Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Teaching Others About Homeschooling

We have been asked as many questions about homeschooling as the rest of you homeschoolers have. I know these who question just have concerns about Selena. I am OK with fielding questions I have no problem with answering them. However, I never felt my answers were enough. I finally invited a couple of them into my home to see a day in our life. This happened to take place in the evening and gave Selena a great time to learn how to give a presentation. Yes, I tackled many things by doing this.

First let me tell you about the two that I invited in. Two people who are very close to Selena, who try very hard to understand her, also who support very much in her curiosity.  One who is more hands on and allows her to ask questions and watch as work is being done when it is safe, and one who is the same way, but also worked for the Sheriff’s office and has seen what can come of homeschoolers when they are over protected and not given the opportunity to life skills. this can be a huge problem in any area when we shadow over our children, they can become unequipped to handle the world.

They were here for only a half hour, and Selena told them how she gets to go to the school to play with her friend as well as roam a small part of our town. Now she does go with an older child, and does meet up with this child’s friends. They have a cell phone and can be in in constant contact with me including GPS service.

She showed them as much of her school work as possible and what she is learning. She talked outside of the box about everything she knew about spiders, as well, as what she knows about life in general, asking one important question of them: “If we continue to see small businesses close in our town, what will be the impact on the economy?”

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She also shared with them her Geography and History Scrapbooks, and Science Lapbooks. 

By the time they left, the realized that Selena is getting a very rounded education and probably much more then most public school children get. Have you ever considered inviting others for a field trip through your school? I know Selena learned a lot about giving a presentation, answering questions, and even posing many of her own.

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Finally a Classroom

From the time we started homeschooling I so wanted a place to call a classroom. We first started out working at the dining room table, with all our supplies stored in plastic bins. It worked just fine, but I longed for something that just felt more like our area.

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Selena was given a desk, and we quickly turned a corner of my office area into a small quaint place we did school work. As I am getting busier with more work, I longed for more office space and still wanted an area we would just consider our learning area.

Christmas came and Selena received some really cool science kits. She informed us that she wanted a science table, somewhere to work on her science kits without having them spread out all over the dining room table. She also received a new tablet for Christmas, so we offered her the opportunity to sell her Nabi. Within one day of listing it we were delivering the Nabi for $50.00. Selena was a little hesitant at first seeing that much money in her hand but she really wanted an area to work in and quickly gave me the money to buy a table. We settled on a nice table, and though she did not have enough money for it Papa and I helped her with the rest needed to purchase it.

While we were waiting for the table to come in Selena started making plans and said it would be nice if the table would be perfect for all her school. One of her greatest complaints about our other set up is that it does get chilly in that corner of our house. I didn’t see any reason we could not move our classroom. Sure it meant I had some work to do, I had to purge and move things around to empty two cupboards and two drawers for Selena.

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As you can see her table offers plenty of room for any project she wants to do, and wow look at that view she has to look at everyday. She loves nature, so I think being able to just stop and watch the birds, or whatever other nature events will be refreshing for her.

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Just another view of her table and our little classroom. With a few different changes we added a calendar to her desk, and a little drawer for pens,  pencils, and erasers.

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Her two cupboards with games, art supplies, manipulates, science kits and still an empty shelf for new items.

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Perfect counter space for books. Yes, I admit there is still a full counter here and I would love to fill it up with work boxes, and a filing system. It will come.

What will we do with the old area? Well that will become mostly my office space, which I badly need, but we will also still use the old desk and that area for a computer lab for Selena. We will set up our old computer and she will have the ability to enjoy educational games, and maybe even try her hand at some coding.

Selena woke first thing this morning and went straight to her table, wiped her hand across it and with a huge smile announced how much she liked the table and that it was perfect for school. When I pointed out that it was indeed her table, she paid for it, she was a little surprise, “You mean this table is mine and not yours?” That’s right it is all hers! She dreamed it, she did what she had to do to get the money, she picked it out, and now has a new sense of pride that she has just furnished her own little classroom.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekly Wrap Up

Our week started out with waking up to news that Papa could not get to work, it had rained so hard Sunday and through Sunday night that there was so much flooding and mudslides. Our home and small town are OK but nearby Aberdeen and Hoquiam got hit pretty hard.

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Have I mentioned how much we are loving our Green Craft Kits that we receive monthly? We pay 19.95 a month and receive a kit that has at least 3 themed activities and suggested further ideas for STEM activities. Selena loves when they arrive and can’t wait to open them to see what lays inside. I love the fact that they come with everything needed and I don’t have to go hunt down supplies. Sure some supplies, I end up replacing with items I feel will be more suitable but most of these items I have in my home and the supplies I don’t use can neatly be restored in a craft box for future use. January’s box arrived and the theme was rainforest.

We did a recap on rainforests, and of course Selena amazed me with how much information she remembered from our unit study when she was only 4. In the kit were the supplies to make a Rainforest Terrarium, a Rain Stick, and Drum to go with it, and Rainforest Rubber Ball. We chose to make our Rainforest Terrarium first.

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rainforest4The kit was complete with dirt, moss, sticks, bark, rocks, and clay to make creatures for her rainforest. Once placed in the sun she could see the mist on the lid and watch it rain. She also observed that on our cloudy days that it didn’t rain so much in her rainforest.

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The next day’s kit had the materials to make a Rain Stick and drum. Selena had so much fun making and designing her Rain Stick. I did have to help with the drum since it called for stretching a balloon over a plastic cup. We discovered quickly that the cup that came in the kit was not strong enough to hold a balloon tightly without breaking so we quickly found something else to use. Selena enjoyed making music after her projects were completed.

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The third and final kit was everything we needed to make a Rainforest Rubber Ball. Selena was having a little off day but insisted on trying anyway. She was not following the directions as closely as she should have and couldn’t keep her hands out of the ingredients, so though her rubber ball seemed to firm up and feel like rubber it quickly got sticky again. We will retry this experiment down the road and hopefully it will turn out better.

Selena has also been having a lot of fun with her Circuit set, learning all about electricity.

 

We have had a very fun week coming back from Christmas Break. We do have some changes coming along in our school area and organization of the area. I look forward to sharing those ideas with you soon.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas 2014

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Christmas was so much fun here this year. Selena had asked for a scooter on numerous occasions, so we were more then happy to get her one. She is having so much fun considering J brought her scooter over and the two girls are able to go out and ride as long as it isn’t raining. This year, we agreed to let Selena go a bit so the day after Christmas she went to the local school and played with J for about an hour an a half. Tomorrow they will take their scooters down and ride their hearts out. She is growing up!

Some of her other favorite presents were:

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She had outgrown most of the stuff that was on the Nabi we got her a year ago, and after numerous problems we had with it, we broke down and got Selena a brand new Verizon 4G tablet. With it being on our contract with our phones, I have all the same parental controls as if it was a phone. The other super feature is that it does not require WiFi to be online, so trips will be so much fun, she will be able to watch movies, cartoons, read books, or play games.

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Selena announced her most favorite gift though was her new microscope. While it isn’t the best microscope it is a great beginner one. She has already made a few of her own slides, though it did come with some premade ones. She uses it everyday, she can always find something to explore.

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Selena wasn’t real sure at first about this Circuit set, but after we sat down and started to learn the basics of electricity, she took off and has been creating all sorts of lights, whirly things, music, and horns. I loved hearing her explain to her tablet the basic concept of having positive and negative points, and how a switch works. I have a feeling it won’t be long and we will be ordering her the larger set to go with this one.

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What child doesn’t like magnets? She received this from her brothers. We have played with it but have yet to really sit down and look through the little book of experiments.

She did receive so much more too from dolls, books, and board games. I am pretty sure she is happy with everything she received this year. Now we will be busy creating a science area in the house, a table to work at, and a cupboard for storing all these fun kits.

We hope each and everyone of you had a very Merry Christmas!

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Teaching Home Repairs

One of the greatest life lessons I learned from both my parents growing up was the art of home repairs. I believe there was only one time in my childhood that I can remember there ever being a repair man in our home. It wasn't just my Dad who did the home repairs but my Mom did many of them too. They both use to tell us, "If you can take it apart you can certainly put it back together!" I have never been afraid of home repairs or installing ceiling fans to dimmer switches in my home. I admit I do have a mechanical mind and am able to put most anything together. I taught my older children these important life lessons as well, and also taught them the art of persistence. While sometimes we begin a home repair and possibly do not quite understand the task at hand, if we are slow and steady most can be figured out. Like my parents though I do know my limits and there are certain situations I will not dig into.

Right after Thanksgiving while getting ready to bake a pizza, my over element broke in several pieces. Amazing huh! My husband's first response was to call a repair man, which would have set us back $100.00. I refused to pay that much for something I knew I could do myself. It took me a bit to find the replacement part, you know now days I think finding the parts are harder then fixing the problem itself.

It finally arrived after paying 22.00, and my work began. Selena was at my side asking her 100 questions all the way. Questions like, "How do you know how to use a screw gun?" Once the element was out Selena wasn't sure of the oven door open where she could see the wires in the back of the stove, but quickly jumped in to help me finish the job. Watching ever so carefully as I attached the new element to the wires and then screwed it back into the stove.

Selena gets plenty of experience watching different repairs around the place, from the plumbers fixing broken pipes to our simple fence repair. I guess in her mind though she just never really thought of her Mama starting and completing a task on her own. Though really knowing that my husband is not mechanically inclined makes me more inclined to do it by myself.

I want Selena to know she doesn't have to depend upon repair men for ever single thing, nor does everything have to be as disposable as some think. As she grows I want her to learn how to diagnose a problem, find the parts, and my goodness now days with YouTube, you can find many easy repair videos to walk you through the job at hand. I want her to feel that sense of pride in knowing that she is capable of at least doing the simple things.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Balancing Between Gifted and Being A Girl

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One of the questions that Selena herself posed to me a few months ago, “Why am I  not normal? I just want to be like all the other girls!” Of course as a Mama my heart sank. I had to ask myself many questions, am I pushing to hard, am I trying to make her giftedness define her, or is this a normal part of growing up?

After this question we started changing things up a lot! First of all though I wanted to boost her self confidence and self esteem that being gifted in no way made her “Not Normal.” We started with the simple facts, that not everyone knows the same things, and how we can learn from each other, it is OK to share our knowledge and talents with others. Selena began slowly to share the things she knows so much about and those she shared with really learned a lot but thankfully made no negative remarks about her knowledge base. This has been a hard area for Selena, since many times when she has bounced off with something she knows so much about people gave her strange looks, or gasped and even made huge issues out of her reading ability. You and I know they didn’t mean anything by their reaction, they truly are taken that a young girl can know so much, but Selena is an over thinker so she reads a lot into our reactions or the things we say.

We then had to move from there to re-look at our home. Did we provide enough for her to be a little girl? Were we pushing too much on the gifted side and forgetting that basically yes, she is a little girl. I concluded that she has plenty of opportunities to be a little girl, dress in fancy dress up clothes, get into my make-up and does in deed have way too many dolls, doll houses and girly toys. Introduce her best friend! The more time she has spent with J, the more the just being a girl has come out.

Many time we worry that the only children our gifted child will relate to is another gifted child or one with the same interests, when in fact sometimes they truly need to explore the imaginary side of things with a friend who will except them for who they are, quirks and all, but keep them balanced as the child they are too. These relationships are often hard to find, so I say keep trying.

Since we have started to listen to Selena, and explore with her all her uniqueness along with her weaknesses, we are seeing her begin to grow and mature into who she is. She is growing in her confidence of what she knows, and the knowledge base she has, but also is comfortable just being a little girl. After all remember even gifted children truly are little girls and boys.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Happy 8th Birthday

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It is hard to believe that you are now 8 years old. You have done so much growing this past year. It is unreal as to how fast you are changing before our eyes. You have gone from that little girl so unsure of herself and full of anxieties to a young lady with confidence and loving life.

You have a best friend who has taught you so much about friendship, and given you so much more confidence. I have to admit that when you were born I always dreamed of the time you, your best friend and I would go shopping, to the park, out to lunch, and many more things. We are doing these things now.

You have your favorites, and not so favorites, but you challenge yourself through your least favorites, and vocalize very appropriate when it is just too much. You are opening up again and showing others just how gifted you are, and teaching everyone something they know nothing about. Your manners are so great, and you use them very appropriate.

I am so proud of my 8 year old! You are blossoming into a very intelligent, compassionate and sweet young lady. Never lose your sense of imagination, it will take you far!

Love Mama!

A few pictures of your birthday celebration:

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