Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pits and Bieces: Homeschool Atheist Musings...

In my life this week…
THANK YOU, JERRY!
Jerry has been working on TAXES, so he has been a bit...surly...for him.  And that ain’t bad.  Surly for Jerry is barely discernable...unless you have been married to the guy for twenty years; he give off very subtle "surly" vibes.  He did ALL of my business taxes.  All of them!
How can I ever thank this man?!?  I can't think of anything, but he had one idea..!   (grin)
He does so much for me..!  
OH!  And I did laundry this week.  LOTS of laundry.
In our homeschool this week…
I’ve already driven over 250 miles for lessons and classes and rehearsals and whatnot.  And it’s only Tuesday night…
The kids and I did get some good lessons going today...Bonobo and I are spending lots of time on SCIENCE!  Dr. Who has been working on Algebra, Civics, and English 1.  She has also been writing pieces of fan fic that she posts online.  She enjoys getting such supporting and admiring fan comments and *I* get to see her write write write!
 
Bonobo, Dr. Who, and I also read some poetry today.  A friend of mine (THANK YOU TRACY!) loaned me a huge book of poetry to share.  The kids and I read many selections today by Carl Sandburg, Emily Dickinson, and William Blake.  Bonobo then wrote out one of his favorite poems from the book.  The "poem" he chose was a Cherokee chant that spoke of recognizing one's connection to the collective past and how, in the future, we will do heroic things that will be the past for the future people.
Pretty cool selection he made, don't you think?
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
I think that one key to keeping my sanity this week was a productive trip to the library yesterday.  Bonobo and I picked out some super good science books that have kept us both interested.  I have read a few things with him and he is reading a couple of books on his own.  He is not a huge reader and the books we checked out are VERY engaging and fascinating to him.  It makes me SO happy to have him share his new knowledge with such enthusiasm.
Another thing I have done for myself, reading a mindless Nora Roberts book. 
Is this good advice for a homeschooling parent?  Only inasmuch as I am making time for myself...
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
We have been to a number of classes and rehearsals.  Bonobo and I went to the St. Louis Science Center and had a private “class”, (a demonstration at which we were the only attendees…) with Sara, a science center scientist.  She was excellently educated in physics and got our imaginations exploding.   
Result:  one trip to the library for many books..!
My favorite things this week were…
Having Bonobo the Carlo wake me early yesterday morning for a chat.  Cozy and sweet, we talked about dreams, friends, ethics, and Legos.
And, secondly, staying up late with Dr. Who last night as we talked about relationships, boys, and whatnot.  She leaned against me and talked for quite some time.  It was amazing.  OH, she and I also talked about the Myers-Briggs temperament sorting test.  She and I read our temperament profiles and talked about them.  What a fun conversation that was!
I’m reading…
I'm reading what I usually call a “palate cleanser”.  After reading some heavy stuff for awhile, I need to clean the palate of my mind and read mindless romance books.  Currently, I’m reading one of the formulaic and satisfying books by Nora Roberts.
I am also, as usual, reading one National Geographic magazine after another.  The most recent articles have read have been on Seoul, the Oregon Coast, and an article about a wild life preserve between Alaska and Canada where hearty and brave people go to see snow... and, apparently, moose!
A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
The kids and I were making plans for the week.  Once we solidified some plans, this conversation ensued:
After discussing some plans we have made, Dr. Who says, "I'm down with that!"
I state, "I'm up for it!"
Bonobo declared, "I'm non-gravity-effected about that!
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 Questionaire inspired by:  http://www.thehomeschoolchick.com/

What are YOU up to lately?
Please share your kids' awesome quotes:  I love them!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Homeschool Parenting my Myers-Briggs Way

 myers briggs parenting homeschooling

Inspired by this website, http://homeschooling.penelopetrunk.com/, I got to thinking about how my personality adds to and detracts from a good homeschooling experience for my kids. Because, like it or not, I'm their primary homeschool parent so it behooves me to know my strengths and weaknesses in this endeavor, right? My kids would, certainly, tell you that I am free with revealing THEIR strengths and weaknesses. So let's turn the table.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, it is a temperament test constructed by Isabel Briggs Myers and based on much of the words of psychologist and behavioral researcher Carl Jung. It is a shorter form of the famous Kiersey-Bates Personality Test. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test is given like this:  each question gives two options that the test taker must choose between. The test contains about two hundred of these choices. These results are then tabulated to give the test taker a sort of profile of their temperament. Notice that the word "personality" is not used.
The MBTI sorts results into sixteen possible temperament types using these categories:  introvert/extrovert, intuitive/sensory, feeling/thinking, and perceiving/thinking. Each type contains only about 5 - 6% of the population. For more information check out their website at  http://www.myersbriggs.org/
The point of the test is not to define one, but to give one a greater understanding of one's self. Take the information with a grain of salt...or leave it.  I am not here to debate the test. For that, move along!
Interested people may find the test online OR in the book Please Understand Me:  Character and Temperament Types.  
Anyway...
I am an ENFP. According to the MBTI, which I took YEARS ago, I have to say that I agree pretty much with what is written about my temperament type. The letters stand for Extrovert, Intuitive, Feeling. Perceiving. ACTUALLY, I am an XNFP. The "X" stand for both extrovert and introvert. I scored equally on both sides of that one. That explained ALOT to me. I just KNEW that I was an introverted extrovert! Whoever heard of such a thing?!
Anyway, the temperaments made me wonder how these qualities of my temperament effect way that I homeschool. Here are some excerpts of the website http://www.personalitypage.com. The excerpts that I have selected (all in italics below) list the strengths and weaknesses of my temperament type:  ENFP.
What I have not included are the temperament types of my kids.  Of course, that matters, too, in the equation.   

Most ENFPs will exhibit the following strengths with regards to parenting and other relationship issues:
  • Good communication skills
  • Very perceptive about people's thought and motives
  • Motivational, inspirational; bring out the best in others
  • Warmly affectionate and affirming
  • Fun to be with - lively sense of humor, dramatic, energetic, optimistic
  • Strive for "win-win" situations
  • Driven to meet other's needs
  • Usually loyal and dedicated 

That sounds like a GREAT PARENT, doesn't it?!   
*grin*  Well, hang on, we'll talk about ENFP "weaknesses" next!
  • As for homeschooling, these characteristics are highly favorable for my kids. My ability to communicate well helps me with all facets of being a parent, a friend, a spouse. In homeschooling, specifically, I find myself focusing on good relationship skills as lesson matter. The kids and I have frequent lessons in clear communication, conflict resolution, self esteem, respect for others, communicating through different moods and life experiences. Mostly, I am certain that this quality makes things actually WORK for my daughter and I. Our temperaments are so very different, it takes a great deal of work for us to find a good place sometimes.
  • Being perceptive about people's thoughts and motives has always benefited me as a parent, as a spouse, as a friend. While homeschooling, I think it helps me to recognize when a child is struggling, ready for a break, ready to move forward, cover materials again, etc. I have always found myself remarkably tuned in to what is going on inside of a person. I am not always 100% sure of what a person is experiencing. But I generally know when a person needs a friend, even if I have no idea why. With my own kids, not that they hide their feelings or anything, but I am usually able to see when I need to get in there and explore things with them. 
  • I'm not sure my motivational ...thing looks the way it usually looks when others are being inspiring. I am awful about the "rah rah" thing. But I do tend to find strengths and growth areas of a persons' day as well as being able to reframe, encourage, and help clear the way for growth. I'm not at all sure the kids appreciate this at this point. But one day I'm sure they will look back and remember how I always believe in them and in their dreams completely. I think that, with homeschool, specifically, I am able to encourage and champion their "levels" of work, their choices of work, and their goals in life. I can guarantee, though, this particular "quality" of my temperament comes in handy when one of the kids is struggling and needing support. I believe in the goodness of people. That's good, right?! 
  • Yep. I'm warm and loving and affirming. This one is pretty obvious as to how this is good for my homeschooling kids, I guess. But it occurs to me why this is so positive for my kids. I absolutely do not blow sunshine up anyone's ass. I don't gush, I don't flatter, or offer false compliments. OH! Also, I guess this is the place where I absolutely adore the individuality and uniqueness of all people. I also attempt to create the best situation that I can possibly provide to the kids  EVEN with my computer love.  *grin*
  • I guess I am pretty fun to be with. Ok. But I can't help but want to refer you to my fourteen year old daughter...I'm sure she would find exceptions to that. How dramatically can she roll her eyes to this one...Hmmm... For sure, though, I do seek to bring humor and excitement and energy to our work. I find it easy to do that because I am truly passionate about learning. I find it highly enjoyable to play with the kids and to create fun learning experiences. 
(don't worry, the weaknesses are coming up!  LOL)
  • It does come naturally to me to seek a "win-win" solution to struggles. NO WONDER I dislike debate so much! The goal of a debate is not to find an answer to a dilemma. It is to try to "win". I'm uncomfortable in situations such as this...  ANYWAY, onto my homeschooling kids. Maybe this plays out with lessons. The kids generally stay with work until they master it; staying with the work until it is mastered comes naturally to both of my kids too. But more importantly, I think this quality of my temperament makes me a good parent to my daughter. She prefers to have a win-lose situation. I don't get that, but she does. That is especially painful for her when she puts herself into the "lose" part of the equation. I am completely unable to leave it like that! 
  •  Am I driven to meet others' needs? Yes and no. I completely seek to improve the stuff that the kids use for materials and such. I guess that fits. We are constantly checking and rechecking what we are doing and where we want to go. We follow our interests and make frequent "side trips" following our interests. My kids can count on me to be interested in their emotional states, their confusion, their successes, their educational needs, and their range of behavior. I try to teach according to their learning styles.
TMI?  Let's keep going!



Most ENFPs will exhibit the following weaknesses with regards to relationship issues:
  • Tendency to be smothering
  • Their enthusiasm may lead them to be unrealistic
  • Uninterested in dealing with "mundane" matters such as cleaning, paying bills, etc.
  • Hold onto bad relationships long after they've turned bad
  • Extreme dislike of conflict
  • Extreme dislike of criticism
  • Don't pay attention to their own needs
  • Constant quest for the perfect relationship may make them change relationships frequently
  • May become bored easily
  • Have difficulty scolding or punishing others

  • Smothering? ME?! I asked my daughter if she thinks of me as smothering. She said "MOM!  YES!" I asked my son and he said, "No, not at all, Mom." My daughter is a child who honestly dislikes public displays of affection for the most part. She tends to be fairly modest and gets embarrasses by my friendliness to strangers. Kind of a typical young teenage girl who fears people judging her. So she feels smothered, and that's what matters. But I do think about this and take steps to make sure she has tons of space and freedom and a great deal of autonomy with her time and choices.
  • Unrealistic? ME?! I think this one is too true. Because I find new things and new people so fascinating, I tend to expect my kids to find them interesting too. But they don't. Overall, this one makes it hard for my daughter and I. She, not infrequently, has to remind me to return to the sensible side. LOL
  • Uninterested in the mundane? ME?! Okay, this one is totally spot on. I have a very difficult time with time-consuming paperwork type things. This definitely negatively impacts the kids. I have never drilled the kids in multiplication and my son struggles with them. He can't stand drilling either, but I am pretty sure this will always be difficult for him... Mundane, indeed. ALSO, the daily grind of book learnin' just bores me to tears. I prefer doing almost anything than following through in the books. Because of my struggle with boredom, the day-to-day mundane textbook prattle is so awful that I rather avoid it whenever I can. ALSO, my struggle with staying connected to the organization of our plans is probably my biggest weakness with being a homeschooling parent. Did I mention the nightmarish mess that is our home?
  • Hold on to bad relationships too long? ME?! Guilty.  Besides some family members who kept me upset for waaay too long, I have encouraged my son to stay in a friendship far too long. The relationship was with a neighbor boy, a homeschooler! I thought it was amazing to discover the treasure of a homeschooling friend in the neighborhood. But this child was so unkind to Bonobo. My son was constantly upset about the friendship. I kept hoping we could make the friendship work because this neighborhood kid is the ONLY kid in the neighborhood and he is homeschooled. Seemed like a serendipitous match. But the belief system of his family and how they lived their beliefs out made this boy completely intolerable to my son. Sweet Bonobo put up with put downs, insults, and other negativity for his atheism from this child and his family...
  • Extreme dislike of conflict and criticism? ME?! Guilty, again. Does this negatively impact my children? Probably.  When they spar and bicker, I dislike it intensely. They do still spar and bicker, but, eventually, I expect them to apologize, make genuine amends, and move on. How this effects my daughter, Dr. Who, though, is that she tends to express her emotions quite spectacularly. She and I frequently struggle to accept one another for who we are. Sometimes it's pretty difficult. But we always make our way through it...so far.
  • Become bored easily? ME?!
ALL italicized quotes compliments of this website:  http://www.personalitypage.com/html/home.shtml

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I'm curious, what are your strengths and weaknesses as a homeschooling parent?
Or just as a parent? 

If you've read all of the way down to here...here's a cookie!

 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Surfin' HSA



I've been surfing a bit and checking out some pretty terrific online resources. For homeschoolers, the internet is like the Holy Grail of information sources. There are free or cheap websites of information and games, Youtube with it's endless information and opinion, and every other thing you can imagine.


http://www.edhelper.com/  :  about twenty bucks a year.
http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/  :  free
Youtube:  free
http://us.educationcity.com/  :  29.95 per year per child
http://www.educationworld.com/  :  Free
http://www.funbrain.com/  :  Free
http://www.studentsfriend.com/index.html  :  Free
http://www.kidsknowit.com/  :  Free
http://www.brainpop.com/  :  $195 per year for a homeschool family
http://www.khanacademy.org/  :  Free
http://www.ted.com/talks  :  Free
http://www.watchknowlearn.org/  :  Free


The internet for supplementing your homeschool materials:  PRICELESS.


 Here are a few reviews for those of you who don't have the time to check them out yourself.
If readers are interested, I could review more websites from the perspective of a secular homeschooler.

Edhelper:

I have had a subscription to this site several times over these ten years of homeschooling.  
One time my dad bought me a subscription after, apparently, he did some surfing for educational sites for homeschoolers.  He just surprised me with it!
You know, I had almost forgotten about that.  That was a very loving and lovely thing to do!

Anyway, the site is geared mostly for  early childhood and early elementary.  The list of materials contains links for K-HS work, but the materials get pretty thin after about third grade.

Pros 
  • All of the major subjects contain supplemental materials.  
  • Special theme units offer both fun and educational pages for holidays, cultural events, and other special themes. (A few of those themes are:  Black History Month, Spring, Chinese New Year, Earth Day)
  • If your child enjoys worksheets and word finds and crossword puzzles, Edhelper.com offers these in abundance.
  • Parents can create their own vocabulary sheets and other sheets. These personalized pages make it easy to create worksheets for your special themes or units of study
  •  
  • It contains a "Special Education" section 
  • Good clip art 
  • Many downloadable activities, clip art, maps, flags, etc
  • Available in German, Italian, Spanish, and French
  • Lots of printable graphs and charts
  • Includes test prep
  • the site upgrades and improves available projects
Cons
  • Sparse activities in many of the categories above middle school
  • Repetitive types of activity in vocabulary
  • Website is not child-friendly in that it is not engaging or interactive
National Geographic Kids

Pros 
  •  New and constantly being updated information and features
  • Hundreds of links to follow
  • Easy-to-navigate
  • Dynamic-looking, engaging website for kids to explore
  • Interactive
  • Amazing pictures and text
  • Videos and MANY other types of activities
  • Completely secular
Cons
  •  I couldn't get off of it!  LOL
 YouTube

I have come across some truly fun or GREAT video series on Youtube. Here are a few of them. Please share others that you run across!
That's about all I have time for today.


Do you have a favorite website?
Please share!