April 20, 2012

Curriculum Chat

Several people have asked what curriculum LAUSD has provided us for schooling. Lets get this straight...I'm homeschooling to get AWAY from the restraints of public school. If I went through the local school district for our curriculum, then my kid would still be subject to the LAUSD requirements of standardized testing. So instead, I've established us as a private school, and I'm piecing together my own curriculum.

After a few weeks of evaluation of Z's skills, I've decided to extend his 1st grade year. In the fall he will be registered as a 2nd grader, however, our curriculum will essentially have him repeating the 1st grade. About mid August we will be using a complete curriculum called Little Hearts for His Glory, by Heart of Dakota Publishing.

Why is Z repeating the 1st grade? Because he needs to. Academically he places in the next level up in Heart of Dakota (HOD). However, HOD is a Bible-based curriculum, which uses literature and history texts. The MAIN reason for my choice of Little Hearts (over Beyond Little Hearts), is I want him to have a foundation of the Biblical History that it offers. After that, there are some critical thinking, basic science, and brush up phonics that I want him to really know and master before moving on.

For right this second we're doing a mixture of unit studies and work books:

Unit Studies: We go to the library every few weeks and come home with a stack of about 15 books. One or two of these books will be turned into Unit Studies, and Z really enjoys them. Our current unit is on the book 'Flat Stanley'. We have also done 'Stone Soup', 'Parable of the Lily' (Easter), and 'Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs'. I make quite a bit of it up, and the rest I get from online resources.

Math: Math Mammoth Light Blue Series 1A/1B. Z came out of a public school, 1st grade classroom trying to tell time and doing basic multiplication, but the class was moving so fast there's no time to slow down for those that need help. It wasn't long before I realized he was struggling to subtract and read numbers out of order. He's doing really good with this program. I'm a little hesitant to give it up right now for the math program that's recommended with HOD.

Bible: Bible Study Guide for All Ages Primary. We'll work slowly through this one. I ordered the first 26 lessons to use until we move on to HOD's program. I must have looked at a hundred programs before stumbling across this one. I like it best because of the visuals. Z really needs pictures and stories to go along with what he's learning and this program is really interactive.

Science: Considering God's Creation. A Bible based science text. It's been easier than I thought to find a science book that doesn't cover evolution. I'd like to save that discussion until he's grounded in his faith enough to handle the questions that oppose Creationism.

Art: I Can Draw People. Z has generally struggled with drawing pictures. He WANTS to draw, but he doesn't know how or where to start. I'm looking at eventually having this whole series of books for him to reference.

Music: There's no lack of this around here. I have music on all day. Classical, R&B, Gospel...There's no formal instruction as of yet, but Z would really like to learn piano, so we'll be working on that soon hopefully.

Social Studies: Most of this will be covered on the fly while using unit studies, but I've also picked up Map Skills for Today Grade 1.

Language Arts: There's quite a bit that falls into this category. First is Soaring with Spelling, followed by its popular sibling Growing with Grammar (hey...I didn't name the program!) We'll round off these programs with copywork (penmanship) from the Bible, 101 Things Every 1st Grader Should Know About Phonics, and our library books for reading.

P.E.: Nothing structured, but he does play outside daily, and when we can slip away, we walk to the park down the street.

Looking back over the list, it seems like a lot, but it's not. Lessons round out to about 20-30 minutes a piece, and not every subject is done each day. We generally start lessons about 10am and are done by 11:30/12:00...just in time for lunch. Don't you wish YOUR work day was done by lunch?

March 15, 2012

9 Reasons I Withdrew My Kid from Public School...

Yeah, you read that correctly. After 2 school years of frustration and disappointment, I've decided to say adios to LAUSD. Nope, my kid will NOT be returning to any of your schools today, tomorrow, or next year. From now until...whenever, we'll be homeschooling. And here's why - in no particular order:

1. Freedom of play: I decided to walk my son home from school one day last month. We chatted the whole way home, and this is where I learned that he NEVER has free reign of the playground. Each class is assigned to a different play area every other day and that is where they MUST play that day.

Um...huh? I distinctly remember having my choice of what I wanted to play during at least ONE recess during the day. If my friends and I wanted to play handball after lunch, we scarfed lunch, checked out a ball, and hoped the best court was open. My kid? Had to choose between hula hoops, jump ropes, or hop scotch three days this week (non of which are on his top play list).

2. The Homework Trap: Some education board out there (see how I got out of siting this one?) has decided that children should only do 10 minutes of homework per grade level/per night. Z could easily spend 45 minutes to an hour on his, not including the books I have him read before bed. My kid spends 6.5hrs a day at school, 5 days a week for about 9mths....is that not enough time to drill in a concept? He's got to bring this madness home, then get docked when it doesn't all get done because, you know, we have lives...

3. Support: There are 28 kids in Z's class, one teacher, and (thanks to a crappy budget) no teacher's aide. I've never been a fan of the big class sizes, but the classes are getting bigger and bigger. I don't know if this is district-wide or just the limits this particular school has set. There are 22 kids in each Kindy class, max. 1st-2nd grade can have up to 28. 3rd-5th can have up to 32. No wonder kids are being left behind! Who has time to stop and help those that are behind, when 95% of your class is doing just fine. Or at least, are faking it really well....

4. S.T.A.R.: I have HUGE issues with standardized testing. Including the fact that I think they mean NOTHING when it comes to measuring how well your child is doing, and I think that rings especially true for minority children.

5. Letting Kids be Kids: TOO MANY times have I walked across the campus playground to pick up Z from school and heard 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10yo boys cursing each other out and calling each other "faggot". Their female peers are already wearing tiny skirts, leggings, and thigh-high boots with heels. Um...WHAT?! How is it they think this is ok? How is it their parents think this is ok? These are not the peer influences I want my child to have.

6. The Big Wide World: I'm still trying to figure out what I learned IN CLASS that prepared me for being an adult. Outside of reading, writing, and simple math, who's got something for me? School didn't teach me squat about time-management, caring for my family, writing a resume, maintaining relationships, navigating the post office or grocery store, paying  bills, or any of that other grown-up stuff that smacks you in the face when your parents stop claiming you on their taxes.

7. Religion: I half looked into private schools when it was time to start Kindergarten. But the most affordable ones were Catholic schools (which we're not), and the closest ones had zero diversity and even less actual biblical teaching. I gave up the idea of a Christian education when I was unable to find a local, affordable school that taught, not just about the bible, but about how God had His hand in history and how He works in everyday life, and should be considered in everyday decisions.

8. Learning Styles: Z was 4yrs 10mths old when he started Kindergarten in the fall of 2010. He was expected to sit up straight, be quiet, stand in line, and pay attention for longer than his little body and brain wanted to. All of a sudden my star student was disruptive, unruly, and talked too much. During after school conversations with his teacher, I could feel the letters ADHD rolling around on the tip of her tongue. It took me a while to realize that my kid is a visual, tactile, kinetic  learner. He MUST move, talk, sing, and touch his way through an assignment. Apparently, this is frowned upon in public school.

9. Personal Preference: I never once had the desire to send my child to public school, and was only ever half interested in private school. I admit to being quite the 'granola-mom', and having my children schooled at home always just seemed much more...natural. A few months ago The Mister and I had a conversation about the state of local schools and some new legislation from Governor Brown. I mentioned homeschooling, really in passing, and he surprised me by saying that he would fully support me and understand if I wanted to homeschool from then on. He didn't have to say it twice, and my mind was made up right then and there.

March 12, 2012

A New Way to Eat


In October of last year, the Mister and I watch a documentary on Netflix called 'Forks over Knives'. It was truly life changing. I mean sure, we should always be conscious of the way we eat, and common sense will tell you that this nation full of fat, sick, cancer-having, diabetics needs to change the way they eat, but it also highlights a bit of history and some pretty interesting cover-ups in the food industry. I urge you to watch it, followed by another documentary called 'Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead' (also available on Netflix). The Mister and I felt that we could not watch either of these movies and continue eating the way were were. It would be completely irresponsible. Your body is your temple, right?

I didn't start this post to get all preachy about food, though. Well, maybe a little, but not about my own personal diet. I've already mentioned limiting the processed food, artificial dyes, and HFCs that walk through my kitchen. Well, I've come to the conclusion that it's just not enough for Z. My 6.5yo asthmatic child comes home from school wheezing just about daily, his eczema is getting out of control, and I'm just sick of treating the symptoms.

So...

As of TODAY, he is on a diet that is gluten, soy, nut, and dairy free. Extreme? Says you...but then again, he's not your kid, is he? I hear my baby wheezing in his sleep, even after 2 puffs of his inhaler and a breathing treatment, scratching his neck until its raw and bleeding...I've had enough. With the help of my local grocery store and 'The Yummi Cookbook: Delicious, Healthy, Affordable Meals without Meat, Dairy, Wheat or Say & Nut Free!' I am on a 4wk mission for change.

Day One

Breakfast: Strawberry Rice cereal (like flavored Rice Krispies), with rice milk, and a banana 

Lunch & Snack: A variety of raw fruits and veggies, apple juice, gluten-free pretzels, and a natural fruit bar

Dinner: Veggie fried rice, cabbage soup
I don't feel bad about not giving him the pot stickers that everyone else is having, since he doesn't really like them, but I'll have to find or make a gluten-free wrapper, since he DOES like egg rolls

Let the experiment begin!

September 19, 2011

Dear Opinionated People,

My son doesn't need a haircut. He is growing his hair out. He has told you this before. So stop asking him when he's getting a haircut. Stop offering to take him for a haircut. Stop running your fingers through his little afro, which actually WAS neat until you did that. Stop telling him his hair needs to be 'fixed'.

June 28, 2011

Taco Tuesday

My husband has a mistress. I've caught them together numerous times. When I'm out too late and he's feeling the urge. Or when he thinks I won't notice and I come home and it's hiding in a cabinet. Or when I go to bed early and he stays up like I don't know what he's doing in the living room. I always find out...but then, it's not like he always tries to hide it, either. He can't help it so I don't blame him - because I love chips and salsa, too.