National Geographic

National Geographic has some wonderful videos online, completely free of charge. Fabulous quality and good playback. Two thumbs up and I'm adding the link in my sidebar.

Muffin Math (and Science)

We are making muffins this morning. There are a few good resources here and here and here and here. Chaos substituted Splenda for the sugar; the recipe called for a quarter cup honey, but she left it out. Possible explorations:

  • How many calories are there in each muffin with the honey and without?
  • What is "yeast" and "leaven"?
  • How do quick breads rise?
  • What is the history of the muffin?
  • What is the origin of the word muffin?
  • How many calories does the butter add?
This is fun!

Zine Article

Who should Home School their kids?

Children tell you the darnedest things about their teachers, so we had taken most of what Michael said with a spoon-full of sugar and were convinced it was childhood angst and not a problem at school. To my surprise and dismay I was told a different story by Michael's band teacher, and then the horror at having told my son that he was full of beans, sat in. His math teacher—I will call her Mrs. E—had been tormenting my son, not just name calling, but standing him up in front of the class and it had gotten so extreme that kids that didn't like Michael had begun reporting what Mrs. E. was doing to the band teacher.

Read More here.

From the Headlines today:

Pressure to pass standardized tests, shrinking budgets and world competition have lain a heavy burden on American schools, and the victims are not only recess, the arts and gym, but the students themselves. Ask any teacher, and they’ll tell you that behavior problems have drastically increased over recent years, a big part of the problem being the absence of physical activities and free, creative time according to a recent study.
From Truemors

Fourth Day

Today will be our fourth day of Homeschool. We are getting a routine -- Math and Science in the morning; Language Arts, Social Studies and Fine Arts in the afternoon. We don't start until 10:00 am and so we don't finish until 3:00 pm. We may have to adjust that -- it seems that the afternoon starts late.

I had a major meltdown this morning after bad dreams last night. Am I doing the right thing? My family tells me "yes" but I am still in doubt. I suppose it just hit me this morning....

I am going to tweek this template more today and add content. I hope to use it as our "jump page" every day.

Edited at 1:46 pm
I've cleaned up the template -- I'm working on getting the titles of the sidebar WHITE and not GREY but not having much luck. I've almost finished the "container" for the content -- content will be next.

The kids have 1) done Math 2) Science 3) Music and are now working on Social Studies as we listen to Yo Yo Ma on the Airport Thingy that is attached to the printer and speakers . I am pleased. They are doing a project about the 44 American Presidents -- a power point each. Should be good -- after President's day we will go back to World Geography and World History. This afternoon they will read their respective books. I am going to plan some Language Arts for next week. They are used to schedule and I'm needing schedule, so this is the plan for the time being.

I am such a Dweeb

That I tweeked this template ... and then copied over it and lost all my changes. I am a dweeb. Starting over....

Third Day of Homeschool

I'm a little better organized today. They had math worksheets printed out at their place this morning -- I have worked on a link list for them on our "new" blog -- "Adventures In Homeschooling." I am pleasantly surprised at how many of the textbooks I have purchased have an online text available with extra worksheets and extra help -- even video components.

We had a bad day yesterday -- or a good one, depending on how you look at it. I had an appointment at noon, so the girls packed up some reading material and carried it with them. It would have been a good day, except that the LH's car had a flat tire. We met up, I purchased him new tires at Sam's, we went to lunch as the tires were installed, we went back to Sam's and did a little shopping while we were there. We had planned to be home at 2:00 -- instead we were home at 4:00 and they did their schoolwork until 6:00; goofed off too much until Karate at 6:45 (to the point we were almost late) and more Karate at 7:30. I'm sore today from standing around and the cold and medicine changes. My arthritis is acting up and I'm just plumb sore. It was good in the fact that it shows we can be flexible; and bad that we had to pack too much into the day.

I need to work on sermon prep this morning and the bulletins. And the house is somehow worse than it ought to be... maybe because we are spending more time in it. But first, more coffee.

Second Day of Homeschooling

Yesterday was momentous. It was both our first day of homeschooling and the inauguration of the first African American President. Yes, a landmark day. For us, the landmark of homeschool was probably more momentous, I hate to admit.

I am concerned about my children's education. I was shocked to find out that they didn't know wo Gerald Ford was -- much less Herbert Hoover. I suppose it's not a horrible thing to not know Ford of Hoover, but it hows the holes in their educatioin.

Entropy was ranting and raving about how the school wants them to be "robots" that are programmed. Chaos and I have noted that the system wants them all to be content cattle, milk cows and beef cattle to be "consumed" by the general public. That questions are not tolerated; nor is creativity.

And they have indeed been conditioned -- they had problems with self direction yesterday -- at one point Chaos just wanted me to tell her what to do -- it's easier than trying to do this on their own. And a certain amount of direction is good; but they must be the engine and they must unlearn that conditioning and find direction themselves.

I feel that my train has jumped track. This is NOT what I had planned for the guture. However, it got the point that I had to do something or my childrens' spirits would be crushed. So here we are -- the second day. We will see how the day goes.

Last Things

Today is my childrens' last day in public school (for the time being.) So this is my last morning for a while completely alone, except for the romping cats. I am going to enjoy this cup of coffee (Saint's Coffee, Free Trade, Organic and the sale supports orphans at the rate of one month a food per pound of coffee sold).

I have most things in place; ordered textbooks, lesson planning is occurring, educational contract is being written. The decision was not lightly made or easily made, but now there is a tremendous feeling of relief mixed with a small bit of anxiety. I had not realized until I made this decision how I really dislike our public schools. The anxiety comes from them leaving an excellent orchestra program and not having a replacement fully nailed down yet. They are anxious about leaving behind friends -- an anxiety I can fully understand. I have already been in full contact with one homeschool network and looking forward to meeting people in the second homeschool network.

I also have already written my first curriculum. For literature, we are going to read 4 of Shakespeare's plays, starting with one of my favorites "As You Like It." We are going to read aloud to one another every day (diction, vocabulary, poetry). I am going to have Entropy copy a few "lines" every day (handwriting, memorization). The are going to analyze each Act, imagine the staging, costuming. By the end I hope each have created a derivative work of their own choosing. I am also going to encourage them to memorize and stage a scene. We then will watch a couple of movies and go see the play at the Georgia Shakespeare Festival. At the end of the first month, I will re-evaluate, to see if it's really worth it.

So I am going to go an enjoy this last cup of coffee in a completely empty house -- later, y'all.

Reason Sixteen for Homeschool

I dropped Entropy off at school this morning. She has the sniffles, but she's going. I helped into and out of the car. She's been complaining of back pain -- and then it occurred to me that her bookbag weighs at least 40 pounds. Well, duh! (slap myself on the forehead moment) I asked her why her bag was so heavy -- it seems she carries everything around all the time b/c 1) her locker is broken and the school hasn't fixed it YET (reported around Thanksgiving) and 2) the kids vandalize stuff in the lockers.

More about Homeschool

  • Reason Thirteen: IE2
  • Fourteen: and this. Georgia has upped the number of kids allowable in classrooms because of the economic situation.
  • Fifteen: Because of the Draconic attendance policies, sick kids go to school infecting kids who are just getting well in a horrible cycle. Chaos has had surgery this school year so far, about six colds and mono. She's anemic and "run down." But because of the attendance policy, being "run down" is not a good enough excuse to miss school. Entropy had rheumatic fever two years ago and caught strep this year -- scary. Then she had a bad reaction to the antibiotic. No going to school equals less exposure to germs.

Tuesday Bullets: Including My Ponderings about Homeschool

  • The Methoblogger story was picked up by UMNews. Do I need to pick up the blog like I'd pick up the house for company?
  • I'm now friends with Matt Fox on Facebook (of Room by Room fame). For some reason that tickles me.
  • I've been playing with Google Insight. It's interesting to note that the search term "United Methodist Church" is most used by ... Alabama. Georgia is high on the list as well -- number 2, in fact, with most searches coming from the Atlanta area. Interesting.
  • I've been considering homeschool for the kids. There are several reasons.
    • First, I believe that they are horribly stressed out and school is THE major stressor. The peer pressure, the pressure to "be the best", the amount of homework. I see my children becoming depressed from the amount of stress they are encountering and I am ready to say "enough."
    • Second, gifted children are not encouraged to feed their gift. My eldest could go through this curriculum so much faster than they are giving it to her -- she's not being challenged. If we homeschool, she can self-pace.
    • Third, children who "don't get it" aren't given additional time and space to master the subject. If we homeschool, they can self-pace.
    • Fourth, I'm tired of homework for the sake of homework. To spend 5 and 6 hours on homework a night that seems to be just busywork -- this is ridiculous. A homeschooler only needs 4.5 hours of schooling day -- or until mastery is reached. It would actually free up a lot of time.
    • Fifth, the new Mathematics curriculum is horrible. They are not going to be prepared for college with this curriculum and I'm tired of fighting the system. Opting out seems the only option.
    • Sixth, I'm tired of the underlying themes of gangsta culture in our schools.
    • Seven I'm tired of the bullying and violence.
    • Eight, I'm tired of the kids' lack of self-worth and confidence that is engendered by these schools.
    • Nine, it will be much easier to pull up roots and move eventually.
    • Ten, field trips.
    • Eleven, I get to select the curriculum.
    • Twelve, I'm tired of the two hour difference in the beginning and ending of the two schools.
  • On the flip-side:
    • This is indeed going to cost: time and money.
    • I won't have any quiet mornings at home.
    • It will take a large amount of discipline: both from the girls and myself.
    • I have to be very careful to select good curriculum and accredited curriculum.
    • I don't know that homeschoolers can qualify for college scholarship or things like All-State orchestra or Governor's Honors. More research is needed.
  • I would love to hear some other's experiences....