Oh, BTW, those teacher gifts?

Yeah, those teacher gifts I was planning to make for the girl's quasi-school's teachers/administrators, totally didn't happen. I didn't even THINK about them until I was there on the last day and someone came in with home baked bread as gifts. Damn it, I so meant to do it. I know it's an excuse, but here it is: I started a new job the week before the end of school. I was so caught up in the training classes and the schedule and how to get there and what to do with the kids and the new, more hectic pace of life that I totally spaced out the teacher's gifts. So, sorry quasi-school's teachers, I feel bad :(

And while I'm on the topic of things-I-want-to-do-but-never-find-the-time-to-do, I'm think of doing Christmas in July cards this year. Yep, sending out Christmas cards and letter in July. I never, never, never can make the time to do them in November/December. Besides the usual holiday things, we have 3 birthdays in our immediate family and 8 more in extended family in that time frame. It's just too much. July has 1 birthday in our extended family, the 4th and nothing else. Seems like a good month to take on the cards.

Unschooling happening daily

While I do make the girls do some school work, they manage to learn and do things on their own constantly. Some of their unschooling:
  1. Sandis love, love, loves watching nature/science shows. History of a national park, how to build a bridge, life cycle of a honey bee...she's in!
  2. Both girls decided to go outside and collect leaves. They then made rubbings of the leaves affixing the leaves next to the rubbings in a book of their own making.
  3. Math is second nature to them. They are constantly figuring out how much it would cost to get 4 ears of corn for our family for dinner. What percent of their allowance they need to save for how long to buy X. It's fun to see
  4. Reading. Ok, the summer library reading program has turned this into a time thing for them that is driving me CRAZY, but even without that, they love to read (see prev posts)
  5. Their in-depth knowledge of how to care for the hamster, the bettas and the corn earworm. Once a pet enters the house, they research it intensely and then explain how we must care for it, until you want to scream. But, you don't scream, you admire the enthusiasm ;)
  6. Cooking, they both love it.
  7. They are constantly writing books, restaurant menus, their stuffed toy's interests and many other things. I do wish their hand writing improved a bit more and that they would write paragraphs too, but they are getting there.
  8. Being active - they are constantly outside jumping on the trampoline, riding their bikes, running around. I'm so glad they like doing that and I don't have to force them away from their computers/tv.
I'm sure there is more but that's all I can think of at the moment. Writing it all down sure makes it seem more real and lessens the stress I feel (you know, the "are we behind" and "shouldn't we be doing more" questions that always pop-up unbidden.)

Books, books and more books!

Can I just say that our family is in love with books? We love to read! It is a past-time. A passion. An obsession. I am always on the look out for the next book to add to my to-read list, all the while wondering how I will ever get to the end of that list, especially when I have to go back and re-read some incredible book that I love. Reading can open new worlds, broaden horizons, find answers, even find new questions.

Brian didn't use to be much of a reader. He read non-fiction that was related to his latest interest but that was about all. Then he discovered Lord of the Rings. He wanted to read those before he saw the movies so he did, and another reading fanatic was born.

The girls are my daughters in the reading department. I knew Sandis was truly my child when she was reading in the car, walked into the house still reading and plopped into a chair, unseeing, because her eyes were still glued to the page. I think she was about 6 yrs old then. Stella followed suit.

They are their own people though. Sandis can read a book and not care about the sequels. What?! How can you not know what happened?! She can also read three fourths of a book and then stop, uninterested. Even a book that she likes! Not sure how to do that. Still, not including 2 long chapter books 75% finished, and various books we forgot and didn't list, she read 78 books during her quasi-school year.

Stella can read a stack of short chapter books or picture books one after another for hours, but don't ask her to read anything too long, she can't do it. I think the anticipation of how long it would take might intimidate her. It certainly isn't the language, she can read pages out of Harry Potter, but the book itself intimidates her. I think it is a reading stage/level where they need to have X amount of white space/pictures on a page. I'm not going to argue because in the quasi-school, her reading total was 90 books, and yes, I'm sure we missed some.

My own reading lists I've added as sidebar widgets to the blog. I try and keep up with my reading on GoodReads. I like putting in the books I've read and keeping them there rather than on my shelf. Takes up so much less room and no dusting! I also love keeping a list of books I want to read. It's all in one place and not a piece of paper I need to keep track of. If you use GoodReads too, you can add me as a friend :)

Happy reading everyone!

Questions from the masses

As a homeschooling mom, I get asked questions all the time about our homeschooling. I should learn to expect questions. Why? Well, because an off-the-cuff question, neutral as "how are you doing?", is "where do they go to school?" I will admit, most people hear, "we homeschool" and take it in and pass it off as easily as when someone answers "Zach Elementary." But others, not so much. Some responses:


My fast and dirty answer is "the system is broken." I do not think it's the teacher's fault, and they are the ones carrying the burden of the broken system.

I don't like busy-work, homework, worksheets. Teaching to an average. Socialization. Forcing 5 and 6 year olds to read when they aren't ready. Making them feel like they are inferior when they can't. I don't like that it's all about test numbers, but only for math and reading. Never mind the kids who are brilliant but can't take tests, or the kids who are average but excel on tests (me!) Or that the failing kids get more of the same and are expected to then do better. I don't like how we lose all the other subjects in the rush-for-test-numbers shuffle. I don't like how it all boils down to money in the end. It's such a mess. John Holt or John Taylor Gatto can say it much better than I, go read them.

"Do they like that?"

Do my kids like being homeschooled? YES! They do not want to go to school. They enjoy their quasi-school, but would never want to go more than they already do. They don't want to do it 5 days a week. They don't want to lose the freedom to do archery at 10am or go to the museum in the middle of the week on a whim. They do want to be able to take a break from math and go jump on the trampoline. And they love to get interested in something and not have to stop because it's time to stop. They don't want to go to bed early and get up early. Yes, I've asked them, these are their answers, not mine.

"wow" or some version thereof

No "wows" needed. I'm no super mom. I'm a slacker mom. We follow their interests and I make them do about 1hr of math/spelling/grammar a day for ~3 days/wk. I strew which leads to lots of learning. We attend library and other community programs that are not necessarily intended for children (but children are welcome.) We watch shows from National Geographic, History and others. We explore our world, a lot. We learn as we go. They figure out which things are a better deal at the grocery store. They read a trail map on a hike. They ask questions, we find answers.

"How do you fit all their school in 4 days a week?" (from a homeschooler who was concerned quasi-school would take too much time.)

Really? I don't know how I could stretch out formal schooling to 4 full days a week. Ok, I could. But then I would be lapsing into a school model and that isn't what I want to do. No problem if that is how you want to do things, it's just not my choice.

As for non-formal schooling, it's happening all the time and I don't fit it in at all. It's not limited to certain days or hours. It doesn't stop at an arbitrary or predesignated end. It's 24/7/365.

The unspoken question, "is she judging me for my choice to school (or how I homeschool)?"

NO! Emphatically, no. It is about ME, MY family and MY choice, it has nothing to do with you.

"I couldn't do that"

I'm sure most of you could if you wanted to. If you don't want to, no problem, choose what is best for you and your family. But please, don't sell yourself short. If you can't help them learn something they want to learn, then you find someone who can. If they are driving you crazy, you head to park day and let them run it out. If they are making your house into a pig sty because they are there all week instead of at school, well, can't help you there ;)

Ok, besides the trampoline

We did do some things this week besides trampoline jumping:

They also managed to go to their quasi-school and sign up for classes for next year. They were pretty excited to have so many choices. If they get the ones they want, it will be:
Sandis: geoblaze (a cross between gps and geography, kind of?), science including chemistry, cooking, digital storytelling, art and ancient civilizations
Stella: music/drama, cooking, art, PE, Spanish and acting

I decided they need to do more writing so I went to the new Knowledge Bound location in Windsor and got Silly Starters Write-Abouts, Types of Writing and Banish Boring Words. I'm holding off on the writing and the chemistry until after quasi-school ends in a couple weeks.

They also did the regular math, spelling, grammar, quasi-school, archery (for Sandis), soccer (also for Sandis), group (for Stella), running (also for Stella) and, of course, reading and crafts. To round out the week, we had a game day and a trip to the dentist.

As a side note, I got a new job. I'll be starting at the Miramont next week in housekeeping. It will be a few evenings a week plus a Saturday morning. One perk is a Miramont membership :) And, at the interview they said I am way over qualified and that they are always looking for managers if I can prove myself. I'm not sure I want to be a manager, but it's nice that someone notices my potential. ;)


What can I say, our week has been dominated by the trampoline. The girls saved up the money grandma and grandpa sent for Xmas plus money they earned watching a friend's pets while they were away and are now the proud owners of a 14' trampoline with surround and pads. They have spent countless hours out there jumping and jumping and kicking balls and jumping and giggling and jumping...well, you get the picture. I drew the line at eating breakfast on there (they did a picnic next to it) and doing school work on it (no pencil punctures, please!)