Saturday, July 5, 2014

Moving the blog

I will leave this stuff here, but new posts will be found here: http://academichomeschooling.wordpress.com I hope you will follow me there, I've posted pictures, getting high tech!!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer!!

My oldest daughter took off to music camp for the piano for a week in Utah. She flew by herself, my husband was able to get a gate pass to take her to the gate and her flight was non stop. She was a bit nervous, but she did great. She got to see some family and friends while she was there and she said she learned a lot at the camp. She started out worried because she felt like it was somewhat of a competition, but after some reminding of that it's OK and that she is there to learn and gain experience, she found her groove. She made some good friends and we didn't even hear from her for 2 days, phone issues, apparently. But I am very proud of her. She felt good about her performance at the end and she gets home tonight!! Yay!! This week we discovered our town beach at a smallish lake, it is so incredibly awesome. I could seriously just go there everyday and will for at least the next 2 weeks since my kids have swim lessons. So much fun. The older ones are participating on swim team. The sand is great and there are a lot of fish. My oldest son is pretty determined to catch one and is hounding us for a net. We also took the family camping with our ward (church). It was very nice and I'm glad to have such a nice support group. The kids had a fantastic time. We are still plugging along on our school stuff, but kind of took it easy this week with all the swimming and camping, somehow we are going to have to still get a few things done since we took so much time off to pack and move earlier in the year. I love summer!! It is just awesome to go outside all the time and I love the lake!! We aren't far from the ocean so I want to go there too!! Nature study!! We are also having fun with perplexors- logic puzzles and games. So uch to do and learn, so little time!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Bit on Teaching Kids Moral Reasoning, Logic and Relationships

This is from my husband, he really does find the greatest stuff and we are finally getting to implement some of these things, I'm really happy about it, here it is:

Here are a few things I've discovered that others might enjoy:

1. I've been reading some books about how to raise kids to not easily be indoctrinated by anything, political, religious, social, whatever. Something that stood out was the importance of teaching "moral reasoning" which is reasoning through your decisions about what to do and what is right. I bought the game Scruples (and the kid version) which is about what you would do when faced with certain scenarios of ethical dilemma. Most of the scenarios fall in the gray area and don't have an obvious right or wrong, so you have to do some "moral reasoning" to decide what you are going to do. Actually the game is guessing what your opponents will do. 

2. I got the kids some books of logic puzzles called Perplexors. There are different levels and different types. They are kind of like the questions you might see on the LSAT about there are thre people, with three colors of shirts, with three pets and they give you clues and you have to figure out which person has which color and which pet. That's just an example. The kids did a few and seemed to really like them. I think is is good for teaching logic before learning formal logic. 

3. #1 is going to fly to music camp by herself and be gone for over a week. I wanted to get her a prepaid Visa card to use for incidentals, ex regency, and just experience using cards for payment. It turns out there are a lot of prepaid cards but most require SSN, birthday, and address and you must be at least 18. However, I found that there are non-refillable MasterCard gift cards that have no fees except the initial purchase and they work immediately with no setup required. You can't get cash from an ATM and you can't use it online but you can do everything else. Initial fee is $5 and you have to fill them using cash. You can get them at Walmart.

4. I've been looking for a book ( or game, games are always better) on teaching what healthy relationships are, and which is geared to teens. There are a lot of books on healthy marriages and a lot of books on bad relationships of all types, but I was looking for something on what healthy relationships are. And not just romantics relationships, but between friends, with your boss, with a neighbor, with your parents, etc. I haven't really found anything that covers all that but I did find a good book on what it means to be a good friend. It's called "A Good Friend: How to Make One, How to be One" and it's geared towards teen. It's good for friend relationships but I'm still looking for the others. There are some good books on boundaries, but nothing yet on what healthy relationships are.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

NYC and Philadelphia-- Travel log

Our schooling for the week consisted of major field tripping in NYC and Philadelphia.  It is no small task to get 8 children around the big city, and we did it with few mishaps and to prove it, we are all home now and alive and tired!

Last saturday we drove down through Brooklyn and Queens to Statten Island where we took the ferry to Manhatten.  Our strategy for all of this was to have the 3 little boys wear flourescent yellow shirts,  the 3 bigger boys wore matching neon blue and white striped shirts and the girls had matching pink and purple tie dye shirts, but it didn't really matter because the oldest wore her sweatshirt over the top most the time.  My husband wore an orange shirt and the backpack with diapers, change of clothes, water and snacks and pushed the baby in the umbrella stroller, he would lead the way through the city and I brought up the rear holding the twins' hands most all the time.  That way when we got to stairs he could easily hold the baby and carry the stroller because it's fairly light.  The matching shirts made it easy to see that we had everybody and that system worked pretty well for us.

We were able to see the Statue of Liberty pretty close up from the ferry which was free although there were a lot of people.  Then we took the subway to Times Square, walked around a bit, we had some street falafel sandwiches, then we walked on over to Grand Central station and had dinner.  They had an amazing assortment of all different kinds of food and it was all good, Iwa s glad to get my salad and be able to buy fairly healthy stuff.  Then we walked over to Trump Tower and looked around because we have watched a few seasons of the Apprentice.  It was starting to get dark, but we were able to walk to the edge of Central Park and take the subway back to the ferry station.  One of the lines was closed though and we didn't realize it, so we had to do some backtracking, but we did make it.  

We headed on over to our timeshare trade hotel/condo in Pennsylvania, it was about 2 hrs. away and we couldn't find the check in office and it was late enough that they were closed and not answering the phone, that we had to get a hotel, so our cheap week, they gave us ended up not being so cheap, but I chalk it up to travel learning-- make sure of their hours and make sure you know where you are going.  The other places we've stayed with our timeshare have had 24 hr. check in, so that was not wise of me to assume in this case, but oh well.

We were unable to check in to our condo until 10 am so we missed church, but we were all pretty tired so it was ok.  The town in PA was actually pretty weird.  It was a beautiful place but the people there were just strange, really not helpful and hard to communicate with, it was just weird.  But the condo ended up being nice and big and the pool was saltwater so that was nice since it was indoor, we swam a lot. 

 On Monday we drove 2 hrs. To Philadelphia.  The tours for Independence Hall were completely booked probably because of school field trips, but we did get a tour of where the Congress met and where the the first passing off of the presidency took place.  It was actually pretty cool.  Then we walked over to the Liberty Bell and the visitor center.  I really enjoyed the film they showed.  We were not impressed with the overall presentation of it all though, security was very meticulous and the attitude of the rangers was authoritarian and a bit joking.  They didn't seem to have the same appreciation we saw displayed in Williamsburg.  That was all we really had time for, but there is a lot to see and do there, we went to Trader Joe's and got food for the week and drove past the Museums and the planetarium which looked pretty cool. We also drove along the river, I think Philly is an alright place.

Tuesday, my husband worked online, which is why we could just take off, he can work from anywhere. The girls did some of their online school and the boys slept a bunch.  My brother and his family got into town that evening and we had a good time hanging out with them.  It was really nice to be able to do that sort of thing again.  I am really glad they were able to meet us, it was a last minute thing, and it worked out pretty well.  I did a little bit of schooling with the kids on Wed. and we went swimming.  Thurs. we explored the area and got muddy in the Delaware River and played mini golf and Friday we swam a bunch and cleaned and packed.

Then on Sat. again since my husband didn't have to work, we were headed home and decided to hit the Metropolitan Mueum of Art in Central Park in NYC.  The place I looked at to park said it would charge $15 extra dollars for oversize vehicles, which we have a 15 passenger van, when we got there, the guy said his garage wouldn't fit our van.  I asked him where we could park and he directed us to a garage just down the street.  That garage could fit us, I got out to talk to them and make sure.  The manager didn't want to take us, but when I asked him where else we could go, he said they might charget riple and I said fine, we need to park somewhere, he reluctantly said OK!  I was so relieved because I think his garage was not even online and I don't know how we would find one that would take us.

We walked about a mile to the museum and through Central Park.  It was much more relaxed than the previous trip and more like what it would be if you lived there.  So it was nice for the kids to have this new perspective of NYC.  We ate bread and oranges for lunch in Central Park to save money and time and then we walked on overt to the museum.  There were tons of people outside on the steps and food vendors in front and lots of people inside, but the museum is HUGE, it really didn't matter how many people there were.  I wanted to make sure and see the Renaissance paintings so we went there first.  It was so cool!  It was really nice when saw one we recognized from our studies.  I was more excited than the kids though, but I was really glad we could take them there, because it is going to make our studies more meaningful and will give them points of reference when we study them again.  I think we will put more emphasis on art study now, especially with the access to art museums we have now.

For each of the areas of the world, they had large displays to make it feel like you were there, a cathedral type space for Europe, a pyramid type space, actually a couple, for Europe, a Roman villa, an Indin temple with an amazing ceiling, a Japanese garden, etc.  I really liked being able to walk through many cultures and periods of time of the world all in one place, I hope the kids remember and it gives them perspective now as we continue to study history.  So cool, we only lasted about 4 1/2 hours before the kids were just too tired to go on.  We really just walked through most of the museum, we skipped most the American and Modern stuff, but we saw most of what we wanted to see.  I think the kids especially liked the Anciet Egypt displays, but it was all fantastic and nobody complained til the end when their little legs were so tired.  Even the little guys were interested, there was so much to see.

On the way home I saw we would be walking past The Candle Cafe of which I have their cookbook and everything I've made from it is super good, so my family graciously stopped there with me and waited in the rain while they made us a $15 vegan quesadilla.  Then we made it to the parking garage, got our van and gave the guy a huge tip, he was only going to charge us $20, my husband gave him $40 and his response was totally worth it, he was pretty happy and told us it was no problem for us to park there.  

All in all it was a great trip, I'm so glad we could go.  


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Clarification of my previous post

I just want to make sure my homeschool groups in Utah know that I appreciated them and that my statement on homeschoolers in Utah was not describing all of the homeschoolers there, my friends and the groups we joined were great, and I do miss those good friends and hopefully they know me better than to be offended, but still, I felt I should clarify.  There were a lot of groups I did not join because I didn't like their philosphies and in the end, the best thing for my daughters in Utah was to do part time public school.  I need to be careful making generalizations, but generally, I did not like the prevailing homeschooling attitudes in Utah.  I find New Hampshire to be very different in that regard with a strong emphasis on giving their children a better education than they would get in public school.  It is refreshing!  I will add this statement to the end of the other post.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lots of Good Things Going On

We have had so much going on, and school really is smooth, although cleaning the house is not, ;).  Anyway, the biggest thing is that the 5 older kids are all doing Recreation Track and Field through our city.  It is also a USATF team, so the kids have the option of really working and going for it, or just doing it for fun.  The coaches are really professional and good working with the kids, teaching them to warm up and stretch in addition to helping them with their running form and doing the various events.  They've all had chances to throw the javelin and shot put, do the long jump and triple jump and try various races.  They will even get to learn how to do the hurdles.  Last Saturday, they got to do a fun run obstacle course at a beautiful horse farm in the country that was situated on a small lake.  I loved it.  In retrospect, one of the best things I did in High school was Cross Country and Track and I have kept up my running pretty much except when I was hugely pregnant.  I love it, so it really did my heart good to see my kids get to experience that.  It was hard for them, they ran 2.5 miles, but they all said it was fun and they would do it again!  Yes!!!

We took the kids to Boston last weekend, that is an awesome city.  Once my girls are finally done with their online classes-- we are definitely going to be doing more field trips around here.  Last weekend was fun though too with the fun run in the morning and then going to see American Idol's Alex Preston who went to our local high school.  It has just been great.  We are headed to NYC this weekend and Philadelphia, so excited!!  We've got matching shirts for the different groups of kids so we can keep track of everybody easier.

The girls have had some rough patches with their online school-- learning to use the computers more effectively, learning to take tests, learning to be accountable to a 3rd party.  It has been rather difficult, they have had to really step it up and have spent a lot of time on it.  They are both getting As in their classes, which is encouraging, I just hope they will get to the point where they can do it at a faster pace.  The boys are moving right along.  It makes me very happy to see their progress and watch the light come on when they make a connection.  It can be so hard to get them to focus and pay attention, but it is worth it.  We have not been able to do as much as I have hoped, bit we are building a very good solid foundation and I'm happy about that.

I love the homeschoolers out here, a bunch of them have advanced degrees and they are serious about education, it's such a nice change from the myriad of homeschool moms I interacted with in Utah who did not expend the required effort it sometimes takes to teach math in the name of not spoiling their kids' love for learning.  I have a lot to learn from these moms.  I love the environment here.  I actually get to learn from them instead of shocking them with the things I know and the things we do.  It is so nice.  They are giving me and my kids a higher standard for which to strive.  It's so nice to be validated especially for my kids so they can see that , wow, maybe my parents do know something!  I could seriously stay here the rest of my life and be just fine.  

Statement of Clarification Added:

I just want to make sure my homeschool groups in Utah know that I appreciated them and that my statement on homeschoolers in Utah was not describing all of the homeschoolers there, my friends and the groups we joined were great, and I do miss those good friends and hopefully they know me better than to be offended, but still, I felt I should clarify.  There were a lot of groups I did not join because I didn't like their philosphies and in the end, the best thing for my daughters in Utah was to do part time public school.  I need to be careful making generalizations, but generally, I did not like the prevailing homeschooling attitudes in Utah.  I find New Hampshire to be very different in that regard with a strong emphasis on giving their children a better education than they would get in public school.  It is refreshing!  I will add this statement to the end of the other post.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Williamsburg and Revolutionary War history

We took a week long trip to Williamsburg, we spent 3 days there and itw as just plain awesome.  I let my husband take the older kids to see and tour some of the stuff that the little ones just were too loud for, like the courthouse where they acted out a proceeding fort het ime and sentenced someone to the stockade for stealing a pig and attending aogan concert at the local church whichw as used then and still is in use now.  I did get to see the governor's palace and the capitol building where they made the laws for Virginia before the governor dismissed the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry ( that didn't go so well, they reconvened at a nearby tavern).  It was just super cool to be there where real history actually happened.  The kids liked it, but not nearly as much as my husband and I did.  Butt hey learned a lot especially since we have been waching the Teaching Company lecture on American history, it really made it come alive.  We also went to Monticello, and Jamestown.  They were both pretty good although the reenactments at Williamsburg really brought the whole thing to life.  We also drove by Yorktown after we  went to Jamestown, the 3 little guys were asleep and I was on my own and everybody was super tired, so we just looked att he battlefield from the car and took a pic of the monument.  There is actially a lot to do in Yorktown.  There is a state park where the battlefield is, then there is an old town complete with a beach and another hands on museum, so I really would like to go back there someday.  We also swam a lot and got to see my mom and my brother and his family.  It was a great trip.  I hope that revolutionary spirit stays with the kids, it was just good.

The following weekend, last weekend turned out to be not only Easter, but the anniversary of the battle of Lexington and Concord.  So there was a bunch of stuff going on all weekend.  Lexington is only about an hour away, so we drove down and saw some cool military stuff including a revolutionary band with fifes, drums and horns.  We also got a tour of the battleground which was awesome, and then we went and saw a reenactment of the Tower Battle which was supposed to represent a couple different battles, anyway it was mostly from the minutemen attacking the tedcoats on their retreat to Boston.  They started in a field, battled down through a wooded area and ended in another field, surrounding the british and firing their cannons.  We had awesome views of the entire thing and it lasted about an hour and looked very authentic.

Then we celebrated Easter on Sunday which was nice.  #1 accompanied the church/ward choir and the piece was beautiful, very nicely done, #2 sang with the choir, we have some very talented choir directors.  Then my husband took the 4 older kids to see thet reenactment of Paul Revere at midnight, the sound wasn't so good and they left a microphone on, so there were conversations and laughing that shouldn't have been there.  So that was kind of a heavy price.  Also, they slept in the van and then got up for the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington at 5 am, there were tons of people so the kids really couldn't see and it was unseasonably cold, so that was a very heavy price indeed, but worth it overall.

Needless to say , the kids caught up on their sleep Monday instead doing schoolwork.  But that's OK.  We  are plugging along on everything.  The girls are not enjoying their online school classes, because they are challenging, but also they have had some technical difficulties, hopefully we have them worked out now!  I hope they will feel a great sense of accomplishment when they are finally done!
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