Thursday, October 18, 2012

Does Curriculum Really Matter?

I think I have been a homeschooler long enough to answer this confidently:

Not really.

In the past, every Spring brought out anxiety over which curriculum to use, which was better than the next, etc.  I've done everything from Google-schooling (finding random activities and free downloads online) and spending hundreds of dollars on 'top-notch' curriculum.

My verdict is....none of it is any good if you don't enjoy it.

Take for example my science curriculum.

Not cheap.  Lots of great books and activity sets though.  A teachers manual with every day of every week planned out for me.


My science loving kids just weren't lovin it.

Yesterday I just 'went rogue', and did things the way I always do...spend a little time on Google, found activities that corresponded with our science topic, and meshed the two together.

The kids had a wonderful time.  After reading our lesson about buoyancy and density, we did several experiments including building a aluminum foil boat and seeing how many pennies we could add to it before it sank, used a potato chip bag, 100 pennies and a margarine tub lid to see how we could make something that would float and carry all the pennies, watched a video demonstration of the Archimedes Principle (which also taught us the formula of measuring the displaced water to find the weight of the object floating), as well as a Mythbusters episode on our very topic.  We added salt to water to see if we could 'float' an egg after we studied the Dead Sea and learned why it is so easy to float in.  We floated an ice cube in a glass of water and then discussed why the same ice cube would *not* float in a cup of rubbing alcohol.

It was engaging, and it was fun.

I know moms that stress about getting the perfect curriculum.  I hate to tell them this, but it doesn't exist.

What makes a curriculum 'perfect' is the passion of the teacher teaching and of the students learning, and you can't find that for sale anywhere.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hissin' and Spittin'

A stray cat had kittens under my shed approximately 8 weeks ago.  They have just emerged recently and created all kinds of havoc at my already 'close-to-charging-admission-to-our-zoo' home.

The kittens were feral, meaning they had never interacted with humans.  To say they were distrustful is an understatement.  After trapping them and keeping them contained in our rabbit's outdoor pen, we soon realized how opposed to humans they were.

If you reached out a hand to pet them, they would hiss, spit, climb the walls and generally display bad kitty behavior.

So everyday I made a point to get in the pen, sit, pick up one hissing, spitting cat at a time and just love on it.  Despite the scratches, I kept on.

My daughter thought I was crazy. 

"How can you do that? Aren't you afraid??"

I explained to her that if I didn't, those kittens would never learn to interact with people.  No one would want them, and they would remain stray cats all their lives, never allowing anyone to get close to them.  "They have never experienced love from people," I told her. "They need to learn to trust that not every hand that reaches out to them is going to harm them...that sometimes those same hands provide love and comfort. You just have to overcome their fear with your love."

She thought for a moment.

"Kind of like people. I think mean people just need love," she replied.

God loves us the same way.  Even when we hiss and spit and don't trust, He keeps reaching out His hand to show us that His love is stronger than our doubt.

And she's right...those people who are mean, hissin' and spittin' all the time...they need that love more than we know.

Friday, October 5, 2012

That's It?

Yesterday I took my kids to their pediatrician's office.

He is a delightful young man who loves his job and loves whenever we bring him something 'interesting' to examine.  yes, we have had 'interesting' conditions around here. Don't judge me.

Anyway, he asked my son, "How's school going?"

My son's reply: "Great!"

Doctor: "What school do you go to?"

Son: "We're homeschooled!"

Me: (Waiting silently during that split second when the conversation hangs in the balance...either tipping into the slightly confused reaction or the enthusiastic reaction to our admission of homeschooling....hoping it tips in the favor of enthusiasm...)

Doctor: (face lights up) "That's great!  I am always intrigued by homeschoolers!"

Me: (Still silent, but now hoping the doctor isn't one of those people who like to quiz homeschooled kids on math facts or spelling words because he assumes they are all brilliant...not that my kids aren't 'brilliant' least, in MY heart they are brilliant, but realistically...rather average.)

Doctor: "My wife and I considered homeschooling our four kids, but she said she just couldn't do it. She doesn't have the patience."

Me: (Still silent, but now smiling knowingly and cheerfully, and thinking to myself 'there are lots of days when I don't have the patience either!')

Doctor: " So tell me...."

Me: (Still silent but now on edge a little....what?? Tell you what??? DO we socialize? What curriculum do we use??? Do I plan on homeschooling through high school??? Do I worry that I am screwing up my kids?   Go ahead Doc, I have answered them all....)

Doctor: "What time do you all get up in the morning?"

Me: (Silent and dumbfounded. That's *IT*?)

Son: "Our alarms are set for 7:00."

Me: (Silently grateful he didn't follow that with "...but my mom lets us sleep in a LOT!")

Doctor: "Oh!"

And....that's it.

Huh. Interesting. Never had that one before.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What's For Dinner

Here's what is on tap for dinner the next several days...

Easy Broccoli and Cheese Soup with Homemade Yeast Rolls

Creamy Chicken and Biscuits (kind of like chicken pot pie, only topped with biscuits instead of a crust)

Grilled Pork Chops and Applesauce with Baked Sweet Potatoes

Homemade Salisbury Steak with Onion Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, Tossed Salad

Roast Chicken, Dressing, Green Beans and Salad

I don't know about you but I am so looking forward to Fall, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, cinnamon and spices...and comforting soups and stews and such. 

However, living in the South, the weather still warrants grilling out!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Field Trippin'....Mountain Style!

Welcome on our field trip to the North Georgia mountains!  In history we are studying the Gold Rush...did you know Georgia had it's own gold rush, only ten years prior to California?  In Dahlonega, we toured a gold mine.  NOT for the claustrophobic!

There were bats in there as well.  Not flying around, thank goodness!

Then we tried our hand at panning for gold.  We all wound up with a vial of little gold pieces and a few small gemstones- amethyst as well as peridot.

Then we had a picnic lunch at Amicolola Falls!  The weather was the mid-60's and very Fallish!  This picture was taken from the top of the falls...I love the view.

You can walk down the steps to view the falls....many, many steps! 

Ain't it purty?

20 minutes or so up the road is Ellijay, Georgia.  We stopped at an apple orchard to pick some apples.
And sampled one or three during picking...

I love living in Georgia!  In just a matter of hours you can be at the beach, in the mountains, in a busy, bustling city or in a tiny, rural farming community.

And I love being able to reinforce our lessons with hands-on field trips like this!