Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Narration by stealth

Today Riley began her geography book, The Brendan Voyage. We are batting zero in terms of books that she is happy about reading this year so far, but I remain optimistic that something will resonate with her at some point.

As you can imagine, her narrations about these books have been pretty pathetic. And sometimes sarcastic (being a preteen, that seems par for the course). But I actually don't mind the sarcastic ones because she at least has to be understanding it well enough to make fun of it! LOL

But today I decided to try something new. During the girls' dance classes this afternoon, I read the same chapter she read earlier today. Then on the drive home, I started talking about what I liked the best about the chapter: what excited me, what made me concerned, what surprised me. I went on to add what I was thinking and what questions I have for the rest of the book. She didn't really talk as much as I was hoping, but she did interject her opinions here and there.

And then, she stopped, and said, "OHHHHHHH."

I looked at her with a puzzled expression (somewhat feigned LOL).

"You're trying to get me excited about this book. I see through you."

I think I should get an A for effort! :D

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Monthly Reflections 2011-2012: September

In a grand effort to avoid lesson planning, I present you with a new blog post! LOL

September was a challenging month to get in our lessons. First, my older daughter had a wonderful mission trip opportunity with her dance company to travel to New Mexico and minister on a Navajo reservation. It was her first time away from home, and it made me nervous, but she had a great time!

I did lessons with Austin and Reece while Riley was gone. Sadly enough, it went so much more smoothly. I think that was why it was so hard when she came back. I wrote our August reflection post during the time when she had just come home. I probably should have waited until things were settled in a bit before I posted. My emotions were raw. Yes, school is more stressful for all of us when Riley is home. But I do not want to send her to school to get her away from me. One of the reasons I started homeschooling her in the first place was because I wanted to be able to connect with her, which has always been a challenge for me, even when she was little. I just have to figure out how to do that. And unfortunately, I think this is a bad time to try to do it because she is right in the middle of the developmental stage of her life when she is pulled between childhood and adulthood. So, like with the special needs kids, we'll make accommodations. For her, this might mean some online courses, at least until she is better able to take instruction from me. But at this time, I simply don't perceive that God is calling me to put her (or any of the kids) in school.

5 days after Riley came home from her trip, it was time for me and the girls to go to Walt Disney World for a week with my mother. Even though I know it isn't the fairest thing to do, I left Austin with a list of assignments for the week. I didn't break them down into daily assignments like I always do, however. I just gave him a list by subject and what needed to be done by the time we got home. My dh called me on Friday morning (down in Disney) and said Austin was texting him asking him questions about his work. I had assumed that they would be working together in the evening, but I guess I wasn't specific about my expectations with either of them. When I got home, Austin had completed only 2 pages of math. He did no reading. He attempted to do his science assignments without watching the lessons first. He did do all of his writing assignments but those are broken down into daily assignments by the curriculum itself.

In short, in the words of my 12 year old daughter, it was an "epic fail."

I think the leap between a daily assignment sheet and a 'syllabus' for the week was just too much. That's not his fault. He wanted to work and he seemed to try, but because he is used to working alongside me most of the day, when he got stuck he just didn't do what to do. That could be a little bit of his fault! LOL I have to keep in mind that if I am going to expect him to work at "high school level," which is outside of the Zone of Proximal Development for him, then I'm going to have to be on hand more to scaffold the learning. That's just how it goes.

Reece surprised me yet again this week. She had finished the 2nd "Betsy-Tacy" book before we left for Disney World. I had the 3rd one ready for her to begin, and that would be the last one for now, as Betsy and her friends are much older than Reece in the next book. But when we got back home, I couldn't find the book anywhere. I went to the bookshelf and pulled out a couple of selections for her to choose from, each a book by Beverly Cleary. She didn't seem really interested in either one. So I picked up "On the Banks of Plum Creek" from her read-aloud list. I asked if she'd like to start it herself. She said, "Do you think I'm ready?" I smiled and said that I did think she is ready to read it on her own. She immediately grabbed it and ran off to her room to begin!

Well, a few minutes later, I found the elusive Betsy-Tacy book - right where I had put it so I would know where it is. @@ I walked into Reece's room and asked her if she wanted to put aside Laura Ingalls Wilder since I had found her book. To my surprise, she said no! Here was this big thick book... and she wanted to read it! She wasn't too afraid!

When she was finished with the first chapter, she came out of her room and looked very upset. I asked what was wrong and she said, "Pa SOLD Pet and Patty!! Can you BELIEVE it?? And Laura is upset but she thinks she is too big to cry! I am so mad at Pa!!" I tried to take Pa's side, but Reece was having none of it! Guess that would count as making connections, huh?

So, yeah, lots of ups and downs this month. I should be used to this by now. And we'll keep plugging away. I am starting to believe that our focus this year is going to end up being much more about our relationships than our academics. Not that academics are not going to be accomplished, because they are - you know I'm too much of a box checker to become an unschooler! LOL But if Education is ... "an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" then it's about more than just the academics, and I can't ignore that.