Homeschooling in our local paper

Our local newspaper, the Times Record News is publishing a series of articles on homeschooling.  The focus is all the wonderful options we have with our time and education since we aren’t bogged down in the TAKS test that all the public schools are trudging through this week.  Generally, they’re positive articles with lots of great examples of real families in our area. 

Check’em out.  Leave a glowing comment. 🙂

http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2008/apr/29/taks-free/

http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2008/apr/30/freedom-home-schooling/

http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2008/apr/27/graduating-debt-free/

Just one more question…

Lately, I feel like I’m living with Columbo.  Just one more thing…

Day and night, Sean has one more question.  Last night, he wanted to know how you turn coal into electricity.  And how you make playing cards.  And who was the first person we saw get kicked off American Idol (hey, they can’t all be intellectual questions!). 

Since he read my post about all his questions (Yes, my kids read my blogs.  For some reason they suspect that I’m writing about them.), he’s been turbo-charged.

I need a store that sells 50 lb bags of Purina Brain Chow.  The kid clearly needs to feed.

Careful what you wish for…

Our family watched Star Wars on tv yesterday, the episode where the Rebels destroy the Death Star and party with the Eewoks.  We oohed at the adorable Eewoks and tolerated our kids’ sophisticated cynicism of the special effects.

At one point, the spirits of the deceased Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda appeared to pass on their wisdom to Luke Skywalker, and I realized that Obi-Wan looked tired and wrinkled, even as ghost.  I commented that if I were to return to visit my kids after my death, I’d like my spirit to look like the younger me. 

Sean had a quick and just a little too perky answer for me.

“That’s easy, Mom!” he chirped without ever taking his eyes from the tv screen.  “Die young!”

Logical, but somehow not as appealing as I’d imagined.

Is absent-minded professor still a viable job?

Are there still openings for absent-minded professors or has that fad passed hopelessly out of date?  I’m just wondering because I think I’m raising one. 

My last few blog entries have been examining the mind of my sharp, curious, experimental youngest son.  He’s quick.  Once his brain captures an idea or a fact, he never loses it.  He figured out the spelling of the word anachronism today, deducing the “chron” part because I told him it dealt with time and he knew words like chronic, chronology, and synchronous already.  (Yes, he’s already studying for next spring’s spelling bee!)  He also built a rocket out of legos after we read a chapter from a Neil Armstrong biography, making key improvements on NASA’s design.   On his way to bed, he stopped to examine the inner workings of a plastsic ball that changes colors when you toss it (something about hinges and catching air…) 

He’s creative.  He’s focused.  He’s…he’s wearing his shirt backwards.  I sent him back to his room to change.  He hadn’t noticed, and he didn’t understand how I could tell.  Maybe that kind of thing flies under his radar.  

He is still cute, though, in a Chicken Little kind of way.  Somewhere out there, someone is raising the perfect little girl for him who will admire his brains and help him button his shirt correctly.  Trust me, he needs you. 

 

What makes a rubber ball bounce – and endless other questions

The curious kid strikes again.  It’s 11 a.m. and Sean’s in the middle of doing chores (hypothetically).  Suddenly a thought strikes and he needs to know, “What makes a rubber ball bounce?”  This thought is undoubtably spurred by either a) the rubber ball in his hand that he bounces as he walks through the kitchen, b) an insatiable curiosity about the world around him, and c) a desire to avoid those burdensome chores.

He pauses to ask the smartest person he knows. 🙂  Or the handiest person in the room.  I prefer the former description.

Happily, I take a break from email and consult the writ of common knowledge, the Great Big Book of Everything.  We google it.  Within seconds we have a choice from thousands of explanations, and Yahoo Answers provides us with a simple explanation of energy and compression.  I love technology.  I love homeschooling.  I love this kid in my lap asking questions.  He’s thrilled.  He leaves my lap smiling, glowing under a mom’s approval of his curiosity and thirst for knowledge. 

But he really isn’t ready to return to chores.  “How does lightning form?  How does electricity move?”

Yahoo Answers can handle this, too, but I have my own question.

“Is your bed made?”  He already knows the answer!

Not enough sense to come in out of the rain

My mom used to use this phrase: not enough sense to come in out of the rain. 

So what does that say about a boy who wants to go out whenever it rains?  Or a mom who halts schoolwork to let him?

It could mean we’re both goofy and irresponsible.  I prefer to think that he has a scientific curiosity and a burning desire to observe nature in action, which makes me a progressive, intuitive homeschooling mom to allow him to follow-up on those curiosities.  Flexbility and delight-driven studies are benefits of homeschooling, after all.  And Charlotte Mason, a founder of the modern home schooling movement, insisted that nature studies were essential to a rich education.

Okay, I’ve established credentials by citing an expert.  I feel better.

So in the middle of the afternoon, Sean grabbed an umbrella and headed out into the thunderstorm.  As usual, he squatted on the ground and stared intently for awhile.  Usually he’s studying drainage patterns as the runoff finds the path of least resistance through the muddy garden.  He IS a boy and can’t resist mud. 

Today he was studying the shape, size and amount of hail.  He had to bring in a few to show me while he described for me the differences in the pieces.  Of course his sister said, “Eww!” and his brother smashed them on the ground (can we call that a scientific experiment? nah, that’s stretching it).  Sean didn’t care.  He’d seen what he wanted to see. 

I love that about him.  He was completely and totally absorbed in the moment, and then the moment passed.  He was finished with his hail and ready to move on. 

The whole episode lasted only 5-10 minutes.  Sean satisfied his curiosity.  I know he’s filing away information for future use.  I can see the wheels turning.  And I saw a fascinating interplay of relationships.  For those few moments, none of the kids had a book assignment to work on.  They were temporarily free to act as their characters and interests led them.  I feel like a sociologist watching an experiment unfold.

 

Back for another round

I’ll give my kids credit – they’re persistent.  A few weeks ago we survived our first experience auditioning for community theatre.  It was a 3-hour process of nerves and jitters.  Jordan described a strong urge to vomit while on stage (whew!  nerves!).  That was followed by an anxious 2-day wait for the cast to be listed.  Cameron celebrated winning his first role and Jordan cried a little in disappointment, but recovered well.

Last night, we did it again.  This time all three kids auditioned for roles in Peter Pan.  The older two were veterans, much calmer this time around.  They described Sean as “terrified” while onstage.  He came home a bit shaky, but glad for the experience and hopeful of being a lost boy.  Cameron hopes to be a pirate, and Jordi longs to be Peter Pan’s shadow.  It’s been a neat experience for them.  They’re learning to control their fears and face them.  They’re growing in confidence.  They’re making new friends with other kids who show up to audition.  Jordi even got to pull in some gymnastics skills, nailing a beautiful roundoff back handspring while trying to impress the directors who’re looking for a gymnastic shadow for Pan.  (As an aside, she learned something else – wood stages are tougher on your feet than springfloors at the gym.  From now on, she wears shoes!!).  I’m totally convinced that drama is a vital part of education now.

Where will this lead?  I don’t know.  I’m following their lead.  Perhaps to Never-Never Land. 

Braces will kill you slowly

Check it out…fresh home from the orthodontist, he’s smiling, he’s joking around, he’s jolly Cameron.

cams-braces-001.jpg cams-braces-002.jpg

Hours later…crushed and unconscious, prepping to spend the next 3 days whining about how his teeth are KILLING him and he can’t eat anything and flossing is impossible. 

april-2008-001.jpg

We paid good money for this.