homeschooling. I find others question me about what style/approach do we use.

After much consideration I have decided that there is a STRONG style of homeschooling.  We go at it deliberately, with full intent and we accidentally stumble across learning opportunities and new methods to understand.  We go against the norm by not keeping a grade book, avoiding a book totally for the day, digging in the dirt, walking in the wetland, planting a garden, raising animals, observing birth, playing in an amusement park, planning routes to the next field trip, and the list can go on and on.  We go at it in a very traditional method as well, using the chalkboard, charts, text books, workbooks, test books, (OK they don't even get the test until I know they can master the subject) days of expecting them to remain seated and days of willy nilly movement.  We go STRONG in all we do. 

For example let's look at what we did today.  We discussed what a nutritious breakfast would be to sustain us for the morning activities that were planned. Needing to reinforce that there is no mid-morning snack for us today. Good choices were made as we talk about our choices like it is an every day conversation. No lesson plan to check off the list.  We get to archery class for the second session and Grace is instructed to get into the wallet and count out thirty dollars, then Faith does the same.  Why?  Well they had to pay for the next six weeks of lessons and suddenly we have more learning that is taking place in a STRONG fashion but again does not have a lesson plan to it and the act was spontaneous on my end. They attend class where they talk with groups of friends between shoots and then focus on the target when needed.  Notice that the benefit here is that they learn how to suddenly focus onto the target amidst all sorts of other distractions that are present. That round is over and they are back to the same conversation they were having.  Spontaneously a card game of crazy eights begins and they leave the table for the shoot and come back  again to pick up where they left off.  I call this a STRONG style of learning. They are going STRONG at all that is taking place around them.  Following archery we go to lunch with three other families at the local Wendy's.  On the way we make choices about food again and each girl makes sure they have included more than a burger and fries. Why? Because we always talk about our food choices and although the burger and fries are good choices they also offer side salads there and apples and baked potatoes.   Gab, gab, and eat. Manners as we are a large group with lots of elderly eyes watching the behavior of "those kids that are not in school".   Chuckle between adults as we know that the presence of these children mid-day is an upset to many of them.  But we make a good impression that will reflect on other homeschoolers they come across later in life.  This is the accidental learning portion. Nobody has a lesson plan about conduct in Wendy's at noon with seven children around a table and four adults at the neighboring table. 

The next step is to come home and get me a little rest before we dive into a few important subjects.  Now they girls learn about helping a person in need. This is a big day for me.  I have been going nonstop and still recovering from the hospital stay.  They play for a moment around me and do so in a gentle fashion. Then they begin playing "store".  They bring out items and create shelves, place price tags and get the school money.  I sit back and observe.  I had planned to do some math in the next few moments but they accidentally fell into it themselves.  They created an inventory and determined a fair price for each object. Then they went shopping.  They made change and worked together to determine how much change they needed to give.  What did they do with the objects they purchased from their toy box?

They then brought it to a show and tell. Each girl began a presentation about what they bought. One moment the presentation included a description of what they were holding, the next it was about why they chose that item and how it made them feel or how they were going to use it.

It was a STRONG approach to homeschooling today. In the course of this they even made the choice to open their language book and each completed a lesson without direction or a request from me to do it.  During the presentation portion of their day they each read a book out loud as well. 

So, are we Unschooled?  Do we Charlotte Mason?  Do we school at home?  Do we accidentally learn?  We do that all and so much more.  Therefore I declare a new style of homeschooling.  It is the STRONG approach.  It works on so many levels for me.  It leaves a legacy for me while speaking volumes to the definition of the word alone.

Plans for tomorrow will be a trip to the Nature Institute to learn about symbiotic relationships and have some hands on time with the naturalist that teaches there.  Car time will be using flash cards.  The afternoon will be a very traditional lesson time that they will be in their seats and focused on a text, a workbook and even one quick quiz in history.  I will use the chalkboard, some charts and other visual aids. 

SPREAD THE WORD!  A new style of homeschool has been named!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Springtime Snowfall

It seems that we are no different than much of the Midwest and the New England States. Five days into spring and our area was hit with a beautiful, heavy wet snowfall.  Only fifteen minutes north of us there was seven inches and a tad bit further northwest was twelve inches in just twenty-four hours.  I know that others have more than this but it was a nice farewell to the winter season.

Today we completed our KTM activities which included map skills and art this week. Grace completed a beautiful project that included the use of crayons to a project then applying baby oil to the back of it. When it was completed she had a great Easter art project that looked like stained glass. Faith began doing a mosaic art project with simple scraps of paper but she it doing it all on her own.  The snow was calling her name however and she tells me that she will finish it tomorrow.

When the evening began and the girls were gone the Great Danes were afraid of the multiple snow men that ended up in the yard.  When tomorrow comes we will once again attend archery lessons and on Wednesday we will go to a field trip conducted at The Nature Institute. The theme for this one will be "dynamic duos" as we explore symbiotic relationships.  Plans for Good Friday will include an Easter Egg Hunt at the Nature Institute as well. 
My own health has been a continuing issue but I continue to get stronger. Still, I am unsure that I will return to the state of health that I was in prior to the last flare that placed me in the hospital.  I was unable to participate in the snow play but enjoyed the view from the front window.  It is not like me to avoid days like today. I try not to complain about it as I am so grateful for the days I am given.  My vision is a huge issue since I became sick again and I look forward to the ophthalmologist appointment.  It is hard to function with double vision but then again, I have had worse double vision than this in the past. The difference is, this time it is rather persistent.
The schedule next week is simplified. Except for our archery instruction, the week will be spent in the classroom. I would hope the weather begins to break in a few days and we can do some planting next week.
As always, I am excited to be homeschooling. Grace met a girl that she is eager to strike up a friendship with soon.  She has been at several activities lately and is eager to have weather that we can meet up and play from time to time.  The best part of this is that she does not live as far away and many others she has met.  I do not know if they are new to the area or just recently connecting with the group of folks we tend to hang with. 
I do believe that this enough for today. I hope your week is blessed and that you find time to rejoice in the Easter Season.  

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Division introduced

How can it be?  Grace struggles so much in math. She understands the concepts and does well but as I have said one million times, she does not memorized well.  She learns.  So today was the first lesson about division and she moved through it as if she was slicing butter with a warm knife.  I actually think she enjoyed it.  If she could just get things memorized better math would be so much better.  She has it in her head that math is horrible and the moment the book is open I find the need to keep putting her face back into the book.

Other items for the week, include the fact that Faith did begin the second grade Language book and is on page 6. She began two days ago.  She is finished with a lesson so quick at this point that she wants to do more.  The beginning of a book is review anyway with the expectation that one would have taken a summer break.  As soon as Faith began her new book Grace requested to see her next level language as well.  Glad I had it here for her to see.  I am certain she intends to move on win a couple or weeks.

Grace is enjoying her history and health lessons.  Seems she is interested in dentistry. She does not realize it yet but has been excelling in this lesson.  Her recall of history is amazing and she is asking for history class every day.

Faith on the other hand is not so interested but I still believe that comes with her actual age. She has no real concept of time frame well but she does tell me things like, "the did that way back in the 50s when you were little".  FOR the record, I was not alive in the 50s.

As usual, this is the best choice for us.  I enjoy the challenge and process and they are learning tons.  TTFN

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday (with small captions)

All these photos are from this past year.

Faith agreed to hold it

Sea Lion Sound @ St. Louis Zoo (a free zoo)

Planting comes natural to her

 The day the butterflies opened
The day the ducks hatched

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sleeping in the hay loft

We went to a friend's stable to witness the birth of her newest foal.  The hay was stacked high enough that we could look into the stall, be laid blankets out and my friend was a perfect hostess. 

As it turned out, we had to stay for two nights to witness the event. Finally, we were able to rejoice!
I cannot say it enough, when you homeschool you have the freedom to take on learning opportunities that would otherwise be missed.  The foal had immediate contact with humans and the girls had to be disturbed in a deep sleep.  The first night they were up late. During the day they played hard on the farm.  In true form the foal arrived a few minutes after midnight and they were exhausted.  The good part is they missed the "worst" part and got to see the very end of the process.  They called her Jasmine but of course she was not going to be our horse.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Freedom to Excel

Faith has a late birthday.  She is six years old and if in the public school system would be in kindergarten.  It was clear when she began playing school with us that she was ready to begin. So the big news for today is indicated in the picture that follows.  Have a great day!

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Family that Knows How to Have Fun!

I believe that part of the joy of homeschooling is the ability to find more fun within the moments of your life.  As grandma, I honestly feel that creating fun is a special gift. Here are some pictures taken for a fun photo shoot they did.  Kelley and her friend like to play around with photography ideas and this is one of my favorites. 

The thought bubble says: "There is no hope for me! I am surrounded by fools."

 Tossing paint around can clearly be fun and a great photo shoot. Try it sometime!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Post that I should have made but didn't do until now.....

So I really need to buckle down and do more real school.  At least that is what I tell myself then I look back at some pictures sitting on the camera card and see that we have been doing lots of school even if we aren't at home.

I have mentioned the St. Louis History Museum before and they have attended a program on the Civil War in Missouri and St. Louis stance as well.  They also attended a great presentation on George Washington.  Here are a few pictures of those moment.

I have more to post from the past year but here are a few from just one half day at the museum curing the Civil War program.  As I look at them I can see we indeed DID do school.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Geography Fair- Their country: Australia

Grace introduces herself and her sister. She then tells the audience of about 60-80 people that they had spend their Mondays learning about Australia. They cannot show everything they learned but here are some of their favorite things.

This girl has come SOoooo far.  It has taken use three years to get back the child that we rescued from the public school system (after only one year there).  She was happy and not frightened at all to make the presentation.

Showing Ayers Rock and Alice Springs

 Grace tells about a photo she found on the Internet. It is a picture of the Great Barrier Reef from a space satellite.
 Displays her rock art.
 Here Faith explains dot art and the art she did.
 Faith explains about the didgeridoo.
She tells them how it is made, who would use it and that to make music with it you blow raspberries with your lips, like this.....
Finally, they end with a demonstration of the didgeridoo.
It was a great night and all the children did so well telling about what they had learned. They took a lot of pride in their display.  Of course, in homeschool there are no funds for awards like they give in the public school but it does keep all on an even field when it is all said and done. 
Interesting that Faith was not as outgoing and bubbly as she usually is when she faces such a large audience but she did very well as she told her portion of the presentation.
Not sure what we will do on our KTM now that the Australia project is completed.  Maybe some science experiments and some gardening skills.  Yes, that sounds like the plan!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.....

I recall Mr. Toad and his wild ride.  The title tends to fit the wild ride our family has been on.  In just the past four weeks I have been hospitalized and a slower than desired recovery, my mother (Grace and Faith's great-grandmother) then was hospitalized the following day and Kelley (their mom) needed some minor surgery but had to be put to sleep for it and had several days that she could not do much.

Education is never on the back burner however in a homeschooler's house.  Every opportunity possible small steps were taken that the girls continued to learn.  We have completed a long lesson plan about Australia and tomorrow they will also be able to present their project at a Geography Fair.  They are prepared and I will post pictures of the event. 

Their project board looks nice and they also have an Emu egg to sit on the table, their own original rock art to place on the table, and they each have a real didgeridoo to play as part of their presentation.  We will spend tomorrow preparing an Australian desert called Lamingtons for others to sample as well.  The also each did some dot art but that is on their display board.  I must say that they learned a lot that cannot possibly be put on display.

We are once again graphing our lion vs. lamb weather on a chart.  I think it may become a tradition at our school.  Faith has decided to stay forever in first grade.  I am not sure how that will work but I am sure I can give her second grade work and tell her she is in first grade all the way to high school.  She is such a funny child. 

On a personal note I am liberated by dancing to my own music in the homeschool world. So much has opened up to the girls with group activities once I do not limit myself to one single group that does not really fit our needs or values.  Let me tell you what they have done this past two months.

They have participated in several lessons that are prepared for the group at the Audubon Society at the Riverlands in West Alton, MO.  The lessons are spectacular and fun.  They have attended 3 classes at the Nature Institute in Godfrey, IL and have another one next week.  They are attending their St. Louis Zoo Homeschool Classes and have another one next week. They participated in the Civil War Homeschool Day at the St. Louis History Museum. They have archery lessons with a group of 18 other homeschooled children on Tuesday mornings and we have begun going out to lunch with some.  While we wait for the food I am teaching the children to play some card games while the mothers visit. Last week we had two of those trips back to back so we stayed in a hotel for the night and used the pool.  (It was easier for me since I have been ill to do that instead of trying to take the long drive back and forth).  It was a great way to treat cabin fever as well.  They have special class in two days as part of the Missouri Botanical Garden's outreach program called Butterfly Class but it will include other insects, craft time and experiments.  Then next week there is another special program they will attend by the local storm chasers.  They will learn about Weather Safety and extreme weather as well and do some experiments and get the opportunity to visit the storm chaser vehicles and  the equipment.

It is difficult to get in "regular learning" sometimes.  I feel spring just around the corner but we have had some level of snow or ice for weeks now.  My daffodils bloomed last week but got covered with snow.  Not having the energy to do anything about it I just let nature do what it does. 

On a final note: Girl Scout Cookies have arrived and I am so thankful that I had lots of help to get them all loaded, and unloaded, the divided for each girl. Most of all I am thankful that I do not have any cookies to deliver and I defer that tasks to parents.  Now to gather the money in two weeks, pay the bill and be finished with that stress for another year.  My troop did well, they will have a profit of almost $600 to use over the next twelve months.  I know that sounds like a lot but it will likely barely be enough and to do a program that I would like to do it will put a dent only.  Fortunately, I had all ready purchased the basic needs items myself.

So much more than I would have ever imagined:

I would have never imagined that homeschooling my grandchildren would enrich my life as much as I had hoped it would theirs. So many tell me that they could never do it, they tell me how they would end killing their kids.  In truth I am sure that homeschool strenghtens a family.  You do have to think more about how you talk with the children during school time.  I  try to recall how perfect  I want a teacher to handle them and try to reach half of that goal.  Of course there is sibling struggles but overall they seek each other to play and seek me to experience life with as well.

I had considered changing the picture on the top of the page but find  it is a reminder of how long we are doing this.  The girls have changed so much, not just grown but blooming into wonderful people.  I could not be more pleased with the progress of our school. 

There are a few regrets.  I know them but do not  drag the blog to the mud.  We find that we no longer do things with our usual co-op but have a great network either way. As an extension to our learning both girls are active in local girl scouts with Kelley being the leader for Grace and myself for Faith's troop.   I know many do not agree with scouts but we like the program and being leaders can be sure that we use the program as it fits our demographic needs.