Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Connected Mom Sunday School: Tumbling Into Fall

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Hi, all! Mandi here. I know you haven’t heard much from me lately. Rest assured that I have been busy behind the scenes: mostly dealing with work-at-home issues and preparing for the newest “student” in our school, who will be joining us sometime around mid-January of next year. ;) I’ve also been busy with some side projects, one of which I wanted to share here.

I am one of eight moms who contributes to The Connected Mom, “a natural parenting site that focuses on fostering positive connections with our children, our communities, our planet, and each other.” I found that the blog reflects many of our views on parenting and family. Normally, I don’t like to get into parenting too much here, except where it overlaps with education. My interest in education led to a great opportunity to write for a blog series at the Connected Mom called Sunday School. The name might throw you at first, but it has nothing to do with cutesy Bible stories or flannel boards. It’s simply a digest of activities for a variety of ages that center around a certain theme each week. Since it’s education-related, I’ve decided to link my posts here.

This week’s activities center around autumn: from apples, to pumpkins, to fall leaves. A couple of these science experiments look really fun! I think we’ll be trying them out ourselves within the next few weeks.

If you’re interested in parenting–especially natural/attachment type parenting–you might want to check out some of the other posts as well. The mom contributors have great insights to share!

Fun with Sorting

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Today was “math day” according to our schedule, and I wanted to try something fun, so I went out to YouTube looking for math games to play.  Levi and I surfed through several videos.  We chose an activity to try today, and put a few others in our mental file for later.  While Isaac napped and Naomi played contentedly in her high chair (you can just see her head in the first picture), I spent some quality time playing a sorting game with Levi.

Today’s activity was based on a video by Courtney at Expert Village.  I started by tracing three circles on a sheet of paper.  At first, I tried to have Levi do the tracing, but he’s quite the perfectionist and didn’t like the looks of his.  I dumped out the contents of my button box (mostly white, red, brown and black) and placed a few of the red buttons in one of the circles.  He did the same.  Then I asked what color he could put in the second circle.  He chose white, and continued to sort.  We did the same with brown.  Then he came across a black button.  He realized that there was nowhere to categorize it.  We drew a fourth circle, which was too big to fit entirely on the page.  As he came across a few blues and some scattered beads, he also placed those in their own corner of the paper.

I tried to have him sort them by the number of holes in each button, but he was stuck on the color thing, so I didn’t interfere.  That just leaves us more options to try another day.  I went about some of my own work and let him continue.  Before long, he had abandoned the sorting game and was doing what he loves best: playing with letters.  This time, he got all but two of the letters in the correct order.  One thing that Levi knows well is that “love” is a verb, and after he spelled it, he demonstrated that by giving me a kiss on the cheek.

I enjoyed this time spent with just Levi.  We haven’t had much of that since Isaac came along.  I dearly love the other children, and I’m glad that Levi has siblings to play with, but sometimes I do miss hanging out one-on-one with my little man.  Perhaps “doing school” will turn out to be beneficial to me, too.

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Field Trip!

Saturday, October 9th, 2010

The boys pet goats at one orchard's petting zoo.

I love the spontaneity afforded by homeschooling.  I also love that Nate is restarting his business and is able to schedule some Fridays free.  Today we took a trip to two apple orchards (our little “orchard” won’t be producing apples for a few years).  The first offered a restaurant and a free petting zoo, but the apples weren’t within our price range.  We traveled about 10 minutes to another orchard where we found affordably-priced apples and a pumpkin patch.  We didn’t discuss the complex agricultural concepts of apple growing with our preschoolers.  However, the kids did learn an important economic lesson–one that we sometimes take for granted–by seeing where our food comes from.  They were able to look at and touch live animals, experiencing biology firsthand.  They also enjoyed the sun, fresh air, and exercise.  What better physical education is there?  Of course the drive gave us time to listen to some Greek songs on CD.  This is learning at its finest.

An Uphill Climb

Friday, September 24th, 2010

The kids and me at the observation tower at Clingman's Dome

Today we hiked up a half mile trail which rose 330 feet over its length.  On the way up we received looks of sympathy (and possibly some disapproving glances from people who thought we were cruel for making our children walk all the way up there).  We carried all three of them for at least part of the way.  It was hard work, but at the top we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the Great Smoky Mountains from 6643 feet above sea level.

Levi’s misunderstanding of scale was endearing.  When we told him we’d be climbing a mountain, he set his sights on a twenty-foot tall pile of boulders near the trail head, which he thought was the mountain.  It took some encouragement to get him to walk up the trail.  I don’t think he ever fully understood that what we were walking on was the mountain.  How time and age change our perspectives on the world.

I’m glad we followed through and made the climb.  The effort was definitely worth it.  For me, it’s helpful to see parenting from the same perspective.  Did we really want to take three small children on what was supposed to have been a romantic getaway?  Not really.  Sometimes we make decisions in interest of the whole family, and we have to put in a little extra effort or endure a bit of inconvenience  as a result.  Sometimes, like during today’s climb, we can’t see our destination and wonder if it’s worth it.  We just keep on climbing, knowing that one day we will get to the top.  When we get there, the challenges we face now will seem small in perspective.  And the reward?  Immeasurable.

Qualified to Homeschool

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

When I first began telling people about my decision to homeschool, one of the common responses I heard was that we were a perfect fit, since I have a background in education. While I was flattered, it gave me pause. The notion that parents need to be certified to teach their own children erodes the freedoms that homeschoolers currently enjoy in this state. I do not believe that teacher education is without value. However, it targets classroom teachers. The coursework focuses largely on educational theory, classroom management, and the imparting a certain set of professional beliefs.

Homeschooling requires an entirely different skill set. At least in my limited experience, I have acted more as a facilitator. Despite how it may seem sometimes, we have never drilled Levi on his reading. We started Starfall as a means of entertainment and now he begs us to play it. On his own, he has begun sounding out words in books and on signs. Just tonight he read “sea salt” on my grinder. Of course, I’m not recommending flying blind into this either. Nate and I have done a great deal of reading about homeschooling, content knowledge, and education in general. Another helpful trait is insatiable curiosity. Lately, it’s like I look at life through homeschool glasses. Nearly every life experience is another opportunity to teach some bit of important content. Finally, parents already have the most important qualification for the job–they know their children better than anyone else.  Homeschool parents can use this powerful relationship as they teach their children–and learn by their side.

Excuses, Excuses

Monday, September 20th, 2010

I know my posts have been lacking substance lately, and couple of hours ago, I sat down and bang out a nice, meaty post.  About that time, I heard what sounded like one of the boys pouring out water on the floor above me (this is something we hear more often than we’d like in our house).  I assumed Levi was playing in the sink again.  No such luck.  Actually, he had gotten sick in bed and at least three times down the hallway.  I spent the bulk of my blogging time scrubbing the carpet while Nate comforted Levi and gave him a bath, so needless to say, I won’t have much of consequence to say this evening.  Dear readers, please forgive me.  I promise that I have at least two interesting ideas up my sleeve.

Eh-Eh-Epsilon

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

We have been listening to the Song School Greek CD to see what it contained.  I thought Levi ignored most of it.  He came over and I pointed at each letter in the student book once or twice.  He looked at them and went back to playing.  So I continued to play the CD on our TV not really thinking much of it.

Levi kept playing with his blocks.  He stopped and brought two E blocks up to me.   In one hand was one of his Greek blocks (Epsilon) and in the other hand an English E block.  He held the English E block up and said, “Eh-eh-E, Daddy” and then with the other hand he held up the Greek Epsilon block up (looks like a capital E) and said, “Eh-eh-epsilon, Daddy.”  I was stunned.  I never thought he paid that much attention, let alone get some of it so quickly.  He was mad when I turned off the CD.  Kids are surprising sometimes as to what they are actually listening to and are learning.   I guess I had better watch what I say around them.

Unexcused Absences? Not Here!

Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Today has been a tough one for the family.  Naomi came down with a bit of a cold bug Thursday evening.  It hit Levi last night, and is now making its way through the family.  We’re all feeling pretty achy and acting a little cranky.  I’m having a hard time formulating any homeschool-related thoughts at the moment.  The one thing that does come to mind is how grateful I am that we will have flexibility of scheduling.  If we’re feeling under the weather, we’ll just make it up the lost day on a weekend  or shave a day off of a break.  We won’t have to worry about the kids missing homework or falling behind their classmates.  What a relief!