The End of 6th Grade

April 23rd, and the school year is done! Well, sort of. 😉

My son used Switched-On Schoolhouse this year, and he has completed his work. My husband and I still need to go in and grade a few things, and adjust some grades where the program didn’t grade correctly. That was my son’s biggest problem with the program. He knew he gave the correct answer, but the program would mark a problem wrong. My husband and I would go over the problem with him to find he was right. After reading some reviews on the program that was a common complaint.

We have been discussing unschooling, and we plan on heading a bit more in that direction. We have some state requirements to meet for homeschooling, so we will still have a bit of a curriculum to follow. We basically want to work on life skills, and what is practical/useful. My son (The only one of 3 who is schoolaged) has been interested in the medical field for career options, so if he continues on that path we will have to make sure he meets the requirements to enroll in college courses for those options. He has been interested in phlebotomy, and radiology over the years. Most recently he has been less interested in college, and more interested in working in fields that only require on the job training. 

I explained to my son, that with unschooling there may be schoolwork over the summer. When the weather is nice we have more opportunities for field trips, and lessons in the garden. Obviously I want him to enjoy his summer, and part of unschooling is for the child the choose what they want to learn about. I hope that he will choose to learn over the summer. 🙂 I told him that we might look into buying a new tree for our yard, so I might request that he research the soil type, or amount of sun that tree needs to thrive. He thinks that would be easy, so he’s willing to do it as long as there isn’t a report involved. His father and I appreciate nature, and like improving our property.  I see the tree project as a practical/useful lesson, but maybe he’ll be a city dweller with no garden to tend when he leaves home. Will it be a waste of his time to do such a project? I know he has a curiosity about plants, because right now he is trying to grow some acorns that he collected in our yard. In years past he has had his own row or two in our vegetable garden to grow his own plants too.

I don’t want to force my interests on him. I want him to develop his own personality/interests. Right now he is reading the Harry Potter series for enjoyment, so I don’t want to push him to take on more reading.  I plan on having him use our local library to borrow several books on a subject that interests him and see what he gains by doing so. If he likes the subject he will have no problem sharing what he learns verbally, but I wonder if I should require anything in writing to keep a record of his “schoolwork”. I also plan on having him be more involved with meal planning. I want to make sure that he won’t rely on take out, or convenience foods when he moves out on his own. I’ve had him help find a new recipe to try, and he made the meal with only a little guidance from me. I think he enjoyed cooking, and since he’s a picky eater being part of the planning meant he was willing to try it. 🙂  

He is a very curious child, and likes to learn. He enjoys sharing what he learns too. (Sometimes while I am trying to read, blog or nurse the baby) ;P

I think I’ll give him at least a couple of weeks off before I start requesting “work” from him. He did work hard to earn his time off by doing extra work daily in subjects as others were completed.

Sick Kiddos :(

I have 3 sick kids. 😦

My 11 year old son had an outing planned with his friend last week. His mother let me know the day before, that her son was getting over a cold. She said he only had a lingering cough, and no longer had a fever. Since this outing had already been post poned multiple times I went against my gut instinct to keep my son home and allowed him to go.  I warned him not to get too close, and to make sure he washed his hands often. So, he was picked up around 10:30 am, and his father and I picked him up at 4:00 that day. How many times did he wash his hands in that time? ZERO! He was at a NERF club too.  Who knows how many of those kids were also sick, or getting over an illness? 

I asked, “Didn’t you wash your hands before you ate lunch?” Of course not, he’s 11 and didn’t think to. (Even though I told him to before he left.) To make matters worse he tells me that his friend’s older sister was sick and miserable laying around on the couch while he was there. His mother didn’t mention that her daughter was in the middle of this illness. She did however tell my son that her daughter didn’t have a fever, therefore was not contagious. He knew better, and assumed she was contagious. It didn’t keep him from being infected though. 😦 He has since spread the illness to his brothers. His dad seems to have it a bit too. So far I appear to be healthy, but I have sneezed a few times.

I ALWAYS tell her if my kids, or anyone in my family is sick before we have the boys get together. I want her to be able to make an informed decision about what risks she is willing to take. It infuriates me when she does not give me that same opportunity. If her son was not my son’s best friend I would have ended this relationship long ago. I really have trouble expressing my feelings. I don’t know how to get her to respect my need to make informed decisions, and keep my son’s friendship intact. My son said he would have skipped NERF club to keep his 6 month old brother healthy. He feels so bad that he is so congested and miserable. (He also can’t stand his inconsolable crying fits.)

She also questions my son about our homeschooling curriculum. She homeschools also, and apparently doesn’t like how we do it. She doesn’t say it to us though. So, when my son tells us about how he is being grilled by her we don’t hold back on how we don’t do things her way either. Unfortunately our lack of filter (mostly mine) leads to him jumping in, and going on and on about all of the “crazy” rules she has for her family that he doesn’t agree with. I do tell him that it is her right to raise her family how she sees fit, and he needs to respect her rules when he is there.

I really don’t want to confront her, because we differ on many areas of life. I really don’t want to blow up in her face. 😉 I have trouble bottling up my emotions. 

My baby is miserable, my 2 year old was coughing so hard he threw up last night and my 11 year old has been sick for days. We do go out into the world and come into contact with germs we aren’t aware of, but I try to avoid known germs whenever possible. I could have avoided all of this by trusting my gut. 😦   

Encouraging Early Learning

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My little guy who is two, just loves Mickey Mouse right now. My husband found some Mickey related items while shopping at the dollar store recently, and they just happen to be learning tools too. He found a numbers and counting workbook, a box of shape/color flash cards and a puzzle. When my son was first given the workbook, he was excited to see Mickey, but that was all he was interested in. Then he decided to rip apart the cover of the book, but he kept the inner pages intact.  He spent some time flipping through the pages, talking about the characters in it, or the different items pictured. Finally tonight he has shown some interest to write in it, scribble really.😉 He has been “counting”  for a while now, so I was able to show him pictures of the numbers that he likes to say. He really likes saying one and two. Sometimes he will even count backwards like a countdown. It’s so cute. For some reason he likes the number six. He calls it sick though. He’ll often say “one, two, sick “.

It’s great to have so many products available to teach young children, that are designed with themes that capture their attention. If I had to capture his attention with my own artistic abilities he would never pay attention. 😉

He loved the flash cards too. It took him about twenty seconds to rip open the package and spread the cards all over our livingroom. He will show me a card, so I can tell him the shape and color. I don’t want to pressure him to learn too much, but I am happy to answer his questions. I want him to enjoy the learning process and I want to teach him from observations I make of his interests.

Big Changes For 2017

If you’ve followed my blog, or even been here before you probably know that I homeschool my 11-year-old son. We have tried different curriculums, and this year we are using a computer based program rather than books. We just aren’t happy with the material. We are seriously considering unschooling. I think it will be a blend of homeschooling and unschooling that we finally settle upon. I can’t completely trust that my son will learn everything he needs without any direction. It is just so hard to sit back and allow my son to be miserable studying things that I know he will never use in this life beyond the testing for this course. When my son gets upset with himself for doing poorly on a test, and then it changes his mood for the rest of the day I want to tell him not to worry since the test he took was quite honestly a waste of his time since he’ll never use the information in life. If that’s how I feel, why am I forcing him to suffer through the course?

I see value in the lessons, but what I see is simply reading comprehension and retention of information. It could be any material used to acquire those skills, so why not use material he is actually interested in learning? When my son does poorly on a test, he says he studied what he felt were the most important parts of the lesson. I appreciate that he can recognize that there are parts of a lesson that don’t have as much impact on the overall outcome of a situation. When we review the questions he missed, they often are what I would consider fluff or filler information.

Because we homeschool, we choose to have him take a CAT test yearly to comply with state regulations. He tests well above average, and even at college level in some sections. I am confident that he is better prepared than the students who are going to our local public school. Even though we all feel what we are doing is not working, it clearly is at some levels. 😉

My son LOVES to read, and often times will pick up a book when he has free time. He also LOVES his video games, especially Minecraft. I am very impressed with his creativity, but when he tries to explain in detail how he builds machines he loses my interest. I will admit that I do not always encourage him, and even disappoint him with my lack of interest in what he is so passionate to discuss.

We know he is intelligent, but he is lacking common sense. He is not very driven, but that could be partially due to the materials being offered to him. He has a tendency to be lazy, and has a good enough attitude. He has not learned that behavior from my husband and I. We need to be giving him a more practical education, and prepare him more for real life experiences. We don’t want his schooling to be time filler, to keep him busy and out of our hair. We want him to be a well-rounded individual, and happy. I want him to set goals, and achieve them. Right now he seems to be just doing enough to get through his day. When his grades show that, he  feels awful for disappointing us. Maybe it’s just an act, but we stress honesty in this family and his emotions appear genuine.

Homeschooling By The Hearth

It’s December, and it should be much colder in my neck of the woods. I am quite thankful the temperatures have been above average, and the snow hasn’t been flying. 🙂

It is still cold enough to keep our fire going, and I have to say I am enjoying homeschooling by the hearth. Some days the woodstove gets cranking pretty hot, and my son needs to shed some layers or position himself further from the stove. Today the weather is pretty mild, but it feels cool in my house. I have been able to cuddle up with my boy to read by the fire.

That is just one of the many blessings of homeschooling. 🙂

This week we have received some encouraging news in the mail to keep us on our homeschooling path. The results of my son’s California Achievement Test arrived, and we are very proud of how well he did. His scores fell in the highest level and high level categories. His report card came today for last year, and I am happy to report he received mostly A’s. His only B was in his history course. We were not surprised by that B, since we knew he had a bad test score that would drag his total score down for the year. (We submit his work to a school, so that eventually he will earn an actual diploma.)

Having control over the information we teach our son, and watching how he progresses are both very important to us. I can say with certainty that my son would not have done well in the public school system. He is very intelligent, but also very sensitive. He asks more questions than I have the time or patience to answer, so I know he would get very frustrated without the one on one attention we are able to provide. I love being able to spend extra time on subjects he either struggles with, or really enjoys and wants to explore further. I can’t even describe how awesome it really is to have the flexibilty of homeschooling. We have school whenever it works for us. We are not tied down by the time of the day, or day of the week. We take our vacations whenever we want to, and avoid crowds. 😉 There are so many benefits to homeschooling.

I make a point to tell him how the public school system would work, so that he doesn’t think that he will always have such luxuries in life. I tell him that when he is in the workforce he will not always be able to question the decisions of his employer. There will be times when he has to work as part of a team, and that he may not agree with the direction the team chooses to go.

It can be stressful at times, but it has been great for our family.

The End of 4th Grade!

We have finished up 4th grade! We finished very early this year, even with my high risk pregnancy and shoulder injury. We were so far behind earlier this year, but we buckled down, and pushed through it. The material was learned, the tests were taken, and I am very pleased with the work my son has done. Of course there were bad days here and there, and days when he wasn’t doing his best work, but for a 9 year old I think he did very well. 🙂

Now my boy is wondering what he will do to fill his days, and so am I. There are plenty of chores to be done, but he is not interested in that. 😉 We have discussed a chore list and allowance, but so far have not implemented a program. It’s hard for my husband and I to let him do the chores anyway, since we are a bit picky about how things get done, and we don’t like to re-do a chore that has already been “done”. We do want to teach him to do things properly, and not just well enough to call it done. It can be super frustrating after a hard day of work, or long night with the baby to have a task done below your standards.

Besides chore time, there should be lots of time to get outside, play games and to get into craft projects too. Hopefully we’ll even find time to take some trips and maybe even sneak in a little education while we’re at it. 😉

Unfortunately, all of the regular daily stuff still needs to get done around here, so it’s not a vacation/break for me and my hubby. This 1st week off has been full of appointments, errands and a carpentry project so it hasn’t been much fun for the kiddo just yet. The soon to be 10 year old is quite excited for his time off no matter what though. It’s Spring break for the public school kids around here, so while we have been out this week my son was asked about his vacation, and he was able to say he was actually on his Summer vacation already. 🙂

Outdoor School Day

Finally, nice weather to get outside. The temperature is about 70 degrees today. YAY!

It is a good day to sit out on the deck and have school. The outdoor furniture is still either under snow, in the mud or packed away though. We had to improvise with a bar height chair from our kitchen, and a resin chair that was no longer buried in snow and accessible without sinking too far in the mud to get it. 🙂

The fresh air will hopefully help make a few lessons of math fly by. Then we will dig into some English review and take our next to last test of the year! The “wild” distractions may make the lessons take longer than normal though. Since I started typing this we have had a robin, a woodpecker, a chickadee and a chipmunk steal our attention. 😉

The indoor distractions are normally pretty abundant too. We have a puppy, 3 cats and a 6 month old baby in the house that make plenty of distractions for us.

I love the flexibility homeschooling gives us. We have had time to do a project, have outdoor playtime and now actual school time too. We should have it done before dad gets home from work tonight too, but even if we don’t it’s great to not feel rushed and forced to get it done “in time”. We might schedule days out more strictly around appointments or activities from time to time, but for the most part we just get to school when we feel like it. 🙂 Sometimes, that’s when I feel like it, but occasionally it’s when he’s ready to. There really isn’t much sense trying to force him into school when he’s having a bad start to a day for example. If that happens he will either give me a ton of attitude, or make a ton of mistakes which will frustrate both of us. The baby also tends to dictate when school begins, or when breaks must be taken. 😉

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