Thursday, February 17, 2011

Have You Ever...?

Mom - have you ever been inundated with questions from three or more children at once?

Have you been innocently sitting at the kitchen table, helping one child with her multiplication tables, another one with English, when suddenly another child needs you to check her History workbook and the 8th grader needs immediate help with his math?

Have you ever given 5 separate spelling tests in one day and get annoyed with the fact that children even need to learn how to spell?

Have you ever realized at 4:30 in the afternoon that you completely forgot to "do" Science with your 3rd grader?

Yeah, me too. 

No advice - just feeling your pain. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

For Those Considering Homeschooling

When you are considering homeschooling, you are most likely approaching friends and family who have been homeschooling for quite some time.  You are visiting homeschool blogs, reading books about the best methods, looking through piles of curriculum, and reading magazines geared toward homeschoolers.  Each of these materials will have pictures of a serene mother sitting with her children as they happily soak up the knowledge being  poured into them.  Homeschoolers don't want to discourage you from this wonderful option, so you will rarely find the down-side of homeschooling presented.  A homeschool article is much like a sitcom - challenges & situations are placed before you in a lighthearted way and quickly solved in a matter of paragraphs.

You are happy in your bubble.  Well, I'm armed with my pin.

10 Realities of Homeschooling

1)  The ABCs are downright terrifying.

2)  Your children will be excited with their new books for a total of 2.5 days.  No matter how relaxed your atmosphere, how colorful the workbooks are, or how many REAL books you read, kids have a natural school-detector and they can smell school no matter how well-disguised it may be.

3)  Your children will take the first opportunity they can to get to run around, play with toys, wrestle, or pull each other's hair. Even after 3 bowls of cereal, they will be starving by 9:30 am and start rummaging the cupboards.  There will be phone calls you WILL have to answer.  You cannot leave the stranger at your door standing in the cold.  Even if you turn off the phone and bar your door, you WILL have to use the bathroom. It will then take you another 10-15 minutes to reduce the chaos.  I say "reduce" because once chaos ensues, it's almost impossible to regain total order.

4)  The only reason those mothers in the magazines are able to smile WHILE homeschooling is because they have no pre-school children.  The mothers of pre-schoolers are always posed in a family photo...on a the summertime...while dad is home.

5)  Some days, your favorite color is school-bus yellow.  You will dream about it.  All.  Day.  Long.

6)  No matter how bright your child appears to be at your kitchen table, he will forget everything he's ever learned as soon as he is among his peers.  Of course, other mothers will beam with pride as their 3rd graders list all of the elements on the periodic table while drool begins to come out the side of your child's mouth.  You will see the looks of pity on parent's faces as they realize how severely mentally challenged your child must be.

7)  Homeschoolers still argue with their siblings.  Often.

8)  Tests scare you more now than when you were in college.  You will fear "academic probation" for decades.

9)  Some days, your children will finish school in three hours and you will question if you are giving them an adequate education.

10)  Some days, your children will finish school in 10 hours and you will question if you are being too hard on them.

If you are a homeschool mom and have no idea what I am talking about, you are either,  1)  a mom with 1 or 2 children who are not beyond the 1st grade or, 2)  a mom whose last child is in their last year of school and you have been able to block out all of the trauma and now remember everything with sweet nostalgia.

No doubt, there are some wonderful aspects of homeschooling.  I see it as the ONLY option for our family.  But, I'm living by the trenches.

If you come to me with your questions and ask me for my opinion, I will encourage you to homeschool your child.  I will suggest curricula, help with paperwork, and tell you that you are indeed qualified.  I will also tell you that there are days you will not want to get out of bed, but then there are days that you will know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is the BEST decision you ever made.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Beloved Author's Birthday

 Laura Ingalls Wilder was born February 7, 1867.  Through her writings, children today are able to witness the settling of the American frontier as her family travels from Wisconsin to Minnesota and finally to the Dakota Territory.  Several years ago, I read the Little House series to my 3 oldest children.  During that time, we had a Laura Ingalls Day on February 7.  They have talked about that day ever since.

This year, I have begun the series all over again with my youngest four.  We thought it would be a good idea to have another Laura Ingalls Day and they have enjoyed it immensely, as have I.

We had stacked pancakes for breakfast, just as described in Farmer Boy. They were delicious, but incredibly filling!

After cleaning up, we did school the one-room schoolhouse way.  I listened to spelling lessons aloud, quizzed them on grammar skills, they each did "figures" on a slate or pad of paper and we had a good old fashioned Spelling Bee!

As I read to them their history (a chapter from the book, "Little House on the Prairie" of course!), the children worked on clove oranges.  These are wonderful gifts that are quite easy to make.

First, you tape around the center of the orange - where the ribbon will eventually be placed.

Then, using a nail, holes are punched on either side of both pieces of tape.

Next, place whole cloves in the holes just created.

Once the cloves are placed, make more holes with the nail and fill with a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ground cloves.  Then, place in a cool, dark place for a week until dried and put a ribbon around it for hanging.  It will last for years!

We made egg-nog for lunch according to the directions found in the Little House Cookbook.  While Seth & I enjoyed it, the others voted they like my recipe better!

Of course, a Laura Ingalls Day would not be complete without picking up some Little House on the Prairie DVDs.  While the children watched a couple of episodes, they shook cream in quart jars and made butter.  The buttermilk is being used in tonight's biscuits which, of course, will be topped by that delicious butter!

What have you been doing to break up the monotony of school?