Friday, June 14, 2013

The State of Things

red skies at night
The same thing happens to me every summer. We end our school year nice and early in May. I tell myself I need to sit down immediately and organize the things we did into some kind of summary before I forget what we covered. Then the freedom I feel when I no longer need to spend my weekends planning for the next school week takes over my entire life and nothing gets done.

I did manage to return all of our borrowed text books to their appropriate schools. I did drop off our portfolios for this year and affidavits for next year. I did clean up all of the finished work and art projects out of the classroom. So things could be worse. I am committing myself to a minimum of one hour a day working on cleaning out the old books and organizing things for next year. One hour...that shouldn't be too hard, right?

In addition to the boys having various learning opportunities outside of our home this summer, my husband and I are also spending a day in July becoming more educated. At our end of year meeting, our homeschool evaluator recommended that I look into the Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency. PHAA is just one of the diploma granting organizations in Pennsylvania. We will be attending their High School at Home conference to get a clearer idea of how the program works. Our evaluator is already associated with this organization so she would be able to help us meet the requirements for the boys to get a state recognized diploma. I have done some research and found that many colleges do not require homeschoolers to have diplomas. But I still feel it might be a good idea to explore the possibility.

I will be taking a few weeks off from my usual Friday posts. After the conference, I'll share what I have learned and also fess up whether I have kept the promise to spend an hour of each day working on my homeschooling projects.

Thursday, June 6, 2013


temporary captive
I have been blessed with children who rarely seem to be bored. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have heard JT say he needs something to do in his twelve years. I don't know if my kids are just easily entertained or if they are worried I'll find something close to work for them to do if they claim boredom. Whatever the reason, I'm not going to complain!

We finished our official schooling nearly a month ago. Since then the boys have kept themselves busy. After breakfast they usually play outside or with LEGOs or other projects they have created. If it's a rainy day, they will sometimes watch some educational movies. They are currently viewing the BBC series Life with David Attenborough for about the millionth time. How many nine year old boys can tell you the name of their favorite documentary narrator? Following lunch and their daily chores, the boys spend some time on the computers. Surprisingly enough, they don't always use all of their allotted screen time. In fact, this week I found them outside working on an interesting project during the time of day when computer use is permitted.

Apparently JT thought EM needed to acquire a little more insect knowledge. I found them on the front porch with a collection of bottles filled with various live insect specimens. JT had written up this assignment sheet for EM. They had all of our insect identification books on the porch and EM was diligently searching for answers to the questions JT had assigned. When I saw them working, I remembered a blog post I had recently read at The Home School Scientist.  The post, titled, Benefits of Insects and FREE Insect Worksheet, had a free downloadable identification worksheet that I had saved for future use. I sent JT in the house to print off a few copies for his brother.

graded work
After EM finished his first worksheet, JT sat down and graded it for him. He is a rather critical evaluator. I have to remind him that EM is only nine and will not have the same level of knowledge about insects because it is not his most passionate subject. JT has a wealth of knowledge about all things creepy. In fact, he's my go-to guy when I need to identify something. Just the other day, he set me straight on the definition of a true bug when I had my facts wrong. "Mom...true bugs are defined as true bugs because they have a proboscis!"  

When I see the boys doing independent, structured learning I often wonder if we had sent them through the typical path of schooling, would they still spend their free time engaged in this way? Would they be happy to print out worksheets and grade each other's work or would they drift to computer and television in their free moments?

And finally, if I stay out of their way, how much more will they learn?