Friday, April 26, 2013

I Have Grown in this Process

The past several months we have had so much activities to participate in that it has really been a challenge to get all of our "regular schooling" completed.  Each activity has been a valuable learning experience.  Some has been planned and some just becomes so natural and spontaneous.  I cannot imagine being any different kind of grandmother.

I am often surprised at how different I must be.  For instance, there are times that I am with people and find it necessary to correct the children's behavior.  People will speak up and tell me that it must be difficult to not spoil the girls.  I laugh out loud every time.  What makes a person think that just because I am not a "granny" style that I am not able to spoil them.  I can expect proper conduct, go places without whining and hearing the "I wants" and still spoil them.  They are showered with affection several times per day. They are praised constantly for their excellent school work. I can be the disciplinarian and the grandmother and the teacher all wrapped into one package.  I have come to see that as a well rounded individual.  I can't imagine somebody else teaching them.

I teach them about more than just book knowledge. I teach them about human nature, personalities, diversity, and life skills as well.  Can you imagine how hard it would be for a teacher, with 20 students in a room, to lean over each one several times a day and tell them how wonder they are doing?  My students get that each day. Sometimes they get that several times in just one lesson, which is about 30 minutes on average.  Can you imagine seeing the daily advancements, even the tiniest ones that often go unnoticed when you are just part of the crowd.

Several days ago my youngest grandson was here. He is 5 months old.  He had an orange triangle block in his right hand.  I offered him the yellow circle and he looked at it.  Reached for it. Wait! His hand was full. In a slow manner with awkward motor skills the orange triangle ended up in his left hand. His mother was holding him this entire time and watching him. He then reached for the yellow circle and had both. His mother chuckled but being a new mom with a  first child had not realized what had just taken place.  SEE!  That is why I am a great granny teacher.  I was in tune enough to recognized the subtle development that he had just demonstrated.  That is a skill I did not have as a mother.  It is a skill I developed since teaching Grace and Faith.  I have come to look for subtle things like that without even thinking about it. It has become second nature for me.  I know, it sounds like I am tooting my own horn. 

I am not trying to do that.  I am trying to let you know that as you take the time, demonstrate patience of a grandmother along with the discipline of a parent then you will become well rounded. If you are well rounded then you will guide your children to that point as well. As you develop yourself as your child's teacher you will begin to witness the subtle things that are accomplished every day.

Because people tend to look at my blog more when I post a picture, I am going to post one below.  It is of the tree kangaroo at the St. Louis Children's Zoo.  It usually just lays there when we visit because it is nocturnal.  But it had a baby this year and had to be up during the day.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spoke too Soon

It seems that my last blog was heard. No sooner did I talk about how blogging has become such a business, that I don't find new and creative ideas anymore, than several bloggers I tend to read have shared something I can relate to.

Well, off to do a day of school. Have a good one.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blogging as a business

When I first began reading homeschool blogs there was a plethora of information that I found helpful. Perhaps that is different now because I am not new. I do not think that is the case however.  I was never insecure about homeschooling or my ability to do it.  I was indeed looking for some ideas to enhance the experience. But in just three years there seems to be a huge trend. People offer "freebies" on their site but to register to win or get so many of those items you have to take multiple steps that require sharing your information with many.  If forces you to "like" things that you normally would not take the time to look at or consider valuable to your time. 

The business of blogging is really limiting the quality of information that I receive. I considered getting linked to some of those sites that are boosting their income but then I would have to censor the information that I would want to talk about from time to time.  I have considered writing reviews but think that I would not get much business when I say things like "enjoyed the material but it was not unique or creative from other things I have seen in the past".  So, you can see why blogging as a business is not likely the right thing for me.

Unfortunately, it is not the right thing for many. I no longer find unique and creative information on homeschooling blogs.  I hope to see that change again soon.

This week has been riddled with reasons not to teach. Monday my mother had to see her doctors and Grace and Owen needed to see the doctor. Today, Grace was unable to attend lessons as the dizziness from an ear infection has feeling horrible and my mother developed another medical issue that I had to attend to so Faith missed lessons.

This evening we had a great girl scout meeting and Faith is staying the night so that  we don't have anything to interfere with our ability tomorrow.  Faith believes that we will stay up as late as we want tonight and she tells me that tomorrow we will let the "chips fall as they may".  We call her little wit a FAITHISM.  Our entire family has several of them we have committed to memory. 

So in part we failed with being good homeschoolers this week but at the same time we succeeded as that is the beauty of this environment.

God Bless!


It seems that we get one or two days of pleasant weather then several of cold and wet. I don't mind wet. I expect wet in spring but I do not like the inconsistent temperature changes.  It is difficult to follow through with the lessons at times, simply because so much of what I plan for science this time of year goes outside.

We tend to "do science" in the nice months. When we do experiments then we can be out on the back deck and not worry about the mess or if we finish it up for the day. Material can be protected and the clutter is not part of the house.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


The braces are finally in for Owen. It amazes me how simple they make them compared to my generation. People had huge, noisy things when I was a child.  Here are Owen's feet with his braces on. Getting the shoes for the braces was not an easy task for us.  We needed to travel 40 miles to get to a place that actually sells good children's shoes. The local store that sold Stride Rite closed in our mall and so Kelley ordered some from Dillards.  The next day they let her know that they no longer carry the product she sold.  Going to a cheap shoe store was not the answer and the local sport shoe stores did not fit the need either.  So we went to the Galleria Mall in Brentwood (a St. Louis sub) and found what he needed.

His shoes then go over the braces. He also is enjoying a
container of coconut milk.

Friday, April 12, 2013

After Visiting the Vendors

I do not have any desire to attend a homeschool expo and listen to a bunch of speakers. I looked at the list of the local exposition and honestly felt that I did not need or want to listen to them telling me how to manage the children or how to put Christ first in my life.

Simply put, I believe I am balanced in those aspects.  I did want to visit the vendors. We know that we are not changing from our A Beka Book  curriculum.  I wanted to touch and feel the Math U See program that everybody tells me I should try.  Kelley and I both wanted to see what other hands on activities we might find or other items to supplement what we currently do.  We expect great things from the children. They are bright and eager learners.  One may wonder what I thought of what I saw.

The hands on activities are things I can already find in locations as less cost.  Price gouging a group of people who are desperate to find items for their children at a one stop shopping place is horrible.  They even have the audacity to claim expo discounts. I know what we need to begin deliberate but playful learning with Owen and Kelley is already doing it.  I didn't see a lot of purchasing taking place but many people will return for the conference speakers over the next two days.  I was disappointed to see that the expo information did not cover all speakers that would be present as it was clear that many of the vendors also will be speaking.  That would have been a calmer way to learn about if they have something of interest to me.  It does sound like we were shopping for a change but we were shopping out of curiosity for enhancing or incorporating something new into my method of teaching.  What I found was that I love our choice.  For instance, so many talk about SonLight Curriculum.

Well, they are not a complete program and suggest Teaching Textbooks for math.  They do a lot of reading to your child as well.  My grandchildren love to read at their age. They learn so much more about language because they see the words on the page, the punctuations used and the proper formation of a sentence. 

Teaching Textbooks doesn't have any new or unique way to teach math.  In comparison I like the entire lesson plan books as well that I get with   A Beka Book.  The new way to teach math was with the Math U See program.  It sparked an interest in Kelley but left me irritated with the sales representative.

(Dear Grandma Jean-- Google search Math U See and watch the demo videos of addition and multiplication)  I would put the link here but I really would rather just promote the program we use.

The representative performed a simple multiplication problem on the board.  She treated me as if I am not smart enough to understand it.  I told her that I get it but that is a long, drawn out method and asked when do we teach them the correct way to multiply.  She challenged me by asking me if the answer was wrong. Of course it was not incorrect but it was not computed using simple multiplication steps. Then she asked what I meant and it force Kelley to write it on the board for her.  Well, long story short, I do not like condescending sales people. That normally would have had me walk away but Kelley was intrigued and we left with a demo video for Matt to watch. 

This morning I had grandpa watch the video and performed the same problem on the board for him in the same why that was shown.  His response?  Bull....bologna!  It has however sparked an interest in working on our school house/room and has he gave me some ideas to reinforce some prior material each day. 

I am sure this program is a good program for some and maybe it would be a good fit to help Grace more.  Still, I can do that without a complete change in curriculum for math.  If we actually had more children the current math would be better as we could use the games they suggest. I think I will look more at that as well and see if I can convert the games a bit to fit our tiny group of two. 

I did find a book set that I liked as an addition to our class library.  It was a history book that was like a coffee table book.  I like books that take history in a great concise timeline.  It was too brief to call it a true history curriculum but a great item to add.

Today is a field trip to the Nature Institute where the girls will learn about insects and get dirty. The programs we participate in there are never a disappointment.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Who Hates Language?"

That is the clear yell from Grace today as she ready to begin the lesson.  She also answered it. "Not me!"  Then she eagerly went off to begin her lesson of sentence diagramming.  For her it is like a puzzle but in the best form possible. It uses words!

Some days it is worth all effort I put into this. Today was that kind of day.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Common Core HubBub and Paranoia

I hear more and more about the Common Core and see Facebook postings from other homeschool parents who oppose this common standard for all United States schools.  While it is true that there are many good school districts out there, it is equally true that there are very poor districts as well.  It is a fact that our students in states have demonstrated decreased function and skill in the academic comparisons to others in our global economy. It is equally true that there are many communities in the world with far less educational opportunities in our world.  So one wonders if we are really loosing anything when our system is still producing more educated people that the majority of the world.

The answer to that, as I see it, is that we should be concerned. Even if the majority of the population is less educated than our next generation, we still must realized that part of the being the great country that we are is by fostering education and the desire to achieve.  Our lands have been explored and the next frontier and exploration will be the continued development of our minds.  Just how far can we push our minds?  I believe that is an endless question. 

It has become necessary to require a higher standard than we have come to expect from our schools.  That is the most important, single reason that we homeschool my grandchildren.  The system they live in has a horrible track record. Gosh, the were excited to get an award several years ago that showed improved scores.  It was an award that is typically given to schools in the poorest, ghetto settings of the country. Yet, the little community, that once thrived on coal mining and farming, has sunken to the same levels of our inner city, down trodden schools.  I believe that we must have a standard that makes all education of equal quality but also of high quality.  All children deserve an education that they can excel in this world, one that they can feel proud of accomplishments, regardless of where you live.  The days of choosing your home based on the rich school district must end. Not that I am a bleeding heart liberal that believes that I need to work to support the one who doesn't work.  But because when it comes to our children we must all invest in their education and happiness. They are the generation that will hold this country up when I can no longer be working.  We cannot make sure that everybody gets a house, or everybody has more than one pair of jeans, or more than one pair of shoes.  I do believe we have the ability in this country to not let a family go hungry but we do anyway.  Not all people that need help can even get food stamps.  I believe that we have the ability to educate every child in this country, regardless of if their parents are well educated or not.  We need to find a way to make it fair and of high quality. 

I am not saying that the current Core Curriculum that has been presented is the perfect plan but it had to start someplace.  I am sure it will improve as it is being used.  I have seen some teachers comment about how scripted they feel it will be.  I am not so sure that will be the case overall.  The one thing I do notice about it is that teacher has yet to complain that it is teaching less than they were teaching before. I have not read a single review that reports the standard is actually less than what they had. I feel it may be safe to assume that it will be more than the average existing school standards. I have paid close attention to the current Illinois standards. Not because I have to report to the state but because it is the right thing to do. 

I live in this state and feel that I am obligated to make sure that I am meeting the current standards.  I am all too aware of the possibility that life can change and although we plan to homeshool all twelve years, some things change. I know we must be prepared to return to the system if needed.  It is for that reason that we cannot unschool or fly by the seat of our pants.  We do not test to the standard as we know what our curriculum has and have been able to compare it and relax from there.  When we do take a test, we do so only when we know they have indeed mastered the material. It is for that reason that Grace does not like it if she does not get a perfect score.  They are use to knowing the material.  That is the beauty of homeschool. Take the lesson but do not move on until it is mastered. 

Now I have gotten off track.  Back to the common core and paranoia.  What are people afraid of?  Even the HSLDA has apparently made a point to assure homeschoolers that if common core is required to submit to the common core standards they will sue the government. 

I have met many homeschool families. Most are clearly educating their children and doing a great job. Some have clearly missed the boat and ironically, they are the ones I see making posts or talking about the common core and how they refuse to use any curriculum that is subscribing to those standards. I understand that the Math U See program is used by many but one person is abandoning what works for them because they will address the common core standards.  Funny thing, they are not changing it in any way, they are just identifying some components that are currently there to the standard they will meet. 

I am not about regulating homeschoolers but as a homeschooler myself, trust me, some need it. They pass on their paranoia through propaganda that inflames others. I do wish people would all take the time to go learn more about the standards by directly reading them rather than reading news reports and opinion columns about the topic.

OK I am stepping down from my soap box. I know that nobody tends to read my post but if you do, please comment and tell me "I do".

Introducing Our New Little Learner

I have updated our title to reflect that we no longer just teach G and F.  Owen has been added to the learning equation. Of course, his lessons are part of regular play but we play purposefully. 

Owen has had a difficult path in this life so far. With much prayer and medical intervention he managed to wait until about 36 weeks to arrive. He did not thrive initially and we discovered some medical issues which we could not fix. It would require surgery if his heart vessels did not grow more as he grew and if his double aortic arch did not shift as his body and heart grew. God intervened and this is indeed improving. He then began having seizures. His first observed one was while he was on my lap one day.  I do not know if that was the very first one or just the fact that he did it with me and I am more aware of what a small seizure looks like since I am a nurse. Either way, his seizure activity has increased as he gets older.

He has been slow to crawl and walk. My daughter had attempted to get the attention of the doctors about his cephalic-caudal development. FINALLY, they have decided that it is not his foot that is turned in but his femur that in angled poorly.  He will get his braces this week and has begun physical therapy.  To facilitate this post I am not going too deep into his issues. He seems to be alert to things and understands well but does not yet communicate his needs much.  I am familiar with the learning needs of a child with special language needs, as my daughter had experienced an anoxic brain injury following a reaction to the pertussis vaccine.  He enjoys large picture books and does a great job mimicking sounds as I speak.  I understand much of what he says but so far it does not include a lot of mouth/tongue movement.  I do not doubt that he will need a little extra help with in the future but can see he is mechanically inclined already and very curious. 

I often think that Owen is the real reason we began homeschooling three years ago. We didn't even know his soul but God did. If I can get this with the girls then certainly we can teach Owen as well.  I have the girls to practice with so that I am better prepared for Owen.  I am certain that the  A Beka   program will be great to teach him with as well.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

New Title

I changed the title of our blog page. It will more accurately represent what is happening these days. As family grows, so do the number of little ones who benefit from grandmother's wisdom.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

These nice days are difficult!!!

I am making this post in an effort to avoid screaming. Each girl is busy with their own work but they keep talking, getting up an walking around and terribly distracted with sunny days.  OH my gosh in the moment that I typed that sentence I was interrupted six times.  I am letting them sink themselves. They will be disappointed when it takes them so long to do one lesson and they have to face another subject. Somehow, and I don't know why, but they think they are only going to do math today. 

So sometimes the lessons are more about self learning and self control than the product of a problem.  I hear Faith singing songs to herself. Her math lesson should have been completed at least 20 minutes ago. But I am not going to pull my hair out. I am going to let the rain come later today and see the faces that could have been outside.  I let them have a lot of outside time yesterday and actually did not do any math.  In hindsight maybe that is a bad idea and I created this today.  I think I will let them own their choices.  I will just distract myself so I do not get frustrated with the choices they are making. to get the next lessons ready.  Hope you have a good day.... on a final note...Faith just came to sharpen her pencil for the third time.  UGH!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

You must have a sense of humor!

It is determined that to be part of our school one must have a sense of humor. Joy and laughter fills the air much of the day.  Sure, we have an occasional outburst of frustration but I never hear  "I can't" as that was a rule in the beginning.  The nice weather this week has created a learning challenge. Like much of the United States our winter has been very long. We have warm days but still have nights that have temps below freezing. 

I love how the warmth of 55 degrees feels nice in spring but bitter in fall.  Faith took on the challenge of a bike that was too big for her. She is not good with the smaller one that has training wheels. Still, she was certain she could do it but got a huge injury along her belly. It looks like it hurts really bad today but she assures me that the sunshine is good for what ails her. 

They let April 1st come and go without any pranks. I have nothing wonderful to post but to say that we are enjoying each other very much and learning tons. Now, to go sit in the sun and do some math.