Friday, January 28, 2011

Releasing Perfectionism

Mercedes has been my "difficult" child during our homeschooling.  A classic Taurus, she thinks that everything she does needs to be done perfectly.  So she puts a lot of pressure on herself to do her schoolwork perfectly the first time.

I kept trying to explain to her that I didn't mind her making mistakes - everyone makes them - I just wanted her to learn from them.  She wouldn't write because she's a "creative" speller - ie, she spells like my dad.  I wanted her to get her thoughts on paper, and then we would correct spelling later.

Finally, today, she brought me her narration on Heidi that she wrote.  I corrected her spelling and asked her to re-write it with the correct spelling, grammar and punctuation - and praised her to the skies for just doing it.  Same thing with her math. I explained what she did right (she set up the problems correctly) and what she did wrong (forgot to borrow/carry).  She left to do her work beaming. 

I reminded her of one of my favorite lines from my favorite movie, Meet the Robinsons - "From failure, you learn.  From success, not so much."

Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  The only time mistakes = failure is when you fail to learn from them.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Storage, Hoarding, and Clutter

OK, so this is not really a homeschooling post, but it is home-oriented. 

I've been reading a bunch of blogs that are very alarmist in nature.  Store, store, store, hoard, hoard, hoard.  Get a treadle sewing machine and other items for living off the grid.  Repent, for the end is near!

Well, maybe repentance is in order (it's never a bad thing).  And I'll grant that having an emergency plan and kit ready is smart.  But what worries me is that so many of these sites recommend "storing" so much that will probably never be used.

Yes, I know how to sew - and rather well, too.  I'm a good cook, and I like to have food storage on hand.  But I don't have material - because my lifestyle (homeschooling, work at home mother with a virtual assistance business and a bookkeeping business) doesn't allow me the time to sew.  It almost doesn't allow me time to blog!  And it so much of this sounds like hoarding without a plan.  Besides, I live in a small, 3 bedroom townhome with no storage space and too many people (my oldest daughter and her 2 kids are staying here temporarily).   And I have a "thing" about looking like I furnish my home in early Goodwill.  I'm not likely to make a desk by placing a board over food storage buckets or anything like unto it.

So here is my suggestion.

Don't even THINK about storage until you've decluttered.  Get the house under control.  Get rid of EVERYTHING that you don't use and love.  Really.  If you don't absolutely love it, or if you don't use it, get it out of your house.  I'm planning to empty a couple of rooms (slowly!) down to the walls, scrub the room, and then thoughtfully consider what I want that room to be used for and what needs to be in it.  Declutter at least 15 minutes a day. 

Once the house is decluttered (and it will be an ongoing challenge), if you want to do food/fuel/clothing storage, do it thoughtfully.  Consider where you will keep your storage (again, I'm never going to set the TV on food buckets, but YMMV.)  Will you love it there?  Will you USE it?  There's no point in storing things you won't use, and holding on to baby clothes when your youngest is in college is just silly.  Buying a year's supply of canned foods may make sense, but don't just dash out and start buying wheat. 

Store what you use.

Use what you store.

Don't let it take over your house.  It's not likely we'll be off the grid for years at a time. 

Put some real thought behind it rather than hanging on every word the alarmists tell you.

My personal emergency plan is to pack everyone up in the van and drive to Kentucky.  Well, not really, but I know I have items that can be bartered in an emergency, I'm building a stash of cash to keep on hand for emergencies, and although I don't generally need to butcher a chicken, I do know how. 

I want to make sure that my home is, and remains, a haven.  It can't do that if I'm hoarding "just in case."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Virtual Public School vs Home School

I spent part of the evening helping a friend get her granddaughter's computer set up for K12.  This young lady is 14 and has not been happy in the public school system, and is thrilled to be doing K12 and to be out of the classroom.

Why don't I set my kids up with K12?  After all, it's "free" because it's public school.  And you know what? That's why.

I don't educate my kids according to a public school model that's not working well anyway.  I am using a Thomas Jefferson Education / Well Trained Mind approach, which is a more classical education.  I prefer to be in full control of my children's education.  It's just a different philosophy.  I certainly don't put anyone down who uses K12 - they're getting their kids out of the pressure cooker, which is wonderful. 

It's just not the choice I made when I chose to homeschool.

And we're loving the process. 

I'm excited to see how my friend's granddaughter does!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A house full of sick kids.

Mercedes is coughing, and Jared went to sleep on the couch before 6.  I think the kids are getting sick.

We had a wonderful history lesson on Henry Hudson.  Jared was impressed that Hudson was stranded in a lifeboat in the middle of Hudson's Bay.  I've got to get a globe tomorrow so we can study the way the sun strikes the earth and why it's dark at the North Pole for six months in the winter. 

Mercedes is starting to pick up her studies.  She's been lazy for a while.  The frustrating thing with her is that she is VERY intelligent.  She just gets frustrated easily (her hormones are already in overdrive).  She hasn't been sleeping well, so she's chosen to sit up and read Harry Potter or Narnia. 

I'm so glad that homeschooling means education goes on - a little scaled back, but still goes on - when they're sick and in bed. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Reason number 40028 why I homeschool

There's nothing so rewarding as realizing what fun learning is for your kids.  Jared lost his math book a few days ago (before Christmas, probably) and had been searching for it for weeks.  He even suggested that Mercedes had hidden it to keep him from passing her up in math - and I wouldn't put it past her, either.

What joy it was to hear him shout, "Mom!  I found my math book!"  with triumph and excitement in his voice. 

Jared loves math.  It's what he works on first, and loves working on most.  Other than building his Bionicles, Legos, or K'nex, of course. I love that he loves math, and that he doesn't have school to take the enjoyment of learning away from him.  He goes at his own pace, keeps up with his peers easily, is developing an amazing work ethic, and quickly and easily understands concepts.  He explained to me how to divide yesterday, and he hasn't even hit that part of math yet.