About Laurel

I am a happy wife and a delighted mother of two. I like to spend my free time reading, writing, crafting, and cooking.

E is for Elegance

The letter “E” was a tough one this week. I was having such trouble coming up with something. Oddly, I had the song “Elegance” from Hello Dolly going through my head over and over: “We got elegance/If you ain’t got elegance/You can never ever carry it off.”

Having Elegance

 

elegant

Aside from the grammatical errors, the song really made me think. If you are familiar with the film, you know that the characters of Cornelius and Barnaby are pretending to be successful, wealthy men in order to impress girls. Without money, it is difficult, so they convince the girls that doing less expensive things is what all the elegant people do.  In a way, they are asking the girls to accept them for who they are.

I remember how much I wanted to fit in when I was in middle school and early high school.  Three things stick out in my mind as status symbols: a Forenza sweater, a Swatch watch, and stirrup pants.  Eventually–probably after they were almost out of fashion–I wore those things.  I had a green sweater, purple and teal plaid pants, and a paisley watch with black “lace” overlay.  Considering the frightening combination of those items, I hardly think I qualified as elegant. Or fashionable.

hats

Unfortunately, the youth of today have new requirements to fit in. Besides trying to look like everyone else, a child can be asked to do dangerous or unethical tasks in order to be liked. The beauty of homeschooling is that there can be considerably less pressure to fit in. There is no dressing to impress, no bullying, nor bathroom rendezvous in a homeschool classroom. The student can concentrate more on his studies without such things to worry about.

With a variety of options available to them, homeschooling is the perfect system for teaching children to accept themselves. Parents can adjust the curriculum to their needs and abilities. In the sixth grade, I had a teacher who seated us according to grade average. A homeschooled child will never feel that kind of blow to their self-esteem. She will never feel embarrassed in front of classroom of peers. The whole experience will teach the children that they are important. And that is elegant.

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D is for Dance Class

Probably one of the most dreaded word in a homeschooling parent’s vocabulary is socialization. So we scour the area in hopes of finding activities our children would enjoy and make friends in.

The Dance Class

The Plan

This past fall, my daughter turned three. We decided to place her in a combination tap and ballet class with the local recreation department. Since we always catch her flitting about the house, we thought that she would like dancing with other girls her age.  At the end of the school year, there would be a review with all the teacher’s students.

shoes dance class

The Preparation

We gathered the necessary uniform items: pink leotard, tights, and ballet shoes; black tap shoes; a dance bag.  The first night of dance class went well. At the end of class, our daughter received a sticker and a sucker. The next week, she received just a sucker.  The next week… nothing.  The teacher chalked it up to her age; she was the youngest in the class.

 

The Fall

For several weeks and into the next semester, my daughter would alternate between a spectrum of cooperating and running wild around the classroom. I even attended some classes with her to help her acclimate. Finally, the teacher asked that we not bring her back as she needed to take the remaining weeks to teach the class their routines for recital. As we had just paid the full balance for her costume, I was not pleased.

Jump dance class

Eventually I realized that every child has a different learning style. Even though she was not fully participating in class, my daughter would come home and show us all the different moves and dances she had learned.  She may have seemed like she wasn’t listening; but she had heard everything going on. I had the same trouble in school. In fact, my parents pulled me out of dance class when I was her age. Maybe we’ll try dance class again in the fall.  Maybe we won’t. We’ll just have to see where this free spirit leads us.

C is for California

A few weeks ago, my husband took a trip to California. He hadn’t been on a business trip since I was pregnant with our daughter.  I wasn’t quite sure how to explain his absence to the kids.  I decided to make a game of it. There are several flight tracking sites online. I picked one and every half hour or so, I would ask the kids where Daddy was. They loved looking at the tiny plane on the map and figuring out where he was. Daddy spent the most time in Texas.  We did the same thing for his return trip.

California and Geography

California

 

A few weeks ago, my husband took a trip to California. He hadn’t been on a business trip since I was pregnant with our daughter.  I wasn’t quite sure how to explain his absence to the kids.  I decided to make a game of it. There are several flight tracking sites online. I picked one and every half hour or so, I would ask the kids where Daddy was. They loved looking at the tiny plane on the map and figuring out where he was. Daddy spent the most time in Texas.  We did the same thing for his return trip.

Technology today opens up many doors for the homeschooling family. An iPhone app helped teach my son the states so that he knew where California was.  He has a couple of other electronic toys that he uses to learn about each state’s capital and motto. However, he also likes to use materials without an on button.  When we discovered that he was enjoying geography so much, I started ordering maps from state tourism websites.  I’d like to start collecting the state-shaped magnets for him to play with on the fridge.

Even though we are going with a structured program next year, I still see homeschooling as an opportunity to customize my children’s learning experience.

B is for Bumpy Road to Homeschooling

We are on a homeschooling journey and the road has not been smooth. The road has been under construction. I’m not sure when it will look the way I want it to. The road is hardly paved in gold like in the fantasies of Oliver Twist. Instead, I am reminded of the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost. Our bumpy road is covered in brambles and undergrowth.

Bumpy Road Ahead!

Bumpy Road

 

First there are the naysayers. Most homeschooling parents have heard similar concerns:

  • We aren’t qualified.
  • The public schools are good enough.
  • You aren’t rich enough to homeschool
  • Homeschooled kids aren’t socialized enough
We’ve done our research.  We’ve weighed all our options.  None of these things bother us.  We know that we have made the best possible decision for our children and their future.  I don’t waste my time trying to convince people anymore.  I have a lot of supportive people on my side who I can talk to when things get tough.
It’s hard to start homeschooling, even with the most thorough preparation.  Curriculum choice is tough. This year, we put together a mishmash of different materials for each subject.  For some subjects, we had chosen wisely; they engaged our children and kept their interest.  Some of the books I had chosen didn’t even hold my interest.  Next year, our son will be attending a virtual school where all the materials will be provided. Hopefully, they will keep him interested.  I am not sure what we’ll do with our daughter.  She doesn’t seem to sit still long enough for much of anything.
It’s difficult to teach anything substantial to young children.  They will be listening to a story one minute, then hear the garbage truck outside.  I am learning to break up subjects into short, little sessions.  That way, if they are distracted, we have covered the key points for that session.  I am also learning that the flashier the lesson, book, or materials are, the more excited the kids are about sitting next to me for a lesson.  I am slowly discovering their personal learning styles.  My son is a kinesthetic learner, using his hands and objects to figure out solutions to problems, how to make states and countries, or how to spell a word.  His sister is an auditory learner in a way; much of her knowledge comes from listening to her brother and modeling him.
As difficult as this first year has been, it has been so worth it to see our children learn firsthand.  Whether it be from hands-on instruction or self-discovery, these tidbits of knowledge they are soaking up are valuable.  I am very happy and blessed that we decided to homeschool our children.  Although our road has been bumpy, I’m sure it will eventually smooth out.

A is for Alphabet Learning

The word alphabet comes from the first two letters of the Greek alphabet, alpha and beta.  The letter alpha itself can signify a beginning. It’s only fitting that the alphabet began our homeschooling journey, while on a journey of another kind.

Alphabet Learning

Alphabet Learning Magnets

It was late August of 2008 and we were contemplating evacuating for Hurricane Gustav. Knowing how long previous evacuations had kept me in the car, I wanted to prepare for a long car ride with my son and daughter who were then almost two and one. I packed some small toys, their blankets and a sleeping lovey each. For my son, I also packed an ABC book and some flashcards. He knew a couple of letters already I think one of them was “I.”

After some indecision and practically a cross-country drive,  we wound up in Florida, of all places. By the time we settled down with the children in a hotel room, my son had somehow learned all the letters of the alphabet. He spent the rest of our “vacation” spreading flashcards about various hotel rooms. He loved letters so much that I decided to decorate his birthday cake with the alphabet when we returned home.

Alphabet Learning Beads

My son still loves the alphabet. He makes them out of anything he can find: crayons, Mardi Gras beads, even socks. When he started writing his letters on his own, I knew it was out of his love for the alphabet.  He has since taken on other subjects with the same fervor and enthusiasm. But it was the alphabet that started it all.