Monday, September 28, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Steven Adds

I was given a Saxon math book several years ago. I think it might have been Kevin's old book that Linda let me borrow, and you know how it goes: What comes to Karen, if she likes it, stays with Karen.

I put it in my book bin and when I cleaned it out like I always do in the summer, I realized that Steven would be in 5th grade this year. I had an actual textbook that would be appropriate to his age. I was very excited.

I love Saxon for the main reason most people (who like it) do: it's practical and it makes sense. Steven learns a new math challenge every time we open the book and all the while it is a review of what he's already learned. I was worried about starting him into a 5th grade math curriculum when he has not had any kind of organized learning in math concepts, but he seems to take to it quite well and understands what's being asked of him.

I think at this point it comes down to memorizing math facts which is something we drill on the days we "do school," and then, going page by page as time allows. He already "gets it," it's just going to take time to memorize the basics.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Steven Digs and... Acts!

Yesterday afternoon Steven joined in with a group at the local Metro Park and took a class called "Subterranean Safari." Here he is digging for bugs and taking notes.

Afterward we picked Lea up from school and headed to the library where Steven joined in with Theater Workshop they offer every other week. He loved working with his teacher, Michael:

And was happy to meet another 11 year-old boy who was there who enjoys acting as much as Steven and who is just as silly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Steven Sews

Steven joined his teacher, "Creatrix Jane," for a morning of sewing.

This is Steven's first real experience with the machine and he is a natural. He loved the class and can't wait to do more.

I want to let "Jane" know, he said he wishes he lived in your house :)

Monday, September 21, 2009

Steven Spells

I've been using Spelling Power with my kids for a long time, I really don't even know when we started using it but it was on recommendation from my sister, Linda. Linda has been homeschooling since the beginning of time and has lots of good advice.

My kids are all naturally good spellers and readers. At school our daughter Lea was tested as "gifted" in this area and it really doesn't surprise me (I'm not sure what that means, but it was on a letter with a diagram that we received from the school. I guess it means she's a smartypants, which isn't big news.). My older two children started reading quite early all on their own, and Steven started reading later, but again, on his own. I read to all the kids as they were growing, from the time they were infants, but I never "taught" them to read.

A curiosity is this though: None of them read voraciously. None of them really enjoy perusing fiction regularly. They like short stories and articles in magazines; they all read well and comprehend well, but none pursue it with a passion. I have a theory that they would probably enjoy high literature, but haven't taken the time to read it with them. Perhaps the future will prove my theory correct once they are in college.

But, they do/did like Spelling Power. All of them enjoyed this book and I use it mainly as a brush-up because spelling correctly has been important to the older kids, and now to Steven, my token homeschooler.

I've tailored it to fit our very laid-back way of educating. I don't force Steven to write because in my experience, asking a boy to write is like asking him to pull his arm hair out with tweezers. It's tedious and there is lots of moaning and writhing going. So instead, we sit down with the book and I ask the word and he verbally spells it. If he misses a word, he does use the sheets (yes, writing) that I have copied from the book to help him to learn the word(s) he's missed. To my way of thinking that is a wonderful method to learn: teaching yourself what you don't know and cutting out the busy-work.

There are games and activities suggestions if we need the support, and also, in the newer version, there is a cd-rom option now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Steven Letterboxes

We were invited to go letterboxing with friends yesterday:


BIG fun and so was getting lost in the woods :). Thank godnesss for friends who remember cameras ~ this pic was take by T. Thanks for sending!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Steven Asks

Steven is curious and asks lots of questions about lots of things. I've found that it's in the car where we have our most interesting discussions, where so much is revealed about the both of us and it's a key place where the intimacy of the homeschooling relationship is developed. It occurs to me sometimes that it is so unique... and brief, so it is something to be served and nurtured. I realize this especially because I have a child in school and one at home. It changes when they leave.

And it could also be his stage in life, but there is a deep abiding trust that my words are integral to his current understanding of the world, and so I take his questions very seriously. He is a growing boy.

My mom used to hold the tiny hands of my oldest son when he was a toddler and say, "Look at these," as she would caress his little fingers, "one day these will do a man's work." It was amazing for us to imagine, this stranger, this miniature "other" becoming a man. I think about her holding those hands often these days as I walk this razor's edge of figuring out when to speak and when to be silent, when to teach and when to allow Steven to roam on his own. I understand what she was telling me though, and it is not just with hands that a boy will become a man, but with his mind and his heart. I choose to approach this with a delicacy and an intention. I am his first love. I am his first relationship with his "other."

There are days that I can't schedule learning. It just arrives, and it's when the questions are lingering, the motivation and inspiration are there, I've found that (and this was a long time process for me) I must veer toward the thing he is asking, not the thing that I think he ought to be learning. He, as a man in the making, knows what he needs to know. His thought is directed by millions of years of purpose and determination. I choose to trust that.

When he began to ask me recently about the facts of life, I knew that math and social studies had to be put to the side. I realized he was basically asking the oldest question in the world, "Where did I come from? Why am I here..."

I easily answered a lot of his questions. There isn't anything in me that feels uncomfortable speaking with him about anything he asks, but I wanted him to know that he can learn on his own, too. Because the subject is so personal and I honor a person's natural modesty (that seems to me is so often ignored or exploited in this culture), I asked him if he would like to read a book about it, too, and he was eager. One with pictures, please :).

So, I offered him this book and I really recommend it to parents who have children who like quiet corners to read on their own as much as they enjoy discussion. It is for girls and just as much for boys, which is not always easy to find:

Steven Works Out

Steven started gym class with Q yesterday. It was a pretty intense experience because of the size of the class. I tried to count the kids, but all I figured out was that there were a lot of them. He misses his buddy Mason.

He was forlorn when he said, "Gym without Mason is like School without Mike in the Twilight books."

Oh. Ok.

... erm..., what?

Steven explained, "It's not the same without the showoff." Ahh, gotcha. But afterward, when I asked him how it went, he said he was hungry. So there you go. Life continues.

Here he is sweaty, with teacher, Q:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Steven Rolls

The week is going well so far, fitting in actual school has been a bit of a problem though. We are incredibly busy with life to figure out a time to sit down and do flash cards, but I found out that last week when I put it on the calendar we managed it much better. It's hard for me to get used to, and for Steven, as well. Academics...or at least scheduled academics has never been a priority for us. Steven just learned stuff. He woke up and he caught a whiff of something that would interest him and he'd learn about it. Great concept, but not great preparation for someone who wants to pursue a more organized approach to learning, like online schooling. I'm finding that there is really nothing wrong with this if it suits a personality and with Steven, we'll see how it goes. He does seem receptive to it and I'm fairly organized. We'll just put it on the calendar from now on.

Yesterday we met with some homeschooling friends to organize field trips and playdates. It was very nice and good to meet some new people and young friends. We have several volunteers and it looks like we're going to have some fun. We already have a pretty full schedule, but Steven wants to stay busy and see people, so here we are. How can I be anything but grateful? The kid is open and ready to adventure. Ok, little dude, I'm down.

First day of Steven's gym class starts today at the center.
I have work scheduled in the afternoon; and yes, math and spelling are scheduled, too. :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Steven Wisdom

"Asking people on television to help you with a relationship problem is like asking a walrus to poop goat cheese."


Steven Cooks

Steven is learning to cook. He was going to take a cooking class at the rec center but it was canceled. I figure he can learn to cook at home just as well. Last week he made Apple Crisp. Today we made Chili:

Chopping jalapenos. He wanted to do it and I was like, Dude, are you sure? he was like, Oh I'll be fine mom. (He is at present blowing on his hot fingers and just put away a cold compress he had been applying to his face.) CALIENTE. Chop with caution:

Chili. Full of peppers, veggies, meat. Steven has decided he is going to be a vegetarian but this was after we made the chili. He said he wants to explore the idea that animals are his equal. Yes Steven, I understand, but you are not chopped up in a crockpot of chili:

Daisy, Steven's dog, who waits while he cooks. The kitchen smells amazing and Daisy is waiting for a taste...maybe.... (please...)..?

Steven Parties

Steven as "Bandito" with his cousin, Zack. This is at his grandpa's 75th birthday fiesta:

Steven Goes Fishing and Builds Stuff

I took Steven fishing one afternoon at an organized event at the local Metro Parks. He didn't catch anything, but had fun waiting:

And making friends with the bait:

Last week, Steven and I went to a science museum to sign up for Science and Art classes and we spent the day in the museum playing. We had the place almost entirely to ourselves for hours. We've spent quite a bit of time there over the years and they know us from homeschooling events so they let us roam freely. Steven is striking a pose for the Infrared camera:

Here he is taking a "cloud" class with one of the Senior education teachers:

And here is a piece of heaven for us: playing with Snap Circuits. We made an FM radio (Finally. This has been an ongoing challenge..). It was great because we had the sets all to ourselves and it hadn't been rifled through yet, so everything was neat and organized:

Steven Paints

Steven went to an art show where the work of some of his favorite artist friends and their children was displayed. Happily they set up an art table for the children to make their own artwork there, and here is Steven making a painting of his character, Dr. Octogonapus:

Steven Supports

Steven is here with his dad and sister after his dad ran a half-marathon. Steven finds great enjoyment in supporting his people and he is always eager for any adventure:

Steven Chops

Steven received his yellow belt in Taekwondo! Here he is with his dad.

Steven Blogs

This blog will consist mostly of photos of extracurricular and activities that Steven attends and enjoys. He is very funny and says very random things so I will include quotes and stories sometimes. I may include some academics for his teacher who assesses him, or for Steven to look back on to remember what he was studying (I don't remember learning in school, I just remember friends and the books I read), and then again, I may not. It depends on how it evolves.

Steven was born at home on July 4th, 1998. In America, this date is a celebration and a National holiday in recognition of the signing of a document called The Declaration of Independence which affirmed America's independence from Great Britain. On a smaller scale, for us, when Steven was born at 12:05am on July 4th it always seemed appropriate that Steven came to us on this day because he has always been an independent sort of person. But to explain, he is not obstinate or difficult or even rebellious; but he is naturally creative, interested (and very interesting), thoughtful and so curious. And hopefully this is not sounding platitudinous, but as I've searched myself over the years in getting to know him it's certain to me that Steven's the one person I know whose heart is truly free.

The ages of 11-12 has always seemed to me to be a magical time in the growth of a child, almost the epoch of childhood innocence, playfulness and curiosity. Not that it all goes down from here, it just changes; but I wanted to capture what I could of this brief occasion, and commit to being totally present to him while I am here in this time with Steven.