Tag Archive: home education


Just because it’s been one of those kinds of days.

First let me start with homeschooling.  I have finally gotten back into the whole swing of things…and oh the memories that come rushing in as I start teaching the Carthesian Coordinate system, all four quadrants, how to find the midpoint when you know all factors for x and y.  My 6th grader has handled this all quite well so far.  It will be interesting to see how he handles when we try to find the midpoint with only one full set of points.  I can remember using both equations and hating that my teacher seemed to prefer the more difficult to understand version.  I love that he can choose which of the two versions works for him–which happens to be the same that I find easiest to use.  I have also found another really cool free math worksheet website, but I apparently didn’t bookmark it.  Story of my life lately. =)

I’m going to link a really cool article here on how homeschooled children compare to public schooled children.  It’s quite an interesting read, and good to keep handy if you get a hard time from the public school. It also reinforces why people are making a switch back to the homeschool program: public school is failing our children, overall.  I was thinking the other day: Maybe you’ve seen the newer style of math introduced in grade 5 here?  You have a very straightforward problem, but in order to get the answer you have to solve in a very roundabout fashion.  It is frustrating to try to help your child in math when this is being taught.  My first inclination is why are they confusing the students so much?  Does this not set children up to fail?  Then a former high school math teacher made an interesting comment: what the kids are being taught isn’t really new, but actually old-school.  It may not have been old-school when I grew up, but apparently it is.  What it does is teach children to think outside the box–you won’t always have a direct answer, so you need to find a way to find the answer using other methodologies.  I never really thought about it that way, so it was interesting to hear that type of comment from a math teacher.  Do I like it?  Not really.  Do I agree with how math is being taught? Not really.  Do I understand the point on problem-solving in other manners, indirectly?  Sure, I can appreciate that, but I still don’t like it. =)

Now, my grade six son has been invited to attend public school the the last two months of the year to get him back into the routine of school, and get him back into the groove of having to deal with other kids in the class.  I have tried to talk him into going–but he does not want to.  He does like being homeschooled, but he also has bad memories of that school he attended last year: it was where he had a lot of meltdowns, and they became more severe by the end of the schoolyear.   That is my theory on why he doesn’t want to go back.  Now, I also can see the point of the principal–she wants him to get acquainted with his new middle school principal before school starts in the fall.  I think that is a good idea.  I think that will be beneficial for the two of them to get somewhat acquainted, and for the principal of the new middle school to understand what makes my son tick.  So we shall see how that all goes down.  I do need to speak with the future principal, and I would also need to speak with his future teachers so they can see what he has been working on this schoolyear, and where he’s ahead, where he’s a tad behind (which can be made up during the summer if need be).  I also need to start pushing for him to get that psychoeducational analysis done…by the school district, which will be most beneficial as he goes into an environment where there are 700+ other kids he will have to deal with at one point in time or another.

For the fun stuff: gardening.  I love to garden.  I am already dreaming up plans to expand the garden areas, what I want to plant (picked up 3 packs of heirloom tomato seeds a few weeks ago I am eager to plant), where to plant them.  I am a dreamer, I admit.  I have big plans with great visions of vines hanging over arbours full of blossoms and hopefully fruit, intertwined with vegetables.  I also want to build an outdoor kitchen complete with outdoor fireplace and sink, all beneath a covered patio.  I want to turn our fully covered back deck into a sunroom that has zero access to television–a place to read a good book and enjoy a nice glass of vino (well, a few sips anyways).  I want to add a small back deck space off our 2nd story master suite–much like we used to have when we lived in Ontario.  Man I miss that quiet space overlooking our country gardens (well, the start of them anyways).  I want to do a minor renovation to our master ensuite–get rid of that corner tub and replace it with a nice claw tub stand-alone that I can walk around–making it so much easier to clean.  ((Note to anyone looking at getting a nice big corner soaker tub: DON’T.  It’s SUCH a huge pain in the arse to clean. I’m convinced it was designed by a man.  I mean seriously, how many loving husbands/boyfriends actually clean them babies out?  Not mine–I clean bathrooms in this house.))

Since I have nothing else to do–you know, because volunteering time participating on the local hockey association executive, homeschooling, carting my younger two off to their Montessori preschool and back five mornings a week, taking on my volunteer position within the  hockey association (scheduling referees for 25 teams and their home games–a pt job in and of itself, but I do enjoy it), squeezing in time to do my paid job (writing home design blogs)… I have decided to create an avenue of obsession: interior design.  I admit, not only am I a dreamer, I am a “jack of all trades, master of none” kind of person. LOL   I have an interest in so many different things, it really is hard to choose just one.  Maybe some of you can relate.  So, what I do is take skus from a couple different choice companies, create rooms, and add some color combination ideas to go with it.  We’ll see how it all works out, but it’s just a secondary avenue of creativity for me.   I hope you enjoy that site, as well, and spread the word. =)   I have only just started it, so if you do get a chance to join my next obsession, check back often as I am updating it almost daily as my mind flips into overdrive adding content.

Side note: I have come the the realization that my younger two are possessed by outside forces of destruction.  They, on their own, are actually pretty good.  However, when they get together and decide to fill each other’s boredom… well, lets just say they seek and destroy.  And usually, it’s my stuff they seek out to destroy.  I thought boys are supposed to be easy??  Maybe some day they will be, but I have yet to be convinced 1) that they will and 2) that I will actually miss these days.  Maybe I will miss spending three hours cleaning the toy room just so they can absolutely demolish it ten minutes or less.  Maybe I will miss cleaning up puddles of pee because they just don’t feel like peeing in the toilet.  Maybe I will miss the constant yelling and screaming, both in fun and fighting over every little thing every five minutes.  Maybe I will one day…but today is not the day.  I don’t think it will be tomorrow, either…or the next day, but maybe one day I will.  ((I am convinced if I keep telling myself this, it will someday be true.))  Four boys + one house = never a dull moment

Ah yes, I did so well the first two months of school. Then I got sick, had laryngitis for 5 days, felt exhausted the rest of November. I don’t know about you, but when I’m exhausted, I don’t think straight, so it wasn’t the best frame of mind to teach in. I so totally slacked it’s not funny.

What I have learned so far?
1. Homeschooling parents should get a tax break. Does the government have any idea how many hours go into researching, teaching, grading, experiment creating? At least teacher-teachers have the curriculum laid out for them, for the most part. Me? I chose to do my own thing, using the government guidelines as just that–guidelines. This is because if my child decides to go back to public school (which he does) I need to be certain he’s covering the basics (and then some).
2. My child is very hard to teach. He is a super smart kid, but he’s a visual learner who gets bored easily–as in within 5 mins, I have lost his attention. He’s fidgety, he likes to take bathroom breaks, he likes to take snack breaks. He hates when his littlest brothers interrupt his school time in the afternoon. He has zero motivation to do homework (unless you call “If you don’t do it, you get zero ipad time” motivation). He is like his dad–very disorganized, unless you call tossing papers randomly in his binder hopefully in the right place “organized”. He doesnt’ test well. He claims to study, but his grades don’t reflect this. I actually let him do an oral exam for photography (arts class) to see how he would do. The kid took zero notes, yet was able to ace that quiz–a week after we finished that portion of photography. This is something that I find interesting.
3. It is definitely an art teaching English Lit. This was one of my best school subjects growing up (which also seems to be my 2nd child’s strength), yet to actually TEACH it? That is completely different. I admit, I totally suck at teaching it. However, I am determined to trek along and figure a way around it.
4. You progress through topics so much more quickly than public school because you have just one (in my case) child to school, not 30 kids of varying degrees of maturity/intelligence. I have gone through half a year’s worth of math concepts in 2 months time.–which means he will get to do some additional stuff, like negative exponents, (including how to reciprocate a neg exponent outside the brackets), and he will learn a bit more on the algebra side, as well. Measurement conversions are the next unit, which is a break before we get into geometry–finding angles, naming circles, rays, lines, etc etc etc. … All this while taking in world geography (which isn’t on the govt list), world history (not on govt list), and economics (which he excels in as well).
5. Search out art classes. We have a Color Me Mine studio where we can do an afternoon of ceramic painting (tax deductible art), but they also provide art classes (also tax deductible) for $25 + tax. This is very reasonable, as it includes all materials. So this month, he will paint a dolphin, next month he wants to try his luck at painting Van Gogh (I don’t remember the title of that piece, but his cousin painted it years ago as well.)

I have also found some other really cool sites: BrainPOP is a great science site. Subscription is free, and you get access to science lessons/videos/lesson plans, etc. I heart this site. It is helping me put together my next Health unit — the brain, and how foods/chemicals in them affect the brain. (We have already covered the digestive system and the immune system, and how foods affect each.) Another great site is homeschoolmath.net which I stumbled upon while searching out exponent worksheet downloads.

Anyhow, so homeschooling thus far has been quite rewarding. I am understanding why he has had a hard time with public school, as well as why tests frustrate him so much. I never tested well either, so I can relate to the study for hours and get jack in return feeling. (College flashbacks are horrid some days! LOL) Armed with my new knowledge of how to keep him busy, I can now be more boisterous when I go to the public school principal and exactly dictate how he needs to be taught. I can’t say that all teachers will be successful, but if they want to help him succeed, as public schools claim they do, then they had better listen, and listen closely. I also am armed with knowledge that our school district shoots itself in the foot quite regularly by pushing teachers to be frugal, but not telling parents that by doing so, any unused funding gets lost…. as in you NEVER get it added to the following year’s budget. I also am well aware that our school is over 800K in the black, so getting my son in for the psych-ed test should be a drop in the bucket for them to foot the bill for. If they truly are interested in helping him succeed, they will get him in for testing and get him in for testing ASAP.

Homeschool Horror Show

OK, so it’s not really a horror show.  When I first contemplated homeschooling my eldest (gr 6 now) I was lost in all the information out there, and actually, I think it was a little stressful thinking about how in the world was I going to teach gr 6 “curriculum”?  So today I asked HIM what HE thought.  He was actually pretty excited to try homeschooling for a year to see if he likes it.  I even explained to him that it will not be half a day of Minecraft, and half a day of TV shows, it will be actual schoolwork that he would do at school, just he’ll be doing it at home. To my surprise, I am actually pretty excited to teach him my way, and teach him things that will interest him. I’ve even learned that you can check out home school books from the local library, and buy things through local consignment shops. There are numerous support groups for families to interact and discuss the ups and downs of teaching at home, as well as a chance for kids to interact with each other.  Some groups go on field trips and get the group rate at, say, Science World for example.  

So, here I am sifting through a plethora of information on home schooling and resources for parents… and then my mind started to shift towards the topics that he would normally cover in school.  Science, for example, is his favorite subject.  Now I’ve got a list of five different things science-related from biology basics, to ecology, to environmental science, to the science of baking, and alternative energy… and I’m sure I’ll add another few as I continue on this blog.  He is a very creative child–he can draw scenes with amazing detail of characters he just makes up on a whim. I’m thinking he can maybe paint me some of these characters, or even something he’s built in Minecraft, on canvas, with my good paints, and we can continue adding to the children’s art gallery walls in the house. There’s also a pottery shop that is close and can teach him the basics of pottery–which can double as a science project.  I can teach him photography, and he can experiment around the yard with macros, and then use those photos for science projects.  There is just so much to do.  Music? Not a problem.  We can practice guitar for an hour a day, or every couple of days. Gym class?? No problemo.  We can go for a jog, or nature hike, or he can do Kinect Fit on the rainy days, and even yoga.  I can take him to local tennis courts for free lessons from me (I learned in college), on free court time. … I can even sneak in a bit of religion.  I don’t know who’s more invigorated, him or me. 

Now, many will say “but homeschooling, there is no social life, the kids produce poorly on exams, and perform poorly in college”.  Ah, but they don’t!  Home school kids are actually better test performers on ACT and SAT exams, in fact, in the 82-92 percentile (depending upon which report you read), where the average student is in the 50th percentile range.  Ivy League schools are actively seeking home schooled children because they perform better in school, and are able to complete a 4-yr degree in a shorter amount of time.  Socially, the home-schooled child has less behavioural problems vs publicly educated students, according to a 1992 study by Larry Shyers of the University of Florida.  This study involved observing 8-10 year olds in play time to see how they interacted with other children.  

What some may not realize is that the home schooling concept started in the US with a retired US Department of Education minister, as well as his teacher-wife.  The other person who also is credited with the home school movement was a teacher, himself (Holt).  All of these educators had issues with how the schools were teaching children — to recite, not to actually learn, and did not promote thinking individually.  Meaning, kids were taught to do what they were told, all day, five days a week, and not question their teachers.  Now, this was way back in the I believe 1970s (but don’t quote me on it).  

Now, as for reasoning behind home schooling — it’s different for everyone.  For me, my son hates school… and he’s only 11.  School is supposed to be fun, still, at age 11.  Now, he is a highly competitive perfectionist, so life is hard for him and he is his own arch enemy.  This has created years of emotional outbursts, over-loaded teachers who do what they can, and a school district who is only worried about protecting their own not helping my child.  This was discovered first-hand, and is a whole other story.  Schools are supposed to do all they can to NOT let kids slip through the cracks.  I even had the school counselor tell me that hed’ be better in trades school…because she doesn’t think he can amount to anything (if you read between the lines).  I know for a fact that this is BS on a grandiose scale.  If he likes to build things, maybe he will be in the trades, but he will not be pigeon-holed into something he doesn’t like to do because someone else thinks that is all he can do.  Another big FAIL for the district. 

Now, he has had some amazing teachers who have been very creative in trying to get him to react less, think more, but they also have had anywhere between five and ten students in their class with varying degrees of social issues. That isn’t fair for any teacher, I don’t care how good they are.  To me, this is the district failing the student, not the teacher failing the student, for if you do not push the district, they will not help your child (even after requests from the school counselor). 

So, alas, a new journey will begin in the fall. I don’t know what it will entail just yet, but I’m actually pretty excited. … and surprised at how excited I am about this.   I believe that will start a new category of blogging for me… the home school journey.  I like how that sounds.Image

 

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