Category: Family

Fun in Art Class

Posted by December 5, 2017

Moms who homeschool their offspring need to learn to be super creative like the educated teachers in public schools. At least, I assume they are. They have to spend a lot of time getting a degree plus one extra year as an apprentice. They spend years in training, learning how to craft lessons for all subjects, and providing the kids with stimulation and motivation. The problem is that their curriculum is very rigid as dictated by the school district. Children learn better when you pique their interest and grab their attention and it isn’t always by following a prescribed plan. It helps that homeschooling involves one or two students as a rule so there are few distractions and you can also customize their lessons. When coop day rolls around, there is a group situation and I try to use my best ideas at this time.

For most subjects I use artwork, display boards, the computer screen, and all sorts of show and tell stuff. I never want a dry session where the students just read out of a dull book. If that were desirable, I would have left them in public school. I want to give them more and make learning fun and interesting. The other benefit of teaching at home or a coop is that you can include all the subjects you want, even those that are no longer part of the public school curriculum due to lack of funds. Educational programs are now limited to the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic—plus science, but there is no place for music and the arts. I wanted to remedy this right out of the box. Sure, we have recess and classes in computer science, but the more “frivolous” subject that usually fall by the wayside have priority. I believe in well-rounded students who are as familiar with a museum as with an Apple store at the mall.

Therefore I teach art and music—both the history and practice. I intersperse looking and listening sessions with demonstrations. For example, recently I had the students make oil paintings, charcoal drawings, watercolors, and pastel sketches. They discovered the unique properties of each medium. To teach them what a mural is, I bought some large pieces of plywood board and had the children coat it first with a coat of white from a paint spray gun from Artists must prepare their “canvas” be it paper, linen, or a wall. This done, they could go on to use tempera paint to make their compositions. I call this fun in art class. It is completely educational while it is also entertaining. The same goes for music time. We use percussion instruments while a few knowledgeable kids play a reed, string, or wind instrument. The effect can be horrible or magical depending upon the talent at the coop. We aren’t going to perform any time soon, but we may display our “murals” for all the parents on visiting day.

Problem Solved!

Posted by November 4, 2016

If you are an enterprising mother, you can solve most problems with a little ingenuity. If not, you ask another mother who has encountered a similar situation. Whatever the issue at hand, it can be handled. For me, it was a bout of rebellion from my kids. After the required schooling for the day (I do it at home), I like to reward my children with milk and cookies, a recess in the front yard usually involving a ball, or a swim in the pool. I often need motivation for them if we have been having long lessons and their little brains are getting taxed. The b is, they are complaining that the pool is too cool and they could care less about swimming. There is one big source of motivation gone. It had always worked and they loved splashing around together in the   blissfully warm water. It was almost like a free form bath except that it was in an above ground pool.

When we first got the pool, they were ecstatic. They had hoped for an in ground pool, but after a while they hardly noticed. This is a good thing since the cost difference is significant. A pool is a pool is a pool if it is big enough for a bunch of kids and maybe a stray parent or two who is taking on a supervisory role. So for a long time, the sessions in the pool were a big treat, but then the weather changed and the water wasn’t particularly appetizing. I had to look at the budget and see if I could spring for a special heater for an above ground pool. In doing my research, I found many varieties, and some affordable. I looked for special offers and discounts and was successful. All of a sudden one day, there it was: a glorious new heater. I coaxed the kids in the water as they weren’t quite sure what this meant. After a few moments, I heard squeals of glee. The water was sufficiently warm to keep them toasty, even on a chilly day. My motivating tactic was back. Sure, they had to get out of the pool into the cold air, but they immediately jumped into a big fluffy towel and ran into the house to change for the afternoon’s lessons. I was pretty pleased with myself that I had solved the problem in an easy, simple manner. Sometimes all it takes is money.

Now the kids sit attentively in class, especially if they know a bit of swimming in the above ground pool is coming their way. They even like it during time off from teaching on weekends and will invite their jealous little friends. So not only is the pool for recess, but it is a social focus in the neighborhood, too. Getting the heater was a great decision and well worth every penny. All I have to do now is to buy more towels for our guests.

Taking Time for Yourself

Posted by October 1, 2016

Homeschooling is not that uncommon and parents who elect to go this route know how much responsibility is involved. You have lessons plans and extracurricular activities that pepper the day with variety. I am sure you give it a lot of thought before you undertake this option. But there are so many benefits. You control the time allotted for teaching and the order of the material. You decide what to include and what to eliminate as long as you more or less follow basic state education guidelines. You can customize the work for each child and cater to his or her capabilities. Each child’s temperament will dictate how successful you are. If you have an inattentive child, your work is cut out for you. You have to have the know how to control the situation. How do you get that kind of experience that every classroom teacher has? You learn as you go. You rely on instinct a great deal. Once your homeschooling program is underway, it should flow smoothly without glitches. But once in a while you get burnout and need a personal break.

You can create vacation days to give yourself time off. You can alternate lessons with sports activities to use up the children’s pent up energy. You can invite another parent or a family member to take over for a day or two. All you have to do is provide instruction. Then you can go off and do errands, have a pampering day, or visit friends. When I want a quick respite, I call recess and then I have a glass of wine. This is usually toward the very end of the school day. We have a wonderful wine fridge loaded with bottles collected from numerous wine tours. It is something we like to do when on vacation. So the wine fridge is always stocked and ready to provide me with a glass of relaxation. You might say I have become a wine aficionado. I don’t teach while drinking of course. Only when the kids are playing. It is called taking time for yourself. We bought the wine fridge some years ago and are glad it is on the larger size. This way if you are at a winery and want to buy a case, you have a place to put it. It is all about unwinding and a glass of wine makes it very easy to do so. You can add some cheese and crackers and there you have your late afternoon snack.

The kids could make fun of their wino mother but they know they shouldn’t. I only do it once in a while when I feel particularly exasperated. The kids get it because dad does the same thing. He indulges in his favorite Cabernet when he comes home from work. The kids have come to expect it. The kids have their outdoor games to unwind, and mom and dad have wine. The only problem is that it is so hard to choose which one given the assortment we have amassed.

Winter Precautions

Posted by September 14, 2016

Being a parent means being attentive to all the particularities of each of your children. They are so different it is amazing. Some kids like to dress in a certain manner, and they insist on it, and some prefer only certain sports. You might have a child that loves cartoons while another prefers reading books. Each child is a gift and a treasure no matter what their idiosyncrasies are. You often wonder how you spawned such unique beings. But somehow they all coordinate to form a family.

Some of the differences have to do with health. A couple of my kids have allergies which means I can’t open the bedroom windows for fresh air. I have to keep the allergens from entering the premises, especially in the spring. I also have a problem when the heater is on in the winter because it generates dry heat that causes dry skin and bloody noses. This is uncomfortable for the children. For all these conditions, I have purchased a humidifier for the kids bedrooms, so we have a couple of them. They do a great job in controlling the ailments I have just mentioned. I looked far and wide for the best one I could find that wasn’t noisy and irritating. I got a console evaporative model at a modest price.

During the dry seasons, you can create a moisture-rich environment right in your home with a console evaporative humidifier. You don’t need a whole-house model as you might think, but a small one for each bedroom. If you get an 8-gal unit, it allows for significant daily output and maintains humid air throughout several rooms, allowing you to relax comfortably. An adjustable humidistat ensures that the room keeps a consistent humidity level, while the water refill and check filter indicators help keep your appliance working at its best. Maintaining a clean filter is easy with a check window that notifies you when it’s time to switch the old filter out for the new. Plus, the digital controls and display are easy to view and use for added convenience.

So a humidifier creates a pleasant breathable atmosphere. It is dry a lot of the time, such as the winter months with the heater on. You need to warm the house so it is a family requirement. There are many models and they run from one hundred to five hundred big ones. Given that we needed two, we went modest in our selection. One day when the electricity was off and the humidifier didn’t work, I sure heard a lot of complaining. The kids are used to it and miss the moisture. I suppose at some age they will outgrow the dry skin and bloody nose problems and we can dispense with the appliances. They were guaranteed to last a long time so if the kids’ health problems persist, the humidifier will keep on working effectively and efficiently. It is a good investment. Try it for yourself.