Sunday, January 20, 2008

Homeschool Open House Week in Review: Week 20

Homeschool Open House Week in Review
Week 20: January 12-18, 2008

Older son is aged 10 and in 5th grade.
Younger son is aged 7.5 and in 2nd grade.

Themes of the week: Cramming and jamming homeschooling, me as taskmaster (not fun), and getting cabin fever.

In this week I shared publicly that my husband accepted a job offer, it starts soon. This week we found out about our upcoming change in medical insurance and I had to spend time shuffling around medical appointments to find new providers that take the new insurance and to reschedule some appointments due to that situation. These appointments include checks for my older son’s hearing and visual tracking which overlap into the realm of his education.

Sunday we enjoyed sleeping in since my kids have dropped out of the church’s children’s choir. Hype went on all day in the media for a big snowstorm that was to start after dark.

We woke up Monday to snow. My kids slept in due to it being so quiet outside and so dark due to the overcast sky. All the schools were closed. We did almost all of our homeschooling before stopping so that we could play with the neighbor school kids who were off of school. The kids played outdoors then they came inside our home for hot cocoa and to have a playdate. Cub Scouts was also cancelled due to snow.

We worked hard at homeschooling this week, doing all of the lessons all of the other days. I was now in the role of the taskmaster. I want to get stuff done and to catch up with what I feel we are behind on due to the crazy fall we had. I am happy we are doing less outside classes as of this month but to be honest by late Wednesday afternoon the kids and I had cabin fever and I was wondering if doing homeschooling lessons five days a week and not doing many outside classes was a good idea after all.

My older son is adapting to his increased workload but he finally did realize that he is doing a lot more work than his younger brother. When asked for an explanation I said, “You are in fifth grade and he is in second grade, you have to do more work, that is how it goes”. I have no other explanation, that is the truth.

This week the kids started giving me a little flack here and there about them not wanting to do all of their lessons. I got some eye rolls and some dirty looks. After a warning if they kept it up, they received negative consequences for their actions. The one who pushes the envelope the most is my younger son who refuses to keep up the bad attitude, dirty looks and disrespectful comments. He is stubborn and likes to hold onto his negativity so he lost some television viewing and some video game playing this week as he would not stop when asked to. My older son usually will stop the bad behavior when I give the verbal warning knowing full well that I do enforce my consequences. That doesn’t stop my younger son though, and then later my younger son tries to manipulate me into reneging the consequence. I don’t give in. That doesn’t stop him from trying through. Ah, parenting challenges!

I treat my children with respect and they have limits and parameters. I feel they should also treat me with respect as well. I feel strongly that if I don’t nip the defiance toward authority issue in the bud now I’ll end up with bad attitude kids as some other kids their age already are that I know, or worse, they’ll end up as out of control, rude teenagers. It is easier to deal with this at a young age than to let it go on now and then end up with raging, rude teenage boys on my hands.

(This was also shown on Dr. Phil this week with a mother who admitted to never having limits or rules with her son and now he is 17 and verbally and physically abusing her and she him. She admitted he has never had limits or rules for right behavior, but she is mad that he does not naturally and on his own govern himself and act good or right. The teens problems extend outside the home, into to the classroom and to jobs; he’s already been fired from three jobs. I don’t want to be in that boat someday.)

My kids really miss taking a once weekly class for homeschoolers as the winter session was split to two days for each of their age ranges. I could not afford the gas nor did I want to spend the time and mileage on my car to take them to that class twice a week, one day for one child and one day for the other child (180 miles of driving per day). I was thrilled to get a call that they are changing the winter session to combine age ranges and have both on one day. I enrolled my children. They are ecstatic. It starts in two weeks.

I have shared that my older son was stuck on learning some multiplication facts, on memorizing them. We are having a technical problem with the computer software for Timez Attack so he couldn’t use it this week. I am not good about troubleshooting software problems with the computer so I didn’t even try to deal with it. I will delegate that to my husband to fix this weekend.

I decided to move on and start the next level of Math-U-See anyway (Delta), with my older son. Well my older son is flying through it. He went so fast that he went ahead and did the work on the page before I could teach him the information. Now he is proud to say he taught himself division and says he likes it more than multiplication. I tried explaining that why he likes it is because it is multiplication in reverse and the ones he is doing right now are multiplication facts he has memorized so they are simple and fast to do. I know he won’t like the division so much when he gets to problems that he has not yet memorized. So he needs to definitely get those multiplication facts memorized.

Oddly suddenly my younger son has forgotten how to add with carrying. I find it so weird how suddenly my children can totally forget how to do something that they’ve been doing for two years or more. By the end of the week about half of the time he was doing the carrying operations incorrectly. Instead of carrying the number on the left side up to the next column he was just writing both digits down below then moving on to the next column. So adding a column of three numbers like 73 + 19 + 68 he was writing the solution as 1420 instead of carrying then coming up with 160 as the answer. I tried showing him how illogical it is to take three numbers under 100 and have them add up to over 1000, and he agrees but doesn’t think about it when he sees his solution come out above 1000 for a number that should be below 300. To remediate this I am going to have him do about two sheets a day of just addition with carrying review and that should snap him out of it. We’ll continue on with his regular math lessons also.

My older son started a second Jane Langton book. I am now on the lookout for Jane Langton books and I’d like to have access to, if not own, all eight in the Hall Family Chronicle series. Some are out of print so I can’t even buy them new. We visited my local library and they don’t even own all of them. Sigh.

For teaching grammar to my older son I have been researching options. I have decided for now to use First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Level 3 which covers grades 3 and 4. We are going through it quickly doing one lesson per day. He completely gets all of it and feels the work is too easy. I think I’ll just cram through this. When I go to the big homeschooling conference in April I will evaluate in person, other Language Arts programs that teach grammar.
We watched a documentary about Helen Keller this week. We borrowed it from the library. I blogged a review of it. This is a follow-up to a biography my younger son finished reading.

I placed and received an order from Timberdoodle this week. I primarily was ordering to get belated Christmas gifts for my nephews and a birthday gift for one nephew. (We have not yet seen them to exchange Christmas gifts.) We played the new Colorku game (I will blog on that soon.) I bought some spelling practice software which I thought might be fun and helpful as a supplement to the normal spelling lessons we do with Spelling Power.

My older son is doing better with spelling all of a sudden. I have been really trying to get through to him that the spelling is based on rules and that if he stops to think about the rules rather than jotting down in a rush, the way he sounds it out phonetically, he’ll get it right. This is proving to work. For example he was phonetically spelling words in plural instead of following the rules. This resulted in added e’s, missing i’s and all kinds of nonsense.

I have been reading little by little, the writings of Marva Collins. What I do with my kids is I am raising expectations. I am not being mean to them. I just have certain expectations of them. We also do have (an easy, loose) state law for education in Connecticut but it does say we must teach certain subjects (even if there is really no government oversight of homeschooling). My husband and I feel that there are certain skills we want for our children that we are unwilling to compromise on. They must be able to read and comprehend what they read. They must be able to write (compose) well and communicate clearly. Less important but important nonetheless is they have to have decent penmanship. I don’t care that most communication is done on the computer with keyboarding. They do need to write with their hand too.

I have taken note that since the kids are playing the video game for an hour each day on the weekday they are not playing the table soccer game or the air hockey game. The kids are also sick of dueling each other with Yu-Gi-Oh! and instead want more time playing with other kids. They are trying to teach themelves their new HeroScape game that they got for Christmas. They are playing with LEGO often again.

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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