Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Bright Idea

I just had to share the science experiment that the kids and I did for our homeschool group's monthly "theme day" today.
We're currently in the middle of a cold snap, so we've been experiencing a lot of static electricity - our hair stands on end, and we get a zap every time we touch a door knob. We decided to do a little research into what causes static electricity, also hoping that we'd find some fun ways of demonstrating its power.
This website provided a pretty clear description of what causes that annoying crackle, as well as some fun, easy experiments to do.
The best one promised that we'd be able to light up a compact flourescent light bulb using a balloon that had been rubbed on someone's hair to build up static. We tried this in a dark/windowless room, and I'm happy to report that it worked!! The bulb flickered on and off, occasionally letting off a larger blast of light if the balloon was particularly well charged. The kids had a ball with it, taking turns holding the bulb over their heads and pretending that they'd just thought of something brilliant. I tried to capture it on film, but sadly, that proved impossible with my limited equipment.
The other fun thing that we did was to hold the well-rubbed balloon next to a thin stream of running water, which would then bend in the direction of the balloon, trying to connect. The kids were pretty sure it was magic, not science.

Now, if only I could figure out how to power my house using static cling and shocks from the carpet!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

I'm still here!

Sorry for the long abscence! If you're not a regular reader of my other blog and would like to hear my list of excuses, click here.

I hope to have a homeschooling related post up soon!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List

I got this in an email today and thought it was worth sharing!

The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List:

(From Secular Homeschooling Magazine, Issue #1)

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Hangman

I thought some of you might enjoy this online Hangman game with a Halloween flavor.

http://www.dedge.com/flash/hangman/hangman.swf

It's spooky spelling fun!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jackson Pollock for a Day

We've been a lot of really neat things this year, but I haven't had a chance to post about any of them yet!

I can tell you that I finally came to my senses and withdrew from the program we were registered with. I found that the reporting was taking up the little bit of free time I do have lately, and the last thing I want is for this house project to become something that the kids suffer from. My hope is that I'll be better at keeping up with this blog so we'll have a bit of a reminder of our year. Though we're missing the funding, I'm not missing the hoop jumping!

Today Jay went to a birthday party today at a local art studio where the kids got to pretend they were Jackson Pollock and did some paint throwing. Can you say fun?!

They mostly threw the paint using large brushes, but they also got to pop balloons full of paint. I can't think of anything that a group of 8 year old boys would enjoy more, and frankly, I'm a little surprised at how clean he was at the end of it!


Can you tell by the expression on his face that he's liking this art form? Heaven help me if he takes this up seriously!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shoreline Cleanup '07

Well, it's that time of year again, time for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, something we've participated in for the past 4 or 5 years. The kids get a real sense of satisfaction from taking part, and we're always amazed at the stuff we find.

This year we were lucky enough to be assigned to our favorite beach (Spanish Banks for those of you who know the area), and the weather was even kind enough to cooperate. With a gorgeous setting like this, it hardly felt like work!

By the time we were done, the sun had come out, and the beach was looking great. We were pleasantly surprised how clean the beach was considering that the city's outside workers have been on strike for the past 9 weeks. There were the usual bottle caps, cigarette butts, and a few other odds and ends, but it was in surprisingly good shape.

If you're feeling the urge to get out there and help, the cleanup runs until the 23rd!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Dilemma

For the past three years, the kids have been enrolled in a program set up by a local private school that provides us with $1000 (per kid) worth of funding toward the kids' various activities in exchange for a little bit of weekly reporting on my part. The school is based on a strong belief in child-led learning, so they are very unschooling friendly, and the kids have never been affected by their enrollment - they live their lives, I write up a synopsis of what they get up to, and our facilitator turns that into "educationese" in order to satisfy the government body holding the purse strings. So far, so good. I'm well aware that, according to the government, we aren't actually considered homeschoolers because of our affiliation with this school (it irks the hell out of me, but I've learned to live with it) - but then again, I'm not really homeschooling for political reasons (although I guess we all are to some extent).
We're lucky here in BC, because we have the choice to opt out of the education system and teach our children however we want, no questions asked. That's how we did it for the first few years, but as the kids got older and wanted to take more and more classes, the pull of the funding was pretty hard to turn down.
My reason for saying all this is that I'm thinking of pulling out of the program because of the work that lies ahead of us with the building of our house. My husband and I are planning to do most of the interior finishing ourselves over the coming fall/winter, and I don't foresee having a lot of spare time on my hands. The only problem is, we need the school funding now more than ever! The $1000 barely covers music lessons, and there's still photography, Capoeira, and gymnastics to pay for (and now we've discovered a really cool "knight training" class)!
I think it's pretty obvious that we can't continue with this particular program. There is the possibility of switching to the government's DEL (Distance Education) program, which offers the same funding and only requires a portfolio per term rather than daily input, but they're also more "schooly" in their expectations and therefore less unschooling friendly (I don't really care if my kids learn about the first World War in grade 10 or grade 2).
I guess my other options are to try and come up with a way for us to do our own fundraising (Bake sales? Handmade greeting cards with the kids' artwork?), or to cut back on activites, which I don't want to do.
How do the rest of you make your homeschooling ends meet?