02 March 2010

Odd Stuff Post.

... full of odd things that don't require a whole post apiece.

The Happy Elf Homeschool

In our homeschool, we've been working on typing. Elf and Emperor know the home keys and most of the keys in the top row. I haven't taught them q, p, g, and h as yet. Otherwise, we have the top two rows down letter-wise. Emperor still hunts and pecks when he has a writing assignment on his AlphaSmart. Sometimes I will make him do his typing practice on the computer because I will know if he is "cheating" by looking at his fingers while typing, but he hates this because the computer feels different and the letters are spaced differently. And it isn't his speeeecial machine. Ok, then. So don't let me catch you cheating again, kid. I have seen him think about not looking in the right place a few times, but he hasn't really fallen down on the job yet.

I've also printed out a small "QWERTY Keyboard" picture and hung it under the computer screen for Elf and placed Emperor's on the back of our pencil holder. Now when they're tempted to look at their fingers, they need to look at this and think about which finger to use next and where all the letters go. Well, it's a work in progress.

Reading About Homeschooling

I picked up "Homeschooling the Child with AUTISM" (Amazon link) at the library recently, but haven't really been able to look at it too closely. Elf caught sight of it and got very upset. He said I ought NEVER read anything about changing our school. He likes our school just the way it is! PLEAAAASE don't change anything, Mom!

He said to please not read the book. Please. Emperor is of the opinion that if the book says that I am to give them less work, that I should be allowed to look at it. I told Emperor that I have NO IDEA what advice it would offer until I'm able to read it. Emperor said maybe I should just leave it and not look at it ("...just in case it says to give a lot of work," he mumbled under his breath as he walked away).

Do your kids attempt to censor your reading like mine do?? Not that it works. I want to educate my kids well and get all kinds of ideas. It doesn't matter if those ideas come from public school educators, people with autism, people who educate special-needs children, or other parents. I liked reading this article by a public schoolteacher who began homeschooling. It's been linked about everywhere on the blogosphere already, but I'd like to share with you the fact that I appreciated that she became more humble through the experience (being that SOLELY responsible for the education of your children will do that to you).

I also hope that she is respected and valued in the homeschool community for her ability to teach larger groups. I don't see where she should be *ashamed* at having once been a public school teacher, or never bring it up as it might naturally arise in a conversation. I have gotten plenty of insight from these teachers in the past, and my educational career with my children isn't over yet. Here's hoping we all see ourselves as fellow learners who are continually improving and sharpening our skills... Most of us do, unless we are

Those Unschoolers, Who Are Lazy-Asses

Blog link, or read my extremely loose synopsis/almost actual quote: "Of course, unschoolers don't qualify as people who are really teaching at all. They're sitting around and just letting kids do whatever they want. As a smarmy and self-righteous potential homeschooler myself, I just want to say that anyone should be able to prove at any time that they are actually homeschooling. I mean, I would be ready for my kids to jump through rings for some lady they haven't seen for months in the middle of the grocery store because I'm all organized like that and am ready for these impromptu pop quizzes. We all know that people who are REALLY homeschooling wouldn't find their kid going on and on about video games... right??! Based on my being nosy in the grocery store and quizzing some kid and his mother about their homeschooling habits, choice of curriculum, hours of actual instruction and educational methodology, I'm just going to go all-out crazy on every homeschooler who doesn't meet the gold standard of some guy I'm vaguely related to who 'homeschools' under the guidance of a 'real teacher.'"

Oh, and here's an ACTUAL quote:

"I'm going to start driving around with standardized tests and bust people."

See, I have a different stereotype in my head about those horrid unschoolers, which is why I can never become one. So far as I know, if little Joey asks a question about whales, you must immediately drop everything, go to the ocean, interview a marine biologist and give Joey time with the whales. He must learn about how to operate all the whale sound equipment. It isn't a complete visit if he doesn't also learn the history of whaling and memorize a few facts about krill, the ecosystem, and learn to differentiate each whale type by region.

Even watching TV can be a difficult educational experience. If Joey wants to hear about Plankton because he saw Spongebob, we MUST see plankton under the microscope. Draw plankton. Create plankton sculptures that are true to scale using painted styrofoam shapes and coloured cellophane from Michael's craft center. Labelled with proper spelling. It must be done that week as we ought not wait... that would stifle the immediacy and joy of the learning experience.

Don't get me started on the etsy shop every unschooler must open for himself, selling world-class eclectic handmade goods from recycled materials, creatively reconstructed into imaginative and fanciful crafts as well as useful items. We don't grade, the unschooling family says, but since Joey grossed about $75,000 from his etsy shop, we think we will learn Swahili in Kenya next year on the proceeds. Granted, it's a bit of a structured curriculum with an "end" in mind when we set up a class objective in this fashion, but we think occasionally we can bend the rules. This time, we are bending them by making a few, since we didn't have rules to begin with.

I'm tired and broke just thinking about what a task unschoolers do every day. Lazy butts, they are not. :)


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  2. My kids wouldn't dream of trying to tell me what not to read. Just attempting it would very likely earn them more work, not less. :)

    I'll explain below why your statement had me laughing out loud:

    See, I have a different stereotype in my head about those horrid unschoolers, which is why I can never become one. So far as I know, if little Joey asks a question about whales, you must immediately drop everything, go to the ocean, interview a marine biologist and . . .

    I have a long time friend who has been in and out of the homeschooling scene. She is an over-achieving, high-drive sort who is grooming her son to be a doctor (I would not be surprised to see him become one). A few years ago when her son was about six or seven she was trying unschooling and told this story on herself. She took him down to a pond to study the wild life there. While there, he became curious about the color of the water so she scooped some up and brought it home, pulled out their microscope, and put it on a slide for him to study. The kid was fascinated by all the wiggly things he saw there.

    Excitedly, she dragged out their encyclopedias, her plant biology book from college, and searched the internet in order to provide him with information. They made it through the encyclopedias, and the plant biology book (which impressed me--mine would have been done half-way through the encyclopedia), before moving on to the internet. She apparently didn't notice his waning interest as she continued reading about single celled plant structure and throwing around even more three syllable words for about fifteen minutes. Finally, as she's reading to him she hears a soft whispery sound and turns her head slightly to see if he's echoing all the cool words she's teaching him. To her irritation, his eyes were rolled up into his head and he was whispering "blah, blah, blah . . ." She said she lost her cool for a minute or two until it occurred to her that she was the one at fault. That all the kid wanted to do was look at the cool wiggly things under the microscope. I suspect most of us have been guilty of this at one time or another. By the way, she's no longer "unschooling"--she's using a curriculum just like the rest of us. And her son is excelling all the same.

    The one or two sets of unschoolers I've known are anything but lazy, but I worry too much about balance and kids finishing what they start, or even starting at all. I think it takes a special kind of kid and parent to make unschooling a success. We're neither.

  3. Just tell Elf that you aren't reading that book for yourself, but for a friend. She lives far away in Japan, and only has so much money to spend on expensive overseas shipping. She is waiting for the review so that she can decide if it's worth ordering or not. :0)

    I agree that unschoolers must have lots of energy to do what they do. If a kid is really just playing video games all day it's not unschooling. I guess we could call that non-schooling?

  4. So you are an unschooler?? I'm a regular homeschooler since I have to have some sort of guidance. It's good for me to have that guidance for myself. That's amazing and wonderful that you homeschool the way you do. You're stinking awesome.

  5. Love the blah blah blah, Mary! Isn't that just a boy thing? :)

    Sue, it seems geared mostly for the American school systems and (UNFORTUNATELY!!!) about 3/4 of the book deals with the two topics of 1) the decision to homeschool and autistic child, pro/con; and 2) how to get the kid back INTO a traditional setting/ college later.

    Mayyybe 1/4 of it was about actually homeschooling the kid, and the generalities along the lines of "you might look into private speech therapy" abound. Man, I coulda written a better book myself, except it would be more specific.

    It would be titled, "How to Homeschool an Autistic ELF" and subtitled in tiny all lower-case print, "everything you ever wanted to know about the Homeschool Elf, his brother Emperor, and how impossible it is to do an effective job with the non-verbal kid and his toddler sister at the same time. Can you please help this family? The public school here is abusive to elves and Mom feels in over her head quite often. She is not ashamed to ask for help, but can't seem to find any. Thanks! PayPal is also accepted if you just want to throw money at the problem. Mom knows of an excellent autism spectrum provider, but she charges about $350 per hour AND commute time... from 45 miles away."

    I'm thinking the publisher would run out of ink just printing the cover. If I could find a place to print my book.

    Ok, it's hopeless. But I wouldn't spend the money on shipping on this book b/c of its general nature. You should write a book about educating Japanese red-haired squirrels with autism. In English, for your fans to read. :)

  6. Um... Virginia???

    LOL, I am sooo not an unschooler! Well, maybe only on Wednesdays. We've fulfilled all our required state hours, so on Wednesdays Elf and Emperor pretty much pick what they want to do. :)

  7. liking the keyboard memorization technique! makes sense in learning it in stages!


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)

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