Spotlight on Leftfield Sept 16-22 - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 09-16-2007, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Spotlight on Leftfield Sept 16-22

I'm doing my intro this morning and then I'll update later today. I volunteered to go 2nd on the spotlight list, because I'm a little nervous. I was nervous that I'd lose my nerve to do this, so I figured it was good to just do it while I felt emboldened.

What We Do...

I'm a SAHM to two boys, ages 6 and 3. Benji is 6 and Tommy will be 4 next month. I refer to our style of homeschooling as “quasi unschooling”. I think it's unschooling, but I get a little confused by the discussions of the definition so I feel most comfortable describing us this way. We quasi unschool, mainly because my kids are very self-motivated, busy people and they resist instruction; on some days, I may only see them in passing for much of the day. They seem to thrive in this environment, particularly my oldest so this is what we do. I'm not married to the philosophy; it's more of a case of “this works for us right now”. It will be interesting to see how things evolve as time goes by. Right now, we follow up on the kids' interests, share interests, and go to interesting places. Sometimes, Ben takes a class in something that interests him, but as we are all introverts, we tend to be homebodies.

Our Journey to Homeschooling...

Dh and I approached the notion of homeschooling when our oldest son was a toddler. Ben was developing asynchronously, which means that he was advanced in some areas and behind in others. All children develop asynchronously to some extent, but this appeared to be out of the norm. At the time, we didn't feel his academic and emotional needs would be met in school. At the same time, we both thought that homeschooling was an absolutely outrageous idea. Still, I felt like my back was up against a wall just dealing with the toddler issues. I read, “Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense” by David Guterson. It was such a convincing read that I felt much better and I was able to bring my husband on board as well. Since then, our reasons for homeschooling have broadened a great deal, with the addition of “We just enjoy it!”

I started reading about unschooling when Ben was a preschooler, I guess. I had my doubts at the time, but it seemed to be the only respectful way of approaching his education. Of course, he was very little; I think I was guilty of overthinking homeschooling before he was even school-aged. At any rate, here we are. It still works for us right now and we're all very happy. Even dh, who was the most suspicious of unschooling, is very supportive of what we do.

My Kids and their Interests...

Benji is 6. His main loves are construction, art and science. Ever since he was a toddler, he was the kind of kid that had to be making something all the time. I somewhat keep on top of his creations by using a digital camera and keeping a family webpage, in addition to labeling and saving the favorites. But at the height of his drawing phase, I had to go through about 100 drawings a week for archiving/or/recycling! It's hard to keep on top of. Right now, he's in a paper construction phase. He's made things from a paper campfire with reloadable marshmallow sticks to flat human anatomy assemblies out of construction paper and scotch tape. I have a pile that I need to go through in my room. I feel happy that he can spend hours a day doing this, alone, with no constraints; this is as important to his development, IMO, as any subject that would be taught in First Grade.

He loves any kind of science, so most of the things that would be called “academic” in our homeschooling fall into the realm of science. Since he is so hard to keep up with in science, I started buying science curriculum as a form of strewing. We read the books when he wants to, in whatever order he wants to, for as long as he wants to. I have no academic expectations or learning objectives. It's a way of feeding his interests. He is very good at letting me know when he's disinterested. Subsequently, we may not touch the curriculum books for 2 months or we may blow through chapters in one week. Last year, we used Noeo Chemistry I. This year, we're using Real Science 4 Kids Biology I, with most of his interest being focused on cells. He is also very into human anatomy right now. He doesn't really read independently (just individual words) but he pores over his DK Visual Encyclopedias on human anatomy and skeletons; he's taught me some things!

And he also loves to play, of course. He plays for most of the day. He's very introverted, like the rest of our family, so he is really happy to play at home for most of the time. Sometimes, it can be a challenge just to convince the kids to leave the house! Oh, and he also loves books. He loves being read to and he is addicted to audio books right now. As mentioned, he doesn't really read independently yet and we're not sure what he can read, due to him being a private person. He's basically been teaching himself to read, with very minimal help. And he loves geography, dinosaurs, evolution, insects, big architectural landmarks (e.g. Leaning Tower of Pisa), volcanoes...what have I left out?

Tommy will be 4 at the end of next month, although he's been insisting he's 5 since he was 1. He's like our family entertainer. He's very charming and funny, although he is shy in groups of people. He really loves music, singing, dancing, soccer and cooking. He has a thing for musical instruments, so I keep my eye out for kids' concerts in our city. He likes to make up stories and plays; sometimes we are conscripted into his little plays. He also loves trains, books and books about trains. ;-) He is also frequently interested in what interests Ben. He thinks that Ben is the best brother a guy could have, so he follows him around for most of the day. Ben is usually very patient with him and the two, minus the fighting, are best friends.

Our favorite places to go are the park, the library, the Art Museum, Science Museums, the Children's Museum, the Automotive Museum (that's dh's thing, however) the zoo, our new friends' house, etc. Dh shares a lot of scientific and mechanical interests with the kids, in addition to geography. I share an interest in art, biology and geography. I run and compete in races, which unintentionally led to both kids having an interest in racing. So, sometimes, I look out for shorter races for them, while trying to make sure they don't overdo it with their young bodies.

As a family, we love to travel. We joke that dh's family has a travel gene, as they get around quite a lot. I'm American but dh is British. We feel appreciative that we have the opportunity to visit the UK every year or two. My Ils love visiting the U.S. too, so we often meet up in different places (the last place was Washington D.C.). Now that the kids are older, out of diapers and easier to take around, I would really like to travel to parts of Europe when we visit the UK. I'd like to take advantage of our homeschool lifestyle to travel at off-peak times. I see travel as being a key resource in our homeschooling lifestyle.

Where We Are...
We live in the South-East region of the U.S. We're near a large county seat that has a surprising amount of cultural diversity and commerce due to industry development. We've been living in the suburbs, but we are building a house in a rural area very close by. We will have 4 acres in a planned neighborhood where the minimum acreage is roughly 4 acres. We'll still be 5 minutes from the Interstate, which puts us about 30 minutes from the county seat that we call “the city”. I'm so excited, but I'm a little nervous too.

Right now, we're living in an apartment while we build our house, which is a bit of a transition for us. When we lived in our old house, the kids would play outside in the fenced backyard by themselves for hours. Now, we no longer have that luxury so I'm trying to compensate by getting them out more. Much of our good stuff is in storage. Some previously proposed activities have to be postponed due to the mess it would make in our rented apartment, space considerations, etc. We're looking forward to the new house, where I hope to eventually have a homeschool workshop/lab/messy room in the basement and where we will immediately have use of a deep laundry room sink and counter space.

Pictures
http://s2.photobucket.com/albums/y6/hrk72/Homeschool/
I put captions in the slideshow so you'll know what you're looking at. I think I have 6 pictures of my 3 year old, 6 group pictures and then 6 pictures of my 6 year old. You can click on one picture and then arrow through the rest.

We're going out for the day so I'll check back later this evening!
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#2 of 50 Old 09-16-2007, 10:33 AM
 
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Sweet, sweet, sweet little boys! And so fortunate to have you for a mama!

Your Benji has similar interests to my six year old son, Maverick. A few months ago, I bought the Frank Netter Anatomy Atlas for him. (the thick medical school textbook edition). He loves it! Every day he's got it open and asking me questions. I love the detail of it, and I love that it's not some kids' book with fake colors and disproportional parts.

Can't wait to hear more!

Greenlee's Forest *intentional jewelry* a secret Journal locket!
Me My Blog Mama to 7 babes & four spirit babies
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#3 of 50 Old 09-16-2007, 10:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sweet, sweet, sweet little boys! And so fortunate to have you for a mama!
Thank you.
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#4 of 50 Old 09-16-2007, 11:16 PM
 
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I think I was guilty of overthinking homeschooling before he was even school-aged.
That's the best time to overthink it, in my opinion; then you get it out of your system early on.
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#5 of 50 Old 09-16-2007, 11:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sunday the 16th

Today, we had planned to go to the train museum. Tommy had been asking to go for months but it's been so incredibly hot and most of the train stuff is outside, so we had been delaying it. The kids were so excited to find that we were going.

Early in the morning, the kids colored a cardboard egg carton that Ben rescued from the recycling bin. I cut it in half for them so they could both make 'volcanoes'. Later, while we got ready, Tommy played with his train set and Ben listened to the conclusion of the audio book, "A Cricket in Times Square". While I was in the bathroom, I heard Ben sobbing. It didn't sound like he was hurt, but he was absolutely sobbing. I could hear dh talking to him. Bewildered, I stepped out of the bathroom to see what was going on. Dh was hugging Ben, with tears streaming down Ben's face. "It's the ending of 'A Cricket in Times Square'.", said dh, "It's very sad." "What happens??", I asked. "The cricket goes back to Connecticut.", said dh. Bewildered pause on my part. "It's a very long, drawn-out good-bye.", explained dh. Poor Ben. I had never seen him cry over a book before. I hugged him and told him that books made me cry sometimes too. "Which ones?", he asked. I remembered how incredibly affected I was by Gabriel Garcia Marquez' "100 Years of Solitude". As it involves murder and incest, I decide not to share that one.

Everyone picked up and got ready so we went on the long drive to the big Train Museum. It was 2.5 hours in one direction. We listened to Eric Idle narrate, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on the drive. I enjoyed it as much as Ben did. Dh and I exchanged giggles a few times. We're such kids on the inside at times.

Tommy started getting impatient and loud as we got very close to the end of our journey. In an effort to appease him, I asked him to help me find exit 60. I showed him where the numbers were and showed how we were at 55. Before doing this, he kept insisting that if he counted to 10, for example, that it would be 10 miles and we should be there already. This seemed to keep him busy while we finished our long journey.

The Train Museum was as good as we remembered it. We had a whirlwind tour full of energy and excitement. While walking by the tracks, I recalled a train episode of "Dirty Jobs" I recently saw. "Hey Ben.", I said, "Those stones are called 'ballast'." "What kind of stones are they? Igneous or sedimentary?", he asked. Ben likes geology and we've read a fantastic "Let's Read and Find Out Science" book about it. "Granite, I guess.", replied dh. "So it's igneous.", I added. "Oh.", he said, seeming satisfied. Then, "Rrrr! I'm an airplane!", he shouted and ran excitedly down the path. Both kids were so incredibly excited. We definitely have to come back again this winter.

On the drive back, Tommy interrupted our audio book with his own personal rendition of Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train". He was loud and refused to tone it down a bit so we could still hear the audio book. Then, he promptly passed out. We put him straight to bed when we got home, which is unusual. He didn't have a good night of sleep last night, however, so that affected him. Ben started listening to Beverly Cleary's "Henry and the Paper Route" while dh put Tommy to bed. Having only recently discovered full-length audio books at the library, he's really into them right now. MIL is getting him all the Roald Dahl audio books with her teacher's discount. Ben is going to be so excited!

I thought I'd have a picture to share, but the kids wouldn't stop moving long enough at the Train Museum to give me a clean shot.
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#6 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Monday the 17th

We're having a quiet morning. Ben is already holed up in his room listening to Henry Huggins on tape. Earlier, he was making a "word game" that would help people make words. He had carefully drawn and cut out several letters of the alphabet before moving on. Tommy is listening to Laurie Berkner's "Victor Vito". My kids are really early risers, btw. I'm slowly (veerrrry slowly) waking up here with a cup of hot tea. The weather's supposed to be cooler today so we need to get out somewhere. I'm not sure what we'll do yet.

How are you this morning?
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#7 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 11:57 AM
 
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How early do you little ones get up? My 4 yr old used to get up by 6 a.m., and I remember thinking I would die from it, lol! Now we are all around 8, which is nice.
My oldest loves audio books like your kids do. My 4 yr old doesn't get them at all, she just wants me to read to her. This irritates me when I would like us all to have some quiet time, and my oldest is thrilled to listen to her stories, but my 4 yr old isn't interested in doing this at all. I've tried so many diff ones for her. Hopefully next year she'll be into it.
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#8 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 12:17 PM
 
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Mmmm. What kind of tea?

Vegetarian Hindu, mother to L,P and R. 
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#9 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How early do you little ones get up? My 4 yr old used to get up by 6 a.m., and I remember thinking I would die from it, lol! Now we are all around 8, which is nice.
My oldest loves audio books like your kids do. My 4 yr old doesn't get them at all, she just wants me to read to her. This irritates me when I would like us all to have some quiet time, and my oldest is thrilled to listen to her stories, but my 4 yr old isn't interested in doing this at all. I've tried so many diff ones for her. Hopefully next year she'll be into it.
My 6 year old gets up around 6, which is also when dh gets up for work. My little guy gets up between 630 and 7. They've always been early risers. And even if they've stayed up late, they will still get up at the same time and just be miserable. So I have to police a strict earlyish bedtime to keep them from running out of steam!

My little guy has less patience for audio books. If it's Thomas the Tank Engine or Bob the Builder stories, he's all set. But he doesn't have the patience to sit and listen to Henry Huggins. The problem we had was that our CD player was in the main room and I had to keep Tommy occupied for 3 hours so that Ben could hear his book. This past weekend, we bought a small boombox so that Ben can go off in another room and listen and even use headphones if he needs them.

ETA: I realized I wasn't clear about the audio book problem. When Ben listened to them on our main CD player, my little guy would bounce around the room and aggravate Ben in a bid for attention. Once we were able to get Ben off in another room with a portable boombox, Tommy seemed to fall back into his regular playing instead of mercilessly bugging Ben.
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#10 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mmmm. What kind of tea?
I LOVE tea, but in the morning it has to be regular black tea like Assam, with milk. I have two cups. But in my pantry right now, I have random bags of greens, whites, and some berry tea that my MIL bought me. My regular favorites in exotic black teas are jasmine and lapsang suchong. My dh bought me a small Japanese teapot for Mother's Day...I can't remember what it's called but it's metallic and it's a traditional teapot. It's gorgeous rich green color. I like to use that for my exotic teas, but it's in storage right now. : When we visit England, my MIL totally enables me. I end up drinking an insane amount of black tea a day, because we're like tea-drinking buddies. It seems like she's always making it. And she's really sweet about buying me some of my weird teas and bringing them over. Tea is significantly more expensive in the U.S.!

Are you a big tea drinker?
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#11 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 04:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Monday the 17th

This morning was a luxuriously lazy Monday morning. The kids played for several hours this morning while I puttered around and did stuff. I'm not sure what they were doing the whole time. But I know that at various points, they pretended to drive invisible cars, they turned a bedroom into “Ben's house”, they played trains and they started a puzzle. Later, while Ben listened to more Henry Huggins on tape, I read some books to Tommy. We read “The Caboose Who Got Loose” by Bill Peet, which is a Tommy favorite. He wanted to read some of the words so he basically recited some for me, in addition to adding his own embellishment. Then, we read two chapters of “Henry the Green Engine” from the original Rev. Awdry's Thomas the Tank Engine books. He wanted me to read the rest of the book but we really needed to get ready. I promised to read more later.

After getting ready and having lunch, we went to our chiropractor's, because she was hosting an annual “Patient Appreciation Day” to commemorate an important date in chiropractic history. Earlier in the month, the kids had created a flat paper spine from a kit she provided. She had those hanging on the wall. The kids got little baggies of jellybeans in exchange for the spine decorations. We ate some of the yummy food she put out. Then, we ran into someone that we used to have playdates with way back when Ben was only 2 years old! While we got caught up, her boys and my boys played in the chiropractor's toy room. They played so well and for so long that we exchanged phone numbers for a future playdate.

Our chiropractor is so good with kids. Ben has been interested in bones since he was 2 or 3. Our chiropractor has always let him handle the bones she has out, including a real human skull with wobbly teeth. She answers his questions. He loves going to her office. It's a way of feeding his interest. And she has a small lending library. Today, we borrowed a “Make it: Human Body” book that we had previously borrowed. We have plans to attempt the cell model in the book. I think we can do a scaled down version out of cardboard.

We left with balloons and jellybeans. Tommy opened his jellybean bag in the car, which I wasn't expecting. I didn't want them to eat a ton of them at once, because all the sugar and food coloring at once wouldn't be so good for them. I asked him how many he ate and he replied, “One.” I told him he could have three more. Ben said, “Then, I can have four.” Tommy then determined that he could only have two more. Ben corrected him and told him he could have three, because he had only eaten one and 1+3 is 4. Everyone seemed happy.

Ben suggested we go to our old favorite coffee shop afterwards, which is right down the street. While I drank coffee, the kids played with the all-in-one game set. They played their own version of Chinese Checkers and then played cards. They had an interesting “Go Fish” game going on with easier rules. If you guess what the other person is holding, that person has to put their card down and get another from the pack. I'm not sure how one wins. Then, they examined the dice and we looked at the different ways that dice can be labeled and used. They were intrigued by a die that had card suits and such printed on the sides.

By the time we got home, it was 230. I put on TV and the kids watched a new reading show called, “Super Why.”

And that's where we are right now. I started tidying up the art cabinet, which is completely trashed. I am going to try to finish that while they watch a few shows. If I do it at another time, they will be inspired to start doing art all at once and then it defeats the purpose of the tidying. Even though we've been in the apartment for a month, we still have some things in boxes, including extra art supplies. I have to get this sorted out or we're all going to be buried in paper cuttings!
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#12 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 04:31 PM
 
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I love reading about kids and their pretend games. Your day sounds fun.
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#13 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, it turned out to be a pretty uneventful Monday, save the fun time at the chiropractor's. Monday's always a weird day because we're all trying to shift down from the weekend. We had such a long, exciting day on Sunday that it felt like we were still recuperating today. The kids have just finished playing hide-n-seek with dh, in addition to some imaginary train game. They'll be going to bed early tonight. I'm impressed that Tommy made it this far because he ended up waking last night and staying up really late.

Tomorrow should be smoother and more regular.

Does anyone have any questions about anything I've typed so far? You don't have to think of questions on purpose. I was just wondering if anyone did have questions.
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#14 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 07:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And now, I'm totally going to spam you with pictures of my kids. They're coffee shop pictures.

Blech...Mondays are slow and somewhat uneventful.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y6/...l/monday_t.jpg
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y6/...l/monday_b.jpg

Ben loves that Eiffel Tower miniature that's behind his head on the top shelf. Tommy always says that it's the Leaning Tower of Pizza, however.

Right now, dh is reading bedtime stories to them. Tommy chose Eric Carle's "Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What do you see?" Dh and Ben are about half-way through Paddington Bear. That's going to be the next audio book I try to grab.

Ok, good night!
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#15 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 08:00 PM
 
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Your little guys are so cute! They sound like very interesting and interested young men. Are they full of questions for you about everything?

I had some bones stuff saved, and I thought I would share this cute one.

Rebuilding the bones

"The true measure of a man is how he treats a man who can do him absolutely no good."
peace.gif  Embrace the learning that is happening within the things that are actually happening!    
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#16 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 08:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Your little guys are so cute! They sound like very interesting and interested young men. Are they full of questions for you about everything?

I had some bones stuff saved, and I thought I would share this cute one.

Rebuilding the bones
Aw, thank you! And thank you so much for the link!
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#17 of 50 Old 09-17-2007, 09:59 PM
 
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What fun to read about your days. I know what you mean about weird Mondays, I purposely haven't scheduled any regular activity for Mondays because it's hard to know what the weekend will bring and what we will be feeling like on Mondays.

And thank you for the book recommendations:
Quote:
we borrowed a “Make it: Human Body” book that we had previously borrowed.
Is this the book: Easy Make & Learn Projects: Human Body (Grades 2-4) (Paperback)
by Donald M. Silver (Author), Patricia J. Wynne (Author)
? I found it at Amazon with rave reader reviews. Sounds like one worth investing in.

Quote:
we've read a fantastic "Let's Read and Find Out Science" book about it
Is this one called "Let' Go Rock Collecting"? If so, I found it at the branch of the library we were going to hit tommorrow anyway woo-hoo!
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#18 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 06:18 AM
 
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I've enjoyed reading this thread while drinking a pot of tea. I enjoyed MaWhit's too but I wasn't around last week to post.

Your boys are beautiful, Leftfield! I love the costume Ben made for Tommy!

A couple of questions:

What were your (and your DH's) initial worries about homeschooling that made you think it was an outrageous idea?

Have your boys visited Stonehenge? My DS is really into going there but I'm not sure when we'll make it to England. Hopefully within a couple of years. If you decide to pop over to the continent on your next trip to the UK, don't hesitate to PM me. We live in a great area and we enjoy entertaining.
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#19 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 08:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What fun to read about your days. I know what you mean about weird Mondays, I purposely haven't scheduled any regular activity for Mondays because it's hard to know what the weekend will bring and what we will be feeling like on Mondays.

And thank you for the book recommendations:
Is this the book: Easy Make & Learn Projects: Human Body (Grades 2-4) (Paperback)
by Donald M. Silver (Author), Patricia J. Wynne (Author)
? I found it at Amazon with rave reader reviews. Sounds like one worth investing in.
The book is called, "Make it Work!: Body, the hands-on approach to science". I will definitely check out the book that you listed, however! The problem I had with the first book (the one we're borrowing now) is that the projects seemed really complicated and they required materials like massive blocks of hard foam. Ben was bugging me to help him do one, but when I sat down to look at some of them, I confess that I was a bit overwhelmed by what was required. There's a picture of a child using a large knife to free-hand cut the shape of skin on a massive block of foam. I would prefer a different book, I think. But I think we can pull a version of the cell project. Instead of using foam, we can use cardboard from our move and basically slide one cardboard circle perpendicular to another flat cardboard circle...thereby making a 3D round object...I hope.

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Originally Posted by Wilhemina View Post
Is this one called "Let' Go Rock Collecting"? If so, I found it at the branch of the library we were going to hit tommorrow anyway woo-hoo!
You know, I was sure that it wasn't. But I'm looking at it right now and sure enough, it talks about igneous and sedimentary rocks (on a very elementary level of course, with great pictures). I swore that we read another in the series called, "How Mountains Are Made". I think that one was more detailed. We really have loved any book in that series that we've found, however.
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#20 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 09:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Your boys are beautiful, Leftfield! I love the costume Ben made for Tommy!
Thank you!

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What were your (and your DH's) initial worries about homeschooling that made you think it was an outrageous idea?
I'm a bit embarrassed to say it. But IIRC, we thought that these homeschooling people were die-hard overprotective parents who were simply unable to let go of their kid's babyhood. We had a vision of these kids being in their homes or under the shadow of a parent all day long. And then of course, this would be at the expense of education, because there's no way that a mere parent could even come close to providing the quality and breadth of scope that are provided at a proper school.

Thank God I read about it and opened my mind. And eventually, I met real homeschoolers and found that they were quite normal and that their children were enthusiastic learners. Guterson does such a great job of critically examining assumptions such as those. Plus, at the time he wrote the book, he was a high school teacher, so he even had the inside on that. I was surprised to learn that you really don't have to sit on top of your kid all day long.

I started thinking back on my own school career and I remembered how poorly I fit into it. I was always daydreaming and getting punished for it. I felt like they pumped us full of academic "stuff" but that we simply kept it for test regurgitation and that we promptly forgot it.

One evening at the supper table at my IL's house, when Ben was still very little, my dh announced that he had not used anything from K-12 in his career, except for basic math. My MIL is a teacher asst in an elementary school and there was an animated discussion about the great value of schools. My MIL is probably our biggest hs supporter, but she also loves her school. Dh is not an eccentric or unconventional person, so to hear him say this was very striking.

He insisted that he had only used the basic math from K-12 for his job. He said that he would have read and written without school, simply because he liked it and he couldn't avoid developing those skills. He studied advanced maths but only to get his A level to get into a good university. But in his actual job as a computer programmer, he doesn't use 99% of what he learned in school. He still insists that the most valuable things he learned for his job were developed on an internship...so he was basically hinting at apprenticeships that people used to do. The rest of it was a game to him, something he needed to do to jump through the next hoop, but none of it really valuable to him in his life.

What he was saying was outrageous. So, I started doing a quick analysis of my own schooling that led up to my liberal arts degree and brief career. And I determined that the only thing from K-12 that I had actually used (i.e. that did not develop on its own) was writing development. You can't tell from my posting style, but I have always done very well on papers and essay exams. I feel like school helped me develop good writing skills back in the day. But, like dh, I would have read anyway and I detested being told what to read and how to think about it. I took away very basic math skills. All that other stuff was also a game to me. You memorize, you regurgitate and then you empty your brain of the trivia to make space for more trivia so the process can start over. I don't believe I took away any major life-long learning from K12, aside from the writing development...it sounds outrageous, doesn't it?

I realized that school does not have the exclusive ability to educate. If dh and I were homeschooled, we still would have been voracious readers, perhaps even more voracious without people constantly telling us how to do it. Dh would still be attracted to math and science, so he would have pursued those. You get the idea...It was a major revelation for us. I asked dh, "So, if this is true, then what were we doing for 13 years?" He paused and said, "I don't know. It was just something to do with us while they waited for us to grow up." At that point, we concurred that if we could provide a stimulating environment for our kids, that they would achieve whatever goals they set for themselves. And they won't even have to secretly read poetry under the table, wait for the next interesting step, suppress questions for fear of bullying or be punished for daydreaming and looking out the window.

I realize this is harsh, but these are my own truly uncensored feelings (and dh's) as we critically examined the only educational environment we knew and explored the validity of homeschooling. So there you are.

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Have your boys visited Stonehenge? My DS is really into going there but I'm not sure when we'll make it to England. Hopefully within a couple of years. If you decide to pop over to the continent on your next trip to the UK, don't hesitate to PM me. We live in a great area and we enjoy entertaining.
They have not visited Stonehenge. I went there before dh and I had children. It was part of a whirlwind "west country" tour that dh and FIL devised. FIL is one of those people who likes to be up at 6am on vacation and accomplish things for the whole day. : It was wonderful, however. I cannot remember all the things we did, but I remember that we did visit Bath, England on that same tour. I don't know how far away Bath is, because we did so much driving. But if you ever go over for Stonehenge, try to take in Bath too. Below the street level are gorgeous Roman baths and tons of Roman artifacts. I believe this was accidentally discovered on a dig to build something. Whatever I say won't do it justice, but it was just breath-taking.

Which country do you live in? And thank you.
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#21 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 10:05 AM
 
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Thank you for answering my questions! I appreciate the honest and thorough answer to the first question. It's funny how our thoughts on things can change so much. I remember being very easily convinced when pregnant with DS that homeschooling just wasn't possible in France. It wasn't until he was due to start school in a few months (they start at age 3) that I began having huge second thoughts and had to quickly start researching. I read the Guterson book at the beginning of that first "school" year when I was still being pressured to "at least go to the school and meet the teacher".

Thanks for the recommendation about Bath. I think I read that they recently redid the baths. DS would love the Roman ruins, too. If we went to Stonehenge we'd definitely want to visit around other places too, just not starting at 6 am every morning (Actually that would be a dream vacation for my DH, but both DS and I are a bit slow to get going in the mornings.) BTW, after many years in France (my DH is French) we now live in Switzerland.
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#22 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Tuesday the 18th, A.M.

Again, in the early morning, the kids alternated between playing with each other and listening to Henry Huggins. They used their balloons from yesterday to help their toy rockets fly. At a later point, they played with the tub of sea animal toys. I overheard something about a hyper swordfish that was leaping out of the ocean. And then Tommy exclaimed that his fish had become a fossil.

Ben and I talked about abbreviations, because he needed to rewind his tape and the button said "rew".

Tommy couldn't really be bothered with much of Henry Huggins so he wanted to hear something else. We listened to some Laurie Berkener in the main room again. Then, he said he wanted to hear the train song. I wasn't sure which song he was talking about until he indicated that it was the one about the choo choo train coming back. He was talking about a Peggy Lee song on my old standards CD called, “Waiting for the Train to Come in”. He really loves that song because of the train theme and because she uses the word “melancholy” which is a Tommy favorite for some reason. He sings some of the words when I play it.

Here is an excerpt from the the song:
“Waiting for the train to come in...
I'm waiting for my man to come home...
I've waited every hour of every live-long day.
Been so melancholy since he went away.
...
I'm waiting by the depot at the railroad track,
waiting for the choo-choo train to bring him back.”

I love jazz and old standards, so we often listen to that sort of music. Sometimes, we try to guess which instruments are playing. Actually, we went to a short jazz concert this summer that was part of a children's concert series. Tommy is much more interested in that sort of thing than Ben is. I usually have to bring coloring books for Ben.

They discovered a box of kids' books, since we still haven't completely unpacked. Ben tried to read, “Dinosaur Roar!” to Tommy. Then, he looked at the “Make It” book that was previously mentioned. He has plans to make a skull, but he's having a hard time finding his scissors. He uses them so much that I'm always surprised that he can't find them.

After finding the scissors, Ben set to work to try to make a 3D paper skull. He tried in the past but didn't finish it. Tommy tried the skull but then gave up and worked on paper airplanes instead. Tommy's a perfectionist, however, so he sat with a paper airplane book and complained that his airplane didn't “look right”. In the end, he made a crumpled looking traditional paper airplane but was very pleased to find that he could do a “loop uh loop” with it. So it all ended well.

We then sat and read some books together. I read part of the RS4K Bio I chapter on how protists eat. We had read this about a month ago, but Ben wanted me to read it again. We looked at the paramecium, which is one of his favorites. He said, “That's the food vacuole.” “How do you know that's what it's called?”, I asked. I don't think he would remember it from the one time I read it last month (or maybe he would, I don't know). He proudly said, “I read it! See! I can read!”

It's funny to me that he can read big words when they relate to something he's interested in, but if I asked him to read a page in a picture book, he'd stumble over words like “was”; he gets tired and frustrated. He simply doesn't have the repetition down to make it easier for him. If I catch him off-guard and ask, "What does that word say?" and it relates to science, he can often read it effortlessly. I'm considering asking him if he'd be open to doing (gasp) flashcards of common words. I never ever thought I'd use flashcards, but if he's open to it, it might help him so that he doesn't have to sound out every word he sees. I thought it might boost his confidence a bit too. We'll see what he says.

So we read the protist chapter, with Ben recalling how the paramecium digests. Then, we read about amebas, podophyra and didinium. Tommy sat next to us, warbling about how the cell would eat another cell and split into two, followed by, “I saw that on the Zula Katrol!!” The Zula Patrol is a cute, simple science cartoon on PBS that they love. Ben was very interested in the didinium, because Tommy's nickname for him is “Didi”. He decided that he liked Didinium and we had to find images of it on the Internet. I must admit that the microscopic images of Didinium and the poor paramecium (its prey) were very cool. We talked about what “predatory” meant.

We then read Tommy's choice, “I love trains!” by Philemon Sturges. Both kids read some of the words, with Tommy reciting from memory. Ben's next choice was “The DK Dinosaur Encyclopedia”. We only read a few pages, because Tommy was getting restless. We read about sauropods and then T Rex. Ben is vegetarian and normally he gets annoyed by the carnivorous animals but he's been warming up to T Rex. We talked about how scientists can't agree if T Rex hunted or scavenged. T Rex apparently had 57 teeth! Ben said, “I only have 12 teeth up top. How much are two 12s?” “24”, I replied. We worked out that T Rex had almost twice as many teeth as a grown human. There was a funny moment when he pointed to the drawing of T Rex standing over a disgusting looking carcass and said, “That's disgusting!” “What is?”, I asked, wondering which gruesome detail he was referring to. Ben replied, “Look! He's standing in it! Ugh.”

Tommy's next choice was “The Night Pirates” by Peter Harris. If you have a little girl, you might particularly appreciate this picture book. Here is an excerpt:
“Pirates!
Rough, tough little girl pirates.
With their own pirate ship.
...
But what about Tom?
Could he join the crew?
'Please let me aboard!
Can I come too?'
And did the girl captain say,
'Certainly not!
You're only a boy!'
Oh no, not at all!
Instead she roared,
'Welcome Aboard!'”

Ben's next choice was a human body encyclopedia from SIL. It's a cartoon book designed for small children, so it's not as detailed as his DK book. But it has lots of flaps with interesting trivia, which makes it fun in a different kind of way altogether. We read lots of interesting little bits of information about joints, reflexes (what are they and where do they come from?), ligaments, capillaries, and the brain. The brain is a Ben favorite. We learned that brain cells are called 'neurons'. We also learned a bit about how muscles work and all three of us identified our biceps and triceps when the book pointed them out.

At this point, I was a bit tired. I decided to iron and get ready. The kids started a human body puzzle but abandoned it at some point. Tired of jazz, I put on the classical mix channel. At one point, Khachaturian's Sabre Dance came on. If you've watched Bugs Bunny, you'd know this piece. It's always the manic chase song. One day as I was returning from an errand, I discovered that dh put this piece on and led the kids through the house in crazy running style. He'd die if he knew I just wrote that. So the kids came out of their room and did a mini-run to the song, with Ben doing what looked like a 6 year old's impression of the stereotypical Russian dancing you see in ballet.

They ate while I showered. Then, they showered and got ready. It was 11:15. I put on the Magic SchoolBus for them and now they're watching some cartoon about monster trucks.

I'm posting this now, because it got kind of long. There will be a part two later in the day. The big activity in part two is Ben's art class. I have a doctor's appt so dh will be taking both kids. I had a fun downtown trip planned around his art class before I made this appt. I'll probably take them downtown tomorrow to make up for it. If I do, I'll post pictures.
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#23 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 01:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Is this one called "Let' Go Rock Collecting"? If so, I found it at the branch of the library we were going to hit tommorrow anyway woo-hoo!
I hope I'm not too late to post this, but I found both books when I was cleaning today. The rock collecting is the one that talked about igneous and sendimentary rocks, but I could have sworn we read something with more detail than that. Thinking back, I believe we read a Magic SchoolBus book that went into much more detail on igneous, sendimentary and metamorphic rocks. But the rock collecting book was a great introduction.

"How Mountains are Made" does not address the types of rocks, so I was wrong about that. It goes into good detail about plate tectonics. We enjoyed this book as well.

HTH!
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#24 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 08:45 PM
 
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I hope I'm not too late to post this, but I found both books when I was cleaning today. The rock collecting is the one that talked about igneous and sendimentary rocks, but I could have sworn we read something with more detail than that. Thinking back, I believe we read a Magic SchoolBus book that went into much more detail on igneous, sendimentary and metamorphic rocks. But the rock collecting book was a great introduction.

"How Mountains are Made" does not address the types of rocks, so I was wrong about that. It goes into good detail about plate tectonics. We enjoyed this book as well.

HTH!
yes it does, thanks! My girls are interested in rocks, we have many on our nature table. We recently spent a week on the beach and brought home many seashells. They got a kick out of grouping them and labeling them with the correct names. I think they might like to do something similiar with their rock collection.
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#25 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 09:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yes it does, thanks! My girls are interested in rocks, we have many on our nature table. We recently spent a week on the beach and brought home many seashells. They got a kick out of grouping them and labeling them with the correct names. I think they might like to do something similiar with their rock collection.
What a great idea! Ben just started a rock collection, but I think he only has granite and mica in it right now. He was given a rock-box at a summer camp. I keep meaning to take him somewhere where he can really dig around for rocks.
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#26 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Tuesday the 18th PM

So when I left off, the kids were watching TV. We watched a Reading Rainbow episode together about cats: tigers, lions, housecats and the musical Cats. The kids were really impressed with the makeup transformation in Cats; the show gave us a step by step makeup transformation.

They played after I turned it off, but I don't remember what they did. I put music on again. This time, we listened to the African music channel on my satellite radio, followed by Jamaican music and Latin jazz.

I had a doctor's appt this afternoon so dh came home a bit early to take Ben to art class. For the hour and a half of art class, dh and Tommy wandered around. First, they walked downtown to look at the shops. Then, they wandered back to the big library.

When they came home, Tommy had chosen a book about BMWs. Dh chose a kids' book about impressionism for Ben, because he wanted a book with paintings. They returned some of the audio books. I need to get more. In art class, the kids used oil pastel crayons. Ben said that white was a magic color in oil pastels, because if you put it over your regular colors, the regular colors look better and the white also fills in the holes.

After supper, dh and the boys worked on the human skeleton puzzle that was started earlier. Tommy left supper early to work on it. Then, dh and Ben wandered in to help.

And that was our night.
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#27 of 50 Old 09-18-2007, 09:36 PM
 
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I always love reading your posts. You write with wonderful understandng and enjoyment. Your boys and my girls seem so similar in some ways. Fancy a transcontinental playdate?
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#28 of 50 Old 09-19-2007, 12:22 AM
 
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:

BeanBean loves the word "melancholy" as well.

Rynna, Mama to Bean (8), Boobah (6), Bella (4) and Bear (2)
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#29 of 50 Old 09-19-2007, 08:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I always love reading your posts. You write with wonderful understandng and enjoyment.
Aw, thank you!

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Your boys and my girls seem so similar in some ways. Fancy a transcontinental playdate?
I wish!
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#30 of 50 Old 09-19-2007, 08:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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BeanBean loves the word "melancholy" as well.
I don't know what it is with that word. I taught it to them back in March, I think. They were on a new word kick. It all started with humongous and then Ben had picked up "gargantuan" on a show called "Pinky Dinky Doo". So, I was teaching them synonyms for "huge" until we ran out. Then, they wanted synonyms for other things. I was looking for words that were analogous to concepts they really knew....like sad. I taught them 'melancholy' and 'elated' at the same time. 'Melancholy' was the one that stuck with Tommy for some reason. I think that, to me, it does have a very beautiful melodic sound to it. Then, we discovered that it was in that train song on my jazz CD and now it sounds even more appealing.
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