Thursday, May 28, 2009

A little update.

Poor little homeschooling blog. All alone and neglected. Waiting for me to update with any tiny little post. Waiting for a tiny nod of attention...

Things have been... ok. Justin is still doing great at homeschooling. He takes his work, does it with little complaint, and completes most of the work correctly the FIRST TIME through. We're using his math and spelling books from public school to finish out the year and he has done so much better on them than he was doing on his own. Having the ability to have things explained more than once and not moving on until the information is more secure is definitely good for him.

Evan... Well. Evan is still struggling. He and I haven't found the proper way to communicate regarding school work. I don't feel comfortable using an unschooling method with him or anything much looser than what we're doing. I just want some basic work to be accomplished at the end of the day. That's all! The arguments he has been giving me every morning are painful and only add to the stress of my already overburdened load. Seeing as how public school ends on Wednesday of next week, we are ending at that time, too. And seeing as how public school is usually review work and parties the last week of school, I can't say that our days will be much different, either. In that regard, I don't feel worried about Evan for the rest of the school year. I know that we will have to start from scratch come the fall, anyway, so I am trying to let this one issue roll off my back for now.

My plans for the summer and homeschooling will simply be to make sure that everyone reads every day, and to get some science experiments done. Just wait till you see the chemistry set I was sent to review! If it's anything close to as cool as it looks, the kids will get more science in the summer than most kids get all school year.

I hope to make at least 3-4 lesson plans each week to be used in the fall of next year. I'm hoping to do unit studies that the boys (and Corinne) can do together, but tailored to each child's level. We'll see how that works out. Some of the themes I think we'll be doing will be:

Marine life - sharks, fish, food chains, fresh vs. salt water..

US government - chain of command, bills to laws, what does "freedom" mean?

Human body - how does each part relate to the other, labeling parts, how does the heart work, what does living a healthy life mean?

Dinosaurs - knowing the different times of the periods and eras, how the Earth was formed, what animals evolved into animals we know today?

Civil War era - causes of disagreement, what does "slavery" REALLY mean, living situations of the different classes of people, were the arguments ever really resolved? (reenactment field trip)

Fractions - Having everyone in the family really REALLY understand fractions at their own level, how do we use this in real life?

Geology - how was the earth formed? What makes gems and stones different, what geological features are in our area? (field trip to natural geological formations - Starved Rock, etc.) (field trip to gem museum)

Local history - native Americans' history of Illinois, settlers in the 1800's, their lifestyles and how each side impacted the other.

Piano - I'd like to reteach Justin the piano and have Evan learn the basics on reading music and finger placements.

History of holidays - as each holiday approaches, provide the true history of each one: Halloween, Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.

More will come to me and I'll update this list so that I can use it next year. If anyone has any ideas (small or big) please let me know in the comments. I would appreciate any help from anyone who has homeschooled the lessons, too!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

11 days of school left!

I feel so extremely lucky that I have such a great homeschooling group in my hometown. Today we played outside with the kindergarten neighbors and then headed to meet at the local church. We made jellyfish (really cool!), watched Billy Nye on Fish, and then studied loads of sea animals that one of the group's leaders had on loan from a nature museum. Bio-cams and magnifying glasses and everything! The kids had a great time. It is STILL gorgeous out and I am off to drink some lemonade and watch the kids swing.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

No title comes to mind...

What a day!

We spent the day at the Field Museum in Chicago. Despite the fact that I didn't realize I had left our lunch bag on the grass beside the driveway until I bent down to get it out of the car, we had a great time. Thank GOD I had $6 singles, a $2 bill and $5 in quarters. We were able to get McDonald's downstairs and drank the juice boxes we had in the Flex's refrigerator.

We were lucky enough to go on a beautiful and uncrowded free day. The kids had lots of questions about everything we saw. In the Ancient Americas section, a museum employee who had gone on excavations to the sites we were looking at was very informative. It was really cool to talk to someone who had helped to pull the artifacts from the Earth.

Justin watched and did just about every interactive show they had. His favorite sections were the Ice Age and DNA. Oh, and any of the gems and minerals they had scattered about the museum, of course.

Evan loved every single diorama we saw. We couldn't pass up a single one! Sadly, the interactive children's area with the "make your own diorama" didn't have the pieces out and available to play with! They were being WASHED. At 3 pm. On a FREE DAY. I was not impressed with this poor planning, but he got over his disappointment even though he had been talking about building his own set-up ALL DAY. :( I'd post a picture of him playing with the 1 figurine they had left (a German shepherd, of all things!) at the ready-made Native American site, but, well, the cameras were in my bag, on the grass, in front of my house. (Thank God for a good neighborhood, right?)

Corinne was most interested in annoying her brothers and getting in and out of the stroller. She succeeded in the first and was able to add "annoy Mommy" to the list.

And now? Now they're killing each other in the other room. I have tons of things to organize and clean and my voice is pretty shot from yelling across the house. Gotta jet.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Old and festering wounds never really go away...

Through a torrent of tears, he spilled the truth.


A bully. One who tripped and laughed at my sensitive middle son. Evan claims it was a regular occurrence. One that happened on the playground. The reason that recess wasn't always a fun topic when I'd ask him how his day had gone.

"That's why I wanted to be homeschooled so bad! I hated that bully! He made me feel so sad inside!"

Tears ran down both of our cheeks.

We talked. I consoled. He released several months' worth of sadness and pent-up emotion. I listened and stroked his sweaty forehead while suffering my own torment. Why didn't he just come out and say something earlier? Because this child doesn't work that way. My baby was in anguish for God only knows how long (he even went so far as to talk about a different boy who picked on him in kindergarten) and I couldn't find the right strings to pull to help him open up.

Once he spills though? It's a lengthy episode. Many problems will be released at once, which wipes us both out.

I am so glad he opened up. I am so glad he is able to make friends in a situation where the adults are able to listen to him. The playground is a fun place for most, but brutal for those who are targeted...

Suddenly, the lights are switched on and many questions about Evan are easier to decipher...

Friday, May 1, 2009

This is what happens when you write in metaphors...

Today? Today has been a leaky boat day.

Many leaks.

I reallllly want to throw an oar overboard.

Tomorrow, can I go for a boat ride alone?


The BEST part? I can't complain to my husband or I'll get the "just quit" response.


Which really only makes my hopes for this whole situation more defeating.

I feel defeated. By a 7 year old. And a 10 year old who had his own issues. And a 3 year old who only wanted to run with scissors. And glue on the table and mac n cheese congealing on the stove.

I need an extra life jacket...