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Snoopy
03-13-2010, 08:11 AM
Hello, I'm Snoopy and I'm a control freak. Glad I got this out of the way. Luckily for my family, I'm a lazy control freak so, while I want to control their lives, I really don't. Too much work!

Some aspects of my personality will never change, you can't fight nature! But there is an area of our lives where I want to relax a bit, and that's homeschooling.

Like most of us who homeschool, I've been adapting my approach to homeschooling ever since I started on this path. Yes, I favor a more organized approach (otherwise the laziness part rears its head and we would be content to just watch cartoons and eat bonbons... not the most educational approach!) and so we don't unschool. Right now we use a relaxed, ecclectic approach to Classical Education and in particular, the Well-Trained Mind philosophy. This means that I use most of the guidelines outlined in WTM but I pick and choose what I want to do. I like the structure and overall PLAN.

But I do recognize that there is much value in letting the child direct his/her own learning at times. I remember how much Noah (8) actually learns from just observing the world around him: listening to his dad and I talk, his siblings, reading books, watching documentaries and... Scooby Doo!

I'm constantly at odds with myself, trying to find the correct balance of directed learning (math, spelling, grammar) and undirected learning (science, art, maybe even history, geography). At times it seems that Noah learns better if I don't get involved, yet at other times he flounders if I DON'T get involved (as with his multiplication tables, for example).

When I was growing up, I LOVED learning. I hated math, that is true (and it's still true, yuck!) but I loved reading and my favorite reading was the set of encyclopedia that my mom had bought. I read every volume from cover to cover. Every single article. It was enchanting! Did I remember everything? Not a chance. But I love the process of learning about different things. It did help that we only had 3 TV channels and no remote, that my stepdad monopolized the TV, that we didn't have cell phones, the internet or video games, and that my mom wouldn't let me leave the appartment because we lived in a bad neighborhood at the time. It also helped that I loved to read. It's still my favorite activity. I love to learn. I might not agree with everything I read, or find everything interesting (there's a lot of boring stuff out there) but I love to hear about what other people do, how they live their lives, what they've experienced, where they've been. I'm worried that my kids aren't like that.

Today I have read 2 blog posts that resonated with me: the first one discusses the seemingly universal slacker mentality shown by our tweens and teens, homeschooled and publicly/privately schooled (http://thethinkingmother.blogspot.com/2010/03/teen-slacker-mentality-and-phony.html). So much of what this homeschool mother says in this post resonates with me. I'm relieved that she knows of homeschooled kids who are that way too because too many times those portrayed in the news and homeschooling circles seem to be those overachievers who are also self-taught. I met such a kid last week. He was very nice, homeschooled, just turned 14 years-old, and is (in his own words) a whizz at mechanics, part of a robotics team, knows how to program C++, etc. My just-turned 14-year old plays the trombone and goes on Facebook and YouTube. My almost 16-year old is content just playing his trumpet, sleeping, and playing video games. Yes my kids love to read and they do (and I parcel their video game time) but they don't look for knowledge on their own. It seems that we have to spoon feed them everything. It's very frustrating. (*disclaimer: For those who haven't read my profile, my 3 older kids - 15, 14, and 11 - are public school students. Homeschooling them is not an option because their dad (my ex) doesn't approve of it and trying to supplement at home isn't practical due to their after-school activities and the fact that they only live with me half the time, which seriously limits the influence that I can have on their lives right now. And I also have 2 stepdaughters who are public-school students)

The second blog post that gave me pause describes the difference between a project and a unit (http://www.whiteoakschool.com/camp-creek-blog/2008/10/2/project-based-homeschooling.html). We did unit studies in Kindergarten but that pretty much stopped once I discovered Classical Education and decided to use that approach from now on. I do try to link language arts activities to what we're studying in history or science, but it's not really a unit study per se. I liked the concept of unit studies. But I REALLY like the concept of projects because of the main objective described here: " The point of project work isn't to impart a particular group of facts, but rather to help a child master the skills of learning."

Mastering the skills of learning... this is why I ended up pulling my middle son out of public school towards the end of 4th grade and homeschooling him through 5th grade. It was a disaster, being that he resented being out of school, and it was my first year and I truly tried to recreate school at home (which is basically still my main approach, I'm sorry to say). I wish I could redo that year now because I tried to teach him learning techniques but he was totally reluctant to trying my approach.

I want to be better with Noah in that regards. I do believe that mastering the skills of learning is an ongoing process. It's not something that can be taught for one hour or one month or one year and then forgotten about. I want to find a way to follow the Classical Education model such as I adapted it for our use and yet let him start directing his own learning. I know that I have been frustrated with having to rush through the Middle Ages, the Vikings, and other subjects because we are on a self-imposed schedule to complete Story of the World 2 by June 11, for example.

Don't get me wrong, there IS learning taking place. It's just that it's not as enjoyable (for either of us) as I think a child-led project would be, because it's getting to be more of a chore for me. I also noticed that he's getting complacent, the way my older kids are, because he's starting to have the attitude of "what are you feeding me today?" instead of learning to make his own lunch, kwim? So he's eating and it's nutritious food, but his body isn't metabolizing the right nutrients. I guess that's the best analogy I can come up with, LOL.

He loves history and reading about what happened in the past. His eyes really light up when we do it and he sings "I LOVE history!" around the house every Monday and Tuesday. So the kid isn't being traumatized by our approach... but again, I don't want him to pick up the same attitude as the older ones.

I suppose that one change I could make would be to school as close to year-round as I can. It's hard when my 5 other kids have a set school schedule. I did have Noah do math last summer but that lasted about 2 weeks before he begged me to let him just enjoy his vacation (and he didn't have to do much begging, I'm just as guilty as he was!).

Another change I'm considering is letting go of the "grade level" aspect of things. Since the trivium of Classical Education revisits the same subjects (albeit more in depth each time) every 4 years, I'm thinking there's no need to be done with SOTW2 by June 11. Maybe I let Noah do self-exploration of the subjects that truly interest him and so what if he's not done by June 11? How would that work for an 8-year-old, though? Do I let him search the internet on his own? Do I just point him to the corresponding section at the library and let him loose? How much child-directed learning can I really withstand?

Ladies, any advice for me? I'm particularly interested in how you determine (or not) what your kids study in a particular year.

Thanks!

camaro
03-13-2010, 01:09 PM
Mitchell and I are in a very similar situation. He's not very enthusiastic about the work we do and when it's time to sit down and do it it's because I told him to and not because he wants to. We have some good moments, though, such as when we first started multiplication in math. He said it was fun! He loves to read and is on his third trip through his 1300 page Bone graphic novel that he got for Christmas. He also loves to find places on maps and his globe. As time has passed since our start in homeschooling last fall, I've begun to think that I'll should ease off the "schooling at home" approach I started with and take more advantage of "learning moments". If Mitchell shows an interest in something, I'll help him learn more about it. So for now, he probably knows more about variable-geometry winged aircraft than nouns and verbs.

Our provincial rules say we have to teach Math, ELA, Science and Social Studies but don't say what to teach in those areas. We only have to show progress. So when we sit down and work, that's what I teach and I try to rotate it so we don't concentrate too much on something we may not be in the mood for. Lately for math we've been learning to count money which Mitchell does seem to show more interest in than regular math. But we don't work too hard and I intend for now to just keep on doing what we're doing through the summer and not strictly follow grade level. We learned about Canada for half of the "school year" in social studies but Mitchell got bored with it and so we moved onto the first SOTW book but I know we won't get it done by the end of June so we'll just keep going on it through summer if his interest continues. We'll return to studying Canada some time later and perhaps cover explorers which he might find more interesting.

So, anyway, I guess what I'm babbling on about is that I have learned to be flexible as it doesn't really matter to me anymore when Mitchell learns something as long as he learns something...or something like that. If neither of us is happy doing something there isn't too much learning going on. I hope that makes some sense. :)

Snoopy
03-14-2010, 10:54 PM
Yep, that makes sense and thanks for sharing your thoughts, Camaro. Can I ask what ELA is?

I've decided to try to ease into child-led project-based education gradually. Baby steps... this way it becomes part of our way of living more naturally than a huge change that would be hard on both of us. Noah is like me, he likes structure, or maybe he is complacent about structure at this point. He will continue to follow the Horizons math curriculum and we will continue to use The Lab of Mr. Q for science and SOTW for history, but instead of following a regimented and inflexible schedule, I will try to pay more attention to what seems to really spark his interest in those subjects and step back to let him instigate activities and research without a particular time table in mind. I don't think we're at the point where he will feel comfortable thinking of a project on his own. I am going to try to tie spelling, writing, grammar, and typing together in suggesting he starts a blog about the adventures that we had this weekend (we visited a nature preserve and had a great time, and decided to visit a new nature preserve every weekend if we can) that he could share with our relatives and his friends. We'll see if that's something that might interest him. He's not enjoying spelling right now anyway (we started using Sequential Spelling a couple of months ago) and I've been skipping lessons in First Language Lessons. It's so repetitive, I find it very tedious at times and so does he.

I like that Mitchell loves to find places on the globe! I have tried to get Noah interested in geography but he doesn't seem to retain anything (not even the names or positions of the continents and we have studied those over and over again!). I want to find a 3D map of the USA and plot Percy Jackson's travels since he loves those books so much (I read that idea on an unschooling blog that I followed from here, I think). Maybe that will spark some interest in him.

Topsy
03-15-2010, 10:21 AM
We have one (oldest son) who is as self-motivated as they come. Unschooling is a PERFECT fit for him because he gets to study the things he is most passionate about (namely technology). Our younger son (14) is much less self-motivated, mostly because he's had such poor experiences with school-ish stuff, he has dyslexia, and he always feels "dumb" and unable to meet up to his older bro. BUT, if given the right opportunities, I really know that my 14 year old will blossom. For instance, I can definitely see him apprenticing in something. He LOVES hands-on activities, and he would do great apprenticing with ANY kind of vocational professional. I'm keeping my ears open for that. In the meantime, I'm letting him watch a boatload of YouTube stuff on biology - - another one of his passions, letting him read about mythology till his eyeballs fall out (he could seriously teach a university-level course on it by now!!), and continue to volunteer at our local nature center.

That being said - - let me backtrack a bit. I'm not completely relaxed about education yet. I never would have even considered unschooling until I was sure they had the "basics" down. We used structured learning until I was certain they could read/write/do arithmetic on at least a "sixth grade" level. Even now, I still lament some of the history gaps I see they have and wish I had been even more structured in a few areas.

For now, I am "basically" letting them direct their own education, except for math. They are each required to take a regular math course corresponding to their grade level. I do this partly to prepare them for further education and partly because they are both really good at math and it boosts their self confidence. I DO use courses that they actually enjoy - - like Time4Learning and YourTeacher.com. Occasionally I insist on a few other structured things - - like I'm currently having my 14 year old take a "beginning essay" course at Time4Writing, because he needs to re-vamp his writing skills...I've seen them taking a nose-dive from lack of practice. I'm also having them both work their way through the History Channel's "The Presidents" series, as this is one of their gaps in instruction. So basically, I just watch them - - know them - - and see where they can be set free and where they need a little more structure. So far, so good!!

Topsy

camaro
03-15-2010, 02:04 PM
ELA is English Language Arts. When I went to school it was simply called English. Regarding geography, what helps for us is a shared interest in international auto racing (Formula 1 and sports cars such as those that race at Le Mans) and military history. When we watch a race or read/watch something about war we often look up the location in an atlas or on the globe. We also have a workbook from Rand-McNally called "Geography and Map Activities." It covers continents, time zones, map reading, etc. It's something different to do when Mitchell and I are ready to strangle each other after fighting over math or writing!

I like your idea of baby steps. It's how I will be doing it but as Topsy says, Mitchell has to have the basics and I think as we continue to work in a traditional manner he will build his ability to work independently (I hope!). Like Noah, Mitchell is not ready to do much on his own yet. Combine traditional learning with activity tie-ins such as my geography "lessons" above and writing about activities (which we've done, too) and you have the first bay steps, though. I really need to work on getting more hands-on activities into our day, though. I know all the boys would love that, but I haven't tried hard enough to find and do activities with them yet. I've always been more of an academic-type person. I have a couple of things in mind that I should try, soon, though. There's an old Pentium 166 computer under my desk I should let them take apart to let them learn what makes a computer work. It's a start!

BTW, would the Percy Jackson books be good for a 7yo (8 next August) who likes to read but who still prefers books with pictures? I think he'd like the idea of the story but haven't gotten a look at the books themselves yet. At the conference a couple of weeks ago Andrew Pudewa suggested the Redwall books by Brian Jacques would be good for boys so I'm looking into that, too.

Marmalade
03-16-2010, 05:42 PM
Hi!

I wanted to jump in and add my 2 cents....

First of all...if you would like to learn a little more about unschooling I would suggest you read "The Unschooling Handbook : How to Use the Whole World As Your Child's Classroom" by Mary Griffith. Even if you don't decide to go the full-on path of unschooling it is very informative. One of the best books I've read recently.

I would not say that we are unschoolers....we have (like good ecclectic homeschoolers) have borrowed their practices and added them to what we do. (Which would just make a true unschooler huff and puff but oh well!)

One thing that I took from my research was the act of "strewing".....fill your house with interesting things, basically. If your child expresses an interest in something...say painting...go grab some paint supplies. You're at the thrift store and there's a coffee table book with pictures of natiional parks-grab it! Then just have them at your house. Don't make a deal out of them...don't say "Why aren't you using that? I spent money on that!" just have them there. If your children don't gravitate towards it-fine-they didn't-but if they do....great! This might sound expensive-but it doesn't have to be. My eyes are trained towards discount bins-I love the thrift store-garage sales-whatever.

I also "strew" on the computer. My oldest two children came out of public school and are very used to structure-so to balance I've created "resource pages" out of a word document. Each page has a different subject and each subject has websites that I've found that might be interesting to them. This stops them from staring at the computer saying "What can i do on this thing?" and keeps them in the realm of "Mother Approved Websites" while still giving them options. Like everything else I strew there is no pressure. I might mention that I've added a couple of new sites but I don't stand over them making sure they check them out.

Florida can be a great place to homeschool because we aren't required to follow standards-but it sure can be a challenging place to unschool! If you don't join an umbrella school then you are left to your own creativities with your portfolio! This has made the past month of us being "unschooled" a real problem for me! Workbooks were so easy to log! (Which might be one of the reasons I'm okay with us going back to being just plain ecclectic)...

I'm sorry...I kind of feel like I jumped all over the place with this blog. I have been trying to answer your question and fielding 11ty billion here

camaro
03-16-2010, 09:41 PM
Hey, don't apologize, Marmalade! You made a lot of sense to me. I love your ideas about leaving books around and recording sites for the kids to visit. I've done some of that kind of thing but really should do more. I'm sure there's books on the shelf the boys just won't find if I don't point them out. BTW, you're not the first person I've heard question how they'd log unschooling. Someone locally was saying the same thing.

Snoopy
03-16-2010, 11:23 PM
Hi Marmalade! Thanks so much for the feedback. At this point any and all opinions and experiences help since I'm still trying to figure out how this will work for us. I think that my experience is very similar to Topsy's a few years back (I've got to remember to go finish reading your blog post about that, Topsy!). I'll see if my library has the book you recommend, thanks.

I do the strewing already, we have stuff everywhere but our house is old so that means small spaces and corners so as much fun as it is to live in it, it's hard for us to find a good way of displaying things because of the lack of space. I have tons of stuff for Noah to peruse (books, games, manipulatives, you name it!) but I think that he's seen them laying around for so long, they're part of the scenery. I might just take a day to help him rediscover what we have at home... reintroduce him to our bookshelves (themselves strewn around the house) and point out a couple of other things.

As for the computer, I'm the queen of bookmarking everything! I have folders, subfolders and sub-sub-sub-sub folders in IE on top of all the documents that I have created, downloaded, or scanned. Sometimes it's too much! I have also created bookmarks for Noah on the computer that he uses the most so it's a cinch for him to find his favorite online science, math and language arts activities. But usually I don't let him go online on his own (he just turned 8) even though we have CyberSitter installed on the PC.

We just started "adventuring" this past weekend: to celebrate National Wildlife Week (going on this week!) we went to a nature preserve and just took our time observing nature, discussing animals and plants and I gave him my binoculars and digital camera. He took photos. Now he has started a blog (at my instigation but so far he's having fun with it) and for the past 2 days he's posted pictures that he took with short explanations of what he saw/did and felt about his "adventure". In addition to the nature preserve, we walked on the local trail alongside the lake yesterday and today and he brought his "adventure journal" that we had gotten from National Geographic at some point, to take notes about what he sees. As I said, so far, so good, he's enjoying that and it's helping him learn new skills (photography, blogging), with writing and spelling and also with science (at least this week since we're concentrating on the wildlife for now). It's still kind of a structured activity since it's my camera (!) but if he keeps on enjoying that, I'll get him his own so he can take it with him whenever HE feels like it (as opposed to whenever I let him have it because I'm right next to him, LOL. Control issues!). We had such a good time on Sunday (of course, finding a French pastry shop after our adventure didn't hurt either) that we decided to try and visit a new preserve every weekend. My next step is explaining to him that an adventure doesn't necessarily have to be at a nature preserve. We go on a lot of field trips and activities so they're all "adventures".

Regarding homeschooling in Florida, you are SO right! People make fun of Florida for a lot of things, but when I read the requirements of other states, I laugh in my beard because we have it so easy. I love it. We are registered through an umbrella school so I do is send the director an email every 9 weeks (I follow the school calendar) with Noah's attendance for those weeks (only have to report how many days he was schooled) and we're done. No evaluation, no portfolio to keep. Of course, I'm paranoid about one day having to show some records so I keep track of everything in Homeschool Tracker Plus. I would imagine that most unschoolers in Florida are registered through an umbrella school too. Florida Unschoolers seems to be a very popular and FREE umbrella school from what I hear, you might want to check them out. http://www.freewebs.com/floridaunschoolers/
A lot of people I have talked to use them. I use a different one that charges a small fee each year. The director is part of a large homeschooling group in Orange Co and she organizes field trip to the theater for that group so she includes the umbrella school members in her trips... it's nice because we get the group discount and since I know her now, I feel better about her having Noah's personal info and I know that she WILL report the information to the state, she's not hiding and swindling me, lol. Yes, I have trouble trusting people. That stems from those control issues I've mentioned a few times.

I have to say that I'm concerned about the current administration's push to make all the educational standards the same for the whole country. While the idea has merit for public schools (coming from France, it always struck me as silly that each state seems to be its own country as far as laws and things like that are concerned!) because, let's face it, Florida's public schools aren't exactly the best, I'm worried that homeschooling would be more regulated than it is now, and that we would have to follow the requirements of the more stringently regulated states. I don't want to have to submit my lesson plan in advance for the state's approval. This totally goes against the spirit of homeschooling, IMO. Plus what if they end up using standards like the recent ones adopted in Texas, as the national standard? Yikes. There IS a reason I don't live there, lol. OK, rant off :)

(It just struck me weird, re-reading this paragraph, that I foster an environment of structure and control in the schooling of my child, but that I refuse to recognize someone's authority over me when it comes to that. I guess what is good for the gander is NOT good for the goose?)

Anyway, I've babbled on long enough for tonight. Where are you in Florida? Will you join us in the Florida group?

Snoopy
03-17-2010, 09:31 AM
Hey, we're starting on the path of "interest-led" learning today! Yesterday we studied the Maya, Incas, and Aztecs (yes, all 3 in one day so needless to say it was pretty superficial, although we read books and watched videos too). This morning Noah asked me if it was Wednesday and when I confirmed he groaned... because he knows we do Science on Wednesdays and he "really wanted to learn more about the Mayas and the Incas"... so guess what we'll be doing? I'm scrapping my science plans for today and we'll explore more about the Mayas and the Incas. Woohoo! We're on the path of interest-led studies!

QueenBee
03-18-2010, 01:15 PM
That being said - - let me backtrack a bit. I'm not completely relaxed about education yet. I never would have even considered unschooling until I was sure they had the "basics" down. We used structured learning until I was certain they could read/write/do arithmetic on at least a "sixth grade" level. Even now, I still lament some of the history gaps I see they have and wish I had been even more structured in a few areas.

Topsy

You know - this is interesting to me. I feel a bit like this, but I'm in that level of "structure" currently. I am pulled toward unschooling, but (and I know unschoolers would tell me have trust, etc. but I'm just explaining how I feel - I know that it works for some families) I worry about them having inadequate basic skills. And almost all "pure" unschoolers I've met IRL are either dealing with preschoolers and kinder (yes, clearly nothing formal needed there) or kids that have been in school and have been pulled out as middle schoolers - i.e., basics already in place. I'm glad to have read what you wrote, Topsy, b/c I feel the same way and find I'm often defending myself for wanting to be sure my kids have some basics down. I'm looking at trying new stuff next year - especially for my oldest- that is less structured than what we've been doing... maybe I'm leaning into unschooling as they gain the basic footings I'm looking for them to hold. =) I hope so because I love the idea of it. I wish I could relax enough to "just do it" but alas, I am what I am...

Topsy
03-18-2010, 02:59 PM
or as popeye says, I yam, what I yam...right?? ;) I think everyone has to find their own comfort level with relaxed education. I have some acquaintances who absolutely cringe at any type of structured learning until their kids specifically ask to know something, and then some who call themselves relaxed homeschoolers, when basically they just mean "eclectic". They teach everything - - just with child-centered curricula. I find myself somewhere in the middle, where I definitely have certain things that are non-negotiable as far as education goes, and then other things that they can just learn (or not learn) to their hearts content!

Snoopy
03-18-2010, 06:46 PM
QueenBee, this is absolutely the way I feel. I was actually anxious yesterday about letting him explore his interests because he read 1/2 a book about the Incas and then went on a tangeant about the Civil War and I'm not sure it was the most constructive use of his time (although it was fun - he watched videos posted on YouTube made with Playmobil toys). But today I took him to the library (he didn't want to go but we went anyway, lol) and once there he discovered a lot of books that he ended up checking out, on the Vikings, Ancient China, the Maya, the Aztecs... so that was good. For science today (yes, we went back to science, I didn't want him to totally skip it), I let him watch Bill Nye and Brainpop instead of actually reading the lesson and doing some worksheets that I had found. He enjoyed doing just that and then he got out some rocks he had found (today's lesson was about rocks and minerals) and started examining them and had fun with that. So maybe we'll do more hands-on things rather than pure "teaching". I'm looking forward to reading the book recommended by Topsy because I need concrete ideas on how to relax my ways by someone who I don't feel is judging me. One of my unschooling friend is trying to guide and encourage me but I wince when I read her comments. She's assuming that Noah is hating the structure and not learning anything, which is not true at all, and I'm starting to resent that a little.

crstarlette
03-18-2010, 07:21 PM
You know - this is interesting to me. I feel a bit like this, but I'm in that level of "structure" currently. I am pulled toward unschooling, but (and I know unschoolers would tell me have trust, etc. but I'm just explaining how I feel - I know that it works for some families) I worry about them having inadequate basic skills. And almost all "pure" unschoolers I've met IRL are either dealing with preschoolers and kinder (yes, clearly nothing formal needed there) or kids that have been in school and have been pulled out as middle schoolers - i.e., basics already in place. I'm glad to have read what you wrote, Topsy, b/c I feel the same way and find I'm often defending myself for wanting to be sure my kids have some basics down. I'm looking at trying new stuff next year - especially for my oldest- that is less structured than what we've been doing... maybe I'm leaning into unschooling as they gain the basic footings I'm looking for them to hold. =) I hope so because I love the idea of it. I wish I could relax enough to "just do it" but alas, I am what I am...



That being said - - let me backtrack a bit. I'm not completely relaxed about education yet. I never would have even considered unschooling until I was sure they had the "basics" down. We used structured learning until I was certain they could read/write/do arithmetic on at least a "sixth grade" level. Even now, I still lament some of the history gaps I see they have and wish I had been even more structured in a few areas.
Topsy

This is exactly (or, pretty much exactly) how I feel. The way I tend to word it (in my brain, when I talk to myself, because this has never actually come up in conversation) is:

My philosophy, which is subject to change, is that children need a solid foundation followed by freedom.

Basically, I think that, sorry kids, you need to learn to read, write, do math etc. and even spend plenty of time learning history and science for several years. Once they're older they can decide for themelves what they want to do. If they decide to mess around more than I would like them to, that's okay because their education K-8 (grades also subject to change) was SO good. If they decide to get serious they'll have the skills and knowledge to make it "easy" to learn whatever interests them.

I second the recommendation for The Unschooling Handbook. I like to think that I "keep in mind" the ideas and philosophies in that book while not actually unschooling.

As far as strewing things around the house, I think that sounds great, but not in my house. That would require a very organized house that cleans itself. Maybe in the beautiful, clean, well-organized house that I envision in my dream-future. I feel you Snoopy on having plenty of materials to keep children entertained, BUT they have owned them for longer than a week so they're old news and the kids don't want to read/play with them. I would need to make more regular trips to the library to do that with books, and I don't see it happening with games or toys. Sometimes I think about opening a game and toy library due to children's tendency to get so quickly bored with the things they own.

Snoopy
03-19-2010, 12:47 AM
Crstarlette, one thing I used to do with games and toys when my older kids were younger was to bag 1/2 of them and put them in the attic for about 6 months and then let them "rediscover" them and put away the other half. Have you tried that?

QueenBee
03-20-2010, 04:51 PM
My philosophy, which is subject to change, is that children need a solid foundation followed by freedom.



I love this! I may adopt it as my own (with full credit to the source, of course!). =)

Snoopy
04-01-2010, 08:30 AM
I wanted to share an article that I just read this morning which really helped me understand better why I have this feeling that I'm doing it wrong and what I can do about it. Now, a warning: I found this article in Homeschool Enrichment Digital Magazine (http://homeschoolenrichment.com/magazine/issues/0044/digital/). THIS IS NOT A SECULAR MAGAZINE. Most articles refer to god every other word, it seems. However in the March-April issue (available for free online but you need to register for the site first although I tried linking directly to that issue so you might be able to avoid registering) there is an article on pages 80-82 entitled "The Ownership Principle" which is written totally secularly. (phew) The author describes how giving children ownership of their schoowork promotes self-learning. Several caveats: this is NOT unschooling (the parent still chooses what resources the child should use, at least in the younger grades, from what I understood) and she makes several comments about capitalism being better than socialism, which may be irksome if that's not the way you roll.

From that article, I went to her own website (http://www.homeschoolstudentplanner.com/plannerintro.htm) where she sells Student Planners. She posted a short video of her daughter (8, like Noah) using her planner and I think that might be a good approach for us next year. Something "in between" what we do now and a hands-off approach, where Noah takes more ownership of what he does, but where I don't feel like I've totally left him to his own, sometimes misguided, devices. I'm going to order a planner (Noah already chose his favorite theme!) and we'll go from there. We currently use an agenda that we bought for $1 at the Dollar Tree and her planner comes to $23.50 after tax (yikes! That's the cost of a whole workbook... or 2!) but I figured it might be a worthy investment. I am not going to use it to keep record of what Noah did because I still want to use our Homeschool Tracker Plus for that purpose, but we'll try using it as a planning tool for NOAH to help him pace his weekly work on his own.

Anyhoo, I'll report back on how that is working for us, but in the meantime, I thought that maybe some other folks struggling with similar issues might find the article (and her website) helpful.

Firefly_Mom
04-01-2010, 02:30 PM
Like many families who pull their kids out of ps, we started out very structured and have become more and more relaxed over time. One of my biggest regrets is remembering when our son was younger and he'd ask if he could do a particular project or something and I'd tell him no, because we weren't "scheduled" to do it that day (or week, or month). I cringe every time I remember his sad little face. I am as anal and controlling as they come (poor kid!), so it's taken a hurculean effort for me to relax my grip on the reigns. I'll admit that there are things I wish my son would be interested in. Thinks that *I* love - but he doesn't (like ancient Egyptian history). That being said, there are things that he has a total love for that I never would have taught as in-depth as he has chosen to learn it. Like WWII. The boy has spent literally thousands of hours over the last few years learning all aspects of it. I've known more than a few adults who've come to him with questions, because he's the resident expert in our group ;)

My son *does* have a schedule, though, and it's a self imposed one. He has a weekly planner (one of those where the week is spread out over two pages) and he likes to have his activities for the week written down so he can see what he has going on. It also helps him to manage his time, because he knows that if there's a big project he wants to do, he better not start it on the same day that he has 2 other activities (he doesn't like stopping in the middle of a project.)

I third the recommendation for Mary Griffiths book (she spoke at my first homeschool convention and was wonderful!) I also want to recommend the Teenage Liberation Handbook. I'll be the first to admit that I don't agree with everything she says, but there are SO MANY wonderful examples of real world, child led learning that you can't help but say "I never would have thought of that!!"

Snoopy
04-01-2010, 02:42 PM
Firefly_mom, how old is your son again? How old was he when he started using the planner on his own? Thanks for reminding me of the book. I had put it on hold at my library and I just checked and it's "in transit" which means I should get it next week. Perfect timing...

Firefly_Mom
04-01-2010, 06:26 PM
He's 14 and he just started using the planner this year. He used to like for me to write everything out in list form, but after reading the book Organizing the Disorganized Child (or a title very close to that, LOL) we switched to a planner. Like Topsy's youngest, mine also has dyslexia (as do his father and I), so organizational skills are an absolute must! So far the planner has been working very well.

Snoopy
04-01-2010, 07:14 PM
He's 14 and he just started using the planner this year. He used to like for me to write everything out in list form, but after reading the book Organizing the Disorganized Child (or a title very close to that, LOL) we switched to a planner. Like Topsy's youngest, mine also has dyslexia (as do his father and I), so organizational skills are an absolute must! So far the planner has been working very well.

I NEED this book for my 2 older sons! I tried looking on my library's website but it's down so since my Amazon Prime trial ends tomorrow and I have an Amazon gift certificate, I went ahead and ordered it. The readers' comments were really positive so I'm confident it's the book you're referring to (plus it's the exact title you gave me). It should get here on Monday and I can't wait to read it because my boys' disorganization is driving me nuts and costing them dearly in school (and in mom goodwill points!). Thanks so much for mentioning it.

Topsy
04-01-2010, 07:38 PM
He's 14 and he just started using the planner this year. He used to like for me to write everything out in list form, but after reading the book Organizing the Disorganized Child (or a title very close to that, LOL) we switched to a planner. Like Topsy's youngest, mine also has dyslexia (as do his father and I), so organizational skills are an absolute must! So far the planner has been working very well.

I want that book too!!! Off to Amazon...

Firefly_Mom
04-01-2010, 11:24 PM
Snoopy - Although the book is written for organizing ps kids (so there are things like having them put their book bags by the door the night before) I did find a lot of helpful info in it. It also helps you figure out what type of organization style works best for your child, and then offers tips for each style.

Topsy - as the admin of a website, maybe you could work some kind of % discount with Amazon ;)

Snoopy
04-02-2010, 08:29 AM
Firefly_mom, my boys who needs the organization ARE in p.s. so this definitely will help (well, I'm crossing my fingers). The problem is that I give them all the tools they need to get organized and they don't do anything with them. I don't understand, especially since they know the reaction they'll get from me if they get written up or a 0 because they didn't turn in the work that they did, or turned it in late because they didn't write down the due date. This has been going on for years and it's really the most challenging part of parenting them. I spent a couple of hours with my 15 year-old a couple of days ago, showing him how to use his Google calendar to record all of his classes, due dates, test dates, etc and backtrack by scheduling study time for each specific project every day and scheduling alerts that go to his cell phone. I have to add that my older kids do have a unique situation which exacerbates the need for organization and at the same time, provides a lot of organizational problems: they live with me 1 week and with their dad 1 week. Granted we only live 7 miles from one another, but that means they have 2 rooms to keep organized, and they constantly should be thinking ahead "what do we need to bring for this week at mom's/dad's?" Yet every week they've forgotten something important. I sympathize, but this isn't new. We've lived like this for 9 years now. My approach is to say "well, you'll have to live with the consequences" so they learn the hard way and don't do it again. But they call their dad (on the cell phones that he has provided without my approval) and he rushes to their rescue. So the result is that they have no real incentive for improving. Ugh. In elementary school and middle school they are provided with agendas but they think, despite my explanations on how to use them effectively, that it's only a tool for the teachers to communicate disciplinary issues with the parents and they never write anything down in them... thankfully our county has implemented an online system which shows what grades they have gotten on each assignment so far and why (so if there is a 0, there are codes that the teachers are supposed to use to explain why it was a 0) and which assignments are due in the next few days (to some extent, unfortunately it depends on the teachers actually inputting the information in the system!). This has helped a lot keeping on top of what they are doing.
Sorry for the long rant. I think I'll be reading the book aloud to them (since they're 14 and 15 that's going to go over like a lead balloon!) so they can't tell me they read it but didn't. Fun, fun, fun!