Thursday, September 2, 2010

changes here too... (maybe)

I posted on my other blog that I am considering password protecting my blogs.... I'm not entirely sure that I will password protect my homeschool one but I am for sure going to password protect my other one. What are your thoughts on this? I'm thinking this one will be okay as a public blog as long as I stick to the topic of homeschooling (which was supposed to be the whole point of having this blog :-). It might not be very exciting though... it's just me and the boy this year, as the girl is off to give school a try.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

break out the catalogs....

The letter arrived today... there were no spaces available for Alex's grade! Fate has spoken! I'm off to read catalogs and make list after list after list! :-)

He took it really well when I told him. I asked him what he wanted to do, since our neighborhood school is still an option.... he said he would rather homeschool another year while researching schools so he can reapply for the next fall. I can live with that.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

confession time

So, my friend pointed out to me the other day that I haven't blogged here since February. I thought it was finally time to come clean on the reason why.

I'm not sure we are as dedicated to homeschooling as we are to making the right educational choices for our children. Homeschooling was the right choice for Alex. Clara, however, has always just been along for the ride. I have questioned for years if homeschooling was the right option for her. Not necessarily academically, but socially. She thrives in group settings, she missed her preschool experience in a way that Alex never did. Jeff and I started discussing this seriously after the first of the year.

By the first of March, we had decided to look into school as an option for Clara. We found a school that is a performing arts magnet school and went on a tour. It looked like it could be a good fit for Clara. She did not know why we went on the tour. When she questioned us later, I simply told her that the school had a tour day, open to the community, and that her dad and I had just gone to check it out to be informed community members. She started asking details about the school and what we saw... I stuck to facts. She disappeared for a little while and then reappeared. She told me that although she liked being homeschooled, this school sounded like a good fit for her and she wanted to know if we would let her try it. She was so excited! I know she doesn't fully grasp the reality which is school, but she was truly excited about giving it a try. I told her that if it was something she wanted to try, she was more than welcome to (each year we always ask the kids what they would like to do the following year... they've just always said "homeschool" in the past).

The more Clara talked about it and asked questions, the more excited she got. That's when my worst homeschooling nightmare happened.... Alex got caught up in it all. He decided that if Clara was going to try it.... so would he! I was ill at this point. This wasn't supposed to happen. The school that we saw for Clara was not a good option for Alex even to try.... and we had already missed the lotteries for other schools. We informed him of this and told him that his only real option was the school Clara liked (we're within their boundaries so they have to take the kids). He was fine with this, but I wasn't. Alex is my kid who gets up and has his schoolwork done by 9:00am, who watches the history channel for the fun of it and randomly picks subjects then checks out and reads all of the library books available on that subject. He crafts his own educational experience much better than I can at times.

But... we moved forward and I scheduled another school tour and this time the kids were going along with me (this was about two weeks ago). Clara loved it all.... the dance studio, the fact that her grade was mostly girls, the fact they have musicals and dance performances.... we got to meet with a reading specialist who went through exactly were Clara should be coming out of 2nd grade and was pleasantly surprised to see that she was at or above where she should be (this had worried me since I really only had Alex to compare her with). As much as Clara loved it, Alex didn't love it. They were lacking in his favorite subjects and most of the material they would cover in 5th grade was what Alex did this year at home in 4th. And all of the stuff Clara was so excited about... dance, performances, etc... were things that Alex was just so-so about (he loves performing, but he's been doing enough professional theater lately that doing it at school doesn't appeal to him).

He came back from that tour in a horrible, horrible mood. He had in his mind that he really, really wanted to try school next year but was not sure this is where he wanted to be even just to try. We had a big talk later. I asked him why he wanted to go to school. He said that almost everyone he knows either goes to or has gone to school and he just needs to know for himself what it's like. I really couldn't argue with that. As a friend pointed out, to him, it's like another one of his research projects.... he needs to gather his own data.... this is an experiment. I had to respect that. However, I knew that the school Clara was going to go to was not the right place for him even to try (oh... don't think I didn't consider it for the selfish reason that I was pretty darn sure he wouldn't like it and would return to homeschooling ASAP). I talked to him about staying home another year. During that year we would research and tour possible schools for him. I decided to do some poking around on the school website and found that a few schools were having a second late lottery. I did some research and asked around about the schools on the list. I found one that looked like it could be a good option for Alex. We sent in the form and now we wait.

So, there you are. I may not be a homeschooling mom come next fall. One is going to give school a try for sure. One is waiting to see what fate decides. This time of year I'm usually reading homeschooling catalogs like crazy.... making list after list... reading message boards for suggestions and recommendations, etc. This year, I'm just here. My catalogs are stacked and ready (unread) waiting to be called into action if Alex doesn't get in to the school.

We're still doing school, but it's more school prep these days... which is why I haven't been blogging about what we've been doing. I wasn't sure I was ready to come clean about it all. Not because I'm embarrassed about any of it.... but just because it was all so up in the air (and actually still is a bit).

My thoughts are that our educational philosophy isn't going to change because they both may be in school. We try curriculum all of the time. We try things at one time and find it's not a good fit, only to try it again a couple years later and it really clicks! This is no different... they're just trying school. We've also let them make choices (or at least have a say) in their education over the years.... again, this is no different. Friends asked the other night what we would do if they both went and hated it. If that happens and they have given it a fair shot, they are free to come back home again at a break.

So right now I'm busy collecting and organizing books so they will have a good reference library at home (I always need a reason to buy more books). We're in the midst of our end of the year testing. And after they get back from camp, we'll continue with school prep. And it will all be okay :-)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the opera....

Yesterday the kids and I got the opportunity to attend the dress rehearsal of the Lyric Opera's production of The Damnation of Faust. Amazing, simply amazing.

I'm not saying that we really understood much of what was going on... but the music and the staging was wonderful. The kids were mesmerized... especially Alex. He knew more of the story and was totally into seeing it come together on stage.

There was quite a bit that was not exactly kid appropriate, but they didn't catch most of it (especially since it was in French and I know, Clara at least, stopped reading the subtitles at some point).

It is such an amazing experience for me as a mom and a homeschooler, when I sit back and realize that the kids and I spent the bus ride home (and part of the evening) discussing opera! Not Spongebob, or Hannah Montana... but opera! (don't get me wrong... we do have those discussions too) Apparently, we all had a lot of questions about what was going on and why things were acted out the way they were. We discussed our theories as to what we thought was happening. We checked the descriptions of the acts in the program to see what we may have missed. And then we fell into the our typical discussion of "what was your favorite part and least favorite part and why".

I know I say this often here... but we are so fortunate to be able to homeschool here in Chicago. What an incredible number of amazing opportunities we have available to us here!

Monday, February 15, 2010


One of the kids' favorite things about their lit and poetry classes on Wednesdays is that they get to have a bit of recess with friends after class.

Due to the snowstorm that hit on Tuesday, they brought their snow gear and played outside after class... building a snow fort....

They had a blast!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Alex's books

For School:
Meet George Washington (Landmark Books)
What's The Big Idea, Ben Franklin?
Phoebe the Spy
all of these are part of his Sonlight curriculum

Listened to on audiobook:
Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne
This was for a lit class that he and Clara are taking. I LOVE that I can download audiobooks from the library directly to my ipod (for free!!). This was our first real test of that feature and it went really well.

Read Aloud:
The Meanest Doll in the World

Read for Fun:
Dandelion Fire: Book 2 of the 100 Cupboards
A friend introduced him to this series and now he's hooked. He'll be excited to know that I just found that there's a book 3!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

On Wednesdays the kids have a poetry class with some of their friends. For the past few weeks they've been working on the Jabberwocky as a performance piece.

Today we finally got to see the show...

Ugh... apparently I have issues with uploading videos... I kid you not... it has taken me about 10 tries already! All five kids are in my video, but for some reason photobucket cuts off one whole side of my video! I'll have to try to figure it out... sigh.

Ooooohh... I think I got it this time!