Apr 24, 2013

Leave Them Alone: A Moment of Unschooling


Today my little girl amazed me. You'll see why.

This past week I spent the majority of my time working up a PowerPoint presentation on blogging for my local homeschool support group, which required ALL my time to meet the deadline of Thursday night. (I volunteered for the job on Friday last.) I was even editing it one last time while waiting to go on! I was learning PowerPoint on the fly too. Thank goodness I'm a night-owl (or does 1 AM make me an early bird?)

So why am I so amazed at my "little" 12-year-old girl? Because she demonstrated so well how she is maturing. Not by picking up her room without being told (not there yet), or starting a ministry at church (definitely not there yet), but by her ability to work independently. WHAT a blessing! It was maybe only a year ago that I would have had interruption after interruption for one reason or another. ("I can't figure this out! I'm hungry! What do I do next? This makes no sense!" I only have one at home, but it can sound like four.)

But this time---this most-needed, blessed time--I handed her her daily list, and off she went. On one day, around 2  pm, I came down to check on things. I expected to see her watching TV (groan). Instead,  I found her painting at the table. Typically she would have had work left to do, so I was prepared to have to order guide her back to her work, but--ASTONISHMENT--she said she had completed it. AND  rather than watch TV, she decided to paint.

And what was she painting?? A full size copy of a bird from the book I had scheduled her to read!! This was completely her own idea and not one I can remember her choosing to do in forever.  Oh, and did I mention it
was very GOOD??

This last part--the voluntary painting---is what particularly astounded me. If I had scheduled that activity, I'm betting it would have been met with resistance. She has not been known for her inclination toward drawing. So not only had she been trustworthy to complete her assignments unmonitored, she chose something constructive, and she chose something outside her comfort zone. All on her own. She also made herself a healthy snack. Bonus.

My take-away from all this is : 1) that their IS value in unschooling or delight-directed learning, for that was what she was demonstrating, and;  2) my kid will mature, but on GOD's time table, not mine. What I need is patience and acceptance. And plenty of prayer.

Got comments? Got a success story? Tell Mother All About It!

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Apr 19, 2013

The Blessings of Blogging: Intro

Well, last night was the culmination of two-and-a-half days of exhausting preparation for a presentation to our local support group entitled "The Blessings of Blogging." It was exhausting simply BECAUSE I only had two-and-a-half days to prepare for it, having volunteered at the last minute!! (I guess God's timing keeps Him chuckling...)

But, I'm a Last Minute kind of gal. I guess that's why I would have been good in the advertising industry (my major). I understand  that "I want it yesterday" approach.

Did I mention I created my first-ever Power Point too? Amazing what you can accomplish if you don't sleep!

I entitled it "The Blessings of Blogging" because the more I participate in this form of communication the more I realize how many ways blogging can be a support both for the blog writer and blog reader. And it can be a powerful, but often overlooked tool for our homeschool students.

I figured  why limit my thoughts to the 100+ women in our group, so I'm sharing it here. I'll be breaking it down into several posts so keep on the look-out!

And check out my page at the top, Notable Blogs, with the list of over two dozen great blogs, and blog-creating links for both you and your kids!

Did YOU attend the presentation? If so, thanks!

Got a blog? Got questions? Tell Mother All About It!

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Apr 12, 2013

Bird's-Eye View of the Week: Spring Half-Break

A delayed wrap-up report....Homeschooling's like that....

A half-break is better than none--for both the student and the teacher!

What dinner for 18 looked like.
Monday, the TEACHER definitely earned a day off after hosting 18 of us for a combo Easter Dinner-Mini Wedding Reception to celebrate the impending nuptials of a fav nephew and his  adorable bride. They had  chosen a family-only ceremony for The Big Day, so this gave us an opp to personally toast them. 

It was sit-down which meant cobbling together a banquet table out of every piece of furniture that had legs, and every piece of fabric that was white, but it was elegant in the end. The most elaborate prep came from the creation of a four-tier  Coconut Cake with Orange Buttercream Filling and Coconut Buttercream Icing.  Basically it tasted like Hawaii, or if you don't get that, a Creamsicle with crumbs.
The bride and groom-to-be's places with veils, bow ties, and Mr. and Mrs. Beanies.

Because I love y'all, I am sharing the recipe from Paula Deen's Easter 2013 magazine, as it will be off the shelves by the time you read this! Click on photo for recipe. Oh, and darling 12 y-o pastry chef, Mei Wei, did much of the cake decorating.
Simply smashing Coconut Cake for the lovebirds!

So how did we spend the rest of the week? We were delighted with a surprise visit by Uncle Robin III and his two boys from NJ. Taking advantage of the flex that homeschooling gives us, we dropped our regular school plans, picked them up at the grandparents' house and Metro-ed it into D.C.  The kids opted for the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum on the National Mall.( So not my fav. There is another branch of the museum in VA that I hear holds more promise; go here.) )

To make the most of it, I scoured the 'net for some prep stuff about flight. I must say that the museum's site was a disappointment (government tax dollars at rest?), but I stumbled upon  "Wunderful Homeschool's " blog who are avid flight studiers.They had many links including one to an activity poster published by none other than the Air and Space Museum. Which was not on the A&S's current website. See what I mean by disappointment?  "Wunderful" pointed us to links for understanding the how's of flight, and another that provided many PDF's for different paper planes. So grateful!
 Except for the pricey IMAX movie "To Fly" (which is really showing its age), the museum was a bust for us. The exhibit room that would have offered hands-on opps for explaining those "How Things Fly" physics contained mostly broken equipment. Ugh! But the biggest problem was it being spring break. DC is notoriously inundated with kids at this time. Not just local families, but schools from across the nation. 

HOMESCHOOL FAMS, take note! Those cherry blossoms are NOT worth the trouble. Visit DC in the FALL!! The weather is lovely--barring a rare hurricane--and the crowds are manageable. 

left and bottom: Berlin Wall at the Newseum; right clockwise from top: view from Newseum roof, solar planetarium and sculpture at Air & Space Museum
 To save the day, we headed to the Newseum, a museum dedicated to, guess what? The price tag is high, but it keeps the crowds in check. The money we spent on a 25-minute IMAX movie at the A&S museum would have more than covered the admission here. Inside were very moving exhibits dedicated to 9/11, complete with the antenna  that stood atop one of the Towers and the front pages from over a hundred newspapers from around the world from that date; another focusing on the end of Communism with a real section of the Berlin Wall; and news artifacts dating back to pre-printing press on every major historical event you can think of.  An exhibit on JFK is about to be unveiled. Your upper-elementary students + will certainly find something worth remembering.  Bonus: one of the best views of the city I've seen!

I figure that's enough school for one spring half-break, don't you?
 If you are planning to come to DC, you might also enjoy our recent visit to the National Gallery of Art.

Got field trip comments? Tell  Mother All About It!

Joining in with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, Hammock Tracks, Friendship Friday, and Homegrown Learners Collage Friday. Thanks for hosting, y'all!


Apr 11, 2013

6 Little (Groups of ) Words

Inspired by Mama Kat's Writing Prompt: List 6 of your favorite quotes.

You may have noticed I homeschool. Homeschooling parents fight a lot of doubt--from without:

                     Is it Legal?  
                     What makes Do you think you can?     
                                   How will they get into college?" 

                           "What about SOCIALIZATION?"

 and from within :

                                                            {What makes me think I can?}
        Will they get into college?         
                                                                    Will I kill them before then?

So any quote that comes with cred can really buoy a homeschool parent's confidence.Below are six  that have sustained me:

1. It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom;without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail. - Albert Einstein

2. My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself. -George Bernard Shaw
3. I believe it would be much better for everyone if children were given their start in education at home. No one understands a child as well as his mother, and children are so different that they need individual training and study. A teacher with a room full of pupils cannot do this. At home, too, they are in their mother’s care. She can keep them from learning immoral things from other children. -Laura Ingalls Wilder

4.I'm sure the reason such young nitwits are produced in our schools is because they have no contact with anything of any use in everyday life. - Petronius

5.Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other. - Edmund Burke

6. Thank goodness I was never sent to school  It would have rubbed off some of the originality.-Beatrix Potter

And because this homeschool teacher is not good at math ;-), I bring you:
7.  18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.--Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Got a quote? Tell Mother All About It!! She can always use more!

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Apr 8, 2013

The {7th-Grade} Power Within

In 1972 in a suburb of D.C., some Smart People in the Public School Powers-That-Be Room decide junior high school will begin in seventh grade. Then these same Smart People decide that junior high should continue through 9th grade. So, you will spend your first year of high school in junior high. Yes, you will enter High School as a Sophomore.

Keep with me.

Like I said, it is 1972. You've been wearing dresses and skirts to school your whole elementary life up until a year ago when those Smart People realized that the boys were way too eagerly anticipating the new trampoline lessons on P.E. Day. That's when those people agree to let you wear pants---but only on P.E. Day. If it's 20 degrees with a wind-chill, but NOT P.E. Day, you wear a skirt. Because that's what the Smart People said to do.

So now it is 7th grade and you are going to Junior High School.

For the first time, you have to ride a school bus, you change classes and teachers til you're dizzy, you get lost in a never-ending circle of painted cinderblock, you go unrecognized by scores of kids streaming in from other elementary schools, you can't walk home for lunch, you see girls wearing bras, you see girls smoking in the bathrooms. And as if that wasn't enough already, there is Gym!

You discover that Gym will be every day. It will be a huge deal. You will learn to play all kinds of sports, some you've never even watched, because it's 1972 and the only sport girls are playing is softball. Not even soccer. BOYS are hardly playing soccer. 

But the hugest deal of all is that you will have to CHANGE YOUR CLOTHES! In public! In front of those unknown girls from the other elementary schools that are cooler than your elementary school was.
And just when your life, your very fragile sense of self, is at the breaking point, those Smart People
deal one more cruel blow. They issue you:

A Gym Uniform.

These girls are not smiling about the uniforms.

On the second day of Junior High you and the other 7th-graders are lined up on the sunny asphalt in full view of the passing boys gym class, and are handed plastic packages of blue serge cloth. You and the other bewildered girls open them to reveal these one-piece rompers with snap fronts and elastic waists. The short sleeves aren't short enough; they hang almost to your elbows. The legs likewise are to the knees. They have prim little shirt-collars, but that is all that can be called styling. They will be inadequate as clothing in just a few weeks so you will have one more reason to hate them by November.

You don't have an older sister to warn you about this. Some of the other girls obviously do. You can tell they are the ones who will rise to the top of the social strata because they make such a big deal about how dork-worthy these things are. Kids like you, well...you knew they were ugly, but you wouldn't have thought to roll the legs and sleeves up as high as they could go so that you looked sexier. 

You are responsible for taking them home every Friday to be washed and bringing them back every Monday  to begin another week of drills and vocabulary tests on sports that you would play for six weeks or so, never really gaining any proficiency in, only embarrassment. You will stand on the field in that thing while a snotty little bee-atch reams you in front of all your soccer teammates for your lousy kicking. And your mother, who never had to play soccer, will call HER mother and demand an apology. And then you will want to die.

Of course the day will come when you DON'T  have it washed by Monday because your Mom who never played soccer has three other kids with equally demanding teachers and that particular load of laundry didn't get done. Then you will have to face the woman with the very short hair who makes ugly marks next to your name. And feel the sting of embarrassment that comes from having to wear your school clothes to gym!

But wait...
Isn't that what you'd prefer anyway? Losing the uniform?

And it's then that you take your biggest step in your education. You begin thinking for yourself.

And in two more years when you should be allowed to create your own schedule because it is, after all, your Freshman year even though you're still in a Junior High building, you don't back down when the Very Smart Powers argue against it. And you win. 

And it's then you get your first taste of what bucking the system feels like. And later in life, when you have daughters of your own, you'll remember the decisions of the very Smart Powers-That-Be, and you'll say...

I think we'll homeschool.

Inspired by Mama Kat's Pretty Much World Famous Writing Prompt: " a 7th grade memory."

Mama’s Losin’ It
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