Monday, November 19, 2007

Homeschool Open House Week in Review: Week 11

Homeschool Open House Week in Review
Week 11: November 11-17, 2007

Older son is aged 10 and in 5th grade.
Younger son is aged 7 and in 2nd grade.

This is the week of trying to get back to a more typical family life after the death of my father-in-law. We resumed doing all of our usual activities (both the kids and me and my husband too).

The FIRST LEGO League tournament is fast approaching. Additional classes were added onto our schedule, doubling the class from four hours a week to eight (plus an hour commute time each time we meet so that takes up time too). I have no idea if as we get closer to the tournament they will have to meet for more then eight hours per week (yikes).

So day one was back to church, the kids were back to choir practice and then religious education class.

On that day I spent the afternoon at the baby shower of a friend my same age. It was a bit strange for me as I felt so old. Here we are the same age as my friend, and she is just having her first baby. She chose the path to become a medical doctor and ended up with two specialties and also a Masters in Public Health. All that work and the residency and then working full-time to pay off the debt helped push off the starting a family process until later. I felt old, having a ten year old, and dealing with parenting things I’m dealing with and I saw her really concerned with things like the decorating of the nursery and things like making sure she had the best baby gadgets and gear. I also saw a whole slew of new baby products which are really only intended to rob the customer of their money (cloth zippered containers to carry clean pacifiers in, special disposable plastic containers to carry snacks in, and other such things).

Then later, the kids and my husband went to the four hour LEGO class.

Day two my older son did his reading test thing again (still haven’t blogged that yet). We did some of our homeschooling to ease back into it. I resumed tackling the laundry and cleaning the house yet again. I worked with him to write two papers for the reading test thing. The evening wrapped up with a Cub Scout meeting.

Day Three we did some of our homeschooling during the day. It was a low-key day. I am not pushing them to do all of our lessons as we are still having issues with grieving. We are all struggling to get back into a routine around here.

I read a bit on how children grieve and I am definitely seeing the signs. Both children have regressed a little, and it comes and goes. Both children are lashing out in anger over silly things and ‘the experts’ say this is part of how the children act when they are processing heavy emotional load of the loss of a close loved one. It is hard to deal with as I feel bad about me being my typical way of giving consequences for their negative actions when the negative actions are caused partly or wholly by adjusting to this loss.

I am also giving the kids plenty of time to play and have fun here at home. I am making sure to spend time with them so their ‘love tanks’ are full.

On the fourth day, it was grey and nasty out and so we didn’t go to homeschool park day. We read books and had fun and just enjoyed each other’s company. And cleaned the house and did the laundry…

On the fifth day my children had their last homeschool science class. They did the graduation ceremony which both my husband and I attended. Then we ran errands as a family. It was Youth Group night for my older son which I volunteer at, so we did that. It was a busy, running-around day, too hectic to be honest.

The sixth day we did homeschooling all day but not the usual lessons. I worked a lot with my son on his project for the FIRST LEGO League. He had to find out how people lived in Connecticut 250 years ago and then compare that to how we live today, specifically, the use of appliances in doing household tasks and about energy consumption and comparing that. We have not yet learned the time period of history in America of the 1700s so this was more work than it would have been otherwise. That day we had a three hour class which included a tour of a home built in 1750 and seeing for ourselves how they lived. The team did an energy audit of that home as well.

The last day of the week was Saturday. To fulfill a requirement for my younger son’s Cub Scout rank we visited the local Garbage Museum and Recycling Center. We carpooled with another homeschooling/Scout family and hung out with them. We realized what they were teaching was not necessarily reality in Connecticut and it is propaganda. I’d like to say we learned a new behavior but we didn’t as we already do all the recycling they recommend. Actually we also Freecycle and I am annoyed they don’t tell people about that (I put it in the suggestion box). While watching the workers hand sort every piece of stuff put into the recycle bins I reminded my children that they had better study hard and do well academically or else they may end up doing that job. That may sound harsh but it is reality.

The night wrapped up with a visit to a Boy Scout Troop (we are looking for a Troop to join). This Troop hosted a turkey dinner where everything was cooked by the Scouts. It was served outdoors in 38 degree weather. The Scouts had camped out the night before and were also going to camp out that night. That was a bit too much roughing it for me, I guess I’m getting old.

Thinking Skills
A big issue this week is me dealing with the notion of teaching my children to think and to think critically and to analyze. Some things are happening with other homeschooled children we know (and with some adults I know also) that lead me to believe they cannot think critically or logically.

I am very worried about this all of a sudden—worried that my kids may end up not able to think logically. Being able to be an independent thinker and to think logically has always been a top goal of mine for my children. But now I feel that this is more important than even academics. I guess I have not been thinking about it much lately, that I assumed it would just happen. I am feeling a bit nervous and want to make sure my kids can think, and suddenly the issue of not leaving gaps or academic facts seems so much less of a pressing issue. I am feeling a bit like I need a self-check to make sure that what we’re doing is going to get my children to think logically, then I need to adjust if necessary.

Parenting challenges
A bunch of stuff went on with the cousins during the time our extended family was together after the death of my father-in-law that I am trying to deprogram them. This is so hard. I put a lot of thought into parenting issues in this week and started a series of posts on my blog about the ways children behave and what is right or wrong or good or bad. That really weighed on my mind in this week.

Feeling Different Because of Homeschooling
My younger son is struggling this week with feeling different regarding the fact that he does not go to school like some of his friends and like his cousins. Now he is picking out all the things we do differently like me not allowing them to use profanity or even crude language--he wants to do those things like some other kids do (yes, use profanity). Add to the list that he is guilt-tripping my husband and I because we don’t own a video game console.

Winding Down
So the homeschool park day is over for the fall. The science class is over. Our schedule is slowing down regarding outside classes and events.

Quick Study Labs
I signed up my older son for the fourth class in the Edison Project online electronics class through Quick Study Labs. He did three classes last year. The class begins in January 2008. I highly recommend this class for kids who are interested in electronics.

Homeschool Science Class
They changed the schedule for the Late Fall science class (takes place in late November and December). My husband and I decided it is not do-able for our family to particpate in.

They also did the same thing for the Winter Class (start date January 2008).

I just can't justify a 180 mile commute each day, twice a week (one kid on one day per week, another kid on the other day). That is a lot of gas, I've estimated it would cost $35 per day in gasoline alone per day, plus four hours of my driving time, per day.

I can justify a 180 mile commute on one day for both kids to do the class on the same day. The kids are both disappointed and angry with me and my husband for not allowing them to take the Late Fall and Winter class. Sigh. I am disappointed too. They will have to wait for the Spring class I guess.

A good thing is that gives me one more full day of being able to do homeschooling lessons at home and to get whatever work done we need to get done. And we save the tuition ($50 per day of class).

(This is an example of how homeschooling parents end up working on their children's educational plans all year long. It is not finished when the school year starts in September.)

We began prepping for Thanksgiving (the adults). I decluttered the art supplies out of the dining room. I’m doing a big house cleaning in preparation for Thanksgiving. The kids are helping me with some of it as is appropriate and safe.

My Children's Self-Initiated Stuff

Here are some of the things my children do in their spare time regarding play and reading which is self-initiated.

Older Son, alone:

Re-reading various Shonen Jump magazine (manga) (he subscribes to it) *
Re-Reading Dr. Slump (manga) (multiple volumes) (from *
Reading Beckett Yu-Gi-Oh! to learn about the cards and their values
Worked about eight hours to finish up a comic book writing project that he and some other homeschooled kids collaborated on.

Younger Son, alone:

Reading Yu-Gi-Oh! manga

Both children alone or together:

Played Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game with each other (a lot)
Fooz ball (tabletop soccer game), with each other, with friends or with my husband (a lot)
Playing with LEGOs (making spaceships, working on the command center, a project that is taking over a year) (a lot)
Riding Scooters in the basement
Riding bikes in the driveway

*The following week I realized some content of these I am not happy that my children are reading. Must I pre-read everything? Are not the positive recommendations of my friends enough? I guess not.

Until next week....

General Information:
Homeschool Open House’s Weekly Reporter blog post project is a concept devised by Jessica of Trivium Academy. For more information, see the Trivium Academy blog entry dated 9/04/07.

Graphics which I am using in my Homeschool Open House and Weekly Reporter were designed by Jessica and are available on her blog, again in the same blog post dated 9/04/07.

For information about how you can become a Weekly Reporter or to view a list of other Weekly Reporters, read the information at Trivium Academy in the 9/04/07 blog post or see the information in her right sidebar.

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Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

It sounds like you are getting back into the swing of things just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday!

The lego class sounds really interesting. I think N. would really enjoy something like that...and now I have to repeat to myself: We have enough outside activities.

K said...

"*The following week I realized some content of these I am not happy that my children are reading. Must I pre-read everything? Are not the positive recommendations of my friends enough? I guess not."

Until your boys are mature enough that you feel they can work through issues brought up, you may have to. It's not really reasonable to expect that your friends will have exactly the same concerns that you do with anything, let alone media.

Also, you mentioned quite a bit above this that one of your concerns (possibly to be put aside for a bit) was gaps in their education. Breathe a bit. Critical thinking and how to find information are far more important. We ALL have gaps in our educations.

The days when one could keep up with the research/advances in a wide variety of fields are long gone. You'd be hard pressed to keep up with everything in even one today. Having the tools of learning will take them far.