This book is awesome. It is perfect for budding science students who know their classics. I'm a big believer in learning the periodic table by rote memorization - the next step is to put one's Latin to good use and try to figure out why an element is called what it is. Nature's Building Blocks also enthusiastically presents the story behind each element. Did I mention that I love this book?

What we did today:

Wordly Wise
Structured Reading
Finished filling out scholarship application papers for a summer trip abroad.
Web publishing.
Free reading.
And yes, Art.
: )


On productivity and roadblocks

Today was productive.

I actually got up a bit earlier than usual to wake Alexander and begin our lessons. I am a single mother and law student, mind, so I tend to stay awake until the wee hours. Until 2 a.m., I might stare blankly into, oh, I don't know, a casebook or E&E on Copyright that will never see me again after May. But until May, me and the casebook are on an exclusive honeymoon.

But back to homeschooling productivity.

Today we covered: Latin, Spelling, Writing Strands, Structured Reading, Ancient Greek Civilization DVD "break" (1 hour, but Alexander wound up sneaking the DVD into his room later this evening. Total viewing time: 2 hours), Singapore Science, and Singapore Math. Free reading: Alexander's Pick. Today it was J.R.R. Tolkien's Farmer Giles of Ham. This past Monday it was a version of King Arthur that I picked up at the Strand, that Alexander read to its entirety in one sitting plus a subway ride.

Textbook rant: Before we could find a science textbook that would work for us, I naturally consulted WTM. The Bauers are big on "How the ___ Works" books. My undergraduate degree is in English and Biology. I can say with confidence that I hate the "How the ___Works" books because I believe that they don't work. At least, not as a substantive science curriculum. So I am using Singapore Science, which so far has presented a pretty methodical and user-friendly combination of textbook, workbook, and activity book. It is not activity- or projects-mad. Projects are great, as long as the student understands the underlying mechanism that makes the project tick. It does not happen by putting colored paper and thumbtacks together and exclaiming, "See?" (yes, much of scientific discovery turns on a "Eureka!" - but we are talking about untrained scientists here).

If I otherwise find a science curriculum I can shout about, I'll post it here.

Catherine phoned today and asked if she would be needed (See: "Snow Day"). I told her to come next week. She'll get paid for the day off. There was barely a problem due to the snowfall yesterday, Catherine wanted to work, and I have no idea why the NYC Board of Education kept the schools closed. Ah, well.

Alexander continued web publishing his two blogs this evening. I watched "The Apprentice." I know, I know.

Also this evening I had planned to instruct Alexander's next Art lesson, but as it sometimes happens, that lesson didn't go. It will go tomorrow. So far, his progress is absolutely amazing. I hope to link copies of his work soon.

Roadblocks: I hate scouting for homeschooling support groups. To date, I have not found one that I like. It has ranged from non-returned phone calls, to phone calls to homeschooling folks who live beyond the subway map and who sound like meatheads, or ultra-religious Christian groups (we're Jewish), to non-returned phone calls again. I think I'll call Connecticut.


Snow Day

Last night a friendly gang of neighborhood boys enthusiastically announced to Alexander at our front window, snowballs thrown about, "It's a SNOW DAY!!! NO SCHOOL TOMORROW!!!" Alexander couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of the kids telling a homeschooler that he would not have school due to the weather outside. "They're silly," he giggled.

I did, however, tell Catherine, our French tutor, that she could have the day off. It would be so unfair to make her work on a snow day. ; )

and this from CNN...


The Packet Arrives

Albeit a few short weeks ago, but still recently enough that my response to the New York City Department of Education's Region Nine offices will be considered "on time."

Briefly, The Packet reads:

"Please complete and submit, for our review, the following:
1. Letter of Intent (must be submitted each year)
2. Home Schooling Information Form
3. IHIP - Individualized Home Instructional Plan (must include end of year instructional program assessment)
4. Quarterly Reports (must contain grades and attendance) - to be submitted at the end of each quarter of instruction."

Right. On reading the cover letter of The Packet I must acknowledge and acquiesce to the not-too-thrilling reality that I am being screened by the Good People of Region Nine. Someone, somewhere, must own a Mary Poppins Response to The Packet and Region Nine:
Region Nine Official: "Ms. Homeschooler, you know that the educational journey into which you have embarked is a very serious one. It involves careful thought and planning. This is not a job to be taken lightly. Now, may I have your completed Packet, please."
Ms. Homeschooler: [sipping tea and coolly looking at watch] "I never do Packets. Don't believe in them."

I am betting that an actual Region Nine response would not be akin to Mr. and Mrs. Banks' in the Disney movie.

There are 14 mandatory subjects listed in The Packet, each requiring 108 hours of instruction per year. The subjects are -
"English Language, Science, Math, Physical Education (Regularly), Visual Arts, Music, Health (Regularly), Reading, Spelling, Writing, Geography, U.S. History, Other, and Bilingual Education."
Our subjects are the above, plus Latin, Logic, French to CM2 (the folks at the fnac are making a fortune off of us), Hebrew school, World Civilizations, Geography, a marine biology internship, and an enrichment program for so-called gifted students sponsored by a well-known university on the West Coast. I suppose our curriculum is a sort of Well-Trained-Mind-for-Secular-Jewish-People-Meets-Jacques Cousteau-and-the-Lycee-Francais.

I will admit that the subject of "Health" so far has been my son's lone act of raiding the condom section of the medicine cabinet with no other motive than his curiosity's fulfillment. We will eventually need to figure out "Health."