Rethinking The School Year

I have spent the last two weeks reflecting on our school year and trying to decide where to go from here. Last month I pulled the boys out of the charter school they were in. The school was becoming a source of stress for me, and although it provided us with a good deal of funds to help pay for classes and curriculum, it was no longer worth it for us. The money came with too many restrictions and far too much testing, and neither the boys or I was interested in it any more.

What this means is we are enjoying a great deal of freedom with a lot less money. This is not a bad thing, actually I feel quite liberated, and the lack of money is causing me to reflect on what I want to accomplish with the boys and what my goals are.

The one thing I have figured out is that my youngest is a very creative learner who seems to grow and learn with no curriculum. He is a self-starter who does so much everyday that I really do not see a need to plan his school days. He will be unschooling for the rest of this year and most likely for the next few years, until it no longer works for him.

So what are some of the projects that my youngest son is working on? He is working on numerous scratch projects right now, and he is designing a line of characters that he is making with 3D Printing. He is writing several stories, one of them he is writing on the computer, so he is teaching himself how to type at the same time. He is composing songs on the piano, and he writes lyrics all day long. He recently discovered the Johnny Dixon series, so we are reading those together, and he is designing his own board game with his Grandma. He also works on math with DreamBox Learning, and he likes to watch history documentaries.

Part 1 of his game

and part 2. There will be 5 boards in all when he is done.

Now my oldest son is a completely different learner than my youngest. He isn’t so intense and creative. He is more intellectual and laid back. I have to nudge him a little, but with a small nudge he can accomplish so much. It is an interesting dynamic though because if I push too hard he shuts down, but if I push too little he doesn’t meet his potential.

My oldest son who I have spent much time thinking about.

This is my seventh year homeschooling him, and you would think I would have this all figured out by now, but I don’t. By the time I figure everything out he will probably be going off to college.

Anyway I am trying to encourage him to discover his interests while at the same time keeping him academically challenged. It is a balance that he and I are still trying to figure out, and we are also trying to figure out what to work on this year. He would never like to unschool, but at the same time he doesn’t want too much structure. He’s not very fond of most curriculum, but he grows bored and gets worried if we don’t follow some sort of plan with some academic books.

So what do I do with all this info? I am not sure yet. I am trying to come up with a plan, but I haven’t got anything concrete. I have some ideas, and I am going to spend the next few weeks making some final decisions. Then we will start our year. It will be his eighth grade year, and we will work from  mid-January 2012 to December 2013. It will be a new adventure, and it will be challenging and exciting. I can’t wait!


3D Printing

Mecha X's

The picture above is a 3D printed model that my son Tru made. The boys have been working on this project for a while now with their Grandpa, and they finally got their models in the mail. I wanted to share them with everyone because I think it is a great idea.

Side view of the models

I wasn’t involved in this project at all, so I don’t know much about it. My step-dad sent me an email explaining the whole process, and I have copied it and posted it for everyone.

“The site to make the model is Shapeways.  The 3d modeling tool we used was Blender, and we uploaded them in X3D format. They check the models automatically and once it is approved, you can order them.  Takes 10 days from upload to delivery.  They have a video on their site about the process.

Decca’s model is here. Tru’s model is here.

You can set up a store to sell things, but the boys didn’t want to, so I’ve just made them visible to the public.

I’ve attached the drawing Decca did of Hazzy so you can see from 2d to 3d.  Tru did his on paper so I scanned it and attached it as well.”

Here is Tru's sketch.

Here is Decca's model. He calls him Hazzy.

And here is Hazzy after being made into a model.

The boys loved working on their 3D models, and the finished product is great. They are a little pricey to make, but if you are looking for a creative project to work on I would recommend Shapeways.

A Morning Hike

I have withdrawn my oldest son from our charter school, and the freedom we feel because of this is wonderful. I use to be stressed about all the requirements we had to meet, and I would pressure him to work, and then we would have very little time for anything else. I finally grew fed up with all the requirements and standards we had hanging over us, which seem to have gotten harder this year because he is in 7th grade, so I pulled him.

This means that I am more relaxed and so is he. I no longer feel the need to stress about his work, and we suddenly have plenty of free time to do what we want. In our new-found freedom, we have re-discovered our love of morning hikes. Kingsley is quite happy about this and so is Decca.

Here are a few pictures from our morning hike this morning. It was a great way to start the day.

What my son does while listening to Story of the World

Tru listens to Story of the World everyday on his computer. He usually does something else, like drawing or messing with Scratch, while he is listening. Today I looked over and saw this.

He downloaded this ninja from a math lesson in Time4Learning, and then he added a SoTW image to it. He then animated it’s mouth, so it looked like it was reading to him.

Then a few minutes later he had changed it to this.

Multitasking, another great skilled learned in homeschool today.

Weekly Update

Some highlights from our week:

Tru made it through another week of Writing with Skill. I am amazed that he has been able to work through this for five weeks now without much trouble. It is great that we have finally found a strong writing curriculum that works for him.

A sample of his writing, with drawings of course.

Tru studied Africa in MBTP. He worked on his African map, and he began reading A Girl Named Disaster.

Reading in his sister's room.

Tru was able to do Rosetta Stone every day this week. I love to hear his French accent.

Relaxing while working on Rosetta Stone

He also had another golf lesson this week. He is taking what he is learning and teaching it to Decca. He is a great teacher!

At his golf lesson

Helping Decca with his follow through

Autry did a great job on an assignment in school this week, and I wanted to share it. She had to create a super hero and write about the hero. Her hero was Operetta, and her power is singing.

All about Operetta

Autry sang The Star Spangled Banner this week at an equestrian fair. She was nervous, but she did it. I was very proud!

She had fun at the fair. She even tried riding the bull!

I caught her warming up one day and taped it. She doesn’t think she sounds that great, but I disagree. I love to hear her warm-ups.

Decca at the beach. He is sporting another hand-drawn mustache. He is obsessed!

I don’t know why, but I don’t have many (actually I don’t have any) pics of Decca working on school this week. He went to homeschool PE, worked on math, continued reading Little House in the Big Woods, and drew tons of pictures and made some movies.

Also this week we managed to get out to Crystal Cove. The highlight of the day was Tru almost stepping on a rattle snake in the sand. Although there are many rattlesnakes at the park, we had never seen one in the sand so close to the beach. It was very cool! I only had my iPhone, so I didn’t get a great of a pic, but I thought I would share.

The snake in the sand

Decca set up a science lab.

The view never gets old.

The boys loved the little waterfall.

We spotted many small lizards. This one was maybe two inches.

And that is our week in review.