Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What do you do at bedtime?

Last Thursday, we hosted our homeschool play day that has carried on since last year's Wolf Camp that we hosted on our property. Only Kyle could make it last week, and after I returned from taking Kyle home, Sean was on the computer. It was nearly 4 p.m. and I told him we needed to do some school. I asked him to turn off the screen.
He told me he had done science the night before, but I was skeptical. I hadn't seen him doing science the night before.
He showed me a video he watched about opioids. I decided it was indeed science, and pretty advanced stuff, so I asked him to get his science composition book and carefully, in his best 7th grade handwriting, outline what he had learned from the video.
He first was surprised that he is in 7th grade. I guess he forgot. I have never made a big deal about grade levels, but I like him to know what level he is now, because we are getting ever closer to high school.
He pulled out his sketch pad, held it up and asked, "You mean like this? Can you read this?"
He was seriously curious if he had done work at a 7th grade level. He had outlined what he learned. And he had obviously paused the video to take careful notes and to be sure he had spelled the words correctly before moving on. It was well organized, neatly written, some information was circled with a mark that denoted a this and then that type of scenario of how pain is communicated in the brain. It was so impressive that I was left speechless.
Mostly because we haven't even talked much about my expectations for this year, or about how to take notes, and how to be thorough. But also because the subject matter was very advanced and complex, and he had done it late the night before, when he could have chosen anything at all to do. Legos, a movie, any number of things.
I didn't want to skip doing school, so I encouraged him to think of some reasons why a Dr. would prescribe an opiate. He had some of the medicines listed, and said maybe morphine for a broken bone.
He searched broken bones, and the various ways a bone breaks. I asked him to sketch those and label them, and he did it with skill.
His work led me to wonder if he knew some of the clearly advanced biological terms, and if he knew what the person meant when talking about enzymes. He hasn't chosen to do that work yet, but I am sure he will soon.
And I wonder if we all, after at least some exposure to watching others categorize information, come to understand how to take notes and outline information?
I also wonder if he would do better to start school at 4 p.m., because he clearly does some of his best work after I'm in bed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Homeschooling and selling the house

It's the first time I haven't been the least bit excited to say goodbye to summer and jump into the school year. It's our first official year of Middle School, 7th grade. I'm getting there, but I'm overwhelmed with life right now.

Our schools start in September around here, and I decided to follow the schedule of our old district, which means we officially begin tomorrow. Just to get him into a routine I did a soft start last week.

I haven't planned anything for curriculum, except a basic concept of what I'd like to see him do this year.  I've had ideas floating around in my brain, read a few of the many items I have on Middle School years for Montessori, and that's about it.

We are selling our house, so almost everything has been packed into bins and put into the POD while we show our home on a regular basis to potential buyers. I thought we would have it sold by now, but there was a delay in listing. It's only been on the market for a month. I packed all of those things away in early June, thinking the house would be listed by the end of June, and we would be ready to pack up and move by now.

Keeping the house looking like no one lives here is a big job. I try to keep everything clean and put away, so that we could do a quick sweep and wipe down and be ready to get out of the house within an hour. It has happened more than once.

I kept only a few things for math and language in our storage ottoman, and figured we could limp along with library and field trips until we are settled into a new place. I miss the homeschool materials. It feels so bare and strange without them. Maybe that's why I haven't been very excited. I'd like to have our old shelves and materials in our living room again, so I could update the materials on the shelves, and we could just go to the shelf and choose something to work on.

But we have to improvise for a while, so I decided to start with goals for the school year. He has some goals, and I have some for him, and we will work together to accomplish those. A lot of them are practical life kinds of skills.

He wants to get solid on Algebra, and asked to do Trigonometry, but I cautioned him that the manual is rather thick for our Montessori Adolescent Algebra. I don't think we can get to Trigonometry in one year.

I want him to learn how to do a budget, and a business plan. He wants to learn how to parallel park, and to fly an airplane.

Some of our goals will likely get changed or altered in some way, but we are both looking at this year much differently than the past two we've spent at home.

He asked me tonight if I had some stuff out for him to work on for tomorrow. I don't, but I will certainly pull out some things. Language will have to be first, because I have to do more prep for math.

This month I see us focused on math and writing. And we might have to keep it going for a couple of months. It can be an in-depth study of those subjects until we can mix in the other things.

We will definitely do some manual labor kind of work around here. He has embraced hard work, and looks for a chance to work outside. Today he cut the raspberry bushes and hauled the clippings out to the compost pile.

After reading one of the papers on adolescents, I recognize that he is fully in that plane of development. His bed covers are always crumpled, and clothes strewn on the floor. He cleans up each morning and makes the bed, but he prefers to sleep without the top sheet anymore, making his comforter a pile of soft material.

His focus is on friends, finding any opportunity to socialize. And I will make sure he has a lot of opportunities for that.

He has become what the paper describes, a cave child. He wants to be in the house, specifically in his room if he isn't in front of the video game. He hangs out in his room, with his crumpled bedding, and his music. He no longer goes outside on his own much. I have to encourage, or ask him to come help me with something in the garden. Then he lingers, walking around the property, playing with the dogs, talking to the chickens, observing the birds in the trees and yard.

This property has been exactly what we needed. It has provided so much joy and opportunity for a healthy homeschool environment. We are looking for another, similar to this one, but one that meets more of what we need.

In case you're looking to relocate to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, to a farm that would be perfect for your homeschooling family, with a Christmas tree farm started with 200 trees growing, 7 acres of land, beautiful flower beds, a chicken coop, small shop, hookup for an RV, and a natural amphitheater with a gazebo for entertainment, and more, here's a link to the MLS: