Thursday, December 27

Christmas Break Plans

Warning: Rambling ahead

We are taking two weeks off and I love that Christmas came at the beginning of it, so we could incorporate our holiday preparation into our studies… and now we can breathe a bit.

I am in the middle of planning the next three units in order to get us to Easter when we’ll take another two-week break. We are going to be studying Growth for the next four weeks… physical (bodies and nutrition), mental (decision making and problem solving), spiritual (hopefully trying some new Bible study tactics), and social (manners and friendships). It’s really slow going because there is so much wrapped up in this topic.

In February we’ll do a unit on the miracles of Jesus and I’m really looking forward to it. We’ll explore the principles behind the miracles, not to take the mystery out of them, but to gain more understanding and perhaps instill a greater sense of awe in all of us. So, we’ll be looking at nature (water, fish, weather, blindness, fig trees, ears, etc.), distance, disease (all those healings…) death (and resuscitation!), and the spirit world (all those demon possessions). Looking at that list makes me think it’s going to be a crazy ride.

I can’t recall what the next unit will be after that. I obviously still have some work to do.

I’m also starting to think through the next class I’ll teach at our co-op. Waaaayy too many options here. I love teaching academic stuff with a lot of tactile methods, but I also need something that won’t tax me in preparation time. I’m usually up far too late on Thursday nights before class the next day. Some ideas: dinosaurs, ancient Rome, journaling, world religions…nothing’s really screaming at me. Give me suggestions.

Tomorrow, we’ll have a field trip to OMSI. We haven’t been for a while and we received a membership for Christmas. I’m hoping the holiday light show at the planetarium is worth going to. We’ll find out. Next week the older boys are going to Winter Break Basketball Camp here in town Wednesday through Friday. That will count toward p.e. attendance as well. (In WA we have to account for 180 days of schooling, so I get those days in anyway I can, even when we are on break).

Just 10 days left. I’d better get on it.

Friday, December 21

Teaching About Reproduction

We just finished our last day of our unit on Families and Reproduction. We read through Mary and Elizabeth’s accounts and the entire Christmas story. We studied families in four other countries. And we talked about the importance of families to society and the roles we all fill in our own home. And then, of course, there is the science of it all. Since we had a baby last year, this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about how babies are made. But we did delve deeper into it.

When teaching an 8 year old and a 5 year old on the topic of reproduction you naturally run into a sticky situation on several levels. One obstacle is the fact that they are at very different stages of interest in the topic. For the 5 year old, reproduction is like a magic trick. Put two things together and get a third thing. Cool. He’s pretty happy with that.

For the 8 year old there are more questions and a budding curiosity around the mechanics of the whole thing. We started with cells and DNA, we moved into plants and pollen and ovums, then we mentioned animals and wombs and eggs and sperm and then by the time we got to human babies, it was pretty much old news. He knew what he needed to know. So rather than push him into anatomical knowledge he’s not ready for, I asked him (out of his brother’s earshot) if he had any questions about human baby making. He asked about were milk comes from when breastfeeding, wondered if it hurt to cut the umbilical cord, wanted to know if a uterus was the same as a stomach and if I could feel the babies inside. That was about it.

So, rather than create a sexual mental picture for him that he’s not ready to handle (why do most books for kids immediately illustrate the parents in the bedroom?), I spoke to his scientific side. Neither of the boys was left frustrated nor overexposed. Teaching to their level and not to some sterile standard leaves us all feeling much happier.

I just thought someone might benefit from knowing how I handled it.

A Little End of The Unit Quiz for You

Answer it right, get a bean bag to toss. Earn one or two points depending on where it lands. Every two points gets a marble in the jar. Fill up the marble jar, earn a little something from the box of goodies. [That’s how we work around here].

4th Grade Questions:

  1. True or False: When a cell divides it creates a new cell with the exact same instructions.
  2. What is genetics? A) the study of heredity b) the study of plants c) the study of animals.
  3. What do all animal cells need to survive? A) hydrogen b) oxygen c) nitrogen
  4. When a sperm enters an egg it is called a) reproduction b) fertilization c) mitosis
  5. Fill in the blank: Some plants like ferns and mosses produce millions of tiny ______________ that are blown by the wind to plant themselves and grow.
  6. What letters designate the chromosomes that determine if a baby is a girl or a boy? A) q and r b) j and k c) x and y
  7. True or False: Gregor Mendel discovered that some genes (like eye and hair color) will be dominant.
  8. What does a cell use DNA for? A) fighting germs b) making food c) getting instructions
  9. Which of these is not connected? A) sepal and pistil b) anther and filament c) stigma and ovary
How’d you do?

Monday, December 10

Why Is This Only About Homeschooling?

1. Education is my passion. I've done my time in education acquiring a B.A. and an M.A. degree. I've supported my husband through 3 of his 4 degrees -- edited every paper of his including the 200 pg. dissertation. I want my kids to have the best education possible. I imagine that when the kids are off on their own, I'll even go back and do more schooling. Every year that I'm out of school I realize how much I'm no longer learning. And on one level it bugs me that life is changing and I don't have time to figure out an RSS feed because my kids need to know the parts of a cell. (Of course, I needed a refresher in that, but cells aren't going to change anytime soon.)

2. I tend to be a bit ADD myself I think. It could just be the effects of managing three small kids, but there are times that I can't remember what I was thinking from one second to the next because there's so much to deal with. So, a blog that isn't focused would be a total disservice. My goal is to break down stereotypes of what our life as a homeschooling family is like and to demonstrate that not all homeschoolers are the same.

3. I don't enjoy reading other people's blogs who say they are all about painting for instance and then they are suddenly telling me how to make peppermint brownies.

4. I journal as an emotional outlet, source for venting, keeping track of prayers and struggles and milestones. If you want to get inside my head, read my journals... but you'd have to kill me first as they are only open to the public once I'm turned back to dust.

5. I have no idea how to blog about the rest of life without talking about the people of life. And many times those people let me down, frustrate me or do things I don't understand. They don't need to know about that. I just need to get over it. I like to keep relationships. They are hard to replace.

Do I think about other stuff? Yep. Right now we are struggling with "what's next" for us, family drama, and financial pressures. Those won't be made public here. One of these days I'll get around to the "emergent" part of this blog, but I seriously have to think hard on that because I know I'll get blasted once I enter that stadium.

Of course, it might not be so bad because I think the five people that read this like me at least a little bit.

Thursday, December 6

Kicked it to the Curb

We were doing a Bible Study book together in the Explorer's Bible Study Series on Luke and Acts this year. It's a simple workbook study where you read the text straight from the book (though it's not in the most kid-friendly version) and answer 6-12 questions each day, with one day for reviewing and doing a map study. There were zero application questions though and nothing other than rote regurgitation. Because we're spending the year on the life of Jesus, I thought it was a good way to introduce them to the Savior I want them to know. I'm embarrassed to say that we managed to do it for about 10 weeks, much to the great discomfort of my two boys...and their parents. So, after that "trial period" I had to re-evaluate.
  • Was this teaching them anything meaningful about the life of Jesus? Perhaps. It majored on the details of his story.
  • Was this teaching them anything about the value of studying the Bible regularly? Well, it was teaching them that doing it daily meant daily discomfort.
  • Was it, at the very least, a good method of improving their penmanship? No. After a couple weeks, they were DONE answering those questions.
  • Was this doing anything to help transform them into fully devoted followers of Christ? Nada. They hated this book, hated the time we spent it in, moaned and groaned and I'm sorry for putting them through the experience.
So, now we're using the Bible lessons from my curriculum which I love and I always have loved; I guess I thought there needed to be more to it than "read and discuss." The lessons aren't very detailed, so I can hit whatever points seem most applicable to the kids and they can ask me questions or just wiggle and catch whatever their young minds and hearts can catch. Nobody has to write, just find the verses and read them. It's pretty pain free.

And I'm pretty sure, the point is not to make them hate studying the Bible.

Monday, December 3

Taking the Day Off

Whew. It was a busy weekend.

We were supposed to start a new unit today. But I was completely unprepared. So I declared it a "teacher inservice day" and we did what we needed to do to give it a go tomorrow.

The open house was good for my boys. Thanks, Amy, for coming and asking good questions. They weren't nearly as cooperative for my parents by the way... too exicted to go get our Christmas tree.

We'll do at least one more this year, maybe two.

Okay -- so the to- do list is waiting. I don't want anything hanging over my head so we can get a running start at "Families and Reproduction" tomorrow. (Yep, that IS our new study for the next three weeks.)


Thursday, November 29

Let's Do This

This Saturday,
December 1st.

You are invited to an Open House
between 11 and 12 noon
in which we will celebrate Ancient Rome,
share our discoveries,
and show our Big Book of Rome project.

We'll make it brief because we're kids you know.

(Right now, my kids are excited, but they often get stage fright. I'll make some goodies so if Rome falls between now and then we can at least sit around and chat.)

Leave a comment if you think you'd like to come and we'll be sure to be in costume.

Tuesday, November 20


Okay, so today it's 11:45 and we haven't gotten half as far as we did yesterday. And, again, I can blame the baby.

His nap schedule is changing. He's been rapidly moving to one nap a day. For a good week or two he has been keeping his morning nap, but as of right now there is no nap in sight. B has finished much of his school for the day. J is close behind. Everyone is taking a break right now.

It's not all the baby's fault. Today J was totally into his very cool multiplication game that he spent 30 minutes on it mastering the 8 and 9 tables. And he was so enraptured by the book he's reading that he wanted to get through three chapters instead of one. Which is precisely the point of doing this at home. I'm glad he took advantage of that freedom to do more than what's expected and to follow his passions.

So, today we're going to have to finish after lunch and it is okay.

In between baking pies, making rolls, figuring out some good dessert a diabetic can eat and packing for an overnighter...somehow, we'll get it all finished. And it will turn out just fine.

Monday, November 19

Mixing it up

Flexibility rather than rigidity is becoming, more and more, the tone of our schooling. It takes a few years to really get on your feet in this endeavor. And reprogramming myself away from classroom methodology is half the battle. Now, there’s something to be said for structuring so that you can get through it all during the day and we actually do have a pattern we follow: Bible, Book time (Social Studies or Science lesson), Activity, Math, and Stations (Penmanship, Language Arts, Reading, Memory Verse, Vocabulary/Spelling, Unit Study, Creative Drawing, & Phonics practice.) My idea was to do these stations last because the boys actually love them the most. But after today, I’m beginning to question this rationale. And the baby made me do it.

Our little S is sweet and fun and just about the time we begin for the day at 9:00 or so, he decides it’s time to wrestle. If we three cozy up on the couch for book time, he’s GOT to be there too. If we try to do an activity on the floor (such as the big book we’re making for our Ancient Rome Unit), he’s ALL over it. And forget about thinking during Bible time. Once our little man decides to take a nap, however, we get a TON of stuff done and enjoy the process a lot more as well.

So, today we worked with the baby instead of in spite of him. And it was a good day. The boys did math first today… because they like the computer games they get to play to go along with it. And the baby and I played. Then they began the stations that didn’t require my help and I changed the baby and cleaned up a bit. Then as we were sitting down to do a project about the Roman roads together, the baby wandered off to destroy something in the boys’ room. And he fell asleep on the floor in the middle of his mess. Too cute. We happily put him in his crib to finish his nap and completed the rest of school without a hitch and before lunchtime.


Other homeschool proponents say that it’s possible to teach toddlers not to interrupt and to even play happily on the floor at your feet with blocks while you teach. I say, “I’d like to visit your planet sometime.” Doing what’s natural to the child’s rhythms seems to make a whole lot more sense to me.

Saturday, November 17


Forgive me if I'm breaking some code of ethics here. I'm not sure what the blogging law is for sharing stuff someone else wrote. But if I only put a link to it, you might not click on it and you might not read this list that in many ways speaks for my critical side.

I'll put a link at the end to make us all feel better.

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List

By Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling Magazine, Issue #1, Fall 2007

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?
2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.
3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.
4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.
5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.
6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.
7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.
8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.
9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.
10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.
11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.
12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.
13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.
14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.
15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.
16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.
17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.
18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.
19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.
20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.
21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.
22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.
23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.
24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.
25 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

I'm printing this puppy out to serve as my new muse. And, call me crazy, but I think I found that magazine I was hoping for.

Friday, November 16

Yeah, for Root Words!

J and I have been exploring Latin roots this week. I think it's totally fun. I don't know if he's enjoying it quite so much, but he's catching on. This week it was "ped" which translates as foot. Yep, you can think of about a dozen words utilizing ped and having something to do with feet.

Now, I've just found my new favorite thing. I get to practice my skills AND feed the world. Yee Haw!

Check this out. I didn't know that I didn't know what "claptrap" or "equivocal" meant. Then again I totally guessed on "riposte" and got it right. And, to make my pastoral friends happy, I totally nailed "tithe."

Of course, you can always go to this site to do something similar. My young kids like this one. But their English-major-Mom likes doing something good for others and something good for me at the same time. Something totally cool about that.

Thursday, November 15

Why I'm Letting my Subscription Expire... The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

1. One issue included an article about the band and homeschool alumni, Barlow Girl. The next issue, they printed a letter that criticized their choice and Barlow Girl, not for their message but for their T-shirts in the picture. Rather than say, we printed it because there are homeschoolers out there who gain encouragement from seeing what homeschool alumni are doing for the Kingdom, instead they said something about being too busy to take note of the offending picture and actually claimed they didn't know it would be printed... yadda, yadda. Lots of back peddling and run-on sentences and really, no integrity. Huh? Aren't you the publisher?

2. They support the Pearls...who I won't link to because their philosophies repulse me that much.

3. The perspective keeps changing from grace to legalism and they can't decide what side of the fence they want to be on.

4. Scripture is taken out of context just too dang often.

5. The design is completely confusing. White space is non-existent, my eye can't rest anywhere and so it just adds to my anxiety when I read it.

6. The entire thing is so full of advertising. It's materialism at its most Christian.

I could go on.

If you know of another homeschooling magazine out there, let me know. I'm totally in the market for something with fresh methods, grace-filled perspective and less run-on sentences.

Sunday, November 11

The Bubble... part deux

So my oldest son, who is 8, was looking for something this weekend and when he couldn't find it he said, "D**n it!"
I looked at him -- stunned.
"What did you say?"
He REPEATED himself. Totally clueless that he was cursing, clueless as to what cursing even was.
"Um, that's not a word we should say. Where did you learn that word?"
He couldn't remember.
[yeah, right]
I finally got him to tell me... a Batman comic book.
Dang it.

There's more.

Today he was playing with the neighborhood boys.
[you think you know what's coming, but you don't!]
J calls their "meeting" to order.
He tells them, "These are bad words..." and he repeats the word that he was supposed to never utter again and then adds "stupid" and "Oh, my gosh!" And at that point they other boys don't take him seriously and start laughing.
End of discussion.
And they moved on to Old Business.

[Oh, why is MY kid the one teaching bad words to the neighborhood kids???]

Saturday, November 10

Not Just Talking to Myself Anymore

Some of you found this!

How? Because I linked to you?

This was just a test run to see if it was worth my time. Or if I had anything worthwhile to say to the world. I don't know. You tell me.

I gotta admit how cool it feels to get a comment! C.J. you rock!

I guess I better tell Chip, eh?

Healing the Despair

These aren't my words, but the words of another homeschool mom in Vancouver who is struggling right now.

“I feel that I cannot take another day at home with my children. They fight, they disobey, they talk back. I know some of this is the stress we're going through, but in the process, school is taking a backburner. I feel like my kids are not getting the education I want for them and I'm feeling like the public school could do better for them, both socially and mentally. I'm feeling like, by them being home, we're learning more about how to hate each other and be grumpy with each other. I feel like they need a break from me and from each other; I need a break from them; and I need to be released from the pressure of being fully in charge of their schooling. We will be buying a bigger house soon, mostly to accomodate our
homeschooling, so I know that with more room we will get along better but I still hear myself speaking in an irritated tone with them and fantasizing about being alone during the day.”

You know, I can totally relate.

I spent an hour responding to her on our message board and I think it may have helped me just as much to enumerate my own self-help processes as it (hopefully)encouraged her. I wasn't the only one either. She got several supportive and reflective answers.

Several things from this experience surprised me:
1. Homeschoolers feel this way. Well, I knew that I have felt this way, but hearing it from someone else darn near knocked my socks off. Aren't we all supposed to be solid and certain in our endeavor? Hardly. We totally question ourselves year after year. Sometimes our only defense are the numbers which show that though we are weary, we (i.e. our children) succeed. Our kids make it and are capable, quality individuals.
2. Homeschoolers encouraged her not just in spiritualized ways (such as "you need to read your Bible more.") but in practical ways and with wisdom. No one slapped her around gestapo style. She was responded to with love and understanding. Shame on me for expecting the worst.
3. Homeschoolers won't ALL condemn you for considering the public school option. I encouraged her to keep her options open, and others agreed. It proved to me that as much as we strongly feel convicted to teach our kids at home, we understand that God works in different ways in different families and we know that parents who manage their child's education in other ways are not wrong, bad, or {gasp} heathen.
4. Revealing weaknesses brings us together. At co-op the next day a friend stopped me and thanked me for what I had posted. She confessed feeling the same way and even admitted that she has prayed for God to release her from the burden that homeschooling can be. I haven't been at that point yet, but I was actually blessed by hearing this. Imagine! I am not a crazy fool. There are others like me. We are not "know-it-alls." We are breakable. And because of this I think we are open minded more than the average onlooker might think.

Good stuff to think about.

Sunday, November 4

The Bubble

Some people have the opinion that homeschoolers raise their kids in a bubble. And I suppose that some homeschoolers do. Let's just not go overboard and think that it's the majority, or even that it's the norm. Statements like that are unfairly subjective.

In our family, the truth is that my kids "get out". They have weekly p.e. classes and weekly co-op (for 8 weeks each semester). They play several days a week with neighborhood friends, attend a few birthday parties a year, interact with kids and adults at worship weekly, and enjoy time with their grandparents a couple times a month. These kids get their social strokes. No doubt about it.

Their mom, on the other hand -- not so much.
Gotta work on that.

Monday, October 22

Cooperation is...

...the attitude which I get maybe 50% of the time from my kiddos. favorite part of marriage we all make it through and instill in our kids the education and character they need.

I am not one to fully endorse the "It takes a village" mentality of raising children. I am more in the camp of "It takes two parents." But I do see the merits of and benefit from having a village around me. A community: A whole bunch of interested and intentional helpers.

  • One of my communities is my church. I have never, never, never had anyone in my worship community (i.e. church) respond negatively to me because I homeschool. A big, "THANK YOU" to all my people who show their love to me and my kids just by saying, "That's cool," and occasionally asking them what they are learning. (Love that question, by the way. Keep putting it in front of them!)

  • One of my communities is my family. My parents have really supported us in this endeavor. My mother worked in the school system for years and she truly understands that all of life is a learning experience. When traveling in the car with the boys she’ll do math problems with them (how is it that Grandma’s make math seem so fun?). She’ll send them postcards from her travels with interesting facts about where they are visiting. She even waits to call us until the afternoon when we are more likely to be done with school. The way she (and my dad too) give me blessing and support is awesome. My brother and his wife have a 3-year-old daughter and they decided to homeschool her before she was even born. So, I don’t feel like I have to justify myself at all with my family. I accept this for the huge blessing that it is.

  • A third community I have around me are my neighbors. Again, many homeschoolers have to justify their choices to their skeptical neighbors. I live in a circle of eight houses in which live a pair of grandparents whose children homeschool; a family with three boys who homeschooled them until 6th grade and the father teaches some classes for the homelink program in our school district; a family with a son my middle son’s age (1st grade) who has become my homeschooling buddy as they have decided to educate him at home as well. Everyone else is just nice. How cool is that?!

  • My fourth community is my co-op group. We love, love, love this group. Every Friday for 8 weeks each semester we gather to teach each other’s kids and help one another along. There are about 45 families involved. When I walk in each week I feel like I’m among people who understand me even if I don’t know their name and even though every household does it differently. It is essential for this homeschooler to know that she isn’t alone and to be able to share the struggles of the day to day or at least roll her eyes and sigh a bit and get away with it. This is what happens at “Friday School”. It is a good, good thing.

So, while I don’t want to hand my children over to others to do the teaching and the raising, I DO want to put myself into supportive communities who can encourage me as their teacher and them as life learners.

Monday, October 8

Show and Tell

In line with my invitation to feel free to ask us about our day, I also issue an invitation to come to what I hope will be our more-frequent "open house" days. We just started them today. My parents were the guests of honor (on their way out of state) and I think we knocked their socks off.

We showed them all the big projects we've completed in six weeks of dinosaur/creation study:

4 dinos made out of clay
3 sketches on the wall
1 4-line poem
2 newspaper/feature stories
1 greenhouse
1 rough draft paragraph about dino teeth
1 final paragraph about Styracosaurus
2 handmade fossil books
1 homemade dinosaur game with 20 trading cards on 10 different dinos
1 "fossil" of the baby's hands
4 creation scientist biographies
A bunch of clay dinosaur bones to find in the sand
2 Powerpoint presentations contrasting creation and evolution
Some memorized Bible verses
And a whole bunch of decorated dinosaur sugar cookies

This is a great way to give the boys a chance to teach some of what they've learned. It's all a part of the learning process. And we all know that we really learn stuff once we've taught it.

And if you don't come for anything else, come for the cookies.

Thursday, October 4

What We Did Today

When people discover I am a homeschooler they usually respond with, "I could never do that." (It makes me want to reach out and hug them and say, "Yes, you can!") It's very rare that the conversation continues and if it does it never moves into the structure of our day. It's sad because I love to talk about what we do.

One of the only people (who is not a homeschooling mom) who has ever asked me, "So, what does your day look like ?" Is my friend, Katie. She is in her second year as a teacher (of high school drama). I don't get many chances, but talking to classroom teachers is something I love to do to. Afterwards I feel encouraged, enlightened and totally ready to keep doing what I'm doing. When I find out someone is a classroom teacher my first thought is actually, "Oh, I could never do that!" So, when a teacher asks me about our day I actually feel honored.

So, for those who wonder what our day is like, here you go (By the way, I am teaching a 4th grade level student and a K/1st level student):

6:00 Up with baby, put him back to sleep and go back to bed

7:00 Older boys wake up and argue over something. Their dad breaks it up and takes a shower.

7:40 Baby wakes up happy so he's done sleeping and so am I

8:00 My husband feeds the boys breakfast while I get ready for the day

8:15 I eat breakfast

9:00 We do Bible study together. Read the verses, answer some questions from the Explorer's Bible Study. We're doing Luke and Acts this year. We all take turns praying. This is new for us. It was time to do it as a family.

Today is our last day of our 6 week unit on dinosaurs/creation, etc.

9:30 Read our last page from D is for Dinosaur by Ken Ham (I'm teaching them a pretty strong young earth creation viewpoint, and telling them how evolutionist viewpoint differs) and talk about the word “zeal” as well as how to talk respectfully to people who are different from us. The boys are squirrly for this.

Then we make some dinosaurs out of clay and bake them. Ben chose the Kronosaurus and Jake did the Quetzocoatolus. Tomorrow they will write something about that dino. The baby went down for a nap while my husband helped the boys finish.

We forget to do Math.

10:30 They take a break and build a fort out of blankets and the card table

11:00 We begin what we call "stations."

J's are: penmanship, how to address a formal letter (to a Senator, attorney, physician, etc.), reading, memory verse (bean bag game today), vocabulary (match 50 words on index cards to their spoken definition as a review), and studying a creation scientist from the past (today it was Linnaeus).

B's are: Creative drawing (draw someone you could speak respectfully to and use word bubbles), Phonics worksheet, reading aloud to me (practicing words with the long U sound), memory verse game with J, word review (categorizing words on his word wall), and copying a greenhouse explanation to go with the greenhouse we planted 6 weeks ago.

Baby wakes up. It was a good nap today.

12:15 lunchtime

12:45 They each finished up their last station and then they played I Spy on the computer… because it hadn’t dawned on me that we hadn’t done Math.

1:30 The neighborhood boys, being on early release today, came looking for them and they went off on their bikes to “socialize” while I did laundry with the baby in tow.

Normally in that first block of time I alternate doing Math with each boy while the other one plays on his own, or does a chore for the day. But they both have done more than enough Math for the week, so I'm not worried about it.

It was a pretty good day. Sometimes I have to pull J along if he's in a negative attitude, but today he managed pretty well. B is usually always excited to do everything. They are both feeling the beginnings of a cold today, but the beauty of homeschooling is they can still get at least some of their work done and they don't have to miss. We do as much as they feel up to doing on days like this.

So, that's a glimpse.

Tuesday, October 2

Time to Speak

I'm tired of the stereotypes. I realize that stereotypes come from ignorance and that I, too, stereotype people frequently enough. But I understand my own ignorance and I'm willing to own up to it.

People homeschool for different reasons and in different ways. I do not fit into the mold of homeschooling the way you, dear reader, may think of homeschooling. (See there, I just stereotyped you)
1. I do not homeschool my kids to isolate them or shelter them from society. We attend our weekly worship in a beer pub for Pete's sake.
2. I do not homeschool my kids so I can teach them that global warming is just a scam, that Republicans are God's chosen party, or even that the male is the head of the household. I teach them the opinions and knowledge on all sides whenever I can educate myself enough to do it proper justice. I try to vocalize the phrase, "That's a good question," quite a bit.
3. I do not homeschool my kids because I am anti-public school. It's just that in reality a classroom-based school doesn't have the capacity to customize and teach to the strengths of the child while building up their weaknesses. And I have one child in particular who requires customizing.
4. I do not homeschool my kids so they can think they are better than other kids. I teach them that we are to be servants of all. (Hopefully they'll actually catch on one day)
5. I do not homeschool my kids so that I can think I am better than any other mother. We all take our own path. Parenting is one huge experiment and I am inspired by many, but I learn from all.

I cannot speak for other homeschoolers. We are all trying to do good work, but we are all different. Please don't put us all in a box together.

I have tried to find a homeschooler's blog out there that comes from a woman operating in a missional context. I haven't found it. So, I guess this is it.

I don't have time for this. But I've been pushed over the edge.
It's time to speak.