Friday, March 07, 2008

Homeschool Open House Week in Review: Week 25

Homeschool Open House Week in Review
Week 25: February 17-23, 2008

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

Summary: An atypical week in general partially because we ended up doing different things than were planned.

(I am late in writing this. I’m sitting with our homeschooling log book and family calendar in front of me to remind me what went on this week!)

To continue where we left off, this week starts with us being in Cape Cod for President’s Day weekend…

Sunday we woke up relaxed but couldn’t believe we had to leave the next day. The trip seemed so short. We were able to go away due to the long weekend that my husband had off of work, so our travel time was restricted by his work schedule. C’est la vie.

After my husband did some errands, I declared we were going on a road trip. I wanted to see some Cape Cod sights instead of just sitting inside the house all day. My husband and the kids and I drove north, going through Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, North Truro and Provincetown.

We tried to walk on the jetty in Provincetown but it was so windy and freezing cold that we didn’t make it far.

I took a series of photos of rooftops of Provincetown, snapping them by holding my camera out of the moving car’s window (I was the passenger).

For the first time ever, we drove through the Province lands and through parts of the Cape Cod National Seashore. I snapped photos as we drove along. We went to Race Point Beach for the first time. My kids were such duds they didn’t even want to see the beach, ditto for my husband. It was about 15 degrees out that day and very windy. Not good for beach strolling, I do have to admit.

Although it is a long drive I want to spend time at the Provincetown beaches this summer. I just found out that you can often see whales off of Race Point Beach, which is on the ocean side.

When we got back we went to visit my husband’s cousin. We had dinner and dessert there. We played a Disney version of Scene It (Deluxe version 2) which was hilarious and a lot of fun. I can now attest that playing a game that combines a board game with trivia, talking and using a multi-media presentation with the DVD player and television is great! I enjoy spending time with that family because they are so connected and such a nice, healthy family. I don’t see that a lot around here or with my husband’s relatives that live here.

I also heard lots of stories about problems with the public schools. A main complaint is the liberal bias and lies told to the high school students and the lack of allowance or tolerance if a student expresses a thought different from the teacher’s. One time the freshman was told some things about President Bush and some other Republicans that he felt was a lie. The teacher called him a liar (to the whole class) when he tried to say she was wrong. When he got home he researched the topic and wrote it up with multiple citations to show she was wrong and he was right. He presented this to her in private and she said she was sorry but not in front of the whole class.

One story was that this the mother now works as a teacher’s aid in the public school in the preschool program, with special ed kids. I heard a horror story about a foster child and DCF and the drugging of children. I won't get into the details. I was horrified. I heard stories of preschoolers still having effects of being born with fetal alcohol syndrome and being born addicted to drugs. I heard a story about an abused and neglected child who is now in the care of the grandparents because the drug addicted parents ran off to another state. All that stuff is so far from my world and those stories made me sad.

Dinner ran long, and we got home in time to go to bed.

Monday we woke up, packed, cleaned the house and headed for home. We made stops along the way to do errands then got my mother-in-law settled in. By the time we got home it was after dinner time. I was too tired to unpack much.

(The night before we went to the Cape, February 14th, I found out there was to be a public hearing on Senate Bill 162 on 2/19/08, it is a Connecticut bill to help parents who want to disenroll their children from public school in order to homeschool them. The gist is that the parent would decide that the child was being disenrolled, fill out certain papers and the child would have to be disenrolled. Period. Presently some school administrators feel that they hold the power to decide whether to honor the parent’s desire to homeschool. In some cases the parents start homeschooling and the school doesn’t like the decision so they keep the student enrolled and declare the student truant due to multiple absences. Sometimes then the school calls DCF on the parent for educational neglect. In other cases it has been documented that within just 24-48 hours of the notification that homeschooling will begin, the school accuses the parent of “educational neglect” to DCF.)

So on Tuesday February 19th, we woke up earlier than normal and headed up to Hartford to the state capitol to listen in on the public hearing. My husband didn’t want me speaking. We are trying to keep a low profile regarding telling legislators and school staff our full names and exact mailing address. Yes, I blog but my last name is not here nor is my town. I blogged about that experience which you can read and see some photos here.

The hearing ran nearly three hours. We then had lunch with another homeschooling family. We got home at about three in the afternoon. Therefore we did none of the regular homeschooling lessons that day. I figure that experience with the legislators was a very good educational experience, a huge ‘field trip’ if you so desire to use that term.

Wednesday, we were completely messed up with our routine as you can see at this point. So when we got a call that a good friend of my son’s was off of public school that week due to school vacation, and he asked to come over for a playdate, I said yes. This boy had attended preschool and then public school. He was homeschooled for second grade and he was in our Cub Scout Den at the time. His mother was my co-Den Leader. The boys became close friends. Unfortunately when he returned to public school the next year, combined with his busy schedule of baseball and competitive swim team, his time booked up. Also when we changed Cub Scout Packs we lost seeing him at Scouting activities. Our kids see him less than they would like. So I grabbed that opportunity and the kids had about a six hour playdate with him that day, at our home.

My older son, on his own, began creating a K’Nex roller coaster, spending over two hours on that.

On Thursday my older son woke up and spent over three hours solid working on the K’Nex roller coaster. He finished it and it worked perfectly the first time. He was thrilled with that. (About six months ago when he first got the kit he had trouble with the direction and decided to improvise. He learned when it was all done that it didn’t work. He learned the hard way that you can’t always just improvise on direction or detailed plans—things were laid out the other way for a very good reason. In that case he had to un-do a lot of work and then re-do the work. There were tears over that. It looks like he learned his lesson.)

We did all of our homeschooling lessons for the day.

The kids spent hours again playing in the refrigerator box. I think it is hysterical that even with tons of toys, children find the most fun with a refrigerator box.

It was Youth Group night again. This time in small group I learned some stuff that goes on at the nearby Christian private school. It is so interesting to hear these fifth and sixth grader girls talk. The things they tell me and what they worry about and think about is so different than what concerns the boys I know, my own included. I realized the cliques and the exclusiveness and meanness of girls happens in these grades and it happens in this Christian school as well (it is not just a public school issue). I was saddened to learn that one of the nicest girls, a girl showing true leadership skills, gets ostracized at school. I was shocked when two girls came out to say they were on medication for ADD. One made a comment that when she is not on medication she is hungry all the time, the way she said it was the wrong way around. She thinks that it is normal to not be hungry and that on days when she doesn’t take her medication that her hunger is abnormal and bad. I note the girl is very thin and per the medical charts, is underweight for her height and age. I am getting more and more concerned that so many young children are on prescription medications!

A huge snow and ice storm began after we got home. It was supposed to continue for over 24 hours.

Friday my husband phoned me from the road to say it was very slippery and dangerous driving. I called to let the homeschool science class know that my boys would not make it to class that day. Indeed it did snow all day long, a constant, tiny flake snowstorm.

I didn’t feel the snow was a reason to take a ‘snow day’ so we did all of our homeschooling. In the afternoon two schooled neighbor kids came over and they all played outdoors. It was not the type of snow that is conducive to sledding so they tried to make a snowman, a snow fort, they made snow angels and they ran around in the snow and talked for about an hour and a half.

On Saturday we had a special thing planned. Our church’s Youth Group went snow tubing at Woodbury Ski Resort. I was a chaperone since I volunteer with the kids. So my older son and I headed up there. (I could have taken my younger son but he was, oddly, afraid. We have never snow tubed before and he was leery.) We carpooled and headed up there in a caravan. We had an absolute blast that day. I also tubed as did all the other chaperones, and it made me feel like I was ten years old again. I laughed and screamed and just had a lot of fun, as did everyone else. There were no complaints and no injuries. It was good to interact with the kids in that way. It was a real bonding experience for the kids too.

My older son wants to go back and snow tube again, as do I. I really want our younger son to join us next time. This actually would make a perfect homeschooling trip as the place would probably be deserted on a weekday. I came home wet, cold and stiff. I was thrilled to find my husband had dinner prepared for me, a special treat of Dungenous crab legs (Costco has a great price on them).

That was a good way to end the week.

General Thoughts

It was a busy week, atypical, and it was nice to have a break from our usual routine to be honest.
Older son finished Vocabulary From Classical Roots 4. I don’t like the program and now need to find a new vocabulary program rather than move to level 5.

VFCR 4 Teacher's Manual

VFCR 4 Student Workbook

My older son is flying through First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 3. He is finding grammar easy and he likes to diagram the sentences. He doesn’t even complain when he does these lessons. Hooray. This is a painless and easy program to use.

FLL 3 Teacher's Manual

FLL 3 Student Workbook

We played the card game Apples to Apples Jr. ages 9+ nearly every day this week, at my younger son’s urging. It is a really good game, and funny too.

Curriculum Content This Week

Older son, age 10, Fifth Grade
1. Independent reading practice, silent reading, fiction, 45 minutes
He is usually reading realistic fiction or fantasy which are his two favorite genres.
The Lexile scores of the books range from 600s to 850.
Currently reading The Astonishing Stereoscope by Jane Langton. He is reading the series of Hall Family Chronicles book now. He wants to read them all.
2. Vocabulary From Classical Roots Grade 4 FINISHED THIS WEEK!
3. Spelling Power Level D
4. Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting penmanship workbook Level D
5. Reading Comprehension: Reading Detective Level A (Grade 5-6)
6. First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Level 3 (Grades 3-4)
7. Math-U-See Delta (Grade 4)
8. Science, main thing is the outside class which is 6 hours per week, other learning with living books and experiment kits at home which I’ll not list right now.
9. World History and Geography: Story of the World Volume 2 (we are behind where I’d like to be in the study of history, I’d like to be in year 4 of the chronological study of history but we are still in year 2!)
10. Writing Composition: Institutes for Excellence in Writing, we are on a break from this but need to get back to it.
11. Quick Study Labs electronics course online, Edison Project 4 level, doing week six of eight this week

Younger son, age 7, Second Grade
1. Independent reading practice, silent reading, 30 minutes
He is reading a book about the exploration of the South Pole.
2. Spelling Power Level D
3. Reading Comprehension Reading Detective Beginner (Grades 3-4)
4. First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind Levels 1-2 (Grades 1-2)
5. Getty-Dubay Italic Handwriting penmanship workbook Level D
6. Math-U-See Gamma (Grade 3)
7. Science, main thing is the outside class, 6 hours per week, the other learning with living books and experiment kits at home which I’ll not list right now.
8. World History and Geography: Story of the World Volume 2 (we are behind where I’d like to be in the study of history, I’d like to be in year 4 of the chronological study of history but we are still in year 2!)
9. Writing Composition: Institutes for Excellence in Writing, we are on a break from this but need to get back to it.
10. (I want to add a vocabulary program for him either late this winter or this spring.)

Continued things on my mind with no change of action yet:

1. Now that the budget has expanded with my husband’s new job, I am going to look into having my children take art classes with an art teacher. I am feeling lately that we should be doing more art instruction. I have slacked from doing picture study a la the Charlotte Mason method.

2. I want to also get regular poetry reading into our schedule. I have slacked on this.

3. Another area of slack lately is I am currently not doing any fiction/literature read aloud’s with my children. I don’t feel that I have the time.

4. No one in the family has been sick since Christmastime. Still. Hooray.

5. I am going to consider adding in a sport for my kids as they are doing none right now. The budget is such that we could actually afford the Tae Kwon Do however I am placing as a higher priority that I first join a gym and exercise regularly which is at least ¼ the price of martial arts for one child.

Other blog posts I published relating to stuff on my mind this week

I was still thinking about teaching children thinking skills

Post about my older son loving the Jane Langton fiction books is still relevant as he is on book three in the series now. (He started out of order with book 6 then backtracked to book 1.)

I am no longer worried about teaching reading comprehension at this point it is important and we are just plugging along and I see progress being made.

General Information About Weekly Reporters:
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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