Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Off the Ceiling and on to Schooling

We have some higly distractible monkeys in our zoo.
There, I said it.

 Since we homeschool, and there is the reasonable expectation that we are going to accomplish something with our days, we need to work with this dynamic. This can cause us some direct challenges to our individual days and to getting the lessons learned that we want to learn.
We had many discussions (*arguments) over whether work was done. It was hard to keep track of what we actually *had* done. They had the ability to pull the wool over my eyes on occasion.

Since I know that kids work better when they know what is coming, and most kids work best when there is a fore-see-able routine, I decided to work with this. We have set up some visual aids that help both parent and child(ren) see exactly what has been accomplished, and by extension, what is left. I by no means call this a schedule per se, but it has the ability to work that way if a person wanted it to, with the flexibility to change easily for days that include doctor's appointments, playdates, filed trips, illness etc.

We start with a laminated piece of paper that looks like a calendar. Monday through friday reflects our school day, but since this calendar has so many uses, it is also a good idea to include Sunday and Saturday, if you want to use it for schedules in general.  But I'll talk more about that later.

Adhesive backed velcro is attached down each of the days. Apply it top to bottom under the day of the week title. (I bought the velcro at Dollarama. )

Next we have the aids.

Now, for the purposes I have around here, I have both readers, and pre-readers. So, I use subject cards that have have picture cues.  (If you need a place to put these together go to  and use their visuals engine- you will need to register first, but it is free to use)  It is equally easy to do this without the pictures, with an excel spreadsheet, or by hand. (You might find you have a kid that doesn't need the pictures, you're dealing with older kids, or your kids is just 'too cool' for the animations ;)

These are also laminated. (Mostly for durability and longevity.) Attached to the back is velcro. This allows me to fasten the cards to the calendar.

Once I had the materials ready I decided to put together what I expected the calendar to look like when it was done. This is an example of what the calendar looked like last year and gave us something to shoot for. It was not the 'be all and end all' of what we had to accomplish in a day.

You will see that I put the every day subjects at the top and intermixed the alternating ones at the bottom; Only for ease of use did I do this. It's easy to see at a glance whether the everyday subjects got done if you can look straight across and see them all there. If there is a gap, I was missing a subject on a certain day :)
I have children grades Sk, Grade 3 and Grade 5. So the course load reflects the older two children.
With a younger child, you wouldn't be tracking as much. I will have one for each child shortly.

You could choose to put subjects on, or this can serve another purpose entirely.

 If the child is transitioning from Public school, and used to a specific schedule, and needs to "see" their breaks coming, you can place break, lunch, playtime, recess cards etc. This can also beautifully serve to bridge the gap between the time that the child is fully scheduled and expects a rigid schedule and a time that a person chooses to introduce more flexibility in scheduling. (Hence the velcro. It moves.)

This not only works for homeschool.
If the child has trouble with changes in schedule in general, allowing the child to see the day or week set out for them in advance really can help  if you have a child prone to have melt downs over transitions.

You could do this for morning, afternoon and evening routines, chores, practically anything, let your imagination run wild.

Now, to the issue of storage. I know what you're thinking. That is a LOT of little pieces to chase.

I know..... I had to figure out what to do with them too, so I will share what has worked for me.
I knew I needed something with a lot of little compartments or divisions. It was suggested to me that a recipe card holder with divisons would work. So I went on a hunt to Dollarama to see if I could find anything that suited. I Couldn't find a recipe card holder, but I was actually happier with what I found.

These nifty little plastic drawers have enough room in them to store several cards, so I broke my subjects down into two types per drawer (for my sanity) and then put them in. I used labels to tell me what was in each drawer (also for my sanity). It works great and it was very user friendly for the kids as well.

The calendars can be placed really where ever you are going to see them. I have some attached to my fridge (with adhesive backed magnet- this can be purchased at Dollarama or Michael's) Others  I attached via staples and push pins to a cork board. (Purchased on Kijiji)

Initially, when I had only one schedule , I was able to attach velcro strips to the poster board paper on the cork board and store them on the cork board; so this is something to consider if you have one child or want to track them all together.

I know not everyone is going to need this solution, but I could have saved a few more brain cells if someone had given me these ideas, so I`m passing them on in the hopes that I will save someone else at least a little of their sanity.



Saturday, June 9, 2012

Is anybody out there?

Things are going to slow down this summer; I say so.
Cause, you know I have control over everything, you know. NOT!

It has been a pretty busy year. We've had Sarah join our homeschool, so there are three to teach.  Well, offically, I mean. What part of parenting doesn't include teaching?

I mean, we need to train our kids to be polite, use their manners, do their chores, and of course the ever popular lesson for toddlers: don't hand me the entire contents of your diaper, from your bare hand to my bare hand. Please, please just use the potty.

But I digress.

Parenting is hard work. There is the never ending steam of household chores, the children to train and raise, and for some, we also take responsibility for the schooling of the children. It's an endless stream of busy that can leave you feeling as though you're treading water and not sure you're gonna make it.
Nearing the end of the school year is like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel for me.
Here comes the lifeboat;)

For me, The baby is now a year old, and *this close* to sleeping through the night. I can feel it.
I have one child finished their school year, and a couple hot on their heels. There *is* the foregone conclusion that marking will be involved, but then maybe be can settle down some and actually get out to enjoy some outdoor time. And, there is the pat on the back that comes with catching up a child that was struggling enough that you had to start the school year over at one point. Whether anyone else acknowledges the work you put in, YOU know that the work will be worth it.

Our summer will still include learning, make no mistake, it's impossible with the limitless curiousity of the group we have here.... They come by it honestly. It's hereditary.
What some people call nosey, I call inquisitive, and really, isn't that the way it should be?
I once heard someone say that if you stop learning, you stop growing.
I would agree with that statement.
But, I have to say that I am going to enjoy a slower pace. It will be my saving grace, not to be pushed by the concept of how many lessons left til the end of the year; whether we've got a certain concept covered well enough, or even whether I'm living up to other people's expectations.

I think it's important to have that time to take the pressure off. To refill the pitcher that is your life so you can continue to pour out to the ones around you.
One thing that refills my pitcher is to know I'm not alone in this thing. To know there is someone else out there that has had struggles and has survived. To hear that it's possible to do the hard thing and make it, no, thrive. To be encouraged to keep on, not quit, find answers, and hang on just one minute longer than the hard times last.

Sometimes we as people want to just be encouraged.  In the dark times, sometimes we internally want to say "Is anybody out there?". Somebody? Anybody?

With this in mind, I think I'm gonna purpose to find the people in need of encouragement. Make a point of saying something uplifting to them. I've heard it might just change their whole day. And on the worst of days, who couldn't handle being told they're doing something right?
Who knows? It might just fill their pitcher a little too....

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Why Can't We All Just Get Along?!

I love Facebook. It's sort of my window to the outside world. You can see just about anything go on out there in cyberspace just by logging on. Yes, from this you might discern I don't get out much.

Recently, I followed several posts as they asked for opinions or directions on how to handle a couple of somewhat itchy matters, that people can have some strong opinions on. The person had an honest interest in knowing how to best follow their conviction, while also living at peace with all men. You'd hope there could be a simple answer.

Sometimes that's not so easy. You see, everyone has an opinion. Everyone seems to like their opinion. (Go figure) And it seems it is a rare person who feels strongly on a matter that doesn't think you shouldn't be persuaded to do 'it' the *right* way.

(* their way)

Opps, did I really say that?! <gasp>.

I saw this happen on this post, and it stayed respectful. But it got me to thinking about how many times I had seen it before. I've seen it get nasty sometimes.  Nice christian ladies, having a fit online, saying things we'd never say to each other's faces.

We are able to find a verse that allows, with it's interpretation, a 'scriptural basis', a support for most of our issues; and yet, sometimes even with the same scripture, we can still fall on both sides of the coin with our opinion on a certain issue.

 It seems that there are many matters where the answer isn't clear cut; it's disputable.

Now, I am not my husband (the walking concordance) so I confess I had to go to to do a look up, cause I was certain that there was something in there about 'disputable matters'.

Here's what I found. I think it speaks beautifully to the issue, even though the topic is different, the heart remains the same:

Romans 14
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

5 One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. 6 Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. 8 If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

10 You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister[a]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11 It is written:
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me;
every tongue will acknowledge God.’”[b]

12 So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. 14 I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. 15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. 16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, 18 because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.

19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.

22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.[c]

It's so easy to get lost in the large passage, so the take away for me is 'to refrain from quarrelling over disputable matters' with those of our faith, (even if the other party is interested in quarrelling); to refrain from judging the other person's position because it *is* a disputable matter, since we leave that to God (who is capable to judge His own servants); don't treat each other with contempt; to fully choose not to put a stumbling block in another person's way causing them to fall; to act in love and act according to mutual peace and edification, and to keep these issues between ourselves and God. Most importantly, we act according to our faith on the matter, lest we sin.

I've been mulling it over ever since it occurred to me.
Would we recognize our role in how these disputable matters play out in real life?
Or maybe, just maybe , we've seen these differences in disputable matters before, in our personal relationships. A fellow christian does things a little differently, and we distance ourselves from them. Perhaps we inwardly criticize them. Perhaps we don't keep our opinions to ourselves, and we talk to someone else about it, behind their back.  Perhaps we go right up to them and try to 'educate' them on how to do 'it' *right* .Would we recognize in ourselves when we step over the line? Do we follow our biblical model?

There's not much left to argue with when you look at it like that.

When you think of it that way, it  just could be life changing to apply that *one* portion of scripture.
Can you imagine the quality of our relationships getting better? The focus on God's work we can achieve when not divided and distracted?  The lives that can be changed because we draw people to us when we don't fight amonsgt ourselves?

Let us not waste our time being divided from one another.
We've got so many other important things to do.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Eccentricities of a Child (or 'Climbing, and Ranting and Spiels Oh My!'

I don't have to try hard around here to find that people have quirks. Although we try hard as adults to use self control, kids just haven't come that far.
I have a climber in the house, for instance. She is two. She has quite the 'can do' attitude and she uses it to her advantage. She can climb the chairs, counters, entertainment unit, and other various scary things in my house; and so she does. She seems to have absolutely no fear whatsoever. My Dear husband insists we should have her checked for radio-activity, to see if she has had the Spider-Man treatment, as he believes she even has the ability to climb walls. I can not figure out where she gets it from. Mind you, there is that old idea that your kids are payback for what you did to your parents as a child.

I'd like to take this moment to address my parents. What ever I did, I am SOOOOOO sorry.

I'd like for that one to use the self control I've been trying to get to 'take' for quite some time now; until then, I just have to amuse myself with the fact that most of what she does no longer makes my heart threaten to jump right out of my chest, like I see it do to grandma when she observes this particular child.
 I guess in some ways, desensitization is not just a term to use about getting too used to tv violence anymore.

Have you ever watched the total abandonment to which a child submits themselves when they are having a fit? You'd think they'd be embarassed when they lose it, but no, this type of refinement is left for many adults. (I'd say all, but I've been to Wal-Mart lately.....just saying, you find all kinds there.)

It's just like fireworks, seeing a child go off..... they change colours, make noise, and some throw themselves in the air. Then they come down in a less than spectacular fashion. Yup. It's fun while it lasts, and the power expelled in the process is unbelieveable.
And somehow, as we grow, we figure out that we'd better tone it down. Fireworks become sparklers; at least I'm hoping so.......

Perhaps it is overexposure to my child's eccentricities, but I find myself occasionally tuning out when my little professor is yet again telling me everything about his video games.
 Perhaps I should hang on my oldest childs' third monologue of the day on the topic of Luigi's Mansion and all of the pictures of the specific characters he has spent all day drawing, and how he's gonna frame them all and hang in his room; I'd have to say that the conversation all too often is completely onesided and ends up reminding me of the teacher in highschool that was teaching a subject you were just convinced you were never gonna need again. You tried desperately to look like you were paying attention..... but you were miles away.
I'm not even sure that the things I was doing while tuning the boy out were even interesting; dishes, laundry, or just trying to make the kid do his school work.

Sometimes I wonder how much of these quirks I'm gonna miss one day. There is the occasional gem in the monologue about 'all things Nintendo',  or you get a glimpse of what makes your firecracker 'tick', or you even get the unusual rare moment in your climber when she is just sitting quietly in your lap, looking like she's got no ambitions to scale any large piece of furniture, and spontaeneously looks you in the eye and in her own garbled two year old way says "A wove you mommee". It warms the heart and makes all the hard moments worth it.

Regular self-control will come; but today is not that day......