Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm Back

Okay, okay. Lorraine reminded me, Molytail tried to scare me back and now Posh is concerned so I guess I've got to get back to the blog. To tell the truth, once I realized that neither I nor the blogging world was going to fall apart if I didn't post I started to like not blogging. Dangerous, I know.

The last few weeks have been cluttered but good. I'm now an official Girl Guide leader which I'm enjoying more than I thought I would. The music my choir is doing for our after-Christmas Christmas concert is finally shaping up and I'm picking up the violin with Catherine and we're learning/re-learning together. I went and found out about what we could get for a mortgage and was pleasantly surprised by how much we can afford. Hopefully we can start looking by April as the only thing we're waiting for is my husband to be permanently posted in this area. I can't wait. I've still got mice and the bloody little buggers won't pay their rent.

In homeschooling news the Hobbit language arts curriculum I downloaded a few weeks ago is stumbling along. We hit some major roadblocks when it came to some of the writing that I'm still trying to sort out. Singapore math has been going strong with both kids although Catherine put it aside for a bit to work through a Key to Fractions book for some extra review and a bit of a relief from th constant challnge of Singapore. Harry has been learning to read with the help of BOB Books and has been amazing the shit out of me. Everythings else is still fairly strong and consistent. Which also amazes the shit out of me.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I'm Taking a Break

Give me two weeks. I have to get Harry into the homeschooling loop, a baby quilt started, work done on my course, practicing done on the violin (I'm learning with Catherine) and for choir, Halloween planned for...

Also, my posting consistency hasn't been what it should be. That generally means it's time to stay away for awhile so I can build up the desire to blog again.

This being me that's no guarantee I won't post. The best option is probably to just sign up for my feed so any posts come to you rather then you having to come here.

So goodbye until Oct. 26!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Thanks for the Advice!

In this post I asked for some help with how to deal with Catherine's lack of focus when it came to independent math work. Watching her drifting off into daydreams when she should have been finishing a couple of question was frustrating. In that post I described what seemed to work for her:

My only solution right now is to simply not have her do the work on her own. I stand at the whiteboard and write the questions out and have her feed me the solutions step-by-step. As I write, she does too and we seem to get through it fairly quickly and enjoy our time. But I don't know if this will help her focus when she needs to do independent work.

Luke, Gary et all responded with the fantastic advice that if that works, then go with it.

So simple.

I'm happy to report that math, using the whiteboard, has blossomed. Freed from having to work through worksheets on her own Catherine now zips through new concepts and works with speed and ease. Her mental math is improving and her general attitude towards math is getting better as well.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The OTHER Election - Stephen Harper

Just heard this reaction to the recent economic troubles from Canadian Prime minister Stephen Harper on CBC Radio:

"There are a lot of great buying opportunities on the market"

Yes. Because my neighbours who on the verge of unemployment because the lumber mill they work at is close to closing can afford to play the stock market.

But wait, it gets better. From, "The True North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper's plan for Canadians," the Conservative election platform:

"People who work hard, pay their taxes and play by the rules are getting ahead,"

Since I know my neighbours work hard and pay their taxes then what in the heck are those rules they aren't playing by?

I've been decided from the get go in this election. I'm lucky enough to have a great Independent MP who will almost certainly be re-elected, but if I were undecided Harper would be out of the running now. I can't imagine how someone could possibly get any more out of touch with how the current troubles with the economy are affecting honest, hardworking, rule abiding people.


10 Weeks in and Still Going Strong.

We are now into the 3rd month of homeschooling after summer and somehow, we're doing okay. I usually start to get bored and let things slip after about 8 weeks but Catherine and I are plugging away and Harry is joining in in a few things like math and penmanship.

Scheduling has helped, yes, but I think taking my time to pick all our programs has been the big plus. Math, penmanship, spelling, science, etc. all have enough variety to keep me interested and clear enough directions that I'm not floundering. I'm quite excited about the prospect of actually having a finished Singapore Math workbook in another 6 weeks.

The only change since the last update has been with writing. Catherine and I were both enjoying the Classical Writing approach but I recently stumbled on Modeling the Classics, Language Arts Lessons from The Hobbit (available as a PDF download, whoo hoo!). This happened just as we were getting a little tired of Aesop AND just as we were starting the Hobbit as a read aloud (Catherine had listened to an audio book version a couple of years ago but wanted a refresher before my next planned read aloud, LOTR). It's been a wonderful fit so far. It's got most of the components (copy work, grammar, outlines, etc.) that we liked about Classical Writing but also has some drawing assignments and runs ten weeks as opposed to, well, forever.

I also found a tool to add Greek back into the mix. Greek 'n' Stuff has Biblical Greek Alphabet Practice Pages (can you tell I'm a sucker for ebooks?) which is chock full of different puzzles, from wordsearchs to secret messages that will drill the alphabet into Catherine's (and my) head.

Monday, October 6, 2008

On Folksy Politicians

(The following was partly cribbed from a message board post I made. I am plagarizing myself!)

CBC radio had a discussion, following the VP debates, about how many modern politicians seem to be gravitating towards folksyism. Winks to the camera, tales of shopping at Home Depot, that sort of thing. Not only are they gravitating towards that folksy attitude they're often disparaging intellect and education. I've noticed it in Canadian politicians as well, most prominently in Conservativce leader Stephen Harper who disparages the arts community and pretends to speak for the average Canuck.

During the discussion the example of FDR was brought up to show what should be happening. Roosevelt never pretended folksiness but instead thought enough of citizens to have his fireside chats and educate them about America and it's place in the world. He expected people to live up to his expectations.

A couple of days later I read an article in the Atlantic Monthly on the departing head of the Metropolitan Museum of Art who had bucked the trends of splashy exhibits by sticking with more demanding exhibits because he thought the public was capable of appreciating and enjoying oh, Byzantine idols or tapestries from the Middle ages. He had faith in the intelligence and curiousity of average people.

To have a politician today like either of those men.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


The Canadian Home Educators Blog Carnival is up! Now I know I have some canuck readers who haven't submitted a post to this carnival yet despite the fact that they have excellent blogs. Time to step up!

The Carnival of Homeschoolers is up at Dana's other blog, Simple Pleasures.

The Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers is up at Homeschooling Twins!

Last but not least is the Carnival of Education at Creating Lifelong Learners.

Set yourself up with some Irish Cream and chocolate and enjoy them all!

Help With Focus

Catherine and I read the Primary Mathematics text. We do sample problems on the whiteboard (whiteboard? It's that ridiculously schooly?). We talk about the concept and arithmatic involved. Then Catherine opens her workbook to begin the exercise and her pencil gets put down and I know by the look on her face that she gone.

I know this because it's exactly what I used to do in school.

So I leave her thinking she just needs time. I come back in 30 minutes and she's halfway through the first question.

So I set a time limit and she panics and not only works slowly but badly.

So I sit beside her a point our when her attention is fading. And we get on each other's nerves.

Every other subject she's fine with but as soon as she sits down with Primary Math she starts yawning and I can see her mind packing up and leaving.

My only solution right now is to simply not have her do the work on her own. I stand at the whiteboard and write the questions out and have her feed me the solutions step-by-step. As I write, she does too and we seem to get through it fairly quickly and enjoy our time. But I don't know if this will help her focus when she needs to do independent work.

Any suggestions?