Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A timely quote

The following quote was found today in my RDI program newsletter (Dr. Gutstein is the developer of the RDI program), and it really speaks to the struggles I've had about our focus on school and how to balance RDI and academics:

Dr. Gutstein Quotable

"By having school take up all the the child's emotional and attentional resources we leave nothing for the most critical objective. What we know is that unless we directly address the core areas of Autism Spectrum Disorder, the prognosis for quality of life is very poor. Imagine if we were talking about cancer and someone said they were so busy with homework they had no time for chemotherapy."

It gives me alot to think about. I can't really dwell on it right now, because I have to get supper started, but I will come back to this later as it is a major theme for our school year.

Why is it so hard to let go of the focus on academics? Am I scared of having empty time because Austin doesn't play? Am I scared at his reaction about change and not having a filled-in assignment sheet? Am I scared because Reece melts down at the mention of school, but then comes and begs to sit at her desk and do school? Am I scared because I feel like it would be neglecting Riley's education to let go of an academic focus for her, but if I keep her focus strong she will be upset at being the only one to have lots of academics?

Nah, that couldn't be it. ;)

A blast from the past!

When my dh and I met, he was a professional musician in a country music band! He did that up until Austin was born, when he didn't want to be gone for months out of the year. We still try to keep up with the folks from the band, including the lead singer who has gone on to be a performer in Branson, MO. Imagine our surprise to see a familiar face among the pictures on her website!!

Here is a picture of my dh actually on our honeymoon, 1994! They had a gig in Myrtle Beach (SC, not NC!), and they opened for Delbert McClinton. My dh is on the left! Now you can understand why I fell for him, huh?? I'll have to look around for pics of him in his cowboy hat! ;)
Here's another one...not exactly sure when this one was. I'll have to check with dh and see if he can remember! Again, my dh is on the left! He's quite obviously the most handsome one in the picture! :) There's something about a guy with a mullet!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

A fresh look

To honor the beginning of a new school year and a new season at the Black Pearl Academy, I decided to change templates!

What do you think about it? :)

The Home Stretch

OK, just a few more days until our first day of school! And things are really falling into place, as far as planning is concerned! I spent this morning doing intense cleaning in the kitchen/school room. It looks so much better! I just have a few plans for history to complete. It's hard to keep it simple... I want to add this book and this DVD and this resource. I have to remind myself of my goals, yet again, and also accept the fact that we cannot read every single book on American History this year! LOL

I also need to organize science, but that shouldn't take very long!

Tomorrow we'll finish cleaning and then go play with the little boy who did speech therapy with Reece a few years ago. We haven't seen them in about 15 months, and they have a new baby, so you know my kids are gonna love it!

Wednesday, we'll go to get our folders for school, mail the letter of intent, and hit the library!

And then Thursday is the first day of school! :)

I think it's actually going to be ok!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On a roll!

Well, we are making some nice progress in the way of getting ready for school this year! It is falling into place quickly, despite having to go back and tweak! I am starting to get excited about our first day, which is a week from tomorrow!

Yesterday, I went back and reworked the plans for history and science, making them much more simple. Basically, my plan is to read from a 'spine', take oral narration from Austin (and possibly Riley), and work on memory work that relates to history. Riley will have a separate spine and her own narration will come from there. I am hoping that this will help avoid some of the narration problems we've encountered in the past.

Geography will be once a week. Our library has a set of DVDs called U. S. Geography for Kids (or something like that... if anyone is interested, I can look it up for sure), and they go by the regions that we'll be using for map drill. We'll watch those DVDs, read books about the states in each region, and do map drills on each region. I will be using the map drill system that is explained at www.simplycharlottemason.com. This is the direct link, I hope: http://simplycharlottemason.com/home/started/cmmethods/#geography.

Science is going to start out by continuing Apologia Elementary Botany. We will move on to studying the human body when the weather cools off. I'm not sure if we'll go back to finish the botany, or if we'll move on to something else. I guess we'll see how the botany goes. We're not going to worry about notebooking, unless the kids decide they want to add something to their notebooks.

Copywork/Dictation was something that was going to be time-consuming, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted them to work on. I decided to help jump start this process by using Spelling Wisdom from www.simplycharlottemason.com. I haven't purchased it yet, but I will do that next weekend. It's really for use as a spelling curriculum, but I think I can use it to good purpose for copywork/dictation, at least until we all get used to the process of selecting it ourselves!

Math and Reading aren't really difficult to plan. Riley's is just the 'do the next lesson', and Austin's will depend on how easily he understands his lesson. I have the first 2 books for each child planned out, need to work on reading those myself. And then I'll just sort of go with the flow, depending on how fast they are reading, how wrapped up we get in discussion, and what we are discussing in history.

As we've done for the last several years, we're going to ease into our full schedule. I think this will be especially important this year as we add Reece. Speaking of Reece, I have her 'lessons' planned out as well. I plan to spend no more than an hour with her academics per day, and really more like 45 minutes. This will be spread out through the day, include lots of games and fun stuff, and will just be fluid, depending on how she reacts. She is still incredibly excited about having school work at her desk! LOL

I think that's about all of the interesting stuff! I'm going to implement 2 new things that I'm a bit nervous about, and that I'm hoping will be more conducive to an RDI lifestyle. The first is that there will be extremely limited TV or non-school-related computer time M-Fri. Well, at least until dh gets home from work. I can't control if he wants the TV on in his own home when he gets home from a long day at work! ;) Austin tends to rush through his work, in order to get to watch TV. I especially see this during baseball and nascar season, but since he has found the Discovery Health channel, it's gotten worse. It won't be easy, because he doesn't have hobbies or pastimes, but that's what I'm here for. It will be easier for the girls, because they love to play. But it will be important that Reece is playing, and not just lining stuff up. :)

Which leads to the 2nd thing: a change in assignment sheets. Instead of listing all of the assignments, I'm going to just list the subjects we'll be doing that day (I couldn't take all of the prompts away! LOL). I'm hoping this will lead to much more interaction and referencing. Yes, it's really a step 'back' if you're looking at this from what you would be looking for with a typically developing child. If he were typically developing going in to 5th grade, I would be expecting to be instilling the beginnings of independence with him. However, that doesn't align with our RDI goals. Also, I am wanting to work on the perfectionism, and that will require that we are working in that "Zone of Proximal Development" and I can't really ascertain that without working fairly directly with him.

Well, that was alot of stuff! :) It's a good feeling to not be so overwhelmed!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ahhh, deep breath!

OK, I'm feeling much better! After supper last night, I barricaded myself in the bedroom and started some active planning for this coming year! Once I got down to business, the situation wasn't as desperate as I had thought it was going to be, which is a nice feeling.

However, I keep falling back into old ways, pushing hard into academic goals, when my goals for this school year are more to do with RDI, relationship, and apprenticeship in thinking and learning. I'm going to have to basically redo some of what I worked on last night, because it does not line up with these goals. ARGH! I woke up in the middle of the night last night with that on my mind, so I made some notes for myself, and that will help me get my focus back. I hope! :)

I did get poetry goals set up, which is nice! Riley's poetry will come from First Language Lessons, Level 3. Austin will learn some poems from Robert Frost, and then if he gets bored with that we'll move on. We're also going to work on memorizing the more famous documents in American history, to go along with our studies.

I am pretty certain that we're going to drop AWANA. I spoke with Austin last night about it, and the only thing that was keeping him from wanting to drop it was missing one of his friends who he only gets to see at AWANA. However, we're not sure that friend will be at AWANA at all this year, as he is playing football. I assured Austin that we could get together with his friend at other times, and if we did that, would AWANA be so important. He said no, he really doesn't like AWANA anymore. :( (Not that Riley's imput is not important, but she will be taking 3 dance classes and choir this year... her social calendar is quite full! LOL)

If we do drop AWANA, then I will set up the Scripture Memory System from http://www.simplycharlottemason.com/ , however, I am really at a loss for which verses to put in there. I do have a handout from a workshop I went to on the Memory system, so I'll start there. I guess it will just have to be a 'dynamic system' and we'll just let it move forward and wait for God to send me the verses! :)

OK, time to get back to the kids! I'll be working again on lessons tonight... hopefully I'll do a better job of keeping my focus on my goals so I don't waste time!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ten Days

Our first day of school 2007-2008 is a mere 10 days away! WOW!

I feel unprepared, overwhelmed, terrified, excited, scared, nervous, and shaky all at the same time!

I have got to get on the ball! :)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Some pics of our Harry Potter 7 experience

Riley and I went to the "Grand Hallows Ball" at a local Borders! We arrived at 9:00 PM! (We had gone earlier in the day to get our wristband... waited in line for an hour, and we were #177)

Riley took part in the costume contest! She was "Ginny Weasley, borrowing Harry's Quidditch Robes". (The robes said "POTTER" on the back and on the chest and she was deeply disturbed by this! LOL There were about 100 people in the contest, and another couple hundred watching, so she was very brave for getting up in front of all of those people! She didn't get to the final round, but I was proud of her for trying!
We left Borders with our copy of the book at 12:30 AM! Riley read on the way home, and I read from the time she went to bed until 4:30 AM, when I couldn't stay awake any longer. I went to pick up our library copy at 2:30 this afternoon, so Riley and I could read together:

As noted in my earlier post, I finished reading about 5:30 this evening. I am going to go back and re-read it now, before it has to go back to the library! I promise not to post any spoilers! In fact, I'm going to be doing lots of homeschooling posts now... as we have only about 10 days until the first day of school. After a few weeks, I'll share my thoughts about the last book! :)

I'm done

I just finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I won't spoil it for anyone else. Enjoy your reading. :)

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Potter Blog Break

I just wanted to post so nobody would worry! I will be away from the computer until I finish reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I will be getting tonight at midnight! I am afraid of stumbling upon spoilers online, so I will just not be online until I'm done! Don't worry, though... I'm a fast reader! The only potential delay will be the fact that I have to share the book with Riley until our library copy comes in! :)

Be back in a few days!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Getting back on track

I woke up this morning feeling much better! I'm still a bit congested, but the headache is gone and my energy level was up a bit.

We stayed home, to allow me more time to recover, and I was able to work on lessons a bit more. I am feeling very productive! :)

We start back to school 2 weeks from tomorrow, so I need to really get busy on a final "To Do" list! We have an RDI DVD due on Friday, as well as an appt. with our consultant that day to discuss our last video (different child), and then the last Harry Potter book comes out on Friday night at midnight! And I'm expected to get school planning done? LOL

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fun with Nana and Papa, Part 3

This will be quick... I woke up with a cold this morning, and it's getting worse at the day moves on.

Today's Fun was a field trip to the Atlanta Motor Speedway. We got a tour of the luxury suites, and 2 laps around the track going 85 miles per hour in a 15 passenger van. It was SO much fun! Even the girls had a great time! Reece misunderstood the nature of our trip, because as we were leaving she said, "But we didn't see the race!" She didn't understand that there wasn't a race today! Oops, guess I should have explained that better!

Mom and dad went back home from the field trip, and the kids and I came home. I'm feeling really icky right now, so I'm signing off and going to bed. This is the wrong week for me to be feeling this way. :(

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fun with Nana and Papa, Part 1

Papa has been promising Austin a fishing trip for ages and ages, and this weekend he was able to deliver. They tried to fish yesterday (Saturday) but the rain dampened their efforts. So Papa and Austin got up at 7 AM today (Sunday) and went back out to the lake. This time, Austin was able to catch his very first fish... and he did it all by himself!

Here is the fish... it's a 1 pound catfish. Yeah, they did weigh it. This lake is a 'catch and release' lake so they sent the little guy back on his way:
***Fun with Nana and Papa, Part 2 was this afternoon: going to a Braves game again! It poured nearly the entire morning, and we took ponchos expecting to get soaking wet, but the weather held out. The game was fantastic, and we all had a good time (well, maybe not Reece... she's in another cycle of not sleeping so she was tired). Because of the potential for rain, we didn't take cameras for pictures. Be sure to look back tomorrow afternoon/evening for the post "Fun with Nana and Papa, Part 3! ;)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

18 days?

What? How can this be? 18 days until our first day of school?

::we interrupt this blog for a moment of panicking!::

Yeah, I'm not ready. I won't even have time to work on anything this weekend (more details about that another time). Oh gracious, I need to get in gear!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Note: there are 2 posts from today below this one! I had to get caught up! :) Don't forget to scroll down!

We had an absolutely wonderful time at the movie! Mom, Riley, and I left around 10:30 to get in line for the midnight show. Mom took some pictures before we went inside and you'll see those below! Riley wore Austin's Harry Potter robes, and carried the Golden Snitch (an important part of the game of Quidditch in the Wizarding world! LOL). She was so excited!

I was glad that we got there when we did, because there was no line. They were already seating the theater! We got the last of the 'good seats'! Riley played her gameboy while we waited, and about 30 minutes before the show, mom took her to the bathroom and concession stand. They came back to our seats with enough junk food to keep all of our dentists vacationing for the rest of the decade!

Our experience was only marred slightly by a rude teenage girl who sat next to my mom and text-messaged through the first half of the movie! Finally, about a dozen or so of us yelled at her to turn off her phone. I couldn't believe you would come to a midnight movie, and then TM the entire time. UGH.

We all loved the movie! There were some parts that I missed, but that's unavoidable! That book is huge, and there is no way you can include everything. Also, JK Rowling is such a wonderful author, that you cannot replicate that into movie form! :) Riley stayed up for the whole movie, though she did spend about the last hour snuggled next to my mom. We got home at 3 AM, and Riley was still awake... talking our heads off about the parts she loved, the parts from the book that she missed, and just about HP in general. It was SO much fun, and I'm so glad my mom could be part of it! (She was the one who got ME into HP when she asked me a few years ago why the kids couldn't read them! I told her I'd have to read them myself first, and when I did, I was hooked!)

Here are the pics:

One less thing for the consignment sale

Note: there is another new post right after this one! I'm catching up tonight for the whole week, so don't forget to scroll down!

I sell at the big consignment sale twice a year. It's coming up again next month, and I'm starting to gather items. When my mom came to see Harry Potter with us, she brought a Little Tikes table and chair set that she had at her house. When Austin was a baby/toddler, we used to go to her house in SC once a month at least. She had lots of stuff there all set up for him, so we didn't have to pack alot! Well, as Austin got older, and Riley came along, it got harder to get to SC on a regular basis. And then when Reece came along and screamed nonstop in her car seat for nearly 3 years, we rarely went at all. It's been a year since I've been there. Mom has finally decided that it's not really necessary to keep all that stuff around! :)

So she brought the table and chairs for me to sell at the sale! Little Tikes sells very well! Reece went outside with mom when she was bringing the table in. When she saw it, Reece exclaimed, "OH NANA! You bought me a school desk!!" (Reece has been dismayed that she doesn't have a school desk like Austin and Riley. I didn't feel she needed one for K, and was planning to give her Austin's desk next year when he moves to a bigger desk in his room for 'middle school'). Anyway, Reece was SO excited, mom didn't know what to say!

So she comes back in the house all excited... and says, "Mommy! I know exactly where it should go!" and she goes over to the space near the window in the kitchen, between Austin and Riley's desks! Then she sits down and says, "I want to do school work right now!" and shoots us this look:

OK, so you tell me... would YOU tell this girl she doesn't need a desk, and you're planning to sell this one at the sale?

Yeah, I didn't think so either! LOL

You did what??

Note: there will eventually be 3 posts tonight... I have alot to catch up with, but tonight I have got to give some attention to my messy house! In a flylady fashion, I'll be posting, then cleaning, then posting! :)

We did Sun and Fun this evening, rather than this morning. This morning we needed groceries and haircuts for 2/3 of the children. Austin drew "Drill Sheet- Multiplication" out of the bag, and I printed him off a simple 20 problems. When it came time to check his answers, I decided to mark the ones correct with a checkmark, rather than the other way around. This is something that I read about in Jr. Analytical Grammar! :)

I was quite disturbed to see that Austin missed 4 out of the 20. He knows his times tables quite well. But I hid my dismay, checked the ones correct and said, "There are a few to look at." Earlier this week, and 2 days last week, this was met with a resounding meltdown and tearing up of the paper. I have been handling it all with the methods from The Explosive Child, but it literally was requiring so much of me emotionally, I wasn't sure I could handle many more of these sessions. And tonight, Daddy was home, and he just does not handle melting down very well.

So you can imagine my utter shock when Austin replied, "I got those wrong on purpose. I wanted to practice what it is like getting something wrong."

To which I immediately replied, in my best RDI/Explosive Child/professional/experienced homeschool mama/teacher with a degree in Early Childhood Education:

"You did what??" LOL

He repeated himself, with a grin on his face. I was able to then pull it together, and told him that it was a a great idea! Daddy and I bot did lots of positive declarative language and let Austin know how proud we are of him. We also tried to make sure he connected the fact that he got 4 wrong and nothing bad happened! Nobody was mad at him, we didn't cry, get upset, or anything bad at all.

It was a great thing, and I'm so proud of HIM for coming up with it! What great thinking! :)

OK, off to clean!!

Edited to add: I have noticed him asking me numerous times a day what a word means. This is new, too! Pretty cool!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A few updates

1. Less than 14 hours until my mom, Riley, and I go to see the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix tonight! Mom is coming into town after work tonight. I am so excited, and it's hard to concentrate on anything else!

2. I decided to let the girls take tap and/or jazz classes this year. I signed them up yesterday. We'll see how it goes for this year, as far as time. If we need to drop it then we can!

3. I still have not decided about AWANA for this coming year. It boils down to time and how worthwhile I feel AWANA is for my children. I would have to stay with Reece to shadow her, which is not a big deal I guess, but just not something I really want to do. Also, since moving up to Truth&Training, Austin has felt that he's "dumb" in AWANA. He loved Sparks because it was all memorization, and he shines with that. But T&T is different... lots of questions to answer and little projects to do. It's very hard for him. I'm not sure he needs more exposure to things that make him feel dumb. Riley would miss seeing her friends there, but she's got plenty of extra-curriculars with dance and choir. My options for AWANA would be to keep going to this church, not go at all, or switch everyone to the church we used to go to for AWANA (and where we do baseball, choir, and respite), where they have special needs classes.

4. School plans are coming along nicely. Mostly I am now trying to really solidify in my brain how I need to make our homeschool more RDI-friendly and about relationships. Also, trying to figure out how to change this for Austin without causing him more stress. He is very used to having an assignment sheet and focusing on marking off the boxes.

5. Austin's been having a meltdown as I'm typing because he missed 2 out of 20 on his division drill sheet. This is par for the course... I can count 3 meltdowns like this in the last week. One because he missed 2/100, one because he missed 1/100, and this one today. The first 2 times he actually tore up the paper he was working on. I have the current paper under my laptop so he can't get it. This is so frustrating. I'm not giving him anything that's too hard ... missing 1 or 2 is just not a big deal. I cannot get him to believe that! I am trying so hard to be patient and understanding, and implementing the ideas from The Explosive Child. It's completely draining.

6. Reece has read 2 more books since I posted the video: another Bob book and an early phonics reader from the Calvert K program a friend gave me. I am trying to keep it very low-key and RDI-like, at least I hope I am. She was nervous before we started yesterday but I gave her as much help as she needed, and we laughed about the funny pictures in the story. I want to keep all of this in her "Zone of Proximal Development"! I've certainly learned my lessons from Austin!

Well, that's about it for updates! I need to go be productive, if that's possible when I'm so excited! :) I'll post pictures from our movie night whenever I wake up tomorrow!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mom gets a haircut!

BEFORE (3 days ago, on the 4th of July!):


Tell me what you think? I don't think I've ever had my hair this short before! :)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

More fireworks fun!

There is another post below this one with more pictures!

We had a great setup! Here the boys are playing cards:

The girls took a break from playing to have some strawberries and cream:

Here's the whole setup! Yeah, we may have taken a few too many things with us! But the kids had fun, and that's what was important!
The boys took balls and gloves and played catch in the parking lot until it became too crowded!
I just love this picture! We always get comments about Reece's eyes and how pretty they are, and this picture just shows how striking her eyes are!

Independence Day with Friends

We spent 4th of July with Jan's family (http://makingscrapbooks.typepad.com/) again this year! Jan was my very first friend in Georgia... we met in 1997 at a MOMS Club meeting, when her son was 12 months old and Austin was 11 months old! Because I grew up moving around so much, I've never had a friend for as long as I've known Jan! She and her family are so special to me!

Here are the girls eating their supper out on Jan's deck:

And here are the boys, with Jan's hubby manning the grill in the background:

We went to see the fireworks and had quite a setup (that will be a different post, thanks to blogger's 5 pic restriction). Here are the dads:
And here are the moms:

We had a great time! I'll post more about that in a minue!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Reading Lists 2007-2008

We skipped the pool today, which enabled me to get some serious work done on this coming school year (which is a mere 29 days away!). I was able to finalize the kids' reading lists. I am not totally thrilled with Riley's list, so I may have to add/remove some of the titles. And hey, if you have any suggestions for an 8 year old girl who inhales books rather than reads them, I would sure appreciate you leaving the title/author in the comments section of this blog! :)

So here are the reading lists:

AUSTIN- 5th Grade

The Sign of the Beaver
American Tall Tales
Call It Courage
Sing Down the Moon
Number the Stars

History books: when/if there is time
Stone Fox
Noah Webster
True Stories of D-Day
The Trumpet of the Swan
The Black Pearl
The Great Turkey Walk
Shades of Gray
By the Great Horned Spoon
Thimble Summer
In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
The Seventeenth Swap

RILEY - 3rd Grade

Ballet Shoes
The Secret Garden
Alice in Wonderland
A Little Princess
Lassie Come Home
Misty of Chincoteague
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Smiling Hill Farm

History books:
A Lion to Guard Us
Phoebe the Spy
Meet George Washington
Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia
Mr. Revere and I
The Bears on Hemlock Mountain
Meet Thomas Jefferson
Sarah Witcher's Story
Naya Nuki (Sacagawea's friend)
Turn Homeward, Hannalee
All of a Kind Family
Gone Away Lake
Plain Girl

Monday, July 02, 2007

Presents from Delaware

One of my husband's best friends is a Nascar fanatic! Not only is he a Nascar fanatic, but he and his wife have no children, which gives them the freedom and finances to fly all over the country attending Nascar races! They went to the Autism Speaks 400 in Dover, Delaware in June of this year, and brought home a souvenir for Austin -- a tshirt from the race:

Austin immediately put the shirt on and has had in on since! This is really something special, because Austin never uses or wears anything new! He will have toys from Christmas still in their boxes when his birthday rolls around in May! It's not that he doesn't like new things... they are just, well, 'new' (different, a change, etc). It makes me wonder if this is an RDI inspired thing!

(And my goodness... Austin's looking more grown up every day! He's really changing now as well!)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

This came across on my RDI homeschoolers list. This is the sort of thing that has me doing a long hard look at my goals for homeschooling and what has prompted the change in direction I'm trying to implement.

http://www.chickmoorman.com/newsletters/indexEd.html (This came from the May newsletter, 2nd one from the top of the list)

4. Article: Smart Like a Fifth Grader
By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller

Can you name the primary colors, the five Great Lakes, and the capital of North Dakota? Most fifth graders would know. But would you?

This is the challenge presented by the popular new Fox show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Each week fifth graders face grown-ups who have many years' experience on them. The youngsters smile and answer questions while the adults frequently reveal themselves as less knowledgeable than the children.

Isn't that cute? No, it isn't.

This show is doing our children and all of us a great disservice by perpetuating the myth that education is nothing more than the ability to memorize. It communicates a quiz show mentality that encourages a zest for the accumulation of answers to trivia questions. It teaches that facts and dates of historical events and other trivia are the essence of a learned person and a good education.

What kind of root is a carrot? What are the three branches of the United States government? Who invented peanut butter? What is a proper noun? How many pints are in two gallons? These questions and others like them are simple recall questions. They require one right answer. These types of questions help viewers create a narrow view of learning and the important process of education.

Here is a significant question for you. Whatever happened to thinking?

How are an animal cell and a plant cell the same? How are they different? Come up with options for improving your neighborhood. Rank order them from most to least important. What do you think would happen if your classmates did not know the fire drill regulations? Is there a pattern in these poems? What does it mean to you? Sequence the main ideas presented in the story. Predict the results, if this planet had only half the amount of water it has now? What is the best way for two people to work together on a project?

How about a TV show that asks adults and children to summarize, generalize, or analyze data? What about requiring evaluation, appraisal, and putting what was learned in one setting to use in another?

Real education is much more than covering content, regurgitating factual information for the test makers, or excelling at Quiz Bowl. It is now and always has been a drawing out of what already exists within the child, rather than a putting in of what we see as perceived deficiencies and information gaps. The main purpose of education is to foster the creation of who and what children choose to be.

Does Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader help viewers see the role of educators as one of helping students learn to be solution oriented, self-responsible, personally empowered, and self-expressing? Hardly! Does it in any way deal with the concepts of respect, sharing, acceptance of differences, integrity, forgiveness, or love? Nope! Does it help those students who watch the show realize that the answers to the most important questions aren't in the back of the book, but rather are found within each individual? We don't think so.

How many hydrogen atoms are in a molecule of water? Which is larger, 3/5 or 5/8? What organ of the body produces bile?

Wisdom is not knowledge. Wisdom is knowledge applied. The application of the knowledge you have to new and unique situations is the essence of wisdom. Somebody please create a TV show that moves the view of education beyond the factoid mentality and our preoccupation with memorization, test scores, and artificial standards to the vibrant center of the human connection that touches the spirit and showcases the heart of teaching.

Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. Chick Moorman is also the author of Spirit Whisperers: Teachers Who Nourish a Child's Spirit. Both books are available at www.personalpowerpress.com. Chick and Thomas also publish a FREE e-mail newsletter for teachers and another for parents. Subscribe to them at www.chickmoorman.com or www.thomashaller.com.

2007/2008 (so far)

Here are the plans for this year, as they stand right now. I am still working on the new pacing style, and exactly how this will affect us, but here is what I have together so far:

Austin - 5th grade
Riley - 3rd grade
Reece- K5

Austin- Finish MathUSee Delta/begin Epsilon, Singapore Math Challenging Word Problems 3
Riley - Singapore Primary Mathematics 3A/3B, CWP 2
Reece - Finish Calvert Math K, unsure of what we'll do after this

Austin - Reading list from Calvert's 5th grade program
Riley - Reading list of good children's literature
Reece - Bob books and other early readers as she can

Austin - Sonlight Diamond Notes program (ties writing a paragraph to a baseball diamond-- how perfect is that?? LOL), Narration
Riley - Copywork/Dictation/Narration
Reece - Copywork

We'll focus on American History this year. I am going to use primarily quality children's literature. I think I will add in the DK Children's Encyclopedia of American History for Austin since he likes that format.

We'll finish reading through Apologia's Elementary Botany, with little pressure for anything additional. I want to cover the human body, and we'll do that with library books, games, and fun stuff.

Austin- possibly Junior Analytical Grammar (I had already planned to do this with Austin, and if we spread it out over the year, it will literally take 5 minutes a day, if that. It's designed to be a 10 week program)
Riley - First Language Lessons, Level 3
Reece - Just kidding ;)

Austin - Not sure if I'll have him do formal spelling
Riley - Spelling Power, if we do formal spelling with her
Reece - I'd like her to learn how to spell her last name since she can do her first name! LOL

So basically we're dropping Latin, Vocabulary, possibly spelling and grammar for Austin, and the heavy load I had planned for history and science. I'll keep the focus in those 2 areas to listening to quality children's literature, and retelling (narration) what they remember. The literature lists I will assign are going to be cut dramatically, allowing more free time for reading anything that's interesting. I may start Riley on First Year French from Memoria Press, but I'd really like to see how others like it before I purchase, since it's new.

This should free up time for RDI, games, etc. but mostly I'm hoping it will help us have a slower pace in our day, so we're not rushing 'trying to get it all done'. I want to allow time for thinking, processing, relating, and reflecting on what we're learning.