Sunday, April 13, 2014

Land of Diversity

The really great thing about living in NYC, especially Queens, is the incredible diversity.  Just about every nation in the world is represented.  As soon as we can (this summer?), W and I are going to embark on a restaurant adventure.  Every 2 weeks we are going to have lunch at a different ethnic restaurant in our town.  Whatever nation's cuisine we experience will also be the subject of study for 2 weeks.  This goes way beyond a geography lesson and we're so excited to get started on it.


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Recent academics:
Math:  Negative numbers using the 4 basic operations
Reading:  Main idea & supporting details
Poetry:  Shel Silverstein (10 poems)
Spanish:  Pronouns, helping verbs, forms of address 
History:  Ancient China, Confucius
Writing:  Creating a dialogue

Friday, April 04, 2014

Hackschooling

Deciding to place my 7th-grader into Algebra 1 was not an easy decision.  In school he would (more than likely) be doing Math 7 this year, then Pre-Algebra in 8th grade, then Algebra 1 in 9th grade.  So, I was very happy to see him get a 92 on his first Algebra test.  This shows me he is correctly placed.  I'm not expecting him to finish the course by June, or even September.  We just got it and are only 15 lessons in.  I'd like to take as much time with it as he wants.  But, at the rate he's going, he should be able to start Geometry some time before the end of 8th grade.  

W is doing great with the 4 subjects a day.  We start with TT Alg 1, then it's either reading comprehension, ELA test prep, or poetry, then Spanish, then one of the following:  Writing, History, Science, or Geography.  He's done within 2 hours.  He stays engaged throughout and retains just about everything he learns.  I attribute that to the fact that he has a good amount of control over his schedule, his curriculum, and his whole life.  He is a perfect example of a "hackschooler" (according to this TedTalk).   I see my son not only readying himself to make a living, but also make a life.  The 7 key points involved in hackschooling are:  exercise, diet & nutrition, time in nature, contribution & service, relationships, recreation, relaxation & management, and religious & spiritual involvement.  W has a nice balance of these in his life (time in nature and contribution & service are lacking at the moment, but they're easy to increase).


In martial arts, his focus is on Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai right now.  Starting next month he will become what they call a "combat athlete".  This allows him to take the more advanced classes of Muay Thai and BJJ plus new ones such as Boxing, Wrestling, and MMA - and he'll get a cool new T-shirt!

Gaming and understanding all things computer-related is also something W is really into.  He can spend a good few hours on his laptop immersed in Minecraft, Team Fortress 2, or on YouTube - usually with several other kids on Skype.  
B and I support him in every way we can.  2 Christmases ago we got W a Lenovo gaming laptop. Last Christmas we got him a flatscreen monitor and separate keyboard to hook into his laptop.  He is constantly researching, comparing, and upgrading keyboards, mice, headsets, microphones, and gaming-related downloads.  He budgets his own money for a lot of it and knows how to get the best things for the best prices.  It's cool to witness him in action.  All this computer stuff has significantly improved his reading, typing, teamwork, engineering, logic, research, and math skills.  He has taught himself how to: 
  • Create a new server
  • Create his own gaming mods
  • Skype with other teen gamers all over the country
  • Find answers to any questions
  • Confidently speak on the phone to customer service
  • Confidently and maturely speak to adults in person - family, friends, and store personnel
  • Set and attain goals
  • Be a leader and admin
  • Create a YouTube channel, make gaming tutorials, and have dozens of subscribers

Seeing how much kids learn from their passions goes far beyond academics.  And with support and encouragement, they can do and be anything.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Kindy to 7th So Far...

Yeah, no.  I thought I'd be able to step away from the blog for a bit, but I can't, lol.  It's become too much a part of me.  So, I'd like to try a new beginning.  But first, I want to recap what homeschooling has been like for W so far.  Here's a synopsis:

W is 13 years-old and has been homeschooled since Kindergarten.  He is currently in 7th grade and has chosen to continue homeschooling through high school.   

He has been in CCD class on Sunday mornings since he was 2 years old.  He has so far completed 3 Sacraments (Baptism, Reconciliation, and Eucharist) and will be making his Confirmation next year (his last year of formal religious education).

He has been in many different activities over the years:
4 yrs old:  Hip hop dance class
5 yrs old:  Little League Baseball
6 yrs old:  Basketball Clinic
7 yrs old:  Tackle Football
8 yrs old:  Circus class
8-10 yrs old:  Cub Scouts 
11 yrs old:  Shotokan Karate
11 yrs old:  Show Choir
12 yrs old:  Dramatic Academy
12-13 yrs old:  Muay Thai & Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

As far as homeschool styles, we are eclectic, mixing such styles as:
Unschooling
Charlotte Mason

Unit Studies
Classical

And used various curricula, including: 
Ambleside Online
Kumon
Spectrum
Teaching Textbooks
Apologia
Lightning Literature
K12
Flash Kids
Saxon
Hake
...and many more

Since Kindergarten, he has gone on a lot of homeschool group classes and field trips, including:
Ellis Island
Statue of Liberty
Solar One
Federal Reserve
United Nations
Tanglewood Preserve
Alley Pond Environmental Center
Garvies Point
Museum of Natural History
Met Museum
Museum of Folk Art
Museum of the American Indian
Jewish Museum
Union Square Greenmarket
Times Square
9/11 Memorial
Bodies: The Exhibit (Discovery Center)
King Tut (Discovery Center)
Plays at Queens College, York College, & Hofstra
NYC Superhero Walking Tour
Rockefeller Plaza & Christmas windows
Science Museum of Long Island
Vanderbilt Museum
NY Planetarium
Grant's Tomb
Central Park, Bronx, & Queens Zoos
NY & Queens Botanical Gardens
NY Hall of Science
Queens Museum of Art
Museum of Biblical Art
Museum of Tolerance
CW Post (art class)
...and many more


When W was 11, he was officially diagnosed with visual processing disorder, causing moderate dyslexia and dysgraphia.  Since then (actually, since he was 8 and I first suspected dyslexia), we have used numerous resources in all subjects, tweaking almost everything in various ways to fit his specific learning style.  He is currently on or above grade level in all subjects, something I believe a school would never have been able to accomplish.  It's all about the freedom.  That's why it works.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 2014 & A New Era

What a turning point of a month for us.  W asked about Teaching Textbooks again and that he'd maybe like to go back to that.  I pulled up a demo of Algebra 1 and let him try it.  He loved it so much, that we ordered it the next day.  I looked at the PreAlgebra one, but it seems like we have covered most of that already.  I remember TT starts off nice and slowly, so we're bypassing the PreAlgebra and going straight to Algebra 1.  We'll also take our time with it and try to stretch the program into 8th grade.  He also said he's done using the white board and will go back to notebook/scrap paper and pencil.  I haven't seen him this excited about math in such a long time.  He does the whole lesson independently - I keep myself in earshot in case he has a question.  He was shocked at how fast he finished a lesson.  When we last used TT (5th grade) he hated the CDs and just wanted to use the big workbook.  That was the main motivation to switch to Saxon (since the TT people didn't sell the book alone) - and the fact that Saxon was way less expensive.  Now he only wants to use the TT CD Roms without the book.  I'm shocked because he has never liked any educational online stuff, just textbooks and workbooks.  I've been waiting for this moment forever, lol.

With reading, we are switching gears now and going from novels to various comprehension passages/exercises and poetry.  It's much easier for him to handle at this point more independently.  The dyslexia symptoms vary in severity and certain ones just linger.  I know this is not something that can be "cured".  But I have noticed that occasionally changing the way we approach reading seems to improve these symptoms tremendously.  Even if it's just a temporary improvement, W has still learned another way to cope that he can refer back to.  Writing is still going well.  We go over the lesson and he types up his essay portion on his laptop, emails it to me, and I print it and tape it into the workbook.  It's fine with me if he prefers to do it that way.  It's getting done and I really think his writing ability even surprises him.  For history, geography, W takes handwritten notes.  For science, we do experiments and he writes in the student notebook.  All this writing is the best way for W to remember and review facts.  He also continues to do one Spanish lesson every day (independently).  Cursive and poetry are several times a week (I finally bought 3 more Shel Silverstein books!).  A couple of weeks ago W randomly said he really likes this curriculum.  That was very nice to hear.

This month, W has started taking Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes (grappling, ground fighting, submission holds).  So, now he does Muay Thai 3x a week AND Brazilian jiu-jitsu 3x a week.  He likes pairing up with new students to help them through their first weeks.  These new students are usually in their 20s-40s and find themselves pretty impressed by W's maturity and knowledge.  I'm thrilled that W has finally found something he truly loves.

It's interesting how a lot of changes in W have coincided with his turning 13 this month.

Speaking of which, the older my kids get, the less I can blog about.  That's why I dropped the posts to once a month.  W is focusing on academics, MMA, and computer stuff.  Not much has changed since September.   Field trips and homeschool group classes have lessened in frequency - he's been everywhere and done everything and he's focusing more on his own personal projects now.  We still do wonderful things around NYC, but it's on a different level.  J's dance life is fun and exciting, but it's hard to get too specific regarding her experiences.  Once she's living at her new school, I won't know as much about what's going on as I know now.  And K will be 21 this year and is already preparing for her career and adult life.  When my babies were 3, 8, and 11 and I had just started blogging, life with them was so new and there were so many things to discover and experience.  There are still so many new things to experience with the kids, but it's different now.

The good thing is that W will still be homeschooling in New York City all through high school, so there will still be stuff to blog about.  I'm not saying good-bye, but I will be posting much less frequently.  I still have high school IHIPs to post and achievements to brag about, lol.  I want to say thank you so much to my subscribers - all 200+ of you.  Many of whom have been with me since the beginning, and for that I'm so grateful.  Til next time...

Friday, February 28, 2014

February 2014

Ok, so using only the apologia text book and lab kit and forming lessons only around the experiments is working better than I could have imagined.  We finished Module 4 (simple machines) and we found some short documentary films on levers, mechanical advantage, pulleys, inclined planes, etc.  This is such a fun way to learn!  In Module 6 we attempted to grow alum crystals, but we had to wait days for them to grow.  We learned a lot, though!

We're on Lesson 64 in Saxon, the last chapter of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lesson 18 in Getting Started w/Spanish, we finished the Shel Silverstein poem book (didn't get another one yet), we're about to start the Persuasion section in Jump In, Part 2 of K12 Human Odyssey (Confucius, Buddhism, Hinduism, Greeks), and Part 5 (the Lithosphere) in Runkle's Geography.  We're taking our time.  It's easier to move at a nice, even pace instead of rushing just to finish.  And when there's a good understanding, you can move on with confidence and the new lessons are that much easier.  I noticed that in school, books are never finished, understanding is minimal, and enjoyment is practically nonexistent.  I honestly cannot be happier that W wants to keep homeschooling through high school.

Normally, February is a blah month for homeschoolers - it's a bit too cold for field trips, it's the mid-year point where academics are just flowing along, and it's kind of boring.  But, planning for the spring seems to remedy all of that for me.  I have a lot of project and field trip ideas that I'm excited about.

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And J this month:
  • was accepted into her first choice school (AMDA) with a nice scholarship!!!  
  • did an outstanding job in LaGuardia High School's Rising Stars talent show
  • is starting some serious rehearsals for some upcoming competitions
  • is still working with one of her favorite choreographers doing a bunch of pieces for his new YouTube channel
  • went to the ASH weekend dance convention in New Jersey with her friends.
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And there's even some awesome K news:
  • She began a new adventure:  The Aveda Institute - one of the top beauty schools in NYC.  It's a half-year program in Soho.  She will be working several evenings a week where she is now and take classes during the day.  I've never seen her more excited about her future.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 2014

Happy New Year!  I have a feeling 2014 is going to be challenging.  I don't know why. Maybe it's because:
  • I'm nervous about J getting into her school of choice
  • K will be starting a new school and possibly a new career
  • W will need to start really preparing for public high school (if he still wants to go down that path). 
  • My unemployment benefits will end early this year
  • I'll be looking for a new part-time job
  • I'm finally starting regular doctor visits this year
  • W is turning THIRTEEN
  • My stepdad's physical and mental health is rapidly heading downhill
Well, I'm going to do my best to make this year wonderful regardless of my (hopefully irrational) worries.  

This is the schedule we've been experimenting with this month.  I'm going to give it another month then let you know how well it worked (and if we'll continue with it):  

Current Events:  Channel One News  (Daily)
After watching the daily 10-minute video, we discuss what's in the news and W hand-writes one complete, perfect sentence from one news topic.  
Math:  Saxon Algebra 1/2  (Daily)
Moving along nicely here.  W still loves this program and still uses the whiteboard to work out all the problems.  
Cursive:  Harcourt Cursive Practice  (Daily)
He's 1/2-way through this workbook.  His cursive is a little nicer than his print writing.  Spelling is better and there are no letter reversals.  Once this book is done, it's done.  
5 min break  
Literature:  Lightning Literature 7  (Daily)
We just finished Tom Sawyer and we're about to begin a study of about 7 poems from Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages.  This section should go fairly quickly.  One poem, plus vocabulary and comprehension questions every couple of days.
Writing:  Lightning Literature 7 and Jump In  (M,W,F)
I'm not sure how much I like the LL writing exercises.  W will do a few since we have it, but our main writing book for the rest of the year will be Jump In.  Most of his writing will be typed.  Jump In already seems like a keeper.  W is not only doing the writing exercises, he's doing them really well!  He even typed for 10 minutes straight, completing more than a whole page of creative writing.  I'm in shock.  There were a few spelling and punctuation issues, but damn, it was good.  I knew waiting until he was older to start creative writing was the right idea.  He has been preparing for it, doing small chunks of things, for years.  Now, he's ready and it shows. 
Geography:  Runkle's World Physical Geography  (T,TH)
So much information in this book.  The short lessons are perfect.  I try and make this very hands on, using maps, the globe, and the flashcards I printed out from another site.  
Poetry:  Shel Silverstein's Every Thing On It   (Daily)
W reads up to 6 poems out loud.  This alone has improved his reading so much.  The rhyme, the tempo, and the humor all seem to work really well together to procure a wonderful reading confidence in him.  He uses some of these poems to practice typing as well (with and without looking at the keys). W is actually sad that we're almost done with this book.  I promised I'd buy 2 more, lol.  
History:  K12 Human Odyssey 1  (M,W,F)
I like this book a lot.  W reads sections of it silently and aloud.  It includes great photos, maps, and stories.  I combine this with documentaries once or twice a month.
Science:  (T,TH)
I love the Holt Physical Science book - W, not so much.  Sigh.  So, I'm going to try combining it with the Apologia experiments (I still have the Apologia books and lab kit - it's the only part of Apologia W liked), the Apologia textbook (for me to read and prepare the lab), and utilize the Holt CD Rom and various website for worksheets and video clips.  
Spanish:  Getting Started With Spanish  (Daily)
W likes this book and the short daily lessons are simple and easy.  He'll probably get more out of the quick daily lessons than K did in all 4 years of high school.  He reads this independently.

The interesting thing is that W retains a whole lot more when we keep the lessons short - from 5 to 30 minutes per subject.  Dropping the subject time made them a lot more fun and interesting. Then he much more eagerly moves onto the next subject.  Charlotte Mason knew what she was talking about when she said short lessons are important.  I'm still concerned that W may plateau at the middle-school level when it comes to reading and writing.  It's all too common with dyslexics.  I plan on doing everything I can to make sure that does not happen.  So, if it means we keep the lessons short and fun, then so be it.

W is getting more and more independent with his academics.  He already is self-taught with anything technological and computer-related.  Now he's starting to do more independent work in more than half his subjects.  I supervise, correct, and encourage - which is all he needs from me.

Even though W will make his own decision about high school, I have to say, I do hope he chooses homeschooling.  I mean, he already has an idea as to where he will start working/volunteering when he's 14, at which company he'd like to be an apprentice, what will be a "starter" job in his chosen field, and ultimately what to have as a career.  Academics will be done at home, outsourced, and in organized groups of other homeschoolers.  NYC is and has always been a homeschooler's dream due to the great homeschool community and all the resources available.  I have hundreds of field trips and classes bookmarked that he hasn't even done yet.  SAT and/or ACT tests will be taken and his transcript will look amazing.  I just feel that public high school is an unnecessary, stifling 4-year holding bin.  W doesn't want his future postponed like that.  If he had his way he'd start applying for jobs now, lol.  I can understand wanting to go to a top specialized or performing arts high school (with 3 or 4 classes each day devoted to a particular art, not 1 or 2), but that's really it - and only for certain types of children.  Even the NYC high schools that focus on a certain field don't focus enough to make the rest of the nonsense worth it.  But that's just my opinion.

Anyway, W will decide by the fall.
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J had a busy month.  Here's a look at what she did.  She:
  • is still in heavy rehearsal mode for the upcoming competition season and for Rising Stars
  • was part of a filmed dance demonstration for one of her choreographers.  He had it filmed like a music video and is featuring it on his new YouTube channel.
  • rehearsed for and performed in her Senior Dance Showcase.  This was a beautiful bunch of demonstrations of what the kids do in their classes.  There was a ballet, Horton, and Graham demo, some Junior Projects, and solos from 4 kids who got "merit" and "honorable mention" in the YoungArts  Presidential Scholars program this year.   
  • went to a friend's birthday party at Jay-Z's 40/40 Club
  • was in a music video for another up-and-coming artist (who is also a friend from school)
  • was asked by a celebrity photographer (who was at the aforementioned music video shoot) if she would like to be in a music video (for a young rapper) a few days later because she has "the look" they want.  Wow. (and it was a paid gig)
Here is the first music video J is in - she's one of the background dancers:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 2013

Ahhh, December.  As I say every year, there is nothing better than Christmas in NYC.  W and I did our usual round of Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree and FAO Schwarz.  We saw a few store windows, too, but he wasn't so into that this year.  All 5 of us and my mom met up in Manhattan one night, had a nice dinner at a small cafe/diner, and walked over (through the Lincoln Center grounds, which were beautifully decked out for Christmastime) to LaGuardia High School's production of Grease.  As usual, the school show was out of this world.  So many of J's friends were in it and even B and I knew a lot of the kids.  The entire 8-show run in the 1150-seat concert hall was completely sold out.  J didn't audition for this show.  I kinda wish she did, not only for the cool experience it would have been, but also because a particular famous parent whose child was in the show, took a bunch of the cast out for a big celebration.  Sigh.  J really couldn't care less about things like that - but I would have loved to hear all about it, lol.

B and I once again got to see J in all 3 hours of her afternoon dance classes at school for "Parent Observation Day".  That day she had 90 minutes of classical ballet and 90 minutes of Horton modern.  The kids did their usual combinations and at the end they practiced for the big Senior Dance Showcase which they'll be performing in at the end of January.  All the dancers are truly amazing.

J stretching at school

This month, J also:

  • has been in rehearsals for the big Rising Stars school talent show which is the first or second weekend in February
  • was personally asked to be a dancer on a (somewhat famous) hip hop choreographer's video demo reel
  • took a theater jazz class with Lane Napper.  She was his guest that day (they have mutual friends) and he even singled J out to demonstrate a certain combination for the class
  • has been busy working on all new choreography for the upcoming dance competition season.  She is doing 2 solos and 3 group numbers this year.  

W is doing great with academics.  I think we have finally found the perfect weekly schedule (until it's not perfect anymore, lol).  But really, he even mentioned to me how good it was.  I know we are constantly changing our order and frequency of things, but the content pretty much remains the same.  PreAlgebra and Tom Sawyer are moving along very nicely.  Science (chemical & physical changes) and History (Ancient Egypt) are also sinking in well.  We have stayed on track and he's taking it all pretty seriously.  It could be because he's almost 13 and more mature now, but also because he has expressed interest in trying public high school.  He said he wants to see what all the hype is about.  We have already looked at a few options for him and are most happy with a small, local school that has excellent ratings and reviews.  After we did the research, a friend of his came back to CCD class (after 2 years) and it turns out that she goes to that school (it's a secondary school that include middle grades).  B and her mom spoke at length and she has nothing but good things to say about it (her 10th grader goes there, too).  So, I'll take that as a sign that we're choosing correctly.  Whether or not he changes his mind is fine with me.  But for now, he is happily getting his work done.

W has recently decided that he's just that not into scouting anymore.  He really wanted to be and gave it a good shot, but he won't be going back.  He'd rather keep his main focus on his MMA training.  This month he tested for his first stripe.  In this gym, after 4 stripes he can test for a blue "belt" (which is actually black and blue shorts - he wears black and white ones now).  In Muay Thai, there technically isn't a color ranking system like they have in other martial arts.  The stripes and colors are most likely so the gym can keep track of who's where.  But still, it was so exciting to watch.  Everything he did looked so difficult and with him being the youngest in the group, I was so nervous for him.  At the end he did get his stripe - and the recognition of having the best technique out of everyone.  What a proud moment for W!

W (w/mouth guard in) after getting his MMA stripe

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 2013

W is doing so well with the Muay Thai kickboxing classes, that he was told he can test for his "stripe".  It's a different system than he had with karate - there really aren't "belts" and they don't wear a gi.  W wears a uniform t-shirt and shorts (that eventually change colors), but I'm not sure how it all works yet.  Even though it's a martial art, it's more like regular boxing.  He's in the adult class and is not only keeping up with everyone, he's helping some of his classmates with form and technique.

We're more than half way through Tom Sawyer and W is reading a few Shel Silverstein poems out loud every day as well.  He recently became a little self-conscious again about reading out loud (I think because he started CCD classes which are a little too much like school for his taste), but he does so well with the poetry.  That was a good call, lol.  He really likes the poems and looks forward to reading them.  Speaking of reading, I'm happy to report that W has recently started reading a LOT on his own time.  He has finally realized that reading for information is actually pretty cool.  He is researching different things online and talks about them with me and B (and has some pretty good discussions with his friends, as I can slightly hear from the other room).  Right now he is enjoying learning about various theories regarding movies and cartoons (like how all the Pixar movies seem to tie together and how the Pokemon world is really all in Ash's mind), researching which editing software to get, and continuing his quest of building a computer.  He's not letting the dyslexia and processing issues slow him down.  He's really determined to overcome it.

W is also enjoying the new math book (Saxon Algebra 1/2) now that we are past what he already knows.   He was getting tired of all the review in the first thirty-something chapters and was practically begging to learn some new stuff.  I get it, but I think review is always a good thing - especially since he has to take a standardized test in the spring.  We finished the month on chapter 50.  From here on in, we will be taking a little more time with each math lesson.  History and geography are going well.  We've moved out of Sumer and Mesopotamia and into Egypt.  This history book is great because each section we cover is potentially another Met Museum trip to see a lot of artifacts from that time and place.  As a matter of fact, we may go next month.  The new science book is as good as I though it would be.  I'm so glad we switched.  It's more fun and interesting to read and W doesn't have that glazed over look with science anymore.

W's schedule currently looks like this:
Math, literature, poetry, & cursive are 3x/week
History, geography, and science are 2x/week
Technology* is 7x/week
Health, practical arts, current events, art, and music are about 2-3x/week
Scouts and CCD are 1x/week
Muay Thai boxing is 3-4x/week
(*technology refers to all computer skills, building a computer, making & editing YouTube tutorials, maintaining and running gaming servers, creating original texture packs for Minecraft, and doing lots of reading and research)

We have cut way back on the homeschool group classes, choosing instead to do independent field trips ourselves or with a few friends once or twice a month.  J hit the same point at this age.  W has been homeschooling since Kindergarten and has done practically every kind of class and trip there is to do.  He doesn't like ongoing classes nor any that involve writing or oral presentations.  So, we have become very picky when it comes to classes.  He's getting older and more independent.  He knows what he wants his teen years to look like and I have to say, he's on a nice track.

J has been busy as well.  Here are some things she has done this month - She:
  • Had more headshots taken - her school took these
  • Made it into her school talent show (!!)
  • Has been in rehearsals for:  the Senior Dance Showcase  the Rising Stars talent show, solos and group numbers for competition season, and the entertainment company for paid dance gigs.
  • After more thought, narrowed her college list down to 1, lol.  Her heart is set on one school only and she has no interest in going anywhere else.
  • Was already accepted into to SUNY College at Brockport (but doesn't plan on going here)
  • Had her 2nd paid performance gig
  • Went to 2 more Sweet 16s (still not done with these, I guess, lol)
  • Ordered her senior ring
  • Had Senior Pajama Day at school
  • Danced in a competition where an episode of Dance Moms was being filmed.  She got to see all the stars of the show, watched the kids compete and win their awards.  Then she got a Platinum award for her new solo (that she just finished only 2 weeks prior).  Platinum in this comp means she scored between a 294 and a 297 (out of 300!).
And my oldest baby girl, K, had her 20th birthday this month.  We got her 2 tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  We ended up going together - J was supposed to go, but had dance showcase rehearsal at school.  It was a fabulous show!  Kait and I went together more than 15 years ago and it was so great to go again.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Body Worlds

The Body Worlds exhibit in Times Square was pretty interesting.  W wasn't thrilled with it, saying it was just a bit too graphic and disturbing.  I don't know how I feel about it.  I definitely learned a lot.  It is science as well as art as well as a moral lesson of sorts.  We saw damaged lungs, stages of pregnancy, and cross-sections of all organs.  Bodies are skinned and plasticined and arranged in various and creative positions that display their insides.  It felt somewhat voyeuristic and wrong.  I had been looking forward to this for a long time, but I'm kind of left with a weird feeling now that we went.  Any thoughts?  Here's a pic from the inside (pun intended):


W and one of the Body World exhibits

We finished the afternoon with a walk around Times Square and a visit to the big Toys R Us.  It's a ritual for us to venture inside every time we go to Times Square.  Afterwards, we walked around looking for a place to sit and have lunch, but then we decided that the halal chicken and rice from the food cart near our home was exactly what we both wanted.

Totally normal sight in Times Square

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

October 2013

Autumn in Queens
7th Grade is shaping up nicely.  We have a nice rhythm going and W even complimented me on it this week, lol.  I'm happy to announce we have completed Saxon Math 7/6 and have begun Saxon Algebra 1/2.  I'm glad we took our time with 7/6.  I feel it made a difference.  We are also scrapping Apologia science.  I tried, I really did.  I enjoy the reading and the experiments, but W is fading fast.  He's not liking science anymore and that's not cool.  Also, the YE aspect that I vowed to overlook has started to become blatantly obvious and I can't function that way.  Science is supposed to be fun and interesting, and it's not.  We are switching to Holt Physical Science.  It's a big text and we'll use it for 7th and 8th grades.  It comes with a student text and both a parent guide and chapter resources CD Rom.  Since W doesn't like online academics, I'm not going to bother with the "interactive online edition" which is an extra $50.  We'll use the CD Roms, though.  If we like this program, Holt has Biology, Chemistry, and Physics for high school as well.  They come with labs, worksheets, videos, CD Rom companion, etc., so everything we need is there.  Well, that's the beauty of homeschooling - we can change what we don't like.

Ready to gut this thing
Lately, W has been teaching himself more and more things on his computer and about computers in general.  He created a new and better Minecraft server and more than half a dozen other kids are on it with him.  Being the owner and moderator has put him in a leadership position and he takes it seriously.  When he explains to me what he does and how he does it, it's like he's speaking another language.  I love that he's so passionate about it.  W is also attempting to build his own gaming computer.  He's been researching, making lists, and amassing various parts here and there.  I think it's an awesome project to undertake.  He knows it will probably take a long time but he's determined to get it done.  His other new passion is the mixed martial arts he's been going to classes for.  He goes 4 days a week now.  In just over a month, his agility and strength have grown incredibly.  He uses a wall calendar to write down and keep track of his classes and also to schedule in more cardio (skateboarding, jogging, and jumping rope).  His determination, creativity, and independence have skyrocketed just in the last few months.

I remember J being the same way at this age.  In many families twelve is a very hard age to be and to deal with.  As homeschoolers, I find it to be an exciting age where I get small glimpses of who they will be as an adult.  12 is when J's passion for dance started to soar and it's when she got the idea to attend a performing arts high school.  12 seems to be when my kids start really exhibiting the confidence, maturity, and drive to follow their dreams and become something awesome.

Speaking of J, she is having a great senior year so far.  She:
J's Jack-O-Lantern
  • is now working with an agency and is getting paid performance gigs
  • finished choreography on her new competition solo for this season
  • auditioned for her school talent show (her school only allows the best talent in their shows, so we'll see what happens)
  • is taking her SATs next week
  • narrowed her college choices down to 9  
  • already went through one audition (several dance colleges and conservatories come to her school to audition kids)
  • will be assisting in her school's dance auditions again (these are in Nov and Dec)
  • was part of THIS  (that's her in the photo "Fateful Woman").  It was on display at the Studio Museum in Harlem.





Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fall and AMNH

Fall puts me is such a good mood.  The weather is finally getting colder, the leaves are turning all sorts of awesome colors, and the new school year is nicely underway for both W and J.

W was part of a homeschool group trip to the American Museum of Natural History.  This one was on how certain skulls have changed through time.  They discussed and studied male and female chimp and gorilla skulls, along with Lucy (Australopithecus), Neanderthal, and Homo Sapiens skulls.  The kids measured, observed, and wrote for almost an hour.  The 3 instructors were great and I think the kids learned a lot.  After the class, we got a tour of the Human Origins area.

A closet of skulls...  Muahahahaha

Worksheet to log in findings

J and I have been extremely busy with college applications.  She and B went to a huge college fair at the Jacob Javitz center in Manhattan.  J enjoyed the chance to speak with students and faculty of where she's interested in going.  She's got her list of schools and now comes all the fun stuff.

I've enjoyed the once a month posting, but I miss being able to post when the mood strikes.  So it's back to being random.  Oh and watch out, I've discovered the Blogger app...


Saturday, September 28, 2013

September 2013

My favorite month!  Actually, at the end of August I stopped in Michael's and got some autumn decorations.  I couldn't wait.  September is the month I can have all the windows open and there's actually a wonderful breeze coming in.  B is looking to start making soup in the crock pot and Halloween is next month!

W was all ready to register for basketball, when he said he might want to try MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) instead.  So, I found a great place with a great reputation.  We went down for a free trial.  The first day was a consultation to see what W's fitness level was like.  He did a circuit of rowing machine, sit-ups, pull-ups, bench pressing, and jumping onto this huge tire.  Bottom line - he's incredibly strong with great form.  They said to try both the kids and the teen/adult MMA classes to see which would be a better fit.  Being 12, W is right on the outskirts of both age groups. The kids class was ok.  There were kids of all ages, including several 12 & 13 y/os.  He did fine.  Then he tried the teen/adult class to see which he prefers.  The older group is much more skilled and focused and I think that's what W needs.  It was a Muay Thai class (a form of kickboxing).  After warming up, they immediately went into sparring and combat.  W seemed to take to it pretty well and would like to continue. The owner of the gym and 2 teachers agreed that he would do better in the older class.  He now goes 3x a week.  We just got him his own hand wraps and boxing gloves.  I'd love to see where this takes him.

A new season of CCD and Boy Scouts began last week.

We started 7th grade this month.  Saxon 7/6 we're almost done with - probably finishing up by the end of October.  Lightning Lit 7 is a hit so far.  W loved Rikki Tikki Tavi and enjoyed the literary discussion about it.  We watched the cartoon on YouTube, too.  Now we're reading Tom Sawyer.  He still does narrations and I ask questions, so I know he gets it.  I do worry about the dyslexia, but so far it hasn't been too much of an issue.  I am noticing it more lately, though.  When he reads, he gets so physically exhausted in such a short amount of time.  I read that children with visual dyslexia and visual processing disorder exert so much more energy getting their brain to translate what they're seeing - no wonder he gets tired.  I am so thankful that we live in the 21st century with things like audio books, digital recorders, spell check, etc.  Even though he reads and writes every day, I'm glad those things exist to help him in the future.

The K12 Human Odyssey for history is just continuing from last year.  We're still learning more about Sumeria. The new geography program is great, too, so far.  It's a fun read.  A lot of the stuff we're learning can be reinforced with a few field trips, too.  And we're moving along nicely with Apologia General Science.  We did a few experiments this month and learned about experimental variables, surface tension, control groups, placebos, and blind and double-blind studies.   Here are pictures from our experiments:

Soap can propel a cardboard boat

Surface tension floats a paper clip

We visited the Sony Wonder Technology Lab a couple of weeks ago.  We haven't been there in a few years so it was all new again - they also had a huge renovation since we'd been there last.  W created cartoon characters, programmed a robot car, performed virtual open heart surgery, and played some cool PlayStation games.


 

J is now a senior at LaGuardia Arts!  She is taking English, Government, and Math, and 2 double periods (4 classes) per day of dance.  This semester includes: Classical Ballet, Modern (Horton), Modern (Graham), and Career Management.  This is going to be a crazy year filled with performances, applications, auditions, prom, and graduation.

Also this month, J:
  • Went to several hip-hop master classes
  • Stood on line from midnight at Good Morning America in Times Square to see a band called R5.  One member is Ross Lynch (from Disney's Austin & Ally and Teen Beach Movie) who J is in love with.  Only 25 people were picked to watch them perform live in the studio and be on TV.  She, K, and her best friend were all selected.  The got pictures with several band members (including Ross!).  I DVR'd the show and got to see them.  
  • Got her senior pictures.  She looks gorgeous.  I still can't believe she's a senior.
  • Is getting ready for the new dance season.  Lots of great things are in store.





Saturday, August 31, 2013

August 2013

I got some back-to-school supplies from Staples - 6 spiral notebooks and 2 packs of loose-leaf paper all for about $4.50.  I'm not sure what J is going to need for her senior year of school so I usually just wait till we get a list.  W doesn't need much at all.  We use a whiteboard and markers, 1 notebook, and a bunch of pencils.  He doesn't really use glue or crayons anymore.  Sometimes he'll use colored pencils for art or nature study sketching, but we have tons of those along with about 4 blank sketch books.  It's weird, but I'm almost sad that I don't need to do a big shopping, lol.  I miss that.

The rest of W's 7th grade books came:  Lightning Lit 7, Saxon Algebra 1/2, and Runkle's Geography.  He's really excited to start the new math book.  I told him I would like to finish as much of the previous one as we can.  We're almost done - maybe we have another month of it.  I'm in no hurry - he "gets" math easily with full understanding.  I know it has to do with how great Saxon is for him - the way a lesson is explained, the mental math, the practice and review problems, all of it just works beautifully together.  His last Saxon test was almost perfect (as were all of them), so I have no worries.  W also mentioned he'd like to learn Italian and piano.  I've already pulled up a ton of Italian programs for him to choose from.  Not sure what he wants yet.  Piano lessons are abundant around here.  I just have to figure out the nearest and most cost effective place for him to go.  CCD will also continue for 7th grade (Confirmation prep).  All of this is in addition to basketball and scouts.  He's looking forward to having more activities this year.  Since I'm not working anymore, the world has opened up for him.

W's 7th grade books

W's IHIP this year has all the changes that come with going from 6th to 7th grades.  Arithmetic changes to Mathematics and "practical arts" is added.  Everything else is pretty much the same, even if worded a bit differently.  I still use the same format as that in my sidebar.  Hey, if it takes 5 minutes and it works, why change anything.  I will be keeping a better record of his academics for myself as well.  I want to get in the habit of good record-keeping and creating a transcript.  He doesn't need a transcript until high school, but I want to start practicing so I'm ready.  Oh, and for all you NYC'ers don't forget to mail in your Metrocard form.

We got J's proofs for her senior pictures and she looks absolutely gorgeous.  Some shots have her in a cap and gown holding a "diploma".  Seeing her ready to graduate high school is such an emotional time for me.  I still see her as the sad little 8-year-old who was more than ready to homeschool in 3rd grade.  Now she's 17 and will soon be making her mark in the dance world.  She spent a lot of the summer taking dance workshops and master classes.  Some were a week long, some a few days, and some just one day.  She's getting so much training from different choreographers and she's making a lot of connections.  And senior year at LaGuardia High School is going to be amazing.  She has a whole semester on career management and another semester called Repertory where the seniors work with "eminent guest artists". She'll be in several performances throughout the year, as well.

K is doing wonderfully at her job and is ready for a new internship in Manhattan.  She had a great summer - lots of beach, parties, clubs, travel, and she attended a huge event called Electric Zoo (E-Zoo).  It's an Electric Music Festival held annually on Randall's Island.  She's sad that summer is over, but she's ready for autumn.



Wednesday, August 07, 2013

7TH GRADE IHIP SAMPLE

INDIVIDUAL HOME INSTRUCTION PLAN    
                                           
NAME OF CHILD:  ________________
DOB:  __  GRADE LEVEL:  7     SCHOOL YEAR: 2013-2014  NYC STUDENT ID#:  ___
ADDRESS:   ___________________________          DATE MAILED:   August  14, ____                                                            
                   
QUARTERLY REPORTS WILL BE MAILED ON: 11/15/__, 1/30/__, 4/15/__, 6/30/__


(Child's name) will be using various methods/tools for 7th-grade instruction in all the subjects specified in Sect. 100.10 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. The corresponding subtopics may include and shall not be limited to:


Mathematics * Maintaining skills in fundamental operations* Factoring and products* Sets and simple sentences* Numeration systems* Using fractions and decimals* Ratio, proportion, and percent* Equalities and inequalities* Simple formulas and equations* Graphing an equation* Powers and roots of rational numbers* Polynomials* Metric and nonmetric geometry* Pythagorean Theorem* Scale drawing* Right-triangle trigonometry* Customary and metric measurement* Permutations* Probability statistics* Statistical terms* Mathematics of insurance, banking, and taxes

English  * Improving reading skills* Literary terms* Novels, short stories, plays* Myths, legends, ballads* Types of poetry* Biography and autobiography* Planning and producing dramatizations* Speech activities* Listening skills* Refining dictionary skills* Spelling* Parts of speech* Person, number, gender of nouns and pronouns* Punctuation of conversation* Clauses and phrases* Compound sentences* Writing descriptions, reports, journals, and letters* Note taking and outlining* Extending reference skills: atlases, directories, encyclopedias, periodicals, on-line information services, CD-ROMs, and other electronic reference material* Library organization

History and Geography  * Lands and peoples of the Eastern Hemisphere* Prehistoric peoples* Greek, Roman, and Middle Eastern civilizations* The Middle Ages* Renaissance and Reformation* Scientific Revolution* Age of Reason (Enlightenment)* Industrial Age * Yesterday and today around the world: Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific* World trade and resources* Contemporary problems and issues* Environment* World geography* Advanced map and globe skills

Science  * Atoms &*Molecules *Metric System *Air *Atmosphere *Water *Hydrosphere * Earth & Lithosphere *Weather & Prediction *Physics of Motion *Newton’s Laws *Gravity *Electromagnetic Force *Magnetism *Elements *Radioactivity *Waves & Sound *Light * Intro to Astrophysics

Health  * Good grooming and posture* Dental health* Healthy habits and lifestyles* Exercise and fitness* Effects of stimulants and narcotics* Functions of the body* Circulation and respiration* Germ theory* Sexually transmitted diseases* Family life* Toxins and antitoxins* Antibiotics* Immunization* Chemotherapy* Genetic disorders* Personal and public safety* Accident prevention* Personality development* Substance abuse

Visual Arts/ Phys. Ed/ Practical Arts/ Music/ Etc.  * Computer Programming courses (Java, Python, C++) * (Artistic Pursuits) Elements of Art & Creativity (Ellis) * Consumer Math (banking, budgeting, investing), * Library Skills *  Basketball * Parkour (navigation acrobatics) * Scouting * Vegetable gardening * Film-making * Typing * Public Speaking * Piano Lessons


Instruction methods/tools/resources may include and shall not be limited to:  reference materials (atlas, dictionaries, globe, maps, encyclopedias, non-fiction books, videos, the internet), workbooks, worksheets, hands-on activities, experiments, science lab, projects, newspapers, magazines, frequent field trips, group activities, classic & contemporary literature, research, journal/narrative/essay/poetry writing, games, creative and critical thinking, predicting & forecasting, gathering facts, music CDs, CD ROMs, abundant art supplies, various outside classes (e.g.  technology, science, history, art, & sports), free play, conversations, and real life.

Primary instruction to ____ will be provided by _____ and ______, his parents.  Supplemental instruction will be provided by others, as necessary.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 2013

My last day of work was July 11.  I am officially a SAHM again.  I believe it was meant to be.  W is going into 7th grade and more of his recent and upcoming activities take place on evenings and weekends.  And J is going into her senior year at LaGuardia Arts and there are lots more performances, future-planning meetings (college, conservatory, career, etc), and other things for which I need to be around.  I'm ready for and looking forward to this new chapter in my life.

July has been a lot of relaxation.  Long walks, movies, Minecraft.  The apartment got updated - new kitchen floor, new refrigerator, new Bob O Pedic mattress for B and me, new organization routines, and I'm getting used to having evenings back with the family since I'm not working anymore.

We're down to just math and a summer bridge book for the rest of the summer now.  We are saving the History, Science, Lit, and Geog programs for September.  We still use the white board for math and W is doing more pencil work with the bridge book.  I'm bringing cursive back every now and then just to make sure he hasn't forgotten it.  In the fall, we probably will not continue with a separate vocabulary, spelling, and writing program.  Those subjects are incorporated into the other subjects he will be doing.  His reading and writing issues, though very improved, are still there.  Too much intervention and too many programs will just turn him off completely.  I need to take this at the right pace so that he not only improves even more, but maybe will start actually enjoying reading and writing someday.  I realize that being as minimalist as possible and keeping it simple is the way to go.

Over the years I have been trying to figure out a way to explain W's homeschooling in words that leave "home" out of it.  "Homeschooling" just doesn't convey the whole idea.  So from now on I'd like to describe what W does as "supervised independent study with field instruction".  (He chooses his curriculum and schedule, it's overseen and guided by me, and at least a quarter of his education is via outside trips and classes).  So that's what I'm going to say to others from now on when I'm questioned.  :D

--------------------------------------
Here's what J has done this month:

  • Hip hop workshop classes - Out of 25 teens in the class, she was 1 of 6 chosen to perform choreography to be videoed and submitted for another music video
  • Modern dance class in downtown Manhattan - she was asked to join their group but she has other commitments coming up. 
  • Dance workshop with Victor and Angel from Dance Moms Miami (Lifetime TV)
  • Spent time at the Museum of Natural History, Times Square, and Lincoln Center

Thursday, June 27, 2013

June 2013

W went on a wonderful trip out to the Brookhaven National Lab again.  This one was a 3-hour "Engineering Challenge".  There were about twenty-five 11-15 y/os in the class.  In groups of 3 they had to construct a column made only of cardboard and tape that both lightweight and strong.  The efficiency formula is E = load/weight.  Most kids made some sort of triangle shape, some made rectangles, some hexagons and octagons.  The instructor used an "Instron" device - a kind of crushing machine that measures the strength of something based on the load pushing down on it.  Another challenge was to make a structure (truss) using longerons, batten tubes, and string.

Brookhaven National Lab

A design engineer from a different building came in to the class and spoke to the kids.  While the other kids were working, he spoke to W's group.  He shook the kids' hands while introducing himself and then talked to the kids about engineering - really listening to them, their ideas, input, future plans, etc.  He treated them with respect, he listened to them, and in turn, the kids responded eagerly and maturely.  I would never witness that kind of mutual respect from a public or private middle school.  Why don't schools understand that??  This is a main reason why we homeschool.  My son gets to experience everything in the real world, with real people, learning real skills.  I'll never understand the artificial nothing-like-the-real-world hot mess called middle school (and many high schools, too, btw).

W had his final class at the Tanglewood Nature Preserve.  This one was on Paleontology.  The instructor was great with the kids.  He was like a big kid himself and very into the subject.  He passed around casts of big fossils and deer and horse bones.  As usual, the kids were interested and engaged.  At the end of the class they sectioned off a big dirt area with string and popsicle sticks to make a grid.  1 to 3 kids dug in each section and unearthed various bones.  They measured, sketched, and described what they found.  What a fun class!  I can't wait to do more of these in the fall.

Digging for bones at Tanglewood

Also this month, W went to this cool art class at the CW Post campus of Long Island University.  This was a 2 hour class (middle-high school level) about color, contrast, focal points, and theme.  The kids discussed many pieces of art from a local artist and then drew similar pieces themselves.

CW Post Art Class  (photo credit: CB)

The highlight of the month for me was seeing W in his theater group's original play.  It was a teen drama all about, well, teen drama.  W knew all his lines and he really does have a knack for acting.  He did get stressed out about the show.  For a month he was terrified he'd forget his lines.  He got more comfortable with it around the final week when there were lots of extra rehearsals.  I'm not sure if he wants to continue acting, but I'm so proud that he gave it a try and faced his fear.

Other things W did this month include going to our homeschool group's annual End of No School Picnic, getting an iPhone, and playing lots of soccer in the park.  I'm so looking forward to many many more fun things this summer!

We are also getting ready for our summer academic schedule.  Year-round just works better for us, but the summer months are definitely lighter.  So, we've decided on doing 3 days/week (MWF), 2 subjects a day.  It will look like this:

Mon:  Math, History
Wed:  Math, Science
Fri:   Math, English

And since I won't be working outside the home anymore, we can get out and explore/experience the city (and surrounding areas) some more.  I want to see how we do with the 2 formal subjects a day thing.  I'd like to maybe continue doing that in the fall, 5 days/week.  It doesn't look like much until you see how it's only a part of an entire curriculum, which includes field trips, documentaries, homeschool group classes, basketball, parkour, CCD, scouts, consumer math, personal finance, computer technology (gaming, coding, creating, and online courses), typing, film-making, agriculture (gardening, composting), engineering, public speaking, health, nature study, art/crafts, music, map/ dictionary/ library/ and research skills, etc.  I love homeschooling.

Ok, the final decisions have been made.  The curriculum we are going with for 7th grade is:
Literature:  Lightning Lit 7
Math:  Saxon Algebra 1/2
History:  K12 Human Odyssey 1
Geography:  World Physical Geography (Runkle)
Science:  Apologia General Science

I wanted to bring something else up.  Ever since W got his diagnosis last summer of dyslexia and processing issues from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine neuropsych research dept, I have changed the way we do academics.  It seems that now (in only a year) he can read fluidly with hardly any pauses (and those pauses are only on one or 2 unfamiliar large words), he can write neatly, and I see no problems with his processing speed in any area.  I don't think anyone would even guess he has a learning disability if they saw him today.  The difference between where he was at age 11 to where he is now at age 12 is like night and day.  He is now more than a grade level ahead in reading!  The diagnosis spurred me to change a lot of things.  I pretty much met him where he was, yet pushed him at the same time.  We used various methods and tools but no formal dyslexia programs at all.  At least 90% of his reading/writing/learning issues have disappeared.  Any thoughts?

4th Quarterly, Annual Assessment, and Letter of Intent for 7th grade mailed.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

J's junior choreography project was absolutely breathtaking.  One of the teachers explained to the audience that this is the first real school performance for most of them (although some have been in the annual musical or the annual Rising Stars talent show) - it's the first time they really "let them out" to show what they can do.  I can't stress enough how talented these kids are.  There are about 60 junior dance majors and there were 21 different dances in the showcase.  One was better than the next.  Now comes senior year where there are even more opportunities and performances.  I can't believe my baby girl is a senior already.

Here's what else J has been doing this month:

  • She danced at the Alvin Ailey Theater for a pretty well-known choreographer's birthday showcase gala.  She was put front and center of his all-star hip-hop team. I wish I could have gone to see her, but I had work and this only came up the week before.  Luckily, B went.  He said she was beyond fierce, lol.   
  • She was called in for a last-minute rehearsal for a show at B.B. Kings Blues Club in Times Square.  She performed as a back-up dancer for Wyclef Jean and Waka Flocka Flame!  I am still amazed at how quickly this came about.  She and several other dancers were sent a video of the dance and were expected to know it before coming to rehearsal, so they could just run it over and over.  The day of the show, Wyclef met with all the kids, introducing himself, and right before the show J got a picture with Waka.  B went to this show, too (I had to  work again..AARGHHH).  There's no way he'd miss his baby girl dance, lol.  I'm really glad one of us was there to see her.
  • She and some friends went to see Maroon 5 perform on the Today show.  They got on line at 3:30am at Rockefeller Plaza...in the rain.  
  • She got some beautiful new headshots taken.  
  • She finished all her school finals and Regent exams.
  • She and B went to see Shaping Sound at the Beacon Theater.
It's going to be a wonderful summer!  









Thursday, May 30, 2013

May 2013

I have decided to streamline my posts.  Now that the kids are older and only W is homeschooled  I'd like to try posting just once a month.  So here we are at the end of May 2013.

I already mentioned that W took a wonderful nanotechnology class at the beginning of May.  He also took 3 classes with our homeschool group at the Tanglewood Nature Preserve in Long Island.  The first class was "Forensics".  The kids learned about fingerprints, footprints, DNA, dental imprints, and piecing together a crime scene.

Fingerprints

The second class was called, "Math in the Natural World".  Fibonacci numbers, bilateral and radial symmetry, and the reasons for the various shapes & patterns found in nature were actively discussed.  The instructor took them out on the nature trail to see these things up close.  Examples of these cool math patterns were found in beehives, skunk cabbage, ferns, trees, and insects.

Another month of science classes was completed at the Science Museum of Long Island.   So far he's had classes on:  microscopes, lights/lenses/lasers, types of  rocks/minerals, constellations, and more.   They always do part of the class outdoors with a nice walk around the woods.  W's class has about 8 kids who are all 11 to 15 years old.  One class he especially enjoyed was dissecting owl pellets.  He had done this a few years ago, but he's older now with a different perspective and understanding.

W's find in the owl pellet

A new activity W thought would be fun is parkour.   He's taking weekly classes now.   He is learning how to jump, flip, roll, and tumble on, through, and over various objects.  There are a lot of gymnastics and coordination moves involved.  He loves it.  The instructors are masters at parkour and so amazing to watch.

About a week ago, B took W to a NY Mets game.  They go together once or twice a season.  Citifield is so close to our home.  I dropped them off at the 7 train and picked them up a few hours later.  W has so much fun at these games because there's always something there for the kids to do and he comes home with some cool free stuff.

W getting ready for a dunk-tank pitch

Theater class is going very well.  I think it's the best money we've ever spent.  His reading confidence is through the roof.  Everyone in his teen groups is so friendly and supportive.  W was so worried about his reading - all the mono-/dialogues, memorization, and cold readings, but now, he looks forward to getting picked to read something.  He even requests to read.  I love this class.  I can't wait to see their big performance next month.  

CCD classes are over - his last class of this season was May 19.  He has one more year (7th grade) and then W makes his sacrament of Confirmation in the fall (or winter, maybe) of 8th grade.  He's been going to this class with the same kids since he was 2.  The new season starts at the end of September.


We are making good progress with the academics.  We will be on a semi-full schedule over the summer, so I figure we'll be done with math, spelling, and vocabulary sometime in autumn.  That's when I'm thinking about trying AoPS PreAlgebra... but we do love Saxon.  I'm still up in the air about choosing Saxon 8/7 or AoPS.   Well, we still have a few months to decide.  We have already started our 7th grade science and history programs, so we'll just continue with those.  W has also recently expressed an interest in Latin, rather than Spanish, so we are going to try it out.  I did some research and looked at tons of reviews and samples and finally settled on a program called, "Latin's Not So Tough".  It wasn't until after choosing that program that I noticed that they call themselves "the Saxon Math of Latin curriculums".  That might be why I was drawn to it.  I plan on starting with Level 2, which starts off with a review of level 1 (the alphabet and pronunciations).   Not sure if he'll enjoy it, but it will certainly help him with reading and vocabulary.

J said the shoot for the music video was great.  I dropped her off at 9:30am and they finally finished at around 11pm.  They did her hair and makeup - her hair was kept long and straight and her makeup was dark and almost goth-like.  She had a blast.  They even provided the kids with lunch and dinner.  Even though J hasn't had a lot of training in hip-hop, she has really come into it on her own.  I love watching her dance.  I can't wait to see this video.

She was also in another competition this month.  She is so enjoying the freedom of being an independent.  Nothing is holding her back.  She choreographed another solo (jazz) and just finished 2 days before the competition.  She's using a new studio and renting space as she needs it.  It's fantastic and it's a beautiful space.  She got a Platinum award for BOTH her solos and a "unique style" award for her new one.  One judge told her he could watch her dance all day and another said she loved the simplicity of her costume (a pretty little soft pink dress she just picked up the day before at Forever 21 for $13).  It was wonderful that J got all the recorded judges comment on a thumb drive.  Several of her friends came to cheer and support her - and there were a lot of kids there she knew from school or other studios.  There was no stress, no worries, and I can happily say that competitions have become fun and exciting again - just like they used to be years ago.

K finished up her internship in Manhattan this month and started a new job.  It's still part-time, but she's making more in 1 week here than she did in over a month at her other part-time job.  Now that her money situation is where she wants it (for now), she can focus more on getting her career off the ground.  She has an entrepreneurial mind and once she's determined, she can do anything.  But for now, she's putting away 3/4 of her money for a new (used) car.