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Friday, July 20, 2007

Show Holiday

We are show-offs! How bazaar that in this day and age of sky rocketing interest rates, petrol prices and immediate harm to the environment that local shows still occur and that we get a public holiday for them? I can understand the original reason for both the show and the holiday but I am thinking that in modern life, the tradition appears a bit extreme. We are not going to the show because we prefer to be show-offs.

I can only vent my thoughts though, because Boy is not here to hear them. He has gone off a day early to his Dad's place. Over the moon he is at getting a day off school (I could have lied about the holiday but kids just seem to know these things!!!). Show-off! He's gone to another town where it's not a public holiday because they had their show last week (and because he's home schooled he got to go to that show as it suited our flexible hours).

Accountant husband has gone to work (his work ethic is protestant and interest rate driven) and I intend to spend the day planning home school unschooled moments that will look natural, effortless and less educational that normal. Some time for personal reflection is also greatly needed, so I may take a coffee and sit by the pool, in the sun, to reflect upon why I get sucked into thinking that education has to look a certain way.

Oh it annoys me that I fight with Boy because I am so stringent about him reaching particular levels of assessable learning. For goodness sake - even with all the public holidays we get, Boy's learning and understanding is so much better that many kids who attend traditional school - and at times like this when he gets to be surrounded by other kids, he's a real show-off with the unusual and broad range of knowledge, skill and curiosity that home schooling has developed in him.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Mafia Project

We have dead bodies all over our lounge room floor. A Mafia hit was ordered and their handiwork is scattered like cushions and rugs on our cold hard white tiles. The red blood of the Sicilian born family has spread like tomato paste on a pizza.

The History of the Mafia project is coming along great guns. I have been amazed at Boy's ability to maintain his concentration. He has looked up sites, printed interesting snippets off, found pictures that fulfilled his need for blood and gore and learnt so much trivia about Mafia bosses that I hope he has a chance to one day correctly answer a quiz question.

Did you know that Al Capone died of syphilis? What's that, enquired Boy. Smiling wickadly, I thanked this teachable moment that had been thrown into our home school day. From Mafia to sexual health without any planning. I love this home school stuff.

Without a vehicle to go and purchase cardboard for Boy's Poster project, we improvised with an empty beer carton. The uncoloured cardboard looks fantastic as it gives a rough, ready, prohibition feel to the project. Rather than glue everything down immediately, we thumb tacked the printed information onto the cardboard while we decided upon best placement. Boy is not stuck on the idea of the thumb tacks but I love it. I think the tacks add another metaphor - a stabbing of criminal activity. Boy thinks I'm weird and has opted to await step father's advise about placement and more pictures or written information. What - he must think his step father is some kind of Don!

Mafia is bad parenting business: While we were tacking information to our poster board, a workman came in to tell me he was finished his task. He asked Boy about his project and commented that it was an interesting choice for a nice little boy. Almost embarrassed at my perceived bad parent status as intonated by Mr Workman's statement, I immediately explained why we home school and how we work through Boy's obsessions.

As I defended our choice of project, I could hear the voice in my head tell me to be quiet: I had no need to defend why we were learning about the Mafia. As it turned out, I had jumped to conclusions about Mr Workman's intonation. He was genuinely interested and he and Boy had a great chat about gambling, prohibition, and family values. More teachable moments thanks to a workman we've never even met before.

Boy and I are now going to watch The Godfather movies, just to make the learning cement in Boy's head and to hopefully rid him of any Robin Hood romantic notions he may have about the original reasons for the birth of the Mafia.

Related article:
Mafia Madness

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Movie Review: The Mummy Returns

Today Boy and I negotiated over Math and English. Rather than do a set curricula unit of English, Boy agreed to do a movie review and write the blog himself (we are moving into setting up a simple website for technology). Below is his own review and entry into blog editor.
The Mummy Returns
by Boy age 11
''The Mummy Returns'' is about five people who set out on a adventure and came across a weird book that brings the dead back to life. Two of the people can read the Egyptian writing and the other three just help them kill the Mummy that they bring back to life.
The two people who can read the writing are a boy aged eight and his mum. His parents are archaeologists and his mum has specialised in Egyptian history.
The movie is a great movie to watch because it has history in it and other great things; the scarab beetles, mummies and golden artifacts.
It is M rated because of violence. I give it a rating of two and a half stars out of five.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Mafia Madness

Boy loves guns, war stuff, crashing planes, murder, weapons and anything that produces pain and blood. I am a conscientious objector: the daughter of a decorated, three tour, now retired Army officer. I grew up in Army camps overseas. Boy grew up with me trying to minimise weaponry in our home. I lost the war against Boys with Aspergers and their obsessive interests in things that stress their parents out!

After our week of trauma and negotiations around how our new life is going to look, Boy and I have discovered that an hour of our Monday morning school time will be spent in the car, travelling. He wants to use Monday as excursion day. He wants to explore every nook and cranny between
Innisfail and Cairns.
Photo by Denzani.
"Is there any like, Army stuff we can go see," he seriously asked. I seriously wanted to Court Marshall him and measure out geography lessons as more than punishment: more like sheer hell boot camp for him.

Interested only in his learning and my mental health, I delayed my gratification of forcing topography down his throat and suggested we use this particular time in the car to think about a project we could work on for the rest of the week.

"Could I do a project on the Mafia," he asked eagerly.

"Sure." My mouth looked like it was smiling but I was in fact gritting my teeth and grimacing because my last chance at raising another conscientious objector was never really a chance at all!

This morning we added Mafia type words to our spelling list and Boy searched for Mafia history on the net. The doubting Thomas and pure pragmatist in me wondered at the validity of the information but I am hardly going to condone Boy interviewing a gangster to get an insiders view of organised crime. I wouldn't know where to find a gangster anyway, nor do I wish anyone to point me in the right direction.

Boy has printed off Mafia information, family tree (just love the pun here) and photographs. Step father and I will be privy to a poster presentation on the History of the Mafia and I am sure that we will have to watch Al Capone and the Untouchables another 50,000 times. I am sure it will be madness, but, the learning will be invaluable. From Mafia Madness to modern and contemporary history: I can easily make the link and locate the teachable moments around peace and honesty. Will Boy?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

When Things Go Wrong, Support Networks Grow Strong

We have had a very bad week. In need of help and support, I discovered that my pride was too great to ask for help. Lucky for me, two wonderful friends recognised my need and came around to help me cope with an external situation that was tearing our family into three (or ten, or seventy).

I (we, DH says he has too) have spent many evenings in bed reflecting (again) on the importance of talking to close support networks. While I teach this stuff and understand the significance of being surrounded by supports, I found myself not calling in my supports because I didn't want to trouble them, stress them, or add more to their busy days. I was also very arrogant and thought that others would not find the situation as bad and soul destroying as I did. Therefore they wouldn't understand my inner turmoil and need.

Somebody slap me! Support networks are there to offer support - even if they don't understand the protracted and acrimonious history of an issue. I care for the people: friends, I support - I care not for a boring factual and unemotional account that leaves out impact and affect. I am always happy and eager to lend a hand, an ear or a boot up the backside (metaphorical of course). I don't need to know a chronology of events - I just need to know that somebody on my network requires my objective support.

So....I am sorry that I have not been around blogging and visiting this week.
Personal circumstances here have taken my time away from structured teaching, recording Boy's learning and my online child safety conversation. To both Keren and Rebekah, and later in the evening my daughter Jade, who dropped everything to come to be with us, thank you. Your actions are appreciated by our entire extended family. Next time, I will not wait for so long to ask for support - especially a cup of coffee, a chat, and an airing of my fears in times on non need.

Life is back to normal as of tomorrow (is it ever normal in our house!!!!!!). Boy will be back from an extended weekend at his Dad's and suffering my home school lessons, husband will be at work and I will be holding onto my lesson - support networks are there to be used to prevent crisis times rather than to only use in crisis times!!!!!!!

And some additional good from all of this - I have met our neighbors from across the road. Both high school teachers, they were fascinated and supportive of our home schooling and related stories of where kids with special needs fall through the academic gap. They are just lovely people, have a son that Boy can play with and a pressure that I can also offer them some support around.

Life is good - I couldn't have said that on Wednesday!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Circus Goes Back to School

First day back at school after the two week term break. Oh joy!!! Boy was a pleasure - he did exactly as expected: tried every excuse under the sun to get out of doing any school work!!! He was a monkey in a circus confused because no-one was clapping at his tricks!

We had a great holiday. Camping, camp fires, sleep ins, lots of kids to play with and best of all, we caught up with another home school family who live in our region. We LOVED them. We spoke their language and understood their strive toward quality of life for their children. Although our children are different ages and genders, I fully intend to link with this family and share home school treats.

But today - it was a circus. Boy morphed between sloth and lion in record breaking time. Lucky for me, one of his friends was online and it was that which dragged Boy's holiday craving body from his bed. After allowing Boy a short time of online talk, I rang the school bell.

The circus really is in town. Boy went last year and I didn't see the sense of going again this year when the money is needed for more pressing pursuits. Boy did however, begin to show some interest in alternative Circus discourse - the argumentative and demonstrative type (which in reality is animal libertarians simply pleading their case).

"Why do some people hate circuses?"

My in - thank goodness for teachable moments!

I feigned ignorance and suggested that we look it up. "People must have a reason to demonstrate. They wouldn't do it just because they're bored, would they!"

Nope - didn't work. It was school holidays and he was not going to be drawn into anything remotely educational.

So, I looked it up (lesson plans specifically) and was ready to go this morning with a nice little lesson on a circus assessment task. The completed assessment task is expected to demonstrate the following qualities:
  • capacity to argue a point of view relevant to a given role

  • use of persuasive language and techniques appropriate to audience and context

  • control of both verbal and non-verbal language.
Using a feature article on a local council saying no to a Circus setting up in a local park, I had Boy highlight several concept words and read me what their definitions were. I read the article and Boy followed. He had his pre prepared list of words and definitions beside him and kept saying, "slow down Mum, I can't keep up". This was evidence that Boy was at least attempting to understand and not miss any words.

Tomorrow we will build on the activity and we will take turns in debating the two sides as portrayed in the feature article. We will also keep the list of concept words as spelling words for next week (this weeks words are chosen from a 6th grade list: ache, assignment, address, again, although, Pacific, February, fourth, fuel, hemisphere) and I want to make a match the definition to the word card game.

Boy managed an english and math unit from Kinetic Education and it is official - Boy is MUCH BETTER at Math than I am. Whereas Boy got 70%, I scored a high 40%. Ummm....I may need to get accountant husband to explain the rules of change to me again!

It is incredibly cold here in tropical North Queensland. So much so that Boy has shown interest in following the rise and fall of the temperature gauge and understanding the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius (we measure using Celsius). I found a neat website sticker (below) and I am about to show Boy how to load it to the front page of his site. Part of Boy's technology study this term is to create a very simple web site - uploading the html code for the temperature gauge is going to be the first step toward his web development career.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Christmas in July Competition

Imaginif is running a Christmas in July competition.

Enter for a chance to WIN a Christmas Stocking full of Protective Play goodies from the Imaginif shop simply by posting your Favorite Christmas in July recipe.

For us in the the Southern Hemisphere, July is our cold, cold month. The time for stews, roasts and comfort foods, it is also the month that alternative Christmas dinners are celebrated with family and friends.

We need some food ideas to keep us happy, warm and full of that nice Christmassy feeling. Your recipe could be a cake, a main, an entree or a snack for when friends drop by. Whatever it is, it must be festive, suitable for the kids to eat too and represent a time of peace and goodwill (in short, something that could grace a December Christmas table).

Post your recipe in the competition section at Imaginif's Safety Talk forum
between now and July 24, 2007. On July 25, 2007, I will collate the recipes into a forum poll for all to vote on (you can vote for your own recipe).

The recipe with the greatest number of votes will win the Christmas stocking. Voting will take place between July the 25th and 30th. The Christmas Stocking winner will be announced in the Safety Talk forum on Tuesday the 31st of July.

Spread the good cheer by telling a friend and helping them in a chance to win a Christmas Stocking full of protective play goodies.

This blog is no longer kept. I am instead blogging only to Imaginif Child Protection became Serious Business