Rainy Voting Day

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It is raining here in Missouri today and it is cold. Does that crack not remind you of Dr. Who? Letting my geek flag fly here, but really it freaks me out a bit!

Usually, I love this sort of weather and it perks my mood up. I know I am getting burnt out and the tears in math don’t help! I have a Girls Weekend get away planned for this weekend with my two best friends from high school and yes that silly song from the hangover is playing in my head.

We’re the Three Best Friends
That Anyone Could Have
We’re the Three Best Friends
That Anyone Could Have

When you think about it, we are a speck of nothing in a big big world. Neil Armstrong said it best!

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Today. I am having a very defeatist type of day. Nothing, I do seems to make a difference. Standing there in the voting both as I marked my choices in with a black ink pen, I had this sudden sinking feeling that I am just one person and in the big scheme of things my opinion and vote don’t really make a difference. As I went through the voting process and I noticed that year after year we have the same judges running and no one running against them. Why is that? Would it make a difference? Do I make a difference by writing in Santa Claus instead of voting for them. Does the choice I make matter?

I went a voted this morning and there are a few important issues on our ballet. First is a local school district proposition. It basically ask for a $0.35 tax levy increase. Why? The school district is the fastest growing school district in the state. They are adding close to 500 new students a year. Almost all schools are currently at or over capacity, one of the reasons we decided to homeschool the youngest child this year. What happens if this doesn’t pass? As student enrollment continues to grow (and if the number of schools and classrooms remains the same) alternatives would include larger class sizes and bringing in more trailers to use as classrooms. The Board has also discussed a year-round attendance model, which would divide the student body into four groups. Each group would have a staggered schedule with nine weeks on and three weeks off, with no set summer break. The last option would be a split day schedule where half of the students would attend an early session, for example 6:00 a.m. until noon, and the other half would attend a late session, 1:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. The split schedule option was actually adopted by the WSD for a short time in 1970.

This issue does matter to me! I have a child in this school district and monster child could go back to public school in a year or two. So, this does matter to me and my family.

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Kind of like this blog, I see that people are reading it but does it really make a difference? I am really a nobody, just a mom doing what I need to for my children. Do the things I put out here on this blog effect others? I don’t know! I do know it effect me, my family, and my circle of people. I can’t have this attitude and expect to make a difference in the important lives in my small circle. I have to have a positive outlook, the minds I have an effect on today could change tomorrow and our world.

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So, Today I choose to be happy and not worry about things I can’t control.

Love, Peace, and Cupcakes

Shannon

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Art Museum

We planned on going to the Art Museum when we studied Renaissance. It just so happened that this happened to fall on a weekend that the art museum and my mom’s company had a partner weekend and we got to do lot of cool stuff.

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I live just outside St. Louis and we have a lot of free attractions available, we are blessed. One of them happens to be the St. Louis Art Museum. Admission to the Museum is free every day. Admission to featured exhibitions is free on Friday.  They even have Family Sundays. Drop in every Sunday afternoon anytime between 1:00 and 4:00 pm for hands-on art activities and a lively 30-minute family tour through the galleries. Each month’s activities focus on a different, family-friendly theme. Family Tour leaves at 2:30 pm.

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This a great museum and it fun to go to. The do not allow photographs in exhibitions and non-flash photographs for non-commercial purposes in the collection galleries. We opted to just enjoy ourselves.

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Monster child had a Scavenger Hunt to go on.

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On the back he had to draw what the clues were leading him too. This was a challenge for him but a good challenge.

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We went on a tour and learned more about Mummys and Knights. That was exciting to learn about.

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After some lunch we headed upstairs and checked out the featured exhibit, Atua: Sacred Gods from Polynesia.

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This exhibit was a bit too much visual for Monster Child to handle. He doesn’t do nudity well and had a hard time with some of the pieces of art work.

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After this we headed to the make it and take it craft area. We got to make and learn about stained glass. This went perfect with our Renaissance study.

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Here is Monster Child’s hanging in his window.

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Mine has not made it up yet and hangs on the fridge.

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All in all we had a great day! He even made it away with 6 Feng Shui mini cats.

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BTW ~ This is Art Hill that is basically the front lawn of the Art Museum. The art museum sits inside Forest Park, which was the site for the 1904 World’s Fair.

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Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Shannon

 

 

Our way of learning

Recently on a Facebook homeschooling support group for my state this question was asked:

I decided to piece together my curriculum because that is what I believed would be best for us as we are on a tight budget and the kids are at different levels than they maybe in public schools.

This is only a part of the post but this was me this last July! I second guessed myself, I didn’t know what I should be teaching him, and worried about what if he went back to public school and would he be left behind.

First thing, if he goes back to public school they will test him and put him where he needs to be. Plus, he is working one on one with me and we are moving at a much faster pace then the public schools. He is not being left behind.

This is how we put together our curriculum.

I bought the books What your Fifth Grader Needs to Know and What your sixth Grader Needs to Know.

I bought teacher planner and I went through and marked the days we would not have school. We don’t go to school on Fridays and we are taking Thanksgiving week off and two weeks at Christmas, Spring Break is two weeks, and what not. I write everything in pencil in case things change

I then opened up the What Your Fifth Grader Needs to Know book and I started with one subject and started filling in the days.

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This is last week’s lessons. I highlight when we did something, that way if we didn’t get to something I can figure it out easier.

I use Khan Academy for math and some science.

I subscribed to Brain Pop to help with other things. Math, Science, History, Health, and Art.

We also found matching Magic School Bus episodes to help with subjects.

I found free spelling lists here.

I bought one of the grade level Comprehensive Curriculum workbooks and use it for math, lang. arts, reading comp, and a bit of science.

I use a site Schoology to make computer tests and as a digital planner.

We use Duolingo for our Spanish, Flashcard Stash for our flashcards, and Timemaps for social studies.

Please let me know if you have questions!

Peace, Love, and Cupcakes

Shannon

Catch up………

I wish I could keep this blog updated better. I am making a return after a few bumpy weeks.

Let’s see if I can catch you up.

In Reading we finished The Little Prince & Romeo & Juliet. We watched a movie about both. This week  we started The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. He really like The Little Prince, but the movie was a musical and he suffered through it. Romeo and Juliet  was a bit tough but we suffered through it and the movie. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is turning out to be a real page turner for him. He really relates to the characters and likes reading. Listening to a recap of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer……. I never knew that Mark Twain wrote about “this one dude”. We need to break that habit!

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In Language Arts we learned about Onomatopoeia, Alliteration, Symbols, Personification, Dramas, Comedies, Tragedies, Shakespeare, Subjects and Verbs. That is a whole lot going on there. Subjects really need to be taught with verbs for the connection to be made. We also learned what it meant to “have a chip on your shoulder”. We read two poems From Opposites & The Arrow and the Song.

In Math we are covering a lot of ground. We learned all about integers and how to add them. We tried to subtract them but that ended in tears and we said we would revisit it later. We worked on rounding and estimating but we were having trouble with how we would use that in “real life” until we went to the store today. I gave him the shopping list, told him how much money we had, and had him keep track of how much we were spending as we put things into the cart.

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We also learned about square numbers, square roots, and exponents this week.

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While working on exponents today I learned that the school never taught him how to multiple double digits like 24 x 12 =. I guess this is something we will have to go back and work on next week, along with our other work.

In Science we finished up learning about weather, weather patterns, and different types of weather. We moved onto clouds and the different types. This last week we learned all about  the deserts of the world, why they are so dry, what can survive in a desert, and how they form. We even made a desert biome.

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In Social Studies we learned about seasons, salty lakes, rivers, tropical, temperate, and frigid climates. Last we we started a year long process to learn about each of the 50 states. We started with Delaware, since it was first to enter the union. For each state we have a three page worksheet that we fill out to learn all about the state. We have also learned about Pennsylvania and New Jersey (or the cow state as he calls it).

We are also working with our chickens daily. We say this is part of our home economics since it is part of how we live.

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We recently decided to hatch chickens. We built our own incubator and placed our 12 eggs in there are now we are waiting the 18-21 days it takes to hatch.

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Yes this requires fertile eggs and we have no rooster, we went and bought fertile eggs to hatch. We have lost one egg do to a crack. We have candled the eggs and maybe half will hatch.

All in all homeschooling is good and we are settling in to a nice routine. We get along well and I think that helps. Besides it is always a good thing when school includes making BROWNIES!!

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Love, Peace, and Cupcakes!

Shannon

Our First Day

Well, we are off and running. So, far no tears….. one argument over how long this was going to take but that has been it.

Today: we worked on weather in science and started up our daily weather log.

In Social Studies we are working on flat map, round earth and how we get the round globe onto a flat map and why Greenland and Alaska look bigger than they are on a map.

We have our spelling words and half focus on the suffix of -ant.

In Math we are going back and reviewing multiplication number sense such as place values.

For reading we are going to start the book The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery. We will also be doing an art project where we making a paper mache globe and little prince out of clay.

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Point of no return…..

One of my favorite sayings is “The difference between being involved and committed is eggs and bacon. The chicken was involved, the pig was committed.”

Yesterday was the point of no return for us. The local school district started and I became a committed Homeschooling parent. I went from being an involved public school parent to being a committed homeschooling parent. I am not going to lie….. it is freaking me out a bit.

While we don’t start learning until August 18th, I am getting everything ready for that first week. We waited to start for many reasons. Last week Monster Child went on a camping trip with his best friend, so that week was out. This week his 10th grade sister was home two days before starting school on Wednesday. She has a tendency to be overbearing with him, even with me there. I didn’t want to start and have her get involved and upset him just as we are starting out. Then there was the options to start Wednesday, but we went against that as I don’t like a two day school week. We go to school Monday through Thursday. We will start classes on Monday and I need these extra days to finish getting everything ready.

I think I have things ready to go but then I start thinking I need to do more. Then I start freaking out as I start looking at all these website and gathering information, worksheets, and lesson and unit studies. I know I am over thinking it but I am nervous. I have never done this and the state of Missouri gives you very little guidance on what they require. I know my Monster Child is nervous and I try not to freak out around him, it will only add to the tension he may have.

I worry that I am not keeping him up with his peers and when he goes back to public school next year he will be missing something. I know that is highly unlikely but it is a fear none the less.

I guess we will do what is natural to us and what feels right. If we start off with one thing and it just doesn’t work for us, we will adapt. I will document what we work on and keep proof of his process. I have binders for just about everything. I guess that is all I can hope for. What I need to focus on is that he is learning, having fun, and we are working to get caught up and progress.

This blog is not for everywhere and it is more or less a journal for me on our adventure in this year long journey.

The journey is about to begin…..

The bible may be old, but it works. That is what my pastor says. Ecclesiates third chapter is titled Everything in God’s Own Time.

“Everything has its own time, and there is a specific time for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to pull out what was planted,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build up,

a time to cry and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to hug and a time to stop hugging,

a time to start looking and a time to stop looking,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear apart and a time to sew together,

a time to keep quiet and a time to speak out,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

I think for most of us we have been through all these time. Lately I have been through all these time in the last six months.

A lot of the grief we have been through lately is with our youngest and the schools here. When we moved here 14 years ago it was a small school district with seven school in the district. It was a growing district and we knew that. The district is now close to 20 schools total. The district is growing so fast they can’t keep up with the growth. In the 2014-2015 school year they will add 5,000 new students to the district, not sure where they are going to put them all. My son’s school will add 300 students next year and 90 of them will be kindergarteners. Now the school is already at capacity and they are talking about making the specials go to a cart system to free up classrooms. I am not a fan of this, kids need an art room, a music room, a computer lab, and a gym.Kids also need two recesses, but that is a different soapbox for another day.

When I was growing up we, 1980s, we had computers in the library and music was traveling. This was how the Blue Springs School District made do. In 4th grade there was an additional classroom needed and they pulled 18-20 kids from the four classes and gave us the counselors room for a classroom. I have been through the growing pains of a growing school district as a student and it is confusing to students.

Currently my son sits in a classroom with 25 or more students. All of them with their own needs and wants and demands on the teacher. My youngest, aka Monster Child, has some needs that are struggling to be met. We asked for this teacher last year because she was a student teacher in his first grade class. She knew him and his “issues” and there would be no learning curve.

We had a horrible time in the second grade, the teacher didn’t understand him and said she didn’t have time to figure him out. We had a lot of tears shed that year, by parents and kid. We also had a bully that picked fights on the bus and beat the crap beat out of him one day in PE.

Third grade was a huge improvement and the teacher really tried and worked with us. I took a part-time job at the school to have an active hand in things. We still had the bully and the fights were getting worse. Finally as my mother-in-law was dying and I was taking care of her, my son had enough with the bully and beat him up and my kid was punished and the bully off Scott free. *The bully never picked on him again. Monster Child had an issue sitting still, so early in the year we took his chair away and he sat on an exercise ball. The exercise ball made him focus, strengthened his core, and allowed him to have a bounce rhythm that helped keeping him calm. The teacher also demanded that the school test him for a speech delay.

Monster Child has born deaf and gradually developed his hearing over the first two years of life. He didn’t babble until he was 8 months old. His speech was delayed from early on. We were always open and told the school repeatedly about this. We noticed it getting worse in second grade and asked the teacher, she blew it off. Third grade teacher heard it and did something about it.

Monster Child has been in Speech Therapy for almost a year. He works on his “sh”, “ch”, and”th” sounds. It is a fine motor skill that comes from the back of the throat.

Fourth grade has not been without the tears either. We have a new bully this year and it is a girl! Even better is that her mother is a teacher at the school. Bonus is that my oldest is good friends with the girl’s older half brothers. This child can do no wrong at the school…. ::snicker::. I have seen this child manipulate adults to her will. She does a thing to provoke reactions from others and then plays the victim.

*Example: One day in class they were sitting in groups around the classroom. She happened to be sitting at my son’s desk. She started messing around with his things. Monster Child politely asked her to stop and leave his things alone. Her response….. “I am going to rip your eyes out and shove them down your throat.” (Um…… WOW!) His response was “I am going to stuff an oil rag down your throat” The teacher only heard this snip of the whole thing and took his recess away for a week!

Of course I threw a fit and told her what happened the next day. She knew there was previous issues but didn’t think they were this bad. She now keeps these two apart. She now sees this child with new eyes. This is one of the issues we have with the school district. They are punishing the child who is getting bullied. The child who is the bully gets excuses on why they did it and we have to let them grow and learn.

Another issue we have is the class sizes. Now Missouri is getting on board with the idea that having a manageable class size really does make a difference in how well students do in school. Having smaller classes mean that children learn more, they have better achievement and they have better lifetime outcomes if they’re in smaller classes. The average class size in the United States has increased 5 percent, to almost 22 students per classroom. We are way above that!! According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 22 also is the average class size in Missouri. Missouri is now saying that class sizes need to be 18-20 students. Our school will be raising class sizes next year to close to 30 student to one teacher!

The last issue I will talk about is the staff itself at the school. I have seen these teachers in the classroom, away from parents and I can honestly say I am not impressed with the 5th grade teacher options. I have seen them yell and scream at the kids, I have heard them call them names. The fifth grade classes at the school are the most unhappy kids I have seen. The thought of Monster Child being in one of those classes makes me want to run screaming from them.

Well, that is kind of what we are doing. We are turning and high-tailing it out of there for 5th grade year.

We are homeschooling next year!!

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Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states in the U.S., however, each state has different levels of regulation and guidelines.

  • States requiring no notice include Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas.

Yep, I am in Missouri!  DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) does not regulate home schooling. There is no registration for home schooling.  There are very few rules given to us about home schooling in Missouri. This is what we are told and the guidance we get.

According to Section 167.031 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, a parent or guardian of a child, between the ages of seven (7) and seventeen (17) years of age, shall cause the child to attend regularly some public, private, parochial, parish, home school or a combination of such schools. Any parent may educate a child at home. The parent does not need a teaching certificate or need to meet any education requirements in order to provide home instruction.

If a parent decides to home school, he or she must offer 1,000 hours of instruction during the school year, with at least 600 hours in the basics, which will be in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science. At least 400 of the 600 hours shall occur in the home location.

**By the way most kids spend 900 hours in a school!**

A parent who is home schooling a child must maintain the following records:
  1. A plan book, diary, daily log, or other written record indicating the subjects taught and the activities engaged in with the student;
  2. A portfolio containing samples of the student’s academic work;
  3. A record of evaluation of the student’s academic progress; or
  4. Other written, or credible evidence equivalent to a, b, and c.
  5. The school year is defined as beginning July 1 and ending the next June 30.
  6. Children with disabilities attending a home school program may receive special education services provided by the local school district, in accordance with Section 162.996 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, and the State Plan for Special Education.

Section 167.042 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, states that a parent or guardian may notify the superintendent of schools or the recorder of county deeds, in the county where the child legally resides, of their intent to home school. This is to be done before September 1 annually. Home-schooled students do not register with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Now if Monster Child still requires Speech Therapy next year the school district will provide that. Otherwise we are on our own. I have started working on our curriculum for the next year.  Lots to do and lots of questions. We are doing this on a one year trial basis. Keep your fingers crossed. Good thing my son and I have a great relationship!
I will keep you informed and updated on our journey!
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~Love, Peace, and Chickens!