Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Are You an Exhibitionist or a Voyeur?

I'm an exhibitionist, my husband is a voyeur -- the marriage works well.

No, I'm not being perverse -- I'm talking about blog personalities. I love to pour my heart out, rant and rave, and chatter my head off on my blog. I love getting comments and talking to people. When I read other blogs, which is not too often, I almost always comment and I always read the comments others have left. I love the dialogue potential.

My husband reads blogs but he doesn't write one and he doesn't comment. Also, I don't think he reads the comments. He'll tell me he read something on my blog and I'll always say, "oh, did you see so-and-so's comment?" He never does. I don't know if this is a Mars/Venus thing or if its a personality thing.

I talk, he listens -- it works for us. As far as I know.

Maybe there are some who are have achieved equilibrium -- I know lots of bloggers who have comments galore and who reference other blogs frequently -- maybe they are in blog nirvana.

One of the reasons I haven't been blogging as frequently as I used to, is that I hang out on homeschooling listservs where there is more dialogue. I don't know if I had realized this before, but I realize it now, it feeds my need for dialogue.

Talk to me, please.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Lets just say that when we were in New Jersey, we heard some concerns about structure in homeschools. Unfortunately, I was not the addressee of these remarks, so I'm not sure what the exact concern is.

Structure as in routine? We have a weekly routine -- playdate on Monday, parkday on Tuesday, dance class on Wednesday, visit to Gaga on Thursday or Friday and assorted errands. Hmmm...that may sound like we're too socialized. So, the socialization concern goes out the window, but what about teaching? You see, the real concern here is teaching, not learning, which goes on all the time and cannot be stopped. Well, it can be stopped if you make learning deadly dull and force it on a child and then tell them that they aren't doing it right.

We have a daily routine. We have breakfast in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and dinner in the evening. Our bedtime routine includes reading to the girls. As for the rest of the day -- well, it depends on the day. I love to read to my kids, but thats gotten hard to do since the 3 year-old screams "no read book" whenever I read to the 5 year-old. I hope that this phase will pass quickly enough and we can have a routine reading time together.

We also play games -- yes, thats right, we sit around and play all day. And my 3 year-old is learning her numbers from a deck of cards. And she's learning her alphabet from the numerous other toys strewn about the house. The 5 year-old is learning, well, I don't really know what because I refuse to quiz her and when others try, she often refuses to answer, but she knows what an aeronaut is. I didn't. Anyway, according to the state standards of learning and the Core Knowledge Series, she's at or above grade level, so I figure we've got some time to play. While I don't agree that these are a proper measure of learning or knowledge, its a nice place to hang my hat while we get settled.

Does routine mean that I'm supposed to sit a 5 year-old down at the table and ply her with workbooks? Fifteen minutes in the morning for math? Twenty for handwriting? This doesn't make sense to me. Structure such as this certainly isn't about learning -- my children learn so much more from playing than they would with stilted, limited, forced workbook or lesson time. In addition to this view, I also have a 3 year-old which would make attempting to 'teach' a Sisyphean task -- or would it be Promethean punishment? It would certainly feel like my liver was being plucked out on a daily basis. Imagine how the kids would feel.

If the structure is for discipline, than I must still ask why? So a 5 year-old can learn to be bored but to 'take it like an adult' because we all know adults need to get used to confinement and limiting their brain use so that they can be productive, earn a good wage, and then go spend it. How 'bout a little linky to Gatto just so you can see either how far gone I am or how deluded such thinking is.

Running around and playing at 5 does not mean she won't be able to sit in a college lecture hall or have the discipline to study. Those skills can be picked up later if need be. She's only 5.

Perhaps we shall agree to disagree. Perhaps this is why no one discusses such matters with me. And a nod of admiration to my DH who doesn't rant in public.

Mountains, History, Baseball and In-Laws

We're back! We had a nice field trip to Vermont, Cooperstown, NY, and New Jersey.

In Vermont, we were asked how long we plan to homeschool. An interesting question, I thought -- how long do you plan to breathe air? Seriously, I suppose some people homeschool with the idea that they'll send the kids to school when they are older -- for instance, kindergarten is optional, but first grade requires an institution. Or perhaps to get a kid 'back on track' -- I've heard of people who homeschooled for a year or two to get their child's skills up to grade level or some such (Dan Riley's School for a Girl).

How long do we plan to homeschool? As long as it works but we take it one day at a time.

History and baseball were covered in Cooperstown, New York. We went to the Farmer's Museum, where we learned about processing flax, a bit about typesetting and smithing, and hung out in a tavern. We also visited the Baseball Hall of Fame. My favorite were the World Series rings -- have you seen the Arizona Diamondbacks? T-a-c-k-y. Then again, they'll all gotten a bit too bling-bling in recent years. Please.

Suzanne announced in Vermont -- "I love Vermont." She announced in New York -- "I love New York." I thought the silence was conspicuous in New Jersey -- but she loves her relatives there, so it more than makes up for it.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Going on a Field Trip

I'm not known for blogging regularly, though I am trying to get back into the swing of it. I just wanted to let it be known that I won't be posting for a week as we'll be on a homeschool field trip.

I hope to have many interesting things to say upon my return. I can always hope!

Saturday, September 10, 2005


We don't need no stinkin' curriculum.

I was asked a couple of times yesterday what curriculum we're using. I really don't see a need to use a curriculum for kindergarten. I'm not quite sure a curriculum is ever necessary.

I am terrible at answering questions about our homeschooling. Awful. I blather on about natural learning. I get blank looks. So I mention the stuff we have in our house -- books, toys, items that can be used as manipulatives. More blank looks. Okay -- we've got workbooks -- thats like a curriculum -- and when Suzanne is interested, she does work in them.

The trouble with curriculum is a grade-based curriculum would not work. Suzanne is far beyond what it taught in language arts and social studies (with the exception of handwriting, where she's probably average or a bit behind). For math, I think she's probably dead-on -- she's interested in more advanced things, but I don't think she gets it. Then again, I'm not sure that she learns everything in a sequential manner, so why make her suffer through boring lessons if she gets to the 'clicking point' by other means?

Another big problem is that we are not home enough to homeschool in the way that many non-homeschoolers view to be homeschooling. This week, we had a couple of days at playgrounds with other homeschool kids, we ran errands and we visited my mom. What did Suzanne learn? I don't know, but she was playing chess with my dad last weekend -- does that count for something? In the car on the way somewhere, she was rattling off various time measurements -- 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, by increasing unit up until decades. I had to help her out with centuries. Thats got to count for something. [She learned all this from reading Me Counting Time by Joan Sweeney].

But wait a second, I'm the one who doesn't want to count anything.

Word got back to me that a mom (who doesn't read this blog) and whose child is in a local Montessori school is amazed at the progress I'm making with Suzanne. Whats even more amazing is that I'm not making any progress with her. She's doing it on her own, with assistance from me when requested.

My DH keeps reminding me that our curriculum is similar to the response given by Napolean Dynamite at the beginning of the movie when he is asked what he's going to do that day. What are we doing today? I already told you. Whatever she wants. Gosh!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The First Day of School

I feel the need to post because today is the first day of school in my county. The first official day of homeschooling for us. Wow. It seems so bizarre, so surreal, and yet, likes it no big deal at all. I didn't even hear or see the school buses go by this morning.

Whats on the agenda for today? We're going to a large playground for a homeschool park day.