All Posts Have Moved to Blogger

Just a note to say that all of my posts have moved to blogger:

C’mon over if you are looking for clever homeschooling materials!


Packing Up and MOOVING. To Blogger.

I’ve been working on this for a while and have a pretty good start (only 46 more posts to move – whew!)  That’s down from 66 just the other day, so progress is being made!

Please come over to Blogger and check out my newly designed homeschooling blog.  I’m in the process of moving posts and editing here and there, but overall I think it’s ready to rock.  Here’s the address:

I will no longer be adding new posts here on WordPress.  If you like what I have to offer the homeschooling community, please come and follow me on Blogger.  I’d love to see you over there! 

Over the next month I should have all posts moved over and will be adding new materials.  I have Lauren of Designer Blogs to thank for working with me on the new design.  Thanks, Lauren! 

Come get High on Homeschool on Blogger!!!!!!!!!!


Building a Child Up

If I stop the merry-go-round that is life and sit still for a minute or two or longer, my mind can scarcely believe that Max is a fifth grader.  Where does the time go?  We all say that, don’t we?  How did that little guy who once topped out height-wise at my knee turn into a kid who is nearly as tall as I am (and he can even wear my tennis shoes without tripping)????  If we stop and examine each frame of our lives one by one, we don’t get a sense of how fast time is moving.  If we jump back onto the merry-go-round and hit the ‘go’ button, time whizzes by.  Time plays with our minds and sometimes shakes us silly.  My kiddo is eleven and now has his own ideas, his own agenda, his own game plan.  Thankfully he still respects me enough to allow me to interject now and then and kindly guide him in the right direction.

I’ve been thinking about this whole concept of time a lot lately.  I’ve also been thinking about the quote that is written on the left sidebar in this blog that states:  “What we feed our children everyday – in body and in spirit – is what they will become.”  Wow.  That’s heavy stuff!!  But true and important and I think we must pay attention to it.  Every word, every gesture, every nuance is read acutely by our children – they look to us to see who they are, who they can become.  I find this responsibility daunting, challenging, and one of the most wonderful things all at the same time.  There’s an opportunity if you ever saw one! 

Feed – in two contexts, right?  I’m a bit of a stickler about what is put into one’s body nutritionally.  I hate stuff like Vanilla Coke Zero and think it has zero value.  I love stuff like fresh avocados or tomatoes out of the garden, or a really good cantaloupe.  I’m trying hard to feed us with nourishing foods and focus a fair amount of energy on that task.  Definitely not perfect, but on a track and learning more about it every day.  So, working conscientiously on the ‘feed in body’ part.    

What about feeding our children in spirit?  What exactly does that mean?  What are some things that you do to build your children up?  One core way to show a child that you value him or her is to stop whatever you are doing and look at the child when he or she is talking to you.  I try hard to do this – to stop what I am doing and look right at him when he is talking.  This one is challenging because he talks A LOT, but he usually has something interesting to say.  I have issued a ‘Mom-Time’ no-fly zone after 9 p.m. wherein I can sit and concentrate on tasks that need tending to, like planning out the next school day, catching up on some reading, or blogging!  This is the time when the chatter is supposed to wind down and Max is supposed to head off to bed and call it a night.  My husband is an early bird, so he’s generally in bed before nine.  I’m a night owl all the way and am most productive in the wee hours.  Pay attention to whether or not you are looking at your child when he or she is speaking – it really does make a difference.  It helps, too, to acknowledge that you understood what your child said by saying something that indicates that you did.  We humans can sometimes do a miserable job of communicating because we forget about the basics.

Another way to build a child up is to let him participate in some decision-making within the family.  We recently sold two vehicles and purchased a new one.  Max’s dad takes two wheels to work everyday, usually on his bicycle.  Since we are homeschooling, we can manage well with one car as long as we communicate (bingo!  That word!) about the comings and goings of family members.  While researching the new vehicle, I told Max that his  input was very important.  We listened to his thoughts about each one we test drove.  Down to the final two candidates, it was Max who gave the thumbs down on one of them due to the cumbersome set up for the backseat.  Even though he grew tired of test driving this and that, I think he felt that if he had an important comment, we were listening, and he has a sense of ownership in the new vehicle.

We are about to embark on a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a week, just to see what’s going on up there.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?  Max has been doing some research using the Connect the Thoughts Mini Vacation Unit to help us determine what activities we are going to engage in while we are away.  Here’s a picture of the curriculum – it’s short and sweet and kind of fun:

This was $2.00 and is available in pdf format.  It’s an organized way to approach a family trip while letting the child have some say in the matter! 

Building a child up isn’t necessarily about oooing and ahhhing everytime he does something or draws something or plays a neat beat on the drums, even though that’s pretty cool when it happens!  I guess my job as a mom is to show him how to survive in the world as he grows up and in so doing, I must try to be real.  I must let him make mistakes.  I must encourage him without sounding ridiculous, because he’ll surely pick up on that.  Kids know when you are not being sincere.

Here’s the book I’m bringing with on vacation to read:

 It’s what’s on my mind at the moment.  What are some of your ideas for building a child up?  I’d like to hear them :).

Preference Projects from Currclick – in Case You Have a Preference

Maybe you’re like this, too.  You hear about something, you become curious about that thing, and then before you know it you surround yourself with all things THING, whatever that thing may be, so you can learn all about it.  Substitute any of the following for the THING:  gardening, skydiving, kayaking, tandem bike riding, Photoshop, chickens, rabbits, lizards, landscaping, eating well, or pick from thousands and thousands of other topics.  Adults who follow their noses according to their interests are generally pretty happy folks, as long as their noses keep them out of trouble, that is :).  Why should it be any different for our children?  What an awesome thing (no pun intended) to teach a child – that it’s wonderful to follow your interests and dig in as you see fit, learn as much as you like!

Last year we followed our noses somewhat while doing unit studies (before setting up a unit study, I sat down with Max and asked him what he wanted to learn about.)  Even though the main topic was one of interest, like whales and dolphins, we still incorporated many of the other subjects like math, science, geography, writing, etc.  It was an all-out look at a topic, which of course, is the basis of a unit study.  I think Max learned well under these criteria and rather enjoyed himself.  I liked it a whole lot, too, although it took a fair amount of set-up and planning on my part.  Unit studies are kind of like that, aren’t they?  You can find many of the unit studies we did last year on this blog – just click on the unit studies category over there on the left.

If you sit back and watch your children on the sly, you will notice that they sometimes show a preference for a particular subject.  If you can manage to get yourself out of the way, your child will happily figure out ways to surround him or herself with information about that subject.  This all starts quite young, doesn’t it?  The Spiderman phase.  Thomas the Tank Engine.  Dora the Explorer?  Teen Titans.  All of these were derived from the TV.  Children without access to the TV (living the best life ever!) might show an interest in caterpillars, constellations, birds of prey, endangered animals, or nifty ways to disassemble your microwave.  Still, the best life ever.  It’s that natural curiosity which is such a beautiful and endangered thing – our public school systems somehow seem to squash that natural way of learning for children.  Homeschooling has some sneaky advantages, and this is one of them; you can unleash the curiosity monster in your child, calmly step out of the way and let the happy learning happen!

Currclick has some newer offerings called ‘Preference Projects’ which may or may not fit the bill for you and your child.  My interest was piqued by them, so on the blog they must go. 

Click on each project to go to Currclick to see the previews and to learn more:

 Bugs……can’t say favorite would land in the same sentence for me.

Easy.  Hummingbird!

There are a few others on horses, constellations, numbers, etc.  Note that these are fairly structured.  Having flown precariously by the seat of my pants last year for our fourth grade adventure, I’m beginning to understand the grandeur of structure and ordered things, although I still think it’s important to inject lots of fun and alternative ways of learning in there – strike a nice balance.  You could easily supplement one of these preference projects with other materials and put a fun spin on it.  Of course, that would involve YOU getting involved, and maybe that’s not the point here.  This is kind of about letting a child follow a trail of interest.  You’d have to use your very best judgement :).

I like for the most part. The name stands for ‘Curriculum in a Click’.  I am a secular homeschooler, so some of their materials don’t jive with my worldview, but that’s something I can easily work around.  Visit their site if you haven’t already – all of their materials are available for immediate download in .pdf format (printer cartridges at the ready!)  The materials are incredibly well-priced and they run awesome sales, so watch for them.  Get on their email newsletter list and you’d be all set.

Wet Chickens

This post has absolutely nothing to do with homeschooling – it’s an ‘outlier’ post!  I think it’s important to have the occasional outlier in everything that IS.  Take a look at the quilts the Amish construct – the women often place an ‘out-of-whack’ block in their quilts, and I think that’s cool.  Like there’s a little sense of humor that got sewn in to the making of that quilt.

So.  Yesterday we worked on the final stages of our chicken coop extravaganza.  It’s been eight weeks of digging, pounding, staining, painting, cutting – lots of ‘ing’ing going on.  The fenced run is done, so we finally reached the stage where we got to cut the hole in the coop to allow the chicks to come and go as they please.  No more carrying them back and forth!  Eleven chickens equals eleven trips back and forth; and mind you, some of those chickens are really hard to catch now that they have room to spread their wings.  Carrying two chickens at once doesn’t bode well for the handler, either.  I’ve tried it and have opted to concentrate on one bird at a time.  That little devil, Charlotte, is the hardest one to catch!  She and I eye each other warily whenever I am out in the yard; it’s like she knows.  The chicks are 8 weeks old today. 

The door was cut, but naturally, as with all projects that we’ve ever embarked upon, we were missing that ONE thing that would finish the task.  We need a hook and eye combo so that we can secure the door open during the day and shut at night to keep intruders out.  So, the door was left hanging in a semi-shut position until we could run to the Depot or Lowes and get that ONE thing.  My hubby and Max left mid afternoon to get Max to a friend’s house and right after they left, it started pouring.  The skies opened up with the kind of rain where you are completely soaked to the toes in 30 seconds.

The chickens!  I grabbed an umbrella (silly me, it didn’t come in handy) and ran down to the fenced yard.  Even though I had a tarped area set up that served as their temporary fence, the chickens were huddled in a group out in the open with necks stretched up, trying to determine exactly what the heck was happening.  They were frozen in place, and therefore fairly easy to grab, thank goodness.  Trying to grab a chicken one-handed while using the other hand to hold the umbrella proved stupid, so I tossed the umbrella.  Up until yesterday I’d had pretty good weather luck.  The skies are open enough so that you can see what’s coming; if it looked like rain, I’d go down and casually gather everybody up and stick them in the coop until the storm passed.  This one caught me by surprise.

Meanwhile, the sky above me was pretty active!  Flashes of lightning followed by the big SCUZZZWHACK! of thunder.  Right overhead.  The thought that I may not make it back into the house crossed my mind.  Lightning strikes in New Mexico are something to take seriously.  But my chickens were getting drenched!  As quickly as I could I took each chick and tossed her (gently) into the coop through the newly cut door opening.  They were clearly bugged about the whole being wet issue, not really understanding why they were so bugged.  Chickens, in case you haven’t heard, are really not very bright.  Maybe I’m not really very bright for having gone down there to rescue them in a lightning storm.

We have a very tiny chick named Lucy who has something called ‘runting and stunting syndrome’.  She is about half the size, maybe less, of the other chicks, even though she shares the same hatch date.  I believe it’s caused by an avian virus that affects food absorption and shows up in flocks now and then.  Her feathers have been slow to grow.  I couldn’t stand the sight of her huddled up and shivering, so I brought her in the house and used the blow dryer to warm her up.  She LOVED the experience – lifted up her little wings and waddled toward me for more.  It was very cute, and a little crazy on my part.

Later on I checked on everybody and the girls all sparkled!  Shiny, fluffy feathers after their unfortunate forced bath.  They all looked great.  And I lived to tell the tale. 

Guess where we’re off to today?  Lowes to get that hook and eye contraption to secure the door open.  I really do wonder, though, if they will have enough sense to go inside when the weather is bad?  Time will tell :).

Just another chicken experience with a happy ending.  Does anyone else out there have chickens?

Daily Sheets of Fun and Wonder

In an effort to inject a little fun into each morning for Max, I just got finished creating some daily logs in Word on the computer.  We’re heading into fifth grade this year and I’m hoping that Max will get more and more comfortable working independently this year.  I’m trying to provide lots of structure for him to help him along.

I made some logs wherein I can fill one out the night before and set it out on the table for Max to look at the next morning, maybe while he’s munching on his cereal.  They are titled in big letters, “Max’s Daily Sheets of Fun and Wonder”.  I scoured Google images and looked for very fun and very silly images of the things he loves and put those images in the upper left hand corner, a different image for each sheet to keep him laughing and interested.  He likes Bey Blades right now, so there’s a picture of the Bey Blade characters.  He LOVES Legos, so there are several different images depicting Star Wars mini Lego figures doing crazy things like riding miniature motorcycles, flying kites, throwing snowballs at one another, etc.  Whatever I could think of, I pasted up in the left-hand corner.

Then there is a section of legal fine print and it reads as such:  “all school work and help around the house must be completed before you play with electronics, see friends, or watch Netflix.  Signed, The Management (a.k.a., MOM and DAD).

Below that there are big check boxes next to a line on which to write the school assignment or the household task.  I really should make some of these for myself to keep me on track – maybe I will!  What Google images would I choose?  Pictures of dark chocolate bars, bright colors, flower shots, cartoons, chickens……..

Hopefully they will elicit a smile from Max each morning, rather than a grimace thinking about spelling or math or what-have-you.  At least it will be more of a fun and gentle introduction into the day’s happenings.  I think it’s important and way more fun to sprinkle in little bits of silliness here and there during the homeschooling day.  We are getting set to start on Monday!  Back in the saddle.

Maybe Parents Should Just Say No

Just read a great post titled ‘Back to School Hell’ by a dad who is grappling with the whole supply lists that schools are handing out right about now.  He simply can’t believe how much stuff the schools are asking him to purchase so that his child can get educated within the system.  While reading his post, as humorous and as true as he nailed it, I had a thought.  Why don’t parents just say no to these lists?  Why don’t parents group together and demand that the public school system figure out a better way to manage the money that is given to it? 

I mentioned in a recent post that our neighborhood school erected a splashy new electronic sign out front to the tune of $25,000.  Schools all over Albuquerque are getting major face lifts, too – some serious architectural restructuring.  Not just paint and stucco.  The whole shebang.  Sure, it’s nice to have a nice building to look at and hang out in, but teachers are underpaid and parents are having to shell out lots of dollars to supply the classrooms with the BASICS.  Guess I’m feeling heated about this, huh? 

I’m wondering why parents are dutifully running to Target or Wal-Mart to purchase all of those supplies.  I’m wondering why I did it.  I did it bitterly, mind you.  The whole time I was walking those aisles I was grumbling to myself about this and that.  Maybe I should have just sat down to calmly write a letter to the school and school board and tell them that I flatly refuse to pay homage to the supply list.  I could write that letter now, but it wouldn’t hold any weight since we are homeschooling.  Missed opportunity!

Maybe parents do it because they think they have to?  Do they?  Does it have something to do with still needing to please an authority figure?  Is it fear-based – that somehow a child will get in trouble for not bringing in supplies?  I’m just trying to figure it out.  I saw umpteen sets of parents and children wandering those aisles at Target over the past several weeks.  Had I been in a different frame of mind, I would have interviewed them and asked them about their thoughts.

I’m just observing behaviors and wondering about them.  Why do we do the things we do?  Sometimes I think we need to break out of the mold and go our own way.  This might be one of those times.  We parents are good at saying no to other things (mostly things our children claim they can’t live without), so why can’t we say no to a school system?  What do you think?