Tag Archive | education

Homeschool – Third Week Of January Overview

This week we learnt the interesting fact, that Barack Obama is Calvert Homeschool alumni. We’ve spent the week stepping away from our classical learning to have a somewhat ‘motivational’ learning week. We began our Solar System unit in science and managed a trip to the Natural History Museum’s Earth Hall, which I have previously wrote about. We continued learning and exercising our ‘mental’ math through flash cards, concentrating on multiplication for the younger students and division for my eldest.

We have begun learning about verbs, but have restricted this to oral work. I have given them a break from writing this week, in order to strengthen their listening and conversational skills. It has helped me to concentrate on and notice certain colloquial and grammatical mistakes in their speech, which I usually ignore or have gotten used to. For example, my 1st grader has been using the words ‘me’ and ‘I’ incorrectly. My 3rd grader has had a slight stutter for quite a while, however it seems to be getting worse and have been researching methods to correct or support her. I would love to hear from anyone with experience of this or any advice.

I’ve been trying to detox the kids off technology, as there has been quite a few fights over games during our school break. During our scheduled school weeks we have no technology but are rewarded with time for each of the kids to play on Sunday. We’ve been spending time as a family, enjoying life and playing many family board games. It’s hard to keep up with kids today, as it seems they need a lot more attention with all the many varieties of technology and games available.

I have been tweaking my master schedule for the children and myself, including schooling as well as chores. I have wanted to have a set routine according to time, which I haven’t been able to accomplish. I would like to have at least my wake up, bed time, breakfast, lunch and dinner to be at a set time everyday. Therefore, I can work the rest of my very flexible study schedule around it. We must always just do the best we can and be immensely grateful for the opportunity.

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

Aristotle

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Our Expedition Through Earth

ImageOn Tuesday, we spent an amazing day out. Its been raining quite a bit recently with many areas flooding so we haven’t been able to spend a day outside in a while. For some reason, that day started off scarily foggy and cleared up to a bright sunny day, albeit still cold. So we decided to get a field trip in whilst we could. It wasn’t as planned as I’d liked as we are only starting out our Sun and Planets unit, and we will be going on another field trip with worksheets and a review of what we learnt, at the end of the unit.

Nevertheless, we began the day at the Natural History Museum and concentrated on the Earth Hall. It was a great and fascinating collection of the Earth and Universes’ beauty. There were exhibitions on the stars, rocks, water, natural minerals and resources, all with beautiful, amazing illustrations and descriptions. As much as the kids enjoyed the Hall, they had a small area right at the beginning which described some of the myths of the Earths past, such as cyclops and Medusa. Of course this was the kids favorite exhibition. They were so animated, describing the different versions of the Myths. My son was even telling me stories about History we have yet to cover in our Story of the World books. I was impressed and a little bewildered that he was naming the different mythical beasts and their stories. It seems kids really do memorize the most random of things, yet he’s surprised when I tell him for the 10th time that his room needs cleaning!

We then went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, I hadn’t been there since I was a kid. We saw the History of some past civilizations but there was a bit too much nudity for me, so we didn’t stay long. The kids found this all very funny and repeatedly asked me why anyone would want to look at naked statues, let alone create them. I honestly did not have an appropriate answer. I realized then that I did not think this through. I could barely remember the Museum and thought it was more of an art gallery. I’m going to need to plan ahead for whenever there is a sunny day and we can have a planned ‘spontaneous’ outing. We did get to see some of the clothing, tools and weapons of Asia. My kids actually were very intrigued by some of the kinds of weaponry used back then. My daughters love anything scary so they were fascinated about a particular weapon which once entered the body opens up. It’s funny how the most grotesque things are what they will probably remember from the day.

Regardless we enjoyed our day out and spent the last hour of sunlight at the park before we had a nice meal at a beautiful restaurant. I love getting out of the house for a day purely for the kids. It’s very stress free when you know that the day belongs to the kids so nothing can really happen unexpected, as you have no expectations. The kids did get some motivation for our schooling and are looking forward to continuing our learning on the Solar System, so they can return to the Museum and understand most of the things they saw. I, on the other hand, had a delightful day as my children were happy and that was good enough for me. There was also the added benefit that I didn’t have to cook dinner!

“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.”

Franklin P. Jones

Homeschool – Second Week Of January Overview

ImageI have had an incredibly busy last few weeks. We have been getting back into the hang of things with our homeschooling this week. It has been a very rocky start back after the holidays. Even though this is quite common with many children, especially seeing as my kids have been without a set routine for the past month or so, it isn’t any less frustrating.

At the beginning of the week I gave a small review quiz of the previous months work and they did not score a satisfactory enough mark for me. So we have taken this week to really review and revive their school routines in the process. I have also begun the Writing With Skills curriculum by Susan Bauer this week with my son. Its a bit sad that the eldest child is the one we all experiment on and practice our parenting skills with. I’m hoping if I like this writing curriculum then I shall incorporate it with my younger daughters. So far it is very good as it reminds me of the very basic skills, which I don’t think I have taught my son. I love the fact that it shows how other writers organize their work and gives practical tips on how to organize and summarize your own writing. It even includes extra tidbits that slip my mind when teaching my son about writing, such as superscripts and footnotes.

We have completed and reviewed our weather, air and water unit from last month and our nouns work. Therefore, I am happy now with their progress to begin our Solar Systems unit next week as well as learning about verbs. We are still going to be continuing our fractions work this week, as the multiplication and division of fractions has taken quite a few more lessons than I had planned. I have been reviewing different teaching methods in order to make this easier and will try a few more approaches to this next week.

I have been having a slight problem with my disciplining technique recently. I have said before that I have needed to update my techniques quite a lot as the kids have gotten used to them and end up arguing and disobeying them. Therefore, I really want to stick this one out but am at a loss as to how to approach this new development. I am currently disciplining by rewarding good behavior and ‘correcting / punishing’ bad behavior. This has been working great for a while with the kids eager to earn points and receive their rewards. However, recently they have become great negotiators. They have been asking me what the punishment is and deciding that its worth taking. As well as negotiating their rewards, saying they will obey as long as they get … I have not yet lost my temper which I am very pleased about and want to keep that way, but it ends up turning into a serious (and sometimes long) negotiation. Where I am convincing them that there is no choice in the matter you either complete what I have asked, whether schooling or chores, and as a result you will receive a reward. They are in turn attempting to convince me that the reward isn’t worthy of the task and I should therefore increase their rewards.

I am astounded by this. I honestly don’t understand what the difference was between my parenting and my parents’ parenting, however I would NEVER even consider talking back to them let alone negotiating rules. I don’t know how to overcome this current hiccup in their behavior. However, I do want to nip this in the bud before it gets worse. This technique has been working so far so I need to try to find a way to keep this reward and punishment system but perhaps include harsher punishments and sweeter rewards. This requires more studying and researching. I will need to go back and read more of Positive Discipline by Jane Nelson this week.

Please feel free to share your disciplining techniques and what has worked for you.

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” 

Sigmund Freud

Homeschool – First Week of January Overview

We have been ill this week but managed to get better by the weekend. Once our sicknesses were over we did a very well needed spring clean of the house and managed to organize all the places I always put to the bottom of my list of priorities. Therefore, we got rid of the germs and have prepared for the next weeks homeschooling. I have received the ‘Writing With Skill’ books by Susan Wise Bauer and have been preparing the lessons I need to add in our schedule this week. My kids are looking forward to beginning their schooling again, I’m sure kids secretly or in this case openly crave structure. They have been quite difficult when there is no structure and they are all free to do their own thing. This is usually when we need to expect the fights, screaming and tears. I managed to do a little shopping and get a few items I’ve been wanting to get for the house during the January sales. Its better late than never, right?

My eldest has Saturday school which gives him a chance to get the social benefits of interacting with other kids his age as well as learning through a school environment. He was very excited about his first day back after the holidays and has enjoyed himself there.

January’s homeschooling theme for us will be about the Solar System. This will be our new unit in Science and therefore we will begin learning and crafting to decorate our classroom for this theme. The kids have enjoyed school a lot more now that we have more of a visual classroom than a living room and are all around happier with homeschooling. Therefore, I am more motivated about teaching them and being innovative and creative to keep up their enthusiasm. Nobody said parenting or homeschooling is easy but its such an amazing experience which I can not even put into words. So, I am looking forward to going on this January journey of learning and teaching. I am just hoping that they appreciate this as they grow into well rounded individuals and I successfully fulfil my duties towards them as a mother!

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” 

Rumi

Accept The Unexpected

ImageOur lives and actions are based on our intentions. As humans we are no where near perfection. When we intend to do good and things do not go according to plan, as they often don’t, its all right. No matter what or how big the problem, there will always be a solution. This has been a hard learned lesson for me, which has come from experience and with the very limited wisdom of my years. We must accept that everything is truly out of our hands and the only thing within our control is our intentions. For example, when intending to cross a road, despite careful calculations, anything may get in our way, such as a car or a sprained ankle.

Having said this, I was taken off guard when on our first day back to our homeschooling, the kids and I were taken ill. We ended up spending the majority of the day in bed or watching movies. I’m sure many parents can agree that one of the worst feelings in the world is the feeling of helplessness a parent feels towards their child going through any type of suffering. It’s the unexpected reality of life which we need to accept, do what we can to overcome and move forward. We will need to begin our schooling in a couple of days, once the kids and I have recovered enough. I may try to schedule in some easy fun crafts to lift their spirits, but nothing too mentally strenuous.

I’m sure now that the holidays are over and the cold sets in, many people are re-evaluating the past year and searching for ways to make 2014 amazing for them. As for me, I am working towards living a life I love and am proud of, so that when I am asked, ‘What would I change in my life if I were to die tomorrow?’ I am able to truthfully and sincerely reply, ‘Absolutely nothing!’

“It is more Important to be of pure intention than of perfect action.”

Ilyas Kassam

Homeschool – Third Week of December Overview!

ImageThis week has been a pretty busy week. We have still been working on our Weather Unit. We managed to complete learning about clouds and the water cycle this week. I even somehow managed to get the kids to complete an evaluation sheet whilst doing their experiment and they didn’t seem to realize they were writing so much! We have been continuing our work on fractions. I was hoping to move on to multiplying and dividing fractions next week, but I still need to work some more with the girls on the least common denominator. I will need a few more days on this to make sure they fully understand adding and subtracting different denominators and mixed fractions. At the end of each of these units I will be giving them a test so that I know what their strengths are and where they need to improve. We have also been doing daily multiplication and division flashcards which has improved their speed a tremendous amount. I used to use flashcards on a daily basis when they were younger for addition, subtraction and reading. I cannot remember why I stopped this, it worked great back then. I think I may have got sidetracked with other work I wanted him to accomplish that I just left this out. Nevertheless, I do highly recommend, regardless of age to use flashcards, especially for Math.

ImageI have also added a ‘word wall’ to my ‘classroom’. It has helped to strengthen the kids confidence in writing as well as spelling skills. I’ve spoken before about my sons writing abilities. In the past he has been struggling with his creative writing and has had a hatred for writing anything. He has been very good with orally answering questions and explaining them but has never liked to put them down on paper. These past couple weeks has been great. I bought him a leather bound journalling book (which he thought was pretty cool) and he has been regularly using it. I have also added a whiteboard on top of each of the kids’ desks in their rooms and this has also aided him to find pleasure in daily writing. I am very pleased with his progress and have bought the ‘Complete Writer: Writing with Skill’ books by Susan Wise Bauer as we have been doing her Story of the World book series. I love her writing and various accompaniments and teacher aids with each lesson, which makes it a delight to teach and enjoy alongside your children. I’m looking forward to beginning this Writing with Skill curriculum to help increase my son’s new found love of writing, in the new year. I have always hesitated on this considering it was a struggle to get him to write two sentences. However, I feel like the time is now right to begin this and hopefully he will enjoy it and it will be of benefit to him. I will review the book in future, when I have a chance.

We have also been continuing our Story of the World notebooking pages. I read the stories to the children and we take notes along the way. I sometimes allow the kids to read it aloud but for some reason, they don’t listen very well to each other and as a result they don’t understand what was read. Therefore, when I read it, they will take notes then at the end of the chapter they will write in their own words what they learnt about that chapter and attach the relevant lapbooking printables to their notbooking page. I have noticed that we haven’t done much on Geography this month and therefore I need to really focus and incorporate it more into our work for next month.

ImageWe have also tried to soak up as much sunshine as possible before the snow sets in. It felt good to stretch our legs after being cooped up at home for the past couple of really cold weeks. It was chilly but warmer than the last few days and yet the park was still pretty much deserted. I love to let the kids roam where I can relax, and even spend some time playing catch with my boy! Our outings usually end either with the kids feeling mellow, grateful and content the rest of the day or with some added burst of crazy wild energy. Today we experienced the latter. I usually like to finish off some of the work I had planned during the week but we didn’t get around to completing, on the weekend. However, even though we may have a couple things we need to add on for tomorrow, we have finished the majority of our weeks work, so I was happy to let them relax and play together today. 

Overall, I feel like this has been another good homeschooling week. Where we even managed a lesson and some yarn ‘weaving sun’ crafts for the winter solstice. The kids have been on a whole very happy this week and that is, after all what I am truly grateful for. So double thumbs up this week!

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” 
Albert Einstein

Discipline and Parenting

ImageI always look forward to when I am able to relax with my cup of tea, in a quiet and clean house at the end of the day, especially days like today where the children have completed their work joyfully. It is especially pleasing, seeing as it doesn’t happen very often. We’ve been wrapping up our nouns, fractions and weather units this week and will just be working on putting everything together over the weekend. The kids have been working well in order to earn their rewards, which is 15 mins at the end of the day on either the computer or the ipad. They haven’t regularly earned this in the past, however somehow they have managed 4 days in a row!  

I am currently studying a TEFL course which ends in February. I’m starting to feel the beginning tingling of pressure and have been working on it this week to try and alleviate that stress before it starts. I hate to leave things to last minute but there are many more priorities for us as mothers. I can’t help but marvel at my ‘pre-parenthood’ days, where I cannot remember what I did with my time or even full days.

There has been the odd argument or two, usually involving someone making funny faces at another. I am still working on finding the best disciplining technique, I currently aim to go the ‘praise publicly and discipline privately’ way. Yet, I do have a problem with my own self-discipline sometimes and resort to raising my voice, usually whenever there is the possibility of injury. This is because I have these weird flashes of a ‘final destination’ type accident. Am I the only one? I hate the disciplining technique of withholding certain things, whether toys or electronics, from one child and not the others. I have always wanted to be a fair mother regardless, as I was the middle child and had what my siblings referred to as the ‘middle child syndrome’. I have always felt that I was treated unfairly as a child, even though looking back, that was not the case. Somehow, a child’s mind can perceive things in astonishing ways. It seems like a battle sometimes, trying to prove your intentions to your child in a given situation so as not to have it misconstrued. Nevertheless, I find it incredibly hard to discipline any other way. I cannot reward or correct collectively as that too would be unfair to one or the rest.

I know that as new parents we usually want for our children better than we had for ourselves. However, as I go along this parenting journey I have been through about 20 different disciplining techniques in 10 years and still need to update them when my kids get too used to them that they are ignored. I have realised that everyone of us are just trying to do our best while utilizing what we are blessed with, including our parents. Nobody is perfect. I remember I heard someone say once that you should never say ‘you tried’ with a child as your time isn’t over yet and you still need to constantly be trying.

Please share your disciplining techniques and how they work (or don’t) for you.

“Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows
with the ability to say no to oneself.” 

Abraham Joshua Heschel