Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Good Day

Today was a good homeschool day. It was a "the stars aligned, birds sang, flowers bloomed and the peasants rejoiced," kind of day. I felt like I saw the kids learning and they were having fun doing it. They worked hard. I hardly worked.

Now they are outside playing a "wear us out so we sleep well" game of Capture the Flag with about 20 neighborhood kids ranging from age 6-14. That doesn't even include the family with 5 kids and the other family with 6. Yeah, we really worry about socialization here.

To all who wonder if homeschool is a good choice, today I say yes. :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Our current "read aloud" book is The Island of Mad Scientists, by Howard Whitehouse. It's subtitled, "Being an Excursion to the Wilds of Scotland, Involving Many Marvels of Experimental Invention, Pirates, a Heroic Cat, a Mechanical Man and a Monkey," which tells you a bit about the humor of the author. This is the third in a series - we finished the second one last week and jumped straight into this.

The reason I bring up this book is that whenever I read books, I try my best to do different voices for the characters, particularly if it's obvious that they should have different accents. I mean, can you really read Lord of the Rings and not do Gollum?  

I committed to this during the first book of the series which wasn't difficult because although it was set in Britain, all the characters were British aside from a southern American. I can do decent British and Southern accents. 

By the middle of the third book, we've added a lot of variety and it's been challenging to keep up. At last count we have standard British, cockney British, Scottish, Indian, German, imaginary "Chiligriti" accent, southern, Canadian, robot, parrot, and most recently, a Russian pretending to Scottish. On top of that, there's male and female voices. Sometimes I get mixed up and it comes out as some kind of accent no one ever uses. But it's fun to try!

Another day in the life of a homeschool mom. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Things I Never Knew I'd Need (but Which Have Become Essential)

There are a lot of things you assume you'll need when you start homeschooling, like books, pencils, paper, table and chairs, comfy places to read, legal stimulants and maybe a padded, soundproof room (for me, not the kids). But then there are other things that it doesn't occur to you that you'll need which become the things you couldn't do school without.

That is the subject of my post today. In particular, the copy machine.

(My previous never-knew-but-now-essential object was the laminator. I don't laminate much these days but in the younger days of flash cards and whatnot, I was a laminating fool!)

Now that the kids are older for some reason I cannot live without a copy machine. I didn't actually realize this until 3 weeks ago when we bought one. Previous to that, I would lug a bag of books over to the office about one every two weeks and spend an hour photocopying. What was I thinking? Then my husband, who must buy something electronic every month or so or he wilts, bought a wireless printer/scanner/photocopier for the homeschool room and ta da!! I use it daily. I almost seek out things to print so I can use it. I especially love freaking out whomever is in the homeschool room by printing remotely from elsewhere.

Who knew?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mental Health Days

Ok, we're only three weeks in, and thankfully I don't feel a need for a mental health day yet (knock on wood) but I found this list on another blog and thought I would share it. I'm sorry, did I say share it? I meant save it, because there's an off chance it might come in handy for me later in the year. :)

I’d like to suggest some productive-but-not-text-book-related ideas for those days when everyone could just use a break:
  1. Watch a documentary.  (science, history, nature study)
  2. Watch The Magic School Bus.  (science)
  3. Go outside and play.  (P.E.)
  4. Clean house.  (life skills, cooperation, problem solving)
  5. Bake together.  (home economics, math, reading, following direction)
  6. Plan next week’s menu.  (home economics, health/nutrition)
  7. Take your menu and go grocery shopping.  (economics, comparison shopping, personal finance)
  8. Go on a nature walk.  (science, nature study, art)
  9. Paint, make collages, sculpt with clay, make crafts. (art)
  10. Cuddle up in bed and read together.  (reading)
  11. Build with Lego’s, Kinex, Lincoln Logs, blocks. (spatial reasoning)
  12. Write a letter to a relative or friend.  (writing, reading, spelling)
  13. Build a sugar cube tower 5 feet high — yes, I saw that on The Biggest Loser. (spatial reasoning, problem-solving skills)
  14. Spin the globe, select a random country and look it up on the Internet or in an Encyclopedia. (geography, research skills, reading)
  15. If they’re old enough, let the kids cook the day’s meals. (home economics, life skills, health and nutrition)
And by the way, I found this website that has tons of free documentaries. I haven't watched any of them yet, so they could be horrible, but they look interesting!

Here's to mental health and enjoying homeschool!

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's not the academics, it's the character

If homeschool were only academic, it would be a breeze. Our kids thankfully don't struggle with any subjects and actually excel at a few of them. No, the thing that gets in the way of a smooth ride is that pesky thing called character.

For example, right now Ethan is sitting across from me crying because I took away his computer time today. And the reason I took away his computer time was as a consequence for his disrespect during our school time. I want our homeschool time to be fun and relaxing, but there's a fine line between that and swinging from the rafters making monkey noises while I'm trying to review Chinese with them.

The tough part of homeschool isn't the schoolwork. The planning, the execution - these things come easy. But then our sin natures show up to play, and suddenly a math lesson isn't just a math lesson - it's whining and complaining and stubborn wills. But it's also an opportunity to do what is really most important - for their (and my!) hearts to be shaped.

This is one of the great blessings of homeschool - the privilege of being part of the shaping. I have to remember this, so that rather than shrinking from these times or hurrying past them I will engage fully in what God wants to do in them, and in me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Startin' Slow

We've done 4 days of school now and I've decided . . . it's time for a break!

Instead, let's call it "easing into school." Since we've only been back in country 2 weeks, and I have discovered (not a new discovery, just finally trying to address the issue) that I am not good at pacing myself, or knowing when I am being drained, we are taking it slowly.

This is in part because I learned this summer that I am anemic. This makes sense and explains why I have been tired and not able to run. In an effort to regain health I'm taking lots of iron and B vitamins, and trying to do less than normal.

Last night I slept 10 hours because I fell asleep at 8. This morning I feel good, but looking ahead at the next few days I know that I probably need this morning to do some catch up on life.

The best part of this is that when I announce this change of plans to the kids, I will be declared the Best Mom in the World! Pretty sure that's not what child social services would say but I'm 6,000 miles away from them so what are they going to do about it? :)