Category: Teacher

Homeschooler Profile: Eclectic Unschooling

For my second profile, I’ve asked a fellow homeschooler in our co-op group, the one I used to call Super-prep Co-Op Mama.   I’ll be calling her Eclectic Mama (with her approval) here even though she says she’s a Fake Unschooler because when we looked up the definition of unschooling, it didn’t quite fit.  I understand why she wants to call herself that, but her curriculum method is really more eclectic.

Almost Unschooling Mama has 2 kids,  6.1 girl in kindergarten and 2.0 boy. I would sum up her philosophy as Reading, Math, and social skills is non-negotiable, for everything else follow the child’s  interest.  

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Homeschooler Profile: Outsourcing Schooling

This year, I met so many new parents who are considering homeschooling in the upcoming school year.  I have so many things I want to tell them.  But then I refrain because I know a lot of how we homeschool reflects our own personal experience growing up, how we think our children ought to be taught, our own children’s personality and their academic level, etc.

For me, I’d already chosen the Montessori curriculum years ago.  However, I’ve since learned that Montessori homeschooling is different from a Montessori public education, you get to be more fluid and  you can customize and tailor.  Now that I have a better understanding of what the Montessori curriculum actually means, I’ve relaxed and started looking at other curriculum.

So I thought what I would do is to interview people who have different educational philosophies and highlight how they’re homeschooling, the curriculum they use, their daily routines, etc.  Basically be nosy and get answers to questions I always want to know whenever I meet a new homeschooler!

Hopefully this series will be helpful for people who are just starting to research homeschooling.

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Easing back into a new semester

640px-Darjeeling-tea-first-flush-in-cupMonday morning, I woke up at 8am to a just made cup of oolong tea and the children having already eaten their breakfast of heated milk and scrambled eggs, cooked by Thumper.   Right now, both kids have been quietly working by themselves for at least an hour, the first in many, many weeks.

It’s so good to have our routine and normalized classroom back.

Ever since we got back from Christmas Break we’ve been having a hard time getting back into the routine of things.  The children often woke up at 8:30 and didn’t start work till 10am.  It culminated with Astroboy getting sick and for two to three days, both kids were waking up at 9:00, 9:30am.  He didn’t go to school those days.

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Planning for our 3 months sojourn

temple
Temple in Taichung

The short story is, we’re considering staying in Taiwan for 3 months like we did 2 years ago and I’m starting the planning process.

The Long Story 

A few moths ago, Thumper started speaking English, even when she’s in Chinese play dates.  By this I mean she clearly knows the words in Chinese but she didn’t want to speak it.  She seemed to want to flaunt her English for some reason.

After yelling at her a few times, I went into Project Speak Chinese mode and I started contemplating a stay in Taiwan again.  I guess I should be glad that out last stay lasted us 2 years of Chinese speaking.

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A milestone reached, normalization and working independently

Oh the pain, the pain.  I’m currently working on modifying the beautiful 2015-2016 work plan I had set up last semester for Thumper.   How great and beautiful was it?  The week we were to leave for winter vacation, she had two wonderful days where she just followed her work plan and finished everything on her plan in about 3 hours.

She was so proud of herself.

Then, the day before our trip, I told her that we had to run some errands and pack.  She actually asked me how she could then squeeze in her work.   She was worried she couldn’t get her work done for the day in time.   Sadly, I had to tell her that it was okay to not work that day.

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Book Review: 我家就是國際學校 My Home is an International School

internationalschoolI finally got my hands on the book 我家就是國際學校 My Home is an International School this afternoon.  I devoured it in an hour.  It will require a reread probably.

This is a book written by a Polish homeschooling mom and her Taiwanese husband, about their trilingual (Mandarin, English, and Polish) homeschooling journey in Taiwan.  The mom, Dorota, has a Masters in Chinese. And obviously she learned English (starting from middle school?) in Poland. She has two kids, a girl and boy and is Montessori trained.  The old one is 18 this year.  That was one reason I  had been eyeing the book for 2+ years, since I’m trying to do bilingual Montessori homeschooling.   I had also heard in an interview how she had to figure out how to work with her son’s learning style, which was different from her daughter’s.

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Installing Chinese and Zhuyin Fonts for Mac

Today, I install my Chinese fonts for the 3rd time on a third computer, and figure it it time to document the Chinese fonts on my Mac.

Mac comes preinstalled with Chinese fonts.  So there is no reason to install more fonts unless you

  • Need zhuyin + traditional character fonts
  • Need pinyin + simplified character fonts
  • Need pinyin + zhuyin + simplified character fonts
  • Need hand writing (鋼筆體)fonts

If you want to find your own fonts, google 字體.

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Workplan 2015-2016

Last year, I had a work plan that I probably followed for about a few weeks.  I felt bad that I posted about it and didn’t actually use it.  This year’s work plan has been test driven for a few months and so far it’s sticking.

The biggest mistake I made last year was not having a tight work plan.  I gave Thumper way too many choices.  Without a classroom routine set up, she did not know how to use her freedom of choice.   It’s akin to teaching Thumper how to cook by showing her each step slowly, making sure she has mastered certain skills, before giving her more responsibilities.  For example, to teach her to make hot chocolate, first she learned to just mix the cocoa and sugar, then I taught her how to pour milk into a pot and use the stove to warm it up.  Only after she’s shown me she’s very careful with heated food did I allow her to pour her own milk into the hot chocolate mix.  This took at least 6 months.  I realized I needed to really show the kids the steps before giving them free rein.  It’s inherently different in a homeschool because the child isn’t coming into a very well established classroom with kids showing them how to do these things.  So it’s all up to me to implement them.

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Nov/Dec ’15 Curriculum

Well, at least this month’s curriculum planning only took 3-4 hours.  I decided to group them together because Dec will be a short month and Nov we will have about 1/2 week off.

I think I covered about half of what I wanted to last month, not too bad.

I can feel the laze starting to set in.  Which means that my presentation calendar isn’t as detailed as it used to be.  I hope it doesn’t really come back to bite me.  On the days when I’m good, it is still very nice to just check the calendar and see what presentation I’m supposed to give.

The kids actually did sing a Halloween song last month and I hope to cover one this month.  We even managed to make some ceramic pumpkins.

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Oct ’15 Curriculum

I spent over 6 hours planning my October curriculum this weekend.

This is the first year I’m doing serious curriculum planning.  It’s the one area that I don’t see a lot of Montessori bloggers post about; how do you go about doing it?  Or maybe I haven’t looked closely.  So I feel like I’m still figuring things out.  What I have realized is that, for my personality, slightly over planning is better than no planning.  When I look back at my Aug/Sept curriculum, we hit about 80% of my lesson plans.  This would not have happened before without planning.

What I am doing now is to do a monthly curriculum planning after deciding on a theme.  With a theme and subject categories, it makes it much easier to tie our studies around that theme.  Then given my one presentation a day schedule, I can schedule these presentations onto a Google Calendar.  Last month, I managed 2-3 presentations a week out of planned 5-6.  Without this schedule, I would probably just do 1-2 a week at most.  It also allowed me to cut down on my curriculum if they don’t fit on the calendar.  Because really, I can only do about 4 topics per subject per month given my 1 subject presentation a week schedule.

Another reason I find planning useful is that it makes me celebrate holidays.  Otherwise it is my default state to do very traditional teaching, as in, sit down, study for hours on end without rest, out of a textbook, despite my desire to not do so.

For October, our theme is Halloween, time, and Timeline of Life.  Not sure what I’m doing with Timeline of Life.  We didn’t spend nearly enough time with Time last month so I wanted to continue this month.  And we’ll use Halloween as a jump off point for our songs, arts and crafts, and practical life.

Math is pretty much the same as last month.  For Chinese, I’m going to try and have both kids learn 100 characters.  We’re now using the Writing with Ease curriculum for Chinese as well.   For English, I hope we’ll make more inroads into the strange phonics that is English.  Montessori has so many interesting presentations for science, I really tried this month to see if I can squeeze it into presentations on top of our Wednesday co-op.  Because I personally find it interesting and amazing how thing all tie together.

When I plan curriculum out on a calendar, somehow I’m able to make peace with the fact that the kids will only really do art related work twice in one month if we’re good and 4 times if we’re super good.  Because I see how many other things we’re doing day to day.  Otherwise, I start feeling that the kids would do better in public school.

Astroboy Thumper
Math
– counting skip counting, 3, 4
– memorization addition/subtraction multiplication memorization 8, 9, 11, 12
– operations addition/subtraction golden beads multiplication/division
– squaring Passing from one square to another
– geometry geometric shapes points and lines
– fractions introduction to fractions
Chinese
– characters Sagebooks Set 2 100 characters
– writing metal insets, components Writing w/ ease, 3 a day, child autum poem for writing, song to write
– words
– songs 月亮代表我的心, 嗚哇嗚哇變, 地球公轉 The Earth goes around the sun 嗚哇嗚哇變
– poems harvest poem harvest poem
– books Halloween related books Day of the Day books?, spooky books
– zhuyin all 37 zhuyin+20 combos practice along with writing
– mechanics Introduction to sentences and phrases
– grammar Introduction to nouns
English
– English sandpaper letters 4 letters Primary phonics set set 4,5
– writing Writing with Ease Week 10 Lesson 2
– mechanics Introduction to periods, sentences and phrases, abbreviation
– grammar Introduction to verbs
– literaray recognizing literary elements, identify themes and plot
– book
Science
– Earth earth’s gravity, earth’s rotation – days and night (related to time & mooN)
– Physical building circuits
– Life B3: Plants vs Animals, B4: life Cycles
– nature of matter solids/liquids/gas classification A3/A4: Air is Substance followup
– Geography Australia Europe
History Personal Timeline, months of the year, clock reading Personal Timeline, BC/AD Timeline
Great Lessons #3-6
Art ceramic stars, colors lesson #2, Halloween pumpkin art Day of the day art?
Elements of Art
Music solfege 一隻青蛙, Halloween related songs (witch, halloween) 古老的時鐘 on piano?
Practical Life Halloween related art or crafts