Wednesday, May 28, 2008


We are now coming to a close on what would be a regular school-year for most. We school year round so we don't have definite breaks and most of our coursework simply keeps going but we will be starting our next rotations for history and science within the next month...taking some time for vacation (during which we are doing an American Indian unit study, nature and regular journalling, and Primary Challenge Math for the younger two just to keep from taking so many books on vacation since we have to pack light).

Anyway, here are our curriculum choices for the next "school year."

1. Math

Newt- Algebra II using Saxon Aglebra II, Teaching Company DVDs for high school Algebra II, and Thinkwell College Algebra online (we are working up to doing an actual college course next year).

Dylan- starting Saxon 87 in 2 weeks (Algebra is on the horizon for him in another 10 months or so)

Haley- finishing up the last half of Saxon 3

2. Language Arts

Newt- Lightning Literature 8th grade (has been working on it for last 3-4 months so will continue), Spelling Power, and vocabulary program

Dylan- Readings of interest...undecided on an actual lit. program, Writing Power, Spelling Power, and will begin a vocabulary program (possibly Wordly Wise).

Haley- Reading whatever interests her, Spelling Power, Writing Power, possibly Wordly Wise once I decide on a level

3. History

Boys (Renaissance to about 1800)- Renaissance History Portfolio, World History: The Human Odyssey, World Literature, and various workbooks and activity guides

Haley (Ancient Times)- History Portfolio, Story of the World 1 and Activity Book, Mythology and other readings of the times, World Literature, Usbourne, Kingfisher, and various workbooks and activity books

4. Science (Chemistry)- each child's use of these materials will depend on their level...

How to Teach Science to Your Child, The Elements: Ingredients of the Universe, Conceptual Chemistry by Suchocki plus Lab Manual, A Guide to the Elements by Stwertka, and various experiments

5. Languages- Rosetta Stone Spanish and may do some work in Latin but undecided.

6. Music- continue lessons and practice of various instruments. Listen to music appreciation CDs and read biographies of various composers.

7. Art- Cave Paintings to Picasso by Sayre, The Usbourne Book of Art, and Drawing with Children.

I think that may be it for now unless I come up with something else really interesting.

My guitarist...

Dylan has really taken off with his guitar lessons recently. He originally started at 6yo but wanted to learn electric guitar and his hands were a bit small for the one we bought plus his teacher wasn't really teaching him anything (he was young and always late for Dyl's lessons as well) so we stopped his lessons for awhile.

He started lessons back up about a year ago with an amazing teacher who has figured Dylan out and teaches him bits of songs he is interested to make him see the importance of learning the "not so exciting" parts of music playing. It has worked and though he has had a few weeks when we have had to push him to study/practice those things that aren't so exciting like note reading and chords, Dylan has now progressed to the point where he is starting to figure out songs on his own by hearing them.

This has enables him to play while Haley fiddles, play along with his brother's drumming, and just pick up cool pieces of songs he likes to "show off" with. He has also been creating some of his own music...which really sounds good btw.

Most recently, Dylan has been expressing an interest in playing Praise music like the band at church. I purchased him a DVD of lessons on a few songs that arrived yesterday. Dyl immediately plugged it in and started at it. Within a few minutes he had learned two and he played them while we sang along. He practiced the songs all night and by 10:30 pm had learned all but the last song on the DVD (7 songs in all) though he said he would need to keep practicing them to get really good (Is this my Dylan talking????)

I am so proud of him for finding something he enjoys putting his time into!!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Giftedness...explained and reconsidered

I just spoke with Dr. Deborah Ruf. It was a great experience. She is so easy to talk to and so much of what she said made perfect sense in ways I had not thought to consider before. Not only does she look at IQ and achievement but also personality types (yours, your husbands, and child's) and thoroughly explains how all those variables interact. She explained my husband and I perfectly just be knowing our personalities. Also, she explained the parts of Haley's personality that were strong vs. those that were more borderline and it explained her perfectly, too. I now have so much more reading to do so that I can understand my boys as well.

The gist of what she said was that she agreed with me that Haley's original IQ test was way too low based on her developmental milestones, all the information I gave her about what Haley is doing now plus looking at the achievement portion of the assessment she had with the original IQ test. She said she errs on the low side (so no one is ever dissappointed) but would say Haley is a 2-3 in the Levels of Giftedness. After my reading I would've guessed a 3 so we were pretty much in sinc with that. She said a very motivated child can be at a much higher level than their IQ indicates but she still felt Haley's original IQ score was not a good indicator of her actual potential.

Haley's personality is an IFSJ (introverted, feeler, sensor, judging) so she is going to be a people pleaser who is very excellent with facts/details/memorization but not so great at looking at the big picture (though that was not as strong with her as her sensing areas). She was borderline between introverted and extroverted as well. Haley will need to feel appreciated for who she is rather than what she does (otherwise will have more difficulty with perfectionism). She would be the type of kid who would be a teacher's pet in school but learn to underperform or not perform to her potential to fit in and have difficulty finding a true peer (soul mate) in a school that is age-grouped rather than ability grouped.

She suggested giving Haley a chance with her singing or letting her try acting to meet her needs for performance. She said it would also give me a way to help her find mentors and others to help educate her.

Some books she recommended highly which you may find helpful are "Motherstyles: Using Personality Type" by James Webb and "What Could He Be Thinking" by Michael Gurian.

I have a lot to process and a lot of reading to do. I need to learn to let go of being perfect as a homeschooling mommy. My need to be orderly or to not miss anything is not really necessary in that learning is a lifelong process. She said a child like Haley could easily finish grade school 4 years ahead of schedule (which I already see since she is not in 1st grade yet but finishing up 3rd grade math and reading at an even higher level). She will get anything she has missed from me on her own. Dr. Ruf also said it is not important that she be great at everything. It is okay to be just proficient at things that don't interest her. She said unit studies would be a good way to teach Haley to look at the "big picture" and bring out that side of her.

If I really want the kids to be self actualized learners and fulfilled adults then they have to be able to find and follow their passions and learn to deal with success and failure. I already know that but it is difficult for someone with my personality type.

Dr. Ruf suggested in the future having her test Haley to get a more accurate IQ number. My first question was "Is that really necessary?" She said it would be helpful to know the score to aid with knowing which college would be better placement (she said all colleges have a different average IQ score), seek jobs that would be more fulfilling, and keep expectations more in line with her abilities. I really don't have any plans to do this any time soon (read next 2-3 years) since I feel like I now have a pretty good idea but I may consider it later. (The cost and travel are prohibitive at this point. Though I wish I could have had Dr. Ruf assess her in the first place since I probably spent too much on the first assessment that didn't really answer any of my questions.)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Late but fun night...

Yesterday afternoon, Haley was reading the newspaper while waiting for her lunch (yes, I know, most almost 6yos don't spend time reading the newspaper, LOL) and she came upon an advertisement that caught her eye for a Celtic music concert about an hour away from us. She was beside herself with excitement and though it wasn't in my plans, it was relatively inexpensive and a good opportunity, so we went.

What a delightful evening it was!! Again, Haley was the youngest person there....I think I was pretty close to the 2nd youngest in the room full of about 60-80 people. She was an utter delight. The band was called Road to the Isles and consisted of a bagpiper, fiddle, guitarist/singer/tinwhistler, and dancers (one Irish and one Highland). The location had no stage and we could not see the dancers' feet nor much else from where we were sitting so Haley moved out to the outer aisle and sat on a low windowsill talking to the people nearby and others who joined her. She made many "friends" and sat completely engaged in the show. She also talked with the soundman for the band who was stationed right near where she was sitting. After the show he told me how "blessed" I was to have such an amazing little girl. She was so excited when they played the two songs she knew (The Atholl Highlander and The Rights of Man). After the show she went right up to the dancers and talked to them awhile before asking for the autographs then went to each of the bandmembers and got theirs as well. We also met an elderly couple who knew Haley's fiddle teacher and played in the group she will join this Thursday evening. (It is a small world.)

We didn't get home until almost 11:30pm. I don't know many almost 6 year olds who would be good for that long and interested in music that long that late at night. She is an amazing little girl.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Good day...

This morning started with a bang...literally. It was a really windy and stormy day. We awoke to a loud crash and a crunch as the top of a tree fell from the neighbor's property onto Ritch's car and scraped my van. The damage to the vehicles wasn't fatal, just a couple more dents on the hoopty and barely a scratch on my van. Luckily Ritch was home for the day so he was there to cut down the huge branch and take care of phone calls to neighbors and insurance companies.

Haley had a wonderful fiddle lesson today. She remembered the song she learned at Next Generation Kids yesterday. I am glad she did because I didn't. (The boys accompanied her to Next Gen Kids yesterday...Dyl with his guitar and Newt with his bodhran. They had a really good time learning new songs and playing with the group.) She had learned the last two parts of the song The Jig of Slurs her teacher had started with her last week. Then she and her teacher played 4 jigs in a row working on jig bowing (1---2,3, 1---2,3). Haley picked it up and concentrated hard on playing toward the tip of her bow which is difficult for her because she usually wants to play very expressively using all the bow she has. It was a really good lesson. Her teacher invited her to play with the grown-ups at their Seisun sessions on Thursday nights. (Not something we'll do every week because it is so late but might be fun once in awhile.)

Tonight we had nowhere to go. Since quitting taekwondo, we have had a few of those here and there. The kids and I worked on creating a poster of the periodic table. I was so proud of the way they worked together and cooperated on it. We didn't quite finish but once we do I will post a picture. We can't wait to start chemistry!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Doing the Bees...

Last month Daddy and Poppop attended a course on Bee Keeping. A select few of the attendees (only up to Poppop) received $300 to get started. He bought his hive, got it ready, and Saturday picked up his bees.

They had to stay in the box for 24 hours, flying in and out, getting used to their new "home." Plus the weather was cloudy and "not good bee weather" because too many stay in the hive when it is cloudy rather than fly out looking for pollen to collect.

Yesterday, the weather was better and the boys assisted in moving the bees to their brand new hive. Many came out to see what was happening but no one got stung. Haley, Grammy, and I stood only a short distance away without any extra protection. They moved the 5 frames of bees to the new hive which had 5 new frames inside, added another level of thick sugar water to make sure they have enough to eat until they find pollen, and put on the top. The bees seemed to like their new home and soon were happy moving in and out.

Probably no honey for us this year but next year "yum!"

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Fiddling for the lunch crowd...

Today, after her soccer game, Haley requested cheese fries at Louisa's Cafe. Of course Daddy took her fiddle along though waited for her playing to be requested before bringing it in. She played for the lunch crowd while Newt accompanied on bodhran. They made $15 and got free ice cream. Louisa called her music teacher friend who rushed over to see the spectacle. He told Daddy that he is putting together a talent show with local talent and though Haley's skills are way beyond "local talent level," he would love for her to participate. He said he has performed and taught music for many years but never has he seen anything like her before.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Paid to play...LOL

Yesterday morning Daddy took Dyl to the junk yard with his loot to cash in. They then took Daddy's portion to pay for breakfast at their frequent hang out...Louisa's Cafe which is just a few blocks away in the next town over. It is a very small establishment that serves only breakfast and lunch to a pretty much regular crowd of retired gentlemen, police officers, and construction workers.

Anyway, while they were there, Daddy and Louisa got to talking about the kids and he mentioned how Haley has been doing with her fiddle/violin (being the proud parent he is). Louisa asked if he would bring her by because she'd love to hear a 5yo on fiddle. So when they finished breakfast, they went home, gathered up Haley with her fiddle, Dyl's guitar, and Newt with the bodhran and took them back to play.

They were a huge hit. The men loved them. Louisa asked them to come play again and took their number so she could call them when she has a crowd. One man said he'd been around the whole world twice and seen many things without being too impressed but this was something he would never forget. He gave the kids each $5 and insisted they take it when they all refused. Another man bought them a "round of drinks." (Soft drinks of course)

So, my kids have had their first "paid" gig, well, kind of.