Monday, August 29, 2011

A Gift

Our kids work independently quite a bit. This leaves me with a fair amount of time to just sit there. In the past, I've brought my computer upstairs because we often need it, but then I end up getting involved in stuff on it myself to pass the time. This leads to me being very distracted and feeling a bit frazzled when the kids suddenly need me.

Enter the Mac Mini. Erik bought one this summer for the kids to use rather than always asking for mine. We set it up here in the homeschool room, and I've realized that it has brought the added bonus of taking away that distraction for me. For some reason I'm really not tempted to get on their computer to do anything. So I just sit here and watch them, sometimes planning ahead for things or organizing stuff around the school room.

For someone who has been trying for awhile to slow down and just be, this is gold! I feel like I came away from school this morning with a quiet heart, not to mention finishing an hour before lunch. And to think I questioned Erik's wisdom in buying it! Here I didn't think the kids needed it. Turns out I did.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A New Year

Well, we started the new school year this morning with a few changes. First up was an earlier wake-up for the kids. Actually, it's not so much an earlier wake up as it is making the most of the time when they're already awake! They were instructed to get up at 6:30 and read their Bibles, then come down at 7, which they (mostly) did. Ethan substituted the book Holes for the book of Leviticus and I can't say I blame him. (I gave him permission to skip to Deuteronomy tomorrow).

I'm not much for making breakfast but special days call for special food so I made banana crepes with whipped cream. Later we had leftover pudding pie for a snack (this is my not-so-subtle way of making them like the first day of school).

In addition to the early wake up time we're doing some different subjects. We switched back to Story of the World: Ancient Times for history. We've added in geography and science (rather than just relying on homeschool co-op for those) and now that we've mostly finished our spelling book, we'll switch more to Latin and vocabulary for language arts. Ethan's actually been asking to learn Latin, the crazy kid! I'll resurrect what I learned from that nun at the Convent and see how it goes.

Last, they're adding typing. They've dabbled in it, but haven't ever learned properly. I don't want them to end up typing like me - I can type quickly, but my fingers are all over the place and I never use the right shift key. Pretty sure that's wrong.

Because of our early start we were able to finish before noon, which is important because three days a week they have class in the afternoon (two days of Chinese and one day of co-op). I think it's going to be a full year!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Baffling the Chinese

I just had a conversation with a young woman who waited with us for the elevator. She was impressed with the kids' Chinese when she asked them their ages (that's why I love this language - two words spoken well makes them think you're stellar), but then she asked Ethan what year he is in school.

I've tried to prepare the kids for the various questions people might ask them. Just the other day I was quizzing them in Chinese on how to answer the question, "Where do you go to school?" but I hadn't anticipated this question. In fact, it took me a second to realized what she'd asked him.

I told her I teach them at home and the look on her face made it clear that she believed I couldn't possibly have understood her question. So I continued, saying that they don't go to school, I teach them at home.

She was stunned, and stammered something like, "Are you joking?" Then, as she stepped out of the elevator, she asked, "But how do they pass the exams?!?"

I explained to the kids later that this question is extremely important to Chinese when I try to explain homeschool (it's the most common one they ask) because their kids have to pass difficult tests at each level of school in order to continue. The results of these tests determine the quality of schooling they can enter, so it's vital that they do well.

I had been about to explain to the young woman that in America homeschooling is quite normal, but since I didn't have a chance, I'm sure she is now discussing the weird American lady and her unschooled, exam-failing children with her friends. Just another day of baffling the Chinese with our lifestyle.