People Peeking in...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Shaking up the system, the plan, the way we do what we do and the Curriculum, again!!!

I know, I know, I know; it's been a while since I updated, not for lack of thinking about it but for sheer lack of anything terribly new and exciting. I've also been terribly busy with other ventures and when I think I have the time and brain waves to sit here and share, something ALWAYS jumps in my way.

I didn't think there was anything worth posting. Well, that changed didn't it; enter the new and exciting.

We've had some major glitches lately. Some incomplete work, some dropped classes (unknown to me) and some "sure I did it..." when really, well, it wasn't done. I'm torn on the level of caring I need to invest on some of it. I mean, I told the Banker on more that one occasion that, if he didn't like something, we could change it out. I suppose I should have said specifically that if he didn't like something WE could talk about it and WE could think about options then WE could change it. I worry that he's suddenly playing with 14yroldboybrain and that combined with my perimenopausalIneedavacation brain doesn't make for the best levels of communication, seriously.

So, after our glitches, yeah, we'll call them that, and after my threats to send him to the worst public school district and the worst high school [[Not my finest mother moment]] we have decided to shake it all up for a few months.

We WERE going to continue through what we've been doing, 4 core and a few electives thrown in, for the foreseeable future. I think the Banker needs to be shaken up so we're going to scrap it! EEEK! *oh and by the way, my "oh my god I think I've broken him" lights and sirens are going off in my head like crazy*

I told him we are going to alter our schedule as follows:

1. Math: he is half way through Algebra using MathUSee. We are going to switch the 1 chapter/wk expectation to 1 chapter every 2 wks and the alternating week will be used to finish working through his World History, so that as well is now bi weekly.

2. English: The grammar, vocabulary and writing books are closed. Reading. That's what takes their place. I have a Life of Pi book project for him to work on and he has book club and whatever other book he wants to read.

3. Web Design: He has started at One Day Academy and is taking Web Design for Teens [which he ADORES]. That will be done as needed. His class is 9-10:30 one day a week and he'll have a few chapters home work. He's already spent hours on the phone with other kids who have taken the same or similar classes and listening to them chat about code is delightful! They're going to take over the world!

4. Language: He is finding a channel on You Tube to teach him a [conversational] language. I think Spanish is first because we have Spanish speaking friends that can help him out.

5. Art: He is spending a few days thinking of something that he would like to learn how to do. He can take the online lessons through You Tube. Painting, drawing, calligraphy, basket weaving ANYTHING that's artistic. I think that area of his brain isn't being stimulated, I look forward to seeing what he comes up with. I'm very curious actually to see what lights his fire, what sparks a passion.

It's SO hard not to suggest but it's surprising watching him crack under the pressure. I am relatively arty and I think he feels he's not good enough, well I know that because he's said so. I don't know how to express to him that it's not that I CAN do anything better than anyone else, it's merely that I DO it. I don't care how it comes out, I have no fear, there's no comparison and if I like how it comes out, great, if not, nothing lost.

I don't have fear to at least try and fail and that's the difference, he has fear. I'm treading lightly here because I don't want the fear to overtake him and stop him from trying.

6. Khan Academy. I asked him to cruise the site and see what strikes his fancy, strikes a passion. We are meeting next week to discuss it. They've expanded so much even since we started accessing the site, there are wonders to be experienced and I want him to have the freedom to try.

The new schedule will be worked by he and I meeting on Monday mornings, like we do now. We will lay out his weekly schedule depending on what other activities I have arranged like field trips, game days or whatever. He will be responsible for the final layout of the week and adherence to the schedule.

I noticed that we started to fall apart when I gave him the freedom to lay out his week without any grand plan and he played it by ear as he felt at the moment and he got a bit lost. It was too hippie of an option. The boy IS a Banker and needs structure and I am going to teach him how to structure himself.

I think planning the schedule together will help him learn how to do it. I think I just jumped the organizational gun on that one.

I'm also going to be checking work as he completes it as opposed to just asking or checking bi weekly. I dropped the ball on that one too.

We are taking the weekend completely off any work and we're regrouping on Monday. I need to keep repeating to myself that he's already more than half way done Grade9 when his contemporaries aren't starting any Grade9 work for another 3 months. It's not a race, it's an adventure. He WILL have all the knowledge and information he needs to graduate and he'll have a great time as he gets there, he has the opportunity to experience more than the public school kids, he doesn't DOES NOT have to pigeon hole himself and it's up to ME ME ME ME ME to be sure he doesn't. I pigeon holed him, bad bad bad homeschooling mother moment. I've realized it though and I'm opening the flood gates, I'll TEACH him how to plan his time so he can have the freedom he deserves and the structure he needs.

I'm worried that I'm fucking this up but we're still on the straight and relatively narrow. I don't think taking some 'book learning' time off is a problem at all. We are too close to the public school system and if it worked, we'd have stayed [D'OH].

I need to R E L A X. He's going to be fine, this is all on me. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.

Thanks for listening :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Field trip day


It's standardized STAAR testing here in Austin today. The result of a years worth of teaching to "the" test, well, this is it.  The test that doesn't affect grades or determine whether you're promoted to the next grade.  Just testing for testing sake to see who gets the most money.  Nice.  We're just so very sad not to be part of that cluster anymore.

My FriendE, FriendJ, FriendC (I think) and all the children (plus extras) in tow are going to eat a gigantic burgers at a cool joint down south Austin then we are all heading over to the Cathedral of Junk to check the place and the dude out.  Yeah, screw standardized testing for no reason.  Our, socially retarded homeschool kids are all hanging out together doing cool stuff instead of stressing over a test that is given to determine how much they're worth, dollar value... yeah, we're wrecked to be missing that.  Shame we're ruining them  *GRIN* 


Monday, March 4, 2013

yet another revisit to the New List Scheduling idea...

Well, we're rearranging out scheduling and planning yet AGAIN.  Ya ya ya, this is my version of moving furniture around hundreds of times.

I have wanted to wean the Banker off the daily schedule broken down by day.  As part of this  exercise, I want him to THINK about his week, PLAN his time, ARRANGE his schedule and COMPLETE his work in a timely, organized manner.  I think these skills need to be not a special class but an ongoing system of organization that he will use for the rest of his life.  In university, no one will tell him what to do each day, at work, he'll be responsible for completing whatever task lay before him and his honey-do list will look something like this I'm sure.  So, let's get going on this again, kiddo......

I tried the big list system with the Banker and he had a nervous break down, he couldn't cope with one all encompassing list.  He needed his day listed with what classes he needed to complete on any given day so he had a visible beginning and end to his day when he sat down.  He couldn't cope with a list of 12 classes that he had to schedule out on his own so we went back to the full week system.  I've been giving him 5 pages of lists of what his responsibility was each day.  

THEN I had an epiphany and started messing with the subjects on the days.  I stopped putting times and started putting half work split between days. Then I started messing the days around so Monday stopped being math day and Wednesday stopped being science.  I moved subjects around the week and told him it was a general guideline for the day.  THEN I put all the really hard stuff on Monday and then a full day of easy quick stuff, I tried to make it really, really unbalanced and I found he organized the week on his own to balance it out.  There started to be a natural system for completing work based on the general matter of the subjects like he tended to do science, physics and Astro-biology on the same day.  He did world history, world study together and so on.  He organized without even realizing it.  

Way to accidentally change systems...nice stuff, Banker boy!

I held off till last week when I again raised the idea of the List system and surprise, he seems delighted with the idea ;)  HAHAHA  Way to go, Hippie Girl! 

So, this is what his new weekly schedule looks like: 


I told you, we're old school, paper, pen and a 3 ring binder.  I like the binder system so that we can flip back and get a real, tangible sense of the sheer volume of work we've done this academic year.

He gets a master list with any special notes about the week so he can do a mental overview.  Then he gets the list broken down into the details.  I think it's visually easy to have a master list he can check off and organize in his head rather than my crazy loopy handwriting where it's broken down.  He does like a smart list :)  He can check off the master list as he completes tasks and has a quick and easy reference to what he needs to complete.  I think it's a pretty balanced schedule.  

We just reviewed the List, talked about expectations and the fact we'll be out playing all Thursday at a Minecraft fest at a library with other home school teenagers (allegedly) and then we may go visit a new home schooling friend to chat and drop hints and tips, as many as I have ??  I mean, c'mon, when did I become the go to person?  ACK!  I don't know what I'm doing but we're doing loads of it ;)

We'll see how well the Banker copes with the list and how well he balances his week.  I have solid faith.  I'll report back on Friday. 


Monday, February 4, 2013

We're still doing what we're doing and apparently, I haven't broken him all the way just yet

I haven't posted because I thought it was becoming dull, the repeat.

We have settled into a pretty decent  rhythm now.  He still likes me to list the work by day in his binder rather than the singular list I produced one week.  He couldn't cope with the list of classes. I told him it was the same as me writing the exact same list but spread over 5 days, ok, actually 4, but he didn't have the interest, desire or coping mechanism to break it up on his own.  That's fine, he's 13 and at 13 they are still being told what to do every.single.minute. in public school so managing to get the Banker to organize his own day is pretty good.  I want him ready for later years and college and i think giving him practice with organizing his own days around the academia he is responsible for is just fine. 

We have finished grade 8 math and history.  Nice.  We are proceeding forward with the next Algebra level in math, staying with MathUSee.  I was going to swap us over to geography but I think we'll tackle world history.  Children in Texas aren't actually introduced to the fact there's OTHER COUNTRIES so I think diving in to study just that is a fine fine thing.  I hope to have literature done soon as well so we can be in grade 9 level classes in the core classes before the end of the "school year".  I like the idea of being about 6 months ahead of public school so we can take time off, work deeper into subjects that aren't his core classes and have a built in buffer for all things...  I'm a squiggle after all.

He is doing two online "courses" through and loving LOVING them.  They are Astrobiology and Philosophy,  most excellent introductions and ways for him to experience learning an information without the perpetual threat of being tested tested tested on every tidbit of knowledge.  Sometimes, my sweetie, we learn for the love of it, to better ourselves and to see if there's anything in the subject that grabs us, keeps us and gives us a need to keep digging through the subject.  I am going to keep introducing him to that which may delight, enthrall and inspire him.  

This isn't going to be long winded but here's the new list of classes.  I guess it's not new, this is the list we've been working for a while now and it's a goodie.

The banker's schedule of classes at this point:

Science - Glencoe book (pdf)
Astro Biology and search for extra terrestrial life - online Coursera
Physics - Physics classroom (online)
Philosophy - online Coursera
Health - Glencoe book
Latin - online and Cambridge book
Reading - Book and/or Nook
Photography - book
History - American Republic 1877
World Study - online
Math (gr 9 algebra) - cd lessons, book, online, pdf
Vocabulary - online
Grammar - Glencoe grammar and composition book
Literature - Glencoe Literature, course 2

As we finish some of the books, not core, we are going to be using ck12   for many of the classes.  I like that site!  A LOT!  Intro to engineering and technology will be the first we tackle then some of the sciences after he finishes the Glencoe pdf book.  Did I mention I like the site A LOT!  There are also brain games you can go play and just more things to DO other than straight read, write and move on drudgery. 

I think it's well rounded, interesting, academic and he CAN move the classes around to whatever day in a week strikes his fancy but we're not quite there yet so he moves the subjects around in a day, sort of.  I help that by not schedule the same classes in the same row on the same day... keep it squiggly, mr. straight line! 


Monday, October 29, 2012

Week 11, 8th


Ok, well, after a catastrophic week, socially, emotionally, educationally and parentally, I am well ready to start again already. 

I initiated my "you screw up with the small amount of responsibility you have, there, Banker dear, watch me pile it on, no, I am not removing any responsibility, I am quadrupling it" plan.  First 15 minutes in and it's going swimmingly. 

I wrote the week's plan in the Banker's binder, the purple, 'this is what we do' binder.  I put days and dates at the top of each page and filled each with the instruction, chapter and workload for the day.  There's 5 of them in there for this week, Friday only says "coOp" so it's not so bad.  

The new moment in time this week is that I handed the binder, the paperwork, the test, the project form and told him to do it and we'll meet Thursday at 4pm.  He looked gobsmacked then I smiled and said, "I don't care what order you do this work in, when you do it or what time at night you finish, it has to be done by Thursday at 4"

If he feels like History, he can do History, if he feels like physics on Wednesday instead of today then so be it. I'm not going to supervise the schedule at all but I have asked him to check in with me when he's finished various pages (because I can't totally not peek)

I can't wait to see how this plays out.  It will either go very very well or very very badly. 

He has an appointment with a friend who is a brilliant photographer and we are going to lurk around south Lamar in Austin today, on this brilliant sunny Texas Fall day, and take pictures of the food trucks and art and buildings.  It'll be a good diversion as well as take 4 hours out of his work week... ooooooh you're going to have to really schedule tightly, Banker to get it all in. 

I haven't figured out what, if anything, will happen if we doesn't get the work done, this is more an experiment in maturity, responsibility and reducing stress and increasing the love of what it is that he's learning and doing.

We are also going to figure out a Minecraft creeper head for Halloween   We have a green box base and just have to pixel it.  We are going to hang about with friends, having a drink while the boys hand out candy then go out and then hit the trick or treat road for a bit after the little kids are done.  Hey, it's a night out ;)  I must add, I hate HATE hate what Minecraft has become to some of the Banker's friends.  Way too serious and WAY too intense and we are almost done with it if it keeps up.

I've had an epiphany that has fixed me and my committee for a while.  I was sent a message by 9 friends, who I haven't seen in 14+ years, went to lunch together.  They talked about me, I matter to them, it fixed the hole I had.  It's not, after all, what I do that matters; it's who I am.  Who I am mattered enough to people I haven't seen in so many years that they gathered and sent me video messages and there isn't anything else that could have fixed me the way that did.  I am wrapped in the original inner sanctum blanket and feel warm and safe and yummy. 

The Banker will do fine this week, I have almost total faith. 

I'm off to get us ready to head to the food trailers in Austin because, well, if you are going to take pictures in Austin, you need to start with food ;)  


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Week 10, 8th

School, it's fine.  Life?  Oh it's ridiculous.

I am in the midst of a whirlwind of drama both self imposed and beset upon.  I'm trying to find my place in the universe while fighting demons that have haunted me for my whole life and trying to determine if it matters whether I matter.  Yeah, light stuff like that.  Everyone around me seems annoyed, anxious or just angry all the time which doesn't help my precarious and infinitely fragile grasp on whatever it is I'm holding on to.

Yeah, school is fine.  The Banker is progressing through, on the whole successful and seemingly enjoying the education process we have established.  He thinks he's learning things, seems engaged and academically content.  He's being challenged and is still humming and singing through lessons, that's got to be good.

He's 13 and going through all the appropriate teen angst that boys do.  He is equally pissy, angry and needy, demanding and withdrawn, silly and weepy.  He needs as many hugs as smacks.  I don't think I've experienced quite so proficient an eye roller either.  It's delightful.  My only saving grace is the coffee chats with dear girlfriends who offer support, commiseration and one hell of a giggle. We aren't the only ones.  whew

He is not as mature as some of his friends in some areas yet he's much more mature in others, it's a precarious place, 13.  He takes games intensely but lightly and is shattered when those around him take it oh so seriously, "...I've never been more disappointed in anyone or anything in my whole entire life" isn't the sort of text one likes seeing your son receive in relation to a game.  It's a GAME!  Take your play seriously or not but don't throw that sort of drama out into the universe, and certainly don't throw it in my house. Watch me not explode, implode or hide a body.  We need to get out more and find more humans to take up more space, it'll help take the edge off some of the expectations I think, I hope, I'll make it.

In other news, I discovered that I'm being stalked online.  Stalked is perhaps a bit intense, I'm being followed and then that which I share, dramatic or funny or culinary or cryptic as they may be are being copied and emailed out into cyberspace.  Creepy? Sure.  Yesterday I would have fallen apart at the supposed betrayal but really, if (I) put it out there you can't expect not to be busted on it.  I tell the Banker daily that there are no secrets and there is no privacy online.  It's there...forever.  I'm now looking at it as a cool, I'm so interesting that my thoughts, feelings and cryptic observations are being copied and sent around the world.  Does that make me famous?  More famous. I'm no victim, I'm a rock star.  

I also had my weep at not belonging where I thought I did, I had an epiphany in the wee hours last night, after a whole life of trying, I can't make people (who I thought just would like me) like me and I think it's about time I stopped.  I have allowed my own self worth to be based on the perceived opinions of other people.  As I said, it's about time I stopped.  I thought a relationship was fixed but it was so horrifyingly clear the other day it hasn't.  I think that stops too.  Look at me being all together.  It's not mental health or direction found, it's exhaustion.  I'm exhausted and can't fight any more. 

I've also been playing a game I shouldn't play.  I've been waiting for a compliment, just an out of the blue, random, you look/smell/sound nice, you did a good job, i liked that, you are good at whatever it is you do.  I was keeping track in days, now it's weeks.  Sometimes you just can't stop, I have 4 months invested and it'll be interesting to see if it ever comes to pass.  See, it all feeds into me thinking I suck and aren't good at anything.  If you have to constantly ask if it's ok and there's no support or joy coming back, it's hard as hell to not fall off the cliff.  But I digress, this isn't supposed to be about me it's about home schooling a very straight line kid when I'm, well, look at me *ugh*

We are going to go to more movies in the next couple of weeks, do more outdoor stuff.  We are going to watch movies from the couch and eat popcorn for dinner.  There will be less online games, more live people chatting.  There will be a review of the sorts of people in our lives and what role they play.  You don't have to do everything with everyone in your life, kiddo, some people you just don't want to play cards with and some you can't imagine going to the mall without.  Everyone has a place and the place isn't always everywhere. 

I'm going to call a little girl who makes me feel happy when I see her projects, crafts and read her stories and I want to tell her so.  I am going to make some bread, supervise some algebra and assign a photography project on feet.

I'm going to divide up the leftovers as dinner and eat a very large mug full of chocolate ice cream at some point in my day. 

So, how about that home schooling. 


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Week 9, 8th

Oh good grief this see saw world I'm in may be the death of me.  Just when I thought we had a solid handle on all this home school stuff, the Banker goes and makes some very unfortunate choices.  He made questionable (and I use that term loosely) choices in quality of completed work, volume of "completed" work and then decides, in a split second, to roll his eyes and mock something I'd all teenagers are wont to do at some point, however he did it directly in front of me.  Good grief, child. 

I snatched "screens" from him for a day for the mocking and until all the work was completed as required and in a much more readable and professional format than a piece of scrap paper with 3/  A,B,B,A,C,B,D,7  scratched across it... what the hell is THAT?  "Section 3".  of WHAT?  "History".  Oh I think not not not not. 

I'll admit it's probably me being lazy or that I just suck in general.  I'm peri-menopausal and am having my own issues with a complete and total lack of self worth, exhaustion, massive confidence issues and am totally convinced that I have no relevance.  I have no help, no support and am generally feeling useless and like the help.  I'm also hot all the time, think I'm too fat, wrinkled and am living in free tee shirts I've found and haven't had a hair cut in a year.  I just need some stinking clothes that fit and don't make me feel hot and gross.   Nice to have THAT tidbit of work tossed my way as "completed'.  Ugh.

I'm trying ways to get kudos, support, or a cheering section from the inner sanctum but it's not working and I'm setting myself up for all levels of confirmation that I suck by waiting quietly for any form of recognition and when nothing comes; I feel worse.  Did I mention I'm in a funk? I am looking for enthusiasm, excitement, laughter and just a way to not be so exhausted by it all. I just don't want to have a weep today, oh wait, too late, maybe tomorrow.  Helluva think to shoot for every day.

I will say this, on the schooling front, the Banker did pull up his bootstraps and has done some beautiful work yesterday and today but c'mon, we need some consistency here.  I guess I failed miserably, what else is new, at monitoring and supervision.  I did put an immediate system in place to rectify that.  New system?  Banker isn't finished until I've reviewed the books for the day, every day.  He only has 3 subjects a day so it's not going to take hours.  He had been putting the books on my desk every day for me to review before he needed them again the following week, that descended into, "I'm going to finish something THEN put it on your desk" then to "what book? you saw it".

I'm in a gigantic funk.  I want to get away for a couple of days.

Now, he did do lovely work yesterday, as I said but then when I came outside to check on my family, (who only sit outside to watch TV) I discovered the Banker playing on his phone... um, that's a screen, dear.  So, even though he finished his work and corrected the old stuff, he did mock me and then snuck onto screens so it's another day, or two, before he'll be reunited with the Great Glowing Rectangle.

He finished the book, Divergent, that my mother brought him.  He read it voraciously, we love that.  He finished last night and is desperate for the next in the series.  Yay!  I think he's emailing my mother today asking for the next, we love that. 

I'm going to supervision lightly today, try not to let the funk overtake me and weigh me down even further.  I'm going to be delighted in the work the Banker completes, help him when he needs it and have a giggle when we stuff BBQ pulled pork into the dough that's rising to make BBQ bread pockets, that's gotta be good.  I'm going to have a very stiff drink in 3 minutes because it'll be 10:30 and my Nana always had her "elevensies" at 10:30. I'm nothing if not my grandmother's granddaughter.

I'm sure it'll be better tomorrow, it sort of has to. 



Field trip day.  Oh heck we needed this.

We went to Pease Park in Austin and hung out.  The Banker took the camera and took a bunch of really really cool pictures, visited with friends then we went to lunch.

We needed this time out.  We are both rejuvenated.

Every other Wednesday is now field trip day, bonus.