Friday, April 30, 2010

Waiting, Watching, Listening

I haven't been keeping up with my blog like I should, but I have a sort of good reason for not doing so:  Nothing Much has been going on.  The past month has been more floating through life than participating in it.  I don't think this is something bad, however, it doesn't make for exciting or interesting blog posts. 

The summer is rapidly approaching and I've done about all I can do to prepare for beginning homeschool.  My final curriculum choices have been set:

Saxon Math Grade 1
First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind
Spelling, Vocabulary and Sight Words Workbooks (If, and Evan-Moor)
Geography Workbooks (Evan-Moor)
R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey
Daily Art Projects ranging from painting, drawing, sculpting (I'm doing an unschooling approach with this)
Instant Immersion Spanish for the computer
Piano Wizard for the computer supplemented with weekly piano lessons from a good friend
P.E. will be daily workouts along with logging our progress on Lance Armstrong's website, The Daily Plate, with the eventual inclusion of some local sport or activity like karate.

I'm going to be tracking his progress (and mine) on Homeschool Tracker basic along with some written stuff.  I hope to see which one suits me best as we go along.  The homeschool Tracker basic is free and they have an advanced version that I may end up getting if I find that it would be useful but good to start off with the stripped down model.

I have 'finished' the cleanup in the office/guest room/homeschool room.  What an ordeal that was!  The yarn alone was a monumental feat all by itself!  Needless to say, I have enough yarn to last my knitting pleasures for at least 3 lifetimes.  I will do a separate post on that one once we get the final touches done on the room.

School has been thankfully and disappointingly a non-issue.  Thankful in the fact that we seem to be quieting down from trouble, but disappointed because we are going tediously slow through school work projects.  I praise Logan for having the patience because I surely wouldn't.  And as glad as I am that we are rapidly approaching the last day of school (Exactly 5 weeks to go!), I'm not looking forward to the room mother duties that I signed myself up for long ago.  We have a party and a field day.  Is it wrong to want fain illness on those days or just go ahead and pull him out?  I won't, but begrudged I will be.

So we wait and we watch.  Everyday Logan is asking when can we get started and I point to the big 4 on the June calender.  I stress the importance of finishing what we start and that he is (barely) learning something in school right now and it is important.  As each days goes on for me, I listen for clues to help us on this new journey as we close in on it:  How he learns, where his interests are focused and what his setbacks might possibly be.  So far, I see someone who is a 'connected learner', in that he learns through connections of things, his most recent was the connection of the directions North and West and wondering if the Worth in Forth Worth was a combination of North and West.  He wants to explore and is finally becoming okay with getting his hands dirty so I hope to have many hands on science activities and reintroduce him to the fine art of finger painting.  We're going to work on slowing down and listening to the world around us, contemplating how we can achieve what it is we want to.  We're going to remove the overriding stress of 'get it done' so that we can really look at the why of what we're doing -not just keeping up with the class for the sake of moving on to another subject.  In other words, "Yes, you can add and subtract, but why is that important, where do we use this, how does this apply to science, art, history?"

Until around June 4th, it's very likely posts will be sporadic, but I will be around!  Once our adventure really begins -things will be fun to report!

Loganism for the day -Daddy, "If you have a good week next week, you can get a new Wii game."
Logan, "How about two games?"
Daddy, "One good week equals one Wii game."
Logan, "So if I have another good week I can have another Wii game?"
Daddy, "Uhhhh....."
Good one, Daddy! :)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm still here!

Although my brain hasn't been!  I work at a lovely little theatre who's performing a wonderful little show right now so between the day to day schedule of to school and back and my weekend being at work, I haven't had much time to blog, or even think about blogging.  Everything is going okay at school for now...I'm just trying to keep Logan riding the wave til the end of the year so we can get started on our plan.  He's so excited about starting his first grade at home this summer which has totally given me the confidence boost that I think I was missing.  Our little talks here and there about it typically include the matronly, "You know, you're going to have to work really hard at home too."  which typically follows with a, "I know mommy, I'll do a really good job and you will be very happy."  I still have this feeling that once we get into this, he's going to blow everybodies expectations out of the water. 

Loganism for the day- As he's running around me at the store,
L: "Mommy! Do you know what I'm doing is called?" 
Me:  "No, goose, what is it?" 
L: "An orbit!"  he goes around me a few more times, "Mommy!  My orbit around you is too fat, you need to lose some weight so I can make a smaller orbit."
 Me:  "Thanks!"

>.<   I think I might start my exercise routine a little sooner than planned.  You know it's bad when your kid calls you fat.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day 15: Then why home school? Secular Thursday

First, I will admit that I'm using my blogging obligations to procrastinate from the cleaning obligations around the house. Hopefully I will only allow myself a temporary distraction. :)

Around the web and around real life, I've found that it is hard for people to conceptualize a reason for homeschooling that is not for religious practices. The school is going to teach what I'm going to teach, right? So why not take advantage of the system that my taxes are paying for? You’re wasting your money and time better spent on your own pursuits. You can work and go on lunch dates with your best friend and be free to watch torrid romantic comedies during the day. Why on earth would you want to do exactly what the public schools are doing? If not for religious reasons, what else could there be?

I'm even going to go a step further and peer into the future and see the dimension where my son goes through the entire public school system and comes out of it okay. At least, no worse than the average student in the United States. Why would I want to home school?

Secular homeschoolers have a harder time proving why their reasoning is acceptable -even a few of those in the community have a hard time justifying their reasonings and, myself included, will latch on to other issues such as bullying, special needs such as learning disabilities or illness, and even curriculum as the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back to justify the reasoning of not being part of the herd. Being a secular homeschooler puts you open to scrutiny because faith, even for the faithless, is infallible. You cannot argue belief in a God anymore than you can argue the belief in love. Mr Franklin said it best, " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." So why would someone, who could as easily as they could home school, go and fight for the qualities they wish the school system to have? Sure, they could, but even if we did, concessions would be made and averages would be instilled and even if there was an improvement, the glaring mediocrity in that new public school system would tarnish even the most humble of educational requirements we have for our children.

So, I home school because I feel it is best. I see it as the best and I have faith that it will do the best. I don't need to align myself with a reason, a cause or a condition to persuade beyond the purpose of what I feel. If I must, I will liken it to a calling to God -that I believe that I can provide a better education for my son. Let the demonic public education cronies strike me down if this is false because I will not make my son a martyr to prove he deserves better.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Day 13: Not talking nice, not following directions.

Before I begin, I have to put up this timeline to help clarify my mood/anger/resentment/justification and all around bitchiness with this subject matter. I try, at least, to be fair in my judgment of the situation and while I've got a fire under my rear, I have a pretty loud bark but it takes a lot for me to bite. Since I'm catching you up to speed, I'm leaving some of the good out because this is about the bad.

It wasn't until after Logan's 6th birthday, around the end of January, that he had a good week. What I mean by good week is a collection of stars, smiley faces and stickers in the margin of his planner book designated for the teacher to remark on his behavior. School started in the 3rd week of August -so approximately 5 and a half months, even around Christmas with threats that Santa reads his planner (technically he does), we could not make one solid week of good behavior.

My please and thank you, open your door, ask you how your day was, pick up his toys by his own volition, helpful with the laundry, dishes, and all cleaning duties we will allow, pick up dog poop, make his own bed despite living in a house where beds are not made, thoughtful, caring, mindful, rarely needed but easily persuaded to do the right thing, sharing without prompting, courteous, loving little boy took longer than half the school year to have a good week. Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?! ARE YOU SERIOUS?!

Up until that point, the best week he had was 3 out of 5 good days -the week before Christmas. If he had good days it was usually once a week and those were intermittent. Now, I wasn't expecting perfection, but definitely expecting the good to outweigh the bad.

Now that his behavioral situation is "explained" (....depending on how you look at it....)

We have had 4 meetings with Mrs. H in all. The first meeting the first week of school was met with, "I'm listening to you but I have to get this stuff done." so we tried to talk with her while she complained about the mountain of work she had while we were trying to figure out how/why Logan was having a bad day.

Second Meeting: A week later, the second week of school, of kindergarten, when I came to pick him up, she screamed at me about how horrible he was. In front of other parents, in front of his class, in front of Logan. Now, by this time I had been paying attention. Mrs. H had 23 5-6 year olds in her class. Long story short, I got a profuse apology from her, the principal and things improved for a week after that-then basically went right back to the bad days.

Third meeting: ADHD was brought up. So we would go and get him tested. We did (this was around his birthday) and his doctor said he had situational ADHD because, and I quote, "The teacher doesn't sound like she's got her shit together and can't control the class." Yes, reviewing everything made it bad enough for the doctor to curse (out of Logan's earshot, of course)

Fourth meeting we tell her that we're not pursuing anymore of this ADHD stuff, his doctor believes that the environment in the classroom is the culprit and we talked with her about how he responds to things. He is more apt to do something if he feels like he's going to get a reward -which is as simple as saying, "Good job!" (which came with a defense, of course, I mean how could we possibly think she's a negative person with all the previous examples of her behavior)

So from about early February to early April -a little over two months, I haven't been terrified of hearing how horrible my son has been, everyday, when I go to pick him up. But since his last bout of being ill with a virus, his little clique's no longer want to have anything to do with him, he's getting picked on and generally in a foul mood. That was his words yesterday and hers were 'not talking nice, not following directions'. We'll see what today brings. If it's another bad day, I'm going to ask Mrs. H how she would feel if she felt that she was getting picked on and not being listened to.   Sorry for the long post, hopefully I've explained the situation!

.....7 weeks, 3 days. We're almost done with this crap!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 12: The Electronic Babysitter has been fired!

I'm such a bad mom. I'll admit it. I use the electronic babysitter here and there....okay, sometimes a lot.

She's so useful in her many forms: Television, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 2, Leapster Game Pad, even the thing I sit here and type to: the ol' computer. She takes so many different forms and she'll let me complete so many tasks without interruption. But her free and instant nature has a more insidious side because she's tricked my son into needing her constant attention. The Monday morning routine was almost scuttled due to a 3am visit in her Leapster form that made us extremely pressed for time because Logan would not wake up! Vile succubus, you shall no longer have your temptress claws around Logan's eyes, ears and mind! I know I am personifying her to make her seem more like her own entity than me, but that's okay. It's easier to hate the electronic babysitter than myself. In the infamous words of Donald Trump, "You're fired!"

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 11: Easy like Sunday Morning

Not a long post today.  Yesterday was a good, fun fill day of shopping with lessons.  Logan accompanyed me to Central Market for last night's victuals of Lamb Tikka Masala.  As we wove in and out of the crowded market, I would call off the items from our shopping list and Logan would find them and scratch them off.  He did a pretty good job too, until we crossed everything off and he needed something else to mark on.  Unfortunately I did not get a picture of the "I DID IT ALL BYE MI SELF" that he penned down his left arm.  Some patrons scolded and others laughed at his temporary sleeve tattoos, but it was all good.

Sunday was spent playing games and dissecting all the workbooks I've got.  I'm finding all this mise en place a very fullfilling experience and hope that I don't end up cursing myself later on.  It's giving me a chance to really go through the workbooks and pre-made lesson plans and make mental notes of the things I like and what I don't.  After this I have some Mario Kart and maybe even a movie in my future.

I love Sundays.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Day 10: Patsy Cline said it best...

Well, I think I have officially driven everybody on and offline crazy.  I am obsessed.  I have become a crazed, foaming at the mouth, rabid advocate for everything and anything homeschool.  I'd like to blame this whole new world for infecting me with the sickness, that only those with this much fever for it are able to inject the same amount of fever, but no, it's nobody's fault but mine.  I don't know how to take it slow, I must know it all at once and I must be able to run before I'm ever out of the cradle of beginnings. 

Hello, my name is Denise and I am an addict to starting things.....

....and never finishing them.

Blogging the other day about my once extremely important, constantly talked about, support group joined yarn dyeing business (even the blogging of the business is an all too familiar chord) reminded me how far removed I was from my old obsession.  I went out with more of an old man fart than a bang and it was because I exhausted myself, I was tried of messing with yarn and having to be accountable to so many different people and for what, at the end of the day a illegal Mexican day labor makes more in an hour than I've made in a day.  HUH?  So after I finished the commitments that I had, I quit.  That was October 2008.  I've dyed 5 skeins of yarn since then- and most of them because I didn't have the money to buy yarn (or else I would have).

I want to say that I've changed, but once you get to the point where you become an addict, there is no going back, you can't just pick up something without the constant fear and drive that you might run away and not see it through, not find a way to make it work.  Hence, how I've made so many people in my life 'crazy' with this new-fangled-craze-of-the-day.

So, honestly, I'm scared.  Am I doing this to get my fix of starting something new?  I can't think that I am, even if in some way I am.  This isn't the hair off the back of some random sheep -it's my son.  And I understand I have to prove this, but through the constant thought of home school, I am finding it in me to do this.  I'm making myself look at the ugly truth that I can't give up, anymore than I could give up on parenting. 

I ask myself everyday, everyday since this idea was birthed through my lips to my husband...

Why do I want to do this? 

I want Logan to have what I never did: A chance to succeed. 

How can I give him that chance to succeed, if I am not responsible for his education?  How can I give him the chance if I place his security, his trust, and his capablities in the hands of a stranger?  How can I trust him to make the right choices, build a strong sense of character and have intregity if I do not lay down the first bricks of that foundation?  How do I teach him to protect himself and trust humanity with a healthy respect by forcing him into a random slice of the world for 35 hours a week?

I'm sorry, I can't trust the same system that spit me out with all my flaws, all of my lacking abilities, my mastery of being a jack of all trades, that left me too many inabilities to then expect it to do my son better than it did me. 

So, I may be crazy, but I'm trying not to be.  And thank you to all my friends, on and offline, for being here for me.

Worry, why do I let myself worry?
Wond'ring what in the world did I do?
I'm crazy for trying and crazy for crying
And I'm crazy for loving you!