Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fresh from the Library

Things have been pretty busy here - and I think we all have had the flu the last couple of days... sigh.

Anyway, I went to the library, and I thought you might be interested in what we picked up....

  • It appears that our Library has picked up the "Little Pim" DVD's for German.  I've picked up 3 to see what I think of the program.  It is for ages 0-5, so that gets a few of my kids in...  We happened to get volumes 4-6 (the ones sitting at the library) so I don't know if it will be too hard with not seeing 1-3 first, or if it really won't matter.   I have wondered about that program, so I'm thrilled to get to see these DVD's
  • I grabbed a couple of Baby Signing Time and 1 Signing Time DVD.  We have decided to add ASL into our little homeschool (Delta and Echo took a preschool course, and Foxtrot took a baby sign course with me ages ago - so they know a little)  I took what was available at the library I visited, but there are several in the system.
  • I also grabbed "The American Sign Language Phrase Book" by Lou Fant.  I remember we used a book by him as an extra book years ago when I took sign language
  • The Elements - A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.  We have been learning about Elements recently, so this is a nice extra book to look through.  I find it interesting that Delta loves the Element Gold....  Rich tastes?
  • A few books for reading time - "Corduroy", "Ferdinand", "Harry the Dirty Dog"
This was added to the 20 or so other books we still have out from the library from previous visits.  Hopefully this will let us keep busy in an easy way while we all get to feeling much better.

Oh, and on another topic...  our Church had the Children's Presentation this last week.  Delta played the violin during it.  He did a wonderful job, as it took a lot of work to learn the song, and he must have been a little nervous during the performance.  Later that day was the Suzuki winter concert - so the kids had a LOT of sitting quietly that day, as well as a fair bit of violin to do.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When mom isn't available

There have been times when for whatever reason, sickness or other things, that mom just isn't available for school.  I have come to realize that a bit of preparation ahead of time can let the children still do some school.  Of course, the older the children are, the more independent they can be - but at the same time, there are things that even younger children can do.

Here are some suggestions of things to do that I can try to remember.

First - helping mom.  Fetching things, helping with meals, doing some basic watching of toddlers/infants.

Devotion - singing a few church songs.  We have the animated Scripture videos (well, many of them) - so this is a nice easy change in routine.

Math - if doing RS, this is a good day for math games.  Pick one of the math games your kids enjoy, with skills that they are fairly good at (but could use a bit more practice) - and let them play.  If not doing RS, or for a variation, let them do Khan Academy on the computer.  For slightly older, I have heard of Timez Attack - but we haven't tried it yet.

Writing - select (or have them select) some copywork.

Reading - let them pick a book to do some reading from to themselves.  Have them read to the toddler or baby.  They can read to mom too.

Science - they could read from a science book... or watch a science video.  With a few minutes to setup, they could watch videos from "The periodic table of videos" (on the internet), or watch a good science video on netflix or the TV.  Delta likes the Planets.

History - read a book again - or watch a video as well.  Delta likes the Naked Archeologist.

Music - put on some music to listen to while they read or play.  For instrument practice, have them "serenade" mom with review songs.

Foreign Language - Have them watch a "First Steps" video, or watch a movie or something in the target language. For German - could setup Sesamastrauss (sp?) on Youtube.  (I sure wish our movies had a German option.... French or Spanish gives more options for movies to watch, as most of our DVD's have one or both)

General - Let them play educational computer games.  (We have various Reader Rabbit games)

Most of those just take a few minutes to setup, then mom can be sick on the couch for quite a while.  Although not as good as a regular day at school, it is better than the "turn on the kid shows on TV" option.  Mind you, there may be days when that is all you can do...

oh, in case you are wondering - I'm not sick.  A couple of days ago I had something very important I HAD to take care of during school time.  I set the timer and would do my work for 15 to 30 minutes, having the kids work on various things from my list above - then I would set them up with something else, as I worked again with the timer.  I got what I NEEDED to get done, and the children still got some schooling done.  I don't advocate doing it often of course, but when you must.....

Monday, November 14, 2011


Here is a "Being Real" post...  I admit at times that I tend to post only the good things happening in our lives and our school... the things where we are doing well.   But of course, that is only part of the story - so here is a post about some of the other things.

At times I get frustrated with my attempts at Habit training.  Charlotte Mason said:
"The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. All day she is crying out, ‘Do this!’ and they do it not; ‘Do that!’ and they do the other” (Vol. 1, pp. 135, 136).
I have been working on habits with my children since I first heard about Charlotte Mason about 5 years ago.  Yet, I realize that I have become the 2nd mother, not the one with the smooth and easy days.  Perhaps it is partly because my children are still young - but I don't think so.  I know that CM said not to excuse children because of youth - and that they will not "grow out" of bad habits.      No, I think the problem comes down to a combination of 3 things.

First - I'm not totally sure of what I am doing.  The longer I am a mom, the less I know about raising children.  Ok, that isn't true - I just REALIZE how much I don't know.  The examples that CM gives in her books about instilling habits just seem so hard to implement.  Like the story about the boy with temper tantrums....  diverting the child's thought to something pleasant BEFORE the tantrum starts... just that exact moment that a tantrum is about to happen but before the child has had the thought.  Well, with 4 children, I can't see that I can discern that exact moment for each possible tantrum.....  and the ones that I know are about to happen are generally because I am telling them "no" for something they want, or asking them to do a job they don't want to do.... very different from the example given.   Not that my kids have tantrums all the time - but they do occur.  In any case, I am sure that my techniques just aren't quite right.  We are supposed to follow through and make sure the habit is done - but WITHOUT Nagging.  I haven't gotten this worked out on how one DOES that.

Second - Consistency. Oh, that is a problem.  A system isn't seeming to work, and I give up on it.  How does one know when keeping at something longer will end up working, or that the reality is just that what I'm trying would never work for anyone?  CM also warns about letting the child off "just this once"... and that this is prone to be allowed by a mother just before the habit is formed because the child has been "doing so well".  Ah, I think I am prone to letting them off "just this once" not because of sympathy for my children - but because of tiredness in myself...  it is energy for me to call them back to see the habit done.  CM says that teaching habits becomes a habit in the mother.... I guess I'm letting myself off before THAT habit is formed.

Third - My habits.   As is true of everyone - I am a creature of habit.  And I have already seen that some of my habits are not helping me habit-train my children.  I'm not going to go into all my bad habits for the world to see...  but I must say that I know they are a definite issue.  Yet I feel at a loss to change my habits for longer than a very short time.  Yet this makes me see the real need for habit training for my children, so they won't have similar struggles.  It is a conundrum that I have been, as yet, unable to solve.

I find homeschooling harder without the habits in place.  Some have counselled to do less school while focusing on habits, which is something of which I see the merit.  But - as I've been working on the same basic habits without success for 5 years, I also feel that I can not be putting off school for habit training that seems to be getting nowhere.  Another problem to solve.

May my kids thrive in spite of my faults and weaknesses!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Cartography, and other things

We have been working on Cartography over the last term, and I am impressed with the results.  What a great way to learn geography!  With a little coaching Delta and Echo have been creating amazing maps - and they seem to remember more about what they have drawn than just looking at the maps.

So far we have done a simple map showing just the Equator and Prime Meridian, then a map showing the placement of the continents.

This last week, they completed a map of Africa, and I am still so proud over it.

Here is Delta's Map.  Note that the scanner has emphasized the strokes of the pencil crayons more than the originals did.

Delta's Map (age 8)

And here is Echo's Map.  I did the labeling for her, but she did all the drawing.

Echo's Map (Age 5)

On other subjects, it was solo day recently for Suzuki violin.  Unfortunately, my camera decided to "hang" while I was taping the solos, so I don't have them to post for your enjoyment.  It is kind of interesting seeing a camera hang... one minute it was busily taping Echo, and the next nothing was changing on the screen.  I kept "taping" in case it was still recording.  Then when I tried to turn it off, it wouldn't shut off until I popped out the battery.  And then when I tried to use it again, It gave me "read error".  Fortunately, erasing the bad file of the movie it hung on while filming (using the computer at home) has cleared up the read error, and hopefully all is well.

Halloween also went well.  I got out my old scouting/guiding uniform collection to use as costumes this year, which seemed to be very well received at the doors while trick-or-treating.  The uniforms are from about 30-40 years ago, so it made them old time scouts/guides.  I am amazed that apparently one little girl about age 8 or so about 30 years ago was so petite that Foxtrot (3 years old) could wear her dress!  I don't have kids that are that big!  Actually it was the same with the other uniforms.  Echo (5) wore a dress that a 10 or 11 year old would have worn, and Delta at 8 wore a scout shirt that an 11 or 12 year old would have worn. We now have lots of candy that the kids are enjoying (and mom sometimes too) - that I really am not sure what to do with.  It also turned out the be the first Halloween in my memory that we didn't need to wear big winter coats...  although I had fall coats in the stroller, the kids didn't even put them on the whole evening.  Just as we arrived back home, it even started to rain!

Scout, Guide, Brownie