i’ve moved my homeschool blog!

September 25th, 2010

well, i never did get into regularly posting here…but i started up a new website in my own space at www.homeschoolrealm.com and am sharing all sorts of fabulous homeschool info and reviews on products and resources. you’re going to want to check it out! :)

i also am very active with twitter and facebook with homeschool realm…all the info is on that site, but here’s the direct links for subscribing:



i am not sure what i’m going to do with this homeschool journal blog right now…i may delete it eventually, but for now i’ve imported all the content from here into the homeschool realm. so head on over there! :)


what we’ve been up to

March 28th, 2010

we’ve finally gotten the learning village off the ground and running, and i’m quite proud of how things have been going!

here’s what we did in february:

feb 11–valentine’s day party
feb 17–1st origami club meeting
feb 23–1st bird walk
feb 25–savemart center tour

and in march, things picked up even more:

mar 4–art lab
mar 8–meyer’s farms water bank & wildlife project field trip
mar 9–weather class with kev from KMPH
mar 11–1st group games
mar 17–origami club
mar 23–bird walk
mar 25–children’s museum of the sierra and king vintage museum field trips

throw into the mix the non TLV activities: the SCICON salamander trip in feb, our monthly art club that we go to at this wonderful lady’s house who does monthly art for a very affordable rate, with like 10-12 different projects for the kids to free-flow through (usually with a seasonal theme), the mardi gras parade in the tower in feb and the spring egg fest at the discovery center in march…and we’ve been VERY BUSY!

a lot of the events/activities have been documented with photos uploaded to TLV’s shutterfly site, though i still have some recent pics i need to upload. i also upload our family pics of nonTLV activities on our family shutterfly site.

here’s what we have coming up in april for TLV:

if you’d like to see info on any of our TLV activities ahead of time, you can find them on our google calendar, posted to our website.

and mix in there lots of playdates with friends, at least once if not 2 and 3 times weekly for hours at a time…since i feel very strongly about the value of imaginative play and friendships…particularly in the importance (which i think is just crucial) of my children having at least one very close (“best”) friendship…i make sure that our our friends are very much a part of our daily lives. it helps that most of them are also members of the learning village now, and so participate in our monthly TLV activities as well.

things are really going really well! i have lots more things i’m working on (always).  including getting back on track with the story of the world, vol 2. we finished vol 1 awhile ago, and started vol 2 but got offtrack. so in preparation for the next part of the book, i have been listening with the kids to the early chapters of the book that we listened to before, to refresh our memories, and gathered a ton of books from the library on australian aboriginals and new zealand maori in preparation for chapter 10 on the land down under. got some really neat books!

i LOVE LOVE LOVE our public library system! i usually take 2 and 3 trips to the library every single week…sometimes with the kids, sometimes without…each of us has our own card and we often have all 3 max’d out. (you can check out 25 items per account…so that can be up to 75 library items in our house at any given time!) i check out tons of books of every topic…regularly go to different libraries to browse the shelves (politi, fig garden, cedar-clinton, clovis, woodward park…we LOVE going to different libraries to find new things on the shelves), regularly find ideas for specific books to look up or topics to find books on from reading blogs and facebook pages or from talking to friends or from topics that interest me or the children…but not just books…i check out all kinds of videos (especially educational ones, but also classics and modern fun ones) and music all the time as well…we’re currently listening to Iran: Persian Classical Music, and i also have sitting right next to me, cds from eastern europe, china, and a cd called “cairo to casablanca”, as well as the monkees, shawn colvin, and tracy chapman…i am constantly exposing my kids to all sorts of music from all sorts of genres and cultures.  i particularly like to bring home showtunes or artists that i want my kids familiar with (hence, the monkees, whom i love…and i’m going to get some carpenters next time…also frank sinatra, bing crosby, dean martin, elvis, etc…all sorts of greats)

we are all about books over here. i LOVE that i can research on the net, including the library’s own website (& order the books to be sent to our library for us!) for ideas as they come to me…as my kids show an interest in things (such as the origami obsession maeven has had for the past few months…i actually have found some really cute pictures books with an origami theme, in addition to all the books on folding instructions…still trying to find something on the history of origami & japanese culture), or on topics that i would like to introduce them to.

there’s all sorts of fabulous things in the kids nonfiction section that we regularly check out…especially science books and documentaries (in our library, they have them side-by-side on the shelves). my kids LOVE documentaries! we watch probably 5-10 documentaries every month, at LEAST. because we also watch nova and nature on PBS regularly.

and from the library i always stock up on lots of good quality picture books, for both kids, along with the nonfiction books on just about any subject you can imagine…besides the fabulous science books, i have found biographies on historical figures, books detailing math concepts in a fun picture book format, books that play with words and teach about grammar concepts and even punctuation! been picking up poetry and riddle books lately for maeven, and always have a quality chapter book that we are reading together (we both LOVE me reading to her, so we do it constantly…went through probably 5 or 6 chapter books just in the past 2 months!)

and i keep picking up chapter books for her to read to herself, either that she’s requested or that i saw or heard about that i think she’d be interested in. they don’t always appeal to her (like she got the entire borrowers series when we went to woodward park recently, and she really was interested in them but once we got home, she never felt like picking them up so we ended up returning them after her not even opening them. she’ll probably go back to them again later…this isn’t unusual for her.) but many do. she goes through spurts of reading, just like me. she’ll eat up a dozen books in one month and another month she might crack open one. its really varies.

for writing…i used to give maeven copywork, but lately she just writes stuff on her own pretty regularly, so i have been holding off and seeing what she’s creating. she writes books and notes to us quite a lot actually. she makes her own lists and loves to type as well. she made this really neat bird book where she details info and pictures (drawn by her) of a variety of different bird species.

we are getting into birds again, because of our bird walks, and my kids regularly point out different birds as we are out and about. tyren (at 4 and a half) has even been known to say “mom, look,  a mourning dove!’ or “look! a blue jay!” (to which maeven will correct him, “actually, its a scrub jay”, LOL! that’s my girl!)  we got really excited when we saw the great egret in our backyard recently, and maeven and i were just beside ourselves with joy over discovery a rufous sided towhee outside the learning village! (same day we also saw 2 flickers in the same area! VERY exciting!)

and we have been regularly watching our mama mourning dove outside our family bedroom window, where adam has set up a camera to video tape the comings and goings. discovered them when i looked out last week and saw daddy bird going back and forth bringing nest material to mama dove. she’s got a nest in there and we are itching to check it out but want to wait a little to give her time to get really comfortable. just went and checked and she’s still there, cute little thing. :)

so that, my friends, is this family’s version of unschooling/eclectic homeschooling in a nutshell! despite some misconceptions, there’s nothing lazy or unthinking about it. every day, every week, there is a LOT of thought and reading and research put into most of the things we do. i doubt my husband even has much of an idea of what all i do for our kids every single week. i have spent a tremendous amount of time reading and researching and constantly continue to do so.  probably always will. i want my children’s lives to be incredibly rich and fulfilling. i think through everything and yet we still are able to kind of go where the wind (aka, our interests and drives) blow us. i doubt myself constantly and yet still find myself proud of much of what we do. and detailing it out like this helps me see that we really ARE doing stuff! it often happens so naturally to the point that i don’t always feel like we’re doing much. but man, we really are!

there’s more, i’m sure, but right now i need to go shower…and i’ve rambled on long enough.

geez louise i suck at this blog

March 28th, 2010

i made this blog so that i could post what we are up to, eduationally, and it just has ended up feeling like a chore. i still really want to post here regularly, at least as a record for myself…but it really feels like a chore. so i don’t know if i’ll ever be consistant at it. but after having a long discussion with my husband this morning which included me posting about what we’re doing (among many other things), i am back to thinking about working on this blog some more.

i do still hesitate because it makes me feel like i’m on display. this is particularly amusing for me because i’ve never been one to be very private about anything. but since i struggle daily with my job as a homeschooling parent, i am much less inclined to want to post all my trials and tribulations for the world to see. makes me feel like i’m on a reality tv show, something i would probably never be comfortable with.

i already know that my parenting and educational philosophies are controversial to many, so it makes me feel pretty vulnerable to give regular updates on what we’re doing, to be scrutinized.  i’m very strong in my convictions about homeschooling…but the details of HOW i homeschool change on a regular basis, and i doubt myself all the time…i’m still making this up and figuring this out as i go along. so i really don’t like to be judged for how things are going when what we do today will likely be different tomorrow or next week and certainly next month. and i’m sure things will also change even more once i start focusing on tyren, since he’s a very different child than maeven. i know for a fact that things that work and don’t work with maeven are going to be very different with tyren.

anyway, my point? well i really want to use this blog for the reasons i created it…i just know from experience that i’m not so great at consistency…so i’ll keep trying, but i’m not promising anything.

suffice it to say that there are educational things happening over here all the time…i just don’t always want to write them all down, because that makes it into a very big chore. i’ll keep trying though.

We’re rockin’ at math!

October 5th, 2009

OK, I obviously really suck at blogging here lately. I dropped off the song of the week thing, I haven’t posted regularly in forever, and I just don’t even remember I have this blog frankly. I do still blog at my main blog, if anyone’s interested.

Anyway, I still do believe strongly in unschooling, but I’m facing a little reality here…I’m not organized nor consistent enough to do all that I really need to be doing to really have a quality unschooling environment for my children. Its far too easy for me to just get sucked into housework and my own projects and neglect setting up the environment and opportunities for enrichment for my children.

PLUS, I have a husband that just doesn’t get unschooling, nor agree with it. While I do feel that I have more say in this because I am the only parent that has spent ANY time (not to mention HOURS and HOURS and HOURS of time) researching anything education related…so I’m not necessarily of the mindset that he really can say much since he’s not taken the time to read up on anything…I think the one that actually is educated on the subject should have the  say (like I wouldn’t ever be the one to decide what video camera we get because I don’t care to research it and HE has the knowledge, so I would defer to him)…HOWEVER, I do respect that he is also equally a parent of these children and I do have to live with him and, hopefully, have a quality relationship with him…So…I do feel it is worthwhile to have some things that are more “schooly” to do during the day so that he can feel better about how things are going. And frankly, I feel better too.

So…all that to say that I have gone back to some of my single subject curriculums that I feel good about. Math and spelling for now, and I’ll add more as we get where I want to be with these. And things seem to be going pretty dang well, I think.

Ok we got off to a rocky start and there were some days of Maeven crying through lessons. Well I should explain that my daughter is prone to crying, so this isn’t really a huge surprise. And she doesn’t react well to change, and going from not having to do structured math for awhile, back to sitting down and having to do some (even though this math is really very hands-on and uses cool props and really is not a big drag to do), shook up her world a little. But she seems to be handling it ok now. And I’m starting to see the value in actually doing math that is really below what she is probably capable of, at least in the beginning like this, because we are whizzing through it pretty easily. She has really very little tolerance for frustration, and I’m trying to just get her into a groove right now so this is a good thing that its pretty simple for her. Every once in awhile there’s a concept that is a little more work for her, but she’s getting it. And we are able to do 2 lessons a day right now because there’s a lot that is so beneath her because she already gets it, so I skip it. Like there are some chapters coming up that are all about telling time and she already knows how to tell time so we’ll be skipping over those.

At this rate, we’ll be done with this book sometime in November and I’ll be able to move her into the next level and have THAT done probably by the end of spring, if all goes well. We got way behind on this, but I am not really concerned about things as far as where the public schoolers deem “at grade level.” I’m just concerned about where *I* think she should be. I was reading the other day that 3rd graders, which is where she would probably be if I had her in school, do multiplication and division. And actually some have been doing it, at least to some degree, since 1st grade. I think this is just ludicrous. Sure some of them may be capable of it, but I am pretty sure we did not learn it that early when I was in school…and I don’t have the problem of being in a hurry and trying to cram stuff in earlier and earlier that the schools do. She’ll learn it soon enough. I want her to first really get addition and subtraction fully. And if that means putting off  more complex topics for awhile, then so be it. I would rather she REALLY “gets” the easier stuff before throwing a more complex subject at her. Anyway, I’m not even sure which level book this math curriculum starts them on that. They don’t even do subtraction until the addition is really mastered. I love that.

This math curriculum I use, Right Start Math, is just awesome in doing all sorts of activities that set the kids up to fully understand these concepts. Its just amazing, I wish I had it when I was her age. Would have made a lot of difference in me learning math.

Anyway, so we’re rockin at math…doing 2 lessons a day and I think we could actually sometimes do 3, so I’ll be trying to do just that when I can. We were way off schedule (the schedule I had plotted out for us), but now in just a month we’ll be back on. YAY!

new “school year”

August 31st, 2009

well i obviously have seriously sucked at blogging here about all things homeschooling. we have gone in a more unschooling direction and i have just gotten lax about everything.

but i have a husband that doesn’t understand or agree with unschooling, and a nagging voice in my head that makes unschooling difficult for me, so i’m taking up some more “schooly” things to ease things. i still lean towards child-led learning, but i’m tired of feeling stressed about everything. and i had already purchased these single subject curricula that i feel really good about, so we’ll take a shot at these again.

plus the learning village is off the ground finally, so i’ll be seeing to it that we cover some other topics there, in a co-0p setting.

so today i’m diving back into right start math for maeven. might allow tyr to join is as well…as he’s able. and i’m going back to sequential spelling. also story of the world, book 2. its a good start. i’ll figure out more things later.

and i am thinking of starting tyren on something, but haven’t decided what yet. just to keep him busy for now. i still want to hold onto the no academics for little ones belief that i’ve felt strongly about for years…but he needs something to keep him busy so that he doesn’t bug me and maeven…so i’ll see what i can do towards that end. maybe its time i pull out some puzzles from the shed and see what else i can find that he can only play with when maeven’s “doing school.”

i am going to be starting a story of the world activity class at the learning village to force me to get my butt in gear for activities that go with that curriculum. hopefully i’ll get people to join us that also will add to the activities. i was going to do 4 chapters a week…but then realized that this curriculum is meant to be done one book a year…and the way i had it, it was going to be all 4 books in one year. so i decided to relax and just do a chapter a week, which gives us time to explore activities for that chapter more.  i would like to get costumes for the studied time frames/cultures as well…not sure how i’ll do that yet. i am not rich, so i cannot go crazy on all these plans. :)

anyway, i think our muffins are done for breakfast…and kids are fighting already. (such has been our summer) must go get them fed.

the BEST book!

May 19th, 2009

oh my gosh i HAVE to share this amazing book!

i found out about it from melissa wiley here. so of course i had to check it out from the library.

let me tell you…the book is ENORMOUS! immediately i was chomping to dig in…the bigger the book, the better, in my eyes…and i wasn’t sure yet if it would be appropriate for maeven, nor even if she’d be interested in it. so i started it on my own. right about chapter 3 she saw me with it and asked what it was about…i told her a little about it and she said “read it to me please?”  good thing i only had just started it! :)

from that moment on we were both hooked and we ate it up in just a couple days. huge book and all, didn’t matter…we DEVOURED it! and there’s not a chapter that didn’t keep us on the edge of our seat. there wasn’t a single part of the book that was in the least bit predictable. there were surprises all the way to the very end! i had no idea what was going to happen and was absolutely enjoying every second!

as a homeschooling mom who really likes the charlotte mason idea of “living books”, i was delighted with all the complex words that were used, exposing my child to so much depth. the characters, as well, were very complex and very well described. there wasn’t anything light about this book. it was so amazing, it was like eating a brownie…rich and chewy and YUMMY!

oh my gosh! when i went to find that code i found out there are TWO more in this series! ok, heading to the library website RIGHT NOW to order them!

language arts a-la unschooling :)

May 19th, 2009

maeven is very into emailing people these days. i use zoobuh for her because its very cheap (i think it ends up being $1/month, but you pay a year in advance) and very kid friendly and safe. another plus is that you can configure it to send an email to the parent anytime the child receives or sends an email. way cool.

so i just got a copy of this that she sent out today:

Hi thea! my mom just got The Double Daring Book For Girls in the mail{#emotions_dlg.clap}! if you have not read  it yet, you should{#emotions_dlg.bigsmile}! i got The Pocket Daring Book For Girls for christmas and i started reading, it and i loved it{#emotions_dlg.smile} and now i have The Double Daring Book For Girls and i know i’ll love it too{#emotions_dlg.clap}{#emotions_dlg.bigsmile}{#emotions_dlg.smile}! {#emotions_dlg.love}maeven. 

how cute is that? i got this book in the mail and she’s so excited about it she goes and writes one of her best friends about it. i love it! :)   i believe the only word she asked for help spelling in that was christmas. she’s coming along nicely,  i think. :)

just furthers my belief that anything initiated entirely by the child and driven by their own desires is MOUNTAINS more valuable than any forced learning. :)

this is a child that just months ago had a very difficult time spelling just about anything. and less than a year ago wasn’t even reading all that well. fast forward past many hours of playing computer games and reading/writing emails and reading/writing her own stories and chapter books and letters to family members and keeping a journal (occasionally) and we have a child that has really grown in her reading and writing abilities exponentially all of her own volition!

proud mama? you bet!

Great library trip

April 10th, 2009

Got some really awesome books today at the library. I have had little success getting my kids excited about picking books out from the library, so I go by myself when my husband is home…and its really wonderful to be able to browse the shelves looking for new books to read…new jewels to treasure. Oh I SO love books!

Today I felt especially excited by some of my finds, including:

The artwork on the cover of this one is what appealed to me. So cute! Looks like a really neat book about things that grow.

This book is REALLY COOL! We already read most of it…Tyren asked me to read it to him…and while it was really above his understanding, it was interesting enough to capture his attention til nearly the end. It is a bit long, so we didn’t get through the whole thing yet, but its really fascinating!!

Egg Dying today

April 8th, 2009

We had a lot of fun today dying Easter eggs. Wasn’t really planned…we went to our Nature Kids class at The Discovery Center…this is a preschool science class we do every week for Tyren…and they were dying eggs and then did an egg hunt. (Also stories about eggs and animals that lay eggs.)

They had some cute egg dying kits…one that had glitter and another that you glued pieces of foil on the eggs. They only got to do 2 eggs each child, though…So of course I realized that it would be really fun to do egg dying at our friends’ house today…we go to the Hudson/Renzi house on Wednesdays to play for a few hours.

So I called Jen to make sure that she was ok with the idea…and she was, so we went in search of the glitter and foil egg dying kits. Didn’t find the foil one, but we did get the glitter one!

Our friends hard boiled 3 dozen eggs and we brought a few egg dying kits (the glitter one, and a tie dye and a regular dye kit and a marble kit that looked just like the tie dye but Tyr just had to have and we didn’t even end up using.) And the kids had a great time dying eggs!

Today we got to play with and dye eggs with: Thor, Thea, Clem, and Emma! Very fun! Then us moms hid the eggs and the kids got to hunt for them. Very VERY fun! :)   Jen even bought a bunch of confetti eggs so the kids loved finding them and immediately cracking them on each other’s heads, LOL!

Unfortunately I didn’t plan ahead and so I didn’t have a camera. But Jen and Lex took pics, so I’ll have to get them to send some to me so I can post them later.

It was a very fun time! And I got to socialize with my friends while the kids played! :)

more unschooling thoughts

March 21st, 2009

a long time ago i started to get comfortable with the idea that there wasn’t any specific schedule of topics and skills that my children needed to learn at certain times. i’ve been comfortable with this idea, for the most part, for awhile…but i still find myself susceptible to the fears of whether my child is learning enough…whether she’s learning the same things as other kids her age…whether she’s as smart as other kids her age. and feeling to blame if she’s not up to the level of others her age.

this is so silly, i know. it really is, particularly when i remember that i am homeschooling, among many other reasons, so that we can have our own schedule of learning. and not be stuck with someone else’s idea of what MY child should know, when.

thank heavens that my brain tends to come back to my original thoughts eventually…regardless of how many times i stray from my path and doubt myself, i still keep coming back to this wonderful feeling that really i can just relax…that i KNOW that the public schools have absolutely ridiculous ideas about what children should know, when.

i mean, for pete’s sake, they have children doing in kindergarten now, what only  30-40yrs ago we weren’t doing til 1st and 2nd grade! and why? because their method of “education” is so ridiculously flawed that they have to buy themselves more time to cram more stuff in because it doesn’t stick. which is just ludicrous because now they have children far too young learning things they shouldn’t even be thinking about yet! teaching preschoolers, and maybe even kindergarteners, to read is just silly!

i’m not saying that its not possible. of course there are children that learn to read and write at 4 and 5. what i’m saying is that the average child, in my mind,  shouldn’t.

i strongly believe kids up to 4 or 5 (and maybe even later!) shouldn’t even think about more than just enjoying all the fun of giggling with friends and making mud pies and painting their hands and spinning in circles!!

i just have to hold that thought when i waiver.

lately, with all the thinking i’ve been doing about unschooling…i’ve been really feeling better about maeven’s education. i do know that i need to still take an active role in things…and i do, and i intend to even do more…but i’m feeling really good about relaxing more about how things are going and to just let things be much more natural and relaxed. really, its been a wonderful relief!

she IS learning, and learning all the time…and she’s proving to me every day how much more efficiently she can learn when its self-guided.

that’s not to say that i think there’s anything evil in teaching children. i still think that there’s no harm in it when the child is interested in the subject matter. i spend a lot of time on any given day explaining all sorts of things to my children. i am happy to be their teacher, and i think there’s nothing wrong with that.

and i don’t subscribe to the thought that all that my children learn should be completely of their own volition. they simply do not have the life experience to  know what’s out there to even explore! of course, i DO agree they learn best when it’s self-driven…but i see no harm in providing opportunities for them to explore topics that they might not otherwise have run into.

anyway, my brain needs a rest and my son finally fell asleep…so its mommy’s toontown time now! :)

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