“He who is served is limited in his independence.”Maria Montessori

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Week 1-the introduction to school-CHECK

Week 2- the first full week of school-CHECK

The week began in a different way than I had imagined-but this is how life goes; so, I went with it.  Our family went out of town for the weekend, and we were all exhausted.  So 830 rolled around and none of us were ready to begin.  Thank goodness we are at home and we made the choice to start the following day.  This lasted until about 230.  By this time, the kids were on each other’s nerves and the day was going down hill fast.  I motioned everyone to the school room and just told everyone to find some work.  THREE hours went by!  They worked and worked and worked.  I loved what they came up with.  Sims and Sawyer used the metal insets to make pictures and then they each wrote a story about their picture.  Lessons were given.  It was beautiful.  My husband came home and asked if school started and the kids answered, “no, school starts tomorrow.”  I did not have the heart to tell them that they actually were in school.

Tuesday through Friday went a little more as I planned.  We woke up and had a leisurely morning.  They boys got outside most of the mornings to play in the yard before school  School started at 830 with the calendar, a song or poem and a review of the day.  Sims and Sawyer (Fourth and second grades) each have a new and improved workplan.  Parks has 6 drawers filled with activities and the lessons I planned for him through the week.  In my mind, I thought six drawers full of activities would be plenty.  The first thing he asked for was apple cutting.  Umm……there is no apple cutting up in the school room….What about the long bead chains?…..nope.  Hmmmm…..Thoughts that had not crossed my mind.  I knew homeschooling would be a change for Parks, but I did not consider how it will also be limiting the independence and choices he had in the past.   Obviously, I do not have loads of Montessori materials or even enough to keep him busy for an entire work period; however, we are going to work on a plan.

The work period continued until 11 at which time, the crew headed outside.  Parks worked in the garden and in sandbox on his creation.  Sims and Sawyer finished up their work and did nature study.  Then at noon, we all sat and ate lunch (which they cooked) and went on with the rest of the day.  Afternoon activities will begin next week and include dance (for Sawyer), if all goes well-a co-op with Spanish, drums (for the boys) and a lot of afternoon fun.

I found it scary last week that it was already time for school to begin.  This week, I am releaved.  Our family has come back together.  The kids are getting along well and playing together every chance they get.  They have started a band (I apologize in advance to all of my neighbors as I put them in the attic to try to stifle some of the “music”).  They are planning a fairy garden and a fall vegetable garden.  They are giving input on things they want to research and getting excited about the year.  Let’s hope the excitement continues.

It seems most children have officially begum school at this point in the year.  I hope all of your little ones are having a wonderful start in their journey this year as well.  Thank you for taking a few moments from your day to read my blog.  Please, keep the questions and comments coming.  I am always looking for feedback to keep people coming back for more!  Have a beautiful week!

Say it ain’t so…

Did the summer really go by that fast?  We had a fun summer beginning with a fun beach trip, swimming in the pool and at the lake, and ending with fun with the cousins!  We made many terrific memories this summer as I am sure many of you did also! 

My summer also was filled with days of prepping for this year.  At this point I feel ready and comfortable in the inevitable-it will all change in time!  What I feel is our reality now, I know will not be our reality in the months to come.  For now, we are doing the following:

  • A Waldorf curriculum that incorporates many aspects of education
  • a mixture of math including Saxon, Montessori and math games
  • Language Lessons by Susan Wise-Bauer
  • Nature Journaling/Journal
  • Handwriting without tears
  • Geography
  • A Child’s History of the World.
  • Writing from the Institute for Excellence in Writing
  • And more as it comes. 🙂

So has it begun?  Yes, and with a bang!  We now have THREE students at Lake Norman Preparatory.  We worked hard this summer to work on the school room and to come up with a plan.  THis week we are easing into the schedule and hope to go full in next week.  We ended the school year at the beach dissecting crazy animals and that is how we have begun the school year also.  The kids found a dissecting kit in some materials we were going through.

The next thing I know-they are running to the freezer to take out a frog that they froze over the winter after finding it dead in our friend’s pool (let me state here that the frog was in my friend’s freezer and this all took place at her house-of which, I am very grateful).  They decided to go kayaking for a little while so that the frog could defrost.  Lovely.  By the time, my friend and I returned back up to the house from cleaning up out at the lakefront-the kids were into the frog.  We may have some surgeons in the making.  They found the stomach, the muscles, the intestines and many more body parts.  I am amazed at how fascinated they are by this.  I love learning about the body; however, in this situation I thought I was going to hurl.  I was very close to losing dinner.  The frozen frog was quite odoriferous as it thawed.  As wonderful as it is to see how excited the kids are with this science project, I can not express how happy I am that this is not at my house. 

So the school year has begun for the Whalen family.  We look forward to keeping you updated with our journey.  We love to hear your stories too!  Please let us know how your school year started.

Sharing my Story:The Dyslexia in Me..


Dyslexia Self-Assessment for Adults from http://www.interdys.org/AreYouDyslexic_AdultTest.htm


1 Do you read slowly?  x
2 Did you have trouble learning how to read when you were in school?  x
3 Do you often have to read something two or three times before it makes sense?  x
4 Are you uncomfortable reading out loud?  x
5 Do you omit, transpose, or add letters when you are reading or writing?  x
6 Do you find you still have spelling mistakes in your writing
even after Spell Check?
7 Do you find it difficult to pronounce uncommon multi-syllable
words when you are reading?
8 Do you choose to read magazines or short articles
rather than longer books and novels?
9 When you were in school, did you find it extremely difficult
to learn a foreign language?
10 Do you avoid work projects or courses that require extensive reading?  x
Each Question checked “yes” = 1 point Score  10
If you answer “yes” to 7 or more of these questions, you may have signs that indicate
dyslexia. You may want to consider seeking consultation from a specialist or a formal
diagnostic assessment from a qualified examiner.
So above, you can see my answers to the above questions.  My mom always thought I was/am dyslexic.  Well, thank goodness I had her as a mom because I am 100% sure she was right.  Not only am I dyslexic but I am also dysgraphic.  The crazy part is that I never realized it until my son pointed it out.  Not directly did he discover it, but he is the one who helped point it out to me.  I have always had a bad habit (in my mind) of not finishing my words when I write.  Now again, I never thought much of it.  I have always known that I must go back and reread what I write because I typically only write the first half of a word.  When I am actually writing, I see the whole word, and I assume that I have written the whole word.  It is not until I proofread my notes, papers, etc before I see that I am missing half of my words.  I realized that this is part of dysgraphia just recently.  My son answered his math problems, and I graded them.  I was shocked by a few of his answers.  I thought, “I know he does not think that 6 x 11 is 6.”  So I asked him the problem aloud, and he answered correctly.  Next I showed him his written answer.  He looked at me and said, “I don’t know why that says 6.  I wrote down 66.  I know I did.”  It was at this time that it hit me.  We both think we are writing down the correct thing, but obviously, we need to always proofread.  (Of course, convincing a 9-year-old to go back and read over something that he wrote is a whole other blog).
Sounds easy-to proof read-but her comes the kicker….it requires more reading.  So now we get back to the dyslexia piece.  Dyslexia has many different parts-the reading, the spelling, and the writing are the main ones.  The reading….oh, how I envy those who can pick up a book and read the whole thing in a day.  My husband for example can finish a book that it takes me a month to read in about a day to two days.  Reading immediately makes me tired.  I am learning as I teach my children different ways to read.  I have also found that for some reason I can read easier on a kindle.  I know that sounds weird but it is true.  I am also very thankful for books on CD.  Why did I not discover them sooner?  This is another wonder of homeschooling!  I listened to books on CD a little in the past, but now we listen to them all of the time.  Children love to be read aloud to.  Unfortunately for my kids, I fall asleep when I read.  I hope each night that they can all agree on one or two books or that my hubby is around.  He can read to the kids for hours.  It is amazing!  Well, books on CD have become my safety net.  We can all listen to wonderful stories.  I am actually getting to enjoy all of the classics that so tortured me during school.  I now realize that I had to work so hard just to read the words that I never got to enjoy the story.  The classics are wonderful-I had no idea.
The spelling…who needs to know how to spell-right?  We now have spell check.  Well, spell check only works if you get close to the word that you are trying to spell, and then you have to pick the correct word that you want from the list.  Spelling has always been a nightmare for me.  It makes me laugh each day when my 7-year-old daughter can spell things that I can not.  We keep saying that she and I are going to have a spelling bee.  The scary part is that she will most likely win!  I am learning along with my kids all of the wonderful spelling rules out there for English.  We have one tough language.  Hopefully, my kids will go through life with a little more knowledge on spelling than I had, and I will be able to help them with spelling throughout their schooling.  Spelling rules also are helping us (yes, believe it or not-I did say us) with decoding words in addition to encoding words.  My husband about burst out laughing at my pronunciation of the word “archipelago.”  I think at that moment he almost revoked my “teacher” title for our homeschool.  Thankfully, you can teach an old dog new tricks including how to decode!
The writing is as above.  I have been pretty lucky with writing.  The missing letter piece is about all I experience.  My son, however, works a little different.  He can dictate a beautiful and sophisticated sentence.  However, when he writes the answer to the same question-it is usually a short, 3-4 word sentence that is direct and to the point.  He is amazing in his effort though.  Prior to my taking the Orton-Gillingham subscriber course, he answered questions in one-word.  Now he writes his answers in full sentences without even thinking about it.  In hind sight, I may have done this also.  Thanks to my mom and her knowledge, I do not remember writing being an issue.  I do remember her teaching me strategies for writing papers and notes.  The Catholic School-fear may have kept me from ever writing one word answers, again-I do not remember that part of school as a child but as an adult, I have not found writing difficult.
Oh-one more..I almost forgot.  I am rhyming impaired and so was/is my son.  I am sure you do not think of being able to rhyme words as a gift but if you can rhyme-take a moment to appreciate it.  Those songs that are so much fun to other kids-Hannah, hannah, bobanna,fi-fy-bobanna, hannah- yes, these are almost impossible for us.  Writing poems with a specific number of syllables and with a rhyming pattern…forget it.  Still can not do it.  Maybe one day I will be able to.
I think back now about elementary school.  I think about how many kids had a difficult time with reading.  We all sat in the same reading group year after year.  None of us liked to read aloud.  In fact, it was one of my biggest fears in grade school.  Everyone knew us as the slow readers…you know the ones-the kids who get to read a paragraph instead of a whole section in the text-book.   As an adult, I now understand why I did not enjoy these things.   The amazing piece is that I now have an amazing knowledge to use to help one of the most intelligent kids I know (yes, I realize that I am biased on this one).  I have the tools to make the classics enjoyable, writing easy, correct spelling possible, and possibly even rhyming some words to make a poem.
The term is dyslexic.  It is labeled as a learning disability.  It is actually just a different way of learning from the majority of the humans out there in the world.  We learn just fine-just not by reading.  We can see just fine, and we can hear just fine.  It is simply that relationship between the symbols we as humans use to read and our brains is chunkier.  We are very verbal and intelligent.    I was lucky enough to have a mom who figured it out.  I was lucky enough to have a child with the same way of learning so that I could learn how to learn better myself.  He has taught me more in his short life, than I did in my entire years of schooling.   Take the time to work with a child if you are a teacher/parent or find someone who can.  The child will thank you later!