Friday, December 26, 2014

Merry Christmas

JT's new poster
Another Christmas has come and gone. This year felt like more of a whirlwind than usual. I just couldn't get myself in gear to shop and plan and organize. I finally started to feel like I was getting my groove and then it was over.

There were many nerdy homeschooler gifts received. The boys spent a few hours today enjoying their presents. Octodad was a favorite. I usually don't pay much attention to the video game playing in our home, but that one is so funny to watch, I have a feeling I'll be spending more time than I plan to watching them play.  Also, JT almost polished off his copy of Randall Munroe's What If? before bedtime. I'm looking forward to reading it next. Being able to borrow their Christmas gifts is just one of the many benefits of having children with similar interests as yourself.

Merry Christmas
Next week I'll share some details on the plans I have for changes in EM's science studies for the remainder of this school year. I'll also be looking at the progress JT is making on his 2500 word composition required for the PHAA diploma program. Changes have also been made to the homeschooling regulations in PA and I want to discuss how they will affect my plans in the future. But for now I just want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fresh Air and Exercise

signs of activity
One of the dangers of homeschooling for our family is the tendency to become stationary. When the boys were younger it was hard to make them hold still for more than a minute at a time. Now that they are 11 and nearly 14, it takes a little more effort to get them motivated.

I noticed a few weeks ago that JT seemed to be dragging around the house a bit more than usual. Both of the boys are sleeping later and picking at each other a little more. I know we need to come up with a plan to get more active. But when winter comes it's not easy to want to do that. EM still likes to play in the snow but JT isn't always as enthusiastic. Last week we had a surprise snow storm that dumped about nine inches on us. I sent the boys out that morning and was thrilled that they stayed out for almost two hours. We have a great sledding hill so that provides plenty of exercise on the hike back to the top. They ran around the yard throwing snowballs and were thoroughly exhausted when they came in the house. Unfortunately our snow melted after only a few days and now we are back to the cold days with little or no sunshine.

I always have good intentions to start some kind of workout program with them when we hit this point in the year. So far we've had six years of homeschooling without success on the exercise plan. I'm thinking this year that simple would be best. During our Christmas break I'm going to try to come up with an easy answer to get all of us out of our seats for the rest of the winter months. Leaving the house to go to a gym or the YMCA doesn't work for us, especially in the winter, since our road is not always kept clear when the weather is bad. We do have the Wii Fit and EM enjoys using it. JT always tells me that his drumming practice counts as exercise, which may be true, but since he doesn't practice every day, I'd like to see a little more movement.  Our treadmill needs a new belt, but will be fixed as soon as we get around to buying a replacement. JT doesn't like using it, but the rest of us do. We also own a few small weights, an exercise ball, and a collection of work out DVDs.

So now that you know what we have to work with I could use a few suggestions for my planning. Do you have any tips on easy effective exercise programs that keep you active but don't break the bank?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

When Technology Fails

Wanna know what happens when you start to rely too much on technology for your child's education? Absolutely nothing when your primary computer calls in a sick day!

This week the computer affectionately known as Gamer 1 started showing the blue screen of death on Tuesday morning. This happens to be the computer on which we installed Rosetta Stone and JT stores his composition work. Nothing could be done about the Rosetta Stone situation; it would just have to wait for the computer to be repaired. Fortunately we have other computers in our home available for everything else. JT was able to do some work on his composition for the week, he just couldn't access work he had already completed. As luck would have it, when he tried to do his algebra work on Thinkwell we discovered their videos were having some kind of technical issue that made them choppy and too slow to watch. By the time the computer was back up and running and Thinkwell seemed normal again, JT was three days behind in his work. He'll have to do a little German this weekend, but other than that he managed to get caught up by Friday evening. I'm not sure if there is a way to protect against something like this happening in the future but I'll certainly be looking for options.

not a big enough dictionary
Something funny happened today that I wanted to share. EM came in the kitchen wanting me to spell the word absolutely for him. Now don't be fooled, he wasn't writing a composition or using it for other noble purposes. He wanted to use it in a cheat code for a video game he was playing. I pointed out that we own a perfectly accessible dictionary that he could use. Usually I'm met with a frustrated reply like, "If I don't know how to spell it, how can I expect to find it in there?!" I asked if he knew what letters it started with and assured him if he did, he'd find it eventually. He ran off and I didn't hear any more about it until I found the dictionary, open to the A section, on the floor of the classroom. When they see a need for knowledge, they will do the work to get it!

If only I could motivate them to work hard for those answers when they are doing school work, not just cheating on video games...