All Girls School

The next in the series
September 19, 2007, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Bubba, reading

Bubba and I finished up Ramona The Brave tonight. There is one point where, after a whole book of trials and tribulations and naughty misadventures, Ramona has a huge fit and exhausts herself by screaming and crying and beating up the couch cushions. When she quiets, her mother comes over and…

“Then Ramona felt her mother’s hand on her back. ‘Ramona,’ she said gently, ‘what are we going to do with you?'”

At that point Bubba looked up at me and said, “Ramona Goes To Military School“.

It took me a while to be able to read after that because we were laughing so hard.

P.S. Happy “Talk Like A Pirate Day”!


The Best Thing Ever…
September 17, 2007, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Bubba

…was when Bubba and I were cuddled up on the couch before bed and we were reading Ramona The Brave. We were talking about the part in the book when Ramona dreads going to school for the monotony of it all. Bubba related to those feelings and then said, completely unprompted, that she loves school so much more this year than last year.

This is huge because when I first brought up homeschooling she gave a definitive NO. She eventually came around, but she’ll still say things about how she’d like to be in school some days. Today, though, when she said that, it just made me feel like I’m definitely doing the right thing here. (I knew in my head and my heart that I was, but you know… doubt creeps in sometimes.) So yeah! She likes it, she really likes it.

Guitar Lesson 2
September 14, 2007, 7:14 am
Filed under: Bubba, guitar, music

Bubba’s guitar teacher is a young man from the local college. We go to the arts building and they are able to have the lesson in one of the music practice rooms. I think that after the first lesson he felt overwhelmed with teaching such a young student with no previous experience. He showed her the first chord and wrote it down for me so that I could help her with it, but I think he felt that she was not big enough for her instrument and that these lessons weren’t going to really go anywhere. (These assumptions on my part came from little bits and pieces of things he said in my presence and things Bubba told me that he said during the lesson. He did not come straight out and say anything to either of us to this effect, and I think Bubba has no idea of any of it.)

So, we practiced that one chord all week until she had it down pat. We went to the lesson and when they finished and exited the practice room, the look on his face said it all. He was amazed that she had learned to play the chord as well as she had and that we had practiced as much as we had. I think he realized that we were serious about this and are willing to put in the necessary work. He looked excited for the next lesson. We don’t have a new chord to learn, but some technique items to practice. These are things like keeping her fingers curved instead of flattening them, holding theĀ  strings down tighter, etc.

I’m really excited for her to get to the point where she can play a couple of chords and make, what sounds to her like, music. I think that being able to make actual music will be the biggest motivator for her to keep practicing.

September 12, 2007, 12:34 pm
Filed under: Bubba, troubleshooting

I knew it would come, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. We’re still in the honeymoon phase of this newfangled homeschool thing we’re doing. I was expecting to coast until at least Thanksgiving before hitting a wall with Bubba. Instead, we hit it at day 8.

I had asked her which she would like to learn first, money or time. She chose money. We’ve been working on it all week and she’s gotten really good about counting change and figuring out different combinations that equal the same amount. Today I was trying to get her to add dimes to certain amounts and give me the new figure. I let her use her fingers the first two times. Then we wrote out a couple of examples on paper so that she could see the way the numbers worked out in traditional addition format. I was trying to teach her to do it in her head after that by just adding 1 to the tens place in her mind. It was frustrating her because she kept adding it in the ones place. Then she starts dropping her head into her hands, slapping her head, moaning and groaning about how it’s too haaaaard for her and she just doesn’t get it. All of this while sighing and dramatically flopping her head around to impart her intense displeasure. I then became frustrated at her over-the-top performance and scooped all of the change back into the case and shut it. I tried to explain that if we only learned easy stuff and stuff that she already knew, then it wouldn’t be school. But I had lost her by that point. She was not going to focus on anything but her perceived injustice at being asked to do something that she wasn’t perfect at the first time. So, I asked her to clean up the desk and then meet me upstairs for some reading.

This is the one thing that concerned me about homeschooling her, our mutual stubbornness. Not to mention how easily we can become frustrated with each other. I know that my eternal-people-pleaser-type-A-personality-first-born never had these types of issues with her kindergarten or preschool teachers because this is the behavior she saves for her parents. I want to try to stay impartial when we hit these patches, but it’s difficult because I know that she can do these things. I know that she’s the only thing stopping herself. But, I don’t want to push her too hard and make her dread school time, either. I guess for now we’ll just stop what’s frustrating her and take it up the next day after we’ve both had time to cool off and regroup.

Later she called me into her room and showed me what she’d been working on…

It makes me think that no matter the frustrations, it’s all worth it.

(Oh, and the librarian didn’t even give us an extra blink or anything when she told us our fine was over $17 yesterday. That was nice of her because I was totally embarrassed.)

September 10, 2007, 9:56 pm
Filed under: library

Tomorrow is library day. I want Saturdays to be our scheduled day, but that just doesn’t always happen. Tomorrow I will have to pay our overdue fine. I try not to think of it as us being completely irresponsible and lazy in our transactions with our beloved library, but as being a financial contributor that enables the fine institution to carry on. We do give them quite a bit of money in late fees. Our intentions are always so noble, and usually, for a while, we are able to stay on a consistent schedule and rotate through books and videos in a timely fashion. But, then something will happen and we’ll keep the items for waaaaay too long and receive several letters demanding that we return the books or trade them for our first born. That’s usually when we’re able to dig up our contraband and slide it into the return slot. It’s really not difficult to return these things, I don’t know what our problem is.

And so completes the first week
September 7, 2007, 12:45 pm
Filed under: art, girlies, guitar, music, reading

We finished up this afternoon. Our week was filled with math worksheets, painting, writing and reading, reading, reading. She has amazed me (and herself) with her reading ability. I have chosen articles from her new Highlights and had her read them out loud to me while I’m cleaning up lunch. She was daunted at first and very hesitant to read it. After I insisted that she was perfectly capable, she read it almost perfectly, pausing to spell a few words to me that she was unsure of. Bubba was quite proud of herself when she finished. We’re about halfway through Ramona the Pest and she’s enjoying it quite a bit. It’s fun for me to read it, too. I haven’t read it for probably 15 years at least. I remember feeling great empathy for Ramona and a lot of respect for the few grown ups in her life that really understood children and their needs. Now I find that I have much more compassion for the adults and am frequently frustrated by Ramona’s actions. Guess I went and grew up myself, huh?

We did a Jackson Pollock inspired painting for our art lesson. It was a good one to start with because there was no structure to it and no frustration with doing anything “wrong”. Something I’ve found is that Bubba is quite the perfectionist and when she gets something wrong, she smacks herself in the head and seems to get really down on herself. This bothers me quite a bit. We have never put any academic pressure on her, nor do we expect perfection from our children. I don’t know where this came from. Her kindergarten teacher mentioned this to me at the end of last year, but I’ve never seen it with my own eyes before. We’ve done a lot of talking about how we all make mistakes and that the whole point of schooling is to learn.

We had her first guitar lesson and it went pretty well. Her teacher had forgotten, so when he was ten minutes late I called him and he was there within 3 minutes. He took the time to show us how to tune the guitar and then he and Bubba had their lesson. She left with one chord to learn. We’ve practiced it a bit, but it’s going to take a while before the finger positions feel natural to her. I’ve been trying it, too, and it’s not nearly as easy as it looks when other people play.

She has been doing some journal writing, too. We plan on writing about twice a week, more if she feels so moved. Her first entry was on a topic of her choice. Today’s was an answer to the question of where she would go if she could see just one place in Washington D.C. She answered the Smithsonian, but really meant was the National Archives Building to see the Declaration of Independence. (Ever since seeing National Treasure, she’s been hooked. We’re eagerly awaiting the second one this winter.)

First Day of School
September 4, 2007, 9:17 pm
Filed under: Bubba, curriculum, guitar

Today went really well. We took the obligatory first day photo:

Now, while I would like to run things more along the lines of unschooling, there are a few things that have caused me to become more curriculum based. The first is, there is no guarantee at this point that I won’t have to return to daytime work outside the home at this point. We are doing our best to keep that from being the case, but you just never know what could happen. So, I have looked at the required curriculum for our state in all subject matters for first grade and I’m making sure that we cover at least up to those points so that if she would have to go back to public school for second grade, she would not be behind anywhere.

Second, Bubba adored her kindergarten and was hesitant to agree to homeschooling. I assured her that we would do a lot of the same kinds of things that she did at school here at home. Some of those things include worksheets. She is a weird kid. There have been times when we’ve been at a store and I’ve let the girls pick out a book or coloring book to buy. Many times she’ll choose a huge book full of math worksheets and spend hours a day working on them, asking us to check over them and then working on them some more until they’re finished. She loves math and I’m thrilled about that, but she has also come to rely on worksheets as her preferred method of learning. Hopefully we’ll be weaning her off of that.

The third reason that I’ve decided to give us a fairly structured day is because we always have a minimum of two other kids running around, sometimes there are up to six. So, to be able to give Bubba some focused time for us to work on stuff and make sure that she doesn’t get shuffled on her own too much while I deal with toy disputes and diaper changes, we have a set routine for the day. I’ve incorporated plenty of free time, but we have a solid two hours for our lessons and plenty of places later in the day to complete them if they run long. We also have a carved out time for reading. She’ll be reading to herself and to me (and probably the other kids who are here) and I’ll be reading to her, too. I let her choose the first book that I’ll read to her, Ramona the Pest. That’s one of my all time favorites from when I was her age.

So, right now I have invested into quite a few workbook materials for different lessons and I’m hoping to gradually phase those out to more learning by doing things. I don’t know, maybe this is the best way for her to learn. We’ll see.

She did some pretty basic number line work today. We also did a couple of word games that focused on following directions. She’s a lot like me in that she’ll skim things quickly and dive right in without reading thoroughly. It was good practice for her. We had a long discussion about writing. I found a nice little book with quite a few writing exercises that build on top of each other to hopefully give her a good foundation for writing. Today we discussed ideas and brainstorming and what to do initially once we come up with our topic. She wrote for a good twenty minutes in her journal. We are planning on learning about all 50 states this year. Today we began with Washington DC. She did a little word search and a code word thing about it. Then we read our DC flash card from the deck we bought and talked about what it means to be our nation’s capital and how it differed from state capitals. Lastly she did what we’ll be doing on the first day of every month and that is decorating the bulletin board. She and I picked out a lot of different seasonal papers at Hobby Lobby when it was all 50% off. This way she gets to express her creativity and get geared up for the coming month and we don’t have to spend money on those cheap borders from the supply stores. She created the September title and surrounded it with balloons and presents since it’s her birthday month.

Speaking of birthdays, her present arrived today. Good thing because tomorrow is her first lesson. She was so excited.