Saturday, February 24, 2007

So much to blog about so little time

I noticed that I have been blogging about once a week until recently. That seems reasonable for a busy homeschool mom, right? Then as I tried to keep up on the blogs I like to read, I realized that these women are posting much more often. Where do they find the time? As I have tried to find a schedule that works for our family, I find that if I take time for school stuff, I have no time for other stuff and vice verse.

Our school stuff is going really well lately. We have spent the whole month of February learning about Ancient Greece and Greek Myths and the girls are loving it. It is hilarious to hear my 4 year old running around talking about Dionysus. And today my older two asked if it was OK to draw more pictures for their gods and godesses book even though it wasn't a school day! Ah, music to a homeschool mom's ears. Then they made art galleries in their rooms and wrote down the names of all their visitors - greek gods and goddesses, of course. It was amazing to see my 6 and 8 years old carefully writing and spelling correctly names like Aphrodite and Apollo. The amount of school-like stuff that was done today was astounding, but I am still not convinced about unschooling.

I recently borrowed A Charlotte Mason Companion from a friend. I have read many homeschool philosophy books in the last 6 months -
Teach Your Own by John Holt
Family Matters by Guterson
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook by the Moores
Homeschooling for Excellence by the Colfaxes
Beyond Survival by Waring
A Charlotte Mason Education and More Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison
The Unschooling Handbook by Griffith
The Well trained Mind
and several others. (No, wonder I have no time! I admit that I did skim a few of them.) As I read these books, I half agreed with each one's philosophy. I am now 5 chapters into A Charlotte Mason's Companion and I keep wanting to shout out loud, "Yes, exactly!"

Here are 2 quotes that really struck me:

"We never know just where a child's talents lie, until we give him a variety of opportunities and a wide curriculum... therefore, in the morning sow thy seed, and the in the evening withold not thy hand, for thou knowest not which shall prosper"

"Although children will pick up ideas, they will also run out of them unless they are given a regular supply."

These quotes just really confirm my thoughts that I should plan a schedule of topics that we should learn instead of just being child lead. I have seen my 4 year pick up tons of stuff this year and it is wonderful, but it is just as wonderful to see all of my girls taking what I have chosen to teach them and expanding upon it during their free time.

When I first heard of Charlotte Mason, I thought, based on overhearing other homeschool moms talking, that her philosophy was all about running around in nature and learning in an unschooly fashion. Once I learn more about CM, I knew that I liked alot about it, but wasn't entirely convinced. I didn't really understand narration or copywork and dictation. Then I took a homeschool styles quiz and got Charlotte Mason as my style. I had begun to think of myself as an ecletic homeschooler, but was now wondering if I did lean more torward CM. Now that I am reading Karen Andreola's interpretation, I am even more convinced that if I had to label my style I would say I have a definite leaning towards CM.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Living Math

The other day we started "doing school" by reading about our current topic, Ancient Greece. The girls decided they were thirsty after the first book and while SK helped the others make hot chocolate, I started working on making a CD for my dh for Valentine's day (shhh, it's a surprise!) Well, I ran into some technical difficulies and by the time I figured it out, the girls were upstairs playing. I was all set to round them back up and resume learning about Ancient Greece when I overheard them playing store. I peeked in the bedroom and the older 2 each had a store set up with prices, money, and even coupons. "If you buy 4 items you get a coupon for $6 off." "This costs $10 and these are $5 each."

Now how could I interrupt that to "do school"? I did eventually come in and buy some things from their stores and was impressed by my older daughter's mental math calculations when giving me change. I tried to push it farther when SK told me that a certain item was 5 for $20 and I asked how much for only 4. She wasn't quite ready for that.

Later we went down and had lunch and continued our planned school, but it was a wonderful homeschooling moment to watch the learning in action.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


I will admit that when it comes to making my kids (4, 6,and 8)do chores, I have been pretty lax. Mostly it is because I am a perfectionist and it is just quicker to do stuff myself. So far they have to clean up their own toys, make their beds, and put their plates in the sink after meals. Oh, and I recently started having them put their own laundry away. And, of course, personal grooming stuff, but I don't really count those as chores. But... I am a homeschooler, so if I don't start having the kids do more chores, I may loose my mind and/or send them to school. So, for a few months now I have been trying to come up with a plan for adding more chores to their lives.

When I was a kid, I don't remember having to do chores until I was about 12. Then my mother , sister (2 years younger) and I split the chores 3 ways, rotating every week. This way my mom could do a "good" job every 3 weeks on each rotation. Also, I don't ever remember helping with laundry or cleaning up the kitchen. Since I have 3 kids with a 4 1/2 year age gap, dividing the chores evenly doesn't work. Finally the other night while I was laying in bed trying to go to sleep, I had a stroke of genius. I was so inspired that I got out of bed to write it down. I figured out that over the course of each week I do chores that require the following jobs:

kitchen helper
laundry helper
bathroom cleaner
plant waterer

I put these jobs on cards which I laminated with contact paper and put them on rings. I happen to have a wooden thing with four pegs, so I hung the chores rings on the peg for each person. SK(8) got 2 jobs, KE(6), got 2 jobs and AE(4)and I got one each. They chose their own jobs which will rotate weekly and have been so excited and cooperative about it. Even my complainer (SK) has willing stopped playing to switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. And KE, whose job is vacumer, commented that the carpet had crumbs on it and asked if she should vacum!!! AE loves wiping off the counter and won't let her sisters get their own silverware at lunch because SHE is the kitchen helper. I just hope the novelty of it doesn't wear off too soon.