December 13, 2012

Elizabeth's Pet Peeve

This is an assignment that Elizabeth was given as part of school.  I hope you enjoy it.

Prang! Splooch! Bang! In this particular moment, the sounds are coming from the back seat. Generated by my brothers, they have now become a regular part of my life. It's quite common for young boys to experience the “I-need-to-make-war-noises-because-I've-got-too-much-energy” stage. I ask them to stop, but they still go on and on in endless war. Even in the car, they don't stop. Parents and siblings: be warned, it can quickly become a pet peeve; It has for me.

One problem is that they spray spit all over you while making the sounds of battle. For boys who don't care for hygiene, this would not be a problem. But as a girl, I have a small problem with it (more of a ginormous, mountain-sized problem with it). Most boys might think I'm weird, but I think that all girls will agree with me that it's really gross to be spat on. Especially if the spit-generator has a cold.

Number two: they wander all over the house. You, dear Reader, might not think that it's a problem. You might think that it is a way to release their pent-up energy without breaking something. For my brothers, it doesn't really work. It only increases their energy.  In the middle of their imaginary war game, they don't see where they're going. Maybe its because they are too infatuated with getting to their goal. Maybe its because they imagine that the dining room table has become an obstacle into which they must crash their “sand-crawler”. Usually this results in pain-filled wailing. They also crash into people, which is also unpleasant. 'What could be worse then hearing your brother cry?' you might ask. I would reply: hearing both brothers cry because they crashed into each other and bonked heads is worse. It's also unpleasant when a brother crashes into you, although that results in more yelling at him than crying on my part.

One of the biggest problems is that they don't stop when you ask them to stop, because they can't hear you over the sound of battle in their head. This creates all sorts of problems. They won't listen when parents are telling them what jobs they have to do, and they don't listen to the parent's when they say it's time for school. They get in trouble at other times, like when they're attending their art class. They can't hear the instructor's lessons in art.

Here's a problem for the parents and teachers. These warrior sound machines disrupt school atmosphere. That might not be a problem in public school. Teachers might just sent them to the principals office or the psychiatrist. This will embarrass the parents, as they will remember it always. The hazard of it is that if the parents remember this, they will tell your friends at awkward moments. O, the horror! But the problem I'm talking about is for the home schooling families. If you are not a homeschooling parent, then skip to the next paragraph. I myself am being home schooled. A war-noise person home schooled with his other siblings is a bad combination. Especially if he has siblings older than him who have more work (like this writing assignment, perhaps). When the young warrior starts his imaginary battle, he can also start a real battle; A battle between him and his older sibling. A typical feud will start like this:
Sibling: “Please stop making those war noises. They're distracting me and giving me a headache.”
Brother/Warrior: “prang!!! Colonel, the mast has been hit! Prepare to be boarded! Pshew! Pshew!
Sibling: “I asked you to stop!!”
Then one of two things will happen. Either the war will increase in volume and ferocity to levels man never has and will never want to see, or a parent will intervene and hand out punishments without mercy.

Maybe later, if I ever find a cure for boys making war noises, I'll write a book on it to help others with this immense problem. Maybe you'll be the one to find it. Maybe doctors and psychiatrists working together will find the cure. I don't know if a cure is even possible. Until we find it, we will just have to live with them, and hope they grow out of it- quickly.

December 7, 2012

Bridgetender school update

If I was a really good homeschooling mom and wanted the extended family and friends to know how we were doing with homeschooling, I would be writing quarterly newsletters and stuff.  I would also be bragging about my kids, who are excelling in every area of school because the incredible love that shines through me all the time and my exceptional teaching skills, not to mention their above-average intelligence.  Instead, you are going to get my quasi-regular update with, I hope, some encouragement and a strong dose of reality.

What I learned so far this year
First of all, I think I have the almost, but-not-quite perfect schedule for us.  It starts with a group lesson on one thing each day:  vocabulary, geography, craft (or something like it) combined with appropriate music whenever I can remember it, Science co-op and History.  Then each day I get together one-on-one for thirty-ish minutes with each kid to discuss a specific topic and review their previous day's work and talk.  Having John be more independent is the main reason this schedule works out so well.  Orthodontics, music lessons and other appointments sometimes ruin the almost perfect schedule.  Praying with my kids during their alone time with me has had the biggest impact on how well our session goes (which probably makes me the densest Christian ever because it has taken me eight years of schooling to figure this out).  The period of time we are covering in history is the beginning of history.  We have studied Ancient Egypt, India, China, Mesoamerica, and Greece.  So far, each book has talked about how each civilization we have  studied except for , Mesoamerica is believed to be one of the earliest civilizations.  All the civilizations studied so far have some advanced farming techniques involving irrigation and developing a calendar to determine when to plant and when to sow.  They have all developed writing and math to keep as soon as they are stable and prosperous enough to start trading and bartering, regardless of whether the trade is largely domestic or international in scope.  The government of the advanced civilizations was usually pretty complex, involving a single ruler who is aided by administrators and regional authorities.  And the rulers are all considered chosen by heavenly authority, with some claiming equality with a divine being.  All civilizations have a pretty similar code of conduct and view of right and wrong that involves looking beyond our own selfish desires to seek the good of the group.  So with all this similarity, it makes me think that maybe the Biblical account of the nations arising from the three sons of Noah might be valid.  Of course, I freely confess being biased on that account.  When the year ends, Rome will have fallen.  Again.  In math, we are starting a policy that if you get 100% on the first page, you get to skip through to the review page, which includes past concepts. If you get 100% on the review page, you get to take the test.  This is a result of several children telling me how math is so easy that it is boring.  The real joy is that Jessi is one of them (so far).

What I have learned about my kids
For Elizabeth this is a year of confirmation of what I have suspected for a bit:  She is wildly creative in many different areas.  As a result, it is hard to get her to focus on one thing.  I have yet to see her have any difficulty in picking up a new skill in art or fiber arts with the exception of counted cross stitch.  She excels at creative writing and peotry.  She loves clowning around and play-acting.  Factual reports and anything with a due date is a struggle with her.  The really encouraging news is that math doesn't seem to be so much a struggle these days as she heads into Algebra.  I think some of the reason is that Math-U-See includes algebraic concepts from day one.  She is taking Physical Science this year and is good at memorizing facts.

Jessica is blossoming musically.  She has now picked up guitar lessons as well as piano and is picking it up as easily as she has picked up piano.  It is truly a joy to hear her play.  She is great with factual writing and in making connections.  She has challenged Elizabeth in our history discussions by taking the "thinking questions" seriously and giving seriously great answers.  She is better at analyzing characters in stories, in general and putting things into practice.  Her organizational skills are getting slightly better, though she is still as bad as I am at staying organized. Jessi is also doing much better in math this year.  Fractions didn't seem as hard to her as they were for Elizabeth and so far, she is doing great at decimals, probably because she sees that there isn't much difference between decimals and math involving whole numbers.  Her biggest frustration this year has been that science has been too easy.  I chose a Physics curriculum for elementary kids and have discovered that it is better for the younger elementary students.  Therefore, next semester, she will be starting General Science, which is slightly ahead of schedule.

Kyle is my "just the facts, ma'am" guy.  He voraciously reads all things historical, especially if it involves the military or techology or baseball.  He has been complaining that math is too simple, so I started letting him do only two or three pages before completing the test as long as he gets 100% on each practice page.  At this rate, he will be starting the next book by March, unless long division delays him.  If anyone becomes and engineer or architect or some other science-related field, he will.  He also considers the physics curriculum to be pretty easy, but seems to enjoy it.

John is my story guy.  He loves stories.  This morning, he started narrating the battle between two eggs as they were frying in the pan.  He also is finding math very easy, so we are on the same program with him. He is not a science guy so far and prefers the literature selections to the non-fiction history books.  And he LOVES comedy.

I am really enjoying this stage of teaching and really enjoying teaching my kids.  We still have tough days and I am still learning how to bring God's grace into homeschooling and in raising my kids.  I hope that by the time my oldest graduates, I will get my "grace" diploma, too, even if it only high-school level grace.

The next blog posting will be one of Elizabeth's writing efforts, a humorous essay for you to enjoy.