Friday, September 9, 2011
The Homeschool Mother's Journal #3
Homeschool Mother's Journal is hosted by The Homeschool Chick.
In my life this week… I turned 45 amid chauffeuring the kids to their soccer teams, Lego League, and various other activities, while battling dirty dishes and laundry and trying to get our school year off the ground.
A few things that made me happy this week ... My hubby and I had agreed on no birthday presents, since we're on a very tight budget. But I was surprised with several nice gifts, including a generous check from my dad. The other present was from my 7-year-old daughter. She begged her dad to take her shopping and spent every penny of the money she'd saved on a beautiful journal for me.
In our homeschool this week… We did a little informal testing so I could start the kids' portfolios. We've always used standardized tests as proof of progress (required yearly in Virginia). However, the kids get unduly stressed about it, so I am determined to do a portfolio review this year instead. If anyone knows of any great sites with creative, inspiring ideas for homeschool portfolios, please pass them along!
We started our history curriculum, amid colorful complaints from my 12-year-old, who apparently dislikes history. He went off on a tangent, joking that history never happened -- "it's all lies." I guess his mind bendingly weird view of the universe is inspired by watching Dr. Who. (We all love that show) Anyway, I told him embracing solipsism is not going to get him out of the little bit of required schoolwork we do. :-P
Since my kids aren't history buffs (*sigh* -- I LOVE history), we're keeping it simple: combining Short Lessons in World History with Larry Gonick's cartoon histories.
My son Seamus is into Lego League, where he got into a little trouble this week, drawing, and building stuff. He's dabbling with programming video games in Java. He asked a programmer he met at Lego League whether Java was a good starter program; he said "yes" and the programming experiences JE's getting in LL will help him get the hang of it.
Seamus is playing soccer again. He's also learning fractions. I'm particularly proud of his artwork -- I told him I think he could create professional quality graphic novels if he put his mind to it. He seems to have a natural gift for art, and he tends not to put much time and energy into it, which drives me nuts. I don't expect my kids to follow my agenda for their lives (REALLY ... I don't ... though it would be very clever of them if they did, don't you think? :-P), but I hate to see anyone squandering his God-given gifts.
My younger daughter Eliza learns through stories, games, and conversations -- no curricula. She plays soccer. She also attends a democratically-run school part-time -- she basically plays instead of attending classes, which is fine with me. Her social and emotional development is my biggest concern right now. I'm teaching biology at Eliza's school to keep her tuition manageable.
My older daughter River is deeply immersed in writing a novel right now, and she's strongly encouraging me with my own fiction writing. (Remember what I said about squandering one's talents? Well, I am more guilty of that than anyone). She's also reviewing old math concepts and volunteering at the SPCA.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… I have been using a downloadable program called Homeschool Daybook to track my kids' learning and keep track of hours spent on certain activities (important since SS will be needing a high school transcript in less than 2 years) It suits me much better than Homeschool Tracker, which I've also tried and liked. Homeschool Daybook is quite simple, flexible, and unschooler/eclectic homeschooler friendly. It's set up for folks who want to quickly record non-curricular work ("Video Gaming," "Chatting About Black Holes") and assign it to a subject ("Computer Skills," "Physics") for easy transcript building. However, if I keep it (I'm using a trial version now), it's $40 -- versus Homeschool Tracker which has a FREE version. Free is my favorite price. I'm really feeling torn, but I think these are both well designed programs and great options for record-keeping.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Soccer (3 different locations), the SPCA, Lego League, Eliza's school, and our dear friend Christine who, by the way, is a wonderful writer and a huge source of inspiration and encouragement to SS.
What's Working/Not Working For Us… My son Seamus would video game 24 and 7 if he were left to his own devices. We've all agreed on a daily limit, but enforcing it, in the midst of my busy life, is hard. I want him to develop his other talents, like building wonderful Lego creations, creating computer games, and drawing. Yet when I *assign* these things to him, I get a minimal effort. I guess that make sense: when you get a specific assignment, you do what's asked and nothing more. O.K. for math workbooks but counterproductive in creative work. How do I encourage him to live a well balanced life and develop his gifts without shooting myself in the foot by overmanaging his interests?
I am working on ... Becoming more calm and patient, especially with my 7-year-old, very "spirited" child. (When you read "spirited," think "epic meltdowns." Sometimes my days are kinda like a cross between The Miracle Worker and The Exorcist.) Being kinder to myself. I tend to wear a hair shirt (metaphorically, of course -- I'm not a 16th century Catholic) -- blaming myself for mistakes we've made with the kids, their developmental struggles, and things I see lacking in their lives.
I’m grateful for… The way my husband and I have been working as a team lately. When he's home from work, we alternate responsibilities: he drops Seamus off at Lego League, I pick him up, he takes Seamus to soccer practice, I take Eliza to soccer practice, I clean the kitchen, he cooks. Today he "did school" with Eliza for a long time -- she was thrilled. Believe me, things haven't always rolled this way, and I'm feeling a lot of gratitude toward the wonderful man I married.
I’m praying for… My daughter River who is back-sliding in her ongoing "recovery" from a very severe anxiety disorder. Maybe "management" is a better word than "recovery" -- sort of like a diabetic who stays relatively well and happy when her body is in balance and the meds are working. It's hard to see her struggling like this. 'Course it is her time of the month. (Sorry if that's TMI). She has a little money, and her dad took her DVD shopping as a diversion. I'm telling you, this man ROCKS. Please remind me I said that next time I start complaining that he's being a pain in the butt. :-P
A photo, video, link, or quote to share… One of my son's photographs: