Homeschooling

We are finding our way within our homeschooling regime here in Arizona.  Going in I knew what type of learners I had and where everyone was at, I knew what type of homeschooling I wanted to do and I was sure it would go as planned.  HARDY HAR HAR.

What I have found is that the type of education I wanted to bring to the home, Waldorf, doesn’t really work for me in the home environment.  I was surprised to see how disengaged the girls were from the Waldorf methodology once they were removed from it. So we have had to adjust there.  I still like the principles and we are still using much of the Waldorf feeling to our work but we have added more structure in the math department. We are trying Math U See because I could tell the girls had not mastered any of the math concepts they learned.  They knew the basics but could not consistently get answers correct.

We are also using a supplemental spelling workbook.  Like a lot of things children learn I think it is driven by the parents expectations.  For example Jason and I decided the girls would play a musical instrument, no question, no arguments just music was part of the deal when they signed up to be our kids:)  Math is part of the deal and so is proper grammar and spelling.  So we are working on those areas and adding in lots of science extras.

Once a month the girls all do a science lab and get a months worth of science material to work on.  We are also taking exciting classes from the Arizona Science Center.  Some of their upcoming classes include Catapults (where they make a working catapult of their own), Chemical Reactions and More (more hands on mixing of chemicals), and Measurement Matters (where they study the different types of measuring).

Last week Piper and Lela came up with a calendar for themselves and they started 3 clubs.  One of them was “story club.”  When it is club day they write and illustrate a story for their younger siblings.  This was soooo coool.  They did it on their own, I didn’t even know they were doing it.  They wrote stories, included quotation marks and proper punctuation and drew pictures.  Then they read them to their assigned little.  This is because they are READERS!  They are learning all those annoying grammar and punctuation rules just from being readers.  How awesome is that??

I recently signed the girls up for Khan Academy.  I did not intend to use the computer for learning (other than research etc.) but Lela needs more material and she loves the computer.  So we are going to give it a go.  I am even learning some new things on Khan Academy!  Lifetime learning is good for you, at least that is what my mother in law keeps telling me (she is learning Spanish right now!).

Another development that I did not expect is that Phoebe is learning math.  She knows all her numbers and is successfully completing the beginning math book in Mathusee.  She cannot identify her letters but numbers seem to be her thing (I blame Jason:).  I like the gentle approach to education (hence the Waldorf) allowing the child to really be ready to learn.  Lela is the only one who is really ready for her cup to be filled but she has been about 6-9 months ahead of Piper.  Piper is getting her cup ready and I think in another 6 months she will be ready, so for now I work with her and encourage her and she gets her work done.  Lela on the other hand seems to be a cup I can’t fill (which is awesome and why I am adding Khan to her bag of tricks).

All in all we are doing great and loving homeschooling.  Piper, Landis and Lela are all taking piano from a new teacher that they adore, Landis and Phoebe are taking the “Let’s Play Music” class that Piper and Lela took.  Piper, Landis and Phoebe are all taking gymnastics and having a blast.  Lela feels somewhat left out of the “sports” bag but as soon as it cools down she will be back to hiking with me and I think she will find that running/hiking is her solitary sport (just like her mom).  We may give family golf a go this year too, we have a great children’s course right down the road.  Plus we may find a new horseback riding place closer to us that will allow her to do more with horses.

Teaching the introvert

I thought this was a great article (and corresponding TED talk) on teaching introverts.  

Teaching the Introvert

There is nothing wrong in my opinion with being an introvert.  I am myself an introvert but am able to be extroverted when I need to but my preference is for one or two close friends and I don’t like big groups.  Anyway, because the girls are introverts (at least for now) I think that is one reason that school is harder for them.

I like the ideas in the article and how I can help to alleviate stress on my introverted children while still giving them ample opportunities to learn to deal with others.

Sweet Piper

Piper has always had an extra dose of empathy. She loves all things and shows kindness to people and animals. She adores trees and could spend hours among their limbs.

We are in Monterey, Ca sitting outside Whole Foods eating breakfast and enjoying the birds. All of a sudden she was there at my side leaning in to me. I asked her if she was ok and she told me she saw a bird that has string ties around its legs and that it wasn’t fair. I hugged her and she cried. Such a sweet girl.

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Last staycation of 2014 summer

Lately most of the time we are sequestered in our air conditioned house but we do get out every few days, lol! Recently we went and stayed at the Hyatt with some friends and had a luxurious experience complete with turn down service and other amenities.

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I gotta say, life is pretty good!

10 Years!

We’ve officially been runnings this blog for 10 years today. Kind of amazing when you think about it… honestly, I can hardly believe it. All of it… the fact that we have had this blog for that long and that the big girls are almost 10, too. Crazy! A huge thank you to Mystique who has really kept the blog going all these years. Here’s to the next 10!

Everyone is an individual

It is so interesting how the older girls develop so differently in all aspects. I know this is to be expected since they are basically two different girls who just happen to share the same birthdate. One super exciting development (well an exciting one for me) is personal care. Piper has reached the point where she can wash her own hair and condition it (and get it all clean and the soap out) and last night she got up and got the finger nail clippers and clipped her own nails!! Wahoo! She has been doing great taking care of her teeth too. Sigh, such a happy day!

Front Row

Phoebe has been taking a little movement class this summer. At first I thought she would not like it because there were more 2 year olds and no 4 year olds. That did not turn out to be the case. Each time we went she was quiet and shy to get started but she always warmed up and had a great time.

Here is a pic of her up with the teacher in the “front row” where she seemed to like it best;)

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A moment with Piper

Our homeschool year has begun. We have been spending this week getting our new rhythm established and it might take more than a week for it totally to mesh. I did a lot if prep work to get us here but we still have some adjusting to do.

Piper and Lela have started on a topography project where they will learn about the area where we live. One thing we needed to do this week was to observe our area. Taking advantage of a cloudy evening the girls and I hiked up the mountain a bit and settled in to do some sketches. Once they were settled I was helping Lela and had my back to Piper, when I turned around this is what I saw:

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I was so struck by how at peace she was and how she seemed to be “getting” just how big her world was becoming. Luckily I thought to snap the picture. The sun was setting behind me which made her physically light up as she mentally lit up. After I took the picture she said , “Mom, I could sit here all day.”

I really believe she was in awe and filled with wonder. That moment has stuck with me all week. I am grateful that I was there and mentally present. She is growing up.

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Is it July already?

It’s not just July but the middle of July! Where has the summer gone? Never in a million years would I have guessed an Arizona summer could go by so fast!

We have been busy taking art lessons, gymnastics, ballet and magic camp. We have also been swimming a lot at the gym. We had a staycation at a local resort with some of our best friends too.

We have two more staycations planned and even a trip Monterrey, CA to meet up with friends for a long weekend. Before I know it it will be Sept and I’ll be running 50 miles in Wisconsin!

The girls are outside right now jumping on the trampoline oblivious to the fact it is 100 degrees. Such is life in the desert.

Goodbye, Buster

Today Buster is finally able to join his fellow Austin dogs in a nicer place.  The last of our original Austin dogs died today after just hitting his 13th birthday.

So many memories of Buster and all of our originals, really.  He was such a great dog… if I were to describe him in one word, it would be loyal.  He loved Mystique… tolerated me, but absolutely would go to the end of the world for her.  I like to think that the girls got that from him by default… we were incredibly cautious with Buster and the girls, but never once did he even give me the slightest indication he was going to do anything at all.  Not even a bark or a growl in irritation.  Nothing.  That’s what he did… he never changed, he stayed true to the dog that he was.

So that’s how I’ll remember Buster.  Just a wonderful dog that stayed with us, no matter what.  We’ll miss ya, Buster… go find your best friend Tess and grab some shade.

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