Posts Tagged ‘school’

The English Beast Raised its Head Today

February 25, 2014

For the Colombian princess, English has been her second language for almost three years now.  She has learned to read quite well now, but she SHINES in the creative spelling department. (ugh!) I have come to realize that in the Crosby household we must not speak very clearly.  You’d think I would have better pronunciation as I’m on my third time through the entire Downton Abbey series! Here is a little glimpse into our English lessons today.

explode the code 002

Nora reads a sentence and then checks the YES box or the NO box.

1. Can a tiny baby sleep in a playpen? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain.  “A tiny baby can’t sleep in the sand out in the open at the park by the swings!” she explains, horrified that I might think that is acceptable! Ah, playpen = playground. Situation rectified.

2.  Can cattle fit in a cradle? YES is checked.  I ask her to explain. “If the cradle is big enough and you have a small cattle, it could fit,” she justifies! I ask her to define cattle. “It’s the cage the dogs sleep in.”  Ah, cattle = kennel.  Situation rectified.

3.  Are there animals in a stable? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. Rolling her eyes she points out the obvious for her mother, “How could an animal fit in a stable?”  I ask her to define stable. “It’s when you hit that silver thing and stable the pages together.” Ah, so stable = staple.

4. Do you put a kettle on the stove? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. “There are big holes in the side of the kettle.  Water wouldn’t stay in there and I think the plastic would melt,” she reasons.  I ask her to define kettle. “Its the cage the dogs sleep in.”  Wait, I thought that was cattle?  So, cattle = kennel = kettle.  This is making perfect sense.

And this was all within fifteen minutes!  But that is not all.

5. Can a needle vanish in the tall grass? NO is checked.  I ask her to explain. “If you hold onto the needle it won’t bannish!” (implied: DUH, Mom!) I underline the V in vanish and she corrects her pronunciation.  I ask her to define vanish. “It’s when you bisappear.”  Oh my stars.

RECESS!

February 5, 2013

Today we were having a bonafide homeschool debate between the evolutionists and the creationists.  Sadly, the creationists needed a bit more evidence and hard facts to substantiate their beliefs.  Despite a few deficiencies in preparation, there was deep discussion and questioning to be had.  We are studying the Grand Canyon and I was absolutely appalled at how the THEORY of evolution is presented as fact on so many websites….. primarily run by the government.  Sadly true.

Anyway, at the end of the debate the kids asked what activity we were doing next and I replied, “RECESS!”  A cheer rose up from seven of our eight pupils…. and then one little Colombian questioned, “What’s recess?”  Uproarious laughter followed.  Too funny, the things we take for granted in our knowledge of “real” school.  I’m all about this fake schooling because I am learning SO MUCH!

Group-of-children-001

Several years ago, my son, who didn’t read until he was NINE years old, asked what school they would go to if anything ever happened to me.  I teared up thinking that my bright boy who was years ahead in math and science would have been labeled and most likely put in special education had he attended school.  Knowing how wiggly he is, I told him, “You wouldn’t like school, honey.  You have to sit in a desk ALL day long!”  His clear blue eyes widened and he whispered in awe, “You get a DESK?!?”  Nope, he had never seen the inside of a classroom before!

Long live homeschooling!  Poobah Poobah!

Healing through Art

April 28, 2012

Tsi wiri lif. Tsi im kne her frrito. A lirogro got otobter fm toloba.

No, I didn’t start speaking and writing in Swahili again.  This is my little girl’s journaling page from this week.  She is what us edjamakated people call an emergent writer.  She has been speaking English for 13 months… and is reading at a beginner level.  Spelling and “sounding out” are a bit hard when English is your second language….. and you are EIGHT years old.

It reads: “This is where I live.  This is where I’m going here forever. A little girl got adopted from Colombia.”

First person.  Third person.  It doesn’t matter….. there are no mistakes in your daily journal.  Nothing gets corrected.  It’s where you share your heart and practice your art. 

It warms my heart that she is so open about her life and her understanding of her circumstances.  AND she’s really talented at drawing maps with coastlines.  This also warms my mama-heart because my eldest daughter has also seen the value in using art to reach kids where they are…. who might not have a voice about their circumstances without the avenue of crayons and felt pens and colored pencils.  Art Therapy.  I didn’t even know it existed a year or two ago.  This Fall I’m sending my daughter off to study to be an art therapist.  Amazing to me how God puts the pieces of the puzzle together for each kid right when they need it.

Spring Break #1, 2012

March 31, 2012

I love homeschooling.  I think I’ve mentioned that here before.  I love it for several reasons…. one of them being the freedom to make and follow (or not) your own schedule.  So, way back in August when our co-op moms were deciding on Spring Break, we picked the first week of April.  That sounded good to all of us.  Done.  Bam.  Then last week we got a call from my husband’s brother asking if we wanted a week of company for their Spring Break.  SURE!  So today wrapped up Spring Break #1.

Next week starts Spring Break #2, only because it was already on the schedule and we don’t have to go to class on Wednesday as per usual.  The Crosby’s will be doing school work, but it will be a tad relaxed.  And everybody said…. AMEN! 

Spring Break #3 will be later in April, when our son has a cycling race in Monterey.  We don’t plan to bring any school work on that trip either.  I did alert the pupils that the same amount of math, history and English will need to be done by the end of Spring Break #3….  in order to keep the water flowing in the primed schoolwork pump. 

See why I love homeschooling?  Here is a photo tribute to spring Break #1, 2012.

Street Hockey Championship in the cul-de-sac.

The Metate Trail in the Spur Cross Recreational Area…. HUGE saguaros!

What would a hike be without some planking?

And to finish off hike #1…. some ruins. 

Spring Break #1, Hike #2 at Black Canyon Recreation Trail

The cacti are just beginning to bloom their AMAZING blossoms.

And we discovered there was a river at the bottom of the trial….. that we didn’t plan on… in time, water or food… so we will return to this hike someday when we are prepared.

Goodbye Spring Break #1.  Hello Spring Break #2!  (I love homeschooling.)

The First Time

February 19, 2012

The first time I remember realizing that I was not a slim girl was in Mrs. Johnson’s third grade class at P.A. Walsh Elementary School in Morgan Hill, California.  I was EIGHT years old, for heaven’s sake.  For some reason… maybe we were learning how to measure things??… she weighed and measured everyone in the class.  AND she wrote the results on a L A R G E chart for all to see how they measured up.  Here we are in all of our 1974 glory.

That’s me in the back row…second tallest…with the tasteful mustard-yellow sweater dress …. without the glasses.  On the larger side of the scale is where I fell… heavily.  Pun intended.  The number 101 sticks out in my mind.  I weighed 101 pounds.  The only other kid in the WHOLE blinkin’ class that also had three digits on the chart was Raul.  He’s the kid in the back row on the far left…. we never said it aloud… but in our minds he was the fat kid in class…. the chart didn’t lie.  We all liked Raul and would never hurt his feelings, but kids do notice extremes and differences…. and triple digits on the chart. Raul weighed in at 103.  Slightly more than me.  Me and Raul…. the only kids over 100 pounds in Mrs. Johnson’s class. Did the other kids consider me the fat girl?  It never dawned on me until this moment. I don’t know. Hopefully they simply considered me “good German stock”… without a trace of German heritage.

Ok, but I WAS TALL for my age!  Height counts for more weight, right?  Right!  And our size didn’t dictate who are friends were at that age.  The girls I remember sharing tootsie-pops with while we swung on the bars were Johanna (pink shirt, top right), and Michelle (in a dress with white socks, front row).  If my fading memory serves me correct, the three of us enjoyed spending time with the three boys to the right of the teachers, Tony, Frankie and Jesse.  I could probably pick up each one of them and swing them around over my head.  I was tall AND strong.

The first time…. and sadly not the last time… I remember weighing more than everyone in the room.  Thankfully, that is over now.  Forever!

My Peeps

February 1, 2012

Last weekend I had the joy and privilege of speaking to the Arizona homeschoolers in a mid-year refresher.  We all found sitters and gathered together in a hotel in Mesa and can I just say that it is so energizing to be with your peeps.  We are all in the trenches together.  We are parents lacking socialization with other adults all day long because we’ve chosen to school our kids at home.  We laughed, we cried, we laughed some more.  We shared our victories and our struggles.  No matter how hard our journey seems, there is always one other family who has it WAY worse than we do… and it secretly gives us hope.  If they can keep on schooling, so can we! 

We listened to Tim Hawkins’ new homeschool song

and we laughed until we cried.  Happy tears with my peeps.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

As the evening progressed, there were door prizes, laughter, a Southwest buffet and then I shared our homeschool story…. the challenges, the kid that couldn’t read, my failures as a homeschool mother, the triumphs and what we’ve learned along the way.  It’s cathartic to give your testimony.  It not only gives hope to others, but you realize how God pulled you through your circumstances and you’re still alive to tell the story.

It was a good weekend.  And I’m ready to finish the homeschool year now.  Not quittin’ anytime soon.  Thank you, my peeps, for showing up and keeping me on my journey with my kids.

Vacations are Underrated!

June 22, 2011

Every year we come to Lake Tahoe during the summer…. it is honestly a little slice of heaven on earth.  The temperature is particularly inviting because we abide in Phoenix…. the Valley of the Sun.  I happened upon the weather at home today and it was a blistering 114.  It was a balmy 76 here at the lake… with a light breeze… and slightly cloudy skies that randomly hid the sun from view. It is sublime.

As a homeschool mom, you would assume that my life is somewhat lackadaisical with relaxed schedules and leisure time at hand.  Not so.  Imagine the pressure of your four children’s education resting solely on your shoulders.  It’s A LOT to think about…. and more so than not, why I completely appreciate our time in Tahoe.  I do not bring one iota of school with us. OK, that was a lie.  I did bring two audio books from our literature list next year.  OK, AND a small reader.  After being away from our home for approximately 35 minutes, I realized that the audio books were useless because we no longer possess a functioning portable CD player.  My driving shift started at 2:30 a.m. ….. when I was not afforded the luxury of using the car stereo for my American History literature choices…. simply because four other people wanted to sleep at 2:30 am.  How selfish.

The 1850s novel I’m reading purely for pleasure has been cracked open but once during the past three days on the lake.  How have I been busily spending my time, you ask? Relaxed in the sand I stared in a catatonic state at the crystal blue water for several hours.  Perched on the couch I gazed at the aqueous goodness beyond the patio doors for long periods of time.  Parked at the kitchen table I played game after game after game after game. Today we all walked into town.  TWO whole miles one way… uphill… in the snow (well, it would be snowing in January, but we are here in June.)

Somehow the cerulean water calms my spirit.  Surprisingly, breathing is easier up at 7,500 feet due to lack of stress.  This scenery allows me to collect myself and ease off of the pressures of home.  Vacations are WAY underrated in my humble opinion.

FORTY-FIVE!

April 8, 2011

No, that’s not 45 more days of school!!!  (There’s only 33!)  Today I embarked upon this milestone in my life…. half of 90 years old.  It’s not that bad.  Other than not being able to read some of the tiny print on my birthday cards and the plant ID tags that I received.  Okay, or the free movie popcorn tickets.  Thankfully the numbers on currency are really big and always in the corner!  Yes, it’s my birthday!

How did I spend my day?  Oh, not exactly as planned, let me tell you!  Sleeping in was a wonderful pleasure.  After all these years, it still rates right up there with reading novels and gardening! After sauntering down stairs, I discovered my daughter cooking up my yum yum yummy breakfast… homemade apples and cinnamon oatmeal and special scrambled eggs!  Thank you, Larisa!  BUT, half way through my breakfast, I realized it was 10:30 am and I was going out to lunch with some friends at 11:15!!  So I put my birthday breakfast in the fridge for tomorrow!

Birthday lunch was fun with seven sweet friends!  Lots of laughs and turtles.  (Remember, my un-wanted turtle collection?  It is continuing!… potholders, garden kneeling pad, RING, etc. etc.) Thanks, Friends!

Upon returning to the castle, my son tells me that he wants to take a short cut over the canal to his friend’s house.  He tells me that he balances on this little pipe over the water WHILE carrying his bike.  I say NO!  He said it’s perfectly safe, as would any 14-year-old lad whose brain is saturated with testosterone.  I say NO!  So he drags me out to the canal to see the balancing pipe.  Well, it IS perfectly safe.  It is over the canal, but the canal goes under a HUGE cement overpass at that point.  There is a pipe…. but it is next to a wall that he leans on for balance.  And the water it is over is a puddle… only 12 inches below him… and eight inches deep.  So I let him go.  All is well, ….. but no. 

Nora was with us on the dangerous pipe exploration trip and went down on her hands on the ground in some cactus.  OUCH!  The spikes are as thin as hairs and my 45-year-old eyes can’t see them.  We arrive home and I google how to remove cactus thorns.  Lo, and behold!  I love google!  I spent the next hour smearing Elmer’s school glue on her hands in two layers and waiting for it to dry.  I peeled it off like sunburned skin and the ouchy was no more!  I love google.  Did I mention that?

Off to a birthday party at my parents and VOILA!  I survived my 45th birthday without scars.

End of the School Year

May 12, 2010

Tomorrow is supposed to be the last day of school for LAKE Academy.  (L = Larisa, A = Austin, K = Keeve and if Zaza’s real name starts with E… it will all be so perfecto!)  However, none of my pupils are finished with their work.  My most hopeful student did not pass his last math test with over 90%…. which is not a passing grade at LAKE Academy.  We have high standards to uphold… and math requires skills that need to be remembered over and over.. and mastered.  He will be doing some review and then retaking the test.  Some of you may balk at my expectations, but the kids know they can live up to them… so I set them HIGH!  If I set them low, they would live up to those as well.  We are not striving for mediocrity in this home school!  No, I’m not pushing my kids beyond their capabilities either.  Calm down.

Pupil #3 got braces put on this week and it has slowed his progress in math and grammar.  I gave him a check-off list five weeks ago with what needed to be accomplished each day.  He has been faithful and diligent until this week.  He may be able to complete his work for the year on Friday… if his mouth is not distracting him.  Wires poking your cheeks can be such a detriment to every day life.  Good grief!  Thank God for wax!

Pupil #1 has had an unbalanced year.  She had way too much of a good thing during the first semester and much making up for the lacking things during second semester.  I also gave her a list of what needed to be accomplished to complete her sophomore year.  Frankly, it will probably take her another month.  But that’s OK.  Her calendar is wide open!  She’ll be winding down the same time as her cousins in Washington who don’t finish school until end of June.  Perfect.

As the homeschool marm, I reflect on my teaching for the past year… right about now…..  Mid-May.  I didn’t do as well as I had hoped with staying on top of high school history.  Spanish for my boys died mid-winter and is still in need of resuscitation.  We may be doing that all summer.  For spelling, both boys advanced more than a year!  They also finished math and are right on course… actually, #2 son is about 2/3 of a year ahead.  Their writing dramatically improved this year thanks to an IEW course.  (Institute for Excellence in Writing)  They know how to take notes from three sources, compile them, make an outline, write a three paragraph paper with opening and closing/clincher sentences… AND know how to add strong verbs, adjectives, adverbs, clauses and sentence openers.  (More than most high school graduates!)  So I feel great about that!  Not so great about high school history.

Out of my nine years of homeschooling my kids, I would only say I did a great job one out of nine years.  That’s not good odds. I’d tell you the exact percentage, but my calculator is missing from my desk.  And I don’t do math in my head.  As soon as I have to carry a number, they all get mixed up.  My great year was last year…. year EIGHT!  But, hey, there’s always next year!  And if we don’t set our goals high… we wouldn’t accomplish hardly anything at all!  Next week I’ll be breathing easy.  Whew!

Another Science Experiment Gone Awry

May 13, 2009

How did Archimedes invent all those cool contraptions that my kids and I cannot reproduce for the life of us…. only 2,000 years later with advanced tools and apparatus???  That’s what I want to know.  The Screw looks simple enough, but to make one that works?  Good Grief!  (My kids asked me yesterday how grief can be good. Whatever.)  We’ve got tubing wrapped all around the broom handle out back and a huge container of water still waiting to be moved to the other empty container.  How many times do you have to turn the deal before the water moves???

And the catapult…. you’d think some rulers, rubberbands, duct tape, a tennis ball and three numbskulls could shoot the blasted thing.  Nope.

We did figure out and re-inact successfully the water-displacement theory.  When you push Barbie in the 8 cup glass measuring cup holding 6 cups of water, the water line went up exactly one cup.  (Thank heavens for an easy measurement!)  The one cup of water weighed EXACTLY the same as Barbie.  Voila! 

We are scientists.   Brave and smart. (Only 7 more days of school!)


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