Thursday, August 23, 2012

The plain fact...

This picture caused a bit of feather-ruffling on facebook, so I thought I'd explain why I thought it was worth sharing.

My friend, who is a public school teacher and whom I respect very much, had this to say about it:
I don't completely agree with this. There are some school programs, and certainly school systems in the past, that fit this quote. My experience as a public school educator for the last six years has not been to produce "docile and uninquisitive citizens." There is a lot to say for and against any type of educating system, homeschool included. I think homeschooling fits in this quote as readily as private or public education. Just my unsolicited thoughts.

My response:
I think there are those even today who do have this agenda, but they are not usually teachers. When you think of people in power (which power corrupts), you don't think of teachers as the top tier, do you? I certainly don't. As far as homeschooling being designed to push propaganda, I'd have to say that's a strange idea because homeschoolers are parents. Parents have a God-given mandate to teach their children and pass on their heritage - a stewardship which some choose to lend to outside teachers and tutors. Since children naturally question their parents' ideas, there's less danger of "gulping ideas ready-made."
The truth I see in this quote is that a person who has learned an idea as absolute fact has quenched his curiosity. When theories were being taught as theories, and opinions as opinions, there was plenty of room for curiosity and inquisitive students. Invention and innovation was at its height. But when theories are taught as if a general consensus proves fact (and some shameless teachers and curriculum-writers give opinions in place of knowledge), curiosity is quenched by something false - that is propaganda. Every parent has a responsibility to guard against this, and that's homeschooling, whether you do it in place of school, or after school around the dinner table. 
Being educated is not ultimately bad, but self-education is the best thing of all.
What are your thoughts on H.L. Mencken's quote? 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Preschool for my Troublemaker

For Alastor, almost 3 years old 

He's still a little young to pick up the Sonlight P4/5 curriculum we used with Gilgamesh last year, which was intended for 4- to 5-year-olds. 

At this stage, he needs to be doing something because if we don't include him, he'll be a little terror until he gets attention. Naturally. So we'll be using this:

Letter of the Week Preschool Curriculum by Confessions of a Homeschooler

I'm looking forward to this because there's a ton of pre-writing and very basic math (counting, graphing) that will be good practice for Alastor without overwhelming him with structured learning. It's really a lot of puzzles and play. 

To get us started on the right foot next Monday, we've already put up our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom letter tree:

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom letter tree

We'll be adding each letter as we "study" it. I think I'll make extra copies of the cute animal pictures, too, so we'll put up an ant hill for A, a butterfly for B, a caterpillar for C, and a dinosaur for D, etc. The knights will both love the ceremony of adding a letter to the tree and an animal to the scenery on the door. 

We'll reread this a lot:

On goodreads

FYI, the creator of this curriculum also has a K4 pre-Kindergarten program if you have a four-year-old just on the cusp of being ready for kindergarten. 

Aside from Letter of the Week and reading library books together, Alastor will no doubt hear some of the read-alouds we'll be doing with Gilgamesh, like Homer Price (a personal favorite), Charlotte's Web, and The Little House in the Big Woods. 

In addition, I plan to do a sort of workbox system with Alastor, using pictures of activities he does anyway. My hope is that the action of moving the Velcro picture from his Schedule to his All-Done Envelope on the side of the bookcase will give him a sense of accomplishment and keep him from getting bored with all the toys in the house at once. 

As for the baby? Petrus is still on a cycle of sleep, eat, smile, cry, sleep. I plan on holding him while teaching, but hope to do most of the hands-on stuff during his sleeping times.

It's going to be a challenging year for all of us. I don't think I even know what I'm getting into, homeschooling with three boys five and under. My faith will survive. That much I know! :)

Anybody else homeschooling preschool this year?

Monday, August 13, 2012

First Grade for the First Time

Next week we'll start first grade!

I'm really excited about it, and I'm not the only one. Gilgamesh has been begging to do school since we stopped after his kindergarten graduation. I'm sure if I hadn't pulled together a workbook and daily encyclopedia reading, we'd all have gone completely insane! Especially since we're a little grounded with the new baby and all.

So this is what we're excited about:
Sonlight Core B (1st grade) with Grade 1 Readers: Intro to World History

and this:

Science B: Animals, Astronomy, and Physics

and this:

Singapore Math 1A/1B

and this:

Mathtacular DVD's and manipulatives

and this

DK My Art Book

and this

Bernstein Favorites: Children's Classics

and this

Sequential Spelling, Volume 1

For Gilgamesh, 5 years old:

Sonlight Core B (1st grade) with Grade 1 Readers: Intro to World History; and Science B: Animals, Astronomy, and Physics

Singapore Math 1A/1B

Mathtacular DVD's and manipulatives

Bernstein Favorites: Children's Classics, including Peter and the Wolf, The Carnival of Animals, and A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra

Sequential Spelling, Volume 1

DK My Art Book

For Alastor, almost 3 years old (he's still a little young to pick up the curriculum we used with Gilgamesh last year):

Letter of the Week Preschool Curriculum by Confessions of a Homeschooler

Pretty sure this year is going to ROCK!

Here are a few pictures from our Box Day with Sonlight:

A Crazy Fun Summer 2012

It's been a wild couple of months! When we finished school last April, I thought we were leaving ourselves all kinds of time for summer. And I needed that.

Because of this:

38 weeks with child #3

But the time has just flown past and next week we're beginning school again!

Our busy summer at a glance:
Family performance in the church talent show

Even little tigers lose their knack
when somebody twice their size
can't see the world through children's eyes.

We finally filled up the zoo chart with good Sunday behavior!! But Mom was too pregnant to go yet...

Summer time crafts out of the DK First Encyclopedia

They're Aztec headdresses

DK First Encyclopedia 
Great summer time resource. Below is my review:

A great conversation starter with your kids! 
A typical encyclopedia addresses topics in alphabetical order, and a bit more thoroughly, which this does not do at all. Rather, it addresses topics in a seemingly random order, providing more of an overview peppered with interesting facts and ideas. That's what makes it such a great conversation starter. I used this as a summer learning tool with my five-year-old who's now starting first grade. It took him all the way up to the first day of school, so every day he had some new curiosity to explore. We did a two-page spread per day, sometimes reading four pages if they happened to be in the same subject area. The subjects included are: 

World Regions (including one large world map near the back of the book)People and Society (including pop music and the six major religions)History of People (introduced the concept of cave people and the theory of cultural progression, which was a great conversation for a Christian family)Living World (the plant and animal kingdom)Science and Technology (very interesting introduction to light and color, matter, and many other concepts; led my son to an interest in mechanical engineering)Planet Earth (introduces geography and geology, including awareness of scientists who study them)Space and the Universe (impressive pictures of planets; we particularly liked the volcano on Mars and space probes/robots)

As a summer overview, this was perfect. There were a few "get messy" activities highlighted now and then, but not so many to be overwhelming. If we were to use this formally again, I'd make better use of the "Website addresses" pages in the very back. I didn't really notice them until part way through the book and then wasn't sure how to use them. Looking at them now, I can see how they would have complemented specific pages of the book. I would have liked this to be a truly internet-linked resource by listing those sites directly on the pages to which they correlate. As it is, you have to go looking in the back to see if they've provided a site for further exploration on any given topic. I've given the book five stars anyway because this is just my personal preference, and if I'd looked more thoroughly through the book before starting, this would be a non-issue.
Even though we've now read through the entire book, I know this is something we'll pick up again, maybe even as a summer study again but with more science projects and internet exploration. It's clear that children can get more out of this as they mature, and I think my son will find the subjects even more fascinating after he's encountered them a little through other studies.

Box guitar

Tents and telescopes; the trappings of summer

Gilgamesh became interested in chain reactions and built endless ones out of all his toys.
Youtube has countless examples of these. MIT hosts an event each year involving several teams who link their chain reactions together for one giant one! It's called FAT (Friday after Thanksgiving).

The music video below is an extreme example:

Bedroom makeover

Mighty Mind

Car washes

After church visits to the duck pond

but only if they were really good at church

Daddy and Mommy helped Gilgamesh with his summer workbook

Mommy found an old favorite!

We celebrated Mother's Day
with a Mother's Day craft

Basketball ended; Soccer began

And the sunshine was just what we needed!

Daddy completed his master's program

Tinker Toys tripod; Gilgamesh practiced amateur photography

We tried (and failed) to grow strawberries

We welcomed a new brother!!!

And he is wonderful
Mommy meme

We love little Sir Petrus!

Soccer ended; Tennis began

We played for fun

as a family

Daddy reads with all the young knights

Sir Gilgamesh, Sir Alastor, and Sir Petrus all together, three little knights sharing a quest



Learning how to be the big brother

Fourth of July bicycle parade

Chutes and Ladders with Papa

And last of all, we finally made it to the ZOO!!!

Ready to see some animals!