Monday, December 31, 2007

Last day of 2007!

I haven't been getting as much school stuff done as I would have liked, but it's Christmas vacation. :) We've just been so busy with all kinds of stuff, too, plus dealing with ds being sick. Which he still is. Hopefully his voice will be totally back by tomorrow and his coughing will have stopped.

I have yet to have him practise writing his name in cursive. Has to be today because we'll be filling out cards today or tomorrow. Still have to finish wrapping some gifts (doing a 2nd Christmas tomorrow) and some other stuff. I haven't figured out new words for ds either.

Dd decided yesterday she'd had enough of a break and spent an hour working on writing some story she'd started. Then we did a couple of pages of math. She wants me to give her a French writing assignment today. Non-fiction. I'll have to come up with some ideas.

The two oldest are supposed to be back from Hawaii sometime tomorrow. I've already sent off a couple of things to the 16yo and have to send off her Chem 20 in a Nutshell that I've put together so she can start reviewing. I also have to finish up on at least one of her social themes. I'd really like her to go through it before she comes back to school on the 7th. One less theme means that much more done!

Oh, that reminds me... I haven't yet finished typing up some of the stuff I found really helpful from "Dancing With Your Books". I think I'll work on that now.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Back to the grind

Sort of.

I won't be expecting work from my kids--especially my poor ds--but I have to get back to work!

Right now, I need to brainstorm a bit my vision of the rest of the school year and the things to do to accomplish that, figure out materials to possibly make (like more movable alphabet words for ds) and all that. And I need to take care of my baby. The poor kid is almost never sick. After writing last night, he was in and out of consciousness until just before 8pm. I brought him up to bed. He just got up at 7am to go to the bathroom, then went back to bed. This is a kid with whom I struggle to keep in bed until 6:30!

I'm also reading a book called Dancing With Your Books. It's a Zen-approach book to studying. Not all of Zen appeals to me, but I could not help but see the connection between some of what happens in Montessori and what the author is guiding people to do. The focus, the concentration, the open mind, being present in the moment. It has almost felt like a guide for adults in terms of regaining that type of thinking and working. I've been collecting a lot of quotes and guidance from this to share with primarily the 16yo. Which reminds me that I have some other things to get done. Let me just let out here a list of things I need to work on:

-the 16yo's social studies (summaries for themes, essay assignments)
-the 16yo's chemistry (I need some means of assessing her for her at-home mark--perhaps some quizzes and a test for each unit)
-the 16yo's CALM--need a list of things she has left to do; plus finish up the self-assessment quiz and some other things for her to get rethinking and re-motivated (sure, that's a word)
-the 16yo's French--she needs a checklist to see what she needs to know for her French 30 exam
-brainstorming for Bob, dd and ds's work
-brainstorming for a structure to start off with in January (I know we need structure or it just won't get going!)
-work on words for ds


I got into ds's bed at 4 because he had called me but I didn't fall back asleep until I went downstairs after 5 and slept until 6. I feel like I could go back to bed!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas! And my poor baby's sick :(

I hope all of you celebrating Christmas had a merry one!

It's Boxing Day here in Canada. We did NOT spend it out shopping like many did. ;)

My poor baby's sick, though--started on Monday and today, lost his voice and everything. He fell aseep on the couch at 5:30, after having had 2 bites of Ichiban (other than that, he'd had a mini-doughnut at lunch, and a bit of chocolate to help with the taste of some chewable ibuprofen he'd had this morning). I thought he was down for the night. He got up at 6:45, had a drink of water, ate some ice cream (but didn't even finish it), then sat down next to me here and just fell asleep. My poor baby! I suppose one good thing is that he'll get a lot of sleep out of this!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I thought this was cute!

So did my dd. I sang out the new version of Rudolph to her. Of course, if you like astronomy, you might just try and find Mars tomorrow night!

It's almost Christmas!

My kids are so excited. We are starting Christmas tomorrow evening. Tradition from my mom's side of the family is to go out and look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve (of course, she grew up in part just outside of Detroit, where it's not usually as cold as it is here!), then while we're out, Santa comes, and we get back and... time to open gifts. :) Ds is getting more and more adrenalized over the idea. Although it might not work so well today--he only had about 6.5 hours of sleep because he was just so achey during the night, and he looks like he hasn't slept in days. We'll be having a nap later on.

I'll also be reading him a little Christmas story as he didn't even remember that Christmas was about Jesus's birthday. I'm such a bad Catholic homeschooling mom at times! lol. I'll find some colouring pages, too, I think. We don't have a proper nativity scene, so that doesn't help things either. Maybe I can find a crafty one online where he cuts out the parts of the scene and pastes them.

Other than that, I have to have him practise writing his name again before we have him sign cards! Oh, and dd got a quick French grammar lesson yesterday. She had written "J'aime les cadeau," on our easel chalkboard, so she got the little lesson that words ending in -eau need an x when plural.

Some might say--but it's Christmas holidays! Yes, but that doesn't mean that learning stops. :D I'm not doing any serious stuff, just dealing with the real life stuff that's coming up.

One thing we will be learning today is if Fleischman's dairy-free margarine will work okay in a shortbread recipe. I want to be able to eat the cookies, too. lol. And I can't find the mix I usually buy--I've been to all kinds of stores--so I'm trying from scratch. Yikes. Chocolate chip cookies I can do. Peanut butter cookies I can do. Last time I tried to make shortbread from scratch... Don't know if it was me or the recipe.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's Thursday (or Friday?)!

I can't keep my days straight this week!!!

In any case, it's Thursday. Pretty sure about that now. We finished our basic Christmas shopping yesterday, we started wrapping gifts and the kids did their Christmas candy molds. I didn't do any schooling stuff with ds yesterday, but Tuesday night I did. He LOVES the Reading Reflex/Montessori-style word building with images. I have to make some new ones. He flew through them and was disappointed there weren't more. I'll have to come up with some new stuff. I've also had him read the same book with me twice this week. He's getting better and better at recognizing some of the words and we also look at some of it phonetically. He thought it was SOOOOOO cool to do the first two letters of his name in cursive--connected. That was just so big to him. And I add in a few math questions. I gave him a double-digit plus a single-digit for the first time, I think. No problem. I'll have to show him regrouping with beads and then give him some questions that require regrouping. So, although we're only doing about 20 minutes of schooling, it's going well.

Dd is feeling better and better each day, which is good. She hasn't done any math this week, but I don't really mind. Oh! But I found my materials for a quilted Multpilication Checkerboard that I had started with the oldest... 2 years ago?? Maybe not that long ago. In any case, it had disappeared and I had looked everywhere I could think of. Turned out it was in an end table that turned into a tv stand in the basement. I had forgotten that I had stored some sewing stuff in there. In any case (geez, I feel so ADD!) I'll be able to finish it and work with dd on it. I did show her the old cardboard, ripped version (Maria Montessori would not have been impressed!) on Monday and did one question (okay, so she did do some math), but it was almost embarrassing.

What else? I'm figuring out what the 16yo has left to do and putting together some sheets so she can set up a schedule for herself for January. She will be doing 2 exams the third week, but still has a bunch of work to finish up. And lots of chem equation practice to do. Part of what I've done up is a little "quiz" for her to see what her current habits are as a student compared to what she needs to be doing, or how she needs to see school work, to get the grades she wants. Things like, "How often do you study? Never. Just before a test/exam. Review here and there plus before an exam. Regularly." "How well do you usually know the material before going into an exam? Not very well. Kind of/I understand it/I think I know it fairly well. Fairly well. Really well--I could teach someone else all about it." The options sort of correspond to levels of learning, which are tied with, roughly, grades obtained. This actually fits in very well with her CALM course.

Another thing I have set up for her is to really figure out what she wants in terms of her learning level this year and how important it is to her compared to her diving, friends, job (which she wants to do again), spare time, etc. There's no point in setting a goal of no mark under 75% if it's not something that you really want and will work for. She has beaten herself up in the past over her marks (which were the result of her not really doing what a typical student does when they want to obtain certain marks), but somehow she hasn't connected it with her own activities--it's all tied with a low self-image as a learner. Hence, the quiz above, to discuss with her afterwards how the different habits and attitudes are often tied to the marks a student gets so she can look at her final preparation for her upcoming exams in a different light.

I still, despite how many times I have said it, have not successfully gotten into her head that much of learning we need to do--especially for tests--comes as the result of repeatedly going over the information. She bemoans her "horrible memory" when something she looked at for 5 minutes 2 weeks ago she can no longer remember how to do. Where did she get this idea that because she looked at it once, if she can't remember it, she must have a horrible memory? I guess it's really self-image. She has a far more positive self-image now than she did when she started with me, but there's still work that needs to be done. I really need to get through to her what it means to learn, the work required to learn for school. I even made some comment about weekly reviewing everything in each subject and she said, "You can do that?" But then she flipped it around and convinced herself that it would just mess her up to do that. She has GOT to change her self-image and her understanding of learning if she wants to be a doctor. She can definitely become a doctor IF these changes can be made. I've got a year and a half left with her full-time. I need to brainwash her. Ah, Marva Collins has come back into my head--it's exactly what she did. Brainwashed (okay, bad word) the kids into believing in themselves and knowing that it takes a lot of effort and work to obtain the really big goals. I wonder if I could structure her ELA 20-1 work around that theme...

Wow, I had no idea I was going to write all that when I first started today's post!! I ought to go get some cleaning done.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I've got to stop taking drugs!

LOL. Okay, not THOSE kind of drugs. I wanted to work in the basement, but it's so dusty, I usually only last about 15 minutes. So I took a Benadryl Sinus 30 minutes before going down. At one point, I just started feeling really weak and drowsy. I thought it was a lack of water & food and just all the bustle getting to me. I then realized, no, this is the same type of feeling I had from taking a Gravol after visiting the Galaxyland amusement park and the day after I took a Tyelnol Nighttime Cold. Blah!

I wasn't affected by the dust, though...


Silly kitties:


I never knew a Western country would actually have laws in place that could allow a court the right to name a child!


Yesterday, it was just my 2 and I. It felt like a weekend. Even dd said so! We went bowling in the morning--where one teen there bowled 201!!!! omg!--and ran a few errands in the afternoon, followed by relaxing in front of Meet the Robinsons, a DVD ds got from "Bob" and his sister for Christmas. Speaking of whom, are either waiting at the Vancouver airport or are on a plane to Hawaii as we speak!

I fit in some schooly stuff with ds yesterday: practised writing the first four letters of his name in cursive (his nickname--but he's been reversing letters when he writes on cards, so I decided to scrap the printing entirely and have him work just on writing cursive), read a book with him where he would reread a sentence after I said it (yes, I know this is more sight reading than phonics, but I like to work with both) and we did some little math here and there orally.

Dd photocopied a gazillion reading comprehension worksheets from a gr. 6 workbook I have. She's flying through them. Enjoying the easiness of it, I guess--feeling confident and capable! She needs that now and then, to have something really easy that just makes her feel good. I haven't yet pointed out to her that it's a gr. 6 book and she's only in gr. 5, which would make her feel even more confident, but I'd like her to stop focusing on "grade levels" and how she compares with others. She also finished reading Eragon the other day; her goal had been to finish it before Christmas, so she's very happy. She enjoyed it a lot and wants to read the second book, plus see the movie. She especially enjoys that it's a homeschooler who wrote it! I can see that being very inspirational for her--she's quite the writer herself. It wouldn't surprise me at all if she got herself published before she graduates high school.

Today, I'll have my niece. We'll do some Christmas-related shopping this morning so we can stay away from the crazy streets and stores this afternoon. It wasn't too bad yesterday, but I imagine that each day this week, it'll be worse and worse. The streets were already crazy at 2:30 yesterday. At some point, I'll fit in some handwriting, phonics, book reading and math with ds. We might even make some Christmas "chocolates" with a Wilton Christmas candy mold. That'd be fun to do this afternoon, I think. I'll have to see if I can remember to take some pictures and post them!

Hey, I can post dd and "Bob"'s Lego city. Part of it is created due to a kit, but they've made modifications and set up their own things.

Can you see the soccer field (almost wrote football field--the British influence in my family!), with the multi-coloured nets?

Better view of the soccer with the ref.

How about the 16yo's help message?

Written so that our neighbour could probably read it. It finally got erased after dd added in something about being held prisoner!!! I could just see having cops at the door to see what's going on...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Another week done

This week was kind of a blur. I should really sit down and blog more often because trying to remember a whole week is difficult!

We had a Christmas party--I think there were 20 kids here! omg!

The 16yo got some work done, but in general, they all fizzled.

They did some Christmas crafts.

We went to the library.

I bought A Muppet Christmas Carol on dvd (love that movie!).

And I'm working like crazy on a Christmas gift I'm making and hope I'll have done by Christmas. (Yes, I should be working on it now, but I went grocery shopping and need a break. :D)

The 2 oldest are supposed to be gone next week--but if things worsen for their grandmother, they might not go after all. I'm going to assume they'll be gone. I plan on doing a little school routine in the morning with my 2, then the afternoons will be for cleaning the basement, finishing our Christmas shopping and other Christmas prep. We might also go to Millennium Place one day. And we have bowling with some other homeschoolers. If they 2 oldest don't go, they still won't be hear for Monday, but I'd expect them to work Tues-Thurs.

There's not much else to say at the moment. I think I'll go work on that Christmas gift!

Monday, December 10, 2007


I think it's going to be one of those days. I've got sinus issues, a cold and had a horrible sleep, the two oldest essentially spent the weekend at the hospital with their grandmother and are tired and one is particularly irritable... My goal is to get through the day with everybody still in one piece!!!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

What have we done this week?


I'm not really sure. lol.

Dh and I went to a staff Christmas party last night (he's a teacher). It was soooooooooooo nice to have people interested and supportive of homeschooling!! I sat and talked with the wife of one teacher (she's actually a teacher, too) and she kept saying how great it was I could be home with the kids (her kids are in childcare while she teaches). A few other teachers were talking with us and one just kept nodding his head and said, "That is so great." It was wonderful.

As for the kids... Well... Christmas is approaching. Work is slowing down. The middle 3 (Bob, dd and ds) spent a LOT of time outside. We went to a first Friday Mass yesterday, followed by a potluck and the same 3 outside crazy carpeting on a hill outside the church--for 2 hours, I saw neither hide nor hair of them. They were beat. The 16yo is plugging away still, feeling not quite so overwhelmed. (Although she said she feels she just stressing about everything lately! Just a phase, I guess.) The 13yo--woops, Bob--is feeling more and more anxious about going to Hawaii: he's afraid of flying (and tornados and this and that...) We talked to him supportively about it, but he didn't seem to want to deal with it. I even asked right out if he wanted to learn some things to help him deal with it and he said no. I don't think he wants to really admit that it's a problem. Being anxious is one thing; saying that it's a problem and accepting that you can do something about it is quite another! I might still find some things to read and share about dealing with fears in general this week and not make any direction mention of his own fears.

Other than that... I really don't know. Just been a fuzzy week, I guess. Next week is busy. Last week for the 2 oldest (unless their grandmother passes on this week--it would cancel their trip to Hawaii), which means a major pre-Christmas cleanup around here, as well as trying to get some sort of work done and prep for a Christmas party on Friday. I said I'd prepare a turkey, so I guess I'd better buy one! I suppose it's a perfect week for me to prepare Christmas and Advent stuff to put out for them to choose from: colouring pages, word searches, mazes, etc. Keep the middle three busy with that stuff while I try to help the oldest cruise through as much as she can. Oh, and put some stuff together so she can review here and there over the holidays.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Bob is blind

Okay, not really, but the eye doctor called him that jokingly. His eyes don't work together properly and he also needs multifocal lenses. No wonder this kid complains so much about reading!!! I wonder how long it's been bad. I know it's gotten worse this past year as it's become evident that some things haven't just been a copping out because he doesn't feel capable. He's supposed to get his glasses sometime this week.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Tylenol Cold Nighttime has too much of a drowsy effect on me! Although it stopped my coughing and let me sleep last night, I just can't shake this drowsy feeling. One can only wonder what an actual sleeping pill would do to me.

In any case, it's messing around with my brain a bit. I had all these ideas yesterday--not written down--and trying to put things together in some sort of plan for school tomorrow isn't working so well. Maybe if I babble here it'll help.

For the oldest... I tried figuring out how to bring in the whole "What type of student do I want to be?" thing, but everything I've written so far feels wrong. If it in ANY way comes across as "You should have been doing this" or a criticism, it'll all fall apart. Part of it will depend on her mood tomorrow, too. She's been tired and feeling overwhelmed. Whatever I say or do has to actually be helpful instead of adding to her sense of being overwhelmed. One thing I know I need to really clarify with her, or perhaps have her officially agree to, is to NOT finish her math for the end of January. I don't see how she'd pass the exam. She is behind and has not come close to mastering any of the stuff. Give her an extra two months and I think she'll be ready. That means we can stop trying to cram two lessons into one and give her the extra practice she needs.

The plan for her, therefore, this week is to:
  • somehow bring up what kind of student she needs to be so that she can realize her dreams
  • have her figure out what's important to her in the long run
  • do as much as she can in chem (another area she needs extra practice in; I need to also give her some extra practice sheets)
  • I'm hoping she will have done the social studies reading she took home with her; if not, she'll have to finish that this week and will have to consider using Thurs. aft/evening and Fri. afternoon to do it all (dd and ds have a playdate Thurs. afternoon and Fri. morning we're going to a Mass)
  • for math, extra practice sheets and just getting her to do as many questions as she can in her lessons
  • I probably need to write up specifically what needs to be done. I realize now that for her next semester, she has to be MUCH more involved in the planning. Part of her feeling overwhelmed the other day is that she felt she doesn't really know how much she has left and when everything is supposed to be done by. Although, that may have been her brain stuck in some sort of rut--she's had plenty of calendars given to her breaking down her work and giving her rough deadlines. I think she was just really focused on being behind. For next semester, before she begins, SHE will work out a rough schedule for everything. Then we need to make it a habit to check in with this schedule daily so that she stays on track. She's very quick to stop doing stuff because she just doesn't feel like it anymore, and says things like, "I know I should..." I also somehow need to get her to connect all of this with what she *wants* in the long run. Hard to stay on track with school and not end up overwhelmed when you have no real desire a lot of the time to do the work, much less do extra.

Okay, now for "Bob"

  • I have this interesting program out from the library. One of the books is called "Get Ready to Read" and the other is "Get Ready to Write". I want to use those daily with him this week. I also have to get our phonics back in. AND copywork. His little writing snippet the other day was great, but his handwriting is still very immature.
  • For math, more work on order of operations and just keep going with this integer/pre-algebra work.
  • All I can think of at the moment.

Nothing specific for dd, except that she hasn't done cursive in quite a while.

For ds, I'm being un-Montessorian and insisting that he does some sort of reading, writing and math activities with me.

I think I'll try to write up the 16yo's "What's Left" list now. Wish me luck! ;)

Friday, November 30, 2007

I remembered again!

One thing this week that I did was remember to resume my own studies. It really seems to help to have me doing some sort of work while they have their own work going on--even if my work is just open in front of me and I'm not getting anything done because I'm helping them. In any case, I copied down the categories for the classification of animals (kingdom, phylum, etc.) and did up a table with different animals, finding out what I could. I was able to share with them cool things I'd found out. They added in animals they wanted done. Unfortunately, the first one they came up with was snail (I don't have that volume of the encyclopedia and was trying to use only the encyclopedia) and then snake (same volume). *sigh* But it was fun! And I wouldn't be surprised to see them trying it out sometime.

Hey, I remembered

I remember some stuff that got done this week:

Ds did a few mornings in a row of this French beginning reading program we have. I don't know how much he's learning from it (part of the problem with the way a lot of "educational" software is set up), but we did do some of it together and he's doing well. Other than that, not much. I told him that next week, we'll be looking at minimum number of things to get done each day. He's ready. And willing! He's very excited about his progress in reading.

Shoot, I forgot the other thing I had remembered. lol

In any case, the 13yo/"Bob" wrote a fictional journal entry today. Completely his idea of topic (I had actually suggested a letter to Santa) and it was GREAT! Someone might say that it's far below what a 13yo should be able to do, but for him, it was great. He can go soooooooo far when he lets himself.

The 16yo is starting to feel overwhelmed. I've been trying to think about what to do. I sent her some links about being an overwhelmed student and will need to think and pray about this more this weekend. I've had one thing come to me that right now, she's focused on all the stuff that isn't done that needs to be done. And the confirmation yetserday that they will be going to Hawaii (there was a possibility that they weren't due to her grandmother's advanced cancer, but it appears they are because the grandmother insisted) took a week away from her work time, so I think she's just hit a panic mode. Where do I feel her focus needs to be? On being the type of student she wants to be and what the means in terms of choices and actions. She really wants to be a med student one day. That doesn't mean simply finishing all the work in the course; it means approaching learning in a specific way. I think part of our work on Monday will be looking at this. And it will count towards her CALM course. :)

It's been over a week!

I haven't written in over a week. Wow. Hm. Not sure why not! But now I'm not sure what we did, so...

Dd's been writing a new story on creatures she invented. It's kind of like a research report or informative book, except that it's completely made up. She's also started working on order of operations and is enjoying that.

The 13yo has not been enjoying that math. Even had a breakdown on... hm... Tuesday? But it was after he'd had a blow-up with his sister, so I don't know if it was really the math or his emotions in the way.

Other work? Not sure.

The 13yo has decided to quit diving. The 16yo was wanting to quit--before her parents gave the okay. Now she doesn't want to quit. Even though she was wanting to quit before because she felt she didn't have the time to do other things: more time on school work, chance to volunteer and work... I can understand not wanting to quit in the middle of a year, though.

We went to the Festival of Trees yesterday. It was kind of disappointing. There was something missing. Actually, a few things since at least 2 of the previous activities were no longer there. There seemed to be half the number of decorated trees and many weren't that interesting. I don't know. It was weird. We didn't even stay as long as we usually do. The kids LOVED the endoscope table, though!

All for now. I have to eat!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Addition/Subtraction Board

Well, at least SOMEONE's using it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


My niece is finally here! I looked after my other niece all day Monday, then my in-laws brought over my nephew (niece's brother) after school and the 2 of them stayed over. My niece was born at 2:45pm, weighing in at 9 pounds!!! We still haven't had a chance to see her.

Our Monday work day was weird and kind of fell apart rather quickly. Part of it due to the oldest getting worse and worse with the flu as the morning progressed. We did end up watching all of "Gandhi", which was good. I had seen it in high school, but I don't remember being super interested and it didn't really feel like it was connecting to whatever we were doing in social studies. Yesterday, suffering the effects of the "sleepover", the morning didn't get going too strongly and we ended up going to the library in the morning. Today is going to be Super Work Day! :D Dd has been asking for more structured, but "fun", things to do. The 13yo is wandering around aimlessly. Ds hasn't read to me since the weekend. Add to that that it's Hump Day--I have to have things very structured for anything to get done!

Off I go to read with ds now. :)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's due date!

And my niece still isn't here! :( Her mom has been having pre-labour/false labour on and off for 3 weeks, and still no baby. The doc will let her go one week overdue and then induce.

Other than that... Ds is on this learning to read kick. It is soooooo cool. He's learned sooooo much so quickly--that or he's absorbed so much in the past that is just kind of placing itself together now. He brought me a Blockbuster receipt yesterday. I asked him if he could tell me which movie it was for (I only keep those that have been shown with the other kids as it counts as a business expense). I show him where it says the movie, he figures out "Meet the...", sees the R and knows it's "Robinsons". He was SOOOO proud of himself, unfortunately, that he whooped and flung his arms up and slightly back and whacked dd in the nose. :-

I had a slight panic over the 16yo and her learning this week--she just has times where everythig shuts down. I got some advice from the Montessori-L plus just did some of my own thinking and am really looking forward to this week because I'm feeling confident things will work. One thing that has really been sticking with me is how well the 16yo did with algebra when she was using materials. Then she stopped using the materials the year after, because, I guess, we both kind of felt that she "knew" the stuff, but she'd forgotten some things and some stuff has been a struggle ever since. She falls more on the tactile/kinesthetic/global side of learning and I've really realized how I need to show her how to incorporate that style into her learning. My initial worry was, how in the WORLD do I have her learn quadratics while learning to incorporate her learning style??? Then I realized: colour coding and little "tiles" with the variables and symbols and showing her how to draw up a table for the comparisons the text is going through... I need to think more about her other subjects, too. For chem, I think tiles will be great for working out how to rearrange equations. For social... I think I'm really going to have to encourage her to work on mind maps or visual posters--oooh, how about visual timelines? This one book I found on learning styles recommended role playing, too. I don't know how comfortable she would be with that, but I know she sort of role played through writing for one of the industrial revolution topics she worked on and it really stuck with her. She's about to start a theme on World War I (which, unfortunately, she has to cover in a week) and the more she can put herself in the position of those involved, the more it'll stick.

Another thing I've realized this week is how much her struggle with texts is the reading comprehension. She can understand every word in the sentence, but the way the sentence is put together, she's not attributing the right things to the right part of the sentence. I think she needs to learn how to do sentence analysis! Of course, that means I've got to improve my skills in that first. Last time I really did sentence analysis was in jr. high--for French class. Fortunately, I've got some resources here. I feel too unsure of the Montessori style to do it that way at this point.

For the 13yo, he did his first essay this week. :) He said a whole bunch of things, I wrote down what he said, added a couple of tips here and there and had him choose between some transitioning options and ta-dah! He copied it all down and feels very proud. :) This coming week's writing assignment: his own report card. :D I've been reading a book whose name I can't remember at the moment and there's something in it about how kids need to be involved in the evaluation process more. That, combined with dh working on report cards and me needing a new writing assignment for this week, led to me deciding to give this as an assignment. I think I'll assign it for dd, too, but hers will be in French.

Other than that, haven't really figured out this week's plans yet, but do need to print off my first little French reading booklet for ds. Dd has agreed to do the drawings for me. Yes, my 10yo dd draws better than I and has probably done so since she was 6! I should also come up with some new words for him to do. (Shoot, that reminds me that I never took a picture of what I've prepared for him to share here.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Just had to update

I'm supposed to be working on summarizing the 16yo's social studies so she doesn't have to try to force herself through some 15 pages of very dry textbook stuff tomorrow (she'd never accomplish it in the first place; of course, this has me wondering if I'm rescuing her or not, but I feel somewhat responsible for her being behind!), but I just have to share before I forget.

I did the first and second of the Reading Reflex-type activities with ds on Monday. He LOVED it, especially the second one which was a form of auditory processing activity. It somehow had something click. That afternoon, we were out and he read a few CVC words--in English. Yesterday, I pulled out some Bob Books to show him and he absolutely wanted to read them then and there. And he DID!!!! The first book was a total breeze, through to the 4th book where he needed some guidance. He was sooooooooooooooooo proud of himself! And I just couldn't be more pleased. He read the first 4 a second time yesterday evening and wanted to read them again tonight, but we remembered too late. This is so typical of him--lag, lag, lag, lag, then boom. Good thing he's not in a regular school. I'm going to have to scramble to put some little phonetic French books together so he can have French reading practice.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Various things

I did up some Reading Reflex-style activities for ds for this coming week. I thought I'd be able to share it here, but I can't seem to find anything other than inserting a picture or video. Hm... I guess I could take a picture later of a printed off copy.

What else have I done? Let's see... I've worked on a unit 2 math test for the oldest plus a unit 2 chem test. She has 3 tests this week, if she follows the schedule like she should. Social test tomorrow, but that's already done. Chem test probably on Thurs. Math test on Wed. (I hope!).

I've also done more thinking about the 13yo/Bob. It's not that I purposefully sit down and do it, just something pops into my head and I feel compelled to explore it. I'm actually feeling really great about this and am thinking more and more that I will have him switch boards next year to do the online program part-time. Here's how it would look with our current board, using teacher-directed courses:
  • home ec. (I chose that because it's super easy and he likes cooking and using the sewing machine)
  • math 9
  • phys.ed/health
  • French
  • religion if he needs another course
  • if he needs yet another course, some of the CTS courses, or if he must have another core course, science
  • everything else would be parent-directed (traditional homeschooling)

If we go with the other school board, his online courses would be:

  • math 9
  • French
  • health
  • Computers 1 and/or Food Studies

Offline APS courses would be:

  • phys. ed.

Everything else (English, science, social) would be traditional. The decided advantage of moving to the other board is that he'd get used to the online format (which is very different from what our current board does). He would, as well, have the possible chance of taking an in-school class if he wanted to. And the reason for only having math for both schools is that the social courses just aren't that good to start with, he'd rather explore his own thing for now for science, and he's just not ready for LA. I wanted to have one core course for sure so that he gets used to the quizzes and tests and exams and he'll have to take the provincial achievement test at the end of that year. For high school credits, regardless of where he does his schooling and how he goes about it, he HAS to take exams. One course will provide some sort of transition.

I'm also so weird that I've thought ahead to his high school courses. %-p Unless there are some major changes in the next two years, I'll make sure he takes Learning Strategies 15 and 25, his mark in Math 9 will determine if he needs to do Math 10 Prep or not, have him do the English _-2 route, switching either right after 10-2 or 20-2 to the -1 stream (I think if you switch in grade 12, you end up having to take BOTH diploma exams, and that'd just suck!) I suppose his interests and his parents' desires will determine whether or not he'll take a second language. He keeps saying he wants to go into dentistry, so he'll have to take all three sciences. That really fills up most of his schedule!

One last thought about all of this: another reason I feel the need to have him in the online program is I don't want there to be any question about him "hiding" from going to school because of some possible notion that school has too much work and he doesn't have to word as hard here. With this outside stuff set in stone, and it is a lot of work, he's less likely to hide from school for that reason. (It's funny--he was so set in Aug. on going to school so he could be with friends, but stuff going on at diving has had him change his mind because he doesn't want to be in that social environment!)

Let me come back to the present. :)

The 16yo has a full week this week.

She needs a good fractions review, which she'll do for math tomorrow (with dd and "Bob" being invited to join in). She then has to finish the work for the 2nd unit and do some review (Tues.), do her test ideally on Wed., and do 3 lessons from the 3rd unit on Thurs. and Fri. (Oh, I have to work on that, too, to see what she has to do and what corners we can cut.)

She's starting ch. 4 tomorrow. I won't let her take more than 2 days to finish it. Do the unit review on Wed. Do the test on Thurs. Do unit 3 prep (and maybe start ch. 5) on Fri.

Theme 2 test tomorrow. (Ack--she's supposed to be finishing theme 5--of 8 themes--this week.) Then spend the rest of the week doing Theme 3 work with the test next Monday. (She has no choice: she MUST do a theme per week now.)

Avoir, être and ERverbs in present, imperative and futur proche (sorry, don't know the English word), plus have her do just word reading (and maybe spelling!) from a simple list I found.

For Bob:

Writing: 1 essay or page-length composition due on Friday
Reading: phonics drills, even if I have to bring him to the computer, enlarge them to 200% so that he can do them ;)
Spelling: based on the phonics drills with a focus on those words he messes up when he's reading

Keep him going with numeration, which means I have to prepare more stuff!

He said he wanted to learn more about Egypt. I'll have to help him figure out what specifically he wants to explore and help him find resources.

His chem kit, if he wants. Other than that, not sure!

Oral grammar with the oldest, plus just the regular talking!

For dd:

Daily reading with me. Writing assignment for the week (I have to come up with some topic choices--that's what she asked for when we discussed her actually doing some writing in French). She can also do the grammar with the others.

She says she still wants to keep going with the math sheets. So there we go.

I'd like to introduce her to zoological classification. She really likes tigers and had wanted to do a project on them, a project that kind of got pushed to the side, so perhaps this is a way to still look at them. We have a chart that has the classification broken down, so we could work out together what the formal full classification for her specific tigers.

Nothing special other than EVERYBODY will do stuff on learning the continents and oceans this week. I already have a large map printed off. :D Gotta love that poster feature for the printer!

I already discussed ds in a separate post.

And other than that, we are ALL waiting for my niece to be born!!!!! :D She's technically not due until the 18th, but my sil has been on medical/early maternity leave since the beginning of Oct. due to the high chance that she'd have the baby early. Her first was born 1.5 weeks early; the second 2.5 weeks early. Today is 2 weeks before the due date and she's had false labour on and off for 2 weeks. She is soooooooo ready to have this baby--as are we! :)))

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Ds and his education

Okay, let me continue my thoughts from yesterday about ds and his education.

I've started working out a list of phonetic words I could do Reading Reflex style (like the Montessori Object Boxes). Basically, you've got a little picture and the letters that match up with the word the picture represents. Let's pretend it's some lips to represent a kiss ("bec" in our French). I'd also have little squares with the letters b, e, c on them. The Reading Reflex lessons have you write the lines for the sounds on a whiteboard, then ask the child which sound he hears first. He'd take that sound and put it on the first line. Then the second sound on the second line and the last on the last. You then ask the child to write out the word saying the sounds. Here is my list of super easy words for now:

as, os, bec, sec, bac, lac, sac, bol, col, sol, bal, mal, fil, ami

This will get us started for reading and writng and is something he will enjoy doing. I will also keep looking at his cursive book which inspires him to want to do some--especially since I told him the other day that he doesn't have to do the pages in order, he can pick.

On a side note for language arts: he decided during supper last night that he wanted to "work" with me after supper. He picked reading. He read all the easy words in this one book (je, le, la, un, etc.) and some of the harder words. Always makes me feel good to see that he's progressing despite my lack of consistency. I said something to him about how many words he can read now and asked him, "Every day you read, you get better and better. How much do you think you could read by Christmas if you read every day?" The way his eyes lit up was magic. He WANTS to read--I just have to set the right stage for him.

And isn't it interesting: he's had a sudden interest in reading and writing (he was writing stuff the other day, in addition to his cursive workbook, sounding out words to spell in English) JUST after he lost his first tooth? (You ever heard of the research done linking children's readiness for reading with their first permanent teeth coming in?) I remember one Montessori teacher saying she'd noticed a cycle in her school: the kids usually started learning to read at 4, but if they didn't, they didn't seem ready to do it until 7 (when the first teeth have been lost).

I seem to have some internal issue against showing him various Montessori math materials I have. Why??? I don't know. In any case, I think he'd love using the Addition/Subtraction Strip Board (usually 2 boards in a classroom, but for home purposes, just one!), so I need to find my strips for that and prepare some booklets and let him cruise. Of course, I could be totally off and he might not be interested in doing them at all. lol.

I want to return to my idea of zoology. I think I feel lost as I don't have something telling me what to do and I don't have a lot of knowledge of my own. Since he loves ocean animals, I'm going to start with fish and look at the external parts of a fish. Then we can look at the internal. However, I don't think we'll use real fish as I'm rather squeamish. ;) We can look at our pet fishes to look at the external parts, but I'm really not sure I can do more than that.

I want them ALL to learn the continents and oceans--I think the oldest knows the continents, but not the oceans. Then we'll progress from there together with geography. Ds might like the pin map of North America, especially since there's a place for Belize, where my former student now lives.

As for history... I can start timeline study with him. I've got a roll of paper and we can do a timeline of his life. I think he'd like that. :)

That's it for now. I've got a headache I can't shake--I think I had too much sugar and chocolate yesterday. Need to go drink a couple of glasses of water. And maybe a couple of Tylenol. I'm supposed to be taking ds out shopping this afternoon--poor kid grew over the summer, didn't wear his pants at all, so we get to our recent weather and all his pants are too short!

I'm so weird!

I don't know if it's affirmations I was doing today--I'm trying to work out exactly how I'd like things to be with schooling--or what, but as I showered, I just couldn't get out of my head thoughts about next year's plans for the 13yo. Woops, sorry, "Bob".

What sort of thoughts? Well, we'd talked this week about how if he's with me for high school, I will have him put on a specific online program through one of the homeschool boards. I didn't explain to him the reasons for this and he didn't ask. He needs something transitional. He resists change and doesn't do well with it, which means that if he goes from the type of homeschooling we're doing now right to post-secondary after high school, it'll flop. He knows things with our current homeschooling are flexible, negotiable. High school requirements aren't that flexible and negotiable. I just feel strongly it's important for him to get used to having someone else to be accountable to, to have stuff somewhat set-in-stone that he knows he has to step up to do or he'll fail. I also want him to have the opportunity to take some classes through the local schools, which he can do only under one of two conditions: he's registered with that board as blended or traditional; he's a fully provided high school student with any Alberta board. He could stay with the board we are at and be fully provided, but the structure that this other program provides will work better. Plus, they have some courses that our current board doesn't have.

But these thoughts led to: what about next year? How's he going to handle going from our current homeschooling to that particular online program? Slight panic set in. Then I remembered that I had already talked to his mom about Bob going blended next year. So that's led me to the computer to see what blended with our current school board would be like and what blended with the other board would be like.

It's Nov. of his gr. 8 year--so, 3rd month of the school year--and I'm already working out next year's stuff!!!!! Why????

Now that I've asked the question, I think, other than the fact I'm weird, it's to be able to orient myself for the rest of this year. I've been planning the next 5 weeks for the 2 oldest (they're leaving for Christmas holidays a week early for Hawaii) and having a sense of approaching halfway through the year. I can not, and will not, let this boy fail. He's capable of a lot more, although he is definitely making some good progress. He started copying out a recipe all on his own yesterday. DO YOU REALIZE HOW HUGE THIS IS????? He's doing more, wanting to do more, feeling more confident. It's great. Yes, yes, I complain we don't get enough done, but I have to admit he's making some real progress. The focus he has when he sits down and does the math I've prepared for him is phenomenal. It's so great to see.

Ok, gotta go back to looking at these two different programs for next year. ;)

Friday, November 09, 2007

This week is pretty much over

Well, we didn't get as much done as I had planned, but we are all just so out of it and affected by lack-of-sleep, weather and ill health. There's only so much you can force a tired and sick brain to do! Poor 16yo even had issues just with simple stuff to read. She's still forcing herself to get through stuff, even if it's not fully processing, so that's good.

The 13yo--sorry, Bob--had his eye appointment and needs to go back in a couple of weeks to do the eye drops thing so the doc can look inside the eyes. Apparently, he's got very strange eyes. He is far-sighted, but if I'm understanding what he understood, it sounds like he still can't see as much as he ought to be able to see, as though his seeable range is short. In any case, the doc told him he's never seen something like it before. He also did something with a laser-thingy and was supposed to say whether the line was above or below something and he had a whole bunch of lines all over, which the doc didn't seem to expect (hence, having to use the drops to see what's going on). So, he's going to get glasses, but after his final appointment. He did say that it was cool being able to see (with the lenses they try) all kinds of things he couldn't see before.

The kids are mighty disappointed that we didn't get the 2-4 cm of snow they were, yesterday, predicting we'd have today. I don't blame them. This dreary weather's just blah.

Some people apparently have long weekends, but we won't be. "Bob" wanted the day off and asked for the day off but I said no. We just really haven't been doing a lot and I don't want to have a short week next week. Besides, there are only *5* weeks before the two of them leave for Hawaii. Gotta get cracking and get the oldest caught up and make up for some of the recent lack of work on the other kids' parts.

I also really want to focus on ds. I feel like he's the one who most needs the type of Montessori style I was using when dd was his age and slightly younger, but he's not getting much. What would I like for him?

Language Arts
-One thing I realize I'm having trouble with is that dd just picked up on reading and she WANTED to do the Reading Reflex stuff. Ds doesn't really have a big interest, although he's much more into play than dd was at that age. But I also don't have the same materials. I don't want to teach him in English (which is how dd started reading) but I don't have things for French so I guess I'm feeling lost. I need to prepare a list of words and materials I can use with him--or near him and have him watch me and want to join or something.


I've been distracted. I won't continue for now. I have to clean.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Misc. babble

I was going to post a picture of my cat watching our 52" plasma tv this morning--I had put The Secret dvd on and he was on the tv stand, sitting with his nose practically on the screen--but he left his spot when I came back with the camera. It was just so funny watching him!

School stuff: (Is today Wed. or Thurs.? Holy cow, it's Thurs.!)

The 13yo (who would like me to refer to him as "Bob") has an eye appointment today. Oooh, that reminds me, I'm supposed to write up a note so that he doesn't forget details in explaining what's going on with his eyes. He is definitely far-sighted--saw a parking lot sign from I'm not sure how far away that none of the rest of us could see. He's been complaining a lot about print being too small--and not just when I expect him to read. The other day, he was reading dd's story as she typed it on the laptop and I asked him how he found the size, because she had the font fairly large. He said it was okay. I took the laptop and started slowly pulling it backwards, asking him if it was getting worse. He got this kind of surprised look on his face: "It's getting better! Why?" All this time, as he had problems seeing words in books, he's apparently been pulling the book closer to his face (that's what everybody else does, right?) and he had no inkling that if he held the book further away, he'd have a better chance of reading it.

I have to wonder how long this has been a problem for him. I'm so eager to see what glasses will do for him. He has always given up so quickly when he gets frustrated with reading--how much of it has been because he simply can't see the letters correctly? I know in elementary, his eye doctor had always diagnosed him as being far-sighted, but for some reason, never gave him glasses. (This eye doctor also refused to give glasses to his sister, despite rather severe astigmatism, until a couple of years ago--she, too, spent years struggling with the print in books.) Last year, the eye doctor said his eyesight was normal, which I found odd. There were still signs here and there of him being far-sighted. He's seeing a different eye doctor today.

This week has been an odd week for school work. We finally started getting back on track yesterday, but still sluggish. We are ALL suffering still from the time change. Which is weird. I remember how we always used to do just fine with the fall time change, but no longer. My kids are going to bed later for their internal clocks, but still getting up at the same time. The two oldest are tired. I've been exhausted--went to bed just after 9 last night, which was good, because my body's waking me up at 4 still (internally 5), so I almost got 7 hours, which is to be celebrated because I had been getting 5.5-6 before that. Even my dh hasn't made the transition as well as he usually does. I don't get it. And I'm not sure what we should do to make the transition. My poor kids have bags under their eyes, but they are just not capable of sleeping past 5-5:30. And I don't really want them to be going to bed at 7pm and up at 5-5:30 every morning! I'll have to see what I can find online.

That was supposed to be a paragraph about odd week for school work. Oh well. We get more of what we focus on though, right? So I'll stop focusing on that. :) Let me focus on today:

-lots and lots and lots for math, social (*gasp* Do I have her test ready?) and chem. Need to point out to her how much more she could get done if she stayed focused. Maybe I'll track her time on task and show it to her at the end of the day, ask her how much time she thinks she's spending truly working on her work. We've discussed how she needs to put in a solid 4 hours a day just to maintain, and needs to do more than that or cut corners to catch-up. I think in her mind if she's got 4 hours blocked out for work, she figures she's worked 4 hours. Yesterday's 2 hours in the morning were more like an hour and 15. Maybe not even. Yesterday afternoon she was tired and just sluggish, not really allowing herself to be distracted, which is understandable, but she still didn't actually do 2 hours of work (actually, by the time we were done watching Transformers--which she hadn't yet seen and wanted to see and we didn't have my niece, so it was a good time--she had less than 2 hours left to work). The focus must be on the work to accomplish!

His appointment's not until 11, but he'll probably be picked up around 10:30. That's plenty of time to do some math and work on his essay. We've only done one day of that remedial reading drills--he's complained of the print, plus it's just been weird around here. I'd like him to do them today. We can find a good distance for him to see the words. I don't think they should be too small for him.

She's been working a lot on Spanish. She has wanted to do a flute lesson all week, so I'll make sure I fit that in with her.

Ds has been doing more work this week! Yay! I'd like to do some letter work with him again today and some oral math. At the moment, he and dd are watching a video about the Mars Rover--science!

Other than that, we finished reading Schooled this week (great book!) and I have yet to figure out what our next read-aloud will be. But now it's 7 and I have to go get ready. :)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Just had to laugh

I was reading something where they mentioned the NEA, which is the National Education Association (for the US) and how they're really against homeschooling. So I decide to look it up and find this article . I laughed too much to be offended. Especially at the part where the author writes about Sam Walton teaching people to do this and that: did Sam have a degree in teaching people to do those things??? I think not. :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Slow going

Friday's plans didn't happen. I actually don't remember what happened on Friday. Hm... Oh well. I know the oldest wasn't feeling super hot but still made herself get some work done.

Yesterday ended up being a day off. The oldest was feeling worse and just super tired, ds was on pure adrenaline (not getting enough sleep already combined with not enough sleep due to the time change--went to bed an hour later for his internal clock (but same time on external clock) but still waking up at the same time on his internal clock), the 13yo was snuffly and adrenalized and dd just got caught up in all of it. I'm feeling exhausted, too. I don't do well with time changes.

Today... We weren't sure about our plans for today, so that threw off the 13yo (he really likes structure!) and he kind of did this and that this morning. The oldest still isn't feeling well but managed to do some French--easy work. Dd spent the WHOLE morning on Spanish: drawing things then labelling them in Spanish. Ds pulled out a workbook we haven't looked at in a while and did one page with me then did a page in his cursive workbook all by himself--without me asking him or anything. He's spent a LOT of time outside the past few days, since the snow from the weekend.

Right now, I'd really just like to sleep. But I can't because everybody's still here. I think I'll go clean.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Not sure if there's much to update

Let's see...


I did some of the Remedial Reading Drills with the 13yo. I think it's going to take longer than I had thought to go through the stuff because he guesses on words SOOOOOOOO MUCH. The first page is all CVC words with short a. The first part has word families, the second part the words in each row start with the same sound, then the third part has them all mixed. He guesses so much he did fine on the first part but complained about the second part because the endings weren't all the same. He changes the 'a' sound here and there. He adds 'n' before final 'd'. He won't simply sit and sound out the words unless I tell him to sit there and for each word, sound out the word. Of course, unfortunately, the 'ag' words are in there which we don't really pronounced with a short a and his thinking tendencies to persevere with what he's already been doing then have him switch the short a to a longish a for the next word... (Before I give the impression that he can't read at even a gr. 1 level, let me say that he can read many complicated words but his previous training in school for simple words really messed with him being able to read them properly.) He got a page of math done and orally worked on some times tables. I also got him started on planning out an essay on "Why I Want to Be an Orthodontist." (Yes, he wants to be an orthodontist.) It's going fairly well.

The 16yo spent the morning working on her social studies (and is actually ENJOYING it--I decided to take the APS requirements and have her go about answering questions in kind of a research style rather than just reading through the textbook) and did her chem test in the afternoon.

Dd... ? Did some math, spent an hour or so working on her story again...

Ds: did some letter work with him and I played addition bingo. It was actually rather funny. this game is designed to play with a class of 30 and has a LOT of call cards. It normally takes us a good half hour to get through because I keep picking call cards for numbers we don't have on our cards. He won within 10 minutes. lol.


The 13yo went on a focused math marathon. The 16yo worked on her social, French and math. Dd did some math but then laid down as she wasn't feeling well. Then we worked on prepping the house for our Halloween party (kept it small this year!) and ran some errands for the Halloween party.


Morning: final prep for Halloween party.
Afternoon: Halloween party
Evening: Halloween

Here we are now already on Thursday. Plans for today:

16yo: chemistry--at the very least what she was supposed to have done on Tuesday; have her finish up the social she was doing the other day and hopefully get the social done that I have for her for today so she can do an essay test of the unit tomorrow (one unit in less than a week--rushed, but I think fairly well covered); and have her get at least one section done in math and send her home with some math homework; oral French grammar (verb conjugations) and if she gets all that other stuff done, maybe some written work

13: reading/spelling (ah, we didn't do any of the spelling the other day--he's fine with CVC short a words EXCEPT those that end with d, so I must do those with him); math; continue essay; his chemistry kit this afternoon

dd: I absolutely want to read in French to her at some point today--I've decided to stop trying to get her to read in French and simply spend more time reading to her in French; probably some math and I expect she'll want to work on her story as well as work in MS Paint sometime today

ds: work with some more consonants followed by 'a'; I'll also do either the Golden Bead Tray with him or some Ray's Arithmetic. I really need to figure out some more things I can show him, things he'd enjoy doing and open him up to more learning. I had bought a bug unit, but it seems to be designed for when there are actually bugs outside (which makes sense), so that won't work right now.

My big decision right now is if I go ahead with my plans to do something at park day Monday afternoon for Guy Fawkes day. I just feel so celebrated out right now. lol. What with dd's birthday last Tuesday, Galaxyland on Wed., party on Thurs., party on Fri., party and Halloween yesterday... I think I've had enough. I don't want to bake again. I don't want to think about celebrations again. lol. But those feelings may change between now and Monday. I guess I'll have to play it by ear.

Friday, October 26, 2007

What a crazy week!

Wednesday morning, did a bit of work with the oldest while the others played. Then we spent the afternoon at Galaxyland. I decided I would try the Galaxy Orbiter. (I usually only do the simple things aimed more at little kids lol.) Fortunately, it was the last ride of the day for us because I was hugely affected by it--dizzy, headache, pressure in my sinuses and ears and just not feeling great. The headache got worse as the rest of the day progressed, as did slight nausea. I woke up the next morning at 4:30 feeling just as poorly as I did when I had gone to bed. Tried a Gravol and Tylenol, but all the Gravol did was knock me out an hour later, which I won't complain about, but then I was super groggy.

Yesterday morning I had wanted to work with the oldest but I was really quite out of it due to the Gravol (which cancelled all thought of perhaps taking Gravol BEFORE going on rides again in the future) and she was tired and kind of out of it, so we all watched a movie then worked on party prep (dd had her birthday party yesterday afternoon). Her brother, unfortunately, had been on the Galaxy Orbiter many times and the last time did him in the way my single time did me in: bad headache, just feeling crummy. He was actually worse--ended up throwing up at diving the night before. He slept a bit through the movie and felt a bit better afterwards. I actually felt worse just before we started the movie because the Gravol had worn off (I guess it had been helping), but then near the end of the movie, something suddenly changed and I felt a lot better. Weird. But never again will I be going on the Galaxy Orbiter!

Our week, therefore, has not been highly academic. I hope to get the oldest doing one subject this morning, then we can get ready for a Halloween party we're having this afternoon. I'm looking forward to next week when it'll be calmer! Just a Halloween party on the 31st, although now I've received a message about a morning Mass followed by MP for next Friday... We'll see. Other than those one or two activities, I am going to get us back in line for work. This week sort of off has been good, though--nice to have a bit of a break. But it's definitely time to get back on track.

Which reminds me: I took out Rudolf Fleisch's "Why Johnny Can't Read and what you can do about it". He's convinced me to start from the beginning with the 13yo and his reading and to even have the oldest do some of it. They both developed the word guessing technique in public school and have never really shaken it. Fleisch has convinced me to start at the beginning to train them to look at the sounds. Next week's plans, then, include daily phonics reading/writing (I think the lady who put together Phonics Pathways must have based herself on Fleisch's work because it's very similar) using either Fleisch's list of words or Remedial Reading Drills by Hegge, Kirk and Kirk (I found a free copy online). I think I might go with the online copy and print it off, because it'll be nice and big (he's having issues with his eyes lately--he's farsighted and seems to be having an even harder time than usual seeing stuff up close; he doesn't have glasses--yet) and he can use a pencil to track or underline things. Also, I can keep that copy but am not keeping the library book. :) I will also expect him to write each day. I will give him the option of a journal or a blog. Last requirement of the day will be math. Everything else is up to him how much and how long.

For dd, I have realized once again that I'm neglecting her French. I need to figure out this weekend exactly what I want to do about that. But for right now, I need to go switch out of my pyjamas and get ready for the day!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Schoolish update

Yesterday, I thought more about my ds and ended up reading a little story he loves with him (he read one or two words per page), then he practised writing m's, then he pulled out the word cards (just index cards with words on them) and he put a few silly sentences together. I did some oral math with him while I was cleaning up the kitchen last night and was reminded of how much he LOVES that. I need to pull out Ray's Arithmetic again and refresh my memory a bit about their approach. He really enjoyed that last year--as long as it didn't look like my questions were coming from a book. ;)

Dd and the 13yo spent a LONG time on Messenger Live yesterday with the girl I used to homeschool. She's moving to Belize today or tomorrow. I figured a good long computer time with her was allowable.

The 13yo, however, is NOT in the groove this week. Perhaps it's because he knows that half this week is TOTALLY SHOT. I mean, really. We're out tomorrow afternoon (we thought today that it'd be all day, but it turns out that where we're going doesn't open until noon!), he knows he has Thursday off for dd's birthday party day and he'll get Friday morning off school work so he can help dd prepare whatever we're bringing to a Halloween party we're going to. (Omg, I just realized--that means a costume, doesn't it????) There's only Halloween next week, so we should be able to get back into a good groove. I think, however, I'm going to have to tighten up a bit on him. He was going great with his project, but then when he's had enough, he goes back to kind of meandering. I need to decide whether I pick his requirements (like math) or if I have him pick, say, 3 different areas to work on in a given day (things that'll take some time, not just be done with in a few minutes), with him picking more after that if he gets that done.

Today, however, he spent a good hour or so doing science with his chemistry kit. While he still has this desire to just do whatever comes to mind (whether it's a good idea or a bad idea), he is getting more into finding it 'cool' and wanting to know why something does what it does. He's also very conscious about the fact that some of the chemicals we are using are poisonous if ingested, plus he got a lesson on how we need to check how to dispose of chemicals that have some sort of warning on them. Excellent science lessons. :)

The 16yo got a lot of work done yesterday, which was great. She's been really willing to work afternoons lately, but she's been coming down with something and loses her energy a bit and is slow and highly distractible! Ah well. This morning, she was a total mess, but still wanted to force herself to work. She did some CALM, plus had a dentist appointment. Not too bad for looking and feeling awful (and actually throwing up at one point, after which she said she felt much better).

We spent the afternoon out taking care of library, dd bought herself a game to go with her Nintendo DS, running some errands for her birthday party on Thursday... Tomorrow morning, I'm going to get the 16yo to do as much as she possibly can, plus maybe insist on the 13yo doing math or something. I'd much prefer he choose what he thinks would be best for him, so maybe I'll put it in his hands, but insist that he choose something.

Which somehow reminds me that I took out some library books today that I want to have a look at. I think I'll go do that now!

Dd is 10 today!

And know what she said yesterday that she wants to do today?

Start her day off doing math with me. :D

Ds had asked me to play Chocolate Chip math with him. I played on round with him, with dd sitting in for a little bit. Dh asked her what a certain question would be if instead of, let's say, 8-3, it had been 3-8. She gave the answer. That sparked off memories of having done integers in the past (she started at age 7, I think) and then played the next round with ds and me, but she did it so it would be negative numbers. :) Then she and I did the multiplication and division side. She was just loving doing it. Which is why she wants to start with math today--she wants to do more!

While the kids usually have their birthday off, she's getting the next two days off (because of her birthday and knows today is a work day. Of course, once she gets her gift (a special gift for a special birthday--a pink Nintendo DS) she might want to do otherwise, but she'll be able to wait at least until this afternoon, after a bit of exploring it before breakfast, naturally. :)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The weekend is here

This has been a very odd week. Each day this week I've thought that it was a day later than it should have been, yet I feel like it's 'already' the weekend! Weird.

In any case, since Tuesday, things have still been progressing smoothly. I made mention at one point about how, just to stay even, the oldest should really be working 3-4 hours every day, which means to catch up at least 4 hours a day, but I didn't want there to be huge pressure and for her to be focusing on being behind, so I left it at that. We still have to figure out a way for her to get more work done. We have a very busy week next week, but here's my thinking:
Monday: 2-2.5 hours in the morning, 2 hours in the afternoon
Tuesday: same
Wednesday: 2-2.5 hours in the morning; we have an activity in the afternoon
Thursday: 2-2.5 hours in the morning; party in the afternoon
Friday: 2-2.5 hours in the morning; another party in the afternoon

If the minimum of all that gets done, it'll be 14 hours of work, which is an average of almost 3 hours a day--that's actually not bad at all for a week where 3 afternoons are taken up with social stuff! She was actually the one who asked about working in the morning this week, worried that we would have the whole day off and she would get really far behind. I think it'll work.

As for the 13yo, he hasn't done math since Monday I think, but he has been really working on this idea of project/notebooking. He's working more now than he ever has, I think. I must make a point to comment on it. He's becoming more focused, enjoying what he's doing. I *love* it.

Dd has had her fire relit, most of the time. She's got stories going on the laptop and her project in her notebook and the books she's reading and her drawing... I really, really love the change that has happened in our homeschooling. It feels a lot like it did before, when things were going really well.

An interesting thing that came up was that the oldest complained on Friday of how we don't do group 'classes' together anymore. She did a whole melodramatic fake sob of how "we're not a family anymore". Her way of saying she really missed us all doing collective learning activities together. We kind of took Friday off of working (although dd worked on stuff on the laptop) and I read to them from Schooled (GREAT book, btw), and also said we'll have to look at how we can plan more group stuff together.

Right now, though, I've just noticed the time and I've got to get going! We're leaving in 10 minutes for swimming and I'm sitting here in my pj's!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Things are going well!

Although the 16yo is still being plagued by headaches and just the feeling that she's fighting off something (she's hoping to get in to see her doctor this week as she thinks she might have a sinus infection, too), her work is still progressing reasonably well. She didn't get a lot done today, but had no problem sitting down with me for an hour this afternoon, when she was feeling better, to get her cruising through some of her social studies. We've been talking a bit more and getting a feel for things and right now; she says she just feels the need to be told what she should get done and she'll do what she can to do it. Sounds good to me!

Since my change in approach--having the "requirements" but giving dd and the 13yo free choice at the same time, things are getting progressively better. The 13yo is taking tiny baby steps to really learning what he wants to learn and dd is enjoying being able to spend time on the computer typing up her story ideas. That left me this morning thinking about ds and how it's time I add him in. So I thought of something we could do this morning that wouldn't take very long because we were just getting going very slowly and I picked one of the little French easy readers we have, read it with him (having him read the odd word here and there) and then wrote out one of the sentences--but with each word on an index card. He really liked having to read the words to put the sentence back together and thought of other words (silly stuff, of course) that he would like on index cards for when we do something together another day. These all got stored in a page protector for sports cards (found it at a dollar store the other day).

Later on, the 16yo was resting as her headache had gotten really bad and she felt exhausted, dd was on the laptop and the 13yo was working on an e-card for his mom (her birthday today), I asked ds if he wanted to look at this one library book with me, something he'd taken out sometime ago and we'd never looked at. He said yes. So we curled up on the couch and instead of me reading it all to him, we just looked at the images and talked about stuff (it was a book on life cycles). He was exposed to so many different things! Arthropods, amphibians, fish (including a cool one that keeps the eggs in its mouth until they hatch), mammals--we talked about what it meant to be a mammal, birds, even a bit of the 'birds and the bees' as he asked how babies got out of their moms. It was just a wonderful time together, 'doing school' in a relaxed, yet fully interested way.

One thing I started drawing up yesterday were little worksheets that go through the different concepts at different grade levels. I realized yesterday that the 13yo, first of all, does NOT like the very open structured types of lessons--a worksheet that shows clearly what he's got to do is what he likes; secondly, that he's been balking at stuff I've been trying to introduce to him from his gr. 8 text--I keep getting the, "This is stupid," which usually means, "I feel stupid." So these worksheets I'm drawing up are to 1) give him the structure he likes and 2) get a good feel for where certain concepts and skills are going astray. Already today, there was the discovery that while he knows that 4 tens is 40, he could not somehow grasp that he was only supposed to write 4 tens instead of writing 40 tens. (This was looking at images of base ten blocks.) I'm not sure if the concept isn't there right or if the setup messed him up. In any case, this feels like the right thing to do--and dd is LOVING doing it, too! She ASKED to get the same sheets, finished up the first 4 quickly then asked for the next 2. She was on a roll. Of course, the sheets she had so far have only covered grades 1 and 2, maybe a bit of gr. 3, numeration concepts. ;)

Speaking of which, I'd best get to working through those sheets more!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Quick update

Thursday morning, I told the 13yo to get himself a blank notebook so he could keep everything he was interested in learning in it. He preps his notebook (an older one that he pulled the used pages out of), sits down, creates a title page, then... writes three lines of a report on trees! lol. It was fantastic. Not at all what I had in mind (I don't think he understood that this was supposed to be for him to collect information, not tell me what he knows), but it was superb. So focused, pleased with himself... It was great.

I didn't end up doing the required reading that day, but did tell him on Friday and he was totally fine with it. I ended up getting attitude, passive-aggressive attitude, and blew up at him and finally said something about my real anger is that he is not cooperating. He ended up going off for a while, came back in a better mood and apologized. It was a signal to me, too, though, that what I was asking him to do (Phonics Pathways) was something he really did NOT want to do. The point of PP with him is to get him to read through the words. I can do that with him in other ways, though, like analyzing a short sentence from a book or poem or whatever. So I'll change what he needs to do for his remedial time with me.

The 16yo has her 'sticker chart' with the recommended work 'chunks' for Oct. each having their own box. She MADE herself get this one thing for her social studies done on Friday. It was great. I'm going to use that to help her develop a habit of really making herself accopmlish certain goals. That's the really hard part about this type of high school homeschooling--she has work she needs to accomplish, but there's nobody telling her that this is due this day or you'll get 0, etc. It's like school projects, where you put things off and put things off, except these school projects are her entire courses. Some thinking, praying and affirmations brought me to a point this morning of seeing how to use that success on Friday to have an empowering, guiding discussion tomorrow. She could definitely make herself get at least 2 things from her chart done each day and build up to having the drive and confidence to get more than that done. Once she sees those starred work blocks filling up, it'll be even more motivating--I hope! (Btw, she is the one who wanted the sticker chart. :) I bought a bunch of different stickers at the dollar store to use and they choose the sticker when they're done.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Today worked out mildly better than yesterday, but dd's under the weather and ds is either being really affected by the weather or just isn't sleeping enough and is difficult, the 16yo has been battling sinus problems and their accompanying headaches and lethargy for the past week and the 13yo seems to be running on pure adrenaline half the time. They got more done than yesterday, but then it just all fizzled.

Here's my latest thinking:

The 'requirements' will come later. The math they can sort of do without me being right there with them the whole time. The 13yo HAS to have my one-on-one with him for reading, phonics, spelling and writing. But it's very hard for me to get the morning started off right for EVERYBODY if I'm just focusing on one person. Soooo, here's my latest thought: tomorrow morning, I'll introduce some project or work thing to dd and the 13yo. They can keep going with it while I assist, as needed, the 16yo and perhaps show my niece some activity and perhaps ds. They can still do other activities, and I'll have other short lessons planned, but stuff that won't keep me focused on just them AND won't have the 13yo, in particular, wandering off because he's waiting for me to do the next required item with him. 30 minutes or so before lunch is, after reflecting upon it today, probably the ideal time for me to get some one-on-one remedial work done with the 13yo. They'll still have their charts for work to choose from or to plan on doing (they really do like the sense of accomplishment that they get from see stuff checked off--or in this week's case, stickers put in their spot lol--their decision!) but the LA stuff that he just won't do on his own can be treated as remedial one-on-one with a set time rather than how he starts off his day. I've been noticing how starting off the day with requirements (or perceived requirements) has been getting dd less able to focus on what she really wants to work on. We'll see how it goes!

Why? (nothing to do with homeschooling)

Why do magazines, articles, etc., so often promote a particular idea yet include information in their article or whatever that totally contradicts what they're saying????

Like this one article I was just reading where they kept making it sound like current humidity levels are the result of man-made global warming. They had one little thing in it about how researchers tested a model comparing three types of warming--natural, man-made and a combination of man-made and natural--and the result was that the combination of the two was the reason. Yet the article turned right back around and blamed people for this humidity rise!

Another example: In a recent National Geographic, they had a piece on global warming. I was reading a pull-out section and they were rather balanced about it, very explicit in saying that scientists don't really know what will happen because this is the first time that CO2 levels have climbed so high before the temperatures rose (or maybe it was the other way around). In any case, they were going on about the drastic things that will happen if temperatures keep rising.


The graph they have below this information CLEARLY shows that our temperatures have not peaked the way they should have. We should have been WARMER by now!!! Yes, I'm serious. I don't see any other way that the graph could be interpreted. The graph shows a series of mountains and valleys for sea level, temperatures and CO2 levels, over a period of thousands and thousands of years. While our CO2 levels are incredibly high, the temps have not gotten as high as the past 'mountains' and have actually had a type of plateau never seen before. Other noteworthy information: our current rise in temperature began BEFORE agriculture and the industrial revolution and all that began; also, they have the scare-mongering stuff about what will happen when the temperature rises x degrees, yet according to the graph, the temperature rose to x degrees every single time during the cycle... Yet the implication is that we're supposed to do something to stop it from rising that high. (???)

Now, I'm not saying we're not partly to blame for things; what I am complaining about is why the huge focus on blaming people for stuff that was happening before we even had anything to do with it, why not present a more balanced picture? My mil read or heard something the other day about how, with 9/11, air travel was greatly reduced for a while afterwards and the effects were that temperatures ROSE because there were fewer gases in the air. Yet, air travel is supposed to be one of the WORST carbon emissions! There are scientists out there who are on the other side of the issue saying, "Hey, if we actually cut out everything 'experts' are saying we need to cut out, our temperatures are going to rise even more!" There are other climatologists out there whose own studies on the effects of CO2 have shown that CO2 can rise incredibly without it affecting temperatures much. Yet the scare-mongering continues. Focusing on things like incandescent light bulbs and how we should all go fluorescent (yet many people are sensitive to fluorescent lights and get migraines) instead of more pressing environmental things like plastics and fuels.

The most pressing problem in my opinion is not how can we change our lifestyles to reduce the temperature increases, but what are we going to do ABOUT the temperature increases? That is, how can we prepare for them? What will we need to change about how we live? How will we grow crops? What sort of crops will grow best? Etc. Since it looks like we are (over-)due for high temperatures, whether we are contributing or not, how about focusing on what we are going to do once those temperatures ARE that high? The huge focus is on being environmental, which is great, but it's to prevent a temperature spike that, at least to a certain point, is supposed to happen and are we really ready for it?

I wonder what would happen if the reverse was happening--if temperatures were cooling and we could factor in human causes... Would they be fighting against an impending ice age without dealing with what we're going to do when the ice age hits?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Feels like a Monday!

We have 4 days to do work, right?

This morning, babble, babble, babble instead of reading during our reading time.

The 16yo only had about 30 minutes of work time before leaving for her dentist appointment at 9am--and only did about 5 minutes of work. lol. Babble, babble, babble, everywhere and by everyone.

Dd had a doctor's appointment at 10 and was stressed about it. We stopped working at 9, put on some tv, then left for the appointment. Didn't get back until almost 11, which is our time to start prepping lunch.

So, 30 minutes of work time.

We had lunch, which too FOREVER, then left to run errands: return books to the school, buy a new burner coil for our stove (one had something wrong with it and kept shorting out), then went to the library. We didn't get back until after 3.

Speaking of the school, I now have a dilemma, which might not be a dilemma if it's brought up with the kids: they are having a field trip to a local centre in which dd and the 13yo could spend a day covering the topic Evidence and Investigation. It's a really great field trip. BUT--it's on Nov. 5, which is Guy Fawkes' Day and we were going to try to do something at park day for it. Of course, I suppose they could go on the field trip if they wanted to, and the rest of us could go to park day and do Guy Fawkes' stuff, but their trip finishes at 2:45 (we'd have to leave by 2:30) and park day only starts at 1pm, with many not showing up until 1:30-2pm... Hm... I'll have to talk to them about it tomorrow. It really sucks, though, that there are all kinds of great things coming up on bad days for us!!! (Woops, I'm supposed to be focusing on the positive, like, "Wow! So many great things to choose from. Aren't we lucky?" :D)

Back to the originally scheduled program: Our day was pretty much a non-school day. We have only 3 days left this week! We'll have to make the most of them. Fortunately, we have NOTHING planned. We'll undoubtedly stay home, except maybe to go rent a video on Fri. (we haven't done that in a while and the 13yo made a request for it this week).

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Just a little babble

I don't know if I'm procrastinating or am over-computered or if I do have things on my brain I need to get off! I felt the desire to type, so here I am.

The 16yo did her first math test for Pure Math 20 this past Friday. She got 82%! Woo hoo! But we've got to work some more on the principles from The Secret and on her perfectionism a bit because her original goal was 90% (she's NEVER had anything CLOSE to 90% on a math test; she even got 52% on her Math 10 final). So, what happened when she got her 82%? Pout; "It's not 90." I had to remind her about Jack Canfield and how the first year he used the principles that his goal was to make $100 000. He 'only' made $90-something thousand (he was making something like $8000/year before that). He said something like, "Were we disappointed? No way!" So, we've got to work on that--that if we come really close to meeting our goals, and especially if we've succeeded in doing better than in the past, then we should feel proud of ourselves and not beat ourselves up over not meeting them. I'm sure there are little quotes or articles I can find and share over the next while.

Something else on the 16yo: I got her English 10 exam mark back. 67%. This is actually a relief because we had NO idea how this teacher would mark her written section and we knew she'd done poorly on the matching section and it was iffy about the multiple choice reading comprehension. This gives her a final mark of 70% for English 10 (she had 73% for the stuff she did with me), which is a very decent mark (50-64% is a C, 65-79% is a B and 80-100% is an A for schools here). Especially when you consider that she was considered 2-3 years behind in reading comprehension and in writing when she first started with me 4 years ago!

Other than that, I've started jotting down a few ideas for next week's planning. We've only got 4 days plus the oldest has a dentist appointment Tues. morning. Although we had a bit of an issue on Friday with the 13yo, I'm going to continue with the checklist style I set up for him. His nose was a bit out of joint because dd didn't have the same type of list--she had complete free choice and the list was ideas of stuff for her to work on. When he noticed she was looking at 'fun stuff', he asked, "She gets to do that stuff already?" I said that she already spends a lot of time reading and writing, so that's all taken care of. She had also just finished a math sheet and a grammar sheet, whereas he had only finished the math sheet. It set off something else and he didn't do any more work that morning. Of course, while he's all pouty about dd getting to do other stuff, know what she did? She typed up a story on the computer for the next 2 hours.

In any case, the way I had it set up was requirements at the top, then optional (ideas) list on the bottom. Once he made his way through the top stuff (which was just math and LA) in any order he chose, he could pick from the bottom or come up with some other idea. We've already had days where he's just about accomplished the same amount of stuff that I've put on his requirements list, so I'm not really asking too much. I do need to remember about the work inhibition stuff I read this summer and focus on noticing and charting work-related improvements (skill improvement, increased work accomplished, getting himself going on his own, etc.).

We are still having too many 'lost' days. I think this has to be my focus this coming week, or coming few weeks: keeping a certain structure. I think I'm too flexible, which ends up turning into inconsistent. There's a lot to be said about routine and limits! What kinds of limits? Well, like basement is off limits. Putting ALL the toys away (such a HUGE distraction for the 13yo; or rather, such a huge excuse to be pulled away from work). I'm not sure quite yet what to do about the 13yo and lack of work in the morning. There's one side that says that privileges, like play time, should be removed until work is done. The one book on work inhibition I read said that instead of focusing on things like that, focus more on improving, over time, the amount of work being accomplished. Of course, if I put back, yet again, our afternoon work time, then that might open up more possibilities; that is, instead of going off and playing in the basement or just goofing around, at least he will be participating in some agreed-upon reasonable activities. Like the Stratego they got out the other day. GREAT game for working on logic and planning skills. They've been wanting to learn chess off and on but my one chess board (an old electronic one which has a square that doesn't work any more) is nowhere to be found and the tiny one we had is way too tiny. I should get another one. I spend 2-3 afternoons a week focusing on the oldest's work, so something like chess, or setting up art activities or something would be good.

Other school babbling? Really get the kids planning their morning during our morning meeting. I have to make sure I announce it. I far too often just change things without explaining that I'm changing things! One thing I want the oldest to plan in this week: review. We're starting to get a good work thing going with her, adapting it to her tiredness and all that. It's time to take the next step up towards being a great, independent, student for a traditional school system; the kind of student she needs to be for success in university. She's got this long-standing idea in her head that her memory is awful and thinks there's something wrong with her for not being able to remember some topic from her chemistry book that she read in 15 minutes 2 weeks ago--and hasn't looked at since. Time for her to understand that most people have to constantly review. All of the books I've had out on Photoreading and study skills and mind mapping and What Smart Students know--they ALL have you come back to the stuff regularly. In different ways, mind you, but you MUST come back to the stuff on a regular basis. I need to give her that little lesson then I'm going to have her pick ONE, only one, little thing to review in each subject each time she does the subject. For math, for example, do ONE question from a previous unit. Build up a habit of following through on review.

I think that's enough for now. Time to get my butt moving! I've got a chess set to go buy. ;). Okay, other errands too!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


I ended up clicking on one link after another in Wikipedia and ended up at "compulsory education". This is part of what it says:

Compulsory education at the primary level was affirmed as a human right in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What???? How is a COMPULSORY thing a human right???? "Compulsory" and "right" do not go together. It can be one things for it to be compulsory for governments to OFFER education for human rights, but you can't require somebody to do something and pretend it's their right. Have a look at the Free Dictionary's definition of human right:

human right - (law) any basic right or freedom to which all human beings are
entitled and in whose exercise a government may not interfere (including rights
to life and liberty as well as freedom of thought and expression and equality
before the law)

See that? "Whose exercise a government may not interfere." "Freedom."