Saturday, June 28, 2008

No Textbooks!?!?!?

A little over a year ago, a friend was telling me that her daughters were having a hard time with history. "They just don't seem to retain anything," she explained. Then she asked, "What history textbook do you use?" I stopped and thought for a moment. It was a quick moment. However, in that moment, all the resources I use reeled through my head. I then answered, "None." She actually looked shocked. "None!?" I went on to explain that we use the library as our primary resource for history and science. Then the next question came, "How do you know you aren't missing anything?" I answered with another question, "How much do you remember from your textbooks in school? Do you remember how dry and boring they were?" Then I asked, "Do you remember any books you read as a kid?" Of course she did.
I do evaluations for homeschoolers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Every year, I have a new homeschooler who feels they didn't cover art or music. I love talking with them and helping them to remember shows or other experiences that would be considered art and music (or whatever other subject they think they missed). I also get phone calls from new homeschool moms who are panicing and asking me which curriculum (or workbook) they should have their preschooler or kindergartener in. My reply is always, "None." With children that age, you should take out the play dough or the building blocks and let them play. Take them on walks and let them explore. Talk to them about all that you do and encourage them to talk to you. That is how they will learn best.
Not all learning comes from a text book. As a matter of fact, most learning doesn't come from textbooks. Life is learning.
This morning, I was sent this link for 100+ Resources for Teaching Without Textbooks. It has so many good resources.
As a side note: I do use textbooks for Math. Our family uses the Math U See materials. That only takes 15 to 20 minutes a day and it works well for us. Along with this, I also give my kids some real life experiences with math at as young an age as possible. They include (but are not limited to):
  • Cooking using recipes. Sometimes we double or half a recipe and they have to do the math.
  • When we go to the bank, they are not allowed a lollipop unless they have a deposit. They also have to fill out their own deposit slips.
  • When at the store, I'll ask them to tell me how much change I should get back. Then I have them count it to make sure it is correct.

These are just a few ideas and as I read others' blogs, I get so many more.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Reality Check

How many times have we gone to a homeschool function and felt that "I am so glad that this event isn't at my house." We look around and feel that everyone else has it so together.

How many times have you told someone you homeschool and they say "Oh, I could never do that. I don't have the (patience, organization, discipline, etc., etc.)" I try not to put up a facade, although I often feel that others don't really care about my daily "hardships" so I don't burden them with it. I do have people over to my house and they get to witness the disaster area first hand. When others say to me "You are so organized". My rebuttle is "Have you seen the condition of my house lately?" So I try to convey that I am no June Cleaver.

Okay, I like to post pictures on my blog. So just to prove that I don't have it all together here is a current picture of my kitchen / dining area. This needs to be cleaned up. So what do I do? I ignore it while I make popcorn and blog. Now don't get me wrong, I will get to it.

This picture is of what the FLY-lady would call a hot spot. It is ALWAYS blazing!

My popcorn. I make it on the stove. The microwave stuff tastes fake after living on this stuff.

On the upside, I am in the proccess of building habits. I've learned that this doesn't happen over night. So I am starting with routines in the morning and at bedtime. I feel those are the easiest times to start a routine. If a bedtime routine is in place, it's easier to instill a morning routine. Once the routines are established, the habits follow closely behind. Honestly, it wears me out just to think about it.

So if I have disappointed anyone by confessing my shortcomings, I'm truly sorry. So far as having it together, I didn't even really mention how I talk to my kids when I am stressed out over (finances, closest relative living 4 hours away, the value of our home, etc., etc.). Maybe that will be another post.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


We decided to visit my mom for her birthday this year. We hadn't been to Pittsburgh since last August and I felt it was time to go. Although it cost us $100 in gasoline (a reality that occurred to me at the end of the trip), it was well worth it. On the day we arrived, we celebrated her birthday with food from the grill and a chocolate peanut butter cake the kids and I made.

The next day, we took the "T" downtown and walked around the city for a bit and met my mom for lunch. The city is getting ready for the Three Rivers Arts Festival (that we attended last year).
Here is a picture taken at One Gateway Center.

Then we headed over to the Gateway Clipper for a sightseeing tour. The weather couldn't have been better. It was in the mid 70's with little humidity. Perfect!
Oh, and when visiting Pittsburgh, you cannot get away from the Black and Gold. It's just everywhere!

While eating lunch with my mom at Macy's, my kids and I couldn't help but notice the bookstore right there. After we ate and my mom had to go back to work, we went to check it out. To my amazement, all the books were bargain priced. The books were all new and most were priced between $1 and $3. Since we will be studying Ancient Rome and Astronomy next, I scooped up a bunch of books on those topics. They also had nature field guides with list prices of $5 to $7 all for $1 each. I purchased one of each. I love finding a good bargain. The only problem was that we were on foot and I had to carry these books for the rest of our day. Dd (10) and dd(9) actually offered to help me carry them.

It was a good day in Pittsburgh!

Our trek back home was via I-68 that goes through West Virginia and Maryland. I wanted the kids to see Sideling Hill in Maryland (south of Breezewood, Pa - I think). There are picnic tables there and a little museum (free admission) displaying the various types of rock in the layers that can be seen in the cut. On a clear day, you can see for miles from this spot. It is absolutely beautiful.

To my amazement, the kids actually seemed interested in this. I think it's because I didn't tell them it was "school".

"Little Man" really liked the bears inside the museum.