And it goes on and on and onnnnnnn…yeah.

So, I’m happy I started putting down my thoughts on here again. I just thought I’d check in and I decided to re-read my previous post and it motivated me all over again. As I said…I’m forgetful. Or rather I get discouraged easily.

You know what? No. I’m going to blame it on the weather. It’s April 2nd and what do we see outside of our window…STILL???

IMG 5780

Snow. Snow. Grey sky. And then snow again. The melt has begun in the last day or two – thank goodness – but we still have a long way to go. And then we’ll have the added complication of potential flooding from all of this snow. To be positive, though (’cause I know it doesn’t help to be negative always), spring is springing. Our driveway is a huge slushy mess, and my neighbour told me he’ll come and clear it for me. Isn’t that sweet? My neighbours have been a HUGE help to me this winter. Husband, Adrian, is working out of town these days so it’s been such a comfort to have the neighbours’ support.

On to homeschooling. Last weekend Adrian was home. He comes home for four days at a time, and during that time we don’t do any bookwork. They did do some planting, though. Adrian is totally into gardening while I’m just new to the love of this earthy endeavor.

 

IMG 5773

J hamming it up.

IMG 5774

Still looking pretty hammy. ;)

IMG 5776

 

IMG 5779

I had this “Grow a Bean” kit for awhile and decided this was the right time to pull it out. J got the idea to experiment a little and try planting beans in a variety of substances. Grain, paper towel, water, candle holder, and a honeycomb. And, of yeah, dirt of all things.

IMG 5777

She also had a little mishap with the Easy Bake oven. She couldn’t find her pans so she thought she’d try a plastic lid! That’s the remnants on the light bulb.

IMG 5775

Then we worked on a Mediating Learning concept called Self Regulation. Mediated Learning is a course I’ve been taking on how to better communicate. Here’s a better explanation: http://www.wisdomhomeschooling.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=102&Itemid=97

Self Regulation is one of the criteria where you learn to regulate your emotions. We drew a volcano to demonstrate. I got this idea from this mom’s blog who is recording her Mediated Learning journey in a blog: http://5minutemom.blogspot.com/2011/03/volcano-self-regulation.html

We use the volcano to explain how when we lose our tempers it’s not an automatic thing. It may seem like it is, but really there are steps. Sometimes they happen quickly and other times it’s more gradual. If we become aware of our triggers and the levels our anger take, theoretically we should be able to reverse the process.

IMG 5781

I say “theoretically” because immediately after this exercise I totally lost my temper at the kids. :( Their fighting is a HUGE trigger for me. Something I have to investigate about myself.

This particular activity was spurred on by that day’s math lesson with my son, R. He (in his words) HATES math. We’re doing Math U See Epsilon which is focused on fractions. He’s doing well in that he understands the concepts. He does not like how long it takes to do the questions. He’s subtracting mixed fractions which involves finding common denominators, subtracting and borrowing, and then reducing at the end. “This is going to take forever” is what he tearfully expressed several times. Frustrating!!

As much as I homeschool so that we don’t have to conform I just know he wouldn’t pull this bulls**t in a school. Grrrr.

Huh.

On the other hand that means he wouldn’t feel safe enough to express himself there. You know. Huh. I just realized that THIS second. I’ve been thinking all along that he pulls that stuff (crying, carrying on) because he’s trying to get away with something and feels he can with me, when it’s really about him feeling safe enough to be himself. Of COURSE he wouldn’t do that at school. He’d just go about silently hating math. But I have the opportunity to find out what the blockage is and maybe even break it down. Huh. That helped. I mean really.

Amazing how a switch in thinking can totally change how I feel about something!

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

A Change is Coming

I’m not even going to go into why I haven’t been blogging.  My interest in it ebbs and flows.  I see many other people’s blogs with similar posts so I know it’s not uncommon.  :)

To those couple of you who have subscribed (or whatever it is you do in order to get notified when I make a post) I must warn you that for the next while  – if I post – I’ll be posting about homeschooling.  It likely won’t be all that interesting.  lol  Am I trying to deter you?  Not at all!  It’s just that I’m not blogging this time in order to entertain you.  I used to desire that, and I may again, but for now I want to make a change in our lives.  I’ve decided that keeping a journal will be my vehicle for this.  Either on here or on paper.

You see, I’m forgetful!  I read, see, or talk about something and get inspired.  Then that’s as far as it goes.  I don’t implement change.  I just go about my day.  Nothing beyond activities gets planned.  I don’t have focus.  I need goals.  A direction.  Perhaps if I write down these aspirations, then my successes and failures, I will keep my ideas up front in my mind.  May be.

On that note, I need a change in the way I teach my children.  None of us are inspired.  It’s a matter of just getting stuff done.  Statements of “Get out your math books” or  “We have our writing assignment to complete” are greeted with groans and moans and “I hate math!” and “Do we have to?”.  Yes, the kids have a responsibility to try their best and apply themselves but I also know that I am the key to unlocking their desire to learn.  Or at least the one to find the key and turn it in the lock. 

This “key” analogy is one I was introduced to recently in a book called, “The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles” by Carol Barnier.  http://www.westfieldacademy.org/adhd/

In her book she says, “The goal of teaching is not to be allowed to teach in a style that is comfortable for the teacher.  The goal is to find the key – any key – that will unlock the door to understanding for every child in our care.  And when the right key is found, the door to understanding and communication swings open wide.”  This is just beautiful and poignant to me. 

She talk about trying different approaches – or keys – and keeping track of what works and what doesn’t (hence the journal).  She refers to this as light bulb led learning.  If a light bulb goes off and the children in engaged put a sticker/notation by that one so that you know to use it again.  And whatever doesn’t work…well you get the idea.  Now that just makes good sense to me!

In the chapter entitled “Light bulb-Led Learning” she talked about trying new methods.  You could just do the work book on fractions or along with the book try some out-of-the- box stuff. 

“The lesson the Civil War just screams for a backyard battle reenactment.  It would be an unforgivable waste to learn to tell time without laying the kids on the floor with numbers around them and having them move their arms to “become” different times on the clock.  It would also be inconceivable to study the digestive system without making a crawl-through version in the living room.”

I used to do this kind of stuff.  Why did I slip in the doldrums of workbooks and “have-to-do” tasks?!?  I have been contemplating going fully online so that I could get some accountability (another word for someone telling me what to do).  But wouldn’t I being giving away my power?  The whole reason why we’re homeschooling in the first place.  Choice.  Control over what we want to learn.  How would I be able to afford the time to draw a life-sized dinosaur with chalk on the road (which we’ve done in the past) if we were online?

Now, my fearful voice is still there nagging in the back of my mind.  “But Debbie!  They’re not in grade one anymore.  R is reaching junior high.  J is still not reading chapter books.  They have more to learn now that they’re getting older.  These are the important years.  What if I don’t prepare them for college?!”  Sigh.  Hmmmmm.  Thinking….

I want them prepared for college…yes.  I want them to know how to write essays.  Algebra?  Sure.  I want them to learn all of the wonderful topics that even the government says they want them to learn.  I just don’t want to teach them in a dry, dusty way.  And I want them to actually LEARN it.  Not just know it for a test or what-have-you.  I want them to WANT TO LEARN!  That’s what I really want.  And for them to know HOW TO THINK.  So many of us citizens of the world have given up thinking.

Okay.  This is my plan.  Or the beginning of a plan.  I am going to journal what we do and we don’t do.  I’m thankful not many (if any) people read this anymore because I’m going to be honest (which is why I may go to the paper journal alternative).  This means I’m going to try and make myself write even if we don’t do anything, which sadly happens all to often.  :(  But I want to figure out why we don’t do anything.  I don’t want to become a drill sergeant just so that I can say we have had learning take place in a day.  The kids desire interesting projects.  They always ask, “what are we doing tomorrow, mommy?”.  I always first with “school” and they groan, “I know, but AFTER that”.  You see, we all just want to get school over with and get onto the fun stuff.  Well, I want learning to be the fun stuff.  I want us bee bopping around eager to learn something new. 

The next part of my plan is that we’re going to start a project.  Adrian wants to plant some seeds this weekend so it seems appropriate to do something on plants.

Part one – make a change in our home learning begin – right – NOW.

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Scheduling Mania

Last year, homeschooling wise, was not our best year.  At least not in terms of academics.  We did a lot of travelling.  And then we’d get home from wherever, we would never just get right back into the swing of things.  I would love this year to be different.  Mind you…I say that every year.   But this year…this year, I’d realllly like it to be so.  And, I think, planning is the way that I’ll get it.

A helpful website has been http://donnayoung.org/.  It has lots of forms, lists, and advice to assist the planning challenges homeschooler.  Something she said struck home:

“It is good to wake up in the morning and to know what you are going to do that day in school. That is what planning lessons is all about — being prepared — so that you can be as stress free as possible.”

That’s it in a nutshell!  That’s what I want!!  Stress freedom.  So, now I’m stressing about stress free.  Tee hee.  Nahh.  But I am very preoccupied with printing off forms and organizing my binder.  Now, I’ve just got to fill it all in and AHHH implement it!

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Growing Up

 I’m planning to do a unit on money with the kids for school this year and what better way to begin than at the bank!?  So, we took the kids to the bank yesterday to get their first bank accounts. It was pretty exciting. Julia wasn’t as excited as Ryan in the beginning but when she was handed her very own bank card I could see that she was pretty thrilled. So, of course, I had to photo document the whole thing!

Juntitled 40513 414487386052 713941052 5384483 5667096 n

Signing their first official document (except it’s actually Ryan’s 2nd since he signed his passport).

Jphoto2 Rphoto3

Jphoto4 photo5

Entering the top secret pin numbers.

Bothphoto6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids with our most awesomest bank lady.

And so begins a life long journey of financial education. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Ant Farmers

AphidsIMG 5266-1

Aren’t these cool shots?!? I mean…if I do say so myself. I just mean seeing that little bowl of aphids there and the ant tending them. So So SOOOO cool.

While Adrian, our neighbour, and the kids were out tending the bees they noticed these little guys.  The neighbour, who’s an entmologist and so patient and generous with his time, told Ryan and Julia all about them.

The ants actually protect and “farm” the aphids. They excrete honey dew which the ants eat. How do the ants get it? The ants tickle the aphids until the aphids “poop” out the honey dew. Tee hee.

AphidsIMG 5266-2

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Another Garden Update

This one turned out to be a bit long (a little over 9 min) and little more shaky than I wished. It’s fun taking the videos…almost like you’re here, Mary. :)

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Update on the Garden

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments