Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What did we learn?

Today is a "down" day.  Grammie is coming in to town for a quick overnight and to celebrate Jay's birthday... and hers!  It's stormy and gray, a few days before Halloween.  I feel like putting a fire on the hearth, sipping hot cider and reading "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."

Well, we can't do the fire because we'll be out in the yuck running a few errands.  We'll have to get to the library to check out "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," and we're out of cider.  So goes the day.

So Cady woke up with me this morning, cleaned her room, and headed downstairs for some cider (yeah, that's right, the last of it) and to work on some comic strips she's been writing.  I poured my coffee and joined her.  After a breakfast of eggs and toast, and with Asher still fast asleep, she and I began pulling out our halloween decorations.

I taught her how to change batteries, and she hung our motion-sensored ghoul in the front.  Scary!  She colored a face on a pumpkin and put up some cobwebs.  Now, since her brother is up, the two of them are using the hour of screen time to watch a Little Monster movie. 

While I feel like I should pull out their workbooks and pencils, I also feel like this is a day to hunker down, do housework, bake an apple cake, and prepare for Grammie's visit. 

I think this is a big dilemma for homeschoolers, at least for newbies like me.  We want to take advantage of the flexibility in schedule that homeschooling provides.  But we don't wan to "take advantage" of it to the point that they aren't learning what needs to be learned.

Okay, so having said that, here's my plan.  I hung a skeleton on the wall, and we are going to cut and past our "organs of the day"  (we have four so far) onto our "monster in the making."  I'll have Asher read the Max Axiom comic I checked out for him all about the adventures in the human body.  Cady can read "The Story of Farts."  She loves that book!  They can work on their NaNoWriMo prep stuff, workbook or more writing.  They can do times table flash cards together... they both need work on their times table memorization.  They can make the apple cake and clean the basement.  They can make birthday cards for Dad and Grammie.

Tonight as a family, we can enjoy some kettle corn and play either "SomeBody" or "The Game of States," or maybe even Monopoly or Clue.  Then more silent reading before bed.

I think for today, this regime will have to suffice.

Tomorrow is a new day.  Maybe a workbook day.  Maybe not.  I'm learning not to stress out about what life deals me.  I'm learning that my kids are learning all the time. 

I mean, yesterday Asher spent a couple of hours voluntarily typing his part from his upcoming play to print onto note cards... then he rehearsed the lines from the cards.  He wrote about a hundred more words on his novel, read books for an hour, and did a blog post.  He also learned how to utilize spell-check, a wonderful way for him to learn how to spell certain words he's unsure about.

Cady read an entire book out loud to her brother.  She loved the book and they laughed their way through it!  She drew and captioned tons of comic pages and finished writing out invitations to a disco play date.  She learned how to use our home copier, too.  The two of them also watched an episode of "Word Girl" and a ten minute, first segment, Haunted History of Halloween- a National Geographic film.

That's after we spent a great morning picking apples, feeding goats, and playing in hay bales with friends at the orchard.  It wasn't a traditional "school" day, but they chose what to learn an were excited about it!  We went with the flow and learned a lot.

I'm not sure what tomorrow will bring, but I am sure we are open to the possibilities!


  1. Hey there! Loving your posts. I have a thought- I'm wondering how you decide what activities/schoolwork you do with the kids on a given day/week/month. Do you and the kids sit down and decide on a schedule together? How often? And how often is it modified or changed? Do you make the changes together? Is there much conflict over what activities are to be done and when? I read your posts about your plans and how sometimes you are unsure about them. (BTW, I concur that uncertainty is not a bad thing.) What I'm curious about is how much of that uncertainty is shared with the kids. I think it would be interesting (yeah,'cause I don't have to do it! ) for the kids to share in that with you, and to share their uncertainty, tiredness, boredom, restlessness, dislike of this or that subject, etc., and then examine how that affects their motivation and learning. Maybe you do all this- if so, I'd love to hear about the kids' day to day journeys too. I guess reading about your journey with the exciting openness of homeschooling makes me realize it's just as exciting and open for the kids too, and it's a really unique opportunity for them to learn about their own responsibilities and power as masters of their own learning. 'Regular' school doesn't teach responsibility for your own learning. Wow- what a huge gap homeschooling fills here!!

  2. Wow, thanks for your enthusiasm and your questions Teege. I do share some of that uncertainty with my kids, and I have started letting them guide their learning. That was a hard path for me to take because I wanted so badly for them to "keep up" with their peers. That is, until I read (as we were studying the human body- something Asher claimed to be interested in) that it doesn't actually matter WHAT you learn as a child, it matters that you learn things, and that you learn how to learn. The quantity is more important than the content, because when you get older and learn more things, neurologically those new things need an old memory to "connect to." I'm not a science girl, so I'm not sure if I'm saying that all right. But that really made me switch gears. Thanks for the input, and I will keep in mind my children's "journey" as well as I write future posts! So far, I am just beginning to feel confident enough to let them "guide" their journey, simply providing them with enough resources. For example, today I put out a huge basket of library books all about the body. Some simple readers and some comics and some more difficult, scientific books. I said they had to read from that basket for a half hour some time during the day. My son took out the Max Axiom digestive system book. While readin he sai, "Hey mom, I didn't know the colon was part of the large intestine!" Then when I was upstairs, out of sight, he made himself a spinach, blueberry, apple, and banana smoothie! I asked him where he got the idea, and he said "Max Axiom!" Success!

  3. Hahaha, I just realized who you were! :P LOVE LOVE the picture!

  4. hey kara, it's your homeschooling pal in nyc! your blog is wonderful, thank you so much for putting it out there. i just gave a talk to our big nyc homeschooling group about unschooling, and i'm impressed with how much wisdom you've embraced in such a short time. it's all about trust, isn't it? i'm thrilled that your kids are so happy. hopefully, we'll see you after the holidays. lots of love, j. in nyc

  5. Wow, great to hear from you J, and I'm honored you're reading my blog and it gives me some comfort to hear you say I am "embracing" so much. whew. We'd love to see you after the holidays! :)