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."


Welcome to the house of insomniacs!

I don't know if it's the weather (very windy out there, barometric pressure is changing, too, I think) or what, but I didn't fall asleep until 11:30 last night and have been awake since 3:30. As much as I tried to fall asleep after that, even going downstairs, watching the last half of my recored "Numbers" episode, then all curled up in darkness, I just could not stop my brain from thinking--of course, I'm too tired to make it stop. ;) I think mild sinus pressure was partly to blame because I finally ended up with a nosebleed.

Ds was up at 5:45 to go to the bathroom, then came down at 6, complaining about his stomach. He's got a bit of a fever.

Dh got up at 6:35. This is the man who doesn't get out of bed until usually 8am on the weekends; and doesn't get out of bed until 6:45 on weekdays.

And, despite having gone to bed after 9pm last night, my dd, who has been a late sleeper all week (and in bed by 8:30), just woke up. My clock here says 6:44.

What an odd way to start the long weekend!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Montessori ideas for 2.5yo's

As per Jane's request, here are some activities that many 2.5yo's can participate in:

Practical Life:
-slicing a banana: I can not tell you how many bananas my son and nephew sliced
-pouring: start small and not very messy--I gave her two small Tupperware cups yesterday with about 5 Cheerios in one; you can use food they can eat afterwards, beans, rice (naturally requires a little more dexterity); with water, you REALLY need to start small and ideally with a child-sized pitcher (which can be a creamer) and just a few drops to start with
-spooning: like pouring, but in bowls with a spoon
-grasping: can be done before spooning: child uses hands to transfer things from one bowl to another; can also be done with 'pinching' where the child moves only one item at a time (have to start with a BIG material if doing that with a little one)
-cleaning with their very own, cut-down-to-their-size sponge--they can be shown a place where they can clean the wall, the window, the table, the chair...
-sweeping: I managed to find a child-size broom at a dollar store; it's still a little on the large side for my niece, but it's much more manageable for than the huge broom; I've known at least one mom to get a regular wooden broom and have it cut short (not sure what she did about the end, if she sanded it nice and smooth or covered it in some way)

Other things I can think of :
-sorting objects by colour (starting with just one colour, like blue, and having the child find all the blue objects among the objects in a basket or set out on the table for him; of course, this assumes the child already knows what blue is; if not, specific lessons on red, blue and yellow could be given)
-having sound baskets (a little basket with objects, ideally, or pictures of things that all start with the same sound--should be gone through the first time with the child; after that, they will often just go through the things on their own, saying them out loud);
-stacking cups or blocks (as a pink tower substitute)
-simple wooden puzzles (the ones with the knobbed pieces; having one with the basic shapes--triangle, square, circle--is really good)
-painting (rocks is especially popular, but painting just about anything is considered great fun; 2yo's do fine with just having one colour because all they want to do is cover the surface)
-carrying big things for you (what's with them and loving to have something just as big as they are??)
-for the parent willing to put it together, Classified Pictures. These are picture cards based on categories, for example, a set could be on the bedroom (with a main card showing a full bedroom), with a card bearing a picture of a bed, another with a picture of a dresser, etc. You can also do animal sets, or beach sets, whatever you wish. These sets are looked at first by themselves, then you can mix 2 sets and the child has to sort them. One website which can help with this is
-dressing frames or some means of the child to practise zipping, buttoning (would need to be BIG buttons with big holes for a 2.5yo), buckling...

Two great websites for other ideas (although, keep in mind they are primarily for ages 3-6, but the easiest stuff for the 3's is still often very do-able by 2.5yo's) are and (look mainly in the practical life and sensorial for both sites). I just happened upon this page which has some great pictures.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Further thoughts on my work period

One person I tend not to include in my planning is my niece. Any school-type work I do with my son gets done before the others show up because he's off playing with my niece. Now, my niece is 2.5 and very, very bright. It dawned on me the other day, then flittered away, and now came back as I sat down to flesh out some ideas for tomorrow, that it's a perfect time to start having activities for her. I had kind of abandoned the whole idea of doing Montessori toddler stuff with her, but I've got a whole ton of Casa stuff she can do!

She's now working on one of the cylinder blocks. It's fascinating watching her. But she's now getting frustrated because she *thought* she had it figured out but is still making mistakes. She's persisting though. There's so much I could set up that my son would enjoy doing with her, too. The two of them are quite the pair; might as well put it to good use.

Hehe, I'm listening to my niece behind me. "It goes there? No. It goes there. No! arghhhhhh. You go there. Okay. This one doesn't work..."

Thoughts on my 3-hour work period

Kate's comment to my previous post has me really thinking, especially after today. We had a weird day today, but a couple of the kids are getting sicker and weather changes are causing some sleeping issues, too. I also didn't have a clear focus of what I wanted to do today which is probably part of the problem. I still felt so much better about today than I have about our schooling in general this year and last.

So, our 3-hour work period... How did it used to really work? I think I might have placed some requirements, especially if something hadn't been worked on for a while. Dd and the other girl were so self-directed, I guess I was somewhat spoiled. ;) We'd sit down, look at their work charts, see what kinds of things had and hadn't been done and talk about stuff they could do if they didn't already have ideas of their own (which they usually already did). With the 13yo, he had his checklist of stuff to get done in a day and could choose the order he did it in. (This doesn't seem to work now as he seems to be losing himself as much as he can in play or other activities--avoidance tactic. Got to think about what will connect with him so he has no desire to go off.) The oldest would consult with me about stuff that really should be done and would kind of plan out her day based on that and what she'd like to do. We had a lot of group lessons or activities (always voluntary!) because nobody was on semesters (as the 16yo now is--3 subjects this semester, 3 subjects next, 1 subject all year) and nobody had stuff that ABSOLUTELY had to be done or we were risking negatively affecting GPAs--or even passing. (Those darn grades!!!!!)

I think this points to something I've glimpsed before: there's a loss of sense of community. It's all divided. The 13yo needs his remedial work (which he doesn't get nearly enough of), and the 16yo has her work which is totally different from everybody else's, ds is off with my niece all the time... It's all disjointed. For the 16yo, there's the added aspect of doing all kinds of stuff she feels she *has* to do with no room for her own personal interests.

I feel some idea growing in me. It's filled with an exciting energy. I'm not sure what the idea is, but it's coming. :)

Oh, trouble with my tired niece... Gotta go.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Things that aren't meant to be...

won't last. ;)

I had the schedule yesterday. It went okay. We started off today with French--an activity that the 16yo and dd were totally enthused to do. [What was it? They wrote French weather forecasts, then did family trees with actual trees and leaves for the names of the people. While Charlotte Mason would have said to end the activity and move onto something else, I disagree! The 'flow' that Csíkszentmihályi proposed, which is the same as the joyful attention that Montessori noticed, was there and not to be tampered with.] The rest of the schedule fell apart. But what was going on was the *fire* I had been looking to find come back.

Prayer yesterday morning and this morning, reflecting on The Secret and more caused a subtle mind shift this morning. It was almost visible, but not expressible (sp?) in words.

What worked? Shaking things up. Finding something 'alive' to do as part of our school work instead of sticking with x amount having to be finished in a textbook. Talking more. Even watched a video with the 16yo on the French and Industrial Revolutions and I was able to add details here and there. What happened? "Where's my social text? I feel like reading it." The *fire* was back.

Was it back for the 13yo? No. However, we did get to tackle some of his misconceptions--like "I don't understand" means there's no need to continue working on that thing. I gave him a math sheet on multiplication using dots and parentheses instead of what he's normally used to. He tried the "I don't understand." I replied with something and then got him started on the first one. He did the rest, VERY focused, by himself. :D I guess, for him, that was still flow to a certain degree. Joy at doing the work may not have been there, but the focus was.

It FELT great today. Was a whole lot of work done? Probably not. My attitude today: so what? If we can't take care of the joy and motivation, it'll take 100 times longer to get the needed work done. A whole different vision of how our homeschool will work out is forming in my mind--and it's turning into what it used to be. Instead of simply expecting the 16yo to work independently right off the bat, incorporating more of how we used to go about things will keep her happy and motivated. Her telling me that she felt abandoned was probably right on the mark. (Did I share that she had said that?)

A shift in me is creating a shift in our homeschool. And it's wonderful. :)

Monday, October 01, 2007


I was going to write that I was feeling overwhelmed, but I watched The Secret today and the thought that came was that if I focus on that, I'm just going to keep bringing those feelings into my day. Which is EXACTLY what has happened this afternoon! So let me focus on the positives:

I set up a schedule. The 16yo had no complaints, although was surprised that I only gave her 45-minute blocks. I'm not sure it helped her go faster because she had signs of being sick this morning. (Interestingly enough, both she and my niece showed up sickish (cold-like), but by the time they left, today, they were fine. The 16yo had made a point of saying out loud, "I'm not sick. I'm fine," every time she felt sick.) So her brain was foggy and she seemed to move very slowly through stuff. But that's okay. I had the feeling I was trying to cram too much into this week anyhow. The schedule, though, really did help her keep on task.

For dd and the 13yo... I felt better about how things were. I still need to tweak things a little bit, but they weren't taking off playing, except once during their break time. They also got a fair amount done, which was the whole point of having the schedule: building up a work habit! I definitely do not want to keep doing this forever, but will for this week then look at working out work plans with them next week.

Other than that... We didn't go to park day because I thought my niece wasn't going to be well enough to go, so we started the movie late, then I had to find library books--there's still one somewhere, due today, only thing I know is the library bar code number and that it's a juvenile paperback--and went to buy my son shoes. He has had the same pair of runners since March or April, I think. And they weren't super big on him then. He's grown 2 sizes. Woops! But that was easily done.

Also, I need to figure out a way to work with all the kids. The 16yo is really finding the work this year challenging and just being left to read on her own some of the stuff is leaving her feeling abandoned. She still wants 'a teacher'. I may be rushing too much. At the same time, I have her brother who DEFINITELY needs my one-on-one for his language arts (or ANY reading) and just for general 'policing'. I'll keep going with what I'm doing for this week and we can talk on Friday about potential changes for next week.

I just had the crazy thought of creating a social studies and science program that is sooooooo easy in reading that he could do it on his own. Of course, he'd find that boring and wouldn't want to do it. Ah well. Time for me to go do some cleaning--and see if I can find that library book!