Thursday, July 24, 2014

I Must Write My Thoughts About Next Year!

Okay, I was going to try to hold off until August before getting into serious school planning, but my mind has so many thoughts going through it, I need to get some of them out!

My 16-year old definitely has to do something differently this year. There are some outreach places that encourage students to do a single subject at a time, get that whole subject done in a month, then move on. I was thinking this might be helpful for my daughter, give her something different, the sense of accomplishment... But then the thought hit: If part of her problem is that she feels she's not being educated, then is doing nothing but one subject for a month really going to help her? No. Her mind isn't going to have the time to really digest it. It'll get overloaded with information from only one subject. Yes, it will take care of the whole get-things-done part, but is that as important as real learning? Perhaps even enjoying it? And what if the overload causes her to slow down and not get the subject done?

Reading some Charlotte Mason things this evening, one thing that hit me--which has probably hit me before--is this: A single subject can be broken up into different parts and each part gets tackled but once each week. This would actually be super beneficial for the exams at the end of the semester because all the different topics will have been covered and refreshed in the mind over the course of the semester. I could see this potentially not working for her for math because math is the kind of thing you just need more regular practice with, but with English, social studies, science...? I would have to see if the biology is sequential at all, because that could be a bit of a problem, but English and social studies definitely aren't. She has grade 11 English, Social Studies and Science (most likely Biology) left to finish, plus we need to work out if she's met the requirements for grade 11 Art, see about dance credits and perhaps get her into some violin lessons and have her meet the requirements for grade 10 music. To finish high school over the next two years, the government requires that she do grade 12 English and Social Studies, I'm guessing she will do grade 12 math and science just to cover her bases for post-secondary admission (although, if she has the necessary grade 12 credits without those, she could potentially just leave them), the plan is for her to do grade 12 Art and Physical Education and I'm not sure where that leaves her in her necessary credits. I'll have to sit down and tally everything.

I do still have to decide about my son and books we didn't finish last year. (Oh, dear, it just hit me that because I was going to wait until August to plan, I may actually run out of time to have the necessary resources for the beginning of September; I don't feel so bad now about letting myself write out my thoughts!) Main goal this year: Learn to write. Both handwriting (well, he knows how, but it's terrible) and actual sentences and paragraphs. He's going to start off with one of the Writing Strands books as he really has no idea how to write things other than text messages to people. I do want to get him narration more, too, which will help with the writing. There's still some catching up to do in math before he hits grade 10. I know I wrote earlier this year some ideas for next school year. I guess I should check out what I've already said. :D

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When Do We Learn to Think?

I just read an article where the author repeatedly said that college was the time that you learned to think. Not that it was the only place, but it was the best one.

This actually stopped me in my tracks a bit.

Really? We have to wait until we're at least 17/18 to start to learn to think? No wonder things are such a mess! What are kids doing in grade school?? There have been complaints for years and years that our kids are not learning how to really think, they're only learning to memorize and regurgitate. Perhaps that's where this comment came from: the reality that the school system is messed up enough that college really is the first time most students get to learn how to think. The sad thing is that I was working on my teaching degree 20 years ago, was being taught all about the different ways to engage kids in different levels of thinking, but have things really changed? On an official level, the program of studies in our province recognizes these different levels of thought, but with the insistence on provincial standardized testing in grades 3, 6, 9 and the $&#*@! grade 12 provincial exams in core subjects worth 50% of the students' final mark (and this after already having had a final exam worth usually anywhere between 10%-30%), let's just say that the actual thinking is not there.

How different things would be if most schools were Montessori schools--where children are encouraged and left to think (because, really, let's face it, we start thinking at a very young age and simply have it curbed in school to the "right" answer) long before they hit age 18.

Math Is Sinking In

While I didn't have my 13-year old son do nearly as much math as I had intended him to do this year, what I did is definitely sinking in and has paid off!

He wanted to make a milkshake the other day and found a recipe online to do so. But he saw it would make 4 servings and he only need one. The only help I offered was he would have to divide everything by 4. He easily did the division in his head, even 2 divided by 4 being one half.

I have hope for this child yet! lol (Ok, he's really not that bad. This is so typically him: leave me thinking nothing's sticking and then effortlessly does something.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What a summer (so far)!

It's been an interesting summer. Aside from the growing desire to sit down and plan and prep the school year (I'm trying to hold off a little while longer, let myself really have at least a month "off" and do other things!), we've been to Hawaii for 10 nights, had our dog almost die (she has IMHA) while we were gone, come back to vet appointments, doctors' appointments, my previous shoulder issues flaring up even more and now requiring physio appointments and so much more. I almost feel like I've packed in an entire summer in July--and there's still a week left! I need a vacation! lol. On top of all this, we are looking at moving, so that takes up time in decluttering, reorganizing and looking at house listings.

Even though it's summer, that doesn't mean the learning/educational activities have stopped. My daughter has been doing some amazing art work this past week, including a cartoon version of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent and an Elsurla (Elsa/Ursula combined for a challenge that had people combine a hero with a villain). You can see her stuff here:

My son bought himself an authentic (not a cheap toy) ukulele in Hawaii and has been playing it pretty much every day since we got back. The interesting thing is he's not playing typical ukulele-sounding stuff. It's unique and very interesting!

That said, they both have been getting lots of video game time each day! Things will change a bit the first full week of August when I will be babysitting my nieces and nephew again.

What are you up to this summer? Do you "school" during the summer or do you take time off?