Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

18 Apr

Now that I have a new blog for  posts about my art, we can get back to ‘normal’ here. I was feeling a little guilty that I hadn’t been posting about homeschooling. That’s what most of my readers come  here for, to read about homeschooling. Not painting. But if they do want to read about my painting, they can do so here.

I wasn’t going to set up a new blog, because I thought it would be more work and hassle than it’s worth and take up too much time, but I’m happy I’ve done it. WordPress makes it easy. I only need to log in once, and I can switch between blogs so easily. At the top of my screen, it no longer says ‘my dashboard.’ It now says ‘my dashboards,’ so I can click on which one I want via the dropdown menu. I can also choose to create a new post for the other blog while I’m still here with just one click, and vice-versa.

I like having things separated. I can’t explain why, I just do. It feels neat and orderly. The other blog is also a resource centre, with links and book recommendations, etc, so those interested in watercolour don’t have to sift through the homeschooling stuff to get to the art stuff. It’s also nice to see a different layout.

Did I mention that I have a new blog?

Despite my obssession enthusiasm for watercolouring, we are still managing to homeschool. But because the week before was cut short, we used this week just gone by to finish up the previous week’s work, which left us with some free time. And not only have I been  painting, but so has Esa. He’s also been using acrylics.

He recently did a bike swap. He had a Radio Flyer Twist Trike (bought at half-price), but has sort of out-grown it. So he gave that bike to a younger cousin, and the older brother of this cousin gave Esa his bike which he’d outgrown (got that? 🙂 ) I didn’t see the point in spending £60-80 on a brand new bike that he would only ride for about 2 years when there was a perfectly good one in my sister-in-law’s shed. I also had a suspicion that Esa wasn’t wanting a bike to ride, he was just wanting to buy a bike for the fun of it. But I was wrong. He loves riding this bike. He’s been out every day, pedalling around our driveway, and in the evenings dh potters about outside while Esa rides on the road (we live nearly at the end of a no-outlet street, so it’s pretty free from traffic),and takes him other places to ride. He even took him on the cycle path near Tesco today while I did the shopping.

But if the novelty does wear off, then we’ve not wasted precious £’s.

Here he is pretending to fall.

I haven’t mislead you; I am going to talk about homsechooling. Here goes.

We’ve got an issue with math. Esa is saying that math is hard and he doesn’t like it.

Oh dear.

That’s not good. Esa’s always enjoyed math: numbers, counting, patterns, working out his own made-up addition and subtraction equations.

Some might say a change in curricula is warranted. And a year ago, I might have agreed. But that’s not what I’m going to do. I’m going to do one of the following:

  • Completely unschool math.
  • Use the Teacher’s Manual from Singapore math as a guide for what to learn, but use games and activities instead of the workbooks. (We may do a few of the workbook problems on the dry erase board.)
  • A little unschooling, a few planned activities, a few workbook pages.

I’m leaning more towards unschooling math altogether. I know he’s motivated mathematically and will pursue it. But I’m reluctant to ditch the curricula altogether because he has learned a lot of math, much of it he has enjoyed, and the workbooks have been great for his reading. The instructions are written at his reading level and he’s learned the importance of reading the instructions first.

I’m not totally sure where we’ll go with this. I’m going to have a look at next week’s lessons and see what I can do with it. I’ll make a few plans and we’ll try it out. I want him to be able to dig deeper into something if that’s what he wants, a bit like we do with history and science.

We’re cutting out the artist study notebook. It just seems like busy work. I don’t want to have to tell him to stop narrating so I can write or type things out. I want the narrations to be more like discussions, and less like work. Maybe we’ll start them again when he’s older and an independent writer.

Our phonics lessons have gone up a few notches in difficulty. Esa’s now learning sounds such as -tious and -tion, and the rules associatied. Fortunately, we’re nearing the end of our phonics instruction. Reading is coming along well and he seems to be enjoying it a little more. He’s also begun to read things silently.


The Universal Wishlist has finally arrived at I LOVE this thing! I’ve been able to add things like our microscope and art supplies to it; it’s great! It’s really going to help me to budget and plan purchases without having to visit multiple sites. What a time-saver.


8 responses to “Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

  1. The Princess Rooms

    April 19, 2010 at 10:27 am

    thanks for your message, Michelle. I feel really sad about it too. Like a part of my life has gone : 0 !!!!
    But, Steiner really takes so much of my time in prep, then there is work & my wee business. I did not want to give up on the blogging, so this seems a great way forwards for me. A whole different readership I am sure, & there is the sad part.

    • whimsyway

      April 19, 2010 at 12:25 pm

      We don’t manage to get together very often, so your blog was a way for me to see what you were up to. Maybe you’ll find more time for it later on…so please don’t delete it!

      Michelle x

  2. Elsie Hickey Wilson

    April 26, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    HI, Michelle,
    I’m Elsie from WCW!
    Love reading your blog!
    Since I’m a retired elementary school teacher with a speciality in maths, I’m interested in your homeschool maths ideas.
    Singapore Maths is ok for an outline of what you might want in the way of skills, but it is deadly boring and lacks the hands-one experiences to really make maths interesting and to get to deeper understanding.

    Back in the 1960’s I was teaching in a program that was based around the UK Nuffield maths project. It had great books for the teachers with wonderful activities for the kids.
    I know they are probably out of print now, but your library or some local education univ. might have copies you could look through.

    Lots of problems based on using things at hand for counting, weighting, mearusring are good for kids. If he is reading a book about whales, let him measure outside on the ground the length of the whale etc. How long would a blue whale, a hammerhead shark and a dolphin be laid end to end?…addition!

    Great fun!

    • whimsyway

      April 27, 2010 at 5:27 am

      Yes, we’re having some issues with Singapore Math right now; he is finding it boring. He used to love math, but now he says it’s hard and boring. We’ve put the books away for now and we’re just “playing” with math. We played a game yesterday where I would call out a number and he had to write it on the dry-erase board, say 18 (he still has number-recognition issues, especially with numbers 11-19) and then I would ask him how would he change it to make it 118, or 180 (he’s still not “getting” place value, either). After a few of these, he really “got it” and had so much fun with it that he didn’t want to stop.

      We also practice counting while tossing a bean bag. Each week we count 100. This week we counted from 500-600, next week will be 600-700, etc.

      We also have several math story books, such as Anno’s Counting Book, Less Than Zero, Millions of Cats, Sir Cumference books, etc. We have lots of math toys, Tangrams, Cuisennaire rods, pattern blocks, abacus, etc. We also have math activity books such as Family Math. We haven’t done much with all of this great stuff because the Singapore materials didn’t leave us much time for any other math activities, but we’re now making use of it. And I plan to do as you say, use Singapore as an outline for what we should cover, but do our own things. We’re currently making a personal record book and he has to take lots of measurements of himself, some of which need to be done once a month, then he records them. Later, he’ll make a few graphs with the data.

      I’ll look into the programme you mentioned, thanks for the suggestion, Elsie, and thanks for stopping by; your wisdom is very welcome. 🙂

  3. Misti

    May 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Hi, Michelle,

    I wanted to let you know that the links to your new blog don’t seem to be working…

    (who is also making attempts, desultory as they may be, to learn to paint.)

    • whimsyway

      May 11, 2010 at 11:50 am

      Hmmm…links seem to be working for me, maybe a temporary glitch. Here’s the full url:

      I’ve not posted all that much yet. I do have some pages up with some good links, though. I’ve got lots of posts planned, but just need to find some time to sit down and write. 🙂 This blog is also being neglected a bit…

  4. Misti

    May 10, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Oh, and on to unschooling maths — that’s exactly what Rod and Jack have been doing lo these many months. They don’t have a curriculum, but Jack was asking about “mathematical reciprocity” last night and Rod explained it. It will be years before he’ll need it, but the idea is planted. A few days ago it was place value that they were discussing. I barely understand those! 😉

    We came across an article that suggests that unschooling mat in the early years may be just the ticket!

    • whimsyway

      May 11, 2010 at 11:53 am

      I’ve never even *heard* of mathematical reciprocity! Need to google that one. Yes, I’ve read that article; it’s a very good one and it’s influenced my decision to step away from the curriculum.


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