Friday, May 28, 2010

This week was a remarkably social one -- seeing friends on Monday, hosting Fairy Scouts on Tuesday, volunteering at GSE on Wednesday, hanging out with a couple homeschool friends on Thursday while their mom recovers from surgery.

At Fairy Scouts we finally finished reading A Wrinkle In Time together, and spent some time decorating tshirts and bags.

We're still working our way through the book on Goddesses -- today was the story of Oshun, a Goddess of the Yoruba, so we read about Africa in our other book on myths (Gods, Goddesses, and Monsters, I think it's called), and pulled out our two student atlases, learning a little about the geography, climate, and political history of Africa (and about the idea of Pangaea and the possibility that the Great Rift Valley will become a new sea in a couple million years). We couldn't find our copy of Children Like Me but I'm hoping we'll come across it as we tidy up, this weekend, to take a look and see if they've got an entry for Nigeria -- or, failing that, another West African country. The narration is going pretty well, when we remember to do it -- she's alternating between oral narration (usually telling Joe about our day as soon as he walks in the door) and an art approach -- sketching out a few drawing that she'd use to illustrate it if we wrote a book about what we learned that day. So far she's pretty uninterested in the idea of written narration.

We've been working our way through the Daria DVDs and, when we'd finished watching the last movie, Sarah was pretty frustrated that there wasn't any more. She suggested we tell them they should make more episodes and I agreed, but I also told her that some people, when they wish their favorite shows would make more, or different kinds of, episodes, make up their own episodes -- either in their own heads, or written down in story form. I asked her what kind of episode she'd like to see and we plotted it out together.

The story won't actually work out feeling like an episode, I don't think. It'll be more like a follow-up movie, set over the course of the first semester of Daria's freshman year. And we've gotta make some changes, I think, to keep it from feeling too Gilmore Girls-ish. But the outline is really solid. It's a story I would really enjoy reading, I think. It's a story I *will* really enjoy reading, once we're done writing it. I really like my life. :)

Last weekend we went to a family party, where a couple folks asked me what my plans were for next year, and whether we're considering putting Sarah in a conventional school. I said no, that we're going to continue doing more or less what we've been doing, and added that Sarah and I are having a lot of fun the way things are. One of my cousins commented how rare it is to hear parents say that, that they're having fun with their kids. I'm feeling really lucky, that I'm able to say that.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I can't believe it's been a month since I was last here. It's especially hard to believe because I look back at my last entry and have no idea what we've done since then. Reading about gods and goddesses, about planets, doing math... Hosting a gathering for IDEA and having some great conversations about the nature of learning, talking about whether there's anything everyone should learn, and what "should" means in this context (required, encouraged, or some other option). We're also talking a whole lot about human biology, and reproduction, and puberty. Oh -- she's been writing some lyrics, and last night we wrote the outline of a story, together.

We've shifted into a new way of playing school together -- adding some solo-reading time for Sarah to our old routine of story time and project/lesson time, and making a concerted effort to do some narration every day we play school. Right now it varies from day to day, whether she chooses to narrate by talking with me or Joe about what she read, or to draw a picture or write a few sentences based on what she and I did together. (and then, at dinner, Joe and I often narrate something we read or learned, that day, and maybe model drawing connections between different things we're learning, or talk about what questions it brought up for us)

We're also each picking one or two goals for the month. Hers are making new friends and improving her drawing. My goal is improving my music-making skills.

Our newest themes are fantasy, early US history, and math. So even though I'd consider myths to fall more under comparative religion or world culture than under fantasy, we're taking the opportunity to finish up the great collection of books of myths we took out of the library last month, and using the National Geographic Student Atlas and UNICEF's Children Just Like Me to follow up -- so today we read about Greek myths, then read a little about Greece (and Europe in general) in the Atlas, and Sarah's solo reading was about the life of a boy who lives on the island of Crete.

The other main thing we're doing right now is working on some lifestyle changes -- meditation, movement, practicing some cognitive behavioral techniques for managing stress -- that should help her manage the trip through pre-adolescence a little more easily, I hope.

I'm struggling a little, right now, with how best to support her. She gets so frustrated about writing and spelling. It obviously bothers her that it doesn't come more easily, but when I've suggested practicing 10 minutes a day, she vetos that idea. Right now my plan is to leave the offer out there, and to talk with her about my own frustration when things don't come easily to me, but I'm not sure whether that's the right approach. I'll give it a couple weeks, and then reconsider the situation.