Archive for the 'Home Schooling' Category

A Year Down Yonder

Adam discovered the books-on-CD section at our library, recently.  As a result, we have listened to a wide variety of books lately.  Many of these are ones that we would not have taken time to read aloud, as a family, due to the large number of books already waiting. 

One of these was A Year Down Yonder, by Richard Peck.  It is the story of a teenage girl (see why I wouldn’t have chosen it?), who is sent to live with her grandmother, for a year, during the depression. 

Her grandmother is a big, no-nonsense woman, who has a way of taking over everything, and making it better. She is a friend to the friendless, and a know-it-all, who does not tell tales.  She is wise and stubborn.  She is the kind of woman I aspire to be.

The girl, Mary Alice, is a 15 year old city girl, who grows strong and wise under grandmother’s care.  She is not the most popular girl in school, but she makes her own way…and the romance is good.

This is a book I would recommend to anyone, even if your home is full of boys.  It has been two weeks since we listened to this book, and Adam is still asking questions, on topics ranging from telling the truth (and revealing the truth, to those who don’t want to know), to trapping and home defense.

Battling Bugs

As part of our schooling, I am having the boys make a weather journal.  It is good practice in observation, and unbeknownst to them, they are learning to spell the months of the year, by writing the date each day.

When I planned this assignment, I meant to have a weather station set up in the house before school began, but, when I jumped the gun, and started two weeks early, some plans fell by the wayside.  Because we lack even a thermometer, the boys offered to ride their bikes to the bank, to observe the temperature.  Now, reading a digital sign was not what I had in mind when I planned this…but neither was turning on the computer, for this information.  So, off they go, each morning, as soon as their chores are done, to observe the temperature.

This worked great the first week.  The second week, though, there began to be some competition…one boy working extra  fast, with the purpose of leaving the others behind.  Occasionally, in their hurry to be the first to report the temperature, they would bring home the time, or interest rate…sometimes it took three trips to get a just reading.

Then, one morning, Adam came in holding one eye, already turning purple.  “Mama, I got hit.”

Benjamin was right behind him, looking sad.  “I got the bug that hit him,” he reported, holding aloft a three inch long grasshopper.

It wasn’t a fight!  Riding along, he had been smacked in the eye.

It was good to see how they pulled together during a tragedy.  Benjamin had left his bike, hidden in weeds, to help his brother.

We treated Adam’s eye with arnica oil, and the purple went away.  Now their trips to the bank are a bit slower…sometimes they even walk.

Magical Equations


 Today marked the 6th day of school for my family.  One thing we are doing this year, as part of our opening time is called the “Magical Equation”.  It is often used in kindergarten classes to introduce addition, but ours is going far beyond that. 

The boys enjoy making up huge subtraction problems, as well as some simple algebra, multiplication and division.  I think they will have more fun with the multiplication when the numbers are bigger.

Preparing for School

Upon completing our third year of home schooling, I took a serious look at what was working, and what wasn’t.  Then I looked at what aspects we enjoyed and learned from, and which ones were done to fill in blanks on our schedule. 

I also took an honest look at what we really did, not what I scheduled us to do.  (Drudge through one text book after another, and if anything got cut, it was the hands on projects.)  In the end, I realized I had been reproducing public education, at home.  My reasoning, was to keep Manny happy.  He made a big deal out of having records of what we had done; so others could look back on them, to see the job we had done, teaching our children.  Nice idea; but, who cares.  What parent of a public school child keeps every paper the kid drags home?  None that I’m aware of.  Furthermore, why keep them?  If the child has truly been taught, then he knows the information, and old worksheets are unnecessary for showing what he has learned.

About the time I came to these conclusions, a box from my mom arrived.  Three years subscription, from the early 1980’s, of Growing Without Schooling.  A publication aimed toward Unschooling.  Although I was vaguely aware of unschooling, (I had been accused of it before,) I really didn’t understand the principles behind it.  After reading many issues, I decided to make our summer an experiment of unschooling.

From this experiment, I learned many things.  (See “Unschooling”, under topics, or click here.)  However, the most important thing I learned what that I need a schedule.

I am a very project/goal oriented person.  The old adage “If you aim at nothing, you’re likely to hit it.”  is not very comforting.  So, I began seriously contemplating what I want our home school to look like.  When I had my answers, I had a long talk with Manny.  He liked my idea’s, but requested I keep a daily log of our activities, and if it is not clearly academic, to break it down into the components that make up “school.”

The last two weeks, I have been working on my plans for school.  It must be August…every teacher I know is excitedly planning away, regardless of were they teach.

Unschooling Lessons: III

Compound Interest vs Credit

While a seven year old may not grasp the value of a dollar, or the waste of 25 cent machines, he can comprehend credit and compound interest.  He can be taught the value of saving for something he wants, or learn the trials of impulse spending.

Benjamin desperately wants a go-cart, and a motorcycle, and a fly tying kit, and a…. I could go on for quite a while with his large purchase want list, but he also wants bubble gum, and tattoo’s, and stickers; and he want it all now!

Because of all the desire in this house, I set up a system by which the boys could earn money. I also set up a bank, where they could earn interest. This was to teach them the value of a dollar, and that it takes work to earn money; but, more than that, it has taught them to think ahead.  Benjamin has spent enough for a fly tying kit, twice over, on bubble gum.  He is generous, and wants to treat all, but then he is left with nothing.  These have been hard lessons for him, but he is getting it.  I am confident that he will know how to handle money by the time he is old enough to leave home.

Unschooling Lessons: II

Kids want to understand the world they live in.

Talking to your children only about things that interest them, or concern them, limits their understanding.

When our friend, Butch, went to Iraq, we not only prayed for him daily, but answered many questions.  The children wanted to know why wars are fought, how wars are fought and if there was any way to make sure our guys won.

Honest answering of these questions was not easy, as I did not already know all the answers.  However, it has allowed us to teach parts of  American history, parts of the Bible, including God’s blessing on Israel, when they obeyed Him, and His judgement when they didn’t.  We have resaerched many aspects of ancient and modern warfare, and how war is responsible for the development of many technologies we, as Americans, use every day.

The technologies include everything from airplane and jets, to satellites and the Internet; plus, ancient inventions, like metal working, that make modern life possible.

On the flip side, we were able to teach then about human nature, greed and envy.  How sin hurts us and others, and about God’s love for humanity.  We read them parts of Revelation, to show them that no matter what man does, or how many peace treaties are signed, the world will never be at peace, especially in the middle east.

Of course there were many questions we couldn’t answer.  These let the kids come up with some of their own suggestions and inventions.

One “invention” is a bomb that travels underground and actively seeks out “bad guys.”  Another on can read the thoughts and intents of the heart, in order to arrest those who want to do something bad.  😉

The best part of this was challenging their thoughts, and the intents of their hearts; making them aware of their behavior.

Unschooling Lessons: I

  • This summer I have been experimenting with unschooling.  My purpose is to determine how much and how well my children learn without being pushed in any certain direction.  I also want to determine what things they learn from…what are the subjects that we introduce, for whatever reason, and what do they come across on their own.

Do not be afraid to introduce a subject, based on the child’s age.

This lesson became very clear when Adam was sounding out a word.  He yelled, to no one in particular, “What does ‘B’ say?”

Daniel, who is two, grabbed a block from the pile he was playing with, it had the letter B on it, as well as a picture of a bumble bee.  He came running to Adam, saying, “This bee says ‘buzz buzz, and this B says /buh/ /buh/.”  Then he turned the block over, showing the lowercase B, “This is the baby.  It says /buh/, too.”

How had he learned this? 

He had been there every day, as I taught Benjamin the basics of reading, and often reviewed, using blocks.  He had asked about the animals, and their sounds.  The “baby” B was his own interpretation.

January 2020
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"Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass." ~Psalm 37:4 & 5

Confident Endeavors

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

- H.D. Thoreau