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.

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


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:
Charlotte Mason

Unit Studies

And used various curricula, including: 
Ambleside Online
Teaching Textbooks
Lightning Literature
Flash Kids
...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.