Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Report from the Trenches.....

My goodness, if I have any faithful readers on this blog you surely must wonder what happened to us! We have been so busy, and it's the kind of busy-ness that you look back and wonder what is it exactly that you've been doing! LOL! (though to name a few: doctors appts. for my sick baby, practicing and playing for a wedding on 24 hrs notice, cooking meals for a pregnant friend on bedrest, etc. etc. etc.)

School has been somewhat of hit and miss for a couple of weeks. School in the sense of sit-down and complete paperwork, etc. I try to always be teaching the children no matter what we're doing or what is going on. There are so many lessons to be learned in everyday life, both of the academic and non-academic nature.

However, consistency with the "pencil and paper" is important too. That builds on everything you're hoping to accomplish. So we are putting our noses back to the books with a vengeance between now and our much anticipated vacation....4 weeks, 6 days away! YAY!

I think I've mentioned before about considering a year-round schooling schedule. I'm intrigued by it because I know that after 2-3 months of no schooling at all, you spend the first portion of the year in so much review. I would like to keep the momentum of learning rolling full speed. I'm still looking for the best way to accomplish this. There are several ways people do it. One system I know of is to consistently do 4 weeks on, 1 week off throughout the year, except for a longer break at Christmas, of course. The other system takes shorter breaks for Spring and Christmas and instead of taking 3 months for summer, only take the month of July for example. Of course, the ultimate beauty in it, is that when you're homeschooling you can adjust any schedule to fit your own needs. I do think it's nice to approach it with some semblance of order, though. Just makes you feel more prepared, and if you have to change something you can.

If any of my readers are more familiar with the year round scheduling, please share your thoughts and experiences with me! And what do you think of the schedules I've mentioned??

Blessings on the remainder of your week. I plan to get back to my weekly reports now that we're cookin' again! :O)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Catching Up

So I'm back in my own words now. That last post was just for laughs, though some of the strains in it are little eerily real. And I hope you appreciated my "guest writer" who posted about the convention. Derek has his own brand of humor which he stamps on things!

I, too, enjoyed the Convention very much. Learned so much. Really wish we could have stayed through Saturday, but...there's 'next year in Jerusalem' I'm hoping.

If I could sum up the most lasting impact that was made upon me, it would be the following: 1) Trust my "mama" instincts. Now, that is something I've been doing since I became a mother. It has nothing really to do with home-schooling. Every mother who has that "feeling" that something just ain't right should listen to that voice, and act upon it. Jessie Wise gave the first session on "If I Could Do It Over Again". She shared in it the mistakes she feels she made over the years, as well as the things she feels she did right. Reagan fussed for some of it, so I didn't hear it in it's entirety, but I did get in on MOST of it. My observation was that things she most regretted were not really "curriculum" issues. They were issues of who she let her kids be around, church youth groups she was uncomfortable with (and turned out to be for very good reason), and then several things regarding when your children are approaching College age that she learned the hard way. So, all that just to say "trust yourself" in knowing what, who, when, where is right for your family. 2) READING AND POETRY; Through Andrew Pudewa's sessions, of which we attended many!, I came away more challenged and encouraged to continue with read-aloud times as a family. You may recall in a previous post here that I had commented about the switch to the classical approach and it's affect on my vocal chords! SO MUCH READING!!! But it's good, it's right, and we're doing it. And I'm glad we are; the encouragement and statistics given for doing so was inspiring! Derek has taken over the reading of one of our read-alouds, so that helps my voice get a little break! The other thing that Mr. Pudewa really hammered home was the importance of Poetry reading and memorization in children. I realized I needed to incorporate that more into our school day and am endeavoring to do so. We always have checked out poetry books from the library, etc., but I am placing more importance on it now.
Also as previously mentioned, I greatly enjoyed time with friends. Lunch with Sonja on Thursday, and "hanging out" at convention with Julia, Becca, and Kelly. Was also so nice to re-connect with Lora from IL as well.

Thanks to Laura F., I now have the Teacher's Manual and Pronuciation CD to go along with our Prima Latina workbook. Yay! This has been such a help and we enjoy our Latin study even more now. I find myself more and more aware of all the words we use and are perfectly accustomed to, which have their roots in Latin. It's even more fun to see the children beginning to draw that correlation.

The last few days have actually been lovely Spring days. IT'S ABOUT all I gotta say! We have loved spending time outdoors, and have even managed to do a few of our subjects out on the back deck. Doesn't get any better than that!! The kids are lovin' it.

I consider it such a blessing to be able to have my children home with me. Even though I probably can't imagine how much more housework I would accomplish or how much more "me-time" I would have if they were in a school somewhere for 6-7 hrs each day. The truth is I just don't think I could send them off like that. They're growing so fast, and I don't want to miss out on a thing; I also don't want to miss out on the chance be a forceful influence on their lives. Psychologists tell us that the same sex parent is the most powerful role model in a child's life. My girls are watching me, and these boys are gonna hang on Daddy's every word. We only have one chance to do it right. I pray every day that God will teach through me. I know there are so many things that I don't get right, but I yearn to place the proper value system and belief system before my family.

Thanks for stopping by and offering your interest and encouragment in this journey we're on!

Oh, yes, one more'll notice we officially "named" our school now. I actually had thrown out several suggestions, and when I half-jokingly quipped "Trivium Pursuit Academy", Derek was determined that would be the name. So we're stuck with least for now! :) We have learned that it's nice for you to have a name for your homeschool for the purpose of signing up for things (such as educator's discounts at bookstores, etc.; as well as for transcript purposes; no reason why this couldn't just be OURLASTNAME Classical Academy/School, whatever, but we think we have to be creative! HA! We're so weird. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Just a Funny....

April, 2008
Reunited Press

After much heated debate on the house floor, legislation was passed today to allow a growing number of families to cook meals for their families in their homes. The children must have annual physical examinations to assure proper growth and weight gain. Attempts to require weekly meal plans and monthly kitchen inspections were voted down.A spokesperson from the National Association of Nutritionists (NANs) condemns this decision. "These children are being denied the rich socialization and diversity that is an essential part of the eating process. Without the proper nutritional background, it is impossible for the average person to feed their own children. We, as child advocates, see this as a step backwards and speak out for the sake of the children who cannot speak for themselves."Homecooking parents say the benefits of eating at home include increased family unity and the ability to tailor a diet to a particular need. Elizabeth Crocker, a home cook, states, "We started cooking and eating at home when we realized that my son had a severe allergy to eggs. The public kitchens required him to take numerous medications that had serious side effects in order to counteract his allergy. We found that eliminating eggs was a simpler method and our son has thrived since we began doing so."After this experience, the Crockers decided to home cook for all of their children, and converted their media room into a kitchen. Elizabeth says, "We have experienced so much closeness as we have explored recipes and spent time cooking together and eating together. We have a dining circle with other families where we sometimes share ideas and meals together."The Crocker children have done well physically under their mother's care, weighing in at optimum weights for their ages and having health records far above average. It should be noted that Mrs. Crocker, while not a professional nutritionist, has a family history rich with nutritionists and home economists. "Surely the success of the Crocker children is due to the background of their mother," responded the spokesman from NANs. "The results they have achieved should not be viewed as normative." Mrs. Crocker counters that her background was actually a hindrance to the nutritional principles she follows. "Our paternal great-grandmother was a home economist, but she prepared most meal from pre-made mixes. In our homecooking we try not to duplicate public-kitchen meals, but to tailor our meals to the needs and preferences of our children."In a related issue, legislation is in committee that would provide oversight for the emerging homecooking movement. Says the Home Eating Legal Defense Association (HELDA): "We want to provide umbrella kitchens to aid parents in the complicated tasks of feeding their children. Many families lack the expertise of the Crocker family, yet desire to eat at home. As we have seen, the umbrella kitchens meet the needs of all concerned. We are happy to provide this service."

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Homeschool Convention! (A Dad's Perspective)

Hi everybody! Tara asked me to recap our weekend at the Midwest Homeschool Convention in Sharonville, OH, last weekend. Unfortunately she forgot to bring the camera, so there will only be a lengthy discourse and no pictures (since I am writing the post, I can blame her for anything).

This was our first foray into the deep, dark caverns of that mysterious underbelly of society known only as "the homeschoolers"! Yes, it was scary, but no, we were not tied down and forced to join the Secret Society of Denim Wearers (SSDW). We thought we might be forced to prove that our clothing was homemade, but actually, for the most part, people were very regular looking and acting. Fear no more. We have joined the ranks!

Our weekend trip, in my opinion, allowed us to see the "intelligence" of our resources. As educators, we are only as good as our resources that we depend on for guidance, material, and inspiration. I was interested to see what I would find, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical.

I had to work Thursday, rather unexpectedly, so I did not get there until the last session at about 8 p.m. We had brought Reagan with us because he is still so little; he was recovering from viral tonsillitis and was in a foul mood! I took him off of Tara's hands and walked between the different buildings, trying to find a session that was large enough so I could stand in the back and listen. My first impression was slightly skewed as I went from session to session. Most were older, incredibly apathetic teachers who didn't seem to want to be there at all. I was slightly annoyed, and starting to regret spending the money to go there, when I stumbled upon a small room in the back of one of the halls. In it was a guy dressed in a lab coat, and he was going through scientific experiments with lightning speed, explaining a scientific law and then demonstrating it for us! The room was full of parents and kids, and they were hooked, as I was after about two minutes. We were all disappointed when he had to quit, and I was wishing I would have brought my six-year-old, Cameron to see this. He would have loved it! The title of the session was McWhiz Kid Science.

Tara had attended the opening seminar with Jessie Wise, "If I Could Do It All Over Again", honestly sharing the mistakes she made in her journey as well as the things she strongly feels she did right. Tara enjoyed learning from her. She also attended a seminar by Sharon Madsen that gave some interesting points on learning with all of our senses. Overall, Thursday wasn't too great for me, having gotten there late, etc. However, we left that night excited because we knew that Friday held some highly acclaimed speakers and topics. We were not disappointed.

Friday morning, we left the hotel and got there for our first session, with Mr. Andrew Pudewa with the topic "Conquering Corrupt Culture by Raising Christian Communicators". Incredible speaker. In fact, I was hooked for the rest of the day, going to two more sessions of his, "Instant Improvement in Writing", and "Nurturing Confident Communicators: The Power of Linguistic Patterns". We found out afterwards that Mr. Pudewa has just received the Convention Speaker of the Year by the National Homeschooling Association. They got it right.

I also attended Jessie Wise's session regarding The Well-Trained Mind, and Jim Weiss' called "Teaching History with G.A. Henty and other Great Works". Mrs. Wise was very methodical, but her information was incredibly practical and informative. Jim Weiss, who is a renowned storyteller and recording voice for many great books on CD, was very personal and funny, while impeccably detailed with his historical accounts of authors and legends. He has great insight into modern culture due to his educated look at historical figures and circumstances. Great session.

Of course, we got to see great friends who were also there. Julia and Becca were there, with their friend Lora. We got to see Kelly S. for a brief minute also. Great to see you girls! I also got to speak with two old friends of mine, Dr. Mark Bird and Timothy Makcen, who were both there helping others.

Overall, the negatives were minuscule, really. My first impression on Thursday evening was entirely wrong. As with any crowd of people, you do have your weird ones, but the majority of those there were intelligent educators. I told Tara, "You know you're at a homeschool convention when you never have to open a door for yourself!" Everyone's kids were so polite, opening doors for everyone and having intelligent discussions with the speaker after each session. :) The vendor hall was a mass of great deals and booths promoting different curriculums for different ages. We gained several great ideas for our own little school, like developing an excel program to track our progress and field trips. I am going to save our money to buy one of those McWhiz Kid Science kits to go through with our family.

I thought that the lecture on Linguistic Patterns was very enlightening, as well as the seminar on improvement in writing. The conclusion? We are hooked, and definitely going back next year with our little "crates on wheels" in tow.