ciroccoj: (granola)
  • Woke up to freezing rain, yet again.

  • Bus cancellation website down.

  • Finally accessed site; no snow day.

  • Scraped off my car.

  • My key for Chris's car not working; had to get his & scrape his off in order to move it so I could get out of the driveway.

  • Not yet 8AM; day not boding well.

  • Early morning meeting with Justin's principal, about the sudden change to his schedule that will throw home schooling out the window if we follow it but may be too much for his organizational skills if we don't, what with him having to miss a lot more school because courses that were being held entirely in the morning will now be partly in the afternoon...

  • ...went wonderfully! His principal doesn't think it'll be a problem for Justin to keep up, as he's "very self-motivated and responsible" and "he already knows so much of this stuff, you guys have done such a great job with him - a lot like Daniel, actually." And "as for him spending more time at school... well, you know, he's a bright kid, and sometimes at this level it's hard to keep bright kids interested and motivated at school full-time, so he's really getting the best of both worlds with this part-time thing..."

  • Will revisit this if it looks like Justin's having trouble, but for now it's business as usual.

  • Day seems suddenly brighter :) :)

  • Think I'll try to wear matching clothing today.
ciroccoj: (wonder)
::happy sigh:: History Fair => done. Our house is a sty, but the boys finished their displays, we got set up on time, and we had a wonderful time for the third year in a row. I always find it amazing how incredibly varied the displays are. The youngest participants are barely four, the oldest are high-school aged, and the topics range from the traditional (the Celts, Pioneer Days, Egypt, Leonardo DaVinci), to the slightly unexpected (History of Houses, Internment Camps, Ontario, Punks, Pirates, Mulan, and, Daniel's topic, Human Rights) to the outright bizarre (Scooby-Doo, Silly Putty, and Justin's: the History of History). And the cool and original way the kids put their stuff together, whether they're doing what you'd normally think of as "this is history" or not, is just awesome.

Also: Chris's finger is OK! No trip to the Emerg this time. Not like last time his flesh became part of our meal.
ciroccoj: (cluelessness)
... non-home schoolers, feel free to chime in as well.

OK, so, Justin's memory is beyond terrible; it's scary. He's very bright and learns quickly, but knowledge doesn't stick. If it's food-related, or something procedural, he's fine, but names, dates, vocabulary, spelling, etc? Nada. Sometimes it feels like trying to glue a post-it note to a dolphin.

So we've tried all sorts of things - teaching him in different ways, adjusting curriculum so it's more relevant to him, compensating for memory loss... to not a lot of success.

We had him psych tested, to see if there was some learning disability. Testing came back Non-Verbal Learning Disability, same as Daniel, but less pronounced, and showed that he has an abysmal memory.

The psych recommended "increased repetition" to deal with that.

You know, there's only so many years you can spend repeating the days of the week in French and seeing that the kid forgets them after a week without practicing them, before you think, "There's got to be something better than this."

So I sent an e-mail to the folks who worked with Daniel, who had given us very useful advice on how to deal with his educational difficulties. Gave them some info about us, and asked about memory issues.

Got back a reply almost immediately. "We'd need more information," it said. "Such as your child's age, grade level, educational history, [insert long list here]."

Sent all they asked for. Told them he was home schooled, but would be in grade 4 in public school.

And waited.

Waited rather a long time. Nudged them a couple of times. Finally received the following reply:

Hi Mrs. B.

Sorry not to have replied sooner, I am just back from extensive travelling over the past couple of months.

Given that your son is home-schooled, it is harder for you to access appropriate services. He should really be taught by someone who has special education certification. What area do you live? And I'm not sure how old he is? Was there any diagnosis made by the psychologist who did the assessment? If he has any kind of learning disability, then simple repetition will not be effective. Have you considered enrolling him with an organization like Kumon or a tutoring organization? Is there any particular reason why you are home-schooling him? Do you have any plans to place him back in the regular system and if so at what point?

There is little doubt that it is highly frustrating trying to be a good parent and an effective teacher of academics to a child who is struggling, since there may be all kinds of other issues at work (e.g., passive resistance, unclear boundaries between school time and "kid" time, some need to keep you highly engaged with him, etc. - can't say exactly what because I don't know the situation). Academically, he really does seem to me to need some special education support. It is not as simple as making a couple of suggestions that might help you, I'm afraid.

M. M.

Any thoughts?

ETA: Damn, I worded this completely wrong. I didn't intend to ask for thoughts on how to get Justin to memorize things better - though suggestions are very welcome! I meant to ask for people's thoughts/reactions to the e-mail I got from the psychologist.
ciroccoj: (family)
We! ::thump chest:: Have a Toilet! ::thump:: ::thump:: We! Toilet!!

Though the pride belongs entirely to Chris & the boys, as I had nothing to do with it. They've all been working very hard in the last few weeks, redoing our downstairs washroom. It's part of Homeschooling Science, you see. Measuring, calculating areas, discussing different types of tiles, learning about wall rot, looking at different types of water-saving toilets, etc. Very educational.

Also very inconvenient; we've had one toilet among four people, one of them a twelve-year-old boy who sometimes needs to get away from his permachattering little brother and who loses track of time on a regular basis. Yeah, no.

And, as a bonus for the boys, once the toilet had been tested and pronounced fit for use, they each got $15. They hadn't expected anything, because it was Science, even though they'd worked on it far more hours than is usual for one of their classes. Chris hadn't told them they were getting paid. What's more, he pointed out that they still have quite a bit to work on down there, and if they continue working as well as they have been, they should have enough money to be able to buy Christmas presents without worrying too much about the cost.
ciroccoj: (family)
So, this week's history chapter is on Japan. Our art for the week was a Japanese tea ceremony - which could very well make any real Japanese folks pop a blood vessel with its lack of Japaneseness.

For one thing, the hosts (the kids) were supposed to not eat with us. They were supposed to snack in the kitchen while preparing our food. Yeah, no :)

Big pictures behind cut )
ciroccoj: (family)
Here's Daniel's other history fair booklet. He researched, wrote, typed, picked illustrations, and arranged the layout. I mostly just pointed out a few major errors, scanned the pictures, and helped him with the layout a bit. And pointed out that one of his maps was just a bit... completely incomprehensible. Even after three tries. In part because neither of the boys has a smidgen of artistic talent when it comes to drawing, but in part because Daniel just wasn't paying attention. We left the incomprehensible map in, as a lesson in why you need to do your best, as well as a lesson in living with the consequences when you don't do your best.

The fair was not without some angst. We all took some life lessons from it ;)

Nine big pictures behind the cut-link )

I've also scanned in Justin's religion book, for those who took a look at it online but wanted to know what it looked like printed out. I had just scanned in the pictures and tried to arrange them around the text the way Justin had them arranged in the booklet, but it didn't translate well on lj. What's in this link is a scan of the Religion booklet pages themselves.

And here's a picture of their display ) at the history fair. They have their books for people to browse through, plus a collection of things from when they studied the Romans last year: a "Things We Got From the Romans" display, togas, a Roman road in four stages of preparation, and a mosaic (not authentic - we tried to have them make their own and it was a dismal failure, so I ended up buying premade ones from Toys 'R' Us). There's also a few other things from later projects, like a Russian religious icon and a Byzantine Easter egg. They were wearing their togas, though Justin's spent most of its time wadded up around his waist.

For me and the kids to use:
Religions, by Justin
Great Buildings, by Daniel
Empires, by Justin
ciroccoj: (family)
Here's Justin's history fair book, Empires and When They Ruled. He was responsible for picking/drawing all of the illustrations, writing the text or narrating the text to me, and organizing and arranging the text and pictures. I typed in his work, pointed out some of his more obvious errors, and helped him with the layout a bit.

Oh, and I also introduced him to the concept of self-plagiarism. As he had already written a few pages about the Muslim empires in his book on Religion, we decided he would just reuse those pages here, rather than write out new ones :)

Empires, by Justin, seven huge pictures behind the cut )

For me and the kids to use:
Religions, by Justin
Great Buildings, by Daniel
The Fall of Rome, by Daniel
ciroccoj: (family)
Here's one of Daniel's History Fair booklets, "Great Buildings." He did his own research online and in our textbooks/history books, wrote and typed his entries, picked the illustrations and did the layout. I mostly just corrected a few of the more obvious errors and then printed :)

Great Buildings, by Daniel, ten huge pictures behind the cut )
ciroccoj: (family)
Here's Justin's history fair book, Religion. He picked/coloured/drew all of the illustrations, wrote the text or narrated it to me, and organized and arranged the text and pictures. I typed in his work, pointed out some of his more obvious errors, and helped him with the layout a bit.

Religions, by Justin, eight huge pictures behind the cut )

For me and the kids to use:
Great Buildings, by Daniel
Empires, by Justin
The Fall of Rome, by Daniel
ciroccoj: (family)
Right, so, remember my kids took part in a home schooling history fair a while ago? Their display consisted a bunch of Roman things they'd made during the year (a Roman road, a mosaic, and a list of things we got from the Romans), a few Byzantine projects (a decorated egg and an icon), and two small books each: "Religions" and "Empires" by Justin, and "The Fall of the Roman Empire" and "Great Buildings" by Daniel. They also wore togas, and were on hand to answer any and all questions thoroughly and enthusiastically :)

I've been meaning to post their books for... um, a while. Here's one of Justin's books. He was responsible for picking/drawing all of the illustrations, narrating the text to me, and organizing and arranging the text and pictures. I typed in his work, pointed out some of his errors, and helped him with the layout. This is the closest approximation to how he arranged his book, though I can't quite get the HTML codes to do the proper aligning.

Justin's take on the history of religion )
ciroccoj: (family)
Got tagged to do this over on Facebook, but thought I'd do it here instead. This updates to FB automatically anyway.

  1. What time do you get up?
    Anywhere between 7 and 8:30. Used to be earlier.

  2. What do your children wear to school?
    Um. Clothing?

  3. What curriculum have you tried and hated? What have you tried and loved?
    Don't really use any set curriculum. Other than Story of the World, which we love. We're about halfway through The Middle Ages right now.

  4. Who is your most inspirational homeschooling role model?
    Caroline Ingalls ;)

  5. Abeka, Charlotte Mason, unschooling, or Classical?
    Eclectic. We set goals at the beginning of the week for each of 7 subjects (English, French, Spanish, Math, Science, Social Studies, Music, and Art). We often have goals that work together: eg, we're studying Ghana for Social Studies, and Art is making salt blocks and gold nuggets, which were traded in Ghana in the middle ages. Or we're studying the Hundred Year's War for Social Studies and end up watching Henry V for English. (Story of the World helps with this. A lot.)

    Also, although we're not unschoolers, we do a lot of stuff on the fly. The kids get interested in something and we end up learning about it, from the internet, the library, museums, movies, etc.

  6. Favorite response to “What about socialization?”
    I totally believe that by and large home schooling socializes kids at least as well as regular school does, in that although they may not spend six hours a day with a group of thirty people the same age as themselves, they do spend a great deal of time with small or large groups of people of all different ages.

    As for socialization for my own kids? Personally, I worry about them. Not so much Daniel, but Justin, because he doesn't make friends very easily and mostly just seems to want to play with Daniel. He seems content enough, but I worry about him anyway.

  7. Favorite subject?
    History. Though they love Science With Dad too :)

  8. Favorite field trip ever?
    Hawaii :D :D

  9. Best thing about homeschooling?
    Cannot put it any better than Annette did: It encourages kids to be creative learners and to take risks. In the words of Miss Frizzle, "Take chances, make mistakes, get messy!"

  10. Sports, music, or art?
    Sports is not a problem. They do swimming once a week, Taekwon-do three times, and walking/biking as often as we can. Music and art are a little more difficult, as neither one has even a smidgen of artistic talent. Daniel has the innate sense of rhythm the white race is most famous for, and notes are, to Justin, "more like guidelines, really." Both struggle to draw stick figures.

    We try to make art & music interesting. Chris does D&D figure painting with them, Justin often does fancy cooking for his "art" goal, etc.

  11. Beautiful script handwriting, or lightning fast accurate typing?
    See above re. artistry. Typing is a godsend.

  12. Best one stop shopping for school books?
    Scholar's Choice.

  13. One subject you didn’t get to this week:
    English. Didn't quite finish watching Henry V.

  14. What will you do when you run out of kids to teach?
    Hopefully practice law.

  15. Ever give school books as holiday or birthday gifts?
    Not yet. I could see doing it, though. And we've given them educational games before.

  16. Better late or early (delay formal education at home, or start as young as possible?)
    Same as my attitude towards learning in general: go at the kid's speed and ability and desire to learn. Temper it with a bit of "mother/father knows best" if the kid's speed and ability and desire to learn are really problematic for some reason. Eg, Justin is not interested in improving his reading. I am willing to accomodate him to a certain extent, but, I'm sorry, he is going to work on his reading whether he wants to or not.
ciroccoj: (family)
One of the few downsides to home schooling, IMHO, apart from the lack of double-incomeship, is that the kids don't get to show off their work very often. Which deprives them of both the immediate ego-boost of seeing their work appreciated by someone who isn't Mom, and of the practical life experience of putting together presentations/displays that will be judged by persons who have no stake in finding their work adorable and special.

Today's History Fair gave the kids that, and (IMHO) went one better.

You know how when schools have Open House events, you get to see 15 dioramas of Laura Ingalls' log cabin from Mrs. Boothby's Gr 5 students, and a wall of "Who Is My Hero?" compositions from Mr. Chang's Gr 3 students, and a table of macrame jungle animals from Ms Rider's Gr 4?

I love seeing stuff like that. I love the variety of ability and interest and effort.

I don't know how many kids were involved in this fair; apparently at least 38 families registered beforehand, and a bunch more showed up today, but I'm really no judge of numbers so I won't go there. I do know that the youngest kids looked about four and the oldest were teenagers. And the projects were amazing. Working dioramas of Pompeii and Roman villas and Laura Ingalls' log cabin. Posters and books and displays, some performance/presentations, and a jar of pioneer molasses cookies for the taking, recipes included.

And the subjects? The Romans, the Renaissance, Medieval times, and megaliths and Al Capone and pollution and Lego and roller coasters and hockey and Greek theatre and catapults and Vikings and King Alfred and cowboys and WWII and Canadian settlers and art and warriors and board games and the Lighthouse of Alexandria and Acadia and Alexander the Great and Nebraska Sky Disks and OMG.

Bloody brilliant. We are so doing this again.

The prep time was extensive and the boys and I were rather frazzled by the end and at one point I honestly thought we'd be better off skipping the whole thing, but they were so proud of themselves, so eager to show off what they'd done, and so thrilled at the response as people asked them about their displays and leafed through their books and complimented them on all of their hard work.

14 displays - image heavy! )

::happy sigh::
ciroccoj: (wonder)
The kids have reached chapter 25 of their Medieval History book (the Black Death). Last week I tested them on Fall of Rome - Moorish Spain, and this week's test is The Crusades - The Ottomans. They, um, know a lot. It's a little scary.
ciroccoj: (felt good)
This week is our history book's "Bottom of the World" lesson, briefly outlining a bit of Australian and New Zealand ancient history. Found some very cool New Zealand stuff on hakas. Especially for relatively energetic (and sometimes distressingly violence-obsessed) little boys.

  • Haka, From Wikipedia

    A haka is a traditional dance form of the Māori of New Zealand. It is a posture dance with shouted accompaniment, performed by a group.

    War haka, which had their own term, 'peruperu', were originally performed by warriors before a battle, proclaiming their strength and prowess in order to intimidate the opposition.

  • Haka in popular culture, also from Wikipedia

    The use of haka in popular culture is a growing phenomenon, especially in New Zealand. Traditionally, haka were used only in Māori cultural contexts, but today haka are used in a wide range of public occasions to impart a sense of importance of the event.

  • Maori Haka

    A mixed kapa haka team filmed in Palmerston North (Massey Uni Maori studies graduation show)(1:30s)

  • Adidas commercial (♥♥)

    This ad features the All Blacks, New Zealand's national rugby team, who do a haka before each match - and also happen to be the number one ranked team in the world. (31 seconds):

  • Explanation of the Haka of the All-Blacks, from our friend Wiki again

  • World Cup Rugby, 2006: New Zealand v. Tonga (♥♡♥♡)

    Most rugby teams apparently just stand and watch the All Blacks. Not the Tongans ;) (1:03s)

Total fangirl aside: on the LOTR Extra Features DVDs, there's a segment on the four months or so the crew spent filming the Battle of Helm's Deep. Apparently at one point the stuntmen on the ground (mostly burly New Zealanders acting the part of Orcs and Uruk-Hai), decided to do a haka at the stuntmen on the walls (mostly slim New Zealanders being elves.) It was great and inspiring and everything, and gave everyone a bit of an adrenaline kick to counteract the tedium of long weeks spent standing in the dark getting rained on, but there was a downside. The elves got into the spirit of it too, and gave right back, and... well, stomping and yelling and sticking out your tongue and rolling your eyes, and slapping your arms, chest and thighs, may look great on an Uruk-Hai, but apparently it looks decidedly un-elvish. Some takes had to be edited for that ;)
ciroccoj: (happy)
Me: OK, so now we've learned a little bit of Roman history, let's sing a Roman song. You ready?
Boys: ::nod::
Me: Repeat after me: Senex.
Boys: Senex.
Me: Macdonald.
Boys: Macdonald.
Me: Ha-beh-at fundum.
Boys: Ha-beh-at fundum.
Me: Ee, ai.
Boys: Ee, ai.
Me: Ee, ai.
Boys: Ee, ai.
Me: Oh.
Boys: Oh.
Me: OK? Let's sing it together:
Me (adding in a simple tune) and boys (tentatively singing along): Senex MacDonald habeat fundum,
Boys: E-I-E-I-O - oooh! ::get it:: ::groan:: ::start laughing::
ciroccoj: (family 2005)
  • Too busy to stop and update on what's keeping me so busy.

  • Two days into home schooling, I'm having a great time. So is Daniel. There hasn't been a lot of actual schooling going on, mind you, as we're just sort of organizing ourselves, much the same as the regular school folks. We went to the home schooling picnic, picked up some curriculum, organized our schedules, worked out tentative rewards/incentives (Daniel's idea, actually), and tested some of Daniel's pre-existing knowledge. I think it's pretty safe to say at this point in time that Daniel's days in Grade 3 Math and English will be short. Like, probably over by the end of next week. Grade 4, here we come.

    On the agenda for tomorrow: library trip! Oh! And! HBLN (local home schooling association) is holding book clubs for kids Daniel's age. Right at the branch we usually go to! How cool is that!

  • First choir rehearsal tonight. ::happy sigh:: We've plunged right into our November 11 concert music, which, for the most part, is absolutely lovely. We're doing Abide With Me, a hymn which I first heard performed a capella by the Drums of the Fort Henry Guard, and fell in love with immediately. So, yay!! We're also doing a piece written by our tenor section. Woo-hoo! It's beautiful. The song, that is. Although the fact that it was written by just one guy is a little troubling. Because like I said, it was written by our tenor section. Or rather, our tenor. ::gulp::

    We're also doing Will Ye No Come Back Again?, which is gorgeous and fun to sing and gives me a little twinge, as I've been re-reading the Outlander book series, set in Scotland around the Rising, and it paints a less than flattering picture of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

    Then there's The Maple Leaf Forever, our old national anthem, which got a facelift a few years ago, when "CBC Radio's Metro Morning show in Toronto [ran] a contest to replace the old lyrics, which were distasteful to some ears and merely comical to others."

    You can see both at

    And we've got a very nice version of "In Flander's Fields", by Stephen Chatman, and a really, really, really neat song called "All Too Soon", by Stephen Hatfield. About the Maritimes, its history, and its lament for its young people who are moving away.

  • [ profile] medee6040, hope you're doing well. I have what's quickly becoming a crippling aversion to using the telephone for any purpose whatsoever, but I will really, really try to call and at least say hi.

  • I know I owe some people (on lj) various e-mails and e-pictures. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get a bit of spare time to send them on their way. The problem is our *&%$#$% network connection is still very dead, so I can't transfer files from the computer that has them to the computer that allows me to send them.

  • Tomorrow: must call (GAH!!) H&R Block re. my mom's last taxes, Dr. re. Daniel's nose, computer lady re. fixing the network, blah blah blah. And go to the library to sign up for stuff and pick up books, and open up an account for Daniel and Justin with the rolled-up coins, and go to the Humane Society with the guinea pig, which is still at our home (long story - our neighbours left it behind, despite the fact that we'd told them we couldn't take it, leaving a message that if we really didn't want it we could just let it go free), and call [ profile] ninjakat and see if it's OK for me to visit, and call Guy to see how he's doing and try to drop off food/invite him to dinner, and... I know I'm forgetting something here.

  • Oh well. It'll come to me. Probably in the middle of the night.

November 2012

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