Saturday, September 17, 2011


I was going to journal today but decided to do a blog post instead--almost the same thing. :)

Just reflecting today on how this school year is starting off. My 13yo dd is fairly happy: everything is laid out for what to do during a week, she controls how much she does at a time and when she does it, but aims to get it all done. I will have to start checking in to make sure she's getting it ALL done--I suspect she's missing the instructions about writing about certain things. Her math has been review stuff so far, using The Key to Algebra series. Once she's reviewed enough, then I can get her going on the grade 9 content. Mind you, some of the stuff she will be reviewing is grade 9 provincial content: she was simply introduced to it earlier! I added in religion this past week (I'd forgotten to put it on her list the week before), but I think that was it. This is what her week consists of right now:

*English: Free reading plus visiting some online sites recommended by our school board (sorry, they are password protected, so can't share a couple of them!) One of them is This is a fantastic site: you help give rice to people in poor country by practising or learning vocabulary! I will have to figure out something more for her to do for English. The bulk of grade 9 English in school is those stupid textbooks with random short story and poetry selections. I've mentioned doing Shakespeare and am just remembering now that Shakespeare's Sonnets is waiting for me at the library. Poetry sounds like a good unit to start. :) I had thought about having English and French follow the same units, but I think that becomes almost too much--she is really liking variety right now.

*French: We are working on the novel study of Jules Verne's L'ile mystérieuse (in English: The Mysterious Island)--she's actually gotten ahead of me. We were only going to do a chapter a week, but she got to the end of the 2nd chapter and asked if she could read the next--she said it had gotten to an exciting point and she didn't want to stop! (Is it wrong of me to think "Thank goodness for the Montessorian in me that allowed her to continue on!"? lol) She has also been working on verb conjugations. I am going to start working on other aspects of grammar that will help her keep practising the present tense verb conjugations she's been working on (the -ER verbs--including ones that are kind of "funny", like "espérer"--and -IR verbs, avoir and être). She'll get sick of just verb conjugations!

*German: No German this week, but her workbook finally came in yesterday. I got her this:

It is VERY basic with hardly any work. I will have to look at it and plan for additional activities for her to do with the lessons. Or let her get going with it and just try to use what she's learned and use it orally.

*Math: Like I said, she's working on The Key to Algebra series. I don't know how many of them I will have her do. For right now, she's finished the first book and will start the second one this week. I have basically simply told her to work 30-60 minutes a day on math; she's been controlling how much and when.

*Science: She has her science text and is just working through it, writing down definitions. At some point, I think I'd like to do a little lesson on maybe doing a Mind Map or some other form of additional notes to help connect everything together. She doesn't have to do any tests for this this year--I should maybe ask her if she would like to. I'm thinking for now, just learning to take good notes will be helpful; we can add the stress of tests next year, since it looks like she is going to sign up for the online option and will have tests to do! I just realized that I ought to show her how to supplement the information, to look elsewhere for more information. I also just realized that she was supposed to write something for one of the assignments and while she looked things up, I don't know if she wrote anything down.

*Social studies: So far, just reading to get an overview of governments in history. I will have to find something more concrete for her to do!!

*Phys. Ed.: I've told her she should have as a bare minimum 3 times a week--she now has dance twice a week, so she should do something at least one other day. She's been working on stretches a bit and some exercises she learned in dance class. I did show her a yoga pose that is supposed to help her flat feet--she's resisting it because it hurts, which means she's not on the right surface and not propped up enough. Will have to keep working on that.

*Art: My only requirement is that she do something during the week. She's been focusing on oil painting, although did do some dress designing, too. We actually sat down together and tried a technique in her beginner book and she watched part of the DVD that came with the book. Let me say: It's HARD. lol. I kept having to ask her what to do, how...

*Home Ec.: The first week, she was required to help me with a meal. I forgot to put it on her list last week, so she just went an extra mile and helped with a supper and cleaned up in the family room--without having been asked. :)

*Religion: She is working through the older version of this book:

She's done the first chapter so far and one of the activities at the end (I thought it a bit too much to do it ALL--how uninspirational! :D). I asked her what she thought of it so far and she likes it, especially the little stories. I think it will be a nice, gentle text for the year.

I think that's it for her!

For my 10yo, he's still just been working on handwriting and math, skipped a couple of days, but otherwise, doing that and keeping busy with playing with his cousins, reading a variety of things, including a science magazine we get and the Action Bible. He's actually decided to stop doing the tracing part of the handwriting and just go straight to the copywork. I'm going to keep the amount small and start leaving enough lines so that he can keep trying to get the words just right. He's kind of doing the words, but not really self-assessing on how well the letters are done. Math is from a grade 6 JUMP Math workbook I had bought for my dd! For right now, it does the trick. At some point, I will have to go back some grade levels and have him work through different things. Which means creating my own worksheets!

The grade 12 student, the 17yo, is having a kind of slow start, but not a bad start. He's mostly keeping on top of his English and produced the best thing he's ever written on his own. He was so proud. :D I am really loving not being responsible for the lessons themselves, the marking, etc. Just helping him figure out what needs to get done, stay on task, giving feedback for what he's working on... He is going to have to  get cracking on his social studies more. There is a lot of reading and his reading's not so strong... I want to show him how to take notes and then how to create some Mind Maps. He has a real tendency to not see the connections between things and I think guiding him through creating some Mind Maps will help.

Oh, I finished reading Little House in the Big Woods to my nieces on Friday. Right away they asked if we could start the next one. We did! :) I still have the set I got as a gift when I was between the ages of 6-8. I see they've republished them, with a nicer storage box:

Mine's yellow. Mind you, I guess the covers are yellow, too, but with the same illustrations on the front. Such a classic series. How can one not love it? :D

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

From the mouths of babes...

My 10yo son, over whose writing abilities I have been fretting recently, was trying to write down gift ideas (he has both a birthday coming up and an early Christmas--my in-laws go south for the winter!) and couldn't figure out how to write "ear". I said something about if he know how well boys his age in school could write. He responded with something that I can't even remember, but didn't really address what I had said. I said something about boys in school his age having done a lot of writing and being able to write a lot by now and did he realize that--or did he even care? (The French expression doesn't sound so negative. LOL.") His reply:

"I don't really care." (smirk)

Ah... lol. What a kid. I have to have faith somewhat that whatever I can introduce to him and he will do, he will be motivated enough at some point to go even further. At least, that's what I'm trying to convince myself of. I could honestly see this kid being in a Montessori elementary class and he'd still spend his time reading, probably doing science, doing math, maybe making maps and doing pin maps, but avoiding writing like the plague. There has to be a reason for him. Same thing for when he learned to crawl (not until 10 months), walk (not until 15.5 months), talk (not until 15.5 months) and read (started just before he turned 8), all of which he masterly performed within a very short while after deciding to finally do it. He has no compelling reason to write yet. Maybe I need to find a paleontologist to be his penpal. ;D

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The little boy has been returned!

This is just wonderful news!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Abducted child--please pass around!

SPARWOOD, B.C. - Police have issued an Amber Alert for a three-year-old boy missing in Sparwood, B.C., after searching for him for most of the day.
Kienan Hebert was last seen when his family put him to bed Tuesday evening at his home in the southeastern B.C. community located about 600 kilometres east of Vancouver.
Hebert, who police are now referring to as an "abducted" child, is described as a red-haired Caucasian boy and was last seen wearing a blue pair of Scooby Doo boxer shorts.
Police say they're looking for Randall Hopley, 46, who is of no relation to Hebert.
They are also looking for a brown 1987 Toyota Camry with the license plate 098RAL and are warning the public not to approach the vehicle.
"Nothing has been ruled out but certainly we are considering foul play of course in this matter, but again we remain hopeful and optimistic in thoughts with the family that we're going to have a positive outcome to this effort so far in locating the child unharmed and well," said RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.
Moskaluk said the boy was reported missing at about 9 a.m Wednesday morning.
Search-and-rescue officials then went into action and a police dog unit and RCMP helicopter were called in to conduct a search of the ground, he added.
Meantime, members of the RCMP's Southeast District Major Crime Unit, Cranbrook RCMP and the local Elk Valley detachment conducted another investigation, examining the scene of the disappearance to determine what happened to Hebert, said Moskaluk.
"There's a history that Kienan does sleepwalk, but in past incidents, he's never exited the house. Other than that, there's not much else (to explain his disappearance)."
Moskaluk said officials decided to look at issuing an Amber Alert around 5:30 p.m.
He said he couldn't answer why investigators identified Hopley as a person of interest.
"I don't know what the connection is ... I just get apprised as to OK, yeah, we're going to be able to go this route."
However, Moskaluk did say Hopley is currently on probation with conditions and is residing in the Sparwood area.
Moskaluk said Hopley should speak to investigators once he becomes aware police are looking for him.
He also said the ground search for Hebert will continue.
Court records show multiple convictions for crimes in Sparwood for a man named Randall Peter Hopley, born in 1965.
This past June, he was sentenced to two months in jail and two months of probation after he was convicted of assault. The assault occurred in April of this year in Sparwood, court records indicate.
He was also convicted in 2006 for a break-and-enter in Sparwood, for which he received a conditional sentence of nine months.
In 2003, he received a one-year conditional sentence for theft under $5,000, and in 2002 he was handed a three-month conditional sentence after he was convicted of break-and-enter.


Do you know the acronym "KISS"?


That's what I've decided to do with my son. Keep It Simple. I will provide him with various things, read him various things, but the things that are my minimums from him--writing, math and grammar--are the only things I will require. I will add in Latin because he is interested in that; just have to find the site I had found that seemed useful and get going. (Still haven't found a French-based source that would be suitable for a child!) That and he keep himself busy in the mornings in a way that does not distract everybody!

He was much more agreeable yesterday and I let him know all I'm asking him to do and that seemed fine. I will have a talk with him at some point about his desire to be a paleontologist and what that means in terms of what he needs to be able to do and what would *he* like to do now to work towards being able to do that. I'll wait until he's finally well rested and in a positive mood. ;)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What to do, what to do...

As I think about the day before journalling, I have the laptop right here and figured I'd get some of my thoughts out on my blog.

I find myself once again trying to figure out what the "right" thing to do with my son is. Yes, yes, I tell people there is no single right thing and yet here I find myself! Maybe not so much finding *the* right thing, but figuring out what should absolutely not be done and what can be done instead.

He has largely been unschooled, I need to keep that in mind. Maybe I need to ask myself some questions:

*Why do I want him doing more now?
-I think Maria Montessori would be appalled at how I've directed his education.
-He is technically grade 6 and nowhere near that level in his ability to write nor his math knowledge.
-I worry about how this could be a problem for him later on--I would feel incredibly guilty. He has only 4 years left before high school courses . (Actually, this could be a point to talk to him about, that when he gets to high school, he has to know how to write well, has to know how to write about different things, has to be up-to-snuff in math. And how 4 years isn't a huge amount of time for learning all the intricacies of spelling, grammar and writing in general in both English and French. He is very insistent that he will become a paleontologist. If he doesn't, he is so very much into insects and marine life, that I really could see him going into zoological sciences of some sort. That means university. That means knowing the stuff, being able to read and write very well... High school courses are a must.)
-I feel like I have neglected his education rather than really unschooled him.
-I think he's old enough now to start applying himself in ways other than simply playing with his 3yo cousin!

*What do I want him to be doing more of?
-taking what he reads and turning it into oral or written narration--making use of what he reads rather than simply having it as information in his head

-For the reasons above: to help him later on be successful for what he wants to go into. He has all the potential to get into the sciences and do well--but he needs proper preparation. That's my job. Or rather, to provide him with the means to prepare himself.

*What doesn't work?
-Imposing things on him when he's tired, slightly under-the-weather, etc.
-When I don't inform him ahead of time of certain changes in expectations/limits.

*What does?
-Um... lol. We've had some days that work great, but why did they work? I'm not sure. I think it definitely works better when he and I get going before anybody's here.

Some thoughts to get me going.

Well, THAT was an interesting first full day!

Today was the first full day of school. Or should I say "school", at least in terms of where my son is concerned.

I don't know if a too-busy weekend had an effect on my kids, or just the simple fact of going to bed too late, compound that for my dd with being sick and typically not sleeping well lately...

The 17yo did not too bad in terms of work. He finally hit a point of being sick of the computer and we tried some offline stuff, but that was it, his brain was done. He ended, therefore, about an hour before we was supposed to. But then his Dad showed up about half an hour before he was supposed to, so it wasn't so bad that he wasn't in the middle of something. His courses are still not worked out right and there is some stuff he can't yet do. We'd left math to the last course of the day--I don't think that's going to work so well. Needs to be in the morning, I think. Or maybe RIGHT after lunch.

Dd kept saying how slowly she was going this morning. It took her about an hour to read through a few pages of her science text. Then she moved onto something else and she just felt sluggish through the whole thing. She had tears in her eyes more than once today--including while we made banana bread as part of her home ec. time. She finally went off to her room to be alone.

Ds... Well... He didn't wake up until 8:39 this morning. I think it might be a record. He can be very slow to get going, so I didn't say anything to him about getting to work right away. Later on, he was reading the Action Bible, so I was fine with that. I did show him at one point some things for him to look at for school work (a book on constellations and another book on studying bugs). He ended up playing with his 3yo cousin and I made mention of him doing his work. He said uh-huh or some such. Finally, after lunch, he was just being loud and bugging others, looking like he ought to go for a nap, and I asked him when he was going to get his work done. "You didn't tell me..." or something like that. Bah. He ended up doing a single page of math and that was it. Grump, grump, grump. Oh boy. It had me sitting down and start thinking about how to best make this transition for him. The threat of telling him I'm going to have to place him in his grade level of lowest ability came to me ;), but that would not be very good. I haven't made it very far with my thoughts. I do know that changing from free play to school time is hard for him and routines will be key. I have to start having my kids get up at a set hour each day, I think. Or clearly posting a schedule/routine for ds to go by.

My 3yo niece has been grumpy on and off all day, as had the little guy (nearly 2yo). It's just been a grumpy day, I think. I will journal about it tonight and see if there's anything I can do differently tomorrow--regardless of people's emotions--that might help!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Tomorrow we REALLY get started!

Last Friday was supposed to be a school day with the 17yo. But since his school had messed up his registration, it meant making phone calls, waiting to be called back, finally going in with incorrect resources, getting the proper things, having his course selection corrected... But that took us until almost lunch. After lunch, we looked at things a bit, he spent WAY too much time on his laptop (that might be an issue I'll have to stay on top of), got a list done of things to do this weekend and that was it. Since his courses are online, we had to wait until their server was updated before we could see his English and Social Studies.

I checked yesterday: his social studies is still incorrect. *sigh*. In more way than one! That's okay, tomorrow he will be busy with sending emails to the other teachers, finding out the schedule for his math and science from them and just get going.

My two need to get going, too. Part of my list of things to do today is to get a plan done for the week. I thought I'd "think through my fingers" while half the family is still asleep (okay, more than half if you count the pets ;) ).

*I need to find out from her if she wants a daily list of things to accomplish, a list of things to accomplish over a couple of days or a list for the whole week and she works out when she gets it all done. [Oh, she got up while I was in the middle of composing this post and asked her: she would like a list for the week! I think I ought to offer her a grid that she can use to plan or track what she does. She does have an agenda that she's tracking her work in, but having it laid out visually can make a difference.]

*Math: Working on The Key to... Algebra series right now. (I think it's the algebra set.) Trying to refresh her memory of integers, then moving onto exponents. I'm 2nd guessing my original plan, even if I haven't looked at it in a while. I should have a look at it. [It looks now like I have to figure out the work for the week and give it to her all at once!]

*French: We have decided to scrap Les Misérables for right now. It is just too daunting of a book to start with. I had said that Jules Verne would be an easier one to start with, she knows we have L'Île mystérieuse, so we will read that, have her do some written work with it... I need to pre-read, though, and be prepared for vocabulary or allusion issues. For grammar, I had prepared a list of things for her to do, but I'm thinking I should just give her worksheets. She's big on feeling like she's getting things done right now, very concerned about not having done as much work as other kids who will be entering high school next year and the more she sees that she's accomplished, the better. I might pull out a paragraph to use as a CM-style dictation with her.

*German: this week's focus will be on the date and the kitchen! :D I'll pull out some index cards and she can make labelling cards/review cards.

*Science: She has her text and will work through it. She will have a little extra to do this week because we didn't have a school day on Friday. I think there may be an activity or 2 to do in the pages she would cover this week; I'll have to see. I will also keep making sure she narrates to me after she's done reading a section.

*Religion: I'll resume the morning Bible passage reading, but I'd like her to actually *do* something. Maybe I'll give her some options: Bible passages to read and then narrate/comment on in writing or art form OR work through a text we have, in English, unfortunately, and not French, called Path Through Catholicism. It is a text I used in university, but it is actually made as a US high school text. Since she's in grade 9 this year, she counts as US high school. :D I was looking at the Didache series' Introduction To Catholicism: A Complete Course, and while it looks fantastic, I already have a nice beginning resource I can use with her, so I think I'll take advantage of it. I also still have the Faith and Life series, from grades 3 to 8, and am still working through the grade 3 book with my son (yes, he's now in grade 6!) and she listens in. I'd like to speed up the Faith and Life with him so that we can actually finish the grade 6 book this year.

*Home Ec.: She said she wanted to do home ec., so, she'll do home ec.! :D I was going to have her follow our school board's online course, but it looks a little goofy, for somebody who really doesn't know much. However, they do have an interesting link in their hand sewing section... lol. She actually came up with a project last week that I said would fit into home ec.: create a recipe book with recipes she likes--our cookie recipe, banana bread, spaghetti, chili... I actually have many ripe bananas--I could also assign her to make some banana bread. :D

*Art: She is to do at least 2 hours a week following the painting book we got or whatever else she chooses. She is LOVING the new painting book (I think I linked it in my last post) and thinks it's fantastic. I would like to see if I can find other books by the same author for her--I know they have others, I just don't know if they would be useful for her or not. Michaels might have them; we'll have to go for a visit. (Oh no, always a dangerous thing to go to Michaels! hehe)

*Social Studies: I'm having a memory blank at the moment as I was rethinking my approach and now no longer know what I'm really doing. Will have to find notes and see what I'm doing.

*Phys. Ed./Health: She will have to choose three sessions a week; she can do whatever she likes and the sessions ought to last at least 30 minutes. Next week, her dance starts up again, so that will count for 2 days; I want her to aim for at least 3 a week for the month of September. Since she'll be doing PE for credit next year, and she wants this year to be like a "school student"--or online student, but without having to submit everything, I think I might give her an activity log and have her check in with the PE/Health website. There are some written assignments to do throughout the year.

I think that's everything for her. I will get this all together and then figure out ds's work for the week!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Interesting "second" day of school

First day of school was two days ago; today was the second. lol.

In any case, I've not had nearly enough sleep and my cognitive abilities are low today. lol. The 17yo is going to start tomorrow, after all, instead of today, which is probably a good thing. Dd did not sleep well and is still having coughing spells in the night, so she was not in school mode first thing. Ds got up I'm not sure when and proceeded to read the Action Bible we bought the other day. This is what he did until lunch time!

I still prepared my things and brought up work. Dd stopped reading at one point to eat and then decided to do work. She was feeling so off, she ended up in tears--before we'd even started any work. In the end, she picked math and worked for about 30 minutes on some review work, then switched to art. We found a fantastic book at Michaels last night:

She did this today following the instructions:

I think it's pretty neat. :D She then saw later in the book how this technique is used to make a landscape. Excellent stuff. This is just the sort of thing we've been looking for since I know nothing about art whatsoever.

By the time she was done that and things cleaned up, it was 11 and we were hungry. I know we're going to have to go until closer to noon for lunch with the 17yo here (otherwise he'll end up with 2 hours of work in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon!), but today, so be it.

We'll be heading out to a park day this afternoon and enjoying having the park more or less to ourselves. lol. This particular park is very popular and was full of people each time we went this summer, so it'll be nice to have something less chaotic.