Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Lost Son (Review)

I recently found a galley site that allows bloggers, reviewers, book sellers, and librarians to request advanced reader copies digitally.   I thought this might be a fun project since we did a review unit at the end of last year and learned how to write product, book, and food reviews.   It would give my son a chance to sharpen his skills in this area and allow us to find some fun books to read together for reading class.   Our first approved choice was The Lost Son by Tamra Torero and Preston Norton.   This was published by Cedar Fort Books and seemed like a good, clean family publisher for our first choice.

I'm going to type my son's review in and then I'm going to make notes in a different font color so you know it's my thoughts not his.   I thought for his first review for a publisher he did a very nice job.

The Lost Son is about a boy named Jacob who gets drunk at a party and kills Cody.   Jacob then has to live with Sam, Cody's father for a month and help him at his Christmas tree farm.    

The book begins at a party where Jacob is drunk and acting like a very obnoxious boy.   He drives home and has an accident killing another teenager his age, Cody.   Due to the problems he has caused Sam which could potentially put him out of business this Christmas, Sam asks the judge to give Jacob a chance.   The judge realizes the predicament Sam is in and allows this unconventional punishment to stand.   This will open the door to several opportunities for the characters in the novel to grow and change.

The things I liked

The plot and most of the characters were well thought out.   The book was descriptive.   The relationships didn't seem forced.

I enjoyed watching the characters each take their own personal journey that sort of came together in places and overlapped with one another's.   Most of the relationships don't seem forced and there is conflict where appropriate.    

The Things I didn't Like

Some of the book seemed rushed.   Some of the scenes seemed sloppy by over filling the page with unimportant words then rushing more important aspects.   The ending was not very well thought out and was one of the most rushed parts of the story.   When you spend time investing yourself in a novel and then the ending is rushed you feel cheated at the end and that is what the reader will remember.

My son can be a pretty harsh critic when he feels wronged by his literature but he is also very accurate about the rushed ending.  The last few pages feel thrown together and the reader is left to wonder what was the rush?  We went on and on in parts, being over descriptive, then acted like the keyboard wouldn't allow a well thought out, well delivered conclusion that had to be rushed in fifty words or less.   Especially when it begins willy nilly throwing characters together that may or may not work out but given what the reader has been led to believe about the main character's brother one can only wonder.   

I'm also going to interject an adult observation, this novel seemed unable to devote itself to one perspective and do it well.   I don't mean it head hopped, the writing technique in this was done well except for some heavy prose moments.   I mean the writer would try to climb into the mind of a growing teenage boy and do an excellent job and then they would back out - no scramble out of it with both feet and have him thinking thoughts like a fifty year old man.   The beginning party scene is probably what hooked me the most and yet, they lost that voice as the pages progressed and it wasn't from some great maturity on the character's part.   It was as if they forgot they were describing things from a young man's perspective and told the story to an adult audience.   This is going to be the biggest hurdle this book is going to face.  It is marketed at a young adult audience and it reads as slowly in parts as the begats in the Bible would to a young person.   

I watched it happen as we read this.   My son would get interested, he would be hooked and they would lose him every time by hopping out of his maturity and interest level.

Overall, I would give this book three stars.

In conclusion, mom fell in love with the premise of the novel more than the way it played out.   I loved the idea of a boy being held accountable for his wrong doing and being forced to see the effect his choices had made in other lives.   I loved the way the book was clean and able to be shared with my thirteen year old as even our younger teens need to be aware the consequences of bad choices like drinking and driving.    

I didn't love the way the prose hopped.  I didn't love when the characters at times seemed to fall into a "mold" not be unique and true to themselves.   I didn't like when the conversations became stilted, forced, or contrived.   I really didn't like the rushing to a happy ever after ending without any development and leaving even that up to individual interpretation somewhat.

I did love sharing a mother/son book review experience, however.   We look forward to doing this again at the end of next month with a different book!   This was a lot of fun and it was fun to put both our thoughts on the blog and share.   Be gentle, my son is still learning the fine art of reviewing but please share your thoughts with us.   Do you want to see us do more of these?  Does it inspire you to try this with your child?  Let us know! And share a link if you try it as well! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Test Week

We finished our unit in History and Science at the same time and I think my little student had a wake up call. He expected mom to be easier than his teachers and he found out differently.  Unlike his teachers, I know his potential and I know how smart he is so I expect excellent quality work.  I gave him a chance to retest if he didn't do well but warned him if he failed a second time then we would simply redo those units.  I don't have to move on and keep teaching a classroom, I can stay on rocks and minerals for six months if we need to get that material learned.

Later my husband and I sat down and talked about his test scores and what we noticed.  In school a student is often allowed to get away with rote memorization.  They don't have to learn the fact they have to memorize certain things about the fact.  If you change or manipulate the wording, it will inadvertently confuse them in some cases.  What I had designed was a review and then separate test that didn't allow for that style of learning.  He had to actually know and have learned the material to score well because while I had given him the information he needed to test, I hadn't spelled it out for him.  He was asked on review to know the steps of the rock cycle for example.  On the test he was asked to draw a photo of the rock cycle.  If one knows the steps in the cycle, drawing the chart (even using words instead of pictures) isn't difficult.  If you just memorized a photograph and expected to fill in the blanks it and then there is no photograph or blanks to be filled in it presents a different challenge.

I also feel more confident that now his protests of "I learned this already" or "I already know this" are just that.  Protests.  I know I went more in-depth with the material than a typical grade school classroom covers.  I did this to make sure we weren't just going over things he already knew.  As a result, the tests were extremely challenging, but only if he hadn't paid attention to the material we covered.  If he'd just filled in his worksheets and blew off his review then he was going to struggle.  He has bragged since we started home school last year that in school he never did a single review and he passed every test.  As most of us can recall, that sets up a bad study habit when you do get into Jr High and High School.   So he filled in the questions on his review but he didn't study the review sheets.  He was above reviewing.  Hopefully these two tests taught him something about using the materials you are given wisely in the future and thinking you don't have to do something important.

After going over both of his low test scores with him in class and giving him back his review sheets, I allowed him to retest today.  I'm happy to say he passed with flying colors and didn't take nearly as long to do them.  I think what had frustrated me the most was on the first tests he would simply skip a 10 point question like drawing the rock cycle.  I explained it would be much better to have given me a partial drawing than nothing at all because then he could have gotten at least some of the points for it.  

I'm glad tomorrow is Friday!  I feel like we have both earned our weekend this week - especially since he's testing in Math tomorrow.  (Refer to my post last year about cookies, though instead of those he and I will be making zucchini bread.  He wasn't thrilled about learning how to do this project but he did the garden with us this summer for his scouting badge and I thought this would be a great chance for him to get some life skills/home ec in by helping me prep the zucchini and baking the breads to freeze.  We will be using Grandma's recipe and I will have to do a follow up post to let you know it turns out!)

Oh and for the curious have a peek at our test, modify it, and feel free to use with your students: Test is Here

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Rocks are Fun!

For science we have been studying rocks and minerals.  This is one of those areas where we have gone more in depth than he covered in 3rd grade.  He hasn't been exactly enthusiastic.  "It's just rocks, mom."

So we made a visit to the Planetarium last week.  He thought it was a cool way to get some Science credit for school and play with some demonstrations.  He never knew my secret ninja plan.  I even happily agreed to let him browse the gift shop and purchase a little bag of pretty, polished rocks.  All along I was searching for my secret weapon.  I found it.  Purchased it with his rocks.  Brought it home and put it away quietly for this week.

Yesterday, I pulled it out.

Yes, it is a simple little test kit with some mineral samples.  To a boy it is fun in a box.  For about 10.00 your son's eyes will light up for an hour.  He will run all of the tests on the rocks but the most fun is when you let him break it for the cleavage/fracture test.  We saved a couple of minerals in tact for test day but for the most part I just let him have fun as he filled in his chart.
A copy of the chart we used can be found here: Mineral Chart
We also used this guide

It also had me look up our local minerals and rocks.  I am hoping to take a Saturday trip and collect a few of our state's rocks/minerals to bring home and sample.  This should be a fun way to entertain the family for a day without breaking the bank.

Oh and if you are wondering the outcome of the story, did mom win? Yes, yes she did.  After breaking a few rocks, I asked him if science was fun.  His answer? "Yes!"

Monday, September 3, 2012

Our First Month Back in School

Things have gone very well so far this school year.  I do really love teaching my son.  Every day is a new journey or adventure for us.

For reading we've started reading Anne of Green Gables.  He trusts my judgement in choosing our novel to read and discuss for class.  I encouraged him to help me select and when he didn't I went with an old classic.  I have also been working on developing a guide for how to use this novel in your home school classroom.  It has several questions, a writing journal question, ways to use an art journal, tie in's with history/geography classes, and vocabulary word lists.

Math we are still doing prep work for pre Alegbra and learning our % conversions, etc.

History we started from the beginning of America and have talked about the first people to come into the United States which has led us to a unit of studies on various Indian groups.  I loved these studies as a child and the most ironic thing has happened while we were studying the Indians.  I was also working on a family tree in my spare time at a popular genealogy website.  
Through my subscription I am able to link with other members who also have genetic links on my family tree.  I began studying something and discovered that one of my great grandmother's relatives had also done some research on her family line.  Her mother was full blooded Cherokee.
This sort of tied in the unit of studies we have been doing and really lit my fire for not only teaching, but learning about this.  We are also planning to tie this in with his scout troop and the Indian Lore badge.
I really want to share a few of my favorite websites with you for this:
Indian Sign Language

In science last year we studied a lot about biology and I wasn't really clear on what he knew about the other sciences.  So I took us back to the basics here as well hoping to build from the ground up in the educational process.   He groaned a little and informed he knew all about minerals and rocks, rock cycles, etc.  I told him to humor me.  By lesson three he discovered he may have learned something about them in school but he was not as all knowing as he had led mom to believe.  He was not aware of the minerals having a formula name, what the formula name meant, or the charts and table graphs.  The moral here?  An old dog can always learn new tricks or ways to do those tricks!
One of my favorite science resources

I'm also in the planning stages to teach a local class on baby sitting for my son and the older children in the local home school group.  We will cover early childhood development, basics of caring for a baby and small children, and so much more.  I'm excited about this project and look forward to getting everything planned out in the next week or two.  I just have to cross my fingers there are enough children that want to learn this type of thing.

Now that I've told you all about our first month of school, what are you studying with your children this year?  Is there anything you are excited to learn more about with them?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Character Development Sheet

For creative writing class I assigned a character development sheet.  The purpose of this assignment was to begin developing a character he will use in a future writing project.  This is meant to get him to think about his characters before he builds the story.  So he knows what motivates them to react to things and situations.  What motivates them to do something?

A good story is built on the foundation of good characters.   Think about the books you have read.  The characters you fell in love with.   Sometimes we relate to a character in a very emotional way when reading a piece of literature.  Millions of young ladies and women found something in Edward Cullen they wanted in their lives.  Or Jacob.  These young men came alive on the page for the readers.  They had clear motivations.  They behaved according to their personality.   Harry Potter, beloved by millions, changed and grew gradually over the course of his series.  He continued to work on the side of good in the age old battle of good versus evil but along the way there were times he wondered where he truly stood.   Where those around him stood.  He grew up and matured but retained his core values.

These are the characters every writer wants to build.  These are the characters we have to teach young writers how to build.  To help with this I have created a resource called the Character Development Sheet.  I have shared this and will give the link to download a printable version, it is a word file.

A quick look at what this sheet is:

Creative Writing
Character Development Sheet

Name of character:
Age of character:
Physical Description (be specific: hair color, length, eye color, skin tone, facial marks such as freckles, height, weight)

Personality (funny, sad, talkative, etc):

History of character:

Dreams, Desires, Goals of character:

How would this character express/feel happy?       

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Preparing For the New Year

Where oh where did our summer go?
It seems like the time has flown by this summer and we really didn't go anywhere big or do anything spectacular this summer.  We mostly chilled at home and welcomed some guests for the 4th.  Went to places and events close to home and yet, here we are facing the start of a new school year.

Anyone else procrastinate?
I know the prepared home school parent has already checked their curriculum needs off on the list, ordered their supplies, and probably outlined the first few months.   I was going to do those things.  I really was.  Except I didn't.  I did do a shop earlier this summer and collected some more books to add to my potential curriculum pile, does that count for early bird preparation?  I also made sure I grabbed some of the hot school supply deals locally and we are in no danger of not being able to find a pencil or pen in the morning.

The rest of it?
I plan as I go would be the best way to describe it.  I know where we left off at the beginning of the summer.  I know which road we are taking in each course.  I have a rough road map.  So the first few days I will be faking it.  I will pretend I have outlined our year's worth of courses, books, materials, and learning supplies.  I will pretend I know exactly how we're going to get everything done by the end of year.  I will pretend I know already what we have to cover, what is optional, and what is just for fun.  

This post was to?
This post was to encourage all parents that are home schooling this year.  It doesn't matter how much you have organized or not organized, school is approaching quickly.  You will be ready.  You will smile.  You will laugh.  You will enjoy your children.  You will get the important things done.  Don't stress.  Don't worry.  Just enjoy these last few moments before the craziness of the new school year and impending deadlines take over.   There's still time (especially if you know you are terrible at preparing and are an Amazon Prime subscriber - 2 day shipping! See I DO know how to plan ahead!)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Our Many Faces

Since creating this blog, I have tried to get our face out there in a few spots.  I am still learning and working on the best ways to find a loyal reader base but for those of you interested you can find us:
On Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/katybug273/home-school-ideas/

On Facebook: Just click that little box over on the side.  I've made that one easy for you!

I'll be working on a Twitter.  My main problem with that site is that I haven't found a great way to utilize it.  Some have a great niche market with that site and reach a lot of readers, but for me personally, I just haven't found it to be very useful in the past.  I am probably doing it wrong so if anyone knows of great ways to utilize Twitter leave me a comment, I'm always open for suggestions.

Vote for Us: http://www.circleofmoms.com/top25/Top-25-Homeschooling-Moms-2012#_
We REALLY need your votes.  It's encouraging to see them tally up and know that the information you are putting out there is useful to other parents.  It's been so amazing to realize that people do enjoy some of the posts I have made.  I try to pour out my heart sometimes and other times just spread a smile or my thoughts but in any case, I am building myself a very cozy little corner.

On Amazon: I did it.  I wrote a non fiction book.  I think it's a great tool and I hope others do too.  Let me know!

Lastly, don't forget to follow my blog here.  Just click the little follow button.  So easy and I appreciate it so much!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vacation: Full of Learning Opportunties

You don't have to be a home school parent to recognize and enjoy all the learning opportunities presented during summer vacation.

Did you read that sentence?  Read it again.  Remember it.  All around us, the world is in action.  Are you taking a summer vacation?  Of course pack some books to relax and fall asleep with in the evenings but what about the notebook?  They may need to draw or write a short journal entry to keep them entertained on a long car ride or flight.  

What are you doing to enjoy your summer?  

Going to the beach?  

Play in sand for a little bit but learn about the ocean and the wildlife found in the area.  Show them the flowers and plants.  Teach them the names of these things.  Spend a few quiet moments watching birds.  Pick up seas shells that you can take home and look at under a microscope or play with at home.  Leave foot prints in the sand, use at as an opportunity to talk a few moments about how fossils are really just big footprints left behind in the earth.  Or take a few minutes to share about the carbon foot print we are all leaving everyday on Earth.  Find something that interests you and engage  your child.  If you are not a bird person, it's really hard to teach them to enjoy bird watching.  They will sense your disinterest in the topic.

Are you going camping?

Talk about the terrain where you are at.  Take a hike.  Pick up some leaves.  Notice the plants.  The animals.  The natural resources such as mountains, caves, creeks.  

Are you going on a cruise?

Before you go spend a few minutes learning about the area you are going to visit.  Engage them in fun things to know about the place you are visiting.

Are you going to a theme park?

There are several theme parks that have a lot of knowledge.  There are several fun books on Walt Disney's life.  Share his story.  Follow the birth of Mickey Mouse.  Learn about animation.

Are you staying home?

Chances are there are several learning resources in your own backyard.  You can garden with the kids.  You can take advantage of local places you may not have visited.  We are making it a goal through out this summer and fall to go out and find the fun places to visit that are relatively close to our home.  For instance we have discovered a copper mine that was a fun, engaging learning experience.   We have mountains we can go up and view.  We have fishing spots that are full of learning ability.  

Summer should be fun but fun is no reason not to learn.  Learning can be fun.  You just need to take the first step and look for the great things to do.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fun, Science, and Root Beer

How do these three things go together?
Teach your kids a little bit of science and learn about dry ice.
This page has a lot of fun facts and ideas of things you can add to this idea with: http://www.stevespanglerscience.com/experiment/dry-ice-fun-learning-about-dry-ice

Then plan a weekend fun activity with the family or if you are doing a BBQ or 4th of July celebration add this to your list of things to do and show them dry ice in action!
Root Beer
4 lbs of sugar
2 oz of Root Beer Concentrate
4 gallons of water
4 lbs of dry ice.
Mix everything but the dry ice in a clean 5 gallon bucket.  Then add your dry ice and stir once in awhile to keep the dry ice off the bucket.  When the dry ice dissolves in about 20 minutes or so you have root beer to enjoy!
The kids will love how it looks like a witches brew as it is melting and that's a great time to tell them all about dry ice.
It is really easy to do (wear gloves handling the dry ice) and inexpensive.  5 gallons of root beer costs approximately $10.00.

Where to find dry ice?  Check with your local grocers as a lot of them carry it or google your city, state and dry ice.  There are various resources for this information.
Have fun!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Top 25 Home School Blogs

It's a long shot for me to get in this thing as I'm still very new to the blogging world but anyone who would like to throw me a vote may do so at:

We are pending for one day and then we will be moved to the main list.  Thanks so much for your support!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Are Schools Crossing A Line?

It seems like everyday there is a new story in the news about a child disciplined and sent home for what they are wearing.  It has become a hot topic on many social networking sights with various parents chiming in on right or wrong.

When it comes to government, there is a big voice demanding it step out of our homes.  Let us live our lives as long as we are doing no harm to others.   So why do so many jump in to defend schools for doing the same things with our children?

Now I understand dress codes.  I even like some aspects of a dress code.  It does encourage self discipline, better hygiene habits, and keep children from picking on someone for not having the right label on their jeans. However, uniforms are taken too far when they take away our children's sense of identity, their individuality.  Let's just look at one photo of a little girl who's school told her she could not be in her class photo:

What is wrong with that hair? Nothing.  It may not be my choice of style but it expressed who this child was and how she wanted her class mates to remember her.  Rather than having the exact same look as all the other children, she wanted to stand out in her class photos.  Is that such a terrible thing? To want to be yourself? To be true to yourself?

And let's get our lawyer book out and read the rules.  No braids or plaits, ribbons in hair must be certain colors. Hmmm.  This is NOT a braid.  This is NOT a plait.  There are NO ribbons in her hair.  Technically this broke no rules.  Yet a principal (one person) was given the chance to make a judgement call and did so.  With no listening to the parent's rationale or reasoning.

Let's take a look at another incident which involved a high school young lady.  She was sent home for being in violation of the school dress code that her skirt was too short.  However, when measured her skirt was TWO inched LONGER than the dress code specified.
Yet parents are still defending the school's decision and berating the father who posted this on his blog as if he were a terrible parent for making a big deal of the issue.  But was he wrong? Was he right? Are schools going too far?

Now, I do agree that some uniform codes are necessary.  No one wants their teenage son sitting next to a girl in chemistry who is giving him a full view of every asset God gave her.  So in that regard schools do need a sense of proper dressing.  They do need to enforce those things.  But in these cases I find nothing improper here.  Just individuals expressing themselves by their clothing choices.  And that brings me to my point.

I think more school environments are doing everything they can to stifle children as individuals.  Children are not supposed to question the science teacher that is teaching evolution.  They are not supposed to ask hard questions.  They are not supposed to be themselves.  The war is starting with minor clothing choices and if parents ignore the blatant abuse of these policies by their makers, then they are allowing a precedent to be set that they will all regret at some point.  When their child is an adult machine who goes through rotes each day rather than enjoys life.  When their child has become a government robot not an educated, risk taking, question asking voter.   So before you defend a bad judgement call because it is coming from a principal, superintendent, or school board - look at the entire issue.  Then ask yourself what precedent this sets for our future? Our children's future?  Our grand children?

Make no mistake that this is a cog in a wheel.  However, it is okay to support boys wearing slacks and collared shirts and still say sending a girl home for violations that are clearly not violations is okay!  It is okay to buck the system.  Ask questions.  If this were your child it is your choice to blog or not to blog.  To get angry or be accepting but you shouldn't cast judgement on a parent who does ask questions or does ask how far we will allow this to go?  Because it's an important issue that goes a little deeper than what you see on the surface.

Furthermore, this is setting a precedent for peer bullying.  If you don't believe that then look up the story of what happened to a BYU student for wearing a modern, modest dress at the university library.  I will even link it here:

Not only were his actions despicable but they border on bully behavior.  It was encouraged and taught to him by schools and authority figures.  Was he wrong?  Or were the people who brought him up that way the ones who should be answering to this young lady for the note she got?

Just some food for thought...............

Thursday, April 26, 2012

On an Airplane

We are doing a poetry unit right now and so each day my son gets a new poetry assignment.
I loved the job he did on this one and couldn't resist sharing it.

On An Airplane
The ticket ladies are like giants
Then we run like cheetahs to get to our gate.
We sit and sit and sit
Finally, we get in a line with sweaty people
Their sweat reminded me of rain forests
Then we get on the plane
The airplane lady told us to put our seat belts on
The plane went up, up, and up
I looked out the window,
the people looked like ants
We passed the Grand Canyon
It just looked like a hole
I fell asleep
When I woke up
we got off the plane
Aunt May was there to pick us up, up, and up

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

6th Grade Spelling

My first non fiction book is live on the Kindle today, after 90 days it will be released via the Nook as well.
It was a trial and error experience learning how to format it correctly and we still have a few things to tweak when we figure out how on the Table of Contents but I hope other homeschool parents will find the book informative and useful.

I wrote up our complete spelling curriculum and offered over 300 words to use for 6th graders.  I divided up each day into activities that strengthen their writing, spelling, reading, and speaking.  I believe that while some standard spelling teaching methods do work it's important to implement other activities as well and experiment to find what fits your child perfectly.

With that in mind the book contains several ideas and you can modify it to fit your needs or methods.  If nothing else the extensive word list is worth the 4.99 price. 
Kindle owners can borrow it for free from the lending library.

There are other grades being planned and those will also contain 300 words each with various activities.  I spent a lot of time developing worksheets and small lessons that are included in these books.  
There is also an answer key included.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Religious Lessons

I'm about to share a very valuable resource for my family.  And it is completely, totally FREE.
Before we began home school, we used this as a discipline tool when he had really pushed his limits.  Let's face it as parent's you can't always ground, take away, and time out your children.
It gets old and they stop caring.
Plus where is the value of learning in those lessons?  When you really think about it, that falls in line more with bribery than teaching them the value of your rules, respecting authority, or any of the things you want them to learn.
Now that we home school, we have incorporated these into one or two monthly class sessions because I really wanted him to finish up this project.
Any parent can use this! Not just the home school parent.
Is your child being disrespectful? Resenting your authority? Disobeying? Acting out? Getting in trouble?
If you are a Christian and want to pass on religious values to your children, read some of these and see if they can't be used to make a difference in  your home as well.
I think they are very nicely worded and teach children a lot.
Instead of just taking away the games until they clean their room, come home from playing on time, or obey the rules why not hand them one of these lessons and their bible so they can understand where you are coming from and why?
It has made a difference in our house before home school.  We started with lesson one.  I also think the lessons contain excellent value for the tweens and young teens in our life to really grasp early.
There are so many books and resources that focus on teaching our young children the basics: Be Kind, Be Forgiving, Be Loving, Don't Steal.  There aren't that many for our older children and this series fills in the gap.

Here is the link to download and print your lessons:

But here is a list of topics they cover:
1. Why Parents - This explains and covers why God made parents and what our intended role is to be.

2. Why Parents Are Not - This is a little tougher for mom and dad because this explains why we sometimes do make mistakes.  It's a great parent that realizes, hey, I mess up sometimes.  But this lesson does a good job of explaining all of the pressures and stresses put on parents in today's world.  It also explains to the child who may be raised in church while mom and dad are not believers how to appropriately set an example.
I love this lesson because at the end it tells children even IF they think mom and dad are wrong, they need to be the ones to lead the spiritual life and lead by example and do what they are supposed to do.

3. Parents - Why and Why Not - This asks them questions.  That's all it does and gives them scriptures to look up or use when answering some of them.  It really encourages them to think and respond.  It gives you a door of opportunity to talk with them.  It addresses discipline and it addresses spanking, it does not condemn or approve, it asks and gives you as a parent the opportunity to really talk to your child.  It's an excellent resource.

4. Why Am I Here (Where do Children Fit In?) - Explains God's purpose for them as individuals and also guides them in how to make good choices and help guide their parents.  Yes, sometimes we need to be taught things like how to let go of our children when the time comes.

5. Who is Responsible? (Who Me? Yes You!) - I love this lesson. It teaches them exactly what responsibility is and makes them think about who is responsible for problems.  Such as failing a test.  Is it the teacher's fault? The parent's? Or the child who didn't study and went out to play?

6. Learning to Like the Limits - Another great lesson this one puts emphasis on why parent's have rules and set limits.

7. Do's and Dont's - An expansion of the limits lesson this one delves into the bible very heavily and expects them to look up and read scriptures and fill out some of God's do's and do not's.

8. Convicted? Of course & Conviction Of Course - This deals with learning how to react to the rules or limits placed on us.  It talks about obeying God's rules and our parent's rules.  It really explores the attitude of the child within the rules and encourages them to behave appropriately.

9. Relationships for Real and For Right - This explores making and keeping the right kind of friendships.  The kind of friendships and relationships that God wants us to make.  That encourage us to do the right thing and be honorable.  A very important lesson in my opinion at an age where peer pressure is going to be at an all time high in their lives.

10. Don't Confuse the Process with the Product - A lesson that reminds them they are in process and are not a finished product.  Not to judge themselves because God is still working on them and molding them into the individual they will become.

11. Am I Ready to Go Down the Road with Delight - Again this deals with attitudes as they go through the process of growing up.  Great lesson.

12. Nobody Hears Me and I Hear Nobody - Encourages them to lean on God and other Christians as they go through the process of growing up.

I especially encourage parents with behavioral issues to give these lessons a go.  My son was diagnosed very early in life with Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  At a certain age talking with him was our best tool.  These lessons encourage him to grow and give me things to talk to him about and really have opened up a door for us.   I am very pleased with the results and I encourage any parent who is at their wit's end from dealing with defiance, stubborn behaviors, or even tantrums to give these a try.  They put the ball in your child's court and really give them a chance to learn and see their behavior in a new light too.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Making Us Proud

My husband and son got all dressed up this evening to go to their boy scout meeting.  It was a review night and they both looked so sharp!

They came home in a great mood and my husband was very proud of our son as he earned his rank advancement this evening.
When he told him to come tell me about it, my son rushed in grinning and said, "Home school is paying off mom!"
I said, "What do you mean?"
He said, "I was able to not only answer a question about our constitutional rights but give them a list of them and how they applied to me.  I did really well on that question."

I was pretty excited and extremely pleased to hear that some of the material he has learned in the last few months is already beginning to make a difference. He's not just learning.  He's retaining information.  He's applying it to his life.

This is the kind of news that would make any home school parent proud!  What we do does make a difference!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

How to Develop a Writer

Unfortunately for my son his mom is a published author.  I might not be Nora Roberts or Danielle Steel but the fact remains I have published my writing in various formats for the last ten years.  He used to have a thirst for writing that almost surpassed my own.  I could see the desire to possibly someday be published himself.  

The problem is somewhere in the public education system this thirst dampened.  It died.  He was writing well developed stories in fourth grade and so they stopped feeding him improvement.  They didn't teach him the mundane part of the writing process because he was doing a good job.  So the ball got dropped.  The spark for telling a story is still there.  The little hint of a flame as he reveals a plot twist, a gruesome death, or a funny joke.  What's missing is a lack of respect for the process of "feeding the flame".  

He has no idea how often one, single piece may be written and rewritten.  He wasn't given elements of building the story further than his initial idea.  While he was taught writing in a classroom setting it was a basic class that touched upon knowledge he already had.  It taught basic character development.  Never mind that his stories all showed those basics what he needed was more in depth knowledge.

So now we have a problem of arrogance.  Thinking his writing is far superior to his peers he has hit a point where I am going to have to burst that bubble.  I am going to have to take some of the lessons above the place his peers are at.  Which means I will hear complaints of, "this is too hard."  "I'm not writing a book mom!"  "I already did that."  "How long does it have to be?"  The last is my least favorite because it isn't a question that explores what is my potential? It's a question that explores what do I have to do to pass?

So there is a mind set here that we need to make a break through in.   Life isn't about passing or failing.  It's not about doing good enough.  It's about doing your best.  If he would get rid of that pass or fail, good enough, how long should my writing be thought process I have no idea what he would create.  When he is given the limit of doing two pages, he does exactly two pages.  When he is told do 10 paragraphs, he does exactly 10 paragraphs.  What I see is that if he would let his creative monster loose on paper, unguarded, there is no limit to his imagination.  

I hate giving a limit on a writing assignment.  I really do.  But if I don't, he will write the entire assignment in two sentences.  His mind set is on doing as little as possible to produce the exact result the teacher requests.  He won't explore any further.  Yet, take him on vacation and riding in a car with nothing else to do he is typing out longer stories in the notes section of my Iphone.  Stories that are good.

So this is my experiment in developing him beyond the pass/fail school system way of teaching.  I don't know how successful it will be in the end and there are have been times already in this process where he has bucked against my non traditional method.

1. Give him a good writing prompt and ask for 5 paragraphs.
2.  He used a "To be continued" setting himself up the next day to finish the story in 5 paragraphs.
3. Teach character development.  Using a simple chart we watched an episode of his favorite television show and analyzed each character.  We had four charts completed at the end of this session. http://www.teachervision.fen.com/pop-culture/printable/63325.html
4. Then he was told to do two more charts just like that printable on his characters.
5.  At this point he was told to revise his 10 paragraph story and incorporate his character chart exercise into his writing.  Here is where he did something completely unexpected.  Rather than expanding upon his assignment, he did exactly what I asked and in the process condensed his story down to one page length.  I was mad at first. Then I looked closer at what he had done.  He had tightened down his story and took out a lot of the non essential elements.  He did add in good character descriptions.   It is nowhere near complete but it may actually be easier for him to work with the story now that the only things remaining are the important parts.  Oh, and the story still made perfect sense.
6.  Then we looked at the beginning.  We read through: http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/greenway1.shtml
Then he was given a list I made in Microsoft word that hit each key point talked about in the article but worded in a way a sixth grader can apply to his writing.  His assignment was to look through my print out and begin to brainstorm how he was going to do everything on that page in his first chapter.   I also took his condensed story and broke it down into Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and  Chapter 3.  The objective at the end of this unit is a three chapter story that showcases his writing style.
7.  The next class period is to complete Chapter 1.  Incorporate everything he read, learned, and then worked out on paper the day before into his actual story.
This is a unit in progress so we are not finished but the overall point of what he is doing is here.
We will do a few lessons on conflict and the middle of a story.  We will do a few lessons on conflict resolution, good endings, and how to wrap everything up without leaving a loose end unless you plan on doing a series of novels or stories.   Finally, he will be put through the editing and re-writing process one last time to produce a three chapter short story.   How will it work out for us?  I have no idea.  But I can't wait to read the final product!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

If you don't like it, Suck an Egg

Since we decided to "come out" and announce our decision, we have found more haters than those that embrace our choice.  Amazingly enough, the haters stem from our own family and relatives more than strangers.  Strangers embrace the idea of home school without judgement or question.
In the interest of fairness, before I say to go suck an egg, let me also say when you have your own children you get to choose how to raise and educate them.  You get to make those decisions.  And I have seen plenty of public school educated adults fail.  I have seen too many parents spend their time fighting with the system, fighting with their kids to fall in line with the system, and in general fighting more than educating.  Isn't that a lot of stress?
Even in public school, they expect the parent to be a full time teacher in the evening.  You walk hand in hand with your child's education process but you only get to see them a few hours in the evening after work/school before bed.  Where is the time in that to be loving, joyous family unit?  You only get your child a limited amount of years before they grow up.  Do you not want quality family time?  Do you not want to make enjoyable family memories?
As to questioning my credentials, let me just say that I did go to school for early childhood education.  I didn't finish.  I decided I didn't want to spend my life in a class room with thirty unknown children everyday trying to make them listen and follow rules in a society so screwed up a parent can't discipline a child, much less a teacher.  I didn't want to spend more time fighting officials over every little move I made than I did expanding minds.  I didn't want to do that.  Plain and simple.  Do you think every teacher with a degree is qualified and outstanding to teach every child?  If you let a piece of paper tell  you what you can and can not do your entire life, than you are going to miss out on life.
So here are some facts:

1. In 1997, a study of 5,402 homeschool students from 1,657 families was released. It was entitled, "Strengths of Their Own: Home Schoolers Across America." The study demonstrated that homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects. 

2. This was confirmed in another study by Dr. Lawrence Rudner of 20,760 homeschooled students which found the homeschoolers who have homeschooled all their school aged years had the highest academic achievement. This was especially apparent in the higher grades.

3.  In a study released by the National Center for Home Education on November 10, 1994. According to these standardized test results provided by the Riverside Publishing Company of 16,311 homeschoolers from all 50 states K-12, the nationwide average for homeschool students is at the 77th percentile of the basic battery of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. In reading, the homeschoolers' nationwide grand mean is the 79th percentile. This means, of course, that the homeschool students perform better in reading than 79 percent of the same population on whom the test is normed. In the area of language arts and math, the typical homeschooler scored in the 73rd percentile.

4. In 1991, a survey of standardized test scores was performed by the Home School Legal Defense Association in cooperation with the Psychological Corporation, which publishes the Stanford Achievement Test. The study involved the administering of the Stanford Achievement Test (8th Edition, Form J) to 5,124 homeschooled students. These students represented all 50 states and their grades ranged from K-12.   These 5,124 homeschoolers' composite scores on the basic battery of tests in reading, math, and language arts ranked 18 to 28 percentile points above public school averages.

5. The Bob Jones University Testing Service of South Carolina provided test results of Montana homeschoolers. Also a survey of homeschoolers in Montana was conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute. Dr. Brian Ray evaluated the survey and test results and found:On average, the home education students in this study scored above the national norm in all subject areas on standardized achievement tests. These students scored, on average, at the 72nd percentile. This is well above the national average.

6. In North Dakota, Dr. Brian Ray conducted a survey of 205 homeschoolers throughout the state. The middle reading score was the 84th percentile, language was the 81st percentile, science was the 87th percentile, social studies was the 86th percentile, and math was the 81st percentile.  Further, Dr. Ray found no significant statistical differences in academic achievement between those students taught by parents with less formal education and those students taught by parents with higher formal education.

7. Stanford University accepted 26% of the 35 homeschoolers who applied--nearly double its overall acceptance rate.

8. 2001, homeschoolers scored an average of 1,100 on the SAT--a full 81 points above the national average--and 22.8 on the ACT, compared with the national average of 21.

9. The homeschooling population in the United States has grown from some 10,000 to 15,000 children in the late 1960s to over one million children in 2001

10. In 1997, the winner of the National Spelling Bee was a homeschooled student. Every year since then, the winner has been a homeschooled student. This year, the first and second runners up were also homeschoolers. (2004)
More Info can be found at: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp

So in summary, if you have something negative to say, use researched facts to back your argument up.  And don't be such a gossip.  Say it to the home school parent's face and be willing to listen to their reasoning, logic, and statistics as well.  You will find out that most of us did not come to this decision lightly.  Most of us researched.  Most of us thought it out.  Most of us have multiple reasons and various layers for our choice.  And most of us work harder than you could imagine to find curriculum that is advanced, informative, accurate, and offers a variety of choices to meet our needs.  Just because you have chose a traditional system with flaws gives you no superior right to knock someone else's choices for deciding to use their own system which may also have flaws, but they are flaws they can work out and mend themselves.  

In Short, Haters can:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sometimes We All Want Cookies

School is hard! Any parent regardless of their educational choices for their children can relate to this.  Today's post is for all of us.  Every parent today plays some role in their child's education.  The schools depend on it when they assign homework.  Is there a school out there who isn't doing reading journals of some sort?  That is basically mom & dad's homework.
You have to write how many minutes your child read and sign the journal.  Or you have to sign this.  Or sign that.  Or read to them.  Read with them.  Watch this.  Answer this.  Discuss this.
For the home school parent we get to make a choice.  Teach even the hard stuff or take the easy route some home schooling does and skip it.  Well, life isn't about skipping the hard stuff.  It's about taking the plunge into the unknown.  Hug the un-love-able things like Algebra.  Wrap your mind around science in all of it's complexities.  You aren't doing anyone any favors if you pick and choose to not teach subjects you aren't familiar with.
Not only do you deprive your child of knowledge that other students have, you deprive yourself of the learning experience.
But soapbox aside, today wasn't about whining or lecturing. No advice.  No quick wit.
Today's post was all about mommy wanting cookies.  She's tired.  She worked hard.  She pushed through Meiosis lessons in Science, least common denominator with fractions in Math, read a report on a state cabinet, typed up the spelling list, helped prepare a writing blog for book reviewing (instead of the old book report formats), and in general researched, taught, got frustrated, laughed, shook her head and figured it all out to finish a productive day in school.
Now ....give....her....a ....cookie.  Please????
Preferably one of those limited edition Birthday Cake Oreo's.
I think I'm going to sob when those go off the market.
Because today, is just a cookie day.
And those oreo's are so good I'm neglecting the girl scout cookies.  
If you love birthday cake ice cream and all of that jazz - I recommend trying these before they are gone.
Hopefully my husband reads this and buys me some cookies!!!!!!
Must have cookies to fuel my brain for tomorrow.  Meiosis test day.  Lots of cookies.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Layover: Humor

Yesterday we tested in most of our subjects and wrapped up unit studies.  Today is Friday and I'm really trying not to delve too deep into brand new units or chapters that he is going to forget come Monday.  So we're doing some busy work that fills space and gives me a chance to access where he is in his subjects.

So for writing, our Review unit was complete and I decided to go for an easy writing prompt.  Thinking I wanted something fun and light hearted because he had just completed a unit that was very intense and I expected a lot out of his writing for that.  I wanted to remind him of the lighter side of writing and bring some humor to our Friday afternoon.  I loved the website I found for writing prompts.  If you home school, you MUST check this out.  The prompts here are so good and look so fun, I think they just might become our Friday routine.  I can't wait to see what he comes up with.  It might even be good for his old, author mom to put her skills to the test next to him and let loose with a few of these.

Here's that link: http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/

Now today our prompt was: Things You Shouldn't Say to Someone Who Just Got Dumped

I laughed.  He's going to fuss at me for blogging this but here are some gems from my favorite twelve year old boy in the world:

"At least now I can date her."
"At least my dog still likes you."
"Want to go on a double date? Ooh, wait.."
"You'll never guess who just asked me out.  Well, maybe you can."
"You'll never find anyone like that again."

See...school isn't always BORING.  Have fun!!! Don't be afraid of the lighter side of life.  It engages their brains too.  I promise.

And here's a little photo of the couple we all wish would have broken up when one got eaten by a werewolf:

Thursday, February 16, 2012

First Stop: Our Roots

One of the first places we are going to visit on our journey is our roots.  Why do we need a government?  What types of government are there that function in different parts of the world?  How did we choose this one?  Why?  More importantly, what exactly should the government be doing for us and what should it not be doing?

These are all important questions and some of these are very hard to teach a child.  One of the key things about home school is that I have read too many stories of parents that got caught up in molding their own agenda into their children.  Their children are little robots that mimic mommy and daddy's thoughts.   They may or may not have been told why they think this way, but they have been told to think that way by someone.  So remaining impartial to the issues was extremely important to us.

Luckily, his father and I rarely agree on the proper way to fold a towel so our views on the government are often at odds with the other's opinion.   We tease each other but really, we do both think differently.  He thinks like those aliens on Mars while I bathe in the pools of bubble baths, laze on the rocks of pedicures, and stroll the streets of fashion in downtown Venus.   Very little of that is true but it paints the idea, right?

So I chose two exercises to introduce the topic of government.  The first one I presented him with a blank canvas situation and asked him how he would have created the government.  What type of government would he choose?  Being a boy he went straight for the dictatorship and tyrant ruling.  Ah, well, he will learn as we progress how well that doesn't work out.   As we have gone on to look at our rights, I already see his mind working out his previous choice and why he's not so sure that was a grand plan.

This next exercise proved to be a lot of fun for all of us.  It really should be illegal to have that much fun when you are teaching and learning about the government.  How boring is history? Not very boring at all if you can engage their minds and tickle their sense of humor.

For this exercise my husband was actually working from home and was able to participate.  We started with a sheet of paper and the question posed was:  What does society or the individuals within it complain about?  What makes them unhappy?

Any answer was allowed.  It didn't matter how ridiculous it was to an adult.  And despite the silly answers, I was pretty impressed with the list my twelve year old made.  He was pretty in touch to what he had overheard adults saying.  He knew the economy was in the crapper.   He'd seen the adults complaining about the lack of job opportunities.  He even chose to address health care.

The next task was for him to define who was responsible to handle that complaint.  The government? The individual?  The non profit agency?  Or the profit/business companies?  Who can fix those things?

After he thought he had his answers, we went over them as a family.  And we all threw in our two cents on exactly what defines the government's job and role in each complaint.  We laughed.  We debated.  We used logic and reasoning.  We learned that while we all differed on some things, there were basic things that were cut and dry.  The government can't fix your attitude.  You have to do that.  Duh! But the point was we learned a lot of things in one lesson.

He learned the government's job isn't always clearly defined in each individual's mind.  This is why the world has divided into political parties.   He learned some things aren't the government's job to fix at all.  They should be the individual's responsibility and that they needed to take their responsibility into account when they complain.   He also learned about civic responsibility and the role it plays in creating a happier environment for the people.  Why food banks can be important to our society.  Why we need organizations to help fund important research.

Of course, this is not our entire government lesson plan.  This was just the brief exercises we used to introduce the concepts we would be reading, discussing, and learning about in the upcoming weeks.  And it was fun.  It opened his mind.  He would get so caught up explaining his choices that he forgot he was learning something.   He was engaged in this process.  On the way to Grandma's that evening, he started complaining about the comfort of his seat belt.  Soon it evolved into a discussion of who bore responsibility for seat belt laws.  Why we needed safety laws.  And he generated this discussion process.  Not the parents.  It was so much fun to see him learn.  I'm so proud of him.  

It will be interesting to see how his mind develops as he realizes what is great about democracy.  Why it's important enough to defend our freedoms.  As our ancestors have done for years.  Why we have to sometimes protect ourselves, even from our own government when it begins to over step it's own role.  Thus, the need for the election process.

See...one simple little piece of paper and it is going to open so many doors to learn.  Which door should we open first?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Deciding Our Destination

Home Schooling

A wonderful thought. A scary thought. A lot more work than many given it credit for. Was I the only one who knew we could do it? And do it better than what my child was currently getting out of his schooling experience?

We had visited the territory known as home school once before. When we lived out of the country and my son was in the second grade. I was fun and engaging. I was putting in more hours than I would have if I worked full time. I wrote full week lesson plans on the weekend. I scoured curriculum, the Internet, books, and resources until my eyes watered. I was determined.

At the same time our employer called into question the fact that our son wasn't registered with the local schools. We had done everything to legally home school and they dared to question the validity of his education. In my research I had learned to expect this but more from the schools when we got home. I slapped down the box of file folders on the bed. With all of the lessons, notes, tests, worksheets, and activity plans. I said "Show them this."

We wound up making the decision to transfer back to the country and deal with some other pressing family matters before we let the employer have it about their concerns. We relocated to the states and enrolled my son in school and I forgot all about it until recently. When he re-enrolled for the second half of his second grade year I was shocked at the work he brought home. We had engaged in things miles ahead of this. It wasn't until his third and fourth grade years that he was even doing the concepts I had taught him in second grade.

This was the first time my mind thought something might be broken for our family. When I could have him that much ahead of a public school curriculum in half the time of a full school year, it made me question the value of the education he was getting. So in third grade I put him on the waiting list for a public charter school. He began sixth grade excited about the prospect.

Then we learned a second valuable lesson about our family. We valued each other. We valued our time together. We valued our holidays spent with relatives. We valued education but we placed a higher value on our time spent together, learning in engaging ways that didn't involve a textbook or quiz.

The charter school was focused on academics above everything else. Almost to an extreme it seemed to me as a parent. My son tested high in his subjects and was placed doing work above his grade level. I was very happy about some aspects of this schooling, please do not misunderstand. However, by Christmas break it became apparent that in some ways smart kid were punished for being smart. They didn't get to go home for the holidays without having ten page reports, extensive science fair projects, and thick packets of home work in every subject to do over the holiday. He had relatives flying in from states away that he only sees once a year, his time with them over the holidays had an importance.

Because of this he fell behind with make up work. He spent a few weeks getting caught up. Then he was behind again. It seemed the work they piled on the kids never stopped. Why was I sending him to school eight hours a day and then spending five and six hours a night teaching him myself at home? What about our family time? What about our family activities? His chores? He had no time to do anything but home work, eat, sleep. He was even starting to fall behind in how much boy scout participation I allowed. We passed on enrolling him in basketball this fall - a sport he really loved and had done the previous two years.

When I was called in to discuss his home work situation and some other issues, I finally had enough. I gave home school serious thought. I wrote lists of pro's and con's. I researched it. I prayed about it. I didn't want to feel like I was letting him quit school because school got too hard. But the thing is, and I feel it's important to stress this, it wasn't too hard. It was too much. Everything has to have moderation in life and kids, still need to be kids. They need their friend time. I understand homework. Please don't take that out of context. But they also need to do other things and not eat, breathe, sleep home work thoughts.

The straw that broke the camel's back was when the teacher decided to ease my burden of homework at home by making him miss the school sporting activity and the mandated choir. The only reason at this point he was still in school was because it could provide him with opportunities for growth and socialization I hadn't figured out how to do yet. He needs sports. He is a typical boy that loves tv and video games. Sports are a chance to encourage him to be active and engaged. To play. To stay fit and healthy. Choir or Band were the mandatory choices at the beginning of the school year. Kids enjoy learning and expressing themselves and it is a very healthy, engaging outlet. Taking both of those things away from him wasn't the answer to our problem.

Our problem was simple. You had eight hours to teach this material and it wasn't enough. So you expected me to do it for you at home. I wanted to say things I refrained from saying to the school. One of them being that this seems like a failure to effectively manage classroom time. Homework is acceptable, this much work, is not. This is no longer homework. It's like "night school".

In addition the charter school was extremely rigid. Children were not encouraged to ask questions or think for themselves. They were to say yes ma'am, no ma'am and never ask why. Or ask how. Don't challenge a theory given in science because it went against the rules. Accept the theory, even full of holes. I wanted to raise a child that actively thought and asked questions. I wanted him to not just vote at 18 for someone because a Republican or Democrat told him to. I don't want him to be Baptist, Pentecost, or Mormon faith based because someone in his family believes those things. I want him to ask questions. I want him to read his own literature. I want him to research his own facts and draw his own conclusions.

This was stifled completely in the charter school environment. It was lost. This bothered me.

I finally talked to my child and husband about what I was thinking. The more I prayed, the more I realized the only solution was for me to undertake this. And I was terrified. There are certain subjects that terrify me. Beyond words. I would have to learn some things myself. He was no longer in second grade and we were going to be swimming in the Jr High waters.

One thing we all decided together was that we did want him to have the high school experience. I'm a firm believer in high school holding too many opportunities that are special and can't be replaced. At the same time I was firmly opposed to public school Jr High. This may seem like a contradiction but it isn't. My logic is fairly simple. Jr High isn't the Jr High today's parents may remember. There are now more drugs in the Jr High school buildings than there are in the high schools in many areas. Sex is starting at a younger and younger age. We throw these kids to the wolves right at the beginning of puberty when their emotions are at an all time high. Their bodies are changing and their curiosity is peaking about those changes. And we expect them to be strong when everyone around them is busy experimenting and pressuring them. We want them to be the lone wolf separate from the rest of the pack. Teased, bullied, made fun of, disliked all because they make good choices. Sorry, there aren't that many kids willing to do it. And many of us parents have grand illusions that they will. It's hard. It's hard to be alone as an adult but we are fully mature and responsible. We can accept that some times you might seem alone but you aren't. We can accept the consequences of becoming a social outcast. We know how to find other circles that accept our core values and beliefs. Twelve and thirteen year old's do not. The vast majority of them aren't going to.

I don't play roulette. I don't play russian roulette. And I don't intend to start with my son. I want to give him every chance at becoming the smart, capable man he is able to become. We tend our gardens. We water them. We weed them. We shelter them when necessary. We keep them safe from the elements. We stand back and let them flourish when the time is right.

In a few years when kids enter high school that is a few more years they have had to grow and learn. To become stronger. To see things from a different perspective. To begin establishing their own identity and needs. Not every child will be ready for high school, but by giving a few years of critical care to your child could it make the difference? If done correctly, I believe by the time they enter that environment their roots are embedded in the ground. It's not as easy to uproot and replant them in the wild. The plant is stronger and can bear more weight and fruit than when it was young and malleable. After high school they face college and hopefully are showing signs of their harvest. I want the harvest to be beautiful. I want it to be, if not perfect, as close to it as we can make it. I want to influence my child's formative years. I want the ability to influence his moral and ethical compass. What time did I have to do that the way things were going?

A few hours on the weekend in between loads of school work was all. A quick trip to the store when he tagged along? I guess you can say, in some ways, while there were problems with both schools he had been in, there was also a desire in my heart to be the best and produce the best. To love and teach, to guide and encourage. To put priority on all aspects of life. Many disagree with my choice. My husband has a thinner skin than he appears to have. This bothers him. He worries about our decision. Time will tell if it was the right one or the wrong one. But for now, we need to pack our suitcases, get our passports in order, and begin our own journey of home schooling. What will we all learn from the journey? What will we wish we had done differently? We won't know by thinking about our decisions, it's time to take the leap and figure it out.

Sometimes our trip will have scheduled destinations and stopping points. Certain things we have to do. At other times our trip may be an exploration into the wild. And I'm sure we will have the days where we laugh as much as we learn. But these are the days, the memories, and the education we want. We have chosen this path. For better or for worse. The good and the bad. Even if it means relearning new tricks, new ways, and new methods. Even if it means devoting more time to the process than we had been.

I am already debating enrolling in some college math courses to brush up on the skills I know I am weak in. Refreshing my own mind so I can enrich someone else's. It's huge. It's scary. But I am ready.