Sunday, April 29, 2012

I Need These Books ASAP

Here is a list of books that Princess Abbey will need for the next term, per the instructions that we use on Y7. If any of you have any of these books for buy, sell or trade, please let me know. I will even consider trading crocheted items for books. No reasonable request will be refused. Thank you in advance for your help!
 *The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer
*The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges
*The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill
*In Freedom's Cause by G.A. Hertz
*History of Deeds Done Beyond the Sea by William Tyre
*The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
*The Life of King Alfred by Asser
*Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
*The Brendan Voyage by Severin
*How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger
*Whatever Happened to Penny Candy by Richard Maybury
*Ourelves by Charlotte Mason *Plutarch's Lives
*The Once and Future King by T.H. White
 *Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott
*The History of English Literature for Girls and Boys by H.E. Marshall
*The Age of Chivalry by Thomas Bulfinch
*Watership Down by Richard Adams
*A Taste of Chaucer by Anne Malcolmson
*Our Mother Tongue by Nancy Wilson *The Grammar of Poetry by Matt Whitling (even if only the teacher addition) *How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler *The Story of Painting by H.W. Janson ***Books that teach Latin and Spanish *Fearfully and Wonderfully Made by Paul Brand

The Cactus on my Forehead

I have recently had the pleasure of getting to have two brief conversations with the author of,The Cactus on my Forehead. When I saw on my Facebook that our local book store was having a book signing with an author that had grown up in Grandfalls, Texas, I determined that I had to find out if she was related to my husband and his side of the family in some way. When I got to talk with her, I learned that she does not believe that she is a relative, but that her best friend as a teenager was either my husband's great grandmother or aunt. Today, she is having another book signing at a local restaurant, so my husband got a chance to meet and talk with her himself. After some discussion, it turns out that the author could be a distant cousin, but no one is sure at this point. The Cactus on my Forehead turns out to have been a once often used derogatory term to describe mixed race people in Mexico. Ms. De Laurie told me that she first heard this phrase while in a nail salon, and that it piqued her curiosity. She found out what it meant, and determined that this should be the focus and title of her book. The book is very historical and very enlightening in nature. I just finished reading the first chapter out loud the Four Princesses and have already had some "Aha!" moments about the Hispanic and Native American culture of this area and why things are the way that they are. On the back cover of her book, it is written, "Family cultural practices, ethnic traditions and social rules serve as a mold of who we are, and also create those curious details that determine the identity of an ethnic group."--Javier Arreygue Ruiz, M.A. CC&B Ed. If you get a chance to meet Mrs. De Laurie at one of her book signings, or get a chance to read her book, you will feel very blessed to be able to learn some aspects of history that don't always appear in textbooks or classroom lectures. Also, she tells about how she traced her family history and about the resources that enabled her to do such a great job.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Video Blog: Oral Narration of Chicken Little

Tarja just turned four years old, and is in the beginnings of PreK. We're using along with living books as prescribed by Charlotte Mason. Since Tarja doesn't read or write at this point, it seems fitting to record some of her better narrations for us to keep. Today, Tarja's lessons were about farm animals. After she completed the lessons, I read Chicken Little to her from a library book. Her task, after I finished reading, was to retell the story to me in her own words.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will

Charlotte Mason's motto for students was, "I am, I can, I ought, I will." That statement really touched my heart from the very first time that I read anything about Charlotte Mason. Incidentally, when I pass to the next life, I hope that I get to meet Charlotte Mason, because I want to thank her for giving me so much to do and think about. With my scattered thought process, I determined this morning, that "I am, I can, I ought, I will," is just as important to mothers as it is to students. Why? For starters, why do we get up in the morning and do anything? I, for one, am not only a housewife, but I'm self employed. Nobody sounds an alarm to get me up in the morning (except for the new Princess Ivana). I don't have an obligation to get dressed up to go to a job at a certain time of the day. As a homeschooler, I don't have to hurry and get my kids up and out the door before a school bell rings. My schedule gets to be somewhat hectic, but aside from doctor's appointments (and even THOSE can often be negotiated), everything on my calendar was consciously chosen to be added as something that we want to do, rather than anything that we have to do. It really is a wonderful life. It would be all too easy to sleep in, play instead of having lessons, and surf the web instead of doing those activities that earn money. I AM a mother, housewife, Girl Scout leader, baton twirling teacher, small business owner, homeschooling mother, and wife. I CAN get up every day and make a conscious effort to do those things that need to be done for my health, my family and my business. I OUGHT to resist the urge to compare myself to other mothers and their seemingly greater accomplishments. I WILL do as much as I can possibly do, each and every day, for the benefit of all who are depending on me. I AM a child of God, with four daughters of the king in my charge. I CAN rise up to the challenge that was given to me with each individual princess. I OUGHT to live as a creative person rather than a reactive person. I WILL appreciate the privilege of being a keeper at home, and make this a place of love and learning. I can't think of a better recipe for happiness than, "I am, I can, I ought, I will." Love always, Laurel

Friday, April 13, 2012

When is My Homeschooler Ready to Graduate?

As most of my followers can see, there is no real common denominator as to how I arrange my blog posts. I posts what and when I am led to post. This morning, I woke up sort of reliving a recent conversation with a friend who will start homeschooling her three princesses in a few weeks. She kept asking how I knew that Melody was ready to graduate.

Truly, the simple way to know when your homeschooler is ready to graduate, is if you are using a packaged curriculum that has a definite beginning and end. Sometimes, out of frustration, I have wished that we had used something like Abeka or Connections Academy, but economics and the varying needs of each princess made it impractical for us do to anything other than Charlotte Mason. I know this, because we've tried. Some families thrive on a packaged set that is complete with hard and fast rules. We are not one of those families.

At the beginning of the path to homeschool high school graduation with Melody, I was very inspired by Hacking High School. The early posts of this blog were about how one homeschooled girl made it through high school early in some creative ways, and then went on to do all sorts of awesome things with her life. By the way, I am glad to have found her blog again so that I could post it for you, and because it looks like she has some very interesting content posted that I will want to read later.

Armed with the ideas from Hacking High School, I started going through test prep study guides such as the SAT and GED. I did not intend for Melody to test to get a GED, but the point being that if she knew the material that was being presented in the book, then she might be ready to graduate. Right? WRONG! I urge you to get a GED study guide to look through and see for yourself. Nearly every subject is solely dependent on being able to read one or a few paragraphs, and then there are multiple choice questions to answer about the reading selection. This is how everything but math is set up. The math is pretty hard, and one must actually know how to do it in order to pass, but if a person can read and comprehend, then he or she can pass the rest of it. By the time that I started looking into this, Melody had already studied so many subjects so extensively, that it would have been a great injustice to use the GED or SAT, or any of those other tests as the deciding factor. That's not to say that no one should ever do these things or that none of my other children will, but it just didn't feel right for this particular child. What to do? What to do?

I looked into some online high school programs. Some promise a diploma based on life experience and a few hundred dollars. Others actually offered a full curriculum that would end with a transcript and diploma, which might actually be something that I do for the other girls. However, I was determined to give Melody credit for the things that she already had completed, rather than making her start over from square one, use only the new curriculum, and have a transcript issued to her that doesn't mention a great deal of her hard work before she started the program.

I finally started going through her paper work, to review what and how much she actually did throughout her high school career. It was a pretty overwhelming task, considering it was my first time to have to do such a thing. I made a list of courses that she had completed, and those that weren't quite completed to my satisfaction. I then got online and sent off for information from a couple of those online high school programs, knowing that I was not going to sign her up for them, but that I would get to see what their standards for graduation are. Once I started receiving brochures, I got out a pen, went through their course lists, and started checking off what she had already completed at home, and took note of how much credit that each course was worth. This gave me an idea of how much work we did and didn't need to do.

My readers are probably wondering what all of this really has to do with "hacking high school". Below is the list of courses that I checked off on one particular brochure, and how I determined that they had been completed, keeping in mind that this is not the complete course list, but only those courses that ended up on Melody's transcript.

Reading Skills: 1 credit: She reads VERY well, can do a wonderful job of narrating per Charlotte Mason's instructions, and knows all of the skills on the course description very well.

Basic English and Practical English (2 credits): All of this was covered via the Charlotte Mason method many times over.

General Math I and II (2 credits): We used a variety of resources for this.
Consumer Math (1 credit): This is my favorite type of course, and is pretty self explanatory. As an older teen with a job, she has had to spend time with her own money management, banking, setting goals, having insurance for her vehicle, etc. etc. We also took Financial Peace University together. LOVE THIS!
Earth Science (1 credit): This was learned via video course, nature study, field trips and library books.
Civics (1 credit): Several years of scouting and video courses as well as earning awards via
Written Communication (1 credit): The course list covers everything that the Charlotte Mason method embraces, so she has already completed this just through daily practice.
Biology (1 credit): Besides video courses and nature study, she has had a dog, ducks, fish, birds, and younger sisters. However, we did do our duty and go through quite a few subject specific books and the aforementioned video courses.
World History (1 credit): Melody is a history buff, and is so well read on the subject, that she could probably teach it to others. She actually deserves a lot more than one credit in this area.
Physical Science (1 credit): She did a couple of video courses, read some subject specific books, and we read biographies of some famous scientists.
Literature (1 credit): The course list has a puny list of required reading in comparison to all of the classic literature and Shakespeare plays that she has read independently. By the time I get to this part of the list, I am starting to feel really blessed.

Electives: Music appreciation for 4 years, Opera Study for 1 year, Church choir for 2 years, Music Literature, Music History, Artist Studies, Economics (video course), General Science (Charlotte Mason's nature studies), Spanish, Home Economics (she can cook, clean, wash her own clothes, budget, pay bills, hold down a job, take care of herself, take care of others, plan a meal, plan a party, and this list keeps getting bigger), Computers, Typing, Physical Education (four years of baton twirling, and earned the Presidential Active Lifestyle Challenge).

If you are still with me after this long post, I urge you eclectic homeschoolers and unschoolers to look into various course lists for various schools. It's very encouraging to see where you are, and to get a better idea of what direction you want to take your prospective homeschool graduates. If you have children that have graduated from homeschooling, I would love to receive comments about how you knew that they were ready.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Perfect Homeschooling

Bwahahahahahaha! Did you choke on your coffee when you read the title? There is no such thing as perfect anything. We can try to be perfect. We can do the best that we can to make things the very best that we can make them each and every day, but there is nothing and nobody that is perfect, except Jesus.

What inspired me to write this is that I read an article yesterday about how social networking, pinterest, and so forth is responsible for a lot of mothers feeling inadequate. They see posts from other mothers about all of the neat projects that they do throughout their days, and instantly feel like they are not doing enough for their own families. Homeschooling mothers are no exception.

As usual, I have an opinion. First of all, if you are even wondering if you are doing enough for your family, then you obviously do care, and are probably already going above and beyond the call of duty. We are a very busy, active family, and I am constantly posting my latest projects, recipes, and housekeeping adventures for my friends on facebook and pinterest.

The fact of the matter is that while I am helping Tarja learn how to use her roller skates, or am walking next to her while she rides her bike, I might have a sink full of dishes that need washing, or a dryer full of clothes that need to be put away. It's just that at that particular moment, paying attention to Tarja was more important.

If I spend all day running around getting the Princesses to their respective activities, or have to run errands and grocery shop, we might have to run through a fast food place to get dinner.

When I have orders to fill for our business, we might skimp on a lesson. When I want to move on to something new, we might overdo it on that same lesson. If a book that we are reading turns into snoresville, I don't always finish it. There are thousands of other worthwhile books to read. If one child is having a terrible time reading a lesson, and I really want her to know the story anyway, I am not above finding a movie to replace the book.

There are days that we are lazy, that I don't feel well, or that the baby has kept me up all night so that I barely understand which child is on which lesson on which day/week/month, etc. Some days, we all wake up early and get a good head start on things, and other days, we have a straggler that tries to sleep until noon. There are days when getting us all out the door for an appointment or activity could be the makings of a good reality TV show. Other days, everybody get up, gets dressed to shoes, hair, helps a sister princess, and all that I have to do is grab my purse and go.

We don't live in a dream world. We throw temper tantrums, forget things, eat junk food and watch too much TV. I would like to be a "crunchy" mama who makes all of our clothes and is raising a bunch of free range chickens, but don't feel that my family would agree with the lifestyle upheaval. Therefore, I'll stick to my favorite hobbies of crochet and couponing. That's not to say that some of my crochet projects don't end up in the trash, and that I don't sometimes show up at a cash register with a handful of expired coupons and an attitude. It happens.