Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Okay I'm freaking out...

So its really starting to happen. Jarom who's been mostly interested in playing for the last year which has been fine (okay I've been a little worried the last few months, and was wondering when Love of Learning was going to kick in) is on fire and is starting to WANT to learn. I am starting to experience first hand what it looks like when a child learns because he WANTS to NOT because he is forced to.

So what did today look like in the Martineau home?

A little like this...

or this...playing with Ginger

or this...CRAZY!

Jarom made us all pancakes, and then the kids wondered upstairs and spent a couple hours playing upstairs in our playroom. They stayed busy imagining and building things for a a super long time. AMAZING!

They all got hungry and wondered down for a mid-morning snack. I tried to read a little of the book we are just getting started on A Swiftly Tilting Planet, which is book three in the Twinkle in Time series. But we got distracted with snacks and before I knew it I was cleaning up and all the kids were in the [school room] listening to Standin Tall (an awesome book/CD series about wonderful virtues like honesty, love, dependability, etc...). The two oldest listened to those until lunch time while the two little guys played around with the chalk board in the same room.

After lunch got cleaned up I pulled out some resources I ordered a while back, but hadn't looked over yet. I spread them all out on the island and guess what...before long Jarom and Megan wondered in and started begging to do the cursive workbooks I got for them a year ago that I'd never opened.

::the next 4 hours::
The two of them spent the next four hours practicing cursive. I got busy reading a book and would stop and help them when they asked, but they kept at was incredible. I had to stop myself from trying to get them to stop. AMAZING!!! When they are doing something they are interested in you can hardly get them to stop. In fact we had to run somewhere in the car around 5 and Jarom insisted on bringing his cursive workbook with us, and Megan brought the Standin' Tall CDs and books to listen to in the car.

[simple works]
So simple does work. I am far from perfect, but I am trying my best to create an environment that allows my children to be inspired to learn. I am so thankful that I am starting to see them really take control of their education because they are excited about learning!! AWESOME!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Family MoJo


Teaching Adult Skills...slowly.
Over the past year Jarom has become a GREAT breakfast cook. Making us pancakes often. Its so great to have such a great helper in the morning...thanks J-dog!


Okay I haven't been the best with FHE. Usually I am throwing something together as I give the lesson, but as my kids are now getting a little older its time for mommy to step it up! Last night we made cookies by first naming off the ingredients we needed to make a Happy Family. I had written all the ingredients we needed for cookies on one side of a square piece of card stock and then I flipped it over and wrote down the 'family' ingredients we needed to make a Happy Family during our discussion. Some of the things the kids named off were say things nicely, go to church, don't fight, have family prayers, etc... After they named something I wrote it on the back of one of the squares and gave them the squares to them. It was a lot of fun and then at the end I had them flip over their squares and they got to put that ingredient into the bowl to make cookies.

So I've been trying to over complicate the whole schedule thing I decided today. I always want to make something big, permanent, and super hip. But after praying for inspiration and help to get my homeschooling running more smoothly...especially my routine it came to me. The three things I've been struggling with lately have been...recording what we do each day, journaling, and mentor meetings.

I always try to over complicate things...simplify should be my motto for the year. All I needed was a calendar for each person, a journal, and a stack of sticky notes and Viola.

Here is what we are doing now to get my homeschool MoJo on. Starting yesterday (our first official day of school) I had a 5 minute mentor meeting with Megan and then with Jarom. We talked about what they thought they'd like to study today. Of course I helped make suggestions if they couldn't think of anything. We made a list of 5 or 6 things on their sticky note and we stuck the note on their calendar. At the end of the day they write on the day it is what they studied/learned. That will help me keep a record of what each child's been learning. Also at the end of the day after dinner when they have their PJs on and all the other nightly things done I am going to spend about 10-15 minutes with them in their room. We'll all journal together, and that way I'll be there in case Megan or Jarom need help. Then after 'journaling' time we'll have our normal reading time.

Okay so I know its only day two of my new [simple] system, but its been working so far. Its a huge blessing to have the ability to pray for help and receive an answer from the Lord to help me and my family! WOO-HOO!!!

Megan is working on her penmanship because she wanted to, and she put it on her list during our mentor meeting. LOVE IT!!!

Jarom out of the blue said he wanted to read Sign of the Beaver. I found it for him on the bookshelf and he read two chapters in no time. Did I say I am loving being [simple].

Thursday, January 22, 2009

This is why we live in Arizona!

{Perfect weather}
Today the weather couldn't have been better. It was PERFECT! Not too cold not too hot a little overcast with a few light sprinkles. WOW!!

{Gate Install}

We played outside almost all day today. One of the perks of living in the country lots of space to roam. :) Today we also got a fence installed along our front yard today to help keep our animals and kids off the street. I know I am a little paranoid, but the street we live on is really long and sometimes cars get going pretty fast and it just scares me. I am so grateful for this gate and the huge stress reliever it is.

{Ginger and Gilligan}

For Christmas we got two adorable miniature Australian Shepperd's. It was a compromise. Scott wanted a good sized dog that could get a Frisbee and I wanted a dog small enough to not knock over all the kids. Viola! We found the perfect dogs. They are about half the size of a normal Australian Shepard but still have all the traits and characteristics of the breed. Gilligan is our little man I think he'll end up being a toy size probably about 13 inches high and maybe 20-25 pounds. Ginger our big lady will most likely be 15-17 inches high and 25-30 pounds. We are loving them!!

{Chilling Outside}

Cooper outside in his PJs at 4:00 the afternoon. It was just one of those days! We were on the Arizona rainy day schedule. Slow, steady, and relaxed. We even started a fire.

Its hard to see it, but Jarom is actually jumping a little ditch. He was so excited, but didn't think my photo really captured the moment. Sorry dude...I'll try better next time.

Becca chilling in her stroller as always and being a good little girl watching her brothers get dirty.

Brea was busy taking a nap while I was taking photos, and Megan was inside coloring some Let's Play Music puppets. She is so awesome and has really started loving to learn. While her brothers were playing outside she ditched them to color, draw, and read in our school room. No worries though...she was able to keep tabs on what they were doing out front through a window in our school room...she even opened it and talked to us outsiders for a bit. (Megan did play outside with us this morning for a few its not like she doesn't know how to get dirty and play with the boys.)

{School Report}
Today we did squeeze in some good reading time after lunch. Jarom actually was begging me to read a chapter in a book I am reading to Megan and Jarom. It was awesome to have him really wanting to do that over something else. Progress.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

It Works...

{Walking into the darkness}
When I started homeschooling I felt like I was stepping into the darkness trying to trust that this non-conformist way of teaching yourself and children would really work. I saw it working for others...talked to moms who told me success story after story, but since I hadn't done it myself I just tried to have faith that the Thomas Jefferson Philosophy of homeschooling which I felt so prompted that I needed to start using with my family would really work for me and my family. SCARY!!!

{Baby Steps}
Little by little I've seen it start working with my kids. The first couple of months after pulling the kids out of school I had a couple of goals
1. See my children have the ability to happily entertain themselves without any outside influence (ie TV, Wii, Mom, etc...).
2. Read more with the kids and increase the time we can stay focused on a book/story.
3. Learn how to work better as a family and individually.

{Stage Two}
I think it took a good year to get detoxed from all our bad habits and for me to feel like we accomplished the three main goals I had set for our family. But I am so excited that over the past few weeks we've had lots of small break-throughs that has resulted in a BIG break through and I really feel its time for the next phase in our educational evolution! WOO-HOO!!

{So what now?}
I am going to set some NEW slightly bigger goals for my family.
1. Increase the family and individual work load!
2. Establish a family routine that is flexible enough that we STICK to it 9 times out of 10.
3. Hold daily mentor meetings with the kids and set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals with them.
4. More READING time!
5. More active learning...go with the sparks.

{Starting to see the light}
So as I said over the past few weeks I've really started to see some break throughs, and its SO EXCITING!!!


::Reading like crazy::
When I pulled Megan out after her first semester of kindergarten she wasn't really reading yet. A lot of people asked what program I was going to use to teach her to read. I usually replied I was simply going to read to her and I believed that she would learn how to read if all I did was read to her. Part of me freaked out every time I said this to someone, because even though I'd heard lots of moms tell me that it worked I'd never done it, and frankly it sounded a bit crazy. Would it really work or would my little 5 year old never learn to read because her awful mother decided to homeschool her?! about nightmares. Its been a year now, and I am happy to report that she is an amazing reader and all I ever did was read to her. Sounds simple, but it works. Maybe sometimes in our crazy complicated world we tend to over think what should be a natural progression of childhood like learning to read. I really believe children are born knowing how to learn. All we have to do is create the right environment and recognize when they are ready to learn so we can jump in and help them attain the knowledge they are excited to find out about. Each of us choose to learn when we want matter how great the teacher is if the student isn't ready to learn they can not be taught. I think that is awesome and goes hand in hand with the gift of free agency that Heavenly Father gave each one of us here on Earth. Its such a beautiful concept and it makes sense that understanding how it applies to education helps me not only in my own educational endeavors but also in my children's educational experiences.

::Writing like mad::
Megan's been loving writing lately. She is so curious how words are spelled and often asks me how to spell this word or that word. Yesterday she saw on my to do list an item stating that I needed to transfer all the extended family birthdays onto our new 2009 calendar. She got excited about the task and volunteered to do it for me. I thought would be a great reading, writing, and calendar exercise for her to do. So for the past few days she's spent a couple hours carefully putting every one's birthday onto our new calendar. It was a simple thing, but she learned a lot.

::On the brink of exploding::
I really think Meg is on the cusp of transitioning from core to love of learning. She only 6 so she's a bit young, but lately I've found her snuggled up on our 'book bed' (a really big chair in our school room) reading or writing. Now that reading is easy she isn't afraid of tackling any book she sees on our book shelf. Its like the whole world has opened up to her. Its exciting!!


::fighting over the piano::
A year and a half ago Jarom was 7 almost 8 and I decided like any good mother would that it was time for him to take piano lessons. I signed him up without even consulting him first. Oops. Oh well, when I told him he was fairly excited and enjoyed going to lessons, but never really got into it. His teacher was great, but after only a few months it was pretty obvious to me that he wasn't ready for piano yet so we stopped, and Jarom was relieved.

A year later I found an awesome music program called Let's Play Music that I had researched and decided was exactly the inspiring kind of exposure I wanted my kids to have to music. Today was proof to me that if you trust the process of TJed, and trust your kids they will let you know when they are ready. Cooper, Megan, and Jarom are all in the same LPM class and this morning all 3 of them were fighting over who's turn it was to play the piano. They told me we needed to get a few more pianos because they all wanted to play...LOL! I replied no we don't need more pianos we need to learn how to take turns. :)

The funny thing is that although LPM is designed to get them on the piano they don't even touch a piano the first year. So it won't be until next year that my kids start doing that. This year they are using bells and other methods of learning music. I know their desire to play the piano is a result of all the good exposure they are getting in their weekly class which gets them wanting to experiment and learn more about music beyond what they are suppose to work on at home.

{It Works...}
After reading How Children Learn a few months ago I feel like I am starting to understand how children (and adults) learn. We are all pretty smart and with the right environment and mentors we are capable of whatever we put our minds to. The TJed philosophy works...its the hardest things I've ever done because in some ways it feels like I am giving up some of the control or power that I would if I forced my children to learn what was on my daily school list. Its scary, but the more I trust the process and focus on the 8 keys of education it all seems to work itself out. So I'm going to continue to have faith and go forward in this crazy adventure of homeschooling my children. Life is great!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Farm Family At Last!!!

We now live in the sticks and man are we happy about it!!!

A miracle for our family happened the end of 2008. We were able to move to the country and get a little family farm/ranch. YEA!!! Okay so calling it a farm or ranch may be a stretch because we only have two dogs and five chickens (probably not enough animals to call it a farm), and we don't have a garden only a few trees with pecans, apples, and citrus (probably not enough food growing here to call it a farm). Oh well its a work in progress and soon we hope to have a few more animals and a nice sized garden real soon.

Neither Scott or I have ever lived where there are no street lights, side walks, sprinklers (we have irrigation), or where your neighbors have deer, goats, turkeys, cows, and horses. Its AWESOME!!! I know we're in for some big surprises as we embark on our attempt to be country folk, but we're going to be smiling the entire time even when we look like fools because we don't have a clue as to what we are doing.

Here's a picture of the backyard. The last few weeks we've had a great time playing kickball, Frisbee, throwing a boomerang Scott found while visiting his parent in PR, and of course chasing around the dogs.

This is one of our two pastures and I plan on getting some horses and cows to fill them both up. Part of me would like to also get a mini cow to put in one of our smaller pens. I've heard that they produce milk (a lot less than a full size cow) and they are only the size of a calf. Sounds about perfect to me, and it'll give my kids an opportunity to do some real work.

I want to document the whole story of how, why, and when the move happened but that will have to happen in another post because its time to get back to school with the kids. It's going to be a great day.