Saturday, December 13, 2014

How NOT to Criticize Homeschooling...

I ran across the following anti-homeschooling rant online. This is a direct quote and I found it quite educational.
"I'm the narrow minded person that still feel that a child should go to public school because they are out with other people to their own age and I feel that keeping a child from school hinders their social skills and teachers take a long time in school to learn how to teach children annnnnd parents most of them are ill equiped to keep up with children in school because their parents don't know enough to teach their children at home unless your a teacher!"

How to totally undermine your own argument, look like an ignorant idiot, and make homeschoolers laugh hysterically at your anti-homeschooling convictions:

1. Use horrible grammar and spelling.
I don't have perfect grammar and spelling all the time, either.  I'm human.  We're all human.  And some of us are just bad at written English.  That's fine.  But if you're going to be criticizing someone's educational choices, you might want to try extra hard to sound educated yourself.

2. While you're at it, just forget periods all together.
Nothing says, "I'm an ignorant troll on the internet" like ignoring basic sentence structure rules.

3. But if you're going to use any ending punctuation, make sure it's an exclamation point.
When I see that all I hear in my head is, "I know nothing about this issue but I'm passionate so that counts for something so you should take me seriously!!"

Now to finally get to the meat of the rant:

4. Bring up the socialization argument.
This issue is a non-issue and it isn't a new concept to homeschoolers.  We've all heard it a million times.  And anecdotally, we've all personally seen it debunked a million times.  The idea that kids should be only with kids their own age in order to learn proper social skills is especially hilarious.
I won't bore you here with the counter argument.  But if you're truly interested in the other perspective, just search some homeschool blogs (like mine or ones on my side bar) for "socialization."
And if you're still concerned about the socialization issue and you want to discuss it, then how about quote some facts and share some links and research?  Even specific anecdotal evidence is good to get a discussion going (provided both parties understand that anecdotal evidence can't necessarily be generalized to large populations).  I appreciate opinions backed up with data.

5. Insult parents' intelligence.
No one likes to be told they are too stupid to teach basic addition and must go to college for 5 years in order to find out how to do it.  That just makes people defensive.

I've said it before and I'll say it again that I don't care if you put your kid in public school.  I love to hear about public schools and public school teachers who are doing a wonderful job.  I'm not going to generalize that "all public school is bad" so please be respectful in turn.  Every child, family, community, and school is different.  We should all have the freedom to choose what we feel is best without ignorant, unproductive, unfounded criticism.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Beowulf Costume

In September we read about Beowulf in Story of the World, volume 2.  Tertius usually isn't terribly interested in listening to our history lessons, but that day he was very glad that he stuck around!  A super strong warrior who fights a monster with his bare hands?  Right up this boy's ally!

When I asked the kids soon after what they wanted to be for Halloween, he was positive he wanted to be Beowulf.  In our Story of the World student pages, there was a Beowulf coloring page so we based his costume on that.

A long piece of brown fabric made a loin cloth and bracers. I used a sharpie to draw muscles on a white shirt. Finally, we needed a wolf hide for our fierce warrior to wear.  The closest we had was this big teddy bear.  I think it worked pretty well.  Though, Hubby may have wanted to hold a funeral for his poor old stuffed animal.

"Bow Card" Tutorial (by Secundus)

I have a folder somewhere on my computer of pictures of things that Secundus made and wanted me to share on my blog.  She's very creative, likes to do crafts, and loves to show off and teach others.

Her latest favorite craft to make is something she calls a "Bow Card."  It's a three-flapped card that is roughly the shape of a bow.

I recently got a new camera, so along with the novelty of that, she insisted all day that I take a video of her explaining how to make it.  So here is Secundus' first ever tutorial!  We may have a a future vlogger in our house!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Isn't one of those Wild Kratts named "Vulva?"

This morning I had Tertius, my preschooler, do journal time.  All he has to do is draw a picture and then tell me about it so I can write his explanation on his paper.

He's still at the stage where he just draws some scribbles and then decides afterwards what it is.  So he drew a bunch of circular scribbles and then hands the notebook to me.

Me: "Ok, tell me about your drawing."
Tertius: "It's a vulva."
Me: Blink.  Crickets.  "A what?"
T: "A vulva."
Me: "Do you remember what a vulva is?"
 (We use the correct anatomical terms for body parts in our house and he has sisters.  So I wasn't freaked out or worried, just surprised.  Usually he draws robots, monsters, or ninjas.)
T: "Yeah, from Wild Kratts!"
M: "Oh!  That character from the show!  What was her name?"
T: He stumbled a bit on trying to remember what her name was but kept coming back to insisting that it was "Avulva."
M: "Well, no, because a vulva is a girl's private parts."

I finally remembered that her name was actually Aviva and everyone in the house laughed and laughed.

I guess it's a good thing we homeschool!  I wonder what kind of note would come home from the teacher if this was at a regular preschool! :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Declaring a new Holiday: Crazy Day

This has been one of those weeks where academics got moved to the back burner.

Tuesday I worked at a polling place all day and so I prepared lesson plans and scheduled a substitute teacher (Hubby.)  But then he became ill with an absolutely horrible stomach bug so school got cancelled.  The kids did come spend some time with me at the polling place, so I guess they got Social Studies that day, but that's it.

Wednesday I needed to make bow ties for a friend's wedding.  Plus, the house was a disaster and I was stressed out, so I told the kids we were taking a vacation day.  When Primus asked what holiday it was, I explained that I just needed a day off because I was feeling crazy.  She then promptly dubbed the holiday, "Crazy Day."  We did go to music class in the morning, so I guess we got one subject in again, but that's it.

Now here we are with today, Friday.  We have to leave by 11:30 to get to the wedding, which my kids are all in.  No school for us this morning.  Instead we'll be cleaning the kitchen (because it is still a stress-fueling disaster), bathing, curling hair, picking up dresses, packing lunches, making a reception delivery, and then enjoying lots of time with some people that we love!

This would be one reason I love homeschool: we can take vacation days when we need them.  Flexibility is nice.  If you miss 3 days of public school in one week with no doctors' note, don't you get detention or something?  For us, all we have to do is turn the upcoming Veteran's Day into a normal school day and plan to work through one of our Christmas vacation days (the charter school scheduled us for 3 weeks of holiday this year.)  The third missed day this week has already been taken care of because we worked through Labor Day and "banked" that for just such an occasion as this,

It could be argued that if the girls were at public school, then I wouldn't have needed to take random, impromptu days off due to "staffing issues."  But then I still would have had to deal with pickups and dropoffs and homework after school,  And I've said before that I can't stand being a slave to daily, inflexible pickup and dropoff times, and homework is awful.  Plus, that wouldn't solve the problem of the wedding being on a weekday afternoon.  So homeschooling works for us.

Friday, October 24, 2014

We're not cut-out for public school...

I had a dream last night...

There was some special event at the local public school so I sent Primus.  She had a wonderful time so I got to thinking, "Hey, maybe public school is a good option for us afterall."  So for the next 3 days I sent both her and Secundus and they liked it ok.  On the fourth day I slept through my alarm, woke up more than an hour after school started, noticed that none of the kids had woken up yet either.  I lay in my bed for a few moments, deciding if I should jump up and rush them all awake and out the door.  Then I decided that we're apparently not cut out for public school, rolled over, and went back to sleep.  

When I eventually woke up in real life, I noticed that I had in fact overslept my alarm and was up almost an hour later than I intended.  I love homeschool!  :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Conference Reflection, 300th Post, and GIVEAWAY!

I started this blog at the start of my family's homeschooling journey when Primus began Kindergarten.  But it's about so much more than education.  This has also been my place to share craft and recipe ideas, talk about the Gospel, muse about beauty standards, and other randomness.  I hope you've found something to interest you!  I don't claim or aspire to be a good writer.  But I have enjoyed having a space to document my family's school life and share ideas that I hope can be of help to others.

Actually, my first step into the blogging world was in 2008.  At that time, all of a sudden a lot of my friends and siblings were signing up on Blogspot.  I jumped on that bandwagon right away and have actually outlasted most of them. And now I have two!

My original family blog is my journal, family scrapbook, and the kids' baby books all rolled into one and stored in a place where it can't get lost or damaged.  Isn't the internet wonderful?

Did you know that blogging can also be a way to do family history?

This weekend members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints watched General Conference. It's a time where we get to hear words of inspiration, council, and guidance from Heavenly Father through His servants the Prophet, Apostles, and other Church leaders.

One of the last talks of the last session was about family history and genealogy.  Mormons think that doing family history research is incredibly important for various reasons.  And in the past it was revealed to me personally that I needed to be engaged in this work.  But I haven't done much.  I kind of figured that's something I'll do in the Grandmother phase of my life.  But still, I sometimes feel guilty for putting off something so important.

During the aforementioned talk, Elder Packer mentioned that genealogy isn't just compiling names and dates.  "It also includes the present, as we create our own history."  He said that when a mother shares family stories and pictures, she is doing family history work.

When I heard that, I suddenly and unexpectedly felt the Holy Spirit strongly and tears came to my eyes.  It was revealed to me then that blogging is the way I'm doing family history work.  And it's important for my family.

I immediately ran to my bedroom, opened up my personal journal, and wrote it down before I could forget that feeling.  Then I read the words I wrote back to myself.  Again I was overcome with a warm, tingly, peaceful feeling that I know to be the Holy Ghost bearing witness of truth.

I am so thankful for the knowledge that my Heavenly Father knows me, loves me, and knows what I need to hear. I am grateful that the Heavens are not closed and that Heavenly Father has called prophets and apostles in our day to lead, guide, and inspire us!


This is my 300th post here on the Homeschool Is Not a Typo blog!  300 posts in just over 3 years.  In celebration, I want to give one lucky reader a special prize.

Because I love getting kids interested in reading, and this is primarily an education blog, of course the prize is a book.  The Reading Race by Abby Klein- a Ready, Freddy! story.

You have several chances to enter to win.  Six, to be precise.  This is my first time using Rafflecopter, aside from entering contests with it on other pages, so I'm excited!

The giveaway closes 2 weeks from now and is open only to residents of the United States.

Even if you don't have young children at home, you should still enter to win.  Surely you know someone who'd love to be surprised with it.  Books make great gifts!

Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Math Fact Day

Getting the girls to memorize math facts is important to me.  So one day last week we set aside all of our normal work and just had a Math Facts Day.  (Actually, it was more like a math fact morning because the afternoon was filled with a visit from our ES.)

Each girl had a list like the following so they knew what their options were.  Primus focused on multiplication, and Secundus did addition and subtraction.  Each activity was only done for 5 minutes at a time.  I wanted to keep them moving quickly from task to task so they would have fun and not get bored.

Wraps is referring to these math wrap-ups.  It's basically a classic matching game where you draw a line from a number in one column to a number in the second column.  But you "draw" it by wrapping a string around a key shape.  And when you're all done, you turn over the key and see if you got all the answers right based on if the string is covering all the raised bumps.

The triangle game is called Minute Math Electronic Flash Card.  It's tricky to get used to, but it's really good to help you understand the connection between addition and subtraction.

Machine means this Subtraction Machine.  When you push the little buttons, they pop up and tell you the answer to the problem.  I don't know if playing with this actually helps them remember the facts or not, but they sure think it's fun to click all the buttons. 

Xtra Math is a great free website.  It helps the kids master the math facts at their own pace and tracks their progress.

The Computer Games were definitely the favorite from the list.  These three websites have some fun ones.

Flashcards.  Boring, old flashcards. :)  I made my own with index cards.

I gave the girls a blank Hundreds Chart to fill in.   They had to work on it, though, by counting by 2s, and then counting by 3s, and then counting by 5s, and so on until it was all filled up.  While not math-fact-specific, skip counting is a great skill to work on.

Speed Tests were something I remember really enjoying in school. In the back of their math books I found a page of fact review and I timed them to see how fast they could complete a section of it.  Did not work.  The timer did not motivate them at all.

This website has a good explanation of how to use an Addition Grid.  I handed the girls a blank 11X11 grid and had them make their own.

Our Math Fact Day was a hit! We'll definitely be doing it again next week.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How to Be a Good Parent -aka- Yelling Doesn't Work

"Kids!  Come set the table for dinner!"  My voice rang out across the house.  Two of the four came quickly and got to work while I turned to switch the clothes in the nearby laundry room.

A moment later a loud "CRASH!" grabbed my attention back to the kitchen.  Primus had one Corelle plate in her hand and one shattered at her feet and spread all around the room.  Corelle is supposed to be durable, but not when it's dropped on its edge onto tile. 

My focus instantly moved from Primus' statue-still pose to Secundus' scared face and to her shifting feet.  "STOP!"  I yelled.  She continued to inch away from the mess and towards the door, unknowingly right by several small shards.


Not matter how many times I yelled or how loud, I could not overpower her natural fight-or-flight reaction. The yelling probably even made it worse.  I thank God that she did eventually stop and that she managed to miss all the dangerous glass fragments all around her.

Sadly, I yell too much.  I sometimes feel like if I could just yell louder, what I want to happen will happen.  I imagine my words exiting my mouth like spreading hands, grabbing the child, and making her obey.

Surely doing this with my voice is better than doing it with my physical hands, right?  Nope.

Coercion is still coercion, whether by force or other means.  Taking away someone's agency is not in God's plan.  Making someone obey is not the way to inspire independence and a love of righteousness.

In Doctrine and Covenants section 121 Heavenly Father gives us a great, concise manual of sorts for how to be a good parent:

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—

Gentleness and meekness?  Gotta work on those ones for sure! 
Verse 43-44 describe the best way to discipline:
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

I've definitely got the "with sharpness" part down.  It's that pesky little "increase of love afterwards" part that needs some work.

I don't want to yell at my kids anymore.  I want to be more kind.  I want to be more loving.  I want to be more patient.  I want to teach my children how to do things, make good choices, and be safe instead of forcing them.

Maybe I'll have this parenting-thing perfected by the time I have grandkids!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Puberty Book

I'm finally getting around to sharing this project I was excited about at the end of last school year: Primus' Puberty Book.  I mentioned that we were working on it here and here.

I bought the blank hardcover book from Lakeshore Learning.  Together we decided as we went where we wanted to break up sections of text and where to add illustrations.

I wanted her study of Sex-Ed to be very scientific and clinical.  Just the facts.  None of the fluff found in conventional resources for kids.

The text was copied from Wikipedia.  We read it together and I explained some things to her.  The idea is that she'll read and re-read this book in the future and understand more each time. 

The illustrations were a combination of her drawings, photographs, diagrams printed from online, and diagrams found in a book and traced by her.

Not every concept necessitated, or lent itself easily to, an illustration.

At the very end, I had her trace a diagram of male anatomy.  Then orally we discussed "where babies come from."  There are several empty pages left at the back of the book so I anticipate we will have this discussion again and add text explaining it in years to come.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I read picture books to my kids a lot.  But it's been hard for me to get into reading them chapter books.  I'm just not good at keeping to new habits and routines.  So I guess I was afraid that I would start a novel with them and then forget to read it for the next few days, and by the time we got back to it they would have forgotten what was going on.

But now we're ready for a change.  We're going to be reading more chapter books together from now on!  Here's what we've read so far:

Stuart Little by E.B. White- Primus picked this up on a whim last year but then it just sat on a shelf for a while.  So I finally gathered the kids around and started reading it.  They loved it!  When we went to Solvang, we took it with us to read before bed because the kids just couldn't wait to hear what happened next.  This was the beginning of giving me confidence to do long books with the kids.

Horse Diaries #1: Elska by Catherine Hapka- Secundus chose this one as her prize for completing Barnes and Noble's summer reading program.  I thought it was funny that it was set in Iceland (close enough to Norway) and the main character was named Elska (close enough to Elsa). 

Escape from the Carnivale: A Never Land Book by Ridley Pearson-This one was recommended to Primus by a librarian when she was looking for a new book.  She checked it out, but also grabbed some of her fall-backs (Magic Tree House) and didn't seem interested in reading it.  But it looked interesting to me so I made the kids listen to it.  They quickly fell in love with the characters and were gripped by the adventure.  I may have to check out more from the series. 
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie- We started reading this one because of our planned literature study and because we enjoyed the Neverland book so much. We finished it a couple weeks ago.  The kids were not excited about this one because they were really craving pictures. 

Heidi by Johanna Spyrie- Secundus was given an abridged version of this one and we finished it a couple days ago.  We liked it just because we already loved the movie.  But I've read the original novel so I was very disappointed with how much was left out or simplified.

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
- This is one of Hubby's all-time favorite books.  He tends to pick a movie and then watch it for weeks on end just on repeat for background noise.  Lately the one he's been watching in his man-cave is The Fellowship of the Ring.  The kids have seen clips and were interested so he decided to try out The Hobbit on them.  The kids were so enthralled!  It helped that Hubby is good at doing voices. 
This turned into a really great family time because we decided to read it until the kids fell asleep each night.  We had been needing to get Quartus used to going to sleep in his own bed, too (instead of in Mommy's arms and then being transferred.)  So this way, I would snuggle Quartus in his bed while Hubby did the reading with a flashlight. 

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll- Now that we're done with The Hobbit, we needed a new go-to-sleep book.  The girls picked this one and are really looking forward to it.  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Black Thumb

I have a black thumb.  I don't know much about plants and have never had luck keeping them alive.  I knew we wanted to study them for science this year, though.  So I turned to my friend, "Grandma Cindy." 

So far we have been to two "science classes" at her house.  She had the kids start a bean sprout in a plastic bag, started 3 herbs (parsley, basil, sage) in make-shift green houses, started 3 flowers in those same greenhouses, and set up our Root Vue

I was so nervous when she sent everything home with us to wait for them to sprout!  But we're having success!  Two of the three bean bags sprouted, all the basil and sage sprouted, the carrots and radishes in the root vue sprouted, and two of the three flowers are doing excellently! 

The only things we are still waiting on is the green onions in the root vue, one flower, and the parsley.

I even transplanted everything (except the carrots and radishes) into bigger containers, as you can see.  And they still haven't died! 

Time to get real pots and transplant again.  Let's see how long this lasts!

Monday, September 22, 2014

A Bad Morning, But Not Wasted

Friday morning was rough.  Thursday night I stayed up late, as usual, for no good reason.  And then my limited sleep time was interrupted by a teething toddler who likes to soothe himself by rubbing and pinching my skin instead of a stuffy or blanket. 

I woke up Friday in a really bad mood and not much motivation to do school.  And this is why I'm glad we're doing weekly assignment sheets this year!

The girls' all day class Thursday was cancelled and they were motivated to use their extra time wisely.  They were proud of themselves and excited to complete most of their list so they would have an easier, lighter load Friday.  It worked out perfectly!

All Secundus had to do Friday was read for 25 minutes, one math page, one small writing assignment, and math facts practice.  All Primus had to do was piano practice, math facts practice, one spelling page, spelling test, and one small writing assignment.

So we got started late (about 8:30) and they were done by 10am.  They would have been done sooner if I had the energy to be more hands-on and push them along from task to task a little faster.

Literature was simply skipped and for History I taught the girls how to play Defeat the Romans and then they did that independently.  They also watched more Liberty's Kids during lunch.  The rest of the afternoon I thought I would nap while the kids entertained themselves, but instead I hid in my room reading a magazine and watching TV.

The day could have gone a lot worse.  I could have yelled more.  We could have accomplished less than we "needed" to and felt guilty or stressed about it.  But everything worked out well!