Friday, November 12, 2010

Our American Girl

What would you say if your daughter asked for a $95 doll? 

We said, “That’s not something we’d like to spend $95 on, but you can buy it yourself.”  A major disappointment, as you can imagine.  P has eyed American Girl dolls for a while, but her need for one began this year, after she enjoyed all 6 of the books about the historically fictional Felicity, from Colonial Williamsburg.  As if by marketing magic, an American Girl catalog arrived in our mailbox shortly after the books were completed.  And, this catalog announced, Felicity would be heading into the American Girl archives, never to be sold again, after this Christmas.  (This coincidence I really can’t explain.)

 So, P began the process of saving her own money for the impossible dream of owning Felicity.  She gathered her birthday money and allowance.  She did jobs around the house, even though she believes that I don’t pay enough.  (I pro-rate most jobs so that the kids’ labor is worth about $5/hour.  Is that exorbitant? miserly?)  To get to the point, P actually reached the goal last week--95 whole dollars!

Though, at first, we hoped P would get distracted and buy something we thought was more valuable, we ultimately became her cheerleaders.  It was as if we were witnessing some 95 yard touchdown rush.  When I saw the goal getting close, I actually wanted her to have the prize.  And then, something happened that I didn’t expect.

P didn’t buy Felicity.  She started asking questions. 

“What would I do with the doll?" 
"What if I change my mind later?”

These were questions I’d wanted to pose all along but didn’t, because it’s terrible to be young and have a goal ruined by big people who think they always know better.  These were questions I didn’t need to answer.  

Have you ever wanted something you couldn't have?  I have.  Its power to distract is staggering.  That same desire within reach, though, is almost disarmed--as if we then have more space in which to decide whether we truly want it.  Why is that?  I don't know yet.  I also don't know whether P will end up with her doll.  But now, we both know a little better which American Girl has the real power over this decision. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Homeschool Day

 So, after 10 weeks of 3rd grade, it’s about time to talk about what we’ve been up to.  This will come in short spurts.  This entry is "How We Organize Our Day":

(1) “Dailies”: As early in the morning as possible, we start with: 
                     scripture of the week (2 minutes), 
                     reading (followed by comprehension ?s), 
                     journaling, and 

    Ideally this takes one hour (15 minutes per subject), though it can drag on for 2+ hours.  I place the day’s assignments in a column of plastic filing drawers, which she pulls out—always from top to bottom.  The subjects are not always in the same order--oh, the element of surprise!  Some of this work can be done independently.

    Only 15 minutes/day on math?  This is a compromise between a math-loving teacher and a math-loathing student.  She doesn’t get as much practice as your average public schooled kid, so she probably isn’t as fast at her basic math facts.  But, she doesn’t have difficulty with the concepts.  And, the curriculum we use helps me see that she is keeping a pace appropriate for 3rd graders.  So at the end of the day, we all go home happy.  (Wait, we’re at home all day anyway.  Oh, never mind.)

(2) “Project time”: After dailies come everybody's favorite part - 2 hours (atleast) for 
        Science (inc. health), 
        American History (inc. literature studies and more intensive writing), and 

   We do these in units, so we might spend three weeks on history and then cut to a science unit.  Or, we might mix them both into a day if we’re out of steam on one thing or another.  (More specifics in future posts on these units.  So, far, we’ve covered Colonial America, the American Revolution, the Constitutional period, hurricanes, and taxonomy).

(3) Ok, so that’s what happens Tuesday-Friday.  Mondays are reserved for our homeschool co-op, when it’s in session (18 weeks/year).  Each Monday for 6 consecutive weeks, we meet from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (4 hours for classes and 1 hour for lunch/recess).  Classes are taught by parents, though teaching a class is optional.  Kids choose 1 class for each of the 4 hours.  

 For example, this session, we're taking 
              Stagecraft (building sets and props for the Christmas play); 
              Native Americans (taught by yours truly);        
              Art; and 
              All About Chocolate.  

  Bet you didn’t take that last one in school.  The teacher is so energetic about her subject (ha!), which has included chocolate's history, manufacturing engineering, cooking, and tasting.  J 

The co-op couldn’t replace a complete homeschool curriculum, but some of our goals for the year are fulfilled through these classes.  Plus, for those of you who are into “socialization,” the co-op is an obvious place to practice being socially “normal.”

(4) What about P.E., music, and recess?  I outsource these subjects right now, through a gymnastics class and the Peabody Children's Chorus.  (When I figure out how, I'll include a link to the choir in the sidebar of this blog.)  We get recess every day after public school gets out, at our co-op, and through our weekly recess group.    

More specifics and photos to come!