Thursday, February 24, 2011
This week I want to give a few updates on things I mentioned in previous posts. Sometimes I lay out the plans and share them, but forget to let everyone know how it all worked out.
In last week's post, Misconceptions, I shared my feelings about a local radio program on the topic of homeschooling. That night I sent an email to the host expressing my concerns. The next morning, I had a reply asking me to please call the show and share what I had said in the email. I had about 15 minutes of air time to proclaim the joys of homeschooling. I hope that the things I had to say made some people realize that homeschooling, while challenging, is not an impossible or arduous task...most days. ;-)
Two weeks ago, in my post titled Changes to the Plan, I was playing with changing the way we handled coverage of the required subjects. I have implemented two changes since then. First of all, I put together a unit study for health. We will be covering health every day for two weeks straight. Previously, we had health scheduled as a once a week class, but it often got left behind in both planning and implementation. So far the boys seem to be enjoying the change. We are using a lot of websites, including games and activities. Yesterday we took our health unit to the grocery store. I printed out copies of the Food Pyramid at the Kidshealth site. (They also have a fun interactive game with printable results.) I gave each boy a clipboard and a pencil. They had to correctly categorize the foods we were buying. They both did an excellent job AND it kept them out of trouble in the store. Once we finish our health unit, I plan to do the same with music and civics.
The other change I have made is that I am allowing larger pockets of time for some of the favorite subjects. I have reduced grammar and writing to no more than two days a week. I'm also trying to be sure to allow more time for art projects. Free reading time and documentaries are also being used more often.
In a post titled Passion, I said that I was hoping to help the boys be more internally motivated by their own desires, instead of being externally driven by me. This week there have been three places where the boys are driving the day. The picture above shows one of those, JT's obsession with his rock collection. He has been working on the geology activity badge in Cub Scouts. This made him take a closer look at his own rock collection. He decided he needed to identify and label all of his rocks. Although I did my fair share of rock collecting as a child, even writing my first ever research project in fourth grade on rocks and minerals, I am no expert at identification. He's on his own there!
He's also discovered that he LOVES working with animation. My husband is working to help him further his skills. JT has written up a plan for a video game he wants to develop. We ordered this book, Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners today to help him learn more of the basics.
We've also started our cooking instruction that I discussed in Teaching Responsibility. I pulled my Taste of Home cookbook off the shelf and used it as a text book. We went through the beginning sections where vocabulary, common tools in the kitchen, and food safety are covered. Starting with the first tab, appetizers and beverages, we are reading the introduction and then choosing two recipes from each category. So far we made Spiced Pecans and the Old-Fashioned Strawberry Soda. JT pointed out that when we finish going through the book, his final project should be to create an entire meal on his own. I think that is an excellent idea!
Now one thing I am looking at changing before the end of the year. For history we have been working our way through the first book in the Story of the World series. However, in PA elementary students are required to cover American History and Pennsylvania History, but not ancient history. Up until now, I just threw something from our civics unit into the portfolio binder for those requirements. Now I think I'm going to take our two days a week devoted to history and continue with Story of the World for one day and add American History for the other. I'm still not sure if I'm going to look into curricula for that, or just use books from the library in more of a free reading style of learning.
Finally, I just discovered a new blog this week. (Like I need one more RSS feed to distract me from what I'm supposed to be doing!) I read this guest post by Un-schooled blogger, Kate Fridkis, at the OMSH blog. It is an excellent post on homeschool's effect on a child's self image. It couldn't have been at a more perfect time for me. Even though I love what I do with these boys, there are many days I think it would be SO much easier to send them to school. Kate's words (as a formerly homeschooled adult) made me more sure than ever that what I do here will make all the difference for my boys. Keeping my mind on that goal will make it easy to do.