Thursday, 31 July 2008

Preparing for 2008-2009 ~ Math

This past week, I have been reflecting on our home schooling adventure. Every summer, for the past three years, has been a time of assessment and preparation.

Assessment because I have always thought that, as much as we enjoy home schooling, we would take it one year at a time, and decide at the end of each school year, if we would continue on or not. We will be homeschooling this coming school year of 2008-2009, but with some changes.

So in Preparation, one major change will be with Math.

Part of the daily frustration these past two years has come from using a Math curriculum, that I finally am willing to admit, is not the best fit for us. We used Saxon Math and even though it is one of the top choices for home school families, it might not work for everyone. With Dragon in particular, it has been a battle. I have finally let myself think, that Math can be fun and that maybe, a school-type curriculum is not absolutely necessary. I have also had somewhat of a light bulb moment...maybe the "battles" that Dragon and I have had come from the use of a curriculum that just isn't the best for him. If you are a home school parent, I imagine that maybe you could relate...

Anyway, I have been researching other ways of doing Math. I still need some outline! I have found a couple of interesting options so far, and I will be deciding soon what we will use...

The first one is from the Living Math! website. This site is full of amazing articles, book lists, learning ideas, game links, and math links. The readers lists alone are a treasure! Listed by topics such as multiplication, algebra, and money, the lists give you picture and chapter book suggestions. I am planning on using these for Princess, as we start gently this fall learning about numbers. For Fairy and Dragon, I have been looking at the Living Math History Outlines on that site. Here is a quick description of the lessons from the website:

"Lessons are based on two full cycles of history, of four quarters each, with the focal point of each lesson on an individual(s) who created influential mathematical ideas." Math might actually become interesting! If you want to visit the site, click on here.

Another option I found for Dragon is the Noble Knights of Knowledge Math Program. This looks so much fun! It covers about 4 years of math instructions (grades 1 to 4). Here is some more information from the site :

"The program can also be used to strengthen the understanding of math that middle school students have, especially if they are struggling with exponents, algebra and the like. It builds or reconstructs strong foundations. For this reason no grade level is mentioned in the books. Kindergarten students can also use the program to begin the early stages of counting. Division in the form of "sharing out" is fun for youngsters as is sorting colors, number identification using gems, and Flambert's game for math facts. The learning and introduction of new steps, of course, takes a gentle pace."

I do feel that Dragon could use some reviewing and re-strengthening of his math knowledge. I think that taking a whole school year or half of one would benefit in the long run. This program could be used with Princess too, and Fairy might find it fun also. If you want more info on this Noble Knights Math, click here.

The last interesting Math option that I found is more for Fairy. It is a series of living books called Life with Fred. We would start with Life of Fred : Fractions first. The books tell the story of Fred, after each lesson/chapter there is a chance to try out what you have learned in that chapter. After every four or five chapters, there are more questions that review everything learned from the beginning of the book. The Fractions book covers a whole lot more than just fractions. You can visit the site and download a sample of each of the books. To visit click here.

I will post later about our other subject choices for this coming year.

Our Adventure in Home Schooling ~ How and When?

Makita at Twinkling Stars Family School has another Friday Freebie...and I would like to participate again, not for the prize, but just for fun!
The question is "When and how did you start home schooling?"

When Fairy started junior kindergarten in September 2001, we were both devastated. We had enjoyed our time together and she really wasn't ready to start school but I had no idea there was another option. No one I knew then ever mentioned home schooling and I didn't know any home schoolers. She adjusted after a few months, but she also turned into a very quiet and almost depressed little girl.
By the time Dragon started school, I had heard of home schooling, but only in the USA. I thought it was something that was allowed there, but not in Canada. Over time, with the Internet, I became more educated on the whole topic. By the time Dragon was entering his senior kindergarten year, I was reading everything I could about home schooling and I knew it was a legal option.
Fairy was a quiet, no-trouble for teachers type of student. She never asked questions, and I had this concern that she would miss out on basic education. I didn't know at the time that she was getting bullied (I found out after she stopped going to school). On the other hand, Dragon was a bright little boy that was so eager to learn. In particular, to learn how to read. When I approached his teacher, he told me that learning how to read wasn't in the plan for that year. Learning the alphabet and counting was what the teacher was covering in junior kindergarten. Dragon had learned all the letters at home with me, so he was bored at school. And what do little 4 year old boys do when they are bored? Get in trouble! School must have been really boring for him. The principal warned me at the end of his senior kindergarten year that first grade was much different and that Dragon would be expected to sit for long periods of time during the day and to pay attention and be quiet. She suggested I consider having him tested and that medication might be required for him to be able to handle the school day. That day I walked out of the school wanting to protect my son, wanting to quench his thirst for learning and not having him be labeled by the school system. I also wanted to give Fairy a chance to be happy again and to learn at her own pace, and be comfortable asking questions when she needed to.
After meeting a local home school group, and finding out all the great extra activities that were available to us, we considered home schooling seriously. The social part wasn't an issue for us. I thought anything would be better than the social environment they were getting at school.
Fairy finished grade 2 and Dragon finished senior kindergarten at school. Even though in theory I was optimistic about home schooling, I wasn't sure it would actually work for us, so I decided we would try it out over the summer and decide at the end. I. During that summer, we used a couple of workbooks (Math Smart, English Smart) and we also did some fun unit studies on animals (I didn't know they were called unit studies back then, lol). The main goal for me was to see if we could get along and get some "work" done together!
After a month, we were hooked and decided to start our adventure. In September 2005, I sent the notification to the school board and we started doing school at home. And it was truly school-at-home! Textbooks, workbooks, tests, even recess and snack time!
We have learned over time, to relax a bit and enjoy our learning time together. We now use a more eclectic approach to home schooling.
We take it one year at a time, even though when planning out our studies, I do look ahead a few years. I like to stay flexible. Over the past years, we have had our share of fun and also a healthy dose of challenges! It has been a great adventure so far for all of us.
Thanks Makita for a great question.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Discovering More of Windsor

Our first stop was at the water fountain in front of the casino. The kids each made a wish and watched the water dance!

We all admired this beautiful sculpture. It is called "Tower of Freedom" and from what we read, there is another sculpture by Ed Dwight in Detroit, a companion to this one, both about the Underground Railroad. We will try to remember when we visit Detroit to look for its companion. Ed Dwight's website explains more about this monument (click here.)

This building got our attention because it was quite big, and we all liked the massive door. We found out by reading the sign, that it was used as an armoury in early 1900's.

We went to one of the parks in the city which has beautiful formal gardens and WWII airplanes and memorial plaques and sculptures for Army, Navy, and Air Force soldiers.

Princess loved the beautiful gardens:

More Buskers Fun

We started out by visiting the Farmer's Market early this morning. Fairy picked a chocolate croissant, Dragon and Princess shared a pepperoni type sausage!
We were then off to the Buskers Festival for more fun entertainment. We saw three different shows and they were all wonderful!
First was a young woman doing tricks with fire. Princess didn't really like the fire but at the end of the day, she said this performer was her favourite!

She did tricks with a hula hoop that had fire:

She also used two chains with fire at the end of them, and at the end was blindfolded and wrists tied...

The next show was part clown part juggler. He also ate fire.

The last show we saw was a contortionist who can juggle, with fire or balls. He made his body pass through the opening in a squash racket and a tennis racket (that one with fire). For his finale, he balanced a running lawn mower on his chin! I am not sure where all these great street performers get all their ideas...but we had a great time being entertained by them!


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