Posts Tagged homeschooling

I Love a Rainy Day

9 February 2013

Maybe some homeschoolers don’t like rainy days. I understand– it’s hard to stay cooped up inside your house all day. I am a busybody with two very active boys and they need the outdoors like they need food or air. But on a day like today I was especially glad to be homeschooling and spending my day inside with these two amazing individuals. I’m so lucky to be sharing my days with them. I love being able to sleep in until we all want to wake up, the three of us snuggled together in our family bed, warm together against the biting cold air of a winter morn. We enjoyed a relaxing breakfast, then headed back upstairs to get them dressed & teeth brushed. After a winding rabbit’s hole of imaginary games and stories (with one boy dressed, the other who remained indefinitely pajama’ed), and a lot of looking out the window at the rain, watching the puddles on the sidewalk fill up, counting seconds between thunder and lightening, and listening to the rain pound against our roof, our roomie David yelled upstairs that it was snowing! We rushed downstairs to the back door and saw the tiny pellets of hail bouncing around on our lawn. The little boys seemed un-phased by this phenomenon, even oblivious to it, but David and I were appreciative and in awe of the rare sight. Just as he hail was melting and the glorious moment dissolving away, CRASH FLASH!!! The loudest clap of thunder occurred simultaneous to a bright bolt of lightening that seemed to be attacking the lawn right in front of us! I screamed and started to run away impulsively before I caught myself, relieved no property of mine was now on fire. The bolt must have touched down no more than a block away from us, a notion confirmed by the fire trucks that raced down our street 5-10 minutes later. We laughed at our own silliness and said a quick prayer for those at the fire truck’s destination and went about our indoor, rainy-day homeschooling activities. What’s on today’s agenda? No, not pages of desk work, handwriting practice, sheets of math problems, or a spelling quiz. No review of classroom rules or treats for the child whose desk is the neatest and who can sit up straight with their hands folded. Our home learning environment today was filled with silly drawings that ended being an alphabet game, talking about weather and the water cycle, gazing out the window watching the ice on the rooftops turn to steam when the sun came out, construction of vehicles that can simultaneously deliver mail, collect garbage, and fly through the air on a helicopter (made by scotch-taping toys together of course), and lots more creative play than even this mama can document or keep track of. Sure, by the end of the day we managed to count a little money, knock out 4 pages in his math textbook, and whiz through all 8 of his little readers, sounding out lovely 3-letter words while marveling at the silly things cats, rats, and pups do, but that’s really not the beauty of homeschooling. In fact, those academic activities were probably the least educational and definitely the least interesting part of our day. When you are a homeschooling family, I think you are much more acutely aware of how deep and wide the learning experience is, and can appreciate the myriad of ways a child learns. I am so thankful to be aware of this. And I love most that on a cozy, stormy day like it was, that I can spend it with my two little buddies, who are making these memories with me, and I with them.

Homeschooling Adventures

1 February 2013

Our schedule is changing again, which for this normally inflexible, routine-addicted mama means I’m a little emotional about it, and that this was a change that is long overdue. We ran out of money to keep sending PJ to the homeschool co-op that we were attending. I am really sad about pulling him out, and the loss of that regular community, but he has been particularly needy lately, and never seems to want me to leave him there anyway. So he’s not upset by it at all. I think we probably need more time together doing fun things that do not depend on time, schedules, or things like that. I need to build back up the trust I lost all the times I’ve dropped him off places, and we need to recoup the “us time” that we missed when I was working and directing the play. So we are quitting the co-op, and I signed him up for a couple of classes that the public charter is paying for (yay for free stuff!). Tomorrow we have a fun day planned of PE class in the morning and a playdate in the afternoon. I hope to start going back to our homeschool group park days once a week and I really want to get back into doing field trips every couple of weeks too. I am fortunate to have built up a great network of homeschooling families and like-minded moms who are a great support and sounding board when it comes to being the best mom I can be and navigating the unchartered, vast ocean that is the homeschooling experience. I think I’m getting over the mourning of our old routine and I’m excited to start this new one, looking forward to more quality time with my children, and focusing more on our life together. I love that homeschooling affords us the luxury to change our schedule and our outlook on life when what we’re doing isn’t working for us. I know the friendships we’ve made at the co-op are not coming to an end, and look forward to all the fun times ahead!

Random Updatedness

12 August 2012

I guess it’s time for another update. It’s been a busy summer and we have many exciting things happening. Let’s see, I think I’ll work backwards…

We are looking forward to celebrating the weddings of some very important people in our life. Our dear friend Scarlet is marrying Andy’s best buddy since childhood, Geoff, next weekend. We couldn’t be more thrilled about this marriage and all the festivities this week. Andrew’s brother Tom is also getting married the same weekend in a small ceremony in Santa Barbara and we are so thrilled to have Tanya joining our family.

I am in the beginning stages of directing A Civil War Christmas, a play by  Paula Vogel at FBCD. Every stage in this process has proven itself a challenge and we expect it to continue this way. Our fears that the whole thing could fall apart at any moment are real, but we plug along with God’s guidance, waiting on Him to pull this whole thing together. If it does come together, it will be a really incredible show. I am very excited to direct it. And intimidated. I know this will be a great gift to our community.

This week I was honored to be featured at our local concert in the park with the Downey Symphony Orchestra as a narrator on one song. This was a great privilege for me and a wonderful PR opportunity for Downey Arts Coalition. We had a booth at the event and conducted a raffle to benefit the Symphony.

Art on the Vine, our monthly art series with Downey Arts Coalition, celebrated its first anniversary last weekend. This was our first endeavor and has by far been our shining star. So proud that this has come out of our organization. In other art news around Downey, we look forward to the opening of the Stay Gallery, a real-deal art gallery to be located in the heart of downtown Downey, and operated by our sister organization, the Downey Art Vibe. DAC will be coordinating the performance-related stuff that gets programmed into the space.

PJ is now 5 years old and Cakers is 21 months. They have had a lot of fun this summer going on playdates, field trips, and spending once a week with “Teacher Amy” at playgroup (just PJ of course). A new opportunity for PJ has come up that we are going to try. Our friends are starting a homeschool co-op and we signed him up. So he will be attending Discovery of Learning Homeschool Center twice a week in the fall. The drive is a little far for us, so we are keeping an open mind about it. But many of his friends are attending and I know he will really grow.

Speaking of homeschooling, now that he’s 5 and obviously a “big boy,” I’m finding a lot of strangers always asking him if he goes to school, or if he will be going in the fall. I find this question very annoying. I told him he can tell people that he’s homeschooled, but he doesn’t usually say that. He usually gives them a more detailed response. He is wonderful.

He has grown into an incredible personality. He is by far the friendliness person I’ve ever known. He talks to so many people while we are out and about, and loves to give them random information about his life or thoughts. Today as we were crossing the parking lot at Trader Joe’s he yelled hello to a couple he saw across the way and was sure to tell them that we are going on vacation to the mountains and that we were going into TJ’s to get some snacks. Like most people, they were very entertained by him.

Cakers is equally as delightful. He seems to have an endless vocabulary, acquired mostly by mimicry. He puts two words together and seems to understand everything we say. He is such a little darling. He now plays like a big boy and relishes every moment of life. Babywearing has been reduced to its most practical essentials, such as longer walks trough shopping centers and trips to the market. Gone are the days when I would wear a precious and tiny sleeping baby while trying to prepare a meal. That was a difficult thing to multi-task and I am thankful for the relative amount of peace I get while the two of them play together during my meal prep time (I actually started listening to NPR again while I cook! amazing!), but I am acutely aware of what I have lost. Bittersweet. I am pleased to still be breastfeeding him, and hope he continues for many years to come.

Andrew still works for Local Hero Post in Santa Monica. The commute is tough, but the job is good. The company seems to always be growing in demand and in reputation. We keep hoping this will one day make life easier. Hasn’t happened yet… He injured his leg pretty badly playing with the kids on Father’s Day. It’s been a struggle, but he found a doctor that he really likes and is now in physical therapy.

Aside from CWC, we are also trying to plan a season of theatre at the new gallery. One-acts, mostly original stuff. I would direct hopefully one of them, and other of our theatrically-inclined DAC members would take the others. More on that as things develop. I would someday like to get a job again. This is probably not a good time for us, but we remain interested. I’m also being mentored right now toward leadership in La Leche League International. That process has been slow because of all I’ve got going on in my life. But accreditation as a leader will be a meaningful contribution I can make in people’s lives for years to come and I am enjoying every step of the journey.

That’s all for now! Sorry there’s no pictures!

My Yearly Update!

23 April 2012

I never blog anymore.

I think this is because I need to decide what this blog is, exactly. I know i don’t want to be 0ne of those “mommy bloggers” whose blogs I read often. I’m just not as awesome as they. Nor do I see myself being one of those that blog every major and minor life event, with pictures. I’m too much of a slacker for that.

Oh well.

Here’s an update at least:

I am working part-time at Cerritos College now. I teach Acting Fundamentals in the Theatre Dept. It is temporary, substitute. But they asked me to stay until the end of the semester because the reg prof is on medical leave. I am loving it! The class is great. I’ve decided I don’t really know how to act, but hopefully my students won’t figure that out until after the semester is over. Don’t tell. =) Next time I should teach something easy like how to tie shoes the cool way, or alphabetizing my bookshelf… j/k… The hardest part really is dealing with childcare. Andy stays home once a week and the other day we have been using a series of grandmothers and babysitters. It’s really hard to leave them, but I know they are in really good hands, and that they are enjoying the time they spend with their caregivers. I don’t know what we’d do if I was offered a more permanent job, but I trust the Lord will show us if He gives me such an opportunity.

The Downey Arts Coalition is embarking on its first theatrical endeavor! I am so excited to be producing Urban Acts: New Plays from the Street alongside Andrew, a couple other DAC members, and also alongside the critically-acclaimed Urban Theatre Movement. Those guys rock. This will be a staged reading series at site-specific locations throughout Downey. All new plays by new and established playwrights. We are very very privileged to be able to read these wonderful new works and to have most of the playwrights in attendance as well! Check out for more info.

Speaking of DAC, our organization is 1 year old now! I can’t believe the organization that Andrew started has grown into such a huge thing practically over night! I never imagined we would be involved with so many incredible people and doing so many exciting things here in Downey when he first started talking about wanting to form a group like this. That’s exactly it– when he started talking about wanting to do this, it was just going to be a group. Like maybe a support group. Well, God had other plans and it has exploded into an organization! No, a movement! We are even on the fast track toward 501C3 status with our plans to merge with the Downey Art League. This, alongside our friendship with the Downey Art Vibe, is making the arts movement in Downey a force to be reckoned with! Good things are happening and lots of people are getting on board.

It’s also pretty cool to see my husband in this leadership role. He’s always been such a strong leader and he is really thriving in this organization. I’m so proud to be his wife and partner. He stays up way too late, though. 😉

I’ve got a couple of potential directing gigs lined up. Not professional, but I’m excited about both the projects. I hope they don’t fall through! Meanwhile, just focusing on Urban Acts and my new job.

My children are a constant delight. I want to homeschool Peer, we’re learning more about that and considering our options. I might sign us up for a charter in the fall. At the very least we are glad that we can delay kindergarten and keep him home until age 6. A lot of parents are doing that nowadays. “Giving them the gift of time,” as I’ve heard it said. I like that. He will be 5 this summer and I am so proud of the young man he is growing into. I’ve recently discovered that he knows quite a bit of math. He is very adept at simple addition and subtraction, and he’s learning to read and sound things out. I catch him practicing on his own, it’s so cute. What a smart kid I have!

Leif is 17 months going on 5 years old as well.  =) He seems to have his own complete language that he is teaching us, and loves to play and run around outside with his brother. He wants to do everything his big brother (or “Ba-Ba”) is doing, especially the naughty things like smacking and destroying. Also wrestling and horseplay. It’s all a lot fun until someone lands on their head, boys! I am pleased that we are at the point with breastfeeding where it is so easy. But I often miss having a tiny one to nurse. Leif no longer needs/wants to snuggle in my lap for hours nursing. At most it may be 10, 15 minutes and then he’s back to playing. Oh well, he’s pretty heavy and squirmy anyway!

We still go to First Baptist, not a long happening there. Looking forward to several weddings this summer, especially that of our good friend Geoff, when Andy will be a groomsman. Geoff is very special to us and we are so happy for him and his new bride-to-be Scarlet, who is especially lover-ly and wonderful.

I guess that’s our family in a nutshell right now. Sorry no pics. I’m a slacker.


Inspiring Words

27 September 2011

Ran across this today:

“When we adults think of children, there is a simple truth which we ignore: childhood is not preparation for life, childhood is life. A child isn’t getting ready to live – a child is living. The child is constantly confronted with the nagging question, “What are you going to be?” Courageous would be the youngster who, looking the adult squarely in the face, would say, “I’m not going to be anything; I already am.” We adults would be shocked by such an insolent remark for we have forgotten, if indeed we ever knew, that a child is an active participating and contributing member of society from the time he is born. Childhood isn’t a time when he is molded into a human who will then live life; he is a human who is living life. No child will miss the zest and joy of living unless these are denied him by adults who have convinced themselves that childhood is a period of preparation.

How much heartache we would save ourselves if we would recognize the child as a partner with adults in the process of living, rather than always viewing him as an apprentice. How much we would teach each other…adults with the experience and children with the freshness. How full both our lives could be. A little child may not lead us, but at least we ought to discuss the trip with him for, after all, life is his and her journey, too.”
– Professor T. Ripaldi

To School or Not to School

25 May 2011

Every day I think about, read about, or visit a preschool. My child is almost 4 and I just can’t seem to decide what will be the best schooling option for him. I really like the Reggio Emilia approach to preschool education and the playgroup we attend once a week uses this approach. However, there seems to be very few preschools out there who practice this method and even fewer near us. I like the idea of preschool because I think the thing PJ needs to learn most are social skills, and since we do not live in a ‘tribe’ as humans are most naturally bent to do, I cannot provide an opportunity to learn social skills in a home environment.

But there are so many things I hate about the whole idea of school in general. I could go off on them, but many of my pet peeves don’t really apply to the preschool level. Actually, preschool might be the best school opportunity he will ever have, so why pass it up?

But I’m very concerned about the type of preschool he would attend. I’m very conscious about his type of personality not being one that fits in with the traditional model very well and I really don’t want him to be… squashed. For lack of a better word. He’s the type of kid that old-skool type people would just love to beat into submission (figuratively speaking). He’s really really active, super-smart, a free-thinker and very independent.  He won’t just do what you say because “you said so.”  He’s like his dad in that it must make sense to him before he does anything.  (I always tease Andy that he seems to think rules are for dummies).

But I don’t want him to conform. He is going to be a great leader some day. I want him to keep his individuality and his free spirit and his free-thinking. But I do want him to learn non-violent conflict resolution, and to trust those in authority, and how to sit still for five minutes would be nice too. All the academic stuff I think he will pick up on in his own time. He’s super-smart. He pretty much figured out on his own how to write his name (and other letters/words), his numbers & letters, some simple math, etc etc. He’s even drawing the cutest pictures for us. He’s taking piano lessons and his teacher says he seems to be really talented, more so than many kids his age.  (it’s the concentration he has trouble with) Anyway, I have absolutely no worries about his academic progression.

So here’s what I’m looking for in a preschool:

  • two days a week, half-day
  • healthy, organic snacks (goldfish and saltine crackers are not included in this!)
  • no punative discipline (i.e. no ‘time outs’ etc).  I want him to learn how to talk about his problems and emotions and work things out with the other children.  And other children should learn how to talk things out with a kid like PJ, not just tattle on him to get him in trouble.
  • play-based, child-led curriculum.  PJ is the type of kid who thrives when he can create his own learning environment.  And believe me, he is crazy about learning.  That kid is so unbelievably curious.
  • parent participation at least part of the time
  • multi-age program
  • access to nature
  • in a city that neighbors our own!  Driving half an hour is actually too much.  Because in southern CA, half an hour no traffic can easily become an hour if the gods frown on you that day.

This is all turning out to be too much to ask.  Especially the last one.  I was always interested in homeschooling, but lately I’ve become unsure.  Now it looks like that might be my only option.  I’ve also really liked the idea of unschooling, but don’t really know how to do it.  I just can’t send my child to a school that I’m not excited about, that’s just the traditional model of conformity.  I just can’t do it.  I can’t let them have my child.  I won’t surrender him to the Machine.  I just. Can’t. Do it.

Here’s my problem, though.  I spent about the first 1-2 years of my child’s life wondering when I was going to get my life back.  I did not realize when I became a mother that I would be giving up my career.  (stupid, I know, but it’s true)  I think I’ve finally come to the realization that this is my life now, but… when do I get my life back?  If I homeschool, there’s just no chance.  I also have been working on a degree that I also didn’t realize would take me this long.  When do I get to use that degree?  Will I even ever finish it?

Maybe that’s why unschooling appeals to me.  If I can ever fit some actual theatre into my/our daily life, I’d love to bring my kids.  I love the idea of bringing my kids to an audition so they really know theatre in this town.  How cool would my kids be sitting around at an EPA doing whatever kind of homework unschooling kids do while actors around them are warming up and rehearsing their Shakespearean monologues?  Or attending rehearsals.  Or having time during the day to do all of this for themselves?

Anyway, all that’s lightyears in the future and for now I’m just stuck with this preschool connumdrum.  I’m back leaning toward homeschooling.  I just need to figure out how it’s done.  And if I burn out, then I will be done.  And I’ll find a school.  Probably more likely is that we will run out of money and I will have to find a job.  I hope the state is doing better by then and I can teach college.  I also want to fill our days with play groups and lessons of all sorts, so he can learn social skills and other skills he wouldn’t get in preschool (i.e., music, sports, arts, etc.).  (just kidding not sports!)

What are your plans for schooling your children?  Do you think if you start down one course then you are obligated to follow through?  Can a child start out homeschooled and switch?  Or vice versa?  Is anyone else as paranoid about the whole conformity thing as I am???